Oregon Beach News, Friday 3/22 – Tribes Along The West Coast Announce Their Opposition To Proposed Offshore Wind Development, Lincoln County Police Agencies To Conduct Active Shooter Response Training & Other Local and Statewide News…

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

Friday, March 22, 2024

Oregon Beach Weather

...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM PDT THIS EVENING...
...HAZARDOUS SEAS WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 8 PM THIS EVENING TO 11 AM PDT SATURDAY...

* WHAT...South winds 15 to 25 kt with gusts up to 30 kt and seas 6
to 9 ft at 15 seconds. Conditions worsen with south winds 20 to
30 kt with gusts to 35 kt with seas becoming wind-driven, very
steep, and hazardous 7 to 12 ft expected. Conditions will then
gradually subside to south winds 10 to 20 kt with gusts up to 25
kt and seas 6 to 9 ft at 13 seconds.

* WHERE...All seas affected. The strongest winds and steepest seas
will largely be beyond 3 NM from shore.

* WHEN...The Small Craft Advisory runs until 8 PM PDT this
evening. Then, it becomes a Hazardous Seas Warning, from 8 PM
this evening to 11 AM PDT Saturday. Seas then subside back to Small
Craft Advisory, from 11 AM to 11 PM PDT Saturday.

* IMPACTS...Very steep and hazardous seas could capsize or
damage vessels. Bar crossings will become especially
treacherous.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...A few isolated gale gusts may be possible
near 10 NM from shore.

* View the hazard area in detail at https://go.usa.gov/x6hks

A growing number of tribes in Oregon and California are coming out in opposition to federal offshore wind projects. Some tribes don’t believe there’s been enough research into the impacts on the environment.

At least five tribes along the West Coast have announced their opposition to proposed offshore wind development. Five areas off the California coast were auctioned off in late 2022 to build floating wind turbines. And the federal government is considering sales off the Southern Oregon coast.

Three people stand in front of a large screen that says "The Yurok Tribe is a proud sponsor of the Tribal Offshore Wind Summit" With the Yurok Tribe logo below. The people are holding five signs with handwritten statements including "Offshore Winds Not for out people, environment, fisheries" and "Tribes must unite to make change!"
Members of the Yurok Tribe at an offshore wind summit the Tribe hosted in early February 2024. The Tribe recently came out opposed to federal offshore wind projects.

Derek Bowman, a council member with the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria south of Eureka, said the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management hasn’t involved the tribes enough in the process.

“We have a huge amount of traditional ecological knowledge that could assist in a lot of assessments that they’re doing,” Bowman said. “And we’re not really included in it. It feels like we’re just a checkbox that they have to check in order to say, ‘Hey, we talked to the tribes, we’re good to go.’ And we’re not alright with that.”

The Northern Chumash Tribe in Southern California expressed concerns about the proposed sale of two offshore wind areas near Morro Bay in 2022 before they were auctioned off. Their opposition wasn’t about offshore wind in general, but because of the sites overlapping with a nearby proposed National Marine Sanctuary.

This year, a number of other tribes came out in formal opposition to the projects. The first was the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians in mid-February.

“BOEM’s press release states that it has ‘engaged’ with the Tribe, but that engagement has amounted to listening to the Tribe’s concerns and ignoring them and providing promises that they may be dealt with at some later stage of the process,” said Tribal Council Chair Brad Kneaper in a statement.

More tribes quickly joined in opposition, including the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation, the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria and California’s largest tribe, the Yurok. All three announced their opposition in early March.

Bowman said that historically, logging and gold mining industries took natural resources and gave little back to tribal communities.

“It’s just hard for us to accept that what’s best for everyone actually means it’s good for us too,” he said. “Because we always suffer when the government comes in to say, ‘This is what’s best for everybody and we need to do it in your area to help people in another area.’ It never works out for us.”

Beyond a lack of engagement, Bowman says there hasn’t been enough research into the environmental effects, both on the ocean and on land. Those include

possible effects of turbines on fishing and marine animal activities as well as transmission lines on land that could harm endangered species in the region.

“More importantly, when it comes to overland transmission lines, it’s the potential for fires. They cause fires all over California,” Bowman said. “And now running right through our ancestral territory, there are going to be these very large transmission lines overland.”

In a statement, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it agrees that tribes must have a seat at the table.

“We have taken coordinated actions to incorporate Indigenous Knowledge and Tribal input into our decision making process and we are working to help Tribes expand capacity to engage in environmental reviews, work with industry, and develop partnerships,” said BOEM in a statement.

Development of offshore wind farms on the California coast are underway, but turbines won’t be deployed for at least four years. The agency is currently developing its environmental assessment for two offshore wind areas on the Southern Oregon coast. (SOURCE)

Lincoln County Police Agencies To Conduct Active Shooter Response Training

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Newport Police, Toledo Police, Oregon State Police, and Lincoln City Police will be conducting active shooter response training exercises March 26-28, 2024 to better prepare officers to respond to an active shooter type event should one occur in our cities. 

These training exercises will be taking place at the Newport Middle School and Taft High School campuses. We want to alert the public in hopes of minimizing any alarm or confusion that may occur when people see a large concentration of officers and police vehicles at the schools. The training exercise will be occurring during spring break when no students or staff will be present at the schools. Signs will be posted outside the school indicating that a training exercise is underway.

This training event is not open to the public and access to the school will be restricted while the training exercises are being conducted.  

Should you have questions or concerns, please contact Lincoln City Police Department Lieutenant Jeffrey Winn or Lieutenant Eric Henderson at 541-994-3636. 

Lincoln County law enforcement agencies would like to extend a big thank you to the Lincoln County School District for allowing the use of their buildings for this training exercise. The cooperation of all our emergency response agencies and our school district partners is crucial to helping keep the communities and citizens of Lincoln County safe. 

Lane County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue solves a 20-year-old problem with an evening of high angle training at Heceta Lighthouse

Lane County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue is always training.  Last week, they were able to train and help out our Oregon State Parks at the same time!  About 20 volunteers practiced rigging and operating our high and steep angle rescue systems at Heceta Head Lighthouse…to “rescue” a picnic table on the cliff below that has been an eyesore for 20 years. 

The rope rescue systems can be deployed quickly almost anywhere by just a few trained personnel, and have been used to rescue many injured swimmers and hikers.  But a picnic table was a first! The unique “patient” presented an excellent challenge for our problem solving and adaptability. The training provided as close to a real-world scenario as it could get – and a perfect view.

Nearly every week, Sheriff’s Search & Rescue volunteers assist our residents in all types of environments. Learn more about our Search & Rescue program at www.lanecounty.org/government/county_departments/sheriff_s_office/volunteers/search_and_rescue.

Marine Reserves Protection Plan Awaits Governor’s Signature

The Oregon Senate has passed House Bill 4132, which builds on the success of Oregon’s marine reserves program.

Based on the recommendations from the Oregon State University10-year review study, the bill calls on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to create a management plan for Oregon’s five marine reserves that will continue to protect the Oregon Coast, a vital economic and cultural hub for the state, according to a release from the Oregon Senate and House Republicans’ offices.

Sen. Dick Anderson (R – Lincoln City), carried HB 4132 on the Senate floor.

“This bill builds on the findings of the Marine Reserves Program by communicating vital scientific research back to communities to ensure collaboration between coastal stakeholders – yielding informed policy decisions in the future,” Anderson said. “This is the Oregon way.”

The bill also directs ODFW to work with tribes, fisheries, and local communities to make sure that the scientific work being done on the reserves incorporates regional knowledge and is usable for the communities on the coast.

“Oregon’s marine reserves are so important to the long-term health and stability of our beautiful coast. This bill is going to help this program stay flexible and adaptive, which is especially important as our coastal communities navigate the uncertainties of climate change,” Senate Energy and Environment Committee Chair Senator Janeen Sollman (D – Hillsboro) said.

Both Senate Democrats and Republicans agree that protecting Oregon’s vital natural resources is a key priority for the 2024 session, according to the release. HB 4132 now heads to the Governor’s desk. (SOURCE)

Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office Warning

May be an image of phone and text that says 'SCAM ALERT ! "SGT. DOTSON PHONE CALLS DEMANDING $$$" DO NOT PAY MONEY HANG UP AND VERIFY COPS DON'T CALL YOU ABOUT WARRANTS OOUNT SHERIFE'

  · The scam calls have ramped up again today. They identify themselves as Sgt. Dotson or some other deputy (believe me, they are not cool like Sgt. Dotson!) PLEASE, PLEASE remember we will NEVER call you to tell you there is a warrant for you or demand money. Hang up with them immediately (no need to be polite here!). You can always call your local law enforcement to double check if we are truly trying to reach you. Stay safe and don’t fall for this.

Spring Whale Watch Week Returns to Oregon Coast for Spring Break

OREGON COAST, Oregon— Oregon State Parks will host Spring Whale Watch Week along the Oregon Coast Saturday, March 23 through Sunday, March 31.

Trained Oregon State Park volunteers will be stationed at 15 sites along the Oregon Coast to help visitors spot whales and their calves and answer questions from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily March 23-31. The sites are some of the best places to watch for whales on the Oregon Coast. 

The spring event is three days longer than last year and might include better odds of seeing gray whales on their journey home from the calving lagoons in Mexico in light of today’s announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

NOAA announced the end of an Unusual Mortality Event, a significant die-off of the gray whale population, that had affected the marine mammals since 2019.

“The latest counts indicate that the gray whale population has likely turned the corner and is beginning to recover. It’s a perfect time for people to see them as they swim north with new calves to feed,” said Michael Milstein, public affairs officer with NOAA Fisheries.

Researchers counted about 412 calves last year, which was almost double the number from the year before. That helped signal an end to the Unusual Mortality Event and a likely turnaround in numbers as the species begins to rebound.

An estimated 14,500 gray whales are expected to swim past Oregon’s shores from late winter through June as part of their annual migration back to Alaska.

“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 can be better for viewing. But don’t forget your rain gear just in case,” 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

The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay will be open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 23-31. 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.

Visitors are encouraged to share their photos and videos from Spring Whale Watch on social media using #OregonStateParks and #ORWhaleWatch24.

Respect nesting areas to protect threatened snowy plover March 15 – Sept. 15

OREGON COAST, OR – The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and Siuslaw National Forest remind visitors that it is plover nesting season on the Oregon coast March 15 to Sept. 15 ­— visitors can help recovery efforts for the threatened western snowy plover by observing recreation restrictions in designated plover areas.

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.
Recreation restrictions occur in designated plover management areas: 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.

Seasonal recreation restrictions have helped protect these small birds that nest on open sand. 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.

Reminders for recreation on designated plover beaches March 15-Sept. 15:

*The following are not permitted: dogs (even on a leash), driving a vehicle, riding a bicycle, camping, burning wood, flying kites or operating drones.

*Foot and equestrian traffic is permitted below the high-tide line on wet, packed sand.

*Respect signs and barriers to protect nesting habitat.

“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.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed western snowy plovers as a threatened species in 1993, when officials counted only 45 breeding adults. The numbers of breeding adults have steadily increased since then due to ongoing efforts. Officials counted 433 during the breeding season survey in 2023.

“We appreciate visitors’ support in keeping these shorebirds safe in the combined 40 miles of protected area along the coast. We invite visitors to enjoy permitted recreation in those areas or to recreate without seasonal restrictions on the hundreds of miles of beaches not designated as plover nesting areas,” said Laurel Hillmann, ocean shore specialist for Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

More information on the snowy plover, including detailed maps of nesting sites, can be found on the Oregon State Parks website https://www.oregon.gov/oprd/pcb/pages/pcb-plovers…. and on the Siuslaw National Forest website https://t.ly/AKPAN

Visitors to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area can review Off-highway Vehicle (OHV) maps at its website to identify unrestricted recreation areas and information on riding motor vehicles on the sand: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/siuslaw/recreation…

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 — 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, http://www.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 opportunities offered here.

SOLVE invites volunteers to register for their annual Earth Day celebration: The Oregon Spring Cleanup

SOLVE Oregon Spring Cleanup at Cannon Beach 2023

Portland, Ore., March 12, 2024 – From April 13 to April 22, families, community members, neighborhood associations, and environmental enthusiasts are invited to engage in a signature event in SOLVE’s annual calendar: The Oregon Spring Cleanup, presented by Portland General ElectricRegistration for this environmentally conscious event series is now open.

Participants are invited to join SOLVE, event leaders, and partners from across the Pacific Northwest in a collective celebration of Earth Day. The SOLVE calendar showcases a variety of events throughout Oregon and SW Washington between April 13 and April 22, with the majority of events culminating on April 20. Diverse initiatives address specific environmental needs with opportunities ranging from beach cleanups to neighborhood and city litter pickups. Further activities include restoring natural habitats through native tree and shrub plantings, weed pulls, and mulching projects. Each project contributes to the enhancement of our shared surroundings.

With a variety of projects already online, the Oregon Spring Cleanup invites enthusiastic volunteers to contribute to a cleaner, greener, and brighter planet. Interested individuals can browse the map of projects to find events near them, learn about each opportunityand sign up for a meaningful contribution to the environment. Participating in the Oregon Spring Cleanup provides an excellent opportunity to bond with family members, coworkers, and neighbors, while collectively contributing to preserving some of Oregon’s most stunning locations.

As SOLVE anticipates another successful event, valued partner Portland General Electric, shares their commitment to the cause: ” PGE proudly supports SOLVE’s efforts to make our communities cleaner and greener. In 2023, our employees and their families volunteered with SOLVE for more than 220 hours. We’re excited to join community members again this Earth Day to help improve our beautiful state.” said Kristen Sheeran, Senior Director of Policy Planning and Sustainability, Portland General Electric.

For those inspired to host an event, SOLVE is still accepting new volunteer-led projects. The sooner projects are submitted, the faster SOLVE can care for the rest. Event leaders receive full support, including free supplies, access to project funding, disposal assistance, and help with volunteer recruitment

For more information, please visit solveoregon.org/oregon-spring and be part of the collective effort to create a cleaner, greener planet.

Along with Portland General Electric, other event sponsors include Clean Water Services, AAA Oregon/Idaho, Fred Meyer, Metro, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, KOIN, The Standard, Swire Coca-Cola, Holman, Demarini-Wilson, Trimet, and PepsiCo.

About SOLVE – SOLVE is a statewide non-profit organization that brings people together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship. Since 1969, the organization has grown from a small, grassroots group to a national model for volunteer action. Today, SOLVE mobilizes and trains tens of thousands of volunteers of all ages across Oregon and Southwest Washington to clean and restore our neighborhoods and natural areas and to build a legacy of stewardship for our state. Visit solveoregon.org for more information. 

Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay North County News

EVCNB

HAM RADIO TRAINING LEADS TO LICENSING OF 12 NEW TECHNICIANS

Tillamook County now boasts 12 new licensed Ham Radio Technician class radio operators thanks to EVCNB and a group of dedicated ham radio instructors.

On February 16 and 17, EVCNB offered a Ham Radio Technician Training class which was taught by John Beaston and Bruce Maxwell of Manzanita, and Bill Busch of Neskowin. Twelve students from around the county—Bay City, Cape Mears, Cloverdale, Garibaldi, Oceanside, Rockaway, and Manzanita—finished self-study modules and attended more than 10 hours of Zoom training. 

After the Zoom classes, each student registered to sit for the individually-scheduled online FCC Technician exam. We are happy to report that all of them passed with flying colors! These 12 new Ham operators join 415 other Hams throughout Tillamook County, many of whom are active in emergency communication protocols and practices in the county.

Owning a Ham radio comes with the responsibility of proper usage so as not to create unnecessary or unacceptable interference to other users. Just as drivers and pilots must be tested on their knowledge of “the rules of the road,” before being granted a license, so too must ham radio operators show they understand the rules that govern the Amateur Radio Service before becoming licensed. Trainees must demonstrate that they know, among other things, what frequencies, in what modes, and with what power levels they are permitted to operate.

Licensed amateur radio operators are invaluable resources to local CERT teams and emergency response professionals. When nothing else is functioning and the communication grid goes down, Ham radios will still work and Ham operators become front line responders by providing emergency information to and between each other, first responders, and citizens. No matter how remote or chaotic a disaster area is, Ham radios will find a way to bring communications where and when needed. https://evcnb.org/news-updates/ham-radio-training-022024?fbclid=IwAR1CHrvCgLOqLb73mqeQVIPCCdrqw3kcbCa4jVdZQPWVM2GwNr4lHW-S1mI

Learn important communication skills necessary during an emergency. You’ll be able to use your Yellow Radio to keep in touch with neighbors and support services.

Register now! https://evcnb.org/events-and-training/yellow-radio-03162024 —- https://evcnb.org/yellow-radio

Forest Service Seeks Concessionaire For Devils Churn Day Use Site

Grey building with a light on

The Siuslaw National Forest is soliciting proposals for a business opportunity at the Devils Churn Day Use Site within the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. A 100-square-foot concession space is available within a Forest Service building, and the agency is seeking a food and beverage service provider to operate this facility. Devils Churn is a popular year-round day use area and trailhead along U.S. Highway 101 just south of Yachats, Oregon.

The Forest Service has released a prospectus to advertise the opportunity and explain the application process. Interested parties are encouraged to review the prospectus and accompanying appendices. The application period opens on January 30, 2024. Applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3. Please read the instructions carefully before submitting an application.

One successful applicant will be chosen. The successful applicant will be issued a 5-year special use permit to conduct business in the concession space. MORE INFO: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/siuslaw/home/?cid=fseprd1162886

Distracted Driving Enforcement Operations Planned During April

The month of April is designated as the National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the Lincoln City Police Department will be utilizing traffic safety grant funds to conduct enhanced enforcement operations during the month. The Lincoln City Police Department will be joining law enforcement agencies across the state and nation in working together to enforce distracted driving laws in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and deter drivers from using their cell phones while driving. The enhanced enforcement operations will be conducted periodically throughout the month of April.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2021 there were 3,522 people killed and an estimated 362,415 people injured in traffic crashes involving distracted drivers. Distracted Driving is a dangerous behavior for drivers, passengers, and non-occupants alike, and is a leading cause of vehicle crashes on our nation’s roadways. Distracted driving is a specific type of inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention from the task of driving to focus on other activities, such as using their phones. During the month, drivers will see increased patrol efforts with an emphasis on seeking out drivers who are distracted by talking or texting on their cell phones, or using other electronic devices while they are operating their vehicle. The goal of these enhanced enforcement efforts is to increase the safety of the citizens and visitors of Lincoln City. 

The Distracted Driving Enforcement grant funds are a valuable resource that assist us in improving the traffic safety in our community. Our objective is to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, and to reduce the number of distracted drivers on the roadways to prevent crashes that cause injuries and cost lives. These grant funds were made possible through the Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon Impact.

Quarterly Coffee with a Deputy – Waldport
Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Office 

More about these quarterly events:
Every three months our office will partner with a local coffee shop in Lincoln County to provide a time, space, and coffee for community members to meet our team and share what’s on their minds. Coffee with a cop events are a friendly and relaxed way for communities to connect with the deputies that serve them. 

These events offer a unique opportunity for community members to directly engage with law enforcement, ask questions, voice concerns, and build positive relationships. Whether you’re a regular coffee drinker or simply curious about the work of law enforcement, this is a chance to connect with deputies on a personal level, learn about each other’s experiences, and share local feedback.

Florence Area Chamber of Commerce Drawing to Promote Tourism

The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce is consistently working on building the tourism traffic to Florence.  The latest is a drawing for a two-night stay at the Driftwood Shores Conference Center and Resort. 

The drawing is open to the public. Chamber President and CEO Betting Hannigan says the drawing comes with the two-night stay and a $50 certificate to the resort Market and Dine-in Deli.

You can register by using the qr code  the link posted below.  https://bit.ly/2NightsinFlorence 

Florence Café 60 Senior Meals Program Reopens for Dine-In Meals

Lane Council of Government’s Senior Meals Program is reopening its Café 60 location in Florence after being closed for the past three years.

Senior Meals logo

LCOG officials said that during the closure, LCOG’s Senior and Disability Services division offered grab-and-go meals but the reopening of Café 60 will provide a dine-in location for seniors who might otherwise go hungry. The Florence location will reopen on December 4 and operate three days a week at 11:15 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the Florence Senior Center located at 1570 Kingwood Street, LCOG officials said.

Organizers said that interested seniors should make reservations at least a week in advance by calling ahead at 541-997-5673 or filling out a reservation menu at the Café 60 location. The program is open at no cost to seniors 60 years of age or over and those not 60 years or older are welcome to join by paying the meal cost of $8, program organizers said. Donations are welcomed to support the program’s continued operation in the community, LCOG officials said.

Volunteers are also sought to help with the program and those who would like to participate may call 541-682-1366. More program information is also available here: https://www.lcog.org/sdslane/page/florence-caf%C3%A9-60-reopens-dine-meals

Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team Undercover Operation Arrests Six Cyber Predators Throughout Oregon

B-roll of Operation Alliance: https://vimeo.com/925930331?share=copy

Interview with SOCET Detective Steve Bohn: https://vimeo.com/925921699?share=copy

JCSO Cases 24-0581, 24-0587, 24-0680, 24-0710, 24-0711, 24-1124

OREGON – A month long undercover operation to identify adults victimizing children online has led to arrests of six suspects throughout Oregon. The Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) joint inter-agency task force conducted the operation to identify and arrest dangerous cyber predators using the internet to meet with local children to have sex. 

The SOCET led operation consisted of undercover law enforcement officers posing online as minors, waiting for suspects to proposition them into having sex. Even after the acknowledgement of the child’s age, suspects sent sexually explicit messages, photos, and detailed requests of sexual activities they wanted to perform with the undercover officer posing as a child.   

This complex undercover operation involved dozens of law enforcement personnel including detectives, investigators, and support staff from Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), United States Marshals Service, Oregon Department of Justice Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, Oregon State Police (OSP), Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Medford Police Department (MPD), Central Point Police Department, and Milwaukie Police Department; as well as prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office and the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office. Due to the complexity of this operation and the dangers involved in the arrests, SOCET also enlisted assistance from other local police task forces including the Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team, Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force, and Pacific Northwest Violent Offenders Task Force.

The first arrest came January 30th when Gabriel Julian Harrison-Swinden, 29, of White City, attempted to meet and have sex with a juvenile. Harrison-Swinden is charged with first and second-degree online sexual corruption of a child, luring a minor, and attempted using a child in the display of sexually explicit conduct. He was booked and lodged in the Jackson County Jail. Investigators have reason to believe Harrison-Swinden may have victimized children throughout Oregon and the United States. If you have any information, call the JCSO Tip Line at (541) 774-8333 and reference case number 24-581.

The second arrest on January 30th was Kelly Patrick Ramsey, 57, of Central Point, when he attempted to meet with a juvenile to have sex. Ramsey is charged with two counts of first-degree online sexual corruption of a child, two counts of second-degree online sexual corruption of a child, two counts of luring a minor, and using a child in the display of sexually explicit conduct. Ramsey was booked and lodged at the Jackson County Jail. Investigators have reason to believe Ramsey may have victimized children throughout Oregon and the United States. If you have any information, call the JCSO Tip Line at (541) 774-8333 and reference case number 24-587.

The third arrest came on February 3rd when Steven Eugene Fitzgerald Buckner, 33, of Tigard, Ore., traveled to Jackson County to meet with juveniles to have sex.  Buckner is charged federally with online coercion and enticement of a minor. Buckner was booked and lodged in the Jackson County Jail on a federal hold. Investigators have reason to believe Buckner may have victimized children throughout Oregon and the United States. If you have any information, call the JCSO Tip Line at (541) 774-8333 and reference case number 24-680.

On February 27th, Cayden James Vasquez, 25, of Medford, was arrested attempting to meet with a juvenile to have sex. Vasquez is charged with first and second-degree online sexual corruption of a child, luring a minor, and attempted using a child in the display of sexually explicit conduct. He was booked and lodged in the Jackson County Jail. If you have any information, call the JCSO Tip Line at (541) 774-8333 and reference case number 24-1124.

Last week, SOCET investigators traveled to Milwaukie, Ore. to arrest Andrew P Jones, 41, of Milwaukie. Milwaukie Police Department assisted with the March 12th arrest. Jones is charged with second-degree online sexual corruption of a child, and luring a minor. He was booked and lodged in the Clackamas County Jail awaiting transport to Jackson County. If you have any information, call the JCSO Tip Line at (541) 774-8333 and reference case number 24-711.

The next day on March 13th, SOCET investigators traveled to Redmond, Ore. and arrested Steven Charles Newstrom, 66, of Redmond, as he attempted to meet with a juvenile to have sex. Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the arrest. Jones is charged with second-degree online sexual corruption of a child, and luring a minor. He was booked and lodged in the Deschutes County Jail awaiting transport to Jackson County. If you have any information, call the JCSO Tip Line at (541) 774-8333 and reference case number 24-710.

Investigators have reason to believe the suspects pictured may have other victims. If anyone has additional information on these suspects, please call your local law enforcement agency or the JCSO tip line at (541) 774-8333. If you have any information on the suspects, you can also contact investigators through the Sheriff’s App “Submit a Tip” feature. Download the App here: https://apps.myocv.com/share/a72997501.

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 and HSI with assistance from OSP and MPD; as well as prosecutors from our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Jackson and Josephine County.

Southern Oregon Human Trafficking Disruptors Summit

Fri-Sat, March 22-23, 2024, 9-4 

Sixteen local organizations will be celebrated at the Ashland Hills Hotel for the Southern Oregon Human Trafficking Disruptors Summit on Friday and Saturday. The summit highlights the work the organizations do to stop human trafficking, child exploitation and agriculture trafficking.

The summit is open to the public and the people behind the event encourage people to attend. In addition to celebrating the organizations, speakers will be educating Southern Oregonians on what human trafficking looks like in the community and how to spot it.

“We’re excited to bring this education to the Rogue Valley, to Southern Oregon — for people to understand what human trafficking looks like and how we can identify it and stop it,” said Lauren Trantham, the co-producer of the Summit. Trantham is also the founder of Ride My Road, a fundraising organization that has raised over $400,000 for survivor-led initiatives across the country since 2016. Locally, the organization offers an online education called Disruptors University to help people understand what trafficking looks like.

Jordan Pease, another producer of the summit and director of Rogue Valley Metaphysical Library, said that he learned about human trafficking while partnering with Trantham for the summit.

“I’ve learned a lot about how frequently this is happening right within our own communities,” Pease said. “I was under the misimpression that often, sex trafficking occurs, like Hollywood portrays it, as kidnappings. But it’s frightening to learn and discover that the majority of sex trafficking cases occur within families.”

Online registration for the Southern Oregon Human Trafficking Disruptors Summit is closed. Two-day tickets will be available at the door for $125. The tickets will include access to speakers and lunch from the Ashland Hills Hotel on both days. Door open at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for on Friday and Saturday.

Trantham and Pease said they were grateful to all the sponsors who helped keep the ticket prices low for the Summit. The keynote speaker is not receiving pay for the event, as an additional cost relief to get as many people access to the event as possible. Right now, over 250 people are expected to be at the summit.

According to AAA Oregon, the top destination for spring break in the state is Bend.

Some of the other top regional destinations for spring break include Portland, Seattle, Eugene and Redding.

The agency said they’re also seeing a 28% increase in cruise bookings compared to this time last year. Oregonians are getting out of town, and some are even getting out of the country.

“Hotels bookings are up 37% and international flight bookings are up 20%,” said AAA spokesperson Marie Dodds. “European cities are some of the most popular as well like Cabo San Lucas and Cancun, which are relatively easy to get to here from Oregon.”

Unfortunately, Dodds also said Oregon is seeing ‘March Madness’ for gas prices. The current average for a regular gallon of gas is $4.12, up almost 20 cents from just a week ago.

Dodds said prices are going up because of refinery maintenance, summer blend fuel and Russian involvement in a geo-political conflict, as one of the world’s major oil producers.

“One of the things to keep in mind is that crude oil is traded on the global market so that price of a barrel of crude is determined globally,” Dodds said. “Those international events have an impact.” Dodds said 2024 is shaping up to be the busiest year of travel yet.

Where’s My Refund? tool, video offer help for Oregon taxpayers

Salem, OR—The largest “Kicker” in Oregon history has Oregon taxpayers more excited than ever about getting their state income tax refund this year.

The $5.61 billion in surplus revenue for the 2021-23 biennium is being returned to taxpayers in the form of a “kicker” tax credit of 44.28 percent of the Oregon income tax they paid in 2022. The kicker can reduce how much taxpayers owe the state, or, increase how much they get back—a fact that has heightened refund anticipation.

Taxpayers wondering about the refund on their 2023 tax year return, can use the Oregon Department of Revenue’s Where’s My Refund? tool to check its status and a video outlining the refund timelines is also available to help taxpayers understand the process.

Through March 19, the Oregon Department of Revenue has received and processed nearly 1.1 million returns and has issued more than 916,000 refunds. That leaves a little more than half of the expected 2.2 million Oregon income tax returns to be filed in the final 26 days before the April 15 deadline.

“It looks like typical Oregon rainy spring break weather this weekend,” said Megan Denison, administrator of DOR’s Personal Tax and Compliance Division. “If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, take care of them this weekend and beat the April rush.”
Besides the high volume of returns filed at the end of tax season, there are other common things that can make it take longer for Oregonians to get their refunds.

Five common reasons refunds take longer and what to do about it.
• Filing a paper return. Paper returns take longer to process and, as a result, it takes longer to issue related refunds. File electronically instead.
• Filing electronically and requesting to receive a refund via a check takes longer. Request direct deposit instead.
• Filing more than once. Sending a duplicate paper return through the mail after e-filing will a delay a refund. Taxpayers should file just once.
• Refunds for taxpayers that are new to filing returns may be delayed so we can verify your identity. Taxpayers who receive a letter requesting identity verification are urged to respond promptly through Revenue Online to speed the processing of their return.
• Refunds can also be delayed when errors are identified on returns. Taxpayers who receive a letter requesting additional information are urged to respond promptly through Revenue Online to speed the processing of their return.

To check the status of their refund with the Where’s My Refund? tool tool on Revenue Online, taxpayers will need their:
• Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN);
• Filing status; and
• The exact refund amount shown on:
o Line 47 of their Form OR-40, or
o Line 72 of their Form OR-40-N, or
o Line 71 of their Form OR-40-P

The Department of Revenue recommends that taxpayers wait one week after they have electronically filed their return to use the Where’s My Refund tool.

Most refunds are issued within two weeks, but returns that need more review may take up to 16 weeks before a refund is issued.

Filing electronically is the fastest way for taxpayers to get their refund. On average, taxpayers who e-file their returns and request their refund via direct deposit receive their refund two weeks sooner than those who file paper returns and request paper refund checks.

All Oregon resident taxpayers preparing their own returns in 2024 can file electronically at no cost using one of the free file options that can be found on the Department of Revenue website.

Taxpayers can check the status of their federal tax refunds on the IRS website .

Oregon’s Nonfarm Payroll Employment Rises by 4,400 in February

In February, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 4,400 jobs, following a revised loss of 5,700 jobs in January. February’s gains were largest in professional and business services (+1,000 jobs) and in health care and social assistance (+900 jobs). Five other major industries each expanded by between 600 and 700 jobs. Manufacturing (-600 jobs) was the only major industry with a substantial number of job cuts in February. 

Health care and social assistance continued its robust expansion, employing 292,300 jobs in February, which was a gain of 25,900 jobs in the past 24 months. Nursing and residential care facilities and social assistance both grew by 8% in the past 12 months.

Over the most recent 12 months, jobs edged lower. Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 1,900 jobs, or -0.1%, between February 2023 and February 2024. The private sector cut 11,300 jobs, or -0.7%, over the most recent 12-month period. Job losses in four major industries stood out, each down by between 3,400 and 9,300 jobs. These industries are informationprofessional and business servicesmanufacturing; and retail trade. Four other major industries had smaller losses, between 500 and 1,900 jobs. In contrast, health care and social assistance was up 13,800 jobs, or 5.0%, while government was up 9,400 jobs, or 3.1%, in the 12 months through February.

While Oregon’s job growth has been close to flat in the 12 months ending in February, with a decline of 0.1%, U.S. jobs grew by 1.8% with gains in every month of that period. 

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.2% in February and 4.1% in January. It has remained in a historically low range between 3.4% and 4.2% for more than two years, back to October 2021. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.9% in February and 3.7% in January.

Lethal Death with Dignity Act prescriptions, deaths rose in 2023

Increases shown in annual report follow residency requirement removal

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has released its 26th annual report on the Oregon Death with Dignity Act (DWDA), which shows an almost 30% increase in the number of prescriptions written for lethal doses of medication under the Act in 2023.

Prescriptions rose about 29%, from 433 in 2022 to 560 in 2023, according to the report. Deaths from ingesting the DWDA medications increased by about 20%, from 304 in 2022 to 367 in 2023.

The increase in DWDA prescriptions and deaths was driven in part by an amendment to the DWDA, passed in 2023, that removed the state residency requirement. The law no longer requires patients to be Oregon residents. All other criteria for participation remain.

OHA collects residence data from death records but does not receive records from other states unless the decedent was an Oregon resident. This means if an Oregon DWDA patient dies out of state and was not a resident of Oregon, OHA is unlikely to obtain notice of the death.

As a result, the 23 non-resident deaths reported may not represent all DWDA deaths of out-of-state residents who obtained a DWDA prescription from an Oregon health care provider. It is not known how many prescriptions were written to non-Oregonians. OHA plans to begin collecting patient residency status on the attending physician’s compliance form in 2024.

“The full impact of allowing out-of-state residents to access the law is unclear, as information about where the patient lives has not been collected during the DWDA prescription process,” said Tom Jeanne, M.D., M.P.H.., deputy state health officer and epidemiologist.

The full report is available at https://www.oregon.gov/OHA/PH/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Pages/index.aspx.

Despite the increase in DWDA patients during 2023, the report’s findings are similar to those of previous years. The number of physician-assisted deaths remains a small percentage of the estimated 44,000 annual deaths in Oregon.

As in prior reports, participates who died after ingesting DWDA medication were more likely to be 65 and older (82%) and have cancer (66%). Other findings for the year include:

  • Prescriptions for lethal doses of medication were written by 167 different physicians.
  • The youngest patient who took lethal medication was 29 years old. The oldest was 102.
  • Seventeen patients (5%) outlived their six-month prognosis.
  • A physician, other health care provider or trained volunteer was present at 54% of ingestions.
  • At least 10 patients experienced complications, most of which involved difficulty ingesting the medication, such as a burning sensation in the throat or partial regurgitation of medication. No patients regained consciousness after ingesting the DWDA prescription medication.
  • The median time from ingestion to death was 53 minutes.

OHA is legally required to collect information on compliance with the Death with Dignity Act and to make that information available on a yearly basis.

“OHA’s role is that of a steward of data about the use of the law,” Jeanne said. “This is a law, not an OHA program, and our principal role is to report accurate aggregate data about the use of the law. It is critical that we have accurate data so that informed ethical, legal and medical decisions can be made.”

LANDMARK INVESTMENT IN ARTS AND CULTURE INFRASTRUCTURE – Foundations join state leaders in sending $52M “love letter” to Oregon arts and culture nonprofits

PORTLAND, Ore. – Arts and culture organizations – still reeling from the pandemic – will see a major infusion of funding over the next three years under a plan announced today by two of the largest arts grantors in Oregon. The total investment of $52 million will provide flexible funding for arts and culture nonprofits across the entire state, including $20 million from Oregon Community Foundation and $20 million already committed from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. This follows legislative approval of $11.8 million in resilience and rebuilding funding earlier this month to be distributed among arts “anchor” organizations and smaller nonprofits throughout Oregon. 

Exhibitions, performances and other live art gatheringshave seen seismic shifts in attendance levels since the pandemic. Arts leaders testified in Salem earlier this year that diminished ticket sales put at risk the significant economic impact of Oregon’s arts sector.

“Oregon legislators took a major step toward building back the vibrancy of the arts in Oregon. They’re not settling for merely ‘keeping the lights on’ and neither are we. Arts are essential to what makes Oregon, Oregon,” said Lisa Mensah, President and CEO of Oregon Community Foundation. “Together, Oregon foundations are stepping forward proactively to send a love letter to Oregon’s arts and culture ecosystem that says, ‘we believe in you.’”

The funding will be distributed across major venues and smaller community arts organizations around the state. Foundation program officers will advise potential grantees on details of the three-year investment as details emerge. This commitment is intended to inspire additional contributions from supporters across the state. 

A study released by Americans for the Arts found Oregon’s arts and culture sector contributed $829 million to Oregon’s economy in fiscal year 2022. The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies ranks Oregon 41st in the nation for spending on the arts per capita. 

“Artists inspire us and connect us to one another as Oregonians and provide opportunities for children and adults alike to explore their shared humanity. The arts are an economic driver throughout our state, providing a huge boost to restaurants, shops, and businesses,” said Carrie Hoops, Executive Director of the Miller Foundation. “A diverse ecology of arts organizations brings us together and inspires creative expression in each vibrant and unique community across Oregon.”

Oregon Community Foundation’s commitment is possible thanks to a 2012 charitable gift from the estate of Fred and Suzanne Fields that has delivered millions of charitable dollars over many years to hundreds of diverse arts, artists and education efforts in Oregon. The Fred W. Fields Fund is an example of how wisely stewarded funds can create positive benefits for decades.

Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) was founded in 1973 with a big mission: to improve the lives of all Oregonians through the power of philanthropy. In partnership with donors and volunteers, OCF works to strengthen communities in every county in Oregon through research, grantmaking and scholarships. In 2023, OCF distributed more than $200 million in grants and scholarships. Individuals, families, businesses and organizations can work with OCF to create charitable funds to support causes important to them. To learn more, please visit oregoncf.org.

The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation was founded with the mission to enhance the quality of life of Oregonians through the support of classroom education and the performing, visual, and literary arts.

Oregon to Honor Fallen Law Enforcement Officers May 7th, 2024

Every year, the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony honors the state’s law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. This year’s ceremony will be held Tuesday, May 7 at 1 p.m. at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem.

The annual event commemorates the more than 190 fallen officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the state of Oregon since the 1860s. This includes law enforcement, corrections, and parole and probation officers from city, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies.

The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training is proud to host the ceremony in partnership with the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, Oregon Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), Oregon Fallen Badge Foundation, and various statewide law enforcement associations.

 

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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Contact us: Info@OregonBeachMagazine.com

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