The latest news stories across the state of Oregon from the digital home of the Oregon coastal cities, OregonBeachMagazine.com
Friday, October 15, 2021
Oregon Beach Weather
Today– Patchy fog before noon. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 61. Calm wind becoming west southwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Saturday– Patchy fog before noon. Otherwise, cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 64. Southeast wind 5 to 7 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.
Sunday– Rain. High near 57. South wind 7 to 11 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.
Monday– A 20 percent chance of showers before noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 58.
Tuesday– A chance of rain after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 62.
Gold Beach and Coos Bay Win 2021 “Excellence on Main” Awards
Oregon Main Street announced its 2021 “Excellence on Main” award winners Thursday and released videos of all the recipients. A total of 21 businesses, projects, partners and people were recognized. Three of those recognized were from Coos Bay and Gold Beach based on nominations submitted by the Coos Bay Downtown Association and Gold Beach Main Street.
Outstanding Partnership went to Gold Beach Small Town Christmas. The importance of partnerships was drilled home when Gold Beach Main Street needed to pivot their traditional holiday activities to comply with COVID protocols. Switching up activities increased meaningful partnerships and connections for Gold Beach Main Street beyond the usual suspects and included local artists; residents; utility companies; the Port District; retail, professional, and service businesses; local government and more. They worked with these partners and donors to host three events including a Santa Drive-Thru event, Children’s Christmas Art Contest and an enhanced home and business Christmas light competition. By working together, this tiny town of 2,400 was able to provide Santa gift bags for 300 children, with 458 people overall participating in the drive-through style event. Gold Beach Main Street also helped advertise for partner projects that came up after they were inspired by the COVID-friendly events, such as a socially distanced Christmas light parade down Main Street. While Gold Beach Main Street had similar holiday season events before, this was their first time trying to hold events with such tight precautions, and, through great partnerships, they had more people participate than ever before.
Volunteers on Main award: Tim O’Dwyer was one of six volunteers recognized for his volunteer efforts. Tim has been an asset to the work of Gold Beach Main Street for the past few years. He was the catalyst for the creation of 13 mini-parks and the installation of 26 benches along Main Street. These parks have made a world of difference in creating a more enjoyable walking experience along the commercial corridor for all. And, the benches have memorial plaques which has made an impact on the emotional connection people have with the sites. This project wouldn’t happened without Tim’s hard work and expertise. And, these changes are inspiring business and property owners to make streetscape improvements on their own sites as well as well as instilling a stronger sense of pride in the town.
Best Adaptive Reuse went to the 999 N. Front Street building owned by Heidi Sause. This is the second year in a row Sause won this award. Beginning in April 2020, the 999 N. Front Street project leveraged a facade grant to salvage and restore a mostly vacant, blighted and collapsing 1930s waterfront warehouse. Sixty-two local tradesmen representing 21 different businesses worked for over a year, providing expertise, talent and labor in the restoration of this building. The 16,000 sfquare-foot warehouse was converted into individual, unique, affordable workspaces. Ten out of the possible 11 spaces leased immediately, demonstrating the demand for this price point and size of commercial space for lease. Seven of these enterprises are new to Coos Bay enhancing the economic base and expanding the dity’s diversity. Most of the internal building materials were all repurposed from the renovation of the structure to bring it up to code. Three, unimproved buildings remain in this Front Street District and will soon face the same process to recover the highest and best use of the buildings for the greater good in the community. The lessons learned at 999 will improve the efficacy of future partnerships between city and private investment.
Oregon Main Street’s Excellence on Main Awards were created in 2010 to recognize the efforts of those who work day-in and day-out to revitalize Oregon’s historic downtowns and traditional commercial neighborhoods. Thirteen other towns in Oregon were honored with awards this year.
“2020 was a particularly challenging year on Main Street,” said Sheri Stuart, state coordinator, Oregon Main Street. “Our main street communities demonstrated amazing resiliency, working tirelessly to support, encourage, and nurture the people, businesses, and property owners in their communities. These awards recognize the outstanding efforts of local programs in creating and supporting projects and activities that exemplify Oregon Main Street’s mission to build equitable, livable, and sustainable communities that will grow Oregon’s economy while maintaining a sense of place.”
The wide range of awards is reflective of the comprehensive Main Street Approach™ to downtown revitalization developed by the National Main Street Center. This model is used by the communities participating in the three-tier Main Street Track of Oregon Main Street Network. From 2010 to 2020, communities participating in the Performing Main Street and Transforming Downtown levels – the top two tiers – have seen $125 million in private building improvement projects, $124.6 million in public projects, 1,347 private rehab projects, 639 net new businesses, 163 business expansions, 126 business acquisitions and 3,961 net new jobs. In addition, 250,348 hours of volunteer time has been contributed to local main street organizations in the top tiers.
Oregon Main Street is part of Oregon Heritage, a division of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. For information, visit www.oregonmainstreet.org.
Oregon reports 1,237 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 24 new deaths
There are 24 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 4,141, the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. today.
Oregon Health Authority reported 1,237 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 347,616.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (11), Benton (26), Clackamas (87), Clatsop (7), Columbia (8), Coos (27), Crook (37), Curry (3), Deschutes (136), Douglas (39), Grant (10), Harney (13), Hood River (10), Jackson (56), Jefferson (21), Josephine (16), Klamath (48), Lake (6), Lane (93), Lincoln (11), Linn (22), Malheur (33), Marion (98), Morrow (4), Multnomah (132), Polk (37), Tillamook (6), Umatilla (75), Union (11), Wallowa (7), Wasco (25), Washington (88), Wheeler (5) and Yamhill (29).
Officials said on Wednesday that around 50% of the roughly 4,500 employees at the Oregon Department of Corrections are vaccinated against COVID-19.
The DOC has approved exemptions for nearly 16% of its workforce, or 713 employees, which corrections officials said were mostly for religions reasons. The reported vaccination rate comes just before an executive order signed by Gov. Kate Brown goes into place Oct. 18, which requires some state
employees to either be fully vaccinated, request an exemption, or risk losing employment. Correctional officers were among the earliest groups in the state to get access to COVID-19 vaccines because they work in settings where the coronavirus can spread easily.
New dashboard displays case and vaccination information by age group
Today, OHA published a new weekly dashboard, titled Oregon’s COVID-19 Case and Vaccination Stories. The agency developed this dashboard to highlight COVID-19 case trends as vaccination rates increase.
The dashboard displays COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates, COVID-19 related deaths and the percentage of Oregonians who received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine over time.
Specifically, OHA compared the fall 2020 and spring 2021 surges at their peaks for those under 65 years old and those 65 and older. Data indicate the peak case rate per 100,000 for people ages 65 and older was 66% lower during the spring 2021 surge than during the fall 2020 surge. Among people under 65, a group where broad vaccination efforts took place later, the peak case rate was 38% lower during the spring 2021 surge than the fall 2020 surge.
The dashboard presents similar comparisons of hospitalizations and deaths by age group during the fall 2020 and spring 2021 surges. It is important to note that this is apopulation-level analysis, not an assessment of individual risk. Observing a trend, such as low hospitalization rates in a specific age group, does not mean all individuals in that group will avoid hospitalization or death after contracting COVID-19.
Because the summer 2021 surge is ongoing, a full analysis of its impacts is not yet possible. This analysis will be updated as more data become available.
For additional insights, please visit the Oregon’s COVID-19 Case and Vaccination Stories dashboard, where you can use an “Explore the Data” feature to create your own charts for COVID-19 cases, severe cases and the percentage of Oregonians vaccinated over time.
City of John Day Disbands Police Department After Funding Measure Fails
John Day in Grant County with a population of just over 2,000 will be suspending operations for its police department at the end of the month.
John Day City Council voted unanimously on a resolution during a Tuesday meeting to shutter the local police department after a five-year levy failed to pass in August.
According to the city council, the town’s 2021-2022 fiscal year budget that was approved in late June included funding for police department operations in anticipation of the measure passing to provide the financial resources needed.
Without the funds, operations at the police department will be suspended on October 31. Currently, the department has no police chief and is composed of two full-time officers, which the city said is “insufficient staff to safely meet the City’s needs and ensure officer safety.”
Once police operations are suspended, those officers will be transferred to work in the Public Works Department, according to the city.
Starting Nov. 1, all calls for service will be sent to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.
The city said it is pursuing funding through the Department of Homeland Security, but they don’t yet know if they will receive the grant award.
Woman Sentenced for Burglaries During Last Year’s Wildfires
A woman has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for stealing from multiple Clackamas County homes that had been evacuated due to last year’s wildfires.
On Sept. 11, 2020, deputies were patrolling evacuated neighborhoods to watch for any potential burglaries when they got a call about two suspicious people walking onto a property on Ringo Road near Mulino.
Deputies found the pair had stolen two gas-powered generators, a box of hand tools, two leaf blowers and at least one gas can from a nearby property, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said.
Sandy Faye Lenox and James Dean Shotwell, both 34 at the time with no fixed addresses, were arrested.
Investigators recovered “a trove of additional stolen items” after searching Lenox’s car a few days later, the sheriff’s office said. These items included jewelry, precious metals and gems, clothing, tools, a laptop, antique and collectible coins, purses, a sewing machine and a toaster oven.
Deputies said the items, which were tied to other local burglaries, were returned to their owners, many of whom had evacuated their homes during the wildfires.
Shotwell was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to theft and burglary charges in November 2020.
Lenox pleaded guilty on Sept. 21, 2021 to two counts of 1st-degree burglary, four counts of 2nd-degree burglary, four counts of 1st-degree theft, and one count of 2nd-degree attempted burglary. She was sentenced to 90 months in prison.
Sen. Betsy Johnson Is Running for Oregon Governor as an Independent
Oregon state Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) has told supporters she’s running for governor as an independent.
“Oregonians deserve better than the excesses and nonsense of the extreme left and the radical right,” she wrote in an email..Oregonians are ready to move to the middle where sensible solutions are found.
“That’s why I have decided to run for governor as an independent leader unaffiliated with any party and loyal only to the people of Oregon.”
Johnson, 70, long the most conservative elected member of her party, will attempt to carve out a third lane in what’s already a crowded field of contenders for governor.
Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and Treasurer Tobias Read have entered the Democratic primary, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof appears days away from making a formal announcement. Republican contenders include Salem oncologist Dr. Bud Pierce, Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam and the political consultant Bridget Barton, with GOP power brokers trying to recruit House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby).
In the Oregon Senate, Johnson has long served as a brake on her party’s more progressive ambitions—playing a role similar to that of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin on the national stage—until Democrats achieved a supermajority in 2020 and blunted her de facto veto on legislation. Since then, Johnson has aligned openly with Oregon voters who feel alienated from the Portland-controlled party, even appearing at rallies of the controversial logging and trucking group Timber Unity.
In her announcement email, Johnson said it was the Democratic Party that had changed, not her. “The decision to run independent of any party, by law, requires me to give up my Democratic Party registration by next spring,” she wrote. “Rest assured, my bedrock values will not change. I was raised in a moderate Republican family and became a Democrat because the Republican Party had moved too far to the right. For 20 years, I’ve been an independent-minded, pro-choice, pro-jobs Democrat proudly serving the people of Northwest Oregon. This is who I am.”
Mt. Bachelor New Ski Pass Causing Concerns
A new ski pass that allows people who pay more to bypass most chairlift lines at Mt. Bachelor in Bend is causing concern among skiers, snowboarders and Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden over equity issues.
The pass, called Fast Tracks, starts at $49 and allows buyers to use a dedicated lane at each chairlift. Mt. Bachelor calls the pass an “upgradable experience” — on top of buying a ski/snowboard ticket — that allows for more ski runs each day.
Leigh Capozzi, brand and communications director at Mt. Bachelor, said she anticipates the limited quantity sold will mean minimal impact on wait times. Skiers and snowboarders in the Facebook group, Mt. Bachelor Conditions, have said the new pass is unfair for people who can’t afford it and will make wait times longer in regular chairlift lines.
Oregon Still Falling Back to Standard Time
Come November, Oregon will fall back to standard time as always. Why, you might be wondering, are we doing this again? Didn’t we change the law so we don’t ever have to go back to standard time? Well, it turns out we haven’t quite gotten to the end of our twice-yearly-self-imposed-sleep-disruption just yet.
Oregon, like several other states, has signed permanent daylight saving time legislation, based on the opinion of many experts that time changes are actually dangerous, increasing rates of things like car accidents and heart attacks.
But we are all still waiting on the federal government to act before the states can make it official. In March, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, co-sponsored the Sunshine Protection Act, which was reintroduced by U.S, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who originally introduced it in 2019.
Klamath Falls Jeld-Wen Lumber Yard Fire
Fire gutted several large kilns on the Jeld-Wen campus north of Klamath Falls on Wednesday night, beginning a firefighter response that lasted into Thursday morning.
Crews responded just before 8 p.m. on Wednesday for reports of a structure fire at Jeld-Wen Manufacturing along Lakeport Boulevard in Klamath Falls. Klamath County Fire District 1 Chief Greg Davis said that firefighters arrived to find flames venting from the roof and eaves on two of the six large drying kilns on the property.
Each of the kilns are built to house 50 to 55,000 board feet of lumber, Davis said. Though the kilns were placed practically side by side, firefighters were able to keep the flames largely contained to the initial two buildings. Some of the other kilns received minor attic and roof damage in the process.
“When they arrived smoke and fire was already venting from the roof and the eaves and there was about 50,000 board feet in each kiln, there were 6 kilns in total involved. The fire impacted 3 of those kilns pretty significantly, the other 3 we are going to take a look at some of the damage today,” said Greg Davis, Fire Chief, Klamath County Fire District 1
The fire was extinguished by combined teams from Klamath Country Fire District 1, Klamath Country Fire District 4, and the Kingsley Field Fire Department. Crews stayed on scene for 14 hours. The cause of the fire is still under investigation and will begin by looking at some of the recent construction inside the kilns.
Davis said that damages to the Jeld-Wen complex likely amounted to more than $1 million, between the gutted kilns and the destroyed lumber inside. There were no reported injuries.
Jeld-Wen staff were cooperative and helpful throughout the response, Davis said — working to move the stacks of lumber away from the kilns so that firefighters could gain access.
KCFD1’s Fire Marshal was still at the scene as of Thursday afternoon, working to determine the origin and cause of the fire. Davis said that he was aware Jeld-Wen had been working on some routine upkeep for the kilns recently, installing new piping, but he deferred to the Fire Marshal for confirmation on how the fire started.
The Jeld-Wen campus on Lakeport includes a sawmill, lumber yard, a wood component manufacturing plant and a facility that makes wooden doors, as well as nearby offices and research facilities.