Oregon Beach News, Friday 3/17 – The Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast and Crew Return to Astoria Home Port, Pacific Power Announces Grant to Help Southcoast Clambake Music Festival Bring Music to Schools

The latest news stories across the state of Oregon from the digital home of the Oregon coastal cities, OregonBeachMagazine.com

Friday, March 17, 2023

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The Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast and Crew Returned to Their Astoria Home Port Following a 69-day Counter-Narcotics Patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean

Steadfast’s crew disrupted the flow of illegal narcotics on three separate occasions during their patrol preventing a combined total of more than 7,500 pounds of cocaine, valued at $85.6 million, from reaching the U.S. maritime borders.

The crew steamed more than 12,000 nautical miles conducting training, law enforcement missions, providing search-and-rescue coverage, and conducting helicopter operations while patrolling the waters from their Astoria home port to international waters off the coast of Central America.

The Steadfast deployed with a Jacksonville, Florida, based Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and aircrew along with temporarily assigned crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane (WMEC 903), and soon-to-be-commissioned Coast Guard Cutter Argus (WMSM 915).

During nighttime patrol operations, Steadfast personnel were notified by a Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of a suspected narcotics-smuggling vessel transiting international waters. Steadfast personnel launched an Over-the-Horizon (OTH) crew and boarding team who interdicted the vessel after a multi-hour pursuit. The suspected smugglers jettisoned contraband, resulting in the disruption of 2,260 pounds of cocaine, valued at $25.6 million.

Additionally, Steadfast’s crew tracked another suspected narcotics-smuggling vessel with the assistance of a Mexican Navy (SEMAR) surveillance aircraft and aircrew. Steadfast personnel launched an OTH boat crew and HITRON helicopter aircrew while the Mexican MPA tracked the vessel. Steadfast’s small boat and helicopter crews interdicted the suspected narcotics-smuggling vessel and seized 3,300 pounds of cocaine valued at $37.5 million.

“The successful coordination between a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and Mexican MPA was a significant step in advancing our strategic partnerships in combatting the flow of illicit narcotics in Eastern Pacific,” Coast Guard Cmdr. Commanding Officer Brock S. Eckel said.

The next day, Steadfast crew launched an OTH boat crew and HITRON aircrew to intercept another suspected smuggling vessel. The aircrew located the suspected smuggling vessel and worked with a nearby Mexican Naval vessel to vector in a Mexican Naval helicopter. This multi-national effort resulted in the seizure of 1,984 pounds of cocaine valued at $22.5 million.

“From battling heavy seas off the Oregon and California coasts, to overcoming equipment casualties, and multiple smuggling vessel interdictions in the darkest of nights, the determination, resilience, and professionalism of the Steadfast crew was simply exceptional,” Eckel said. “The crew’s operational success was matched only by the strengthening of international and inter-agency relationships along the way. Steadfast’s crew once again proved their proficiency in working with partner nations jointly executing the counternarcotics mission successfully.”

The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions for these interdictions by United States Attorney’s Offices throughout the country.

Commissioned in 1968, Steadfast is one of two 210-foot medium endurance cutters homeported in Astoria. The cutter and crew deploy along the western seaboard of North and Central America enforcing living marine resource laws and regulations, detecting and interdicting narcotics and migrant smuggling, and conducting search-and-rescue operations.

Pacific Power Announces Grant to Help Southcoast Clambake Music Festival Bring Music to Schools

Funding is part of a series of arts and cultural grants to support organizations delivering creative education and enrichment in local communities

COOS BAY, Ore. (March 15, 2023)— Arts and cultural organizations play an essential role in maintaining healthy and resilient communities. To support their vital work, the Pacific Power Foundation is donating more than $164,000 in new grant funding across the three states it serves. 

The grants will help fund projects ranging from Shakespeare performances with American Sign Language interpretation to free music events, and from programming that engages diverse youth in public art projects to museums that share regional cultural history.

“These groups foster creative expression, inspire young minds, nurture well-being, and help us look at the world in new ways,” said Sam Carter, Pacific Power regional business manager. “We’re honored to support the incredible work they are doing.” 

On the southern Oregon coast, the Pacific Power Foundation provided a $3,500 grant to the Southcoast Clambake Music Festival to bring a band to the Coos Bay area for the Music in the Schools program that helps educate more than 4,500 local students. 

This recent round of grants focused on art and culture is one of the foundation’s four annual grant cycles. 

About the Pacific Power Foundation:

The Pacific Power Foundation is part of the PacifiCorp Foundation, one of the largest utility-endowed foundations in the United States. The foundation was created by PacifiCorp, an electric utility serving 2 million customers in six Western states as Rocky Mountain Power (Utah, Wyoming and Idaho) and Pacific Power (Oregon, Washington and California). The foundation’s mission, through charitable investments, is to support the growth and vitality of the communities served by Rocky Mountain Power and Pacific Power. Since its establishment in 1988, the PacifiCorp Foundation has awarded more than $60 million to nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit www.pacificpower.net/foundation.

Tillamook Forest Center Re-opens to Public March 17

Tillamook State Forest, Ore. – The Tillamook Forest Center is re-opening to the public starting March 17, offering opportunities to connect with and learn about Oregon’s fascinating state forests.

Oregon Department of Forestry : Tillamook Forest Center : Recreation :  State of Oregon

Located in the heart of the Tillamook State Forest along Highway 6, the Tillamook Forest Center has been closed for about three years starting with the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. Initial limited hours will be Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., then expanding to a five-days a week summer schedule starting May 3.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming visitors back to the Tillamook Forest Center and to share our passion and knowledge about Oregon’s forests once again,” Interim Center Director Denise Berkshire said.

In addition to regular programming, for the next six months, the Tillamook Forest Center is hosting a traveling exhibit in partnership with the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center titled, Timber Culture. The exhibit transports you to 1920’s eastern Oregon and tells the story of multicultural loggers, and their families, who traveled to Oregon during the Great Migration. In sharing and discussing the history of the segregated logging community of Maxville, Oregon, the exhibit examines issues of race and social justice through the lens of Oregon’s history.  Bringing this exhibit to the Tillamook Forest Center was made possible with the support of the non-profit State Forests Trust of Oregon. 

For a full calendar of events and to learn how you can visit or volunteer at the Center, visit tillamookforestcenter.com.  To make a donation in support of private/public partnerships that goes toward enhancing recreation, education and interpretation activities on Oregon’s state forest lands visit the Trust’s website.

About the Tillamook Forest Center: Nestled in the heart of the Tillamook State Forest, the Tillamook Forest Center is the region’s largest forest-based interpretive and educational center, located 50 miles west of Portland and 22 miles east of Tillamook at 45500 Wilson River Highway, Tillamook, Ore.  It is a special place to develop a deeper connection with Oregon’s forests through experience and exploration. Spring hours for the Center are Friday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with expanded hours starting May 3. A $5 donation is suggested. 

Spring Whale Watch Week Returns in Person for Spring Break 2023

OREGON COAST, Oregon—Oregon State Parks will host Spring Whale Watch Week in person along the Oregon Coast Tuesday, March 28 through Sunday, April 2.

Visitors look for whales during Winter Whale Watch Week 2022

Every year thousands of gray whales pass through Oregon’s waters in the spring on their journey home from the calving lagoons in Mexico, and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department invites visitors to the coast to see them. 

Trained volunteers will be stationed at 17 sites to help visitors spot whales, share information and answer questions from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. The sites are some of the best places to watch for whales on the Oregon Coast. 

“Spring is a great time for whale watching because the gray whales are usually closer to shore on their return trip, typically around a mile or so out, and the weather is a little warmer for visitors,” said Park Ranger Peter McBride.

A map of volunteer-staffed sites is available online on the official event webpage: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=thingstodo.dsp_whaleWatching

An estimated 18,000 gray whales are expected to swim past Oregon’s shores from late March through June as part of their annual migration back toward Alaska. The end of March is the beginning of this migration and timed perfectly for spring break. 

The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Visitors to the center can enjoy interactive whale exhibits and take in the panoramic ocean views. Binoculars are provided. Rangers from Oregon State Parks will also be on hand to answer questions about the whales.

All Whale Watch Week visitors are encouraged to dress for the weather, to bring binoculars and to follow beach safety guidelines such as remaining out of fenced areas, knowing the tide schedule and keeping an eye on the surf at all times. Go to https://visittheoregoncoast.com/beach-safety/ for a list of safety tips.

For more information about coast parks and campgrounds, visit oregonstateparks.org.

Respect Nesting Areas to Protect Threatened Snowy Plover March 15 – Sept. 15

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and federal U.S. Forest Service remind visitors to the Oregon coast that it is plover nesting season — visitors can help recovery efforts for the threatened western snowy plover by sharing the beaches March 15 to Sept. 15. 

Sensitive plover nesting areas will be roped off or identified by signs with rules and limits, such as staying on the wet sand, to help protect the small shorebirds and their exposed nests during this crucial period. 

Plover beaches remain open to foot and equestrian traffic below the high-tide line on wet, packed sand throughout the nesting season. This ensures that plover nests, eggs and chicks are kept safe.   All other recreation on plover beaches is prohibited on both wet and dry sand, including walking a dog (even on a leash), driving a vehicle, riding a bicycle, camping, burning wood and flying kites or operating drones.

These small birds nest on open sand along Oregon’s beaches. Nests, and especially chicks, are well-camouflaged. During the nesting season, human disturbances can flush adult plovers away from their nests as they attempt to defend their young. Left alone too long, or too often, eggs or chicks can die from exposure, predators or people. 

“We’re making great strides in reversing the decline of this species,” said Cindy Burns, Siuslaw National Forest wildlife biologist. “But it takes all of us, so we urge people to do their part to understand nesting season rules and to share the beach this spring and summer.”

Recreation restrictions occur in designated plover management areas: small stretches of beach along the coastline where plovers nest or might nest. These areas combined make up about 40 miles of Oregon’s 362 miles of shoreline. 

“Visitors have access to hundreds of miles of beaches that have no seasonal restrictions,” said Laurel Hillmann, ocean shore specialist for Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. “By planning your trip, you can enjoy the coast and help protect these special birds.”

More information on the snowy plover, including detailed maps of nesting sites, can be found on the Oregon State Parks website (oregon.gov/plovers) and on the Siuslaw National Forest website. Visitors to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area can review maps at its website to identify unrestricted recreation areas and information on riding motor vehicles on the sand. 

New plover activity — The increase in plover numbers may result in nesting occurring in new or historical nesting sites. For example, visitors to Sand Lake Recreation Area may see small roped off areas near the lake’s inlet to protect active nests, and may encounter plovers on the beach. Beachgoers are encouraged to protect these birds by restricting recreation activities to wet sand areas, avoiding roped off nesting areas, packing all trash out and keeping dogs on leash. 

Background on plover protections — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed western snowy plovers as a threatened species in 1993, when officials counted only 55 breeding adults. The numbers of breeding adults have steadily increased since then, from 107 in 2003 to 604 in 2021. 

Several land managers oversee beach activity for plover protection, primarily the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD).

Habitat loss from invasive plants — as well as human disturbances, including litter and discarded food scraps that attract predators — have contributed to the birds’ decline. The Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative, saveoregondunes.org, is working with land managers on a restoration strategy and to raise public awareness about the need to restore the dunes ecosystem for western snowy plovers, rare plants and animals, and the unique recreation

Study Finds Lack Of Nursing Teachers Causing Nurse Shortage in Oregon

The Oregon Longitudinal Data Collaborative (OLDC) is pleased to announce a newly published study: “Postsecondary Healthcare Education Shortage in Oregon,” a statewide analysis of the nursing education shortage that is impacting every region of Oregon. According to the study, more than 6,800 qualified nursing student applications were submitted to Oregon postsecondary institutions in 2020, yet only 23 percent were accepted. At the same time, Oregon ranks 47th in graduates per capita from registered nursing programs. This study examines the causes of the postsecondary education bottleneck which is limiting institutions of higher education from providing enough capacity to meet student and job market demand for registered nurses and makes recommendations for policymakers to address these issues. Read the full analysis here or the Summary of Findings and Recommendations here.

Barbara Holtry, interim executive director of the Oregon State Board of Nursing says, “This report confirms what has been known in nursing circles for decades; that there is a nursing faculty shortage in Oregon, that nurses avoid teaching because they can earn more in other nursing roles, and that student cohorts could be larger if only there were more faculty to support them.”

The researchers found that there are more than enough qualified applicants to Oregon’s nursing education programs to meet job demand in the state. However, in a survey of Oregon’s healthcare education programs, the researchers found that significant barriers have prevented registered nursing programs from expanding to accept more qualified students, including: difficulty hiring and retaining faculty, limited clinical placement opportunities, and fiscal challenges including costs to update and expand their facilities. Further investigation revealed that Oregon has one of the largest salary gaps nationally between nursing faculty and registered nurses. Analysis showed that states like Oregon with a higher nursing faculty salary gap graduate fewer students per capita. The survey also found that 95 percent of nursing programs were denied one or more attempts to establish a clinical placement between 2016-2020. 

Based on the findings in the study, the OLDC developed recommendations which are detailed in the summary here and include: establishing a state workgroup to address nurse faculty salary, establishing a statewide centralized clinical placement system, addressing needs for program expansion including facility and equipment needs and expanded access to bachelor programs, and conducting additional research to identify additional support for students.

“This study is a great example of the value that comes from sharing data with the Oregon Longitudinal Data Collaborative and other partner agencies. It sheds light on the complex challenges contributing to the shortage of health care workers and points to some possible policy solutions,” said Acting Oregon Employment Department Director David Gerstenfeld. “These collaborations help Oregon businesses and workforces compete, thrive, and flourish in our ever-changing labor market. Together, we can serve Oregonians better than we ever could on our own.”

This is the first comprehensive report of the OLDC, a program governed by multiple agencies, that looks at the intersections of K-12, postsecondary education, workforce training, and employment to examine how these sectors influence and impact each other. The OLDC, located in the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, is working to tackle topics like nursing education that require integrated data and analysis from multiple sectors: K-12 education, postsecondary education, licensing, workforce, and more.

Ben Cannon, executive director of HECC says, “This study provides an in-depth analysis of a critical and complicated issue we face, and concrete actions for Oregon policy makers and institutions to consider to help more Oregon students enter rewarding, well-paying careers, and to help Oregon communities that are in such need of quality healthcare workers. I’m pleased that we can benefit from the rigorous research of the OLDC and all the partners they have worked with.”  

The study was created over the course of the last year through analysis of data from the OLDC Statewide Longitudinal Data System with additional data provided by Oregon State Board of Nursing, Oregon Employment Department, Oregon Health Authority, and surveys to the Oregon healthcare education programs. The OLDC thanks the many college and university deans and their program staff, the Oregon State Board of Nursing, HECC program staff, OHA, and the research directors from the HECC, OED, ODE for their involvement during the research process.  Source: Oregon Longitudinal Data Collaborative

Oregon DEQ to temporarily suspend Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program as of May 1

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality today announced it will temporarily suspend the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program as of May 1, 2023. Projections show the program will be oversubscribed in late spring 2023. Program rules require DEQ to suspend rebates once funds are depleted.

“DEQ has one of the most generous EV rebate programs in the country. It has been extremely successful, and 2023 rebate applications are coming in at our highest rate yet. People are choosing electric vehicles and rebates are instrumental in lowering the costs to Oregonians.” said Oregon DEQ Director Leah Feldon.

The program receives funds annually from the state’s Vehicle Privilege Tax . It covers all program costs, including rebates, program administration and community engagement. The Oregon Department of Revenue projects the program will receive about $14 million for 2023. Also, it was able to carry over approximately $3.5 million due to a one-time allotment of $15 million last year. Therefore, the 2023 budget was $17.5 million, with $15.5 million available for rebates. DEQ expects the fund to be depleted in the next few months, based on volume of EV sales.

If you buy or lease an eligible battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle or zero-emission motorcycle before May 1, you may still apply for a rebate . DEQ has created an Available Rebate Funding web page so applicants can see how much money is left for 2023. Once funds are depleted, eligible applications will go on a waiting list, to be paid once DEQ receives its next allotment in early 2024.

Electric vehicles purchased or leased after April 30, 2023, will not receive state rebates, but can still qualify for federal tax credits . They will not be placed on a waiting list for rebates at a later time.

“Other states look to the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program as a model. That’s because we understand transitioning to electric vehicles is an important part of the state’s overall climate plan to reduce emissions, promote cleaner air and improve public health,” said Director Feldon.

A variety of state agencies and public electric utilities offer savings on EV purchases or charging infrastructure. The Go Electric Oregon website lists available incentives and provides helpful information for potential electric vehicle buyers and lessees.

If you have any questions about the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program suspension, please contact cleancars@deq.oregon.gov.

About The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality — The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality protects human health and the environment by controlling air and water pollution, reducing the impacts of manufactured products and cleaning up contaminated properties. DEQ engages the public in decision-making and helps communities solve problems in ways that are economically and environmentally sustainable. https://www.oregon.gov/newsroom/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?newsid=87788

Bend Snowboarder Killed In Avalanche At Paulina Peak

A Bend snowboarder killed in an avalanche at Paulina Peak Wednesday has been identified. – The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says Erik Hefflefinger, 33, was snowboarding with friends when an avalanche swept him away and over a cliff at around 12:50 pm. His two friends, also from Bend and who had already made their descent when the avalanche happened, found him and immediately began CPR and other lifesaving measures. 

DCSO says Oregon State Police responded to the incident after receiving two SOS notifications from the area, however they were unable to get to the scene because of snow conditions. Deschutes County Search and Rescue (SAR) deployed three volunteers using Airlink. When they got there around 4 p.m., DCSO said Hefflefinger’s pulse was faint, so they began life saving measures. 

At 5 p.m., SAR determined Hefflefinger was beyond help and they stopped. DCSO said. They transported him to the 10-mile snow park, where he was then taken to the funeral home. 

DCSO said it was determined that Hefflefinger possibly hit a tree when he was swept away. The three snowboarders used snowmobiles to approach the area and made a final approach on skis and snowboards. 

The summit of Paulina Peak is 7,984 feet. It’s the highest point on the Newberry Volcano.

Earlier this month, experienced backcountry skier Aaron Griffith, of Bend, was killed by an avalanche while skiing with a friend at Black Crater, north of the Three Sisters.

DCSO said that prior to these two fatalities, it has been nine years since a fatality has been recorded directly due to an avalanche.

State Representatives Introduce Bill Reforming Drug Laws Measure 110

Monday Representative Lily Morgan, Republican of Grants Pass, and Representative E. Werner Reschke, Republican of Klamath Falls, announced the introduction of HB 3549. It would reform Oregon’s drug laws broken by Ballot Measure 110.

Measure 110 created a Class E Violation for hard drug possession in Oregon law. As of the end of February, law enforcement had issued 4,164 violations, nearly 20% of them coming from Josephine County alone. Only 34 individuals, less than 1%, have had a substance use assessment.

HB 3549’s tiered approach would keep Measure 110’s Class E Violation for the first offense with escalating accountability measures for subsequent offenses. The second offense would be a felony possession, with eligibility for conditional discharge. The third offense would be a felony charge with mandatory drug court.

The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Judiciary and is awaiting a public hearing.

Oregon is one of 20 states with so-called “red flag” gun laws, and Deschutes County continues to lead the state in using them to prevent harm.

The law allows for the temporary removal of someone’s firearms if a judge agrees they’re displaying clear signs of danger to themselves or others. Built into the system is the opportunity to contest the removal and automatic expiration after a year if an order isn’t extended with more evidence.

Experts say the laws allow for intervention before a person’s behavior turns dangerous. Since Oregon’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law took effect in 2018, Deschutes County has issued those orders more often than most other counties in the state, according to a review of judicial department data.

Jake Chandler, an investigator in the Deschutes County District Attorney’s office and former Bend Police officer, says the law took effect right at the time he and the department’s Community Response Team was responding to two tragic fatalities.

“(We looked) at those saying hey, what can we do on our team, on the mental health team, to make sure that doesn’t happen again, or do everything in our power to try to stop that from happening?” Chandler said. “So once we found the ERPOs being available to us, our team really started pushing that.”

Even several years into their existence, the protective orders remain at times a little-known tool for preventing deaths and injuries from firearms, as passage of the law came with little state support for public education around the orders and their use.

But “red flag” laws have gained national attention as investigators find missed warning signs left by the perpetrators of mass shootings.

“We all have been touched by violence in our community or nationally that people say ‘why didn’t somebody do something?’ when there were red flags,” said Kecia Weaver, a former Bend Police officer now working for the Sunriver Police Department. “This is a tool, a ‘something’ that myself or other lawful officers can do when we become alerted to some red flags by an individual’s statements or communication about what they might do to themselves or others.”

The orders are not cure-alls, Weaver notes, saying people could still find ways to be dangerous with an order applied to them, but that temporarily reducing access to firearms can still be an improvement.

Requests for orders can be filed only by certain people for certain reasons. Law enforcement, close family members and intimate partners can apply to have someone’s weapons removed with an order, but not friends, coworkers or acquaintances.

Those narrow rules are important for making sure orders are used only in serious situations, according to Kerry Spurgin, president of the Oregon Sports Shooting Association.

“The most important thing is we need to save lives and that person is given the opportunity to regain (their firearms),” Spurgin said. “But I rest on the fact that It starts with events that are defendable in front of a (judge), with the knowledge that there are second steps to regain.”

While certain family members can petition for an order, Chandler notes that asking law enforcement to do so is also an option to avoid direct confrontation if preferred.

The rules also mean clinicians like therapists or doctors — while they are mandatory reporters who have to report certain threats of violence — can’t directly petition for an order.

That can be reassuring for someone experiencing mental health challenges who might be afraid that being honest with a counselor could get their guns taken away, according to Donna-Marie Drucker, founder of the Oregon Firearms Safety Coalition, which provides suicide prevention training for gun clubs and ranges.

“Mostly my focus is letting people know that your clinician, your person at the VA, your primary care doctor cannot petition (for an order),” Drucker said. “You go and ask for help and nobody’s going to be taking away your guns.”

If an order is granted, a person has 24 hours to surrender their weapons to law enforcement, a firearms dealer or other specified people.

Since their inception, most of the state’s 500-plus granted “red flag” orders that have been granted have included concerns about a person’s risk of suicide.

Petitions are granted for a handful of other reasons, including if a person makes threats of violence, purchases a weapon for the purpose of committing violence, violates certain restraining orders or is convicted of certain crimes — and, most often, some combination of multiple reasons.

Still, not every petition is granted.

“I’ve only had one that was declined by the courts — which again is a great part of the process, because officers just apply for orders when they think it would be an appropriate and helpful tool,” Weaver said. “But ultimately it is up to a judge.”

In that specific case, the individual had been making threats toward family members, but the judge didn’t see enough evidence to issue an order.

“But a few days later the individual contacted law enforcement that they did not feel safe having access to firearms, and they felt that they could potentially be a danger to others,” Weaver said.

About 20% of ERPO petitions have been denied since the law took effect, most for the same reason that a judge didn’t find “clear and convincing evidence” that the person presented a risk of harm to themselves or others, or because they didn’t actually have access to a weapon, according to judicial department data.

“Many, many things you can’t enforce unless a bad act has occurred, and for community safety, we’re trying to avoid a bad act … while still respecting someone’s constitutional rights,” Weaver said. “So it’s not something that we take lightly, and it does have to have good foundational information.” (SOURCE)

Statewide Speed Related Fatal and Serious Injury Crashes up 67%, Local Law Enforcement Conducting Awareness Campaign

March is Speed Awareness Month, speeding is a dangerous and aggressive behavior that accounts for more than one-quarter of all traffic-related fatalities nationally. There are many reasons drivers choose to speed, but lateness, traffic, and a general disregard for others are the main culprits behind this risky behavior. Much like impaired driving, speeding is a selfish choice that can have deadly consequences for the driver.

Speed related fatal and serious injury crashes were up 67% statewide in 2021. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), 2021 represents a 32‐year high in traffic fatalities (599 total) and a 25‐year high in serious injuries (2498 total). Almost one‐third (29%) of the 2021 fatal and serious injury crashes were flagged as speed related. According to initial fatal crash notifications, ODOT anticipates these trends continued through 2022.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and other local agencies around the state are teaming up to remind drivers to stop speeding and to help put an end to this risky driving behavior. We will be participating in this statewide speed awareness campaign for the entire month of March.

Note: Photos are from separate cases. Speed-Related Crash Photo: Vehicle suspected of reaching speeds around 100 mph before hitting the tree. Speeding Ticket Photo: Taken last month in Jackson County.  NHTSA Oregon Department of Transportation

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
  • White
  • 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.

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