Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 1/12/22 – Klamath County Economic Development Summit Sheds Light on Future Growth of Klamath County

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Thursday, January 12, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. South southeast wind around 20 mph. Overnight mostly cloudy with a low around 38 with gusty winds to 18mph.


Friday A 40% chance of rain, mainly after 10am. Snow level 5900 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 47. Overnight rain, then snow likely, possibly mixed with rain. Snow level 5200 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 35. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Saturday Rain and snow likely, becoming all rain after 7am. Snow level 5200 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Sunday Snow likely, mainly after 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 42.

See Road Camera Views

Lake of the Woods   
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Hiway 97 at Chemult   
Hiway 140 at  Bly       
Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr.            
Hiway 97 at LaPine

Today’s Headlines

Local stakeholders and economists from throughout the state gathered at the Ross Ragland Theater earlier this week and put some of the residents’ economic worries to rest at the Klamath County Economic Development Agency’s (KCEDA) Economic Summit.

For its second annual event, presenters shared a wealth of knowledge regarding the economic health and outlook in the Klamath Basin, as well as on the regional and national levels, with an audience of more than 120 residents.

Those in attendance were also given an opportunity to ask a panel of local stakeholders questions. The panel included representatives of an array of industries, including health care, education, agriculture and real estate, to name a few.

Although national inflation rates and housing crises has been on the rise, KCEDA CEO Randy Cox reported some encouraging statistics about Klamath County’s financial forecast. Klamath County is reported to have a lower risk of “exposure” to national recession trends while maintaining a higher level of “volatility,” meaning there is less certainty that the county will follow the state’s economic predictions.

Cox credits the makeup of the local workforce for Klamath’s exceptional recession-proof ratings.

The Portland State forecast for the county’s overall population growth by 2025 has already been exceeded, Lehner explained, with numbers that reach almost as high as those predicted for the year 2030.

The Board of County Commissioners weekly business meeting on Jan. 10, 2023, began with public comment from Dan Williams about a county gate at Topper Ave.

Williams said “the fire chief for Klamath County Fire District 4, Larry Woodruff, came to look at the road the gate sits on and get his opinion of the access. It was determined by Woodruff that a gate would hinder emergency services and shares the same feelings (Williams maintans) that the gate should be removed.”

Following Williams’ public comment, Jeremy Morris of the Public Works Department provided for the board background information on the gate at Topper Ave. and requested that the order of allowing the gate to be constructed be rescinded.

It was voted by the commission to remove the gate.

Also taking place was the matter of appointing Joe Henslee and Kari Jo Parisi to the Veterans Advisory Council. It was decided that since Vice-Chairman Derrick DeGroot was absent from the meeting, the matter would be moved to the following week’s agenda. Commissioner Dave Henslee said he would abstain from the vote since Joe Henslee is his father. Joe Henslee would not be working under or with Commissioner Henslee as Vice-Chair DeGroot is the liaison for the veteran council.

Next was the matter of appointing Mike Cook and Lacey Jarrell to the Title III Allocation Advisory Council. Jarrell said they “look forward to working with the committee and serving the community in this capacity.”

Last to occur during the meeting was the announcement of establishing a Spence Mountain Management Advisory Committee.

A year ago, The Friends of the Klamath County Library heard from Bill Ganong, who was dealing with the effects of the devastating Bootleg Fire on his family’s ranch.

The Friends are checking in with Ganong to see how recovery efforts are going in a presentation on Wednesday, January 18th at 2 pm at the downtown Klamath County Library.

The Bootleg Fire – which torched more than 400,000 acres before being fully contained in August 2021 – was the second-largest wildfire in the United States that year and the third-largest in Oregon since 1900. Ganong will discuss how his family’s holistic, sustainable approach to forest management ended up reducing the damage that the property suffered in the Bootleg Fire, and how the land as recovered since then. The Ganongs apply principles set forth by the American Tree Farm System, a network of family forest owners who aim to balance the economic needs of the wood and paper industry with stewardship of the water, wildlife and soil quality on their properties.

The presentation will be followed by a brief business meeting of the Friends. The presentation is free to the public, presented both in-person at the downtown library and streamed online via Zoom. If you’d like to watch the presentation from your computer, email the Friends at folklamath@gmail.com for the link to the stream.

Oregon Tech’s Dr. Riley Richards Awarded Rising Faculty Scholar Award from Oregon Tech Foundation

An Assistant Professor in the Oregon Tech Communication department, Riley Richards, Ph.D., has been at the university for just two years but has made a significant impact during that time. His work supporting students and colleagues has earned Richards a positive reputation, and he was recently awarded the 2022 Rising Faculty Scholar award from the Oregon Tech Foundation.

Originally from Greenville, Mich., Richards came to Oregon Tech with what he refers to as “formal teaching methods,” including lecturing and keeping concepts theoretical.

“To say that this teaching style didn’t go over well with students during my first few weeks would be an understatement,” said Richards. Oregon Tech prides itself on hands-on, project-based learning, and Richards has now successfully transitioned to this style in his Communication Studies courses. “I have changed to an activity, instructor- and student-led discussion-based style. Essentially, an application and modified flipped classroom.”

In addition to teaching, Richards focuses on his research interests and supporting colleagues. “As I say to my research methods students, ‘Riley is my name, and research is my game,’” said Richards. “In the future, I plan to expand professionally within my research agenda and support other faculty who wish to grow as researchers.”

Richards recently co-facilitated a university research roundtable where colleagues were encouraged to generate interdisciplinary ideas.

“I look forward to seeing the results of these new projects and collaborations,” he said. “I’m proposing a faculty research writing group and seminars on tips and tricks for conducting research at teaching-focused institutions through the University Research Committee. In the past, working with colleagues in this different capacity of helping them advance their research has challenged me intellectually in a new and rewarding way.”

Richards studies interpersonal communication in romantic and/or sexual relationships. “My next major research undertaking will be on financial communication between couples. With the national student loan crisis, I will be researching financial literacy communication before taking it into the context of romantic relationships.”

Richards’ work was recently recognized with a Rising Faculty Scholar award at Oregon Tech’s 2022 Convocation. This award recognizes significant achievements in scholarship and creative works. Such achievements include scholarly publications, grant-funded research, and creative and artistic works that enhance the reputation of Oregon Tech and its faculty. Richards said winning the award is one of his favorite memories at Oregon Tech.

“Last year, I was in my office working on my research projects every weekend, holidays, and summer break. It’s nice to have all that work pay off in terms of publications and grants, but also recognition from Oregon Tech.”

Richards is a tenure-track faculty member working on what he calls the “tenure-track hustle.”

A bill inviting Idaho to begin talks with Oregon on the potential to relocate the state line they share was read on the floor of the Oregon Senate this week. Oregon state senator Dennis Linthicum of Klamath Falls is the lead sponsor, and the initial cosponsors are Senator Brian Boquist and Rep. Werner Reschke.

Freshman Representative Emily McIntire, sworn in yesterday, has indicated to leaders of the Greater Idaho movement that she will sign on as a cosponsor when House rules allow.

The bill, SJM 2, became public yesterday along with other pre-session filed bills. It states “we, the members of the 82nd Legislative Assembly stand ready to begin discussions regarding the potential to relocate the Oregon/Idaho border, and invite the Idaho Legislature, the Governor of Idaho, the Governor of Oregon to begin talks on this topic with this Legislative Assembly.”

The bill notes that, of the 15 rural, conservative counties of eastern Oregon that are proposed to become parts of Idaho, eleven have already approved ballot measures indicating voter support. It notes that Oregon slightly relocated its border with Washington in 1958.

The bill lists several reasons that the Democrat majority of the Oregon Legislature should want to relocate the boundary: support for the self-determination of the people of eastern Oregon, financial benefits of offloading eastern Oregon, and concern about the interference of (conservative) eastern Oregon into the (progressive) politics of western Oregon. The bill states that eastern Oregon is an economic drain on Oregon’s state budget because of the high income taxes paid by the Portland area. The bill also references a poll that found that only 3% of the voters of northwestern Oregon are willing to pay what it costs to have rural regions of Oregon included in the Oregon state budget.  The movement estimates the cost is over $500 per northwestern Oregonian wage earner annually.

Along with all other bills filed prior to the beginning of the legislative session, the bill now lies on the desk of the new President of the Senate, Rob Wagner. According to rules approved yesterday, any progress on a Senate bill requires his approval. The Greater Idaho movement’s website greateridaho.org calls on him to allow their bill to get a hearing. Spokesman for the Greater Idaho movement, Matt McCaw pointed to the same January 2022 SurveyUSA poll that showed that 68% of northwestern Oregon voters thought that the Oregon Legislature should hold hearings on the idea, and only 20% opposed.

MEETING NOTICE 

The Board of Directors of EagleRidge High School, an Oregon Nonprofit Corporation, will hold a Board Meeting on Thursday, January 19, 2023, at 4:00 pm at EagleRidge High School, 677 South Seventh Street, Klamath Falls, Oregon. 

The meeting is In-person and available on Teams.  The meeting agenda includes discussion of request for design build, various grants and career pathways.  The Board may also consider other business brought before the board.   

EagleRidge High School was established to create and implement an autonomous, high achieving and equitable small high school in collaboration with the Klamath Falls City School District pursuant to the Oregon Charter School law.  The meeting will be conducted in accordance with the Oregon Public Meetings law. 

Discuss the fight against the Bootleg Fire with Bill Ganong

Wednesday, January 18th 2PM, Bill Ganong Zoom Regarding the Bootleg Fire and Recovery Efforts

A year ago, the Friends of the Klamath County Library heard from Bill Ganong, who was dealing with the effects of the devastating Bootleg Fire on his family’s ranch. The Friends are checking in with Ganong to see how recovery efforts are going in a presentation on Wednesday, January 18th at 2 pm at the downtown Klamath County Library.

The Bootleg Fire – which torched more than 400,000 acres before being fully contained in August 2021 – was the second-largest wildfire in the United States that year and the third-largest in Oregon since 1900.

Ganong will discuss how his family’s holistic, sustainable approach to forest management ended up reducing the damage that the property suffered in the Bootleg Fire, and how the land as recovered since then. The Ganongs apply principles set forth by the American Tree Farm System, a network of family forest owners who aim to balance the economic needs of the wood and paper industry with stewardship of the water, wildlife and soil quality on their properties.

The presentation will be followed by a brief business meeting of the Friends. The presentation is free to the public, presented both in-person at the downtown library and streamed online via Zoom. If you’d like to watch the presentation from your computer, email the Friends at folklamath@gmail.com for the link to the stream. For more about how you can become a Friend of the Klamath County Library, visit klamathlibrary.org/friends.

Four massive dams on the Klamath River in northern California and Oregon will start coming down this July.

Beginning this summer the Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa, Shasta and Klamath tribes living along this river since time immemorial, will celebrate the fight for salmon fish that attorneys for them have long fought for, saying the dams harm the lives of the fish and the tribe’s right to fish for them. The dams will begin being removed in July of 2023.

Even PacifiCorp, which marketed the electricity of the four hydroelectric-producing dams, will also have something to cheer about. PacifiCorp, which is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett, won’t have pricey fish ladders to install and its share of the cost of dam removal has been passed to ratepayers in both states.

Environmentalists are also hailing this latest victory for river-renewal, based on the Electric Consumers Protection Act of 1986. The law ordered operators of most federal dams to provide passages for fish so they could swim upstream to spawn.

For California and Oregon officials, along with farmers and others who had reached an agreement as far back in 2008, the dam removals signal that this long and emotional fight is finally over. And why has there been a settlement after all this time? A short answer is the growing reality of the West’s increasing aridity.

In 2001, yet another dry year in the upper Klamath, farmers woke up to find their headgates for irrigation water locked. It was done to preserve flows for endangered salmon, but for outraged farmers it meant their crops were ruined and they lost anywhere from $27 million to $47 million. Death threats followed, along with shootings and even a farmers’ cavalry charge.

At the time, the newly elected Bush administration reacted by making sure the farmers got their water, though this triggered one of the largest salmon die-offs in history. The Klamath Tribes were infuriated.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission started tackling the issue in 2007 by ordering PacifiCorp to install fish ladders on its four, fish-killing dams. After electric rates soared 1,000%, that left everybody mad and set the stage for a deal.

In a turnaround for the Bush administration, a pact was almost reached in 2008, when Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, who had stubbornly opposed breaching dams, persuaded Oregon Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to reach an agreement.

The deal had something for everyone: The Klamath Tribes, with senior water rights, subordinated those rights for a large grant to purchase land. The federal government paid half the cost of removing the dams, and the state of California paid the other half.

Then a stumbling block intruded: Powerful Republicans opposed dam removal and the legislation that would have put the agreement into effect.

But negotiations continued, this time without the federal government picking up any of the costs. As 2022 ended, California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, PacifiCorp, the Tribes and others to celebrate the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of the dams coming down.

From Oregon Tech Sports Dept…


For the second time during the 2022-23 season, Oregon Tech’s Olivia Sprague was named Rize Laboratory-Cascade Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, announced by the league office.

The sophomore, from Clatskanie, was instrumental in a pair of weekend home wins, extending the Lady Owls win streak to 6-in-a-row.

Watch Olivia Sprague in action here! https://youtu.be/mUFJ26tUVBw

Sprague had 18 points, along with four rebounds and five assists in Friday’s 66-53 win over Corban, following it up with 20 points, four rebounds and four steals in a key 71-64 victory over Bushnell. It was the sixth time this season, Sprague has recorded 4-or-more steals, the seventh game with 20-or-more points and the eighth game with 5-or-more assists. She has recorded 16-straight games with 10-or-more points, becoming just the second OIT player to achieve the feat.

The Lady Owls hit the road this weekend for games Friday at Lewis-Clark State and Saturday at Walla Walla.

In Klamath County, the Klamath Basin Audubon Society is once again offering grants of up to $400 to elementary teachers in the Basin to assist in science, environmental education and outdoor education activities.

The deadline for submission is Jan. 31. Questions should be addressed to Jim Rooks, grant coordinator, at runningyrooks@charter.net. A full description of the grant program and application can be found at www.klamathaudubon.org/grants.

Completed applications should be emailed to klamathauduboninfo@gmail.com or, if absolutely necessary, mailed to KBAS, P.O. Box 354, Klamath Falls, OR 97601.

Around the state of Oregon

Medford airport’s office says a nationwide computer system outage for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had minimal effect on local flights.

Interim Rogue Valley-Medford International Airport (MFR) Director Amber Judd says the FAA computer system for its Notice to Air Missions (NOTAMs) went down overnight.  She says the system was back up and operational just before 6am pacific time today.

The NOTAMs system advises pilots of real-time safety conditions at airports, and pilots are required to check NOTAMs before starting a flight.  Without an ability to check NOTAMs, then some flights were delayed across the country yesterday.

Judd says MFR had three delays for early flights, and they departed as soon as possible when the FAA NOTAMs computer system was back online.  She said the longest MFR flight delay was 45 minutes. She said she hasn’t heard a cause for the NOTAMs system stall.

In other locations airplanes were stuck on the ground for hours in the United States, leading to thousands of canceled and delayed flights.

The White House initially said there was no evidence of a cyberattack behind the outage that ruined travel plans for millions of passengers. President Joe Biden said this morning that he directed the U.S. Department of Transportation to investigate.

OHA offers testing waivers for social workers

The Oregon Health Authority is offering a new program to waive exam fees for individuals who take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) social work licensing exam.

The program is offered through an agreement with the Association of Social Work Boards, the primary examination agency. Only people approved by the Oregon State Board of Licensed Social Workers are eligible for the waiver.

The ASWB exam is required to gain licensure as a social worker in Oregon. The purpose of the waiver is to remove barriers for qualified individuals as part of a larger effort to rebuild and retool a behavioral health workforce that was decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those registering to take the exam between Jan. 12, 2023, and Feb.  19, 2024, will have exam fees waived for all attempts. The funding comes from $60 million allocated by the Oregon Legislature under House Bill 4071 (2022) to develop a diverse behavioral health workforce in licensed and non-licensed occupations through scholarships, loan repayment, professional development, other incentives, and peer workforce development.

The following social worker licensure tracks are covered by the program:

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Licensed Master of Social Work
  • Baccalaureate Social Worker

The total program grant is up to $130,000 that will reimburse the $230 fee for the bachelor’s and master’s exam and $260 for the advanced generalist or clinical exam for all tests taken during the prescribed timeframe.

The waivers will be made automatically. Questions about the waiver program can be directed to: bh.workforceinitiative@odhsoha.oregon.gov.

Information about requirements to become eligible to take the exam can be found at the Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers website: https://www.oregon.gov/blsw/pages/index.aspx.

Hwy 101 Landslide Update

An active landslide south of Port Orford that had a sudden 12-foot drop Monday has slowed, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The slide forced the shutdown of several miles of Highway 101 north and south of the slide early Monday.

Matt Noble, communications manager for ODOT, says a contractor is on the scene with staging equipment and materials for building a temporary lane through the collapsed area. However, Noble says a forecast of steady rain over the coming days could destabilize the slope further, potentially causing the slide to shift again.

ODOT has implemented new drainage features near the slide to drain the anticipated rain water. Noble says it’s unclear how these features will impact the road. ODOT does not have a timeline for when the road will reopen. http://tripcheck.com

Oregon Set To Receive $400M-$1B In Federal Grants To Increase Broadband Access

Oregon’s Broadband Office is prepared to use federal money to get everyone in the state online. The money is coming from a federal infrastructure bill that was passed in 2021.

According to an audit released by Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, the Oregon Broadband Office will likely be prepared to receive and facilitate upcoming federal infrastructure grant awards.

Fagan says disadvantaged communities should be prioritized, as Oregon stands to get anywhere from $400 million to $1 billion over the next several years to ramp up broadband access.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make sure that all Oregonians are able to get online. It’s an opportunity to close gaps that have developed in our state where some communities have access, and others do not,” she said.

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February is the last month Oregonians will receive increased emergency food benefits

(Salem) – Since April 2020, most people in Oregon who receive food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have also received extra emergency food benefits each month on their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. These emergency food benefits were provided to help people who receive SNAP get enough healthy food for themselves and their families during the COVID-19 emergency. 

February will be the final month that the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) is allowed to provide these emergency food benefits. 

March 2023 will be the first month since April 2020 that most people on SNAP in Oregon will only receive their regular SNAP food benefits. 

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic we have had the opportunity to provide these emergency food benefits to most SNAP households in Oregon,” said ODHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht. “We know that many rely on these additional emergency food benefits to get enough healthy food for themselves and their families. As Oregon continues to be impacted by COVID-19, we know that without these emergency food benefits some in Oregon may experience hardship and hunger. We encourage them to contact our partners at 211, Oregon Food Bank and their local Community Action Agency for support during this difficult time.”    

Oregonians who receive SNAP are encouraged to prepare for this change in the food benefits they receive. 

Find out what your regular SNAP benefit amount is. Knowing your regular SNAP benefit can help you budget. You can check how much your regular benefits are by accessing your EBT account online at www.ebtEDGE.com or by logging into your ONE account at Benefits.oregon.gov.

More information about emergency allotments is available at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/About-SNAP.aspx.

Resources to help meet basic needs

Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, families and individuals with low incomes in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities.

ODF Southwest Oregon District Now Hiring For Fire Season

The Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District is now hiring for the 2023 fire season.

Public Information Officer Natalie Weber said that includes entry-level and experienced firefighters, dispatchers and detection specialists. Weber said that will total approximately 130 jobs in Josephine and Jackson counties. These seasonal positions generally span from June through October, but may vary depending on conditions.

A release said both the Grants Pass and the Medford offices are actively hiring. Benefits include medical, dental and vision coverage and paid holidays, as well as personal business, vacation and sick leave.

Weber said the deadline to apply for all positions is June 30th. However, interviews will take place from March on, so applying early is highly encouraged.

Complete job information is linked: https://swofire.com/jobs/

Medford Mail Tribune Ending All Operations On Friday

Marking the end of an era, Medford’s longstanding local newspaper says it is ending all operations this week.  The Mail Tribune says its last edition will occur this Friday, the 13th of January, 2023.

The Medford Mail Tribune scaled back its printed newspapers in the past few years, reducing its size and its number of printed editions.  The paper stopped producing a print edition in September of 2022, but lived on in a digital format, lasting only a few months. 

The Tribune started in 1906 and merged with the Metro Mail in 1909 to form the Mail Tribune. Those moves precede Wednesday’s announcement from the owner and publisher as follows from its website today:

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce that as of Jan. 13, 2023, the Mail Tribune will cease all operations.

This was a difficult business decision; the shuttering of this institution is a real loss for all constituents in Southern Oregon.

Unfortunately, industry-wide reductions, and in some cases complete elimination of national advertising spends for newspapers (digital or printed editions), coupled with rising costs of content and the difficulty of hiring staff and managers have made continuing the Mail Tribune unsustainable.

The last published issue will be Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. Refunds due for unused portions of paid subscriptions will be issued within 60 days. We will be reaching out to our advertisers and vendors within the next couple of weeks.

Sincerely,
Steven Saslow
CEO | Publisher”

Governor Kotek Signs Three Executive Orders To Address Housing And Homelessness In Oregon

Already at work as Oregon’s chief executive, Governor Tina Kotek held a press conference on Tuesday during which she signed three executive orders to address the state’s housing and homelessness crises. The task is something quite daunting and will likely be one of many issues she will deal with for the years ahead.

The first executive order she signed is to establish a statewide goal of building 36,000 housing units per year and creates the Housing Production Advisory Council. Kotek said the council will be tasked with creating a budget and policy recommendations to reach that goal.

The governor added that the 36,000-unit goal will be an 80% increase over recent construction trends. She said meeting this goal will require collaboration between local, state, and federal partners. “The housing construction goal is ambitious because Oregonians are demanding bold solutions to address this crisis. I set this target to reflect the level of need that exists, knowing that we will not get there overnight or even in one year,” Kotek said.

Kotek said this order will take the framework of an “emergency management structure” similar to when there is a natural disaster.

“We all have to work together in a new framework if we’re going to make progress,” Kotek said. “There are good things happening on the ground today and we need more solutions, we need more urgency.”

The second executive order declares a state of emergency due to homelessness in “regions of the state that have experienced an increase in unsheltered homelessness of 50% or more from 2017 to 2022,” Kotek said, adding, “unfortunately, that includes most of the state.”

The third executive order, Kotek said, will work in tandem with the others to direct state agencies to prioritize reducing unsheltered and sheltered homelessness in the state, not only in areas under the state of emergency.

During the press conference, Kotek said in the week after the election, she met with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson to discuss how the leaders can work together.

“We need to make sure that every dollar, every resource is actually showing progress,” Kotek said.

While addressing housing and homelessness, Kotek said a key part of tackling the issue includes behavioral health — saying it will be a top priority in her budget which will be released in February.

“We have to make sure that when people are ready for services, can we connect them to services? Is the workforce there to serve them?” Kotek said — adding she’s “excited” for the new leadership at the Oregon Health Authority.

“We are going to put as much urgency into that side of the challenge as well as the housing and shelter side,” Kotek stated.

Kotek, took the oath for a 4-year term on Monday. In her inaugural address at the state Capitol in Salem, Kotek also proposed a $130 million emergency investment to help unsheltered people move off the streets.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Kotek said “we have to bring urgency to this. It’s not enough to sign executive orders. So, with that $130 million investment, I will be encouraging our legislative leaders to work with me to move those resources as soon as possible to prevent more people from becoming unhoused, to help create more transitional shelters and to provide more services to those folks who are living on the streets.”

The governor also pledged to unite Oregonians after a bitterly fought gubernatorial race — the tightest in a decade — in which Republicans sought to break the Democrats’ dominance of the state. She said she plans to visit every county in Oregon during her first year in office.

Kotek was a state representative from 2006 until 2022, when she resigned to run for governor. During her time in the Legislature, she became the longest-serving speaker in Oregon history after nine years in the role and cemented her status as a key player in state politics, earning a reputation for cutting deals and muscling bills through the state House.

Lawmakers also were sworn in on Monday. Democrats still control both chambers of the Legislature, but they lost their three-fifths supermajority in November’s election.

Limited Time To Apply For Business Funding Grants To Assist Small Businesses Affected By COVID-19

Business Oregon has partnered with the CCD Business Development Corporation to offer $3 million in CDBG-CV Statewide Small Business and Microenterprise Grant Assistance (SBMA).

The program is funded with federal grant funds from the Oregon Community Development Block Grant program CARES Act funding for communities affected by COVID-19.

SBMA grants will be awarded between $2,500 – $30,000 per business. Microenterprises whose owner meets who meet low- and moderate-income (LMI) criteria can qualify for up to $10,000 in grant funding. Small businesses can qualify for $2,500 per LMI employee retained up to $30,000 in funding.

Eligibility Requirements: A microenterprise (five or fewer employees) or small business (more than five employees) that:

  • Was in business prior to March 8, 2019
  • Can document COVID-19 impact (lost revenue, mandated closures, workforce issues, supply complications, etc.)
  • Was generally stable/strong prior to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Has an owner and/or employees who meet low- and moderate-income (LMI) criteria

Limited time — The program will launch 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 23, and will close at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27. Applications for this grant program will be processed on a lottery basis.

At the time of application closure, all submitted applications will be randomized and processed. To register and apply, visit www.ccdbusiness.org/oregonsbma.

Technical assistance is available to assist with completing the application process. You may use Google Translate on the application registration and program webpages for non-English languages or please contact CCD Business Development Corporation at 1-888-263-0971 or oregonsbma@ccdbusiness.com for additional assistance.

Video tutorials for both small business and microenterprise applications, including helpful tips, are also available. The link to the YouTube playlist for the video tutorials can be found at on the CCD’s website.

Business Oregon, in partnership with CCD Business Development Corporation, will be hosting two virtual Q&A meetings about this grant opportunity on Friday, January 13 at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Register for the virtual Q&A meetings using this online form.

The SBMA grant award selections are expected in February 2023 and the funding is expected to be distributed to selected grantees in March 2023.

For more information, visit https://www.oregon.gov/biz/programs/SBMA/Pages/default.aspx

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Announces Layoffs, Furloughs, And Departure Of Executive Director Due To Financial Troubles

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has started the new year by announcing a shift in management, a dozen layoffs, seven employee furloughs, and halting or delay of filling 18 open positions.

As part of a restructuring strategy aimed at “aligning its business model with its vision and realities of the post-pandemic market,” OSF announced changes Tuesday in leadership, staff, and programs.

David Schmitz announced his decision to step down as executive director, effective immediately, as part of OSF’s restructuring to ensure that the artistic and business sides of the organization can be brought into further alignment with OSF’s mission.

Amanda Brandes will step down as director of development in mid-February, OSF said. During this transition, Artistic Director Nataki Garrett will step into a dual role as interim executive artistic director, overseeing development and marketing in addition to artistic direction. Anyania Muse, currently managing director of IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) will step in as interim chief operating officer, taking on finance, audience experiences and education. She will report to Garrett.

Schmitz, who came to OSF after 15 years at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, oversaw all administrative functions, including development, marketing, facilities and operations, according to an OSF announcement of his hiring in May 2020. He started that fall, succeeding interim executive director Paul Christy, who served in 2019 and 2020, and Cynthia Rider, who was executive director from 2013 through 2018.

“We are grateful for David’s contributions to OSF and his leadership under very challenging times at OSF,” says Diane Yu, OSF board chair, in Tuesday’s news release. “We have experienced Nataki’s leadership through crisis many times before, but most notably during the pandemic when she took on the responsibilities across the organization to help OSF survive. I have no doubt that she, along with other members of the leadership team, will lead this organization through this transition period and into a place of stability and success.”

“These past two and a half years have been among the most challenging times in OSF’s history — from COVID, to the Almeda Fire, to the ongoing racism and threats to members of our community, to inflationary challenges, to rebuilding the company coming into 2022,” Schmitz said in a statement. “These years have also been rewarding because of the opportunity I had to get to know and witness the incredibly talented people who dedicate their lives to this company. It has been my great privilege to work alongside Nataki and with such an exceptionally talented and dedicated staff and Board. I also treasured the opportunity to get to know and work with members of OSF’s incredible donor base as well as Ashland’s business community.”

Garrett expressed admiration for Schmitz and his contributions to the organization.

In November, OSF secured a $10 million multi-year gift from The Hitz Foundation, at $2 million per year for five years. In addition, OSF has received $1.5 million in pledges. In December, the OSF Board made the decision to release $4.25 million from its endowment to help support operating expenses. These pledges of support set up the next step in OSF’s Restructure, Reframe, Revitalize (3Rs) Strategy, which will focus the next 12-24 months on shifting and modernizing administrative systems that have existed since the inception of the OSF’s charter that are no longer serving the organization, OSF announced.

Jacksonville Inn Closes Down Dining Services

The famous Jacksonville Inn is no longer offering its dining services after decades of serving quality food to the Rogue Valley and the unique experience of dining there.

The historic brown bricked building was built back in the Jacksonville community more than 100 years ago.  For years the hotel offered a wide variety of high-quality food to its diners, but as of January 7, 2023 officials say the inn is no longer offering those dining services. 

The owners of the business put out a statement stating: “As owners, we have made the difficult decision to close this portion of our business management while beginning to search for a tenant that complements this exceptional restaurant space.”

Emma Root, the store owner of Willow Creek right across the street from the Jacksonville Inn, said she had no idea the business was ending it dining services.

“I think there will be a lot of people disappointed to see it go,” says Root. “You know, cause there are a lot of regulars. I even hear about people who come here every summer or you now, every holiday to go there. So I think it will impact local people and also people who travel here.”

The hotel is still offering its wine bar and room services. 

Oregon Workforce Declining As Population Ages

Finding work isn’t as hard as was in the past in Oregon, yet finding workers has proven to be more challenging for employers.

The combination of an aging population and the younger adult demographics being reticent to join the workforce has created a declining labor force participation rate, especially in rural areas.

We learn from an Oregon Live article written by Mike Rogoway on Jan. 8, 2023, called “Workforce participation remains depressed, especially in rural Oregon,” that 19 percent of Oregon is over the age of 65 and the workforce participation rate is 62 percent, down from its peak of 70 percent in the 1990s.

Labor force participation rates have been declining across the country since around 2009 and Oregon has been slightly below this average, dropping around 4 percent during the 2011-2012 time frame.

The article explains the rural areas of Coos, Curry and Lincoln counties have the lowest labor force participation rates at under 50 percent and more than a quarter of the residents in those counties are older than 65.

Labor force participation is highest in Multnomah, Washington and Hood River counties at around 70 percent and these urban counties have a younger demographic.

State economists have explained the declining workforce participation will only continue in the future as the Baby Boomer generation ages and moves into retirement. This is especially going to affect rural counties where the demographics are older.

Finding future population growth by attracting workers from outside of the state and retaining workers through any future recessions are key solutions to combat the trend, as the article explains.

Wildlife Safari In Winston Oregon Welcomes New Cheetah Cubs

Wildlife Safari in Winston welcomed some new furry faces last Monday with the birth of new cheetah cubs.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=0Jo3ZS_0k67yb1J00

Starting at 4 a.m., the first cub was born with several more coming shortly after. Their mother, Paca, has had two previous litters.

According to the Wildlife Safari website , their cheetah facility is the number-two breeding facility in the world, and number one outside of Africa. The new cubs are the first cheetahs to be born in the U.S. in 2023.

Oregon’s commercial Dungeness crab fishery season opens from Cape Falcon to Cape Arago on Jan. 15 after having passed all tests for the crab being ready to harvest.

The season opens Feb. 1 from Cape Falcon north to Washington State in accordance with the Tri-State Protocol.  Meat fill now meets or exceeds criteria in all areas of Oregon, and biotoxins are below alert levels in all crab tested from Cape Arago north. Domoic acid testing of crab will continue from Cape Arago south to the California border as test results today showed elevated levels of the biotoxin in that area.

ODFW works closely with the crab fishing industry, the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture on testing and season openings. ODFW also coordinates with California and Washington to help create an orderly start to the season within the Tri-State region.

Tim Novotny with the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission stressed the importance of being able to deliver a level of certainty in the product to the marketplace to start the fishery, both for industry and consumers to have confidence in the product. That comes through rigorous preseason testing and only opening regions where crab are ready for consumption.

Six rocky areas on the Oregon Coast are being considered for conservation.

The sites have been through a multi-year process, including engagement with nearby communities. The Marine Affairs Coordinator said one proposed site is at Cape Foulweather, south of Depoe Bay, where stewardship activities would help maintain key habitats, “Specifically submerged aquatic vegetation, the marine kelps, which are very important.” He explained, “They are a nursery ground for many of our much longer-lived fish species, they provide habitat in the marine environment for many different organisms.”

He also said a proposal at Cape Lookout, near Tillamook, would focus on restoring a kelp bed that suffered a recent die-off. Because coastal communities recognize its importance, fishing regulations would not be affected by the new designations. The process is expected to take many months to coordinate and complete.

The six rocky areas proposed for marine conservation are Cape Foulweather, south of Depoe Bay, Cape Lookout, south of Tillamook, Chapman Point, north of Cannon Beach, Ecola Point, north of Cannon Beach, Fogarty Creek, near Depoe Bay and Blacklock Point, north of Port Orford.

OSU Archaeologists Uncover Oldest Known Projectile Points

Oregon State University archaeologists have uncovered some tools that add to a new understanding of the timeline of human life in the Americas — projectile points. 

OSU archaeology teams have carried out expeditions in west central Idaho for more than a decade, unearthing clues about life at Cooper’s Ferry, along the Salmon River canyon.

The projectile points, or spear tips; razor sharp and ranging from half an inch to two inches long, that are so telling about the people who came here to hunt, to fish and to gather. They are about 3000 years older than what had been found before. 

“This record is notable because now we realize it extends back to 16,000 years ago or probably a little earlier,” said OSU Anthropology Professor Loren Davis who has led expeditions of students to Cooper’s Ferry for the duration of the project.

In 2019 they found bones and other items that gave them evidence of human life arriving here roughly 3000 years sooner than was previously believed.

Now carbon dating of these sharp hunting tools confirms it — and shows how advanced those native peoples were early on.

“Something in your hand that’s that old, and to think about somebody actually took a block of rock through a series of steps, turned it into a spear point that I have in my hand is really pretty amazing,” said Davis.

In collaboration with the Nez Perce Tribe and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Davis and more than 200 students have spent thousands of hours carefully clearing the dirt, discovering signs of the first human life in the Americas, right here in the Pacific Northwest.

“Looking back, we didn’t realize exactly how old this was going to be, but I hope students or ex-students now are looking back and thinking they’re part of something pretty magical and rather special.”

Davis has been studying the Cooper’s Ferry site since the 1990’s when he was an archaeologist with BLM. Now he brings OSU graduate and undergraduate students to the site to work during the summer.  

The team also works closely with the Nez Perce Tribe to provide field opportunities for tribal youth and to communicate findings.

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