The latest news stories across the state of Oregon from the digital home of the Oregon coastal cities, OregonBeachMagazine.com
Friday, February 3, 2023
Oregon Beach Weather
Recreational Crabbing Open Now Along Entire Oregon Coast
The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced recreational crabbing is open along the entire Oregon coast.
Recreational crabbing is now open from the Washington border to the California border. This includes the ocean, bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties.
It is always recommended that crab be eviscerated and the guts removed prior to cooking, which includes the removal and discard of the viscera, internal organs, and gills. Toxins cannot be removed by cooking, freezing or any other treatment. ODA will continue to test for biotoxins in the coming weeks.
Because of Oregon’s precautionary management of biotoxins, the crab and shellfish products currently being sold in retail markets and restaurants are safe for consumers.
For more information call Oregon Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) shellfish biotoxin safety hotline at (800) 448-2474, the Food Safety Division at (503) 986-4720, or visit the ODA recreational shellfish biotoxin closures webpage.
Highway 229 Rock Slide Update- ODOT Hopes to Reopen Today
The rock slide that closed the Siletz Highway at milepost 18 in Lincoln County on January 28 has been removed and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) expected the highway to be fully opened Friday, Feb. 3.
ODOT representative states the latest details:
” We hope to wrap up Thursday, barring any additional slides. We’re running one lane of traffic with flaggers while we finish work. The road should be fully opened sometime Friday, February 3, once the 200 feet of guardrail damaged by the slide is replaced.
Some of the rocks that fell were the size of a car and had to be broken into smaller, more manageable sizes with a hydraulic breaker hammer then loaded with an excavator and hauled to a stockpile site. We used 10 dump trucks and filled about 400 truckloads.
Also, when we’re cleaning up slides there’s always the potential for more rocks and other debris to fall, which is why we close the road during the day. Sometimes we bring down more rocks and debris as part of cleanup. Working during the day is for everyone’s safety. Before we fully open to traffic, we bring in our geologists to assess the safety and stability of the area.“
Hwy 101 Landslide ODOT Update
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for New Clatsop County Jail 2/10
The Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office invites the community to celebrate the completion of the new Clatsop County Jail.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Friday, February 10th, 2023, at 1 pm to commemorate the completion of the facility.
The new jail project began after voters approved a $20 million-dollar jail bond in 2018. DLR Group provided architectural and engineering services while Emerick Construction Co. served as the general contractor. Cornerstone Management Group represented the County during the process.
The new Clatsop County Jail is located at 1250 SE 19th St., Warrenton Oregon, directly across from the Clatsop County Animal Shelter.
Josephine County Grand Jury Indicts Accused Accomplice In Benjamin Foster Attempted Murder Case
A Sunny Valley woman has an indictment by a Josephine County Grand Jury yesterday. It accuses her of helping an attempted murder suspect by hiding him and helping him hide related criminal evidence.
A grand jury indicted 68-year-old Tina Marie Jones today for two felony counts of hindering prosecution. It says she helped 36-year-old Benjamin Foster evade police who were searching for him as a suspect for attempted murder, kidnapping, and assault.
It also says she helped Foster “suppress by an act of concealment, alteration or destruction, a vehicle, physical evidence which evidence might have aided in the discovery or apprehension of Benjamin Obadiah Foster.”
Grants Pass Police Department (GPPD) Chief Warren Hensman says Foster ended the police manhunt for him Tuesday night when he shot himself in the head while hiding beneath the house where he was accused of torturing and beating a woman there to the point of unconsciousness. She had been discovered in that condition one week earlier.
Police say, and the Grand Jury reinforces, that Jones helped Foster during the two days following the victim discovery near Shane Way and Sun Glo Drive in Grants Pass, January 24-26, 2023. Police say Jones gave Foster a ride to evade a police search for him after he drove a car considered crime evidence over an embankment.
Jones faces arraignment for two felony counts of hindering prosecution at her next court appearance.
The Benjamin Foster Case Includes Double Murder In Sunny Valley
Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel confirmed that two men were found dead in Sunny Valley since that time frame late last week, attributing the deaths to Foster. Oregon State Police (OSP) Captain Kyle Kennedy says OSP investigators consider 36-year-old Benjamin Foster the sole suspect in those two deaths by blunt force trauma, discovered Monday.
—- On Tuesday, January 24, 2022, Grants Pass Police Officers responded to a residence regarding an assault. They found a female victim who had been bound and severely beaten into unconsciousness. The victim was transported to an area hospital in critical condition.
Benjamin Foster became the subject of a nationwide manhunt, wanted on charges of Attempted Murder, Kidnapping, and Assault in the Second Degree.
On February 1, 2023, Grants Pass Police Chief Warren Hensman held a press conference to discuss the resolution to the Benjamin Foster Case. Representatives from the Oregon State Police, Josephine County Sheriff’s Office, and the Josephine County District Attorney’s Office were also in attendance.
Josephine County Sheriff and OSP Confirmed There Was A Double Homicide In Sunny Valley While Following A Tip To Find Foster
OSP investigators believe Benjamin Foster, the suspect wanted for attempted murder that happened in Grants Pass on January 24th, is responsible for the double homicide that happened in Sunny Valley Monday night. The homicide was discovered Monday night by the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office at a home on the Sunny Valley Loop.
The victims were identified as Richard Lee Baron Jr. and Donald Owen Griffith, who both lived on the property.
Oregon State Police says multiple items were missing from the home, including a dog. The double homicide investigation is still ongoing.
OSP also reported that a cab picked up Foster Tuesday morning and he returned to the house on Sun Glo Drive in Grants Pass where the attempted murder and kidnapping originally took place.
Police and SWAT were immediately sent to the home and a shelter-in-place was issued for the surrounding area.
Police say Foster shot himself under the home during the long standoff with police. Foster was still breathing when police were able to approach his body. They also state that when Foster arrived at the hospital, he was pronounced dead.
The investigation continues.
He left his victim for dead in Grants Pass but she managed to live and she is hanging on in critical condition. Please keep her in your prayers.
Las Vegas News Channel 8 shows videos of Oregon serial kidnapper/murderer in Las Vegas court before release as they cover the Foster story…
Governor Tina Kotek to host demobilization ceremony to welcome home Citizen-Soldiers from Poland
What: Oregon Governor Tina Kotek, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden along with Maj. Gen. Michael E. Stencel, Adjutant General, Oregon, are scheduled to serve as the official hosts for a demobilization ceremony welcoming home more than 120 members of the Oregon Army National Guard Charlie Company, 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment.
The event is to acknowledge the unit’s efforts supporting United States NATO Allies while building readiness and enhancing bonds with partner nations as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve in Poland. It is also to recognize the sacrifice and support from loved ones, family, friends, co-workers, and employers, which make the mission a success.
The unit was mobilized for this deployment in early January of 2022. The event will be livestreamed via YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/live/ubB_dHG1nBs?feature=share
For more information on Atlantic resolve click here:https://www.europeafrica.army.mil/AtlanticResolve/
Where: RSVP by replying to firstname.lastname@example.org/”>Stephen.s.Bomar.email@example.com
When: Saturday, February 4, at 10:00 a.m.
Fraud Targeting Oregon EBT Recipients Is Likely To Get Worse
More than 700,000 Oregonians, or one is six residents, receive SNAP benefits, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. SNAP is a need-based program that gives low-income families and individuals help to buy food using government issued Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.
In October, the USDA issued a nationwide warning about SNAP fraud in which thieves use “card skimming” to steal SNAP benefits.
Last year, the Oregon DHS Fraud Investigation Unit received roughly 55 complaints about EBT card skimming, although the actual number of occurrences is likely much higher, explained an agency spokesperson.
“Unfortunately, ODHS does not currently track complaints or rates of fraud specifically related to EBT card skimming,” said Jake Sunderland, Oregon DHS spokesperson. “Moving forward, ODHS will be closely tracking and monitoring EBT card skimmer fraud so that we can better track the impact this has on EBT card holders in Oregon.”
Haywood Talcove of LexisNexis Risk Solutions’ Government Group warns the problem will only get worse.
“It is about to take off like a rocket ship,” said Talcove.
Talcove estimates food stamp fraud in Oregon likely amounts to $40 million dollars a month. His estimate is based on state numbers compared with national data — where reports of scammers ripping off SNAP benefits is through the roof, Talcove said.
The security expert also pointed to recent chatter on the dark web, which included screen shots and videos where criminals appeared to be bragging about SNAP fraud.
No system for reimbursement — Crooks often skim EBT cards and pin numbers by secretly installing a device on ATM readers that records the information when cards are swiped through, then create fake cards and drain accounts.
“What the criminals have figured out is that they don’t get caught and government never runs out of money. They just print more,” said Talcove.
The security expert warned EBT fraud has many of the same characteristics as unemployment fraud — which cost the government billions of dollars in losses during the pandemic. International and domestic crime rings took advantage of old, outdated systems to rip off unemployment checks.
“It’s the same players,” warned Talcove. “The same organized criminal groups are now attacking the food stamp program.”
Congress is reacting to the problem. In December, Congress approved the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act that allows SNAP recipients to be reimbursed for stolen benefits.
“Oregonians counting on electronic benefit transfers to feed their families must be able to use the cards providing those resources free of fear that fraudsters are ripping them off,” said Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, through a spokesperson.
The problem is Oregon, like most states, hasn’t implemented the changes yet allowing EBT fraud victims to be reimbursed for their losses.
“ODHS is currently waiting for federal guidance on how this replacement process will work. We will be sharing more information about this once we are able to replace stolen SNAP benefits,” explained Jake Sunderland.
“That’s a great afterthought,” said Jones, the fraud victim. “You’re going to put all this money back on my card, but in this moment — where am I going to get that $500 from? Is it going to come out of my PGE bill for the month? Gas for my car? Medications for my children or myself?”
Congress also told the UDSA to provide guidance to states on additional fraud protection. Currently, EBT cardholders don’t have access to the same security technology as everybody else using U.S. banking system. Suspicious, out-of-state purchases seem to go unnoticed, and EBT cards don’t have a chip to avoid skimming. They just have the old magnetic stripe, making them ripe for fraud.
“This is millions, and millions, and millions of dollars nationwide of our taxpayers’ money that is getting taken. And you can’t pay for a little chip card?” asked Jones.
USDA spokesperson Julie Yee explained that the agency will “promulgate regulations through notice-and-comment rulemaking” to require states to take extra security measures. USDA did not provide a timeline for when the changes might happen.
“Protecting SNAP benefits is something that USDA takes very seriously. We will continue to do everything in our power to combat SNAP fraud,” wrote Yee.
Advocates applaud Congress but admit the changes must come quickly. Low-income families are literally being robbed of their food money.
“States should be moving on this now, today, last year. That cannot be stated strongly enough” said Victoria Negus of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. The non-profit filed a class-action lawsuit in Massachusetts on behalf of EBT recipients who had benefits stolen.
Negus admits updating EBT cards is complicated. Unlike credit cards where an old card continues to work if a new card is issued, EBT cards are typically deactivated when a new card is issued. This could unintentionally cause recipients to lose access to their SNAP benefits.
Additionally, Negus explained there are only two vendors, FIS and Conduent, with contracts to provide EBT cards nationwide. States don’t have the ability to shop around looking for a vendor who can move quickly to replace outdated EBT cards with newer chip-embedded cards.
Despite these challenges, Negus argues states should be doing the legwork to prepare for replacement cards and exploring other options to prevent EBT fraud.
“I do think states have a role in driving the conversation forward with more urgency because they’re the ones stuck having to talk to families that can’t put food on the table,” said Negus.
Oregon DHS admits, like many other states, it is seeing a higher number of EBT cards skimming fraud cases than in prior years.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to protect people with EBT cards from fraud, and are researching and analyzing this issue, including consulting with our partners at the USDA to urgently identify new strategies we can use to protect EBT card holders in Oregon from card skimming fraud,” said Sunderland, the Oregon DHS spokesperson.
Until things change, there is no recourse for most victims of EBT fraud. The food stamp benefits are gone, they could be stolen again and their families need to eat.
BLM waives day use fees in observance of Washington’s Birthday
— In honor of George Washington’s birthday and to increase recreational access to public land, the Bureau of Land Management is waiving recreation standard amenity and day-use fees for visitors on Feb. 20, 2023. The BLM invites the public to visit the unique and diverse natural landscapes and visitor facilities on BLM-managed lands to celebrate the life of the first U.S. President George Washington.
This marks the second of the BLM’s fee-free days of 2023. Fee-free days refer to the waiver of standard amenity fees and day-use fees, such as visitor centers, picnic/day use areas, and National Conservation Lands units where fees are charged. Expanded amenity fees and other fees, like group day use, overnight camping, cabin rentals, and individual special recreation permits, will remain in effect unless the authorized officer determines it is appropriate to waive them.
BLM’s public lands offer spectacular beauty in the colder months. Find a map of BLM’s top recreation locations in the snow, rain, or ice here:
Winter recreation on public lands
- Know before you go. Check with local offices for current conditions, including closures and travel restrictions.
- Make sure tires have adequate traction for road conditions.
- Ensure that a friend or family member is aware of your adventure plans.
- Ensure you have the 10 essentials before venturing out: navigation tools (map, GPS, personal locator beacon), headlamp, sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen, especially against snow glare!), first aid kit, knife/gear repair kit, fire essentials (fire starter, matches, lighter, etc.), shelter (i.e., an emergency blanket that folds up extremely small), extra food, extra water (beyond the minimum expectation), and extra clothes (layer up!).
Recommendations on where to go with snow (NOTE: these locations may or may not have fees):
- Burns: Steens Mountain offers an array of winter recreation opportunities, including snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and skiing. Individual permits must be obtained through the Burns District Office.
- Lakeview: Gerber Recreation Site is popular for ice fishing and open year-round for camping. The paved roads are not plowed but remain clear of snow most winters. Wood River Wetland offers hiking, dog walking, bird watching, hunting, and (when there’s enough snow) snowshoeing. Be aware that the parking area is not plowed in the winter, so parking is not always available.
- Medford: Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are available at the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument and Table Mountain Winter Play Area.
- Washington State: Split Rock Recreation Site at Palmer Lake offers ice fishing (or regular fishing if there is no ice). Visitors can also hike on the Similkameen Rail Trail from Oroville to the Enloe Dam or on the Cowiche Canyon Trail (where there is usually little to no snow). The Yakima River Canyon Recreation Site is a great location for winter camping. If winter is mild, the Juniper Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area is a good option for recreation, and if the winter is cold, the Fishtrap Recreation Area offers ice fishing and cross-country skiing.
Recommendations on where to go with little to no snow (NOTE: these locations may or may not have fees):
- Northwest Oregon: The West Eugene Wetlands offer disc golf, the Sandy Ridge Trail System offers mountain biking, Shotgun Creek Recreation Site is open to off-highway vehicles, and the Wildwood Recreation Site has an underwater salmon viewing chamber.
- Medford: Sites such as the Upper and Lower Table Rocks, Cathedral Hills, and Mountain of the Rogue offer winter hiking and tend to be free of snow.
In 2023, BLM will waive recreation standard amenity and day use fees for visitors on:
- January 16 (Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.)
- February 20 (Washington’s Birthday)
- June 19 (Juneteenth National Independence Day)
- August 4 (Great American Outdoors Day)
- September 23 (National Public Lands Day)
- November 11 (Veterans Day)
For more information about the BLM’s recreation fee program, please visit https: //www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/permits-and-fees.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.
83-year-old Clarence Edward Pitts walked away from his home in Bandon on Tuesday, January 31 at around 1:00 p.m.
Pitts is described as:
- 6′ 00″
- 150 lbs
- Gray hair
- Brown eyes
- Last seen wearing an orange beanie, plaid jacket, tan pants and white shoes
- May have a walking cane
- Has dementia and PTSD
Pitts may be in a vehicle that was also found to be missing from the home:
- 1999 Toyota Van
- Oregon license plate: WYN 788
If you see Clarence or have any information pertaining to where he may be, please call the Coos County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center at 541-396-2106 or the Bandon Police Department at 541-347-3189.