Oregon Beach News, Friday 9/23 – Port Of Coos Bay Positions Itself For Major Global Freight Terminal, Human Remains Found Near Florence Fred Meyer

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

Friday, September 23, 2022

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Port Of Coos Bay Positions Itself For Major Global Freight Terminal

Some local officials say a $2 billion plan for a major shipping terminal in the city could bring all manner of imports to the Pacific Northwest and then the rest of the continent, and send Oregon crops and other exports overseas. And, they say, it could employ 2,500 to load and unload as many as 1.2 million shipping containers a year.

The idea is gaining support, and not just locally. Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with Rep. Peter DeFazio, are asking for $1.24 billion in federal infrastructure funds.

“The Mega Grant program was meant to support major infrastructure with regional significance,” Merkley said, referring to a grant program housed in the U.S. Department of Transportation. “We realized in these last two years that we do not have enough port capacity on the West Coast. It has been a huge part of our supply chain challenge, and this project would increase that West Coast capacity by 10%.”

Wyden said he expects a decision by year’s end.

Backers envision the Port of Coos Bay would be mentioned in the same breath as the much larger ports of Los Angeles-Long Beach and Seattle-Tacoma. But Coos Bay, 80 miles from the nearest interstate and more than 200 miles by road from the state’s population center in Portland, might not seem the likeliest candidate for a major shipping terminal.

Experts say smaller ports are not unheard of, however, and Coos Bay’s location might give it some surprising advantages. It offers easy access to the massive ships crisscrossing the Pacific Ocean. Trips to and from certain major ports in Asia, like Shanghai and Yokohama, are nearly 700 miles and 650 miles closer from Coos Bay than Los Angeles-Long Beach, respectively.

David Kratochvil, a logistics expert who chairs the Supply Chain and Logistics Management Council at Oregon State University, said that the port could make up for its smaller size with a novel business strategy.

“They’re not going to be a Los Angeles, they’re not going to be a Seattle,” Kratochvil said. “They have to look at the logistics aspect and you’d have to design what I would call a logistics port … where things move immediately on arrival and there’s no delay.”

Kratochvil said port officials’ prediction they would handle 1.2 million containers a year is probably a bit high. He said the Coos Bay channel can likely only accommodate one or two cargo ships parked for offloading at a time, slowing down the containers handled per day.

Nonetheless, if Coos Bay were able to attract customers with small-volume, high-priority shipments, it could carve out a valuable niche.

“I think Coos Bay has a chance, offering something that nobody else does,” Kratochvil said. “Everybody’s looking for it.”

Coos Bay has long been looking for a new line of business to help make up for the timber industry’s decline. Most recently, a proposal for a liquefied natural gas terminal and pipeline failed to win supporters. As the Jordan Cove Energy Project grew less and less likely, priority shifted to the container terminal.

Container shipping forms the backbone of modern global trade. Standardized, stackable boxes go back and forth across the seas, carrying a load of electronics bound for stores one way and agricultural products back.

Most times, these containers end up at ports in major cities, where the infrastructure and job force can support their offloading.

“We did not have the infrastructure here that places like LA-Long Beach and Seattle-Tacoma or even the Port of Portland have, but that’s not a bad thing,” said John Burns, chief executive officer for the Port of Coos Bay. “We’re not inhibited by what was created 10, 20, 50, a hundred years ago that we’ve got to go back in and reconfigure to make it fit the model. For us, the beauty was that we could create something here that is otherwise not to be found in the U.S.”

The container terminal proposal includes two empty sites on the North Spit of Coos Bay totaling approximately 365 acres. Key to the proposal is a short rail line that connects to the national freight network in Eugene. The spur has served the port for nearly a hundred years as a means of small freight travel.

In 2009, the rail line was unexpectedly put up for sale. The owners of the line announced plans to tear up the rails — leading from the north end of Coos Bay and into Eugene — for scrap metal.

Caddy McKeown, a Coos Bay port commissioner in 2009, negotiated with the company to sell the rail line to the port for $13 million — the amount that Rail for America would have gotten for the scrap metal.

“It was a scary thing to do, but we needed to maintain the asset,” said McKeown, who now works for the company that’s leading the effort to develop the new terminal.

NorthPoint Development, based in Kansas City, invests nationally in real estate and e-commerce. It’s been involved in the container terminal proposal since 2017.

“A public entity could not take this on itself, a private entity could not take this on itself,” said John Burns, chief executive officer for the Port of Coos Bay. “It’s the merger of private and public enterprises to create these opportunities.”

It took millions more to get the rail line in working order. Lottery bonds and federal programs covered a little more than $80 million in updates to the line. The state of Oregon invested another $19.3 million for rail improvements, half of it a loan the Port will eventually have to pay back.

Projects completed on the rail line between 2007 and 2014 included fixes to the steel line, bridges and tunnels, ensuring that container freight could travel efficiently into Lane and Douglas counties. The most recent replaced railroad ties, allowing trains on the line to reach speeds of 20 mph instead of 10.

“What that means is that we can make the transit from Coos Bay to Eugene in 6 1/2 hours, and that’s critical because our railroad employees have hour restrictions on how long they can work,” Burns said. “The ability to take a train non-stop gives us the opportunity to operate more trains, more safely.”

Burns said upgrades to bridges along the rail line will continue through 2024. It also plans to add side tracks in spots to accommodate two-way traffic. Updates to the port infrastructure may take longer.

The container shipping site on the North Spit is still waiting on a construction permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, a process that began in 2017. Once approved, NorthPoint President Chad Meyer anticipates the terminal would be able to take its first load of cargo within two years.

The Coos Bay channel will also need to be widened and deepened to accommodate massive modern cargo ships, the largest of which can be 1,300 feet long. That will cost between $350 million to $400 million.

NorthPoint has invested between $3 million and $5 million in the project on initial design and engineering, Meyer said. The entire project, including all updates to rail and the Coos Bay channel, will cost nearly $2 billion dollars, with between $1.2 to $1.7 billion in federal funding and an expected $500 million of private investment from NorthPoint.

Coos County was the sixth poorest county in Oregon, according to 2020 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, with 16.1% of residents living below the federal poverty rate.

Tourism has taken on new significance as a local industry. In few places is that more clear than at what was once Central Dock, a lumber processing yard that now is home to restaurants, a brewery and retail stores. There’s been recent employment growth in education and health services as well, said Guy Tauer, regional economist for Coos, Curry, Jackson and Josephine Counties.

The port estimates that the project will create 4,500 new jobs — 2,000 in construction and 2,500 in full-time work at the port. “That’s a huge increase if you look at its proportion to the overall economy,” Tauer said. “In Coos County, that would be a huge impact.”

Human Remains Found Near Florence Fred Meyer

The Florence Police Department (FPD) was notified of human remains being found South of Munsel Lake Road, across from Fred Meyer, on Wednesday, according to a news release.

Due to the condition of the remains, it is believed they were there for a considerable amount of time and there were no obvious signs of foul play.

At approximately 4:50 p.m., the FPD was told that the remains were located in the brush area off of Highway 101.

The reporting party took the officers to the location, which was over the top of the sand dune in a heavy brush area.

Working in cooperation with the Lane County Medical Examiner’s Office, Florence Police investigated the scene and recovered the remains and some clothing.

No identifying information was found at the scene, and police are currently unable to identify the body.

The remains will be turned over to the medical examiner’s office for further investigation.

This is a continuing investigation and anyone with information on any possible missing persons is encouraged to contact Det. Bailey at 541-997-3515.

Fish Passage Project Outside Of Astoria Aims To Reconnect Key Wild Fish Species With Prime Habitat 

A fish passage project outside of Astoria aims to reconnect key wild fish species with prime habitat that has long been difficult, if not impossible, for them to reach without human help.

The North Fork Klaskanine River is the first major watershed that salmonids and lamprey returning from the ocean encounter in the Lower Columbia River Estuary. It is a tributary that spills into Youngs Bay, which flows into the mighty Columbia River beyond.

But three dams associated with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s North Fork Klaskanine River hatchery near Olney, where the state rears fall Chinook salmon and steelhead, have long been barriers for many types of wild salmonids heading upstream.

First there is the Ogee Dam. Here, hatchery fish make a right turn to the hatchery but many wild fish are stuck. Hatchery staff have had to physically sort and transport them above the dam.

Until recently, hatchery staff would have had to take wild fish past two other dams as well. But in 2020, a dam in the middle was removed and, in mid-September, crews wrapped up major modifications at Intake Dam Three.

This dam, located on the North North Fork of the North Fork Klaskanine River, just off Highway 202, remains in place and its water flow will still be used in hatchery operations. But now, instead of being an impassable barrier for some wild fish species, it features a man-made, graded stream bed. This was highly technical work that necessitated temporarily redirecting the river flow.

The new stream bed opens up miles of quality habitat upstream and eases the way for key species like coastal cutthroat trout — considered a species of concern — and Pacific lamprey as well as wild salmon and steelhead that are listed as endangered or threatened.

With the completion of the dam modifications, Graham Klag, executive director of the North Coast Watershed Association, will be keeping an eye out for lamprey in the waters above the Ogee Dam and Intake Three.

Pacific lamprey are an important piece in the overall food web — the so-called bacon cheeseburger of the fish world — and a traditional food for indigenous people of the Northwest. Recently, lamprey have been the focus of restoration efforts. Their presence in the North North Fork would be an early sign that this particular fish passage project is succeeding.

“It’s really a project that will directly benefit them,” Klag said. “In the future, as we do more work, then we’ll start to get to the other species, which should be up here but are not … such as coho, steelhead … potentially even chum.”

The verdict is out if chum can make it up so far, but, as Klag noted, “You never know.”

The North Coast Watershed Association led the fish passage project along with various partners. All of this work — the removal of the one dam, the modifications to another — sets the stage for major work on the Ogee Dam.

The state has proposed removing the Ogee Dam and constructing a roughened channel to restore the slope of the stream, essentially opening things up even more concretely to wild fish.

There is high quality habitat above the Ogee Dam, said Kregg Smith, senior policy analyst for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Yet, wild fish returns to the area have been relatively low.

“If we remove this,” Klag said, gesturing at the Ogee Dam, “then we’re going to see the benefits of all those (dam changes) come into play, too. We’re essentially working from top down to get to this fix, which is going to be a very expensive — probably a million dollar — project.”

“But,” he added, “it will be worth it because we’ve done all that other work”

In mid-September, as contractors finished work on Intake Three, hatchery fall Chinook salmon returned along the North Fork Klaskanine River.

The fish turned toward the hatchery, flashing forward in sudden bursts, fins breaking the water’s surface and revealing brief glimpses of speckled backs.

Klag and others watched them for a while and then turned back toward the Ogee Dam and back to where crews had been preparing to let water flow freely again across Intake Three.

As Klag neared the site, he could hear a new but very familiar sound: water flowing along the North North Fork and into the North Fork Klaskanine River. It started as a trickle, then slowly, steadily grew.

11th annual Florence Festival of Books on Saturday

— a book fair for authors, publishers, and readers. At this festival, books are celebrated — real books with pages that you turn and, new this year, eBooks are also a part of the festival. Just call it a sign of the times.

Florence Festival of Books

Also new this year, all events are on the same day, Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St.

The festival takes place from 9 a.m. until nearly 6 p.m. An informative panel discussion starts things o from 9 to 10 a.m. in the theater. Then, the ever-popular book fair takes place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Then it’s back to the theater to see and hear Keynote Speaker William “Bill” Sullivan’s entertaining presentation beginning at 4:15 p.m.

Last year due to COVID, the event required masks. This year, people can wear one if they want to, but it’s not a requirement — unless the CDC requires it.

Last year, we had one third fewer tables, and we have continued with less tables to better allow social distancing. We received a lot of positive feedback from folks who liked being less crowded and having more space.

This year, we are proud to welcome a number of authors who have never participated in the Festival of Books before, as well as those who’ve participated previously. Altogether, approximately 60 authors are participating — whose writing covers a variety of genres. And a few publishers — ready to talk about their writers’ books and to listen to wannabe authors pitch their ideas.

The Book Fair is your opportunity to meet and speak with these authors and publishers. Each book you purchase can be signed and personalized. And it’s a known fact that books make great gifts!

All Festival events are free and take place at the Florence Events Center. Come and help us celebrate the 11th year of this popular event.

A special thank you to our sponsors for making this year’s event possible. The Festival is presented by the Florence Festival of Books Planning Committee under the auspices of Florence Arts, Culture & Entertainment (FACE).

For more information, visit http://www.florencefestivalofbooks.org

Did you know that Oregon, Washington, and now Nevada, have their own drug discount program? You can use it even if you already have insurance. Once you sign up, you can use your ArrayRx Card or your pharmacy benefit when you go to get your prescriptions, whichever provides a better price. To sign up, visit arrayrxcard.com.

May be an image of text that says 'Using this digital card can help you save up to 80% on medications All Oregon and Washington residents qualify. Nevada residents will be able to enroll Fall 2022. ·No membership fee to join No age or income restrictions •Only takes a minute to enroll •All FDA-approved prescriptions are eligible for discounts •Each user signs up and gets their own digital card with a unique ID number'

OHA confirmed Oregon’s second pediatric case of monkeypox virus (hMPXV): http://ow.ly/WNjj50KPOtz “Pediatric monkeypox cases have happened around the country during the nationwide outbreak, and unfortunately Oregon is no exception,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health officer and state epidemiologist. “As we have stated previously, this virus can affect anyone.

”Monkeypox spreads primarily through close skin-to-skin contact. During the current outbreak, this has been most commonly through intimate or sexual contact. Infection has also occurred during close, skin-to-skin contact with the lesions of an individual with monkeypox through a caregiving relationship, such as a parent caring for a child or an adult caretaker of another person.

Much less often, monkeypox could spread handling towels, clothing or other items that have been in contact with monkeypox lesions. Large respiratory droplets or oral fluids that might come from prolonged face-to-face contact could also transmit the virus, but it is uncommon.

If you’re experiencing any potential symptoms of monkeypox, such as a new rash that looks like pimples or blisters and you’re feeling sick, contact your health care provider right away. If you don’t have a health care provider, call 2-1-1 or your local public health authority.

Oregon Senators Announce More Than $2.5 Million In Housing Vouchers Coming To the State

Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have announced that more than $2.5 million in additional housing choice vouchers are coming to the state.

A release said they are going to 21 public housing authorities throughout Oregon and are in addition to the 44,500 vouchers already in use by Oregon households.

Wyden said, “These permanent housing vouchers, paired with critical services, will help many Oregon families get into long-term housing”. Wyden said he will continue to fight “…so that in the wealthiest strongest nation on earth, all Oregon families have a warm, safe, affordable and stable place to call home”.

Merkley said, “Every Oregonian deserves the right to have a home, and I will continue fighting to make that a reality in every corner of our state”.

Locally, 6 vouchers for just under $40,000 are being allocated to the Housing Authority of Douglas County. Funds are also going to organizations in the neighboring counties of Josephine, Lane and Coos.

The full release on the funding is linked: https://www.wyden.senate.gov/news/press-releases/wyden-merkley-more-than-25-million-to-oregon-in-housing-vouchers

State shares revised action plan, timeline for engaging Oregonians in protecting lives, property from wildfire

SALEM, Ore.—The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) today announced a revised action plan and timeline for engaging the public on wildfire protection efforts as part of the state’s strategy to create more fire-resilient communities.

“A big part of our work over the next year is focused on engaging with, listening to and informing the public about wildfire risk,” said Cal Mukumoto, Oregon State Forester and director of ODF. “This engagement will involve visiting communities across the state, talking with people, addressing concerns and answering questions. Ultimately, all of the agencies involved in this effort want to make sure Oregonians in the most at-risk communities know what they can do to better protect themselves, their families and friends, and their homes from wildfire.” 

In the past decade, wildfires have been burning significantly more acres than before, while also becoming more challenging and costlier to fight. Between 2012 and 2021, the state of Oregon spent $85 million annually on wildfire suppression costs. That is compared to the previous 10 years in which the state spent $17 million annually. The scale, devastation and statewide reach of the 2020 Labor Day fires brought this reality home for many. Less than a year later, Senate Bill 762’s statewide framework for advancing wildfire protection in Oregon moved through the Oregon State Legislature with bipartisan support. 

The revised plan will be implemented in collaboration with Oregon State University’s (OSU) College of Forestry, the Oregon State Fire Marshal (OSFM) and the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS).

“Most Oregonians understand wildfires are becoming more catastrophic and more frequent. I have witnessed, across the state, that Oregonians want to be part of the solution in protecting our communities,” said Doug Grafe, Wildfire Programs Director with the Office of the Governor. “It’s clear that steps can be taken to increase the survivability of homes and communities when wildfires do occur, including creating defensible space, hardening homes and implementing hazardous fuels reduction projects.”

One component of SB 762 was the creation of a statewide wildfire risk map to serve as a planning and information tool for Oregonians, communities and state and local government. The purpose of the map—a collaboration between ODF and wildfire scientists at OSU’s College of Forestry—is to provide transparent and science-based information to Oregonians about the factors near them that drive wildfire exposure including weather, climate, vegetation and topography. The tool will also be used to guide the state in directing resources to communities with the greatest likelihood of wildfires. 

“Oregon State University’s College of Forestry has used, and will continue to use, the best science to contribute to statewide wildfire risk mapping,” said Tom DeLuca, dean of OSU’s College of Forestry. “We support the importance of changing the timeline for the mapping component of SB 762. This added time provides an opportunity to better share information and conduct authentic community engagement by listening to Oregonians and community leaders across our state in the implementation of the new law. Even with the timeline change, we must all recognize that addressing fire risk in Oregon is a priority that will require all of us to work together.”  

Based on feedback and concerns received from an earlier version of the wildfire risk map, the state revised its timeline for implementing the map to allow for robust community engagement, outreach and education. The revised timeline is as follows: 

  • October through February 2023: Public and stakeholder engagement, outreach and education. Includes wildfire science, risk and mitigation outreach and education, with focus on the most vulnerable areas; identifying opportunities for investments in wildfire prevention; completing building codes and defensible space standards for the most vulnerable communities; compilation and analysis of feedback received; and technical refinements.
  • March 1, 2023: Public rollout of draft wildfire risk map. Draft map shared with the public.
  • March through September 2023: Public outreach, engagement and education on draft wildfire risk map. Includes working with ODF, OSU College of Forestry, local governments, planning departments, Department of Land Conservation and Development, Oregon State Fire Marshal and the state Building Codes Division to review the draft map; public outreach, education and engagement on the draft map and related topics including building codes and defensible space standards; and making any necessary revisions based on feedback received on updated map.
  • October through December 2023: Final wildfire risk map shared with the public for implementation. Includes sharing a final wildfire risk map with the public, initiating a 60-day appeals process and notifying those who are in the most high-risk areas about the steps needed to protect their homes and properties from catastrophic wildfires and how to comply with defensible space standards and building codes.

“The revised plan and timeline allow us to prioritize engagement, collaboration and communication,” said Grafe. “We are committed to ensuring people understand what they can do to increase the likelihood their homes and properties will survive wildfires. The wildfire risk map is one of several tools we will use to inform this work.”

SB 762 directs state agencies to focus resources in Oregon’s highest-risk areas to ensure homes are adhering to building codes and defensible space standards. These building codes and defensible space standards will not be adopted or implemented until the wildfire risk map is finalized in late 2023, but will be available in the near future so people can familiarize themselves with the new expectations. 

The DCBS Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) confirmed last month that no Oregon insurance company used the original map to set rates (rating) or as part of a decision to offer or renew insurance coverage (underwriting), and none planned to use it for those purposes in the future. The DFR continues to conduct work to ensure that wildfire mitigation activities are accounted for in underwriting and rating processes. Homeowners are encouraged to contact DFR’s consumer advocates at 1-888-877-4894 (toll-free) with questions or concerns about their insurance policy.

For more information, visit the following websites:

Oregon OSHA issues more than $144,000 in penalties to 2 contractors for exposing employees to fall hazards at sites in Salem and Woodburn

Salem – In separate enforcement actions, Oregon OSHA has issued fines totaling more than $144,000 to two contractors for violations – including repeat offenses – of fall protection rules at worksites in Salem and Woodburn. The violations put multiple workers at risk of serious injury or death from falls to lower levels.

The separate citations issued to Corvallis-based Iron Head Roofing LLC and Canby-based JMJ Construction LLC included the same violation of a basic safety requirement: Implementing adequate fall protection systems – such as a personal fall restraint system or other measures – where workers are exposed to falling six feet or more to a lower level.

For Iron Head Roofing, it was the fifth time since May 2019 that the company committed the same violation. For JMJ Construction, it was the fourth time since February 2020 that the company committed the same violation. The companies’ previous violations of the six-foot trigger-height requirements were cited as part of separate Oregon OSHA inspections at different worksites.

Falls are one of the leading causes of death in the construction industry.

“Fall protection saves lives,” said Renee Stapleton, acting administrator for Oregon OSHA. “It is an essential safety practice that employers must carry out when work is being done at heights. There is no excuse for neglecting it.”

The citation issued to Iron Head Roofing followed an inspection that found four of six employees working on the roof of a house in Salem with no fall protection. The citation against JMJ Construction came after an inspection found an employee installing siding on a house with no fall protection. Another employee was using a scaffold with no fall protection, according to the inspection.

Both inspections were conducted under Oregon OSHA’s emphasis program focused on fall hazards in construction. The prevention-based program accounts for the temporary nature of construction activity by directing inspectors to act based on observations while in the field, and to follow up on valid complaints and referrals.

Altogether, Oregon OSHA issued $144,900 in fines to both companies. The division’s citation to Iron Head Roofing involved a single repeat violation carrying a total proposed penalty of $78,000. The citation to JMJ Construction, which involved several violations, carried a total proposed penalty of $66,900. The violations were as follows: 

Iron Head Roofing

  • Fall protection systems were not in place where employees were exposed to a hazard of falling six feet or more to a lower level. It was a fifth repeat violation of the rule. Proposed penalty: $78,000.

JMJ Construction

  • Fall protection systems were not in place where employees were exposed to a hazard of falling six feet or more to a lower level. It was a fourth repeat violation of the rule. Proposed penalty: $58,500.
  • A portable ladder did not extend at least three feet above an upper landing. It was the first repeat violation of the rule. Proposed penalty: $4,500.
  • No personal fall arrest systems or guardrail systems were put in place while a scaffold was in use. Proposed penalty: $3,900.

Under Oregon OSHA rules, penalties multiply when employers commit repeat violations. Each of the citations issued to Iron Head Roofing and JMJ Construction also included a standard penalty reduction based on the small size of the company.

Employers have 30 calendar days after receiving a citation to file an appeal. 

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers free resources to help improve workplace safety and health. These resources include the division’s Fall Protection Suite of online video training and its A-to-Z topic page about fall protection

The Fall Protection Suite includes courses addressing fall protection fundamentals, and constructionroofing, and ladder safety. The A-to-Z topic page about fall protection includes a fact sheet about fall protection trigger heights for construction activities✎ EditSign✎ EditSign.

Employers are encouraged to use free resources – available now from Oregon OSHA and involving no fault, no citations, and no penalties – for help protecting their employees:

Consultation services – Provides free and confidential help with safety and health programs, including how to control and eliminate hazards, and hands-on training

Technical staff – Helps employers understand requirements and how to apply them to their worksites

Oregon Governor Candidates Attend Pendleton Round-Up Acknowledging Rural Votes Could Tip The Scales In A Tight Race To Be Oregon’s Next Governor

This year’s race to replace Democratic Gov. Kate Brown at the end of her final term could be the closest contest in years, with three candidates — Democrat Tina Kotek, Republican Christine Drazan and unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson — vying for support.

Kotek and Johnson made an appearance at the Cowboy Breakfast, where hundreds of people lined up on a frigid Friday morning as country music played gently in the background.

While Brown sat relaxed eating pancakes, the current candidates seemed more focused on wooing potential votes, weaving between tables and talking about the issues. Their presence lacked subtlety, as staffers wore bright campaign shirts amid the western flair.

Johnson leaned on her experience representing a rural district in Clatsop County, west of the Cascades.

“I am conversant in the vocabulary of rural Oregon,” she told OPB. “All of Eastern Oregon can vote one way on a ballot measure or a candidate and it can get wiped out by Multnomah County.”

Kotek, sporting a pristine black western shirt and off-white cowboy hat, said she’s been to Pendleton multiple times during her campaign, and that she believes a Democrat has a chance to pick up votes in an area where conservative candidates routinely have dominated.

“I’ve been to many parts of our state in the campaign,” Kotek said. “We’re all more successful when the whole state is successful. So I think there’ll be some people out here who will vote for me.”

Candidates also rode in the Westward Ho! Parade, attaching campaign signs to 19th Century-style carriages as they made their way throughout downtown Pendleton, packed crowds of spectators cheering on either side.

Drazan, speaking outside her carriage, said issues like addiction and rising homelessness were affecting rural Oregon in much the same way as urban parts of the state.

“If you’re in a rural community, the impacts can be seen fast,” Drazan said. “It feels like it’s new (in rural areas).”

The political glad-handing at the Round-Up could prove more important this year than normal. The Cook Political Report recently labeled Oregon’s gubernatorial race as “a toss-up,” and some election experts say the state could see its first non-Democratic governor since Vic Atiyeh in the 1980s. The race’s potential close outcome would be a stark contrast to 2018 when Brown won by 7 percentage points.

Rural Oregon counties, especially in the eastern half of the state, traditionally have not swayed many statewide elections. But if the race is tight this year, they could make a difference.

Klamath County Law enforcement is looking for a dangerous criminal.

At approximately 9:45PM Klamath County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the Pilot Travel Center in Chemult where they located Molly May Swedenskey who was previously abducted. The person of interest in the abduction, Eric Patrick Koon, age 19, fled south on highway 97 at speeds exceeding 100 mph.

Deputies deployed spike strips, and with the assistance of Oregon State Police the vehicle was brought to a stop off the road near milepost 222 on highway 97. Koon fled into a wooded area armed with a handgun. Law enforcement searched the area for several hours and have been unsuccessful in locating Koon. If you see Eric Patrick Koon do not approach please call 911 immediately.

The following is original press release from the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office.

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – On 9/18/2022, Eric Koon, Molly Swedenskey’s estranged boyfriend broke into her residence and attempted to abduct her by force. He bound her wrists with zip ties, taped her mouth, and fled only after she escaped and alerted help. 

Molly Swedenskey was last seen by her family on 9/20/2022, at about 1300 hours, located at her residence in Chiloquin, Oregon. Her cell phone and vehicles are accounted for by law enforcement. Left behind at her residence were her two small children both under the age of two. This behavior is extremely abnormal for Molly Swedenskey. 

Eric Koon is believed to be living in his vehicle. He may have been staying in very close proximity to Molly Swedenskey, without her knowing since he fled on 9/18/2022. 

Eric Koon is believed to be in possession of an unknown caliber handgun based on statements from his family. His current mental state is unknown, his cell phone is turned off, and he has ceased communication with his own family. 

  • Koon has a valid felony warrant in Oregon from a prior assault. 
  • Probable Cause exists for Burglary I (ORS 164.225)
  • Probable Cause exists for Kidnap II (ORS 163.225) 

Any information please contact the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Tip-Line @ (541) 850-5380 

Oregon’s candidates for governor will participate in a televised debate from the Oregon State University-Cascades campus on Tuesday, Sept. 27th

The debate among Democrat Tina Kotek, Republican Christine Drazan and nonaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson will be the second time the three candidates take the stage together, following a July forum in front of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. More debates are expected, although not yet announced.

The debate won’t be open to the public, just OSU-Cascades students and invited leaders from the area. It will be broadcast on KTVZ for central Oregon audiences and live-streamed on ktvz.com.

Oregon’s race is historically close this year, in large part because Johnson is running. She was a conservative Democratic legislator for two decades before launching her campaign and has the potential to draw votes from either party.

Polls showing outgoing Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is deeply unpopular with voters also led national forecasters, including the ​​University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and the Cook Political Report, to downgrade the likelihood of a Kotek win. The Center for Politics considers it a tossup and the Cook Report rates the race as “leaning” Democratic, down from “likely.”

With less than two months to go until Election Day and more money coming in daily, the three candidates have raised nearly $30 million combined and spent most of it since beginning their campaigns. Johnson leads the field with more than $11.3 million raised to date, thanks to large contributions from business leaders including Nike co-founder Phil Knight.

Drazan has raised more than $9 million and Kotek nearly $8.7 million. National Democratic and Republican groups are boosting their campaigns, with the Democratic Governors Association giving Kotek almost $1.9 million and the Republican Governors Association sending $2.6 million to Drazan’s campaign.

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This is just a small compilation of missing women and their pictures in the area. There are of course women missing all over Oregon and men and children missing too. We don’t mean to dismiss that, however, there is an inordinate amount of women who go missing each week and there could possibly be a connection with an anomaly or two here and there. Sadly most of them never get any attention. Family and friends must keep any information going and lead investigations so that they aren’t just forgotten. 

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