Rogue Valley News, Monday 4/15 – SOU 31st Annual Powwow Held Over the Weekend, The Medford Railroad Park Open for the 2024 Season & 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

Monday,  April 15, 2024

Rogue Valley Weather

May be an image of map and text

SOU 31st Annual Powwow Held Over the Weekend

Southern Oregon University held the annual powwow over the weekend.

This celebration of native culture brought crowds to showcase their tribe, collaborate with other tribes, and give non-native guests an opportunity to learn more about native cultures.

SOU 31st annual Powwow event over the weekend

Tribes from all over North and South America participated. Each tribe showcased their traditional music and costumes as well as showed their traditional dances. Showing the meaning behind these practices, not just as celebrations, but as a spiritual and cultural practice.

The Medford Railroad Park opened for the 2024 season on Sunday with a community ‘Run Day.’ With additions and upgrades to the attraction, employees are ready for the season to begin.

No photo description available.

“We’ve upgraded our signal system, we’ve upgraded some of the track work, replaced some switches,” David Spakousky, the superintendent of operations for the Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club, said. “We completed the railroad from Medford to Klamath Falls. And as the operations continue, we continue to grow.”

The model of the railroad is modeled off 1988. Over half the mills in 1992 on the railroad were gone and in 1990, it was the last big push for the timber industry in the Rogue Valley.

“I get as much enjoyment out of sitting back and watching other people run their trains, and watching the public go through and enjoy the trains,” Spakousky said. “And the camaraderie that you see between the people, the guys running the trains.”

The development of the railroad park began back in 1979. An agreement was made between the City of Medford and the Southern Oregon Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. The attraction is operated by the Southern Oregon Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society; the Southern Oregon Live Steamers; the Morse Telegraph Club; the Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club; and the Medford Garden Railroaders.

Medford Police host educational and informative event

May be an image of 4 people, ambulance and text

The Axon Roadshow made a pit stop at MPD Friday, showcasing the latest advancements in law enforcement technology!
MPD was thrilled to host this educational and informative event, welcoming officers from surrounding agencies to explore how these tools can elevate our operations and better serve our community.

The Medford Cracker Barrel is closed permanently.

A recorded greeting when calling the Center Drive location confirms the permanent closure of the country-themed restaurant in South Medford. The recording also directs people to the chain’s website, saying there are more than 660 locations across the U.S.

The Medford location was the last Cracker Barrel in Oregon.

NBC5 reported last year that locations in Beaverton, Tualatin and Bend closed permanently, citing the pandemic’s impact on business as reasons for those closures.

Ashland Man Accused Of Beating Woman To Death With A Can Ordered To Proceed In Criminal Case

A court order Thursday says an Ashland man accused of a Medford beating death is “fit to proceed” with his criminal case.

The Jackson County Circuit Court order said 23-year-old Anthony Siple, “is fit to proceed in this case. THE COURT ORDERS that proceedings in this case are to resume.”

Anthony Siple court 11.21.23 for Jessa Delyon beating death in Medford 11.18.23.png

Siple is in Jackson County Jail facing murder, manslaughter and robbery charges for the Nov. 18, 2023, beating death of 51-year-old Jessa Delyon.

Medford police say they arrested Siple that morning in north Medford along Brookhurst Street in response to a dispatch advising, “there were several callers stating male was was holding down female, yelling that he was going to kill her.”

At the time police said they found Delyon “badly beaten and bleeding from her face and left side of her head,” taken to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center where she was found to have a skull fracture, serious brain bleed and significant swelling of the brain.

Siple’s original indictment from November 22, 2023, listing attempted murder and assault charges was amended Dec. 12, 2023, to show murder and manslaughter charges after Delyon died from her injuries.

Medford police reported in November that the incident scene “contained significant amount of blood on the street and opened can of Chef Boyardee Raviolis. The injuries sustained by Delyon required emergency surgery during which bone plate was removed to reduce the pressure on brain and tubes were installed for drainage. Delyon was sedated and placed on ventilator. During an interview with Detective Rogers, Siple admitted to hitting Delyon stating it was in self defense. Siple also admitted to being in possession of can of Chef Boyardee Raviolis during the incident. The can was found in the street on Keene Drive just north of the intersection with Brookhurst Street and had what appeared to be bloody skin tissue transfer around the opening.”

Siple had an arraignment for his amended criminal indictment Dec. 13, 2023, then the court received a psychological evaluation report before declaring him unfit to proceed with his court case in late December, committing him “to the custody of the Superintendent of OSH (Oregon State Hospital) for treatment to gain fitness to proceed.”

Today, Jackson County Circuit Court filed a court order (below), signed late yesterday, finding Siple fit to proceed with his criminal case, after appearing in a court hearing Tuesday to make that determination. The Court said its order is based on its review and consideration of a report of a certified evaluator, observation of Siple at the hearing, statements from legal counsel, and the case parties’ stipulation that Siple is fit to proceed.  (SOURCE)


WHITE CITY, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) White City Community Action Team deputies teamed up with community partners, non-profits, businesses, and local kids to clean up graffiti and trash in White City last Monday. The cleanup effort is part of White Mountain Middle School’s Project G.R.A.C.E. (Graffiti Removal Achieving Community Empowerment). Project G.R.A.C.E. plans on these clean up efforts to be more frequent to maintain the cleanliness and safety of the White City community.
May be a graphic of 6 people and text that says 'PROJECT GRAGE Graffiti Removal Achieving Community Empowerment (Project G.R.A.C.E.) collaborating with the Jackson County District Attorney's Office, Sheriff's Office, Community. Justice, local police agencies, non-profits, and businesses for graffiti abatement initiative in White City. As graffiti becomes more prevalent, we must act get rid ofit, stop it from occurring and maintain the cleanliness and safety of our neighborhoods. BE THE CHANGE! Trash Pick-Up/ Graffiti Removal/ Sidewalk Clean Up April 24th 4pm- 4pm-5:30pm Meet at Student Support Programs 3275 Avenue G White City, OR 97503 For More Information, Please Contact Chris Valavala or Call (541)324-1079'
Project G.R.A.C.E. collaborates with the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Community Justice, local police agencies, non-profits, and businesses for a graffiti abatement initiative in White City. As graffiti becomes more prevalent, we must act to get rid of it, stop it from occurring and maintain the cleanliness and safety of our neighborhoods.
Project G.R.A.C.E. plans to have another White City clean up event on April 24 at 4 p.m. For More Information, contact Chris Valavala or call (541)324-1079.


Britt Music & Arts Festival is excited to announce the next slate of 12 Britt Presents shows for the 2024 summer season.Britt Music and Arts Festival 2020 Postponements - Britt Music & Arts Festival

With more announcements to come, this group of shows features a wide array of musical artists, including country legend Willie Nelson. Britt-newcomers will include Shaggy, Dirty Heads, Walker Hayes, Paul Cauthen, Classic Albums Live: Fleetwood Mac “Rumors”, and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening. Britt favorites returning to the stage include reggae rock bands Iration & Pepper with special guests DENM and Artikal Sound System, American jam band Umphrey’s McGee, world famous Cuban ensemble Buena Vista Social Orchestra, pop icons Colbie Caillat & Gavin DeGraw, jazz and funk fusion artist Trombone Shorty, and reggae band SOJA. The community is also invited to the hill for a night of laughter with Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood: Asking for Trouble. But it doesn’t end there; throughout the next month, Britt will continue to announce more shows for the 2024 Britt Presents season!

“We are thrilled about this upcoming season,” said President & CEO Abby McKee. “We are proud to have something for everyone every year, and this year is no exception. As a nonprofit, Britt exists to serve our Southern Oregon community with world-class performances. Our lineup this year includes not only names everyone will know and love, but also newcomers to the Britt stage. There are more surprises in store, and we can’t wait to see everyone on the hill this summer!”

With this announcement, there will be a Member pre-sale before tickets go on sale to the general public at 10:00 AM on Friday, April 26. Memberships are available for sale with ticket orders on the dates below.

  • April 8-18: Orders are processed according to level of membership:
  • April 8: Clef Club ($750) and above Members may submit orders at 10:00 AM PT
  • April 22: Donor ($300) Member Online Only orders at 10:00 AM PT
  • April 24: Patron ($150) & Senior Patron ($65) Online Member Only orders at 10:00 AM PT
  • April 26: General public sales begin  at 10:00 AM PT

Tickets for many Britt shows are already on sale, including Pink Martini featuring China Forbes, The Infamous Stringdusters and Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway, Jason Mraz & The Superband, The Dead South, Nickel Creek and Andrew Bird, The California Honeydrops with special guest Shook Twins, Ziggy Marley, Randy Houser, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Chris Young, and Chris Isaak. Britt is also selling tickets to its “Wildflowers In Full Bloom” Garden Party fundraiser, as well as the folk legend Judy Collins concert where she will be accompanied by the Britt Festival Orchestra. Britt Festival Orchestra concerts are also available for sale, including the two-night run of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in Concert with the orchestra playing the score live-to-picture. All tickets are available at Fans are urged to visit the website directly to ensure that their tickets are valid and the best possible price.

Additional Britt Presents show announcements will occur in the coming weeks. In response to patron feedback, Britt is announcing shows as they are confirmed with bands. Tickets and more information can be found at, or from the Box Office at 541-773-6077 or in person at 216 W. Main St., Medford, Oregon.


Ashland Family YMCA, Oregon  
Be part of a community, not just a workplace🫶
* Preschool Teacher
* Member Services Shift Lead
* YMCA Camp DeBoer Kitchen Manager
* YMCA Camp DeBoer Kitchen Assistant and Housekeeping
* YMCA Camp DeBoer Cabin Counselor
* Day Camp Counselor at the Y
* Sports Day Camp Counselor at the Y
* Lifeguards (we will certify you!)
* Swim Lesson Instructors
👉Employment includes a FREE Membership!
For more information, and to apply:


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.

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


Make an appointment now to help save lives during National Volunteer Month

American Red Cross Home

 Spring into action: Give blood or platelets with the Red Cross 

Make an appointment now to help save lives during National Volunteer Month

During National Volunteer Month in April, the American Red Cross asks donors to help protect the blood supply by making and keeping blood or platelet donation appointments in the weeks ahead. Donors of all blood types – especially type O blood donors and those giving platelets – are needed now to keep the blood supply strong enough to support critical patient care this spring.

The Red Cross depends on thousands of volunteer blood donors to collect about 12,000 blood donations every single day. With no substitute for blood and no way to manufacture it, volunteer donors are essential in transfusion care. Blood drives and donation centers also depend on the generosity and valuable time of those who make it possible for the Red Cross to help people in need.

Spring into action – book a time to give lifesaving blood or platelets now by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App. Those who come to give April 8-28, 2024, will receive a $10 e-gift card to a merchant of choice, plus be automatically entered to win a $7,000 gift card. There will be two lucky winners. See for details.

Visit and enter your zip code to find additional blood donation opportunities near you.

How to donate blood — Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at or use the Blood Donor App.

Amplify your impact − volunteer!  — Another way to support the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross is to become a volunteer blood donor ambassador at Red Cross blood drives. Blood donor ambassadors help greet, check in and thank blood donors to ensure they have a positive donation experience.

Volunteers can also serve as transportation specialists, playing a vital role in ensuring lifesaving blood products are delivered to nearby hospitals. For more information and to apply for either position, visit

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood and is the primary blood supplier to 65 hospitals throughout Washington and Oregon; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit or, or follow us on social media. American Red Cross – Cascades Region


Today is Tax Day; File a return or extension by midnight

Salem, OR—Midnight tonight, April 15, 2024, is the deadline to file tax year 2023 state and federal personal income tax returns and the Oregon Department of Revenue wants to remind taxpayers of the tools available to make the experience easier for both those who haven’t yet filed their 2023 return and those who have.

Through April 14, Revenue has processed 1.67 million of an expected 2.2 million returns and issued nearly 1.4 million refunds.

Free filing options

Revenue reminds those who haven’t yet filed, that filing electronically is the fastest way for taxpayers to get their refund. Oregon Free Fillable Forms performs basic calculations and is ideal for taxpayers who don’t need help preparing their returns and want the convenience of filing electronically. The IRS offers a similar option for filing federal taxes electronically.

New this year, the department is also offering Direct File Oregon, which allows taxpayers to file their Form OR-40 through Revenue Online. Direct File Oregon is not currently linked with the IRS Direct File. Taxpayers will need to file a separate federal return with the IRS before filing an Oregon return with Direct File Oregon through Revenue Online.

Information about other available free tax preparation tax preparation software is available on the Revenue website, along with a list of organizations providing free or reduced cost assistance.

What’s My Kicker? calculator

In 2024 Oregon is returning $5.61 billion in surplus revenue to taxpayers in the form of a “kicker” tax credit. Taxpayers will receive their kicker as part of their refund, or the kicker can reduce the tax they owe.

Taxpayers, who have not filed their 2023 return, should not guess at their kicker amount. They can determine the amount of their kicker using the What’s My Kicker? calculator available on Revenue Online. To use the tool, taxpayers will need to enter their name, Social Security Number, and filing status for 2022 and 2023.

Where’s my refund? tool and video

Taxpayers wondering about the refund on their 2023 tax year return, can use the Oregon Department of Revenue’s Where’s My Refund? tool to check its status and, if they want more information, watch a video outlining the refund timelines to better understand the process.

Doug, the new virtual assistant

The agency’s new virtual assistant Doug is now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on Revenue Online to answer general tax questions.

Doug, an avatar Oregon fir tree, is located in the upper right hand corner of the Revenue Online homepage.  With just a few clicks of the keyboard, users will be able to access instant, helpful, insightful answers. It’s important to note that Doug does have some limitations. The virtual assistant is pre-programmed with answers to common questions, therefore, users with detailed questions pertaining to their unique circumstances are encouraged to consult their tax preparer or contact the department directly.

If you file a paper return

Taxpayers who haven’t yet filed their 2023 return and file a paper return should make sure it’s post-marked by today or place it in one of the drop boxes available on both the east and west sides of the Department of Revenue Building in Salem, or outside the DOR offices in Portland, Gresham, Eugene, Medford, and Bend.

DOR staff will be on hand in the atrium of the Salem headquarters building today until 5 PM to accept and stamp tax returns as having been filed timely.

Filing an extension.

Individuals who are not able to file by midnight can file an extension directly with the Oregon Department of Revenue or with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If the IRS extension is granted, the Oregon extension is automatically granted. A timely filed extension moves the federal tax filing deadline and the Oregon filing deadline to October 15, 2024.

Taxpayers should only request an Oregon extension if they:

  • Don’t have a federal extension.
  • Owe Oregon taxes.
  • Can’t file your return by April 15, 2024.

Remember that having a filing extension is not an extension to pay any tax owed. Taxpayers who can’t pay the full amount they owe, should pay what they can to avoid late payment penalties.

First quarter 2024 estimated payments due today

Today is also the due date for first quarter estimated payments. In most cases, taxpayers must make estimated tax payments for tax year 2024 if they estimate their tax after withholding and credits (including refundable credits) will be $1,000 or more when they file their 2024 Oregon return. Taxpayers can make their payments on Revenue Online or mail their payment with a voucher. Taxpayers mailing their payment should mail it separately from their return or other correspondence. Oregon Estimated Income Tax Instructions, Publication OR-ESTIMATE, can be found on the Revenue website.
Visit to get tax forms, see a list of approved tax preparation software products, check the status of your refund, or make tax payments. For questions not answered on our website, call 800-356-4222 toll-free (English or Spanish) or 503-378-4988 or email For TTY (hearing or speech impaired), we accept all relay calls. Due to the number of calls Revenue receives during tax season, you may experience extended wait times.


Governor Kotek announced Sunday that President Joe Biden approved a federal major disaster declaration for January’s winter weather emergency.

This declaration provides supplemental grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Public Assistance Program. This funding will go to state, local and tribal governments to assist in their storm recovery and response.

“I am grateful to President Biden for answering our call for help,” Gov. Kotek said in a statement. “This opportunity for federal assistance will make a significant difference across communities that are still grappling with significant damage from the storm.”

The declaration includes Benton, Clackamas, Coos, Hood River, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Multnomah, Sherman, Tillamook and Wasco Counties and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. More information about the emergency and the major disaster declaration can be found here.


The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has scheduled an opportunity for public comments concerning the proposed merger of two major grocery store chains – Kroger and Albertsons.

This deal could impact more than 150 pharmacies in Oregon, accoring to a releas from the OHA

“The OHA is reviewing this planned transaction to understand how it might affect pharmacy services in Oregon,” a release from the OHA states.

OHA has convened a Community Review Board for this review. This board is hosting a public hearing from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 24.

The public hearing will: Provide information about the transaction and OHA’s review, Allow representatives from Kroger and Albertsons to provide testimony and answer questions, Allow members of the public to provide comments.

The public can register to attend .

Kroger and Albertsons are the nation’s two largest grocery chains. In Oregon, the two corporations operate 176 stores, serving nearly every community in the state. Kroger operates 51 Fred Meyer and 4 QFC stores, while Albertsons operates 96 Safeway and 25 Albertsons stores.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has joined the Federal Trade Commission and a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from across the nation in acting to block the proposed $24.6 billion Kroger-Albertsons grocery chain merger.

“If big grocery stores are allowed to reduce competition this way.” Rosenblum said, “They can charge higher prices for food for no good reason and reduce services, including in their pharmacies. They can also slow the growth of employees’ wages, or even reduce some of those wages. Working conditions and employee benefits can suffer, as well. In short, there’s no good for consumers or workers in this proposed merger — and lots of bad.”

Oregon Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission investigators found compelling evidence that direct, head-to-head competition between Kroger and Albertsons has forced the two chains to compete vigorously against one another — both on price and on the quality of goods and services offered at their stores, according to Rosenblum.

Oregon, the FTC, and the other AGs filed to enjoin the merger in U.S. District Court in Portland following a vote by FTC commissioners Feb. 26.

It is the result of thorough investigations by the FTC and the states into the proposed merger’s anticipated effects, Rosenbaum said in a statement.

“We are doing this to protect Oregon consumers and workers,” Rosenblum said. “We believe this proposed merger would hurt both, and we’re doing our part to prevent it from going forward.”

To learn more about the OHA public hearing, visit

Email with any questions.


April 30th is the deadline for people registering to vote in Oregon for the first time or for those who wish to change party affiliation.

The upcoming May 21st election is a closed-party primary election for registered Democrats and Republicans.
That means that Democrats will be voting for Democrat and nonpartisan candidates and measures and Republicans will be voting for Republican and nonpartisan candidates and measures.

Non-affiliated and all other voters will be voting on nonpartisan candidates and measures.

Oregon Online Voter Registration:


State Fire Marshal handing out $6 million to help local agencies fight wildfires

About two-thirds of the fire departments across Oregon – all smaller agencies – received up to $35,000 to hire more firefighters during the season

As Oregon approaches this year’s wildfire season, state officials are distributing $6 million in grants to help local fire agencies bolster their resources.

The State Fire Marshal, which announced the grants, said that 191 agencies across the state received up to $35,000. That’s about two-thirds of the 306 fire agencies in Oregon.

All of the agencies were eligible to apply for a grant, but most of the recipients are in rural or coastal areas, from Ontario to Oakridge and Christmas Valley to Seaside. The departments in the state’s biggest cities, including Portland, Salem, Eugene, Medford and Bend, are not on the list, mainly because the grant’s purpose is to help smaller jurisdictions – those whose annual property tax income does not exceed $2 million – that often rely on volunteers, according to John Hendricks, a spokesman for the fire marshal.

The grants are designed to help smaller agencies, such as the Fossil and Heppner fire departments, staff up with firefighters to be able to mobilize quickly.

Hendricks said in an email that the grants often allow agencies to hire two to three extra firefighters.

“Every agency is different, so their request may be different,” Hendricks said. “Some agencies pay current volunteers to take a shift, others bring on seasonal staff. It really depends.”

Many recipients got the maximum, though a few were given much less. The smallest grant – $2,698 – went to Baker Rural Fire Protection District. Myrtle Creek Fire Department got $9,160, while Union Emergency Services received $9,463 and Corbett Fire District 24 received $12,315.

This is the third year in a row that the fire marshall has distributed money through the Wildfire Season Staffing Grant program, according to a news release. It said the grants last year – also $6 million  – allowed agencies to add more than 1,500 firefighters.

“These added resources allowed agencies to attack fires and keep them small and away from communities and added capacity to respond to other calls, ultimately saving lives,” the release said.

That help enabled the Cornelius Fire Department in the Portland area, for example, to dispatch two units to the scene of a brush fire last year within minutes. They quickly put it out, preventing the spread to nearby buildings.

In Jefferson County in central Oregon, funding helped the local fire department hire wildland firefighters who contained a high-risk brush fire last August to 1 acre, according to a report about last year’s grants. That fire had the potential to become big in a high-risk area, the fire chief said.

And in Sublimity in Marion County, the grant helped the local fire district add staff at the busiest time of the year, which it previously couldn’t do, the release said.

“This resulted in quicker responses with adequate staffing for not only our district, but our neighboring agencies,” Sublimity Fire District Chief Alan Hume said in the release. “Last year we had several fires in our area with the potential to develop into larger, extended duration fires. We were able, as (a) region, to keep those fires smaller.”

The grant is part of an initiative by the State Fire Marshal’s office, the Response Ready Oregon initiative, that’s designed to help modernize systems and technology, create mutual aid plans, hire coordinators and more. But that program lacks sustained funding, the release said.

The Oregon Legislature allocated $220 million for wildfires in 2021, but the Oregon Department of Forestry and State Fire Marshal’s Office received less than $90 million during the budget cycle that began last July and ends in mid-2025. Lawmakers had hoped this session to fill gaps in wildfire funding, with three bills to address landowner wildfire protection fees, home hardening, wildfire prevention and response and survivor compensation. But only one – on compensation – passed.

That prompted Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland and the author of one proposal to say legislators were “stumbling into the future” on wildfire funding. (SOURCE)

Oregon State Fire Marshal issues grants to boost staffing ahead of wildfire season

To boost the number of firefighters across Oregon before wildfire season, the Oregon State Fire Marshal (OSFM) announced it has awarded $6 million in grants to 191 local fire agencies across the state.

The 2024 Wildfire Season Staffing Grant program is in its third year. Local agencies in the Oregon structural fire service were eligible to apply for up to $35,000. The funding will allow agencies to bring on additional firefighters or increase on-duty hours during the 2024 fire season. A list of agencies awarded funding can be found here.

The 2023 Wildfire Season Staffing Grant program was integral to the success in protecting communities, adding more than 1,500 paid firefighters to the Oregon fire service. These added resources allowed agencies to attack fires and keep them small and away from communities and added capacity to respond to other calls, ultimately saving lives. Read about the successes here.

“The staffing grant program has been a huge success for the Oregon fire service and our district,” Sublimity Fire District Chief Alan Hume said. “It allowed us to staff our station during the busiest time of the year, which we previously couldn’t do. This resulted in quicker responses with adequate staffing for not only our district, but our neighboring agencies. Last year we had several fires in our area with the potential to develop into larger, extended duration fires. We were able, as region, to keep those fires smaller.”

“This grant has provided us the ability to respond to all requests for emergency services, including automatic and mutual aid requests in our district,” Crooked River Ranch Rural Fire Protection District Chief Sean Hartley said. “This program is instrumental in keeping fires in our community small and allowed us to respond to multiple calls for service at the same time.”

This 2024 Wildfire Season Staffing Grant program is part of a multi-pronged approach to combat wildfire in Oregon. Over the last three years, the OSFM has made strategic investments to modernize the Oregon Fire Mutual Aid System and help communities become more wildfire adapted.

This grant is part of the OSFM’s Response Ready Oregon initiative. The OSFM is looking for sustained funding for this program and is exploring all options to continue this highly successful grant in 2025 and beyond.ABOUT RESPONSE READY OREGON The OSFM’s Response Ready Oregon initiative was created to help boost capacity and modernize wildfire response within the Oregon Fire Mutual Aid System (OFMAS). The goal of Response Ready Oregon is to keep fires small and away from communities, reducing costly conflagrations.

Governor Kotek Signs Property Tax Reset For 2020 Wildfire Victims

Many of the Oregonians whose homes were destroyed in 2020 wildfires will soon be protected from potentially massive property tax increases after they rebuild if county leaders in their communities agree.

About 4,000 homes were destroyed in wildfires across the state in September 2020 — most of them in Santiam Canyon or Southern Oregon’s Jackson County. Already, thousands of those properties have been rebuilt — and many homeowners have faced an unwelcome surprise when taxes came due.

Under Oregon law, a home’s assessed value can go up by no more than 3% each year, except when there’s new construction or significant upgrades. That’s left people rebuilding from the 2020 wildfires facing thousands of dollars in higher yearly taxes.

Mia Mohr, a resident of Lyon in the Santiam Canyon whose house was destroyed by the fires, testified in support of the property tax reset during the recent legislative session.

“Victims of the 2020 wildfires, particularly those who could least afford to rebuild, have experienced many challenges and hardships since losing everything in the devastating wildfire,” she said in written testimony. “…I didn’t have the option to replace my home built in 1968 with a 1968-valued home. I could only replace it with a same square-foot new home.”

The unexpected property tax increase she and other community members have faced has been a significant burden, she said.

Marion County Commissioner Kevin Cameron told OPB that the tax reset approved in this year’s legislative session is part of an ongoing effort to respond to the financial and personal hardships people have faced since the September 2020 wildfires.

“One of the first things we realized, right after the wildfires, is that property tax statements were going out in September, October of 2020 — and people were going to get a property tax statement when they have no house,” he said.

Leaders in hard-hit counties set up programs that allowed people to reduce their tax bills if they’d lost their homes —but it was not an automatic process.

Then, as residents started to rebuild, many were shocked by their new property tax statements. “Their property tax statements would double or in some cases even triple,” Cameron said.

State Sen. Frank Girod, a Republican from Stayton, began pushing for a property tax reset in the 2023 legislative session, but it took until this year for it to pass as Senate Bill 1545.

The bill, which Gov. Tina Kotek signed into law this month, essentially resets the tax rate to 2020-21 levels for these homes, as long as they’re built to the same square footage as before the fire. Commissioners in the eight Oregon counties where the fires caused widespread damage will need to opt in for their constituents to receive these protections.

Cameron said he expects Marion County commissioners to approve the tax reset, and to work hard to communicate with eligible home owners about the program in affected communities. People will have to apply to qualify.

The property tax reset is temporary and limited. When houses are rebuilt larger than the home that was burned, that additional square footage will be assessed based on its value at the time of construction. When owners sell their rebuilt homes, those properties will be assessed based on market value at that time.

And only homes that are occupied full-time are eligible, which means people’s second homes around Detroit Lake are not qualified for the tax reset, Cameron said. “They will have to pay regular property taxes,” he said. “This is to encourage those who were living here to come back and rebuild. (SOURCE)


Death Investigation in Newport, Oregon

On 04/13/2024, a hiker from the Newport area located human remains in a dispersed campsite just outside the city limits of Newport, OR. The hiker reported the incident to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies responded to the area and were directed to the campsite, which was located approximately 100 yards into thick foliage from the roadway.

The remains appeared to have been exposed to the environment for a prolonged period of time. Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Deputies and Detectives conducted a death investigation before the Lincoln County Search and Rescue Team assisted in removing the remains. The remains have been tentatively identified but will undergo advanced testing to make a final determination. No identifying information is being released at this time. No suspicious circumstances have been determined and there is no concern for community safety.

If anyone has any information relating to this incident, please call the Sheriff’s Tip Line at 541-265-0669. Reference case number 24S-06357.


SOLVE’s Oregon Spring Cleanup began on Saturday April 13- Runs through April 20th — Volunteer Opportunities are Open for Registration

– The Oregon Spring Cleanup, presented by Portland General Electric, kicked off Saturday. From April 13 to April 22, more than 100 volunteer opportunities are open for registration in celebration of Earth Day. Families, community members, neighborhood associations, and environmental enthusiasts are invited to participate in the biggest event on SOLVE’s annual calendar.

Everyone is 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 over 100 projects to choose from, 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.

Anyone who cannot attend an Oregon Spring Cleanup event this year can support SOLVE by individual giving. A donation of any size will help SOLVE host more events year after year and provide volunteers with free supplies, event leader training, and all the support they need to run a successful event.

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.


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.


Ten million in grant dollars help to create resilience in Oregon communities

(Salem) – Forest fires, heat domes, landslides, floods, drought, pandemics — all natural disasters that kill thousands of people and destroy billions of dollars of property and habitat each year. That’s why it’s important that each community builds up its resilience to these hazards.

Now, there is help for Oregon’s many communities. The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) Office of Resilience and Emergency Management (OREM) has a $10 million grant called the Resilience Hubs and Networks Grant to give out to eligible people and organizations. The funding comes from the 2023 Oregon Legislature to build resiliency within communities.

“This grant money is part of a long-term goal of having our communities create resiliency so they can prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. With this grant a community can design what they need to be resilient,” Ed Flick, OREM Director said.

“Applicants could be just about anyone — schools, cities, counties, non-profits, Tribes — if they can show how the funding would benefit their community. We’d like to get grant dollars out to populations and areas of Oregon that are not as prepared for climate impacts. Many rural and frontier communities don’t have the tools and resources as larger cities,” Jenn Bosch, OREM Grants Program Administrator, said.

“A Resilience Hub is a living, breathing part of the community already, such as a community center, a Boys and Girls Club, something that is part of their daily life, like a food bank. It’s place they would think to go to get help, such as shelter in an emergency. What they can apply for is very open,” Bosch said.

The things people and groups could apply for includes almost anything that would build and strengthen the communities’ resilience, such as medical supplies, child care, emergency communications equipment, generators, training, water purification, vehicles and more. It also includes things communities can apply for called “typed packages.” These packages are those big containers often used for storage, called Conex boxes. OREM will pack the Conex containers with emergency supplies specific to sheltering in-place or enduring a disaster until further relief arrives, and OREM will deliver to that site.

The network part of the grant is to help communities communicate and share resources more effectively.

“The goal is to break down silos. Here’s an example of what this is – Government doesn’t generally set up shelters – it’s the churches, non-profits and community groups. But often they don’t know what the group down the street is doing. We’re asking them to work together to apply for the grant. Let’s say church is opening shelter but they don’t have food, but in working together with other community groups, they would then know the food bank might have food ready to supply to them,” Bosch said.

Last July through December, Bosch with Spencer Karel, OREM Policy Chief, and partner in the grant process, traveled Oregon on a listening tour. They met in-person or virtually with more than 80 community groups, ODHS programs, Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Department of Energy and other state agencies.

“We wanted to hear from them. It was an amazing opportunity to build the grant and really make it work for the communities. A Resiliency Hub in Grants Pass will look different than one in Wheeler, and those will also look different from one in Tillamook. We’re hopeful that the applications will reflect the broad need,” Bosch said.

She stressed that applying for this grant is easy. The application is a like a survey that the applicant can fill in what they are requesting, with six essay questions. OREM is also partnering with Portland State University to assist applicants that need help completing their application. Information about this help can be found on the OREM website.

“We want to make sure the people who generally don’t apply for or get grants feel like they have a fair opportunity to potentially receive a grant this time – small, rural, frontier areas especially,” she said.

So far there are more than 65 applicants for the grant money. Applications close April 30. 

Just to sum up why this grant money to create resiliency is important for communities throughout Oregon, Bosch said, “It saves lives and saves money.”

To learn more about the Resilience Hubs and Networks Grant and to find the application, visit:


ODOT Reminding The Public That Political Signs Posted Incorrectly Will Be Removed

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) would like to remind the public that political signs posted incorrectly will be removed.

ODOT will remove improperly placed signs like the one above and hold them at the nearest ODOT maintenance yard. Photo courtesy of the Oregon Department of Transportation.

During election season ODOT tells us they receive complaints from the public and candidates regarding the improper placement of political signs on the state highway rights of way, where only official traffic control devices are allowed. Improperly placed signs can distract drivers and block road safety messages.

Wrongly placed signs will be taken down and held at a nearby ODOT district maintenance office for 30 days. To reclaim signs, go here to find the nearest ODOT maintenance office.

Signs are prohibited on trees, utility poles, fence posts and natural features within highway right-of-ways, ODOT tells us. They also are prohibited within view of a designated scenic area.

State highway width rights of way can vary considerably depending on the location. Check with your local ODOT district maintenance office to determine whether placing a sign is on private property or highway right of way. Local municipalities may also regulate the placement of political signs.

Political signs are allowed on private property within view of state highways with the following restrictions:

  • Signs are limited to 12 square feet but can be up to 32 square feet with a variance from our Oregon Advertising Sign program
  • Signs cannot have flashing or intermittent lights, or animated or moving parts
  • Signs must not imitate official highway signs or devices
  • Signs are not allowed in scenic corridors
  • No payment or compensation of any kind can be exchanged for either the placement of or the message on temporary signs, including political signs, which are visible to a state highway

For more information go to ODOT’s Outdoor Advertising Sign Program.

Babies, baby chicks don’t mix: OHA article highlights Salmonella risks of backyard poultry for newborns

PORTLAND, Ore. — Outbreaks of Salmonella infection linked to backyard poultry have been well documented, but a recent Oregon public health investigation highlights the risks of home chicken flocks for newborn babies.

An Oregon Health Authority (OHA) report in today’s edition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) details an investigation into a case of salmonellosis – the disease caused by Salmonella bacteria – in a newborn whose parents kept backyard poultry.

OHA and Crook County epidemiologists investigated the case as part of a routine, multi-state review of backyard poultry-associated salmonellosis outbreaks reported to CDC from across the country during 2023.

According to the report, the baby boy was born at a hospital about 150 miles away from his parents’ home. The newborn was discharged with his mother to a relative’s home the day after his birth, but four days later was readmitted to a second hospital with bloody stool and lethargy, prompting health care providers to collect a stool sample for analysis. The sample tested positive for a strain of Salmonella known as Thompson.

Neither parent had symptoms of salmonellosis, nor had they been diagnosed with the disease. However, the baby’s father, who tended the family’s backyard poultry at the family’s home 150 miles away, was present at the hospital during the child’s birth and stayed with the child and the child’s mother at the relative’s home when the baby fell ill.

The newborn had not traveled to the home where the backyard poultry were kept during the time between his birth and his hospital admission for his illness.

Nearly a month after the newborn was admitted to the hospital with salmonellosis symptoms, state and county epidemiologists collected environmental samples from the chicken bedding in the family’s backyard poultry coop, where the child’s father had previously had contact. Two of the samples matched the Salmonella Thompson strain found in the child.

Paul Cieslak, M.D., medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations at OHA’s Public Health Division and co-author of the MMWR article, said epidemiologists don’t know the exact mechanism by which the newborn was exposed to the Salmonella Thompson strain. But it’s telling that the newborn’s family started keeping backyard poultry only about a month before the child’s birth.

“It’s possible one of the parents was shedding the organism even though they weren’t showing symptoms and exposed the baby during or after his birth,” Cieslak said. “The bacteria also could have been carried from the family home to the newborn on clothes, shoes or other belongings. Once it’s on surfaces, it can be transported and transmitted fairly easily.”

The case is a strong reminder about the importance of hygiene when tending backyard poultry, “especially when persons at risk for exposure are newborns and young infants whose intestinal flora and immune systems are still developing,” the article’s authors wrote. “In addition to adhering to recommended hygiene practices, families contemplating raising backyard poultry should consider the potential risk to newborns and young infants living in the household.”

The CDC has the following recommendations for backyard flock owners:

  • Always wash hands with soap and water immediately after touching backyard poultry, their eggs or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. Consider having hand sanitizer at your coop.
  • Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry, and don’t eat or drink around them. This can spread Salmonella germs to your mouth and make you sick. Keep your backyard flock and supplies you use to care for them (such as feed containers and shoes you wear in the coop) outside of the house. You should also clean the supplies outside the house.
  • Always supervise children around backyard poultry and make sure they wash their hands properly Don’t let children younger than 5 touch chicks, ducklings or other backyard poultry. Young children are more likely to get sick from germs such as Salmonella.
  • Collect eggs often. Eggs that sit in the nest can become dirty or break. Throw away cracked eggs. Germs on the shell can more easily enter the egg through a cracked shell. Rub off dirt on eggs with fine sandpaper, a brush, or a cloth. Don’t wash eggs because colder water can pull germs into the egg. Refrigerate eggs to keep them fresh and slow the growth of germs. Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm, and cook egg dishes to an internal temperature of 160°F to kill all germs.
  • Call your health care provider right away if you have any of these severe symptoms:
    • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F.
    • Diarrhea for more than three days that is not improving.
    • Bloody diarrhea.
    • So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down.
    • Signs of dehydration, such as not peeing much, dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up.

The article’s lead author was Stephen Ladd-Wilson, Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention Section, OHA. Other co-authors included Karen Yeargain, Crook County Health Department; Samuel Myoda, Ph.D., and Mansour Samadpour, Ph.D., Institute for Environmental Health Laboratories, Seattle; and Karim Morey, Oregon State Public Health Laboratory, OHA.


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.

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

Must Read

Oregon Guardsmen Transport Supplies To Support Medical Response

Brian Casey

Rogue Valley News, Monday 1/15 – Oregon Winter Weather & Other Local and Statewide News…

Renee Shaw

Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 6/7 – New Cancer Center In Medford Is Now Open To Patients, Ashland Summer Camp Hopes To Help Kids Heal From Pandemic And Wildfire Trauma

Renee Shaw