Local News

IVFD & ODF Crews Extinguished Illegal Open Burn on Hummingbird in CJ
We're one month into the 2024 fire season and some people still have not gotten the message that all outdoor debris burning is prohibited. On Saturday at 6:09 p.m., the Illinois Valley Fire District and Oregon Department of Forestry were dispatched to an illegal open burn on Hummingbird Lane in Cave Junction. IVFD officials said the small fire that contained illegal materials was extinguished in short order and a written warning was issued. Remember, there is no outdoor burning allowed anywhere in southwest Oregon including the Illinois Valley.
Posted on 7/1/24 10:56AM by Sam Marsh
 

Authorities Investigating Collision that Claimed Life of Pedestrian near Ashland
The Jackson County Sheriff's Office was investigating a fatal motor vehicle crash after a pedestrian was struck and killed over the weekend outside Ashland. The Sheriff's Office reports ECSO Dispatch received a call on Saturday at 9:35 p.m. regarding a pedestrian injured and the suspect vehicle still at the scene in the 500-block of South Valley View Road. Deputies, Ashland police officers and an Ashland Fire-Rescue ambulance rushed to the scene. The victim was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Next of kin has been notified. The victim was identified as 50-year-old Mark David Langille of New Mexico. The Jackson County Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction (STAR) Team and Medical Examiner detectives responded to assist with the investigation. The driver of the suspect minivan was placed into custody and a search warrant for a blood draw was granted. Potential charges for the suspect are pending further investigation, toxicology reports and a mechanical inspection of the vehicle. The suspect's name will be released if and when charges are filed.
Posted on 7/1/24 6:31AM by Sam Marsh
 

Evacuation Levels Canceled Due to Successful Efforts on Upper Applegate Fire
All evacuation levels are canceled for the Upper Applegate Fire due to successful firefighting efforts over the last few days. The Oregon Department of Forestry did not include statistics in its daily report on Sunday, but the wildfire was 1,124 acres with 85% containment, according to the Watch Duty App. ODF did report the wildfire located south of Ruch is continuing to be held strong by firefighters working the incident. Officials said all lines remained intact since Friday, which is a testament to the work that has been put in on this fire. This work continued during Sunday's day shift as well as identifying where suppression repair is needed and what hazards still exist near those areas. On Sunday, 380 personnel were assigned to the fire including 13 20-person hand crews backed by five engines, three bulldozers and eight water tenders. Two Type 2 helicopters remain assigned to the incident as well as one Type 3 helicopter. It is not expected that ordering additional aircraft will be necessary. Due to the progress on this wildfire, a smaller Type 4 incident management team led by the BLM will be taking command on Tuesday morning. Today, the team will shadow the current organization for a full day to ensure a smooth transition.
Posted on 7/1/24 6:30AM by Sam Marsh
 

Oregon Boaters Reminded of State Laws Defining Duties after Water Incidents
The Oregon State Marine Board wanted to remind boaters that it's state law to help and render aid in cases where another boat is swamped, capsizes or is involved in another incident with property damage or personal injury. Marine Board officials say it's also about being a "good neighbor" on the water. By Oregon statute, failure to fulfill the duties of the boat operator could result in a Class A misdemeanor citation. In cases where the boat operator leaves the scene of a boat accident where there is personal injury or death, the boater may be charged with a Class C felony. Brian Paulsen, Boating Safety Program Coordinator for the Marine Board, said boaters need to pay close attention to other people recreating on the water around them. In many cases, he said everyday boaters become heroes when others go overboard, helping avert further tragedy. Oregon's waterways are increasingly congested, but everyone has the same right to recreate. Please be mindful and remember to share the waterway while recreating responsibly.
Posted on 7/1/24 6:21AM by Sam Marsh
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City Council to Focus on Water Plant and Caveman Pool at Workshop Session
The Grants Pass City Council will focus on the new Water Treatment Plant and Caveman Pool during its bi-weekly workshop session today. The City Council will open the workshop with an update on the Water Treatment Plant project from Public Works Director Jason Canady. The project has reached the next step in the design process while estimated costs have skyrocketed. Next up is a staff presentation on Caveman Pool funding options followed by Council discussion. The panel is interested in continuing with a renovation of the municipal swimming pool while also showing interest in a partnership with the Grants Pass Family YMCA on a new swimming facility south of the river. The Council will review motions made by the Parks Advisory Committee before reviewing agendas for upcoming workshops and regular meetings. Following the workshop, Mayor Sara Bristol will convene the City Council for a Special Meeting in Executive Session. The closed-door meeting is with the City Attorney regarding rights and duties along with current or likely litigation. Today's workshop begins at 11:45 a.m. in the City Council Chambers at Grants Pass City Hall, 101 NW A Street.
Posted on 7/1/24 6:19AM by Sam Marsh
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City of Grants Pass Seeks Applicants for Seat on Tourism Advisory Committee
Applications are now being accepted for a position on the Grants Pass Tourism Advisory Committee. The goal of the committee is to encourage visitors and residents to engage in community activities while enhancing the positive image of Grants Pass through marketing, promotions and destination management. The purpose of the committee is to review and advise the work of the city's tourism contractor. Special qualification for this position is a member representing lodging properties within the City of Grants Pass. Applications can be obtained at the City Administration Office at 101 NW A Street or online at "grantspassoregon.gov/committee-application."
Posted on 7/1/24 6:18AM by Sam Marsh
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Interim Director of OSU Extension Expresses Great Disappointment in Board Decision
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The Interim Director of the Oregon State University Extension Service said they are very disappointed in Friday's decision by the Josephine County Commissioners to stop county funding that has supported delivery of local extension programs and services in 4-H, agriculture, forestry and health for more than 100 years. Commissioners Herman Baertschiger and John West voted to set a service district budget of $0 for Fiscal Year 2025 and did not appropriate any funds for use. In addition, taxes will not be collected for the district in the coming year. Veteran Commissioner Dan DeYoung voted against defunding the service district. Kris Elliott, Interim Vice Provost of Extension and Engagement at OSU, said the service district remains intact and has an available fund balance. But unlike last year, the Board did not approve use of those reserve funds for OSU Extension to serve Josephine County. As a result, he said the Extension will not be able to maintain an office in the county and programming will be limited. Elliott said it is unfortunate that this decision comes after a year of good faith engagement with the Board to share progress, provide information and address any questions and concerns raised. Elliott stated that they are not giving up on the people of Josephine County. He said they will continue to do all they can to serve the county with the resources that are available to them.
Posted on 7/1/24 6:16AM by Sam Marsh
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GP Police and Firefighters Logged Busy Week of Activity to End Month of June
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Grants Pass police officers and firefighters logged a busy week of activity to close out the month of June. According to the Weekly Report filed by Grants Pass City Manager Aaron Cubic, police officers responded to a total of 724 calls for service last week along with 215 officer-initiated calls that resulted in 47 arrests, 33 citations, 35 warnings and one highly-intoxicated person being lodged at the Sobering Center. Cubic also reported that officers conducted a total of 47 traffic stops in the city and they made 15 referrals to the Oregon Department of Human Services. The GPPD Community Response Team (CRT) contacted a total of 238 potential troublemakers while arresting six people, citing 33 more and warning 47 others. The CRT unit also trespassed 17 individuals, posted 100 transient camps and removed trash from one campsite. Grants Pass Fire & Rescue responded to a total of 106 calls last week including 39 for emergency medical service, nine reports of smoke or fire, 10 lift assists, six rescue situations, 12 assists to other agencies and four false alarms. The Grants Pass Communications Center fielded a total of 1,263 emergency calls in addition to 831 calls for non-emergency service.
Posted on 7/1/24 6:14AM by Sam Marsh
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GPSD7 and RCC Foundation Forge Partnership to Increase Student Opportunities
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The Grants Pass School District and Rogue Community College Foundation are partnering to expand educational opportunities for local students. District 7 is transferring approximately 350 acres of land on Stringer Gap Road that is valued at more than $1 million to the RCC Foundation. In return, the RCC Foundation will provide scholarships that will cover the cost of RCC college classes for Grants Pass students for years to come. The agreement was approved by both governing boards last week. Under the partnership, the RCC Foundation plans to sell the donated land and establish an endowment to fund tuition scholarships for District 7 students. This endowment will grow over time, ensuring that tuition scholarships for Grants Pass students are available in perpetuity. Starting this fall, the RCC Foundation will award $20,000 in annual tuition scholarships for D7 students, with the annual scholarship amount increasing in the 2029-30 academic year as the endowment matures. In the 2023-24 academic year alone, D7 students earned 1,810 college credits through RCC.
Posted on 7/1/24 6:13AM by Sam Marsh
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Upper Applegate Fire 100% Lined at Perimeter with Focus Now on Mopping Up
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Firefighters working on the Upper Applegate Fire made tremendous progress overnight while completing strategic firing operations on the north part of the wildfire. The Oregon Department of Forestry reports this strategy connected the fire's edge with the hand-line dug by firefighters, creating a solid barrier between the interior of the blaze and homes located further downhill. With this work finished, the wildfire is now 100% directly lined, meaning there are no unburned pockets along the perimeter that could easily allow the fire to burn over a line. It also gives firefighters a better defense should those lines be tested by windy weather, which is expected today. ODF officials said the fire slightly expanded last night to 966 acres, but mop-up has increased to 20%. On the south side of the fire, mop-up operations have reached 120 feet into the interior of the fire with crews extinguishing hot spots as they advance. Hazard trees remain a constant threat to crews on this incident. More than 360 personnel are assigned to the Upper Applegate Fire today including 13 20-person hand crews backed by four engines, three bulldozers and eight water tenders. Two Type 1 and two Type 2 helicopters are still dedicated to the fire to drop water when needed. Two Type 3 helicopters are providing full day coverage as an air attack platform to coordinate aerial work. Fleet downsizing is expected. Personnel will be hiking throughout the fire today to determine what repair work needs to be done following suppression activities. Evacuation orders remain in effect, with Zone JAC-434 on a Level 1 "Be Ready" notice and Zone-436 on a Level 2 "Be Set" notice. The BLM closure order for lands in the fire area -- including Grouse Creek Road -- continues.
Posted on 6/29/24 8:58AM by Sam Marsh
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City of GP Grateful for SCOTUS Ruling to Help Guide Homeless in Parks Crisis
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The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday reversed lower court rulings, finding that public camping restrictions issued by the City of Grants Pass do not constitute "cruel and unusual punishment." The nation's highest court split largely along ideological lines in a 6 to 3 vote in a decision that likely will have significant reverberations around the country. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote for the majority that the enforcement of laws regulating camping on public property is "commonplace" and not barred by the Eighth Amendment. He found that homelessness is "complex" and that the city's limited fines for first-time offenders, bans from public parks for repeat offenders and a maximum of 30 days in jail for any violators are punishments that don’t add “terror, pain or disgrace.” The court found that prior rulings by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Grants Pass case and another case in Boise that narrowed what cities can do to restrict public sleeping on streets, parks and sidewalks may have inadvertently increased the homelessness problem by weakening how cities can respond. In a statement released Friday by the City of Grants Pass, officials said they were grateful to know the Supreme Court's decision in the case and thankful the ruling will help guide their next steps regarding unhoused members of the community. City officials said once their legal counsel thoroughly reviews the Supreme Court opinion, the Grants Pass City Council will receive a briefing and discuss options for moving forward. The City Council will hold a Special Meeting in Executive Session following its bi-weekly workshop session on Monday.
Posted on 6/29/24 6:07AM by Sam Marsh
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High Fire Danger Starts Monday AM on Public Lands in Medford BLM District
As the weather continues to warm and fire danger increases, the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is increasing public use restrictions on BLM-managed lands in Southern Oregon. Starting Monday at 12:01 a.m., certain activities on BLM-managed lands in Jackson and Josephine counties will be restricted to prevent human-caused fires and reduce the overall wildfire potential. Campfires will only be allowed at the Hyatt Lake Campground and the lower section of the Rogue River below the high-water mark. In all other areas, visitors can use portable cooking stoves that use liquefied or bottled fuels. Otherwise, campfires or any other type of open fire -- including the use of charcoal briquettes -- is prohibited. Smoking is only allowed while inside a vehicle or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is clear of flammable vegetation. Operating all motor vehicles and parking off-road is only allowed on roadways clear of vegetation. The use of fireworks, exploding targets or tracer ammunition is prohibited. Using a chainsaw or other equipment with internal combustion engines is banned between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. as are welding or operating a torch with an open flame. A firewatch of one hour is required following the use of a saw. Visitors to BLM-managed public lands are also required to carry tools with them to ensure small fires can be put out quickly including a shovel, axe and at least one gallon of water or a 2.5-pound fire extinguisher. Violation of these restrictions can result in a fine of up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year. Restitution for total fire suppression and damage costs incurred will be borne by the responsible party.
Posted on 6/29/24 6:05AM by Sam Marsh
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