Rogue Valley News, Friday 12/8 – Local Child Exploitation Task Force Investigation Leads to Federal Prison for Eagle Point Woman & Other Local and Statewide News…

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

Friday, December 8, 2023

Rogue Valley Weather

No photo description available.

Another atmospheric river takes aim at the Pacific Northwest

Another 2-5 inches of rain loom for the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest while the I-5 corridor could see up to 2 inches of additional rain on top of the several inches that fell earlier in the week as a new atmospheric river storm returns Saturday.

Heavy rain will return to the region Saturday into early Sunday, adding more water to swollen rivers that have mostly returned to their banks after reaching moderate to even record flood levels on Tuesday and Wednesday but are still running high.

The return of impactful snow to the mountains and their passes will present travel challenges to those heading into the passes on Saturday until snow levels rise once again above pass levels on Sunday.

After a relative break in the weather Friday with just some scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms, the next atmospheric river arrives in the Northwest on Saturday with steady moderate to heavy rain in the lowlands and increasing mountain snow.

By Sunday, about another 0.5-2 inches of rain is likely in the Interstate 5 corridor in Washington and Oregon, with another 2-5 inches of rain expected along the coastal regions and their mountains.

 

Local Child Exploitation Task Force Investigation Leads to Federal Prison for Eagle Point Woman

JCSO Case 20-5124

MEDFORD, Ore. – An Eagle Point woman was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison Monday, December 4, 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. This case was investigated by Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force. It was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office District of Oregon.

This case’s successful outcome required collaboration from local and federal law enforcement agencies. This teamwork led to the establishment of the Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET), a joint inter-agency task force that was started in June of 2020 to combat child exploitation and human trafficking.

The initial investigation began in January of 2020 when JCSO detectives and HSI received a report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) of child pornography being uploaded from an address in the 600 block of East Archwood Drive in Eagle Point. According to court documents, in 2020, Lester took sexually explicit photos of an 8-year-old child and distributed them to multiple individuals online. 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.

Arrest Made in December 5th Shooting Case 

2023-12/6231/168497/Seems_River_Pic.jpg

On December 6 at about 4:15 PM the Medford Police Dept took 37-year-old Michael Jospeh Gregory Seems into custody in relation to the shooting that occurred yesterday at 2115 Roberts Road. Investigators had developed Seems as a suspect early in this case and had actively been looking for him since yesterday evening. Today at about 3:30 PM, a Medford Police detective spotted Seems as a passenger in a vehicle in Medford and followed the vehicle as it got onto Interstate 5, northbound.

The detective coordinated responding units and police were able to initiate a traffic stop on the vehicle in the city of Gold Hill. The vehicle briefly eluded the attempted traffic stop, but eventually stopped on Lampman Road adjacent to the Rogue River. Seems fled from the vehicle, down the embankment and into the river. He became trapped on the rocks, partially in the river, and remained uncooperative with police officers who were negotiating with him to exit the river.  Eventually officers were able to rescue Seems from the river and assist him up the bank, where he was taken into custody. All known witnesses and participants in this case have been identified and interviewed. The firearm believed to have been used in this case has been recovered.  Michael Seems will be lodged at the Jackson County jail on multiple charges, including Attempted Murder, and Assault in the First Degree.

The Medford Police Dept would like to thank members of the Jackson County sheriffs department, Central Point Police Department, and Oregon state police that assisted in today’s capture. The victim in this case is recovering from his injuries. This shooting resulted from the victim confronting Seems and two others who were loitering near the back of his apartment.

Southern Oregon Man Sentenced to More Than 12 Years in Federal Prison After Boobytrapped Home Injures Federal Officer

MEDFORD, Ore.—A former resident of Williams, Oregon, was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison today after he boobytrapped a southern Oregon home and injured a federal officer.

Gregory Lee Rodvelt, 72, was sentenced to 150 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

“Fueled by anger and bitterness, this defendant boobytrapped a property in southern Oregon with intent to seriously injure someone. Unfortunately, his trap worked, and he injured an FBI bomb technician,” said Nathan J. Lichvarcik, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eugene and Medford Branch Offices. “We are fortunate Greg Rodvelt’s actions did not kill a law enforcement officer or community member. Today’s sentence is a just punishment for a serious crime.”

“This individual went through great efforts to set intricate and deadly concealed traps to prevent FBI agents from doing their job. These were no joke,” said Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Portland Field Office. “Mr. Rodvelt knew he was breaking the law and his reprehensible actions are what landed him this sentence. We are thankful that our agent and other law enforcement officers survived this vicious attempt and we are thankful for our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their diligent work in bringing justice to this case.”

“It is clear that his emplacing multiple layers of boobytraps were intended to hurt or kill a person or multiple people,” said ATF Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “We are thankful that the FBI bomb technician wasn’t more seriously injured and hope that this sentence sends a strong message to not only Mr. Rodvelt but anyone who would contemplate doing something like this.”

“I’m thankful this incident didn’t result in more critical or fatal injuries, said Sergeant Kevin DelGrande of Oregon State Police, “This case highlights the dangers explosive devices present to responding law enforcement officers.”

According to court documents, on September 7, 2018, bomb technicians from Oregon State Police (OSP) and the FBI went to a property in Williams formerly owned by Rodvelt that he had lost in lawsuit. After Rodvelt learned that a receiver had been appointed to sell the property, he proceeded to boobytrap it.

When the bomb technicians arrived at the property, they observed a minivan blocking the gate. The technicians found steel animal traps affixed to a gate post and under the hood of the minivan. They also located homemade spike strips, which the receiver had previously run over. As the technician neared the residence, they observed a hot tub that had been placed on its side and rigged in a manner that when a gate was opened it would activate a mechanical trigger causing the spa to roll toward the person who had opened the gate.

The technicians further observed that the windows of the residence had been barred from the inside and there were security doors at the front and rear of the residence. The front door also had what appeared to be bullet holes from shots fired inside. In the garage, they found a rat trap modified to accept a shotgun shell. Though the trap was unloaded, it was connected to the main garage door so it would be tripped when the door was opened.

The technicians and two other law enforcement officers gathered near the front of the residence and used an explosive charge to breach the front door. The group carefully entered the residence, looking for traps, and found a wheelchair in the center of the front entryway. When the wheelchair was bumped, it triggered a homemade shotgun device that discharged a .410 shotgun shell that struck the FBI bomb technician below the knee. The group administered first aid to the wounded technician and transported him to a local hospital.

On June 2, 2023, a federal jury in Medford found Rodvelt guilty of assaulting a federal officer and using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

This case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from OSP and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). It was prosecuted by Judith R. Harper and Jeffrey S. Sweet, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

 

Southern Oregon Woman Sentenced for Using Deceased Spouse’s Identity to Obtain Federal Student Aid Funds

MEDFORD, Ore.—A Southern Oregon woman was sentenced in federal court Monday for using her deceased husband’s identity to unlawfully obtain more than $36,000 in federal student aid.

Cynthia Pickering, 56, of Central Point, Oregon, was sentenced to 36 months’ probation and ordered to pay $36,341 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Education.

According to court documents, beginning in September 2017 and continuing through April 2019, Pickering devised a scheme to use her deceased husband’s personally identifiable information to submit multiple applications for federal student aid and enroll her former husband at three different colleges and universities in Oregon. These fraudulent applications caused the three colleges and universities—Eastern Oregon University, Rogue Community College, and Western Oregon University—to disperse $36,341 in federal student aid into Pickering’s personal checking account.

To conceal her scheme, Pickering attended online classes pretending to be her former husband so that her husband would remain eligible for the student aid. Pickering did what was necessary to pass first term courses at each institution and collect the funds.

On October 6, 2022, a federal grand jury in Medford returned a nine-count indictment charging Pickering with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and student loan fraud, and, on November 15, 2022, she was arrested at her residence in Central Point. On August 21, 2023, Pickering pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud and three counts of student aid fraud.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General (ED-OIG). It was prosecuted by John C. Brassell, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

 

‘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:

Actor Patrick Duffy smaller parcels for sale 775 Trails End Lane outside of southern Oregon's Eagle Point is a “ranchette" on 29.5 acres with water rights to 21.5 acres, says listing broker Alan DeVries of Cascade Hasson Sotheby's International Realty.
775 Trails End Lane outside of southern Oregon’s Eagle Point is a “ranchette” on 29.5 acres.Cascade Hasson Sotheby’s International Realty

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: $475,000, says listing broker Alan DeVries of Cascade Hasson Sotheby's International Realty.
A chalet-style cabin is also for sale.Cascade Hasson Sotheby’s International Realty
  • 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 Forestryi 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.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.newsweek.com/exclusive-what-happened-fauna-frey-new-clues-uncovered-1827197?fbclid=IwAR3Z3Glru5lIgqiYXbs_nA1Fj8JuCIzM11OHSVHfwIucfq2f_G5y9y5bnmQ

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

OHA launches winter campaign to encourage conversations about alcohol

Rethink the Drink urges communities to talk about alcohol, offers tips for supporting others during holiday season

At a time when many people in Oregon are celebrating the holiday season with friends, coworkers, and loved ones, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is launching Rethink the Drink’s new winter advertising campaign to change the conversation about alcohol.

Rethink the Drink: Addressing Excessive Alcohol Consumption in Oregon | Northwest Center for Public Health Practice

The campaign emphasizes the need for people to come together and support one another to be healthy and care for communities. That includes creating healthy environments that support people in their efforts to drink less alcohol. The campaign reveals how common alcohol has become in community settings and asks people to consider ways they can best support their friends and loved ones – and their entire community – to be healthy.

Rethink the Drink, informed by significant community and partner engagement, aims to decrease alcohol consumption and related harms in Oregon. Elements of this winter campaign include a website; statewide TV, radio, digital and print advertisements; and Facebook and Instagram pages. Oregon is the only state in the country to initiate a public health campaign of this scale to reach adults 21 and older.

While younger people in Oregon are drinking less, binge drinking and heavy drinking among adults are on the rise, and are responsible for an estimated 1 in 5 deaths among those ages 20-49. Overall, excessive alcohol use is the third leading cause of preventable death and disease in Oregon.

“During December and the holiday season, many people and communities come together at celebrations or events where alcohol may be present. We’re trying to start a new conversation to help dial down the pressure around alcohol, and help create more supportive community spaces for everyone,” said Tom Jeanne, M.D., M.P.H., deputy state health officer and epidemiologist at OHA.

“Our new campaign and messaging explore how alcohol has crept into so many settings of our daily lives, whether that’s at the hair salon, a child’s birthday party, or a baby shower,” Jeanne said “Even in moments when people are trying to improve their health, such as a 5k run or during a hike in the woods, many of us find ourselves drinking more. This campaign is about caring for one another and for our communities so that we can all be healthy and feel supported.”

Data show the first Rethink the Drink campaign was a significant success —

Based on evaluation data from RMC Research for its first campaign in summer 2022, Rethink the Drink achieved its goals and exceeded expectations for the campaign. People in Oregon who saw the campaign:

  • Had more conversations about their own drinking, friends’ and families’ drinking, and what excessive drinking is.
  • Thought more about their drinking habits.
  • Were more likely to plan on cutting back their drinking than those who did not see the campaign.

People living in Oregon may be drinking excessively without realizing it — The share of Oregon adults who drink excessively is larger than most people realize – more than 1 in 5. Most people in this group are not affected by alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder. However, by drinking excessively, people increase their odds of developing an alcohol use disorder later in life.

OHA uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition of excessive alcohol use, which includes both heavy drinking and binge drinking:

  • Heavy drinking, which can lead to chronic diseases and other problems over time, is eight or more drinks per week for women or 15 or more drinks per week for men.
  • Binge drinking is consuming four or more drinks on one occasion for women or five or more drinks on one occasion for men.

For more information on differences among genders for what’s considered excessive drinking, visit https://www.rethinkthedrink.com/what-is-excessive-drinking.

The unjust harms of excessive drinking — Certain populations experience more unjust stressors and disadvantages due to racism, discrimination, and historical disinvestment in these communities, which has led to higher rates of alcohol-related harms. These include Black and Indigenous communities, as well as people with lower incomes and less education.

Excessive drinking causes health harms that include increased risks for cancer, liver failure, heart disease and depression. Beyond the health harms to the individual, excessive drinking affects the entire community, costing Oregon $4.8 billion per year from lost earnings for workers and revenue for businesses, health care expenses, criminal justice costs and car crashes.

“We all have a role to play in building healthy communities and addressing alcohol and substance use in our state,” said Annaliese Dolph, director of Oregon’s Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission. “The Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission’s Strategic Plan calls for raising awareness of harm associated with alcohol misuse, especially using prevention techniques. This is exactly what the Rethink the Drink campaign helps accomplish. This is an example of state agencies working together with the Commission to carry out the Commission’s task of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of substance use services.”

Dolph added: “Preventing misuse across the lifespan includes having honest conversations to help people to think about the alcohol they are consuming, and decrease family and community norms permissive of misuse. This can increase the perception of harm from misuse and address the health harms faced by historically marginalized communities.”

Rethink the Drink is not telling people to stop drinking, Jeanne says. The campaign is asking people to pause for a moment, learn about the harms caused by excessive drinking, and think about the way alcohol is prevalent in their lives and communities. While the alcohol industry provides thousands of jobs for people in Oregon, and producers in our state make some of the world’s finest beers, wines and spirits, excessive drinking carries heavy costs for all Oregonians, whether they drink or not.

Note: If you or someone you care about is suffering from alcohol dependence or an alcohol use disorder, free confidential resources and support are available online or by calling or 1-800-923-435.

About Rethink the Drink

Rethink the Drink is an initiative of OHA’s Public Health Division with a goal to build healthier communities by decreasing excessive drinking and the harm it causes to individuals, families and communities. Recognizing the value of Oregon’s beer, wine and alcohol producers and businesses to the state’s economy, culture and identity, Rethink the Drink is not asking people not to drink. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the effects of excessive alcohol use. While people of all education and income levels drink excessively, certain populations experience higher rates of alcohol-related diseases. These include Black and Indigenous communities, as well as people with lower incomes and less education. Certain populations experience higher rates of alcohol-related disease due to discrimination and historical disinvestment in these communities that has contributed to fewer resources and support. Rethink the Drink is committed to OHA’s larger goal to end health inequities in our state by 2030.

Bureau of Land Management is hiring 100 student interns

Portland, Ore. — Are you a student looking to kickstart a career in civil service? Are you looking for a fun, fulfilling way to spend your summer?

During the next couple of weeks, the Bureau of Land Management is hiring at least 100 paid student interns across the country, some of them right here in the Pacific Northwest. Come work with us! Job applications will be open on USAjobs.gov from December 8 through December 18, 2023. Don’t miss the opportunity!

Leaders from BLM Oregon/Washington will host two Zoom workshops to help students navigate the application process.

“Applying for a job with the federal government is a little different than applying for other jobs,” said Amanda Roberts, BLM Prineville District Manager. “I’m excited to help students from our community get involved!”

Roberts will provide an hour-long presentation on building federal resumes. There will also be approximately 30 minutes available for workshop attendees to ask questions. The two webinars will cover the same content. The first webinar will be recorded and posted to YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/BLMOREGON).

The workshops will take place on:

Students will get the most out of the workshop if they already have an account on USAjobs.gov. Anyone 16 years or older and enrolled or soon to be enrolled in school is eligible to apply.

The American people rely on the BLM to care for their public land, and BLM leaders are committed to building a team that represents all of America.

“Civil service has been a fulfilling and meaningful career for me,” said Roberts. “Our ultimate goal is to give that same opportunity to the next generation.”

Internships are available in a variety of career fields and functions, including:
• Civil engineering
• Public affairs
• Information technology
• Survey
• Administration
• Land law examiner
• Natural resources
• Land surveyor
• Wildland fire
• Geographic information systems
• Human resources
• Grant management
• Contracting
• Budget
• Environment protection

All currently open BLM jobs in Oregon and Washington are listed on USAjobs at this link: https://www.usajobs.gov/Search/Results?l=Oregon&l=Washington&a=IN05&hp=public&p=1

-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.

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.

OHCS announces Homeowner Assistance Fund application portal to close on December 20

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.

Governor Kotek’s remission orders, including the list of cases, may be found here. A compiled list of names from all three orders can be found here, and an FAQ is located here.

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)

Winter Whale Watch Week returns to the Oregon Coast Dec. 27-31

Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay

OREGON COAST, Oregon—Oregon State Parks will once again host Winter Whale Watch Week at 15 sites along the Oregon Coast Wednesday, Dec. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023.

Every year thousands of gray whales migrate south through Oregon’s waters at the end of December, and state parks invites visitors to the coast to see their journey.

Trained volunteers will be stationed at 15 sites to help visitors spot whales, share information and answer questions from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. Volunteer opportunities are still available along the north and south coast if you register by Dec. 11 at https://orwhalewatch.org/volunteer/

The Whale Watch Week sites are some of the best places to spot whales on the Oregon Coast.

“We are excitedly waiting for the migration of the gray whales to come down from Alaska,” said Park Ranger Peter McBride.

“We really enjoy sharing the experience with visitors,” he said, “It’s been a tradition at Oregon State Parks for more than 40 years.”

A map of volunteer-staffed sites is available online on the official event webpage: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=thingstodo.dsp_whaleWatching

An estimated 14,500 gray whales swam past Oregon’s shores last winter, according to the most recent population estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The journey is part of their annual migration south to the calving lagoons near Baja, Mexico, and the end of December is the peak time to see their migration south.

The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay will be open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Visitors to the center can enjoy interactive whale exhibits and take in the panoramic ocean views. Binoculars are provided. Rangers from Oregon State Parks will also be on hand to answer questions about whales.

All Whale Watch Week visitors are encouraged to dress for the weather, to bring binoculars and to follow beach safety guidelines such as remaining out of fenced areas, knowing the tide schedule and keeping an eye on the surf at all times. Go to https://visittheoregoncoast.com/beach-safety/ for a list of safety tips.

For more information about coast parks and campgrounds, visit oregonstateparks.org.

Visitors are encouraged to share their photos and videos from Winter Whale Watch on social media using #OregonStateParks and #ORWhaleWatch23.

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:

Bethlehem Inn Bend
The Shepherd’s House Bend
Oregon Coast Community Action Coos Bay
Community Outreach, Inc. Corvallis
Eugene Mission Eugene
St. Vincent De Paul Lane County Eugene
My Father’s House: A Community Shelter Gresham
Martha’s House of Hermiston Hermiston
Community Action Hillsboro Family Shelter Hillsboro
Gorge Ecumenical Ministries Hood River
Klamath & Lake Community Action Services Klamath Falls
Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, Inc. La Grande
Union County Shelter from the Storm La Grande
Family Promise of Lincoln County Lincoln City
Society of St. Vincent De Paul, Rogue Valley Medford
Northwest Housing Alternatives Milwaukie
LOVE, Inc. | Newberg/Yamhill County Gospel Mission Newberg
Grace Wins Haven Newport
Samaritan House, Inc. Newport
Community in Action Ontario
Neighbor to Neighbor Pendelton (N2N) Pendleton
Portland Rescue Mission Portland
United Community Action Network Douglas & Josephine Counties Roseburg
Catholic Community Services of the Mid-Willamette Valley Salem
Union Gospel Mission of Salem Salem
Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Center Seaside
St. Vincent De Paul: Warming Place The Dalles
Tillamook County Community Action Resource Enterprises, Inc. Tillamook

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 community@umpquabank.com 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.

Farmworker Francisca Aparicio washes lettuce in July 2023 as part of an Oregon Food Bank ambassador program that helps diverse communities across the state. (Oregon Food Bank)

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:

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)

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/

Oregon Heritage Commission grants awarded for history projects throughout the state

Oregon Heritage Commission has awarded $381,262 in grants to 33 organizations throughout the state. The grants will help fund a variety of projects including collection preservation and access, research, oral history, exhibits, and performance projects. Award amounts ranged $1,000 – $20,000.

Funded projects:

  • Albany Regional Museum, in Albany, digitize and make accessible the photo, postcard and negative collection.
  • Bend Park and Recreation District, in Bend, for an exhibit at the Hollinshead-Matson site.
  • Benton County to hold an event at Fort Hoskins and repair the chimney of the Commander’s House.
  • Big Butte Historical Society, in Butte Falls, to update the Butte Falls Discovery Loop.
  • Chetco Community Public Library, in Brookings, to digitize historic issues of the Brookings Harbor Pilot and make it accessible through the University of Oregon Oregon Historic Newspapers website.
  • The City of Dayton, in Yamhill County, to digitize historic issues of the Dayton Oregon newspapers and make it accessible through the University of Oregon Oregon Historic Newspapers website.
  • The City of Lowell, in Lane County, to create a digital archive of materials related to the history of Lowell and surrounding areas.
  • Crater Rock Museum, in Central Point, to rehouse the lithic artifacts collection.
  • Deschutes County Historical Society, in Bend, to complete priority collection data clean-up.
  • Friends of Kam Wah Chung, in John Day, to translation of collection materials.
  • Gresham Historical Society, in Gresham, to develop and promote a local history podcast.
  • Hellenic-American Cultural Center and Museum, in Portland, to develop an audio tour and accompanying materials.
  • High Desert Museum, in Deschutes County, to develop content and strategies for connecting people to the experiences and stories of Black Oregonians.
  • Japanese American Museum of Oregon, in Portland, to develop a set of traveling trunks about Japanese American history, to be available throughout the state.
  • Lake Oswego Preservation Society, in Lake Oswego, transcribe and make accessible records of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company.
  • Linfield University, in McMinnville, to create an exhibit at the Portland campus about Emily L. Loveridge, who founded and led the first nursing school in the.
  • Lone Fir Cemetery Foundation, in Portland, to support archaeological work to uncover the remains of the Chinese alter at Lone Fir Cemetery.
  • Mark Prairie Historical Society, in Canby, to complete interior restoration of the Mark Prairie School building.
  • Oregon Aviation Historical Society, in Cottage Grove, to collect oral histories of Oregon woman aviators.
  • Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation, in Portland, to install interpretation at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center.
  • Oregon State Grange, in Salem, to preserve, digitize and make accessible the historic documents of the Oregon State Grange.
  • Oregon State University, Anthropology Department, in Corvallis, to 3D scan historic buildings at Silver Falls State Park.
  • Portland Chinatown History Foundation to repair the historic dragon sculpture and hold the Lunar New Year Dragon Dance Parade and Celebration.
  • Powerland Heritage Park, in Brooks, to repair the boiler of the steam powered sawmill.
  • RASIKA Society for Arts of India, in Portland, to collect oral histories exploring the agency of South Asians who immigrated to Oregon, following the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, and share them through a multimedia performance.
  • Southern Oregon Historical Society, in Medford, to digitize over 6,000 glass plate negatives of photographer Peter Britt.
  • The Eugene Debbs Potts Foundation, in Josephine County, to improve access and increase displays at the museum.
  • The Immigrant Story, in Hillsboro, to present To Tell the World, a public arts program.
  • Vanport Mosaic, in Portland, to develop an audio walking tour series and complete a pilot tour about Portland’s Black Panther Party.
  • Vanport Placemaking Project, in Portland, to develop audio accessible content for interpretation at the Vanport site.
  • Weston Area Development Association to install a Weston history exhibit at a local restaurant.
  • Willamette Heritage Center, in Salem, to complete preservation assessments on historic buildings at the site.

This competitive grant program is for qualifying organizations, and is offered once per biennium for projects that conserve, develop or interpret Oregon’s heritage. It is a program of the Oregon Heritage Commission. The Commission works to secure, sustain and enhance Oregon’s heritage. The Commission consists of nine members appointed by the governor and nine agency advisors. Members are chosen from state agencies and statewide organizations, and represent diverse geographical and cultural backgrounds.

The Commission is part of Oregon Heritage, a division of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. To learn more about the Oregon Heritage Grant or the Oregon Heritage Commission, visit www.oregonheritage.org or contact Kuri Gill at i.gill@oprd.oregon.gov“>Kuri.gill@oprd.oregon.gov or 503-986-0685.

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 DonovanEndangered 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.

Campsite at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park

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.

If you have any questions about the new option, please contact the information center at k.info@oregon.gov“>park.info@oregon.gov. For more information about the option, please visit our online FAQs.

https://www.oregon.gov/osp/missing/pages/missingpersons.aspx

May be an image of 3 people and text

Update- as of 11/15/23, Bailey has still not been found, but Tyler Burrows was arrested and taken into custody in Trail, Oregon.

May be an image of 1 person and text

 

May be an image of 3 people and text that says 'MISSING JESSICA PARKER Age: 35 Sex or ender: Female Race: White Eyes: Blue Hair: Brown Height: 5 1 Weight: 200 3588 Identifying Characteristics: Has rose tattoo on hand Drives 2000 Red Toyota Corolla Temporary tag in window with no plates LAST CONTACT: 09/09/2023 IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION ABOUT JESSICA PARKER PLEASE CONTACT THE JACKSON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: (541) 774-6800 CASE NUMBER 23-5295'

 

 

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Call us at 541-690-8806.  Or email us at Info@RogueValleyMagazine.com

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