Rogue Valley News, Monday 6/10 – Stabbing in Central Point Leaves One Dead and Two In Critical Condition, Jackson County Drug Dealer Sentenced to Federal Prison & 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,  June 10, 2024

Rogue Valley Weather

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Stabbing in Central Point Leaves One Dead and Two In Critical Condition

On 06/08/24, at approximately 04:26am, Central Point Police responded to the 2200 block of New Haven Drive for a reported domestic dispute in which three adults were stabbed and/or assaulted. The victims were transported via Mercy Flights Ambulance to a local hospital. One of the male victims died of their injuries.May be an image of ambulance and text
The other two victims (one male and one female) are being treated for serious/life-threatening injuries.
One adult male is currently in custody. There is not believed to be any ongoing threat to the public.
Members of the Jackson County Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit responded to assist Central Point detectives with the ongoing investigation. The Oregon State Police Forensic Unit is also assisting.
At this time, we will not be releasing any names or further details.

Elude Suspect Tracked Down and Arrested in Medford After Crashing Car into Central Point Police Patrol Car

MEDFORD, OR. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies arrested a wanted fugitive yesterday around 3:15 p.m at the OK Market in Medford. The suspect, Joshua Edward McLaughlin, 34, of Butte Falls, was wanted on eight warrants, including first-degree burglary, and multiple counts of felony elude. He is lodged in the Jackson County Jail.

Earlier yesterday around 4:30 a.m., McLaughlin eluded law enforcement by intentionally crashing into a Central Point Police Department (CPPD) patrol car. While ramming the police car he also struck a CPPD officer with his side view mirror. The officer is ok, and expected to make a full recovery. CPPD has probable cause to add charges of elude, felony hit and run, reckless driving, three counts of reckless endangering, second-degree criminal mischief, interfering, third-degree assault, attempted third-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, and assault on a Peace Officer.

Later that day, JCSO undercover detectives tracked down and tailed the suspect to the OK Market on N. Riverside Avenue in Medford. JCSO Patrol deputies followed McLaughlin into the market and advised he was under arrest. McLaughlin attempted to flee out of the back of the store on foot but was quickly outperformed. McLaughlin resisted arrest but was eventually placed in handcuffs and lodged in the Jail on the eight warrants. McLaughlin is facing new charges from the JCSO arrest.

This case is open and ongoing with deputies and officers continuing their investigation. There is no further information available for release.

 

Jackson County Drug Dealer Sentenced to Federal Prison

MEDFORD, OR.—A known Jackson County drug dealer was sentenced to federal prison today after law enforcement located distribution quantities of drugs, including fentanyl, and a firearm in his abandoned vehicl

Anthony Ross Minneci, 36, was sentenced to 188 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, in January 2019, following his release from prison for drug trafficking and illegally possessing a firearm, Minneci resumed selling drugs throughout Southern Oregon. From early 2019 to March 2022, Minneci was charged in multiple cases in Jackson and Josephine County Circuit Courts for drug trafficking, illegally possessing firearms, and eluding police.

On January 1, 2022, a deputy with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office observed a vehicle failing to stop at an intersection and driving at a high rate of speed. The deputy identified Minneci as the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle and pursued him briefly before Minneci got away. Later that evening, investigators found the vehicle unoccupied in a rural area, but were unable to locate Minneci.

On January 5, 2022, investigators executed a search warrant on the vehicle and located fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine, as well as a firearm, ammunition, and drug paraphernalia. Investigators also found items identifying Minneci, including a driver’s license. On March 15, 2022, Minneci was arrested in Siskiyou County, California, following another attempt to elude police. At the time of his arrest, Minneci was found in possession of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and two firearms.

On May 5, 2022, a federal grand jury in Medford returned a three-count indictment charging Minneci with possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute, illegally possessing ammunition as a convicted felon, and possessing firearms in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

On February 26, 2024, Minneci pleaded guilty to possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

The cases against Minneci were investigated by the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Team (MADGE) with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Rogue Area Drug Enforcement Team (RADE), Oregon State Police, the Jackson County Sheriff and District Attorney’s Offices, Medford Police Department, and the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Marco A. Boccato, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

MADGE is a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force that identifies, disrupts, and dismantles local, multi-state, and international drug trafficking organizations using an intelligence-driven, multi-agency prosecutor-supported approach. MADGE is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and is composed of members from the Medford Police Department, the Jackson County Sheriff and District Attorney’s Offices, the Jackson County Community Corrections, FBI, and HSI.

The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives.

 

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'From Sheriff Dave Daniel: "I'd like to thank the budget committee who had a tremendous task before them this year and am pleased to announce that the Sheriff's Office will be adding 5 Patrol Deputies so that we can better serve the citizens of Josephine County. Serving you is our passion and we are pleased to see that the promise of enhanced service is on the way. Thank you to all the citizens for your support of your hard working Deputies." 자'

 

Grants Pass Police Department — The 2024 Citizen’s Police Academy is Now Accepting Applications!

The Grants Pass Police Department will hold its 3rd annual Citizen’s Police Academy (formerly Citizen’s Public Safety Academy) beginning Tuesday, August 27th, 2024. This 12-week academy is designed to educate the public about the Grants Pass Police Department and to involve citizens in an interactive opportunity to get to know the Officers on a more personal level.May be an image of ‎12 people and ‎text that says '‎Grants Pass CITIZEN'S POLICE ACADEMY لها FOOT អន្ុយ WS0 い‎'‎‎
Only a select group of approximately 25 citizens will be allowed to attend. This is strictly on a first-come, first-served basis. So, don’t miss out—GET YOUR APPLICATION TODAY!
The academy will provide comprehensive instruction on a wide range of topics, including department history, hiring process, community policing, tour of the police department, criminal law, search and seizure, arrest procedures, ethics, Community Service Officers, gang and youth-related issues, patrol procedures, traffic enforcement, firearms, pursuits, high-risk car stops, defensive tactics, crime scene investigations, officer survival, crime prevention, drug and alcohol enforcement, dispatch, K-9, drones, crime scene processing, CERT, technical rescue, auxiliary volunteers, RADE, polygraph, negotiations, and SWAT team response. This in-depth curriculum is designed to equip you with a thorough understanding of our operations.
To apply, please use the attached QR code or the following link: https://www.grantspassoregon.gov/249/Citizens-Police-Academy

Medford Police Partnering with Businesses to Prevent Retail Thefts

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𝙎𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙣 𝙎𝙪𝙨𝙥𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙨 𝘼𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙁𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙤𝙬𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙍𝙚𝙩𝙖𝙞𝙡 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙛𝙩 𝙀𝙣𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙘𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙊𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣:
On Thursday, May 30, MPD partnered with local retailers’ loss prevention employees and Special Agents from the Oregon Department of Justice for a focused enforcement targeting retail theft. The operation was conducted at Burlington Coat Factory and TJ Maxx inside the Medford Center from 12 to 8 PM. As a result of this enforcement effort seven individuals were arrested for theft.
MPD is seeing an increase in confrontations between loss prevention employees and suspects. The suspects have often times armed themselves with weapons such as pepper spray, knives and firearms in the event they are confronted by loss prevention. This problem has resulted in loss prevention not confronting suspects due to fear of being injured.
Because of this, retailers are partnering with local law enforcement for focused operations to proactively reduce theft in stores. By dedicating resources to these areas, law enforcement can apprehend suspects and dismantle organized retail theft rings. Due to the high interest from retailers, more operations are being planned.
If your business is interested in partnering with MPD, please contact Lt. Don Lane at 541-774-2292.

Shady Cove Homicide Victim Identified and Cause of Death Determined

Next of kin has been notified. The victim in the June 1st homicide in rural Shady Cove is Lowell Driver III, 64, of Trail, Ore. Our condolences go out to his friends and family.
A Jackson County Grand Jury returned an indictment today on charges of second-degree murder for the suspect, Travis Driver, who is the son of the victim.
An Oregon State Police forensic pathologist conducted an autopsy on Tuesday revealing the cause of death as blunt force trauma. There is no further information available for release at this time.
ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE:   Sheriff Deputies Arrest Suspect in Rural Shady Cove Homicide 

SHADY COVE, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies responded to a potential homicide call today, June 1st at 11:03 a.m. in rural Shady Cove. ECSO Dispatch received the 911 call for a possible homicide with an armed suspect on scene at a property in the 23000 block of Highway 62 north of Shady Cove. JCSO Deputies arrived with the SWAT Bearcat to locate the armed suspect.

ECSO Dispatch received another 911 call for the potential suspect at the Trail market in Trail, Ore. JCSO deputies responded to the market and took the suspect into custody without incident. The victim’s name will be released pending next-of-kin notification.

JCSO Medical Examiners arrived to the scene of the crime to begin the death investigation. Cause of death is pending the autopsy by an Oregon State Police forensic pathologist. Detectives from JCSO and Central Point Police Department responded to the scene to assume the homicide investigation.

The suspect, Travis Clayton Driver, 34, of Shady Cove, is in custody charged with second-degree murder. He is lodged in the Jackson County Jail.

This case is open and ongoing with detectives continuing their investigation. Jackson County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case. There is no further information available for release at this time.

Asante Names New CEO of Rogue Regional Medical Center and Ashland Community Hospital

Brandon Mencini was named CEO of Rogue Regional Medical Center and Ashland Community Hospital.

Mr. Mencini brings more than two decades of healthcare executive leadership experience to the role, according to a June 5th health system news release.

Rogue Regional Medical Center and Ashland Community Hospital are part of Medford-based Asante.

This all comes during Asante’s Drug Diversion scandal as top Asante leaderships were either fired or stepped down.

Three Jackson County Creeks Exceed Bacteria Levels

Three creeks in Jackson County have exceeded the state standards for bacteria levels when it comes to recreational contact.

According to the Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG), Natural Resources Department, the routine monthly water quality testing indicates sections of Bear Creek, Griffin Creek, and Jackson Creek have elevated levels of bacteria.

Possible causes of the increased bacteria include pet, livestock or wild animal waste, leaking septic systems, illegal dumping from RVs or  portable toilets as well as “any other activity that results in the discharge of fecal matter into creeks or through storm drains.”

Specifically sections of Bear Creek between South Valley View Road in Ashland to Fern Valley Road in Phoenix have been impacted. Additionally Griffin Creek at Beall Lane in Central Point and Jackson Creek between West Ross Lane in Jacksonville to Dean Creek Road in Ashland have higher levels.

MORE INFO: RVCOG Natural Resources Department website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crater Lake National Park is seeking public input on a draft accessibility self-evaluation and transition plan. Public comment on the plan is being sought through June 14

The National Park Service (NPS) is dedicated to serving all visitors to help them find meaning in the resources of the national park system and its stories. Recently, park staff embarked on a process to ensure that key park experiences are available to all visitors, regardless of race, nationality, socioeconomic status, or ability. Park staff conducted a self-evaluation of the accessibility of park facilities, services, activities, and programs. Based on these findings, staff then drafted a transition plan that identifies opportunities and critical steps for improving accessibility parkwide.

This draft accessibility self-evaluation and transition plan resulted from the work of an interdisciplinary team of NPS staff, including planning, design, and construction professionals; and interpretive, resource, visitor safety, maintenance, and accessibility specialists. The draft plan identifies key visitor experiences at the park and existing barriers to accessing these experiences for people with disabilities.

The plan provides recommendations for removing barriers at priority park areas, including specific actions, example site plans, and anticipated time frames for implementation. It also addresses park policies, practices, communication, and training needs.

The goals of the plan are as follows:

1) Document existing park barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities.
2) Provide an effective approach for upgrading facilities, services, and programs.
3) Instill a culture around creating universal access.

All recommended actions will be subject to funding, consultation with other agencies, consultation with Tribes, and compliance with federal laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. Moving forward, the National Park Service will use this plan as a guide to obtain funding and plan and implement projects that will improve accessibility throughout the park.

Your input on the draft plan will help us as we work to ensure that Crater Lake National Park is more accessible to all visitors. To review the draft plan and send online comments, click on “Document List” or “Open for Comment” on the left side of the web page. The plan will be open for comment for 37 days, from May 8, 2024, to June 14, 2024. —- https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=123216

 

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:

  • 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.

 

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

 

Rodeo Bull Hops Fence at Sisters Rodeo Injuring People Before Being Captured

A rodeo in Sisters Oregon descended into chaos Saturday after a bull escaped the arena and ran loose through the event grounds, leaving three people — including a sheriff’s deputy — injured, officials said. Two people were transported to the hospital due to injuries, according to first responders.

The incident occurred around 10 p.m. PT on Saturday, during the final section of the bull-riding event at Sisters Rodeo. The bull, which was competing at the event, hopped the arena fence and ran out through the grounds and back to the livestock holding pens, according to a statement from Sisters Rodeo.

Video from the incident shared on social media showed the bull striking a rodeo attendee and lifting them off the ground twice.

No details were available on the attendee’s current condition. “Rodeo livestock professionals quickly responded to safely contain the bull,” event organizers said in the statement, adding, “It was secured next to the livestock holding pens by our rodeo pickup men and immediately placed into a pen.”

Lt. Jayson Janes, with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s office, told ABC News that the sheriff’s deputy suffered a minor injury while running after the bull after it escaped. It was unclear how the third individual was injured in the melee.

The Rodeo Sports Medicine Team, Sisters-Camp Sherman RFPD, Cloverdale RFPD, rodeo staff and local law enforcement responded immediately with first aid and care, according to event organizers. Sisters Rodeo continued with scheduled events on Sunday as planned.

A southern Oregon lawmaker’s comments on a podcast suggesting non-Christians aren’t qualified to hold elected office didn’t violate legislative rules around a safe and respectful workplace, a House panel determined Monday. 

The House Committee on Conduct voted 3-1 that Rep. E. Werner Reschke, R-Malin, didn’t violate House rules when he told a conservative Christian podcast host that people want Christians, not atheists, Muslims or “materialists,” in government. Rep. Jason Kropf, D-Bend, joined Republican Reps. Kevin Mannix of Salem and Ed Diehl of Stayton in voting to clear Reschke, while Rep. Thuy Tran, D-Portland, voted against.

Reschke did not respond Monday to a request for comment.

The investigation into Reschke stemmed from comments he made on a conservative Christian talk show in January that were reported by OPB. During a conversation with former Arkansas lawmaker Jason Rapert, Reschke said he was inspired to run for office because of men including George Washington, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

“You look at men and the struggles that they faced and the faith that they had, and those are the type of people that you want in government making tough decisions during tough times,” he said. “You don’t want a materialist, you don’t want an atheist, you don’t want a Muslim, you don’t want, you want somebody who understands what truth is and understands the nature of man, the nature of government and the nature of God.”

Democratic leaders condemned his comments and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments that newly appointed state Rep. Dwayne Yunker, R-Grants Pass, had expressed on his campaign website. On the final day of the legislative session, members of civil rights groups and state Rep. Tom Andersen, D-Salem, gathered outside the Capitol to protest Reschke’s and Yunker’s comments.

“Rep. Reschke’s comment was offensive, and it will impact my working environment and it will affect my interactions with him.” – Rep. Thuy Tran, D-Portland

Meanwhile, an attorney with Jackson Lewis, a Portland law firm, was quietly investigating whether Reschke’s comments violated legislative rules meant to ensure the Capitol is a safe and respectful workplace. Two people who attorney Sarah Ryan described as mandatory reporters said they had been approached by others with concerns about Reschke’s comments, including that at least one person who didn’t want to be identified felt that Reschke’s comments adversely impacted their work at the Capitol.

Legislative rules require state representatives, senators and nonpartisan supervisors to report any behavior that could violate the Capitol’s workplace policies. Legislative Equity Officer Bor Yang hired Ryan to investigate the reports, as well as a separate complaint about a July 2022 invitation from Reschke to a prayer vigil that was interpreted as threatening to LGBTQ+ individuals. Ryan quickly dismissed that complaint, saying there was no indication it affected anyone at the Capitol.

She spoke to a dozen people about his comments about Muslims and atheists and found that two were concerned about how Reschke’s comments would affect their work at the Capitol. One was troubled by years-old tweets Reschke had made about Muslims, and another individual feared that Reschke viewed them as lesser.

“Most of the people that I interviewed were at least initially offended by the comments that were made by Representative Reschke,” Ryan said. “Some had one-on-one conversations with the representative and were satisfied with his explanation, but there were only two people who indicated that the comments had an impact on their work at the Capitol.”

Tran, who is Buddhist, said she absolutely sees an effect from Reschke’s words.

“Rep. Reschke’s comment was offensive, and it will impact my working environment and it will affect my interactions with him,” she said.

‘Lessons for all of us’ — Kropf said the comments were clearly disrespectful to Muslims and atheists, but that the Legislature’s workplace harassment rules aren’t clear on what conduct outside of the Capitol should or shouldn’t be allowed. He personally believed Reschke’s comments, made as a state representative on a podcast, were related to his work in the Legislature, but he said he understood how Mannix and Diehl could reach a different conclusion.

“​​I hope that he has been – I think he has been – reflective and appreciative of the impact those words have had and the work that he has to do to continue to restore trust,” Kropf said. “There’s lessons for all of us to learn in this. To me, what this reinforces is that we can be guided by our faith, we can be guided by our beliefs, but we can also be respectful of the faith and the beliefs of others and how that they guide them in our governance for our state.”

Mannix echoed that he believed Reschke has reflected on the comments, and that he hopes Yang will consider those comments as she prepares training for legislators to follow. Reschke did not address the committee and did not respond to a call or emailed questions about the decision or any reflection.

Diehl said he was concerned that legislative workplace rules could become so broad that they stifle lawmakers’ abilities to express themselves and discuss legislation.

“We’re looking at something that wasn’t even said in the building,” he said. “It was said completely outside the building. It wasn’t even directed at any particular individual, and we’re here having a discussion on it.” (SOURCE)

Rare Hoodwinker Sunfish Washed Ashore on Gearhart Beach Just North of Seaside

A remarkable discovery has captivated beachgoers and marine enthusiasts alike as a 7.3-foot hoodwinker sunfish, rarely seen in these waters, washed ashore on Gearhart Beach, according to the Seaside Aquarium. This unusual sighting of the Mola tecta, known as the hoodwinker sunfish, has sparked curiosity and excitement.

photos by Seaside Aquarium
May be an image of 1 person, elephant seal and grey whale

Initially mistaken for its more common relative, the ocean sunfish (Mola mola), this specimen caught the attention of researchers, including Mariann Nyegaard from New Zealand. Nyegaard, who identified and described the hoodwinker sunfish in 2017, confirmed through genetic sampling that this was indeed the elusive species.

The Seaside Aquarium has been actively involved, assisting with measurements, photographs, and collecting tissue samples for further study. Researchers are particularly intrigued by the size of this specimen, potentially the largest ever documented.

The presence of the hoodwinker sunfish in the Pacific Northwest challenges previous assumptions that it was confined to the southern hemisphere, the Aquarium stated. Recent sightings along the West Coast, including California and Alaska, suggest a broader range than previously known.

Officials are urging people to avoid a stretch of the north Oregon coast after a dead humpback whale washed ashore over Memorial Day weekend and Quelling Rumors

The whale came ashore on the sands of Nehalem Bay State Park, just south of Manzanita, prompting warnings from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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All three agencies issued warnings Monday on posts to social media as well as signs on the beach. The area where the whale washed ashore is also a protected area for endangered snowy plovers, making it especially vulnerable to intrusions.

A beached whale is not necessarily unusual for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, but the agency has had its hands full since a 34-foot juvenile humpback whale washed ashore at Nehalem Bay State Park on Memorial Day.

While the whale, which was likely killed by a boat strike, continues to rot on the north coast beach, park officials have been busy shooting down Facebook rumors and fending off visitors who have been straying into restricted areas.

On Wednesday, the parks department posted to Facebook clarifying that it has no plans to blow up the whale carcass, citing a post making the rounds that claimed otherwise. Detonation comes up practically every time there’s a beached cetacean in Oregon, as people relive the infamous exploding whale incident of 1970.

These days, officials typically leave whale carcasses to rot naturally on the beach, allowing the bodies to be utilized by the other creatures of the local ecosystem. Park officials on Wednesday said that after more than a week, natural decomposition has “left nothing but an unrecognizable blob and a horrible stench.” https://www.facebook.com/OregonStateParks

One week after sharing additional details about its planned merger with Legacy Health, Oregon Health & Science University told staff it’s planning to lay off more than 500 workers.

The news is drawing criticism from unions representing workers at the health care giant.

In an internal email obtained by OPB, OHSU president Dr. Danny Jacobs and senior leadership attributed the cuts to expenses outpacing costs, as Willamette Week first reported.

“Despite our efforts to increase our revenue, our financial position requires difficult choices about internal structures, workforce and programs to ensure that we achieve our state-mandated missions and thrive over the long-term,” Jacobs said in the Thursday email.

An OHSU spokesperson told OPB that the precise number of layoffs will be announced in the coming weeks. On May 30, the health care giant announced that it’s moving forward with its planned merger with Legacy Health.

In Thursday’s email, Jacobs said that, while this news likely raises questions about OHSU’s financial situation, the investment in Legacy is funded by borrowing with 30-year bonds that “cannot be used to close gaps in our fiscal year 2025 OHSU budget or to pay our members.”

OHSU plans to hold a town hall next week to answer staff questions. In the email, leaders said they’ll provide significant updates as soon as possible as part of their “commitment to transparency.”

They said discussions about workforce reductions will start “following the annual review and contract renewal process, with additional reductions happening over the next few months.”

“It’s outrageous and immoral that OHSU is on one hand planning to lay off 500 hard-working people and reduce patient care, while writing checks for million dollar bonuses to their top executives and adding $350,000 to CEO Dr. Danny Jacobs’ retirement account,” said Jennie Olson, president of AFSCME Local 328, in a statement. “OHSU needs to prioritize patients and people instead of lining the pockets of people in ivory towers.” (SOURCE)

Oregon launching Summer EBT food benefits program for school-aged children

Summer EBT Logo

Need to know: 

  • Summer EBT is a new federal food benefits program to help families buy food for their school-aged children during the summer.
  • Oregon will provide more than $35 million in Summer EBT food benefits to around 294,000 school-aged children beginning in late June 2024.
  • Families with eligible children will receive a one-time payment of $120 in food benefits.

 

Oregon Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (Summer EBT) is a new food benefits program to help shrink the hunger gap when children are on summer break and don’t have easy access to healthy meals at school. Summer EBT starts in late June and will provide $120 per eligible child to buy food.

“Summer break is days away for families with school-age children. During the summer, many families must provide another 10 meals per child, per week. The strain that puts on a family’s grocery budget can amplify child hunger. Summer EBT is on its way to help,” said Dr. Charlene Williams, Director of the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) which is partnering with the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) to provide the new program.

“Summer EBT is an evidence-based program proven to reduce child hunger and support healthier diets. We want to raise awareness about this new program and make sure families know what to expect and do when the program begins,” said Fariborz Pakseresht, ODHS Director. “Child hunger can have lasting impacts on health and academic achievement. Getting every eligible child connected to Summer EBT will help Oregon’s children thrive year-round and as they grow up.”

Who is eligible for Summer EBT food benefits? — Families can find details about Summer EBT at sebt.oregon.gov.

School-aged children are typically eligible for Summer EBT if:

  • Their household already participates in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Oregon Health Plan (OHP, also known as Medicaid), or
  • They are in foster care, or

They attend a school that offers the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, and their household’s income meets the requirements for free or reduced-price school meals, or

  • They attend a school that offers the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program and are:
    • Enrolled in migrant programs
    • Experiencing houselessness
    • Participating in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
    • Attending Head Start

Families receiving Summer EBT can continue participating in other meal programs in their schools and communities.

Summer EBT benefits are not considered in a public charge test and are available to children regardless of immigration status.

How will families receive Summer EBT food benefits?  — There are two ways families can access Summer EBT benefits. About 70 percent of eligible children will be automatically enrolled in Summer EBT. Families of the remaining 30 percent of eligible children will need to fill out a simple application.

  • Automatic enrollment: Families that participate in SNAP, TANF or OHP will be automatically enrolled and don’t need to apply. Children in foster care also will be automatically enrolled. For families receiving SNAP or TANF benefits, Summer EBT will be added to the household’s Oregon EBT card. For families receiving OHP, a new EBT card will be mailed to the address on file. Families will get a letter for each eligible child by mail or email when their benefits have been sent. They will receive the benefits in one payment.
  • Application: Families with children who are not automatically eligible can apply for Summer EBT. To be eligible, children must be enrolled in a school with free or reduced-price meals and live in a household that meets the income requirements for free or reduced-price meals. At sebt.oregon.gov, families can sign-up to get a notification by text or email when it’s time to complete the application. As part of this application, families must provide the child’s name, school, date of birth, address and household income. Qualifying families will be mailed an Oregon EBT card. They will receive the benefits in one payment.

Families can use their Summer EBT benefits at stores and farmer’s markets that accept EBT.

More about Summer EBT –

Summer EBT became a new, permanent program for states and certain Indian Tribal Organizations through the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. Most states will start providing Summer EBT in June 2024. Oregon’s participation was made possible through an investment from the Oregon State Legislature of $12 million. That investment will draw $83 million in federal funding to Oregon, mostly in the form of grocery benefits families will spend in their communities.

Additional resources to help meet basic needs:

  • Families can get more support from other summer meal programs as well as through these food resources: Find food resources in your community: needfood.oregon.gov
  • Find a food pantry: foodfinder.oregonfoodbank.org
  • Text the word “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 304-304
  • Learn about government programs and community resources for older adults and people with disabilities: Aging and Disability Resource Connection of Oregon at 1-855-673-2372 or https://www.adrcoforegon.org.
  • Dial 2-1-1 or text your zip code to 898-211, www.211info.org
  • Find local resources and support by contacting your local Community Action Agency: www.caporegon.org/find-services/

BottleDrop announced that it has donated a total of $12,000 through its Containers for Change program to help provide food assistance to those in need across the state.

 

Twelve food banks and pantries throughout Oregon received a donation of $1,000 each.

“As the school year comes to a close, we recognize that many students rely on meals
provided at school and food assistance programs may see an increase in demand over
the next few months,” said Devon Morales, vice president of external affairs for OBRC.
“We are excited to do our part in supporting families who may need extra assistance
during the summer break.”

BottleDrop’s Containers for Change program provides Oregonians with an easy way to donate their OR 10-cent container refunds to nonprofits operating in communities around the state. BottleDrop customers can participate by simply leaving their bag tag stickers off their Green Bags and dropping them off at any BottleDrop facility. OBRC uses 100% of the funds from containers in those bags to support nonprofits, advocacy organizations and foundations.

Each of the nonprofits also participates in the BottleDrop Give program, which supports fundraising efforts year-round. Supporters can either connect with the nonprofit directly to get Blue Bags to fill with their bottles and cans, or Green Bag customers can donate online directly to the nonprofit’s account. Customers can search for participating nonprofits on BottleDrop’s website.

About OBRC — The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative is the industry steward of Oregon’s nationally recognized beverage container redemption system and the operator of the BottleDrop network. On behalf of the beverage industry, OBRC helps Oregonians conveniently recycle over 2 billion containers every year, dramatically reducing litter in Oregon’s special places and boosting recycling outcomes. To learn more, visit BottleDrop.com or OBRC.com.

State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council Will Meet on June 11

Salem, Ore. – The State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council will meet at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11, 2024. The meeting will take place remotely via the internet on Microsoft Teams and is open to the public. The agenda and handouts will be posted on the council’s website.

  • What: Meeting of the State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council
  • When: Tuesday, June 11, 2024, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Where: Microsoft Teams | Join Meeting
  • Meeting ID: 216 565 392 995 Passcode: ekgWVp
  • Phone: +1 503-446-4951 Phone conference ID: 944 308 59#
  • Who: State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council

The State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council was established by Governor Kotek’s Executive Order 23-26, Establishing a State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council.

The purpose of the Council is to recommend an action plan to guide awareness education, and usage of artificial intelligence in state government that aligns with the State’s policies, goals, and values and supports public servants to deliver customer service more efficiently and effectively. The recommended action plan shall include concrete executive actions, policies, and investments needed to leverage artificial intelligence while honoring transparency, privacy, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Meetings of the State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council are open to the public.

Public comment may be made during the meeting. Sign-up for public comment is required as spots are limited. Sign-up closes Monday, June 9 at noon. Written comment will also be accepted. Written comment can be submitted by mail to the Council Support Office, 550 Airport Rd SE Suite C, Salem, OR 97301 or online via the office form.

Accommodations can be arranged for persons with disabilities, and alternate formats of printed material are available upon request. Please contact Enterprise Information Services at 503-378-3175 at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting to request accommodations. Closed captioning is included on the Microsoft Teams meeting.

Links:

The Oregon Health Athority is rasising awareness for one of the most common forms of financial fraud: Medicare fraud. 

OHA says Medicare loses $60 billion a year to fraud, errors and abuse.

Raising awareness on 6/5 and the week after signifies the 65-yr-old and older population since most people become eligable for Medicare at 65-yrs-old.  To learn more, read the OHA blog here: https://ow.ly/VIRu50Sc7pS

Oregonians Targeted By Text Tolling Scam

A new nationwide texting scam is targeting Oregon drivers now. Ellen Klem, with the Oregon Attorney General’s Office says the phishing scheme started in the midwest earlier in the spring. “I’m honestly not surprised it’s happening now, because now is the time where everyone is gearing up to drive.”

The text claims to be from “Oregon Toll Service” and says the recipient owes an $11.69 outstanding balance; they face a $50 late fee if they don’t click on a link and pay up. Klem says some people may identify the fraud right away, because Oregon doesn’t have tolling, “But, we live next to all these other states that have tolls.” And she worries some will fall for it.

“They are not interested in the $11,” says Klem, “They are interested in much, much more.” She believes the scammers want your personal information, and clicking on the link could allow them to access other data on your phone.

The text has all the markers of a scam, like contact out of the blue from an unknown agency. “There’s a lot of really cheap or free technology out there that allows the scammers to pretend to be somebody they’re not. So, in this case, they’re pretending to be associated with an agency that administers tolls in the state of Oregon. But that doesn’t exist,” says Klem, “Second sign: There’s some sort of emergency. In this case, you have an unpaid bill; that’s frightening to a lot of people.”

She suggests not being in such a rush to respond to every text or email, “These phones, they’re everywhere and we have this sort of automatic response to click on a link or to pick up every phone call. And, I want to remind people just to slow down and think before you click on anything.” Klem adds, “Really, at the end of the day, this is a text message that you can and you should ignore.”

If you get a text, email or phone call you’re not sure is legit, call the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer hotline at 877-877-9392. Volunteer experts are available weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

West Coast’s ShakeAlert System gets Major Upgrade

The ShakeAlert System is available to cell phone users in California, Oregon and Washington.

The U.S. Geological Survey and its partners are announcing a new capability to characterize large earthquakes quickly, helping inform the public about potentially damaging shaking headed their way. In addition to over 1500 seismic sensors that detect ground shaking, the ShakeAlert System now makes use of sensors that detect earth-surface movement via satellite.

“While rare, earthquakes greater than magnitude 7 can have the greatest impact on human lives and infrastructure,” said Robert de Groot, with the USGS ShakeAlert Operations Team. “Future major offshore earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, which could be similar to the 2011 M 9.1 earthquake in Japan, underscore the importance of incorporating satellite data stream into the ShakeAlert System.”

The newly added ShakeAlert capability that uses data from real-time Global Navigation Satellite System sensors may more quickly and accurately determine the magnitude and the area of shaking from very large earthquakes, resulting in faster notifications for people to take a protective action, such as Drop, Cover, and Hold On. GNSS data, which includes the well-known US-based Global Positioning System, are now used in addition to seismic data to detect earthquakes. While seismic sensors measure how quickly the ground is shaking, GNSS sensors measure how far the ground moves up, down, or sideways during an earthquake.

The ShakeAlert System, currently available in California, Oregon, and Washington, can protect people and infrastructure by delivering alerts to cell phones and triggering automatic actions like slowing down trains to prevent derailments, opening firehouse doors so they don’t jam shut, and closing valves to protect water systems.

The ShakeAlert GNSS integration and ongoing operations is a partnership of the USGS, the National Science Foundation funded EarthScope Consortium, university partners with significant contributions from the University of Washington, Central Washington University, UC Berkeley, and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

The ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System is managed by the U.S. Geological Survey in partnership with state agencies and universities and it is a public safety tool for over 50 million residents and visitors in California, Oregon, Washington. When the ShakeAlert seismic sensor buildout is completed at the end of 2025 there will be a network of over 2000 ShakeAlert stations poised to protect residents and visitors in California, Oregon, and Washington.

For more information on how this new capability works, watch this video.   (SOURCE)

Come to the World Beat Festival to Experience Global Cultures: Ukraine is the 2024 Featured Country

Salem Multicultural Institute is excited to celebrate Ukraine as the 27th annual World Beat Festival’s featured country. World Beat is one of Salem’s premier community traditions, offering a vibrant two-day program of international music, dance, song, theater, food, crafts, customs, rituals, and folklore. This year’s festival will begin Friday evening, June 28, and run through Sunday, June 30, at Salem’s Riverfront Park.

Kathleen Fish, Executive Director, emphasizes that this is the only festival of its kind honoring the Salem/Keizer community’s rich tapestry of cultures. “There are 107 languages spoken in our school district. The festival recognizes and explores the cultures of many of these families.”

The festivities kick off Friday, June 28, from 5 to 10 p.m. with “Friday Night at the Beat,” featuring vocal performances and fire dancing on the Main Stage.

The festival opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 29, with the Children’s Parade. Kids who want to participate in the parade will assemble at the Pavilion at the North End of the park.

Each child who attends will receive a passport at the entrance gate to collect stamps from each World Village. Village tents will feature kid-friendly cultural games and activities. This year’s activities include making cherry blossoms in the Asian Pacific Village, Pysanky (traditional egg decorating) in the European Village, Arpilleras (traditional Chilean textile art) in the Americas Village, and crafting Nguni Shields in the Africa & Middle East Village.

Adults can enjoy beverages in the beer garden while listening to live music. Boating enthusiasts can cheer on their favorite teams during the World Beat Dragon Boat Races.

“We had over 25,000 guests attend last year, enjoying performances on seven stages representing more than 50 different countries and cultures. Our visitors come from all over the Northwest and even Canada,” added Fish.

Organized by the volunteer-driven Salem Multicultural Institute, the festival requires 400 volunteers annually to manage setup, stage operations, and cleanup. Volunteers contributing at least four hours receive an event T-shirt and free entry to the festival.

Admission to the festival is $10/1-day pass/adult or $15 for the weekend. Children 0-14, SNAP card holders, and Veterans are free.

You can view a complete schedule and vendor list or sign up to volunteer atwww.worldbeatfestival.org or call (503) 581-2004.

About the World Beat Festival: The World Beat Festival originated in the late 1990s and was conceived by two young mothers, Mona Hayes and Kathleen Fish, who wanted a space to celebrate cultural heritage. Starting with a small gathering in 1998, the festival has grown into Oregon’s largest multicultural event of its kind. www.WorldBeatFestival.org, 503-581-2004.

About the Salem Multicultural Institute (SMI): The vision of the Salem Multicultural Institute and the purpose of the World Beat Festival and World Beat Gallery are to create an environment of openness for all people. In all our activities, SMI aims to be family-friendly, economically inclusive, and culturally authentic. Visit the gallery located at 390 Liberty ST SE, Salem. www.salemmulticultural.org.

 

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Call us at 541-690-8806.  Or email us at Info@RogueValleyMagazine.com

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