I-O closed on Monday

The Itemizer Observer Office will be closed Feb. 15 for President’s Day. That will move classified deadlines to Friday instead of Monday. This week, Polk Plus Classified ad deadlines will be Feb. 12 at noon.

Health insurance special enrollment period begins

SALEM — Oregonians without health insurance an sign up at Healthcare.gov during special enrollment period from Feb. 15 through May 15. I

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, hundreds of thousands of Oregonians either lost their job or experienced a loss in income. These Oregonians may be eligible for financial help to purchase health insurance.

Insurance agents and community partner organizations throughout the state are available to help people apply for financial assistance and choose private plans. Oregonians seeking insurance can also browse plans to review savings eligibllity at OregonHealthCare.gov/WindowShop.

Even if people are temporarily uninsured, they can sign up for help between Feb. 15 and May 15 to get health insurance for 2021.

Individuals making $51,040 or less per year, and families of four making $104,800 or less, may receive help paying for coverage.

To apply, go to OregonHealthCare.gov between Feb. 15 and May 15 and answer a few Oregon-specific questions to get to the right application. You can also search the “get help” directory on OregonHealthCare.gov to find an insurance agent or community partner organization to help you complete the application and enroll. Insurance agents and community partners provide local, one-on-one assistance at no charge to the client. This help is available virtually over the phone, and in person following safety protocols.

CEA members donate to help students

MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE — Members of the Central Education Association (CEA) have donated just over $1,200 to Central School District 13J in an effort to reduce accumulated student fees. The donations were gathered through a GoFundMe campaign and will be used to pay outstanding student fees on items ranging from cafeteria charges to material fees.

“As educators and members of our community, we know this has been a difficult time for so many of our students’ families,” said Benjamin Gorman, CEA President. “We wanted to find a way to help our students, so CEA members chose to help pay off these fees to relieve one more source of stress for parents. The CEA and our partners, the Central School District 13J and OSEA Chapter 124 representing our classified colleagues, have renewed and deepened our commitment to equity. We know that these student fees are often the downstream effects of lots of intersecting kinds of injustice, so coming together to forgive some of this debt is an expression of our values,”

The funds will be transmitted to the district this week and will benefit students immediately upon receipt.

 Time for 2021 Community Awards nominations

MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE — Since the 1960’s the Monmouth-Independence Chamber of Commerce has hosted the “Community Awards” to celebrate local businesses and community members who encompass the strengths and hopes of the community through leadership, community involvement, and outreach. Recognition is given to educators, community leaders, and businesses.

From now until Feb. 19 is your opportunity to nominate a business, organization or individual worthy of recognition.

Go to https://bit.ly/36RPPqn to complete the online ballot.

The nomination and selection process for the 2021 Community Awards is as follows:

Business & Organization Awards Ballot

This year, there is a new category — New Business of the Year. The top three recipients of votes for each category will be announced and listed on the final ballot. Final ballot votes will determine the winner for each business and organizational category. In addition to winning its respective category, the recipient of the most votes overall will be named the Business or Organization of the Year.

Citizen Award Nominations

Community members may submit one nominee per category for awards presented to individuals. The individual award categories include: First Citizen, Distinguished Service, Junior Citizen, Educator of the Year, Education Support Staff Employee of the Year, and a new category — Business Innovator of the Year. A selection committee made up of community members will select the winners based on the listed criteria and statements of support provided for each nominee.

Important Dates

Feb. 1 to 19: Primary Ballot open to vote for Business & Organization Awards and individual nominations.

Feb. 22 to 28: Secondary Ballot open to vote for Business & Organization Awards nominees.

Feb. 21 to 28: Selection Committee will meet to determine winners of Individual nominations.

April 23: All winners will be announced at the 56th Annual Community Awards Banquet during an online awards event.


Dallas Police warns of pet scam

DALLAS — The pandemic has dramatically increased the demand for pets to ease the stresses of the prolonged time at home. With this rising demand, comes a spike in pet frauds, in which an online search ends with a would-be pet owner paying thousands to purchase the pet that ultimately does not exist. This has recently occurred in Dallas.

The Dallas Police Department took a report involving an online fraud to purchase a Corgi puppy out of Georgia. The “business” Best Home Corgi Puppies involved the purchase of a dog, plus shipping through the purchase of gift cards. The victim visited the website besthomecorgipuppies.com to purchase a dog and when the dog was supposed to arrive in Oregon, the company called requesting more money. 

This is becoming a common method scammers use to defraud people and take their money. Typically, the business will request you purchase gift cards and send them a photo of the cards and the receipt. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends these tips for buying pets online:

See the pet in person or during a video call before paying any money. Scammers are unlikely to comply with this request and this may help avoid a scam.

Do a reverse image search of the photo of the pet and search for distinctive phrases in the description.

Google the associated phone number, emails, and names involved in the scam to check for scam alerts.

Speak up, if something feels wrong, have a loved one, neighbor or friend, look it over for you.

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