The latest news stories across the state of Oregon from the digital home of the Oregon coastal cities, OregonBeachMagazine.com
Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Oregon Beach Weather
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY ISSUED – NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM THURSDAY TO 4 AM PST SATURDAY... * WHAT...West winds 20 to 30 kt with gusts up to 35 kt and seas 7 to 12 ft at 13 seconds expected. * WHERE...All areas north of Pt. St. George. * WHEN...From 10 AM Thursday to 4 AM PST Saturday. * IMPACTS...Gusty winds and/or steep seas could capsize or damage smaller vessels. * View the hazard area in detail at https://go.usa.gov/x6hks
Woman Rescued After Getting Lost In Forest Northeast Of Florence Picking Mushrooms
A woman who got separated from her boyfriend while picking mushrooms near Herman Peak Road northeast of Florence was rescued Tuesday by Lane County Search and Rescue Team members and taken to the hospital.
According to the Lane County Sheriff’s Office they received a report Monday afternoon of a man who hiked out of the woods to a house in the Mercer Lake area. He said he had been separated from his girlfriend a few days prior and that she was “believed to still be lost somewhere in the woods.”
A Lane County Search and Rescue Team responded to the area and located her late Monday evening.
The sheriff’s office said she was hypothermic and disoriented and it was difficult to move her, so rescuers decided to stabilize her and remain with her until they could hike out of the area Tuesday morning.
At 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, rescuers were able to get the woman up to the nearest roadway and into an ambulance where she was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Sale of Shilo Inn Seaside Scheduled This Month
The court-appointed receiver is overseeing the sale of the beachfront Shilo Inn Seaside. Over two decades ago, Mark Hemstreet, the hotelier of Shilo Inn chain boasted almost 50 hotels spread across the Western region. However, starting with the travel slowdown following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Shilo’s presence has diminished, and Hemstreet has encountered a string of financial challenges.
In the preceding year, a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge rendered a verdict necessitating that Hemstreet and Shilo Management Corp. settle a debt owed to California-based Cathay Bank. Subsequently, the judge appointed a receiver with the authority to liquidate various assets within the receivership estate, including Shilo Inns located in Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas, to offset the outstanding debt.
At present, the receiver is preparing to auction off the 113-room Seaside Shilo to the highest bidder. The hotel is described as a lucrative investment, as it generated $1.93 million in net operating income during the previous year. Interested buyers are required to submit their bids by November 22. (SOURCE)
Clatsop County Deputy Rescues Man Trapped In Rising Surf
A Clatsop County deputy braved rising ocean waters to save a man trapped in his pickup truck.
The episode occurred early Tuesday morning near Sunset Beach just south of Warrenton. The Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office received an initial call reporting two individuals possibly in danger of drowning.
When the deputy arrived at the scene, he discovered that one person, who had been initially trapped in the truck, had managed to make it to the shore. However, another person was still stuck in the truck’s bed and urgently calling for help.
Without hesitation, the deputy plunged into the cold, rising waters to rescue the man. The video footage shows him wading through water that reached up to his chest as the surf continued to surge.
After successfully getting the trapped man out of the truck and back to shore, the deputy took quick action to wrap them both in warm towels.
The men in the truck explained that the rapidly incoming tide had caught them by surprise, leaving them in a perilous situation.
Following the rescue, the deputy requested an ambulance to ensure that the rescued individuals received medical attention. As of now, there’s no update on their current condition.
Fatal Crash – HWY 101 – Coos County
On Friday, November 3, 2023, at 1:23 p.m., the Oregon State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash on Hwy-101, near milepost 257, in Coos County.
The preliminary investigation indicated a Ford F-150, operated by a juvenile female (17), was northbound when the operator reportedly fell asleep and drifted into the southbound lanes. The Ford struck a southbound Toyota Camry, operated by Carole Ann Voliva (77) of Bandon, head-on.
The operator of the Toyota (Voliva) was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The operator of the Ford was seriously injured as a result of the collision.
The highway was impacted for approximately 3 hours during the on-scene investigation. The investigation is ongoing.
OSP was assisted by Bandon Fire, Bandon Police Department, Coos County Sheriff’s Office, North Bend Police Department, Coos Bay Police Department, Bay Cities Ambulance, and ODOT.
David’s Chair Places Electric All Terrain Track Chair in Florence
David’s Chair Outdoor Mobility Systems (David’s Chair) has added another location for one of their all-terrain electric Track Chairs to be used for free. The city of Florence in Lane County Oregon has now become the new home and the seventh location where a Track Chair provided by David’s Chair will be permanently stationed. The chair can be reserved now at davidschair.org and accessed and used at Heceta Beach County Park at 88466 1st Ave. in Florence.
CEO and Founder Steve Furst said, “We have been working for several months to make this happen. We are excited to continue to work with the Florence community and wonderful volunteers that are helping facilitate the use of this track chair.” Initially the all-terrain track chair will be available three days a week with hopes of expanding the use in the spring. “I am so proud of the work that Jeff Kallevig (Operations Manager for NW Oregon) has been able to do. He has taken on this project and coordinated with the volunteers and is working with the City of Florence, Lane County and other local organizations to provide support for this location”, said Steve Furst. “We also want to thank the Driftwood Shores Resort for providing a place on the edge of their property near the beach access trail to store our track chair.”
David’s Chair and Oregon Parks Forever have partnered to provide this new way to get out on the beach and into nature for people with mobility challenges. The two non-profits have set a goal of having 10 locations along and near the Oregon Coast where mobility challenged visitors can pick up and use an electric all-terrain Track Chair at no charge.
Anyone with mobility impairments, requiring the assistance of wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes or crutches, will be able to use these chairs free of charge.
These chairs provide a new freedom for a mobility challenged park visitor – to get off the pavement and out into nature.
With increased accessibility to trails, lakes, rivers and beaches, through demanding conditions like sand, snow and mud, mobility-impaired visitors will be able to participate in activities never-before possible.
From birdwatching and fishing, to riding along the beach, to simply enjoying the fresh air and solitude of nature, these all-terrain chairs will invite many new people to share the wonders of the great outdoors in our parks.
See these chairs in action at: https://davidschair.org/video-gallery/
Track Chairs are also currently available for free use at Tigard, Seaside, Manzanita, Pacific City, Netarts, Gold Beach and White City. Newport Oregon should be up and running within a couple of weeks.
Two locations (Tigard and White City) also allow guests to pick up a trailer and chair and take it to their location of choice. Linn County’s location will also offer this “Tow and Go” opportunity.
Reservations for free use must be made at least three days in advance at: https://davidschair.org.
About David’s Chair Outdoor Mobility Systems — David’s Chair is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit based in White City, Oregon with a mission to provide people with mobility challenges the free use of electric all-terrain track chairs offering freedom and independence to get outdoors and experience terrain and conditions that would otherwise be unavailable to them. The organization currently has 20 electric all-terrain track chairs and 7 trailers, available in many areas of Oregon for use for free by people with mobility challenges who reserve them at www.davidschair.org.
Contact: Steve Furst, CEO 541/941-8976 firstname.lastname@example.org
About Oregon Parks Forever — Since 1995, Oregon Parks Forever has been raising funds to help fund programs and projects that enhance the experience and accessibility of Oregon’s parks & forests. Emphasis is placed on projects that protect existing facilities and amenities, increase park accessibility, provide healthy activities and educate the future stewards of our public lands. Oregon Parks Forever is a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission includes working with federal, state, local and tribal public land managers to enhance and preserve special places and experiences in all Oregon parks. For more information, visit orparksforever.org/
Three Oregon Ports Will Share $36,489,508 In Federal Investments
Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with U.S. Representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Val Hoyle, announced the funding Nov. 1 for Astoria, Coquille Indian Tribe’s Ko’Kwel Wharf, and Newport.
“Ports play a crucial role in keeping the economies of Oregon and the entire Pacific Northwest running smoothly—transporting goods, people, and services throughout our region—and we rely on them to export our amazing, homegrown products around the world,” Merkley said. “This funding will provide crucial support to Astoria, the Coquille Indian Tribe, and Newport to improve existing infrastructure, increase storage capabilities, and bolster security while improving operational capacity for these critical ports.”
“Oregon’s ports produce jobs and act as economic linchpins for their communities as well as the entire state economy,” Wyden said. “I’m glad these three ports have secured these significant federal infrastructure investments to ensure they can keep exporting our state’s world-renowned products as well as generating economic opportunities for Newport, Astoria, the Coquille Indian Tribe and beyond.”
“Pier 2 West in Astoria is crucial to the region’s economy, but the structure has been deteriorating over the years,” Bonamici said. “I’m thrilled that the Port of Astoria will receive close to $25.3 million from USDOT to make overdue repairs to this essential infrastructure.”
“I’m thrilled that the Port of Newport will be receiving this important grant to upgrade its port infrastructure,” Hoyle said. “This is exactly the type of support that the federal government should be providing to Oregon’s ports, which are essential for local jobs and businesses on the Oregon coast. I will continue to strongly support investment in Oregon’s coastal communities.”
This past spring, Merkley, Wyden and Bonamici sent a letter to U.S. Maritime Administration urging their support for the Port of Astoria’s rehabilitation project application as well as a letter of support from Merkley and Wyden for the Newport operational capacity project application.
The federal investments come from the Fiscal Year 2023 Port Infrastructure Development Program.
“The Port of Newport greatly appreciates the support of our Federal Legislators and the Maritime Administration for this investment in our International Terminal,” Port of Newport Executive Director Paula Miranda said. “We are also grateful for our state legislators, stakeholders and community for years of investment in our terminal. This will allow us to expand our operational capacity through the purchase of equipment and the improvement of a nine-acre parcel for lay-down purposes. These enhancements make the Port more attractive to prospective customers and support economic opportunity in Lincoln County.”
“The Port of Astoria is extremely grateful to be a recipient of Port Infrastructure Development Program funding through MARAD for the rehabilitation of Pier 2 on the Astoria waterfront,” Port of Astoria Executive Director Will Isom said. “The seafood processing cluster on Pier 2 is vital to the Port, the City of Astoria and the entire region. Federal investment into this infrastructure was critical for its future and will help provide a safe, economically viable pier for generations to come!”
“The Coquille Indian Tribe is proud to take part in the nationwide effort to rebuild our port infrastructure. With this funding, our Tribal One team will continue their work to rebuild Ko’Kwel Wharf as a productive and reliable economic resource that will help secure the future of the Coquille Tribe and our North Bend community and become a valuable member of the nation’s maritime industry,” Coquille Indian Tribe Chair Brenda Meade said.
The Oregon projects funding and descriptions
$3,444,100 to Port of Newport: This project and funding will support the Port of Newport in the grading of nine acres of land adjacent to the port’s existing Newport International Terminal to create additional laydown and storage space; fence three acres of land for increased security; and purchase two loaders to load, unload and move cargo within and around the port, especially breakbulk cargo, which the port’s current cargo handling equipment is not well suited to safely and efficiently handle.
These improvements to the Newport International Terminal enable the Port of Newport to continue to support the economic development and prosperity of the Oregon Coast.
$25,315,758 to Port of Astoria: This project funds the rehabilitation of the Port of Astoria’s Pier 2 West – the region’s hub for seafood processing and maritime commerce – which is in critical need of repairs and rehabilitation. Project elements include:
1) A new steel bulkhead wall with a 75 year lifespan and that will include a new fendering system, 50 ton double bitt bollards, and a cast-in-place concrete bullrail.
2) Removal of the old timber dock.
4) Underpinning of the Pier 2 warehouse.
5) Warehouse building concrete slab repairs.
6) New concrete pavement on the pier surface.
7) Construction of a stormwater drainage system.
8) Replacement of a water line and fire hydrants adjacent to the warehouse for fire protection of Pier 2.
$7,729,650 to Coquille Indian Tribe: This project funds the following three components:
1) Repairs of the dock face along Lot 2 of Ko’Kwel Wharf that will bring the entire dock area up to safe operating standards and open opportunities for new uses of the terminal and wharf facility.
2) Bring 800-amp service and a shore power outlet box to the wharf to reduce or eliminate the need for idling diesel engines.
3) Support development phase activities leading to the construction of a 600’-700’ extension of the Ko’Kwel Wharf dock. (SOURCE)
Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission to meet Nov. 14 and 15 in Newport
The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission will convene Nov. 14 and 15 in Newport, Oregon.
On Nov. 14, commissioners will tour Brian Booth State Park in the morning and gather for a work session to discuss training from 1 to 3 p.m. at Hallmark Inn, 744 SW Elizabeth Street in Newport.
On Nov. 15, commissioners will convene an executive session at 8:30 a.m. at Hallmark Inn, 744 SW Elizabeth Street in Newport to discuss real estate and legal issues. Executive sessions are closed to the public. A business meeting will begin at 9:45 a.m. and will be open to the public.
Anyone may attend or listen to the business meeting; instructions on how to listen will be posted on the commission web page prior to the meeting. The business meeting includes time for informal public comment related to any items not on the agenda. Registration is required to speak at the meeting if attending online, and is available online at https://bit.ly/registernov2023commission. The deadline to register to speak at the meeting virtually is 5 p.m., Nov. 13. No advance registration is required to speak in person at the meeting. Time per speaker is limited to three minutes. Please submit written public comments by 5 p.m. Nov. 13 to email@example.com“>firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full agenda and supporting documents are posted on the commission web page. Notable requests:
- Request to adopt OAR 736-010-0020 and 736-021-0040-Amending Park Exclusion Rules
- Request to adopt- OAR 736-021-0090– Amending Territorial Sea Plan Rocky Habitat Site Designation Rules
- Request to adopt- OAR 736-004-0015– Amending ATV Class definitions
- Ft. Stevens Guard House Construction Contract
Anyone needing special accommodations to attend the meeting should contact Denise Warburton, commission assistant, at least three days in advance: email@example.com“>firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-779-9729.
The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission promotes outdoor recreation and heritage by establishing policies, adopting rules and setting the budget for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. The seven members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon Senate. They serve four-year terms and meet several times a year at locations across the state.
North Bend School District Public Meetings — November 2023
Below are North Bend School District public meetings currently scheduled for November:
November 16, 2023
North Bend High School Library at 6:00 p.m.
2323 Pacific St., North Bend, OR
The schedule is subject to change. Please email email@example.com or visit the NBSD Website: https://meetings.boardbook.org/Public/Organization/1573 for agenda information
There is no school again today for tens of thousands of Portland Public Schools students as teachers remain on strike
Negotiations between the teachers union and the district continues, with PPS officials telling KGW that they’re making progress with educators on the topic of planning and preparation time. However, on the issues of cost-of-living wage increase and class size caps, both sides appear to still be far apart.
On Tuesday, district officials announced that they had called on Gov. Tina Kotek to help identify a facilitator to continue bringing both the union and the PPS bargaining team together over the next two days, since the current mediator had another mediation commitment on Wednesday and Thursday. The district said if none could be found, they’d resume on Friday morning.
Kotek released a statement, saying that the state’s chief financial officer, Kate Nass, will work with PPS and PAT during the ongoing mediation sessions. Nass will review financial information “to ensure the district and union are working from the same set of numbers as they keep working to resolve this strike.”
“My office successfully worked to secure a mediator to remain at the table with PAT and PPS,” she said. “My focus continues to be on providing the support needed to deliver a fair contract for PPS educators and return students to the classroom.”
Students, parents and educators also gathered for a rally outside Atkinson Elementary School in Southeast Portland. Although kids said they’re hoping to get back to class soon, they’re in full support of their teachers.
Federal Judge Orders Oregon Counties to Release Criminal Defendants from Jail If They Aren’t Appointed An Attorney Within a Week of Their First Court Appearance
A federal judge ordered Oregon counties to release criminal defendants from jail if they aren’t appointed an attorney within a week of their first court appearance. The ruling will go into effect November 16th.
The state is one of many that have struggled to ensure their public defense systems meet the requirements of the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment, and Oregon has faced multiple lawsuits over the issue in recent years.
Ruling Thursday in a case filed this year by the Federal Public Defender’s Office, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said indigent defendants are essentially being locked up and deprived of a voice simply because they are too poor to hire their own lawyer.
“While the reasons underlying the shortage of publicly funded attorneys in Oregon are complex, all parties agree that the state is facing a crisis in its constitutional mandate to provide qualified attorneys to those charged with crimes,” McShane wrote.
Fixing the problem will take systemic change and time, the judge said, “But the luxury of time, unfortunately, is not something that many petitioners have when faced with a criminal prosecution.”
Roughly 135 people were in Oregon jails without access to attorneys at the end of October, the judge said. Many of them had technically been appointed public defenders but no attorney ever actually showed up to represent them. State laws generally require that criminal defendants have their first court appearance within 36 hours of being arrested, though that time frame doesn’t include weekends.
Judges in Multnomah County, which is home to Portland, routinely dismiss cases due to a lack of defense attorneys. More than 300 cases, most of them felonies, were dismissed in 2022.
The county’s top prosecutor, Mike Schmidt, has called the shortage “an urgent threat to public safety” and said 10 cases were dismissed between Oct. 20 and Nov. 2.
Public defenders say uncompetitive pay, high stress and overwhelming caseloads affect staffing levels, and the state has historically relied on a contracting system that made it difficult to track which attorneys are assigned to which cases. Lawmakers passed a public defense reform bill earlier this year, but the reforms will take time to implement.
The U.S. Constitution says people charged with a crime have a right to an attorney, but it’s up to states to decide how to make sure that happens. States have carried out that constitutional mandate with varying degrees of success.
“America’s dirty little secret is that thousands of people go to jail every single day in our country without ever having spoken to an attorney,” said David Carroll, executive director and founder of the Sixth Amendment Center, which advocates for equal access in the criminal justice system.
Earlier this year the Mississippi Supreme Court changed that state’s rules so that poor criminal defendants must be appointed an attorney before they are indicted. The indictment process in Mississippi can sometimes take a year or more, forcing indigent criminal defendants to spend months or longer in jail without anyone to fight for their legal rights, Carroll said.
But Mississippi, like most states, lacks enforcement mechanisms to make sure the criminal defense requirements are actually followed, Carroll said.
The lack of enforcement mechanisms means improvements are sometimes forced by lawsuits rather than legislation.
In August the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine obtained a settlement over the failure of that state’s public defender system with a state agency’s commitment to press for more funding, additional public defender offices and other improvements.
A 2004 ruling in a Missouri state court took action similar to this week’s Oregon ruling, ordering that indigent inmates could not be held in lieu of bail for more than seven days without an attorney. But civil rights advocates said the problems continued, and additional lawsuits were filed in 2017 and 2020. In February of this year, a state judge ordered that poor defendants facing imprisonment must be provided a public defender no later than two weeks after they qualify for representation.
Oregon Housing and Community Services awards over $56 million to smaller developments and Veteran housing
SALEM, OR – The Oregon Housing Stability Council approved $56.7 million in Small Projects and Veterans funding to 11 affordable housing developments across the state. These investments from Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) will provide 261 homes in smaller developments for veterans, seniors, agricultural workers, people experiencing homelessness, and wildfire survivors.
OHCS defines smaller developments as those having 40 homes or fewer in one complex. Five developments selected for funding awards are in rural areas (42% of total homes) and six are in urban areas (58% of total homes).
“Providing housing is not just a matter of shelter,” says OHCS Director, Andrea Bell. “It’s a statement of our commitment to the well-being of our veterans who’ve sacrificed for our nation, our seniors who’ve contributed to our society, and our agricultural workers who feed our communities. It’s a testament to our values and our gratitude for those who are integral to our beloved communities.”
Brookings CORE Response, a non-profit that serves veterans experiencing homelessness, was awarded funding for the creation of the Veterans Housing Project which will provide 18 much needed homes in Gold Beach.
“The City of Gold Beach has worked hard in recent years to find housing solutions of all kinds,” said Tamie Kaufman, the mayor of the City of Gold Beach. “I am excited that Brookings CORE Response has taken the initiative to use a property for veterans housing. We have a large number of veterans in our community, many of whom need both housing and support, which this project provides. Additionally, the project’s support for culturally specific veterans is amazing.”
Eleven projects were approved for funding at the November Housing Stability Council meeting:
|Baker City Senior Village||Baker City||$ 2 million||10|
|Carson Commons||Dallas||$ 3.9 million||20|
|EverFree Homes||Klamath Falls||$ 3.5 million||15|
|The Jade||Portland||$ 10 million||40|
|Jolenes Second Cousin||Portland||$ 1.2 million||11|
|Queen Ave Apartments||Albany||$ 6.2 million||30|
|Springfield Apartments||Springfield||$ 7.9 million||39|
|Talent 2 Senior Apartments||Talent||$ 5.2 million||26|
|Town Center Courtyards Phase II||Happy Valley||$ 3.8 million||12|
|Trinity Place||Sisters||$ 9.8 million||40|
|Veterans Housing Project||Gold Beach||$ 3.2 million||18|
This was a competitive application process. OHCS received a total of 17 applications, amounting to over $94 million in funding requests. OHCS is grateful to the internal and external scoring committees for their diligent evaluation of the applications.
For more detailed information about each recommended project, please refer to the November Housing Stability Council packet.
OHA urges mpox vaccinations after 17 cases reported since July 20
Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is reminding people about the availability of a safe and effective vaccine against mpox following an increase in cases of the virus in recent months.
Seventeen mpox cases were reported to OHA and local public health authorities between July 20 and Oct. 31. This prompted state health officials to distribute a statewide advisory to health care providers this week, recommending they consider mpox when evaluating patients with mpox symptoms regardless of the patient’s reported risk, vaccination status or level of community transmission. The advisory also states that testing patients with rashes, lesions or symptoms compatible with mpox should be considered part of comprehensive sexual health care.
Tim Menza, M.D., Ph.D., senior health adviser for OHA’s mpox response, said Oregon saw one to three mpox cases per month before mid-summer. While the recent increase in cases since July 20 is still lower than the 10 to 15 cases reported each week at the height of the 2022 outbreak, these cases show that mpox is still spreading in Oregon.
“We never declared the 2022 outbreak over because we were concerned about increases like the one we are seeing now,” Menza said. “And it gives us an opportunity to remind folks in the community that vaccination against mpox remains a valuable tool for reducing the risk of mpox infection.”
The JYNNEOS mpox vaccine is free and readily available to anyone in Oregon who wants to be vaccinated, regardless of insurance status. It is also highly effective: According to a study published in May in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the vaccine was found to be 75% effective for those receiving one dose and 86% effective for those who had two doses.
Mpox spreads primarily through close, skin-to-skin contact. Most often, it has spread through intimate or sexual contact, and during contact with the lesions of an individual with mpox through a caregiving relationship, such as a parent caring for a child or an adult caretaker of another person.
Mpox symptoms can start between a few days to three weeks after contact. The most common are flu-like symptoms of fever, chills, sweats, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and feeling tired. Most people will develop a rash within a few days of the flu-like symptoms; some people only develop a rash, which may start on or near the penis, testicles, labia, vagina or anus. It may also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth.
People who suspect they have mpox should contact their health care provider to let them know before going in to be seen. The provider may recommend testing for mpox. Those who don’t have a health care provider can call 2-1-1 for help finding a clinic or health care provider.
For more information about mpox in Oregon, visit OHA’s mpox website or the CDC’s mpox page, https://mpoxvaxmap.org/. Vaccination clinics can also be searched by ZIP code with the mpox vaccine locator tool at https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/Monkeypox/Pages/vaccine.aspx.
Oregon County Clerks Struggling with Staffing, Retention, and Recruitment in the Midst of a Toxic Political Environment
Oregon’s 36 county clerks play a critical role on the front lines of administering Oregon’s elections and are essential in promoting our democracy.
But an increasingly toxic political environment, inadequate funding model, and rapidly growing and changing workload are threatening the clerks’ ability to recruit, hire, and retain county elections staff, according to a new study published by Reed College…
The study was commissioned by the Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division to better understand the changing landscape county clerks face in advance of the 2024 Presidential election year. Researchers at Reed College’s Elections and Voting Information Ce… (EVIC) spent months interviewing nearly all Oregon county clerks and have compiled the sobering findings in a study to be presented before the Legislature today.
“This report is a grim but realistic look at what our county clerks face,” said Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade. “But it’s also a testament to their professionalism and ingenuity.”
The researchers found:
• Staffing recruitment and retention is hampered by out-of-date job classifications, compensations, and perceptions of the work. Staffing today is at or below staffing levels from a decade ago.
• Public records requests are becoming increasingly burdensome, as false information is spread and distrust in elections systems continues to fuel more frequent and complicated requests for information.
• Local elections offices are experiencing retirements, resignations, and loss of expertise. Since 2020, 34% of county clerks have retired or resigned.
• Oregon’s funding model for county elections, dependent largely on fluctuations in interest rates and the real estate market, is inadequate for election needs. Counties are already laying off workers because of this outdated funding model.
• Elections officials and staff are subject to unacceptable levels of abuse, threats, and harassment, driving many of them to quit despite expressing their pride and passion for the work.
“We have active shooter training that we’ve done,” said one individual to the researchers. “We kind of know how to recognize some of the signs that somebody might be escalating versus deescalating.”
“I saw in [previous Clerk] this love and passion that I didn’t know was there,” said another. “It pushed me into really caring and loving and making sure that people really know what they had, and how important elections are, and the rights they have. And if you are not involved, it’s really hard to see change.”
Elections Division staff commissioned the study at the request of the Oregon Association of County Clerks, after hearing concerns from elections officials about the changing electoral landscape. Prior to the study, officials lacked data to fully capture the needs of elections administration in Oregon. This study is a critical first step to understanding the discrepancies in staffing challenges across the state and provides information for Oregon clerks to use when advocating for increased investment.
“For the last few years, we have heard hundreds of anecdotes about underfunding and understaffing at county elections offices, both here in Oregon and around the country,” said Secretary Griffin-Valade. “Now, we have some real data to back up those anecdotes. We call on legislators and county governments to read this report and consider its recommendations.”
Researchers include several recommendations in the study, directed at both the Secretary of State’s Office and the Oregon Legislature, on ways to provide coordinated and statewide support to county elections officials.
The Secretary will be joining two Oregon County Clerks and the Reed College researchers to share the study’s findings during November Legislative Days at the Capitol.
What: A presentation on the findings of the clerk staffing study before the House Rules Committee.
Who: Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade;
Paul Gronke PhD, Director of Elections and Voting Information Center and Professor of Political Science, Reed College;
Paul Manson PhD, Research Director of Elections and Voting Information Center and Research Assistant Professor, Portland State University;
Harney County Clerk Derrin “Dag” Robinson; and
Baker County Clerk Stefanie Kirby.
When: 11:30 a.m. on November 7, 2023
Where: Hearing Room A at the Capitol. You can also watch a live stream of the meeting on OLIS: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2023I1/Comm… (SOURCE)
Enrollment In Individual Health Insurance Now Open Through Mid-January
The tens of thousands of Oregonians who buy their own health insurance can now start shopping for the best plan for next year.
Open enrollment on the federal online marketplace, which Oregon will continue to use for the next few years, runs this year from Nov. 1 through Jan. 16. Those who enroll by Dec. 15 will be covered starting Jan. 1, and those who sign up after that will be covered starting Feb. 1.
Premiums will increase 6% next year on average but individuals can obtain subsidies through the marketplace to reduce costs. The subsidies come in the form of tax credits that can be used throughout the year or at tax time. In the past, around 70% of those who applied obtained financial help. That jumped to 80% last year, according to Amy Coven at the Oregon Health Authority, which oversees health insurance enrollment.Sign up for coverage
But before buying a plan, state officials recommend that people use the window-shopping tool to compare plans, which vary among different areas.
Oregon also offers free help through experts in health insurance. Find someone for the marketplace, or healthcare.gov, by clicking here.
“Premiums can start as low as a dollar, sometimes even less with the financial help, and they go up from there,” Coven said.
The average tax credit last year was around $500 per person a month, Coven said. That translated to an out-of-pocket premium cost per person of about $225.
Subsidies are based on the marketplace’s silver, or mid-range plans, and there’s no upper income limit to qualify for financial help. Individuals can also sign up for a bronze plan, which has the least expensive premium but costs more out-of-pocket for services, or gold plans, which have the highest premiums but lowest out-of-pocket costs.
All plans include 10 essential benefits, which include emergency care and hospitalization, prescriptions, mental health and addiction services, lab services and maternity and pediatric care. The plans also include free preventive care, which is mandated by the Affordable Care Act. All Oregon plans also offer coverage for abortions, acupuncture and chiropractic care and the first three primary care or mental health care visits cost $5 even before the deductible kicks in.
“The coverage is very robust,” Coven said.
The state has offered catastrophic coverage, which is designed to cover unexpected medical costs. And its website says it still does, but Coven said Thursday in a follow-up call that they will not be available for 2024.
Enrollment on the marketplace increased in recent year, hitting nearly 147,000 in 2022 and nearly 142,000 last year. Coven expects 2024 enrollment figures to increase over this year’s as a result of the thousands of people who are being bumped off Medicaid because they no longer qualify. Since April, state officials have been auditing the nearly 1.5 million Oregonians on Medicaid to see whether they still meet the income and other qualifications as part of the end of extra Medicaid benefits during the pandemic.
Although a majority of people on Medicaid have retained coverage, the health authority’s dashboard shows that more than 62,000 have lost the free medical and dental coverage.
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that folks understand what other coverage options are available and provide direct assistance for enrollment,” Coven said.
She said officials have sent out 50,000 letters to those who’ve lost Medicaid coverage. It’s not yet clear how many will remain insured by buying health insurance. The state increased the percentage of those who have health insurance during the pandemic thanks to federal and state programs. The state’s insured rate stands at 96%, though that could fall if a lot of people who lose Medicaid do not buy coverage. (SOURCE)
Adult in Custody apprehended after fleeing Oregon Department of Corrections Central Distribution Center in Salem
An adult in custody (AIC) left an offsite work crew Tuesday, November 7, 2023, from the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) Central Distribution Center (CDC) located in Salem. Juan Antonio Castillo fled on a golf cart at approximately 9:50 a.m. He was apprehended by Marion County Sheriff’s Office nearby on Lancaster Drive at 10:13 a.m. Oregon State Police are investigating.
Juan Castillo entered DOC custody on July 12, 2023, on one count of eluding a police officer, and one count of robbery in the second degree out of Marion County. His earliest release date was April 17, 2027.
Castillo was housed at the Santiam Correctional Institution in Salem. SCI a minimum-security prison in Salem that houses approximately 440 adults in custody who are within four years of release. The facility concentrates on work opportunities, most of which are in the form of work crews contracting with state agencies, local organizations, and private industries within a 60-mile radius of Salem. SCI provides a range of other correctional programs and services including education, transition programs, and religious services. The building that is now SCI was constructed in 1946 and was originally used as an annex to the Oregon State Hospital for mental health patients. Over the years it was used for a variety of correctional purposes until, in 1990, it opened as SCI.
Oregon Parks and Recreation To Discuss Drone Rules And Maps
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) will livestream a virtual meeting Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. to present draft drone take-off and landing classification criteria to be used in future park drone use maps. The agency will then invite the public to share their views on the criteria from Oct. 23 through 5 p.m. on Dec. 29.
The meeting will be livestreamed on YouTube for the public here.
Attendees who want to ask questions during the Q&A portion of the meeting must register beforehand here.
Although the formal rulemaking process for drone take-off and landing began in 2021, the agency temporarily stopped in April 2022 to form a work group and explore the matter in more detail.
The work group included various partners including conservation groups, drone users, state and federal agencies and met from June 2022 through the summer of 2023.
OPRD’s region resource and Geographic Information Services (GIS) staff, alongside park managers reviewed the draft criteria and applied them to three sample areas, one from each region of state parks.
Feedback will be reviewed by agency staff and the work group as part of a final report to the OPRD Director Lisa Sumption, who will then decide whether to direct staff to resume public administrative rulemaking or do more work on the proposals.
Individuals who require special accommodations to view the meetings should contact Jo Niehaus at least three days in advance of the meeting at 503-580-9210 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Oregon is Searching for its Next Poet Laureate
Oregon is searching for its next Poet Laureate. Over the two-year-term, the Poet Laureate promotes the art of poetry, encourages literacy and learning, addresses issues relating to the humanities and reflects on public life in Oregon.
Nominations are accepted through January 8th, and poets are welcome to nominate themselves. The next Poet Laureate term begins in May. MORE INFO: https://culturaltrust.org/oregon-poet-laureate/?fbclid=IwAR0O-Gx81HjAKwXHwyrEVtxpgyXma9XRb5xwacG_o57ga3_lKUwIbPRMXks
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
- 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.
Contact us: Info@OregonBeachMagazine.com