Local News

GP Parks Department Staff Embarks on Late Summer Maintenance Projects
Reinhart Volunteer Park -- the largest and most heavily-used public park in the City of Grants Pass -- received some summer maintenance attention last week. Parks staff pressure-washed shelters and bleachers at Agnew Lytle Field, and did some deep screen dragging of the infields at the ballpark. Also, the small creek that feeds into a couple of ponds is flowing again after it sat dry for a couple of weeks while waiting for a pump replacement to arrive. Tussing Park had several blackberry patches removed as well as trees pruned up to allow for improved sightlines throughout the park. Staff repaired several irrigation lines at Riverside Park, adding isolation valves at a couple of locations and rebuilding some valve manifolds. Staff also replaced a broken slide at the park last week. The Urban Forestry Division has created a system to regularly assess city park trees. The tree risk assessment methods are based on the standards set by the International Society of Arboriculture. All 20 parks -- including Caveman Pool -- will be assessed four times per year. Using this system, city staff can identify potential hazards in the parks and better prioritize the pruning needs of trees.
Posted on 8/29/23 6:14AM by Sam Marsh

Governor Invokes Emergency Conflagration Act for Smith River Complex to Protect IV
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Governor Tina Kotek has invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act for the Smith River Complex to allow the Oregon State Fire Marshal (OSFM) to mobilize structural firefighting resources to protect life and property in the Illinois Valley. The State Fire Marshal is mobilizing additional firefighters, equipment and an incident management team to provide structure protection for homes threatened by the wildfire complex that started August 15th and had grown to 73,799 acres as of this morning. Incident managers reported just 7% containment of the blaze today. Last Thursday, OSFM mobilized two structural task forces through immediate response to protect communities near the Smith River Complex ahead of a conflagration declaration. The complex began in California and burned across state lines into Oregon where Level 3, Level 2 and Level 1 evacuations are in place. In accordance with Oregon Revised Statutes, Governor Kotek determined that the fire poses a threat to life, safety and property, and the threat exceeds the capacity of local firefighting personnel and equipment. The OSFM's Blue Incident Management Team will be briefed and assume unified command of the Smith River Complex at 8 a.m. today. The additional task forces are coming from other counties around the state through the Oregon Fire Mutual Aid System.
Posted on 8/29/23 6:11AM by Sam Marsh

GP City Council Votes to Sell Sky Crest Lots and Request Proposals for Allenwood Property
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The Grants Pass City Council convened a Special Meeting in Executive Session prior to holding its bi-weekly workshop on Monday. Mayor Sara Bristol announced the executive session was held for the City Council to receive updates on real property transactions and negotiations on the Sky Crest and Allenwood properties that have been designated surplus property. Community Development Director Brad Clark led the workshop discussion by stating two lots on Sky Crest could be listed for sale. He said one 1.32-acre lot is valued at $140,580 and another 1.3 acre lot is valued at $138,750. Both lots will require wells to be drilled and septic systems to be installed. The Council voted 8-0 to offer these residential building lots for sale. On the Allenwood property, Clark said the City Council showed interest in selling part of the land for affordable housing and retaining around two acres along Allen Creek for a public park. He recommended keeping the zoning for the three tax lots at R-1-8, which would allow up to eight housing units per acre. Following discussion on the Allenwood Property, the Council voted unanimously to submit a request for proposals targeting the construction of affordable housing.
Posted on 8/29/23 6:02AM by Sam Marsh

Grants Pass City Council Okayed Safe Parking Program for Temporary Limited Sites
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The Grants Pass City Council recently approved the Safe Parking Program in an effort to facilitate the ability of service groups and businesses who wish to allow limited overnight parking for people who lack permanent shelter in the community. The Safe Parking Program is intended to provide temporary transitional overnight parking accommodations for individuals, families or households on a limited basis for seasonal or emergency housing purposes. Property owners or business lessees, non-profits, religious or public entities who wish to allow limited overnight parking can fill out an online application or download a PDF to submit in person or by e-mail. Individual owners of residential properties are not eligible to allow overnight camping under this program, nor are businesses or groups located within the Central Business District. All vehicles must be operable and movable by their own power. If you have questions about the Safe Parking Program, contact Grants Pass Housing and Neighborhood Specialist Amber Neeck at (541)-450-6068 or at "aneeck@grantspassoregon.gov."
Posted on 8/29/23 5:56AM by Sam Marsh
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GP Police Jailed Man for Threatening to Slit Girlfriend's Throat during Argument
Grants Pass Police jailed a man for a weekend domestic violence incident in which he allegedly threatened to slit his girlfriend's throat. According to the Police Department, officers arrested 34-year-old Cody Eugene McQuilliams for the incident at a home on NE C Street at 4:13 p.m. Saturday. Police said a neighbor called 9-1-1 to report that a woman was being beat up by her boyfriend and there were two children in the home. The caller told dispatchers that the children said that their father was hitting their mother on the couch. Officers said an investigation determined that McQuilliams and his girlfriend were in an argument when he got in her face and threatened to slit her throat. The action was recorded on video by a family member who witnessed the incident. No one was actually hurt. McQuilliams was lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Domestic Menacing. He was being held without bail.
Posted on 8/28/23 11:00AM by Sam Marsh
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GP Police Arrested Man for Probation Violation after He Lied about His Identity
Grants Pass Police arrested a man for violating his probation by lying to them about his identity during a weekend traffic stop near Riverside Park. According to the Police Department, officers pulled over a vehicle driven by 26-year-old Renson Kalani-Neizman near the intersection of East Park Street and Rogue River Highway on Saturday at about 6:30 p.m.. Police said they stopped Kalani-Neizman for not wearing a seatbelt and he provided a false name and date of birth which happened to be his brother's information. When confronted about a photo not matching him, he still refused to provide his identity. Once Kalani-Neizman's true identity was revealed, records showed that he was on probation for 4th-Degree Domestic Assault with a no-contact order with his female passenger. His corrections officer was contacted and requested that he be detained. Kalani-Neizman was lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Felony Identity Theft, Furnishing False Information and the resulting Probation Violation. He was being held on a no-bail detainer. He was also cited for No Seatbelt, No Seatbelt for a Child and No Operator's License. His passenger was also cited for No Seatbelt.
Posted on 8/28/23 10:58AM by Sam Marsh
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Deputies Collared Woman on Statewide Warrant after Fish Hatchery Road Calls
The Josephine County Sheriff's Office apprehended a woman on a statewide felony warrant after a weekend investigation into suspicious activity in the Fish Hatchery area. According to the Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to reports of an abandoned, unlicensed and decrepit Pace Arrow motorhome parked on the shoulder of Fish Hatchery Road near Felkner Road on Saturday at about 3:25 p.m.. Deputies said the callers reported two women were occasionally seen around the motorhome and they were worried about possible criminal activity including drug use and prostitution. They were also concerned about the risk of fire. Upon arrival, deputies contacted 47-year-old Andrea Veneca Hanson and placed her into custody when they discovered that she was wanted on an Oregon State warrant for Felony Parole Violation stemming from a conviction for Crimes Against a Person. Hanson was lodged at the Josephine County Jail without bail.
Posted on 8/28/23 10:56AM by Sam Marsh
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GP Police Captured Statewide Fugitive after Fruitdale Area Narcotics Overdose
Grants Pass Police apprehended a man on a statewide felony warrant while investigating a possible weekend drug overdose in the Fruitdale area. The Police Department reports officers responded to assist medics with a reported overdose in the 1700-block of Darrell Circle on Saturday around 4 p.m.. Police said 34-year-old Christopher Patrick McLaughlin was unresponsive until he was provided with two doses of Narcan. When he woke up, they said he fled out the window of the residence and ran down the Fruitdale Trail. He surrendered to officers and it was discovered that he was wanted on an Oregon State warrant for Felony Parole Violation. After being medically cleared by paramedics, McLaughlin was placed into custody and lodged at the Josephine County Jail on a no-bail detainer.
Posted on 8/28/23 10:55AM by Sam Marsh
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OSP Apprehended 4 Fugitives during Weekend Incidents in Josephine County
The Oregon State Police apprehended four fugitives during weekend incidents in Josephine County. OSP reports the first incident occurred on Friday morning when troopers contacted and arrested 29-year-old Dennis Alan Knight in the 200-block of West Watkins Street in Cave Junction. Knight was transported to the Josephine County Jail where he was lodged without bail on three counts Felony Parole Violation. The second incident happened midday Friday when troopers pulled over a Nissan Pathfinder driven by 31-year-old Brooks Andrew Hedgepeth at NE 7th and Steiger streets in Grants Pass. Troopers said they stopped Hedgepeth for traffic violations and discovered that he was wanted on multiple felony warrants. The third incident took place on Saturday morning when troopers contacted a pedestrian identified as 28-year-old Jake Thompson in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 near milepost 57. Thompson's corrections officer asked that he be detained on an outstanding arrest warrant. The fourth incident occurred on Sunday evening when troopers responded to reports of a man lying face down on the shoulder of southbound I-5 near milepost 76. Troopers said they contacted 27-year-old Allen Totten Behrle and found him to be wanted on a Josephine County warrant.
Posted on 8/28/23 10:54AM by Sam Marsh
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Troopers Arrested Motorist for DUII after Weekend Traffic Stop on RR Highway
The Oregon State Police arrested a motorist for impaired driving and a warrant during a weekend traffic stop on Rogue River Highway in southeast Grants Pass. According to OSP, troopers pulled over a Ford Focus driven by 24-year-old Patrick Wayne Weldon-Smith on Highway 99 near Parkdale Drive at 12:35 a.m. Saturday. Troopers said they stopped Weldon-Smith for multiple traffic violations and he showed multiple signs of impairment. He was also wanted on a local warrant and performed poorly in field sobriety tests, so he was placed into custody. Weldon-Smith was taken to the Grants Pass Sobering Center where he provided a breath sample that exceeded the legal driving limit. He was charged with Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants and the failure to appear bench warrant. He was cited and released, but his car was impounded.
Posted on 8/28/23 10:52AM by Sam Marsh
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Favorable Weather Conditions Should Help Limit Activity on Flat Fire This Week
More favorable weather conditions on the Flat Fire over the next few days should help limit activity on the Flat Fire, allowing crews to continue toward full suppression efforts. Southwest Incident Management Team 3 reported this morning that the Flat Fire was holding at 34,242 acres and containment remained 58%. The human-caused fire started July 15th at the Oak Flat Campground near Agness in Curry County. Total personnel assigned to the wildfire today is 414 including 11 hand crews, 17 engines, 16 water tenders, four brush-clearing masticators, three helicopters and three bulldozers. An initial attack group continues to support the US Forest Service on the Cedar, Anvil and Barklow fires, which are burning north of the Flat Fire. Flat Fire crews focused efforts again near the north and northeast sides of the blaze, conducting suppression repair work along trails, within culverts and other areas of importance. Resources also started chipping operations there as part of the overall suppression effort. Due to extreme terrain on the eastern flank, aircraft continue to fly daily, providing intelligence and looking for any lingering heat or smokes in the interior of the wildfire. The heat is not a threat to containment lines. On the south and west sides of the fire, resources are patrolling line to ensure stability and checking for any interior smokes. Suppression repair work to the dozer line continues along with backhauling of excess equipment and supplies back to camp. The Level 1 "Get Ready" evacuation status remains in place for all areas in the vicinity of the Flat Fire.
Posted on 8/28/23 6:43AM by Sam Marsh
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ODF and Other Agencies Battled Several Lightning-Caused Fires over Weekend
The Oregon Department of Forestry and other agencies have been engaged on several lightning-caused wildfires that were sparked late last week. ODF officials reported Sunday that night-shift crews assigned to the Whisky Creek Fire located near the west fork of Whiskey Creek north of the Rogue River were able to contain a five-acre fire that jumped hand-line. The Whiskey Creek Fire is located in a remote, steep, bowl-like features that creates many operational challenges. Firefighters have to hike in all resources and they are unable to use bulldozers or position engines near the fire. Crews also have limited air support due to thick smoke and limited visibility for pilots. Officials updated the Whiskey Creek Fire size to 30 acres yesterday. On the 17-acre Thunder Ranch Fire located southeast of Galice, nightshift crews were able to mop-up 20 feet into the fire perimeter and day crews continued mop-up operations and strengthened control lines. ODF crews were able to contain, hold and mop up the 5-acre Cheney Creek Fire located south of Wilderville, the quarter-acre Crooks Creek Fire south of Wonder and the Jackson County Medco Fire located south of Prospect. These fires remain in patrol status. There are no structures threatened, no evacuations or closed roads. Extreme fire danger remains in effect in Josephine and Jackson counties.
Posted on 8/28/23 6:42AM by Sam Marsh
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