Local News

Firefighters Continue to Make Good Progress on Upper Applegate and Highway 62 Fires
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Firefighters continued to make good progress on both the Upper Applegate Fire near Ruch and the Highway 62 Fire near Shady Cove on Friday. The Oregon Department of Forestry reports the Upper Applegate Fire remains an estimated 500 acres while the Highway 62 Fire remains at 75 acres with 100% of the perimeter lined. The Upper Applegate Fire remains ODF Southwest's top priority. Firefighters have been able to build indirect line around 70% of the fire and 10% direct line at the fire's edge. However, steep, rocky terrain and hazardous snag trees are creating challenges for resources and slowing down progress. The region's largest wildfire so far this year was staffed overnight with 153 people including six 20-person crews, two engines, two water tenders and two bulldozers. Numerous aircraft remain assigned to the incident as well including three large air tankers, one very large air tanker and several helicopters based in Medford. Level 1 "Be Ready" evacuation notices remain in place for Little Applegate Road west of Upper Applegate Road and eastern portions of Sterling Creek Road along with Eastside Road south of Little Applegate Road to north of McKee Bridge. ODF officials have not yet determined the causes of the two wildfires.
Posted on 6/22/24 6:14AM by Sam Marsh

State Fire Marshal Encourages Oregonians to Keep Fireworks Use "Legal and Safe"
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With fireworks set to go on sale on Sunday, "Keep It Legal, Keep It Safe" is the message from the Oregon State Fire Marshal. The 2024 fireworks retail sales season begins tomorrow and runs through July 6th in Oregon. The state fire marshal would like everyone to know which fireworks are legal to use, where fireworks can be used and how to use them safely. To reduce the risk of starting a fire, some local governments have firework sales or use restrictions in place. Oregonians are encouraged to check local regulations and follow them where they live or where they may be traveling for the Fourth of July. Consumer-legal fireworks can only be purchased from permitted fireworks stands and retailers. State regulations limit where those fireworks may be used including public lands and parks. The possession and use of fireworks are prohibited in national parks and forests, on BLM lands, on US Fish and Wildlife properties, on state beaches, in state parks and in state campgrounds. Fireworks are also prohibited on many private lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Posted on 6/22/24 6:12AM by Sam Marsh

GP Police Arrested Nursing Home Worker for Sexual Abuse of Elderly Patients
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The Grants Pass Police Department has jailed an employee of a local nursing home for the alleged sexual abuse of elderly patients. The Police Department reports detectives arrested 28-year-old Michael Anthony Lee of Medford on Thursday at his place of employment, which was not disclosed. On June 16th, GPPD received a report of sex abuse involving an employee and patient at the unnamed nursing home. A subsequent investigation by detectives from the Major Crimes Unit -- conducted with assistance of management of the nursing home -- determined the suspect to be Lee. Detectives said Lee had worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant in both Grants Pass and Medford over the past three years. They said he allegedly targeted both female and male elderly victims for sexual assault -- and it's believed additional victims have not yet been identified. Michael Lee was placed into custody and lodged at the Josephine County Jail for suspicion of two counts each of Felony 1st-Degree Sex Abuse and Felony Attempted 1st-Degree Sex Abuse. He is being held without bail. GPPD is requesting assistance in identifying additional victims. Anyone with information in this case is urged to call Detective Miguel at (541)-450-6260 and reference Case #24-22321.
Posted on 6/21/24 11:47AM by Sam Marsh

GP Police Snared Man for Breaking into Food Stand and Stealing Fruit Cases
Grants Pass Police arrested a man for breaking into a specialty food stand and stealing frozen fruit early yesterday. According to the Police Department, officers were alerted to the burglary incident at Yumberry Bowl on NE Steiger Street on Thursday morning. Police said the business owner called 9-1-1 to report a male subject on a bicycle damaged a fence to gain entry into a storage structure on the property and then removed at least two cases of frozen fruit valued at about $60. The caller advised the incident happened at about 1:30 in the morning and she had it all on camera. Officers viewed the surveillance footage and tracked down the 32-year-old man at Riverside Park about an hour later. He was placed into custody and found to be in possession of a glass pipe with methamphetamine residue. Some of the stolen fruit was recovered and returned to the business. The suspect was lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Felony 2nd-Degree Burglary, 2nd-Degree Criminal Mischief and 3rd-Degree Theft as well as the narcotics violation. He was being held without bail. He was also trespassed from the city park for 30 days.
Posted on 6/21/24 11:45AM by Sam Marsh
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GP Police Arrested Man for Stealing Fred Meyer Merchandise & Riding Away
Grants Pass Police arrested a man for stealing merchandise from Fred Meyer late yesterday. The Police Department reports officers responded to a shoplifting complaint at the store on the Grants Pass Parkway on Thursday shortly after 4 p.m.. Police said a loss prevention worker called 9-1-1 and told dispatchers a male subject filled a backpack with about $160 worth of items, left the store without paying and rode away on a BMX-style bicycle. Officers searched the area and located the man with the stolen merchandise at Carl's Jr.. He admitted to the heist and was placed into custody. The stolen items were returned to Fred Meyer from which he is now trespassed. The 24-year-old suspect was lodged at the Josephine County Jail for 2nd-Degree Theft. He was being held without bail.
Posted on 6/21/24 11:43AM by Sam Marsh
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GP Police Arrested Man for Trespassing at Gas Station & Pushing Worker
Grants Pass Police arrested a man for trespassing at a downtown gas station last night after he got physical with an attendant. According to the Police Department, officers were alerted to a disturbance at the Astro gas station on NE E Street on Thursday around 7:50 p.m.. Police said a customer called 9-1-1 to report a male subject with tattoos on his neck became involved in a verbal altercation with a gas station worker and it escalated to the subject pushing the worker. No one was hurt as the attendant sought refuge in a booth and locked the door. The aggressor then fled behind the station. That's where officers located him and placed him into custody. The attendant did not wish to pursue charges for harassment, but wanted the man trespassed. The 28-year-old suspect was lodged in jail for 2nd-Degree Criminal Trespass and he was being held without bail.
Posted on 6/21/24 11:41AM by Sam Marsh
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OSP Nabbed GP Man for Blocking Merlin Waterway and 2 Local Warrants
The Oregon State Police arrested a Grants Pass man for illegally blocking a natural waterway and outstanding warrants in the Merlin area late yesterday. OSP reports state wildlife troopers responded to the incident near the intersection of Abegg Road and Ray Drive on Thursday at 4:40 p.m.. Troopers said they contacted a 45-year-old man who was illegally blocking a creek that is an essential salmon habitat. The contact was prompted by a neighbor's call. During the contact, it was discovered that the man was wanted on two local warrants for failing to appear in court for Disorderly Conduct and Criminal Trespass. The suspect was transported to Grants Pass and lodged jail on the warrants along with new charges of Unlawful Fill of Material from Bed or Banks of Waters and Depositing Trash within 100 Yards of a Waterway.
Posted on 6/21/24 11:39AM by Sam Marsh
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OSFM Mobilizes Structural Task Forces to Upper Applegate Fire near Ruch
The Oregon State Fire Marshal has mobilized two structural task forces to the Upper Applegate Fire in Jackson County. The task forces are from Lane and Polk counties and they were mobilized through Immediate Response, a tool the fire marshal uses to send firefighting resources outside of a conflagration. The task forces will support the Applegate Valley Fire District. The Jackson County Sheriff's Office has Level 1 "Be Ready" evacuation notices in place for homes near the fire, which is burning south of Ruch and east of Jacksonville. State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple said their priority is to proactively protect communities from the threat of wildfires. She said they've sent resources to boost capacity and support the Applegate Valley Fire District until the fire is contained. Ruiz-Temple said with warm and dry weather in the forecast, the risk of wildfires is heightened across the state. She urges everyone to help firefighters by taking preventive measures to avoid sparking a fire this summer and by following all fire season restrictions including no outdoor debris burning.
Posted on 6/21/24 10:36AM by Sam Marsh
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ODF Managing Two Wildfires that Erupted on Opposite Sides of Jackson County (Update)
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Firefighters were making good progress on two wildfires burning on opposite ends of Jackson County that were reported within the space of 15 minutes on Thursday afternoon. The Oregon Department of Forestry reported this morning that the Highway 62 Fire located south of Shady Cove was holding at 75 acres. The fire on both private and Bureau of Land Management land was 100% lined and 60% plumbed. More than 100 personnel were assigned to that wildfire today. The Upper Applegate Fire located south of Ruch was challenging firefighters this morning. It's estimated to be at least 500 acres and is burning in extremely steep terrain affecting private, BLM and US Forest Service land on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. More than 100 personnel backed by bulldozers and helicopters were assigned to that fire today, with additional aircraft available. A Level 1 "Be Ready" evacuation notice for the Highway 62 Fire was canceled this morning, but a Level 1 notice remains in effect for the Upper Applegate Fire on Eastside Road south of Little Applegate Road to north of McKee Bridge, and for Little Applegate Road west of Upper Applegate Road and eastern portions of Sterling Creek Road near Jacksonville. ODF officials said hot temperatures and low relative humidity will help to naturally increase fire behavior today. They said crews are aware of this potential and are planning accordingly.
Posted on 6/21/24 9:07AM by Sam Marsh
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GP City Council Calls Special Meeting in Executive Session for Real Estate Deal
The Grants Pass City Council has called for a Special Meeting in Executive Session this afternoon. During the 4 p.m. closed session in the City Council Chambers, the topic will be real property transactions and/or negotiations. No other information is available. It is unknown whether the executive session is related to the upcoming ruling by the US Supreme Court on the unhoused population living in Grants Pass city parks. The ruling -- which is being watched by cities across the country -- was scheduled to be made in late June or early July. Even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Grants Pass, the city is bound by state laws that govern time, place and manner restrictions favoring the homeless. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals previously ruled that because Grants Pass does not have a low-barrier homeless shelter, the city must allow homeless people to stay overnight in all parks except Reinhart Volunteer Park.
Posted on 6/21/24 6:43AM by Sam Marsh
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Deputies Got Assist from OSP in Locating and Arresting Felony Assault Suspect
The Josephine County Sheriff's Office got an assist from the Oregon State Police in tracking down and arresting a North Valley man wanted in a felony assault case. The Sheriff's Office reports deputies and state troopers arrested 41-year-old Brian Edward Simpson at a home in the 7,000-block of Monument Drive on Wednesday night. Deputies said they were on patrol when they spotted a silver Dodge Challenger known to be associated with Simpson near the intersection of Pleasant Valley and Merlin roads. The suspect fled on Merlin Road toward Interstate 5, so deputies contacted OSP to watch for him in the area of the freeway. The Sheriff's Office and OSP continued to search the area of Monument Drive until they once again spotted the suspect vehicle, swooped in and placed Simpson into custody. No information on the details of the case have been disclosed. Simpson was transported to Grants Pass and lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Felony 1st-Degree Assault, which is defined under Oregon law as intentionally or knowingly causing serious physical injury to another person with a deadly or dangerous weapon. He was being held without bail.
Posted on 6/21/24 6:24AM by Sam Marsh
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Deputies Jailed North Valley Woman for Attacking Boyfriend at Hugo Residence
The Josephine County Sheriff's Office jailed a North Valley woman for attacking her boyfriend at a Hugo area residence this week. According to the Sheriff's Office, deputies arrested the 30-year-old female subject for the incident in the 6900-block of Tunnel Loop Road late Wednesday night. Deputies said the male victim called 9-1-1 to report the attack in which the woman reportedly hit him with a piece of metal and threatened him with a butter knife. He also told dispatchers that his girlfriend hit him in the face with an old-fashioned camera lens. He said he shoved her because he thought she was going to stab him. Responding deputies contacted the man and confirmed his injuries, but he declined medical treatment. They found the woman walking up the driveway and placed her into custody in short order. No other information was available. The suspect was lodged at the Josephine County Jail for 4th-Degree Domestic Assault. She was being held without bail.
Posted on 6/21/24 6:17AM by Sam Marsh
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