Rogue Valley News, Friday 5/10 – Community Engagement Plan For Upper Rogue River from Gold Ray Dam to Lost Creek Dam & Other Local and Statewide News…

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

Friday,  May 10, 2024

Rogue Valley Weather

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Community Engagement Related to the Upper Rogue River from Gold Ray Dam to Lost Creek Dam

After several years of hearing from some community members about conflicting uses of the Rogue River in a stretch roughly between the now-removed Gold Ray Dam and Lost Creek Dam, a collaboration of four state agencies–Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL), Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB), and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD)–have come together to learn more about the community’s values, needs, and concerns related to this stretch of the river.

Rogue River Community Engagement Plan

The agencies have partnered with Oregon’s Kitchen Table, a statewide community engagement program, to give Jackson County residents and visitors a clear way to express their values, beliefs, and expectations related to this stretch of the river. That input will inform the agencies’ decision-making now and in the future.

Community engagement opportunities in multiple languages and multiple venues (including online) will be available between mid-May and late June. This will include regional and culturally specific conversations, a survey available in five languages, and hosting materials so that anyone can hold their own Kitchen Table Conversation. By the end of July, a report summarizing the values, beliefs, and expectations shared in the community engagement process will be shared with the agencies and community members. Project manager Eliot Feenstra lives in Josephine County and will lead the effort. If you have questions or know of engagement opportunities and community events late this spring or summer the project team should consider attending, contact Eliot Feenstra, at feen@pdx.edu.

Community members and visitors are encouraged to share their viewpoints about the Upper Rogue River. Opportunities include a survey available in five languages, hosting materials so anyone can hold a Kitchen Table Conversation and regional and culturally specific community conversations. Food provided at in-person events.

 

Suspect Arrested Following Shooting Incident – 05/09/24

Yesterday, the Medford Police Department arrested twenty-year-old Elijah Zeigler following a shooting incident that occurred in Medford on Monday night.

The incident stemmed from a dispute between the victim and Zeigler, which originated at a party in Ashland over the weekend. During the altercation, Zeigler allegedly stole an undisclosed amount of cash from the victim.

On Monday night, while the victim was driving in the 1900 block of Gene Cameron Way, Zeigler fired two shots at the victim’s vehicle as it drove by. Both rounds impacted the victim’s vehicle. Fortunately, no injuries were sustained as a result of the shooting. Patrol Officers canvased the area where the shooting took place and recovered shell casings fired from a handgun. A Medford Police Detective was called to the scene to investigate.

On Tuesday, Zeigler was interviewed then subsequently arrested, and lodged at the Jackson County Jail on charges of attempted murder, attempted assault in the first degree, unlawful use of a weapon, menacing and reckless endangering. MPD would like to assure the community there is no further threat to public safety related to this incident.

MPD encourages the public to promptly report any suspicious or criminal activity to law enforcement authorities. The safety and well-being of our community members are our utmost priority.

Anyone with additional information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact the Medford Police Department Criminal Investigation Division at (541) 774-2208. The associated case number for this investigation is 24-7042.

Medford Police PSA — we’ve got some awesome events happening this month! 🙂

𝗦𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗱𝗮𝘆, 𝗠𝗮𝘆 𝟭𝟴: 𝗦𝗮𝗳𝗲𝘁𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗙𝗮𝗶𝗿 – Jackson County and City of Medford Emergency Management Divisions will be hosting a family-friendly event is designed to equip individuals and families with the knowledge and resources necessary to navigate emergencies confidently. Activities include a drone and K9 demo. The event runs from 11 AM – 3 PM at Pear Blossom Park.
𝗠𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗮𝘆, 𝗠𝗮𝘆 𝟮𝟬: 𝗖𝗼𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗮 𝗖𝗼𝗽 – Community members are welcome to come sip on some coffee and ask our officers questions, share concerns and just get to know the men and women serving our community. Event runs from 8 – 11 AM at Starbucks (1741 E. McAndrews Rd.)
𝗪𝗲𝗱𝗻𝗲𝘀𝗱𝗮𝘆, 𝗠𝗮𝘆 𝟮𝟮: 𝗦𝗽𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗲 𝗙𝗮𝗶𝗿 – The Livability Team will be hosting its Spring Resource Fair to help connect individuals with a variety of services, including food, shelter, medical assistance, mental health services. Event runs from 9 AM – 1 PM at the East 9th St./Almond St. parking area.

 

Oregon Housing and Community Services awards nearly $23 million to create more than 150 affordable homes across Oregon including MedfordMay be a graphic of text that says 'OREGON HOUSING & COMMUNITY SERVICES'

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) announces the approval of nearly $23 million toward creating 157 new homes across the state. These investments will continue to help establish concrete pathways for Oregonians to pursue homeownership.  This includes Breath of Life in  Medford for Turning Point Program with 38 units which will receive $6.02 million.

“While no one community is identical, there is a shared need across communities for more affordable housing options. Even in this tough economy, our imperative is to continue fighting to ensure that Oregonians can still realize the dream of homeownership,” said OHCS Executive Director Andrea Bell.

This year, OHCS changed how it grants Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) Homeownership funding for the development of new affordable homes through a rolling application process.

“By providing multiple opportunities for developers to apply for funding instead of all at once, this new process can help accelerate new construction timelines in service to getting homes into communities faster, especially in rural areas,” Bell said.

In fact, 30% of the awarded projects will be built in rural communities. The Hope St. Project is a prime example of that and is the first affordable homeownership community in Hood River.

“After 32 years of building in the Gorge, Columbia Gorge Habitat for Humanity is very excited to build permanently affordable homes for the first time in Hood River,” said Chad Krause, executive director of Columbia Gorge Habitat for Humanity. “With the help of Oregon LIFT funding, these new homes will be built and sold to hardworking members of our community who can’t afford market-rate homes. Hood River teachers and retail workers—needed desperately in our small town—may now be able to purchase their own Habitat homes.”

Here are the 10 developments receiving this round of funding awards:

Project Location Awardee Units Total Award
1201 E 5th St Newberg Newberg Area Habitat for Humanity 2 $400,000
Adams Commons Sisters Sisters Habitat for Humanity 19 $3.8 million
Breath of Life Medford Turning Point Program 38 $6.02 million
Hope St Project Hood River Columbia Gorge Habitat for Humanity 4 $800,000
Myrtlewood Way Gresham Habitat for Humanity Portland Region 20 $2.68 million
Rooted at 19th Redmond RootedHomes 22 $2,599,996
Rooted at Antler Redmond RootedHomes 18 $1.47 million
Southtown II Corvallis DevNW 16 $2,815,610
Timber Cottages Redmond Bend-Redmond Habitat for Humanity 13 $1.45 million
Woodlands Sisters Sisters Habitat for Humanity 5 $950,000

Since the creation of the program in 2018, $71.3 million in LIFT funds have resulted in 47 projects with a total of 752 homes that are affordable to Oregonians.

For more detailed information about each recommended project, please refer to the Housing Stability Council packet from April 26, 2024.

About Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS)  – OHCS is Oregon’s housing finance agency. The state agency provides financial and program support to create and preserve opportunities for quality, affordable housing for Oregonians of low and moderate income. OHCS administers programs that provide housing stabilization. OHCS delivers these programs primarily through grants, contracts, and loan agreements with local partners and community-based providers. For more information, please visit: oregon.gov/ohcs.

 

Eagle Point Police Recognized for Excellence in Policy Management and Training

May be an image of text that says 'LEXIPOL CONNECT 2023 GOLD'The Eagle Point Police Department is proud to announce they have been recognized for excellence in policy management and training in 2023 by Lexipol, the nation’s leading provider of policy, training, and wellness support for first responders and public servants. This is the 3rd consecutive year EPPD has received the award.

The Lexipol Connect program tracks performance on five metrics proven to measure success in policy management. Eagle Point Police Department achieved Gold, the highest level of recognition offered, for consistent and effective policy dissemination to personnel, timely policy updates as laws change, and officer training on policies.

Policy management is critical to ensure compliance with changes to law and procedures and ensure staff regularly trains on those changes.  We are honored to be recognized as an agency and continue to strive to provide the highest level of service possible for our community.  Our commitment to policy and policy training helps to provide trained staff through nationally recognized best practices.

For more information about the program, visit www.lexipol.com

 

Search & Rescue Assisting Klamath County Sheriff in Search for Missing Jackson County Mushroom Hunter 
May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'MISSING SHERIFF PERSON Gerald Severson Missing Mushroom Hunter Hunter Last Seen in Klamath County 56-Year-Old White Male 5'4" Tall, 140 Ibs. Gray Hair, Blue Eyes From Ruch, Ore. IF SEEN CALL 911 LAST SEEN THURSDAY, MAY 2ND 7 P.M. EAST SIDE LAKE OF THE WOODS'

LAKE OF THE WOODS, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SAR) is assisting the Klamath County Sheriffs Office on a missing mushroom hunter case. We are searching for Gerald Severson of Ruch, Ore. He was last seen Thursday evening near Lake of the Woods in Klamath County.

Severson is described as a 56-year-old white male, 5’4” tall, weighing 140 pounds with gray hair and blue eyes. Severson was staying at a cabin on the east side of Lake of the Woods and left to search for mushrooms at about 7PM on Thursday, May 2nd. SAR teams have been searching since Friday, May 3rd at 1PM when Severson was reported missing.

If you have any information regarding Severson’s location please call 911 and report it. The area he was last seen is populated and has multiple busy roads. It’s very possible Severson could have been picked up. Authorities are very concerned for the safety of Severson and the searchers as the weather in the area is very poor at this time.

 

May be an image of ‎tree and ‎text that says '‎Grants Pass ROGUE ص Drgir GET INVOLVED URBAN TREE ADVISORY COMMITTEE‎'‎‎

Applications are being accepted for a position on the Urban Tree Advisory Committee due to a vacancy. This position will expire on April 5, 2025. The purpose of the committee is to review, develop, and implement programs and activities that promote, protect, and enhance the urban forest as a part of the Tree City, USA program. The deadline to apply is 5 PM, June 5, 2024. More information is available here: https://www.grantspassoregon.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=3274

 

May be an image of 8 people and text that says 'Grants Pass Maker's Market'

Grants Pass Maker’s Market re-grand opening — This Saturday 9am to 1pm. 5th street between E and F www.gpmakersmarket.com

 

Child Exploitation Task Force Arrests Eagle Point Man for Victimizing Children Online Nationwide, Investigators Looking for Additional Victims

JCSO Case 22-4129 EAGLE POINT, Ore. – The Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) joint inter-agency task force arrested a Medford man on multiple child sex crime charges at 2:28 p.m. today in Eagle Point. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) and Eagle Point Police Department assisted with the arrest at a business near the intersection of Hwy 62 and West Linn Road.

During their investigation, SOCET discovered the suspect was communicating nationwide with at least five underage victims through several social media sites. SOCET investigators identified a 13-year-old victim from Kansas City, Missouri, and are attempting to identify the additional underage victims.

The suspect, Zachary Elijah Bowen, 22, of Medford, Ore., was arrested on 12 felony charges including using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct, 10 counts of second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse, and luring a minor. He was booked and lodged in the Jackson County Jail.

SOCET started investigating Bowen after more than a dozen National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) cyber tips led to multiple residences where he lived in Portland and at a licensed marijuana farm in Trail, Ore. SOCET served a search warrant on February 7, 2023, at the marijuana farm in the 4700 block of Highway 227 in Trail. Investigators seized digital devices for forensic examination by Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force (SOHTCTF).

Investigators found evidence of Bowen communicating nationwide with at least five underage victims through social media sites such as SnapChat, Instagram, Kik, and Google under the username “zach_grant2152.” If you have any information on Bowen, contact investigators through the Sheriff’s App “Submit a Tip” feature. Download the App here: https://apps.myocv.com/share/a72997501. You can also call the JCSO Tip Line at (541) 774-8333 and reference case number 22-4129.

SOCET is a joint inter-agency task force that started in June of 2020 to combat child exploitation and human trafficking. The task force consists of investigators from JCSO and Homeland Security Investigations with some collaboration from Oregon State Police and Medford Police Department; as well as prosecutors from our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Jackson and Josephine County.

This case is under further investigation with detectives following additional leads and attempting to identify other victims. Jackson County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case. There is no further information available for release.

 

 

 

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.

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

 

University Of Oregon Officials Formally Responded On Thursday to Demands Issued By Student Protestors

University of Oregon protesters reject deal to leave encampment

The university’s response, which was posted on the ‘Free Speech and Safety at UO’ page on the U of O’s website, provided the university’s position on the issues raised by the protestors for which the college is willing “to continue productive engagement on the issues and concerns raised.” U of O officials asked that students agree to dismantle the encampment and cease overnight camping by May 11.

Students plan big response today – Friday May 10th.

The college also asked that the protestors agree to reserve a designated daytime gathering space through an officially-recognized student group and other proper channels, according to the university’s response. READ MORE: https://freespeech.uoregon.edu/uo-response-encampment-demands

Peaceful Occupation at Willamette University in Salem Ends For Now

The dramatic occupation of a library at Portland State University ended last week when police swept into the building and arrested demonstrators, but that doesn’t mean other protests on university campuses in Oregon came to an end.

About 20 to 30 student protesters at Willamette University in Salem have occupied the school’s Mark O. Hatfield Library since Saturday, following a smaller occupation of a different building on campus Friday.

Willamette University student protesters voluntarily left the Mark O. Hatfield Library building Tuesday evening, saying they planned to re-organize in the fall.

About 50 Willamette students first occupied the third floor of the Putnam University Center on May 3 before moving to the library Saturday morning, demanding the private university disclose and divest its investments in Israel “and the American war machine as a whole.”

Willamette Students for a Democratic Society organized the protest and said leaving campus for summer break meant beginning a “temporary pause” of their occupation. In a prepared statement, organizers said they plan to regroup in the fall.

Fentanyl Aware Northwest

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Health Authority (OHA) today kicked off a social media campaign spotlighting the public health harms caused by fentanyl, and how people can prevent the deadly overdoses that devastate communities around the state.

The campaign, called Fentanyl Aware, will run for five weeks, with posts in English and Spanish. Fentanyl Aware will focus on teaching people about fentanyl risks, harm reduction strategies, recognizing and responding to an overdose, and Oregon’s good Samaritan law, which provides legal protections for individuals and the people they’re helping during a drug overdose.

The Fentanyl Aware campaign begins with a series of social media messages with facts about fentanyl – “What it is, where it can be found and why you need to be aware,” according to the first post. It then moves into messages about the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone, including how it’s given, how it works and where to can get it, followed by posts about Oregon’s good Samaritan law.

The campaign wraps up with posts warning about risks of mixing drugs with other substances, relying on fentanyl tests and using drugs alone.

OHA’s statewide campaign borrows from a social media campaign that Lane County Public Health created in 2023 with support from OHA funds. The county also shared its campaign materials with local public health partners to adapt and share – Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties collaborated to launch the Fentanyl Aware Northwest campaign through this partnership.

Just today, Multnomah County launched its own fentanyl awareness campaign, called Expect Fentanyl, focused on Portland-area youth ages 13-20.

The statewide Fentanyl Aware campaign launches on National Fentanyl Awareness Day, a day of observance that recognizes those who have lost loved ones to the overdose crisis and raises awareness of the lethal danger of illegally made fentanyl (IMF).

Cara Biddlecom, OHA’s interim public health director, said Fentanyl Aware contains youth-informed messaging, but it is intended for general audiences.

“We want everyone to see these important messages because anyone can be affected by fentanyl – teens and young adults, older Oregonians, even young children,” Biddlecom said. “These messages won’t end the fentanyl crisis, but they could help equip people with information that could help them save a life, whether it’s someone else’s or their own.”

Fentanyl is now showing up in a wide variety of drugs on the illicit market, including counterfeit pills made to look like common prescription painkillers or anti-anxiety medications. These may contain enough fentanyl in a single pill to cause an overdose.

According to OHA data, the number of people in Oregon dying from unintentional and undetermined overdoses continues to increase at an alarming pace, from 1,083 people in 2021 to 1,289 people in 2022. Fentanyl has surpassed methamphetamine as the most common substance identified as the cause of death in unintentional and undetermined drug overdoses.

In Oregon, the number of individuals who experienced an unintentional/undetermined fentanyl overdose death between 2020 and 2022 more than tripled (for all ages). And those at higher risk for unintentionally dying from a drug overdose continued to include non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaska Natives, non-Hispanic Black/African Americans, and males, though patterns of use across communities is similar. These inequities are avoidable and point to structural racism in the health system and the need for long-term policy change.

Nasal naloxone is now available over the counter, without a prescription. It can be purchased at many retail pharmacies in Oregon, and it costs about $45 for two doses. Most insurance companies cover the medication but may charge a co-pay. Oregon Health Plan (OHP) members can get naloxone at no cost at most pharmacies. Those who use drugs can get medication for overdose reversal and other harm reduction materials such as fentanyl test strips at no cost through syringe service programs. Syringe services are available to everyone that uses drugs, regardless of whether they’re injected. Visit OHA’s Opioid Overdose Reversal Medications webpage for a list of syringe and needle exchange services available in Oregon.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with substance use, please reach out for help. Speak with a health care provider or visit OHA’s Fentanyl Facts webpage for support and treatment resources. You are not alone.

Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care Celebrates the Statewide Expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

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– Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC) representatives joined Governor Tina Kotek and state officials today to celebrate its new partnership with The Dollywood Foundation for the statewide expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. During the 2023 legislative session, under Senate Bill 5506, $1.7 million was appropriated to DELC to help administer and expand the program statewide.

The Imagination Library is a program developed by The Dollywood Foundation; a nonprofit organization founded by Dolly Parton. Since launching in 1995, the Imagination Library has become the preeminent, international early childhood book-gifting program. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is dedicated to inspiring a love of reading by gifting books each month to children (0-5 yrs. old), free of charge to families, through funding shared by Dolly, the State of Oregon, and local community partnerships. Today, millions of children receive a specially selected book each month, from birth to age five, to help foster early literacy skills and a love of reading.

The goal of the statewide expansion is to make books available to children ages 0-5 in every zip code in Oregon. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a voluntary program and parents of children ages 0-5 can sign up to receive a new book each month at no cost to families.

“Brain science clearly shows that kids start to develop literacy skills from birth,” said DELC Director Alyssa Chatterjee. “That’s why here in Oregon, we’re making major investments to help kids develop the joy of reading.”

In addition to remarks from Director Chatterjee, Governor Tina Kotek, and House Majority Leader Ben Bowman made comments and were joined by representatives from The Dollywood Foundation and local program partners. Dolly Parton provided remarks by video, concluding with an Oregon twist on her classic “I Will Always Love You.

Currently, over 54,000 children across Oregon receive the gift of a monthly book through 55 community programs. Books are free to the family regardless of family income. The Department of Early Learning and Care is working with local community partners and The Dollywood Foundation to expand.

Families can visit www.imaginationlibrary.com to find out if the program is available in their area or to sign up to be notified when the program expands to their community. To learn more about becoming a community partner, contact Rachel King at king@imaginationlibrary.com“>rking@imaginationlibrary.com

Dolly Parton’s video remarks, along with the remarks of Oregon officials can be found on the DELC website.

About the Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care – The Department of Early Learning and Care’s mission is to foster coordinated, culturally appropriate, and family-centered services that recognize and respect the strengths and needs of all children, families, and early learning and care professionals. More information about DELC is available at Oregon.gov/DELC. You can also connect with DELC on Facebook or sign up for news alerts and updates.

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library  – Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book-gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has gifted over 200 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and The Republic of Ireland. This is achieved through funding shared by The Dollywood Foundation and Local Community Partners.  The Imagination Library mails more than 3  million high-quality, age-appropriate books directly to children’s homes each month. Each child enrolled in the program receives one book per month from birth to age five – at no cost to families.  Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading and inspiring children to Dream More, Learn More, Care More and Be More®. 

The program’s impact has been widely researched, and results demonstrate its positive impact on early childhood development and literacy skills. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visitimaginationlibrary.com.

Wyden, Colleagues Pass FAA Reauthorization Act

— U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said today that the bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act he voted for this week would save lives as well as benefit Oregon air travelers and small businesses. “It is absolutely essential to our national security and economy to fully fund the departments that keep our planes in the sky and Oregonians safe in Oregon and throughout the country,” Wyden said about the legislation authorizing operations for the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation … Continue Reading

Oregon Attorney General Announces $10.25 Million National Settlement With Wireless Carriers Over Deceptive And Misleading Ad Practices

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced a $10.25 million, 50-jurisdiction settlement with AT&T Mobility, LLC, Cricket Wireless, LLC, T-Mobile USA, Inc.Cellco Partnership, d/b/a Verizon Wireless, and TracFone Wireless, Inc. (collectively, the “Wireless Carriers”), which resolves the state attorneys general investigations into the Wireless Carriers’ deceptive and misleading advertising practices. Oregon will receive $362,838.66 for its portion of the settlement.

“Mobile phones are a necessity of life, and Oregonians deserve to know exactly what they’re paying for when they purchase one,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “Protecting consumers from false and misleading advertising is a cornerstone of our work, and this settlement is a great example of the power of working together across state and party lines,” said Rosenblum, who is currently serving as president of the bipartisan National Association of Attorneys General.

The terms of the settlements address the common misleading advertising practices of the Wireless Carriers, including misrepresentations concerning: (1) “unlimited” data advertisements, which failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose material limitations; (2) “free” phone offers, which failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose material conditions; (3) monetary incentives to “switch” wireless networks, which failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose how the monetary incentives would be provided; and (4) wireless carrier plan comparisons, which failed to disclose material differences.

The settlement terms will, among other things, require the Wireless Carriers to:

  • (1) make all future advertisements and representations truthful, accurate and non-misleading;
  • (2) refer in marketing to “unlimited” mobile data plans only where such plans do not set any numerical limits on the quantity of data allowed during a billing cycle and clearly and conspicuously disclose any restrictions on data speed, as well as the triggers of such restrictions;
  • (3) offer to pay for consumers to “switch” carriers only where they clearly and conspicuously disclose the type of fees and amounts that they will pay consumers, the form and schedule that such payment will take and all material requirements that consumers must satisfy in order to qualify and receive such payment;
  • (4) offer wireless devices or services for “free” or similar terms only where they disclose clearly and conspicuously all material terms and conditions that the consumer must meet in order to receive the “free” devices or services;
  • (5) make offers to lease wireless devices only where it is made clear to the consumer that the consumer will be entering into a lease agreement;
  • (6) make representations that a consumer will save money by purchasing its products or services only where it has a reasonable basis to do so based on comparisons with the prices of comparable goods or services of other providers, or where any material differences between those goods or services are clearly and conspicuously disclosed; and
  • (7) appoint a dedicated employee to work with the attorneys general to address ordinary complaints filed by consumers;
  • (8) train its customer service representatives who speak with consumers to comply with these terms and implement and enforce a program to ensure compliance with these terms.

Attorney General Rosenblum thanked the DOJ’s Consumer Protection team for their hard work securing this settlement.

Issues with unemployment benefits in Oregon predate new computer system, state agency says

The Oregon Employment Department rolled out a new system, Frances Online, in February. Many people continue to report issues receiving benefits.

For just about anyone, losing a job is a stressful prospect in and of itself. It can mean struggling to pay rent, cover bills or buy groceries — particularly for those without enough rainy day savings set aside.

Unemployment benefits are intended to fill that gap, providing funds that workers can draw on to tide them over, having paid into the system while still employed. But in Oregon, receiving those benefits may be easier said than done, adding stress upon stress.

The Oregon Employment Department says it’s made progress in helping people sign up for its new online claims system. But Governor Tina Kotek and ordinary Oregonians who contact the KGW newsroom practically every day say the state agency is not doing enough.

OED rolled out the new platform, Frances Online, in March. It’s been in the works for several years and was intended to replace the agency’s outdated system from the ’90s. Many Oregonians will remember less-than-fondly how that old system contributed to a meltdown during the early months of the pandemic, as thousands of out-of-work Oregonians sought benefits. Slowdowns lasted far beyond that.

Frances Online is the same system used by the new Paid Leave Oregon program, which launched last September but was dogged by complaints from families who waited months to receive benefits well into this year.

Gov. Tina Kotek addressed the ongoing issues during a press conference late last week.

“It is one of those things that I’ve been really not happy about, and we’ve had conversations directly with the department about this,” Kotek said. “What I’ve said to the agency is we have to do better. I don’t want to read any more stories about someone who can’t pay the rent and is going to lose their housing. That would be counterintuitive to what we’re trying to achieve.”

OED itself has refused to do any interviews or directly answer questions about the issues. But in a press release last week, they said that the new computer system is working as intended.

The agency said that it had paid about $111 million in benefits in the nine weeks after the Frances Online system launched, and they’d processed about 30,000 claims a week for the preceding six weeks. They claimed that 93% of people are able to use the system successfully.

The problems that persist, OED said, predate Frances Online. Long phone wait times and delays in getting claims approved are the result of staffing shortages, which the agency attributed to chronic federal underfunding of the unemployment system.

Kotek said that the state legislature approved funding for OED to add new staff but added that the agency needs to give her a better plan to address the ongoing issues.

“The legislature did allow for more money at the employment department; they’re up to hiring 70 new staff to help with the backlogs to get people through,” the governor said. “The numbers are improving, but not up to my satisfaction, and we’re continuing to work hard with the agency … like, we need to see some new ideas in addition to getting those staff on board.

“So, I wish I had a better answer today. I want people to know I’m not happy; I don’t want people left behind. I lived through the pandemic as the (Oregon House Speaker) when we had a lot of people who couldn’t get help. I want to make sure people are getting the benefits they need, and we’re still working on it.”

OED’s statement said that they are also working on adjusting staff workflow in order to address the problems, adding overtime hours for some staff. They added that they plan to improve the way they communicate to people filing claims and looking for answers by updating their messaging to the public to be clearer, as well as providing more detailed information as to why claims are being reviewed.

The agency provided some hard numbers as evidence that things are improving. The average time for an employee to handle an unemployment-related call has gone from 17 minutes to 11, suggesting they can get to more calls. The average number of items employees can complete in the Frances system went from 3.3 items an hour to 6.8.

The average time for employees to resolve an issue with a claim once they start working on it has gone from nine days down to two, OED said. (SOURCE)

Plaid Pantry Awarded Bonus for Selling $1.3 Billion Powerball Ticket

Portland, Ore. – After selling the winning Powerball ticket worth $1.3 billion, the fourth largest jackpot in the game’s history, Plaid Pantry was presented a bonus check worth $100,000 on Thursday. Oregon Lottery officials celebrated with store representatives at the location on 6060 NE Columbia Boulevard in Portland.

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Oregon Lottery

“The excitement and impact of a win like this in Oregon is incredible, not only for our prize winners, but also for our communities and locally owned retailer Plaid Pantry,” said Oregon Lottery Director Mike Wells.

Cheng “Charlie” Saephan of Portland, his wife, and their friend claimed the winning ticket from the April 6, 2024 drawing. The ticket was the only one in the country to match all five numbers plus the Powerball.

“The energy and excitement we experienced from selling the winning ticket has been a big morale boost for the entire Plaid team,” said Plaid Pantry President and CEO Jonathan Polonsky. “We are very proud of our brand, which has been serving the Pacific Northwest for over 60 years. This bonus check will be reinvested in our business to benefit our associates, customers, and local suppliers.”

Oregon Lottery staff also surprised store customers at the Thursday event by handing out free $2 Scratch-its.

Plaid Pantry has 104 stores in Oregon and has sold other sizable wins in recent years, including a $3.3 million Megabucks ticket in August of 2023 and a $1 million Powerball prize in March of 2023.

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.

OSP to Recognize National Missing Children’s Day May 25th

– In recognition of National Missing Children’s Day, May 25, 2024, the Oregon State Police Missing Children/Adults Clearinghouse is sponsoring an awareness event to provide resources for parents, guardians, and caregivers.

The event, which coincides with Missing Children’s Day, will be held on Saturday, May 25, 2024, at the north end of Capitol Mall Park in Salem (Center Steet NE between Winter and Capitol Streets). From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., OSP representatives and partner agencies will be on hand with activities and giveaways.

The event will include informational booths from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Safe Oregon, OSP’s Missing Children/Adults Clearinghouse, and Marion County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue. Attendees can pick up free identification and DNA kits, visit with a police search and rescue K-9, and tour OSP’s new command vehicle.

Julie Willard, OSP’s Missing Children/Adults Clearinghouse coordinator, said, “National Missing Children’s Day is an opportunity to remember the thousands of children who go missing each year. We work to educate parents about how to keep their kids safe, and we teach children about the “4 Rules for Personal Safety” that they can learn about on Kid Smartz.”

Kid Smartz is a child safety program that educates and empowers grades K-5 to practice safer behaviors. Please visit the Kid Smartz website for more information.

About National Missing Children’s Day:
President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25, 1983, the first National Missing Children’s Day in memory of Etan Patz, a 6-year-old boy who disappeared from a New York City street corner on May 25, 1979. Etan’s killer was convicted in February 2017, but the case remains active because his body has never been recovered. National Missing Children’s Day is dedicated to encouraging parents, guardians, caregivers, and others concerned with the well-being of children to make child safety a priority. The commemoration serves as a reminder to continue our efforts to reunite missing children with their families.

Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs to Host Statewide Memorial Day Event in Salem May 27th

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs will host Oregon’s annual Statewide Memorial Day Ceremony in person at 11 a.m., Monday, May 27, at the Oregon World War II Memorial, located at the intersection of Cottage and Court Street NE on the grounds of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

This event honors Oregon’s fallen service members from all eras of service and will include remarks from ODVA Director Dr. Nakeia Council Daniels and Oregon Adjutant General Alan R. Gronewold, along with other veteran leaders and state dignitaries.

The event will also feature a color guard ceremony, a performance of the national anthem by West Salem High School’s award-winning a cappella group Soundscape, and other ceremonial elements. The theme of this year’s Memorial Day event is “Oregon Remembers.” ODVA Strategic Partnerships Division Director and Navy veteran Sheronne Blasi will serve as emcee.

“Memorial Day, established following the Civil War, is a day when we all pause and remember the more than 1 million men and women throughout history who have given their lives in defense of our nation,” said ODVA Director Dr. Nakeia Council Daniels. “Those of us who volunteer to serve in our nation’s Armed Forces come from a diverse tapestry and understand when we take the oath to defend and preserve our Constitution, and our nation’s highest ideals, we do so on behalf of ourselves, our families, and every person that calls America their home. On Memorial Day, Oregon will remember all our fallen and honor their service and their greatest sacrifice. Thank you for joining us in remembering.”

Limited seating will be available. Attendees are welcome to bring their own seating for the park setting and are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather.

For those unable to attend in-person, the event will also be livestreamed beginning at 11 a.m. on ODVA’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/odvavet and on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAQVavs9KmvDeJ42ySFtY8A.

Established in 1945, the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs is dedicated to serving Oregon’s diverse veteran community that spans five eras of service members. ODVA administers programs and provides special advocacy and assistance in accessing earned veteran benefits across the state. Learn about veteran benefits and services, or locate a local county or tribal veteran services office online at oregon.gov/odva

Oregon Dept. of Forestry seeks to give $10 million in urban forestry grants to federally recognized Tribes

(SALEM, Ore.) – The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, is now taking proposals from the nine federally recognized Tribes of Oregon for grants they could receive for urban and community forestry projects and programs.

In 2023, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) awarded ODF’s Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program $26.6 million of the $1.5 billion investment in urban and community forestry from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

“The IRA funding Oregon received is intended to promote community and urban forest investment and tree equity for overburdened and underserved communities,” said ODF UCF Program Manager Scott Altenhoff. “Tribal communities in Oregon have a long history of displacement, dispossession and under-investment in their communities. So, a significant proportion of the funds – $10 million – are earmarked to support federally recognized Tribes’ efforts to protect and enhance their urban and community forests. This also includes workforce development in the urban forestry sector.”

Specifically, priorities for the funds earmarked for federally recognized Tribes are to:

  • Support community and urban forestry assessment, planning, and prioritization
  • Support culturally responsive community and urban forestry education, engagement, recreation, and community-building initiatives
  • Build capacity with collective impact through a community and urban forestry network
  • Support community forestry and natural resource-related workforce development
  • Significantly expand tree production, planting, and maintenance
  • Support monitoring, adaptive management, and lesson sharing

The USFS and ODF have also identified projects or programs related to first foods (foods traditionally eaten by Native Americans) and improving community access to greenspaces (e.g., developed parks or natural areas) as priorities for this funding opportunity.

Proposals should address at least one of the above program priority areas, or clearly demonstrate how the proposed project or program supports Tribal community connections to trees and/or forests, said Altenhoff.

He acknowledges that the program areas outlined may not fully reflect each Tribal Nation’s community and urban forestry needs and priorities.

“We recognize that working with Tribes through this federal funding is critical to strengthening relationships and supporting the needs of Tribal communities to enhance cultural, socio-economic, and environmental priorities,” Altenhoff said.

Altenhoff said a further $12.5 million will soon be made available to other eligible entities throughout Oregon. The money will fund competitive, multiyear investments in urban and community forestry programs and projects. Proposals for this second funding opportunity should:

  • increase equitable access to urban tree canopy
  • broaden community engagement in urban and community forest planning, tree planting, and management activities
  • improve community and urban forest health and resilience.

ODF Urban and Community Forestry Program Mission and Vision

The mission of ODF’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is to advance equity, well-being, and resilience for all communities in Oregon by promoting investments in trees and green infrastructure. Our vision is for every community forest in Oregon to thrive with good planning and management, while fostering statewide recognition of trees and forests as vital contributors to the social, economic and environmental well-being of the state’s residents.

Oregon National Guard Program Offers Students Paid Opportunities To Earn High School Credit And Learn Career Skills

 “The Oregon Plan,” renewed its approval with the Oregon Department of Education, is open to high school students throughout Oregon.

High school students in Oregon will have a paid opportunity to learn professional technical training while earning high school credit, as part of the newly endorsed program called The Oregon Plan.

Created by the Oregon National Guard, the plan received official approval last month from the Oregon Department of Education, which is required as part of its regular renewal process.

“Through this exciting program students get paid to earn high school credit, learn career skills such as basic finance, medic training, construction and engineering and practice working in teams,” said Dr. Charlene Williams, Director of Oregon Department of Education. “As students plan their summer of learning and work, I hope they consider this enriching and life changing option.”

Background On The Oregon Plan –
Established in 1995 as the Military Career Education Cluster Concept, “The Oregon Plan” enables school districts across the state to award academic credits to students who complete qualified military training and instruction. Approximately 700 high school students have joined the Oregon Guard since 2020.

“The Oregon Plan has been providing valuable education pathways for Oregon students for nearly 30 years,” said Brig. Gen. Alan Gronewold, Adjutant General, Oregon. “We’re proud to highlight this innovative program that recognizes the skills our young recruits gain through their military service.”

Multiple high schools across Oregon participate in the program, including Pendleton, Hermiston, La Grande, Elgin, Wallowa, Baker, Ontario, and Grant Union High School in eastern Oregon. Additionally, high schools in Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Douglas, Union, Umatilla, Wasco, Hood River, Malheur, Baker, and Wallowa counties have also approved use of The Oregon Plan.

By enabling credit proficiencies through military training, the Oregon National Guard and The Oregon Plan exemplify a commitment to developing educated, skilled, and work-ready youth for future success.

“Our recruiters consistently hear from educators about the value of this flexible credit program, “said Lt. Col. Jessy Claerhout, Executive Officer, Recruiting Retention Command.  “It provides a helpful pathway for students to turn their military experience into academic progress toward graduation, while obtaining life skills and leadership training.”

Many of the credits earned may also translate into college credits towards a higher education degree. Sophomores and Juniors in high school can learn more about the program here. You can also learn more about the Oregon Guard’s 100% College Tuition Assistance program 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.

 

 

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