County Board considers facility acquisition
At the December 17, 2019 work session meeting, the Benton County Commissioners engaged in a discussion whether to acquire a facility in Corvallis to co-locate County public services.

In early October, the County Board appointed a negotiation team to enter into a letter of intent with the owner of the facility. The letter of intent agreement describes the terms and conditions for Benton County to purchase the facility, and the terms and conditions where the owner would sell the facility. The letter of intent includes a confidentiality clause during the “due diligence” phase to protect the facility owner and tenant. 

The County performed “due diligence” to include a building inspection, property appraisal, survey, review of requested documents, and engagement with the existing tenant. Having completed due diligence to its satisfaction, the negotiating team brought a plan to acquire the facility to the Board of Commissioners’ for consideration.

In his presentation to the Board, County Administrator Joe Kerby made the case for acquiring the facility.
“Since I began at Benton County I saw facility challenges across the County. We have critical space needs and a facility master plan has been on my list of performance goals since my first year,” said Kerby.

“Earlier this year I became aware of a property that would address our critical space needs, while also providing improved customer access and service for the public. One of the greatest selling factors of this property is that it is within 0.25 mi of our Sunset Building. The geographic location combined with the sheer physical size of the facility advances our vision of a one-stop-shop customer service center. We will co-locate our customer-facing departments, and provide ample parking for the public. Further, I believe the co-location will further operational efficiencies and stewardship of tax dollars.”

Vaping - What’s all the huff about?

After a multi-state outbreak of vaping associated lung injury resulted in 47 deaths, Benton County health officials are taking action to reduce the increasing popularity of vaping devices, especially among youth.

According to Andy Chuinard, Manager of the Tobacco Prevention Education Program, Benton County will be working with municipalities to explore the prohibition of all flavored tobacco products and price discounts, and strengthen enforcement of the tobacco retail license program county-wide. These measures come on the heels of a 180 day statewide ban on the sale of all flavored vape products enacted by Governor Kate Brown in early October 2019. 

Of particular concern is the increasing popularity of vaping among youth. Among national cases of hospitalized patients, 78 percent were under 35 years old, with a median age of 24 years according to the Center for Disease Control. According to Oregon’s Healthy Teen Survey, use of vaping products among youth went up by nearly 80 percent between 2017 and 2019. The same survey found e-cigarette use among eleventh graders increased three-fold from 2013 to 2017, from 1 in 30 eleventh graders to nearly 1 in 8 in Benton County. 

Increases in youth vaping can in part be attributed to the development and marketing of vape products towards youth. These sleek devices come in a variety of disarming flavors like mango and creme brulee. Among Oregon high school students who use e-cigarettes exclusively, nearly 90 percent use flavored e-cigarette products. Spending to advertise e-cigarettes has increased rapidly since 2011 with about 69% of middle and high school students exposed to e-cigarette advertisements in retail stores, on the internet, in magazines and on television according to the Center for Disease Control.

In response to this public health emergency, the Benton County Board of Commissioners, acting in their capacity as the Board of Health, released a statement urging people to cease using vape products. The Board of Health also expressed their support of broader prevention efforts and tobacco policy enforcement in Benton County. 

Winter heating safety
Did you know that half of home heating equipment fires occur during the months of December, January and February? Help prevent a fire in your home this winter by following these simple safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths in the U.S. Local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 52,050 fires involving heating equipment each year in 2012-2016, accounting for 15% of all reported home fires during this time. Learn how to keep your family safe.
  • Inspect and clean wood stove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions. 27% of home heating fires were caused by failing to keep chimneys clean. Learn how to keep your chimney clean.
  • NEVER leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time. Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet. During the winter holiday season, an average of 40 home fires a day are caused by children playing.
  • NEVER heat a home by using the stove top or oven. A gas oven may go out or burn inefficiently, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning. An electric oven was not designed for space heating.
  • NEVER use a portable generator indoors. Only refuel a generator outdoors or in well ventilated areas. Portable generators are a major contributor to carbon monoxide injuries and deaths, typically due to generators being operated in a garage, basement, or other indoor space. 
  • When using your fireplace always keep a metal or heat tempered screen that is heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening to catch flying sparks.  
  • Give space heaters space! They account for four out of five home heating fire deaths. Watch a video on how to prevent portable heater fires.

9-1-1 County Service District

Funds from the newly formed district are being utilized to hire dispatchers and supervisors for the Corvallis Regional Communications Center, which serves as the entry point for all 911 emergency services in Benton County. New personnel will help reduce response times.

The new district will continue to coordinate mutual aid responses with neighboring jurisdictions, for air ambulance responses, and dispatching for the U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry. District funds will also be used to continue support local public emergency agencies, such as: Adair, Alsea, Blodgett, Corvallis, Hoskins/Kings Valley, Monroe and Philomath fire, rural fire protection and police agencies.    //  541-766-6800 //