Local News

Multiple Agencies Battled Fire in Pickett Creek Area near Merlin Early Today
Multiple agencies battled a small wildfire west of Merlin this morning. According to a Facebook post, Rural Metro Fire Department and the Oregon Department of Forestry were dispatched to an approximately 1/2-acre fire in the Pickett Creek area early today. Rural Metro officials said a local resident with a bulldozer assisted with containment of the blaze. They said there was never any threat to homes in the area. The fire was controlled by 5:30 a.m. and mop-up efforts were underway. ODF was investigating the cause of the fire.
Posted on 6/10/23 6:08AM by Sam Marsh

IVFD Board Holding Monday Public Hearing to Align Fire Code with State
The Illinois Valley Fire District will be holding a public hearing on Monday. The IVFD Board of Directors will be rescinding Ordinance 13-02 Fire Code Adoption. IV Fire Chief John Holmes said this will change the district's fire code adoption procedures to align with the rules and regulations of the Oregon State Fire Marshal's fire code adoption procedures. Illinois Valley residents are encouraged to attend the public hearing. Monday's hearing will be held at 4 p.m. at the IVFD Office, 681 Caves Highway.
Posted on 6/10/23 6:07AM by Sam Marsh

Oregon State Marine Law Enforcement Drift Boat Training Set for Rogue River Next Week
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Marine law enforcement officers from around the state will be learning and perfecting their drift boating skills on the Rogue River next week. According to the Oregon State Marine Board, students will learn to swim in whitewater, study hydrodynamics, practice rescue techniques, navigate up to Class 3 rapids, and operate in remote environments using drift boats, rafts and catarafts. Eddie Persichetti, Law Enforcement Coordinator for the Oregon State Marine Board, said navigating whitewater is a perishable skill and it requires constant training and practice so law enforcement can respond to emergencies quickly and confidently. He said the key component to this training is the attention on reading whitewater, adding that this year rivers statewide are exceptionally swift and cold. The training and experience the officers gain during drift boat school provides a strong foundation for when they return to their local waterways for summer patrol. The Oregon State Marine Board conducts this annual training on the Rogue River because of its reputation of containing world-class whitewater. Recreational boaters can expect to see law enforcement officers drifting on the Upper and Middle Rogue from Lost Creek Reservoir to Argo Canyon from Monday through Friday.
Posted on 6/10/23 6:05AM by Sam Marsh

Grants Pass Family YMCA Announces James "Jay" Berry is New Chief Executive Officer
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The Grants Pass Family YMCA has named James "Jay" Berry as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Selected by the Y's Board of Directors following a four-month search, Berry will succeed former CEO Matt Lund who stepped down in April. Brad Converse, the Grants Pass Family YMCA Chief Volunteer Officer and Board President, said the board is excited to have found Jay Berry to lead the local YMCA into the future. Berry comes to the Y with decades of experience in the nonprofit world, currently serving at the Denver Metropolitan YMCA as their Sub District Manager. Prior to his work there, he spend decades in the health care industry, holding positions such as Executive Director for hospitals in Colorado, California and Michigan. Berry holds a bachelor's degree from Indiana Wesleyan University and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. In addition to his work leading organizations, he has been a business consultant, specializing in wealth creation and investments. Jay said he is more than excited to meet the people of Grants Pass and he will be honored to serve such a great community. He begins his new position at the Grants Pass Family YMCA on July 10th.
Posted on 6/10/23 6:03AM by Sam Marsh
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GP Library Branch Hosting Voting Exhibit from Gilder Lehman Institute of American History
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The Grants Pass branch of Josephine Community Library is hosting a new exhibit called "Who Can Vote? A Brief History of Voting Rights in the United States." The national traveling panel exhibition organized by the Gilder Lehman Institute of American History will be on display from Monday through July 22nd. The traveling exhibit examines voting rights with an emphasis on the role of the US Constitution and the interplay between the states and federal government in determining who is allowed to vote. Beginning with the founding era and going up to the election of 2000, this exhibit explores the complex history of the right to vote that forms the core of our nation's democracy. Topics include voting as a constitutional right, women's suffrage, Reconstruction and Jim Crow era voting rights, the Civil Rights Movement and the suffrage of Indigenous peoples. This exhibition is open to the public and available for viewing during regular operating hours at the Grants Pass branch on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..
Posted on 6/10/23 5:56AM by Sam Marsh
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GP Woman Jailed for Multiple Crimes after Stealing Pickup & Driving Recklessly
A Grants Pass woman was jailed for multiple crimes yesterday after she illegally entered a utility vehicle, stole another vehicle and led multiple law enforcement agencies on a pursuit in the wrong direction on Interstate 5 before crashing. The Grants Pass Police Department reports 47-year-old Heather Kathleen Easom was eventually arrested just off Interstate 5 near milepost 53 on Thursday shortly after noon. Police said Easom entered a vehicle belonging to Avista Utilities on SW Leonard Street, got out when confronted by a technician, entered a Ford Ranger pickup and drove away. They said there were two firearms in the vehicle -- a revolver and a shotgun. The suspect headed through town and south on I-5 where she stopped long enough to pick up two unsuspecting hitchhikers. She continued driving south at a high rate of speed. The hitchhikers asked to be let out of the stolen vehicle, but were scared by the suspect when she showed them the revolver. Easom eventually stopped and let the hitchhikers out, but she turned around and headed north in the southbound lanes, chasing the hitchhikers with the pickup off the freeway and into a wooded area where she crashed and damaged the truck. The vehicle was located by the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team, which joined the pursuit along with Grants Pass police officers and Oregon State Police troopers. Easom was placed into custody at gunpoint and she reportedly admitted to stealing the vehicle and driving recklessly against I-5 traffic while knowing the guns were inside. She was lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, two counts of 1st-Degree Theft, 1st-Degree Criminal Mischief, Reckless Driving and Unlawful Entry into a Motor Vehicle.
Posted on 6/9/23 11:16AM by Sam Marsh
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GP Police Jailed Man for Attempting Elude Officers on Southbound Interstate 5
Grants Pass Police jailed a man for multiple crimes after he tried to elude officers in a vehicle on Interstate 5 last night. The Police Department reports officers arrested 34-year-old William Allen Tweet near Exit 48 in the City of Rogue River on Thursday at 7:46 p.m.. Police said Tweet was called in as a welfare check while he was nodding off in a Chevrolet Blazer in the parking lot of WinCo Foods. They said he took off as soon as he saw officers arrive and fled at a high rate of speed onto southbound I-5. The suspect's vehicle subsequently ran out of gas when he approached Rogue River, he bailed out and left it in the middle of the freeway, which caused a major traffic jam for southbound motorists. According to the report, Tweet attempted to flee on foot but officers tracked him down and placed him into custody with assistance from Jackson County marine deputies. William Tweet was lodged at the Josephine County Jail on two counts of Felony Attempt to Elude Police plus Reckless Driving and a Felony Parole Violation. He was being held on a no-bail detainer.
Posted on 6/9/23 11:15AM by Sam Marsh
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GP Police Snared Man for Breaking into Church and Attempting to Steal Items
Grants Pass Police arrested a man for multiple crimes after he broke into a church and attempted to steal several items early yesterday. According to the Police Department, officers responded to a reported break-in at St. Paul's Lutheran Church on NW 5th Street around 6:45 a.m. Thursday. Police said 41-year-old Daniel Jack Freitas threw a rock through a window of the church, climbed through the window and entered the building unlawfully. While he was inside the church, they said he collected over $1,000 in church property and staged it in areas to be removed from the building. Officers spotted Freitas trying to leave through a window before he fled back inside the church and then exited the west side of the building. The suspect was placed into custody and claimed there was another subject inside the church, but the building was checked out by a K-9 officer and no one was located. Daniel Freitas was transported to the Josephine County Jail where he was booked on felony charges of 2nd-Degree Burglary and 1st-Degree Attempted Theft along with misdemeanor charges of Criminal Mischief and Criminal Trespass. He was also trespassed from the church.
Posted on 6/9/23 11:14AM by Sam Marsh
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GP Police Nailed Felon for Entering Closed City Park & Struggling with Officers
Grants Pass Police arrested a local felon for entering a closed city park and then struggling with officers who tried to remove him. The Police Department reports 39-year-old Tyler Jon Watsabaugh was placed into custody at Riverside Park on Thursday shortly after 10 a.m.. Officers said Watsabaugh was spotted in the park and they knew that he was wanted by his probation officer. He was ordered to sit down on the grass, but he refused to listen, tried to walk away and cussed at the officers. Upon seeing the Taser displayed, the suspect told officers to go ahead and shoot him. Watsabaugh actively pulled away from law enforcement and the Taser was deployed, which did not provide the desired results. A second deployment of the Taser did the trick and the suspect was arrested without any further use of force. Tyler Watsabaugh was offered medical treatment but refused. He was lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Felony Probation Violation and Resisting Arrest. He was still in custody this morning on a no-bail detainer.
Posted on 6/9/23 11:12AM by Sam Marsh
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Glendale Woman Injured after Crash on Interstate 5 near Sunny Valley
A Glendale woman was injured late yesterday when she crashed her vehicle on Interstate 5 near Sunny Valley. The Oregon State Police reports troopers and emergency crews responded to the single-vehicle accident in the northbound lanes of I-5 near milepost 70 shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday. Troopers said an investigation determined that 26-year-old Jordyn Micheale Lane was driving a Hyundai Elantra when she lost control of the car and rolled several times into a ditch. According to OSP, Lane was transported by ambulance to Three Rivers Medical Center for treatment of serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. Her wrecked vehicle was hauled into Grants Pass by Goodfellas Towing.
Posted on 6/9/23 11:10AM by Sam Marsh
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Deputies Nabbed Motorist for Impaired Driving after Redwood Area Stop
The Josephine County Sheriff's Office arrested a motorist for impaired driving following an early morning traffic stop today in the Redwood area of Grants Pass. According to the Sheriff's Office, deputies pulled over a Volkswagen Passat driven by 50-year-old Jody Spivey near the corner of Redwood Avenue and Kokanee Lane at 12:17 this morning. Deputies said they stopped Spivey for an observed traffic violation and the driver displayed signs of impairment. They said the suspect performed poorly in field sobriety tests, a search warrant was obtained and they were transported to Three Rivers Medical Center for a legal blood draw that documented impairment. Spivey was then taken to the Grants Pass Sobering Center and lodged on charges of Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants and Reckless Driving. The Passat was impounded.
Posted on 6/9/23 11:09AM by Sam Marsh
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JMET Snared 2 People While Dismantling Illegal Cannabis Grow in Illinois Valley
The Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) arrested two people while dismantling an illegal cannabis growing operation in the Illinois Valley yesterday. On Thursday, JMET -- assisted by Josephine County Public Health & Building Safety -- served a search warrant in the 1,000-block of Takilma Road near Cave Junction. During execution of the warrant, more than 1,920 marijuana plants and 100 pounds of processed marijuana were seized and destroyed. The property also had multiple electrical, water and solid waste code violations that could result in the criminal forfeiture of the property. While the JMET team was on scene, three individuals were detained for the duration of the search. Each individual was interviewed and one of the detainees was released because they were not involved in the illicit activity. The other two individuals -- 53-year-old Darlene Johnson and 36-year-old Omar Gonzalez -- were determined to be participants in the illegal cannabis operation. They were lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Unlawful Manufacture and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana. According to JMET, the investigation is ongoing and no further details about the bust are being released at this time.
Posted on 6/9/23 6:42AM by Sam Marsh
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