The latest news stories across the state of Oregon from the digital home of the Oregon coastal cities, OregonBeachMagazine.com
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Oregon Beach Weather
Today– Mostly sunny, with a high near 67. Light and variable wind becoming northwest 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 18 mph.
Thursday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 69. Breezy, with a north northwest wind 7 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.
Friday– Sunny, with a high near 72. North wind 6 to 8 mph.
Saturday– Patchy fog before 9am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 65.
Sunday– A slight chance of rain. Patchy fog before 11am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 66.
First Day of Fall — Autumn Equinox
Most of the Earth will experience about 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness during the fall equinox
Part Of East Mooring Basin Causeway Collapses in Astoria
Part of the aging causeway at the East Mooring Basin collapsed on Tuesday afternoon sending debris into the water and knocking out power for boats and navigation lights.
The collapse caused damage to a breaker box, which took out power that supplies boats and the navigation lights on the breakwater.
“We’ll probably know more in the next couple of days, but right now, the main thing is, obviously, it’s fortunate that there were no people involved in terms of injuries or casualties,” said Will Isom, the Port’s executive director.
“The next step is A, we need to figure out a plan to restore some power back to the boat tenants down there, and then B, working with Bergerson Construction to get a plan together for getting that debris out of the water,” said Isom, who said the collapse occurred on the northernmost portion of the causeway.
The Port of Astoria closed the causeway in 2018 because of a severely rotting substructure. The span was used by fishermen and other boat owners to access their vessels and was a popular place to get close-up views of sea lions that take over sections of the docks.
The state had urged the Port to shut down the causeway after inspectors found rotting timber pilings and other problems. At the time, the Port estimated it would cost $4 million to replace.
A fence was installed at the base of the causeway at 36th Street near the Astoria Riverwalk to keep people off the span. Locals and visitors now gather along the riverbank to watch sea lions. Fishermen and other boat owners have had to fashion workarounds to get to their slips.
The East Mooring Basin was originally built after World War II. The causeway extends to a breakwater on the Columbia River constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Both the Port and the city hope to improve the marina for redevelopment.
The Port has struggled to keep up with deferred maintenance and other infrastructure challenges along the waterfront. Some materials meant for fixing part of the causeway were purchased last year, but layoffs to the maintenance staff during the coronavirus pandemic stymied that process.
“We have been in the process of trying to secure grant funding in order to rehab the causeway and just have not quite gotten there yet, both from a financing standpoint as well as a permitting standpoint,” Isom said.
Yachats will Celebrate Fall Equinox Today with Bagpiper at Yachats State Park
The arrival of autumn will be heralded with a special, free performance by a bagpiper at Yachats State Park at 4 p.m. today (WED 9/22).
All are welcome to not only enjoy piper Darroll Morehouse, but also to bring an acoustic instrument for a possible parade or jam after the performance.
Sponsored by Polly Plumb Productions, the event is part of a global, centuries-old tradition of observing the first day of fall. The equinox occurs when the sun lies directly above the Earth’s equator, which happens twice a year, in September and in March (spring equinox).
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, attendees are asked to wear masks and observe guidelines for social distancing.
Polly Plumb is a non-profit organization that produces arts and cultural programming in Yachats. It is currently conducting an online auction for the arts banners produced for the annual Yachats banner project. To view and bid on banners, visit the Polly Plumb website.
Plumb also produces the Yachats Celtic Musical Festival, which was canceled this year due to Covid-19 restrictions. An art quilt show is being planned for February.
Oregon reports 1,707 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 30 new deaths
There are 30 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,624, the Oregon Health Authority reported 1,707 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 314,841.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (18), Benton (18), Clackamas (110), Clatsop (15), Columbia (12), Coos (86), Crook (13), Curry (11), Deschutes (80), Douglas (85), Grant (29), Harney (34), Hood River (4), Jackson (76), Jefferson (17), Josephine (25), Klamath (83), Lake (22), Lane (157), Lincoln (19), Linn (46), Malheur (60), Marion (173), Morrow (7), Multnomah (86), Polk (56), Tillamook (5), Umatilla (134), Union (21), Wasco (34), Washington (100) and Yamhill (71).
Public Health Indicators Dashboard update
Today, OHA updated the summary tables for the Public Health Indicators Dashboard to include counts in addition to percentages for 1) emergency department visits for COVID-19-like illness visits, 2) timely case follow-up by local public health departments, and 3) cases traced to a known source. These dashboards are published weekly on Tuesdays with the most recent full week’s data. An error was identified and corrected in the percentage of COVID-19-like illness calculation, bringing the Public Health Indicators Dashboard into alignment with the emergency department data published daily in Oregon’s COVID-19 Update.
Vaccine Information — Officials say 79-percent of health care workers in Oregon have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. That compares to 75-percent of the general population. Dentists have the highest rate at 96-percent, followed by psychologists and then doctors.
Chiropractors and chiropractic assistants have the lowest rate of 58-percent. Health care workers in Oregon are required to be fully vaccinated by October 18th.
Nearly 19-percent of new COVID-19 cases this month in Oregon are in people who were vaccinated. The Oregon Health Authority reported that statistic yesterday. However, health officials say fewer than five-percent of those people were hospitalized, and less than one-percent of those patients died.
Officials say 81-percent of new cases were people who had not been vaccinated. The rate of COVID-19 in unvaccinated people is five times higher than it is for people who are vaccinated.
OSU Researchers Say Wildfires Will Continue in Intensity Each Year Due to Climate Change
The number, size and intensity of wildfires will continue as climate change ramps up according to researchers at Oregon State University. After a record wildfire season in Oregon, experts warn it will only get worse.
Those fires that burned through the Cascades? Prepare for more in the future. And massive wildfires like the Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon will become the norm.
“Basically what we saw this summer is going to be a precursor for what we can expect in the future,” said Oregon State University (OSU) climatologist Larry O’Neill.
Climate and fire experts with OSU hosted a forum to talk about what is to come.
“Drier conditions. The drought conditions will become more intense and the climate warms because of the evaporation from the landscape,” he said.
O’Neill said this year’s wildfire season is a precursor to what Oregon will see in the future as the climate warms.
There will still be periods of wet and dry, but the dry periods will be much more intense.
“As the climate warms the atmosphere basically increases its capacity to evaporate water not only from soil but other things as well,” he explained.
The experts said it’s not a matter of if but when and where we get the fires. And like we now do for earthquakes, we need to make sure we are ready.
“Look back to the early ’90s when we discovered the Cascadia Subduction Zone, that’s what it going to look like,” said Erica Fischer, an OSU civil engineer. “We’re going to have to map out the high-risk areas. We’re going to have to work with these communities.”
People will have to make sure the forests are ready for the hotter and drier conditions too. O’Neill and Fischer said that means better forest management and more controlled burns.
“At the same time we’re having more fire and more impacts from fire, there’s got to be a much larger role for fire that we start, the prescribed fire,” said OSU fire ecologist James Johnston. They agree fire is inevitable, and it’s up to the public to prepare for this growing hazard.
———— The conditions across the geographic area were very pleasant yesterday with most areas seeing temperatures in the 70-degree range, humidities in the 20 to 30 percent range and clear skies. The winds west of the Cascade divide were light, while conditions on the east side were breezy and gusty at times through mountain passes and valley gaps. Fire growth was light on existing large fire. No lightning was recorded.
A weak weather system will cross the Pacific Northwest today, resulting in cooler temperatures along with breezy westerly winds through Cascade gaps and to the east this afternoon. Western Washington and northwestern Oregon could seesome light rain showers, primarily at higher elevations and along the coast.
An upper-level ridge brings back warm, dryconditions Thursday into the weekend, with light offshore flow likely again by Friday morning as a thermal trough sets upalong the coast. Another upper-level trough should shift winds back to onshore over the weekend and maybe bring some precipitation to the west side. Breezy afternoon winds are likely over the weekend as the system passes through. Another trough looks to follow early next week with potential for more widespread precipitation.
New significant fire potential will remain at or below normal through the week. After relaxing some with today’s marine push, fire danger will rise a bit heading into the weekend but no critical weather patterns are expected.
Controversy After Senate Passes Redistricting Plan
One day after the Democratic speaker of the Oregon House rescinded a power-sharing deal she made with Republicans to redraw political maps, it was unclear whether GOP lawmakers would show up to work at the Capitol on Tuesday.
If Republicans don’t go to the floor of the House the chamber won’t have a quorum – meaning lawmakers wouldn’t be able to proceed with business. Oregon gained a sixth U.S. House seat following the latest census and the stakes are high for both parties with this round of redistricting.
House Speaker Tina Kotek came to the podium briefly Tuesday morning to say both she and House Republican Leader Christine Drazan were eager to take up congressional and legislative redistricting plans. But the House was in recess until 1 p.m., at the request of the Republican Caucus.
Tensions at the Capitol in Salem, Oregon, boiled over on Monday — as lawmakers returned to the Capitol for the once-a-decade task of redistricting, which determines how voters will pick state representatives, state senators and members of Congress for the next five election cycles. Kotek’s announcement to withdraw her side of a deal made with House Republicans in April drew angry reactions from GOP lawmakers.
Oregon To Charge Out of State RV Campers 25% Fee
Oregon will charge campers from outside the state a 25% fee for RV sites in dozens of campgrounds because of increased demand for the spaces.
The fee will apply to everything from small pop-up trailers to Airstreams to motorhomes, but will not apply to tents, yurts or cabins.
The fee will be assessed starting next year at 56 campgrounds. Roughly 60% of state park campsites are designed for RVs and they currently cost $24 to $40 per night.
Next year, they will cost $30 to $50 for non-residents. The spike won’t affect campsites on federal lands, such as U.S. Forest Service campgrounds.
Competition for RV sites — and campsites overall — has risen dramatically in Oregon over the past decade, particularly at the Oregon Coast.
Discounted or Free Phone or High-Speed Internet Service For Eligible Oregonians
National Lifeline Awareness Week runs September 20-24, 2021
In celebration of National Lifeline Awareness Week, the Oregon Public Utility Commission is reminding Oregonians about Lifeline, a federal and state government program that provides discounted or free phone or high-speed internet service to qualifying low-income households.
Oregon Lifeline is currently offering a monthly discount up to $15.25 for phone service or $19.25 per month for high-speed internet service through participating service providers. Lifeline also offers free wireless voice minutes and data service from Access Wireless, Assurance Wireless, or enTouch Wireless. Oregon residents on federally-recognized Tribal lands may qualify for an additional $25 discount each month.
“We want to encourage all eligible Oregonians to take advantage of Oregon Lifeline services,” said Megan Decker, PUC Chair. “This program helps eligible residents stay connected and provides access to local emergency services, healthcare, jobs, education, and other important resources.”
Oregonians receiving benefits from select public assistance programs such as Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may qualify for Oregon Lifeline, which is limited to one person per household for either the discounted or free service.
For additional information about the Oregon Lifeline program, call 1-800-848-4442, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., or view details online at: https://www.oregon.gov/puc/Pages/Oregon-Lifeline.aspx.
The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) regulates customer rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric, natural gas and telephone utilities, as well as select water companies. The PUC mission is to ensure Oregon utility customers have access to safe, reliable, and high quality utility services at just and reasonable rates, which is accomplished through thorough analysis and independent decision-making conducted in an open and fair process. Oregon Public Utility Commission
Open enrollment for 2022 health coverage extended: Nov. 1 to Jan. 15
On Friday, the federal government announced the extension of the annual open enrollment period to purchase private health insurance for the 2022 plan year from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15.
Along with the extension, Oregonians will have the opportunity to access the most amount of financial savings that have ever been available through the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace due to the American Rescue Plan.
The American Rescue Plan initiated additional savings by removing the upper income limit to qualify for financial assistance, and also decreased the amount of premium that consumers are responsible to pay before tax credits are available.
- More than 80 percent of Oregonians have been determined to be eligible for financial help through the Marketplace since April 1 when American Rescue Plan provisions took effect.
- Oregonians are receiving an average of $437 per month in premium tax credits to reduce their monthly premium under the expanded eligibility.
The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace offers a quick snapshot of the plans and savings to eligible Oregonians. The tool, available at OregonHealthCare.gov/WindowShop, has been updated to correctly calculate additional savings now available to people shopping through the Marketplace. The window shopping tool will be enhanced again this Fall to allow Oregonians to determine if their preferred providers are covered by each plan. Oregonians will also be able to see if their prescription drugs are covered and what the estimated costs will be for prescriptions on each plan. Enhancements will be live in the tool in October.
Still need health coverage for 2021? You may be able to enroll under a special enrollment period. Start at OregonHealthCare.gov to get to the right application or to find an insurance agent or community partner organization to help complete the application and enroll. Insurance agents and community partners provide local, one-on-one assistance at no charge. This help is available virtually, on the phone, and in person following safety protocols.
The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, a part of state government, helps people get health insurance when they do not have job-based coverage, and do not qualify for the Oregon Health Plan or another program. The Marketplace is the state-level partner to HealthCare.gov. For more information, go to OregonHealthCare.gov.
Wildfires Explored through Art in Exhibit at High Desert Museum
BEND, OR — Across the American West, drought, dense forests and extreme weather exacerbated by climate change are contributing to catastrophic fires. The wildfire season is getting longer, and fires are becoming more intense and frequent.
Artist Bryan David Griffith found inspiration in fires to pose valuable questions. His artistic works will come to the High Desert Museum starting Saturday, October 16 in the exhibition Rethinking Fire.
Dualities in nature–life and death, forest and fire–are at the heart of Griffith’s artwork. The exhibition includes encaustic beeswax paintings, fire studies on paper and large-scale burned wood sculptures.
Griffith investigates opposing forces in nature by using fire itself as a medium alongside other materials including wood and beeswax. His work reveals the human desire to control natural processes, often with unintended consequences. Rethinking Fire fosters a space where viewers can experience their own discoveries and pose their own questions.
Griffith’s journey into artwork began while studying engineering at the University of Michigan. After stumbling on a copy of Henry Horenstein’s Black and White Photography: A Basic Manual, he built a makeshift darkroom. He began a career with an international management consulting firm after graduation. However, Griffith was troubled by the environmental impact of his clients. He ultimately resigned to pursue photography full-time, adopting a nomadic life and saving every dime for film and gas. The experience led to a personal connection with America’s public lands, reflected in his first collection of images, Listen to the Wild.
In 2014, Griffith’s home and studio were threatened by the Slide Fire in Sedona, Arizona. Coming out of the experience, he received a grant to study fire in the field with scientists as part of a group project called Fires of Change, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Joint Fire Science Consortium. The work from the project earned the 2016 Viola Award from the Flagstaff Arts Council and sparked the solo exhibition Rethinking Fire at the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum in Arizona. Griffith currently lives in the mountain town of Flagstaff, Arizona with his wife, Tasha.
“We are experiencing landscape-altering wildfires more frequently in the High Desert,” said Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “Rethinking Fire offers a different vantage point through art, demonstrating that a force like wildfire that can be intensely destructive can also create awareness, resilience and a call to action.”
Griffith’s work is in public collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; University of Michigan Museum of Art; Center for Creative Photography and Fort Wayne Museum of Art. He has exhibited extensively throughout the United States.
Rethinking Fire (highdesertmuseum.org/rethinking-fire) will be on display through January 9, 2022.
The exhibit is possible with support from Alex Hodge Construction, Cascade A&E, Land Rover Portland, Tonkon Torp, Vernam Crane Services and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM:
THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM opened in Bend, Oregon in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, was the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence and is a 2021 recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. To learn more, visit highdesertmuseum.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. — High Desert Museum