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, December 6, 2023
Rogue Valley Weather
Multiple Atmospheric River Storms Hit Pacific Northwest With Flooding Rain And Mountain Snow
Medford Police Dept. Actively Searching for Shooting Suspect
Update (12/5; 3:30PM): Multiple law enforcement agencies have concluded the area search in East Medford and the suspect has not been located. MPD is actively working leads to find the suspect. The victim is in stable condition at the hospital.
We can confirm that this incident is not related to the recent shooting incidences. We will provide updates on this case as they become available.
Update – 12/04/23 at 4:00pm
The Medford Police Department is releasing the names of the two deceased individuals from the shooting incident that took place in the Charles Point apartment complex on the morning of December 3.
The deceased are:
- Torres, Christian Jonathan (26 years old), of White City.
- Manninen, Dontrell Xavier (33 years old), of Medford.
Detectives continue to actively work this case in order to provide answers to the families. At this time no arrests have been made. Updates will be provided as they become available. No further information is being released at this time.
Multiple agencies are on site of a shooting at an apartment complex located on the Northwest corner of Roberts Road and N. Keene Way Dr.
The single victim has been transported to the hospital and the search for the suspect is underway. Please see the attached photo of the suspect who was last seen heading east from the apartment complex. The public is asked to call 911 if they see the suspect in this photo.
North Medford High School was in a secure lockdown in response to this incident. We will provide updates as they become available.
Medford Police Investigating Homicide in South Medford
UPDATE: At this time, both victims in this case have died due to their injuries. One was pronounced deceased at the scene and the second passed away at the hospital. Medford Police and assisting agency detectives continue to work this case in hopes to determine the circumstances surrounding the disturbance leading to the death of these two people.
Detectives are following up on all available leads, including identifying and contacting individuals that were on scene at the time of the disturbance.
We can confirm that this case is not related to the shooting incident that occurred on Friday, December 1 at Buffalo Wild Wings.
There is no further information at this time and additional details will be released as they become available.
Original Release — On Sunday, December 3rd at about 5:40 AM the Medford Police Department responded to the report of a disturbance with shots fired in the Charles Point apartment complex on Highgate Street in South Medford. Upon arrival officers located two individuals with gunshot wounds in the parking lot near an apartment. Both of these subjects were transported to a local hospital. At this time we can confirm that one of the victims is deceased, and the other is in very serious condition. Names or specifics of the victims will not be released at this time.
Medford Police Dept and other assisting agencies are currently on scene investigating this case and will release additional information as it becomes available.
Update – Medford Police Investigate Shooting at Buffalo Wild Wings
Medford Police Department detectives have lodged 18-year-old Joseph Larry Lopez of Grants Pass on charges of Attempted Murder, Unlawful Use of a Weapon and Assault in the First Degree.
Police believe that a confrontation between two groups of people precipitated this shooting in front of Buffalo Wild Wings. The victim in this case remains in very serious condition at a local hospital. No further information is being released at this time.
On Friday, December 1 at 11:25 p.m. a Medford Police Officer was near the parking lot of Buffalo Wild Wings (1700 Delta Waters Road) on routine patrol when multiple gunshots were heard coming from the front of the restaurant.
The Officer found a victim lying on the ground next to the front door and immediately began providing medical aid. Several individuals were seen running to a vehicle and fleeing towards Highway 62. The suspect vehicle description and direction of travel were quickly broadcast to other officers. Responding officers located and stopped the vehicle on Highway 62 near Bullock Road.
The vehicle occupants, including the suspect, were detained and are currently being interviewed. At the time of this update the victim is in critical condition and undergoing surgery.
This is an ongoing investigation and no further information will be released at this time. Updates, to include names and arrest specifics will be provided as they become available.
Eagle Point Woman Sentenced to 13 Years in Federal Prison for Taking Sexually Explicit Photos of a Child and Distributing Them Online
—An Eagle Point, Oregon woman was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison today for taking sexually explicit photos of an 8-year-old child and sending them to multiple individuals she met online.
Kayla Dee Lester, 31, was sentenced to 156 months in federal prison and 20 years’ supervised release.
According to court documents, in 2020, Lester took sexually explicit photos of an 8-year-old child and distributed them to multiple individuals online using Whisper, a social media application that allows users to post and share photo and video messages anonymously. When interviewed by police, Lester admitted to using Whisper and other social media applications to meet people and solicit child pornography. She further admitted to sending the images she took of the 8-year-old child to others in hopes they would send her child pornography in return.
On September 17, 2020, a federal grand jury in Medford returned a three-count indictment charging Lester with using a minor to produce visual depictions of sexually explicit conduct, and distributing and possessing child pornography. On May 10, 2023, Lester pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography.
On July 6, 2023, while awaiting sentencing, Lester was arrested for possessing an internet-connected cell phone in violation of her release conditions. Her cell phone was found to contain nude images of herself and other adults who she was chatting with online as well as chats between Lester and others wherein she described sexually abusing her 8-year-old victim. A forensic search later conducted on her phone revealed 44 videos of child pornography. On July 10, 2023, Lester’s pretrial release was revoked.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force. It was prosecuted by Judith R. Harper, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
Anyone who has information about the physical or online exploitation of children are encouraged to contact HSI at (866) 347-2423 or submit a tip online at report.cybertip.org.
Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. It is important to remember child sexual abuse material depicts actual crimes being committed against children. Not only do these images and videos document the victims’ exploitation and abuse, but when shared across the internet, they re-victimize and re-traumatize the child victims each time their abuse is viewed. To learn more, please visit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at www.missingkids.org.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Created in January 2007, the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force provides cybercrime investigations and digital evidence forensic analysis for federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in Southern Oregon. Member agencies include the Medford Police Department, Oregon State Police, the Jackson County Sheriff and District Attorney’s Offices, and HSI.
Medford Area Drug Trafficking Investigations Result in Three Federal Prison Sentences
MEDFORD, Ore.—The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon announced today that three federal prison sentences have been imposed this week in separate criminal cases following multi-agency drug trafficking investigations in and around Medford.
James Michael Cody Whelchel, 41, of Carson, California, was sentenced Monday to 130 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release. Earl Richard Shamblin III, 41, of Medford, was also sentenced Monday to 45 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.
Terril Jacob Boss, 43, of Reno, Nevada, was sentenced today to 120 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.
U.S. v. Whelchel
According to court documents, in July 2021, local law enforcement officers received information that Whelchel, a known drug trafficker with a lengthy criminal history, was dealing drugs in the Medford area. Further investigation revealed that Whelchel was running his local drug trafficking operation from an area motel. After observing multiple individuals come and go from his motel room, investigators arrested Whelchel. At the time of his arrest, Whelchel possessed three cell phones, several syringes, and approximately $3,600 in cash.
Investigators located two 9mm pistols, a digital scale, and small quantities of methamphetamine, fentanyl, heroin, and unidentified pills in Whelchel’s vehicle. A search of his motel room returned more than two and a half pounds of methamphetamine, approximately one pound of powdered fentanyl, a smaller quantity of heroin, more than $51,000 in cash, and two firearms.
On September 2, 2021, a federal grand jury in Medford returned a three-count indictment charging Whelchel with possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl. On August 14, 2023, he pleaded guilty to possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
U.S. v. Shamblin
Between November 11, 2019, and January 19, 2021, law enforcement conducted multiple controlled purchases of heroin from Shamblin, a known Jackson County, Oregon drug trafficker. On February 17, 2021, investigators arrested Shamblin and found digital scales, drug packaging material, records of drug transactions, and more than $4,000 in cash in his RV and on his person. The next day, on February 18, 2021, investigators obtained a recorded jail call on which Shamblin coordinated with other individuals to move and conceal a large sum of cash (later seized by law enforcement) and bury heroin in the backyard of his then residence.
On February 26, 2021, Shamblin was charged by federal criminal complaint with unlawfully possessing and distributing heroin. Later, on March 3, 2022, a federal grand jury in Medford returned a five-count indictment charging him with distributing heroin. On September 7, 2023, Shamblin pleaded guilty to one count of distributing heroin.
U.S. v. Boss
On July 21, 2020, area law enforcement obtained information that Boss, who was in possession of methamphetamine and a firearm, was located in a fast-food parking lot in White City, Oregon. A responding deputy approached Boss and told him he was being detained as part of a drug trafficking investigation. After initially denying he was armed, Boss told the deputy he had a weapon, but refused to say where it was located. Boss then began to reach for his waistband and a struggle to detain him ensued. After repeatedly ordering Boss not to reach for his waistband, Boss grabbed a firearm he possessed and was shot twice by the responding deputies. He was immediately taken to an area hospital, treated, and then booked in the Jackson County Jail.
Three days later, on July 24, 2020, investigators executed search warrants on Boss’s truck and motorcycle. They located and seized quantities of heroin and methamphetamine in his truck and a large zipper bag with heroin and methamphetamine concealed in the gas tank of his motorcycle. They also found digital scales and drug packaging materials. Later the same day, Boss was charged by federal criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute controlled substances, illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
On April 15, 2021, a federal grand jury in Medford indicted Boss on the same charges and, on July 5, 2023, he pleaded guilty to possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
All three cases were investigated by the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Team (MADGE). Local MADGE member agencies were assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Oregon State Police. Whelchel was prosecuted by Judith R. Harper, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. Shamblin and Boss were prosecuted by March A. Boccato, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
MADGE is a gang and narcotics enforcement team comprised of local, state, and federal investigators that work together to dismantle drug trafficking and other criminal organizations operating in and around Jackson County, Oregon. MADGE member agencies include the Medford Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff and District Attorney’s Offices, Jackson County Community Corrections, HSI, and FBI.
Lawyer For Accused Klamath Falls Kidnapper Negasi Zuberi Wants Case Dismissed
A lawyer for accused multi-state kidnapper Negasi Zuberi says a key piece of evidence was destroyed in the case — the alleged makeshift cinderblock cell in Zuberi’s Klamath Falls garage where prosecutors say he locked a woman inside after abducting her from Seattle.
“The government allowed a very important piece of evidence to be destroyed,” attorney Michael P. Bertholf wrote to the court.
According to the Oregonian, a lawyer for accused multi-state kidnapper Negasi Zuberi says a key piece of evidence was destroyed in the case — the alleged makeshift cinderblock cell inZuberi’s Klamath Falls garage where prosecutors say he locked a woman inside after abducting her from Seattle.
“The government allowed a very important piece of evidence to be destroyed,” attorney Michael P. Bertholf wrote to the court.
Bertholf told a federal judge Monday that he will file a motion to dismiss the case for the alleged destruction of evidence.
“This ‘cell’ was destroyed prior to any member of Defendant’s legal team being allowed to examine it,” he said. “Counsel anticipates seeking expert advice on the integrity of such a structure based on the only available evidence of the makeshift ‘cell,’ namely minimal photographs.”
The government will offer testimony to connect Zuberi to the cell’s construction, Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. Brassell said in court papers, but he did not directly respond to Bertholf’s allegation.
Zuberi, 29, was arrested in Reno, Nevada, on July 16, a day after the alleged kidnapping. He is accused of taking the woman from Seattle after posing as an undercover police officer, driving her 450 miles to Klamath Falls, sexually assaulting her on the trip, and then locking her in a cell in the garage of his rental home in Klamath Falls, according to the FBI.
The woman escaped after a couple of hours in the cell, ripping apart a metal screen door on the cell, sneaking out of a small space in the screen, running from the home, and flagging down a motorist for help, according to the FBI and Klamath Falls police.
‘Dallas’ Star Patrick Duffy’s $11 Million Shady Cove Ranch To Be Auctioned With No Reserve
Last year, Patrick Duffy’s longtime Oregon ranch hit the open market for $14 million. Even though the price was later reduced to $11 million, the picturesque property never found a buyer, so the Dallas star is now auctioning off the compound to the highest bidder. Actor Patrick Duffy’s longtime southern Oregon residence along the Rogue River, currently for sale at $10,995,000, is heading to the auction block, with no minimum starting bid. Potential buyers can make any offer to Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions from Dec. 7-14 for the 329-acre Duffy Ranch.
Although there is no pre-set reserve or minimum bid for the ranch at 436 Staley Road outside of Eagle Point, starting bids are expected to be between $3 million and $5 million, said Charlie Engel of Concierge Auctions, which specializes in marketing luxury real estate worldwide. The auction house is partnering with Duffy’s listing broker, Alan DeVries of Cascade Hasson Sotheby’s International Realty.
A webcast at ConciergeAuctions.com of the live auction at Sotheby’s Auction House in New York is scheduled for Dec. 14.
Duffy has the right to cancel the auction on Dec. 6, before bidding opens “based on the size and strength of the field of bidders we have put together up to that date,” Engel told The Oregonian/OregonLive.
“Historically the majority of sellers who rely on our non-reserve auction process do decide to go ahead with the auction and sell to the highest bidder,” he said.
To avoid a low offer in the no-reserve auction, there are incentives for an early bidder such as a 50% discount on the buyer’s premium, which is 12% of the sale price.
“This is a rare opportunity to own a piece of Oregon-coveted Rogue Valley,” said broker DeVries. “With nearly two miles of river frontage and the ability to subdivide, the opportunities are endless.”
Duffy’s 383-acre holdings on Staley Road and adjacent Trails End Lane, including four smaller parcels totaling 54 acres, were initially for sale at $14 million in September 2022. Six months later, the smaller parcels were each listed separately and the asking price for the main ranch’s 329 acres, now scheduled to be auctioned, was $10,995,000.
The 329 acres to be auctioned include:
- The lodge-style primary residence on 79 acres of riverfront that is potentially divisible into five acre lots, said DeVries. The 1950s main house has a river-stone fireplace and knotty pine walls under exposed beam ceilings, and an enclosed sunroom facing the water. Duffy added a wing to the house with a high-ceilinged art gallery and a primary suite. There is also a walkway to a wine cave and spa cabin.
- A detached pool building with a series of glass doors that draw in natural light.
- More than 100 acres of irrigated grounds and a two-acre pond for irrigation and recreation.
- A 15-acre island in the Rogue River.
Across the river is the Rogue River Preserve, the former 352-acre MacArthur Ranch that cannot be developed. The Southern Oregon Land Conservancy owns the land that protects declining, rare plant and animal species.
“Amazing views, abundant wildlife” like an elk herd, turkeys and black-tailed deer, said DeVries of the property he calls a “true generational sanctuary” 16 miles from the Rogue Valley International Airport. An antique wood-fired kitchen range made in South Bend, Indiana, and some of the other materials in the house were rescued from the original, dilapidated homestead after Duffy bought the property in 1990.
The once rusty kitchen range has been restored and converted to use propane. It is the centerpiece of the kitchen, said Duffy in a real estate video.
“There are several different worlds on the property,” said Duffy in the video, as he moves from pastoral to forest to waterfront areas. He said the natural environment, which he has kept undeveloped, has a feeling that can’t be invented but can be understood in any language.
This property “just needs another set of ears and another heart to come in and understand it,” he said in the video.
To register to bid on Duffy Ranch, a $100,000 deposit and a letter of reference from the bidder’s bank or financial institution are required, according to the auction house. The highest bidder also pays a premium and any transfer fees. The seller pays for the title search and title insurance, as well as broker commissions.
Property details and diligence documents are available at ConciergeAuctions.com or by calling 212-202-2940.
Other listings being sold by Patrick Duffy are:
A 1,511-square-foot house, covered arena and older barn sit on 29.5 acres at 775 Trails End Lane. The “ranchette,” zoned exclusive farm use, has rights to 21.5 acres of irrigation, said DeVries. “This would be a top spot to remodel the existing home or build your dream home,” states the listing description. “Lots of options here.” Asking price was $719,000 in March 2023 and is now $689,000.
- A 1,450-square-foot chalet-style cabin with cedar siding, an open living area, wood-burning fireplace and loft sits on 2.18 acres at 535 Trails End Lane. Asking price in February 2023 was $475,000, and is now $449,000.
- A 1,512-square-foot manufactured home and shop on 5 acres at 467 Trails End Lane sold on May 19, 2023, at its asking price of $365,000.
- A non-farm dwelling homesite with a well, septic and barn on 12.45 acres zoned exclusive farm use at 435 Trails End Lane sold June 20, 2023, for $310,000. The asking price was $319,000. (SOURCE)
Klamath Falls has been named 44th in the Top 50 best places to travel globally by Travel Lemming, a U.S.-based online travel guide that is read by more than 10 million travelers.
The article calls Klamath Falls an “uncrowded gateway to Crater Lake National Park,” and says that its “numerous hiking trails lead to lakes, mountain summits and stunning waterfalls (are) a key feature of southwest Oregon.”
It cites seeing the Klamath Falls Rapids, hiking the Link Trail, and zipping on the Crater Lake Zipline as a few things that visitors shouldn’t miss while in the area.
County Commissioner Kelley Minty says, “It’s encouraging to see others recognize what we all know — Klamath County has so much to offer our citizens as well as visitors. I hope others feel as proud as I do of our community.”
Other American cities making the list were: Memphis, Tenn., ranked 5th; Kodiak, Alaska, ranked 8th; Eureka Springs, Ark., ranked 10th; Quincy, Mass., ranked 21st; Jacksonville, Fla., ranked 29th; and Steamboat Springs, Colo., ranked 41st. https://travellemming.com/best-places-to-travel-2024/
Bureau Of Land Management Addresses Dying Douglas Fir Across Southwestern Oregon
More Douglas fir have died in southern Oregon in the last four years than the last four decades, according to an article in the Journal of Forestry. i Bureau of Land Management leaders want your feedback on the best strategy for how to respond to increasing tree mortality. The BLM is concerned about public safety along roadways, increased fire risk, changes in wildlife habitat, and economic impacts to local communities.
“Our top priority is to decrease risk to our local communities,” said Elizabeth Burghard, BLM Medford District Manager. “We are very concerned about the impacts of Douglas fir mortality on safe and effective wildland firefighting. We need the public’s help to decide where and how to take the most effective action.”
The BLM is proposing to remove dead and dying trees in strategic areas to improve community safety; assist with evacuations during wildfire events; provide access for emergency services; and provide firefighters safe and effective means to engage fire when it occurs.
BLM foresters hope to remove these dead and dying trees while the timber still has commercial value.
“By taking action now, we can sell the trees before they decay,” said Burghard. “The trees can pay their way out of the forest.”
“If we wait too long, these necessary treatments will come at a much higher cost to taxpayers,” she continued.
The BLM Medford District anticipates that the environmental analysis will cover an estimated 5,000 acres of commercial salvage, non-merchantable removal, and activity fuel treatments. Implementation of the work could happen using timber sales, stewardship contracts, and/or other service contracts to remove dead and dying material and associated activity fuels and begin in late 2024.
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. https://www.blm.gov/press-release/bureau-land-management-addresses-dying-douglas-fir-across-southwestern-oregon
PART 2 – Newsweek Podcast Focusing on The Disappearance of Fauna Frey From Lane County
Here One Minute, Gone the Next —– PART 2 – Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel joins investigative journalist Alex Rogue to speak with Here One Minute, Gone the Next about the disappearance of Fauna Frey, the growing friction between citizen investigators and law enforcement, and the lack of resources in missing persons cases. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-disappearance-of-fauna-frey-pt2-feat-sheriff/id1707094441?i=1000630100040
PART 1 – John Frey joins Newsweek to discuss exclusive details about the case of his missing daughter that until now have been unavailable to the general public.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of Fauna Frey, call the anonymous tip line at 541-539-5638 or email FindFaunaFrey@gmail.com.
Help Find Fauna Frey #FindFaunaFrey FACEBOOK GROUP
State officials plan to boost naloxone availability in Oregon schools
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has announced plans to offer free opioid overdose reversal kits to middle and high schools throughout the state.
The effort is an expansion of the Save Lives Oregon (SLO) Initiative’s Harm Reduction Clearinghouse Project.
The SLO Harm Reduction Clearinghouse began during COVID and has provided naloxone and other harm reduction supplies at no cost to agencies around the state that directly engage with people at highest risk of substance use related overdose, infections, and injuries.
The expansion of the Harm Reduction Clearinghouse Project to support schools to access naloxone was made possible through one-time funding from the Oregon’s Opioid Settlement Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Board.
The Oregon Department of Education last week notified school district leaders about the availability of naloxone for schools, registration opened Nov. 29 and as of today 505 total schools, colleges, and universities have requested to receive reversal kits.
The intent is to help school districts increase access to overdose reversal kits within their schools for use in the event of an opioid overdose emergency at or near a school campus.
“The opioid epidemic and overdose crisis impacts every community in Oregon. While overdose events on school property are rare, our school communities should be prepared to respond to an overdose medical emergency,” said Ebony Clarke, OHA’s director of behavioral health.
Every middle and high school is eligible to receive up to three opioid overdose reversal kits. The kits contain a wall mounted naloxone box, instructions, emergency medical supplies, and eight doses of the opioid antagonist, naloxone nasal spray.
Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication, can restore breathing while waiting for emergency medical services to arrive. Access to naloxone is necessary for school staff to respond to an opioid overdose on or near a school campus.
Eligible schools must serve students seventh grade or higher. The program is open to all public, private, charter schools, colleges and universities or tribal communities located in Oregon.
For more information, including the link to the online application, please visit the SLO website.
The SLO Clearinghouse has provided no-cost supplies to more than 280 organizations and agencies across Oregon and Tribal communities, including harm reduction organizations, local public health and behavioral health agencies, law enforcement, first responders, community health clinics, substance use disorder facilities and hospital-based programs.
The Harm Reduction Clearinghouse has distributed more than 335,500 doses of naloxone to agencies that directly distribute naloxone to people at risk of opioid overdose since 2022, according to OHA estimates.
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) is closing the Oregon Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) program to most new applicants to avoid overcommitting funds. The application portal will close at noon PST Dec. 20. Homeowners who are in active foreclosure may still be able to apply through a housing counselor.
“We’re encouraging homeowners who are at imminent risk of housing displacement, socially disadvantaged individuals as defined by U.S. Treasury, or anyone who meets one of the additional eligibility criteria listed on the HAF website to apply for HAF assistance before noon Dec. 20,” said Ryan Vanden Brink, assistant director of Homeowner Assistance Programs. “Although we are accepting new applications, there may not be enough funds for everyone who applies as the program winds down.”
Existing applicants can continue to log on to the HAF portal to check the status of their application or scheduled payments.
OHCS planned its HAF program to operate as a safety net for the most at-risk homeowners who have no viable workout option, so those homeowners will receive priority processing. If funds still remain after the portal closes and applications are processed, HAF intake partners will be able to submit new applications on behalf of homeowners in a judicial foreclosure action or in nonjudicial foreclosure with a scheduled sale date. These applicants may need to complete intake paperwork and foreclosure prevention counseling before working with a counselor. Funding may not be available for all these new applications.
In addition to Oregon’s foreclosure moratorium and increased mortgage forbearance and default workout options, HAF has helped Oregon maintain a historically low foreclosure rate during and since the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping many in their homes. According to August 2023 Corelogic data, there were 1,016 residential foreclosures in Oregon, which reflects a 0.16% foreclosure rate, compared to a 20-year average 1.03% foreclosure rate.
As of Dec. 4, OHCS has approved 1,745 applications, totaling about $46.9 million of the $72 million available to homeowners when the program launched. Over $35 million in approved funds have already been paid with an average award of about $27,000. OHCS is reviewing or monitoring another 859 applications that, if approved, are projected to total $23.2 million in assistance. The agency projects $1.9 million remains. OHCS is currently working with homeowners, housing counselors, and mortgage servicers to postpone and prevent hundreds of foreclosures for applicants. Visit the HAF Dashboard for more detailed information.
Free help is available – Homeowners who have fallen behind or are at risk of missing a payment on their mortgage can continue to get free help from certified housing counselors around the state to learn about options to keep their homes, such as modifications or adding deferred payments to the end of a mortgage. Housing counselors are knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated professionals who can help homeowners communicate with their mortgage servicers.
Search the full list of free certified housing counselors by county. Homeowners should be aware that some housing counseling agencies take longer due to high volume and remote working policies.
In addition to connecting with a certified housing counselor, Oregon homeowners should directly contact their mortgage servicers and lenders to see what types of mortgage assistance and foreclosure prevention programs are available. Homeowners who communicate with their lenders and servicers have some additional protections and usually have more time to figure out their options.
Avoiding fraud – The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services recommends being extremely cautious with offers to help from unauthorized companies or people. Homeowners are urged not to provide financial or personal information unless they verify the company or person’s licensing status. It does not cost anything to apply for the HAF program or meet with an Oregon housing counselor.
There are several common warning signs homeowners should watch out for that may indicate a scam. If a homeowner suspects they’re being contacted by a scammer, they can report it to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Oregon Department of Justice, or the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General.
To verify a lender’s license, visit the Division of Financial Regulation’s license page and compare it with the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) license number. This number must be included on all advertising materials and should be easy to find. To verify a housing counseling agency’s status with the state, make sure they are listed on the OHCS website.
Thousands of Oregon Drivers May Soon Be Able To Get Their Driver’s Licenses Again After Governor Tina Kotek Announced She Plans To Forgive Uncollected Traffic Fines and Fees Standing In The Way
Governor Tina Kotek issued an executive order Tuesday that forgives unpaid traffic fees and court fines for about 10,000 people so they can get their driver’s license reinstated.
(Release from the Office of the Governor) Governor Tina Kotek has issued new remission orders forgiving unpaid traffic fines and fees to include individuals who were inadvertently omitted in the previous 2022 remissions orders.
Governor Kotek’s new remission orders remove existing fines for more than 10,000 additional Oregonians who should have been included in the 2022 remission orders. These Oregonians now have their fines and fees forgiven and have the opportunity to restore their licenses.
“Debt-based driver’s license suspensions disproportionately impact rural and low-income Oregonians,” Governor Kotek said. “For families who are already struggling to make ends meet, these orders seek to remove one more barrier to financial stability.”
Prior to the 2020 passage of House Bill 4210, driver’s licenses could be suspended if a person was unable to pay the fine they received because of a minor traffic violation. The new law prohibited most license suspensions for nonpayment of traffic fines going forward, but individuals with debt-based license suspensions already on their record could not reinstate their driver’s licenses.
In December 2022, former Governor Kate Brown remitted the fines and fees associated with years-old traffic violations imposed on Oregonians who were unable to pay their fines or did not appear in court to remedy their fines, thus causing the suspension of their driver’s licenses. The initial orders impacted approximately 7,000 people.
Over the last year, Oregon’s Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division (DMV) discovered that not all individuals who met the criteria in the original 2022 remission orders were included in the released lists.
Governor Kotek’s orders do not alter the original criteria from the 2022 remission orders. Her orders instead ensure that those who met the original criteria are identified. The remission orders forgive fines and fees related only to traffic violations. The orders do not forgive fines and fees related to traffic crimes, such as misdemeanors and felonies, or public safety-related sanctions, like other criminal convictions. Much of the debt forgiven by the Governor’s remission orders has remained unpaid for three or more years and, as a result, is considered uncollectible.
The 2022 remissions orders, including the list of cases, may be found here.
Oregonians can go to the DMV’s Fine Remittance – Do I Qualify? web page to learn if their name is on one of the remission orders and how to reinstate their driving privileges.
——– Kotek said in the statement that “debt-based license suspensions” disproportionately harm rural and low income Oregonians by creating financial hurdles that are hard to overcome.
“For families who are already struggling to make ends meet, these orders seek to remove one more barrier to financial stability,” she wrote.
The state Legislature passed House Bill 4210 in 2020, which prohibited license suspensions for nonpayment of traffic fines. The measure was not retroactive, however, and did not help those who currently had their license suspended.
Kotek’s predecessor, Gov. Kate Brown, later forgave unpaid court fines and fees for about 7,000 people who weren’t helped by the new law. The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles discovered that not everyone who was eligible was helped under Brown’s order, so Kotek’s executive order captures those who were unintentionally left out the first time around.
The remission for the fines and fees do not apply to people who have fees related to traffic crimes or owe compensatory fines to victims. They only apply to traffic fines, such as unpaid parking tickets.
“License suspension plunges already low-income people further into a spiral of debt which it is extremely difficult to escape,” said Sybil Hebb, with the Oregon Law Center.
The majority of the fines and fees forgiven are considered uncollectible debt, according to a press release from the governor’s office. Most of the debt has not been paid for three or more years. The order forgives about $6 million worth of fines from circuit court cases in Oregon. It’s unknown how much was remitted from Oregon municipal and justice courts.
After Brown issued her remission orders, the Oregon Law Center created a video explaining what remission orders do and how to get your driver’s license back if you’re eligible. The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles also has a webpage explaining how to apply for debt forgiveness. (source)
Oregon Retail Sales Decline
Oregon shoppers got more thrifty this year, reversing a post-pandemic trend and perhaps suggesting a subdued holiday shopping season in the weeks ahead.
Oregon retail sales have been in decline for much of this year, the first drops since the spring of 2020. Retail sales were down as much as 3.1% last summer, according to the most recent data from the number crunchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. (Nationally, sales were down about 1%.)
That’s a big turnaround from the prior two years, when Oregon retail sales surged at an annual rate above 10%. Oregon’s numbers closely parallel national trends, reflecting an increase in disposable income from federal stimulus payments and the economic boom that set in as COVID-19 waned.
Fewer people are working in Oregon stores, too. Retail employment was down 1.1% in October compared to year earlier, according to the latest numbers from the Oregon Employment Department.
Retail is one of the few categories of Oregon job still below its pre-pandemic level. The employment department says there were 2,100 fewer retail workers in the state in October than there were before the pandemic hit.
It’s too soon to know how the holiday season will turn out for Oregon stores this fall. But there are early signs consumers nationally are growing more cautious, weary from two years of rising prices. Many have spent down savings, and they’re beginning to carry more credit card debt – at higher interest rates.
Marshal Cohen, chief retail adviser for the shopping analytics and forecasting firm Circana, said consumers seem to be holding out for better deals this year. He called Black Friday a disappointment for big retailers.
“Lots was missing, but mostly a sense of urgency,” Cohen wrote last week. He said consumers aren’t worried that retailers will run out of coveted products and seemed unimpressed with the deals stores are offering. They’ve concluded the biggest discounts are online.
Shopping over Thanksgiving weekend was “sluggish” nationally, according to Ted Rossman, retail analyst for the personal finance website Bankrate.
“I’m getting the sense that consumers are in a frugal mood this holiday season,” Rossman wrote in a report last week. He said he expects holiday sales will be flat compared to 2022 once you factor in rising prices.
“Honestly, sales figures that show retailers treading water is about as good as one could reasonably expect in the current economic climate,” Rossman wrote. (SOURCE)
Oregon Lawmakers Consider Changes To Drug Decriminalization
This is the third hearing — the last this year — of a special interim committee formed to address addiction and community safety.
Drug use and addiction are expected to be a major focus of next year’s five-week legislative session, which begins in February.
Lawmakers are under pressure from big business and political players to change the law or face ballot initiatives to put proposed changes before voters. At the committee’s first meeting in October, lawmakers heard that Oregon has not met addiction treatment needs for years, and some criticized drug decriminalization as a “fundamental failure.”
At a second hearing last month, law enforcement officials testified that fentanyl has been a “deal changer” affecting many aspects of their work. Monday’s speakers are expected to discuss treatment approaches and interventions. Two hours are scheduled for public testimony.
Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort Suspends Operations Due to Safety Concerns
Just a day after celebrating its opening, Mt. Bachelor ski resort abruptly shuts down operations due to safety concerns. Flooding, heavy rain, and dangerous road conditions led to this decision. The resort aims to resume operations by Wednesday, following daily assessments of the conditions.
Umpqua Bank Launches Warm Hearts Winter Drive, Mobilizes Associates across Oregon to Support Neighbors in Need
Local residents can help support nearly 30 Aide Organizations across Oregon this holiday season
― Umpqua Bank announced the launch of its Warm Hearts Winter Drive, an associate-driven campaign to support individuals and families who struggle with access to housing and other basic resources. As part of the drive, associates and local branches in Oregon will help mobilize their respective communities to raise money and collect winter clothing for 28 shelters and aide organizations serving Oregonians experiencing homelessness.
Umpqua’s Warm Hearts Winter drive continues a community-impact commitment of the former Columbia Bank, which merged with Umpqua earlier this year. The campaign was started in 2015 as a way for bank associates to partner with customers and members of their community to raise funds and other resources for local shelters and nonprofits providing support for families without a home. More than $2 million in contributions has been raised since its inception. This year’s drive expands to support more than 100 organizations in communities across the combined bank’s footprint in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Nevada and Utah.
“As a newly combined bank, Umpqua is committed to mobilizing our greater resources and the collective power and passion of our associates to make a difference in our local communities,” said Umpqua Bank Chief Marketing Officer David Moore Devine. “Access to adequate shelter and clothing continues to be a major challenge for many of our neighbors, and our Warm Hearts campaign empowers associates, along with members of our communities, to support local families in need. Simply donating a few dollars, a new coat or other quality clothing items can help ensure that more of our neighbors are cared for in the months ahead.”
How to Support the Warm Hearts Winter Drive — The Warm Hearts Winter Drive accepts cash donations in addition to new winter clothes. Contributions can be made at www.WarmHeartsWinterDrive.com. Financial contributions and new clothing items can also be donated at local Umpqua Bank branches.
Associates and local branches across Umpqua’s footprint are actively engaged in securing financial contributions and warm clothing from customers and community members. One hundred percent of the clothing and funds collected will be donated directly to local shelters and aide organizations.
All designated contributions stay in the community where they were raised and directly support local organizations.
Participating Organizations in Oregon:
|The Shepherd’s House
|Oregon Coast Community Action
|Community Outreach, Inc.
|St. Vincent De Paul Lane County
|My Father’s House: A Community Shelter
|Martha’s House of Hermiston
|Community Action Hillsboro Family Shelter
|Gorge Ecumenical Ministries
|Klamath & Lake Community Action Services
|Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, Inc.
|Union County Shelter from the Storm
|Family Promise of Lincoln County
|Society of St. Vincent De Paul, Rogue Valley
|Northwest Housing Alternatives
|LOVE, Inc. | Newberg/Yamhill County Gospel Mission
|Grace Wins Haven
|Samaritan House, Inc.
|Community in Action
|Neighbor to Neighbor Pendelton (N2N)
|Portland Rescue Mission
|United Community Action Network Douglas & Josephine Counties
|Catholic Community Services of the Mid-Willamette Valley
|Union Gospel Mission of Salem
|Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Center
|St. Vincent De Paul: Warming Place
|Tillamook County Community Action Resource Enterprises, Inc.
For more information on the list of benefiting organizations in each county, or to make a cash or new clothing donation, please visit WarmHeartsWinterDrive.com. Those interested in supporting the Warm Hearts campaign may also email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
About Umpqua Bank
Umpqua Bank is a subsidiary of Columbia Banking System Inc., (Nasdaq: COLB) and a premier regional bank in the western U.S., with offices in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Colorado. With over $50 billion of assets, Umpqua combines the resources, sophistication and expertise of a national bank with a commitment to deliver personalized service at scale. The bank consistently ranks as one of America’s Best Banks (ranked by Forbes) and supports consumers and businesses through a full suite of services, including retail and commercial banking; Small Business Administration lending; institutional and corporate banking; equipment leasing; and wealth management. The bank’s corporate headquarters are located in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Learn more at umpquabank.com.
Demand for food aid spikes in past year as many Oregonians struggle with hunger
After the pandemic ended, the demand for food continued to increase in Oregon, with the need for millions more pounds of produce, pasta and other staples at meal sites and food pantries.
Before the pandemic, about 860,000 people annually visited the food bank’s partners in Oregon and southwest Washington, said Morgan Dewey, a spokesperson for the nonprofit food bank. This year, the food bank is on track to serve more than 1 million people, Dewey said.
“We’re just continuing to try to keep up with how much food folks are needing on the ground,” Dewey said.
Get help — The Oregon Food Bank, state agencies and other organizations, including pantries and churches, provide food for hungry Oregonians. For help:
- Go to needfood.oregon.gov
- Find a food pantry at foodfinder.oregonfoodbank.org
- For seniors and those with disabilities, call 855-673-2372 or go to www.adrcoforegon.org
- Dial 211, or text your Zip code to 898-211, www.211info.org
- For local resources, go to www.caporegon.org/find-services/
The needs have increased as extra pandemic-related food benefits from the government have stopped. During the pandemic, most families received 70% more in their monthly allotment of federal food aid, called the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP. The extra aid ended in March, with the average household allotment falling from $450 a month to about $300. The state also paid out the last of the pandemic-related extra food benefits for low-income families with young children in October.
“Those supports – when they ended it – really, really put folks in a dire situation,” Dewey said.
The food bank has five warehouses throughout the state that deliver to 21 regional food banks and more than 1,400 other points, including meal sites, delivery programs and pantries. Those sites are critical for rural and frontier areas in Oregon with food insecurity that are not near a large regional pantry, Dewey said.
The operation puts out fresh produce and dairy products, with an eye toward offering nutritional food that aligns with the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of Oregonians.
For the long-term, it’s important to look for ways to address the economic circumstances driving hunger, Dewey said. Those can include unaffordable housing and a lack of access to health care.
“We can serve everyone who is standing in line for a meal or standing in line to get a grocery bag full of food,” Dewey said. “We can serve all those people today, but hunger still won’t go away tomorrow.” (SOURCE)
Suspects in string of Salem area armed robberies arrested, guns seized
Salem, Ore. — Two suspects in a string of armed robberies in the Salem area were arrested yesterday, December 4, without incident in an interagency operation by the Salem Police Department and Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) with assistance from Oregon State Police (OSP).
Over a three-week period beginning on November 17, a series of armed robberies occurred at six businesses. In each incident, the suspects brandished guns at employees and demanded money. Four of the robberies occurred in the Salem city limits and two robberies were committed at locations outside the city boundaries and within MCSO jurisdiction.
Detectives from the Salem Police Violent Crimes Unit worked with MCSO investigators to identify the suspects. And in a coordinated effort on Monday, Salem Police, MCSO and OSP SWAT teams served simultaneous search warrants at three different locations in Salem which resulted in the arrest of Nestor Gabriel Hernandez-Juarez, age 19 of Salem, and a 17-year-old juvenile. As a result of the warrant service, detectives located evidence connected to the crimes to include three handguns, two which were used in the commission of the robberies.
- Robbery, first degree, four counts
- Unlawful use of a weapon, four counts
- Menacing, four counts
The juvenile was lodged at the Marion County Juvenile Department on the following allegations:
- Robbery, first degree, six counts
- Unlawful use of a weapon, six counts
- Menacing, six counts
The Salem Police Department does not identify minors involved in criminal investigations.
No further information is available for release as the case remains under investigation.
Get $5 off annual Oregon State Park parking permit in December
Give the gift of the outdoors and save this season with the Oregon State Parks 12-month parking permit sale during the month of December.
The permit hangtag once again features whimsical designs from Portland artist El Tran. Holiday shoppers can buy the annual parking permits for only $25, which is a $5 savings starting Dec. 1 and running through Dec. 31. The permit is good for 12 months starting in the month of purchase.
Purchasing permits is easy. Buy them online at the Oregon State Parks store (use the drop down menu to pick your favorite design). Parking permits are also sold at some state park friends’ group stores and select local businesses throughout the state. For a complete list of vendors, visit stateparks.oregon.gov.
Parking costs $5 a day at 25 Oregon state parks unless you have a 12- or 24-month parking permit or a same-day camping receipt. The 24-month pass is $50 and is also available at store.oregonstateparks.org. The permits are transferable from vehicle to vehicle.
Alert for Respiratory Illness Effecting Oregon Dogs
Veterinary laboratories in several states are investigating an unusual respiratory illness in dogs and encouraging people to take basic precautions to keep their pets healthy as veterinarians try to pin down what’s making the animals sick.
Oregon, Colorado and New Hampshire are among the states that have seen cases of the illness, which has caused lasting respiratory disease and pneumonia and does not respond to antibiotics.
Symptoms of respiratory illness in dogs include coughing, sneezing, nasal or eye discharge and lethargy. Some cases of the pneunomia progress quickly, making dogs very sick within 24 to 36 hours.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture has documented more than 200 cases of the disease since mid-August. It has encouraged pet owners to contact their vet if their dog is sick and told state veterinarians to report cases as soon as possible. The agency is working with state researchers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory to find out what is causing the illnesses.
Dogs have died, said Kurt Williams, director of the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University. But without a clear way to define the disease or test for it, he said it’s hard to put a number on how many died from a severe form of the infection.
Williams had a simple message for dog owners: “Don’t panic.” He also said dog owners should make sure that their pets are up to date on vaccines, including those that protect against various respiratory illnesses.
Labs across the country have been sharing their findings as they try to pinpoint the culprit.
David Needle, senior veterinary pathologist at the University of New Hampshire’s New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, has been investigating the mysterious disease for almost a year.
His lab and colleagues at the university’s Hubbard Center for Genome Research have looked at samples from dogs in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts and more will be coming from Oregon, Colorado and possibly other states.
He said his team has not seen a large increase in dogs dying from the illness but still encouraged pet owners to “decrease contact with other dogs.” (SOURCE)
Silver Falls State Park hosts Winter Festival Dec. 9 and 10
Enjoy guided nature hikes, seasonal crafts and educational activities at the Silver Falls State Park Winter Festival 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10.
Visitors will have a chance to learn about the park in winter including the changing landscapes and habitats for resident and migratory birds and animals.
Activities include guided walks and talks; building bird nest boxes; making bird feeders and paper bird crafts; creating wreaths and decorating gingerbread and sugar cookies.
Schedule of Activities:
- Make a wreath at the Evergreen Picnic Shelter (South Falls day-use area)
- Build a bird nest box at the Creekside Shelter (South Falls day-use are)
- Make a bird feeder or paper bird craft in the Stone Kitchen Shelter (South Falls day-use area)
- Attend a short educational talk or guided walk at the South Falls Theater (South Falls day-use area unless otherwise noted)
- 11 a.m.: Winter Hibernators Walk (45-minute walk at Smith Creek Village)
- 12 p.m.: Mushroom ID hike (1-hour hike)
- 1 p.m.: Winter Tree ID hike (1-hour hike)
- 2 p.m.: Learn to Love a Lichen (20-minute talk)
- 3 p.m.: Winter birds of Silver Falls (20-minute talk)
- Visit a discovery table near South Falls to learn about the waterfalls in winter or learn about the winter solstice (South Falls day-use area)
- Decorate a cookie, make a paper bird craft or learn about winter animal tracks (Smith Creek Village, 1.5 miles from the South Falls day-use area)
- Earn a commemorative Silver Falls ornament from taking part in at least five of the above activities
All activities are free, but a day-use parking permit is required. Permits cost $5 per day; annual permits, normally $30, are on sale for $25 in the month of December and are available at the park. For more information, visit the event page on our calendar at stateparks.oregon.gov or call 503-874-0201.
Enjoy Evening Hours at the Museum with the December return of Winter Nights!
BEND, OR — Days are shorter, and the air is colder… winter is coming! Every Thursday in December, the High Desert Museum will host fun and festive Winter Nights events — offering participants a break from their busy work weeks with unique evenings out.
For Winter Nights the Museum will remain open until 7:30 pm with seasonal themes as well as a chance to experience new exhibitions and engaging activities for all ages. In addition, the Museum presently has two new exhibitions — Wolves: Photography by Ronan Donovan and Endangered in the High Desert — and will open a third one on Saturday, December 9, Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species: From the Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation.
For this year’s Winter Nights:
- December 7: Welcome to Winter — The first Winter Nights event will feature speedy rounds of Museum trivia! Several rounds will be played, and prizes will be won. Alongside trivia, Museum visitors may enjoy fun beverage tastings from local vendors and a dinner or a treat at the Rimrock Café. Silver Sage Trading will also be open, offering holiday discounts to all and complementary gift wrapping. Cookie decorating and storytelling for kids will also be happening all evening long.
- December 14: College Night– Students with college identification will receive free admission! For this Winter Nights event the Museum encourages all visitors to come dressed in their best vintage snow-wear. The evening will feature speedy rounds of Museum bingo, more regional beverage tastings, cookie decorating and storytelling. Silver Sage Trading – with holiday discounts and gift wrapping – and the Rimrock Café will also be open throughout the evening.
- December 21: Exploring Endangered Species– Bring the family to explore the Museum’s newest exhibits, Wolves: Photography by Ronan Donovan, Endangered in the High Desert and Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species. Like the previous nights, there will be beverage tastings alongside an exhibit-themed scavenger hunt that ends with an art project. Plus, there are sugar cookies to decorate, discounts to be had at Silver Sage Trading and delicious food to eat at the Rimrock Café. All ages are sure to enjoy this evening!
- December 28: By the Fireside – This will be an exciting opportunity to get the entire family out of the house… in pajamas! During the final Winter Nights of the season the Museum will host a pajama party with family portraits, cozy stories, sugar cookie decorating and more delicious craft beverage tastings.
With up to nine new exhibits opening at the High Desert Museum each year, there is always something new for visitors to explore. October, November and December were no exception, with one new exhibition opening each month. The first, Wolves: Photography by Ronan Donovan, opened on October 21. This stunning exhibition, created by the National Geographic Society and the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, features Donovan’s images and videos of wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and on Ellesmere Island in the high Canadian Artic. Since 2014, the National Geographic Explorer and photographer has examined the relationship between wild wolves and humans to better understand the animals, our shared history and what drives the persistent human-wolf conflict. To learn more, visit: highdesertmuseum.org/wolves.
Winter Nights visitors can also explore the original exhibit Endangered in the High Desert, which recently opened on November 11. With vibrant colors and engaging photography, this exhibition is meant to ignite conversations about species in the region that are either facing or recovering from the threat of extinction. To learn more, visit: highdesertmuseum.org/endangered-high-desert.
The Museum’s final exhibition opening in 2023, Andy Warhol’s: Endangered Species: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation, makes its debut at the Museum on Saturday, December 9. The exhibition will showcase the pop art icon’s complete Endangered Species series (1983), as well as select works from Warhol’s Skull series, Vanishing Animals series and one of Warhol’s iconic Marilyn Monroe works. To learn more, visit: highdesertmuseum.org/warhol.
All three of these exhibitions are key components of the Museum’s yearlong recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act.
Admission for Winter Nights is $10 general admission and $6 for ages 3-12. Ages 2 and under and Museum members are free. Visitors who arrive earlier in the day may stay for Winter Nights without paying additional admission. The outdoor exhibits are closed during Winter Nights. Regular winter hours are 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Learn more at highdesertmuseum.org/winter-nights.
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 and Instagram.
Visitors can book same-day online reservations statewide starting in 2024
SALEM, Ore— Visitors hoping to camp last minute will soon have the chance to view and book same-day campsite openings online statewide starting Jan. 1, 2024.
Previously, most sites required booking 24 hours or more in advance of arrival when reserving online. Same-day online reservations started as a pilot project at two coastal parks and expanded last summer to all 17 coastal state park campgrounds.
“Same-day reservations at the coast gave those traveling the peace of mind that there was a place ready for them when they arrived,” said Coastal Region Director Dennis Comfort.
When the program expands statewide, it will include a total of 40 park campgrounds across Oregon. Some parks switch tent and RV campsites to first-come-first served during the winter and those sites will start offering same-day online reservations in the spring. Visitors can check park webpages for seasonal information on specific parks at https://stateparks.oregon.gov/
Eleven campgrounds will remain first-come-first served year-round: Jackson F. Kimball, Goose Lake, Bates, Cascara, Catherine Creek, Hilgard Junction, Jasper Point (except for the cabin), Minam, Red Bridge, Smith Rock and Ukiah-Dale.
The goal of same-day online reservations is to offer campers the flexibility to travel last minute when sites are available while giving them the security of knowing they have a site when they arrive. Same-day online reservations also have the potential to give park staff more time to offer interpretive opportunities, improve park facilities and increase time interacting with visitors.
“The transition to same-day reservations at Nehalem Bay State Park was nearly seamless and has been generally well received by guests,” said Park Manager Ben Cox.
Starting Jan. 1, 2024:
- Tent and RV campers can make a same-day online reservation up until 11:59 p.m. on the day they arrive by visiting https://oregonstateparks.reserveamerica.com. Yurt and cabin reservations must be made before 6 p.m. the day of arrival due to the staffing required to assist with keys or codes.
- All visitors can make reservations by calling (800) 452-5687 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Visitors can also make same-day online reservations at parks statewide using mobile devices where they have cell reception or where Oregon State Parks’ free, limited Wi-Fi is available. Wi-Fi is provided at most parks for reservations only and is not guaranteed to be available 24/7. Signs at the park have login information. Since internet connectivity varies by park, it’s best to reserve campsites before arrival.
- Visitors can still pay with cash or checks at the park by finding a ranger or following posted instructions, which could include using self-registration envelopes only if instructed to do so. Ranger availability is limited depending on time and location.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) will waive the $8 reservation fee for all same-day reservations.
Update- as of 11/15/23, Bailey has still not been found, but Tyler Burrows was arrested and taken into custody in Trail, Oregon.