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ASHLAND, Ore. – ”When the race ended I looked over and the crowd was going crazy,” said Eric Avila. “I kind of pointed at them to say thank you. They completely lifted me and then a couple of seconds later people started telling me, ‘Do you know what you ran?’”

What Avila ran was the fastest 5,000 meter time in the country for any collegiate athlete. It was one of many highlights for Avila’s storied SOU career, which already includes three national championships between cross country and track. SOU wasn’t Avila’s first choice of schools. He started out running for DI Northern Arizona, but only lasted there a year and a half. He took more than two years off from competitive running before reaching out to SOU.

“This was kind of his last resort because he didn’t have any NCAA eligibility left,” said head coach Grier Gatlin. “Had he gone to an NCAA school he would have had one year, because once you start in the NCAA your clock doesn’t stop. In the NAIA, your clock stops, so here he could come and have three years.”

Those three years were exactly what Avila needed to resurrect his career.

“You know his first year here, as we got in to track, you could see flashes that he was going to be good, but he was rusty,” said Gatlin. “It’s just like any other sport. You’re just rusty.”

“They offered me three years of eligibility,” said Avila. “At an NCAA school I would have just had one year and that would have been my first year here and I feel like I was still trying to figure out how to go through the motions of training and balancing school and that would have been upsetting if it was to just end like that.”

The progress may have been slow, but the pay-off  has been great. Avila currently has the fastest NAIA time in both the 800 and 5,000 meter runs in his senior year.

“This year I don’t know what it is,” said Avila. “I have a lot more confidence than in the past, I’m healthy, everything’s going good. School’s going good. It just seems like I’m just riding this wave and I don’t want the wave to end.”

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Clouds are starting to thicken into the area ahead of a strong cold front moving towards the coast. These showers will not last very long but they will bring a small amount of much needed moisture to the area. Showers will start hitting the coast around the late afternoon hours and then the rain will move into the rest of the areas throughout the afternoon. Because of the quick-moving nature of this storm, rainfall totals are not expected to be impressive. at best we will see up to an inch in some locations.

Showers will slacken overnight on Thursday and Friday will bring only partly cloudy skies. High pressure will cause temperatures to warm under mostly cloudy skies into the weekend. There is a slight chance for isolated showers overnight on Saturday at the coast. Other than that Easter weekend is looking dry and warm for all areas.

Next week is proving to be a continuance of this active weather pattern. As of now, models are showing isolated shower activity through the middle of the week. A series of cold fronts will usher in these storms and likely bring some increased winds as well.

Thanks for logging on and have a great day!

Meteorologist Seth Phillips

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. – A one year moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries will be put in to place in Josephine County on May 1st. The decision was made Wednesday morning with a 2-0 vote because Commissioner Cheryl Walker was absent. Commissioner Keith Heck said the moratorium buys them time to figure out exactly what to do about the issue. Heck said he would like to hear more from the public before the county makes a decision.

“What do they really want to see?” said Heck. “Do they want dispensaries? Do they not want dispensaries? Just to put it out to a vote and that will be talked about and probably be put on the November ballot in some way.”

Heck said an ordinance could be put in place any time in the next year to rescind the moratorium.

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Since last summer, up to 30 jail beds for those arrested just in the city limits of Grants Pass have been reserved at the Josephine County Jail. Now, as officials prepare for next year’s budget, they said that funding won’t return.

Last August, the days of cite and release ended in Grants Pass, to the surprise of some criminals.

“When they went to put somebody in handcuffs and put them in the police car, the common statement was ‘when did you guys start doing this?’” said Interim Police Chief Bill Landis.

Interim Chief Landis said ever since the city began renting jail beds, the number of property crimes and burglaries have significantly decreased.

“When you can take some of those folks off who are stealing a lot of your cars or breaking in to a lot of your cars and put them in a jail bed, you reduce a lot of your crime,” said Interim Chief Landis.

The city made the move to rent up to 30 beds in an effort to do something about crime in the city.  The contract came at a cost of around 1 million dollars. About half a million was funded through the contingency fund, the rest was fund by cuts to city projects.

“Reduced approximately 12 different projects that we had in the budget, and we either tabled those or reduced those in order to get the additional funding for the jail beds,” said Grants Pass City Manager Aaron Cubic.

Cubic said because of funding, the contract was always intended to be just for one year.

“It’s meant to serve as a stop gap measure to provide additional time for the community to develop a new measure for the May election,” said Cubic.

Interim Chief Landis said since August, the jail has typically had near capacity of the 30 beds every month. He said patrols are only as good as the consequences behind them.

“You can put a police officer on every corner, but if  you don’t have the ability to take somebody to jail,  and have them serve consequences for committing  crimes, you’re not going to make an impact or put a dent in that,” said Interim Chief Landis

The city’s agreement with the Josephine County Jail will come to an end on June 30th.

angel investJACKSONVILLE, Ore. – Five startup companies will compete for a $200,000 grand prize investment at the 2014 Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network Conference.

Organizers announced the five finalists at the Jefferson Grapevine event Wednesday evening. Each company will make a business pitch to a group of local investors at the conference on April 30th.

Four of the five finalists came from outside the Rogue Valley. They include: Rogue Rovers, a Hood River-based company that develops electric ATVs; Institutional Stoves, based in Cottage Grove, which builds stoves that reduce the use of fuel; Home School Technical Apparel from Portland; and Nouvola, a Portland-based software developer. The lone finalist from southern Oregon was Fire Cirkl, a brewery based in Sams Valley.

The competition is open to startup companies hoping to secure capital in order to expand.

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Fire crews across the Rogue Valley are gearing up for another, possibly intense fire season.  Fire departments are dusting off their wildland firefighting gear, and the Oregon Department of Forestry already has crews hard at work.

Fire danger is at low right now, but that will be changing within the coming months.  ODF already has 10 crew members working every day at its Medford Office.  Currently, those crew members are doing fuel reductions, but they are ready to fight wildfires at a moment’s notice.

More than 100 other ODF fire crew members have been hired on this year and will start working in June.

Fire District 3 is also getting ready for fire season.  Wednesday firefighters started their pre-fire season training.  Crews worked together to become familiar with fire equipment, and learned how to use portable fire shelters.  Fire District 3 is part of the Wildland Urban Interface team.

“We’re out there working alongside everyone.. ODF… BLM, and some of us do go out on bigger fires… so it’s good that we get this training and get ready for it, and then be ready to go out when there is a call,” said Andy Cardinal, Fire District 3 firefighter.

Fire prevention specialists said a typical fire season runs from mid-June through mid-October.

LIMESMEDFORD, Ore. — Droughts in the United States and Mexico are squeezing lime prices sky-high.

Restaurants across the Rogue Valley are being impacted by the recent lime price increase. Elements in downtown Medford said it has seen the price of a shipment of limes triple just in the past month. The owner said he still plans on buying and serving limes, and foods containing lime, but the price of those items will increase.  A new menu is also in the works.

“We will do a new drink list that has fewer lime-eccentric drinks and then if there is a drink that you used to get here that you still enjoy that has a bunch of lime in it… we will still make it for you, but it will be more expensive,” said Chris Dennett, Elements Restaurant owner.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average price of a lime in the United States on March 28 was 37 cents.  On April 4, the price had climbed to 56 cents.

Alzheimers breakfastSTANFORD, Ore. — Researchers have new information about why women develop Alzheimer’s at a higher rate than men.  About 1 in 6 women will develop the disease, compared to 1 in 11 men.  It’s long been thought those numbers were because women live longer than men on average.

But Michael Greicius, MD, assistant professor of neurology and neurological sciences and medical director of the Stanford Center for Memory Disorders says “Even after correcting for age, women appear to be at greater risk.”

Researchers found that when woman have a gene variant, they have a substantial Alzheimer’s disease risk increase, but that is not the case in men.

You can read the specifics of the research here.

HuddlestonMEDFORD, Ore. — A Jackson County Jury says a Medford man is guilty on all counts.  Sentencing will be Thursday morning.

Jury deliberations lasted more than seven hours before the verdict was handed down. Huddleston was found guilty of 10 counts, including murder, and solicitation to commit murder, for his efforts to hire two men to kill his wife.

Bourne Huddleston took the stand just yesterday in his own defense, saying his wife, Kristy Huddleston, killed herself in March 2012 because she was upset over a relationship Bourne was in with another woman.

Bourne claims he worried someone would blame him for Kristy’s death, so he tried to clean up the scene and got rid of the gun. He called himself a coward for leaving his son alone in the house with Kristy’s body.

The state medical examiner said the fatal wound was the result of a homicide, and prosecutor David Hoppe challenged Huddleston’s version of the events. He pointed out that Huddleston has changed his story repeatedly during the investigation, and that he initially told police he didn’t know what happened.

CalderonGRANTS PASS, Ore. — A 37-year old man from Grants Pass was arrested by Oregon State Police (OSP) on Tuesday for rape and sexual abuse allegations involving a female who was a minor at the time of the alleged offenses.

At about 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, OSP detectives arrested Joseph A. Calderon and lodged him in the Josephine County Jail for Rape in the First Degree, Sodomy in the First Degree, Unlawful Sexual Penetration, and Sexual Abuse. A Josephine County Jury indicted Calderon on April 9th. Initial bail was set at $100,000.

In June of 2013, OSP detectives began an investigation into allegations that Calderon sexually abused a female several years ago when the victim was between 4 and 12 years of age. There is no evidence or information at this time that there are other victims, according to Oregon State Police.

Questions regarding the case should be directed to the Josephine County District Attorney’s Office.

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