Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 1/31/22 – Drugs Found During Traffic Stop in Klamath County by OSP Trooper; Washington State Man Arrested

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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Partly cloudy with a high near 38 degrees. Overnight, cloudy with a low around 21. Light east northeast wind.

Wednesday Partly sunny, with a high near 46. Overnight, cloudy and a low of 24.
Thursday Mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. East wind 8 to 13 mph becoming south southeast 16 to 21 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 33 mph. Overnight a slight chance of rain mixed with snow, low around 29. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Friday Mostly cloudy, with a high near 44.
Saturday A slight chance of rain after 5pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 45.
Sunday Rain and snow showers likely, mainly before 5pm. Cloudy, with a high near 42.

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Hiway 97 at LaPine

Today’s Headlines

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Methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl recovery became part of a traffic stop and arrest in Klamath County.

Oregon State Police (OSP) report that a Oregon State Police Senior Trooper found the drugs with the driver when he stopped an SUV for a lane usage violation on Highway 97, milepost 276, near Klamath Falls on January 18, 2023, around 11:26am.

OSP says during the traffic stop, the trooper “noticed signs of criminal activity, and a search of the vehicle was conducted.  During the search of the vehicle, the Sr. Trooper located approximately 10 pounds of suspected methamphetamine, 3 pounds of suspected heroin, and 1.4 pounds of suspected counterfeit pills containing fentanyl- all concealed within the vehicle.”

OSP says 30-year-old Sergio Luis Salazar-Mercado of Wapato, Washington was was taken into custody as the auto’s driver and was lodged in the Klamath County Jail.

The Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET) and the OSP-Criminal Investigations Division-Drug Enforcement Section (Domestic Highway Enforcement Initiative) were involved in the incident investigation.  The Oregon State Police-Domestic Highway Enforcement Initiative is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).  The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives, including the OSP-DHE Initiative.

Klamath County Schools are struggling to address the “vaping epidemic,” according to Healthy Klamath board member Miranda Hill.

Hill, who is the program coordinator for Klamath County Public Health and serves as a board member with Healthy Klamath, said that, following a change in Oregon law in 2022 which decriminalizes minors’ possession of vaping products, schools are seeking a better solution.

At the regular Healthy Klamath board meeting Thursday, Jan. 26, Hill said they are in the process of “strengthening” the county’s current tobacco license regulations.

Hill said the board intends to go before the Klamath County Board of County Commissioners to present an ordinance that would implement a three-strike rule for businesses which sell tobacco products to minors.

First offense, Hill said, receives a warning. The second earns a business a $400 fine. If a third offense occurs, the business will lose its license.

If the offending shop is located within one-quarter of a mile to a youth-serving facility — such as county schools and daycares — it cannot be placed under new ownership nor be replaced by another business which sells nicotine products.

Businesses that already operate within that proximity will be grandfathered in, Hill said. Other efforts to combat minors’ use of nicotine and other illicit substances were reported as well, including an eight-session course at Klamath Union, presented by Klamath Basin Behavioral Health.

And, once a week at Eagle Ridge and Bonanza schools, Hill personally teaches a class to students who have been caught vaping.

This week T3 Electrical & Construction will be doing work for Pacific Power to do direct boring along Dahlia St between Almond St and N Eldorado Blvd.

Traffic Control, including flaggers, will be in place during construction hours. Crews will be working during both daytime and nighttime hours.

Please take caution when traveling through construction areas. Construction expected from January 30 – February 3. For more information, please contact Pacific Power at (541) 883-7821.

As the winter season is upon Southern Oregon, Klamath and Lake counties can be expecting extremely cold temperatures for the next couple of days. 

Thrive Church has been providing a warming shelter for about eight to nine years. The church opens its doors to people in the community who may not have a place to stay warm during the winter.

Kevin Drake, lead pastor of Thrive Church said they provide beds for about 35 people who may suffer from alcohol or homelessness. 

This year, the weather was cold enough for the church to open in November. But, Drake said they do not have enough staffing or volunteers to open earlier than their scheduled date.  Throughout the Klamath Falls community, emergency services help the church find people in need during freezing temperatures. 

Thrive Church warming center is open seven days a week from December 1 until March 15. The center is available from 7:00 pm to 8:30 am.  They are located at 235 South Laguna street.

Klamath Community College, Klamath County and the Oregon Child Development Coalition have established an agreement to provide child care services on the KCC campus.

Utilizing KCC’s building 1, OCDC has established facilities for Oregon pre-K Head Start preschool child daycare with priority for children of active KCC students and staff. The childcare initiative is phase-one of a greater partnership between KCC, Klamath County, and OCDC for permanent early childhood services and expansion of KCC’s Education program.

The placement of OCDC services on campus is temporary until a permanent facility can be completed. Several acres of property on South Sixth Street opposite the KCC campus has been donated by Klamath County for development of a new KCC Early Learning Center.

Plans for the new permanent site include increased KCC and OCDC office space, classrooms, and child care services for development of student-teachers through KCC’s Education program. Once completed, on-site child care services will be eligible for students, staff, and the greater Klamath community; fulfilling a glaring and growing need for early care and education for young children in Klamath Falls.

KCC currently offers a two-year Early Childhood Educator Emphasis Associate of Applied Science degree, as well as a one-year Early Childhood Educator Certificate and less-than-one-year Early Education Career Pathway Certificate in both English and Spanish.

The Klamath Falls Lithia Toyota dealership was given some big news this week.  On Tuesday, Jan. 24, the store was notified it is the No. 1 Lithia auto dealership in the country.

Of Lithia’s 282 locations spread across 27 states, Klamath Falls Lithia Toyota was one of the 125 nominated dealerships to compete for the prestigious Founder’s Cup and were the selected winners.

Each dealership is nominated by regional managers. Of the 125 dealerships another review is performed by CEOs and the Vice President of Lithia to dwindle down the nominated 125 to the top 56 dealerships which become known as the Partners Group. From those 56 in the Partners Group, further reviews are completed to create the final four Founder’s Cup recipients. Klamath Falls Lithia Toyota was chosen as number one.

Decisions are made based predominantly by the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) scores. Last year, Klamath Falls Lithia Toyota also won the President’s Award for customer satisfaction.

Seventy board members and supporters gathered to welcome Juan Maldonado, general manager of Klamath Falls Toyota as the 2023 board president of the local United Way. The board also acknowledged numerous individuals and companies for their service to the Klamath County community last Tuesday during the 78th annual United Way of the Klamath Basin luncheon.

The United Way of the Klamath Basin held its 78th annual luncheon meeting Tuesday, Jan. 24 at the Waffle Hut as 70 board members and supporters gathered to welcome according to a release.

Amber Gomes, United Way’s 2022 board president, opened the meeting thanking everyone for their support and presented Kristin Sayles with the United Way Award of Excellence for serving 24 years on the board of directors as campaign chairperson (2000), president (2003) and personnel chairperson for 17 years.

Campaign Chairperson Jenine Stuedli announced that $450,000, or 89%, of the $507,000 Community Campaign goal has currently been raised.

The Leadership Giving Key Club, according to Stuedli, has raised $202,000 from 101 donors so far and 18 workplace campaigns were presented a Spirit Award for achieving a minimum 5% increase in donations over the prior year.

Workplaces receiving a Bronze Spirit award for employees donating a minimum average gift of $25 per year included Sky Lakes Medical Center, Wilsonart, Brixner Junior High School, Falcon Heights Academy, Merrill Elementary School, Klamath Food Bank and Klamath Union High School.

Silver Spirit awards (for donating a minimum average gift of $50) included the Klamath County Schools administration and SPOKES Unlimited.

Gold Spirit awards (for donating a minimum of $75) included the Klamath County Library, Lutheran Community Services and the YMCA of Klamath Falls.

Platinum Spirit awards (for donating a minimum of $100 per employee) included Klamath Advocacy Center, Foster Grandparents program, (Klamath County Financial Services, Counsel & Risk Management, and Management Information System) and Klamath Falls Toyota.

For chairing the Klamath County Government United Way employee campaign for two consecutive years and raising a total of $23,925 from all employees, Jessica Chastain, was presented with the 2022 United Way Campaign Volunteer of the Year award. Chastain is the director of the County’s Management Information Systems. Her department had a 34% increase in contributions for $268 per person.

Contributions to the United Way are accepted year-round and can be sent to United Way of the Klamath Basin at 136 N. Third St., Klamath Falls, OR 97601.

Around the state of Oregon

Manhunt Continues For Suspect After Car Recovered Ditched Over Embankment

Victim Still In Critical Condition – Grants Pass Police Say Man Suspected Of Torture And Kidnapping Of Woman In Using Dating Apps To Evade Police

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Benjamin Obadiah Foster, an extremely dangerous suspect wanted for Attempted Murder, Kidnapping, and Assault, remains on the run. Detectives and Fugitive Apprehension Teams are continuing to follow investigative leads.

It is possible that Benjamin Foster may attempt to change his appearance by shaving his beard and hair or by changing his hair color. The Grants Pass Police Department asks the public to pay particular attention to Foster’s facial structure and eyes since those features are very difficult to change. Additional photos of Foster, as they become available, will be released to assist in his identification.

Foster narrowly eluded a police raid last Thursday in the nearby unincorporated community of Wolf Creek and may have changed his appearance by shaving his beard and hair or changing his hair color, police said.

Police initially released a photo of Foster showing him with shoulder-length brown hair, but he had cut it and grown a thicker beard since the photo was made. He may have altered his appearance further since then, Hattersley said.

“We’re getting all kinds of calls about people walking along I-5, they have long beards and long hair,” Hattersley said. “We have a feeling that’s not really what he is looking like at this point.”

Police offered a $2,500 reward Friday for information leading to Foster’s arrest and prosecution. None of the 50 or so tips that have come in, mostly by phone, since then has been solid enough to lead to Foster, who is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and assault, according to Hattersley.

The Thursday night raid in Wolf Creek, some 20 miles north of Grants Pass, involved Grants Pass police, sheriff’s deputies, an Oregon State Police SWAT team and federal agents.

Foster, who had been staying on family property there, slipped away. His car was found over an embankment. Forested mountains surround the community, but investigators believe that instead of disappearing solo into the wilderness, Foster had help getting out of the area.

They arrested 68-year-old Tina Marie Jones of Wolf Creek last Thursday , and she has a court date this week accused of helping Foster.

She has a Friday Josephine County Circuit Court appearance, accused of hindering criminal prosecution.

Court records today say she helped Foster destroy and conceal crime evidence.  Police say Jones followed Foster last Thursday, January 26, 2023, to a remote location at Wolf Creek.  The court document says Foster intentionally drove his vehicle off of an embankment to destroy and hide crime evidence, then Jones gave him a ride to safety.  Josephine County jail’s inmate record shows she’s in the jail on $25,000 bond.

Grants Pass police want Foster for attempted murder, assault and kidnapping charges.

Grants Pass police announced Friday that Foster was using online dating applications to contact unsuspecting people to lure them assisting with his escape or to potentially find new victims. Hattersley said Monday that investigators no longer believe Foster was trying to find more victims but could have been seeking an unwitting person to help him avoid the intensive police manhunt.

“That’s why we put that out there,” he said. “We don’t want someone to unknowingly think that they’re meeting some great guy that’s actually a wanted felon that’s trying to get away.”

Tips regarding sightings of Benjamin Foster continue to flood into the department, and we are confident this dangerous criminal will soon be captured with the assistance of a concerned citizen. The Grants Pass Police Department appreciates the engagement of the community in this investigation, as well as the extensive media coverage from across the nation.

Foster was released from custody in October 2021 by Nevada prison officials on the same day he was transferred to the state’s custody to serve a kidnapping sentence, authorities said Monday. He faced decades in prison in Nevada after he was charged in 2019 with five felonies, including assault and battery. But a deal with Clark County prosecutors allowed him to instead plead guilty to felony and misdemeanor battery, and a judge sentenced him in September 2021 to serve between one and 2 1/2 years in a state prison.

William Quenga, a spokesperson for the Nevada prison system, told the media that Foster arrived Oct. 18, 2021, at a prison intake facility but was released the same day, because the judge had factored into Foster’s punishment the 729 days he had spent in jail awaiting trial.

That means Foster had served his minimum sentence behind bars but was a half-year from serving the maximum time given by the judge.

The victim in the Oregon case was found unconscious and bound in Grants Pass, Oregon, on Jan. 24. She was hospitalized in critical condition and has not regained consciousness since then, said Grants Pass Police Lt. Jeff Hattersley.

Before moving to Oregon, Foster held his then-girlfriend captive inside her Las Vegas apartment for two weeks before she managed to escape in October 2019. Police said the woman suffered seven broken ribs, two black eyes and had been choked to the point of unconsciousness during her captivity.

Foster was released from custody two years later after reaching his deal with Clark County prosecutors.

Police advise people to call 911 with any information about Foster’s location.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Grants Pass Police Tip-Line at 541-237-5607. Citizens should not approach this extremely dangerous suspect and call 9-1-1.

Lawmakers In Salem Are Hearing A Bill That Would Restore Emergency Protections For Tenants

Oregon tenants could soon get more time to pay their rent or find a new place to live when facing eviction.

Senate Bill 799 would return a series of rules for landlords that were in effect during the early part of the pandemic. The proposed changes include giving tenants a 60 day “safe harbor period,” which would prevent landlords from evicting while the tenant has a rental assistance application pending. The bill would extend the 72-hour eviction notice timeline to 10 days. The proposed bill would also require landlords to accept payment after the termination notice has expired.

Furthermore, the bill would require a landlord to accept payment before a tenant is formally evicted. The bill could bring welcome relief for renters who are already face mounting challenges in 2023. The state rent control law, tied to inflation, has set the maximum rent increase to 14.6% this year, which will put keeping up with rent payments out of reachfor many Oregonians. And even finding housing may be unfeasible — the state is currently short more than 100,000 housing units, a problem Gov. Tina Kotek has pledged to solve with an ambitious housing production plan.

Pandemic-era rules limiting evictions began to expire last year, leading to a marked increase in eviction filings. Since October, when the last of eviction protections expired, there have been an average of 2,155 eviction filings per month statewide, according to the Oregon Law Center. The organization, which provides free legal help to low-income Oregon residents, reported that was a 43% increase in average monthlyfilings from pre-pandemic levels. More than 85% of those filings are for nonpayment. A team of researchers at Portland State University also maintain an online database tracking evictions statewide.

Simply put, Senate Bill 799 would make it harder to evict a tenant. Landlord groups say that it would make it harder to evict any tenant — not just those who haven’t or can’t pay their rent. Supporters, meanwhile, believe that it will prevent people from becoming homeless.

SB 799 would require landlords to extend the “notice to pay” window from 72 hours to three days after an eviction notice is posted. It would also increase the notice period for evictions and postpone evictions up to 60 days if a person is applying for rental assistance.

“Our data shows that when the safe harbor was available, 80% of the 2,000-plus tenants who accessed the safe harbor in court ultimately stayed in their housing,” said Becky Straus, managing attorney of the Oregon Law Center’s Eviction Defense Project. In the absence of those protections, Straus said, the number of tenants forced into move-out agreements in court nearly tripled.

The real number of evictions is likely much higher, the Oregon Law Center reported. Most people are evicted informally and never even make it to court.

“I know the challenges and barriers of having an eviction on your record can be detrimental to families,” said Kamelah Adams, a business owner, renter and former housing stability specialist who testified in favor of the bill. “It’s hard to find an apartment or house once you have that on your record.”

Opposition to the bill comes mainly from landlord groups, but supporters of the bill said reducing evictions is a crucial step toward addressing the state’s homelessness crisis.

Since there’s been several delays with Oregon’s pandemic rental assistance program — the bill would also require local governments and programs like that to inform landlords and tenants about the status of rental assistance.

Landlords say as far as nonpayment evictions the proposed bill is one thing — but they fear it will make it harder to evict someone who is a bad tenant or a bad neighbor.

Senator Kayse Jama (D-Portland), the chair of the Senate Committee on Housing and Development, said the hearing is the beginning of an important conversation about reforms to the eviction system and how they could prevent homelessness.

“Our goal is to run an inclusive process that leads to people staying in their homes and paying rent, while making sure Oregon attracts and retains affordable rental housing,” she said in a statement released Monday morning. “Homelessness hurts us all – from the human beings living on our streets, to families struggling to meet their basic needs, to the folks losing rental income and property value. We have to come together and leave no stone unturned in pursuit of reasonable, effective solutions.”

720,000 Oregon Residents Face Drastic Food Budget Cuts

Oregon’s food banks are bracing for a surge in demand in March as hundreds of thousands of state residents face drastic cuts to their grocery budgets.

More than 720,000 Oregon residents rely on the state’s nutritional supplement program for their food. In April 2020, after the pandemic struck and many people lost wages and jobs, federal agencies increased monthly SNAP benefits by nearly 70% to an average of nearly $450 per household per month. But in March, those monthly emergency funds will be gone, reducing the average benefit to nearly $270 a month for about 410,000 homes.

And while food prices have come down a bit, it still costs a lot more to support a family today than it did in 2020.

“As Oregon continues to be impacted by COVID-19, we know that without this emergency food assistance, some in Oregon could experience hardship and starvation,” Fariborz Pakseresht, director of the Oregon Department of Human Services, said in a statement explaining the cut was announced.

The legislature is considering a trio of bills to increase food aid, but their prospects are unclear and the session runs until June 25 (see sidebar). Meanwhile, the department is urging Oregonians to prepare for the cut and identify food supplies in the area. The Oregon Food Bank, which serves 1,400 free grocery markets, pantries, eat-in spots and delivery programs nationwide, is also bracing for increased demand.

“We’re placing more orders so our warehouse is full to capacity,” Oregon Food Bank CEO Susannah Morgan told the Capital Chronicle.

The food bank served about 850,000 people in Oregon in 2019. But demand surged to 1.7 million who needed help in 2020 as the pandemic spread, leading to the closure of businesses and schools and the loss of jobs. As federal aid kicked in and people got back to work, about 1.2 million relied on the Oregon Food Bank network in 2021, Morgan said.

With food inflation soaring to about 10% last year, about 1.5 million have relied on the Oregon Food Bank’s network. Though grocery inflation has fallen, Morgan expects the company to see similar demand this year, with a pick-up from March.

About 40% of the food distributed by the food bank and its affiliates comes from the US Department of Agriculture, and about the same amount comes from the Oregon food system. This includes donations from retail stores and farmers.

The food bank and its affiliates require residents to earn less than 300% of the federal poverty line, or $43,740 per year for one person and $90,000 per year for a family of four. The SNAP income requirements are stricter: an individual cannot earn more than $17,667, and a family of four is limited to a maximum annual income of $36,075.

“We know that food is medicine; It is the most important element next to water,” Petrona Dominquez Francisco, leadership coordinator at Adelante Mujeres, said in a statement. “Tackling food insecurity and food accessibility will impact other social and economic challenges that we see in our communities. So I ask and encourage everyone to support this effort.” — OREGON FOOD BANK: https://www.oregonfoodbank.org

Roles For Chiropractors Will Expand If Oregon Bill Passes

Health care staffing shortages in Oregon have forced several new proposed measures for 2023, one of which is a legislative proposal allowing chiropractors to be listed as medical providers qualified to be attending physicians in workers compensation claims.

House Bill 3150 would also “remove limits on duration of medical service and number of visits and certain areas of practice for chiropractors serving as attending physicians in cases involving injured workers,” according to Jon Campisi at BusinessInsurance.com.

The bill also allows injured workers to receive compensable medical treatment from a primary care physician or chiropractor who is not a member of a managed care organization but serves as the individual’s regular doctor.

The bill would also authorize temporary disability payments for longer durations while authorizing chiropractors to provide medical services. Another bill introduced prevents employers from forcing employees to use paid personal time off, vacation or sick days to attend doctor appointments relating to compensable injury.

The two bills were introduced on Jan. 14 of this year and, filed as emergency legislation, would take effect immediately upon passage.

“We’re experiencing a very bad workforce exodus in the public behavioral health system,” Cheryl Ramirez, executive director of the Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs, told the Oregon House Behavioral Health and Health Care Committee, according to The Lund Report. “It was bad already, but since COVID, it’s just multiplied. We probably could use at least double the number of workforce than we have in the public behavioral system right now.”

Some legislation introduced seeks to relax health care licensing requirements and offer financial incentives. Becky Hultberg, president and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, said 75% of hospitals lost money in the third quarter of 2022.

Also this year an estimated 300,000 Oregon citizens could lose their state health insurance as coverage offered during the COVID-19 pandemic for low-income coverage comes to an end. Approximately 426,000 Oregonians will also lose supplemental food benefits expanded during the pandemic due to federal funding ending.

Oregon Lawmakers Propose Bills To Keep Prescription Costs Down

Oregon lawmakers are considering legislation aimed at keeping drug prices affordable for patients. Prescription drug prices account for a share of rising health care costs in the U.S.

Oregon lawmakers are considering legislation to rein in soaring prescription drug prices for Oregonians and help rural independent pharmacies stay open.

Prescriptions are an expensive part of Oregonians’ health care, especially for specialty or cancer medications necessary to treat life-threatening illnesses.

The highest priced drug in Oregon in 2022 was Carvykti, a new drug that costs $465,000 on the wholesale market for a one-time infusion and uses a patient’s white blood cells to target cancer, according to a 2022 state report . Wholesale prices influence overall drug costs but they are different from what consumers pay, which varies based on insurance plans.

Oregon lawmakers passed bills in 2018 and 2021 to increase the transparency of drug prices for Oregonians and establish a state prescription affordability board that recommends ways to make prescriptions cheaper. But the program lacks regulatory muscle to control prices.

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry’s system of selling drugs to pharmacists has become so complex and expensive, it threatens to put independent pharmacies out of business – and reduce access for people in small Oregon towns.

“The rural pharmacies in my district are closing or struggling to stay open,” Rep. Christine Goodwin, R-Canyonville, said in a presentation Tuesday to the House Committee on Behavioral Health and Health Care. “The low reimbursements to pharmacies are harmful to patients because staff and hours of operation must be decreased. And the result is long wait lines, sometimes as long as 24 to 72 hours. For vital medications, this may have serious consequences.”

Goodwin and other lawmakers are considering ways to regulate a behind-the-scenes operator in the drug industry: prescription benefit managers. They serve as a middleman between insurance companies that cover patients and pharmacies and drug manufacturers.

They negotiate the prices that are reimbursed to the drug maker and the pharmacist and are part of a complex system that includes drug manufacturers, pharmacies, insurers and prescription benefit managers.

As brokers, they have the ability to influence drug pricing, availability and the reimbursements pharmacies receive. Their business practices can impact whether a pharmacy can stay open – and the prices Oregonians pay for their medicine.

The bills under consideration:

  • House Bill 2716 would prohibit prescription benefit managers from discriminating against pharmacies that participate in the federal 340B program, which provides patients drugs at discounted prices.
  • House Bill 2725 would prohibit prescription benefit managers from charging certain fees to rural pharmacies. They can cause pharmacies to lose money on some sales, supporters say.
  • House Bill 2715 would prevent insurers and pharmacy benefit managers from requiring patients to go to a pharmacy to get physician-administered drugs. These medications usually involve an infusion or injection a patient receives in a doctor’s office.
  • House Bill 3015 would prohibit pharmacy benefit managers from retroactively charging pharmacies fees after reimbursing them.
  • House Bill 3013 would require pharmacy benefit managers to be licensed by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. The bill would allow pharmacies to appeal price disputes directly to the state agency instead of the pharmacy benefit manager.

In rural Oregon, the need for more regulation to control prices is acute, pharmacists said in testimony.

“Prescription benefit managers must be reined in,” Michael Daher, owner of Myrtle Drugs, located south of Roseburg in Myrtle Creek, told the committee. “I implore you to vote for the bills.”

Country music sensation and 8-time Grammy Award winner, Carrie Underwood, is set to perform in the Rogue Valley on Father’s Day this summer at the first ever Rogue Music Festival, presented by the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe.

Eric Church will start things off Friday, June 16, with Underwood headlining and closing out the inaugural 2023 festival Saturday, June 17.

The Jackson County Fairgrounds and the Expo said, “She will certainly be the most incredible signature ending leaving our guests with the anticipation for 2024. There couldn’t be a better artist under the sun to bless our crowd with her amazing talent here in Central Point, Oregon, for our founding year of Rogue Music Fest.”

Nine artists will perform at the Rogue Music Festival. The Expo will announce those names at a later date. The concert is Father’s Day weekend June 16 and 17, 2023.

Tickets are on sale now at Sherm’s Food 4 Less, Expo Box Office, and online at www.RogueMusicFest.com.

Cannabis Vape Products Recalled By OLCC Products Contaminated With Pesticides

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) is issuing a recall for two retail vaping products produced by an OLCC licensed processor that tested positive for pesticides. The products were sold by recreational marijuana licensed retailers to consumers across the state from June 10, 2022 to January 24, 2023.

The OLCC has issued a notice to retailers to halt the sale of the affected products and is utilizing the state’s Cannabis Tracking System (CTS) to prevent further distribution and sale. The products do not conform to state standards regarding cannabis product testing and therefore should not be sold or consumed.

The products were tested for pesticides and were found to have failed for two pesticides: Pyrethrins and Piperonyl butoxide (PBO). At this stage in the OLCC’s investigation, it appears that PREE Laboratories, the OLCC licensed lab responsible for testing the products, incorrectly entered into CTS that the products had “passed” a pesticides test, when in fact the products had “failed.” OLCC’s investigation is continuing.

Under Oregon Health Authority (OHA) rules, cannabis products like vape cartridges cannot contain amounts of Pyrethirns greater than 1 part per million (ppm) and PBO cannot contain amounts greater than 2 ppm. The original test results showed that the impacted products contain 1.58 ppm of Pyrethrins and 58.7 ppm of PBO. More than 1,000 units of the vape cartridges were sold to 29 OLCC retailers.

According to CTS, at least 812 units of the two affected products have been sold to consumers since the contaminated cartridges reached the licensed retail market last spring; the retailers still have approximately 240 units on hand according to CTS. As a result, the recall includes two products sold under product names produced by Swell Companies

Limited identified below:

  • Product name: La Mota – Jack Herer vape cartridge | Manufacture Date: 6/3/2021 (Label ID 6466) | Tested Date: 5/17/2022 | Sold starting 11/11/2022
  • Product name: Her – Girl’s Night Out vape cartridge | Manufacture Date: 4/27/2022 (Label ID 6114) | Tested Date: 5/17/2022 | Sold starting 07/10/2022 January 26, 2023

OLCC staff are continuing to work with retailer licensees to remove the products from being offered for sale and an investigation is ongoing into the cause of the issue. Consumers who purchased the recalled products are encouraged to destroy them or contact the retailer they purchased them from to determine if they will accept a return. The OLCC has not received any health-related complaints from the use of the recalled products.

 Consumers with health-related concerns about a recalled product should contact the Oregon Poison Center at 800-222-1222, or their medical provider. Consumers who consumed this product may experience respiratory irritation. Symptoms of respiratory irritation are coughing, wheezing, and triggering asthma symptoms in people who already have it.

If consumers have other product related complaints related to this recall, they should notify the OLCC at olcc.recalls@oregon.gov and include any information they have, including the consumer’s name and phone number, or alternative means of contact.

Registration for 2023 Josephine County Search & Rescue Academy Open

The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue Division will hold its annual Search & Rescue Academy to train citizens interested in becoming Search & Rescue volunteers. The academy training will take place at Josephine County Search & Rescue located at 250 Tech Way, Grants Pass, OR.

The academy training consists of Basic Survival Skills, First Aid/CPR, Land Navigation, Search Techniques, Legal Issues and other search & rescue related topics. Completion of the Academy and related testing and background check will qualify an attendee as a SAR volunteer.                   

The cost for the academy is $50 per student, which covers training materials and the compass used by SAR. The $50 fee can be paid in cash or a check made out to Friends of SAR (a 501(c)3, non-profit).

The Academy begins Tuesday, February 21 and continues every Tuesday and Thursday evening (6-9 PM) and Saturday (8 AM-5 PM) until March 18th.  After a break for the schools’ spring break and the Easter holiday, a final exercise will be held on Saturday/Sunday April 15-16. 

Register online at https://bit.ly/3QqTctX or email sar@josephinecounty.gov for registration link. 

New round of Electric Mobility Grants connects more Oregonians to EVs and their benefits

More than $2 million in funding will help bring EV charging stations, electric trucks and work vehicles, e-bikes and more to rural and underserved communities  

Portland, Ore. (January 30, 2023) — Pacific Power recently awarded more than $2 million to 18 cities, small towns, community colleges and nonprofits throughout the state for projects that will connect more Oregonians to the cost-saving, clean-air benefits of electric vehicles and electric mobility — including residents of underserved and rural communities that Pacific Power serves. 

For example, in Sweet Home, Pendleton and Grass Valley, Pacific Power Electric Mobility Grants will help bring EV charging stations to places where few or none exist. In Central Oregon, low-income residents in Bend may receive vouchers for e-bikes, and a community-driven coalition will map out the first EV charging and car share plan for the region. In Multnomah County, the public library, as well as nonprofits that repair homes and improve energy efficiency in diverse and historically underserved communities, will be able to purchase electric trucks and vans to deliver services.

“Pacific Power is hard at work building a safe, reliable, affordable clean energy future. A critical part of that work is helping to ensure that Oregonians at all income levels, in all kinds of communities, have access to electric transportation and the economic growth and vitality it can bring,” says Kate Hawley, electric transportation senior product manager for Pacific Power. “These Electric Mobility Grants are an important way that we can strengthen the communities we serve and help them thrive.” 

Since 2020, Pacific Power has distributed more than $4.5 million in Electric Mobility Grants to Oregon communities. Funding is made possible by the Oregon Clean Fuels Program, which is administered by the state Department of Environmental Quality and aims to reduce the carbon  intensity of Oregon’s transportation fuels. Pacific Power raises funds for the Electric Mobility Grants through the sale of Clean Fuels Program credits. 

In addition to electric mobility Grants, Pacific Power is helping Oregonians plug into the benefits of electric mobility by offering valuable customer rebates and other incentives for homeowners, businesses and multifamily property owners who install EV chargers. A free technical assistance program is available for businesses, property owners, and organizations, which provides a feasibility analysis for EV charging options, costs, rates and best practices for siting, installing and managing equipment.

Pacific Power is also expanding Oregon’s EV charging infrastructure beyond big cities with the installation of public fast-charging stations in Klamath Falls, Madras, Otis and Mill City. 

These efforts to help more Oregon drivers choose electric are also helping communities improve air quality by reducing vehicle emissions. Gas-engine cars and trucks are the number one source of air pollution in Oregon, according to the Department of Environmental Quality’s 2022 Biennial Energy Report. EVs with zero tailpipe emissions are key to improving air quality over the long term. 

Previous rounds of Pacific Power Electric Mobility Grants have helped communities purchase electric tractors in Prineville, an electric school bus in Bend, an EV and charger for a Portland health clinic, and a traveling EV educational exhibit that visits rural parts of the state. 

The 2022 grant recipients and projects are similarly creative and wide-ranging:

  • Chiloquin Visions in Progress (Klamath County). Funds will be used to install a Level 2 charger and DC fast charger in downtown Chiloquin, a rural area with few charging options. Chargers will help draw visitors to a business district with an art center, grocery store and county library. 
  • Oregon Environmental Council (multiple locations). In a partnership between Oregon Environmental Council and Oregon State University’s Agricultural Research/Extension, funds will be used to purchase four utility EVs to test and promote the viability of electric farm equipment to agricultural students and communities, through workshops, visits and field day demonstrations. 
  • Genesis XXI LLC (Medford). At Genesis XXI, a workforce housing development in downtown Medford expected to open in 2023, funds will be used to install four Level 2 chargers and to purchase one EV that residents may use via the GoForth CarShare platform. 
  • Umpqua Community College (Roseburg). Funds will be used to install the first EV chargers on the campus. The two Level 2 chargers will be available at no cost to students and staff. 

For information about the Electric Mobility Grant program and customer rebates for installing EV chargers, please visit pacificpower.net/ev.


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