Oregon Beach News, Wednesday 5/17 – Florence Rhododendron Festival May 18-21, Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District Updates Surf Fatality Press Release

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Oregon Beach Weather

Florence Rhododendron Festival May 18 – 21

Celebrate the 116th annual Rhododendron Festival in Florence. The new banners promoting Florence are up along highway 101 along with more than 100 hanging flower baskets in time for the 116th annual Rhododendron Festival.


It all came together last week as Florence prepares to greet thousands of visitors to the coast this week.  The festival signifies the beginning of the summer tourist season in Florence which brings in more than $200 million dollars to the city and businesses in the surrounding communities.

The Davis Shows Carnival opens on Thursday in Old Town Florence and the Rhododendron Court coronation of Queen Rhododendra and The King of the Coast takes place the Saturday evening prior to the main weekend at the Florence Events Center. Saturday features the annual 5K Rhody Run and Walk, the junior parade and kids’ activities, the annual Rhody Classic Car Show ‘n’ Shine, and the Coast Radio Classic Car Cruise through Old Town. Sunday brings the grand floral parade down Highway 101 at noon.

Throughout the event there will be a vendor’s fair in Old Town, a spectacular rhododendron show at the Florence Events Center, and live music, art, and other festivities and activities all over town. Carnival day passes go on sale mid April at the Visitor Center.

The Florence Rhododendron Festival is the second-oldest flower festival in Oregon, just one year younger than the Portland Rose Festival, and third oldest on the West Coast behind the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, California. Thousands come from around the world to celebrate with us every year on the third weekend in May. MORE INFO: https://florencechamber.com/annual-events/rhody-festival-2/

From Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District – Updated information as of Tuesday, May 16 for the May 12th Surf Rescue press release

“We would like to amend our earlier press release published on Friday, May 12, 2023 regarding the water rescue. Initial reports stated there was a group “swimming in the ocean.” Our 911 dispatch center quickly activated all first responders for two swimmers in the water, unable to be seen.

While our initial reports stated there was a group of individuals swimming in the water, please keep in mind that it can be hard to distinguish between people swimming, playing, or struggling in the water from the ocean shore. The term “swimming in the ocean” is often an interchangeable term used in reference to water rescues.

After reviewing statements from the students involved and witnesses, it is more accurate to say that the group was wading in knee-deep water along the ocean shelf. They were struck by a wave and then pulled out by an intense rip current.

At this time, we are unable to provide any new information.”

Coast Guard Assists in Rescue Operation Near Walton

On 05/09/2023 just after 9:00am, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office received information about an injured logger in the woods near of Richardson Upriver Rd. outside of Walton. The 32-year-old logger sustained serious injuries to his pelvis, leg and head after being struck by a moving boulder, leaving him stranded down in a canyon nearly 1000ft away from the roadway. A second logger had also been struck by the boulder but sustained less-severe injuries to his lower-leg. 

Lane County Sheriff Search and Rescue personnel responded and made their way down to the injured logger by foot.  Search and Rescue personnel began preparing to initiate a complex steep-angle rope rescue when the United States Coast Guard was able to arrive in the area with a rescue helicopter.  The severely injured patient was able to be hoisted up to the helicopter via the rescue basket.  A Lane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue coordinator was also brought into the helicopter to continue providing emergency medical care during the transport to an area hospital.  The second patient was able to walk out on his own with some assistance. Both patients are expected to survive.

Man arrested in Charleston after report of a domestic disturbance

On May 15th, 2023, at 2:08 a.m., the Coos County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center received a call of a disturbance in progress located off Cape Arago Hwy.

Deputy R. Baker responded and contacted the victim, stating she had been physically assaulted but did not need medical attention. The suspect was identified as Michael J. Neel (41). Mr. Neel had left the location before Deputy R. Baker’s arrival. After an investigation, probable cause was issued for the arrest of Mr. Neel on the charge of domestic assault IV.

At 6:30 p.m. Deputy R. Baker responded to the Portside Restaurant to attempt to locate Michael Neel. Mr. Neel was at the location and spoke with Deputy Baker. After an investigation, Mr. Neel was arrested on the charge of domestic assault IV, stemming from the incident that morning.

Michael J. Neel (41) was transported to the Coos County Jail, where he was booked and remains in custody.

Alert Citizens’ Help Stop Graffiti Crime Spree in Lincoln City

On Monday, May 15, 2023, at about 6:10 PM, LCPD Officers were dispatched to Lock & Key Adventurer’s Guild, located at 3026 NE Highway 101 on a reported graffiti call that turned into a physical disturbance. As officers were responding, updated information was that victims had chased the suspect to the area behind Starbucks where a physical altercation was currently taking place. 


When officers arrived in the area, several subjects were located behind the old “Little Sambo’s” restaurant. The male suspect fought the witnesses/victims as they were detaining him for police, and then fought with officers before he was successfully secured and placed into a patrol vehicle. The male suspect was determined to be a 16-year-old juvenile from Salem Oregon. 

Subsequent investigation determined that several cans of spray paint had been stolen from the storage area behind the Beach Club Restaurant. The 16-year-old suspect had spray painted graffiti “BAM” on several businesses and vehicles in the area. The estimated repair cost is expected to be well over $5,000 in total damage as a result to the spray painted graffiti. 

The juvenile was charged with several counts of Criminal Mischief II, Criminal Mischief I & Resisting Arrest, and later released to his guardian. The case investigation is ongoing, as it is believed more victims will be discovered.   

The list of victims so far are as follows: Beach Club Restaurant, Mills Ace Hardware, Wells Fargo Bank, Captain Cook Motel, Ocean Lake Laundry, The Surftides billboard, Lock & Key Adventurer’s Guild, as well as a new model Subaru Outback. 

Lincoln City Police would like to thank the concerned citizens, witnesses and victims for their assistance with this case. This is yet another example of the partnership between our citizens and the police that allow us to solve crimes and help make a safer community for us all. 

The Coos County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s assistance to locate a century-old scrapbook’s owner

The Coos County Sheriff’s Office has been working diligently to return lost/recovered property to its owners. Unfortunately, this old, leather-bound scrapbook is in the Sheriff’s Office Evidence Locker. The Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s assistance to locate the owner or relative to return this memorable keepsake.

The Sheriff’s Office believes a “Mrs. L.D. Rutten or Mable C. Rutten,” from Florida is the possible owner. If anyone recognizes the names above or knows the family, please get in touch with Det. Sgt. A. Whittenburg at awhittenburg@co.coos.or.us or 541-396-7800 as we would be deeply honored to return this book full of history to its rightful owner.

Armed Forces Day Celebration Today at State Capitol to Honor Military Service

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon National Guard is scheduled to participate in a ceremony to honor all military members on May 17, 2023 at the State Capitol Mall in Salem, Oregon.

The Armed Forces Day event is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m., with a formal ceremony starting at noon, and will conclude with an F-15 Eagle flyover conducted by the Oregon Air National Guard, and a Howitzer salute by the Oregon Army National Guard’s Bravo Battery, 2-218 Field Artillery Battalion.

In addition to honoring all military members, the event will also feature displays from various units throughout the Oregon National Guard.  “Oregon’s Own” 234th Army Band will also be featured, playing a variety of patriotic music and other selections.

Oregon Army National Guard Commander Brig. Gen. Gregory T. Day, is scheduled to preside over the ceremony.

“It has been years since we have been able to host an Armed Forces Day event,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Bomar, Director of Public Affairs for the Oregon Military Department.  “We are excited about being able to finally getting back to honoring our military service members and fellow veterans with this public event at our state capital.”

Armed Forces Day was originally created in 1949 by President Harry S. Truman to honor Americans serving in all of the branches of the military, replacing the separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days.  The holiday was finally official designated in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, declaring that, “Word to the Nation: Guard zealously your right to serve in the Armed Forces, for without them, there will be no other rights to guard.”

The public and the media are encouraged to attend, and local food trucks will be available around the State Capital event area. 

UPDATE: 173rd FW responds to F-15D mishap at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls

  • Published May 16, 2023
  • By 173rd Public Affairs Office
  • 173rd Fighter Wing


A U.S. Air Force F-15D departed the runway during landing at approximately 3:15 p.m. yesterday at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore.  The aircraft was returning to base following a routine training mission.

Upon landing the aircraft left the paved surface and came to a stop in the Bureau of Reclamation irrigation canal at the south side of the runway. 

“We don’t believe the aircraft is leaking any petroleum products based on our initial assessment of the water in the canal,” said Col. Micah Lambert, 173rd Fighter Wing vice commander.  “Minimizing the environmental impact is one of our main priorities; we have taken precautionary measures and placed absorbent booms around the aircraft to prevent the flow of fuel, or other substances, downstream in the event there is a leakage.” 

Lambert also said the wing is conducting ongoing water sampling to detect if there is a presence of petroleum products in the water. 

The plane was assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing, and there was one crew member on board.  The F-15 instructor pilot exited the aircraft safely and was transported to Sky Lakes Medical Center as a precaution and for evaluation.  He has since been released with minor injuries.

“We are so grateful that our pilot was able to walk away from this mishap,” said Lambert.  “Our Team Kingsley responders acted quickly and with professionalism thanks to the extensive training and safety mindset of our team.”

Lambert noted that the wing is partnering with local authorities and federal agencies, to include the Bureau of Reclamation, to ensure the aircraft is safely removed from the canal.

A board of officers has been assigned to investigate the mishap.  Additional updates will be provided as soon as they are available. (SOURCE)

Bend Nurses Launch Strike Vote May 16

Nearly 1,000 nurses will cast a strike vote to protect patient safety and protest unfair labor practices at St. Charles Bend.

ONA nurses lead an informational picket outside St. Charles Bend April 24 to demand St. Charles executives address the hospital's staffing crisis, raise safety standards and improve community health care. Photo Courtesy of ONA.

(Bend, Ore.) – Frontline nurses are opening a strike vote against St. Charles Bend–Oregon’s largest hospital east of the Cascades. Nurses are voting to protect their community’s health and safety, protest St. Charles’ illegal unfair labor practices and fix St. Charles’ growing staffing crisis.

The vote will run from May 16 – 21. If passed, nurse leaders are authorized to call for a strike. The nearly 1,000 frontline nurses at St. Charles Bend are represented by the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA).

Local nurses have been meeting with St. Charles’ executives for more than 5 months to try to reach a fair contract agreement that addresses the hospital’s nurse staffing crisis, raises safety standards, increases recruitment and retention of skilled caregivers, and ensures all Central Oregonians have access to safe, affordable health care. 

“St. Charles executives declared a crisis last July but nothing has changed for our patients. They’re still stuck with blocked beds, canceled surgeries, and long wait times in the ER. As Bend continues to grow, our staff needs to grow too. We need the hospital to recruit, retain and respect nurses so we can care for our community,” said Erin Harrington, a local nurse and chair of ONA’s bargaining team at St. Charles Bend. “Today, St. Charles is leaving us no choice but to vote to strike. We’ve met them halfway but they’ve refused to compromise. Nurses know our patients and our community deserve better. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work.” 

Nurses are not the only ones calling out staffing and safety problems at St. Charles Bend. 

St. Charles’ chronic unsafe staffing is directly linked to its failures to recruit, retain and respect frontline nurses. Since 2018, nearly 60% of registered nurses at St. Charles Bend resigned. St. Charles Bend has more than 300 vacant nursing positions as of March 21, 2023 per hospital data.

Decades of research and real-life experience confirm a lack of nurses harms community healthEditSignEditSign and leads to longer wait times and hospital stays, higher costs, more patient infections and injuries, more readmissions and more preventable deaths. 

St. Charles Bend is also under investigation for multiple unfair labor practices including spying on union nurses during nurses’ personal time, refusing to provide information about its multimillion dollar contracts with outside staffing agencies, and bad faith bargaining. 

“The nurses we count on to save our lives are overworked, understaffed and undervalued by St. Charles’ executives. That should set off clanging alarm bells in this community,” said ONA President Tamie Cline. “Executives at St. Charles have ignored repeated warnings about its staffing crisis. Now it’s endangering patients and putting an entire community’s health at risk. Nurses have no choice but to take action to protect their community. They have ONA’s full support as they fight to make their hometown hospital safe.” 

Nurses are currently working without a contract after the previous agreement expired Dec. 31, 2022. Contract provisions remain in effect while the parties are engaged in negotiations.

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents more than 16,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state, including more than 1,200 frontline nurses and allied health workers at multiple St. Charles Health facilities serving Central and Eastern Oregon. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.

Numerous Fatal Drug Overdoses Raise Concerns About Dangerous Batch

The Portland Police Bureau is alerting the community of a potentially dangerous batch of drugs circulating the street marketplace. Since Friday, May 12, 2023, PPB has assisted the Medical Examiner with 8 death investigations that are suspected drug overdoses. Six of them are likely fentanyl related, and the other two are pending additional investigation.

These are a list of the current cases:

May 12, 2023, 11:38a.m., inside an apartment in the 12100 block of East Burnside Street, 38-year-old man, case number 23-123928

May 12, 2023, 1:34p.m., in a tent in the 8100 block of Southeast Rhine Street, 42-year-old man, 23-124037

May 13, 2023, 12:24a.m., in a vehicle in Sellwood Riverfront Park, 8049 SE Oaks Park Way, 47-year-old man, 23-124623

May 13, 2023, 1:44a.m., in a grassy area at West Burnside Street and Northwest 8th Avenue, unknown age man (identity has not yet been determined), 23-124669

May 13, 2023, 4:21p.m., in an apartment in the 800 block of Northwest Naito Parkway, 69-year-old man, 23-125214

May 13, 2023, 11:49p.m., in an apartment in the 16000 block of Northeast Sandy Boulevard, 49-year-old male and a 37-year-old man, 23-125607

May 14, 2023, 4:31p.m., 8100 Block of North Hartman Street, Unknown age person, 23-126180

All of these cases are under investigation by the Medical Examiner’s office and Portland Police Narcotics and Organized Crime (NOC) Unit. Preliminary investigation reveals a concerning pattern. NOC has found that in several of these cases, there is evidence that the user believed they were ingesting cocaine, but that it was really a blend of cocaine and fentanyl, or possibly pure powdered fentanyl. Users are warned that there may be a batch of purported cocaine circulating on the street that is particularly dangerous to use.

NOC is continuing to investigate. If anyone has information about any of these cases and have not already talked to police, please e-mail crimetips@police.portlandoregon.gov and reference the corresponding case number. Additional information will be released when appropriate. (SOURCE)

One historic hotel seeks its perfect match — could it be you?

Nestled in the upper end of the Blitzen Valley with Steens Mountain in the distance, the Frenchglen Hotel awaits its perfect match – a concessionaire with business savvy to run its hotel and restaurant. Are you the one? 

Do you enjoy the charms of rural Eastern Oregon surrounded by the high desert and mountain lakes or gazing upon glittering night skies untouched by city lights? 

Maybe you’re tempted by the proximity to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge or to the many hot springs nearby? Or is it seclusion you seek? The town of Frenchglen has a population of 12 with the next closest community, Burns, at least an hour away. 

This historic hotel has a lot to offer the winning proposal.

A little history: Built in 1917, the eight-room hotel served up accommodations and hot meals to travelers and ranch visitors. Now, 106 years later, the hotel has earned its place on the National Register of Historic Places and is welcoming even more guests with the addition of Drover’s Inn, which includes 4 additional rooms to rent with private bathrooms for a total of 12 reservable rooms on the property. There is also a caretaker’s house. 

Business is booming for the majority of the season (March 15 through October) followed by a closed season for quieter pursuits. 

This historic hotel and adjoining properties are turnkey ready for this season. All it needs is a new concessionaire after the retirement of its longtime operator. 

Still interested? Here is what Frenchglen is seeking:

  • 3 years business background and experience in restaurants and hotels
  • designated business as S-corporation or limited liability corporation to meet land lease requirements
  • a modern touch to grow the business online with digital reservations
  • management experience as they will likely need 1 to 2 employees to help with the restaurant and hotel

Frenchglen is accepting proposals online. Candidates will need to register with Oregon Buys or submit completed proposals to utler@oprd.oregon.gov“>Winona.Butler@oprd.oregon.gov. The deadline is 2 p.m. June 2, 2023. Don’t miss your chance with this historic gem. 

You can also make a visit during an open house 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 26. 

Disclosure: If this is a match made in heaven, the matchmaker and property owner, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, seeks 5% of revenue and $2,400 a month to maintain the historic property and its infrastructure. Last year the business reported $418,770 in revenue. 

Free camping, day-use and activities to celebrate State Parks Day June 3

Celebrate State Parks Day with free parking and free RV and tent site camping at all Oregon State Parks June 3 as well as special events at selected parks.

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) will waive day-use parking fees at the 25 locations that charge them June 3 and June 4. OPRD will also waive camping fees for all tent, RV and horse campsites June 3. 

State Parks Day has been a tradition since 1998 as a way to thank Oregonians for their support of the state park system over many decades.

“Oregon has one of the best state parks systems in the country, and it’s because you have invested in parks, cared for them and preserved them for everyone to enjoy. Thank you,” said OPRD Director Lisa Sumption. 

State Parks Day Events

Several free special events and service projects are planned June 3 to celebrate State Parks Day: 

  • Cove Palisades:Festival of the Landis a free festival that celebrates the diverse history, food and culture of Central Oregon 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event includes: archeology hikes, kids’ games and activities, petting “zoo”, mini farmers market, pollinator, wildfire and fish displays, fry bread and more.
  • Smith Rock: Trail Keepers of Oregon will lead a group of volunteers on some trail maintenance projects on trails in the park 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Bring snacks, lunch, water and work gloves. Free. Registration required. 
  • Valley of the Rogue: Veteran’s Powwow 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 3 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 4. The event includes a powwow ceremony with gourd dancing and vender booths. It is open to all veterans, tribal members or not.
  • Honeyman: An educational film screening will be held at the Amphitheater located in B loop overnight campground from 1 to 3 p.m. Park at the Sand Dunes Day use parking area and walk to the amphitheater, or find limited parking by the campground registration booth. This event is weather dependent.
  • L.L. Stub Stewart: The Friends of Stub Stewart State Park will have booths and tables set up all around the Welcome Center building dedicated to local fire departments, state forestry agencies and volunteer organizations. Free snacks and refreshments provided by the friends group, in addition to arts and crafts activities and interpretive displays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Luckiamute: Discover the birds that call Luckiamute Natural Area home by participating in Bird Bingo 9 a.m. to noon. Register online. Participants who pre-register will receive a bingo card on the day of the event that consists of birds and plants that are common in the park. The activity begins with a Ranger led casual stroll along the North Luckiamute Trail. We will supply Binoculars to all registered participants. 
  • Sitka Sedge: Join Park staff for a guided hike at Sitka Sedge State Natural Area to learn about the local plants and wildlife 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meet at the Sitka Sedge State Natural Area Parking Lot off of Sandlake Road. Dress for the weather, bring water and a snack. The first half mile is flat on packed gravel that is accessible for strollers and wheelchairs.

Fishing is also free statewide June 3 and 4, courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). Learn more at https://myodfw.com/articles/2023-free-fishing-days-and-events

For camping availability, please check oregonstateparks.reserveamerica.com or visit first-come-first served sites: https://stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm?do=reserve.first-come

About Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

The mission of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) is to provide and protect outstanding natural, scenic, cultural, historic and recreational sites for the enjoyment and education of present and future generations. The department manages 254 Oregon State Parks comprising more than 100,000 acres. Learn more at stateparks.oregon.gov

PODCAST: 4 Oregon Cold Cases Solved, Families Get Closure

What would you do if someone you loved vanished and was never heard from again? That was the case for several families we interviewed on the first five episodes of The Unidentifieds podcast.

drone image of oregon with podcasts title logo of The unidentfieds and episode number
The Unidentifieds is a limited series podcast hosted by Regan Mertz and Dave Killen for The Oregonian/OregonLive. It tells the story of four cold cases and how online genealogy and forensic anthropology helped families get closure.

In previous episodes, we explored the rapidly expanding use of genetic genealogy in finding the identities of long lost souls whose remains were found in Oregon.

We told the stories of a nomadic Navy veteran, a young woman who liked to sing, a girl who wore a pink plaid coat and mother of pearl ring, and a little boy whose time on earth was too short.

They all vanished in Oregon. But they were all also found in Oregon. Their stories told, and their names said aloud once again, thanks to the help of passionate experts, their families and advances in DNA technology and genetic genealogy.

On the final episode of The Unidentifieds, hosts Regan Mertz and Dave Killen unpack the emotional toll on families and how getting answers about their loved ones’ fates – even if decades later – brings closure.

The investigators and scientists who worked on the cold cases reflect on how each person’s story lingers in their memory, long after the cases were solved.

How to find The Unidentifieds podcast from The Oregonian/OregonLive

Subscribe to The Unidentifieds on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsYouTube or anywhere else you listen to podcasts. Be sure to give it a five-star rating. Find all previously released episodes below:



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

Contact us: Info@OregonBeachMagazine.com

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