Rogue Valley News, Wednesday 5/1 – Nurses at Providence Medford to Hold Informational Picket Wednesday May 1st 4-7pm & Other Local and Statewide News…

The latest news stories of interest in the Rogue Valley and the state of Oregon from the digital home of Southern Oregon, Wynne Broadcasting’s RogueValleyMagazine.com

Wednesday,  May 1, 2024

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Nurses at Providence Medford to Hold Informational Picket Wednesday May 1st 4-7pm

After failure to reach an agreement despite months of negotiations, nurses are making their contract fight public 

WHAT: Frontline nurses who work at Providence Medford will host an informational picket about raising healthcare standards for nurses, patients and our communities on Wednesday, May 1, 2024. The nurses—represented by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA)—will be joined by worker advocates and community allies.

ONA represents more than 4,700 frontline nurses working in nine Providence Health System facilities from Portland to Medford. Nurses are standing together to raise standards for nurses, patients and communities within Providence–Oregon’s largest health care system and one of the state’s largest corporations.

WHEN: May 1, 2024
Informational Picketing from 4-7 p.m.
Speakers: 4 p.m.
Times are approximate

WHERE: On sidewalks outside Providence Medford Medical Center, 1111 Crater Lake Ave., Medford

WHO: ONA frontline nurses will be picketing alongside worker advocates and community allies. Bargaining unit chair Vicki Knudsen, RN, will be joined by other nurses to talk about the challenges they face.

WHY: Nurses at Providence Medford began bargaining with management in January but their contract expired in March. While they’ve made progress on some lower-priority bargaining topics, nurses are frustrated with the disappointing counterproposals Providence has offered for their top issues.
• Adding RNs for Safe Patient Assignments: Providence frequently doubles patient assignments during meal periods, with assignments as high as eight patients for one nurse, and our RNs seek safe assignments throughout every shift.
• Paid Time Off (PTO): Providence RNs are below market standards for PTO by more than 20-30 hours.
• Market Competitive Wages & Differentials: Current wages are at or 50% below market for caregivers at the Northwest’s largest health system.
• Market Competitive Health Benefits: Deductibles and out-of-pocket max for ONA and ONA-affiliated caregivers are up to $6,000 more per year than competitor health systems.

ONA nurses are picketing to improve patient safety by addressing Providence’s staffing crisis and raising standards to recruit and retain caregivers. Despite nurses’ sacrifices, Providence has left hundreds of frontline nurses working without the safety and security of a contract. In addition to Providence Medford, nurses at Providence St. Vincent, Providence Newberg, Providence Hood River and Providence Willamette Falls are working under expired contracts. The contract for nurses at Providence Milwaukie will expire at the end of May.

Nurses at Providence St. Vincent and Providence Newberg have already held strike votes and authorized their bargaining team to call for strikes if necessary.

The community is encouraged to attend the informational picket to show support for the caregivers they rely on.

Note: An informational picket is not a strike or work stoppage. It is a demonstration of solidarity to Providence’s administrators and a promise to our community that nurses, elected leaders and allies are united to raise health care standards at Providence and throughout Oregon. Oregon Nurses Assn.

 

Man Sentenced To Life In Prison After Sexually Abusing Young Girl At Grants Pass YMCA Pool

A man has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of sexually abusing a little girl in a Grants Pass YMCA pool.

68-year-old Rex McCurdy faced Judge Brandon Thueson on April 29th after being found guilty by a jury for two counts of sex abuse. Amanda McGeorge of the District Attorney’s Office told Judge Thueson McCurdy has previous convictions in three California counties for sex-crime related charges. This brought McGeorge and the DA’s Office to ask the judge to sentence McCurdy to life in prison under Statute 137.719. NBC5 previously reported that Grants Pass police said McCurdy was able to get into the YMCA due to restrictions that were put in place during Covid, which made McCurdy’s sex offender status inaccessible during his background check for his membership.

McCurdy’s Lawyer, Clayton Lance, asked the judge for 75 months. He said it is the court’s job to find the proper sentencing for the crime committed. He also said, in the context of the case, McCurdy’s previous convictions are incredibly old.

“Here’s what the state’s asking for: the state is asking you to give him a sentence that’s equivalent to an intentional murder in Oregon with aggravators,” Lance said to Judge Thueson.

Lance also renewed a request for a mistrial, which the judge did deny. In the end, Judge Thueson sentenced McCurdy to life in prison without parole, saying McCurdy is one of the nightmares that keep parents up at night.

“He goes to the pool for the purpose of window-shopping and worse. I firmly believe that based on what I saw and McCurdy’s statements,” Judge Thueson said, “While this specific abuse is not the worst abuse we’ve ever seen, it is haunting in the efforts and deliberate actions of Mr. McCurdy to find a child that he can then abuse.”

McGeorge says McCurdy has a criminal history of over thirty years, with both sexual and non-sexual crimes involving people of all ages. She says if our children can’t be safe in pools, where can they be?

 

Grants Pass Church Buys the Flying Lark Property

A Grants Pass church will be taking over the Flying Lark facility that has been on the market since last September. River Valley Church made the announcement to their congregation and via their Facebook page Sunday morning. https://www.facebook.com/RiverValleyChurchOregon/videos/1910808109341095

The building built by Dutch Bros cofounder Travis Boersma on Josephine County Fairgrounds property was meant to house a restaurant and historic horse racing machines. But it never came to be because the State Department of Justice said it would violate state gambling laws.

River Valley Church Campus Pastor Michale Bahn said, “We’re really excited about this, this new spot because of its location. And you know, I love some of the story that’s behind it. It’s powerful. Very special people with big visions put this into place. It’s an honor for us to continue in the spirit of it all to try and make a difference and be an encouragement to our city.”

River Valley Church has begun the planning process for renovation and repurposing of the existing facility and plans to complete their move by spring of 2025.

 

Cave Junction Man Sentenced to More than 14 Years Federal Prison for Illegally Possessing Firearms and Narcotics

—A Cave Junction, Oregon man with a lengthy criminal history was sentenced to more than 14 years in federal prison Thursday for illegally possessing methamphetamine and 12 firearms while on state supervision.

William Thomas Gillespie, 39, was sentenced to 173 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

“This lengthy prison sentence is a just outcome for a man who poses a significant danger to the community. We thank our partners on the Rogue Area Drug Enforcement Team for their dedication and commitment over many months to bringing Mr. Gillespie to justice,” said Nathan J. Lichvarick, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eugene and Medford Branch Offices.

“With Mr. Gillespie’s lengthy criminal record involving drug distribution, illegal firearms, and flight from supervised release, this significant sentence is well warranted,” said Jonathan Blais, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Seattle Field Division. “ATF will always investigate those who endanger our communities and citizens through their illegal actions.”

According to court documents, on April 6, 2020, Gillespie was arrested in White City, Oregon attempting to deliver approximately 174 grams of methamphetamine. At the time of his arrest, he possessed six baggies of methamphetamine and a digital scale. After Gillespie consented to a search of his residence, investigators located and seized 12 firearms, including an AR-15 and multiple AK-style rifles. Three of the firearms were found to be stolen and one had an obliterated serial number.

On November 5, 2020, a federal grand jury in Medford returned a three-count indictment charging Gillespie with illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, illegally possessing a short-barrel rifle, and possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

On June 23, 2021, Gillespie was released from custody pending trial, and, on August 1, 2022, pleaded guilty to illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

On January 2023, Gillespie absconded from his supervised release and a warrant was issued for his arrest. On September 13, 2023, Gillespie was located and arrested in Bandon, Oregon.

This case was investigated by the Rogue Area Drug Enforcement Team (RADE), a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force supported by the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. RADE includes members from Oregon State Police, the Grants Pass Police Department, Josephine County Probation & Parole, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

This case was prosecuted by Judith R. Harper, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

 

These are pretty good odds: About 1 in every 4 students who apply for an RCC Foundation scholarship will receive one. Most awards are $1,000-$6,000 per year. 💵💰
But you can’t receive a scholarship if you don’t apply! The deadline to apply for 2024-25 scholarships is June 1.  —-   Visit roguecc.edu/scholarships to get started.

National Small Business Week Celebrated April 28 to May 4, 2024

There are far-reaching advantages to deciding to “shop local.” By supporting local businesses, you are in turn supporting your local economy; significantly more money stays in a community when purchases are made at locally owned – rather than nationally owned – businesses.

The U.S. Small Business Association and the U.S. Department of Labor report the positive impacts of small, independent businesses on local economies.

  • Local businesses are more likely to utilize other local businesses such as banks, service providers, and farms.
  • For every $100 you spend at local businesses, $68 will stay in the community.
  • Independent retailers return more than three times as much money per dollar of sales to the community in which they operate than chain competitors. Independent restaurants return more than two times as much money per dollar of sales than national restaurant chains.
  • Small businesses employ 77 million Americans and accounted for 65% of all new jobs over the past 17 years.

In addition to helping build the local economy, there are also notable intangible benefits that come from supporting businesses in your local community.

  • Local businesses are owned and operated by your neighbors!  They care about and are invested in the well-being of your community and its future.
  • Local businesses are more accountable to their local communities and donate more money to non-profits.
  • Supporting local businesses is good for the environment because they often have a smaller carbon footprint than larger companies.

It isn’t always the easiest or most convenient option to visit a local independent business rather than a large national chain that might be down the street. However, there are plenty of ways you can help support your local economy by thinking local first:

  1. Try the menu at a local restaurant for lunch or dinner
  2. Purchase a birthday present at a local gift shop
  3. Join a local gym
  4. Visit a local nursery or hardware store for your lawn and garden needs
  5. Get your car serviced at a local mechanic
  6. Visit a farmer’s market to purchase the ingredients for your family dinner.

Top 10 Reasons to Shop Local First

  1. To shape and preserve our distinctive community character
  2. Local competition and diversity leads to more product choices
  3. It keeps and recirculates money in our community
  4. You’ll help support local job and opportunity creation
  5. It reduces environmental impact locally
  6. Because local businesses reinvest in our community
  7. It strengthens the local economy
  8. Because the local businesses help fund local non-profits
  9. To ensure that tax dollars stay local
  10. It encourages community pride and ownership

So the next time you need to run out for some groceries or do a little shopping, seek out a local business and see what they have to offer!  You could discover some great products and services while helping to build a strong and successful community around you.

When you invest money in your local economy, you’re not just helping local business owners — you’re also helping yourself. You’re making your town a better place to live in, with a rich character, thriving economy, and tightly knit community. And the more local businesses prosper, the more new ones will open, making it even easier to continue shopping locally in the future.

Join the conversation and tell us about a great local business in your communityinfo@roguevalleymagazine.com

Medford Police Turn Over Asante Criminal Investigation Results to District Attorney

The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office says today it has received the results of Medford Police Department’s criminal investigation of allegations of deadly drug diversion at a Medford hospital.

It says this afternoon it received Medford Police Department’s (MPD) results of its investigation into claims that a former Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center (Asante) nurse diverted medication intended for patients, replacing it with hospital tap water that caused deadly in-hospital infections.

The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office (JCDA) says it has MPD’s results which investigated the claims of criminal theft and misuse of controlled substances by the former Asante nurse. MPD has said that Asante administration reported the possible drug diversion in December.  In prior online postings, it disclosed that it had experienced serious infections in numerous patients.

MPD’s investigation started in December. JCDA says today it “involved the review of tens of thousands of documents, including medical records, and interviews with dozens of witnesses.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Patrick Green is reviewing the investigation results.

Green said today, “I would like thank the Medford Police Department for its diligent and meticulous work on this complex and expansive investigation. I want to assure the community that I am working hard to review the results of the investigation expeditiously. If charges are filed, I will remain the lead prosecutor and assign two other senior prosecutors as co-counsel to assist with the prosecution. I share the community’s concern with this case and will ensure it remains a top priority going forward.”

JCDA says, “Given the ongoing nature of this investigation and the possibility of future pending criminal charges, the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office will not be releasing further facts regarding this investigation.”

Asante’s media liaison Abby (has refused to share a last name) told NewsWatch 12 today it “cannot comment on personnel matters” when asked about both the criminal investigation and reports that Asante’s chief executive officer left that position this week.

NewsWatch 12 confirmed that one of at least three Asante CEOs was removed from his position and from the building, escorted by three security personnel, and we’re awaiting a response from MPD about its work on the investigation.  Green said he has no further information he can provide. (SOURCE)

 

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  —

https://original.newsbreak.com/@ada-e-1668135/3304227455096-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. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-disappearance-of-fauna-frey-pt2-feat-sheriff/id1707094441?i=1000630100040 PART 1 – John Frey joins Newsweek to discuss exclusive details about the case of his missing daughter that until now have been unavailable to the general public. READ MORE HERE: https://www.newsweek.com/exclusive-what-happened-fauna-frey-new-clues-uncovered-1827197?fbclid=IwAR3Z3Glru5lIgqiYXbs_nA1Fj8JuCIzM11OHSVHfwIucfq2f_G5y9y5bnmQ If you have any information on the whereabouts of Fauna Frey, call the anonymous tip line at 541-539-5638 or email FindFaunaFrey@gmail.com.

Help Find Fauna Frey #FindFaunaFrey FACEBOOK GROUP

 

 

Three People Announced as Winners of $1.3 Billion Powerball Jackpot

Cheng “Charlie” Saephan of Portland is one of three winners sharing the historic $1.3 billion Powerball prize.

Salem, Ore. –  A Portland man, his wife, and their friend are making history as winners of the fourth largest Powerball jackpot. Cheng “Charlie” Saephan, 46, purchased the ticket for the April 6, 2024 drawing and was the only person in the country to match all five numbers plus the Powerball.

Saephan is sharing the prize with 37 year-old Duanpen Saephan, his wife, and friend Laiza Chao, 55, of Milwaukie. The prize will be split among the three individuals: 50% (Chao) and 25%, 25% (Saephans). All three elected to take the cash option, which totals $422,309,193.97 after taxes.

Saephan, who has battled cancer and is fighting a recurrence, was relying on a combination of faith and luck when he purchased over 20 tickets for the drawing. In the weeks leading up to the jackpot, he wrote out numbers from the game (1-69) on a piece of paper and slept with it under his pillow.

“I prayed to God to help me,” he said, “My kids are young and I’m not that healthy.”

Saephan, who is Iu-Mienh, was born in Laos and has lived in Portland for the past 30 years. He said the prize will allow him and his family to live “worry free” in light of his illness.

Chao gave Saephan $100 toward the purchase of tickets for the game. After discovering he was holding the winning ticket, he called her to share the news.

“I said, ‘Laiza, where are you?’ and she said, ‘I’m going to work,’” said Saephan. “I replied, ‘You don’t have to go anymore.’”

The win is by far the biggest prize ever won in Oregon. Previously, the largest Powerball prize won in Oregon was a $340 million jackpot in 2005.

“I want to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the Saephans and Ms. Chao on this historic win,” said Oregon Lottery Director Mike Wells. “Not only is the prize life-changing for the three of them and their families, it’s also a huge win for the state.”

Approximately a third of sales from Powerball will be returned to state beneficiaries to support economic development, education, veteran services, state parks and more. The retailer that sold the winning ticket, Plaid Pantry, will also receive a $100,000 bonus.

Powerball is a multi-state jackpot operated by 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

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 www.oregonlottery.org.

 

PNW News: The last of four zebras that escaped Sunday from a trailer on Interstate 90 in North Bend, Wash., is still on the loose in the Seattle suburb.

“There have been a couple of sightings that folks in the North Bend area of King County have called in today,” Cameron Satterfield, a spokesperson for Regional Animal Services of King County, said Tuesday afternoon.

zebra

But, he noted, “As yet, we have not been able to capture the fourth zebra.”

That fourth zebra is an adult male. Initial reports said the four zebras were being taken to a wildlife refuge in Montana, but according to Satterfield, the zebras were actually heading from Winlock, Wash., to a petting zoo in Montana.

So far, Satterfield said, the Animal Services agency has received reports of the zebra walking through yards, and it was once caught on a Ring camera.

Radio station MyNorthwest shared a video of the zebra on a trail camera.

While the typical spring Pacific Northwest weather shouldn’t pose much of a problem for the zebra, authorities are concerned about predators, including cougars and bears, and the busy freeway in the area the zebra has been wandering.

“It’s in an environment it’s not used to,” Satterfield said. “It’s scared.”

Animal control officers are stepping up patrols in the area, Satterfield said, and officials are relying on neighbors to report any zebra sightings. The King County Sheriff’s Office asked anyone who sees the zebra to call 911 or 206-296-7387.

“DO NOT try to capture it yourself,” the sheriff’s office tweeted.

Ultimately, Satterfield said, the goal is to recapture the zebra and get him back on the path to Montana. “We really don’t want a zebra running wild through the foothills of the Cascades,” he said. (SOURCE)

May is Wildfire Awareness Month

SALEM, Ore. – May is Wildfire Awareness Month. Oregon experiences its heaviest wildfire activity during the summer months, but fires occur all seasons of the year including spring. Keep Oregon Green, in partnership with federal, state, tribal and local fire agencies, will be spreading the word about the steps we all can take to prevent the start of careless, unwanted wildfires this summer, and encouraging Oregonians to create defensible space around homes and outbuildings.

At stake: lives, property and scenic beauty – Each year, over 70% of Oregon’s wildfires are started by people. Many are a result of escaped debris burn piles or gas-powered equipment and vehicles casting sparks or catching fire.

During the 2023 fire season, the Oregon Department of Forestry reported that people were directly responsible for sparking 823 wildfires that burned 6,197 acres. Any spark can gain traction in dry vegetation, spread quickly and impact lives, personal property, and the many benefits provided by Oregon’s scenic natural areas.

Before heading outdoors this summer, contact the agency or landowner who manages the land at your destination for an update on current fire restrictions or bans. Any visitor to Oregon’s natural areas should be familiar with these restrictions before building campfires or using equipment that could ignite a wildfire.

Put Your Smokey Hat On – Smokey Bear is celebrating his 80th birthday this year. Smokey is a beloved and trusted American icon that has educated the public on preventing human caused wildfires since 1944. His timeless and important message celebrates people who take responsibility and prevent wildfires. Smokey’s hat is the driving force behind Keep Oregon Green’s 2024 summer wildfire prevention campaign. “Put Your Smokey Hat On” is a call to action, encouraging the public to predict the outcome of their actions and do everything they can to prevent wildfire ignitions. Campaign artwork, PSAs, and additional wildfire safety tips can be found at keeporegongreen.org and its various social media platforms.

Coming soon: More Wildfire Awareness Month tips – During May, a new wildfire prevention topic will be shared each week to help homeowners and recreationists learn how to prevent their outdoor activities from sparking the next wildfire. For more information, visit the websites for Keep Oregon Green at www.keeporegongreen.org, the Oregon Department of Forestry at www.oregon.gov/odf, and the Oregon State Fire Marshal at https://www.oregon.gov/osfm/education/pages/prevent-wildfires.aspx

Follow Oregon wildfire news and prevention updates on social media: Twitter @keeporegongreen, @ORDeptForestry and @OSFM

Former Oregon Department of Human Services Employee Sentenced to 25 Years in Federal Prison for Violating the Civil Rights of a Developmentally Disabled Woman in His Care

PORTLAND, Ore.—A former Oregon Department of Human Services employee was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison today for violating the civil rights of a woman with developmental disabilities in his care by engaging in sexual misconduct with her.

Zakary Edward Glover, 30, of Lebanon, Oregon, was sentenced to 300 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

“Mr. Glover’s crimes profoundly betrayed the trust placed in him as a state health care support specialist,” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “We thank our partners at the FBI, Oregon State Police, and Civil Rights Division for their commitment to this victim and the safety of all Oregonians.”

“This defendant engaged in deplorable acts of sexual misconduct and targeted a victim with severe developmental disabilities who was entrusted to his care and could not defend herself,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The defendant breached the public trust and violated the most basic standards of decency. The significant sentence imposed should send a strong message that the Justice Department will do all it can to hold accountable those who abuse their authority by sexual assaulting people in their custody and under their care.”

“Zakary Glover’s actions are inexcusable and appalling,” said Douglas A. Olson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Portland Field Office. “The FBI will not stand by when people in positions of trust violate and victimize vulnerable community members. Mr. Glover abused his power and today’s sentence sends the message that the FBI and our partners will hold accountable anyone in a position of power who fails the citizens of their community.”

According to the court documents, Glover served as a Direct Support Crisis Specialist for the Oregon Department of Human Services, Office of Developmental Disabilities Stabilization and Crisis Unit (SACU). SACU operates several 24-hour crisis residential programs in Oregon that serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As a SACU employee, Glover was tasked with ensuring the health, safety and security of the individuals who lived at the residential facility where he worked.

The victim, who has severe autism and cognitive deficits, was one of the individuals under Glover’s care. As part of his duties, Glover took the victim on outings in a state-owned van. The van used for such outings was purposely secured with child locks and a heavy plastic partition between the front and rear seats so that individuals like Glover’s victim cannot get out.

On November 2, 2021, while on an outing with the victim, Glover drove down a dead-end road near a cemetery in Aumsville, Oregon. Upon reaching the dead-end, he parked the van near the cemetery’s gate and proceeded to engage in sexual acts with the victim without her consent.

On February 18, 2022, a federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment charging Glover with depriving the victim of her constitutional right to bodily integrity under color of law involving attempted aggravated sexual abuse and kidnapping.

On January 9, 2024, Glover pleaded guilty to depriving the victim of her constitutional right to bodily integrity under color of law involving attempted aggravated sexual abuse.

This case was investigated by the FBI Portland Field Office with assistance from Oregon State Police. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gavin Bruce of the District of Oregon and Trial Attorney Daniel Gruner of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.

One quarter of Oregon’s 197 school districts will get summer school money from state

The Oregon Department of Education is doling out $30 million to school districts and charters for summer programming this year

Most Oregon school districts and the hundreds of thousands of students that they serve, once again, will not benefit from any additional summer school funding from the state this year.

The Oregon Department of Education recently released the list of 48 school districts and 24 charter schools that will have access to a portion of $30 million allocated for summer school during the short legislative session in February. The selected districts have until May 3 to submit their plans to receive their allocated money or to decline.

The state is allocating $20,000 to $1.5 million to each of those 48 districts, depending on the number of students served. The state’s 19 education service districts this year will also each get between $20,000 and $80,000 to help support multiple districts within their boundaries, but overall, only about one-quarter of the state’s 197 school districts will get additional funding. An estimated 48,000 students will benefit, according to a news release from Gov. Tina Kotek. There are more than 547,000 students enrolled in Oregon public schools.

Districts that get additional money will be able to pay for more credit recovery programs, tutors and other classes that can help students get caught up in key subjects and grade-level knowledge this summer. Others will likely have to limit some offerings.

The Oregon Department of Education prioritized allocating money for districts with high proportions of historically underserved students, and it focused on helping small and rural districts and spreading out payment based on geographic diversity, according to Marc Siegel, a spokesperson for the agency.

Adjusting offerings

Portland Public Schools is on a waiting list for $1.5 million, as are some of the largest districts within different parts of the state, including the Medford, Eugene and Bend-La Pine school districts.

“As the largest district in the state, estimated to serve more than 3,000 focal students this summer, we are disappointed that we will not likely have an opportunity to apply for the funding passed by the Legislature this spring,” said Sydney Kelly, a spokesperson for Portland Public Schools.

She said the district found one-time funding sources to help this summer and will adjust offerings to account for the lack of money, but she said the district needs sustainable funding from the state to offer summer school going forward.

The $30 million allocation from the Legislature is significantly less than the hundreds of millions that districts received in the two years immediately following pandemic school closures and the $50 million that Kotek wanted lawmakers to pass this session. Advocates for summer school had hoped the Legislature would continue a higher level of funding to get students caught up following more than a year of school closures and to address behavioral health issues exacerbated by the pandemic.

“It is important to note that the $30 million allocated under House Bill 4082, while substantial, is significantly less than the $200 million and $150 million provided during the peak of federal pandemic aid in 2021 and 2022, respectively,” Siegel said in an email. “Those exceptional amounts reflected the temporary availability of federal resources, which are no longer available.”

Most Oregon school districts have spent their portion of the $1.6 billion of pandemic aid money sent to Oregon from the U.S. Department of Education. About $319 million remains to be spent before the funding expires in September, according to state data.

During the summer of 2023 lawmakers did not allocate any additional money for summer school or community-based summer learning programs. Some programs that were staffed in 2021 and 2022 shut down in 2023. School districts and larger groups such as YMCA and Boys & Girls Club cut field trips and other offerings. A survey from the Oregon Afterschool & Summer for Kids Network, or OregonASK, a nonprofit network of educational groups, found that despite increased demand statewide, about half of community groups were forced to scale back programs without the additional state funding.

Districts are allowed to partner with nonprofit community groups and to use the money to collaborate on programming. Whitney Grubbs, executive director of the nonprofit Foundations for a Better Oregon, said she expects a “meaningful” level of district funding to reach community-based organizations, but that they’ll need more in the future.

“It’s an important start, but still nowhere near enough,” Grubb said in an email. “Students in every community deserve access to summer learning, and many school districts and community-based organizations are spotlighting the overwhelming desire and need to do more.” (SOURCE)

CMS Places Oregon State Hospital in Immediate Jeopardy Status

(Salem, OR)_Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has placed Oregon State Hospital (OSH) in immediate jeopardy status. CMS surveyors noted that emergency response equipment was located in more than one room in the admissions area of the Salem campus.

CMS surveyors were on site after OSH reported a patient death shortly after arrival. Although the location of the Code Blue equipment did not contribute to the patient death, it was identified as a potential future safety risk.

“The primary concern was that all Code Blue equipment for the admissions area was not in the same room. We have already rectified this,” said Interim Superintendent and Chief Medical Officer, Sara Walker, M.D. “I am confident that together we will make the necessary changes to provide a safer environment for patients.”

Meanwhile, a core team of clinical and administrative personnel are creating an immediate jeopardy removal plan describing exactly how and when the hospital will correct any remaining issues (e.g., updating signage) and will continue to abide by this standard to ensure patient safety. OSH will submit the plan early this week. If the plan receives preliminary approval, a CMS surveyor will conduct another unannounced visit to review implementation.

If the plan is successful, CMS will take OSH out of immediate jeopardy status. Otherwise, the hospital may lose eligibility to receive federal Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement for services.

Coos Bay and Brookings are one step closer to having floating offshore wind facilities off their coasts

The Southern Oregon coast is closer to hosting floating offshore wind energy, after the Biden administration announced it’s preparing to accept proposals for the area. This is the first step in a multiyear process before any wind developer could begin construction.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, proposed an auction for developers seeking floating offshore leases to develop wind energy in two locations off the coast of Southern Oregon. The announcement kicks off two opportunities for the public to comment on the proposal — on the areas that would be developed, and on the federal government’s draft environmental assessment.

Ocean areas approved for wind energy development off the coast of Coos Bay and Brookings, which were finalized in February, total nearly 195,000 acres. There, offshore wind could have the potential to power more than one million homes with renewable energy, according to the federal agency.

Coos Bay Harbor Entrance Viewpoint, near the Charleston Marina on Dec. 7, 2023, where potential floating offshore wind turbines could be seen.
FILE: Coos Bay Harbor Entrance Viewpoint, near the Charleston Marina, where potential floating offshore wind turbines might someday be seen. Photographed on Dec. 7, 2023.Monica Samayoa / OPB

But the federal push to advance offshore wind has also prompted concerns from tribal leaders and commercial fishing groups about impacts on the marine environment, and broader concerns along the Southern Oregon coast at the speed of federal action before a state effort to guide offshore wind is in place. Federal officials said development will take years, and there will be time to incorporate Oregon’s roadmap, as long as the state meets its own deadlines.

BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein said the agency will work with government partners and stakeholders.

“We’re excited to unveil these proposed sales and emphasize our commitment to exploring the potential for offshore wind development from coast to coast,” Klein said in a release.

BOEM is also seeking feedback about several of its drafted lease stipulations, including requirements that offshore wind developers make commitments to union jobs and workforce training, that they engage with impacted communities like tribes and the fishing industry, and that they create a community benefits agreement.

The details of the proposed auction and the draft environmental assessment will be published in the Federal Register Wednesday.

A statewide emissions goal, and concerns about marine environments — Floating offshore wind could potentially help Oregon reach its goal for electric utilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity they provide by 100% by 2040. But the prospect of the new technology has prompted pushback from residents, as well as calls from Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek for more research. The governor and affected communities have asked for more transparency and engagement from the federal government, which has so far shared limited information about environmental impacts.

That pushback was a factor in the passage of state House Bill 4080, which requires Oregon to develop a roadmap, drawing on engagement with impacted communities and tribes, to define standards for offshore wind energy.

A group that included environmentalists, climate advocates, fishing industry representatives, labor unions and city officials helped draft the legislation, which state lawmakers passed in March.

That informal group, working through the facilitator Oregon Consensus, has provided Kotek with recommendations for creating an floating offshore wind energy roadmap. Recommendations include protecting the environment, culturally significant viewsheds and resources important to tribes, and supporting local communities and the fishing industry.

Kotek said the roadmap will be a critical tool to ensure the state is prepared to assess and coordinate offshore wind opportunities with the federal government, “while also ensuring that local communities are at the forefront of economic, workforce, and supply chain development opportunities,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to reviewing the recommendations from the work group.”

Nicole Hughes is the executive director of Renewable Northwest, and was part of the informal group. She said the most important part of getting so many voices from diverse interests together on this issue was to begin to understand the different concerns from each group as well as build relationships with each other to figure out solutions.

“We know we did not get all the issues, we know there’s things that were left out of consideration, we know that not every Oregonian is going to be able to see themselves in the outline that we wrote,” Hughes said. “But we’re hopeful that the work we did just sets the state agencies up for better success in the actual development of this road map, which we hope and are pushing for a much broader formal stakeholder process than we were able to accommodate in our informal working group.”

She said the group spent about nine months working on the recommendations that also includes “exit ramps,” or checks and balances on how a project should move forward and when to reevaluate or pause a project.

“Some of the ways that those can come up, you know, a new environmental situation that hadn’t been identified before, a new economic situation that hasn’t been identified before,” she said. “These are all things that might cause us to rethink the viability of offshore wind or make us go out and do more research to get more answers to questions that hadn’t yet been posed.”

The Oregon offshore wind energy roadmap is set to be completed by fall 2025.

BOEM’s Klein reiterated the federal agency’s commitment to working with Oregon’s roadmap in a letter sent to Kotek Monday. The federal government expects a sale of the proposed areas is expected to occur in October, she said, and that would likely have an effective date of Jan. 1, 2025.

“A lease does not authorize the construction of projects,” she said in the letter.

Once a developer is chosen, they will have up to five years to submit a project proposal, which will undergo an environmental review before final approval. That review, Klein said, could take at least four years to reach completion.

“Therefore, if the state adheres to the current planned roadmap timeline, the roadmap report and resulting formal policy amendments should be completed well before any [Construction and Operations Plan] decisions are made,” she said.

But news of BOEM’s proposed sale lease announcement on Tuesday left people from the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians and some from the fishing industry saying they are disappointed.

Tribal Council Chair Brad Kneaper said the federal agency should delay moving forward until more research is available to understand environmental and cultural impacts to the tribes and the fishing industry. He also said offshore wind leasing should wait until the Oregon Roadmap is complete.

“No one, including BOEM, has an understanding on how wind development will impact the fragile marine environment,” Tribal Council Chair Brad Kneaper said. “Commercial fishing interests separately requested such a delay. This only makes sense because the roadmap may be a futile effort without a commitment from BOEM to actually consider the recommendations of the Tribe, the State, and coastal stakeholders.”

According to BOEM’s website about Oregon wind energy, “the environmental impacts of any proposed wind energy projects will be assessed after a lease is issued and before BOEM decides whether or not to approve any lessee’s project construction and operations plan.”

Heather Mann, who is the executive director of Midwater Trawlers Cooperative and worked on creating and collaborating with the informal group, said BOEM is rushing the process. She is also considering switching her views to oppose offshore wind.

“BOEM does not care about the Oregon Roadmap process, instead they are rushing to meet a political and electoral deadline,” she said in a statement. “Just because BOEM claims they worked collaboratively with stakeholders doesn’t make it true.

Mann said BOEM’s announcement is undermining the work the informal group has done to work with different interests and to provide recommendations on how to move forward. (SOURCE)

Oregon Secretary of State releases 2024 Civic Engagement Toolkit

Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade released a civic engagement toolkit today, aimed at helping organizations do voter registration and voter turnout work in the 2024 elections. The tools included in the 2024 toolkit are official, non-partisan, research-backed and free to use with or without attribution to our office. Download the 2024 Civic Engagement Toolkit here.

 

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

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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 https://apps.oregon.gov/DEQ/Voucher/apply.

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.

 

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