Rogue Valley News, Monday 5/20 – Wyden Announces Four Town Halls in Southern Oregon, Phoenix One of Four Cities with Most Growth in Oregon & Other Local and Statewide News…

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

Monday,  May 20, 2024

Rogue Valley Weather

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Wyden Announces Four Town Halls in Southern Oregon

Open-to-all town halls on will be May 28-29 in Josephine, Curry, Coos and Douglas counties

Portland – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today announced he will hold in-person town halls in Josephine, Curry, Coos and Douglas counties on May 28-29.

Heading into these four town halls, Wyden will have held 1,081 town halls throughout Oregon – including 16 so far this year — in fulfillment of his pledge to hold at least one town hall each year in each of our state’s 36 counties. The town halls in these four counties originally had been scheduled for April, but had to be postponed because of Senate votes in Washington, DC.

“I’m glad to be able to reschedule these town halls so quickly. I’ll always keep my promise of annual open-to-all town halls in each of our state’s 36 counties because it’s crucial that all Oregonians get the opportunity in their community to ask questions, offer suggestions and share ideas,” Wyden said. “As I approach my 1,100th town hall, these direct town hall discussions remain vital, and I very much look forward to the upcoming discussions with Oregonians in Josephine, Curry, Coos and Douglas counties.”

·       Josephine County, 12:45 pm, Tuesday, May 28, South Middle School gym, 350 W. Harbeck Rd., Grants Pass

·       Curry County, 5:30 pm, Tuesday, May 28, Gold Beach Jr/Sr. High School gym, 29516 Ellensburg Ave., Gold Beach

·       Coos County, 10 am, Wednesday, May 29, North Bend High School gym, 2323 Pacific Ave., North Bend (Parking available in lot behind football stadium)

·       Douglas County, 1 pm, Wednesday, May 29, Reedsport Community Charter Jr/Sr. High School, Pacific Auditorium, Reedsport (Enter at the Pacific Auditorium entrance. Please park on Longwood Drive as school will be in session.)

 

Phoenix One of Four Cities with Most Growth in Oregon as The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday released new population estimates for cities and towns across the country.

Here’s some facts for Oregon:

Portland continued to shrink, though its decline has slowed. Meanwhile, some suburban areas and exurban communities saw population gains. For communities of all sizes, here are four cities in Oregon with most growth.

 Boardman in Morrow County, Oregon

Boardman, a city on the Columbia River with 4,268 residents, was the fastest growing city between July 2022 and July 2023. The city, roughly 160 miles from Portland, saw its population grow nearly 8%, by 313 people, from the prior year’s 3,955.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Boardman has added 424 residents, a population growth over 11%. The city’s growth in recent years may be partly tied to the four giant data centers that Amazon built in the area in recent years, which brought several hundred local jobs tied to its operations.

Happy Valley in Clackamas County, Oregon —

Happy Valley’s population grew to 28,409 in July 2023, up 7.5% from 26,438 a year earlier. The Portland suburb’s growth ranked at the top for cities with 20,000 or more people. Since 2020, the city has added 4,368 residents, representing an 18% gain over the years.

Happy Valley began seeing rapid growth in the late 1990s but was hit hard in the foreclosure crisis. It has since bounced back, outpacing most of the metro area in recent years, thanks to land availability and brisk housing development.

Woodburn in Marion County, Oregon

Woodburn gained 1,736 residents in the year leading up to July 2023, a 6.4% increase to 29,033. The mid-Willamette Valley city has added over 3,000 new residents, nearly 12%, since 2020.

Woodburn, situated between Salem and the Portland metro area, has seen a housing and industrial boom over the years. The city is home to Amazon’s new 3.8 million-square-foot warehouse, which is expected to open later this year or early 2025 and employ around 1,500 people.

Phoenix in Jackson County, Oregon

Phoenix, a city neighboring Medford in southern Oregon, gained just over 5% during the year, or 215 people, bringing its population to 4,422. The city has rebounded after shedding its population yearly since 2020.

The city’s population totaled 4,490 in July 2020. During the first year of the pandemic, the city saw its population drop nearly 5%, about 220 people. The city’s population dipped to nearly 4,200 in July 2022. The city’s population losses coincided with the southern Oregon wildfires in 2020 that wiped out hundreds of homes. The fires left more than 2,000 residents without a home. (READ MORE)

 

The High Cascades Ranger District is planning a 131 acre underburn today, Monday, May 20th, 2024. The prescribed fire will be located 11 miles east of Butte Falls along road 3760.
The Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District is planning a multi-unit underburn beginning today, Monday, May 20th, through Thursday May 23rd.
The AFR 28 prescribed fire is located near Panther Peak off the 400 road. Sections of the 2060 and 2060-400 roads may be impacted by smoke.
May be an image of fire and text that says '! Prescribed Fire What: AFR 28 multiple units When: Mon-Thurs, May 20 20- 23 2024 Where: Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District, near Panther Peak off of the 400 road !!! Please use caution in fire areas as ប visibility and air quality may be impacted. FORESTSERVIC FOREST . 6amoлoaTииB ANTHENTOEASRICUS TKENTOF NTMENTO'
Please use caution and watch for fire crews in the area.
Please use caution in the area as visibility and air quality may be impacted. Watch for fire crews along roadways and allow them room to work safely. We appreciate your patience while this important work is accomplished!

 

Possible Missing Person — Rogue River Trail 

Press Release

Press Release

DETAILS: On Friday May 17, 2024 at approximately 4:44 pm, Josephine County Sheriff’s Office received a citizen report of a backpack and dog leash that was found on the Rogue River Trail and there appeared to be no sign of a person or dog in the area.  The reporting party stated that they noticed the backpack on their way down the trail. Upon seeing the backpack and belongings still in place later that afternoon on their way out, the citizen made a report to the Sheriff’s Office.

On Saturday May 18, 2024, a Josephine County Sheriff’s Office deputy hiked the trail and located the backpack on the trail approximately 1 mile south of the Grave Creek Boat Ramp. A search with verbal callouts did not locate a person or dog.  Additionally, a drone was utilized to try to locate the owner. Further investigation revealed the backpack has possibly been in that location since Wednesday May 15, 2024. The contents of the backpack suggested the owner was preparing to start a multi-day camping trip and items in the pack did not appear to have been used. There was also no identifying information located in the pack. The Sheriff’s Office is concerned the owner of the backpack may have become injured or lost. No missing persons reports have been filed that match the situation nor is there any evidence of foul play.

The Sheriff’s Office is actively trying to locate the owner of the backpack.   If you have any information regarding the backpack or who the owner may be, please contact the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office 541-474-5123.

 

Bank Robbery Suspect Arrested
On Friday, May 17th, 2024, at approximately 1:50 p.m. Medford Police Officers responded to a report of a robbery at Key Bank at 2598 E. Barnett Rd. The suspect entered the bank and demanded money from a teller. The male suspect stole an undisclosed amount of cash and fled the location in a dark colored Ford Escape. MPD Detectives and local Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Agents responded to the scene to assume the investigation. 

Detectives diligently worked on this investigation throughout the night and were able to identify the suspect as 52-year-old Timothy Michael Spencer of Medford.

Today a vigilant MPD Officer located the suspect and the outstanding suspect vehicle in Medford. Timothy Spencer was taken into custody and is currently being detained as the investigation continues. Spencer is being investigated for this robbery as well as the robbery that occurred at a Rogue River bank earlier this week. Charges are pending at this time.

 

Medford Police Investigating Fatal Motorcycle Crash

On Friday, May 17th, 2024, at 10:51 p.m. Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon (ECSO) received a 911 call reporting a motorcycle crash in the 2700 block of Delta Waters Rd. in Medford. Medford Police Officers and medical personnel responded to the scene of the crash. Prior to first responder arrival, a bystander with medical training began performing life saving measures on an unconscious motorcyclist involved in the crash.

When officers arrived, they discovered two motorcycles were involved in the crash, one of the drivers was unconscious and the other was alert with minor injuries. The unconscious motorcycle driver was unable to be revived and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The motorcycle driver who died has been identified as 39-year-old Benjamin McFarland and next of kin has been notified.

Members of the Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction (STAR) Team from MPD and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, as well as a Medford Police Detective responded to the scene. The cause of the crash is still under investigation; however, speed is believed to be a factor.

MPD would like to thank the witnesses and bystanders who assisted at the scene of this crash. We hope this tragic incident reminds everyone of the serious risks associated with speeding. Despite our best efforts, speeding remains one of the primary contributors to traffic crashes and fatalities. Let’s work together to make Medford’s streets safe for everyone.

The Coquille Tribe’s  Medford Casino Plan Moves Ahead

The Coquille Tribe plans to build a casino named ‘The Cedars at Bear Creek‘ in the southern part of Medford on Highway 99. The U.S. The casino plan is currently under review for approval by the U.S.Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Coquille Indian Tribe wants to build a a 30,000-square-foot casino in Medford, Oregon and name it “The Cedars at Bear Creek”. The location would be in the southern part of Medford along the east side of Highway 99.

The Medford casino would be the second casino owned by the Coquille Indian Tribe. The Tribe owns and operates The Mill Casino Hotel in North Bend, Oregon.

In 2012 the Tribe purchased Roxy Ann Bowling Lanes and the old Kim’s Restaurant which totals 2.42 acres. This land acquisition was submitted to the U.S. Interior Department to determine if it qualifies as a building site for a tribal casino.

In 2017 the Interior Department found the Tribe has the right to build a casino on that land once it is transferred into federal trust.

The Coquille tribe then formally applied to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to place the land into federal trust for the purpose of building a casino. This is a multi-step process that takes years for a final decision. The application is currently under review.  (SOURCE)

 

State Holding Open House Meetings on Community Wildfire Programs in Central Point and Grants Pass

— A series of six open houses about the state’s new community wildfire risk reduction programs are scheduled June 3 through July 1 across Oregon. These events will offer opportunities to learn about new defensible space and home hardening standards, as well as the draft wildfire hazard map.

Oregon Department of Forestry

The resource-fair style open houses are being held in the communities that have some of the greatest levels of wildfire hazard within the wildland-urban interface. Each open house will begin with a short presentation and introductions, but visitors may stop in at any point during the event to get questions answered about the draft hazard map and associated community wildfire programs.

Representatives from multiple agencies will be present to have one-on-one or small group conversations to help people understand Oregon’s statewide wildfire programs.

  • Oregon Department of Forestry representatives will address questions on administrative rules and hazard zone assessment appeals.
  • Oregon State University representatives will address questions on wildfire hazard science, statewide data sources, and updates to the draft hazard map made over the last two years.
  • Oregon State Fire Marshal representatives will address questions regarding defensible space standards, code adoption process and implementation.
  • Building Codes Division representatives from the Department of Consumer and Business Services will address questions on home hardening construction standards, related code provisions, and implementation.
  • Division of Financial Regulation representatives from the Department of Consumer and Business Services will address questions on home insurance market and requirements of insurers under Senate Bill 82 (2023).
  • Wildfire Programs Advisory Council members will address questions on statewide policy direction for wildfire programs and council business.

Meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Redmond—Monday, June 3, Deschutes County Fairgrounds and Expo Center, South Sister Hall, 3800 SW Airport Way, Redmond, OR 97756
  • La Grande—Tuesday, June 4, Union County Fairgrounds, Mount Emily Building, 3604 N 2nd St., La Grande, OR 97850
  • Central Point—Monday, June 17, Jackson County Fairgrounds, Mace Building, 1 Peninger Rd., Central Point, OR 97502
  • Grants Pass—Thursday, June 20, Grants Pass High School, 830 NE 9th St., Grants Pass, OR 97526
  • Klamath Falls—Monday, June 24, Klamath County Event Center, Hall #2, 3531 S 6th St., Klamath Falls, OR 97603
  • The Dalles—Monday, July 1, Oregon Military Department Armory, 402 E. Scenic Dr., The Dalles, OR 97058

Find more information on ODF’s wildfire hazard webpage.

To subscribe to information related to updates on the statewide wildfire hazard map, visit the ODF website.

Background: The 2021 Legislature passed Senate Bill 762 that required the Oregon Department of Forestry to develop and maintain a comprehensive statewide map of wildfire risk that included wildland-urban interface boundaries and five fire risk classes by June 30, 2022, in collaboration with Oregon State University. After the initial version of the map was rescinded August 4, 2022, ODF and OSU began gathering feedback and incorporating it into future mapping efforts.

The 2023 Legislature passed Senate Bill 80 that made several changes to the map including changing the name from a “risk” map to a “hazard” map, reducing the number of hazard classes from five to three, and changing the appeal and notification requirements.

Written comment or questions about any aspect of the implementation of Senate Bill 762 and Senate Bill 80 may be submitted by email at any time to ehazardmap@odf.oregon.gov“>odf.wildfirehazardmap@odf.oregon.gov.

 

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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.

 

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

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.

 

 

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 2024 Primary Election Ballot Return Numbers Low

Deadline to return ballots is Tuesday, May 21

Ballots must have a USPS postmark dated on or before 8 p.m. on May 21. Ballots can also be returned at an official drop box or county elections office. County elections offices should be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and voters can find their nearest drop box at oregonvotes.gov/dropbox.

Oregon is on track to see fewer than 40% of registered voters cast their ballot in Tuesday’s primary, as is customary in years without more than one well-known contender for either major party’s presidential nomination.

As of Thursday, 14.1% of Oregon voters had returned their ballots to county election offices, the state reported Friday. That compares to the 14.6% who had returned ballots at the same stage of the 2022 primary.

Ultimately, the May 2022 election generated statewide turnout of 37.8%.

That was weak compared to recent years with hot or at least unsettled presidential nomination races. In 2016, for example, when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were still dueling and Republicans hadn’t fully given up on Ted Cruz’s bid against Donald Trump, turnout in Oregon’s May primary reached 54%.

But in 2018, a non-presidential year in which the major parties’ nominees for governor were largely settled, turnout sunk to 34.7%.

It’s not that there are not hot contests to be decided this month, particularly for many Democratic voters. Races for the Democratic nominations in the 3rd and 5th Congressional Districts have drawn national attention and eye-popping amounts of money from inside and outside Oregon to decide who will succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer in the 3rd and which Democrat will get to face first-term Republican U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the 5th this fall.

Major party voters are also selecting their picks for Oregon’s secretary of state and attorney general. And voters of all affiliations are choosing county commissioners, district attorneys, sheriffs and other nonpartisan public officials. (SOURCE)

 

Hospital Association of Oregon Considers Appeal of U.S. District Court Ruling

Concerns remain about the state’s Health Care Market Oversight Program

Lake Oswego, Ore.—A U.S. District Court judge ruled yesterday that a state law creating the Health Care Market Oversight Program does not violate the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Hospital Association of Oregon brought the lawsuit, and it can appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The Oregon Legislature passed HB 2362 in 2021 to create the Health Care Market Oversight Program, which gives Oregon Health Authority (OHA) significant power to oversee transactions involving health care entities, and aims to promote transparency, support statewide priorities, and monitor impacts. But since its passage, there have been concerns about the law’s negative impacts.

“Proponents of this law said it would improve health equity and protect access to care, which we wholeheartedly support. However, the law fails to accomplish those objectives,” said President and CEO Becky Hultberg. “Instead, we have an agency that has been given too much power, and it has created costly and onerous processes that have proven both arbitrary and unpredictable.”

The hospital association challenged the law on two grounds: first, the law’s open-ended and vague wording violates the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it imposes costs and penalties without fair notice or defined standards. And second, the law violates the Oregon Constitution because it delegates legislative power to a state agency, OHA.

While the federal court ruled the law doesn’t violate the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution, it declined jurisdiction over the state constitutional claim and did not consider it on its merits.

“Rather than protect Oregonians, this law may be harming them,” Hultberg said. “It has created an environment where health care arrangements serving the public may be hindered, while allowing arrangements detrimental to the public to proceed. We continue to be worried about the impact this law will have on access to health care services, especially for the most vulnerable people in our state.”

 

Wyden Presses Federal Officials to Make Improvements Quickly at Roseburg VA

Senator’s letter follows troubling report identifying serious and systemic problems with care for veterans in Roseburg

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today urged top federal Department of Veterans Affairs officials to act quickly to make improvements identified in a troubling new report that details how problems with staffing levels and electronic records at the Roseburg VA Health Care System are undermining care for veterans.

Wyden’s letter to Dr. Teresa Boyd of the VA Northwest Health Network Office follows a report this week by the VA’s Office of Inspector General (VA OIG).

“First, I recognize the acute challenges in improving staffing levels after the COVID-19 pandemic, but I remain concerned that Roseburg is operating at 48% of its authorized strength during VA OIG’s inspection, and even lower in some of Oregon’s rural areas, Wyden wrote. “This is unacceptable for the veterans counting on the local and quality care they earned with their service, especially considering the new tools Congress has provided the VA to address this problem.”

Among those new tools Wyden outlined in his letter was the PACT Act that he worked to pass, which provided greater incentives for the VA to retain employees with in-demand skills, or skills in short supply and that serve a critical need. He also cited how he worked to secure authority for the VA to expedite the hiring of college graduates and post-secondary students that let the VA fill vacancies quickly.

“Second, since 2022, I have joined my congressional colleagues in sounding the alarm about the Oracle Cerner electronic health record modernization effort,” Wyden wrote. “While modernization is an important and necessary step, I continue to track reports of widespread challenges stemming from this new system, including challenges surrounding patient safety, staff burnout, budgeting, workflows, professional evaluations, and suicide prevention.  I am glad the VA decided in April 2023 to halt additional deployments of this system. The VA OIG’s report continues to underscore the issues that Oracle Cerner must address with the VA before the modernization efforts resume in other locations.”

The senator concluded his letter by stressing his alarm at the report’s findings that Roseburg VA staff failed to complete an evaluation for 57 percent of patients who had a positive suicide risk screen, which is significantly above the OIG’s 10 percent deficiency benchmark.

“The OIG report goes on to document that staff did not notify the suicide prevention team about two patients who reported suicidal behaviors during the evaluation.  Concerningly, VA OIG observed that the Roseburg VA Health Care System failed to conduct its required five suicide prevention outreach activities each month,” Wyden wrote. “I recognize that VA leadership attributes these findings to inadequate training and staffing as the reason for Roseburg’s inability to satisfy the stated requirements for reporting and outreach, but these outcomes are unacceptable and ultimately reaffirms the importance of addressing staffing shortages at Roseburg.” 

The entire “Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection of the Roseburg VA Health Care System in Oregon” report is here.    —     The entire letter is here.

 

Fatal Alarm Fire Destroys Adult Foster Care Home in Lebanon

At Approximately 1:21AM Lebanon Fire District was dispatched to the report of a structure fire at an adult foster care home. BC31 arrived on scene to a two-story home that was well involved in fire. The owners of the adult foster home stated that there was still someone inside the structure. BC31 upgraded the fire to a second alarm fire, requesting additional resources from across the county. The first arriving engine and medic unit forced their way through a locked door to search the room for the missing victim.

The victim was located and removed from the burning building and then emergently transported to Lebanon Community Hospital where it is reported that they passed away. Hot embers from the fire were being blown across the street and started another structure on fire. A single engine was able to quickly extinguish the second fire and return to the original fire. The crews remained on scene for several hours extinguishing the fire. The fire is currently under investigation.

Lebanon Fire District received assistance From Albany Fire Department, Sweet Home Fire District, Tangent Fire District, Harrisburg Fire Department, and Corvallis Fire Department

The owners of the adult foster care home were awakened by working smoke detectors and able evacuate majority of the residents until the the LFD was able to arrive on scene.

 

Oregon Serial Killer Fears Sparked by Murders of 5 Women

The deaths of five women in Oregon have sparked serial killer fears in the state. The women, named as Kristin Smith, Charity Lynn Perry, Bridget Leann Webster, Ashley Real, and Joanna Speaks, were found dead in various locations in and around Portland between February and May 2023.

Last year, Newsweek reported that Jesse Lee Calhoun, a 38-year-old man with a history of criminal activity, had been identified as a person of interest in the deaths of four of the women. A fifth woman, Speaks, has since been linked to the case.

Police in Portland initially said that they did not believe the deaths were connected but have since changed their mind. There is now said to be movement on the case behind the scenes.

Families of the victims spoke to News Nation, with one family member saying that she could see a connection. She said: “Putting their faces together… Either we have a serial killer or five homicidal maniacs. I don’t know which one would be worse.”

Last year, Multnomah County District Attorney’s office and other law enforcement agencies working on the case said in a joint statement that investigators had identified “at least one person of interest” linked to the decedents and had interviewed multiple people as part of the investigation. They did not identify Calhoun or reveal why he is considered a person of interest.

Calhoun was previously convicted on burglary and vehicle theft charges and was serving a prison sentence that was commuted by former Oregon Governor Kate Brown in 2021 due to his participation in a prison firefighting program. This commutation reduced his sentence by about a year. Following his release, the murders took place. Calhoun was then involved in further criminal activity, leading to the revocation of his commutation and his reimprisonment in July 2023 to serve the remaining months of his original sentence.

As reported previously by Newsweek, Jose Real, the father of Ashley Real, said that Calhoun was known to his daughter and that Calhoun had attacked and choked her late in 2022. He went on to say that officers did not arrest Calhoun over the alleged assault. Speaking to The Oregonian at the time, he said: “The police didn’t do their work. And now my daughter is dead.”

The investigation into the deaths of the five women has not yet determined the cause or manner of death for any of the victims and the cases remain unsolved. According to online records reviewed by Newsweek, Calhoun has been incarcerated at the Snake River Correctional Institution since July 6, 2023. He is due for release on June 9. (SOURCE)

 

Merkley, Wyden Announce Over $6.2 Million to Boost Oregon’s Innovative Wood Products Economy and Support Healthy Forests

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced today the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is investing $6,276,170 in 13 projects in Oregon to boost the creation of innovative wood products, develop more markets for uses of mass timber and renewable wood energy, and increase the capacity of wood processing and manufacturing facilities. The federal funding is critical to ensuring the state’s leadership in the wood products industry, while helping to restore healthy forests and reduce wildfire risk.

“Oregon has the best wood products in the world, and this federal funding helps keep our state at the forefront of timber innovation while supporting our rural communities,” said Merkley , who chairs the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee which funds the USFS, and who recently introduced his bipartisan Mass Timber Federal Buildings Act to promote the utilization of mass timber in federal building projects and military construction. “These projects are a win-win to help get wood products to our mills and help reduce wildfire risk on our forests. I’m looking forward to seeing the benefits of these investments for the fast-growing industry that’s deeply rooted in Oregon.”

“These federal investments throughout rural Oregon appropriately recognize that wood products and innovation are both synonymous with our state –and will continue to be for generations to come,” Wyden said. “I’m gratified the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act that I worked to pass are producing such significant and immediate gains to reduce wildfire threats and to increase jobs for Oregonians in rural communities from mass timber and renewable wood energy. This all adds up to a big win that gives Oregon lots to build upon.”

The wood products economy is essential to Oregon and the entire Pacific Northwest’s economy and environment, as sustainably sourced materials for many types of wood products improves the resiliency of our forests. Removal of small diameter trees and brush to reduce wildfire risk can benefit wildlife all while supporting rural economies.

The investments for Oregon are part of a broader suite of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s USFS Wood Innovations Program grants for public, private, and non-profit sectors, totaling $73.9 million for 171 projects across the country this year. This federal funding is made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and annual appropriations.

The 13 projects selected in Oregon are being funded in three Wood Innovations Program grant categories, which are as follows:

Wood Innovation Grants

  • $330,000 for Timberlab, Inc. for its Design for Mass Timber Manufacturing
  • $300,000 for Williams & Russell CDC for its Design for Black Business Hub Mass Timber Building
  • $300,000 for Community Development Partners for its Julia West’ Mass Timber Building Engineering and Design
  • $300,000 for Elk Creek Forest Products for its Resaw Equipment Installation Project
  • $300,000 for Go Lab, Inc. for itsPlanning to Support Increasing Wood Products Manufacturing Capacity in Southern Oregon
  • $299,164 for Oregon State University for itsBringing Point-Supported Mass Timber Structures to Commercial Viability in the USA
  • $125,000 for Jennifer Bonner MALL, LLC for Blank House: A Model for Aspect Ratios in Seismic Zones
  • $50,699 for Brocks Wood Lot, LLC for its Brocks Wood Lot LLC Sawmill Expansion – Phase 1

Wood Products Infrastructure Assistance Grant

  • $981,651 for Iron Triangle LLC for its Iron Triangle Biomass Utilization Efficiency Improvement Project
  • $900,000 for Gilchrist Forest Products, LLC for its Gilchrist Forest Products Chip Reloader Expansion
  • $389,656 for Brocks Wood Lot LLC for its Community Firewood Program Wood Waste Kiln System Installation

Community Wood Grant

  • $1 million for CutMyTimber for Expansion of Mass Timber Fabrication Capacity
  • $1 million for Timberlab, Inc for its Timberlab Mass Timber Fabrication Expansion

 

State wildfire agencies prepared to respond to fire season but will need more staff in future

State wildfire leaders say they are struggling to attract more firefighters due to limited housing and low wages

The state’s top wildfire responders say they are prepared for the approaching wildfire season, but they are concerned about adding staff and resources in the future amid expectations that wildfires will increase.

At a news conference last Wednesday, the leaders of the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Oregon State Fire Marshal and the Oregon Department of Emergency Management discussed the upcoming wildfire season, which typically begins in mid-May. They predicted a relatively average risk of wildfire through May and June, with a potentially greater risk in eastern Oregon in July and August, when drought and high wind conditions are possible.

Snowpack across Oregon is about average, and it’s been an El Niño winter and spring, which means conditions have been wetter-than-normal. Drought conditions statewide are better than last year but dry conditions persist in some parts of the state, which typically has about 2,000 wildfires a year that burn around 600,000 acres, state data shows.

Chris Cline, interim chief of the fire protection division of the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the agency has the staff and equipment needed for the current year, but that finding and recruiting firefighters has been difficult and will continue to be a challenge in the years ahead.

“The workforce is decreasing and shrinking, and it’s becoming very problematic,” Cline said.

The Oregon Department of Forestry depends on more than 700 permanent and seasonal wildfire fighters, on top of the 11,000 structural firefighters who focus on protecting people, buildings and homes in towns and cities across the state. About 70% of those structural firefighters are volunteers, according to Mariana Ruiz-Temple, Oregon State Fire Marshal, and far more are needed.

“Capacity has gone down over the last 10 years and fires are increasing,” she said. “The Oregon volunteer system is truly the backbone of the Oregon fire service.”

Cline added that incentives from the federal government for wildfire fighters, such as bonuses and higher pay, could draw those firefighters away from state and local agencies. Also, a lack of housing supply and affordable housing in parts of the state make recruitment difficult, Cline said.

Nevertheless, he added, “We have what we need right now, and we will be prepared to protect Oregonians this summer.”

In recent years, state fire agencies have added aircraft and cameras for monitoring fires. They’ve also used state and federal grants to boost seasonal firefighter numbers and to purchase more engines, machines and equipment, while undertaking more preventative prescribed burns.

Cline said agencies are increasing the number of prescribed burns amid a recognition that they are needed to destroy ground brush and other fuel that’s been built up over the years and traditionally was burned off by lightning and tribes conducting low-intensity broadcast burns.

“This is all trying to get (the land) health back to a more natural state,” Cline said. (SOURCE)

State holding open house meetings on community wildfire programs

SALEM, Ore. — A series of six open houses about the state’s new community wildfire risk reduction programs are scheduled June 3 through July 1 across Oregon. These events will offer opportunities to learn about new defensible space and home hardening standards, as well as the draft wildfire hazard map.

The resource-fair style open houses are being held in the communities that have some of the greatest levels of wildfire hazard within the wildland-urban interface. Each open house will begin with a short presentation and introductions, but visitors may stop in at any point during the event to get questions answered about the draft hazard map and associated community wildfire programs.

Representatives from multiple agencies will be present to have one-on-one or small group conversations to help people understand Oregon’s statewide wildfire programs.

  • Oregon Department of Forestry representatives will address questions on administrative rules and hazard zone assessment appeals.
  • Oregon State University representatives will address questions on wildfire hazard science, statewide data sources, and updates to the draft hazard map made over the last two years.
  • Oregon State Fire Marshal representatives will address questions regarding defensible space standards, code adoption process and implementation.
  • Building Codes Division representatives from the Department of Consumer and Business Services will address questions on home hardening construction standards, related code provisions, and implementation.
  • Division of Financial Regulation representatives from the Department of Consumer and Business Services will address questions on home insurance market and requirements of insurers under Senate Bill 82 (2023).
  • Wildfire Programs Advisory Council members will address questions on statewide policy direction for wildfire programs and council business.

Meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Redmond—Monday, June 3, Deschutes County Fairgrounds and Expo Center, South Sister Hall, 3800 SW Airport Way, Redmond, OR 97756
  • La Grande—Tuesday, June 4, Union County Fairgrounds, Mount Emily Building, 3604 N 2nd St., La Grande, OR 97850
  • Central Point—Monday, June 17, Jackson County Fairgrounds, Mace Building, 1 Peninger Rd., Central Point, OR 97502
  • Grants Pass—Thursday, June 20, Grants Pass High School, 830 NE 9th St., Grants Pass, OR 97526
  • Klamath Falls—Monday, June 24, Klamath County Event Center, Hall #2, 3531 S 6th St., Klamath Falls, OR 97603
  • The Dalles—Monday, July 1, Oregon Military Department Armory, 402 E. Scenic Dr., The Dalles, OR 97058

Find more information on ODF’s wildfire hazard webpage.

To subscribe to information related to updates on the statewide wildfire hazard map, visit the ODF website.

Background: The 2021 Legislature passed Senate Bill 762 that required the Oregon Department of Forestry to develop and maintain a comprehensive statewide map of wildfire risk that included wildland-urban interface boundaries and five fire risk classes by June 30, 2022, in collaboration with Oregon State University. After the initial version of the map was rescinded August 4, 2022, ODF and OSU began gathering feedback and incorporating it into future mapping efforts.

The 2023 Legislature passed Senate Bill 80 that made several changes to the map including changing the name from a “risk” map to a “hazard” map, reducing the number of hazard classes from five to three, and changing the appeal and notification requirements.

Written comment or questions about any aspect of the implementation of Senate Bill 762 and Senate Bill 80 may be submitted by email at any time to ehazardmap@odf.oregon.gov“>odf.wildfirehazardmap@odf.oregon.gov.

 

Tax day is not over for thousands of Oregonians. Some 12,000 Oregonians might be getting thousands of dollars in refunds due to TurboTax error

Intuit, a Silicon Valley company that makes the popular Turbotax software, has contacted more than 12,000 taxpayers who used it to file their state and federal returns, telling them they may have paid more than they should have because of an error in the software.

The error was discovered by an Oregon Department of Revenue employee and involved directing people to take the standard deduction when itemizing expenses would have lowered their tax bill.

The company initially downplayed the impact of the error, saying few had been affected, according to reporting by The Oregonian/OregonLive, but after being pressed by the revenue department it found that as many as 12,000 people were affected, with thousands of dollars at stake.

The company also came under pressure from Oregon’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee. He wrote to Intuit’s CEO, Sasan Goodarzi, on May 2, noting that the company urges customers to “file with confidence” and has a maximum refund guarantee that includes a refund for buying the software.

“Fixing this error will require identifying all affected Oregonians, notifying them and ensuring they can be made whole,” Wyden wrote. “In part because of TurboTax’s various guarantees and market share, Oregonians who overpaid due to TurboTax’s error likely assumed the software opted them into claiming state standard deduction to minimize their taxes. That assumption was wrong.”

Intuit has promised to refund the original purchase price for the software to affected customers, something which Wyden expects to happen.

“Intuit has a history of deceptive advertising but I expect it to make good on this guarantee,” Wyden said.

The 12,000 Oregonians now face filing an amended return and possibly waiting six months for money back, which is how long it can take for officials to process returns if they have errors or are missing information.

Taxpayers need to fill out amended returns following Turbotax instructions – either using the online or desktop versions – and then printing them out and mailing them to the Department of Revenue at  P.O. Box 14700, Salem, OR, 97309-0930. Taxpayers can also drop them off at a revenue office or use the state’s online tax filing service. The state offers instructions on this website.

To avoid a months long wait for money, the state officials advised filers to:

  • File a complete amended return, including the federal form and all schedules that were with the original filing.
  • Check the “Amended Return” box on the first page.
  • Use a current address even if it is different from the one on the original return.
  • Provide direct deposit information; otherwise the department will send a check.
  • Sign the amended return.

Tax filers can also call 844-333-2161 Monday  through Friday, from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. and mention “2023 Oregon itemized deductions” to an expert who can help. (SOURCE)

 

Protect Our Waters – Waterway Cleanup Series Seeks Volunteers for Summer Events

The annual Waterway Cleanup Series, a collaborative effort between SOLVE and Clackamas Water Environment Services, has launched its 2024 iteration with a highly successful kickoff event at Meldrum Bar Park in Gladstone. The event, held on May 9, brought together 36 volunteers who joined forces to clean the vegetation and wetlands along the picturesque Willamette River, collectively picking up 100 pounds of trash and preventing it from reaching the waterways.

The Waterway Cleanup Series, spanning from May to September, is a vital initiative aimed at elevating the cleanliness of rivers, streams, and creeks throughout the region. Each year, SOLVE and Clackamas Water Environment Services join forces to actively promote and support a diverse range of litter cleanup projects, all geared towards preserving and enhancing the health of our precious waterways.

“We are thrilled to launch another season of the Waterway Cleanup Series, a true testament to the power of community and environmental stewardship,” said Kris Carico, CEO of SOLVE. “As we embark on this journey together, I urge individuals and families to seize this opportunity to make a tangible impact on the environment while connecting with nature and each other. Hosting or joining a cleanup event is not just about picking up trash; it’s about fostering a sense of responsibility and pride in our local ecosystems, ensuring they remain vibrant and healthy for generations to come.”

Get Involved! — We’re calling on individuals, businesses, community groups, and organizations to host cleanup events along their favorite waterways throughout the summer months. By organizing or joining a cleanup event, everyone plays a crucial role in preventing trash from polluting our rivers. More information and details about the family-friendly Watershed Discovery Day on June 1st can be found on our website: https://www.solveoregon.org/waterway-series

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

About Clackamas Water Environment Services — Clackamas Water Environment Services (WES) produces clean water, protects water quality, and recovers renewable resources. We do this by providing wastewater services, stormwater management, and environmental education. It’s our job to protect public health and support the vitality of our communities, natural environment and economy.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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 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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