Oregon Beach News, Tuesday 9/5 – 2 Children and 4 Adults Rescued From Rip Current In Cannon Beach, Dead Seal Lion on Florence Coast Prompts Warnings

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

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Oregon Beach Weather

2 Children and 4 Adults Rescued From Rip Current In Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach lifeguards rescued six people, including two children, swept up by a rip current at Chapman Point on Saturday.

Lifeguards, with help from local fire departments and the coast guard, rescued six people swept out to sea by a rip current Saturday.Courtesy of Cannon Beach Lifeguards

Lifeguards watched the group get dragged farther from the shore by the current at 12:18 p.m., and one of them dove into the water while another guard called for help from local fire departments. Three other beach lifeguards dove in to help find the group.

Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District and the U.S. Coast Guard responded with water scooters and a helicopter, Cannon Beach lifeguards said in a social media post.

With the help of three local surfers, all six people were rescued, officials said. One lifeguard was treated for minor injuries.

Rip currents, sometimes called riptides, are strong, narrow channels of water moving toward the ocean starting near the shoreline.

Rip currents often look like darker, narrow gaps of water heading offshore between breaking waves or whitewater, according to the National Weather Service. Beachgoers should look for choppy, rippled water heading offshore. These areas will often seem like safe places to enter because no waves are rolling in, but should be avoided.

If you are caught in a rip current, don’t panic. It will pull you out farther from the shore but should not suck you under, according to the National Weather Service. Swimming back to shore against the rip current will be too exhausting, and officials say to swim parallel to the shore and out of the rip current before trying to make it back to the beach.

Most beaches will have flags and warnings if rip current conditions are expected.

For more instructions on spotting and escaping a rip current, see the weather service’s guide. (SOURCE)

Dead Seal Lion on Florence Coast Prompts Warnings

Visitors in Florence had to bypass a large sea lion carcass found a few hundred feet from the beach entrance this weekend.

With the carcass decomposing, the smell has attracted scavengers to the beach including coyotes and carrion birds. Officials warned that the wildlife coming to the beach could have dangerous interactions with humans and pets. One visitor said she nearly ran into a coyote in the area earlier in the weekend.

Local visitors to the beach at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park said that although the sight of a dead sea lion is saddening, it’s just another part of living in a coastal community with wild sea life.

Along with the danger associated with scavengers patrolling the beach near the sea lion’s remains, the risk of a dangerous bacteria that could affect dogs and their owners is also present. Leptospirosis is found in sick and dying sea lions, making it important to remain at least 50 feet away from the carcass at all times.

ODFW is urging beachgoers to keep their dogs on leashes and keep them at least 150 feet away from sea lions or their carcasses. ODFW also encourages pet owners to consider the merits of vaccinating their pets against leptospirosis. ODFW says it is a violation of federal and state laws to harass marine mammals, and says that when sea lions and similar animals are on the beach, they are usually just resting or sick. Sick or injured sea lions, as well as seals, whales, or dolphins can be reported to Oregon State Police at 1-800-452-7888.

Fatal Crash- HWY 101- Curry County

On Thursday, August 31, 2023, at approximately 5:18 P.M., the Oregon State Police responded to a multi-vehicle crash on Hwy-101, near milepost 340, in Curry County.

The preliminary investigation indicated a Subaru Outback, operated by Skyanna Marie Goodland (42) of Tillamook, was northbound on US-101 near mile post 340 when it crossed the centerline and sideswiped a southbound Chrysler Pacifica, operated by Heather Anne Serna (50) of Brookings, before striking a southbound Hyundai Veloster, operated by Brandon Michael Cunliffe Owen (34) of Brookings, head-on. 

The operator of the Hyundai (Cunliffe Owen) was pronounced deceased at the scene. 

The operator of the Subaru (Goodland) was extricated and transported to a local hospital by ambulance. 

The operator of the Chrysler (Serna) was transported to the hospital by private party for minor injuries. 

The highway was impacted for approximately 3.5 hours during the on-scene investigation.  The cause of the crash is under investigation at this time.

OSP was assisted by the Curry County Sheriff’s Office, Gold Beach Police Department, Gold Beach Fire and Rescue, Pistol River Fire, and ODOT.

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Helping Hands Receives Grant To Continue Clatsop Services

Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers recently received a $500,000 from the Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization that will allow them to continue operating offices in Clatsop and Tillamook Counties.

Now, Helping Hands needs to find further funding, with the group’s founder saying that either the state or county governments need to step up.

“We just realized that we can’t do this by ourselves anymore,” said Alan Evans, Founder and President of Helping Hands.

Helping Hands started in 2002 with an 8-bed shelter in Seaside, opened by Evans who had previously been homeless for more than two decades. Today, the organization operates 11 shelter facilities across five Oregon counties and will have more than 600 beds available once currently underway renovations are complete.

In Tillamook, Helping Hands has run a low-barrier, long-term shelter at the Naval Command Center at the Port of Tillamook Bay since 2018. It is the only facility of its kind in the county.

However, earlier this year when Helping Hands staff started looking at the economic forecasts for the shelter, they realized there was a looming problem—the finances.

Helping Hands has historically relied on private donations to fund its operations, with 90% of the Tillamook shelter’s cost covered by fundraising. But with a dip in donations that started during the pandemic, Helping Hands realized that they would soon run out of money to continue their operations in Tillamook and Clatsop Counties.

“We realized we’re gonna run out of money faster than we’re ever going to be able to bring it in,” Evans said.

That led to the decision in the middle of August to stop accepting new clients at the Tillamook and Clatsop facilities to allow Helping Hands to continue operations for existing clients for as long as possible.

Shortly after that decision, the Columbia Pacific CCO, which helps coordinate services for those on the Oregon Health Plan in the region, stepped in with the grant to continue services. The $500,000 grant will be split evenly between Helping Hands’ Tillamook and Clatsop County facilities and will allow the Tillamook shelter to begin accepting new clients again in the first week of September.

Now, the organization’s focus has shifted to identifying long-term funding sources to continue their operations in Tillamook and Clatsop Counties.

Evans said that the private donor model the organization has historically used has run its course and they will need government support to sustain their offerings.

“We’re trying to form partnerships with local governments and the state,” Evans said, adding that they needed those partnerships to continue offering a “vital service” for the community.

Evans said that he and his staff have already been in contact with Governor Tina Kotek and her office about the possibility of state funding, and discussions are ongoing. (SOURCE)

Harris Beach Health Advisory Issued

High bacteria levels prompt OHA recommendation to avoid water contact

Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is issuing a public health advisory today for unsafe levels of fecal bacteria in ocean waters at Harris Beach in Curry County. People should avoid direct contact with the water in this area until the advisory is lifted.

Unsafe levels of fecal bacteria can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children, elderly and those with a compromised immune system should use extra caution as they are more vulnerable to illness from waterborne bacteria.

Visitors should avoid wading in nearby creeks, pools of water on the beach, or in discolored water, and stay clear of water runoff flowing into the ocean. Levels of fecal bacteria tend to be higher in these types of water sources.

Unsafe levels of fecal bacteria in ocean waters can come from both shore and inland sources including:

  • Stormwater runoff.
  • Sewer overflows.
  • Failing septic systems.
  • Animal waste from livestock, pets and wildlife.

Even if there is no advisory in effect, avoid swimming in the ocean within 48 hours after a rainstorm.

Ocean waters will be re-tested after an advisory is issued. Once bacteria levels are at a safe level, OHA will notify the public that the advisory is lifted.

While this advisory is in effect at Harris Beach, state officials continue to encourage other recreational activities (flying kites, picnicking, playing on the beach, walking, etc.) on this beach because they pose no health risk even during an advisory.

For the most recent information on advisories, visit the Oregon Beach Monitoring Program website at http://www.healthoregon.org/beach or call 971-673-0482, or 877-290-6767 (toll-free).

Registration is Live for SOLVE Beach & Riverside Cleanup

– 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.

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.

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. 

Astoria Hospital Hopes To Include Tsunami Upgrades In Planned Expansion

If awarded, a federal grant would help Columbia Memorial Hospital prepare for a natural disaster

Columbia Memorial Hospital is closing in on a $13.9 million federal grant that will allow the Astoria-based hospital to serve as a refuge for the community in the event of a tsunami or earthquake. 

Hospital leaders announced on Wednesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agencyhas selected its application as a finalist for a grant to help communities reduce the risk from natural disasters. If selected, Columbia Memorial will use the money to make the planned expansion to the nearly 50-year-old hospital more resistant to an earthquake or tsunami. 

“We find ourselves struggling to grow in our current facility because of the design, and it was also built in a time where we didn’t know much about the Cascadia subduction zone,” Columbia Memorial CEO Erik Thorsen told The Lund Report, referring to a large fault line off the Oregon coast. 

Columbia Memorial plans to begin work next year on an expansion of the 25-bed acute care hospital that’ll add 180,000 square feet. The plan is intended to add more space at the hospital for services and will expand the hospital’s emergency department, operating rooms, laboratory and radiology services, while also adding a new chapel and dining facilities. 

Columbia Memorial plans to use the FEMA grant money on a “deep pile foundation” for the expansion. The foundation would extend deep below the earth’s surface, possibly reaching bedrock, helping the new building withstand an earthquake, Thorsen said. 

Another notable feature Columbia Memorial would use the money on is a “tsunami vertical evacuation structure,” an accessible surface on the roof of the third floor of the expanded hospital where up to 1,900 people could find high ground on the structure in the event of a tsunami. 

The hospital also plans to use the grant money to put generators and other critical infrastructure on the roof to keep it functional in case of an earthquake or tsunami. Thorsen said that the hospital is planning to have supplies and a kitchen that could support people taking refuge for up to 96 hours. A new helipad included in the expansion could also be used to evacuate people taking refuge at the hospital, he said.

“The other big part is really the location of our patients,” said Thorsen. 

The expansion would allow patients to be kept on the hospital’s third floor and they wouldn’t have to be evacuated from the facility in case of an emergency, he said. Currently, he said the entire hospital would have to be evacuated in case of an emergency. 

Mark Kujala, director of the Columbia Memorial Hospital Foundation, told The Lund Report that while FEMA might request additional information about its grant application over the coming months, he’s confident the hospital in Astoria will be selected. 

Thorsen said he’s grateful that the grant has the support of many community members and elected officials, including area Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici.

“Columbia Memorial Hospital serves communities on Oregon’s North Coast, and it must be able to withstand a natural disaster,” Bonamici said in a statement.  (SOURCE)

Call For Local Artists Submissions For Permanent Installation At The Surfsand Resort

Studio Art Direct is seeking coastal themed artworks created by local artists for permanent installation at The Surfsand Resort in Cannon Beach.

The iconic Surfsand is remodeling with a fresh, natural, modern coastal feel. As part of the new design, artworks will be purchased for 92 guest rooms and public areas throughout four buildings. The goal of the art collection is to surprise and delight hotel guests with works of art that communicate the majesty, beauty, and excitement Oregon coast. We are seeking unique, artistic impressions that will create a magical sense of place imbuing the soul of Cannon Beach.

REQUIREMENTS — To be considered, you must reside in Clatsop or Tillamook County. Emerging and established artists are encouraged to submit.

TYPE OF ARTWORK — Original and reproduction artworks depicting scenes from Cannon Beach and surrounding coastal icons, vistas and details will be considered. From the ocean to the dunes, from Cannon Beach downtown to the people who live and play there, we are looking for a fresh local feel with a colorful and uplifting palette. Abstract and impressionistic styles are preferred.

Mediums can include, but are not limited to, original paintings, printmaking, drawings, multi-media, silk screen, and wall sculpture. Professional captures of original artworks suitable for reproduction are also included. A variety of sizes will be considered.

Photography will not be accepted.

PURCHASE INFORMATION — Original artworks will be purchased outright. Budget is $150 – $6,000.00/each.

Reproduction artworks will be selected for volume installations in guest rooms. Licensing royalties will be negotiated directly with selected artists.

HOW TO SUBMIT — Submitting is easy! Click here for online submission form or go to www.studioartdirect.com/submit-art

SCHEDULE:

·        Deadline for submissions: September 4, 2023

·        Announcement to selected artists: September 8,
2023

·        Project installation: Phased December 2023 –
March 2023

ABOUT SURFSAND RESORT — For decades, families have made Surfsand their destination to reconnect, celebrate, and relax. Our legendary beach has hosted generations of driftwood forts, sea star sightings, and lantern-lit beach walks. With the Pacific Ocean at our doorstep and extraordinary views of Haystack Rock, the Surfsand makes space for you to choose how you want to unwind and explore the North Oregon Coast. From a relaxing soak in the hot tub or to bonfire and s’mores under the stars; from a sound sleep in a luxurious bed to fresh, mouthwatering PNW cuisine, we create unforgettable experiences that bring you back, year after year.

To learn more about Surf Sand Resort, visit www.surfsand.com

ABOUT STUDIO ART DIRECT– We are corporate Art Consultants creating memorable, custom, site specific art and graphic collections for the healthcare, hospitality, public works, and corporations. With over 30 years of experience and $25M in completed projects, our vast network of artists, designers, and craftsmen allows us to curate, create, and fabricate permanent art collections that infuse soul into every project. From large-scale installation art to environmental graphics, themed originals to volume reproductions, we are experiential designers collaborating with design teams and owners to create immersive environments, intelligently curated and fabricated with purpose.

To learn more about Studio Art Direct, visit www.studioartdirect.com (SOURCE)

 

Rod’s N Rhodies Car Show

The annual Rod’s N Rhodies car show event is coming September 8th and 9th to the Old Town Area.  The 15th annual event will feature hot rods and classic custom vehicles from all over the west. 

The annual event goes towards supporting Transportation Solutions which provides car repairs for families in need.  Transportation Solutions works with local families on a referral basis to fix most maintenance problems so that individuals can get to work, transport kids to school, and other activities.  Information on the mission of Transportation Solutions can be found at rodsnrhodies.org/transportation-solutions.

Florence Annual Yard Sale

If you want to participate in the annual City Wide Garage Sale September 8-10, then you have to act quickly.  In order to be included in the map that is distributed in the Siuslaw News the deadline for registration is this coming Monday, August 21st.  due to print deadlines information has to be in to make the September 1st and September 8th publications.  This is the 10th year the community garage sale has gone on and participants will receive recognition on the map and two signs for their $15 fee.

It’s the first day of school today for most students and school districts.

Their bright yellow buses will be back on the roads, and they are counting on drivers to follow the rules to ensure students are safe while they are entering and exiting the bus.

Also, don’t forget to slow down while driving in school zones and keep an eye out for kids walking or bicycling to school.

School buses use flashing lights to notify drivers. Here is a rundown of what the rules when you are sharing the road with a school bus and students:

Yellow lights: Prepare to stop. Slow down. Do not pass the bus.

Red lights: Stop. Drivers coming from both directions must stop. Do not pass the bus when the lights are flashing. When the lights turn off, proceed with caution. Be on the lookout for children near the road.

School zones: Oregon state law requires drivers to go no faster than 20 mph in school zones between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

Bus routes for the 2023-24 school year are available on your school’s website.

Be sure to check your route on the school website for any updates as the first day of school begins and please drive safely!

 

Oregon State Police still attempting to located dangerous escapee- Public assistance requested

On Wednesday, August 30, 2023, at approximately 10:45 P.M., the Oregon State Police were notified of an escaped adult in custody and patient of the Oregon State Hospital, located in Salem. 

Christopher Lee Pray was an adult in custody at the Multnomah County jail for multiple serious charges, to include Attempted Aggravated Murder, when he was transferred to the Oregon State Hospital on August 30.  At approximately 10:45 P.M., Pray escaped from custody when he stole a white 2016 Dodge Caravan, bearing Oregon license plate E265614, and eluded law enforcement southbound on Interstate 5.  Law enforcement terminated the pursuit due to safety concerns and Pray was not apprehended.

Prays whereabouts are unknown at this time.  He was last seen heading southbound on Interstate 5, however he has ties to the greater Portland metro area.  At the time of his escape, he was fully restrained with leg shackles, a belly chain, handcuffs, and a restraint connecting all three together.  He was wearing a white t-shirt, maroon sweatpants, and black rubber slippers.

Pray is considered extremely dangerous and should not be approached.  Law enforcement is urging the public to dial 911 and report any sightings of Pray or the vehicle he was operating.

Christopher Lee Pray- Poses an extreme danger to the public

  • 39 years old
  • 6 ft. tall, 170 pounds
  • Brown hair and brown eyes
  • White male 
  • Trimmed facial hair- may be different from photo
  • Stitches on his upper lip
  • Tattoos- Right arm- “PRAY”; right forearm – “S”; neck- possibly “supreme”
  • Full restraints- leg shackles, belly chain, and handcuffs
  • White t-shirt, maroon sweatpants, and black rubber slippers.

2016 white Dodge Caravan- (photo not actual vehicle)

  • Oregon license plate- E265614 (yellow plate)
  • No identifying marks

Fire information for the Smith River Complex North in Southern Oregon

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Recent rainstorms that came into the area are aiding firefighters in fighting the Smith River and Happy Camp complexes, despite flash flood warnings in some areas of the frontlines. The Smith River Complex gained ½ an inch of rain last night, while certain areas of the Happy Camp Complex gained ¼ inch of rain.

The rain helped wet fine particle fuels, slowing down the spread of the fires. The storm did bring 75 lightning strikes into the Smith River Complex, firefighters today will be those areas and examining if any combustions occurred. The Happy Camp Complex did have some lightning strikes near the area, but none touches the footprint of the Happy Camp Complex itself.

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Josephine County Sheriff’s Office Serves 7 Marijuana Search Warrants between 08/29 and 08/31

Between August 29-31, 2023, the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) executed seven search warrants regarding illegal marijuana grow sites. The warrants were executed in the 3000 Block of Walnut Avenue, Grants Pass, the 600 Block of Naue Way, Cave Junction, the 400 and 600 Block of San Francisco Street, Grants Pass, the 300 Block of Mary Harris Way, Grants Pass, and the 100 Block of Barron Circle, Cave Junction.

During the execution of the warrants, more than 5,700 marijuana plants and over 1,000 pounds of processed marijuana were seized and destroyed. Additionally, 14 firearms and over $50,000 were seized from all the properties collectively.

All the properties had multiple water and/or solid waste code violations. These violations could result in the criminal forfeiture of the property. While authorities were investigating code violations, one of the marijuana grows was found to be using human feces from the properties septic tank to fertilize the plants.

Sou Chio Saecaho and Mey Chong Saephan were lodged in the Josephine County Jail for Unlawful Possession of Marijuana and Unlawful Manufacturing of Marijuana. Sage Moore and Charles Thoman were lodged in the Josephine County Jail for Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, Unlawful Manufacturing of Marijuana, and Unlawful Appropriation of Water.

At the time of this press release the investigations are ongoing and no further details are being released.

Huge Search Fails To Turn Up Woman Last Seen In Eastern Oregon

Gwen Brunelle shouldn’t have been in Jordan Valley in late June, buying gas. The Boise woman was supposed to be hundreds of miles away near Fresno, California, getting coached in rabbit judging. She had rabbits with her.

Gwen Brunelle of Boise poses for a photo with her boyfriend Gerald Sanderson in August 2022. (Brunelle family photo)Brunelle family photo

But roughly 24 hours after she told the station attendant she was “in a hurry,” her unattended vehicle was spotted off a state highway north of Jordan Valley. The 27-year-old woman had disappeared.

A missing person report soon triggered one of the most intense searches ever undertaken in Malheur County. Repeated searches found no trace of Brunelle.

Authorities believe she is somewhere out in rangeland that is sparsely vegetated with sagebrush, rabbitbrush, cheat grass and crested wheatgrass. Her family in Boise hopes she is yet alive, perhaps secretly linking up with someone to run off.

But mysteries abound: Her cell phone dropped off the network soon after she left home, indicating someone had shut it off.

She changed clothes no more than 20 miles from her starting point.

And there is no sign where Brunelle spent her first night on the road. That was likely somewhere in Oregon’s desert country, and in the company of her 11 show rabbits.

Authorities report that 9 out of 10 of missing people are found within 48 hours. Only 1 out of a 100 are still missing after a year. In Oregon, 220 people are still missing after being reported in 2022, according to Oregon State Police data. That includes two cases in Malheur County.

The following day, at about 11 a.m., the UPS route driver pulled into that same graveled parking area. This was his customary lunch spot, looking north over rangeland. A worn barbed wire fence runs across the range nearby and cow trails on nearby hills lead down to Succor Creek. Passing traffic on the highway can be heard. A T-Mobile cell tower is visible to the east.

He saw Brunelle’s Honda Element there too, but no one was around.

According to police, the pullout is regularly used by people who drop off vehicles and double up to drive on to Leslie Gulch and the Owyhee Canyonlands.

The UPS driver the next day, a Thursday, saw the Honda still here. The rancher who stopped to make that call remembered seeing it, unmoved, every day through that Friday, June 30.

On that Friday night, Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Hale was dispatched to check on a report of an elderly man parked out on Leslie Gulch Road, which branches off Succor Creek Road. At about 10:30 p.m., the deputy turned off U.S. 95 onto Succor Creek Road, stopping to check on two vehicles parked at that gravel pullout.

One was registered to birders who had parked there earlier that day.

The other was Brunelle’s Element. The police check turned up the missing person notice entered by Boise police.

For 45 minutes, Hale searched in the dark, joined later by a sergeant who drove down from Vale to help.

Not far from the Honda, searchers later found a purple bath robe that Brunelle wore around home. It appeared folded, as if someone formed it into a cushion to sit on. Next to it was the water jug bought in Jordan Valley, now half empty.

The Honda was unlocked, the windows down. By then, five of the 11 rabbits had perished, suffering through a day of 95-degree desert heat.

Police called the Brunelles the following morning to report the Honda had been found but not Gwen. The ignition key was inside as was her leather shoulder bag, seemingly undisturbed with her driver’s license and credit cards. The duffel bag with clothing was on a seat and there were wrappers from snack foods. Missing were her cell phone and the Nikes she had worn out the door the day she left Boise.

At daylight, the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office launched a search organized by Undersheriff Dave Kesey. Search and rescue members were joined by two private airplanes. Two local ranch hands on horseback explored Succor and Dog Creeks.

On Sunday, Sheriff Travis Johnson joined a more intense search utilizing 12 searchers, a heat-sensing drone and trained trackers and dogs from Idaho Mountain Rescue.

Two days later, Brunelle’s relatives and three dogs participated in a search organized by Deputy Brian Belnap. When the organized search stopped, Belnap continued on his own on foot, covering six more miles.

Belnap returned the following day aboard a helicopter piloted by a Juntura man. They flew along dry creek canyons and buzzed ranch buildings in the hunt for Brunelle.

On Thursday, July 6, teams that are part of Eastern Oregon Search and Rescue committed to the largest effort yet undertaken, involving about 100 people. Four eastern Oregon counties sent searchers. Idaho Fish and Game volunteered four people as Brunelle’s family again joined in.

In all, searchers walked 300 miles. They turned up no trace of the missing woman, and the formal search effort was suspended.

Brunelle’s father returned, though, over the coming days to look. A team with dogs took yet another turn through the territory last week, again coming up empty.

Johnson, the sheriff, said there was no sign of an abduction. He believes Brunelle wandered off into the rangeland. He recalled another Malheur County case where an intense search didn’t find a missing man whose car had been abandoned. A year after the search, rock hounds discovered the man’s remains – one canyon beyond the area searched by police.

Her parents and Sanderson said Brunelle is not an outback hiker, instead using developed trails in Boise.

And Sanderson said the rabbits in the car suggest she didn’t intend to take off.

“If she left the rabbits there, she meant to come back soon after,” Sanderson said. “She raised all those since they were babies.”

About Gwen Brunelle — Age: 27 Eyes: Brown Hair: Auburn, typically in pony tail Height: 5-foot-7Weight: 140 pounds Details: Pierced ears, left-handed Website: findgwen.com Have a tip? Malheur County Sheriff’s Office: 541-473-5125

There are 513 People Reported Missing to Oregon State Police in 2023 so far
https://www.oregon.gov/osp/missing/pages/missingpersons.aspx

Oregon State Police Missing Children/Adults Clearinghousehttps://www.oregon.gov/osp/missing/pages/missingpersons.aspx

*** It is important to mention that there is a long string of women who are missing in Oregon that their abandoned vehicles with their belongings still in the vehicle have been found but they have never been found or recovered. Sherry Wellwood, Tammy Pitkin, Fauna Frey, Patricia Swanberg, and Carol Ray just to name a few. Oddly enough, law enforcement says no sign of foul play in these cases though seem to never check for clues that these may be related somehow and work to tie clues together. A noted Forensic Psychologist states that it would be extremely rare for a woman to just leave her vehicle with all their stuff in it.

Oregon to issue an additional $39 million in Pandemic EBT food assistance to 325,000 children

  • Oregon will provide approximately $39 million in food benefits to approximately 325,000 students beginning Aug. 31 and through September.
  • Starting Aug. 31 and through the month of September, $120 in food benefits per eligible child will be issued to Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) cards.
  • These additional food benefits are part of the P-EBT program, a temporary COVID-19 response program meant to provide additional food support for children whose access to food provided through school programs. 
  • Since 2020, Oregon has issued $1 billion in P-EBT food benefits to help children in Oregon get enough quality and nutritious food.

(Salem) – The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) will begin issuing approximately $39 million in Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) food benefits to approximately 325,000 students in Oregon on Aug. 31. 

“We are grateful to be able to provide these food benefits to eligible students in Oregon,” said Claire Seguin, director of the ODHS Self-Sufficiency Programs. “As communities continue to be affected by COVID-19 and the rising cost of food, we know that many families are experiencing hardship and are struggling to get enough healthy food for themselves and their children. We encourage anyone who is struggling to meet their basic needs to contact our partners at 211, the Oregon Food Bank and their local Community Action Agency for support during this difficult time.”

How students will receive P-EBT food benefits — The P-EBT food benefits will be issued onto the P-EBT cards mailed to students in Spring 2023. Families who lost or threw away their card can contact the P-EBT call center at (844) ORE-PEBT or (844) 673-7328 to request a new card.

Newly eligible students will receive two pieces of mail addressed to them: 

  • A letter notifying them they will receive P-EBT
  • A separate envelope with their P-EBT card that has $120 of food benefits on it

Who is eligible for P-EBT food benefits — Students are eligible for this P-EBT issuance if they received free or reduced-price National School Lunch Program meals at school or attended a Community Eligibility Provision school in May 2023.

More P-EBT food benefits to come for certain children — Oregon has received federal approval to provide additional P-EBT food benefits to children under 6 years old who received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food benefits between July 2022 and August 2023. Details about when and how these children will receive their P-EBT food benefits will be announced as soon as it is available. 

What is the P-EBT program? — Since 2020, Oregon has issued approximately $1 billion in P-EBT food benefits to help children in Oregon get enough quality and nutritious food. 

These additional food benefits are part of the P-EBT program, a temporary COVID-19 response program meant to provide additional food support for children whose access to adequate and quality food received through school programs may have been impacted by COVID-19.

Visit pebt.oregon.gov for more information about the P-EBT program. 

Families with specific questions about their child’s eligibility or P-EBT card can contact the P-EBT Call Center at (844) ORE-PEBT or (844) 673-7328. The P-EBT Call Center is available Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific in seven language options (English, Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Somalian, Mandarin and Cantonese). Callers may also request a translator for additional languages.

P-EBT does not replace any child nutrition program already offered and families are encouraged to continue to participate in meal programs in their schools and communities.  

P-EBT food benefits are issued in addition to regular SNAP benefits. P-EBT benefits are not considered in a public charge test.

Resources to help meet basic needs

About SNAP — Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, low-income families and individuals in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities. Oregonians in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP, child care, cash assistance and Medicaid. Learn more at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefits. For local resources in your area, such as food or shelter, please call 2-1-1 or reach out to the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 1-855-ORE-ADRC or 1-855-673-2372.

About P-EBT  — Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) is part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. P-EBT is money for children whose access to adequate and quality food may have been impacted by COVID-19.

P-EBT is a program in partnership with the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE).

Nurses at OHSU Will Launch Strike Authorization Vote Sept. 6th

(Portland, OR) – Frontline nurses are opening a strike vote at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). Nurses are voting to protect their community’s health and safety, and fix the ongoing staffing crisis.

The vote will run from Sept. 6 – 17. If passed, nurse leaders are authorized to call for an open-ended strike. The 3160 frontline nurses at OHSU are represented by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) through the Association of University Registered Nurses (AURN). After nine months of negotiations and meeting nearly 30 times, an agreement has still not been reached. By voting yes, nurses are authorizing their union leaders to call a strike to win improvements in their workplace for both nurses and their patients.  

Outstanding issues at the bargaining table include:  

  • Guarantees for safe staffing as more and more nurses leave the bedside due to burnout and moral injury. Safe nurse staffing ensures high-quality care and patient access.  
  • Immediate improvements to workplace safety following increased assaults, gun violence, and injuries impacting staff and patients.
  • Retention and recruitment incentives to employ enough staff for all units and shifts.
  • Prioritizing reaching a fair agreement with OHSU nurses before the purchase of Legacy Health System.

“We do not want to strike, but we will if that’s what it takes to protect our nurses and patients for years to come.  We must see real change at OHSU now more than ever. My fellow nurses have demanded that it’s time for a strike vote as we cannot wait any longer for OHSU executives to take action. We are fighting for our fellow nurses who have suffered immensely under the decision making of OHSU’s executives. We are fighting for our patients who deserve so much better.” -Elisa Youngman, RN, BSN, CCRN, AURN President  

We are also calling on OHSU to stop violating the law. The Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA) guarantees workers’ rights to engage in union activity. PECBA violations are called unfair labor practices (ULPs). Workers have experienced the following ULPs:  

  • Intimidation and retaliation of union stewards and staffing committee members for speaking up about safe staffing.
  • Side bargaining by attempting to direct deal with workers outside the bargaining table.
  • Interference due to tearing down strike information posters.
  • Coercion and intimidation of newly hired employees threatening them that they may not go on strike.
  • Bad faith bargaining by withholding information from the bargaining team and misrepresentation about whether an acquisition of Legacy Health Systems was planned.

Nurses at OHSU have been working under an expired contract since June 31. On Aug. 9, nurses declared impasse which triggered a 30-day cooling-off period.  

If ONA members vote to authorize a strike at OHSU, ONA’s nurse leaders will determine next steps, including setting potential strike dates. If a strike is called, ONA will provide OHSU with a 10-day notice to allow management adequate time to cease admissions and transfer patients or to reach a fair agreement with nurses and avert a work stoppage. ONA’s nurse bargaining team at OHSU continues to meet with management with the guidance of government mediators.  

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union representing over 16,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.  

Oregon finalizes 2024 health rates for individual, small group markets; sees robust options in all counties

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Salem – The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation has finalized the rate decisions for 2024 health insurance for the individual and small group markets. The division reviews and approves rates for these markets through a detailed and transparent public process before they can be charged to policyholders.

The division hosted public hearings, took public comment, and – after careful consideration and a rigorous review – reached the final decisions announced today. The division published preliminary decisions in July before the public hearings. In the public hearings, members of the public, health insurance companies, and the division had the opportunity to further review and analyze the preliminary decisions.

“We know the cost of health insurance and medicine continue to rise due to circumstances out of people’s hands,” said Andrew R. Stolfi, Oregon’s insurance commissioner and director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. “We work hard to ensure consumers have multiple choices for coverage and to keep premium costs down as much as possible. We are fortunate to have the Oregon Reinsurance Program, which helps stabilize the market and leads to more options in every county across the state.”

Oregon currently has at least five health care options for people to choose from in the individual market in all but one county. All 36 counties have at least four options. This is a big improvement from 2019 when 12 of Oregon’s counties had three or fewer insurers in the individual market. The improvement is even better when factoring in the Health Insurance Marketplace. In 2019, only five counties had at least four companies selling marketplace coverage; today, that is all 36 counties. Also in 2019, 24 of the 36 counties had two or fewer marketplace plans for people to choose from.

“This is a testament to how far we’ve come in increasing access to comprehensive health care to as many people in the state as possible,” Stolfi said. “We will continue to work to make health care accessible and affordable for all Oregonians.”

Individual market
The division issued final decisions for six companies in the individual market with average rate changes ranging from a 3.5 percent increase to an 8.5 percent increase for an overall weighted average increase of 6.2 percent, which is a half percent improvement over last year’s average of 6.7 percent. Under the decisions, Silver Standard Plan premiums for a 40-year-old in Portland would range from $467 to $537 a month.

Small group market
In the small group market, the division issued final decisions for eight companies with average rate increases ranging from 0.8 percent to 12.4 percent, for an overall weighted average increase of 8.1 percent, which was slightly higher than last year’s average of 7.8 percent. Under the decisions, Silver Standard Plan premiums for a 40-year-old in Portland range from $387 to $459 a month.

2024 final health insurance rate request chart

Facts for 2024:

  • All 36 Oregon counties will have at least four health plan options in the individual market for its residents and 35 will have at least five. One-third of Oregon counties are offering six options.
  • The Oregon Reinsurance Program continues to help stabilize the market – lowering rates by nearly 6 percent for the sixth straight year.
  • Medical costs continue to rise due to inflation, increased use, and the cost of new specialized prescription drugs.

Final decisions for each insurance company can be found at oregonhealthrates.org.

### About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov and dfr.oregon.gov.​​

Klamath County Sheriffs Busts Marijuana Grow Operation Near Beatty

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant Friday on Yainax Drive north of Beatty, and dismantled 579 marijuana plants.

The value of the illegal crop on the black market would have been approximately $3.3 million if the plants had been successfully harvested, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office. It is also estimated that 312,660 gallons of water had been used throughout the growing season.

Klamath County Code Enforcement assisted in the service of the warrant. No persons were located at the property.

REMINDER: Resumption of federal student loan repayments begins in October

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Salem –The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) is reminding everyone with federal student loans that payments will resume for all borrowers in October, following a pause implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Interest accrual resumes Sept. 1, potentially affecting borrowers’ outstanding loan balances. Since March 2020, interest on most federal student loans had been temporarily paused. 

“An important aspect of this transition is that people’s student loan balances have remained unchanged, but with the resumption of interest accrual, they will begin to rise,” said Lane Thompson, Oregon student loan ombuds. “We encourage borrowers to be active in understanding the implications of this change on their financial obligations.” 

To facilitate a smooth transition and ensure accurate communication, all borrowers are urged to log in to studentaid.gov, the official U.S. Department of Education platform for federal student aid, and verify the accuracy of their contact and servicer information. Also, it is recommended that borrowers review their repayment options. Circumstances can evolve over time, making it essential to align repayment strategies with current financial status. 

“A lot can change in three years, so it is paramount for people to verify the accuracy of their information,” Thompson said. “Ensuring that contact details are up to date will help borrowers stay informed about their loan status.” 

In conjunction with the resumption of payments, the Biden administration has introduced an on-ramp program, which includes a fact sheet. This initiative aims to provide some relief to borrowers by prohibiting loan servicers from reporting missed payments to credit bureaus for one year. This measure offers a safety net for those facing difficulties in making payments after the extended payment pause. 

DFR advises all borrowers to remain vigilant against potential scams. Instances of fraud have been reported in which scammers attempt to deceive people into making payments to unauthorized entities instead of their legitimate loan servicer. 

“Scammers are out and trying to take advantage of the situation,” said TK Keen, DFR administrator. “Borrowers are encouraged to seek written communication, such as letters, from their servicers to verify authenticity.” 

The Oregon Attorney General’s office is also integral in safeguarding those with student loans. 

“My office plays a vital role in protecting student loan borrowers from misleading and deceptive practices. This fall will be no exception – we will be closely watching what happens when the pause on repayment ends in October,” said Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. “If you have a concern about a practice of your loan servicer pertaining to your student loans, I urge you to file a complaint.”

It is critically important for borrowers to find out their loan servicer’s name and contact information, and understand their repayment plan and options. This knowledge empowers people to effectively manage their loan obligations. 

For more information and guidance on student loan repayments, visit DFR’s help page or contact the student loan ombuds office at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or .bankingporducthelp@dcbs.oregon.gov“>dfr.bankingproducthelp@dcbs.oregon.gov.

### About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and  www.dcbs.oregon.gov.​​

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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