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Federal Jury Finds City of GP Did Not Violate Rights of Street Preachers Protesting Abortion

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A federal jury this week sided with the city of Grants Pass in finding that police haven't used Oregon's disorderly conduct statute to quash the free speech rights of street preachers protesting abortion. The Oregonian reports Abolish Abortion Oregon in 2020 sued Grants Pass, alleging the city had harassed its members for years with threats of arrest to chill their freedom of speech and religion. The Christian evangelists and anti-abortion activists travel the state "to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and to call for the abolition and criminalization of abortion throughout the United States," according to the organization's lawyers. The group's open-air street preachers attend various events in Grants Pass, including the First Friday monthly celebration of the arts and the Saturday Growers Market, and they regularly preach outside the Planned Parenthood clinic on NW Franklin Boulevard, sometimes using bullhorns and electronic amplifiers. Three of its members filed complaints with the city for threatening to arrest them on second-degree disorderly conduct allegations. Other received citations alleging they were obstructing traffic. The attorney for the city testified that its police officers appropriately enforced the law against the preachers for creating "unreasonable noise," even if their speech was otherwise protected by the First Amendment. City Attorney Robert E. Franz testified the officers often were responding to complaints from businesses. The verdict came at the end of a four-day trial in US District Court in Medford before US District Judge Karin J. Immergut. ...Read more

Blind Man and Service Dog Rescued from Extreme Heat on Rogue River Recreation Trail

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US Coast Guard rescuers lifted a blind man and his service dog up from the Rogue River National Recreation Trail and onto a helicopter this week after he was overcome by heat and spent at least one night waiting for help, officials said. The Oregonian reports the 55-year-old man, whose name hasn't been released, was hiking with a friend in Josephine County last Saturday when he started showing signs of heat exhaustion. The man couldn't walk anymore and there was no cell service in the area, so the friend left him at a campsite with a tent and some food and water and went to get help, reaching authorities by phone Sunday. Coast Guard Commander Jay Kircher received a call around 5 p.m. Sunday from the state's search-and-rescue coordinator asking for a helicopter to pluck a stranded man off of the trail. As they discussed options and tried to make a plan they learned that the friend wasn't completely sure about the man's location. Instead of flying out right away, they coordinated with the Josephine County Sheriff's Office and the Oregon Department of Emergency Management to have a deputy and a Bureau of Land Management ranger walk the trail the following morning, find the man and then relay his precise location to the Coast Guard via a satellite phone. The deputy and the ranger found the man around 9 a.m. Monday, and they sent the Coast Guard their coordinates. A four-man unit departed from North Bend around 10 a.m. and got there less than half-an-hour later. ...Read more

Oregon Heritage Grants Awarded to Historic Property and Archaeology Projects

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Oregon Heritage -- a division of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department -- has awarded 18 grants totaling nearly $300,000 for historic properties and archaeology projects. Six of the grants were awarded in the "Diamonds in the Rough" category, which funds façade improvements that restore the historic character of a property. The other 12 grants were in the "Preserving Oregon" category for properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places and for archaeology projects. One of the archaeology projects being funded is a Southern Oregon University lab for study of the Maxville site in Wallowa County. Local historic properties receiving grants include the Elks Lodge building in Medford, the Butler Perozzi Fountain in Ashland and Hanley Farm near Central Point. These grants were approved by the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation, a nine-member group that reviews nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. For more information about the grants program, visit "oregonheritage.org." ...Read more

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