Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 4/25/23 – Today Is Deadline To Register To Vote in Klamath County Special District Election; Drug Busts Net Hundreds of Thousands in Fentanyl, Heroin and more throughout Oregon

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Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

Today

Sunny, with a high near 73. Light winds to 6 mph. Overnight, clear with a low around 37 degrees.

 
Wednesday
Mostly sunny, with a high near 78. Low overnight of 45.
Thursday
Sunny, with a high near 81. North wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the morning.
Friday
Sunny, with a high near 84.
Saturday
Sunny, with a high near 84.
Sunday
Sunny, with a high near 72.

 

See Road Camera Views around the Basin

Lake of the Woods   
Doak Mtn.   
Hiway 97 at Chemult   
Hiway 140 at  Bly       
Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr.            
Hiway 97 at LaPine

Today’s Headlines

The final day to register to vote in the Special District Election is today, Tuesday, April 25th.
According to a press release from the Klamath County Clerk’s Office, postmarks on registrations do count, so registrations can be sent Tuesday. You can also register online at oregonvotes.gov or in person at the County Clerk’s Office at 305 Main St. in Klamath Falls.
Registrations can be updated at any time.  Ballots for the Special District Election will be mailed Wednesday, April 26. Voted ballots much be received in the Elections Office or in any official drop site by 8 p.m. Election Day, the press release states.
Ballots may also be mailed in through the U.S. Mail and will count as long as they are signed, postmarked on or before Election Day or received by the County Clerk’s Office within seven days after Election Day.
The press release states that official drop sites are listed on the Klamath County website at www.klamathcounty.org/685/Drop-Sites. The drop sites will be open by Saturday, April 29.
If you have not received your ballot by Tuesday, May 2, the press release states, contact the County Clerk’s Office by calling 541-883-5134 or emailing elections@klamathcounty.org. You can also fill out a ballot replacement form in the County Clerk’s Office and be handed a replacement.
According to the press release, each ballot is designed specifically for where a voter resides and the districts the voter’s residence address includes.
For more information, call 541-883-5134.

 

The Chinook salmon 7 Alpha Delta 8 is on its way.  One of the 701 spring Chinook salmon fingerlings that was equipped with an acoustic tag and tracking number earlier this month, 7 Alpha Delta — or 7AD8 — was among the 351 six-inch long fingerlings released Wednesday, April 12 into the Williamson River at Collier State Park.
Later that day another 352 tagged fingerlings were released into the Wood River at the Wood River Day Use. Both rivers are tributaries to Upper Klamath Lake and, eventually, the Klamath River.
The fingerlings were expected to navigate the two rivers and reach Upper Klamath Lake within two or three days. The acoustic tags, which are about the size of a grain of rice, will help track their progress, and determine how many survive, in the coming weeks and months. A similar study done last year indicated 94 percent of the spring Chinook survived past the Link River and that another 92 percent passed the Keno Dam.
Fish biologists with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), BLM and other agencies expect the fingerlings will be moving past the Link River Dam and into Lake Ewauna and further downstream along the headwaters of the Klamath River to and past the Keno Dam en route to the John C. Boyle Dam.
It’s all part of a multi-agency study aimed at learning whether spring Chinook salmon can eventually reach the Pacific Ocean, then return upstream to reproduce after the four large Klamath River dams — John C. Boyle, Copco 1 and 2, and Iron Gate — are removed in the next 1-1/2 years.
Roninger and others, including University of California-Davis doctoral student Rachelle Tallman, Collier State Park Manager Karen Crawford, Klamath Tribe aqua-culturalist Carlie Sharpes and Klamath Tribes hydrological technician Lottie Riddle took turns, often wading waist deep into the Williamson carrying nets with the tiny fingerlings. The fish had been collected earlier that morning from the Klamath Fish Hatchery near Fort Klamath, placed in a 300-gallon transport truck tank and taken to Collier, where Mark Hereford, ODFW’s Klamath Falls-based fisheries reintroduction biologist, used a net to scoop fingerlings into buckets that were carried to the river.

 

Bridget McCarter decided to hang flags supporting former President Donald Trump outside her Klamath Falls home after Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury over alleged hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels and others.

On March 31, McCarter, 60, said she received a sexually explicit expletive-laced threatening letter in the U.S. Mail addressed to herself, her boyfriend and her 86-year-old mother.
“I have bullets with your names on them specifically made for Domestic Terrorists such as yourselves. I would be real careful once you step out of your dump. Also, vehicles don’t just get fire-bombed in the movies,” the letter reads.
McCarter shared the letter and envelope with the Herald & News.
The return address lists “J. Biden 1234 Main, Klamath OR 97601.”
The Klamath Falls Police Department has an ongoing “active investigation” as well as a “person of interest” in relation to the matter, according to KFPD Lt. Rob Reynolds.  Criminal charges have not yet been filed in the case as of Friday, April 21.
McCarter moved to Klamath Falls in early October from Keizer, Ore.  She said she hung the flags to support Trump after his criminal indictment for allegedly falsifying business records to cover up alleged hush money paid to Daniels, former Playboy model Karen McDougal and a Trump Tower doorman with information about an alleged love child.Trump denies the charges and wrongdoing.
And McCarter said she wanted to show support for Trump as he makes a third run for president.  She said she is a bit shook up over the threats in the letter. “It felt so creepy. He had our full names,” she said of whoever sent the letter.
McCarter said her political beliefs are more about supporting Trump than deriding his political opponents. She also promised to keep exercising her free speech rights.  The letter writer could face state or federal charges related to threats via the U.S. Mail.

 

Oregon Tech athletic director John Van Dyke has announced the hiring of Joy Lease as the seventh women’s basketball head coach in program history.

Lease is no stranger to the program, as the legendary Oregon prep coach was the top assistant to interim head coach Paul Poetsch during the 2022-23 season – leading the Lady Owls to a 21-9 overall record and trip to the Cascade Conference Tournament semifinals.
“Joy Lease did a tremendous job this season on the bench, developing an extremely young team and helping the squad place fourth in the difficult Cascade Conference,” Van Dyke said. “I am excited to see the success this program will have with Joy at the helm.”
A 1996 Linfield University graduate, Lease spent two decades as a high school coach in Oregon, with stops at Willamina High, Santiam High and most recently, Mazama High.  She led Santiam to the 2009 state crown and added a runner-up finish in 2007, while winning a 4A title at Mazama in 2013. Lease won 337 games during her high school coaching career, was a 6-time Skyline Conference Coach of the Year and earned the OSAA Girls Basketball Coach of the Year honor in 2013.
“I am incredibly excited for the opportunity to lead this group of outstanding women,” Lease said. “I hope to continue what Paul Poetsch started last season and build on the previous success of the Oregon Tech women’s basketball program.  I would like to thank the hiring committee for giving me the chance to be a permanent part of the OIT community.”
The Lady Owls are coming off their first 20-win season since 2019 – with the team posting a stellar 21-1 record against teams not ranked in the NAIA Top-25 and tying a school record with 16 Cascade Conference wins. Tech will return three starters, including All-America guard, Olivia Sprague, plus adding a stellar recruiting class that will be announced in the coming weeks.
Lease becomes the third female coach in program history – and first since the women’s basketball program at OIT was reinstated in 2002. Mary Bradford began the initial women’s team in 1975 and served as coach for 14 years, with Robin Parker handling the duties for two seasons before budget cuts from Oregon Measure 5 disbanded the team in 1992.

 

Oregon Tech students compete for $13,000 at annual Catalyze Challenge; winning team designed autonomous robotic submarine

Seven entrepreneurial students from Oregon Tech competed April 20 at Catalyze Klamath Challenge for $13,000 in seed money to turn their product ideas and prototypes into real businesses. The winning concept, developed by students Lauren Sadrin and Mauricio Huntoon DeRoche, is known as Deep Dive Robotics.
The Catalyze Challenge fosters project development, design, and communications skills while boosting public understanding of the talent pipeline available at Oregon Tech. Judges John Lamy, Lamy Consulting; Randy Cox, Klamath County Economic Development Association (KCEDA); Heather Harter, Klamath County Chamber of Commerce; and Greg Newman, Desert Lake Technologies, applauded Deep Dive Robotics for developing an innovative solution to a user-centered problem, which is a focus of Catalyze.
The product concept from Deep Dive Robotics is for an autonomous robotic submarine that utilizes advanced visual recognition technology to inspect and collect data from various water bodies for a multitude of purposes, including environmental assessments, search and rescue missions, dam and watercraft inspections, and monitoring fish populations.
The seven students who presented at Catalyze are:
  • Tarrah Bickford, Environmental Sciences 2027: Fearless Retreats
  • Xavier De La Rosa, Business 2024: TapIn Mobile
  • Ethan Hartline, Renewable Energy Engineering 2025: Eco-Spoke
  • Claire Lowry, Business Management 2024: Juniper Joy
  • Lauren Sadrin, Mechanical Engineering 2023, and Mauricio Huntoon DeRoche, Mechanical Engineering 2024: Deep Dive Robotics
  • Clairise Tapken, Cybersecurity 2023: Actually Confidential Attachments (ACA)
The winning projects were:
  1. First Place – Deep Dive Robotics: $5,000 prize
  2. Second Place – Juniper Joy: $3,000 prize
  3. Third Place – ACA: $2,000 prize
  4. Entrepreneur in Action – ACA: $1,000 prize
  5. People’s Choice – Juniper Joy: $1,000 prize
Klamath Community College (KCC) alumni Shawntel Dill and Jason Leach presented at Catalyze in place of the Badger Venture event at KCC. Dill and Leach are graduates of Culinary Arts and presented their concept, Homemade 2 Go. Dill and Leach were awarded prizes from KCC, including the Badger Venture award for $2,000, Entrepreneur in Action for $1,000, and People’s Choice for $250.
Additionally, Deep Dive Robotics and Juniper Joy received the Invent Oregon (InventOR) award to further develop their business plans and compete against other colleges and universities in the statewide InventOR competition June 22. Selected teams are awarded an initial $500 prototyping grant and invited to an intensive state-wide boot camp to help bring their ideas into reality. Participating teams are eligible for an additional $2000 in grants and compete for $30,000 in prizes.
The Catalyze Challenge is supported by investments from community sponsors: Avista, City of Klamath Falls, Klamath County, KCEDA, Klamath IDEA Center for Entrepreneurship, Sky Lakes Strategy & Innovation, VertueLab, Oregon Small Business Development Center, and the Wendt Family Foundation.

For more information regarding the Catalyze Klamath Falls Challenge, visit www.oit.edu/catalyze.

 

Crews with the Klamath Falls City Streets Division will be performing work during the hours of 6AM to 4PM.

Asphalt Crews will be performing repairs at the following locations:

  • Monday, April 24:253 E. Main St., Intersection of Vine Avenue, and East Main Street along with South 6th Street from Austin Street to Washburn Way.
  • Tuesday, April 25:Garden Avenue and Owens Street intersection, Washburn Way from South 6th Street to Crater Lake Parkway.
  • Wednesday, April 26:Vine Avenue and Richmond Stre
  • Thursday, April 27:Auburn Street and Damont Street intersection, 2000 block of Leroy Street along with Main Street and Pine Street between 11th Street and 4th Street.

Paint Crews are scheduled for the following projects:

  • Monday through Friday, April 28:Striping and painting legends on the Oregon Avenue bike lane from Biehn Street to Main Street.
  • Monday through Friday:Sign Maintenance and Sweeping will be performed throughout the city as needed.

Detours and signage will be in place where needed. Citizens are asked to proceed with caution in areas where crews are working. Work might be delayed or canceled due to weather, equipment breakdown or unexpected emergencies. For more information, call the City Public Works Department at 541-883-5363.

 

The Klamath County Board of County Commissioners recently proclaimed that through Saturday, April 29 is National Library Week in Klamath County.

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a countrywide observance sponsored by the American Library Association to celebrate libraries and library staff, according to a press release. All types of libraries — school, public, academic, and special collections — participate. This year’s theme is “There’s More to the Story,” highlighting the wide variety of materials and events that libraries provide beyond just books.
According to the press release, Klamath County Libraries host social events, movie screenings and discussions of current events; help job seekers find work; provide computer and internet access; support early childhood learning with storytimes and other events; and serve as a place for the whole community to relax and enjoy some quality family time.
For more information on any of these events, call 541-882-8894 or stop by the downtown library.

 

Volunteers are being sought to help conduct summertime tours of the 117-year-old Baldwin Hotel Museum building.

The four-story brick structure was the tallest commercial building in Southern Oregon at the time it opened in 1906. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, and it became a public museum 1978.
An orientation session will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 29, for anyone interested in learning about the duties of museum docents.
The Baldwin Hotel Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Volunteers are needed to work three-hour shifts whenever they are able.
The Klamath County Museum provides a script, and new docents receive training from experienced staff and volunteers.
For more information, contact the Klamath County Museum at (541) 882-1000.

 

FRIEND RAISER 2023 IS COMING!

 

Around the state of Oregon

Federal Charges Filed After Weekend Traffic Stop Nets 86 Pounds of Powdered Fentanyl & Methamphetamine

PORTLAND, Ore.—A suspected drug trafficker faces federal charges after he was caught transporting dozens of pounds of powdered fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other illegal drugs on Interstate 5 near Salem.
Photo of Drug SeizureMiguel Cruz-Barrales, 22, whose place of residence is unknown, has been charged by criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine.
According to court documents, on April 23, 2023, an Oregon State Police (OSP) trooper initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Barrales on Interstate 5 south of Salem. The trooper’s canine alerted to two duffle bags located in the trunk of the vehicle that contained numerous packages suspected to contain powdered fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other illegal drugs. The packages were later confirmed to contain 15 kilograms of powdered fentanyl, 24.4 kilograms of methamphetamine, .6 kilograms of heroin, and 4.6 kilograms of cocaine.
On April 24, 2023, Cruz-Barrales made his first appearance in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman. He was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.
This case is being investigated jointly by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and OSP. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.
A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

 

 

Arizona Man faces federal charges after Oregon Traffic Stop Discovers 100,000 Fentanyl Pills and Powdered Fentanyl in his possession

Photo of Drug SeizurePORTLAND, Ore.—An Arizona man is facing federal charges after he was caught transporting 100,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl, two pounds of powdered fentanyl, and six pounds of cocaine on Interstate 84 in La Grande, Oregon.
Moises Rojo Velazquez, 36, of Phoenix, Arizona, has been charged by criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl.
According to court documents, on April 21, 2023, an Oregon State Police (OSP) trooper initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Rojo Velazquez on Interstate 84 westbound in La Grande. The vehicle was occupied by Rojo Velazquez, a passenger, and the passenger’s 17-year-old daughter. A second trooper located a large camo bag on the rear floorboard of the vehicle. The bag was found to contain more than 100,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl, two pounds of powdered fentanyl, and six pounds of cocaine.
On April 24, 2023, Rojo Velazquez made his first appearance in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman. He was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.
This case is being investigated jointly by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and OSP. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.
A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

Oregon Teen Drug-Related Deaths are Increasing Faster than Anywhere Else in the Nation

Drugs seized on Oregon Freeways, highways and roads are keeping law inforcement busy as major drug busts continue every month in our state.  And unfortunately drug-related deaths among teens are increasing faster in Oregon than anywhere else in the U.S.   
Most of Oregon’s federal lawmakers are asking the U-S Department of Education to do more to curb teen opioid use. The bipartisan group sent a letter praising the Department of Education for recent efforts to combat the fentanyl crisis, but they believe more can be done. They want to know what other resources the department needs to address the issue. Republican Congressman Cliff Bentz is the only member of the delegation who didn’t sign the letter.

 

Although nobody really knows for sure, Oregonians can expect another surge in COVID-19 cases in June, a top Oregon health official said Thursday, April 20.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the Oregon Health Authority’s chief epidemiologist, said two variants named XBB.1.16 and XBB.1.9 that are sweeping across other countries, especially India, have not yet turned up in DNA analyses of the virus in Oregon. But the state expects them to emerge and cause a surge of cases in June, peaking at the end of the month. But that forecast could change, he said.
In the meantime, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday, April 18 approved updated boosters from Moderna and Pfizer that are designed to work against omicron spinoffs like the two new variants. After approval by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the shots should be available in Oregon, perhaps as soon as this week, health authority spokesman Jonathan Modie told the Capital Chronicle.
The shots are only authorized for those 65 and older or people older than 5 with compromised immune systems four months after they have received their last dose. Scientists say the new variants are the most infectious yet and could cause more severe symptoms.
About 400,000 people qualify for an updated booster, Modie said.
Sidelinger expects that new shots will be recommended for all Oregonians in the fall.

 

Update: SWAT Team Takes Rural Jacksonville Homicide Suspect Into Custody

JCSO Case 23-2239

APPLEGATE, Ore. – The suspect from Thursday’s rural Jacksonville homicide is in custody. Today around 11:00 a.m., investigators learned the suspect, Michael Wayne Ray, was possibly hiding in the house where the original crime occurred.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) SWAT and K9 Teams responded to the 14000 block of Upper Applegate Road. After a brief standoff, the suspect was taken into custody without incident at 4:15 p.m. The investigation is ongoing. We will provide more information in the coming days.

 

Skeletal Remains Found in Rural Jackson County , Detectives Investigating Suspicious Death

JCSO Case 23-2132

No photo description available.

SOUTHERN JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) detectives are investigating a suspicious death after skeletal remains were discovered April 14 in a remote area in a rural southern Jackson County.
The suspicious nature of the scene led to JCSO detectives and medical examiners responding to investigate. The rugged terrain and remote area required JCSO Search and Rescue to assist in recovering the body. Due to the ongoing investigation, the exact location of the remains will not be released at this time.
A forensic pathologist conducted an autopsy and concluded the remains were most likely female. Investigators are working to identify the subject and the cause and manner of death. Due to the advanced stages of decomposition, state medical examiners will conduct further testing. This case is under further investigation with detectives following additional leads. No more information is available at this time. 

 

Health Care Workers Unionizing at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford 

Workers say it’s time they are recognized for having a meaningful impact on patient care 

More than 250 health care technical workers at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, Oregon filed for union recognition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The group, comprised of radiologic technologists, licensed practical nurses (LPNs), respiratory therapists, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapy assistants, surgical technicians, and others, will be represented by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA). ONA already represents frontline registered nurses working at Rogue Regional.   

The technical workers identified a wide range of issues as their primary reasons for organizing, including safe staffing, affordable health insurance, respect, and wages that are competitive and that include cost of living increases.  
“The last couple years of working in healthcare has brought to light why we need to stand in solidarity. Stepping away from top-down management and into collaborative efforts with our fellow coworkers will improve working conditions, staff morale, and most importantly patient care,” said Angela Henry, a vascular ultrasound technologist. “It has become very apparent our organization has drifted into caring more about profits than patient or worker satisfaction and fair working conditions. I look forward to a united front with my fellow colleagues and for the changes to come!” 
Asante Rogue Regional Hospital is a Level 2 trauma center. Health care providers and workers there have been nationally recognized for their heart and stroke care, orthopedic services, cancer care and diabetes care. It’s also home to Southern Oregon’s only neonatal intensive care unit. 
“I take a lot of pride in what our hospital workers do for this community. We have one of the top cardiovascular programs in the country and it’s awesome to be a part of that team,” said Dustin Boehm, a cardiovascular technologist. “However, I see firsthand the disparities between union and non-union staff. Both techs and nurses feel that the techs unionizing with ONA creates a united front that will allow for more equality and stronger unity for our patients.” 
“We, the nurses of RRMC, stand united with our peers unionizing across the hospital,” said Fred Katz, a hospice RN and chair of the nurse bargaining unit at Rogue Regional.“RNs experience daily the value of collective bargaining and the benefits of having a voice through our union; it is this voice that moves us toward the goals of true shared governance in the workplace and quality care for our community. It is time for the rest of the hospital to join us in advocating for our patients and community.”  
The NLRB will determine a union election date in the coming weeks. 

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents more than 16,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state. We are a proud state affiliate of AFT. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org. 

 

More reasons our state is going broke by the year. Oregon state government workers received hefty paychecks in 2022 as the number earning six figures rose sharply and those receiving more than $300,000 doubled.

A total of 7,170 state employees received a base pay of at least $100,000 during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, according to state data.
That was a 28% increase from the previous year. Of those, 31 employees received a base salary of more than $300,000, up from 14 in 2021, and two earned more than $400,000.
Including overtime and other pay such as vacation payouts, equipment allowances or settlements, 9,246 state workers — more than a fifth of the average state workforce — earned total pay of at least $100,000 in 2022, a 27% increase from the prior year.
Those increases came as the state continued its recovery from the pandemic and workers across Oregon grappled with rising inflation and cost-of-living expenses.

 

Oregon State Police have confirmed that a pedestrian was killed on Interstate 5 in Medford Saturday night.

Reports show the crash happened around 8 p.m. near exit 30, which is the Crater Lake Highway exit.
Specific information on the driver involved and the pedestrian killed have not been released at this time. The northbound lanes of I-5 were closed near exit 30 until 10:41 p.m., according to Oregon Department of Transportation officials.

 

POLICE MEMORIAL CEREMONY TO RECOGNIZE FALLEN OFFICERS

Police Week, May 15th through May 21st, 2023, honors all law enforcement officers throughout the United States who have given their lives to safeguard our rights and freedoms. 

On behalf of all law enforcement agencies in our community, I invite you to join us in remembering those officers and showing our appreciation for the sacrifices they and their families have made. 
Please join law enforcement officers from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office, Grants Pass Police Department and Oregon State Police to salute their memory on Tuesday, May 16th, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. on the steps of the Josephine County Courthouse.
Below is the roll call of law enforcement personnel who have paid the ultimate price and lost their lives in the line of duty, serving Josephine County.
Trooper Burrell Baucom, July 1, 1933
Captain (SAR) Emmett J. Blackmun, September 24, 1968
Deputy Alice Moran, November 17, 1971
Deputy Glenn Allen, November 17, 1971
Sergeant Marvin R. Brewster, April 21, 1972
Deputy Thomas E. Rice, May 23, 2002

 

FerrisLOCAL CHILD EXPLOITATION TASK FORCE INVESTIGATION LEADS TO 75-YEAR PRISON SENTENCE FOR ILLINOIS MAN

BENTON, Ill. – A U.S. District Court judge sentenced an Illinois man to 75 years in federal prison April 17 after he was found guilty of conducting a sextortion scheme on Facebook with multiple victims ranging in ages from 11 to 17 years old.

Michael A. Ferris, 44, of Mill Shoals, Illinois, was convicted by a jury in November 2022 on 25 felony counts of extortion, cyberstalking, and production, distribution, and possession of child pornography. Following his 75-year prison sentence, he will serve the rest of his life on supervised release.

Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) began the investigation after receiving a report from a local child victim. Through further investigations, SOCET discovered 29 child victims throughout the United States and Canada. SOCET worked with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to identify the out-of-state victims and build the federal case.

“Combating child exploitation is a team effort and requires cooperation at the federal, state and local levels,” said HSI Chicago Special Agent in Charge Sean Fitzgerald. “The efforts to bring this individual to justice have resulted in one less predator on the streets who would look to victimize our children and endanger our communities.” 

This conviction stems from a report Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) took May 8, 2020 of a sex offense in the Rogue Valley. The mother of a minor child victim reported her daughter came in contact with an unknown suspect posing as a friend on Facebook. Using threats and intimidation, the suspect coerced the juvenile to send him nude photos. SOCET took over the investigation and discovered Ferris victimized many other minor children sexually, including a victim in Salem, Ore.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Ferris targeted teenage girls on Facebook and engaged in a pattern of extortion, commonly known as “sextortion” from at least March 2020 until November 2020. During the trial, a SOCET investigator traveled to Illinois to present evidence.

As part of his scheme, Ferris created fake Facebook personas appearing to be teenage girls. He joined Facebook groups for teenagers or young survivors of sexual abuse. Ferris sent unsolicited messages to teenage girls under the guise of being a peer looking to make a new friend. If the teens responded, Ferris tried to convince them to send a nude photograph or answer personal questions about themselves. Ferris then used that information as leverage to coerce them into sending more explicit photos, answering more sexual questions, or performing sexual acts while Ferris watched on video chat. If his victims refused to comply, or pleaded to stop, Ferris harassed and threatened them until they kept going, usually threatening to send the girls’ photos or answers to personal questions to their friends, parents, police, or child protective services. Even after Ferris’ victims complied with his demands, he would often still distribute their sexually explicit images to friends and family.

The investigation was conducted by agents from HSI – Springfield with assistance from HSI domestic and international offices, JCSO, Jefferson County Illinois Sheriff’s Office, Illinois State Police, and Aurora Missouri Police Department. Victim and Witness Support was provided by the U.S. Attorneys’ Office from the Southern District of Illinois, the Eastern District of Missouri, and HSI.

SOCET enables local law enforcement agencies to collaborate with federal partners such as HSI, to effectively investigate and prosecute out-of-state suspects when they victimize children in our community. SOCET is a joint inter-agency task force that started in June of 2020 to combat child exploitation and human trafficking. The task force consists of investigators from JCSO, Grants Pass Police Department, and HSI; as well as prosecutors from our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Jackson and Josephine County.

Forestry Dept. Invites Public Comment on State Forest Management Activities

Salem, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Forestry is inviting public comment on planned projects, timber sales and other management activities in state-owned forests in fiscal year 2024.  
Starting April 25 through 5 p.m. June 8, Oregonians can weigh in on draft Annual Operations Plans (AOPs) for state forests on the Astoria, Forest Grove, Klamath Falls, Tillamook, West Oregon, and Western Lane Districts. These plans lay out on-the-ground activities expected to take place in the coming fiscal year. State forests by law must provide economic, environmental, and social benefits to Oregonians. To achieve the legal mandate, these lands are managed to create healthy productive forests, high-quality habitat for native fish and wildlife, clean water, timber, revenues to rural communities, and recreation and education opportunities. Overall management policies and management goals are established in long-range Forest Management Plans and Implementation Plans. Annual Operations Plans describe activities to achieve the objectives and goals laid out in the longer-range plans. ODF is seeking input on the draft AOP summary documents, which can be viewed on the State Forests website.
Common topics included in an Annual Operations Plan include:  
  • Timber harvest operations
  • Recreation improvement and maintenance projects
  • Forest road construction, maintenance, and improvements
  • Reforestation/replanting and young stand management activities
  • Habitat improvement for native species
  • Invasive species management
The most useful input speaks to these specific activities and whether they are consistent with longer-range plans, offers suggestions to improve efficiency or effectiveness, corrects errors, provides additional information, and is solution-oriented, understanding that state forests are working forests and by law must provide a variety of economic, environmental, and social benefits. Activities that affect fish and wildlife habitat are reviewed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, while operations that may affect threatened and endangered fish and wildlife habitat are shared with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  
Public comment on planned projects, timber sales and other management activities on the North Cascade District fiscal year 2024 Annual Operation Plan will be conducted separately. 
 ODF is offering several convenient avenues to comment on AOPs:  

 

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