Oregon Beach News, Monday 10/4 – Clatsop County Schools Struggling with Shortage of Bus Drivers, Coos Bay Police Department Seeks Public’s Help in Finding Missing Man

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

Monday, October 4, 2021

Oregon Beach Weather

Today– Mostly cloudy, with a high near 64. North northwest wind 6 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph.

Tuesday– Rain, mainly before 5pm. High near 61. South southeast wind 5 to 8 mph becoming west southwest in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Wednesday– Isolated showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 60. Calm wind becoming north northwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Thursday– Sunny, with a high near 61.

Friday– A chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 60.

Clatsop County Schools Struggling with Shortage of Bus Drivers

Clatsop County School Superintendents are struggling with the lack of school bus drivers and needing to hire qualified candidates.

The labor shortage comes as coronavirus protocols limit the number of students that can be on a bus at once, increasing the pressure to find more drivers.

Between the five school districts, they need nine bus drivers, Knappa Superintendent Bill Fritz said.

Fritz and Astoria Superintendent Craig Hoppes said they have been able to make ends meet to start the school year, but the lack of backup drivers is concerning.

Although Knappa has yet to make cuts to routes or see long delays, Fritz said, “it’s only a matter of time unless we can get some drivers.”

In September, a joint request was made on behalf of superintendents in Astoria, Knappa, Warrenton and Seaside to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management asking for school bus drivers, which could result in the Oregon National Guard stepping in to help.

“Unless they are able to get permanent-type drivers … it’s just going to be a Band-Aid until we can get more drivers,” Hoppes said.

The Warrenton-Hammond School District does not have a major shortage, Superintendent Tom Rogozinski said, but is running a little thin due to increased routes from the addition of Warrenton Middle School.

Jewell Superintendent Steve Phillips said that as a rural school district, it is always tough to find school bus drivers, but the district does not have an immediate need and did not join the countywide request.

School districts expect to lose some workers because of Gov. Kate Brown’s vaccine mandate on teachers and other school staff. But the school bus driver shortage is largely rooted in another challenge — commercial driver’s licenses.

School bus drivers need more training than most truck drivers, but with a commercial driver’s license, they can likely make more money elsewhere, Fritz said.

“The level of training is complicated and the price point is difficult for us to match,” he said. “I would say our cargo is more precious.”

While issues surrounding commercial driver’s licenses seem to be the driving factor in the shortage, Fritz sees other things at play.

“I think there are some people who are averse to working in close quarters with people right now due to COVID … While bus driving is very rewarding work, because you get to make a difference in your community, it is also very challenging work,” he said. “You’re trying to safely get students to and from school in a large piece of mechanical equipment and you’re trying to manage the kids at the same time.

“Some people have the gift for doing that, and they do it very well, and they really make a difference in kids’ lives. But it can be very stressful.”

In an effort to recruit more drivers, Knappa added a $500 signing bonus. Astoria provided bus drivers and classified staff with a 10% wage increase this school year, Hoppes said.

As the school districts wait to hear back from the state, superintendents have looked at alternatives.

Coos Bay Police Department Seeks Public’s Help in Finding Missing Man

William Lee Nasworthy is currently homeless and his last contact with his mother was on July 14.

In the message, Nasworthy stated that someone was going to harm him but did not say who. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Wheeling at (541) 269-8911.

Oregon Missing Persons

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Oregon reports 1,686 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 3,815. The Oregon Health Authority reported 1,686 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 331,709.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (13), Benton (29), Clackamas (56), Clatsop (12), Columbia (26), Coos (33), Crook (43), Curry (5), Deschutes (145), Douglas (35), Harney (21), Hood River (14), Jackson (72), Jefferson (14), Josephine (42), Klamath (96), Lake (14), Lane (153), Lincoln (18), Linn (81), Malheur (26), Marion (168), Morrow (10), Multnomah (174), Polk (74), Sherman (1), Tillamook (6), Umatilla (60), Union (15), Wallowa (4), Wasco (21), Washington (131) and Yamhill (74).

Local Fred Meyer pharmacy locations across Oregon are now offering COVID-19 vaccine boosters and flu vaccines to eligible populations to help meet the healthcare needs of the community.

To support the company’s focus, the company has established a vaccine power hour during the first hour of business, Monday through Friday, solely dedicated to providing COVID-19, flu, and other vaccines at most locations. The vaccine power hour program will begin October 24.

All vaccine appointments should be made online at fredmeyer.com/vaccine. According to Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eligible populations can receive
a booster dose at least 6 months after completing the 2-dose primary series of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

The COVID-19 booster vaccine is also available for those eligible populations and according to CDC eligible individuals can receive the COVID-19 vaccine or booster and flu shot at the same time; there is no waiting period. There are currently no authorized booster doses for the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccines or an authorized booster dose for the ages 12-to-17 of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine.

Newest COVID-19 modeling report projects decrease in daily cases and hospitalizations

Today, OHA released its latest COVID-19 forecast showing a continued decline in daily cases and hospitalizations through mid-October.

According to the report, the effective reproduction rate — the expected number of secondary cases that a single case generates — was estimated at .81 on Sept. 15, which is lower than last week’s projection.

At that level of transmission, the report estimates 320 cases per 100,000 people, or an average of 955 daily cases and 56 hospitalizations for the two-week period between Oct. 6 and Oct. 19.

The modeling report also estimated the potential impact of a 20% increase in transmission.

Under that scenario, the pace of declining newly diagnosed cases and hospitalizations would slow considerably, with an estimated average of 505 per 100,000 people, projecting an estimated average of 1,515 new cases and 94 hospitalizations over the same period.

The report also indicated that hospitals across the state are seeing declines in COVID-19 hospitalizations. However, COVID-19 bed occupancy levels remain higher than during previous surges.

The report also noted a slow increase in high-risk behaviors and protocol fatigue.

Vaccinations remain the most effective shield against COVID-19. Oregonians should wear masks when in indoor public spaces and when outdoors among crowds.

mask requirements graphics

This week’s model shows that mask-wearing recommendations and requirements have correlated with declines in the number of new cases reported each day and in hospitalizations.

The fire danger level within Crater Lake National Park has dropped from extreme to high due to recent moisture and predicted cooler temperatures.

Effective October 1, Crater Lake National Park rescinded the fire restrictions implemented on June 30 and the fire ban implemented on July 17. To ensure public safety and to provide the highest degree of protection to park resources, the following regulatory provisions apply to fires within Crater Lake National Park.

The lighting or maintaining of fires is generally prohibited, except as provided for in the following designated areas or receptacles, and under the conditions noted: Mazama Campground in grills or grates provided in designated campsites. Please note: Mazama campground is closed for the year

Within National Park Service or concession residential areas, by residents and their guests, within grills and/or fire grates that fully contain the fire.

Fires must be fully contained within established fire grills, grates or rings. No bonfires (large fires that spill outside of the fire receptacle, use stacks of flammable material such as cardboard boxes or wood pallets or have excessive flame heights that could easily become uncontrolled) are allowed. Fires will be constantly monitored while burning and will be completely extinguished after use.

Pacific Northwest forest managers have lifted most campfire restrictions

As cooler, wet weather descends upon the Pacific Northwest, forest managers are easing fire restrictions, but still keeping an eye out for wildfires.

Many national and state forests in Oregon and Washington have lifted campfire restrictions but are urging the public to be aware of what remaining restrictions might still be in place in different parts of the two states. The fire restrictions were implemented during the summer to reduce the risk of wildfires while hot, dry conditions persisted.

The U.S Forest’s Mark Thibideau said national forests have several different fire restrictions at the moment. That’s because each forest can make its own adjustments depending on weather conditions and fuels. Generally, though, conditions have been fairly similar across the region: cool and wet.

“And we’re getting those more frequent periods of rain adding some moisture to those fuels that we’re seeing in our public lands,” said Thibideau, the service’s interim deputy fire information specialist. That, he said, is leading to fewer people recreating in the forests, and an easing of campfire restrictions for those who do venture into the woods, in developed campgrounds or for more dispersed recreation, like backpacking.

Thibedeau said wildfires are still active in many places throughout the region and recommends checking online for any restrictions for each forest people plan to visit.

“Really want to encourage folks to think about fire safety as we get closer to our winter months here,” he said. “It’s still a possibility to have human-caused ignitions and that’s one last thing our firefighters need right now is a human cause ignition to worry about.”

For state forests, Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon State Parks have lifted campfires bans east of Interstate 5. Those forests are the Santiam State Forest, Sun Pass State Forests, and the Gilchrist State Forest. But Spokesman Jason Cox also encourages the public to be aware of what other restrictions may be in place in individual parks.

“Just today, a lot of the northwest portion of the state exited fire season because of cooler conditions and precipitation allowed for that designation to change,” Cox said. “Much of the state still is in fire season and there’s definitely fire in that landscape still right now.”

Cox said best practices for putting out a campfire include drowning it in water, stirring the embers and repeating the process to make sure the fire is out before you leave the area.

National forests follow the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) which is a four-leveled regulation system during fire season, ranging from a general shutdown (Level 4) to the least restrictive (Level 1) once the late-fall rains arrive and fire season is over. You can click the following links to find out what the latest precaution level is for national forests in Oregon and southwestern Washington:

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October Is Fire Prevention Month in Oregon

Nationally and in Oregon, firefighters respond each year to structure fires that injure or kill people where the smoke alarm is not functioning or is missing altogether.

Residents understanding the sounds their smoke alarms make and what actions they can take to protect themselves can make all the difference.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms make different beeps and chirping noises to let us know that maintenance is needed. Everyone needs to know what each noise means and what actions you should take to keep your alarms in safe working order.  

According to the ten-year data collected from the Oregon Fire Service for the National Fire Reporting System, 250 people have died, and more than 1,400 have been injured in structure fires. In addition, out of the structure fires reported since 2011, over 1,400 incidents reported smoke alarms missing, without adequate power, or disabled. Statistics from the past year show a working smoke alarm in 42% of the structures fires across the state, and 14% of the incidents report no smoke alarm at all. 

Fire and Carbon Monoxide Alarms are good at telling us what they need. We just have to listen.

  • One chirp or beep means there is an issue with the alarm getting power.
  • Recurring beeps or three beeps in a row is the smoke alarm telling you it needs to be replaced.
  • If you noticed your smoke alarm is only activated when you’re cooking or using your shower, it might need to be moved to a better location.
  • If your smoke alarm is beeping continuously, get low, use your family escape route, and call 911 from a safe place outside.

“This year to mark Fire Prevention Month, the Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal asks Oregonians to learn the sounds of their alarms,” says State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple. “Knowing the different sounds of your smoke alarm and what to do when it makes a certain sound is the key to saving lives; working smoke alarms save lives.”

On Monday, October 3rd, 2021, the OSFM and its fire service partners will be launching a four-week social media campaign #KnowYourBeepingAlarm to illustrate the importance of knowing what your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are saying. Each week takes an in-depth look at the sound and what actions people can take.

The OSFM has also put together a smoke and carbon monoxide installation guide, which is available in six different languages and can be found on OSFM’s website.

For more information on the sounds smoke and carbon monoxide alarms make and proper installation, please visit the OSFM’s website. To get help installing a smoke alarm, contact OSFM at egonsfm@osp.oregon.gov“>oregonsfm@osp.oregon.gov. —- Oregon State Fire Marshal

Employment Department and WorkSource Oregon Host Statewide Health Care Virtual Job Fair Oct. 6

In response to Oregon’s urgent statewide need to fill health care positions, the Oregon Employment Department and WorkSource Oregon are hosting a statewide virtual job fair ‘Hiring Heroes in Health Care’  from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., Wed., Oct. 6.

With about 15,000 job vacancies in health care across the state, the goal of the job fair is to fill openings in direct health care and other positions that support the health care industry, like food service, facilities and business administration. 

So far, more than 30 employers have signed up to participate in this event, and the job fair is being marketed nationally to recruit out-of-state job seekers to Oregon healthcare open positions. 

WorkSource Oregon helps connect employers and qualified job-seekers interested in the health care field. The Oregon Employment Department is one of WorkSource Oregon’s partner agencies.

WorkSource Oregon and its partners offer an array of programs and services to explore like: 

  • Training at an approved institution for in-demand occupations, including assistance with tuition and other associated costs, such as textbooks
  • Fee assistance for licensure testing or preparatory classes for testing
  • Placement in on-the-job training or work experiences with employers
  • Entrance in to apprenticeship programs or other earn-and-learn opportunities
  • Supportive payments that would lead to success in training (e.g. gas vouchers) 
  • Paying for necessary equipment or clothing needed for job opportunities

People can register for the virtual event online and visit the WorkSource Oregon LinkedIn page for this job fair and other hiring events with a focus on health care.

Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: 971-673-6400. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services. — Oregon Employment Department 

Oregon Sues Harney and Yamhill Counties To Enforce New Gun Laws

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued two Oregon counties Friday, Oct. 1, to stop their efforts to get around Oregon’s new gun laws.

During the last legislative session, Oregon lawmakers required gun owners to securely store their weapons when not in use. The bill also banned the possession of guns in the state Capitol and at Portland International Airport and paved the way for public schools and universities to enact their own bans.

In response, Yamhill and Harney counties adopted new ordinances circumventing the state law.

Each county has declared itself a “Second Amendment Sanctuary,” in which the new state firearms laws are void. Their ordinances prohibit county officials from upholding the new state gun laws by imposing fines, criminal charges and even the possibility of civil suits for any enforcement action.

The Oregon Department of Justice lawsuit filed Oct. 1 asks the courts to void the local ordinances because state law declares counties don’t have the authority to regulate firearms.

Rosenblum is not happy officials, who enforce the state’s laws, might be prosecuted and subjected to private lawsuits.

“Gun safety laws exist to help keep guns out of dangerous hands and keep people safe. A county commission simply doesn’t get to override state law in this way,” Rosenblum said in a written statement. “The laws of Oregon remain fully in force — and fully enforceable — notwithstanding these invalid ordinances. No officials should be frightened out of properly doing their job by the threat of illegitimate criminal charges or bogus lawsuits.”

Harney County Judge Pete Runnels, the head of the county’s administrative branch, declined to comment on the state action.

Other Oregon counties have enacted similar ordinances. Rosenblum hopes suing Harney and Yamhill counties will block similar efforts elsewhere.

“These actions will hopefully send the message that we are prepared to preserve the rule of law across our state,” she said.

Intel Running Ads to Find New Hires

Intel has taken to running TV ads during the Portland telecast of Sunday Night Football, one of the most popular programs on the air — but not to hawk its microprocessors. Electronics companies large and small say they’re struggling to find workers, so they’re putting up billboards, buying TV and radio ads and bringing in new hires still in school to plug the holes.

Oregon exported $15 billion in electronics last year, 60% of all the state’s exports. The state’s electronics output climbed another 26% through the first half of 2021, reflecting huge demand for the chips that run computers, smartphones, cars, trucks and home appliances.

Hemp Farms in Oregon Growing Plants with High THC

Officials say an inspection of hemp farms in Oregon over the summer found 58-percent were growing plants that had too much THC. There were 212 samples taken and some had as much as 33-percent THC.

Inspectors also found illegal use of irrigation water, unfit working conditions, and animal abuse. Those instances were reported to other agencies for investigation.

The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission is recommending to the Governor and the Legislature that no new hemp licenses be issued until 2024.

Police Seek Assistance after Woodburn Outlet Store Robbed at Gunpoint

Police are looking for three suspects who robbed the Polo Ralph Lauren store in Woodburn Saturday evening. 

Woodburn Police responded to a report of an armed robbery at the Woodburn Premium Outlets Polo Ralph Lauren store just after 5:30 p.m. Saturday. 

The suspects walked into the store, looked around, and picked up some merchandise, police said. Two of the three suspects started walking out with the merchandise without paying. 

A store employee confronted them, and one of the suspects pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the employee, police said. All three suspects then left the store. 

Police said they fled in a light blue Honda CRV with no license plates and were seen traveling north on Interstate 5. 

The first suspect is described as a Pacific Islander male adult, around 5 feet, 6 inches tall with a medium build, wearing a light-colored hoodie with khaki shorts and tall white socks with white shoes. 

The second suspect, who police said pointed the gun, is described as a Hispanic or light-skinned African American male adult, between 5 feet, 4 inches and 5 feet, 6 inches tall, with a thin build, wearing red joggers, a black Patagonia hoodie, surgical face mask, black beanie and black tennis shoes. He also has a heart-shaped or teardrop tattoo under his left eye. 

The third suspect is described as an African American adult male, between 5 feet, 8 inches and 5 feet, 10 inches tall with a medium build, wearing a black suit with a single white stripe on the shoulders and pant leg and a black baseball cap. 

No further details were released. 

A Ralph Lauren spokesperson says the company is “cooperating with authorities who are urgently investigating this matter. The safety of our teams and customers is our top priority.” 

The Woodburn Police Department is asking anyone with information about the robbery to call 503-982-2345 and reference case number 2021-011227.

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