Oregon Beach News, Monday 9/11 – Federal Officials To Meet With Oregonians About Controversial Offshore Wind Energy Projects, New UO Earthquake Research Center Gets $15 Million To Study Cascadia Subduction Zone, SOLVE Beach & Riverside Cleanup Ongoing

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

Monday, September 11, 2023

Oregon Beach Weather

Federal Officials To Meet With Oregonians About Controversial Offshore Wind Energy Projects

Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management officials will meet with Oregonians concerned or curious about potential floating offshore wind energy projects following public and political outcry.

Officials will host three in-person meetings in Gold Beach, Coos Bay and Brookings on Sept. 26, 27 and 28. The agency also doubled the public comment period from 30 to 60 days, until Oct. 16.

Generating clean energy from wind turbines floating in the Pacific Ocean is part of state and federal plans to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global climate change. But some residents of the Oregon Coast and several tribal nations are concerned about the potential impact to marine life, fisheries and the industries and people who depend on them.

Coos Bay and Brookings are closest to the two swaths of Pacific Ocean identified by the ocean energy agency as ideal for large wind turbines that would float about 18 to 32 miles from land. Energy generated across the 344 square miles of open ocean identified for the projects could power nearly 200,000 homes. The federal agency would like to host an auction by year’s end, allowing companies interested in developing ocean wind energy to bid on leases for the sites. A similar auction in California in 2022 brought in $757 million in winning bids for four companies.

Brad Kneaper, chair of the tribal council of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians said he supports green energy development, but he said the current plans for projects along the Oregon Coast would risk the health of fisheries and the local fishing industry.

“We cannot support offshore wind development until we are provided assurance that it will do good and not harm the tribe, its members and the greater community,” he said in a statement.

The decision to host the in-person meetings about the projects, and to double the standard 30-day comment period required of such plans, follows pressure from Gov. Tina Kotek and U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Oregon’s congressional Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Val Hoyle.

Submit comments online here through Oct. 16.

The group sent two letters to Elizabeth Klein, the ocean energy agency’s director, in June and August asking the bureau to pause the process of identifying and leasing offshore wind areas until there was more collaboration with stakeholders.

“Renewable energy is an essential piece of the strategy to combat the climate crisis. However, local communities and fishermen have to be at the center for decisions about offshore wind projects that affect their livelihoods,” Wyden said in a statement.

The federal agency and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development have held more than 75 meetings with Oregonians about offshore wind development since 2021. These include meetings with coastal communities, the public, elected officials, county commissioners, Oregon seafood commodity commissions, tribal nations, representatives from the wind industry, research and environmental organizations, the Oregon Ocean Policy Advisory Council and the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The public can comment at a Sept. 18 virtual meeting of the Oregon Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force. The group has met more than 10 times since 2011 and is made up of tribal, federal state, and local government officials. On Sept. 21, the ocean energy agency will also host a webinar for anyone interested in learning more about its data on offshore wind energy generation and the health of fisheries. (SOURCE)

New UO Earthquake Research Center Gets $15 Million To Study Cascadia Subduction Zone

The University of Oregon will lead a new multi-institution earthquake research center with $15 million from by the National Science Foundation over five years to study the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and how communities can better prepare for the event of a major earthquake.

The Cascadia Region Earthquake Science Center (CRESCENT) will be the first center of its kind. UO said the center will unite scientists from across to country to study earthquakes at subduction zones, where one tectonic plate slides beneath another.

Associate Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Oregon Diego Melgar is the director of the new center. He said research has been occurring since the 90’s on Cascadia, but research has been primarily independent. UO is leading the center, but researchers from 16 institutions from all around the state are also involved.

University of Oregon earth scientists Valerie Sahakian and Amanda Thomas are lead investigators on the center alongside Melgar. Oregon State University, Central Washington University, and the University of Washington are also co-investigators in the center’s leadership.

“The main goal of the center is to bring together the large group of geoscientists working in Cascadia to march together to the beat of a singular drum,” Melgar said. “The center organizes us, focuses collaboration, and identifies key priorities, rather than these institutions competing.”

The Cascadia Subduction Zone is home to a fault line off the west coast that can produce earthquakes of magnitude 9.0 or greater, which would trigger other deadly natural disasters in the Cascadia region such as tsunamis and landslides. Buildings and bridges could collapse, power and gas lines could be disrupted, and water supplies could be left inaccessible.

CRESCENT’S work would help to find ways to mitigate damage by researching what the damage would be and how to navigate it.

“The impacts can be harsh, but if we prepare, if we become resilient to the earthquakes, we can be alright. The center enables us to make bigger strides in models, products, and lines of research, to work with engineers to create better building codes and actionable societal outcomes,” Sahakian said.

Melgar said community collaboration is what the whole center is built upon.

“The problem is so big and the stakes, frankly, are so high with earthquake hazards that we need to do a little bit better,” Melgar said. “We need a deliberate effort to come together and focus.” MORE INFO: https://uonews.uoregon.edu/uo-lead-new-earthquake-research-center

Oregon State Police – Officer Involved Shooting- Tillamook County

On Thursday, September 7, 2023, at approximately 6:00 P.M., the Oregon State Police responded to a residence in Rockaway Beach to assist a Tillamook County Deputy, who was requesting assistance with an agitated suspect.  The Trooper arrived on scene and during the course of the incident law enforcement officers discharged their duty weapons.  The suspect was declared deceased at the scene.

At this time, the Oregon State Police has requested the Clatsop County Major Crimes team investigate the incident. 

The Clatsop County Major Crimes Team or the Tillamook County District Attorney will provide any future press releases. 

Fatal Crash – HWY – 101 – Lincoln County

On Thursday, September 7, 2023, at approximately 2:15 P.M., the Oregon State Police responded to a vehicle versus motorcycle crash on Hwy-101, near milepost 155, in Lincoln County.  

The preliminary investigation indicated a Dodge Ram 1500, operated by James Semrau (62) of Eugene, was turning left onto Hwy-101 from N Bayview Rd.  A Kawasaki EX motorcycle, operated by Alex Gomez (27) of Toledo, was northbound on Hwy-101 going through the intersection with Bayview Rd, when the Dodge crossed the northbound lane of travel. The Kawasaki struck the Dodge and caught fire as a result of the crash.

An Oregon State Trooper arrived on scene moments after the crash and extinguished the fire.

The operator of the Kawasaki (Gomez) was pronounced deceased by medical personnel on scene.

The operator of the Dodge (Semrau) was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries.

The highway was impacted for approximately 3 hours during the on scene investigation.  The cause of the crash is under investigation. 

OSP was assisted by Lincoln County Sheriff, Seal Rock Fire, Central Coast Fire, and ODOT.

Register for SOLVE Beach & Riverside Cleanup

SOLVE is hosting over 60 project sites statewide between September 9th through September 17th – with the main events culminating on Saturday, September 16th. This extensive reach encompasses locations from the Coast to Portland, as well as the Willamette Valley, Central and Eastern Oregon. Volunteer registration is now live. Visit www.solveoregon.org to learn more about the available projects and to register for this impactful event.

– Get ready to participate in a time-honored tradition as SOLVE presents the Annual Beach & Riverside Cleanup. This eagerly anticipated event brings families and communities together to engage in beach cleanups, river cleanups, habitat restoration projects, and neighborhood litter pickup events throughout Oregon.

From its inception in 1986, the Beach & Riverside Cleanup has evolved into a cherished annual event for countless Oregonian families. “It stands as a testament to our shared dedication to environmental stewardship, offering a safe and efficient way to make a lasting impact,” says Kris Carico, SOLVE’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our journey through the years has fostered a deep connection to Oregon’s waterways, from their origin to the sea. We encourage all fellow Oregonians to sign up for this statewide cleanup event.“

Since its start, the Beach & Riverside Cleanup has accounted for the removal of more than 2.5 million pounds of litter and marine debris. To put this in perspective, that’s equivalent to the weight of six Boeing 747 airplanes. Last year’s impressive effort involved almost 3,000 volunteers across 147 sites in Oregon, resulting in the collection and removal of approximately 50,000 pounds of discarded trash. September 16th is also International Coastal Cleanup Day and SOLVE is proudly joining forces with the Ocean Conservancy Group, contributing to a global endeavor aimed at preserving our coastlines. 

SOLVE’s Beach & Riverside Cleanup is in partnership with Subaru of Portland, with additional support from OnPoint Community Credit Union, Bamboo Sushi, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Metro, BottleDrop, Knife River, Koin, Fred Meyer, Chevron, Clean Water Services, Tillamook County Creamery Association, and Tektronix.

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

Oregon Governor, Tina Kotek, asked for a statewide honor for the 9/11 attack victims. She instructed public organizations to lower their flags to half-staff until the end of September 11.

On Saturday, Governor Tina Kotek ordered all flags at Oregon public institutions to be flown at half-staff until sunset Monday night in remembrance of the nearly 3,000 civilians and first responders that were killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Kotek said, “Today and every day, we must remember and honor the families and those who lost their lives on 9/11, as well as the remarkable courage and selflessness shown by first responders”. Kotek said, “On that day, the world grieved with us. As a country, we still carry the pain of that day that forever changed our world. As we honor those who we lost on that day, we must also honor the acts of courage and kindness so many across the country and world showed in response to tragedy”.

Public Invited to Visit 9/11 Memorial at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem

On Monday, Sept. 11, the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) invites the public to visit the 9/11 Memorial at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem. 

The Oregon Public Safety Academy hosts a permanent 9/11 Memorial that includes multiple artifacts from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as artwork and a video tribute to first responders and victims.

The Academy hosts a permanent display of artifacts from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people, including more than 400 firefighters and law enforcement officers. In addition to the lives lost in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, hundreds of first responders have died due to illnesses contracted while engaged in rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero.

Guests are welcome to view the memorial to honor the victims and all whose lives were impacted by the attacks, including the firefighters, police officers and rescue workers whose heroism prevented further loss of life. The gates of the Academy, located at 4190 Aumsville Hwy. SE in Salem, will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for drop-in viewing. The memorial is located in the lobby of the Academy; guests should follow the signs for the main entrance.

Artifacts included at the 9/11 Memorial include:

  • A floor beam from either 5 or 6 World Trade Center, both of which sustained heavy damage in the September 11 attacks as the towers fell. 
  • A section from the base of 1 World Trade Center, also known as the North Tower.
  • A strap used to support mechanical systems in the towers
  • A smaller floor beam from above the 50th floor of one of the Twin Towers
  • A piece of aluminum used in the outer “skin” of one of the towers
  • A piece of limestone fascia from the outer wall of the Pentagon, taken from near where the aircraft impacted the building

The artifacts are accompanied by a video tribute to the first responders and victims, and a painting by artist Ricardo Salazar, “Memoriam,” which depicts the attacks on the World Trade Center.

“We welcome the public to join us in upholding the memory and honoring the firefighters, police officers and other first responders who gave their lives on September 11,” said DPSST Director Phil Castle. “We will never forget the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice on that tragic day in America’s history, as well as those who have succumbed to illness in the years since.”

In addition to the 9/11 Memorial, the Oregon Public Safety Academy campus is home to memorials honoring the state’s fallen first responders. The Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial honors more than 190 officers who have died in the line of duty since the 1860’s, and the Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial honors more than 170 fire service personnel who have died in the line of duty since 1881. Memorial ceremonies are held annually to honor the officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

### About DPSST
The mission of the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) is to cultivate excellence in public safety by developing and delivering training and upholding established professional standards. DPSST certifies and licenses police, corrections, and parole and probation officers, as well as regulatory specialists, emergency telecommunicators and medical dispatchers, criminal justice instructors, private security providers, private investigators, fire service professionals and polygraph examiners in the State of Oregon.  DPSST works with public and private safety agencies around the state to provide basic, leadership and specialized training at the 237-acre Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem and regionally throughout the state. 

Washington County Man Arrested For Homicide of Terry Lea Deane in Oakland Oregon

Dwayne Michael Lauka

OAKLAND, Ore. – A Washington County man has been arrested in connection with the homicide of Terry Lea Deane who was killed in her Oakland, Oregon home in early August.

Through the course of the investigation, detectives identified 45-year-old Dwayne Michael Lauka of Washington County as a suspect in Deane’s death.

On Friday, September 8, 2023, Lauka was arrested in Tualatin, Oregon by Douglas County Detectives with the assistance of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Tualatin Police Department.

Lauka has been transported and lodged in the Douglas County Jail for Second Degree Murder. Additional charges are expected in the coming days.

With Lauka’s arrest, Detectives are now urging anyone who has information about Lauka or his movements between August 11, 2023, and September 8, 2023, to contact them at (541) 440-4458 or by emailing dcso.pio@co.douglas.or.us. Lauka’s booking photo is being released in compliance with HB3273 Section 1(c).

Lauka, a transient from the Washington County area, has ties to the greater Portland area as well as Douglas and Josephine Counties and has several aliases. Those aliases include Sammi Alameer, Jason Myers, Dwayne Lauk, Dwayne Michael Luaka, Dwayne Michael Alshargabi-Lauka and Michael Eugene West.

Deane, 78, was found deceased in a residence in the 400-block of Coltrin Lane on Saturday, August 12, 2023, in Oakland, Oregon. Since that time, the Douglas County Major Crimes Team has been actively investigating the case.

The Douglas County Major Crimes Team consists of investigators from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Roseburg Police Department and Oregon State Police working in consultation with the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.

No further details of the case will be released at this time to protect the integrity of the investigation.

Fire information for the Smith River Complex North in Southern Oregon

September 11 Operational Update — Operations Section Chief Erick Stahlin gives a brief overview of the operational plan for September 11, 2023.

𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲: 86,347 acres – 21% containment

Mechanized equipment is working to create a contingency line to the west of the fire area. This line is not being constructed due to fire growth on the west edge, but rather to ensure that in the unlikely scenerio an eastern wind does arrive in the future, there will be a plan already in place to protect the communities to the west of the fire area. https://www.facebook.com/smithrivercomplexnorth/videos/611703357550239

Agencies Gearing Up for Eclipse on October 14th

The Klamath area is known for its year-round sunshine. In fact, the region will be the center of attention on October 14 for the sliver of sunlight seen around the moon during the eclipse.

Best places to travel for solar eclipse Oct. 14, 2023

The annular eclipse is six weeks away, but planning and coordinating are happening to make the experience positive for local residents and the expected visitors. A 12-agency Multi-Agency Coordination Group, known as “MAC,” is
working to ensure the health and safety of everyone in Klamath County during the eclipse period.

Commissioner Dave Henslee says ““The first and highest priority is and always will be the safety of first responders, the public, and communities. There is a multiagency coordinating group organizing proactive response, and, it is our
commitment to work collaboratively, sharing critical information and resources, which enables all partners to meet common objectives.”

This planning process honors the ability of each individual agency to respond to its respective priorities while providing the flexibility to move and position resources for efficient and effective service. For instance, law enforcement will have extra officers on duty as traffic increases before and after the eclipse. Henslee noted that much information has been gleaned from the Oregon counties that had many visitors during the Great Eclipse of 2017. MORE INFO on ECLIPSE: https://industry.traveloregon.com/opportunities/marketing-co-ops-toolkits/toolkits/2023-annular-solar-eclipse/ — https://www.accuweather.com/en/space-news/best-places-to-travel-for-solar-eclipse-oct-14-2023/1261158

If Kroger/Albertsons Merger Approved 49-Plus Oregon Stores To Be Sold Off

Supermarket giants Kroger and Albertsons announced Friday they will sell off at least 49 stores in Oregon as part of their efforts to complete their proposed $24.6 billion merger.

In a $1.9 billion deal, the two grocers will sell 413 stores — including some from Kroger’s Fred Meyer and QFC chains and Albertsons’ Safeway — in 17 states and the District of Columbia to New Hampshire-based C&S Wholesale Grocers, the companies said in a news release. All fuel centers and pharmacies associated with the divested stores will remain open.

The agreement also includes selling eight distribution centers and two corporate offices to C&S Wholesale Grocers.

Kroger declined to specify which stores in Oregon would be sold off to C&S. The company also declined to say whether the Fred Meyer corporate office in Portland would be among the two slated to be sold.

“Because we are still in the regulatory process, we are not in a position at this time to share the specific locations that will be divested to continue serving the community under a different owner,” the company said in a statement. “We anticipate being able to share these details closer to closing.”

The divestiture plan also includes 104 stores in Washington state and 13 from the Albertsons portfolio in Idaho.

The deal would give an enlarged retail operation of more than 500 stores to the privately held C&S.

Founded in 1918, C&S is a wholesale supplier to more than 7,500 independent supermarkets, retail chain stores and military bases. It runs Grand Union grocery stores and Piggly Wiggly franchise and corporate-owned stores in the Midwest, the Carolinas, New York and Vermont. It also operates a wholesale warehouse in Troutdale.

The sell-off is part of Kroger’s efforts to mollify antitrust regulars at the Federal Trade Commission who are evaluating the proposed merger.

Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket chain, which bought Fred Meyer in 1998, announced plans in October to buy its next largest competitor, Albertsons Cos. Inc., for $24.6 billion. The companies hope to finalize the sale early next year.

The Pacific Northwest is one of the regions where the two companies compete directly, so the combination could leave Oregonians with fewer choices for grocery shopping. In Oregon, Kroger and Albertsons are two of the biggest grocery chains, with a combined market share that’s even bigger than Walmart.

The Oregonian/OregonLive identified roughly 33 Kroger and Albertsons-owned stores across the state that sit within a mile of one another, including 20 in the Portland metro area. More than 100 are less than two miles apart.

Many are within line-of-sight of a neighboring store. In Oregon City, for example, a Fred Meyer, Safeway and Albertsons are within blocks of one another.

Kroger and Albertsons are two of the state’s biggest grocery chains, with 171 stores altogether.

Gary Millerchip, Kroger’s chief financial officer, told investors during an earnings call Friday that C&S will acquire three banners — Mariano’s, QFC and Carrs — as part of the divestiture package. He said the company will also receive a license to operate under the Albertsons banner in four states — California, Colorado, Wyoming and Arizona.

“If they ultimately buy stores that are different banners than those four today, they would need to re-banner those stores over a period of time,” Millerchip said.

The acquisition, which the companies say would allow them to take on the likes of Walmart and Amazon, comes as shoppers continue to battle historic inflation at grocery stores.

The deal contemplates the possibility that regulators may balk at the merger plan and demand more store divestitures.

Before the deal with C&S closes, “Kroger may, in connection with securing FTC and other governmental clearance, require C&S to purchase up to an additional 237 stores in certain geographies,” the companies said in the news release.

C&S has prior experience with divestitures related to mergers and has successfully transitioned union employees and their associated collective bargaining agreements in the past.

“Importantly in our agreement, C&S commits to honoring all collective bargaining agreements which include industry-leading benefits, retaining frontline associates and further investing for growth,” Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said in a statement on Friday.

Stores in 17 states and the District of Columbia will be affected including 49 Albertsons Cos. and Kroger stores in Oregon. (SOURCE)

Oregon Credit Unions Warn Of Imposter Text Message Scams

Credit unions in Oregon are warning of a scam that involves imposter text messages. The texts look legit, and can be tricky since people often respond quickly to texts.

Matthew Wilson, senior vice president for risk and administration with Oregon Community Credit Union in Eugene, said that, in some cases, fraudsters have been able to log in to member accounts and take thousands of dollars.

“It’s so violating that you just don’t want to trust anybody at that point,” said Wilson. “A lot of members are embarrassed that they fell for a scam. And that’s part of the other message that we’re trying to get out there is: Don’t be embarrassed. These people, that’s all they’re doing for a living is try to get into your account and steal the money.”

Wilson said the scam, known as “smishing,” is a problem across the United States. He advised ignoring the text message if you’re not expecting one from your credit union. You can check for odd activity by calling the credit union, going to your credit union’s website, or visiting its app.

If you think you’ve been scammed, contact your financial institution right away. The next step is to consider freezing your credit reports and notify the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Fatal Crash – HWY 11 – Umatilla County

On Friday, September 8, 2023, at approximately 5:04 P.M., the Oregon State Police responded to a multi-vehicle crash on Hwy-11, near Hwy-332, in Umatilla County.

The preliminary investigation indicated a Chevrolet Spark, operated by Prithvi Singh (30) of Milton-Freewater, exited the parking lot of a convenience store and turned northbound into the continuous left turn lane.  The Chevrolet continued and entered into the northbound lane, where it was struck from behind by an Acura MDX, operated by Vicki Pearce (62) of Walla Walla (WA).  The Chevy Spark traveled uncontrolled into the southbound lanes, where it struck a Jeep Grand Cherokee, operated by Mary Cowling (38) of Milton-Freewater. 

The operator (Singh) of the Chevy Spark was pronounced deceased at the scene.  The operator of the Acura (Pearce) suffered minor injuries.

The operator (Cowling) and passenger, Troy Hahn (38) of Milton-Freewater, of the Jeep Grand Cherokee were transported to St. Mary’s hospital in Walla Walla, WA by private vehicle with minor injuries.

The highway was impacted for approximately 5.5 hours during the on-scene investigation.

OSP was assisted by Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office, Milton-Freewater Police Department, Milton-Freewater Fire Department, and ODOT.

Save Eugene’s Hospital Press Conference Today at 1:45 pm

Monday, Sept. 11, 2023
1:45 p.m.
Public sidewalk in front of PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center University District (1200 Hilyard Avenue, Eugene, Oregon). Near the intersection of E. 13th Avenue and Hilyard Street.

The press conference will also be livestreamed on the Oregon Nurses Association’s (ONA’s) Facebook page here.  

WHAT: Local frontline health care workers, city and county elected officials, union leaders, students and community advocates will hold a press conference Monday, Sept. 11 urging PeaceHealth to reverse its decision to close Eugene’s only hospital and calling on state leaders and the Oregon Health Authority to do everything in their power to protect Oregonians’ access to local health care. 

WHEN: Monday, Sept. 11, 2023. 1:45 p.m.

WHERE: Public sidewalks in front of PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center University District (1200 Hilyard Avenue, Eugene, Oregon) Near the intersection of E. 13th Avenue and Hilyard Street

WHO: Prominent local elected officials, along with frontline health care workers, union leaders, community advocates and patients are slated to speak including members of the Eugene City Council, Lane County Commission, Teamsters Local 206/CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets), the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA), the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP), SEIU 49, the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, Health Care for All Oregon (HCAO) and other leading community organizations.  

Scheduled speakers include:

  • Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis
  • Lane County Commissioner Laurie Trieger
  • Chelsea Swift, Teamsters Local 206 member and CAHOOTS Medic and Agency Outreach
  • Lorie Quinn, Vice-President of SEIU 49 and health care worker at Sacred Heart
  • Marianne Zundel, ONA member and registered nurse at Sacred Heart University District
  • Kevyn Paul, ONA member and registered nurse at Sacred Heart University District
  • Tina Davis, OFNHP member and pharmacy tech at Sacred Heart Riverbend
  • Lou Sinniger, AFSCME Retirees & Health Care for All Oregon member
  • Rajeev Ravisankar, Former President of the GTFF at the University of Oregon
  • Anne Tan Piazza, ONA Executive Director

Speaker schedule is subject to change. 

WHY: On Aug. 22, PeaceHealth executives in Vancouver notified our community that they planned to close Eugene’s only hospital–PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center University District–this fall.  

This dangerous and irresponsible decision would leave nearly 200,000 people in Oregon’s second largest city without a hospital. 

Losing our only hospital is a clear and present danger to the entire Eugene community—particularly our most vulnerable residents. PeaceHealth is gambling with our families’ long-term health and safety and putting profits ahead of people.

Local elected officials, frontline health care workers, unions, allies and residents are calling upon PeaceHealth to reconsider this disastrous decision and asking the Oregon Health Authority and state leaders to do everything in their power to save lives and keep Eugene’s only hospital open.

Learn more at www.SaveEugenesHospital.com. 

Officials Say State’s New Paid Leave Program Going Well In First Week Of Benefits

Managers of the Paid Leave Oregon program said “rollout is going well” in an update last week, as people started taking paid time off under the program earlier in the week.

Paid Leave Oregon

According to the Oregon Employment Department, as of September 3 – the day people could start taking paid leave — they had received 10,222 applications, with 1,820 of those applications approved to receive benefits.

Paid Leave Oregon, established by the Oregon Legislature in 2019, provides workers up to 12 weeks of guaranteed paid time off from work to take care of their familial, medical or safety needs. Applicable reasons for requesting leave include welcoming a new child to a family, dealing with a long-term illness or taking care of oneself after surviving a serious crime like sexual assault or stalking.

The program has been taking applications since August 14, and managers expect the first round of payments to go out around September 13.

Paid Leave Oregon is funded by employee paycheck deductions and employer contributions. Workers can apply for paid time off through the program’s website, which requires people to upload documents and other supporting materials as evidence they qualify for the leave.

Program Director Karen Madden Humelbaugh said people not uploading that proper evidence has slowed down the processing of a chunk of claims.

“We really want to emphasize that people should go to our employee toolkit on our website and review the checklist and the employee guidebook so that they’re prepared with the correct documents when they apply for benefits,” she said.

Employers are also a big part of the application process. Humelbaugh said when an application comes through, employers need to respond in a timely manner so the state can get the process rolling. But even if an employer does not reply, a claim will continue to move forward.

Program managers acknowledge the length of some leave requests being made in the program’s infancy are longer than initially forecast, but they are closely watching the applications coming in and keeping an eye out for any trends.

“This is exactly why we want to keep an eye on all those data points–whether it be the amount of wages going out, the amount of time people are applying for and then the actual just numbers of claims we’re getting,” Humelbaugh said. “And we are looking at that literally on the daily basis so that make sure we can see when those trends emerge — it’s just a little early right now.”

She said they are sharing data with their advisory committee and legislators to talk about any possible changes the program might need, but lawmakers would ultimately be responsible for changing the law governing the program.

When asked for their opinion, many Springfield residents said the program makes accessible the time off they need for themselves or those they care for. They also said they could see themselves using the program if they really needed it.

“Absolutely,” said Springfield resident Lynn Hecker “If a major surgery came up, or family member became ill, absolutely. It’d be more than a help. It’d be a blessing because you don’t have to worry, ‘How am I going to balance my job, how am I gonna balance everything?’”

On the other hand, one person who did not wish to be named expressed concern about the long-term viability of the program, and was critical of the fact people have to pay into the program regardless of whether or not they use the benefits.

Paid Leave Oregon’s website has more information on the benefits people are entitled to and how they can be applied for: https://paidleave.oregon.gov



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.

May be an image of 2 people and text that says 'MISSING SKYLER RICK FLOYD, 24 Skyler was last seen in North Bend, Oregon around September 2022. He had been living homeless in the area but typically keeps in contact with family. Skyler has a distinctive gap between his upper front teeth. He is 6'2" -6'4" and 180 -200 pounds. He nas brown hair and blue eyes. IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION: Coos Bay Police Department: 541-269-8911 f/MissingNorthwest @ MissingNW MissingNW'

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.

May be an image of 4 people and text

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