Oregon Beach News, Friday 6/14 – Costco Recalls Some Tillamook Cheese Products Sold in Northwest, Lincoln City Police Investigation Leads To Arrest In Child Sex Abuse Case & 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, June 14, 2024

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Costco Recalls Some Tillamook Cheese Products Sold in Northwest

Costco is recalling some Tillamook cheese products due to the possible presence of plastic materials.

In a letter to Costco members who purchased the recalled product, a Tillamook executive said the cheese may contain “gray and black plastic pieces.”

A 32-ounce twin-pack package of Tillamook Colby Jack and Tillamook Monterey Jack cheese slices, with item number 651195, is among the recalled products, according to the company. The company said that the cheese was available at Costco locations in the Northwest from May 9 through May 31. The best before date for the recalled product is October 22, 2024.

Costco stated the cheese was made for its Northwest region sites, but it did not say which retail locations the recalled goods had been shipped to. Washington, Oregon, Northern California, Montana, and Idaho are states in the Northwest region.

It’s unclear, however, how many products or Costco stores in total the recall impacts. The Tillamook letter noted the recalled cheese was only produced for Costco locations in the Northwest region.  

According to the letter, the cheese slices impacted are “in a limited quantity” and the presence of plastic, if consumed without issue, “is very minimal.”

Bever notes that Costco members who still have the product should return the affected cheese slices for a full refund, however. 

Lincoln City Police Investigation Leads To Arrest In Child Sex Abuse Case

On Wednesday, June 12, 2024, Lincoln City Police arrested 53-year-old, Daniel Ryan Stuebgen, of Lincoln City at his place of business, Happy Trails Feed and Tack & U-Haul Neighbor Hood dealer, located at 2150 SE Hwy 101, Lincoln City. Mr. Stuebgen was arrested on charges of Rape 2, Sex Abuse 1 and Sodomy II.

The arrest came after a 10 month long investigation conducted by LCPD’s criminal investigations and patrol divisions as well as the Oregon DHS Office of Training, Investigations and Safety. Mr. Stuebgen is suspected of sexually assaulting a 12 year old child during the summer of 2023 at Happy Trails Feed and Tack. During the investigation, it was learned that Mr. Stuebgen was also residing at the business location.  

If you have any information on this case please contact Det. Charles Lane at the Lincoln City Police Department, 541-994-3636. 

Insurer Sues the Builders and Engineers and City Of Astoria Over 2022 Buoy Brewery Collapse

A new lawsuit blames the city of Astoria and several construction and engineering companies for the dramatic collapse of the Buoy Beer brewery on the Astoria waterfront in 2022.

The lawsuit alleges that the city and three private companies — Stricker Engineering, Rickenbach Construction and Columbia Dockworks — ignored decaying pilings on the wharf under the brewery. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by Mt. Hawley Insurance Co., says collapse was inevitable given those weaknesses.

The insurance company is seeking to recoup a $9 million property insurance payout it made to Buoy Beer Co., as well as additional punitive damages.

Buoy Beer purchased the former cannery site in 2013 to repurpose as a brewery and restaurant.

Stricker Engineering submitted plans for the brewery’s buildout in 2016, according to the lawsuit, noting plans for larger, heavier equipment on the wharf structure. Astoria building officials then subcontracted a structural review to Clair Co., a Corvallis engineering firm.

The lawsuit alleges Stricker failed to respond to more than half of Clair’s requests for comment on its construction plans. Responses provided, the lawsuit says, were also inadequate.

A Clair official recommended the city deny Stricker’s buildout permit plans, the lawsuit says, because the company did not provide sufficient structural evaluation and design information. Stricker representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But the city, according to the lawsuit, nonetheless approved the permits. The lawsuit alleges that if a comprehensive structural analysis had been completed, the city would have denied the permits and tagged the building for analysis and repair long before the building’s collapse in 2022.

A minor collapse occurred in September 2021, and another construction company recommended the brewery install new supports and complete a detailed inspection of the wharf’s substructure.

Columbia Dockworks, another defendant, along with Rickenbach were brought in to address the wharf’s substructure, the lawsuit said. But it alleged the repairs were “obvious haphazard work” and that defendants failed to alert Buoy about the ongoing danger. Columbia did not respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit alleges the city allowed work to continue throughout, including the installation of tanks that could weigh between 5,000 and 10,000 pounds even empty of beer and solar panels, and that city officials approved work even after the partial collapse in 2021.

Representatives for the city of Astoria did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit says Rickenbach also endangered the brewery by beginning construction work without completing a structural analysis. Mt. Hawley’s lawsuit says Rickenbach was knowledgeable of Astoria building permit requirements yet still failed to comply with them. The company declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges Stricker and Rickenbach used engineering calculations that wouldn’t be accurate for new or on-ground construction, much less a decaying wharf. And it accuses the companies of submitting plans to designate the brewery as a historical landmark, a distinction it was awarded in 2013, to avoid the comprehensive structural analysis required of other buildings.

Buoy is not a party to the lawsuit. The company was back to making beer in a facility nearby about a year after the building’s collapse and has since expanded further. (SOURCE)

Southern Oregon Casino Battle Enters Appropriations Process

A long-stalled southern Oregon casino project pitting competing Native American tribes against each other has caught the attention of congressional appropriators, as opponents push for language in the upcoming Interior-Environment spending bill that would bar the project from moving forward.

Oregon’s Coquille Indian Tribe has long sought to build the new casino, an effort opposed by other tribes and a bipartisan army of politicians, including Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek, a Democrat; all four senators from Oregon and California; and various members of the Oregon and northern California House delegations.

Representatives of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, based in Oregon, and the Karuk Tribe in northwest California asked House appropriators in hearings last month to include language in the fiscal 2025 bill that would prevent the Coquille casino, currently under review by the Interior Department, and others like it from being built.

Coquille first submitted its application for the project, which would renovate a bowling alley into a gaming facility on a 2.4-acre piece of land in Medford, Ore., in November 2012. 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs rejected the proposal in 2020 under then-President Donald Trump, a decision the Biden administration reversed in late 2021 when Interior’s Office of Indian Gaming determined that the previous denial had been issued before the environmental review process was completed. A decision is still pending.

Both tribes requesting congressional intervention have casinos on the I-5 corridor, the highway that runs through Medford. Cow Creek owns Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville, Ore., to the north, and Karuk operates Rain Rock Casino in Yreka, Calif., to the south. 

The Coquille tribe points to the 1989 law recognizing the tribe, which lists five counties — including Jackson County, where Medford is located — as part of the tribe’s “service area.” That means members residing in that area can benefit from federal services and benefits to tribes, even if they don’t live specifically within the 1,000 acres considered to be “trust” land, or the primary reservation.

The House’s Interior-Environment appropriations bill is scheduled to be released late this month, ahead of a scheduled June 28 subcommittee markup. House Interior-Environment Appropriations Chairman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, did not respond to a request for comment on the tribes’ ask. 

Meade said Interior should ignore the political pressure that opponents of the project are pushing and should make its decision based on one factor: the law. 

“The Department of Interior will make a decision,” she said. “We expect them to make a decision based on the law, not on the political influence that is being packed around by some of our tribes.” (SOURCE)

Fatal Crash – HWY 101 – Coos County

Coos County, Ore. 11 June 24- On Tuesday, June 11, 2024, at 7:10 a.m., Oregon State Police responded to a single-vehicle crash on Hwy-101, near milepost 228, in Coos County.

The preliminary investigation indicated a southbound Ford Windstar, operated by David Joseph Babb (54) of Coos Bay, left the roadway for unknown reasons, struck a tree in the southbound ditch, spun, and came to rest on its roof.

The operator of the Ford (Babb) was declared deceased at the scene.

The highway was impacted for approximately two hours during the on-scene investigation. The cause of the crash is under investigation. OSP was assisted by Haruser Fire and ODOT.

Coos County Sheriff’s Office –  Myrtle Point woman arrested on two counts of violating a stalking protection order

On June 8th, 2024, the Coos County Sheriff’s Office received a report of an individual violating a stalking protection order. Deputies investigated the case, leading them to the suspect, Ashley M. Burton (35), from Myrtle Point. A search warrant was applied for and granted, resulting in Mrs. Burton’s arrest at her residence in the Bridge area.

Mrs. Burton was charged with violation of a stalking protection order x2. Mrs. Burton was transported to the Coos County Jail, where she was booked and remains in custody. “Police action is not indicative of guilt. All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

Three Surfers Rescued From Rip Current Near Seaside

An on-duty lifeguard was heading to tell surfers they were in a rip current when another lifeguard noticed two clinging to each other as they were swept out to sea. The incident took place around 12:40 p.m. Monday, June 10, Seaside Fire & Rescue said in a news release.

Rescuers quickly arrived to find three surfers being pulled out to sea by a rip current, officials said. Lifeguards and rescuers on a jet ski brought the surfers back to shore, officials said. None needed medical care. Officials advise beachgoers to check with lifeguards for information on rip currents.

Experts say people can take steps to stay safe from rip currents, including: Check the local water conditions before getting in. Talk to a lifeguard at the beach about the conditions. Only swim at beaches where lifeguards are present. Don’t assume great weather means good swimming conditions.

Seaside Fire & Rescue has additional online resources for beachgoers looking to stay informed about beach safety.

Lincoln County Accepting Grant Funding Applications for Share Of $398,000 in ARPA Funds for Local Water and Sewer Projects

$398,000 in funds from the American Rescue Plan Ac (ARPA) are set to be distributed to eligible districts in Lincoln County to invest in local water, sewer and drainage projects.

The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law in March of 2021 and provided states, cities, and counties with federal money to support pandemic recovery efforts and economic stimulus. One allowed use for ARPA dollars is to support public water, sewer and drainage projects.

Lincoln County is accepting grant funding applications from local water, sewer and drainage districts in unincorporated Lincoln County for water and sewer projects. Eligible projects must meet the ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) eligible funding requirements.

Districts must be in good standing with State of Oregon financial reporting requirements and show proof of complying with public meeting law requirements. The county has a total of $398,000 to provide for eligible projects from districts. Applications will be reviewed by a committee selected by Lincoln County to look at the financial stability of the organization, the engineering feasibility of the project, and if the project meets ARPA requirements.

The county is planning to use an open grant process to award the funds. Starting June 10 applications will open, they will be awarded on a first come, first served basis to qualifying districts and projects; applications will close once all funds have been allocated.

The county says each eligible district can ask up to $50-thousand total. Projects can be stand-alone projects or a discrete portion of a larger project. Applications will be reviewed by county administrative, legal, and engineering staff to ensure projects meet American Rescue Plan Act, legal and technical requirements. All projects must adhere to federal procurement rules and Davis-Bacon Act requirements.

County officials say they will execute contracts with awarded districts before December 31, 2024. All work on the awarded projects must be completed by subrecipients before December 2026. To apply for the Local Water, Sewer and Drainage Districts’ Grant click here.

•••Coos County Government is facing a 3.5 Million shortfall for the 2024 -2025 budget year•••

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In a Facebook post, Coos County Sheriff Gabe Fabrizio said Coos County’s budget shortfall is due to the failure of Measure 6-213. The Sheriff said all departments in the county are preparing for a $3.5 million budget shortfall next year.

59% voted against the five-year levy that would have funded a levy to expand the Coos County Jail’s capacity and fund the district attorney’s office to bring in more prosecutors. READ MORE HERE: https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=771249138498875&set=a.169225488701246

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Shellfish Harvesting Closed Along Entire Oregon Coast

A week after closing mussel harvesting across the Oregon Coast due to high levels of toxins, officials expanded that closure to include razor and bay clams.

Oregon’s departments of Agriculture and the state Fish and Wildlife jointly announced the closure Thursday.

The agencies said people should avoid the types of shellfish because of unprecedented levels of toxins caused by some species of algae.

Oregon health officials last week documented at least 20 people who have experienced paralytic shellfish poisoning from eating contaminated mussels. They launched a survey where people could document their health symptoms after consuming shellfish from the Oregon Coast, but as of Friday morning, that survey was closed.

Crab harvesting remains open to the public, but health officials recommend gutting or eviscerating the crustaceans before cooking. State officials have also closed commercial oyster fisheries in Tillamook Bay, Netarts Bay and Umpqua Bay.

While they are not sampling scallops for biotoxins at this time, state officials advise people not to eat whole scallops because they could contain biotoxins. The scallop adductor muscle does not build up biotoxins and may be safe to eat.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning is among the most serious that stems from shellfish. It can cause numbness in the limbs, upset stomach and in severe cases, paralysis.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning is caused by eating shellfish contaminated with naturally occurring saxitoxins. Many kinds of shellfish can be contaminated by saxitoxins, but they most often affect mussels and clams.

Cooking shellfish will not destroy these poisonous biotoxins. There is no antidote for biotoxin poisoning. If someone starts to experience symptoms, they should contact their doctor.

Toxins in coastal shellfish are becoming more common as a result of warming waters due to climate change. They are tied to algal blooms in the ocean. These blooms are colloquially called “red tides” or “brown tides,” though they don’t always color the water. (SOURCE)

First Step of Florence is holding its Gala fundraiser June 18th at 5 p.m. beginning with wine and cheese at the Organic Noodle, 2465 US 101. 

May be pop art of text that says 'തழുംടம $65/person-Limited $65/ Seating レレン &iFirst Step RSVP by June 10th for FLorence Families Contact Sandy at 541 1.590.2325 590. 2325 or Transítional 2024 Housing GALA Noodle info@firststepflorence.org at the Organic or purchase tickets directly at https://jvebutter.com/AmR8Pa lune 18th wines 5 cheese Program cheese5pm 5pT Highlights Entree Choice of Chicken, Salmon, or Vegan Ratatoui w/Grains silent Auction, Dinner invíted- You're γε * ትዮ FIRST FIRSTSTEP STEP FLORENCE Transibonal Housing fransibonalHousigix.Famles or Famiies'

Admission is $65 per person and seating is limited. Please RSVP by June 1st. Contact Sandy at 541-590-2325 or send an email toinfo@firststepflorence.org 

You can also purchase tickets directly at https://givebutter.com/AmR8Pq 

Dinner will  offer an entree choice of chicken, salmon, or vegan ratatouille with grains. 

The mission of first step of Florence is to help families residing in the Florence area or in need of safe and stable housing. we offer the only transitional housing program in Florence, according to the website. how are you unique program teaches participants to send and Achieve goals appropriate for their own families progress and includes housing assistance, job placement, and a financial savings plan.

First Step resources and programs are designed to encourage successful living and to date, has helped move over 30 children and their families out of insecure living situations. For more information go to firststepflorence.org and FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/events/977642333742106/?ref=newsfeed

OHA 2024 Oregon Beach Monitoring Season

Agency shares list of monitored beaches for May-September

—The Oregon Beach Monitoring Program (OBMP) is kicking off the 2024 beach monitoring season by announcing the list of coastal recreation areas it will be keeping an eye on for bacteria during summer and early fall.

The 24 beaches on the list that the OBMP, based at the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Public Health Division, is publishing includes some of the most frequently visited beaches in Oregon. It also includes beaches where the program has found bacteria present, or beaches for which local partners and the public have requested monitoring due to potential pollution concerns.

The following are Oregon beaches being monitored during 2024, including beach name, and the city and county in which they are located:

Beach monitoring season runs from mid-May to mid-September. Beach advisories are only issued for beaches that are actively being monitored within this sampling window. Other beaches will be investigated for inclusion in the next beach monitoring season.

OBMP works with Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to identify beaches that need monitoring based on several established criteria. These criteria include: pollution hazards present; previous beach monitoring data that identify water quality concerns; type and amount of beach use; and public input.

As part of an adaptive sampling plan, beaches and sampling locations are routinely re-evaluated to ensure available resources best protect public health. A copy of DEQ’s beach evaluation is available upon request.

For more information and current beach monitoring conditions please visit: www.healthoregon.org/beach, or contact OBMP at each.Health@odhsoha.oregon.gov“>Beach.Health@odhsoha.oregon.gov or 971-673-0400.

Lincoln County Announces Low Income Program To Help Spay And Neuter Pets

Lincoln County has announced it will use some of its federal relief funds for a spay and neuter service to help counter dog and cat overpopulation that was substantially worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The program is for local low-income households that cannot afford spay and neuter services for their pets. County staff will work with applicants and participating veterinarians’ offices to coordinate and submit payment for the procedures.

To qualify, people must be a resident of Lincoln County and income eligible, which can be confirmed by showing eligibility for SNAP/TANF; WIC; OHP; Medicaid; housing assistance; supplemental social security income; veterans pension benefits; and surviving spouse pension benefits.

The applications are online. For the English version go here; for the Spanish version, go here.

For assistance filling out the application, call the helpline at 541-270-3393. Friends of the Lincoln County Animal Shelter has volunteered to help answer questions on the helpline and assist applicants who do not have access to computers.

“Our county fell woefully behind in spaying and neutering during the pandemic, when many vets had to suspend elective surgeries altogether, and after the fires of fall 2020, which meant financial hardship for many residents,” said FOLCAS president Emily DeHuff. “These subsidies will go a long way in getting spay/neuter rates back on track.”

People who do not meet the income qualification for the county program can apply for spay/neuter and other veterinary care assistance through other programs administered by the humane society by visiting www.centralcoasthumanesociety.com and completing a request for assistance form. (SOURCE)

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Former ICU nurse finally arrested on suspicion of replacing fentanyl with tap water at Asante in Medford

Dani Marie Schofield, who worked at Asante Rogue Regional Hospital in Oregon, faces 44 counts of second-degree assault, according to police.

A former intensive care unit nurse has been arrested for allegedly swapping patients’ pain medication with tap water, police in Medford, Oregon, announced Thursday.

Dani Mari Schofield faces 44 counts of assault in the second degree, charges that “reflect the total amount of patients that this investigation revealed to have been affected by Schofield’s criminal actions,” the Medford Police Department said in a statement.

Assault in the second-degree charges are filed when an individual “intentionally or knowingly causes serious physical injury to another,” the statement said.

The arrest comes nearly seven months after officials at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, a 378-bed hospital in Medford, contacted police with concerns about a growing number of central line infections among patients. Central lines are tubes put into large veins to administer medication.

“There was concern that Schofield had been diverting patients’ liquid fentanyl for her personal use and then replacing it with tap water, causing serious infections,” Thursday’s police statement said.

Police did not say how many of the patients that Schofield allegedly mistreated had died. In March, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the estate of Horace Wilson, an Asante patient who died after he was admitted to the hospital with a lacerated spleen and broken ribs following a fall off a ladder in January 2022.

The lawsuit alleged that while hospitalized, Wilson’s pain medication was replaced with nonsterile tap water, introducing bacteria into his bloodstream that led to his death.

The lawsuit named both Asante and Schofield as defendants, accusing them of negligence. Neither responded to requests for comment at the time.

The allegations of drug diversion — a term that refers to misappropriating prescribed medications, sometimes to abuse or illegally sell them — were first reported by NBC affiliate KOBI-TV in Medford in December 2023. The station said that at least one patient at Asante had died after a nurse allegedly diverted their pain medication.

An attorney for Schofield, who police said left Asante in July 2023, did not immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment.

Records from the Oregon State Board of Nursing show that Schofield voluntarily agreed in November 2023 to a nursing license suspension, “pending completion of an investigation.”

In an internal memo sent Thursday to Asante employees after police announced Schofield’s arrest, President and CEO Tom Gessel thanked law enforcement for its “tireless work since our team brought concerns forward to them.” (SOURCE)

Keeping Oregon Accountable Summary Report Shows Significant Corrective Action, but Ongoing Control Weaknesses at Federally Funded Programs

In their report, the Oregon secretary of state’s office identified $2.9 billion in accounting errors, which they concluded were unintentional mistakes.

The Oregon secretary of state’s office has published a massive report detailing the audits they conducted on state government programs in 2023, monitoring the billions of dollars in extra tax money gathered by the state over the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the report, titled “Keeping Oregon Accountable,” state auditors identified $2.9 billion in accounting errors, which they concluded were unintentional mistakes, and proposed ways to fix those mistakes.

Auditors also combed through the books of 18 federal programs spread between 11 state agencies, issuing a total of 31 findings and recommendations.


Every year, the Secretary of State Audits Division conducts two major financial audits: the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report and Statewide Single Audit. Auditors also draft and release a report summarizing both of these audits. The summary report for fiscal year 2023, called Keeping Oregon Accountable, was released today.

Last year’s summary report was somewhat of an anomaly, including the first adverse opinion and disclaimer of opinion issued by the Audits Division in more than 20 years. Auditors followed up on the findings that led to the unmodified opinions and found the agency had successfully taken corrective action to address the adverse opinion.

“This year’s Single Audit came with both good and bad news,” said Audits Director Kip Memmott. “I was very pleased to see the substantial corrective action to address last year’s adverse opinion. But there are still serious control weaknesses at other important programs that must be addressed, many of which have been ongoing for 10 or more years.”

The federal government requires audits of the state’s financial statements and compliance with federal program requirements for Oregon to continue receiving federal assistance. In the past, this funding has usually ranged from $11 to $12 billion each year, but federal funding has ballooned since the pandemic, exceeding $20 billion each year since fiscal year 2021. In fiscal year 2023, Oregon received $20.4 billion in federal aid.

Auditors found serious control weaknesses that, in some cases, have persisted for years. For fiscal year 2023, auditors issued six qualified opinions and a single disclaimer of opinion. No program was given an adverse opinion.

chart

When an audit shows controls are sufficient and the program is generally in compliance with federal requirements, auditors issue an unmodified or “clean” opinion. Modified opinions — including qualified and disclaimer of — speak to the level of concern auditors have about the quality of internal controls.

A disclaimer of opinion was issued for the Emergency Solutions Grant Program at Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS). A disclaimer of opinion means there was not sufficient, appropriate evidence for auditors to even issue an opinion on program compliance. This program also received a disclaimer of opinion in fiscal year 2022.

Qualified opinions are less severe but indicate that internal controls are still inadequate to prevent or detect significant noncompliance. Auditors issued qualified opinions for six programs at three agencies: OHCS, the Oregon Department of Human Services, and the Oregon Health Authority. Two of these programs — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program — have been issued qualified opinions for several years now.

The federal granting agencies are responsible for following up on audit findings, as they have the authority to enforce grant requirements. Failure to address critical control weaknesses could include punitive consequences, like sanctions or a change in future funding, or it could be an opportunity for the granting agency to clarify its requirements. — Read the full report on the Secretary of State website.

Oregon still fixing state employee payroll system after problems last year 

State auditors could not get complete information from the Oregon Department of Administrative Services about the $21 million system 

Auditors were unable to completely review Oregon’s new $21 million payroll and human services system that plagued thousands of state workers with inaccurate paychecks in early 2023, records show. 

The finding is contained within the Secretary of State’s statewide single audit, released this week, that looks at a variety of state government agencies and programs. The Oregon Department of Administrative Services implemented the payroll system, called Workday, in December 2022 for about 44,000 state government employees after years of planning to replace an older system. 

Immediately, thousands of state workers began experiencing problems with their paychecks. Some didn’t receive their full pay and turned  to food banks, credit cards or borrowing money to stay afloat. Others received paper checks instead of direct deposits and had to float bills with credit cards while waiting for checks to clear, and some employees who were overpaid had large sums subtracted from future checks without notice. 

In May 2023, Oregon Department of Administrative Services officials said they did not identify any systemic problems with payroll that month but declined at the time to provide the Capital Chronicle with an estimate of how many errors the system had.

Nearly a year later, state auditors said they struggled to get full and complete information from the department, which prevented them from fully assessing the system. 

“Given the lack of availability of key system documentation and the department’s inability to provide timely responses to audit requests, we were unable to complete our audit procedures intended to identify and test internal controls,” auditors wrote. 

For example, auditors said they received incomplete and outdated records when they requested documentation that would demonstrate the agency’s due diligence when planning a project of this size. 

In other instances, auditors said they faced long waits for information such as the number of employees impacted and the total dollar amount of overpayments or underpayments. Those delays also hampered their ability to complete the audit, they wrote. 

“The information was not readily available to provide to auditors, indicating a lack of organization expected of a project of this magnitude,” they wrote.

Based on the available data, auditors said the results suggest a lack of adequate testing to flag problems before the rollout. About 4,500 state employees – or roughly 10% of the workforce – were underpaid or overpaid in January 2023, auditors said. In each of the next two pay periods, more than 2,000 state workers were improperly paid. 

“The number of employee paychecks impacted, and the variety of underlying causes identified by the department, indicate testing of the configuration was either not sufficiently scoped or not properly conducted,” auditors wrote.

Auditors recommended the state put proper controls in place for payroll processing, take steps to eliminate errors in employee pay and provide and communicate better guidance about the system to agencies.

Agency response 

In their response to the audit, Oregon Department of Administrative Services managers said the agency worked with state employees and payroll offices to correct underpayments and recoup overpayments. 

“Efforts remain underway, and significant progress has been made to track and resolve the issue,” the agency wrote in its response. 

They said the agency plans to fulfill all the audit’s recommendations by Dec. 31. 

The agency has refused to provide numbers about the scope of the problem to the Capital Chronicle. Agency spokesperson Andrea Chiapella refused to answer questions about how widespread the payroll issues currently are or detail what remaining work is left to resolve the issues, citing ongoing litigation about the issue. 

In January 2023, state employees filed a class-action lawsuit about the payroll system’s problems, which is ongoing. The lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, currently is scheduled to go to trial in April 2025.

Last year, the agency declined a public records request from the Capital Chronicle for the estimated number of payroll errors, saying those figures were compiled for litigation.   (SOURCE)

Providence Hospital Nurses Prepare to Strike Across Oregon 

More than 3,000 nurses in six Providence hospitals could participate in the three-day strike, which is due to start in a week

In a week, thousands of nurses at six Providence hospitals in Oregon will go on a three-day strike that could be the largest in the state’s history. 

The Oregon Nurses Association, which represents more than 3,000 nurses at the six hospitals, has delivered a 10-day notice to the management at the nonprofit Providence Health & Services, Oregon’s largest hospital group. The group intends for the strike to start at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18.

It’s unclear how the strike might affect patients. Providence officials plan to bring in substitute nurses during the three days and say they’ll continue to provide comprehensive services. 

The strike plans follow simmering tensions between Providence, the largest Portland-area employer and the nurses tied to Oregon’s Safe Staffing Law. The Legislature passed the bill and Gov. Tina Kotek signed it into law in 2023. House Bill 2697 sets a minimum for nurse-to-patient ratios and establishes a process for hospital employees and management to agree upon staffing levels and plans. 

Other issues include competitive compensation and affordable health care plans, the nurses union said. The strike is set to unfold at hospitals that stretch from southern Oregon to the Portland region. The six hospitals are: Providence St. Vincent in southwest Portland, Providence Newberg, Providence Willamette Falls in Oregon City, Providence Medford, Providence Hood River and Providence Milwaukie. Nurses at Providence Portland Medical Center in northeast Portland did not join the strike notice.

Providence officials say they have dealt fairly with the nurses. Nurses and leaders with the nurses association said the planned strike is necessary after a four-day mediation last week demonstrated hospital managers aren’t interested in making serious proposals.

“At Providence Medford, we are facing a staffing crisis, and our nurses are overworked, offered low quality health care, and paid less than the current market for nurses in Medford,” Caroline Allison, a registered nurse at Providence Medford, said in a release. “Adding insult to injury, it has now become clear that Providence appears to be systematically trying to undermine Oregon’s Safe Staffing Law. The Safe Staffing Law was intended to solve the nurse workforce shortage crisis and allow us to greatly enhance patient care. Instead, Providence has again made the decision to focus on its bottom lines instead of their workforce, their communities and their patients.” (READ MORE)

Substance use disorder recovery infrastructure gets $13 million boost from Opioid Settlement Board

OHA will administer allocations recommended by State Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Opioid Settlement Prevention, Treatment & Recovery Board (Settlement Board) is directing $13.08 million toward expanding and strengthening the state’s recovery community centers and recovery housing.

The Settlement Board approved an Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission (ADPC) proposal to improve access to recovery community centers and housing by providing $11.75 million to establish centers in counties highly impacted by overdoses, yet with the least access to recovery services, including:

  • $2 million to the Gorge Recovery Center in Wasco County.
  • $2.36 million to the Bay Area First Step Recovery Center in Curry County.
  • $2.39 million to the Painted Horse Recovery Center in Douglas County.
  • $5 million for recovery centers in Josephine and Klamath counties, to be identified by the ADPC Recovery Subcommittee, in collaboration with OHA and relevant partners.

The allocation also includes $500,000 to Oxford House for personnel support, and $830,000 for the expansion of culturally specific and youth services in existing recovery community centers throughout the state.

The funding was awarded to OHA, which will administer the allocations. The Settlement Board’s decision can be viewed in a recording of its June 5 meeting here.

“The Settlement Board is excited to support recovery services across the state,” said Settlement Board Co-Chair Annaliese Dolph. “This investment prioritizes high-need communities lacking access to supports for people in recovery, another step toward an adequate continuum of care in Oregon.”

Prior to awarding any funding, OHA must engage the partners listed in the ADPC proposal and provide a proposed timeline and implementation plan to the Settlement Board for approval no later than Sept. 1, 2024.

Since July 2021, the State of Oregon has reached agreement on national lawsuits against several companies for their role in the opioid crisis. Through these agreements, nearly $600 million will be awarded to Oregon over the course of 18 years. Settlement funds from opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies are divided between the State of Oregon (45%) and local jurisdictions (55%).

The state’s share is deposited as it becomes available into the Opioid Settlement, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery (OSPTR) Fund. This fund is controlled by the 18-member OSPTR Board.

Local jurisdictions receiving settlement funds (those with populations greater than 10,000) decide how their funds are used. Cities and counties are required to report to the Oregon Department of Justice annually on how they have allocated their funds.

For state and local spending details from Fiscal Year 2022 – 2023, please refer to the Oregon Opioid Settlement Spending Report: https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/PREVENTIONWELLNESS/SUBSTANCEUSE/OPIOIDS/Documents/opioid-settlement-report-fy-22-23.pdf

OSPTR Board allocations to date

Throughout the current fiscal biennium that ends in June 2025, about $91.2 million will be deposited into the OSPTR Fund. Prior to the Recovery allocation, the OSPTR Board made the following allocations:

  • $27.7 million to the nine Federally Recognized Tribes in Oregon – this is equivalent to 30% of all funds anticipated this biennium. This 30% set-aside will continue throughout the life of the fund as additional settlement payments are deposited.
  • $4 million to develop a unified and evidence-based state system for collecting, analyzing and publishing data about the availability and efficacy of substance use prevention, treatment and recovery services in Oregon as required by 2022 House Bill 4098.
  • $13.7 million to the Save Lives Oregon Harm Reduction Clearinghouse to distribute naloxone and other life-saving supplies to qualified entities.
  • $13.7 million to build Oregon’s workforce capacity for primary substance use disorder prevention.

The OSPTR Board will next consider additional investments in treatment; research and evaluation; and emerging issues.

To learn more about Oregon’s opioid settlement funds, visit oregon.gov/opioidsettlement.

Southern Oregon Joint Task Force Serves Two Local Child Porn Search Warrants

JCSO Cases 24-1658, 24-2249

ROGUE VALLEY, Ore. – The Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) joint inter-agency task force served two search warrants yesterday, June 11 in separate residences in Eagle Point and rural Grants Pass. According to the initial investigation, the cases do not appear to be connected. Detectives are interviewing possible witnesses and involved parties, and investigations are ongoing.

SOCET served the first search warrant yesterday just after 7 a.m. at a residence in the 100 block of Keystone Way in Eagle Point. SOCET began the investigation after a suspect sent child exploitation imagery to undercover law enforcement. Eagle Point Police Department assisted with the warrant service.

Investigators served the second search warrant at 1:30 p.m. in a converted school bus on a property in the 6500 block of Rogue River Highway in rural Grants Pass near the town of Rogue River. The investigation began after a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children started the investigation, which led to subpoenas, followed by the search warrant at the residence. Josephine County Parole & Probation assisted with the warrant service.

SOCET was assisted by Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies and detectives, Oregon State Police (OSP), and Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force (SOHTCTF) investigators. During the warrants, investigators seized digital devices which will be forensically examined by SOHTCTF for further evidence of child exploitation. 

SOCET is a joint inter-agency task force that started in June of 2020 to combat child exploitation. The task force consists of investigators from JCSO and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), as well as prosecutors from our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Jackson and Josephine County. SOHTCTF is a joint inter-agency task force that consists of investigators from JCSO, HSI, OSP, and Medford Police Department. There is no further information available for release.

Oregon’s 2024 Minimum Wage Increase Takes Effect July 1st

A 50-cent hike to Oregon’s minimum wage will bring baseline pay in the Portland area just to the doorstep of $16 an hour this summer.

Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries announced Tuesday that the minimum wage in the Portland area will rise to $15.95. In urban counties outside the Portland area, the minimum wage will be $14.70 an hour. And in rural counties, the minimum will be $13.70. The change takes effect July 1.

Oregon has had a tiered minimum wage since 2017, when the state Legislature approved a series of minimum wage increases but kept the minimum lower in more rural parts of the state, reasoning that the cost of living was lower, too.

Since 2023, annual increases in the minimum wage have been tied to the rate of inflation. The Consumer Price Index, the inflation measure used to calculate the increase, rose 3.5% over the past year.

The increases announced Tuesday range from 2.9% for the Portland metro to 3.8% raise in rural areas.

The average Oregon hourly wage is much higher than the minimum, $31.17 last year, according to the state employment department. The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009. (SOURCE)

Oregon to Receive $15 Million in Settlement Over Baby Powder Lawsuit

Women’s health organizations will get $4.7 million of the proceeds in the settlement, which is part of a national case with 43 states

Oregon will receive $15 million from Johnson & Johnson to settle allegations that the pharmaceutical and medical company marketed unsafe baby powder products to consumers.

The settlement is part of a national $700 million agreement that 43 attorneys general made with the New Jersey-based company. It’s tied to allegations that Johnson & Johnson sold baby powder and body powder products with talc, which plaintiffs alleged is linked to serious health problems that include ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer tied to asbestos exposure.

As part of the settlement, Johnson & Johnson admitted no wrongdoing, court documents show. But Johnson & Johnson stopped distributing and selling the baby powder products, sold for more than a century, when states started investigating. 

“For decades, Johnson & Johnson misled consumers about the potential harms of its talc powder products,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement . “Worse, they doubled down on the safety of those products, attacked credible scientific studies, refused to include warning labels on their products, and, at every turn, put profits ahead of lives. These decisions overwhelmingly harmed women.”

As part of the agreement, Johnson & Johnson agreed to stop manufacturing and selling its baby powder and other products that contain talc in the U.S.. The lawsuit also alleged the company targeted African American and Hispanic women in its marketing efforts to reverse declining sales. 

Four organizations will receive $4.7 million of the settlement’s proceeds for women’s health programs. 

Planned Parenthood will receive $4 million, with $2 million for Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette in Portland and $2 million for Planned Parenthood Southwestern Oregon in Eugene. 

The two groups will use the money for outreach and access to health care, with an eye on eliminating disparities among marginalized communities. 

Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, which provides care for nearly 52,000 patients in Yamhill and Washington counties, will receive about $350,000 to increase access to ultrasounds for ovarian cancer screenings and offer more Hepatitis B vaccines. 

The Oregon Health & Science University Foundation will receive $275,000 for outreach and cancer screenings for tribal communities. 

And finally, the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Oregon and Southwest Washington will get $55,750 to aid patients with ovarian cancer.

The remaining $10.3 million will go to an Oregon Department of Justice fund that the agency has discretion to use in different ways for its work, court records show. The department’s fund helps pay for various investigative, consumer protection and consumer education efforts. (SOURCE)

Central Point Police Department says today all people involved in a weekend stabbing death are members of the same family.

Central Point Police Department (CPPD) Lieutenant Josh Abbott says police are interviewing more people today in the death investigation.  He says no names are being released from the case pending criminal charges by the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.

Abbott says Saturday’s incident involves four adults from the same family who all knew each other, including a woman hospitalized in stable condition from blunt force trauma.  He says the suspect for that trauma is different than the stabbing suspect in the case. Abbott says two men were stabbed, killing one man and hospitalizing another in stable condition today.  He says the fourth family member in the case was hurt, though not needing hospitalization.

Abbott says no arrests have occurred in the case, which involved a knife and could have involved alcohol in the 2200 block of New Haven Drive. There is not believed to be any ongoing threat to the community.

Jackson County Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit and the Oregon State Police Forensic Unit are supporting CPPD detectives with the investigation.

Rodeo Bull Hops Fence at Sisters Rodeo Injuring People Before Being Captured

A rodeo in Sisters Oregon descended into chaos Saturday after a bull escaped the arena and ran loose through the event grounds, leaving three people — including a sheriff’s deputy — injured, officials said. Two people were transported to the hospital due to injuries, according to first responders.

The incident occurred around 10 p.m. PT on Saturday, during the final section of the bull-riding event at Sisters Rodeo. The bull, which was competing at the event, hopped the arena fence and ran out through the grounds and back to the livestock holding pens, according to a statement from Sisters Rodeo.

Video from the incident shared on social media showed the bull striking a rodeo attendee and lifting them off the ground twice.

No details were available on the attendee’s current condition. “Rodeo livestock professionals quickly responded to safely contain the bull,” event organizers said in the statement, adding, “It was secured next to the livestock holding pens by our rodeo pickup men and immediately placed into a pen.”

Lt. Jayson Janes, with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s office, told ABC News that the sheriff’s deputy suffered a minor injury while running after the bull after it escaped. It was unclear how the third individual was injured in the melee.

The Rodeo Sports Medicine Team, Sisters-Camp Sherman RFPD, Cloverdale RFPD, rodeo staff and local law enforcement responded immediately with first aid and care, according to event organizers. Sisters Rodeo continued with scheduled events on Sunday as planned.

A southern Oregon lawmaker’s comments on a podcast suggesting non-Christians aren’t qualified to hold elected office didn’t violate legislative rules around a safe and respectful workplace, a House panel determined Monday. 

The House Committee on Conduct voted 3-1 that Rep. E. Werner Reschke, R-Malin, didn’t violate House rules when he told a conservative Christian podcast host that people want Christians, not atheists, Muslims or “materialists,” in government. Rep. Jason Kropf, D-Bend, joined Republican Reps. Kevin Mannix of Salem and Ed Diehl of Stayton in voting to clear Reschke, while Rep. Thuy Tran, D-Portland, voted against. 

Reschke did not respond Monday to a request for comment. The investigation into Reschke stemmed from comments he made on a conservative Christian talk show in January that were reported by OPB. During a conversation with former Arkansas lawmaker Jason Rapert, Reschke said he was inspired to run for office because of men including George Washington, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

“You look at men and the struggles that they faced and the faith that they had, and those are the type of people that you want in government making tough decisions during tough times,” he said. “You don’t want a materialist, you don’t want an atheist, you don’t want a Muslim, you don’t want, you want somebody who understands what truth is and understands the nature of man, the nature of government and the nature of God.” 

Democratic leaders condemned his comments and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments that newly appointed state Rep. Dwayne Yunker, R-Grants Pass, had expressed on his campaign website. On the final day of the legislative session, members of civil rights groups and state Rep. Tom Andersen, D-Salem, gathered outside the Capitol to protest Reschke’s and Yunker’s comments.  (SOURCE)

The Oregon Health Athority is rasising awareness for one of the most common forms of financial fraud: Medicare fraud. 

OHA says Medicare loses $60 billion a year to fraud, errors and abuse. 

Raising awareness on 6/5 and the week after signifies the 65-yr-old and older population since most people become eligable for Medicare at 65-yrs-old.  To learn more, read the OHA blog here: https://ow.ly/VIRu50Sc7pS

Oregonians Targeted By Text Tolling Scam

A new nationwide texting scam is targeting Oregon drivers now. Ellen Klem, with the Oregon Attorney General’s Office says the phishing scheme started in the midwest earlier in the spring. “I’m honestly not surprised it’s happening now, because now is the time where everyone is gearing up to drive.”

The text claims to be from “Oregon Toll Service” and says the recipient owes an $11.69 outstanding balance; they face a $50 late fee if they don’t click on a link and pay up. Klem says some people may identify the fraud right away, because Oregon doesn’t have tolling, “But, we live next to all these other states that have tolls.” And she worries some will fall for it. 

“They are not interested in the $11,” says Klem, “They are interested in much, much more.” She believes the scammers want your personal information, and clicking on the link could allow them to access other data on your phone.

The text has all the markers of a scam, like contact out of the blue from an unknown agency. “There’s a lot of really cheap or free technology out there that allows the scammers to pretend to be somebody they’re not. So, in this case, they’re pretending to be associated with an agency that administers tolls in the state of Oregon. But that doesn’t exist,” says Klem, “Second sign: There’s some sort of emergency. In this case, you have an unpaid bill; that’s frightening to a lot of people.”

She suggests not being in such a rush to respond to every text or email, “These phones, they’re everywhere and we have this sort of automatic response to click on a link or to pick up every phone call. And, I want to remind people just to slow down and think before you click on anything.” Klem adds, “Really, at the end of the day, this is a text message that you can and you should ignore.”

If you get a text, email or phone call you’re not sure is legit, call the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer hotline at 877-877-9392. Volunteer experts are available weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

West Coast’s ShakeAlert System gets Major Upgrade

The ShakeAlert System is available to cell phone users in California, Oregon and Washington.

The U.S. Geological Survey and its partners are announcing a new capability to characterize large earthquakes quickly, helping inform the public about potentially damaging shaking headed their way. In addition to over 1500 seismic sensors that detect ground shaking, the ShakeAlert System now makes use of sensors that detect earth-surface movement via satellite.

“While rare, earthquakes greater than magnitude 7 can have the greatest impact on human lives and infrastructure,” said Robert de Groot, with the USGS ShakeAlert Operations Team. “Future major offshore earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, which could be similar to the 2011 M 9.1 earthquake in Japan, underscore the importance of incorporating satellite data stream into the ShakeAlert System.” 

The newly added ShakeAlert capability that uses data from real-time Global Navigation Satellite System sensors may more quickly and accurately determine the magnitude and the area of shaking from very large earthquakes, resulting in faster notifications for people to take a protective action, such as Drop, Cover, and Hold On. GNSS data, which includes the well-known US-based Global Positioning System, are now used in addition to seismic data to detect earthquakes. While seismic sensors measure how quickly the ground is shaking, GNSS sensors measure how far the ground moves up, down, or sideways during an earthquake. 

The ShakeAlert System, currently available in California, Oregon, and Washington, can protect people and infrastructure by delivering alerts to cell phones and triggering automatic actions like slowing down trains to prevent derailments, opening firehouse doors so they don’t jam shut, and closing valves to protect water systems.  

The ShakeAlert GNSS integration and ongoing operations is a partnership of the USGS, the National Science Foundation funded EarthScope Consortium, university partners with significant contributions from the University of Washington, Central Washington University, UC Berkeley, and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. 

The ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System is managed by the U.S. Geological Survey in partnership with state agencies and universities and it is a public safety tool for over 50 million residents and visitors in California, Oregon, Washington. When the ShakeAlert seismic sensor buildout is completed at the end of 2025 there will be a network of over 2000 ShakeAlert stations poised to protect residents and visitors in California, Oregon, and Washington. 

For more information on how this new capability works, watch this video.   (SOURCE)

Come to the World Beat Festival to Experience Global Cultures: Ukraine is the 2024 Featured Country

Salem Multicultural Institute is excited to celebrate Ukraine as the 27th annual World Beat Festival’s featured country. World Beat is one of Salem’s premier community traditions, offering a vibrant two-day program of international music, dance, song, theater, food, crafts, customs, rituals, and folklore. This year’s festival will begin Friday evening, June 28, and run through Sunday, June 30, at Salem’s Riverfront Park.

Kathleen Fish, Executive Director, emphasizes that this is the only festival of its kind honoring the Salem/Keizer community’s rich tapestry of cultures. “There are 107 languages spoken in our school district. The festival recognizes and explores the cultures of many of these families.”

The festivities kick off Friday, June 28, from 5 to 10 p.m. with “Friday Night at the Beat,” featuring vocal performances and fire dancing on the Main Stage.

The festival opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 29, with the Children’s Parade. Kids who want to participate in the parade will assemble at the Pavilion at the North End of the park.

Each child who attends will receive a passport at the entrance gate to collect stamps from each World Village. Village tents will feature kid-friendly cultural games and activities. This year’s activities include making cherry blossoms in the Asian Pacific Village, Pysanky (traditional egg decorating) in the European Village, Arpilleras (traditional Chilean textile art) in the Americas Village, and crafting Nguni Shields in the Africa & Middle East Village.

Adults can enjoy beverages in the beer garden while listening to live music. Boating enthusiasts can cheer on their favorite teams during the World Beat Dragon Boat Races.

“We had over 25,000 guests attend last year, enjoying performances on seven stages representing more than 50 different countries and cultures. Our visitors come from all over the Northwest and even Canada,” added Fish.

Organized by the volunteer-driven Salem Multicultural Institute, the festival requires 400 volunteers annually to manage setup, stage operations, and cleanup. Volunteers contributing at least four hours receive an event T-shirt and free entry to the festival.

Admission to the festival is $10/1-day pass/adult or $15 for the weekend. Children 0-14, SNAP card holders, and Veterans are free.

You can view a complete schedule and vendor list or sign up to volunteer atwww.worldbeatfestival.org or call (503) 581-2004.

About the World Beat Festival: The World Beat Festival originated in the late 1990s and was conceived by two young mothers, Mona Hayes and Kathleen Fish, who wanted a space to celebrate cultural heritage. Starting with a small gathering in 1998, the festival has grown into Oregon’s largest multicultural event of its kind. www.WorldBeatFestival.org, 503-581-2004.

About the Salem Multicultural Institute (SMI): The vision of the Salem Multicultural Institute and the purpose of the World Beat Festival and World Beat Gallery are to create an environment of openness for all people. In all our activities, SMI aims to be family-friendly, economically inclusive, and culturally authentic. Visit the gallery located at 390 Liberty ST SE, Salem. www.salemmulticultural.org.

https://www.oregon.gov/osp/missing/pages/missingpersons.aspx

Oregon’s Missing Persons

Many times you’ll see postings without case numbers or police contact. There is rarely a nefarious reason why (the nefarious ones are pretty obvious). Usually the loved one tried to call to report their missing person and they are either refused or told to wait a day or two by people who are unaware of SB 351 and the laws that they are bound to when answering the phone. Many people don’t bother calling LE if their loved one is homeless or in transition because they believe LE won’t care. The biggest myth is the 24 hour rule.

In Oregon we don’t have those rules and an officer or person answering the phone is not allowed to decide. The law decides. We have Senate Bill 351 and it states that the police CANNOT refuse a request for any reason and they must begin working on it within 12 hours. The person making the report does not have to be related to missing person either.

Here is SB 351 written by families of the missing here in Oregon in conjunction with Oregon law enforcement officers. This should be common knowledge, please make it this way. https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/…/SB351/Introduced

Contact us: Info@OregonBeachMagazine.com

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