Image default
Oregon News

Oregon News Update – State of Emergency Declared in Ten Oregon Counties

The latest Oregon News Stories

FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2019

Governor Brown Declares State of Emergency in Ten Counties Due to Severe Winter Storm Conditions

(Salem, OR) — Governor Brown today declared a state of emergency in ten Oregon counties due to severe winter storm conditions: Coos, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Linn, and Marion. This declaration comes at the request of local officials and is based on the recommendations of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

“As our state and local authorities continue to work hard to clear roads, reconnect power, and ensure the safety of the community, this declaration will provide additional resources and the potential for federal highway system funds in the future,” said Governor Brown. “I urge all Oregonians to follow the recommendations of local authorities, and avoid travel while ODOT crews work on the roads and restore core services.”

Governor Brown’s declaration directs OEM to coordinate the deployment of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Oregon State Police, and the Oregon National Guard to support local communities as needed. OEM will facilitate the access and use of state resources, personnel, and equipment to protect communities, property, and the environment, and aid in the recovery from heavy snow and ice accumulation, high winds, flooding, and landslides. The declaration will also enable ODOT to activate the Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief Program to help repair transportation systems. The state of emergency will be in effect for 30 days, unless terminated sooner by the Governor.

The Office of Emergency Management will continue to provide regular updates, which will be made available here: https://twitter.com/oregonoem.

ODOT is planning to open Oregon 138E (North Umpqua Highway) this afternoon in time for recreational users to travel from Roseburg and enjoy the snow this weekend at Diamond Lake, Crater Lake and other mountain areas. Access to snow parks may be limited.

ODOT and Oregon Department of Forestry staff are currently working with Weekly Brothers contract crews to clean up slides and remove trees that were knocked down during this week’s snowstorm. ODOT will provide an update as soon as Oregon 138E is open.

Winter road conditions are in effect. Motorists should drive with caution and expect lane closures and delays as workers continue clearing debris from the shoulders of the highway. Flaggers will provide traffic control as needed.

Bank Robber in Jefferson, Oregon

 

The FBI is releasing new photos of a car of interest in the recent bank robbery at the Umpqua Bank branch located at 113 S. Main Street in Jefferson, Oregon.

On February 5, 2019, a man walked into the branch, approached the teller desk while displaying a weapon, and demanded cash from three tellers.

The car of interest was seen before and after the robbery driving through downtown Jefferson and on Highway 99E. Investigators believe the car is a gray Mazda four-door with a spoiler on the back.

Witnesses describe the robber as a:

  • White man
  • Height: 5’9″ to 6’0″ 
  • Weight: 160 to 200 pounds 
  • Clothing: The suspect was wearing a hooded black and light blue two-toned raingear-type top with light-colored pants tucked into black rubber over-boots and a black full-face covering. The suspect wore a black ski glove on his left hand and carried a blue bag.
  • Weapon: The suspect had a pistol that was covered in a plastic bag. 

The wanted poster for this suspect can be found on the FBI’s Unknown Bank Robber website at https://bankrobbers.fbi.gov/robbers-container/2019-02-08.0133058819

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call the FBI at (503) 362-6601 in Salem, at (503) 224-4181 in Portland or the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at (503) 540-8079.

The Portland Rose Festival, a long-standing Portland event, marks its upcoming 112th year with an Oregon Heritage Tradition designation by the Oregon Heritage Commission.

Other Oregon Heritage Traditions include the Oregon State Fair, Medford’s Pear Blossom Festival, the Pendleton Round-Up, and the Woodburn Fiesta Mexicana.

“The designation recognizes those traditions that have helped define the character of the state,” said Todd Kepple, the commission’s chair. “The Portland Rose Festival helps us celebrate Oregon’s urban heritage.” 

The Portland Rose Festival can trace its roots back to a speech given by Portland Mayor Harry Lane at the 1905 Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition, which included a call for a festival of roses. Two years later, in 1907, the first Portland Rose Festival was held with the intention of putting Portland on the map and branding it as the ‘summer capital of the world.’ It included the novelty of an electric parade with illuminated floats that allowed Portland to showcase its innovation as one of the first cities in the world to have an electrically propelled trolley system. A year later, in 1908, a nonprofit formed to lead the festival planning and turn it into an annual event.

Over the years the Festival’s events have changed and expanded with the times, but the parades associated with the Portland Rose Festival have remained at the center of the event. “The Festival’s venerable centerpiece, the Grand floral Parade, is more than fancy floats and high-stepping bands; it’s lineup is layered with theatrical and cultural story-telling that reflects how a community can honor diversity and celebrate unity at the same time,” said Teri Bowles-Atherton, Rose Festival Foundation President. “The Rose Festival offers a familiar place for multi-generations to make memories while celebrating side-by-side.”

The Portland Rose Festival wouldn’t be possible without countless volunteer hours from the over 3,600 volunteers who organize and run events, including board members who give thousands of hours of their time in leadership and planning.The event adds to the heritage tourism impact in Oregon and is estimated to generate $65 million in economic impact for the Portland-Metro region.

The Portland Rose Festival will be held May 24- June 9, with additional activities extending in to July and August. More information can be found at: http://www.rosefestival.org/

More Nursing Instructors Needed to Resolve Oregon’s Nursing Shortage

SALEM – A severe nursing shortage is reaching crisis levels in rural Oregon. There’s no shortage of interested aspiring nurses, as hundreds have lined up to enter nursing schools across the state. The primary roadblock to supplying the demand for nurses is a lack of faculty to each those students.

One main reason for the faculty shortage is a significant wage cut that nurses qualified to teach in community colleges – holding master’s or doctoral degrees – must absorb to become instructors. In many cases that pay cut can range between $10,000 and $30,000 a year or more.

Senate Bill 754 is designed to help attract qualified nurses to teaching positions by creating a $10,000 tax credit to instructors employed as nurse faculty members at approved nursing education programs in rural areas. This is expected to encourage qualified nurses to take positions training the profession’s next generation, allowing more opportunities to overcome the existing nurse shortage. The bill passed out of the Senate Committee on Health Care today.

“We have had a shortage of nurses for a long time in our community,” said Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, who is co-sponsoring the bill. “Whatever we can do to help qualified people see an opportunity for themselves to teach courses at a community college that will help expand our health care workforce, we should be doing.”

Oregon is struggling to keep up with demand for health care professionals to provide services to an aging population. It’s not going to get any easier, as more working nurses retire every year. The problem is particularly severe in rural Oregon. Aspiring nurses cannot be admitted into community college nursing programs in many cases because class sizes are limited. More nursing faculty would open up more opportunities for students to reach their dreams.

“This is a critical issue for rural communities,” said Rep. Caddy McKeown, D-Coos Bay, the bill’s other co-sponsor. “Recruitment and retention of health care professionals of many stripes in rural communities is very difficult. As we work toward making sure our aging population is cared for by our existing cadre of nursing professionals, there is a dearth. Our need is especially deep down on the South Coast.”

Rural communities in the bill are defined as geographic areas located at least 10 miles from any community with populations of 40,000 or more. The problem stretches across the rest of rural Oregon.

Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) today said that the current measles outbreak showcases the problem of under-vaccination in the United States. During a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Walden highlighted the Oregon impact of the measles outbreak and said more needs to be done to raise public awareness and education about the importance of getting vaccinated.

“The current measles outbreak showcases the problem of under-vaccination. It’s a problem that hits close to home for me since 65 measles cases in this outbreak have mainly occurred in Clark County, Washington (a suburb of Portland, Oregon), with four in Multnomah County, Oregon, for a total of 69 confirmed cases of measles. The measles exposure even reached my district, with an infected person from Clark County visiting a trampoline park in Bend, Oregon. Though there have been no confirmed cases resulting from that particular exposure, this highlights the reach of the measles outbreak,” said Walden today. “This hearing can help provide important information to address questions for some people about the safety of the vaccine, as well heighten awareness about the effectiveness of the vaccine and the importance of getting vaccinated.”

Of the 65 cases Walden referred to, 57 involved people who were not vaccinated against the disease, and 47 were children between the ages of one and 10.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), measles is a highly contagious virus that can spread through coughing and sneezing. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that person, who are not immune, will also become infected. Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before to four days after the signature rash appears.

Walden said today that the measles vaccine is highly effective, and there has been a 99 percent reduction in the number of measles cases since the introduction of the measles vaccine compared to pre-vaccine era. CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination.

While there has been a dramatic decline in measles cases in the United States, the virus is still common in other countries. Unvaccinated individuals abroad continue to become infected by measles and bring the virus to the United States where it can spread to others. According to the World Health Organization, there were 110,000 measles deaths globally in 2017, mostly among children under the age of five. Measles remains a leading cause of vaccine-preventable infant mortality worldwide.

Walden today expressed his strong concerns that the decline in vaccination poses a danger to public health. “If we don’t reverse the downward trend of vaccination, we risk bringing back measles in full force,” said Walden.

An Oregon Heritage Tradition must have been in continuous operation for more than 50 years, demonstrate a public profile and reputation that distinguishes it from more routine events, and add to the livability and identity of the state. A list of Tradition designations is available at http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/HCD/OHC/pages/oht.aspx .

The Oregon Heritage Commission coordinates efforts to solve statewide heritage issues through grants, education, and advocacy, and also promotes heritage tourism efforts.

For the 15th year, the Oregon Council on Problem Gambling dedicates March to help increase public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment and recovery services.  This coincides with the National Problem Gambling Awareness Month whose campaign theme is “Awareness + Action.”

“Problem gambling directly affects approximately 2.6 percent of adult Oregonians yet it remains largely not talked about,” said Oregon Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director Thomas Moore.  “That’s why we participate in National Council on Problem Gambling campaign. It’s all about helping raise awareness of this addiction and the prevention, treatment and recovery services available for those adversely affected by gambling.”  

National Problem Gambling Awareness Month is a grassroots effort that brings together a wide range of stakeholders – public health organizations, advocacy groups and gambling operators – who work collaboratively to let people know that hope and help exist.

“Creating awareness of problem gambling and available resources is a statewide commitment that is reflected in the official proclamation that Oregon Lottery and the Oregon Health Authority worked with the Governor’s office to develop,” added Lottery’s Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Stacy Shaw, who is also an officer on the National Council on Problem Gambling board.

Last year, visits to the Oregon Problem Gambling Resource website (www.oprg.org) increased dramatically during March as result of all the focused marketing and outreach efforts.

“It’s inspiring that a grassroots campaign can have a measurable and meaningful statewide impact,” said Moore, “and we are working for even greater results in 2019.”

Shaw agreed.

“This year we are focusing on letting people know that in Oregon treatment is really free, a message that’s important to people struggling with gambling issues,” she said.

Roger Nyquist, a member of the Oregon Council on Problem Gambling as well as an Oregon Lottery retailer and county commissioner said awareness about treatment is key.

“I recognize the importance of an ongoing focus to ensure community awareness of the risks associated with gambling and the resources available for both prevention and treatment,” he said. “The impact of problem gambling extends beyond the gambler, affecting families, friends and communities.”

The Oregon Lottery’s commitment to problem gambling support is year-round. Since 1992, one percent of Oregon Lottery profits has funded problem gambling treatment and prevention efforts throughout Oregon. Since that time, nearly $100 million in Lottery funds has supported those services, with $6.2 million allocated in 2018 alone

Additionally, this year the Oregon Lottery became the only lottery in the United States that sells video lottery to earn the World Lottery Association’s highest level of certification in the field of responsible gaming. The Oregon Lottery joined a select group of only eight other lotteries in the U.S. having received that level of certification from the WLA.

To get help for a gambling problem for you or a loved one, call 1-877-MYLIMIT.  Treatment is free, confidential and it works. For more information about problem gambling, how to have the conversation or to chat with a specialist, go to Oregon Problem Gambling Resource at opgr.org

About the Oregon Council on Problem Gambling

The Oregon Council on Problem Gambling is the state affiliate to the National Council on Problem Gambling. Its purpose is to promote the health of Oregonians by supporting efforts to minimize gambling related harm. Board members include stakeholders from the gaming industry, the treatment and prevention field, the recovery community and state and county administrators.

Hospitals Applaud Passage of Medicaid Funding Bill

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems applauds the bipartisan passage of HB 2010 in the Oregon Legislature today. The bill passed the Senate after the House approved it last week. HB 2010 funds a large portion of the state’s Medicaid program, the Oregon Health Plan, for the next six years. The funding comes through various health care taxes, which include the continuation of the hospital provider tax and a health insurance premium tax.  These elements were overwhelmingly supported by Oregonians in January 2018 with the passage of Measure 101. Hospitals continue to support this approach as a foundation to fully fund the Medicaid program.

“Oregon’s hospitals applaud the passage of HB 2010 today,” said Andy Van Pelt, executive vice president of OAHHS. “Hospitals have been supporters of the Medicaid budget for 15 years. In this biennium, via the hospital provider tax, hospitals are on track to contribute nearly 28 percent of the state funds required to fully fund the Oregon Health Plan. Given that nearly one in four Oregonians relies on Medicaid for health care coverage, hospitals feel it is deeply important that our state continues its commitment to these vulnerable families and individuals.

“The funding package passed today represents a carefully negotiated set of agreements brought forward by the Governor and further refined with a core set of stakeholders over many months prior to session. Hospitals were part of that work and feel deeply invested in ensuring that this complete package passes through the Legislature. Other components of the package will come before the Legislature in coming months and hospitals will continue to advocate for their passage to fully and sustainably fund the Medicaid program in Oregon.”

The bill now goes to Governor Brown, who is expected to sign it.

CHILD WELFARE PROJECT AND IMPLEMENTATION PLAN STEERING TEAM TO MEET THURSDAY IN SALEM

News Release from Oregon Department of Human Services
 

SALEM, Ore. – The Child Welfare Project and Implementation Plan Steering Team meets Thursday (March 7, 2019) from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Barbara Roberts Human Services Building, Room 137 A-D, 500 Summer St. NE, Salem. The meeting is open to the public.

Agenda items include: overview of all priority projects, overview of final Child Welfare procedure manual, response to caregiver retention and support recommendations, preview of realistic job preview project and Child Welfare leadership updates.

Individuals unable to attend in person may call or attend via Skype. Conference line: 1-888-204-5984; Participant Code: 547-086.

If you want to follow the presentation online, please use the link to follow link: https://bit.ly/2Dz9u0p

The meeting location is accessible to people with disabilities. For questions or to request an accommodation, please contact Kelsi Eisele at 971-283-1628 or kelsi.p.eisele@state.or.us. Requests should be made at least 48 hours before the meeting. A good faith effort will be made to fulfill requests.

For questions about this meeting, please contact: Kelsi Eisele, Project Manager, at kelsi.p.eisele@state.or.us.

The ten identified priority projects, formally known as the Unified Child and Youth Safety Implementation Plan, were set by the steering team in March of 2017 and have now transitioned to Child Welfare Program. This steering teamprovides oversight, adherence to goals, and monitors and controls projects.

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019

SALEM, OR — Deputy Secretary of State Leslie Cummings released the following statement:
On Tuesday, February 26, at approximately 9:00pm, Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson’s courageous battle with cancer came to a close. Dennis passed away at his home surrounded by family and friends.

From his service in Vietnam as a combat helicopter pilot to his 30-year legal career and 19 years in public service, this father of nine and grandfather of 31 found great joy in serving and taking care of others.
As Secretary of State, Dennis was fiercely dedicated to accomplishing the work the people of Oregon elected him to do. Upon taking the reins of this office in January 2017, Dennis’ visionary leadership built on the strengths of the 227 Secretary of State staff members. Together, Dennis and this dedicated team of public servants improved the program business practices of Audits, Elections, Archives, Corporations and Small Business, and the three Administrative Services Divisions of the agency. He also brought many professional and personal gifts and experience to this office. Dennis’ focus on transparency, accountability, and integrity coupled with his uncompromising work ethic inspired staff to “up their games” to move mountains.

If you spent time with Dennis, it wouldn’t be long before he shared with you his personal motto of “Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus,” which means: Having been given much, what will you give in return? This philosophy influenced every aspect of Dennis’ life and became the hallmark by which many knew him. His challenge to us in the Secretary of State’s office is to give our very best to each other and to Oregon each and every day.

Dennis leaves a legacy of always aiming high, expecting excellence, moving fast, and doing what is right for the people. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with such an incredible leader and wonderful friend. He will be greatly missed.

Greg Walden Issues Statement on Passing of Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) today released the following statement on the passing of Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson: 

“I am so saddened to learn of Secretary of State Dennis Richardson’s passing. Dennis was such a kind, caring, and thoughtful friend. A wonderful public servant, and a deeply loving husband and parent. Dennis’ quiet competence and civility is such a rarity in today’s world. I feel blessed to have known and worked with him for so many years. Mylene and I are sending our prayers to Cathy and their children. Dennis served his country with honor and his body of work leaves Oregon better for the next generation.”

Extreme Winter Weather in Southern Oregon Continues

An extreme weather system on Tuesday went under the radar while still managing to blanket much of the southern Oregon region, including the Klamath Basin, and around the state with snow.

The weather that essentially snuck up on the region had the prime ingredients of a unique storm, according to meteorologist Brian Nieuwenhuis, of the National Weather Station based in Medford.

“This is a very rare type system, something that most of us haven’t seen before,” Nieuwenhuis said.

“It’s a cold atmospheric river … like the Pineapple Express, it’s a warm rain. In this case it was cold.”

The weather front came down, draped over the region, and capitalized on cold air with moisture on top of it, according to Nieuwenhuis.

Meanwhile: 

Passengers Band Together on Stuck Amtrak Train Near Oakridge, Oregon

An Amtrak train with almost 200 people aboard hit downed trees during a blizzard and got stranded in the mountains west of Oakridge for a day and a half, but passengers and crew banded together during the ordeal that ended Tuesday.

“It was really nice to meet people pulling together,” passenger Tracy Rhodes, of Scottsdale, Arizona, said in a phone interview after the train that was traveling from Seattle to Los Angeles rolled back into Eugene, with a clanging bell announcing its arrival. Passengers spilled out, some waving their arms high in jubilation.

During the 36 hours that the train was stuck, younger passengers helped older ones reach their families to let them know they were all right, said Rhodes, who was traveling with her brother to visit their 82-year-old mother in Klamath Falls. A “mom brigade” was formed to take care of and entertain the children, she said.

“People were being very kind to each other, being friends,” Rhodes said. “It restores your faith.”

Tax Relief From Oregon Dept. of Revenue

The Oregon Department of Revenue is providing relief for some taxpayers by waiving underpayment interest for taxpayers whose 2018 Oregon withholding and estimated tax payments were impacted by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.


This waiver is available to taxpayers:

• Who owe at least $1,000 in tax, and
• Whose total Oregon withholding and estimated payments made on or before January 15, 2019 covered at least 85 percent of their 2018 net tax.
The usual threshold is 90 percent to avoid underpayment interest.
If a taxpayer paid less than 85 percent of their tax liability, they are not eligible for the waiver. Those taxpayers who did not pay at least 85 percent of their tax liability will be subject to the underpayment interest. Taxpayers who owe less than $1,000 are not charged underpayment interest.
Are you eligible for a waiver?
Complete Part A of Form OR-10 (www.oregon.gov/dor/forms). If the form shows that you owe overpayment interest, follow these steps:

1. Combine your total estimated tax payments made by January 15, 2019 with the amount of withholding entered on line 6 of the form.

2. Multiply the net tax amount on line 4 by 0.85.

3. If the amount from step 2 is less than step 1, request a waiver. If not, complete the rest of Form OR-10 to calculate the underpayment interest you owe.Requesting a waiver (paper and electronic filers):
1. Enter “4” in the exception box on Form OR-10, line 1.
2. Also enter “4” in box 40a on your 2018 Form OR-40, which is your personal income tax return (box 65a on part-year returns or 66a on nonresident returns). If you’ve already filed your 2018 return, you can mail the Form OR-10 to DOR or submit it electronically through your Revenue Online account.
3. Attach a statement to your Form OR-10 with the label “Form OR-10 attachment” and the statement “85% waiver.”
4. File your Form OR-10 and attachment with your 2018 tax return.

DOR urges Oregonians to do a paycheck checkup to ensure they’re withholding enough from their wages for 2019. Oregon’s new Form OR-W-4 and online withholding calculator allow taxpayers to more accurately determine the appropriate amount to withhold for Oregon. Both the Form OR-W-4 and the calculator are available at the department’s website at www.oregon.gov/dor.

Visit www.oregon.gov/dor to get tax forms, check the status of your refund, or make tax payments, call (800) 356-4222 toll-free (English or Spanish) or (503) 378-4988 or email questions.dor@oregon.gov. For TTY (hearing or speech impaired), call 1 (800) 886-7204. Due to the number of calls Revenue receives during tax season, you may experience extended wait times.

Pump Prices Climb in most States while Oregon Average holds Steady

Oregon and Arizona are the only states where prices are flat week-over-week

Retail gas prices are rising in most states but not Oregon as refineries gear up for spring gasoline production and maintenance season. For the week, the national average jumps six cents to $2.40 a gallon. The Oregon average remains at $2.74.

Even with the increases, gas prices are on average 11 percent cheaper than the first two months of 2018. Contact me for more info and interviews.

Wyden on House Passage of Bipartisan Public Lands Bill: “Another Proud Chapter of Oregon’s Conservation Legacy”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today welcomed House passage of the bipartisan public lands legislation that passed the Senate earlier this month. The bill is the largest public lands package passed by Congress in a decade and includes important conservation and wildfire protections for Oregon secured by Wyden.

“At my town halls, and in line at the grocery store, I hear from Oregonian after Oregonian who wants our state’s special places protected. Now, even more of Oregon’s natural treasures will be preserved for future generations to enjoy, our recreation economy will continue to grow and thrive, and communities in Oregon will be better protected from the threat of wildfire,” said Wyden. “Today, I celebrate yet another proud chapter of Oregon’s conservation legacy, but this book is far from finished—and I’ll be coming back for more.”

When the bill is signed into law, Wyden will have championed the designation of 1,986 miles of Wild and Scenic rivers in Oregon—more than any other member of Congress, overall, for the contiguous 48 states—ensuring Oregon will have the most wild and scenic river designations in the continental United States.

Forestry Operators of the Year
SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Board of Forestry will honor the 2018 Operators of the Year at its March 6 meeting in Salem. The Operator Recognition Program recognizes forest operators who have excelled in effort, innovation, cooperation, consistency, and prevention to achieve or surpass forest resource protection standards. The public meeting is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. and run through approximately 4 p.m., followed by a one-hour executive session.

In addition to operator recognition, researchers from Oregon State University will provide an overview of a marbled murrelet habitat study. Staff will present updates on State Forests management planning. The Committee for Family Forestlands, which advises the Board about issues impacting nonindustrial private forest landowners, will give an update on proposed legislation relating to family dwelling allowances. The Forest Trust Lands Advisory Committee, which advises the Board on State Forests Policy, will also provide comments to the Board.

The meeting will be held in the Tillamook Room, Administration Building C, at the Oregon Department of Forestry headquarters, located at 2600 State St., in Salem. The meeting is open to the public. Public comment will be accepted on agenda topics as well as during the start of the meeting for topics not on the agenda. A sign-up sheet will be available for public comment on a first-come, first-served basis. Written comments may be submitted to Boardofforestry@oregon.gov in advance of the meeting.

A livestream option will be available for those who wish to view the meeting remotely. For more details, visit https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Board/Pages/BOFMeetings.aspx.

Meeting materials are available at https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Board/Pages/BOFMeetings.aspx.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2019

Greg Walden to highlight Oregon impact of measles outbreak during Congressional hearing

Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) will highlight the Oregon impact of the current measles outbreak during a hearing before the Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday. The hearing will focus on the reemergence of measles in Oregon and southwest Washington and response efforts.

“We are witnessing the reemergence of measles in Oregon and southwest Washington that has rightly alarmed people here and throughout the country,” said Walden. “This highly contagious, life-threatening virus is being transmitted among unvaccinated individuals in the region, and presents a serious public health threat in our communities. I look forward to learning more from public health officials on addressing the current outbreak in Oregon and Washington, efforts to prevent the disease’s spread, and strategies to support vaccination efforts and education.”

Since January 1, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 159 individual measles cases in 10 states. The majority of measles cases have occurred in Clark County, Washington, a suburb of Portland, Oregon, with 65 confirmed measles cases. Of those cases, 57 involved people who were not vaccinated against the disease, and 47 people infected were children between the ages of one and 10.

Road Conditions as of 9PM Monday Night

Brookings, Oregon
U.S. 101 remains closed this morning at MP 344, 12 miles north of Brooking. ODOT and contractors will meet this morning to come up with a plan to repair the slide area.

“Hopefully, we can get a single lane open under gravel later today,” said ODOT District Manager Darrin Neavoll, “but given the nature of the sunken grade that maybe wishful thinking.”

The slide, known by locals as the Hooskanadan Slide, abruptly shifted yesterday and is a chronic trouble spot on U.S. 101 on the southern Oregon Coast. Nearby Carpenterville Highway is narrow and steep local roadway. It is closed to through traffic, including commercial trucks.  Through traffic should use alternate state highway routes. 

ODOT: SW Oregon: 
Highway status as of 6 p.m. 
This will be the final update until tomorrow morning. Monitor Tripcheck.com for changing conditions. 
I-5 is open again south of Cottage Grove after an extended closure but expect possible single lane traffic in some areas due to tree debris near the roadway. 
The following are still are in effect due to high water, saturated soils, snow-downed trees and power lines: 
* U.S. 101 is closed at MP 343, 12 miles north of Brookings due to sunken grade- no detour. 
* Oregon 42S between Coquille and Bandon open to single lane after a landslide (MP 9) 
* Oregon 138 West between Sutherlin and Elkton (MP 11-24) 
* Oregon 38 west of Elkton between MP 29-37 
* Single lane traffic on U.S. 101 south of Bandon at Four Mile (MP 282) 
* Oregon 138 East between MP 17 and 60 (just east of Glide to West Toketee) 
* Expect delays due to small slides on Oregon 42 in Coos County 
Drivers should be prepared for winter driving and expect significant delays on southwest Oregon highways tonight and tomorrow. 
Monitor conditions at Tripcheck.com UPDATE 

Douglas County Offices
Closed due to power outage. As of 5 a.m., all state offices in Douglas County, with the exception of Reedsport, will be closed today due to continued power outages. Reedsport offices will be open for business. 
This announcement does not cover courts or legislative offices. Visit https://www.Oregon.gov/das/ for more information.

Attorney General Rosenblum and Consumer Advocates Push for Stronger Student Debt Protections

Salem, Oregon—Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and other consumer advocates today testified before the Oregon House Business and Labor Committee in support of stronger protections for Oregon student loan borrowers who are amassing educational debt at staggering rates. In Oregon, it is estimated that outstanding student loan debt has surpassed $18 billion, with the average debt load per Oregon borrower at over $27,000.

The legislation, HB 2258 and SB 279, would adopt an Oregon Student Loan Bill of Rights instituting basic consumer protections for student loan borrowers. The legislation would also create a student loan ombudsperson (ombuds) to monitor student loan services, and educate borrowers who are navigating debt management, refinancing and consolidation, which can be very confusing.

Chief sponsors of the legislation include Oregon Representatives Karin Power and David Brock Smith, and Senators Kathleen Taylor, Tim Knopp and Cliff Bentz.

“For many Oregonians, student debt is inescapable—incurred in exchange for the ability to graduate with a degree and the hoped for opportunities that go with that accomplishment,” testified Attorney General Rosenblum. “On top of the amount of the debt, these loans are complex. Directly upon graduating, students have to understand terms and conditions, choose interest rates, and make other financial decisions that will impact the rest of their lives.  Graduates are often asked to make financial decisions with relatively poor information, and in a market where debt servicers are concerned about their bottom lines and ultimately calling the shots.”

Merkley Slams Right-Wing Court Packing as Republicans Shred Blue Slip Tradition

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after Senate Republicans voted to advance the nomination of Eric Miller to serve as a judge for the Ninth Circuit, despite the objections of both of Miller’s home state senators:

“Today, the far right wing has continued their court packing campaign and, in the process, shredded a century-old tradition that helps ensure an independent and non-partisan judiciary. This vote puts partisanship and ideology over the health of our democracy. It’s a dark day for America – and this is a decision that Republicans will deeply regret once the shoe is on the other foot.

“The Washington senators refused to approve this nomination for very good reason. Mr. Miller’s extreme views rejecting tribal sovereignty perpetuate some of the worst aspects of American history. He has no business on the federal bench.”

The blue slip process translates the Senate’s constitutional responsibility of “advice and consent” on judicial nominees into practice by ensuring that the president consults with home-state senators on lifetime appointments, that nominees are within the mainstream of legal thought, and that they are well-regarded members of the legal communities in the states where they will serve. Both of Miller’s home-state senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, had withheld their blue slips over concerns about his nomination.

The FBI is seeking to identify businesses that may be victims of an alleged nationwide workers’ compensation insurance, health care insurance, and pension plan fraud scheme. 

Businesses that purchased policies from American Labor Alliance (ALA) or one of its many subsidiaries nationwide should contact their state insurance regulator to ensure the validity of their policies. If you believe you/your business may have been a victim of this alleged fraud, please call 1-800-CALL-FBI or send an email to WCVictims@fbi.gov

On January 10, 2019, ALA and two of its executives were charged with mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and money laundering by a 14-count federal grand jury indictment. Court documents allege ALA and its subsidiaries sold what was purported to be workers’ compensation coverage that, in actuality, may offer no coverage. From at least 2011 onward, ALA offered what it purported to be a retirement pension plan to its clients, known by a variety of names including “ALA Trust,” the “ALA Retirement Plan Trust,” or the “ALA Retirement Plan and Trust,” that may also be invalid. Furthermore, according to court documents, ALA and its affiliates allegedly purported to offer a broad range of financial services to potential clients, including tax preparation and drafting of incorporation and other documents. It fraudulently marketed itself as a special type of labor organization under federal law and advertised that its customers could join ALA and receive financial services. 

The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 

This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI, United States Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, San Francisco Regional Office, and California Department of Insurance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Tierney is prosecuting the case.

Oregon Culture Trust
Salem, Ore. – Once again generous Oregonians stepped up for culture in 2018, donating more than $4.5 million to the Oregon Cultural Trust. The funds will support fiscal year 2020 grants to cultural organizations across the state.

“Our donors are incredibly loyal,” said Cultural Trust Executive Director Brian Rogers. “Once they realize that the cultural tax credit really works, they tend to continue using it. As always, we look forward to investing their generosity in all of the great cultural activities happening across the state this year.”

“As the Oregon Legislature considers a bill to extend the sunset of the cultural tax credit,” said Cultural Trust Board Chair Chuck Sams, “we are proud that our citizens continue to demonstrate their commitment to working with us to strengthen our state’s famous quality of life.”

The $4.53 million fundraising total includes 8,821 donations and 1,352 new donors. It also includes $381,124 raised through a partnership with the Willamette Week Give!Guide.

More than half of the money raised will be distributed directly to Oregon’s cultural groups this summer; the remainder will grow the Cultural Trust permanent fund. Cultural Trust grants are distributed through five Statewide Cultural Partners – Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Heritage, Oregon Historical Society, Oregon Humanities and the Oregon State Office of Historic Preservation – as well as to 45 county/tribal coalitions and directly to cultural nonprofits via Cultural Development Grants.

The 87 projects supported by Cultural Development Grants in FY2019 include:

  • The development of Astoria’s Scandinavian Heritage Park to honor the immigrant tradition that brought thousands of Scandinavians to Oregon’s North Coast in the late 1800s and early 1900s;
  • A remodel of Cottage Grove’s Cottage Theatre to increase seating, allowing 4,000 more patrons to experience performances each year;
  • Funding to support Portland Center Stage’s JAW 2019: A Playwrights Festival;
  • Restoration of the historic 1911 Belletable House southeast of Bend by the Fort Rock Valley Historical Society;
  • A half-time managing director for Ballet Folklorico Ritmo Alegre in Medford, ensuring sustainability of community dance classes and performances; and
  • Support of the “Re-TURN the Jantzen Beach Carousel” project, including the restoration of an original pony to illustrate the value of preserving an historic icon.

For a full list of Cultural Trust grant projects, including links to Cultural County Coalitions and several hundred county projects they are funding this year, visit www.culturaltrust.org.

Beyond the Baseline Event to Celebrate Women in Sports, Preview NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional

Portland, Ore. — Portland business and community leaders will come together to celebrate women in sports and preview the upcoming NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional for a special event, Beyond the Baseline: Women Winning in the Workplace, on the afternoon of Tuesday, February 26.  Oregon State University is preparing to host the NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional next month, with support from the Rose Quarter, Oregon Sports Authority and Travel Portland.

Tuesday’s Beyond the Baseline event is open to members of the media.

What:
Beyond the Baseline will feature a panel discussion with four Portland business leaders, focusing on how skills developed through athletic participation are equipping women to be successful in the workplace.  The event will also include a preview of the upcoming NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional, hosted by Oregon State University at Moda Center, and a celebration of Portland’s application to launch a chapter of WISE, a professional development and networking organization for women in the sports industry.

When:
Tuesday, February 26
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Where:
The Nightwood Society
2218 NE Broadway, Portland

Fatal Crash Spring Lake Road and Old Midland Road, in Klamath Basin

On Saturday, Feb. 23rd, Klamath 911 received a report of a single vehicle rollover with injuries on Spring Lake Road near Old Midland Road. Klamath County Sheriff’s deputies, Klamath Fire District 1, and Kingsley Field Fire responded.  Witness and first responders attempted life saving measures of from injuries suffered during the crash with no avail.

Levi James Ditmore, 26 years of age, from Merrill, OR was pronounced deceased at the scene. Ditmore was the single occupant. Alcohol and speed are being investigated as factors in the crash.

Attemped Car Jacking in Roseburg

On Saturday February 23, 2019 at approximately 5:30 P.M. Law Enforcement personnel were called to the Red Robin Restaurant in Roseburg, OR on the report of an attempted carjacking. The suspect or suspects were not able to steal the vehicle and fled in his original vehicle.

Roseburg Police Department was able to take one suspect into custody from this initial criminal act, who was left behind.  He has been identified as Jose Lopez-Jovel (31) from El Salvador. He has been lodged at the Douglas County Jail on warrants of fugitive from another state (Utah).

Law Enforcement located the suspect vehicle and the vehicle attempted to elude southbound on Interstate 5. During the pursuit, the suspect shot a firearm several times and struck a Commercial Motor Vehicle, a passenger car (striking the occupied child seat inside) and an Oregon State Police patrol car disabling it.

The pursuit continued south into Josephine County were law enforcement lost sight of the suspect. The suspect attempted to carjack another vehicle near a residence on Pickett Creek Rd. in Josephine County. The male and female couple were arriving home when the suspect attempted to car jack them. The suspect shot the male and assaulted the female, but was unable to steal their car. The male victim was critically injured and his identity and status will be released at a later date.

Law Enforcement again located the suspect vehicle and the driver again attempted to elude. The vehicle became disabled and the suspect was taken into custody. 

Suspect has been identified as Matthew Anthony Fanelli (30) of New Mexico. He has been lodged in the Josephine County Jail on multiple charges.

OSP and partner Oregon law enforcement agencies soon discovered these two suspects were associated with a multi-state crime spree of violent criminal activity.  The related criminal conduct appears to involve one or more persons of interest, so Oregon law enforcement is working with out-of-state and federal partners. 

As a matter of precaution, citizens along the route of the vehicle chase and associated crime scenes should be vigilant of their surrounding area, hitchhikers, and securing of their property.  Additionally, motorists traveling Interstate 5 during the vehicle pursuit, are requested to check their vehicles for evidence of firearm damage.

This is an ongoing investigation and more information will be released as it becomes available. Other than the carjacking victims in the Grants Pass Area, no additional injuries are reported.

Numerous agencies are involved to include Roseburg Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Grants Pass Department of Public Safety and Josephine County Sheriff’s Office.  The Federal Bureau of Investigations is also assisting.

Governor Kate Brown Leads National Discussion on Addressing Health Care Costs

Governors Brown and Charlie Baker discuss strategies to lower costs and improve health in their states

(Washington, D.C.) — Governor Kate Brown today led a discussion about state strategies to manage costs and improve value in health care at the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting. Governor Brown serves as the chair of the NGA’s Health and Human Services Committee, and was joined by her co-chair, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

“As governors, we see the persistent growth in health care costs placing significant pressure on our state budgets,” Governor Brown. “We want to make sure our citizen’s health is improving and that their taxpayer dollars are well-spent.

“Oregon has a long history of bipartisan support to provide affordable and accessible health care coverage for as many Oregonians as possible. Currently, 94 percent of adults – and 98 percent of children – have health care coverage. Oregon’s Medicaid reforms and the Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) model have saved taxpayers an estimated $2.2 billion in the last 5 years.”

Governor Brown spoke about the goals for “CCO 2.0,” the next phase of coordinated care contracts, as well as efforts to address costs more broadly in the state.

Following the state discussion, Grace Graham, health policy director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and Wendell Primus, senior advisor to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, spoke about federal efforts under way to address the issue.

Governor Brown Discusses Child Welfare Reform Efforts with Governors from Around the Country

Discussion focused on state efforts to keep children safe, invest in the child welfare workforce, and support foster and adoptive parents 

(Washington, D.C.) — Governor Kate Brown today shared her experience leading change in child welfare at the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting.

“As governors, we have a truly unique opportunity to re-envision current child welfare systems in our states to better meet the needs of children and families,” said Governor Brown. “And the issues in Oregon and nationally require us to think about this in a new way.

“In Oregon, while our Department of Human Services is focused on right-sizing the foster care system and keeping families together safely, my focus as Governor is to identify and address the root causes that devastate families and impact children.”

Governor Brown, who serves as chair of the NGA’s Health and Human Services Committee, spoke about the work of her Children’s Cabinet. The Children’s Cabinet brings together leaders across all disciplines to develop evidence-based solutions that will provide the biggest return on investment toward helping families thrive.

Click here to read their recommendations in Governor Brown’s Children’s Agenda.

Governor Brown also discussed initiatives to better support families and youth in Oregon’s foster care system.

Governor Brown was joined by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and a panel of experts that included Dr. Jeremy Kohomban of the Children’s Village, Sean Anders, writer and director of the film “Instant Family,” Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, and Louisiana First Lady Donna Edwards.

Must Read

Oregon Has One of the Nation’s First Prescription Drug Price Transparency Programs And It Is Ready To Hear From You!

Malea

Oregon Farm Bureau celebrates National Ag Week

Malea

Governor Kate Brown To Declare Girl Scout Leadership Day in Oregon March 12

Malea