The latest news stories across the state of Oregon from the digital home of the Oregon coastal cities, OregonBeachMagazine.com
Friday, January 13, 2023
Oregon Beach Weather
Hwy 101 Landslide Update With Hope To Have One Lane Open Today
State transportation officials hope to open one lane of U.S. 101 on Friday after the landslide early Monday led to a multi-day closure, but heavy rains in the forecast could disrupt their plans and leave residents of Oregon’s south coast further isolated.
The landslide happened around 3 a.m. Monday 12 miles south of Port Orford and caused a 200-yard section of the highway to collapse 15 feet and slide 12 feet west, the Oregon Department of Transportation said.
A contractor on Thursday was using rock and gravel to build a temporary lane through the collapsed section. If it opens, travelers should expect delays and slower speeds in that lane, the transportation department said.
“We’re hopeful the weather cooperates and we can get the temporary lane finished and open by Friday afternoon,” said Glen Pederson, the department’s district manager. “We know how critical U.S. 101 is for access to local essential services, and we thank south coast residents for their patience this week.”
Ongoing storms have drenched California and the southwest corner of Oregon over the past two weeks, cutting off power, flooding communities and prompting evacuations.
The National Weather Service issued a high surf warning for the southern Oregon coast on Thursday. Dangerously large waves of up to 35 feet are expected to smash into the shoreline until Friday morning, inundating beaches and creating life-threatening surf conditions, the weather service said.
The slide forced the shutdown of several miles of Highway 101 north and south of the slide early Monday.
Matt Noble, communications manager for ODOT, says a contractor is on the scene with staging equipment and materials for building a temporary lane through the collapsed area.
However, Noble says a forecast of steady rain over the coming days could destabilize the slope further, potentially causing the slide to shift again.
ODOT has implemented new drainage features near the slide to drain the anticipated rainwater. Noble says it’s unclear how these features will impact the road.
ODOT does not have a timeline for when the road will reopen. http://tripcheck.com
Crabbers and Processors Negotiating For Higher Prices
Many commercial crabbers along Oregon’s south coast chose not to drop their pots Thursday morning after it became legal to do so.
“Most of the fleet from Coos Bay north, we’ve got good crabs. Right now, we’re kind of just waiting on weather and trying to get a decent price for these boats. The price isn’t acceptable to them right now. Hopefully that changes, and the buyers come up a little bit,” JD Evanow, dock foreman for Long Fisheries in Charleston.
Boat captain Rex Leach says Hallmark Fisheries is the only processor that’s made an offer — $3 per pound, as of Thursday evening.
That’s a drop from last year’s $5 starting price from the processor.
When naming a price, deck hand David Moody says captains consider expenses like bait, gear, fuel and insurance.
He says a low starting price, paired with inflation, will cause many to be unable to work.
“You’ve got pissed off crew. You’ve got captains that can’t pay their bills. And at that point, you can’t afford to put $1,500 worth of fuel back in that boat to go back out fishing again, and it’s just not worth it,” said Moody.
Negotiations are underway with Pacific Choice Seafood, according to Moody.
“They’re trying to set the price very low at $3 a pound right now, and a lot of the captains are saying hell no, we’re not going to go,” Moody said.
It’s a decision that impacts not only their paychecks, but the entire south coast economy.
“Gets more expensive for the processors as well, but without the fleet making decent money on these crabs, they can’t afford to do it. They just really can’t. You’re putting a lot of peoples lives at risk. Millions of dollars worth of assets at risk,” says Evanow.
Evanow says crabbers want a starting price of at least $3.50 per pound, but says it doesn’t look likely.
Volunteers Needed for Seaside Senior Meal Program
NorthWest Senior and Disability Services nutrition programs are heavily dependent upon volunteers. The Seaside Senior Meal Program is currently open for dine-in service at 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Bob Chisholm Community Center, 1225 Ave. A, but NorthWest Senior and Disability Services hopes to expand the service to provide meals in-person daily. The program also delivers 100 meals weekly to homes in the Seaside area.
Volunteers are needed who are available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. one or more days a week, with duties including preparing the meals for distribution, serving seniors at the meal site and assisting in cleaning the kitchen. Volunteers are also needed to plate, serve or deliver meals.
Oregon, IRS to start processing tax returns January 23
The Oregon Department of Revenue will begin processing 2022 state income tax returns on January 23, 2023, the same day the IRS will begin processing federal returns. Although some taxpayers have already submitted their returns, processing doesn’t start until the tax season officially begins.
Returns will be processed in the order they are received. However, as in years past, the department won’t be issuing personal income tax refunds until after February 15.
A refund hold is part of the department’s tax fraud prevention efforts and allows for confirmation that the amounts claimed on tax returns match what employers report on Forms W-2 and 1099. Once the department begins processing returns, filers can check Where’s My Refund? on Revenue Online see the status of their refund.
E-filing is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get their refund. On average, taxpayers who e-file their returns and request their refund via direct deposit receive their refund sooner than those who file paper returns and request paper refund checks.
The department reminds taxpayers that taking a few easy steps in the next few weeks can make preparing their 2022 tax return easier in 2023.
Free and reduced-cost filing options.
Several free or low-cost preparation options for both federal and Oregon tax returns are available for taxpayers who meet the qualifications.
Free tax preparation services are available for low- to moderate-income taxpayers through AARP and CASH Oregon. United Way also offers free tax help through their MyFreeTaxes program. Visit the Department of Revenue website to take advantage of the software and free offers and get more information about free tax preparation services.
Forms and copies of past returns
Taxpayers can order copies of past returns, letters, or other correspondence—from 2015 to current—through their Revenue Online account. They can also order and pay for these, or older documents, over the phone at 800-356-4222.
Anyone who needs a personal income tax return booklet can download and print it from the department’s website at www.oregon.gov/dor/forms They can also order a copy online, by calling 503-378-4988 or 800-356-4222, or by mailing their request—along with their name, phone number, and mailing address to the address below.
Oregon Department of Revenue
PO Box 14999
Salem, OR 97309-0990
Through Revenue Online, individuals can view letters sent to them by the department, initiate appeals, make payments, and submit questions. Visit Revenue Online on the Revenue website at www.oregon.gov/dor to learn more.
To check the status of your refund, or make payments, visit Revenue’s website. You can also call 800-356-4222 toll-free from an Oregon prefix (English or Spanish) or 503-378-4988 in Salem and outside Oregon. For TTY (hearing or speech impaired), we accept all relay calls.
Limited Time To Apply For Business Funding Grants To Assist Small Businesses Affected By COVID-19
Business Oregon has partnered with the CCD Business Development Corporation to offer $3 million in CDBG-CV Statewide Small Business and Microenterprise Grant Assistance (SBMA).
The program is funded with federal grant funds from the Oregon Community Development Block Grant program CARES Act funding for communities affected by COVID-19.
SBMA grants will be awarded between $2,500 – $30,000 per business. Microenterprises whose owner meets who meet low- and moderate-income (LMI) criteria can qualify for up to $10,000 in grant funding. Small businesses can qualify for $2,500 per LMI employee retained up to $30,000 in funding.
Eligibility Requirements: A microenterprise (five or fewer employees) or small business (more than five employees) that:
- Was in business prior to March 8, 2019
- Can document COVID-19 impact (lost revenue, mandated closures, workforce issues, supply complications, etc.)
- Was generally stable/strong prior to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Has an owner and/or employees who meet low- and moderate-income (LMI) criteria
Limited time — The program will launch 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 23, and will close at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27. Applications for this grant program will be processed on a lottery basis.
At the time of application closure, all submitted applications will be randomized and processed. To register and apply, visit www.ccdbusiness.org/oregonsbma.
Technical assistance is available to assist with completing the application process. You may use Google Translate on the application registration and program webpages for non-English languages or please contact CCD Business Development Corporation at 1-888-263-0971 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional assistance.
Video tutorials for both small business and microenterprise applications, including helpful tips, are also available. The link to the YouTube playlist for the video tutorials can be found at on the CCD’s website.
Business Oregon, in partnership with CCD Business Development Corporation, will be hosting two virtual Q&A meetings about this grant opportunity on Friday, January 13 at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Register for the virtual Q&A meetings using this online form.
The SBMA grant award selections are expected in February 2023 and the funding is expected to be distributed to selected grantees in March 2023.
For more information, visit https://www.oregon.gov/biz/programs/SBMA/Pages/default.aspx
OHA– Prevention steps helped limit respiratory virus spread during holidays
But state official says hospitals still strained from high COVID-19, flu activity
PORTLAND, Ore. — Respiratory virus prevention steps such as masking and avoiding gatherings helped limit RSV, COVID-19 and influenza transmission over the holidays, but the state health officer and epidemiologist says Oregon isn’t out of the woods yet.
“While overall respiratory virus activity in our communities remains high and our hospital systems are still under extraordinary pressure, with some operating near, at or even above 100% capacity, we are seeing some improvements in respiratory virus hospitalizations,” said Dean Sidelinger, M.D., M.S.Ed., of Oregon Health Authority (OHA). “Unfortunately, our hospitals are not yet able to resume normal workflows.”
Sidelinger, speaking during OHA’s monthly COVID-19 media briefing this morning, thanked people in Oregon for taking the advice of health experts who implored them to wear masks, keep their distance from others, avoid indoor gatherings, and get flu and COVID shots to reduce transmission during the holidays.
“I know many of you made the tough decision to postpone or limit that family get-together or forego that holiday concert or play,” he said. “Please know our public health and health care partners appreciate your sacrifice.”
RSV- The situation with respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, has improved the most. Sidelinger said the state is well past the peak of RSV in children, which happened Nov. 19, and hospitalizations are decreasing rapidly.
“This is very important for pediatric hospital capacity because RSV causes severe disease mostly in young children, although it can also affect the elderly,” he said.
Influenza- Influenza activity remains high in both adults and children, Sidelinger said. The state passed the peak of flu season in adults Dec. 3, but hospitalizations in children have plateaued and are only starting to drop. But the situation will continue to improve, he predicted.
“We believe that adult influenza will continue to decline and that cases among children will begin to decrease more rapidly soon as well,” he said.
COVID-19- COVID-19-related hospitalizations remain high following a rapid increase in November, but they dropped in the last week. However, the most recent forecast from Oregon Health & Science University’s Office of Advanced Analytics predicts a small increase in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations into February due to the highly contagious COVID-19 Omicron variant known as XBB.1.5.
“OHA and its health care and local public health partners are keeping an eye on the new XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant that is spreading rapidly in the northeastern United States as it outcompetes other variants,” Sidelinger said, adding that it’s “not yet widespread in Oregon.”
The best ways for people to protect themselves from all three circulating viruses continue to be getting a flu shot and COVID-19 booster – the booster is protective against XBB.1.5 – as well as “tried-and-true measures” that include wearing masks, limiting indoor gatherings, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands and staying home when sick.
“Every one of us has a role to play in slowing the spread of these viruses as we go through winter, and that will help our health care system ensure that hospital beds are available for those who need them most,” he said.
Sidelinger also provided an update on Oregon’s response to the mpox outbreak that began last summer. He said OHA will shift the frequency that it reports data on its mpox website from weekly to monthly after the number of cases dropped to fewer than five per month. He attributed the low case counts to the effectiveness of the Jynneos mpox vaccine and an emphasis on encouraging health care providers to integrate the vaccine into routine health maintenance for high-risk individuals.
“We are not quite ready to declare victory against mpox, as we expect to keep seeing a handful of cases over the coming months,” Sidelinger said. “But we are in a much better place than we were in August and October, and we will continue to work with our partners to promote testing and vaccination among those at risk for infection.”
OHA offers testing waivers for social workers
Oregon Health Authority is offering a new program to waive exam fees for individuals who take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) social work licensing exam.
The program is offered through an agreement with the Association of Social Work Boards, the primary examination agency. Only people approved by the Oregon State Board of Licensed Social Workers are eligible for the waiver.
The ASWB exam is required to gain licensure as a social worker in Oregon.
The purpose of the waiver is to remove barriers for qualified individuals as part of a larger effort to rebuild and retool a behavioral health workforce that was decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those registering to take the exam between Jan. 12, 2023, and Feb. 19, 2024, will have exam fees waived for all attempts.
The funding comes from $60 million allocated by the Oregon Legislature under House Bill 4071 (2022) to develop a diverse behavioral health workforce in licensed and non-licensed occupations through scholarships, loan repayment, professional development, other incentives, and peer workforce development.
The following social worker licensure tracks are covered by the program:
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- Licensed Master of Social Work
- Baccalaureate Social Worker
The total program grant is up to $130,000 that will reimburse the $230 fee for the bachelor’s and master’s exam and $260 for the advanced generalist or clinical exam for all tests taken during the prescribed timeframe.
Information about requirements to become eligible to take the exam can be found at the Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers website: https://www.oregon.gov/blsw/pages/index.aspx.
Eugene Resident Wins $1 Million Prize, as Mega Millions Jackpot Soars to $1.35 Billion
Salem, Ore. – The Eugene winner of Tuesday’s $1 million Mega Millions ticket claimed their prize Wednesday after matching five of the six numbers drawn. Zehao C. purchased the ticket at the Jackson’s Food Store at 274 Coburg Road in Eugene on Monday.
Since no one has won the Mega Millions jackpot since October 14, 2022, the prize for Friday’s drawing climbs to an estimated $1.35 billion. It’s the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot in history.
Record-breaking jackpots also drive ticket sales for Oregon retailers, which result in added commissions. In this case, the Eugene retailer will receive a $10,000 bonus for selling the $1 million winning ticket.
Since Saturday, when the Mega Millions jackpot reached $1 billion, the Oregon Lottery has sold over $3.89 million in tickets. Approximately a third of those sales will be returned to state beneficiaries to support economic development, education, veteran services and more.
Mega Millions is a multi-state jackpot operated by 45 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Oregon Lottery recommends that you always sign the back of your winning ticket to ensure you can claim your prize. In the event of winning a jackpot, players should consult with a trusted financial planner or similar professional to develop a plan for their winnings. Players also have a year to claim their prize.
Since the Oregon Lottery began selling tickets on April 25, 1985, it has earned nearly $15 billion for economic development, public education, outdoor school, state parks, veteran services, and watershed enhancements. For more information on the Oregon Lottery visit www.oregonlottery.org.