Local News

Three Rivers District Touts Outstanding High School Graduation Rates for Classes of 2023
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The Three Rivers School District has announced remarkable graduation rates achieved by the Class of 2023. This was the first class of graduates that made it completely through the pandemic, marking a significant accomplishment. While the ultimate goal remains a 100% graduation rate, Three Rivers takes pride in surpassing the statewide average of 81.3%. The four-year graduation rates for 2023 were 95.2% at Illinois Valley High School, 90.3% at North Valley High School and 84.3% at Hidden Valley High School. The district's alternative school -- Southern Oregon Success Academy -- increased its completer rate that includes GEDs to 47.27% from just 2% two years ago. Three Rivers Superintendent Dave Valenzuela said this accomplishment reflects the dedication and hard work of the students, educators and administrators in the school district. He added that the district made substantial progress despite the challenges of the pandemic. In a school district spanning over 1,200 square miles, Valenzuela said Three Rivers has shown resilience in providing education to students with diverse needs. He said the district serves students facing limited internet connectivity, economic stability and housing security.
Posted on 1/26/24 5:56AM by Sam Marsh

OR Education Department Opens Nominations for State's 2024-25 Teacher of the Year
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Nominations are now open for Oregon Teacher of the Year. Honor a special educator in your life on the Oregon Teacher of the Year website through February 21st. Nominees for Oregon Teacher of the Year should be an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled licensed public school educator in grades pre-K-12. The program is sponsored by the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Lottery. The Oregon Teacher of the Year serves as the face and voice of educators across the state. As a representative of the profession, this teacher leader is asked to engage and inspire other teachers and community leaders. After the nominations close on February 21st, all eligible teachers who have been nominated will be invited to apply. Candidates who submit an application will then be in the running to be selected as a Regional Teacher of the Year from one of the 19 Education Service Districts statewide. Every Regional Teacher of the Year will be awarded $1,000 and be celebrated across the state in September. The Oregon Teacher of the Year receives a gift of $10,000 as well as a special fund to cover all travel costs for the year.
Posted on 1/26/24 5:53AM by Sam Marsh

Authorities Searching for Man Who Eluded Police with CJ Woman as Passenger
UPDATE: Billy James Best has been arrested and is lodged in the Douglas County Jail.

Authorities were on the lookout for a man who eluded law enforcement following a police pursuit in Douglas County late yesterday. His passenger -- a Josephine County woman -- is in custody. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office reports deputies tried to stop a 2008 Ford Focus in Oakland on Wednesday shortly after 5 p.m., but the driver failed to yield and eluded law enforcement at a high rate of speed heading south on Interstate 5. A Sutherlin police officer successfully deployed spike strips on the eluding car, causing the driver -- identified as Billy James Best of Seaside -- to crash into a ditch and flee on foot near Interstate 5 in Sutherlin. Best is considered to be armed and dangerous, so a "reverse 9-1-1 call" notification system was used to warn local residents. The community was asked to be vigilant and report suspicious activity. The Sheriff's Office, Sutherlin Police Department and Oregon State Police searched the area for hours with the assistance of canines without success. There remains a heavy law enforcement presence in the area searching for Best, who has multiple warrants for his arrest including new crimes committed during the elude. A female passenger identified as Christina Marie Dominguez of Cave Junction was taken into custody for Unlawful Possession of Methamphetamine. She was lodged at the Douglas County Jail in Roseburg.
Posted on 1/25/24 11:20AM by Sam Marsh

GP Police Arrested City Park Camper Twice for Unruly Behavior on South Side
Grants Pass Police arrested a city park camper twice last night, with the second incident landing the man in jail for violating his post-prison supervision. The Police Department reports the first encounter with 36-year-old Michael Wayne Cheek occurred at Fruitdale Park on Hamilton Lane around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Police said they responded to reports that Cheek had destroyed his campsite and was acting disorderly, causing public alarm. He was cited for Violating Park Rules and Scattering Rubbish before being trespassed from the park for 30 days. The second incident involving Cheek happened in the 500-block of Rogue River Highway at about 10:15 p.m.. Police said Cheek acted violently near Herb's La Casita by yelling and hitting objects including buildings with intent to cause public alarm. They said he entered the highway without regard for traffic and obstructed several vehicles. He was then placed into custody before intentionally causing damage to a patrol vehicle with his head and feet. Michael Cheek was lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Criminal Mischief and Disorderly Conduct plus the resulting Felony Parole Violation. He was being held on a no-bail detainer.
Posted on 1/25/24 11:18AM by Sam Marsh
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Grants Pass Police Corralled Violent Woman after Bridge Street Disturbance
Grants Pass Police arrested a woman for causing a violent disturbance in a west-side neighborhood and then fighting with responding officers early yesterday. According to the Police Department, officers were alerted to the incident involving 45-year-old Sarah Lavonne Henderson in the 1100-block of SW Bridge Street on Wednesday around 10:20 a.m.. A man identified as Henderson's boyfriend had called 9-1-1 to report that she had been smoking "crack" and was on a "binder." The woman was in possession of her boyfriend's dog as the incident unfolded. Police said Henderson was causing a commotion in front of a residence. They said she had destroyed the interior of the home, walked outside and began shouting at passing vehicles. Her actions caused public alarm and she threatened to fight officers who tried to place her into custody. Henderson reportedly twisted and pulled her arms away to prevent arrest and she kicked at officers multiple times. Due to her violent behavior, she was placed in handcuffs and ankle restraints. Her boyfriend who made the call had to assist by unhooking his dog from the leash she had tightly wound around her wrist. Sarah Henderson was lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Resisting Arrest and Disorderly Conduct. She was being held without bail.
Posted on 1/25/24 11:16AM by Sam Marsh
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Deputies Arrested Woman for Breaking into CJ Residence, Making It Her Own
The Josephine County Sheriff's Office arrested a woman after she broke into a Cave Junction area residence last night and tried to make it her own. The Sheriff's Office reports deputies responded to a break-in at a home in the 200-block of Honeybee Lane on Wednesday at about 7:25 p.m.. Deputies said 50-year-old Shannon Leann Petersen illegally entered the home and was discovered taking a bath by the homeowner who reported the suspect had gone through the entire house, opening doors and drawers, eating food and preparing to do her laundry. The suspect reportedly lived at the home several years ago. Upon arrival, deputies discovered that the homeowner had kicked Peterson out of the house completely naked and threw her clothing on the porch. They contacted her at the corner of Laurel and Old Stage roads before placing her into custody. Shannon Peterson was transported to Grants Pass and lodged at the Josephine County Jail for 1st-Degree Burglary and 3rd-Degree Theft.
Posted on 1/25/24 11:15AM by Sam Marsh
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GP Police Collared Woman on Statewide Felony Warrant Plus Fraud Charges
Grants Pass Police apprehended a woman wanted on a statewide felony warrant and added some new felony-level charges to her criminal bill early yesterday. According to the Police Department, officers arrested 38-year-old Crystil Marie Ann York near Rogue Barbers on NW 6th Street at 10:14 a.m. Wednesday. Police said they were on patrol when they spotted York and knew that she was wanted on an Oregon State warrant for Felony Parole Violation. While placing her into custody, they found her to be in possession of unspecified fraudulent items which were seized as evidence. Crystil York was lodged at the Josephine County Jail on the no-bail warrant as well as new charges of 2nd-Degree Forgery and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument.
Posted on 1/25/24 11:13AM by Sam Marsh
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OSP Arrested Motorist for DUII and More after She Caused Interstate 5 Crash
The Oregon State Police arrested a motorist for impaired driving and more after she caused a collision on Interstate 5 near the Merlin Interchange last night. According to OSP, troopers and emergency crews responded to the two-vehicle crash in the northbound lanes of I-5 near milepost 61 on Wednesday at 6:56 p.m.. Troopers said 83-year-old Susan Lane Sledge-Baker was driving a Lexus RX3 when she collided with a Ford F-150 pickup driven by 30-year-old Kirk Dale Klum. They said she attempted to drive away from the scene, but had sustained a minor injury so she was transported by ambulance to Three Rivers Medical Center. Klum and his two passengers were not hurt. The damaged Lexus was towed into Grants Pass. Following an investigation, Sledge-Baker was cited at the hospital for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants, Reckless Driving and Hit-and-Run Causing Property Damage. She was given a court date and released to medical staff.
Posted on 1/25/24 11:11AM by Sam Marsh
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Sheriff Jailed Man for 8 Crimes after Pursuit of Stolen Vehicles near Wilderville
The Josephine County Sheriff's Office jailed a man for multiple crimes this week following the pursuit of two stolen vehicles in the Wilderville area. On Tuesday around 10 p.m., deputies located two stolen vehicles that were being driven on Fish Hatchery Road. They attempted to stop the vehicles, but the drivers failed to yield and increased their speed in an attempt to flee from law enforcement. Deputies pursued the stolen vehicles on Fish Hatchery and then onto Cheney Creek Road. One of the drivers failed to negotiate a corner and stopped while the other driver continued fleeing and was able to avoid capture. Deputies then attempted to order 32-year-old Asa Martinson-Squire out of the spun-out vehicle. Instead of complying, he backed into the patrol car, the stolen vehicle's tow hitch became entangled with the patrol car's front bumper and the suspect continued to flee, dragging the patrol car behind it. In order to stop the suspect, a deputy discharged his firearm at a tire to effectively disable the vehicle. According to the report, Martinson-Squire failed to obey commands of deputies and was eventually placed into custody after a brief struggle. One deputy received minor injuries during the struggle. He was treated at the hospital and released. Martinson-Squire was lodged at the Josephine County Jail on felony charges of Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle and Unlawful Use of a Weapon plus misdemeanor charges of Resisting Arrest, Escape, Reckless Driving, Criminal Mischief and two counts of Reckless Endangering. Because a firearm was discharged during the incident, detectives from the Oregon State Police responded and assisted the Sheriff's Office with the investigation. The case has been forwarded to the Josephine County District Attorney's Office.
Posted on 1/25/24 6:17AM by Sam Marsh
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Deputies Jailed Man for Choking Ex-Girlfriend and Trying to Burn Down House
The Josephine County Sheriff's Office jailed a man this week for roughing up his ex-girlfriend while allegedly trying to burn down her house in the North Valley area. The Sheriff's Office reports deputies arrested 39-year-old Zachary Paul McCleary for the incident in the 7200-block of Monument Drive early Tuesday morning. Deputies said a woman called 9-1-1 to report McCleary -- her ex-boyfriend and former roommate -- had entered her house, choked her, put a propane heater on a stove and turned it on. The victim said she still has feelings for the suspect, but he hasn't lived with her for nine years. According to the report, the victim was not seriously injured and she was hiding in a closet. The propane heater was removed from the stove before it exploded. Responding deputies were backed up by the Oregon State Police. They were able to detain McCleary before placing him into custody. Zachary McCleary was transported to Grants Pass and booked into the Josephine County Jail for Domestic Strangulation. He was being held without bail.
Posted on 1/25/24 6:16AM by Sam Marsh
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GP Motorist Eluded State Troopers on Monday, But was Apprehended Tuesday
A Grants Pass motorist was able to elude the Oregon State Police one time this week, but not the second time. According to OSP, troopers spotted a suspect who was recorded on radar Monday driving at approximately 130 miles per hour near milepost 4 of Redwood Highway. Troopers said they pursued the speeding driver, but he was not located. However, a video found on social media was taken of him being disorderly on US Highway 199 just minutes after the observed driving behavior. OSP reports 64-year-old Thomas Michael Campbell was called in as a complaint on Tuesday while driving recklessly at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. He was reported to be acting disorderly near the corner of 5th and I streets, troopers responded and placed him into custody. Thomas Campbell was lodged at the Josephine County Jail for two counts of Reckless Driving and one count of Disorderly Conduct. He was being held without bail. Enterprise Rent-a-Car responded to take custody of the suspect vehicle.
Posted on 1/25/24 6:14AM by Sam Marsh
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OSP Nabbed Jacksonville Man for DUII after Traffic Stop in SW Grants Pass
The Oregon State Police arrested a Jacksonville man for impaired driving early yesterday following a traffic stop in southwest Grants Pass. OSP reports troopers pulled over a Chevrolet Silverado driven by 53-year-old Charles David Moorhead near the corner of Allen Creek and West Harbeck roads on Wednesday shortly after midnight. Troopers said they stopped Moorhead for an observed traffic violation and he displayed signs of impairment. They said the suspect refused to participate in field sobriety tests, so he was placed into custody. Charles Moorhead was transported to the Josephine County Jail where he was lodged for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants and Reckless Driving. His pickup was impounded.
Posted on 1/25/24 6:12AM by Sam Marsh
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