Rogue Valley News, Monday 5/13 – Hog Creek Fire in Josephine County, Jackson County Fire District 5’s Chief Put On Administrative Leave & 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

Monday,  May 13, 2024

Rogue Valley Weather

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ODF Southwest Oregon District — Hog Creek Fire in Josephine County

𝗙𝗜𝗡𝗔𝗟 𝗨𝗣𝗗𝗔𝗧𝗘, Sunday 5/12 𝟳:𝟰𝟬 𝗣𝗠: The fire has been stopped at 5.71 acres, is now 100% lined and 20% mopped up. Firefighters will remain engaged in mop-up operations tonight to ensure it’s completely extinguished.
 May be an image of map and text that says 'Hugo Hog Creek County Park Three Pines Pleasant Valley M Pottsville Historical HistoricalMuseum Museum 5'
The cause remains under investigation. This will be the final update on this incident unless conditions significantly change. ODF is appreciative of our partner agencies who responded alongside us on this fire!
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: We’re currently on scene of a fire located northeast of Hog Creek County Park in Josephine county, west of I5. The fire is estimated to be five acres, but firefighters on scene have lined 75% of it at this time, slowing most of the growth.
Currently, ODF and Rural Metro Fire each have one engine on scene. BLM has an engine en route, and ODF is sending an additional engine and a water tender.
Firefighters will continue to line this fire until it’s complete and begin mopping up. The cause will be under investigation. There are no evacuations at this time.
More information will be posted as it becomes available.
As temperatures continue to heat up this week, the risk of fires starting and spreading will naturally increase as well. Please be aware of these heightened chances and help us keep southern Oregon wildfire-free. https://www.facebook.com/ODFSouthwest

Jackson County Fire District 5’s Chief Put On Administrative Leave

Jackson County Fire District 5’s Chief Charles Hanley has been put on administrative leave as an investigation into complaints about Hanley are underway.

The complaints include allegations of general misconduct, bullying and more. They were brought to the attention of Fire District 5 board members by the union that represents the district’s firefighters, back in January. The complaints submitted by IAFF Local 2596 led to a motion filed to put Hanley on administrative leave, in February. Then in March, three out of five board members resigned.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Hanley was placed on administrative leave immediately, pending the outcome of the investigation. Hanley argued that the terms and conduct of his contract were not being followed.
He said, “the board has come in and basically overstepped my ability to deal with this… I have asked for information for what is now 120 days on these allegations with no response.”
Assistant Fire Chief, Aaron Bustard will take over Hanley’s duties, as Interim Fire Chief. NBC5 News reached out to board members Friday, but they were not available for an interview. The board did say however, that the next meeting will include an in-depth review of the union’s documents and complaints against Hanley.
5/12/24, 19:35 hrs. (MURPHY) — Rural Metro Fire was called to assist the Applegate Valley Fire District with a structure fire in the 9800 block of North Applegate Road. Multiple units converged on the scene, near the border between both agencies, finding a fire in the 2nd floor of an occupied residence. All occupants were out and claiming non-injury. After full containment, RMF units were released. Investigation into the cause of the fire is being led by Applegate Fire.

Porters In Downtown Medford Closed Its Doors Saturday Night

Porters in downtown Medford closed its doors Saturday night after 23 years of service under the current owners. The restaurant sits inside the Medford Depot that was built in 1910 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Because the building is in the register, it cannot be torn down.

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.

 

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 Medford

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.

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Oregon Listed In The Top 10 Most Dangerous States Per U.S. News And World Report

As part of the 2024 Best States rankings, U.S. News factored in both the violent crime rate and property crime rate in each state to determine how well they foster public safety, which informs the best states for crime and corrections rankings and the overall Best States rankings.

Police units respond on scene.

Oregon ranked 8th.

Violent Crime Rate: 342 per 100,000

Property Crime Rate: 2,935 per 100,000

Overall Best States Ranking: 31

 

Places at the bottom of the public safety ranking form this list of the country’s most dangerous states. Among the lower 48, they span from the West Coast to the South, and all but two of the 10 land in the lower half of the overall Best States rankings for 2024.

These are the 10 most dangerous states in the U.S. according to the Best States analysis.

  1. New Mexico
  2. Louisiana
  3. Colorado
  4. Arkansas
  5. Washington
  6. Tennessee
  7. Alaska
  8. Oregon
  9. California
  10. Missouri

For its part, the FBI notes that numerous factors can affect the amount and type of crime in different areas, including population density, economic conditions, climate and family cohesiveness.

MORE INFO: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/slideshows/10-most-dangerous-states-in-america?onepage

Merkley Joins Senate Colleagues In Calling On Postal Service To Pause Planned Changes To Mail Delivery Network

Senators Urge USPS to Request a Comprehensive Assessment of Proposed Changes from its Regulator and Address the Results

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley joined a bipartisan letter led by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Susan Collins (R-ME), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) calling on the United States Postal Service (USPS) to pause planned changes to its processing and delivery network that could slow down mail delivery until the potential impacts are further studied by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) and addressed by the Postal Service.

In the letter signed by 26 Senators, the lawmakers expressed concern over the impacts these changes have already had on communities across the country, and the potential impacts to timely mail delivery that further changes could cause. The Senators urged the USPS to request a comprehensive Advisory Opinion from the PRC that analyzes the full scope of the network changes, including changes to local transportation and postal facilities across the nation, before moving forward with any such changes.

“We call on USPS to pause all changes, pending a full study of this plan by its regulator. While USPS claims these changes overall will improve service while reducing costs, there is evidence to the contrary in locations where USPS has implemented changes so far,” wrote the Senators. “USPS must stop implementation, restore service in those areas where changes were implemented, and fully understand the nationwide effects of its plan on service and communities.”
The Senators continued: “The Postal Service’s primary responsibility is to provide timely and reliable delivery to every community across the nation. While USPS must continue adapting as an agency to remain stable and serve the public’s current needs, it must proceed with caution and understand the implications of its plans in order to protect mail delivery for all communities.”

Joining Merkley, Peters, Collins, Rosen, and Lummis in sending the letter were U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John Barrasso (R-WY), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Kyrsten Sinema, (I-AZ), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Angus King (I-ME), John Hoeven (R-ND), Fischer (R-NE), Jon Tester (D-MT), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and John Cornyn (R-TX).

This latest letter builds on a series of actions from Merkley in opposition to the USPS downgrades in Oregon. Last month, Merkley joined a bipartisan letter with his Senate colleagues in opposition of USPS downgrades of processing and distribution facilities in Oregon, where mail processing at the Eugene and Medford facilities has begun transferring to a facility in Portland, distances of around 110 and 270 miles away, respectively. These changes are producing reports of mail delays in the Medford service area, in particular.

In March, Merkley joined his Senate colleagues in another letter to Postmaster DeJoy, urging him to stop any changes to USPS service standards that would result in job losses and further degrade mail delivery performance, especially in rural areas, which have longer distances where mail must travel and have greater potential risk for delayed service.

Previously, Merkley joined fellow Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and U.S. Representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer in a letter to Postmaster DeJoy asking USPS leaders to hold public hearings about its plan to consolidate mail sorting in Oregon—specifically flagging the Postal Service’s plan to transfer all sorting and distribution activities in the city to one hub in Beaverton. In their letter, lawmakers called on the USPS to engage in robust dialogue with letter carriers before moving forward with the consolidation plan involving the Portland region. Specifically, they request that USPS convene at least one listening session in every requested location that is open to all affected employees, including in Medford and Eugene.

Merkley led a bipartisan letter last year with members of the Oregon and Georgia congressional delegations to the leaders on the Subcommittees on Appropriations in the Senate and House that oversee the budget for the USPS, calling to block funds for the Postal Service’s planned downgrades.

The text of the latest letter is copied below and available here.

Dear Postmaster General DeJoy and U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors:

We call on you to pause planned changes to the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) processing and delivery network under the “Delivering for America” plan, until you request and receive a comprehensive Advisory Opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission to fully study the potential impacts of these changes.

USPS is moving forward swiftly with plans to consolidate and alter its facilities across the country, making irrevocable changes to its processing and delivery network which links all communities. This plan includes moving mail processing further away from local communities, by transferring operations out of local facilities (“Local Processing Centers” and Delivery Units) and into more distant hubs (“Regional Processing and Distribution Centers” and “Sorting and Delivery Centers”). The plan also includes “local transportation optimization,” an initiative that cuts the number of truck trips and mail collections at USPS facilities, causing mail to sit overnight in local offices. USPS has begun to implement this change without notifying the public, causing critical delays for mail that requires overnight delivery.

We are concerned about the impacts these changes have had so far, and the potential impacts that further changes could have. In regions where USPS has implemented significant changes, on-time mail delivery has declined. In addition, it is not clear these changes will improve efficiency or costs. Despite these concerns, USPS has moved forward with announcing and approving additional facility changes across the country. The nature of these changes creates concerns that local and rural service could be degraded. For example, USPS proposals to remove all outbound mail operations from local processing facilities seem to particularly harm local mail – since mail sent to a nearby locality would first have to go through a far-away processing facility, often in another state. “Local transportation optimization” has also caused disproportionate impacts on rural areas. In some rural communities, it has eliminated the possibility of overnight delivery for critical mail like medications and laboratory tests. Taken together, these changes have a nationwide scope and would affect service across the country.

We call on USPS to pause all changes, pending a full study of this plan by its regulator. While USPS claims these changes overall will improve service while reducing costs, there is evidence to the contrary in locations where USPS has implemented changes so far. USPS must stop implementation, restore service in those areas where changes were implemented, and fully understand the nationwide effects of its plan on service and communities.

In particular, we urge the Postal Service to request a comprehensive Advisory Opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), which would provide a robust and public process to study the impacts of these changes. The request and analysis must include the full scope of network changes, including the intersecting changes to facilities across the nation (conversions to Regional Processing and Distribution Centers, Sorting and Delivery Centers, and Local Processing Centers) and local transportation optimization. During a hearing before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Postmaster General DeJoy stated that USPS would consider requesting an Advisory Opinion – and suggested that USPS may slow down “mail move” changes in 2024. Disappointingly, the Postmaster General did not commit to the scope of an Advisory Opinion, or to meaningfully stopping changes until further study is complete.

The Postal Service must promptly request a comprehensive Advisory Opinion to study the impacts of its full plan. USPS should pause all changes, including administrative approvals and on-the-ground changes, until the PRC completes this study and USPS incorporates the results. USPS must improve service immediately in areas where changes have been implemented, and restore status quo operations as much as practicable.

The Postal Service’s primary responsibility is to provide timely and reliable delivery to every community across the nation. While USPS must continue adapting as an agency to remain stable and serve the public’s current needs, it must proceed with caution and understand the implications of its plans in order to protect mail delivery for all communities.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.  (SOURCE)

Oregon Joins Other States In Ordering Sigue Corp. To Cease Money Transmission Activities Due To Declining Finances

The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation has ordered Sigue Corp. to cease engaging in money transmission activities in the state, saying the company can no longer responsibly serve customers due to its declining financial position.

Oregon joined a number of other states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia in issuing the consent order.

Sigue is a state-regulated money transmission company licensed in Oregon and 48 other states (Nationwide Multistate Licensing System ID 915912). Over the past several months, Sigue experienced significant financial deterioration.

The company failed to complete multiple money orders and transmissions and to maintain adequate net worth and permissible investments to cover outstanding liabilities, which are violations of state money transmission law. Many customers are still waiting for their funds.

In Oregon, there are almost 200 open or unfulfilled transactions totaling $39,000 between money transmissions and money orders. Across the U.S. there were just under 25,000 open or unfulfilled transactions totaling nearly $8.6 million. Sigue stopped transmissions across the nation in January.

The order requires the company to preserve and provide access to all books and records, including information on affected customers.

“This order not only shows how Oregon’s system of regulation works to protect consumers, but also highlights the strong partnerships we have with other states, the Money Transmitter Regulators Association, and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors,” said TK Keen, DFR administrator. “Fortunately, all of Oregon’s open money orders and transmissions are covered by the surety bond Sigue was required to have with the division, which means no consumers should lose money.”

As Sigue was primarily used as a transmitter to send money from the United States to Spanish-speaking countries, the division plans additional outreach to the Spanish-speaking community through the Mexican Consulate.

Sigue maintained a surety bond with Liberty Mutual that will cover all of Sigue’s unpaid or otherwise outstanding transactions in Oregon. Individuals who paid for a money transmission or money order from Sigue that went unpaid are encouraged to file a claim directly with Liberty Mutual online by visiting this website and clicking on the link that reads “File Commercial Bond Claim.” Anyone with questions for Liberty Mutual can email hoscl@libertymutual.com or call 206-473-6700.The state surety bond claim process is designed to help make affected consumers whole.

Consumers who have been affected or believe they may have been affected and would like help or to file a complaint, should contact one of DFR’s consumer advocates at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or email dfr.financialserviceshelp@dcbs.oregon.gov.

Hackers Target Facebook “Friends” In New Scam

PORTLAND, OR — The FBI is investigating an emerging social media scam. Hackers take over a person’s Facebook account, then post big-ticket items for sale that don’t exist, like trucks, trailers and ATVs. They claim to be selling the possessions of a relative forced to move into “aged care” and can only communicate through online messaging apps. In just one Oregon incident, around a dozen people lost more than $10,000.

FBI Portland Cybersquad Supervisory Special Agent Yaqub Prowell says the first step to protecting yourself is to try to avoid getting hacked. “We want to use strong, unique passwords, as just kind of the basics of cyber hygiene. You definitely want to enable multi-factor authentication, wherever that’s available. You want to avoid unsecure wifi networks.” He adds, “Also limit oversharing. Be mindful of what you post on social media, because personal information can always be used against you.”

Prowell says hackers use various tactics to achieve one goal: Getting money. “In order to make that money, they have to get you to do something that you may not normally do.” He says they do that by using social psychology. The items listed for sale in the scam are well below market value. It’s a strategy Prowell has seen before, “Something that looks like a deal that’s just amazing and too good to be true, combined with the fact that it appears to be emanating or originating from someone that you know, that plays into our basic psychology; now we have trust.”

The hackers then use that trust to convince the victim to put a “deposit” down on an item, using a money transfer app. “At the end of the day, criminals want to make money. So, in general, if you are suddenly being asked for money from people that you know, and they’re asking you to send that money via electronic means, you really need to make sure that they are legit and that what they’re requesting is a legitimate request.” Prowell says, “Please, pick up the phone. Talk to your friend. Actually have a more close, genuine, human connection, to [be] assured that those communications that you’re having are legitimate.”

It’s just the latest cybersecurity threat. According to the FBI’s latest report, Oregonians lost over a billion dollars in 2023 to cyber-related fraud and other internet-based crimes. Prowell says, “These things can be mitigated and avoided with some basic cyber hygiene, as well as just developing the muscle memory of not being complacent in your communications with individuals that are purporting to be trustworthy.”  He urges victims of cyber crimes to report it, regardless of dollar amount, at IC3.gov.

Coast Guard rescues two people off the coast of Oregon

US Coast Guard in the Pacific Northwest rescued two people and a dog from the water off the Oregon coast on Saturday, May 10.

Their boat had capsized approximately 2.5 miles east of Tongue Point.

Air Station Astoria successfully hoisted one person, while the other person and the dog were rescued by Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment.

Both people were transferred to Emergency Medical Services following the rescue.

Registration Open For Inaugural Oregon Native Trout Challenge

Anglers, grab your favorite fishing rig and a map, as registration is now open for the inaugural Oregon Native Trout Challenge.

Basalt to Breakers, an Oregon nonprofit with fiscal sponsorship by the Oregon Wildlife Foundation, is launching the Oregon Native Trout Challenge to encourage anglers to explore new waters, celebrate the diversity of Oregon’s native trout fisheries and support projects that conserve our native trout species.

“The challenge is intended to be a celebration of Oregon’s native trout species and the ecosystems that support their populations. We intentionally made this challenge different from other native trout challenges to encourage people to explore the diverse ecosystems that Oregon offers,” said B2B Founder Max McCool. “Completing the challenge consists of catching and taking a picture of any native trout species caught in each of Oregon’s eight ecoregions and submitting the location, date, and species through our online form,” continued McCool.

The Challenge is catch-and-release. “We want to ensure that each participant follows ODFW regulations throughout the challenge and isn’t putting additional pressure on any vulnerable species,” said McCool.

Each catch must be documented according to the Challenge rules to count. A one-time entry fee of $35 offsets the administrative costs of the challenge with net proceeds used for habitat restoration, trout conservation, and education projects. Beyond learning more about Oregon’s native trout species and our diverse ecoregions, the Oregon Native Trout Challenge seeks to encourage advocacy for local fisheries.

“In Oregon, salmon get the lion’s share of attention, but Oregon has stellar trout fishing throughout our state. What I like most about the Oregon Native Trout Challenge is that it encourages anglers to explore more of what Oregon has to offer,” said Tim Greseth, Oregon Wildlife Foundation’s executive director.

Participants can register at https://owhf.tofinoauctions.com/b2bchallenge24/homepages/show. For more information, visit www.basalttobreakers.org.

Basalt to Breakers — is a nonprofit corporation registered in the State of Oregon. The mission of Basalt to Breakers is to inspire, educate and engage all anglers throughout Oregon in native trout conservation projects. Basalt to Breakers is sponsored by the Oregon Wildlife Foundation. https://basalttobreakers.org/

Oregon Wildlife Foundation — is an apolitical operating charitable foundation dedicated to increasing private and public funding support for wildlife conservation projects in Oregon. Since 1981, OWF has directed tens of millions of dollars in private and public support to a broad range of projects throughout Oregon. For more information, visit www.myOWF.org.

OHA launches Fentanyl Aware social media campaign

Risks, harm-reduction strategies, recognizing and responding to overdose, and Oregon’s good Samaritan law to be focus of five-week online promotion

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.

Fentanyl Aware Northwest

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

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 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.

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

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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