Weekday Wrap: Effort to delist wolves in northeast Washington stalls in Legislature

By OPB staff (OPB)
Feb. 27, 2023 8:27 p.m.

Stories you may have missed from staff reports and our news partners around the region

A bill to delist wolves in northeast Washington dies in a legislative committee

Wolves in northeast Washington remained on the state’s endangered species list last week. State Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, had proposed in a bill that the wolves be delisted. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife then projected Kretz’s delisting proposal would cost $3.2 million over two years and require seven new positions to co-manage wolves with affected counties. The bill had passed 11-0 in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee but couldn’t get out of the Appropriations Committee on time after Fish and Wildlife attached the cost estimate. Kretz said he was caught off-guard, assuming the department wouldn’t have to seek approval from budget writers for Fish and Wildlife officials to work with counties. “I thought it was something we already were paying them to do,” he said. “It was death by fiscal note.” (Don Jenkins/Capital Press)

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Neighborhood east of Bend fights proposed addiction treatment facility

A proposed residential addiction treatment facility slated to open at the southern edge of Somerset Drive east of Bend has created a rift in the suburban community. Some homeowners in the area say the 10- to 15-bed facility for young adults and working professionals is not a good fit for a rural neighborhood and opens the door for other commercial operations nearby. Tension built for months before the Somerset Homeowners Association, which was formed last year, filed a complaint in Deschutes County Circuit Court against the family proposing the facility. Deanna Cully, who lives in the area, alleges the homeowners association used scare tactics to garner support. “It’s all fear,” Cully said. “They started with the fear of drugs, then they preyed on the fear of people losing value in their homes.” (Anna Kaminski/The Bend Bulletin)

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Rogue Valley homeless advocate raises money to house homeless seniors

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After being pushed out of Rogue Retreat last year, Pastor Chad McComas is starting a new project aimed at providing affordable housing for homeless seniors in the region. McComas was fired from the Rogue Valley’s largest homeless services provider over what the nonprofit’s board called financial mismanagement. McComas’ new project, Joy Community, is run as a part of Set Free Services, a nonprofit created by his church that offers food, clothing, showers and laundry services to those in need. McComas said he hopes to raise enough money to buy a handful of small shelters for seniors. His nonprofit so far has raised $22,000 of their $200,000 to $300,000 goal. (Roman Battaglia/Jefferson Public Radio)

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Dose of prevention in Clark County’s fentanyl fight

While law enforcement, school and public health experts in Clark County all agree students need to learn more about the dangers of fentanyl, the information has been shared to a limited number of mostly adults — with little information and virtually no hands-on training for how to help save someone suffering from an overdose. That’s something three groups are working to change with training sessions for students, teachers and staff. “Deaths shouldn’t be happening from something like this because it’s so preventable,” said Katie Thornton, a junior at Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School, who has been working with a public health nurse to offer overdose response and training sessions for students and faculty at several schools. (Nika Bartoo-Smith and Griffin Reilly/The Columbian)

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Shortage of substitute teachers hits hard in Wallowa County

Like many school districts across the country, officials in Wallowa County’s public schools said they’re struggling like never before with a shortage of substitute teachers. Unlike more urban areas, though, rural communities often face an even more daunting challenge of finding substitutes when the pool of available teachers is typically much smaller. That’s forced some districts in the region to consolidate classes. Other districts turn to classified staff members to fill in. “In my 38 years, I have never seen anything like it,” said Tamera Jones, superintendent of the Wallowa School District. (Josh Reindfleisch/Wallowa County Chieftain)

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