Rogue Valley News, Monday 4/8 – SOU Laboratory of Anthropology Project Rewarded by Congress, Tips To Watch Solar Eclipse in Southern Oregon & 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

Friday,  April 5, 2024

Rogue Valley Weather

May be an image of map and text that says 'TODAY MON 04/08 HIGH 67 °F 2% Precip. Amix clouds and sun. High 67F Winds light and variable. TONIGHT MON 04/08 LOW 40 F 8% Precip. Clear skies. Low around 40F Winds light and variable. TOMORROW TUE 04/09 HIGH 69 39 °F 8% Precip. /0.00in Afew clouds early, otherwise mostly sunny. High 69F. Winds NW aa5 10 mph.'

Tips to Watch The 2024 Solar Eclipse 

The partial eclipse over Oregon on April 8 from beginning to end will be just shy of of two hours, beginning around 10:30 a.m. until about 12:15 p.m.

Free Solar Eclipse Child photo and picture

Peak coverage in Oregon will range from 11:20 to 11:30 a.m. when the sun is pretty high, so we should be able to see the eclipse pretty much anywhere, weather permitted.

“You don’t need to go on top of the mountains or anything, but maybe on top of a hill … anywhere that you’ve got a nice, open view of the southern sky,” said University of Oregon astronomy professor Scott Fisher.

Because Oregon is already so far from this eclipse’s path of totality, Fisher said there’s also no need drive any where for a better view. Across the entire state, the difference in percent coverage at peak is only about 5%.

“We’re sort of out on the fringe of the eclipse this time where we’re only getting this sort of 25% coverage,” he said.

The entire partial eclipse from start to finish will be about three hours in Oregon. The moon will begin covering the sun at about 10:30 a.m. and move away at about 12:15 p.m.

Viewers in Eugene will see a peak of 24% coverage at 11:23 a.m. In Salem, the peak will be at 11:24 a.m. Across all of Oregon, the peak will range from around 11:20 to 11:30 a.m.

Weather permitting, the sun will be high in the sky at the time of the eclipse, however, cloud coverage could affect the viewing experience. According to the National Weather Service, both the Eugene and Salem areas are usually overcast 50% of the time in April and only clear about 10% of the time.

NASA will have live coverage of the eclipse from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. as the eclipse travels through Mexico and across the United States.

Coverage will include live views across the path, expert commentary and live demonstrations

Solar Eclipse Viewing Safety Tips

  • Never look directly at the sun without proper eye protection, as it is harmful to your eyes at any time during a partial eclipse.
  • Regular sunglasses, no matter how dark tinted, are not safe for viewing.
  • Eclipse glasses are the best option. Be sure they are made by companies recommended by the American Astronomical Society and NASA certified. These glasses should have the International Organization for Standardization icon and must have the ISO reference number 12312-2.
  • Always inspect your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer before use. If torn, scratched or otherwise damaged, discard the device.
  • Without eclipse glasses, a simple and safe way to view the eclipse is to watch the sun’s image projected onto a piece of paper. Poke a small hole in an index card with a pencil point, face it toward the sun and hold a second card 3 or 4 feet behind it in its shadow. You will see a projected image of the sun on the second card.
  • Do not look at the sun through a camera lens, telescope, binoculars or any other optical device while wearing eclipse glasses or using a handheld solar viewer, as the concentrated solar rays will burn through the filter and cause serious eye injury. These require different types of solar filters that attach to the front of the device.

SOU Laboratory of Anthropology Project Rewarded by Congress

The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology’s Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project – an ongoing, collaborative effort to research and document the lives of Oregon’s early Chinese immigrants – was awarded almost $500,000 in the spending bill approved by Congress this month. The federal allocation more than doubles the total funding that the archaeological project has received since it began in 2016.

Archaeologist Chelsea Rose, director of the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology ,explains the expanded work of the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project after receiving almost $500,000 in federal funds.
Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology’s Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project, a collaborative effort to research and document the lives of Oregon’s early Chinese immigrants, was awarded almost $500,000 in the latest spending bill approved by Congress. (Southern Oregon University)

SOU is the only one of Oregon’s four technical and regional universities to receive congressional funding in the new spending bill.

“This is another example of our representatives at both the state and federal levels recognizing the important, innovative work that is coming out of our university,” SOU President Rick Bailey said. “Senators Merkley and Wyden supported this request through all the twists and turns of the congressional budgeting process, and the result will be a far greater understanding of the vital roles that Chinese Americans and immigrants have played throughout Oregon’s history.”

The new federal funding will allow the award-winning Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project to expand well beyond its original focus on 19th century mining and railroad settlements, to encompass areas throughout the state where Chinese immigrants have had a presence. The project will also incorporate “orphaned” collections from other archaeological efforts, and will result in a series of field schools, volunteer opportunities, exhibits, digital content and free, public talks and programs.

“We have investigated railroad and mining sites across the state, but these funds will be used to explore and document the history of Chinese Oregonians living in diverse geographical areas and working in a variety of industries, in an effort to better capture the full range of Chinese American heritage and experience in Oregon,” said archaeologist Chelsea Rose, director of the SOU Laboratory of Anthropology.

“While we have done amazing things working with our partners to date, this allows us to investigate some of the ‘bucket list’ sites we have encountered over the years, and implement some of our dream projects,” she said.

SOULA works on the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project with agencies including the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management, the Malheur National Forest, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon State Parks, the Oregon Historical Society and the Portland Chinatown Museum.

Researchers have used local history and public archaeology to challenge dated stereotypes and highlight the transnational lives of the Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans that helped establish the early infrastructure and economic industries of Oregon. The project has included digging, interpreting and touring numerous archaeological sites around the state where Chinese immigrants worked and lived, and researching censuses and community records.

The effort has won several awards, including one last fall from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and a national Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) in June of 2022.

Sens. Merkley and Wyden submitted a “congressionally directed spending request” on SOU’s behalf to better enable students to assist with a comprehensive, statewide inventory of Chinese heritage sites. It will pay for archival research, targeted field visits and community outreach, and archaeological investigations at seven to 10 sites identified during the survey.

“These investigations would target sites that will fill in gaps in the documentary record, including industries or areas of the state that have been understudied,” the congressional request said. “This will consist of a mix of archaeological excavation, intensive survey, or analysis of orphaned artifact collections.”

About two-thirds of the $499,743 allocated by Congress will be used for fieldwork and reporting, with most of the remainder earmarked for travel, curation and supplies. The funding is part of the federal Labor, Health and Human Services budget for improvement of postsecondary education. (SOURCE)


Activists Protest in Trees After Filing Lawsuit to Block Old Growth Logging on Southern Oregon BLM Land

An activist from Pacific Northwest Forest Defense protests the cutting of old-growth in BLM forests near Grants Pass by occupying a several-hundred-year old Douglas fir tree.
An activist from Pacific Northwest Forest Defense protests the cutting of old-growth in BLM forests near Grants Pass by occupying a several-hundred-year old Douglas fir tree. (Courtesy of Pacific Northwest Forest Defense)
A coalition of conservation groups and activists have blocked a logging site and filed a legal complaint over another area with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management

A coalition of environmental groups and regional activists are attempting to stop the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from allowing old growth trees to be logged in southern Oregon by waging a complaint in court and sitting in trees slated to be cut.

On Monday, activists from the environmental group Pacific Northwest Forest Defense climbed high into several Douglas fir trees in a 10,000-acre forested area near Grants Pass. The bureau calls it the “Poor Windy” project and has sold more than 2,200 acres in it to six companies to log. Activists say some of the trees due to be harvested are up to 400 years old.

The protest comes a week after Oregon Wild in Portland and Eugene, Ashland-based Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Eugene-based Cascadia Wildlands filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Medford against the federal bureau for allowing “heavy commercial logging” in another southern Oregon area, Rogue Gold, that has old growth trees and acreage designated as a Late Successional Reserve. The designation is meant to protect old growth trees from being logged and to allow mature trees to become old growth stands. The area is also home to threatened and endangered species, the complaint said.

Sarah Bennett, a spokesperson for the bureau in Oregon and Washington, said it is rare for officials to allow the sale of acreage with old growth trees and that environmental assessments have shown both contested harvest areas are low-risk for habitat destruction.

“We are committed to protecting trees above the age and diameter limits established,” she said in an email. “Generally, those that are greater than 36 inches in diameter and established prior to 1850.”

George Sexton, conservation director of Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, said the bureau is being dishonest.

“BLM is saying we don’t log old growth trees. Well, they (protestors) are sitting in old-growth trees that the BLM wants to log,” he said.

Sexton said allowing old growth trees to be cut is contrary to the Biden administration’s recent executive order to end old-growth logging on public lands by 2025.

“The BLM should be implementing Biden’s executive order to protect old growth forests, and if the BLM wants to log those trees, the very least they should do is stop lying about it.”

Most of the land designated as reserves — The federal land bureau’s forests in southwest Oregon are part of a 2.4 million-acre patchwork of federally owned forests across 18 Oregon counties that are governed by the Oregon and California Railroad Act of 1937. That act mandated that the bureau manage the lands for permanent timber production at sustainable levels.

Bennett said 80% of those acres are considered reserve acres, and 20% are open for logging sales. But Sexton said the “reserve” designation doesn’t necessarily prohibit logging.

“In the Medford district, they log the Late Successional Reserves just as heavily as they log in the harvest areas,” he said.

Today annual harvests from the Oregon and California Railroad lands are, on average, about 60% smaller than those in the 1930s, according to bureau data, and this year reduced the volume of timber for sale by 25% across its Oregon and California Railroad Act lands. Bennett said the agency has begun to prioritize protecting more old growth trees following the Biden order.

The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management oversee about 278,000 square miles of forests across the country – an area about the size of Texas and Vermont combined. A recent inventory from the two agencies found that about 45% of those forests are considered “mature” and about 18% are considered “old growth.”

Most old growth and mature forests that are left in the U.S. are in Western states such as Idaho, California, Montana and Oregon. (SOURCE)


Traffic stop leads to seizure of fentanyl and meth – Douglas County 

DOUGLAS COUNTY— – A recent traffic stop on Interstate 5 near Roseburg led to the seizure of large quantities of methamphetamine and fentanyl headed for the streets of Portland. 

On April 1, 2024, just after 9 a.m. an Oregon State Trooper stopped a black Chevrolet sedan near milepost 149 on I-5 north for a traffic violation. The trooper suspected criminal activity and received consent to search the vehicle. 

During the search, the trooper located 62 pounds of methamphetamine and 22,000 suspected fentanyl laced pills inside the vehicle. The suspect acknowledged the illegal substances were headed to Portland. 

Due to the large quantify of substances seized, the suspect, Oliver Raul Alvarez Beltran (21) of Phoenix (AZ), was arrested and federally charged with attempted delivery of a controlled substance. 

The investigation is on-going and no additional information is available for release at this time.


Fatal Residential Structure Fire – 737 W. Wharton Street in Roseburg

Image 1   At 7:53 p.m. on April 5, 2024, Roseburg Fire Department personnel responded to a residential structure fire with a known rescue at 737 W. Wharton Street.  Firefighters arrived on scene to find a single-family residential structure with heavy fire and smoke coming from the left, front corner of the home with smoke alarms sounding. Upon arrival, a female resident informed fire crews that her husband was still inside the structure near the front of the home.

Fire crews entered the single-family residence in rescue mode. Crews were able to quickly locate the seventy-one year old male resident near the front of the home and found him to be unconscious.  Crews quickly removed the victim through the front door of the home.  The patient was transported to a nearby hospital, where the victim succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.  Crews extinguished the fire and completed overhaul of the structure.

The single-family residence sustained structural, smoke, and water damage.  A fire investigator was on scene and the exact cause of the fire is under investigation. Sixteen firefighters assisted with firefighting operations.  Other agencies assisting with the fire included Umpqua Valley Ambulance, Douglas County Fire District #2, Roseburg Police Department, Avista Utilities, and Pacific Power.

The Roseburg Fire Department would like to remind everyone of the importance of working smoke alarms and ensuring you have the appropriate number of smoke alarms installed in the home.  Remember to make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area and in every bedroom.  Roseburg Fire Department recommends that homeowners consider a home fire sprinkler system for increased protection.

For the latest information regarding the City of Roseburg Fire Department, please visit our website at or like us on Facebook at


𝙈𝙖𝙣 𝘾𝙞𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙁𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙤𝙬𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙈𝙤𝙩𝙤𝙧 𝙑𝙚𝙝𝙞𝙘𝙡𝙚 𝘾𝙧𝙖𝙨𝙝:

May be an image of tree and road
Saturday morning around 5:30 a.m., officers responded to N. Columbus Ave. and 2nd St. for a report of a single vehicle MVC into a power pole.
63-year-old Maurice Hall was traveling southbound on N. Columbus Ave. when he struck a utility pole. The pole was severed from its base, wedged underneath his vehicle, and dragged for nearly 30 feet. The collision shattered and damaged three other utility poles along N. Columbus Ave. resulting in an extended road closure.
Public Works’ Quick Response Team (QRT) and other affected utility companies responded to assist with traffic control. Hall’s vehicle was impounded and he was cited for Careless Driving and Driving Uninsured.

Winston Woman Arrested for Animal Abuse and Neglect

 A Winston woman has been arrested on charges of animal abuse and neglect.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control deputies began an investigation early this week after receiving a tip of a horse that was reported to be mistreated at a property in the 600-block of Longhorn Lane. During the investigation, deputies learned the horse and property owner had no connection.

Deputies discovered a 3-year-old mixed breed horse, named Ace, who was found to be severely malnourished and in neglectful conditions. Ace’s owner, 24-year-old Morgan Faith Fowler of Winston, surrendered the horse to deputies on Wednesday who took it to a veterinary hospital for examination and later to Strawberry Mountain Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. Overnight, Ace’s condition declined to the point that euthanasia was necessary for humane care.

Deputies contacted Fowler Thursday afternoon and took her into custody for Animal Neglect I and Animal Abuse II. She was transported to the Douglas County Jail where she was booked on those charges.

“This is a very severe case of neglect and abuse,” Sheriff John Hanlin said. “The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is continuing its investigation and will provide all relevant facts to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.”

Anyone who may have information regarding this case is encouraged to contact the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office at 541-440-4471 referencing case #24-1522.

Sheriff Hanlin expressed his thanks to Bailey Veterinary Clinic, Strawberry Mountain Rescue and Rehabilitation Center and to the deputies and volunteers who worked to save Ace and are now working on holding Fowler accountable. “These cases are never easy and I cannot thank those who have been involved enough,” the Sheriff remarked.


Medford Man Indicted in Federal Court for Illegally Selling Explosives

MEDFORD, Ore.—A federal grand jury in Medford returned an indictment today charging a local man with illegally possessing and selling explosives.

Wesley Allen Armstrong, Jr., 56, a Medford resident, has been charged with distributing explosives by a non-licensee, possessing with intent to distribute and distributing fentanyl, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents, in March 2024, detectives from the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Team (MADGE) notified special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) of Armstrong’s alleged possession of and desire to sell explosives. On March 27, 2024, Armstrong was arrested after selling eight cast explosives, seven non-electric shock tube detonators, and a small quantity of fentanyl. Investigators executed a search warrant on Armstrong’s vehicle and located and seized a loaded pistol and an additional quantity of fentanyl.

On March 28, 2024, Armstrong was charged by federal criminal complaint with dealing explosives without a license, possessing stolen explosives, possessing explosives as a convicted felon, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, and possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl; made his first appearance in federal court; and was ordered detained pending further court proceedings. He will be arraigned on today’s indictment at a later date.

This case was investigated by ATF and MADGE. It is being prosecuted by Marco A. Boccato, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

MADGE is a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force that identifies, disrupts, and dismantles local, multi-state, and international drug trafficking organizations using an intelligence-driven, multi-agency prosecutor-supported approach. MADGE is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and is composed of members from the Medford Police Department, the Jackson County Sheriff and District Attorney’s Offices, the Jackson County Community Corrections, FBI, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives, including MADGE.

An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Efforts to Locate Glide Teacher Rachel Merchant-Ly Continue

𝐈𝐃𝐋𝐄𝐘𝐋𝐃 𝐏𝐀𝐑𝐊, 𝐎𝐫𝐞. – Search and Rescue efforts continue in the search for Rachel Merchant-Ly, a Glide Elementary kindergarten teacher whose vehicle was found crashed in the North Umpqua River. Merchant-Ly was reported missing on Thursday, February 29th when she didn’t arrive at school.

A Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy located signs of a motor vehicle crash near milepost 41 on Highway 138E. On Friday, March 1, 2024, Merchant-Ly’s vehicle was recovered from the North Umpqua River, but she was not found inside.

Since that time, nearly 300 hours volunteer hours of searching has taken place. Douglas County Search and Rescue has been using various methods of searching to include drone, ground and K9. The Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol has conducted water searches as well. Volunteers have searched along the riverbank from the crash site to Idleyld Park Trading Post; approximately 21 miles. “We all want to find Mrs. Merchant-Ly and return her to her family,” Sheriff John Hanlin said. “Our deputies are in constant communication with her family and providing them with updates as to our efforts. We will continue searching and using all means necessary to accomplish our mission,” Hanlin added.

In addition to the efforts of DCSO and Search and Rescue volunteers, several community members have been actively looking for Merchant-Ly. “We are aware of rafting guides and groups of rafters who have been launching all in an attempt to assist in finding her. We have also been contacting community members who are walking along the North Umpqua Trail and the highway,” Hanlin said. “As always this community steps forward to care for each other.” As the weather turns more springlike, the Sheriff’s Office encourages those recreating around the area to be aware Merchant-Ly is still missing and to report anything which may assist in concluding this missing person case.

Options for Education —  Education Expo

WHEN: April 13, 2024 (rescheduled because of weather from March 2) WHERE: Oregon Futbol Academy building @ 144 SW G St, Grants Pass, OR Options for Education promotes school choice options for southern Oregon families through a variety of free services: Education Expo, Educational Entrepreneur Events for networking and training, referrals and individual support. Approximately half of vendors at in this year’s Education Expo offer full course loads while the remaining are supplemental program: individual classes and workshops, tutoring, internships, clubs, art, music, athletics, field trips, or curriculum. Some organizations, like Options for Education and the newly established Rogue Valley Independent Educators, PTA, serve the education community at large.

“Every child deserves to learn in an environment where their values are respected,” said Shannon, “The goal of this event is that every parent find the right fit for their child OR is inspired to start their own!” Photo opportunities: 3:20pm before, during and 6:30 after the event. Options for Education was founded in 2019 by Brettani Shannon and established as a 5013(C) non-profit in 2022. 541.660.4054


Hearts with a Mission, a program to help local seniors who need assistance, is seeking volunteers.

The volunteer-based program — which started in January 2023 — has 90 volunteers ready to help, but more than 100 seniors who need assistance. Stephanie Miller, the Hearts For Seniors Program Manager, said that it’s a heartwarming job and fulfilling volunteer work.  Residents can apply here.

David Grubbs’ Murder Investigation Remains Active

Community still looking for answers in violent 2011 murder of David Grubbs on Ashland, Oregon bike path The Ashland Police Department’s investigation into the murder of David Grubbs on November 19, 2011 remains open and active. Recently two new detectives have been assigned to look into new leads that have come in.

This case remains important to David’s family, the community, and the Ashland Police Department. As detectives continue to pursue these new leads, anyone with additional information is encouraged to reach out to the Ashland Police Department at 541-488-2211. The reward for information leading to an arrest on this case remains at over $21,000.

Fauna Frey, 45, disappeared in Oregon on a road trip, June 29, 2020, following her brother’s death  —

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. 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: If you have any information on the whereabouts of Fauna Frey, call the anonymous tip line at 541-539-5638 or email

Help Find Fauna Frey #FindFaunaFrey FACEBOOK GROUP


Winning $1.326 Billion Powerball Jackpot Sold in Oregon

A Powerball ticket worth $1.326 billion was sold in Portland.

Salem, Ore. – A Powerball ticket worth $1.326 billion was sold in Portland and is the fourth largest Powerball jackpot in the game’s history. The ticket for Saturday’s drawing was purchased on April 6.

“I want to congratulate the winner on this life changing moment. No one in Oregon has ever won a prize on this scale, and it’s very exciting for our staff and players,” said Oregon Lottery Director Mike Wells. “Even if you aren’t holding the winning ticket, all of our players support programs and services statewide that receive Lottery dollars.”

The winner has a year to come forward and claim their prize. Per state law, players in Oregon, with few exceptions, cannot remain anonymous. The largest Powerball prize previously won in Oregon was a $340 million jackpot in 2005. The last time a Powerball jackpot was won in the state was in 2018, when a Salem man won $150.4 million.

Approximately a third of sales from the game will be returned to state beneficiaries to support economic development, education, veteran services, state parks and more.

Retailers who sell lottery tickets also earn commissions from the boost in ticket sales and bonus payments for lower tier wins. For instance, an Oregon retailer who sells a $1 million ticket would earn a $10,000 bonus.

Saturday’s jackpot was the eighth largest among U.S. lottery jackpot games. The jackpot was previously won on New Year’s Day in Michigan with a ticket that won a $842.4 million jackpot. Powerball is a multi-state jackpot operated by 44 states, plus the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

The Oregon Lottery recommends that you always sign the back of your ticket to ensure you can claim your prize. In the event of winning a jackpot, players should consult with a trusted financial planner or similar professional to develop a plan for their winnings.

Since the Oregon Lottery began selling tickets on April 25, 1985, it has earned nearly $15.5 billion for economic development, public education, outdoor school, state parks, veteran services, and watershed enhancements. For more information on the Oregon Lottery visit

Tillamook Police Chief Sentenced To Jail Over Removal Of Meth And Money From Evidence Locker

Ray Rau, Tillamook police chief and former chief in Nyssa, was convicted of official misconduct Wednesday for tampering with evidence.

He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and must give up his certification as a law enforcement officer that he has held since 1995. As a result, he can no longer work as a police officer in Oregon.

Rau turned himself in after court proceedings on Wednesday to begin his sentence.

He was chief of the Nyssa Police Department from 2012 until resigning in 2021 to take the Tillamook job. He had been elected to the Nyssa School Board just two months before resigning the city post.

Rau, 57, pleaded no contest in Tillamook County Circuit Court to first-degree official misconduct for removing methamphetamine and second-degree official misconduct for removing money from the evidence locker at the Tillamook agency on two occasions. A no contest plea means Rau wasn’t admitting to the crimes but agreed prosecutors could prove he was guilty.

He was convicted of taking the meth and the money from the evidence locker sometime between October 2021 and April 2023 “with intent to obtain a benefit.”

But at a hearing in Tillamook County Circuit Court, Rau insisted he had simply made a mistake while trying to protect an evidence technician from harmful exposure to drugs. (READ MORE)

The Oregon Medical Board has suspended, surrendered, retired or revoked the medical licenses of 14 doctors in the last six months following investigations into allegations including overprescribing painkillers, breaching private patient information and overcharging patients.

The board is responsible for regulating the practice of medicine in Oregon by ensuring physicians are providing care that prioritizes Oregonians’ health, safety and well-being. It licenses and regulates the practice of medical doctors (MD), doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO), podiatric physicians (DPM), physician assistants (PA) and acupuncturists (LAc).

Oregon Medical Board process after complaints are made against physicians — If a malpractice claim is made against a doctor, physician assistant or acupuncturist the board investigates to determine what, if any, actions should be taken. Providers must surrender their license while an investigation is conducted, meaning they cannot practice medicine until the investigation is closed.

An investigation may result in a suspended license, preventing the doctor from practicing for a specified or indefinite period and mandatory training and courses related to the violation. A license also may be revoked.

In some disciplinary cases, physicians willingly retire or surrender their licenses rather than have them suspended or revoked, according to the board website.

A physician may sometimes reapply for an Oregon license or they must agree to never reapply, depending on the severity of the violation. The board also can impose fines. To reapply, they must submit an application and pay an application fee to the board.

Restoration of licenses may be granted or withheld at the board’s discretion. And if there is a gap of more than two years without clinical practice, the doctors must enter a “re-entry to practice consent agreement,” which establishes a plan for re-entry based on experience, time away from practice, continuing education, licensee specialty. They must abide by the plan in order to have their license reinstated.

Oregon Medical Board working on new complaint database system, other changes — The Secretary of State’s Office earlier this year released an audit of the Oregon Medical Board that said it must do more to conduct routine, systematic data analysis to ensure it fairly and consistently disciplines health care professionals.

The board agreed in January to work on improving processes for investigation, data collection and compliant review, including improving advisory guidelines to consider contributing factors for misconduct and systemic biases, launching a new complaint database system in 2025, and implementing regular reviews of investigations and disciplinary cases.

The following are major disciplinary actions taken from Sept. 16, 2023, through March 15.

Oregon medical licenses retired, surrendered or suspended

Richard Kaukapono Apau of Hillsboro, internal medicine physician, surrendered his medical license on Oct. 5, 2023, for refusing an invitation for an interview with Oregon Medical Board during an investigation into allegations of unprofessional conduct.

Apau can reapply in October 2025.

Richard Carlton Heitsch of Portland retired his general practice and preventative medicine license on Oct. 5, 2023, after an investigation into allegations of practicing medicine while impaired.

Heitsch can reapply in October 2025.

Joel Bruce Klein of Medford retired his family medicine license on Oct. 5, 2023, after an investigation found allegations of repeated negligence and administration of medically unnecessary treatment.

Klein can never reapply for an Oregon medical license.

David Glen Knox of Portland, who practiced emergency medicine and cannabis therapeutics, surrendered his license on Oct. 5, 2023, for making misleading statements about the value of medical cannabis to pediatric patients.

Knox was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, and can reapply in October 2025.

Debra Gay Robbins of Medford retired her physician assistant license on Oct. 5, 2023, for repeated negligence and unprofessional conduct. The board order does not include additional details.

Robbins can reapply in October 2025.

Patrick John Sarver of Medford, family medicine physician, retired his medical license on Oct. 5, 2023, after violating a 2021 board order that put him on a 4-year-probationary period for providing misleading and untruthful information in the process of applying for and obtaining an Oregon medical license.

Sarver can reapply in October 2025.

Jack Edward Berndt of Bend retired his medical license in anesthesiology and pain management on Nov. 2, 2023, for repeated negligence and unprofessional conduct.

Berndt’s license will remain retired while under investigation, and he must pay a penalty of $5,000.

David Ian Dryland of Ashland had his medical license for rheumatology suspended on Nov. 2, 2023, for 30 days after allegations of unprofessional conduct and knowingly making false statements about medical care. Dryland paid a $5,000 penalty and was required to complete courses on professionalism, ethics and documentation.

The board also can subject him to chart audits with no prior notice. His license is now active.

Paul George Hoffman of Ashland retired his medical license in general surgery on Nov. 2, 2023 after allegations that he inappropriately looked up patient information contained in more than 8,000 patient records over the course of eight years without a valid clinical purpose.

Hoffman resigned from Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center but did not inform the board of the allegations against him.

He can reapply in two years.

Darrell Cameron Brett of Portland, who practiced neurological surgery, was ordered to retire his medical license on Jan. 4 for overcharging patients, overprescribing painkillers without a legitimate medical purpose and referring patients to a specimen testing facility he owned without providing alternative options.

Brett’s license effectively will be retired on June 1, and he can never reapply for an Oregon medical license.

Meanwhile, Brett also must refrain from prescribing benzodiazepines and muscle relaxants and pay a $4,000 penalty.

Soroush Mohandessi of Portland had his forensic psychiatry medical license revoked on Jan. 4 for sexual misconduct and repeated patient negligence.

Mohandessi must pay a penalty of at least $2,500 and up to $10,000, complete a professional boundaries course and is prohibited from practicing psychotherapy.

If he continues to comply with the terms of the board order, Mohandessi’s medical license will remain active.

Licenses lost or suspended due to out-of-state disciplinary action

The Oregon Medical Board also takes action against Oregon licensees as a result of disciplinary actions taken in another state.

The following physicians lost or had their licenses suspended, surrendered or revoked in the last six months because of medical malpractice claims made in other states:

  • Christopher Brent Bjarke, San Francisco, California, family medicine, license surrendered, Jan. 4, for failing to report a felony conviction within 10 days. Bjarke can never reapply for a medical license in Oregon.
  • Francis Peter Lagattuta, Santa Maria, California, pain management and addiction rehabilitation, license revoked, Jan. 4, for submitting false claims to government health programs for procedures that were not medically necessary, including spinal cord stimulation and urine drug testing. Lagattuta can never reapply for a medical license in Oregon.
  • Scott Paul Levitt, Easton, Maryland, emergency medicine, license suspended for 90 days, Jan. 4, for negligence and unprofessional conduct. Levitt must pay a $10,000 penalty in Oregon if he is unable to comply with the board order to complete courses in ethics and professional boundaries and refrain from practicing aesthetic medicine in the state of Oregon.

How to file a complaint against a doctor in Oregon – Anyone wishing to file a complaint to the Oregon Medical Board can visit Complaints made to the board are kept confidential. Complaints can be filed using either an English or Spanish form.

Sydney Wyatt covers health care inequities in the Mid-Willamette Valley for the Statesman Journal. Send comments, questions, and tips to her at, (503) 399-6613, or on X@sydney_elise44 (SOURCE)

Oregon Division of Financial Regulation encourages consumers to check with their insurance carriers about lowering premiums if credit improves


Oregon agency fines State Farm $200K, urges consumers to check with insurers about rerate that can lower premiums

The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) has issued a $200,000 fine against State Farm after the company failed to send notices over the past six years informing its insureds of their ability to request an annual credit check, which could affect their premiums. Half of the total fine will be suspended and waived after three years if State Farm complies with all terms of the final order.

This case serves as an important reminder that Oregon law allows consumers to request an annual rerate from their insurer, which could lead to lower premiums, but will not increase them.

State Farm self-reported the violations to DFR in July 2023, informing the division that notices were not sent out due to a system error. Because of that error, the notification required by ORS 746.650(5) and OAR 836-080-0438 were not sent to customers purchasing new automobile insurance policies between Dec. 5, 2017, and Feb. 23, 2023. Specifically, State Farm did not notify the affected consumers at the inception of their coverage that they may have received a lower rate if their credit history or the credit factors used in their credit-based insurance score were more favorable, and that they had the right to request a rerate of the policy no more than once annually. State Farm notified the division that the issue was corrected on Feb. 23, 2023, for any customers purchasing new policies after that date.

As part of DFR’s final order, State Farm agreed to send a notification to all affected consumers who remain customers of State Farm, approximately 134,690 consumers. State Farm began sending notices on Jan. 2, 2024, through a mailing that is separate and apart from the annual policy renewal documents or any other communication. The mailing also includes a statement that Oregon law requires State Farm to provide a notification to customers at the inception of the policy. All mailings must be completed no later than June 30, 2024.

The division, part of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS), encourages all consumers to check with their insurance agent or company to see if a credit check would lower their insurance premiums. Consumers are allowed to do a rerate once a year and if their credit improves, their insurance rates may as well. Rerating due to credit may result in either improving or no change to a consumer’s insurance costs, but will not negatively affect it.

“We commend State Farm for self-reporting this violation and taking steps to rectify the situation,” said Andrew R. Stolfi, Oregon’s insurance commissioner and DCBS director. “It is important that Oregon consumers know their rights. State law permits insurance companies to use an individual’s credit history to determine how much they pay for insurance, so it is critically important that consumers know they have the ability to lower their insurance premiums with positive credit.”

Consumers with questions or complaints can contact DFR’s consumer advocates at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or email“> Consumers can look at their credit reports each calendar year for free by accessing it online, by phone at 877-322-8228 (toll-free), or by completing and mailing the Annual Credit Report Request Form. If any errors are identified, consumers have the right to correct incomplete or inaccurate information with the credit reporting agent that provided the information.

### About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit and​​

Oregonians Urged to Avoid Digging Into Trouble With New Statewide Proclamation

On average, it happens 3.85 times every single day in Oregon – homeowners and professional excavators damage underground utilities while digging on their property or jobsite. In some cases, the results can be catastrophic. Joining the national observance during the month of April, Governor Tina Kotek has signed a proclamation designating National Safe Digging Month in Oregon.

The statewide proclamation underscores the importance of requesting underground utility locates through Oregon’s free notification system, available by calling 811 or going to at least two business days before digging. Requests can be made anytime and on any day for no cost.

“We say ‘safety is in your hands,’ because everyone has the responsibility to prevent service interruptions, costly repairs, environmental damage, injuries, and worse,” said Josh Thomas, Executive Director of the Oregon Utility Notification Center. “Contacting 811 first helps avoid having to contact 911 later.”

The timing of National Safe Digging Month unofficially marks the start of “dig season” – the most active months of the year for excavation projects. According to the Oregon Utility Notification Center, there were 342,061 requests in 2023, prompting 1,869,969 utility locates in Oregon. In the most recent damage report, there were 1,405 reported incidents, continuing a downward five-year trend statewide.

Common Ground Alliance reports that more than half of U.S. homeowners plan to dig without requesting utility locates. This is mostly attributable to lack of awareness and shallow digging projects. The estimated annual cost of damages to underground utilities nationally is $30 billion.

As an acknowledgement of the National Safe Digging Month observance, and in support of the 811 notification system, this proclamation is supported by the Oregon Utility Notification Center, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division, and Oregon Public Utility Commission.
READ MORE : Proclamation

# # # In 1995, the Oregon Legislature created the Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC) to establish a statewide notification system to reduce damages to underground facilities and to promote public safety related to excavation issues (ORS 757.547). The free service ensures that operators of underground facilities are notified of proposed excavation so the utilities can be located and marked in advance. For more information about the OUNC or the statewide notification system, go to

The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) regulates customer rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities. The PUC also regulates landline telephone providers and select water companies. The PUC’s mission is to ensure Oregonians have access to safe, reliable, and fairly priced utility services that advance state policy and promote the public interest. For more information about the PUC, visit

Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules, and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to


Oregon Offers Electric Car Rebates Again – Apply Now Until June 3rd


Due to high demand and limited funding, OCVRP will be open for a short time in 2024. Vehicles must be purchased or leased between April 3, 2024, to June 3, 2024, to be eligible for a rebate.

Applicants have six months from their date of purchase or lease to apply. Low- and moderate-income households can prequalify for the $5,000 Charge Ahead rebate by completing the application now at

Oregon to Honor Fallen Law Enforcement Officers May 7th, 2024

Every year, the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony honors the state’s law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. This year’s ceremony will be held Tuesday, May 7 at 1 p.m. at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem.

The annual event commemorates the more than 190 fallen officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the state of Oregon since the 1860s. This includes law enforcement, corrections, and parole and probation officers from city, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies.

The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training is proud to host the ceremony in partnership with the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, Oregon Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), Oregon Fallen Badge Foundation, and various statewide law enforcement associations.

SOLVE invites volunteers to register for their annual Earth Day celebration: The Oregon Spring Cleanup

SOLVE Oregon Spring Cleanup at Cannon Beach 2023

From April 13 to April 22, families, community members, neighborhood associations, and environmental enthusiasts are invited to engage in a signature event in SOLVE’s annual calendar: The Oregon Spring Cleanup, presented by Portland General ElectricRegistration for this environmentally conscious event series is now open.

Participants are invited to join SOLVE, event leaders, and partners from across the Pacific Northwest in a collective celebration of Earth Day. The SOLVE calendar showcases a variety of events throughout Oregon and SW Washington between April 13 and April 22, with the majority of events culminating on April 20. Diverse initiatives address specific environmental needs with opportunities ranging from beach cleanups to neighborhood and city litter pickups. Further activities include restoring natural habitats through native tree and shrub plantings, weed pulls, and mulching projects. Each project contributes to the enhancement of our shared surroundings.

With a variety of projects already online, the Oregon Spring Cleanup invites enthusiastic volunteers to contribute to a cleaner, greener, and brighter planet. Interested individuals can browse the map of projects to find events near them, learn about each opportunityand sign up for a meaningful contribution to the environment. Participating in the Oregon Spring Cleanup provides an excellent opportunity to bond with family members, coworkers, and neighbors, while collectively contributing to preserving some of Oregon’s most stunning locations.

As SOLVE anticipates another successful event, valued partner Portland General Electric, shares their commitment to the cause: ” PGE proudly supports SOLVE’s efforts to make our communities cleaner and greener. In 2023, our employees and their families volunteered with SOLVE for more than 220 hours. We’re excited to join community members again this Earth Day to help improve our beautiful state.” said Kristen Sheeran, Senior Director of Policy Planning and Sustainability, Portland General Electric.

For those inspired to host an event, SOLVE is still accepting new volunteer-led projects. The sooner projects are submitted, the faster SOLVE can care for the rest. Event leaders receive full support, including free supplies, access to project funding, disposal assistance, and help with volunteer recruitment.

For more information, please visit and be part of the collective effort to create a cleaner, greener planet.

Along with Portland General Electric, other event sponsors include Clean Water Services, AAA Oregon/Idaho, Fred Meyer, Metro, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, KOIN, The Standard, Swire Coca-Cola, Holman, Demarini-Wilson, Trimet, and PepsiCo.

About SOLVE – SOLVE is a statewide non-profit organization that brings people together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship. Since 1969, the organization has grown from a small, grassroots group to a national model for volunteer action. Today, SOLVE mobilizes and trains tens of thousands of volunteers of all ages across Oregon and Southwest Washington to clean and restore our neighborhoods and natural areas and to build a legacy of stewardship for our state. Visit for more information.

Call us at 541-690-8806.  Or email us at

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