Oregon News Update
THURSDAY, MARCH 7, 2019
NEW RULES GOVERNING SMOKE FROM CONTROLLED FOREST BURNS TAKE EFFECT IN TIME FOR SPRING BURNING SEASON
Revised rules that protect air quality in areas of Oregon susceptible to smoke from controlled forest burns have gone into effect just as the spring burning season gets underway. The new rules were adopted in January by the Oregon Board of Forestry and approved by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, following a multi-year review process by a broad-based committee.
The rules call on communities at risk for smoke to voluntarily develop response plans to protect especially vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly and people with heart and respiratory conditions. ODF and DEQ will collaborate with the Oregon Health Authority to identify communities ready to begin developing a response plan this year.
ODF Smoke Management Program Manager Nick Yonker said, “Response plans will detail how communities will be notified when unhealthy levels of smoke are expected. They will also outline how community officials in turn will notify residents so they can take specific actions to protect themselves and their children, such as bringing physical education classes indoors.”
Michael Orman, manager of Air Quality Planning at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, said the plans will help reduce the impacts of smoke to residents, whether it is from a controlled burn or a wildfire. “Prescribed fire is one of the many tools used to reduce the wildfire risks posed by forest fuel. When used properly, the smoke management program has a history of completing burn objectives while preventing smoke from entering communities, and DEQ expects this trend to continue. These new rules identify key elements that community plans should include, like smoke risks and what actions people can take to protect their health,” he said.
The Oregon Health Authority’s Chronic Disease Programs Manager Kirsten Aird said that communities can tailor their plans based on the severity and duration of smoke, and on what resources they are willing to commit. “One community might designate certain buildings as temporary clean-air spaces for the public, while another might develop a way to get air cleaners to highly vulnerable residents,” she said. “As communities complete their plans we’ll work to share those with other communities as potential models to consider.”
The revised rules continue to meet federal air quality standards, but now tie the definition of a smoke intrusion to specific levels of smoke particulates considered unhealthy for vulnerable populations during two time periods – a one-hour average and a 24-hour average. They replace the former definition, which was zero visible smoke.
“The rule revisions provide greater flexibility for those wanting to use controlled burns to improve the health of fire-adapted forestland,” said Yonker. “And they should increase the opportunities for landowners to reduce wildfire risk near communities by thinning overcrowded forests and burning the woody debris.”
Attorney General William P. Barr and U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams today announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history, surpassing last year’s nationwide sweep. The cases during this sweep involved more than 260 defendants from around the globe who victimized more than two million Americans, most of them elderly.
“Crimes against the elderly target some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” Attorney General William P. Barr said. “But thanks to the hard work of our agents and prosecutors, as well as our state and local partners, the Department of Justice is protecting our seniors from fraud. The Trump administration has placed a renewed focus on prosecuting those who prey on the elderly, and the results of today’s sweep make that clear. Today we are announcing the largest single law enforcement action against elder fraud in American history. This year’s sweep involves 13 percent more criminal defendants, 28 percent more in losses, and twice the number of fraud victims as last year’s sweep. I want to thank the Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, which led this effort, together with the Department’s Criminal Division, the more than 50 U.S. Attorneys’ offices, and the state and local partners who helped to make these results possible. Together, we are bringing justice and peace of mind to America’s seniors.”
Three District of Oregon cases were included in the sweep:
U.S. v. Stevens et al.
On January 8, 2019, a federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment charging Portland couple Ronnie Stevens, 49, and Tina Ephrem, 43, with wire fraud after they conspired to defraud an elderly couple of money and property. Stevens and Ephrem stole more than $1.5 million from the adult victims and spent the proceeds on utility bills, restaurants, cigars, retail purchases and travel to locations including Hawaii, Anaheim, California, Las Vegas, Nevada and the Spirit Mountain Lodge in Grand Ronde, Oregon. The couple was arrested on January 11, 2019 and ordered detained pending a five-day jury trial beginning on June 10, 2019. Read more.
U.S. v. Gregory
On January 22, 2019, Rodney Paul Gregory, 64, of Lebanon, Oregon, pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud and money laundering for his role in online romance scams, some of which targeted the elderly. Between May 2017 and January 2019, Gregory acted as a money mule, receiving proceeds from various scams and wiring the money into overseas bank accounts. Gregory faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years’ supervised release and will be sentenced on April 4, 2019. Read more.
U.S. v. Tucker
On February 12, 2019, Tayva Tucker, 41, of Madras, Oregon, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government funds for stealing nearly $40,000 in Social Security payments from ten mentally disabled adults. Tucker was employed by a social services organization where she oversaw outreach to mentally disabled clients as part of the organization’s mental health program. An organizational audit uncovered unusual movement of funds between various client accounts, as well as funds transferred from client accounts to Tucker. When confronted, Tucker admitted to taking clients’ Social Security benefits for her personal use. Tucker faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years’ supervised release and will be sentenced on April 25, 2019. Read more.
The Department took action in every federal district across the country, through the filing of criminal or civil cases or through consumer education efforts. In each case, offenders allegedly engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused alleged losses of millions of more dollars than last year, putting the total alleged losses at this year’s sweep at over three fourths of one billion dollars.
A fact-sheet with technical-support fraud case information can be found here.
Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of Victims of Crime, which can be reached at www.ovc.gov.
The Committee for Family Forestlands will meet Tuesday, March 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Salem. The meeting will be in the Santiam Room of Building D on the campus of the Oregon Department of Forestry, 2600 State Street. Among updates the committee will receive are ones about:
- bark beetles
- current legislation, including one allowing a second dwelling unit on family forestland
- a report on farms and forests
- the marbled murrelet rule analysis
The meeting is open to the public. Public comments will be accepted near the start of the meeting after approval of the minutes. The meeting space is accessible to persons with disabilities. Requests for an interpreter for the hearing impaired or other accommodations for persons with disabilities should be made at least 48 hours before the meeting by calling Susan Dominique at 503-945-7502.
The 13-member committee researches policies that affect family forests, natural resources and forestry benefits. Based on its findings, the committee recommends actions to the Oregon Board of Forestry and the State Forester. You can find more information at
The deadline is March 15 for the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) Region 10’s inaugural Youth Preparedness Camp in Stanwood, Wash. The camp runs Aug. 18-23 and will include learning about youth Community Emergency Response Teams with training in fire, medical, preparedness, psychology, search and rescue, as well as how to help until help arrives during an emergency, along with extracurricular activities such as arts, crafts, sports, games, and much more!
The camp tha will bring 40 youth in grades 8 through 12 from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska to Stanwood, is hosted and staffed by camp and emergency management professionals from different organizations including the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. Subject matter experts and local emergency responders will support curriculum delivery and introduce participants to various emergency response professions.
Youth at the camp will learn to safely assist in the immediate aftermath of a disaster when a professional response may be delayed or limited.
“Young people want to lead and plan, and this camp is a way to empower them to do that,” said FEMA Region 10 Administrator Michael O’Hare. “Working as a team, they will be building partnerships, learning about how to help respond in a disaster and developing the confidence to know that, as individuals, they can make a difference.”
Youth participants will also identify and develop a concept for a “give-back” project where they will utilize the skills developed during the camp to improve preparedness in their communities.
Application information is available at: www.fema.gov/region-x/community-preparedness. Applications will be accepted through March 15, 2019.
For further information regarding the camp, please contact FEMA Region 10, Individual and Community Preparedness staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-487-4943.
385TH BASIC POLICE CLASS TO GRADUATE FROM OREGON PUBLIC SAFETY ACADEMY
The Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) is pleased to announce the graduation of its 385th Basic Police Class.
The Basic Police Class is 16-weeks in length and includes dozens of training areas including survival skills, firearms, emergency vehicle operations, ethics, cultural diversity, problem solving, community policing, elder abuse, drug recognition, and dozens of other subjects.
Basic Police Class 385 will graduate at the Oregon Public Safety Academy at 4190 Aumsville Hwy SE in Salem, Oregon on Friday, March 15, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. with a reception immediately following the graduation. Sheriff Tim Svenson of Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office will be the speaker.
Graduating members of BP385 include:
Police Officer Carson Chapman
Medford Police Department
Police Officer Wayne Evans
Central Point Police Department
Police Officer Alexander Forsythe
Medford Police Department
Police Officer Ashlee Scottow
Medford Police Department
California Lottery Joins Statewide Problem Gambling Awareness Effort
Lottery Promotes Problem Gambling Awareness Month
SACRAMENTO – Every March the California Lottery joins the California Office of Problem Gambling (OPG) and other responsible gaming advocates during Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) to raise awareness of the serious issue of problem gambling and promote free treatment services provided by the OPG and available through the Problem Gambling Helpline 1-800-GAMBLER, by texting SUPPORT to 5332, or by visiting 800gambler.chat.
Gambling disorders have negative consequences. Gambling addition can contribute to poor mental and physical health, financial troubles, and problems with family, friends, and co-workers. PGAM highlights that it is never too late to turn your life around and get free and confidential help provided by the OPG.
Since 2010, through the California Gambling Education and Treatment Services program, the OPG has provided treatment to thousands of individuals who have suffered negative impacts due to a gambling disorder. Problem gamblers, and those who are affected by problem gambling, can receive referrals to treatment services at no cost by through the Helpline or by visiting the OPG’s website. Treatment services may include brief interventions, one-on-one counseling, and even residential care. All treatment services are confidential and provided by licensed mental health providers trained in the treatment of gambling disorders.
The California Lottery provides support by promoting the 1-800-GAMBLER Helpline on lottery tickets, social media channels, the official Lottery website, and newspaper advertisements. PGAM messaging can also be found at more than 23,000 California Lottery retail locations via electronic monitors and “Responsible Gambling Guidelines” brochures.
“The California Lottery remains committed to encouraging responsible gaming and promoting public awareness about available treatment options,” said Director Hugo López.
As a World Lottery Association Level 4 recipient, the California Lottery has been awarded the highest level of responsible gaming recognition and it continues to ensure that responsible gaming considerations are part of its daily operations.
For more information on National Problem Gambling Month, visit OPG’s website at http://problemgambling.ca.gov. To learn more about the California Lottery’s Responsible Gaming Program visit www.californialottery.com.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2019
Christopher Adam Strahan, 23, of Corvallis, Oregon, pleaded guilty today to threatening a campus shooting and was sentenced to time served in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.
According to court documents, on February 27, 2018, the Director of Public Safety for Oregon State University (OSU) was notified of Twitter posts threatening a campus shooting at OSU. A request to Twitter revealed the account in question, “Hard Belly Dorm,” was owned by Strahan. A detective from Oregon State Police (OSP) positively identified Strahan from the account’s profile photo. The detective was familiar with Strahan from an investigation in February 2017 for similar threats to OSU.
Later on February 27, a 911 tip produced a possible residential address for Strahan. OSP and FBI responded to the address in an attempt to locate him. While at the address, Strahan arrived in his own vehicle, was arrested and transported to the Benton County Jail.
Strahan was held in the Benton County Jail from February 27 until he was ordered detained pending trial in federal court and transferred to FCI Sheridan on March 27, 2018.
As a condition of Strahan’s supervised release, he is prohibited from contacting or entering the property of Oregon State University or the Linn Benton Community College.
Strahan was previously convicted in Benton County Circuit Court of second degree disorderly conduct for Twitter threats made in February 2017. He was sentenced to 20 days in jail, civilly committed to the state mental hospital for six months and ordered to pay $438.
This case was investigated by OSP, the Corvallis Police Department and the FBI and prosecuted by Amy Potter, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
Name Change Likely to Tule Lake National Monument
It’s not official yet, but get ready to see some new signs and stationery.
Legislation to change the name from the Tule Lake Unit of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument to Tule Lake National Monument has passed the House and Senate and now awaits an expected signature of approval from President Donald Trump.
“It was something we hoped would happen,” said Angela Sutton, acting superintendent for the Tule Lake Unit and Lava Beds National Monument. She said no formal steps will be taken until Trump acts on the bill.
Tule Lake’s name re-designation is a small part of the broad-sweeping, 260-page Senate Bill 47 National Resources Management Act that was easily approved by bipartisan votes — 92 to 8 in the Senate on Feb. 12 and 363 to 62 on Feb. 26 in the House of Representatives.
The bill was approved by all California representatives, including Reps. Doug LaMalfa and Tom McClintock, both Republicans from far northern California, and all Oregon representatives, including Rep. Greg Walden, whose district borders California.
Both California senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, and both Oregon senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, supported the bill.
Senator Merkley Decides Not To Run for The White House
SALEM — U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon announced Tuesday he has decided after months of consideration not to enter the increasingly crowded race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Merkley said in an interview that he decided he would be more effective in championing issues by running for his third term in the Senate instead of being a presidential candidate.
The large field of Democratic contenders for the White House was not a major factor in his decision, nor was an Oregon law that prevents him from being on the ballot for more than one elected office in any given year Merkley said.
“I’ve never shied from a fight, and there’s nothing about the field that would make me reluctant to be there,” Merkley told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday night.