Oregon Beach News, Monday 11/20 – Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office Serve Multiple Search Warrants & 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

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Oregon Beach Weather

Sneaker waves on the coast – Anyone planning to spend the holiday along the Oregon coast should be mindful of possible sneaker waves. The National Weather Service (NWS) in Portland said there is an increasing threat of sneaker waves on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, Nov. 23) through the weekend.

Sneaker waves are waves that suddenly surge further up the beach than expected, according to the NWS. They are powerful enough to sweep people into the ocean, and can roll logs and other debris along the beach.

The warning comes around the same time that the first king tides of the season will be viewable, Nov. 25-27.

Saturday and Sunday have a high threat of sneaker waves, forecasters said, with a moderate threat on Thursday and Friday, and sneaker waves also possible on Tuesday.

Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office Serve Multiple Search Warrants

Early Tuesday morning, November 21, 2023 the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office served multiple search warrants with the assistance of Oregon State Police SWAT, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Clatsop County Major Crimes Team.

The Major Crimes Team consists of detectives from the Sheriff’s Office, Astoria Police Department, Warrenton Police Department, Seaside Police Department and Cannon Beach Police Department. Warrants were served at residences in rural Astoria, Warrenton, and Seaside. Multiple firearms, ammunition, and stolen items, to include property stolen from other states, were recovered.

Jacob Dean Smart (38) was arrested for: Felon in Possession of Firearm, Unlawful Use of Motor Vehicle, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle.

Jason Daniel Chupp (41) was arrested for: Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Reckless Endangering, Unlawful Use of Weapon, and Criminal Mischief I.

Detectives continue to investigate the case and additional charges will follow. If you have information regarding these individuals, contact Detective Jodi Libertad. (503) 325-8635

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The Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office has reported that two teens have run away from Knappa, and is asking for the public to help locate them

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Penny is described as 5’5″ tall, 120 lbs, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Jonathan is described as 5’11” tall, 155 lbs, also with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Penny Lyles and Jonathan Stockle are believed to be traveling in a GREY 1998 Toyota Rav4, OR plate 547HRL.

The last known locations for Penny Lyles and Jonathan Stockle were in Clatsop and Columbia County, Oregon.

The CCSO says that Penny Lyles and Jonathan Stockle may be traveling outside of Oregon as they both have ties to Missouri.

Deputies state that Jonathan Stockle may “possibly be concerned about getting arrested and is trying to evade Law Enforcement,” but at this time the Sheriff’s Office does not plan to arrest him.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Penny Lyles and/or Jonathan Stockle is asked to contact Clatsop County Dispatch (503-325-2061) and ask to speak with a deputy.

Florence Community Free Thanksgiving Dinner

The Kiwanis Club of Florence will once again be sponsoring a Florence Community Free Thanksgiving Dinner on November 23, noon to 2 p.m. at the Florence Elks Lodge, 1686 12th St.  The organizers are pleased to announce this year the dinner will once again be back to Dine-In.  After three years of a drive-thru, To-Go meal, we are excited to be back together with friends and family dining together.

River Cities Taxi will again offer free transportation within the city limits to and from the Elks Lodge. Call 541.997.8520 to arrange transportation.

While this is a free community dinner, cash donations are accepted as well as dry/canned food donations for Florence and Mapleton Food Share.

May be an image of text that says 'Florence OREGON COAST Area Chambe om merce Florence Moliday Festival LIGHTED VEHICLE CRUISE PARADE SATURDAY, DEC. 2ND AWARD GIVEN TO THE JUDGES FAVORITE COMMERCIAL AND NON COMMERCIAL ENTRY ÛS ARTSAT 3:00 CRUISE DONB STREET BEGINS AT 4:00 FREE REGISTRATION IS OPEN NOW! ÛOTIZIHAWAY DIRECTORO FLORENCE AREA 541-997-3128 ORAT:EVENTSGFLORENCECHAMBER.COM CHAMBER'
May be an image of text that says 'MANZANITA THE 2ND ANNUAL CITYOF LIDAY TREEL TING STIVITIE DECEMBER 2ND, 2023 3PM 7PM UNDERHILL PLAZA 635 Μ. INZANITA AVENUE 3PM HOLIDAY MARKET 4PM BONFIRE/FIRE PITS & HOLIDAY MUSIC DJ SANTA ARRIVES AT 4:30PM DRIVEN BY NEHALEM BAY FIRE & RESCUE ON THE BIG FIRE ENGINE 6PM TREE LIGHTING REFRESHMENTS & COOKIES THROUGHOUT PROVIDED FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT ALL'
May be a graphic of christmas tree and text that says 'SHORE ACRES HOLIDAY LIGHTS Nov. 23 - Dec. 31, 2023'

Have you reserved your vehicle timed entry and parking for Shore Acres Holiday Lights, Nov. 23 – Dec. 31, 2023?

Reservations are available now at https://bit.ly/2023holidaylights or call 800-452-5687, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Preferred date and time sold out or you need more flexibility to plan your visit? Beginning Nov. 16, ADDITIONAL timed entry and parking becomes available each day during a 7-day rolling window. So, on Nov. 16 you can reserve for visits on Nov. 23; Nov. 17 for visits Nov. 24; and it continues to roll through the event. The rolling window inventory online becomes available at 6 a.m. each day.

Visitors inside the vehicle don’t need reservations.

The $5 vehicle parking ticket assigned to a date and entry time of the visitor’s choice is needed to enter the show. Just reserve and then have your ticket for parking ready to show when you arrive at your selected time. Visitors no longer have the option to purchase a parking permit onsite to attend.

Go to https://stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm… for additional details, including options for waiving the $5 parking fee, and the link to reserve.

Image description: an illustration of a starry night, trees, and holiday lights strung along a hedge. Text reads: Shore Acres Holiday Lights. Nov. 23-Dec. 31, 2023.

The South Coast Development Council In Coos Bay Receives $300,000 Federal Investment For Local Tech Based Start Ups

The South Coast Development Council, Inc. in Coos Bay has secured a $300,000 federal investment to nurture local tech-based start-ups. The $300,000 from the federal Economic Development Administration is designed to accelerate technology entrepreneurship on the South Coast by increasing access to entrepreneurial support and startup capital.

The South Coast Incubator Technology Industry Ecosystem Development project is led by the South Coast Development Council, Inc. with support from Southwestern Oregon Community College and the cities of Coos Bay and North Bend.

The funding has been announced by Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

“This federal investment in the South Coast will generate jobs, innovation and economic activity that will ripple out for years to come,” Wyden said. “I’m gratified that key business, education and civic leaders in this rural Oregon community have teamed up to earn these resources. And I’ll keep battling for communities throughout Oregon to receive similar funds that build strong local economies.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of Oregon’s economy, and even more so for our rural and coastal communities,” Merkley said. “These important investments heading to the South Coast Development Council will support jobs, drive innovation, and help strengthen the local economy of the South Coast.”

“This is a perfectly-timed opportunity for our rural communities on the south Oregon coast. Our center now can develop a technology-based business incubator to help grow new businesses that focus on the fast-evolving Green Energy and Blue Economy sectors,” Southwestern Small Business Development Center Director Derek Tonn said. “That means direct assistance to local entrepreneurs developing tech-based products and services for clean energy innovation and people who work on the ocean and rivers.”

“This collaboration between South Coast Development Council, Inc., Southwestern Oregon Community College, their Small Business Development Center, and the cities of Coos Bay and North Bend is a potentially transformative step for Oregon’s South Coast,” South Coast Development Council Inc. Interim Executive Director Bryan Sykes said. “The business incubator located on Southwestern’s campus will foster tech-based entrepreneurship, offering prototyping services and comprehensive support to emerging businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators.”

“This initiative will serve as a catalyst for our community’s economic growth, promising new opportunities and enhanced educational and networking pathways,” Sykes said. “It aligns with the state’s broader vision for an innovation hub, marking a significant step towards innovation and tech-based economic development. We look forward to continuing to bring resources to the community that will support economic growth, innovation, and increase the opportunities for success in our region.” https://www.scdcinc.org/

CAT Enrolling Participants For Septic System Replacement Program in Tillamook, Clatsop and Columbia Counties

The Community Action Team is actively seeking Tillamook, Clatsop and Columbia County property owners whose septic systems are failing to participate in a $1.5 million, grant-funded, no-interest, no-payment replacement program.

Casey Mitchell, who is overseeing the program for the Community Action Team (CAT), said that so far uptake has been slow, as property owners have been reticent to interact with team members for the project.

Mitchell stressed that although the program is being undertaken in conjunction with the county governments, they and CAT are committed to helping homeowners and are not using the program as an enforcement tool to penalize failed or failing systems.

CAT applied for the grant earlier this year in partnership with Tillamook County and received the $1.5-million award in June from state Coronavirus recovery funds, courtesy of the Department of Environmental Quality. The program offers homeowners in unincorporated parts of the three counties with septic system issues to apply for a loan to finance the repair or replacement of the system.

Loans offered through the program come with a 30-year term, no interest and no payments due. They are available to people making 120% of the area’s median income or less, which comes out to around $60,000 for an individual and $75,000 for a family of three in Tillamook County.

The loans are repaid when the property sells, with the funds returning to the program’s coffers for reuse in future loans. If the property is not sold or refinanced for non-emergency purposes during the thirty-year period, the loan will be forgiven.

Mitchell said that CAT has had great success with a similar loan program that offers the same terms to help residents repair roofs and siding and address other home maintenance issues. That program has been running for more than 30 years and Mitchell said that based on experience with it he expected that the septic loans could revolve three to four times before running out due to inflation and overhead and administrative costs.

The $1.5 million is expected to fund an initial round of up to 109 system repairs and replacements across the three counties, though only 35 property owners have applied to date.

Repairs financed so far have ranged from tank replacements costing several thousand dollars, to the installation of new drain fields for around $10,000, up to the installation of whitewater systems costing $25,000.

Mitchell said that the goal of the septic tank program was to help owners with failing systems remove the “anchor hanging over their head” of possible code violations and to help ensure the safety of wells on their properties and those of neighbors.

CAT has partnered with Tillamook Estuaries Partnership to help identify potentially failing systems and monitor future progress through their Environmental DNA testing program. Since 1997, the program has sent teams of volunteers into the field to gather water samples from around Tillamook County to be tested for contaminants, with the ability to pinpoint the source of contamination through DNA testing.

Mitchell said that he believed the unique program had been a key in CAT’s grant proposal being accepted and rated most highly of all applicants.

Tillamook County estimates that around 15% of properties in the county rely on septic systems and that some 5-10% of those systems are failing, threatening e. coli contamination of well and ground water.

Mitchell said that CAT had anticipated property owners’ reticence to welcome government-affiliated personnel onsite for inspections but said that he hoped people would see the positive results of participants and be willing to join the program.

“We knew that it was going to be a challenge to get to some of these folks and I think as we do more of these folks are going to see and say, ‘oh, this is legit,’” Mitchell said.

When a property owner contacts CAT with concerns about their system, they send a certified technician to the property to inspect the system. They then work with the county government to develop a plan for the property and obtain necessary permits for the work, with grant funds set aside to pay for engineering services on more complicated projects.

Once the planning work is complete, upgrades, repairs or replacements usually take two to three days of work, according to Mitchell.

Like CAT’s other housing initiatives, Mitchell said the goal of the septic program is to help facilitate home repairs that allow residents to age in place and avoid maintenance-cost induced home sales.

Property owners who believe their septic system is in need of repair can reach CAT at (503) 410-5833. https://cat-team.org/

Florence Rite-Aid Store Closing 11/29

As part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing Rite-Aid has begun the process of shutting down what they are calling underperforming stores.  One of those stores is here in Florence.  Rite-Aid announced that the local store will remain open until November 29th.  Large blue bins cover the open floor spaces at the location. 

This will leave the city with one less pharmacy just two years after the closing of the Bi-Mart pharmacy.  Rite- Aid has reportedly operated at very thin profit margins and has had heavy competition from larger chains like Walgreens and CVS.  On top of that the chain is battling allegations that it did not do enough to quell the opioid epidemic. 

Rite-Aid has reached agreements with its creditors and has also received a 3.4 billion dollar loan to keep some of their store open.  If you are a pharmacy customer with Rite-Aid you will need to make arrangements to switch your prescriptions to one of the other pharmacies in town.

Coastal Voices Presents December Concert Series

Coastal Voices (CV) provides a musical start to the month of December in Lincoln County with a series of concerts.

3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 at Chapel by the Sea in Lincoln City.3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3 at Yachats Community Presbyterian Church in Yachats.3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 at the Newport Performing Arts Center.

Since 1998, the former Central Coast Chorale, now Coastal Voices, has enriched the holiday season on the Central Oregon Coast by performing sacred and secular music carefully selected by founder and director emerita Dr. Mary Lee Scoville.

Coastal Voices Artistic Director Rhodd Caldwell has chosen to honor that 25-year legacy in a program titled “Holiday Highlights – Our Favorites from 25 Years!”

“I culled these songs from our extensive library after consulting with long-time choir members and fans, asking them for their favorites,” Caldwell said.

The concert begins with “This Little Light of Mine” and ends with a medley from the 1954 musical movie “White Christmas.” In between, CV will present an eclectic musical roster. SoundWaves, a small ensemble drawn from the choir, will perform several numbers.

“However you choose to celebrate these December holidays, we have a song for you,” Caldwell said. “Come to hear madrigals, traditional carols, poetry set to music, familiar popular Christmas pieces, and medieval and modern sacred selections. Come prepared to sing as well!”

There will be a short sing-along with the audience following the intermission. Words to familiar holiday favorites will be printed in the program. An instrumental ensemble will accompany Coastal Voices on selected pieces at the Newport performance.

As a seasonal fundraiser, three concert-themed gift baskets will be raffled off at each venue.

The organization is also seeking badly needed storage space for the risers in use at each performance. Please call 541-283-6295 with donations or suggestions.

Tickets cost $20 per person, 18 and older, at the Dec. 2 and 3 performances; $25 at the Dec. 9 performance, 17 and under admitted free. Buy tickets at the door or online at coastal-voices.org.

Visit coastal-voices.org for more information about the group, including how to join, or to make donations. (SOURCE)

Florence Woman Uses Winnings To Support Three Rivers Casino’s Toy And Food Drive And Urges Others To Help Too

A Florence woman who has made it her mission to make sure all children have a toy for Christmas is asking others to help out with the Three Rivers Casino’s 19th annual Toy and Food Drive.

Liberty Kommer said that she sets aside a portion of her winnings for a fund she’s earmarked for the annual Christmas toy drive. She said that part of the joy is in picking out toys for the drive, as she picks out toys she would have liked to have when she was growing up. Kommer said that she never had a Christmas growing up and doesn’t want other children to go through the same thing. Last year, Kommer donated a truckload of bicycles and helmets.

The casino has collected thousands of toys over nearly two decades to be given to Toys for Tots and handed out. The drive runs through December 6 and new, unwrapped toys worth at least five dollars can be dropped off at the casino. Donors can also drop off three cans of food in exchange for five dollars in free play at the casino. More information on the drive can be found on the Three Rivers Casino’s website.

AAA projects that over 785,000 Oregonians will be traveling for Thanksgiving, making it the third-busiest travel period ever.

The majority of travelers, about 89%, will be driving to their destinations, with the busiest times being Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon and evening.

AAA advises travelers to make sure their vehicles are travel-ready and to be prepared for winter driving conditions.

Air travel is also expected to be busy, with a 6.5% increase compared to last year, and the busiest travel days are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday.

The Eugene Airport and Redmond Airport are both expecting record numbers of passengers and advise travelers to arrive early and check parking availability. Eugene Airport saw a jump of 19,000 flight bookings compared to 16,000 this time last year due to the increase of Thanksgiving travelers this year. 

The Portland International Airport is preparing for hundreds of thousands of travelers this weekend. Nearly 240-thousand people are expected to go through the airport Wednesday through Sunday. The Port of Portland expected Sunday to be the busiest travel day of the weekend. Airport officials recommend getting to the airport two-and-a-half hours early for domestic flights.

FREE PARKING AT OREGON STATE PARKS THE DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING | Klamath  Alerts

Free parking at Oregon State Parks the day after Thanksgiving

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department invites Oregonians to head outside the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 24.

Popularly known as “Green Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving has become a tradition for many families. State parks will once again waive day-use parking fees in the 24 parks that are open and charge for parking on that day.

“We’re proud to continue this tradition and offer everyone the chance to explore parks in the fall,” said Lisa Sumption, director of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. 

Parking is free year-round at almost all state parks; the waiver applies to the parks that charge $5 daily for parking. Fee parks include popular destinations such as Fort Stevens, Cape Lookout, Silver Falls, Champoeg, L.L. Stub Stewart, Smith Rock and Milo McIver. A complete list of parks that require day-use parking permits is available online at stateparks.oregon.gov (Fall Creek is listed, but closed for the season).

The fee waiver applies from open to close on Nov. 24, except at Shore Acres State Park, where it expires at 4 p.m. for the Holiday Lights event that runs Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.  Use #OregonStateParks and #OptOutside on social media to share your adventures. 

Portland Teachers Temporarily Block Burnside Bridge In Third Week Of Strike

Teachers in Portland temporarily shut down a major bridge Tuesday morning as they marched in a strike started roughly three weeks ago.

The main issues involve pay, more planning time and smaller class sizes.

Members of the Portland Association of Teachers union and their supporters stopped in the middle of the Burnside Bridge for about 15 minutes, KGW reported. By 9 a.m. the bridge was clear and cars were driving across, according to the news outlet.

Photos posted by the union on its Facebook page showed teachers sitting down on the bridge donning blue clothes and holding banners calling for better pay and teaching conditions. The union had called on supporters to meet at its headquarters, roughly half a mile from the bridge, at 7:30 a.m. before beginning the march at 8 a.m.

Portland teachers have been on strike since Nov. 1, shuttering schools serving about 45,000 students in Oregon’s largest district. Students have missed 11 days of class because of the walkout.

Marion County District Attorney Asks Governor Kotek For Revocation Of Commutations Received By 57 Individuals Convicted In Marion County

In an effort to ensure community safety, Governor Tina Kotek formally asked Oregon’s District Attorneys, along with Community Corrections Directors, for their assistance in determining if individuals convicted within their jurisdiction should have their commutations revoked. (Governor’s letter attached)

The governor has the power to grant a lesser sentence than was imposed by a judge to any individual who has committed a crime.  Governor Brown used this power in historic numbers to reduce hundreds of sentences resulting in the otherwise premature release of those individuals from prison. As the current Governor of Oregon, Tina Kotek has the authority and discretion to revoke a commutation that was previously granted by Governor Brown.

          In response to the Governor’s request, Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson examined138 individual defendants who had been prosecuted by the Marion County District Attorney’s office, sentenced by a Marion County Judge, and then subsequently had their sentences commuted by Governor Brown. The analysis focused on any criminal involvement subsequent to receiving a commutation.  As a result,District Attorney Clarkson has formally asked Governor Kotek to authorize the revocation of commutations received by 57 convicted individuals from Marion County. (District Attorney Letter, Attached)

          In an effort to ensure that the requests for revocation were fair and just, District Attorney Clarkson’s staff exerted considerable time, effort, and resources to assess each commutation recipient on a case-by-case basis. (Spreadsheet Attached) In summary, District Attorney Clarkson’s analysis found, as follows:

11 of the 138 persons with Marion County commutations have victimized others by committing various person felonies and/or misdemeanors.

An additional 28 are currently wanted for crimes and violations or have already been convicted of a non-person crime since their grant of commutation and release from prison.

Two are currently serving prison sentences for felonies committed after their release but do not appear to have had their clemency revoked.

One is currently awaiting trial for Murder in the Second Degree with a firearm committed within only one year of Governor Brown’s release.

District Attorney Clarkson thanks Governor Kotek for her shared desire in keeping Oregon a safe place to live. For Clarkson, “Public safety should be a priority for every leader in our state.  We must remain committed to a process of justice that keeps that goal at the forefront. Our review of these commutations is evidence that prior decisions lost sight of that.  With this request to our Governor, we ask that previous missteps be remedied.” 

          In her letter to Oregon’s District Attorneys and Community Corrections Directors, Governor Kotek stated, “If I believe someone is violating their conditions of release or supervision and revocation is warranted, I will not hesitate to use my authority and discretion as Governor to revoke their commutation.”  The Marion County District Attorney’s Office has submitted its formal revocation requests along with detailed supporting documentation to the Governor’s Office.  Governor Kotek’s office has responded that they will review these requests. 

Attached Media Files:2023-11/1416/168150/Clemency_Datasheet_Rls_11.17.23.xlsx , 2023-11/1416/168150/Governor_Commutation_Lt_Stakeholders1_August_2023.pdf , 2023-11/1416/168150/Revocation_Request_Letter-Governor_Nov_2023__(1).pdf

Harney County judge rules that Oregon gun control law Measure 114 is unconstitutional; State says it will appeal

BURNS – Harney County Circuit Court Judge Robert Raschio has ruled that Measure 114 is unconstitutional under Oregon’s constitution.

Judge Raschio issued a permanent injunction on Tuesday, November 21, which blocks Oregon from enforcing the gun control law, ruling it infringes on the constitutionally protected right to bear arms.

Measure 114 was approved by voters in November 2022 and would require a police-issued, five-year permit and a federal criminal background check on all gun purchases, as well as required gun safety training. The measure bans the sale of magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, but leaves an exception for people who already own larger magazines.

The measure has been tied up for nearly a year in federal and state court since voters narrowly passed the measure.

In December of 2023, Judge Raschio temporarily blocked the measure from taking effect after gun owners filed a lawsuit arguing it violated Oregon’s Constitution. It has also been challenged in federal court. In July, a judge ruled the measure did not violate the U.S. Constitution.

On Tuesday, Judge Raschio ruled that two major provisions of Measure 114 violate Article 1, Section 27 of the state’s constitution: “The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defence [sic] of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power.” 

In the ruling, Raschio said that Measure 114 “does not increase public safety,” despite arguments from state lawyers that the new regulations were intended to reduce mass shootings, homicides and suicides. He stated that the 30-day window to process a gun permit application would allegedly prevent Oregonians from properly defending themselves from an imminent threat. 

The ruling continues, “mass shooting events are tragic and often involve the most vulnerable
sections of the population. However, the court finds that the number of people killed and injured is statically insignificant compared to the number of lawful gun owners.”

Judge Raschio continues to say Measure 114’s permit-to-purchase scheme unduly burdens Oregonians’ right to self-defense from an imminent threat of harm.

Judge Raschio determined the permit-to-purchase scheme is unconstitutional based on the measure’s 30-day-minimum delay to buy a firearm, the measure’s use of language from concealed handgun statutes, and because the Federal Bureau of Investigation refuses to conduct criminal background checks.

Raschio also determined the ban on large-capacity magazines is also unconstitutional under the state constitution because firearm components, such as magazines, are legally protected and magazines are a necessary part of guns, according to the ruling.

“The court finds no proof offered demonstrated Large Capacity Magazine bans would reduce the number of causalities in the future. Any such conclusion would be mere speculation by the court which it will not engage,” Raschio said.

The plaintiffs — Joseph Arnold, Cliff Asmussen, Gun Owners of America, Inc., and Gun Owners Foundation — argued Measure 114 violates the state constitution because the 30-day permit process prohibits Oregonians’ right to access a gun. Plaintiffs further argued the magazine limit prohibits self-defense.

The lawsuit was filed against Governor Tina Kotek, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and Oregon State Police Superintendent Casey Codding.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum issued this statement after Raschio’s ruling: “The Harney County judge’s ruling is wrong. Worse, it needlessly puts Oregonians’ lives at risk. The state will file an appeal and we believe we will prevail.” – (SOURCE)

Office of Economic Analysis Releases Updated December 2023 Economic and Revenue Forecast

Salem, OR — Today, the Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) released corrected numbers for the December 2023 economic and revenue forecast.

OEA released the December 2023 Economic and Revenue Forecast on Wednesday, November 15, which indicated an increase in Insurance Taxes relative to the previous September 2023 forecast. The previously published forecast overstated General Fund revenues by $117.7 million.

Following additional research, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) informed OEA that recent tax audit activity would reduce their Insurance Tax collections by $68 million, not increase them as DCBS previously indicated. This change results in a net reduction of $136 million relative to the published numbers.

When OEA updated the Insurance Tax numbers to reflect this change, the office found that the outlook was also being incorrectly adjusted for previous legislation. As those impacts are now being realized in actual tax collections, a separate adjustment is no longer needed in the outlook. By not removing the adjustment, OEA understated Insurance Taxes by $18.3 million.

Combined, the previously published forecast overstated General Fund revenues by $117.7 million. The corrected numbers are as follows:

  • Total Net General Fund revenues in the current 2023-25 biennium are $25.6 billion, an increase of $217.7 million in the corrected December forecast compared to the September forecast.
  • The estimated ending balance now stands at $1.09 billion, a corrected $655 million above the Close of Session forecast.

Updated materials have been posted on OLIS here and on OEA’s website here.

Oregon State Treasury’s $1 Billion Bond Sale Recognized As Bond Buyer’s Regional “Deal of the Year”

Salem, OR—The Bond Buyer announced Oregon State Treasury’s March 2023 General Obligation (GO) bond sale as its “Deal of the Year” for the Far West region. One of five regional award winners, Treasury’s sale generated nearly $1 billion in funding for statewide capital projects and provided Oregonians with a unique opportunity to invest in their state.

Treasury and other award winners will be recognized at a ceremony to be held in early December, where The Bond Buyer will also announce its national “Deal of the Year” recipient. Treasury is one of 10 finalists.

“We’re honored to receive this award from The Bond Buyer. The recognition is a testament to the innovative work and planning done by our Debt Management team at Treasury and our many partners,” said Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read. “This bond sale succeeded by offering an exciting, equitable opportunity to invest in Oregon and we were thrilled by the response we saw from local investors and the broader investment community.”

Facilitated through Treasury’s Buy Oregon Bonds Program last spring, the bond offering provided Oregonians an opportunity to invest in Oregon through the bond sale’s $1,000 denomination offering (lower than the normal $5,000 denominations). The goal of the reduced offering was to attract a wider range of local investors and provide Oregonians more accessible opportunities for investing in the state. The $109 million in bond purchases by Oregon retail investors was the largest in recent history for bond sales.

Treasury’s Debt Management team wrapped up the GO bond sale on March 15, 2023, after securing favorable financing despite a market environment in flux. As a result, the State of Oregon is estimated to get a $40 million boost to the general fund thanks to savings in interest costs over time.

The Bond Buyer launched the Deal of the Year awards to recognize outstanding achievements in municipal finance. Announced annually, The Bond Buyer names 10 winners: five regional awards and five in additional categories. All regional and category winners are finalists for the national “Deal of the Year” award.

The Bond Buyer is a daily national trade newspaper based in New York City and focused on covering the municipal bond industry. To learn more about The Bond Buyer’s 2023 “Deal of the Year” awards, please see their announcement here: https://www.bondbuyer.com/news/bond-buyer-announce…

For more information about the Buy Oregon Bonds Program visit: www.BuyOregonBonds.com

About Oregon State Treasury
The Oregon State Treasury improves the financial well-being of all Oregonians. We provide low-cost banking, debt management, and investment programs for governments and empower Oregonians to invest in themselves and their loved ones through the Oregon College Savings Plan, Oregon ABLE Savings Plan, and OregonSaves. Treasury also facilitates the state’s Unclaimed Property Program. (SOURCE)

Douglas County Homicide Investigation Underway – Suspect on the Loose

RIDDLE, Ore. – A Grants Pass man is dead and another is wounded after a shooting on Monday night in Riddle.

On Monday, November 20, 2023, shortly after 11:30 p.m., 9-1-1 dispatchers received information about a shooting which had taken place in the area of Main Street / E. Third Avenue in Riddle.

Deputies arrived on scene to learn that one victim, 20-year-old Devonte Lovell Clark of Grant Pass had died at the scene.

A second Grants Pass man, 29-year-old Killian Mavity, sustained a gunshot wound to the arm. Mavity was transported to an undisclosed hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Detectives are currently seeking information as to the whereabouts of 19-year-old Gauge Douglas James Main of Riddle. Main left the scene of the shooting after stealing a silver 2017 Honda Civic 4-door sedan bearing Oregon license plate 276PAT. Main should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who observes the vehicle or Main is asked to call 9-1-1. A booking photo of Main is being released per Oregon House Bill 3273.

The Douglas County Major Crimes Team is investigating the incident, which is being led by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. The Major Crimes Team consists of investigators from the Sheriff’s Office, Roseburg Police Department and Oregon State Police working in consultation with the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office. Reference Case #23-4651

Secretary Griffin-Valade Concludes Review of OLCC Audit

Salem, OR—Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade concluded a review of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission audit today. The audit was originally released in April of this year, prior to former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s resignation over a consulting contract with a cannabis company.

The Secretary will instruct auditors to maintain the report as issued and attach a memo outlining her review process. In addition, the Secretary has directed the Oregon Audits Division to make several changes to its processes in response to recommendations from an independent review of the audit.

“There’s no doubt public confidence was shaken by the former Secretary’s actions,” said Secretary Griffin-Valade. “However, the public interest in this case is best served by independent auditors providing evidence-supported recommendations to state government. Neither my review nor any other has uncovered a reason to think this report is anything short of that standard. For that reason, I encourage the auditee and other state leaders to treat this report with the same high regard they do any other report from the Oregon Audits Division.”

The Secretary’s memo, which outlines the findings of a month-long review process, aims to restore public trust in the report by clarifying the sound evidence on which the report stands and demonstrating that the former Secretary’s actions did not impact the contents of the report.

An independent review of the audit by Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting on behalf of the Oregon Department of Justice concluded that auditors could have done more to address public perception of the audit as the former Secretary’s actions came to light. Secretary Griffin-Valade agrees with this finding, and based on recommendations in Sjoberg’s report, has directed the Audits Division to initiate the following process improvements to protect against future threats to independence.

1. The Division will revise its audit process to remove the Executive Office and Secretary from the two scoping meetings attended by former Secretaries. This change will clarify the Secretary’s limited role in the audit process and strengthen the Division’s independence.

2. Even though auditors followed governmental auditing standards with regard to independence protocols, the Division will go further to strengthen its independence policy to ensure that threats and conflicts of interest are carefully reviewed and documented at multiple points during each audit engagement.

3. The Division will overhaul its audit plan process to document a standardized, risk-assessment based approach in determining which audit subjects are chosen.

4. The Division will contract with a third-party, independent consultant to develop further improvements to the audit plan risk assessment process.

Secretary Griffin-Valade has 16 years of experience as a government auditor, including serving on the Association of Local Government Auditors’ peer review committee. (SOURCE)

Federal Charges Filed After “Fentanyl Press” Found in Gladstone Apartment

PORTLAND, Ore.—An 18-year-old drug trafficker with ties to a recent fatal overdose is facing federal charges after he was caught transporting several packages of powdered fentanyl and a 20-ton shop press used to manufacture fentanyl bricks was found in his apartment.

Cristhian Martinez, 18, of Gladstone, Oregon, has been charged by criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents, in September 2023, members of the Clackamas County Interagency Task Force (CCITF) were called to investigate a fatal overdose in Clackamas County. While processing the scene, investigators discovered numerous counterfeit M30 Oxycodone pills believed to be manufactured with fentanyl. Martinez was soon identified as the person who sold fentanyl to the deceased victim’s dealer.

On November 16, 2023, investigators located Martinez traveling north from California into Oregon, followed his vehicle and conducted a traffic stop in Gladstone. During a K-9 sweep of Martinez’s vehicle, investigators found multiple concealed packages containing more than 1,000 grams of compressed fentanyl.

Later the same day, investigators executed a federal search warrant on Martinez’s Gladstone apartment where they located a fentanyl manufacturing and distribution operation. They seized additional quantities of fentanyl, a 20-ton shop press used to produce bricks of fentanyl powder, ten handguns, an AR-15 style assault rifle, ammunition, and other materials consistent with drug trafficking.

Martinez made his first appearance in federal court today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. He was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.

This case was investigated by the FBI, CCITF, and Westside Interagency Narcotics team (WIN). It is being prosecuted by Scott M. Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

CCITF, led by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, works to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations operating in and around Clackamas County, and reduce illegal drugs and related crimes throughout the community. The task force is comprised of members of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Canby Police Department, Oregon State Police, FBI, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

WIN is a Washington County-based interagency drug interdiction task force that includes members from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Beaverton and Hillsboro Police Departments, Oregon National Guard Counter Drug Program, FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and HSI.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Homeowner Shoots and Kills Suspect During Shady Cove Home Invasion Burglary

JCSO 23-6644 — SHADY COVE, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) detectives are investigating a homicide that occurred last night in Shady Cove around 2:02 a.m. ECSO Dispatch received a call that a homeowner had shot a suspect during a home-invasion burglary in the area of Cleveland Street in Shady Cove. JCSO deputies responded, and Mercy Flights medics attempted life-saving measures. The suspect was pronounced deceased at 2:34 a.m. 

JCSO detectives are investigating claims of self-defense during the home-invasion burglary. An occupant of the home held a valid protection order against the suspect. There have been no arrests, and all parties are cooperating with the investigation.

Upon completion of the investigation, detectives will forward the case to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office for review. Due to the sensitive nature and ongoing investigation, names will not be released at this time. Further information will be released at a later time in coordination with the DA’s Office. 

Portland Area Man Charged with Coercing and Enticing a Minor Online

PORTLAND, Ore.—A transient man residing in Tigard, Oregon is facing federal charges for using social media to coerce and entice an 11-year-old child into engaging in criminal sexual activity.

Jakob Joshua Stickney, 25, has been charged by criminal complaint with coercing and enticing a minor.

According to court documents, in October 2023, the FBI and Portland Police Bureau (PPB) began investigating Stickney after receiving information that he had been engaging in sexually explicit communications with a 11-year-old child on Discord, an instant messaging social media application. On multiple occasions, Stickney, who used by the names “UNHOLY,” “unholy_xx2,” or “Unholy_22x” online, attempted to arrange an in-person meetup with the child. On at least one occasion, Stickney went in person to the child’s house where he was observed and confronted by the child’s mother, who reported the contact to law enforcement.

Stickney was located November 17, 2023, in Tigard and arrested without incident. He made his first appearance in federal court today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge and was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.

This case was investigated by the FBI and PPB. It is being prosecuted by Eliza Carmen Rodriguez, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Anyone who has information about possible crimes committed by Stickney, or the physical or online exploitation of any children, are encouraged to call the FBI at (503) 224-4181 or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Red Cross responds to growing disaster-driven humanitarian needs — American Red Cross Cascades Region

Donate on Giving Tuesday or give blood during the holidays to help for future crises

In 2023, extreme disasters took a devastating toll on people in the U.S. who turned to the American Red Cross for help coping with a record number of billion-dollar disasters.

So far this year, an all-time high of 25 billion-dollar disasters ravaged communities across the country and in the Cascades Region, wildfires resulted in nearly 400 overnight shelter stays in 2023. Back-to-back disasters led to a series of blood drive cancellations, which further strained the national Red Cross blood supply that was already dwindling from summer travel and back-to-school activities.

“Growing extreme disasters are causing more humanitarian needs for families in the Pacific Northwest and across the country,” explained Priscilla Fuentes, CEO, Red Cross Cascades. “This holiday season, please remember those who need support in the face of emergencies — and join us to provide care and comfort by making a financial donation or by giving blood or platelets.”

Help on Giving Tuesday and during the holidays by visiting redcross.org to make a financial donation or an appointment to give blood or platelets. Individuals can also register for volunteer opportunities in their area.

INCREASING SUPPORT AMID EXTREME DISASTERS With the growing frequency and intensity of climate-driven disasters, the Red Cross is racing to adapt its services and grow its disaster response capacity across the country. As part of this national work in 2023, the Red Cross distributed $108 million in financial assistance directly to people after disasters of all sizes, including for wildfire recovery in the Cascades Region.

Across the country, the Red Cross is delivering this vital financial assistance on top of its immediate relief efforts — including safe shelter, nutritious meals and emotional support — which have been provided on a near-constant basis for this year’s relentless extreme disasters. In fact, this year’s onslaught of large disasters drove an increase in emergency lodging provided by the Red Cross with partners — with overnight stays up more than 50% compared to the annual average for the previous five years.

In the Cascades Region we opened four times as many evacuation shelters in June than previous years because of a wildfire season that burned more than 250,000 acres across Oregon and SW Washington. Altogether, nearly 200 of our local volunteers responded to disasters in 2023, including more than 770 in the Cascades Region.

RESPONDING TO ADDITIONAL EMERGING NEEDS Beyond extreme disasters, people stepped up through the Red Cross to address other emerging needs for communities, including:

BLOOD DONATIONS: As the nation’s largest blood supplier, the Red Cross is grateful for the millions of donors who rolled up a sleeve throughout the year and helped us meet the needs of patients in the Cascades Region in 2023. To further improve people’s health outcomes, the Red Cross has been working with community partners to introduce blood donation to a new and more diverse generation of blood donors — which is critical to ensuring that a reliable blood supply is available to the 1 in 7 hospital patients who need a lifesaving blood transfusion. The holidays can be a challenging time to collect enough blood for those in need. To book a time to give, visit RedCrossBlood.org, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App or call 1-800-RED CROSS. As a thank-you, all who come to give blood, platelets or plasma Dec. 1-17 will receive a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card by email. Terms apply. See rcblood.org/Amazon.
LIFESAVING TRAINING: This year, the Cascades Region has trained more than 57,000 people in lifesaving-skills while, nationally, the Red Cross expanded its training to empower people to act during current-day crises — which is vital considering that nearly half of U.S. adults report being unprepared to respond to a medical emergency. This included launching the new “Until Help Arrives” online training course last spring for opioid overdoses, severe bleeding, cardiac arrest and choking emergencies, and partnering with professional sports leagues through the Smart Heart Sports Coalition to help prevent tragedies among student athletes by offering CPR training and increasing access to AEDs.
MILITARY FAMILIES: Red Cross workers helped service members on U.S. military installations and deployment sites worldwide — including in Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. As part of our support this year, Red Cross volunteers delivered emergency communications messages connecting more than 87,000 service members with their loved ones during times of family need, while also engaging members in morale and wellness activities during deployments.

Visit www.redcross.org/CascadesGiving for more information about how the Red Cross Cascades Region helped people in 2023.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood and is the primary blood supplier to 65 hospitals throughout Washington and Oregon; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Lead-contaminated WanaBana applesauce impacting children, families in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. – State and local health officials have identified multiple children in Oregon with elevated blood lead levels after they ate certain pouches of applesauce called WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée.

The elevated blood lead reports follow a safety and recall alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late October warning parents and caregivers against buying or feeding the product to young children.

As of Nov. 15, local public health investigators have found a total of six cases of elevated blood lead levels in children who ate WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée. The children live in Lake, Lincoln, Multnomah and Washington counties. Some of the families learned about the FDA alert through local news and online media reports that prompted parents and caregivers to report possible exposure to health care providers.

WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée is distributed nationwide through retailers including Dollar Tree, Amazon and other online stores. Additionally, since the FDA alert Oct. 28, two other brands of applesauce products sold at Schnucks and Weis Markets have become subject to the recall, though they are not available in Oregon.

A collaborative investigation by state and local partners, FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response & Evaluation (CORE) Network, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is ongoing.

While WanaBana has agreed to voluntarily recall all WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée pouches regardless of their expiration dates, some people may have bought the product before the recall announcement. Families should check their homes and throw away any pouches they find.

“While lead is toxic for all people regardless of age, small children are especially at risk because they’re still growing and developing,” said Ryan Barker, Oregon Health Authority’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program coordinator. “Continued exposure over time can permanently damage their central nervous system, which may result in long-term health problems, such as learning disorders, impaired speech and brain damage.”

Signs of lead poisoning are not always easy to see and can be mistaken for other illnesses. Without a blood test, lead poisoning may go undiagnosed, especially since affected children often don’t look or act sick.

Possible signs of lead exposure and symptoms in children include:  

  • Tiredness or loss of energy.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Reduced attention span.
  • Irritability or crankiness.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Constipation.
  • Aches or pains in stomach.

Parents and caregivers concerned about a child’s exposure to WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée should contact their health care provider to request a blood test.

More information on blood testing and lead can be found on the following pages:

FDA Issues Recall Alert for Dog and Cat Foods Sold in Oregon Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination

The Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners to a recall of certain pet foods that could be contaminated with Salmonella. TFP Nutrition and the FDA said all dry dog food and all dry cat food manufactured in one of TFP’s Texas facilities is contaminated and should be disposed of.

Brands affected by the recall include Exclusive Signature Dog and Cat Food and Feline Medley Formula Cat Food. The recalled food was sold at several pet and animal supply stores in Oregon.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said babies and young children can get sick from contaminated pet food if they have access to pet food bowls on the floor, put pet food in their mouths, or if caregivers don’t wash their hands after feeding pets.

Pet owners are urged to throw away recalled pet food and clean any surfaces that might have come in contact with the pet food.

Suppliers who may have sold the recalled pet food include:

  • Wilco stores all over Oregon
  • H and E Feed in Eugene
  • Junction City Farm and Garden
  • Old Mill Farm Store in Cottage Grove
  • Country Farms and Ranch Supplies in Creswell
  • The Farm Store and J and S Supply in Veneta
  • Sweet Home Feed and Supply
  • Out West Farm and Ranch in Philomath
  • Scio Farm Store
  • Central Feed and Supply in Sutherlin
  • Douglas County Farmers Co-op in Roseburg
  • Tractor Supply Co. in Junction City and Creswell

More information on the recall, including a comprehensive list of the pet foods affected by the recall, can be found at TFP’s website and the FDA’s website.

Unusual Respiratory Illness Effecting Oregon Dogs

Veterinary laboratories in several states are investigating an unusual respiratory illness in dogs and encouraging people to take basic precautions to keep their pets healthy as veterinarians try to pin down what’s making the animals sick.

Oregon, Colorado and New Hampshire are among the states that have seen cases of the illness, which has caused lasting respiratory disease and pneumonia and does not respond to antibiotics.

Symptoms of respiratory illness in dogs include coughing, sneezing, nasal or eye discharge and lethargy. Some cases of the pneunomia progress quickly, making dogs very sick within 24 to 36 hours.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has documented more than 200 cases of the disease since mid-August. It has encouraged pet owners to contact their vet if their dog is sick and told state veterinarians to report cases as soon as possible. The agency is working with state researchers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory to find out what is causing the illnesses.

Dogs have died, said Kurt Williams, director of the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University. But without a clear way to define the disease or test for it, he said it’s hard to put a number on how many died from a severe form of the infection.

Williams had a simple message for dog owners: “Don’t panic.” He also said dog owners should make sure that their pets are up to date on vaccines, including those that protect against various respiratory illnesses.

Labs across the country have been sharing their findings as they try to pinpoint the culprit.

David Needle, senior veterinary pathologist at the University of New Hampshire’s New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, has been investigating the mysterious disease for almost a year.

His lab and colleagues at the university’s Hubbard Center for Genome Research have looked at samples from dogs in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts and more will be coming from Oregon, Colorado and possibly other states.

He said his team has not seen a large increase in dogs dying from the illness but still encouraged pet owners to “decrease contact with other dogs.” (SOURCE)

Oregon Food Bank Teams Up With Shari’s to Raise Donations and Educate About Hunger

Shari’s Restaurant is partnering with the Oregon Food Bank for an education campaign. They are working together to launch a series of public service announcements to educate the community about hunger and raise donations for the food bank.

– Shari’s Restaurants (“Shari’s”), one of the largest full-service community restaurant chains in the Pacific Northwest, today announced that it has partnered with Oregon Food Bank on an education campaign to raise awareness for the fight against hunger. Through the partnership, Shari’s and Oregon Food Bank will develop a series of public service announcements designed to tell the full story of hunger and the breadth of anti-hunger work and to mobilize local communities across the state to take action against food insecurity and its root causes.

Oregon Food Bank, which is a member of Feeding America®, seeks to provide access to nutritious food for all while building community power and working across systems and networks to eliminate hunger. From Oregon Food Bank’s 21 regional food banks, the organization distributes free food equitably across the Network in Oregon and SW Washington and advocates for policies and programs to address the root causes of hunger.

“Shari’s is a community-oriented, family-style restaurant at its core, and we recognize the importance of lending a helping hand to our neighbors in need,” said Sam Borgese, principal of Gather Holdings and owner of Shari’s. “We are proud to renew our partnership with Oregon Food Bank and to play a part in raising necessary awareness and funds in the critical fight against food insecurity.”

“We are so grateful to Shari‘s for joining Oregon Food Bank to spread the true story of hunger,” shared Oregon Food Bank President Susannah Morgan. “Distributing enough food today will not end hunger tomorrow. Together, we’re working to fundamentally shift common understanding of food insecurity, its root causes and the actions needed to end hunger for good.”

Shari’s first partnered with Oregon Food Bank alongside Sysco food distribution on a similar education campaign during the 2019 holiday season. The campaign raised approximately $13,500 to support Oregon Food Bank’s end-of-year efforts against hunger.

Douglas County Celebrates the 50th Annual Christmas Craft Fair

            (Douglas County, Ore.) The kick off for the 2023 Christmas holiday season is fast approaching and in Douglas County that means it’s time for our annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Courthouse on November 26, followed by the Annual Christmas Craft Fairat the Douglas County Fairgrounds December 1-3.  This year the Douglas County Commissioners are excited to join with the Douglas County Fairgrounds staff in promoting the long-standing Christmas craft tradition a half-century in the making.  That’s right, this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Christmas Craft Fair at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.

The Christmas Craft Fair at the Douglas County Fairgrounds started with humble beginnings in 1973 in the old Community Conference Hall at the Fairgrounds with about 50 local vendors.  Since then, it has grown into the largest event of its kind in Douglas County and is considered the largest and most popular Christmas Fair in Southern Oregon. Each year 12-13,000 guests make their way to the Douglas County Fairgrounds Complex to peruse over 300 booths spanning three buildings and purchase their favorite hand-crafted items from a selection of over 250 vendors. A plethora of hand-crafted items are available including Christmas ornaments, holiday decorations & signs, clothing, home décor, baked goods, dips, jerky, spices, lotions, soaps, wood crafts, metal sculptures, paintings, toys, crocheted hats & mittens, quilts, ceramics, and numerous other unique products.  The fair is proud of its history in promoting local artisans by only allowing hand-crafted items, and not permitting commercially produced items. 

In fact, the event is so popular that for several years booth spaces have been sold out.  This year there were 151 people on the vendor waiting list hoping to garner a much-coveted booth space.  Returning vendors have first pick of booth space for the next year, and many return year after year…often in the exact same location.  Most of the vendors are local and have set up booths and sold their crafts for not just years, but decades.  Vendors like Todaline Barrick (50-year vendor), Myra Boyd (49-year vendor) and Victoria Hokanson (47-year vendor) have spent a lifetime perfecting and creating unique items to sell at the Christmas Craft Fair each year. 

For Myra Boyd, this is a much-anticipated event each year.  She has spent nearly five decades creating hand sewn or crocheted rag dolls, stuffed animals, jointed teddy bears, potholders, aprons, and doll clothes.  While she missed the very first year of the fair, a friend offered to let her share a booth the second year and she has returned every year since.  This is just a hobby for Myra, through the years she worked full-time and raised four kids all while finding time to sew and crochet enough items to fill her booth. She has seen a lot of craft trends and vendors come and go, but she said she cherishes her return customers that head directly to her booth each year to say hello and buy her hand-made items. She also treasures the camaraderie with fellow long-time vendors who have become life-long friends. 

The Christmas Craft Fair is just one of many amazing events hosted by the Douglas County Fairgrounds.  The Fairgrounds Complex is a tremendous economic asset for Douglas County offering several hosted events each year that bring in tens of thousands of visitors from all over like the Spring, Fall and Christmas Craft Fairs, the Poker Craze, Brew-Ha-Ha, and the Douglas County Fair.  They also offer various event rental options and have and continue to host the Sportsman & Outdoor Shows, Kart & Dirt Track Racing, Horse, Dog & Lamb Shows, Circus & Dance Shows, Gun & Knife Shows, Father Daughter Dance, High School Proms, Swap Meets, Flower Shows, Rodeos, Fire Camps, Red Cross Shelter, Drive-Thru Shot Clinics, Motorcycle Riding Classes, Conventions, Community Fundraisers, Weddings, Funerals, Reunions, Company Parties, Seminars, Luncheons, Meetings, and so much more.  Many people may not realize this, but the Fairgrounds is a year-round hub of activity and brings much needed tourist and hospitality revenue to our local hotels, restaurants, and stores,” stated Board Chair and Liaison Commissioner Tom Kress. 

The Christmas Craft Fair at the Douglas County Fairgrounds will run from Friday, December 1, 2023, through Sunday, December 3, 2023.  Hours are Friday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm; Saturday: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sunday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Santa will make appearances in the Exhibit Building on Friday: 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm; Saturday: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm & 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Sunday: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Admission is $5.00 for adults and kids under 12 are free.  The Craft Fair is also helping to stock local food pantries and provide pajamas for local foster care kids by accepting donations at the door.  Entrants donating canned food will receive a $1.00 discount at the door. There will be vendor donated door prizes drawn every hour, and a special drawing for a big door prize package to celebrate our 50th year.  For more information check out the attached flyer or visit their website at www.douglasfairgrounds.com.     

We hope you will join us at the 50th Annual Christmas Craft Fair, doors open Friday, December 1, 2023, at 10:00 am.

Silver Falls State Park hosts Winter Festival Dec. 9 and 10

Enjoy guided nature hikes, seasonal crafts and educational activities at the Silver Falls State Park Winter Festival 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10. 

Visitors will have a chance to learn about the park in winter including the changing landscapes and habitats for resident and migratory birds and animals. 

Activities include guided walks and talks; building bird nest boxes; making bird feeders and paper bird crafts; creating wreaths and decorating gingerbread and sugar cookies.

Schedule of Activities:

  • Make a wreath at the Evergreen Picnic Shelter (South Falls day-use area)
  • Build a bird nest box at the Creekside Shelter (South Falls day-use are)
  • Make a bird feeder or paper bird craft in the Stone Kitchen Shelter (South Falls day-use area)
  • Attend a short educational talk or guided walk at the South Falls Theater (South Falls day-use area unless otherwise noted)
    • 11 a.m.: Winter Hibernators Walk (45-minute walk at Smith Creek Village)
    • 12 p.m.: Mushroom ID hike (1-hour hike)
    • 1 p.m.: Winter Tree ID hike (1-hour hike)
    • 2 p.m.: Learn to Love a Lichen (20-minute talk)
    • 3 p.m.: Winter birds of Silver Falls (20-minute talk)
  • Visit a discovery table near South Falls to learn about the waterfalls in winter or learn about the winter solstice (South Falls day-use area)
  • Decorate a cookie, make a paper bird craft or learn about winter animal tracks (Smith Creek Village, 1.5 miles from the South Falls day-use area)
  • Earn a commemorative Silver Falls ornament from taking part in at least five of the above activities

All activities are free, but a day-use parking permit is required. Permits cost $5 per day; annual permits, normally $30, are on sale for $25 in the month of December and are available at the park. For more information, visit the event page on our calendar at stateparks.oregon.gov or call 503-874-0201.

Missing Yachats Man’s Vehicle Found in North Lane County

On 08/25/2023, Dustin Steyding was reported missing to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office after he left work on 07/22/2023 and hadn’t been located since. Dustin was living and working in the Yachats area. 

Dustin was reported to be in good physical condition, having previously worked as a hot shot firefighter in New Mexico. Dustin is very experienced in the woods and commonly goes out for hikes to stay in shape. Without means to locate Dustin, Deputies entered Dustin as a missing person in a national database. 

On 09/04/2023, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Dustin’s family after they located his vehicle on Keller Creek Rd, just outside of Lincoln County in Lane County. Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Deputies contacted the vehicle and determined it had been at the location for some time. Deputies were unable to determine Dustin’s direction of travel from the vehicle.

The vehicle having been located in Lane County, Lincoln County Deputies contacted the Lane County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team and arranged for their response the next day to started searching the area. After two days of searching, no clues to Dustin’s have been found.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Dustin Steyding should contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at 541-265-0777 and reference case number 23S-07321.

83-year-old Clarence Edward Pitts walked away from his home in Bandon on Tuesday, January 31 at around 1:00 p.m. Pitts is described as:

  • 6′ 00″
  • 150 lbs
  • Gray hair
  • Brown eyes
  • Last seen wearing an orange beanie, plaid jacket, tan pants and white shoes
  • May have a walking cane
  • Has dementia and PTSD

Pitts may be in a vehicle that was also found to be missing from the home:

  • 1999 Toyota Van
  • White
  • Oregon license plate: WYN 788

If you see Clarence or have any information pertaining to where he may be, please call the Coos County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center at 541-396-2106 or the Bandon Police Department at 541-347-3189.

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