Rogue Valley News, Friday 6/28 – Upper Applegate Fire Update, Thieves Steal Fire Fighting Equipment from US Forestry Service Fighting the Upper Applegate Fire & Other Local and Statewide News…

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

Friday,  June 28, 2024

Rogue Valley Weather

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Upper Applegate Fire Update

Upper Applegate Fire -ODF Morning Update

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Weather conditions allowed firefighters to resume firing operations to bring the fire closer to the indirect fire lines. The direct line is now 70%. This work has helped to strengthen the lines between the fire and homes in the north end of the fire. Additionally, IR mapping completed during the night has helped to identify hot spots that aren’t easily detected otherwise. Images will be used today to focus mop up operations.

Evacuation levels remain the same, with Zone JAC-436 at Level 2 and JAC-434 at Level 1.
Use the link to view the complete ODF Morning Update: https://tinyurl.com/SWOinfo

https://app.watchduty.org/#/i/22540

 

Grants Pass Thieves Hit All-Time Low and Steal Fire Fighting Equipment from US Forestry Service Fighting the Upper Applegate Fire 

2024-06/6530/173359/Press_Release_2.png

– Grants Pass Police officers were dispatched to the Holiday Inn on NE Agness Avenue this morning for a reported theft. It appears that thieves in the area have hit an all-time low by stealing firefighting equipment from US Forestry trucks parked overnight while firefighters finally got rest after fighting the Upper Applegate Fire. The thieves took thousands of dollars of Hotshot backpacks, emergency fire shelters, headlamps, compasses, firing sticks, signal mirrors, first aid kits, water bottles, and two Stihl chainsaws. This equipment was used to protect the lives of firefighters and residents of our community.

Anyone having information regarding the whereabouts of this stolen equipment or the identity of the thieves is asked to call the Grants Pass Police Department at 541-450-6260 and reference case #24-23189.

 

Ashland Police Dept. and Senior Services Hosting Senior Cookout

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Senior Services Division, along with the Ashland Police Department and the Village at Valley View will be hosting a community engagement cookout for the senior community on Saturday June 29th from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Food at the event is provided by the Village at Valley View and served by members of the Ashland Police Department and the APRC Senior Services Division. Members of the press are invited to cover the event. The cookout will be held at the Ashland Senior Center, located at 1699 Homes Ave.

 

Eagle Point Police deploy new vehicles and new design 

There will be a new design of police cars in Eagle Point starting this week.  Over the last 10 months, the department has purchased and equipped three new Chevrolet Silverado Police Package vehicles, in addition to updating the vehicle graphics design on the current fleet.  Within the next few weeks, two Chevrolet Tahoe Police Package vehicles will also be placed in service for patrol use.

The change comes after assessing the status of the current patrol fleet and determining several vehicles were well past their safe service life. Thanks to the City Councils approval, the department ordered four vehicles last year with the use of ARPA funds to prevent an impact on the operating budget. Due to shortages in available police package SUV’s, the department ordered the new Silverado Police Package vehicles to ensure replacements were available in our time of need.

Once the new vehicles were ordered, we reached out to a local vehicle designer for assistance with a new look for the patrol vehicles.  Jason Hulst and the Team of “ERA3” agreed to provide a few ideas on how to upgrade the vehicles and create a more professional image.  There was a desire to look at a more traditional “black and white” patrol vehicle. The concept was to create a design with a “modern twist” on the patrol vehicles of old. Jason and the “ERA3” crew also incorporated their patented pattern called “DSRPT Camo” into the vehicle graphics.  The design is subtle from a distance but shows up as you get closer.

In addition to the new graphic design, reflective identification was also incorporated into the overall look.  “POLICE” is clearly identifiable, as is the “Call 911”.  At night, the font for both is reflective and will provide a clearer identification of the emergency vehicles.

Thanks to the Eagle Point City Council, Jason Hulst and the Team at ERA3 for their work and to Wrap It Up Graphics for working with the department to make this design a reality and provide our officers with safe vehicles to operate.  Look for these new vehicles to be patrolling the streets of Eagle Point and our surrounding areas in the next week!

 

MAGA Tilt in Southern Oregon May Not Be Tightly Locked Down

Southern Oregon has long been Republican but shifts are taking place. Conservative southern Oregon, often an afterthought for many other Oregonians, may be the most politically dynamic large area in Oregon.

Few other areas show as much potential for political change. Consider a couple of large Medford-area events just a few miles apart and on the same day, June 22.

The Jackson County Fairgrounds was dominated by the Republican political rally called MOGA 2024 , the acronym standing for “Make Oregon Great Again.” Its headliners included national figures, including Mike Lindell , the MyPillow founder and advocate for Donald Trump. This may be the only really large-scale Oregon event on this year’s Republican calendar , presented as “Come help us take back southern Oregon.” It was heavily promoted by the local Republican organization, by other groups around the region, and around the dial on area radio stations.

From a pro-Trump perspective, you might wonder if there’s much to take back in the southern Oregon area. Most of this large sector of the state already votes Republican.

But it may not be as locked-down some may think. The Jackson-Josephine counties seem to be on the cusp of something subtle that events like MOGA could be critical in influencing: Deciding if the area becomes MAGA-dominated enough that other points of view are swamped, which hasn’t happened yet.

One piece of evidence in that argument is the second event held only a few miles from the MOGA event, over in Pear Blossom Park in Medford, where organizers were holding the well-attended 3rd annual Medford Pride event. One participant said, “It gives a space for young people to be free to express themselves however they want. And an opportunity in an area that’s not always the most accepting to really give an opportunity for our community to be queer.”

These two events may fit into the larger picture of conservative southern Oregon as pieces of a puzzle shifting and developing.

The two big counties in the area are Jackson (where Medford is the county seat) and Josephine (Grants Pass).

Jackson leans Republican, but not by a great deal. In the last two decades, it has voted Democratic for president just once, in 2008, but no one has won its presidential vote by as much as 51% since 2004. Its legislative delegation has included mostly Republicans, and Republicans hold county government, but Democrats as well, including state Sen.Jeff Golden and state Rep. Pam Marsh, who represent a large share of the county’s voters. There are some indicators it has been moving gently away from hard right positions. It is one of 11 counties in Oregon to legalize therapeutic psilocybin. Hard-line positions on property taxes seem to have eased a little in recent years. Jackson shows no signs of becoming a blue county, but its tint seems to be shading gradually purple.

Josephine County is more solidly Republican. No Democrat has won its vote for the presidency since 1936, the longest such run of any Oregon county, and Trump just cleared 60% in both of his runs. Its state and local officials are Republicans, and there are no indications that will change in the near future.

Still, there are indicators of attitude shifts. Josephine has been one of the most rigorous anti-tax counties in Oregon, along with neighbors such as Curry and Douglas. Having experienced some deep austerity in local services, however, voters seem to have recentered on the subject. READ MORE: https://oregoncapitalchronicle.com/2024/06/28/maga-tilt-in-southern-oregon-may-not-be-tightly-locked-down/

 

JMET Search Warrant: Sunny Glen Way, Wolf Creek 
Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office 


DETAILS: On June 25, 2024, the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) with the assistance of Josephine County Public Health & Building Safety, executed a search warrant in the 300 Block of Sunny Glen Way, Wolf Creek, regarding an illegal marijuana grow site.During the execution of the warrant, more than 2,600 marijuana plants were seized and destroyed.The property also had multiple electrical, water, and solid waste code violations. These violations could result in the criminal forfeiture of the property.

The primary suspect was not at the location during the search. They will be charged with Unlawful Manufacturing of Marijuana, Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, and Unlawful Appropriation of Water if located.

At the time of this press release the investigation is ongoing and no further details are being released.

 

City of Grants Pass, Local Government —   Odorous tap water update.

Geosmin has been confirmed. The lab results received Monday afternoon showed up to 60 parts per trillion in the distribution system and over 70 parts per trillion in the raw water. Geosmin is detectable by us (humans) in concentrations as low as 4-5 parts per trillion. We will be taking additional samples this week to determine if the bloom has subsided. Once the Geosmin levels have been reduced, we will deep cycle the reservoirs and perform selective flushing to improve water quality faster than if we wait for the geosmin to naturally dissipate in the distribution system.

In case you missed it, here is our post from this past Friday regarding the possible odor people were sensing in their tap water…You may have noticed some unpleasant odors in your tap water recently, and we want to assure you the water is safe to drink. We’ve run tests and ruled out harmful toxins related to Algae and cyanobacteria. The water may not smell as fresh as usual, but it is safe to drink.

We are working to mitigate the issue and suspect it may be Geosmin or Methyl-Isoborneol (MIB), compounds naturally occurring in rivers and lakes, such as the Rogue, where we source our drinking water. We’re awaiting test results that would confirm Geosmin or MIB.The odors should pass in a few days. In the meantime, activated carbon filters found in household water filtering pitchers would mitigate the odor.

If we want to learn more about MIB and geosmin, follow this link to an article from the EPA: https://hero.epa.gov/…/ref…/details/reference_id/1722619

 

Care Facility Employee Arrested in Grants Pass for Sexual Abuse of Elderly Patients

Grants Pass, Oregon – On June 16, 2024, the Grants Pass Police Department received a report of sex abuse involving a patient and employee at a local nursing home.

A subsequent investigation by Grants Pass Police Major Crimes Unit detectives, conducted with the assistance of the nursing home management, determined the suspect to be Michael Anthony Lee, a 28-year-old male resident of Medford, Oregon. Lee is 6’0” tall and weighs approximately 220 pounds, with red hair and green eyes. Detectives determined that Lee had worked as a care home Certified Nursing Assistant in Grants Pass and Medford over the past three years. Lee allegedly targeted both female and male elderly victims for sexual assault, and it is anticipated additional victims have not yet been identified.

On June 20, 2024, Grants Pass Police detectives arrested Michael Lee at his recent place of employment in Grants Pass and lodged him at the Josephine County Jail for Sex Abuse in the 1st Degree (x2) and Attempted Sex Abuse in the 1st Degree (x2).

The Grants Pass Police Department is requesting assistance in identifying additional victims. Anyone with information on the criminal acts or identity of additional victims is asked to call the Grants Pass Police Department at 541-450-6260 and reference case #24-22321.  The Grants Pass Police Department is committed to investigating all reports of sexual abuse.

 

Community members are invited to enjoy Mount Ashland’s summer season

No photo description available.

According to the ski area, the restaurant and retail shop inside the lodge will be open every Friday through Sunday from now until Labor Day. Events including movie nights, tie-dye events, and a disc golf tournament will be offered throughout the summer. Mount Ashland is also kicking off a summer program for kids.

Opening this Friday!
Lodge summer hours:
Fridays | 11AM – 5PM
Saturdays – Sundays | 11AM – 7PM
Disc golf, hiking, events, the list goes on. There are tons of things to do at your local mountain playground this summer.☀️ Plus, it’s pretty much always 10-30 degrees cooler up here. 😉

To find out more, visit the Mount Ashland Summer webpage: https://www.mtashland.com/operating-schedule/

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

 

Fires All Around the State

Friday 6/2//24 9:22am
https://app.watchduty.org – screenshot 6/26/24 8:30am

Things change rapidly- Look at the difference in past two days.

Please Help Prevent Wildfires!

https://app.watchduty.org

OHA study confirms gap in behavioral health treatment beds across Oregon, details financial path to expanding capacity

SALEM, Ore.– Oregon needs up to 3,700 adult mental health and substance use treatment beds to close existing gaps and meet future service projections, according to a final Oregon Health Authority (OHA) study of the state’s behavioral health continuum of care.

The findings are part of an assessment that Governor Tina Kotek directed OHA to commission last year. The report was produced by Public Consulting Group (PCG), a public sector solutions implementation and operations improvement firm that has produced similar studies in Washington and other states.

The findings inform an ongoing funding and implementation effort that state leaders are committed to pursue, which could take several biennia to complete.

According to the final Behavioral Health Residential + Facility Study report, closing the gap could require investments of as much as $170 million per year over the next five years and the creation of approximately 650 new beds per year.

The final report includes a new five-year funding recommendation that recognizes the importance of:

  • Increasing the behavioral health workforce to support expanded capacity.
  • Improving access to mental health and substance use disorder support services to help individuals stay within their communities.
  • Expanding supportive and transitional housing opportunities.

State health officials will continue to work with Governor Kotek and the Legislature to apply the study’s findings and guide investments toward closing the gap in treatment services.

“We don’t get to choose between adding beds, and adding workforce. We must do both in order to make real change in our behavioral health system. It’s important to note that capacity in Oregon’s behavioral health system is dynamic, and the data in the report represent a point-in-time snapshot of one part of a broader continuum of care,” said OHA Behavioral Health Director Ebony Clarke.

“This report provides us with critical data to inform how we prioritize the creation of more treatment beds and it also underscores the broader understanding that we need to continue to invest in solutions that reduce the number of beds needed,” Clarke said. “We do this through investing in protective factors and earlier intervention – additional community-based programming, crisis and outpatient programs, in addition to other supportive services – to prevent people who are experiencing mental illness or substance use from progressing to a level of severity in their illnesses that would require treatment in a more acute setting.”

The final report follows the draft preliminary report released in February.

At the direction of OHA, the final report reflects updated data for the facilities within scope for this study. Although there is no perfect methodology for determining the appropriate number of high-acuity beds in a behavioral health system, PCG used state and national data sets, findings from peer-reviewed literature and surveys of treatment facilities to estimate mental health and SUD treatment bed capacity and needs within the continuum of care. PCG worked at the direction of OHA to include Oregon-specific data.

Even as the report was finalized, state officials were moving quickly to supplement capacity and have already identified several short-horizon “priority” projects, which are likely to bring community beds online within the next year or two and to address what are considered critical service gaps. OHA is working to publish a dashboard later this summer that will track and highlight progress toward new beds coming online.

Over the past four years, the Oregon Legislature has invested more than $1.5 billion to expand behavioral health treatment capacity, raise provider payment rates and stabilize the treatment workforce. Oregon’s current capacity shortfall would be even greater without these investments.

According to the report, recent legislative investments from HB 5202 (2022) and HB 5024 (2021) have supported the creation of 356 new licensed mental health residential beds (exclusive of adult foster homes), SUD residential, and withdrawal management beds, which are under construction and scheduled to open by the third quarter of 2025.

Unusual coin toss determines outcome of 7-7 tie in Oregon House primary

The winner, Democrat Doyle Canning, can’t accept the nomination because she lost her primary race

On Thursday morning, one Oregon primary election came down to an anticlimactic and ultimately meaningless coin flip.

Republicans didn’t field a candidate in the heavily Democratic 8th House District in Eugene, which meant whichever qualified candidate received the most write-in votes could claim the Republican nomination. Of the 103 names written in by Republicans, the two highest vote-getters were Democratic nominee Lisa Fragala and her Democratic opponent Doyle Canning.

Under state law, election officials needed to decide “by lot.” Past ties have been settled by rolling dice, but in this case election officials decided a coin toss was the fairest outcome.

Neither Canning nor Fragala drove from Eugene to watch the coin flip, so employees of the Secretary of State’s Office served as proxies. In a basement conference room, a small group of employees, government nerds and one reporter watched as Luke Belant, the state’s deputy elections director, pulled a quarter from his wallet.

After both proxies agreed that the coin – minted in 2013 to commemorate Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory at Lake Erie in the War of 1812 – was acceptable, Belant tossed it in the air. It landed tails up – a victory for Canning.

But that victory was to be short-lived: Because she lost the Democratic nomination, Canning is barred from accepting the nomination of any other party under the state’s sore loser law. Instead, Republican precinct committee persons – the elected local party officials who vote on party business, including nominating replacements for candidates or elected officials who don’t finish their terms – could choose a Republican nominee to appear on the general election ballot.

Canning, laughing when she heard the results from a Capital Chronicle reporter, said she was shocked but proud that the Secretary of State administered elections so consistently, fairly and transparently.

“Even though we’re talking about seven votes, it’s great that we can all be so confident that the laws and procedures are so dutifully followed,” she said.

She still has no idea who the seven Republicans who voted for her are, but she said the tie vote coin flip should be a lesson for political parties to compete in every district.

“The lesson here for any political party is to field a candidate,” Canning said. “I’m sure, had the Republicans fielded a candidate, they would have gotten more than seven votes.”

It’s rare, though not unheard of, for an election to end in a game of chance. It last happened in Oregon in 2016, when both Democratic candidate Janeen Sollman and Republican Dan Mason earned 41 votes from members of the Independent Party of Oregon.

In that case, election officials decided to have each candidate roll a die. Mason won the roll with a six to Sollman’s three, Northwest News Network reported at the time, but Sollman, now a state senator, won with voters in November.  (SOURCE)

Oregon begins the remaining pandemic unwinding renewals with new changes helping Oregonians keep coverage

SALEM, Ore. — With over 91 percent of the state’s 1.5 million renewals complete, more than four out of five Oregonians are keeping their Oregon Health Plan (OHP) or other Medicaid benefits.

There are four monthly “waves” of renewals left in the unwinding process. The first of these remaining four batches started this month, asking for a response by the end of September.

An update in May to the ONE Eligibility system people use to apply for and manage their medical benefits enabled Oregon to use an improved process for the remaining renewals. These changes are a substantial set of small adjustments that together will make it easier for the people of Oregon to keep their medical benefits. This includes changes to make medical eligibility and renewal notices easier to read and to give more details about decisions. People in the June “wave” of renewals are the first to experience these process improvements.

Oregon’s 82.5 percent renewal rate continues to be the third highest in a national comparison of state renewal rates by KFF, a nonpartisan health policy organization. Oregon’s high renewal rates are due to proactive efforts by the state to keep people covered, including extended response timelines, and the upcoming launch of OHP Bridge for adults with higher incomes.

Members who have not received a renewal yet should:

  • Keep their address and contact information up to date.
  • Check their mail or ONE Online account for their renewal letter.
  • Do what the renewal letter asks as soon as possible. Anyone concerned they missed their letter should get help with their renewal using one of the options listed below.
  • Members who did not respond to renewals can still re-open their case three months after it closes if they are still eligible, and they can reapply at any time.

June OHP renewal data – As of June 18, 2024, 1,330,708 people have completed the renewal process. This represents around 91.7 percent of all OHP and Medicaid members.

  • 1,097,801 people (82.5 percent) were renewed and kept their benefits.
  • 221,958 people (16.7 percent) were found ineligible.
  • 10,949 people (0.8 percent) had a reduction in their benefits. Most of these members lost full OHP but were able to continue Medicare Savings Programs that help pay their Medicare costs.

Although most people are keeping coverage during the post-pandemic medical renewals, approximately 234,000 people have or will need to consider other coverage options due to lost or reduced benefits.

  • People who do not have coverage through an employer or Medicare may be able to enroll through the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace and get financial help. Most people who enroll through HealthCare.gov qualify for this help.
  • The Marketplace is sending information to people who are no longer eligible for OHP benefits, advising of other potential coverage options.
  • People who have recently lost OHP benefits can enroll anytime until November 30, 2024, or within 60 days of their benefits ending.
  • For more information and ways to get help signing up for Marketplace, Medicare, or employer coverage, see “What to do if OHP is ending” below.

Need help renewing your benefits?

  1. Learn more about how to renew your Oregon Health Plan medical coverage.  You can log into your online portal and complete your redetermination work at benefits.oregon.gov.
  2. Call the ONE Customer Service Center at 800-699-9075. All relay calls are accepted, and help is available in multiple languages. Wait times are lowest between 7 and 8 a.m., PST.
  3. Visit or call a local Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) office. People can find their local office at https://www.oregon.gov/odhs/Pages/office-finder.aspx.
  4. Visit a community partner for free, in-person help. To find one near you visit OregonHealthCare.gov/GetHelp (English) or orhim.info/ayuda (Spanish).
  5. Download the Oregon ONE Mobile app via the app store to keep track of your renewal, find a local office, or upload a document.

What to do if your OHP is ending:

  • First, review the case summary in your letter to make sure the information used to make the decision was correct. If that information has changed, notify the state via one of the options above If the information on file for you is correct and you disagree with the decision, you can request a hearing. Learn more about hearings.
  • Explore options through an employer. If you, your spouse or a parent are working, you may be eligible for health coverage through that employer. Talk to your manager or Human Resources department to see if you qualify. You will have a special enrollment period to enroll mid-year due to loss of OHP benefits.
  • If you have or are eligible for Medicare: For help understanding and choosing the right Medicare options, go to https://OregonHealthcare.gov/GetHelp to find an insurance agent or a counselor at the Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance Program (SHIBA). You can also call SHIBA at 800-722-4134.

If you need to sign up for Medicare for the first time, contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) at 800-772-1213 to enroll by phone or find a local office. You can also enroll in Medicare online at ssa.gov/medicare/sign-up.

  • Nearly 80 percent of Oregonians qualify for financial help through the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace. Visit OregonHealthCare.gov/WindowShop to answer a few quick questions, find out how much you can save and find out how much coverage may cost you. You can also call the Marketplace Transition Help Center at 833-699-6850 (toll-free, all relay calls accepted).
  • Need free local help finding other coverage? Visit OregonHealthCare.gov/GetHelp to find professional help near you.

OHA and ODHS are committed to transparency and will continue to send monthly information about medical coverage among Oregonians. Check our ONE Eligibility Operations Dashboards for more frequent updates on medical renewal data and wait times for callers to the ONE Customer Service Center.

OHA study confirms gap in behavioral health treatment beds across Oregon, details financial path to expanding capacity

SALEM, Ore.– Oregon needs up to 3,700 adult mental health and substance use treatment beds to close existing gaps and meet future service projections, according to a final Oregon Health Authority (OHA) study of the state’s behavioral health continuum of care.

The findings are part of an assessment that Governor Tina Kotek directed OHA to commission last year. The report was produced by Public Consulting Group (PCG), a public sector solutions implementation and operations improvement firm that has produced similar studies in Washington and other states.

The findings inform an ongoing funding and implementation effort that state leaders are committed to pursue, which could take several biennia to complete.

According to the final Behavioral Health Residential + Facility Study report, closing the gap could require investments of as much as $170 million per year over the next five years and the creation of approximately 650 new beds per year.

The final report includes a new five-year funding recommendation that recognizes the importance of:

  • Increasing the behavioral health workforce to support expanded capacity.
  • Improving access to mental health and substance use disorder support services to help individuals stay within their communities.
  • Expanding supportive and transitional housing opportunities.

State health officials will continue to work with Governor Kotek and the Legislature to apply the study’s findings and guide investments toward closing the gap in treatment services.

“We don’t get to choose between adding beds, and adding workforce. We must do both in order to make real change in our behavioral health system. It’s important to note that capacity in Oregon’s behavioral health system is dynamic, and the data in the report represent a point-in-time snapshot of one part of a broader continuum of care,” said OHA Behavioral Health Director Ebony Clarke.

“This report provides us with critical data to inform how we prioritize the creation of more treatment beds and it also underscores the broader understanding that we need to continue to invest in solutions that reduce the number of beds needed,” Clarke said. “We do this through investing in protective factors and earlier intervention – additional community-based programming, crisis and outpatient programs, in addition to other supportive services – to prevent people who are experiencing mental illness or substance use from progressing to a level of severity in their illnesses that would require treatment in a more acute setting.”

The final report follows the draft preliminary report released in February.

At the direction of OHA, the final report reflects updated data for the facilities within scope for this study. Although there is no perfect methodology for determining the appropriate number of high-acuity beds in a behavioral health system, PCG used state and national data sets, findings from peer-reviewed literature and surveys of treatment facilities to estimate mental health and SUD treatment bed capacity and needs within the continuum of care. PCG worked at the direction of OHA to include Oregon-specific data.

Even as the report was finalized, state officials were moving quickly to supplement capacity and have already identified several short-horizon “priority” projects, which are likely to bring community beds online within the next year or two and to address what are considered critical service gaps. OHA is working to publish a dashboard later this summer that will track and highlight progress toward new beds coming online.

Over the past four years, the Oregon Legislature has invested more than $1.5 billion to expand behavioral health treatment capacity, raise provider payment rates and stabilize the treatment workforce. Oregon’s current capacity shortfall would be even greater without these investments.

According to the report, recent legislative investments from HB 5202 (2022) and HB 5024 (2021) have supported the creation of 356 new licensed mental health residential beds (exclusive of adult foster homes), SUD residential, and withdrawal management beds, which are under construction and scheduled to open by the third quarter of 2025.

FBI Seeking Individual Who May Have Information Regarding the Identity of a Child Sexual Assault Victim

PORTLAND, OREGON – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seeking the public’s assistance with obtaining identifying information regarding an unknown male who may have critical information pertaining to the identity of a child victim in an ongoing sexual exploitation investigation. Photographs and an informational poster depicting the unknown individual, known only as John Doe 48, are being disseminated to the public and can be found online at the FBI website at http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/ecap.

Initial video of the unidentified male, John Doe 48, first recorded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in December of 2023. The EXIF data embedded within the video file indicated that the file was produced in October of 2023.

John Doe 48 is described as a White male between the ages of 45 and 65 years old, with dark hair, and a gray beard. He has a tattoo on each of his forearms. He is seen in the back of a 2018-2019 Nissan NV Cargo Van wearing a blue t-shirt and a dark-colored hat. He is heard speaking English in the video.

Anyone with information to provide should submit a tip online at https://tips.fbi.gov/ or call the FBI’s toll-free tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324). The public is reminded no charges have been filed in this case and the pictured individual is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

This individual is being sought as part of the FBI’s Operation Rescue Me and Endangered Child Alert Program (ECAP) initiatives. Operation Rescue Me focuses on utilizing clues obtained through in-depth image analysis to identify the child victims depicted in child exploitation material, while ECAP seeks national and international media exposure of unknown adults (referred to as John/Jane Does) who visibly display their faces and/or other distinguishing characteristics in association with child pornography images. — UNKNOWN INDIVIDUAL – JOHN DOE 48 — FBI

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Seeks to Improve Fish Hatcheries

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) hosted a public meeting Thursday addressing the current problems plaguing Oregon’s fish hatcheries.

ODFW Deputy Administrator Shaun Clements says hatcheries serve an important purpose, and provide social, economic, and cultural benefits to Oregonians. Hatcheries also play a significant role in re-establishing declining fish populations. But climate change, aging hatchery infrastructure, and increasing costs are making it difficult to reach fishery and conservation goals.

Clements says the main priorities of ODFW are investing in hatchery infrastructure and collaborating with community members for more solutions.

“These hatcheries produce about 35 million salmon steelhead a year and about 5 million trout. Hatcheries are an incredibly important source for harvest opportunity, constituting about 70% of the harvested fish in Oregon,” Clements said.

As part of an established timeline ODFW will conduct a webinar series in August, as well as more public meetings and a report to the state legislature by early 2025.

On Dobbs anniversary, abortion remains legal and protected in Oregon

2022 SCOTUS decision impacted national landscape, but recent ruling on mifepristone offers hope for ongoing safe, effective abortion access

PORTLAND, Ore. — As the nation recognizes the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24, 2022 decision that removed constitutional protections for abortion, Oregon remains committed to ensuring people have  access to comprehensive reproductive health services, including abortion.

The second anniversary of the High Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, is a stark reminder of the challenges states face in protecting access to reproductive health care. But key actions in Oregon – and another, more recent High Court decision – offer hope for anyone inside and outside the state seeking to exercise their legal and protected right to abortion.

Governor Tina Kotek said, “The two-year anniversary of the Dobbs decision is a sobering reminder that we cannot afford to lose ground ensuring access to safe, effective and legal reproductive health care in Oregon.”

On June 13, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, the challenge to the FDA’s approval of the abortion pill mifepristone. In a unanimous decision, justices ruled that the plaintiffs in the case did not have standing to challenge the FDA’s actions, and so mifepristone continues to be available.

The ruling left in place federal regulations that permit patients to order mifepristone virtually and by mail delivery. However, the decision leaves open the possibility for future litigation seeking to restrict access to mifepristone.

Should litigation seeking mifepristone restrictions come to pass, a contingency plan Oregon put in place could temporarily keep the abortion drug available: The state secured a three-year mifepristone supply and developed a plan to equitably distribute it to eligible prescribers, ensuring patients seeking abortion services in Oregon will continue to have access to this safe and effective method.

“OHA will continue to ensure that people in Oregon have access to safe, effective reproductive care – including abortion services – when and where they need it,” said OHA Director Sejal Hathi, M.D.

Oregon’s mifepristone stockpile is just one of several actions the state has taken in recent years to keep comprehensive reproductive health services, including abortion, in place and accessible:

  • Reproductive Health and Access to Care Act (HB 2002) – This comprehensive law, passed during the 2023 legislative session, protects and expands access for those seeking and those providing reproductive health and gender affirming care.
  • Reproductive health infrastructure investments – Also during the 2023 legislative session, Oregon allocated $3.4 million to OHA as part of Public Health Modernization to support reproductive health infrastructure This funding created an Abortion Access in Oregon website and provided infrastructure grants to clinical service providers across the state.
  • Lawsuit over unnecessary abortion medication restrictions – As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine litigation was underway, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum joined Washington State’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson in co-leading a multi-state lawsuit against the FDA to protect enhanced access to mifepristone. The outcome of this lawsuit was Judge Thomas Rice’s decision barring the FDA from making any changes that could reduce the availability of mifepristone in the 17 states that signed on to the lawsuit.
  • Amicus brief in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine – Gov. Kotek and 21 other governors filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of abortion rights in Food and Drug Administration, et al., v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. In this brief, the Reproductive Freedom Alliance governors argued that if the Court reverses FDA approval of mifepristone and limits access to the vital medicine, it could undermine Governors’ ability to provide adequate healthcare services and would have far-reaching implications beyond reproductive healthcare.

“These activities and initiatives demonstrate Oregon’s recognition of reproductive health services as basic and essential health services,” Dr. Hathi said.

Individuals can access free or low-cost reproductive health services at local health departments, Planned Parenthood clinics, federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics across the state. To find a clinic, visit: healthoregon.org/rhclinics, dial 211, or text HEALTH to 898211.

Oregon Ranks as One of the 10 Best States for Hikers

DPR_10 Best States ofr Hiking_Header Best states for hiking scaled

Oregon is the No. 10 best state in the country for hikers, according to a new ranking. Kuru Footwear ranked the best states in the United States for hiking, looking at “five key metrics—total hiking trail reviews, number of trails, percentage of trails ranked as easy, trails rated 4.5 stars or higher, and yearly precipitation.”

Top-Ranked U.S. States for Hiking

State Rank Total # of Reviews Total # of Trails % of Easy Trails % of Trails Rated 4.5+ Precipitation (yearly inches)
Colorado 1 1,995,966 5,286 26% 51% 15.9
California 2 4,500,864 12,835 27% 52% 22.2
Arizona 3 1,556,652 3,292 27% 54% 13.6
Montana 4 273,175 1,508 23% 47% 15.3
New York 5 1,065,346 4,481 50% 38% 41.8
Utah 6 1,110,852 3,224 24% 53% 12.2
Texas 7 572,634 2,424 72% 44% 28.9
Washington 8 1,368,796 4,161 33% 39% 38.4
North Carolina 9 774,148 2,736 46% 49% 50.3
Oregon 10 686,525 3,106 34% 38% 27.4

https://www.kurufootwear.com/a/blog/best-states-for-hiking-2024

Proposed ballot measure to raise corporate taxes, give every Oregonian $750 a year likely to make November ballot

Oregon voters will likely decide in November whether to establish a historic universal basic income program that would give every state resident roughly $750 annually from increased corporate taxes.

Proponents of the concept say they likely have enough signatures to place it on the ballot this fall, and opponents are taking them seriously.

State business advocacy groups are preparing to launch a campaign against the proposed measure, arguing that it would harm Oregon’s business landscape and economy.

The proposal, Initiative Petition 17, would establish a 3% tax on corporations’ sales in Oregon above $25 million and distribute that money equally among Oregonians of all ages. As of Friday, its backers had turned in more than 135,000 signatures, which is higher than the 117,173 required to land on the ballot. The validity of those signatures must still be certified by the Secretary of State’s Office.

“It’s looking really good. It’s really exciting,” said Anna Martinez, a Portland hairstylist who helped form the group behind the campaign, Oregon People’s Rebate, in 2020. If approved by voters, the program would go into effect in January 2025.

Martinez and other supporters say the financial boost would help Oregon families buy groceries, afford rent and pay for basic necessities. “This will put money back in the local economy. It will help small businesses,” she said. “Some people say, ‘Well it’s only $750.’ But that’s huge if you really need it.”

The state Department of Revenue would be responsible for distributing the money. Every Oregon resident would be able to claim the money either in cash or as a refundable tax credit, regardless of whether they have filed personal incomes taxes, according to the ballot initiative draft.

The initiative proposal draft states that any leftover funding from the rebate would “be used to provide additional funding for services for senior citizens, health care, public early childhood education and public kindergarten through grade 12 education.”

The ballot measure campaign has received significant financial support from out-of-state supporters of universal basic income.

Oregon People’s Rebate has received about $740,000 in contributions and spent all but about $10,000. The highest contributor by far is Jones Holding LLC, a corporation based in Los Angeles and controlled by investor and universal basic income fan Josh Jones that has given $425,000. The second largest contributor is a related L.A.-based corporation, Jones Parking Inc., which contributed nearly $95,000. The third largest source of contributions are the foundation and mother of Gerald Huff, a software engineer and advocate of universal basic income from California who died in 2018. Huff’s foundation and mother have contributed $90,000 combined.

“Yes, the funders are from California, but these are not like nefarious outside interests here,” Martinez said. “These are people who are committed to basic income.”

Oregon business groups are preparing to fight the measure. State business lobby Oregon Business and Industry and tax policy research nonprofit Tax Foundation say raising corporate taxes would harm companies and lead to higher costs of goods and services.

“(The proposed measure) would impose a massive tax increase in Oregon,” Oregon Business and Industry said in a statement. “If it qualifies for the ballot, our organization will be involved in a campaign against it, and we are confident that when voters look at the facts, they will vote to reject it.”

Oregon currently brings in billions of dollars of corporate taxes every year. The state’s excise and income tax on corporations brought in 10.3% of the state’s general fund in the 2021-2023 biennium, enough to make it the second highest revenue source after personal income tax, according to the Legislative Revenue Office.

C corporations, the default type of corporation for tax status, that do business in Oregon currently pay a state excise tax of 6.6% on income under $1 million and a 7.6% tax on income above that. If a corporation doesn’t earn a net income, they must pay a minimum state tax of $150 to $100,000 based on their total sales, according to the Legislative Revenue Office. Other types of corporations pay a minimum $150 excise tax.

Oregon corporations also pay a 0.57% corporate activity tax, which is calculated from companies’ commercial activity in the state valued above $1 million.

The proposed ballot measure would increase the minimum excise tax to 3% on all corporations’ reported gross sales above $25 million. Under the proposed measure, all of that money would then be distributed by the state Department of Revenue to all Oregon residents who live in the state for more than 200 days of the year.

Business groups fear that the increased taxes would drive corporations away from Oregon. “In practice, affected businesses would likely move more of their operations out-of-state to avoid” paying such high taxes, according to a report from the Tax Foundation.

The report states that corporations with high gross sales but low or no profit would be taxed unreasonably high amounts. A corporation with a low 3% profit margin would have to pay all its profits from sales above $25 million in Oregon taxes.

Martinez said the opposition from business groups does not surprise her. “It’s a tale as old as time,” she said. “Corporations don’t want to pay their fair share. They pay so little compared to everyday Oregonians. We all have really thin margins and we manage to do it.” (SOURCE)

 

Portland Pickles To Be First Team To Sell Thc-Based Seltzers At Events

(Portland, OR)  —  An Oregon summer-league baseball team is now the first sports team in the U.S. to sell cannabis-based refreshments at games. The seltzer drinks will be available in passion fruit and lemon flavors. They’ll be available for fans 21 and over.  The Pickles say the Portland Parks and Recreation department gave them the thumbs up.

 

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.

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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