Klamath Basin News, Friday, Feb 28 – Sixth Person Charged in Murder-For-Hire Case

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Klamath Basin Weather

Mostly sunny, with a high near 63. Overnight, cloudy, light winds to 10MPH, with a low of 30 degrees.

A 30% chance of snow showers after 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43.  Little or no snow accumulation expected.  Low overnight of 24.

Sunny, with a high near 45.  Overnight low of 23.

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Mostly sunny, with a high near 53.

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Today’s Headlines

The Klamath County Public Health Air Advisory is Green until noon today.

The number of people charged in connection with the murder of Pedro Padilla Jr. and the removal of his body has increased to six after Jesse Loy Griffith of Klamath Falls was arrested on Monday.

Griffith is charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence, along with Kim Oelke, who was arrested last Tuesday, and Julie Davis, who was arrested January 13th.

According to court documents, Griffith helped co-conspirators dump Padilla’s body in a pond at the 1500 block of Cross Road. Griffith is being held in the Klamath County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned March 2nd.

Corey Agard is charged with two counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, unlawful use of a weapon, felon in possession of a firearm, abuse of a corpse and three counts of tampering with evidence.

Tori Hill is charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. Joshua Holloway is facing charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley today launched a new resource for Oregonians seeking information about the coronavirus including the number of cases in Oregon, information on risk of exposure, prevention and treatment; and steps that he has taken to push the federal government to respond effectively, and with urgency.

Merkley created the webpage after hearing concerns from Oregonians at town halls about the spread of the virus and where they could get reliable information. The webpage, https://www.merkley.senate.gov/coronavirus, compiles information from a variety of public health institutions all in one place. The page also includes a summary of the action Merkley is calling for.

The court case Yurok Tribe vs. Bureau of Reclamation for the Northern District of California in San Francisco has been moved again.

The case had been planned for today and has been moved to Friday March 6th. In the case the Yurok Tribe and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association is objecting to the 2018 biological opinion produced by the Bureau of Reclamation and National Marine Fisheries Service. The biological opinion has a significant effect on water availability to users here in the Klamath Basin.

Fifteen years after it opened its first Klamath Falls branch Rogue Credit Union is set to open a second local branch which is something their customers have been requesting for years.

Remodeling of the new branch location across from Campus Square remained a mystery for many months until the new signage for Rogue Credit Union went up a short time ago. The community is invited to celebrate the grand opening of the new branch April 9th at 12:30 p.m. A soft opening is tentatively planned for a few weeks prior to the grand opening.

The next major uniform transition is rapidly approaching for 173rd Fighter Wing Airmen at Kingsley Field as initial funding for the Operational Camouflage Pattern is set to begin rolling out for general wear at the base.

There are a number of variables that will play into what each person receives and when they receive it. The supply system determines what orders are filled in what order based on stock on hand at the time and other factors which Clark mentions is outside the control of local supply troops.

Ultimately, the mandatory wear date for OCPs is April 1st 2021 and until then the ABU is still authorized for wear.

Balsiger property owner to begin development, says a new press release.

Some more good news for downtown Klamath Falls is coming from a press release from Project^, as it’s known, revealing more details for the new development planned for Balsiger Block at the corner of Main and Esplanade Streets.

The Portland-based development company purchased the Balsiger Block property in 2019 from the City of Klamath Falls.

“Project^ aims to develop a mixed-use site to potentially include residential apartments, ground floor retail and a small boutique hotel,” the release states.

Project^ is working with Klamath County Economic Development Association. KCEDA assisted in identifying and researching potential incentive and investment options for the project, according to a statement from Julie Matthews, from KCEDA.

“KCEDA is very excited to see investors choosing Klamath to build this mixed-use development here and this will create new energy at that end of our downtown,” Matthews wrote.

“This kind of development here which blends great design, having retail space on the first level and some housing space on the upper floors, is an essential part of revitalizing our downtown community,” she wrote.

Demolition of what remains of the Balsiger Ford building is underway. According to the release from Project^, some materials from the old building will be salvaged and reused. The concrete walls from the site will be crushed on-site and used to fill the basement of the original building.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2021, according to Project^.

“We are thrilled to revitalize this historic and prominent site in downtown Klamath Falls,” wrote Christopher Jones, manager at Project^.

“While our plans for the site remain fluid as we move through the demolition process, we are focused on creating a carefully curated space that brings additional energy to this already burgeoning urban landscape and will embrace our sustainability and ecological principles,” Jones continued.

The site sits at the entrance to downtown, at the corner of Main and Esplanade, and has significant historical significance for Klamath.

It was the site of the White Pelican Hotel, which was built in 1911. The grand 93-room hotel burned down in 1926.

After the fire, the iconic Egyptian-themed Balsiger Ford building was build at the site and was eventually demolished after sitting vacant for years in 2016.

Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund announced Cholena Wright, a resident of Chiloquin and member of Klamath Tribes, as the 2019-20 Hatfield Fellow.

Each year the Spirit Mountain Community Fund sponsors a highly motivated Native American to serve as the Hatfield Fellow and intern in a congressional office for an eight-month term. Wright is a graduate of the University of Oregon, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Native Studies.

Wright will begin her Fellowship in November with a month-long orientation at the American Political Science Association in Washington, D.C. Following orientation, she will assume her congressional placement in Congressman Peter DeFazio’s office. This is the congressman’s second Hatfield Fellow.

A team of Oregon Institute of Technology business students won a national business case study competition, taking them to the worldwide stage in April.

The contest was designed for business students to work directly with a startup company to develop a solution addressing a real business challenge. The contest featured a German MedTech company that developed the munevo DRIVE, a Smartglass application for controlling a motorized wheelchair with hands-free technology using head movements. The startup company challenged the teams to create a market strategy for the company’s entrance into the U.S. market.

The Oregon Tech team was comprised of four students: Quinn Damitio (senior, Operations Management), Tanner Karp (senior, Marketing), Jared McBride (senior, Business Management), and Peter Simonsen (junior, Marketing). They worked together to learn about the industry and develop a marketing strategy that would help this company reach people in wheelchairs who could benefit from the technology.

“The final results of the case have been exactly what we were looking for and will help us greatly in achieving our next steps of our market entry in the US,” said Munevo’s founder Claudiu Leverenz. “The students have raised the bar tremendously for future cases and projects.”

Team member McBride noted, “Our team had a great experience working with an innovative company that is bound to succeed in the United States. This case competition was an amazing real-world experience that allowed us to apply our business and technology education. Winning this competition gave us a boost of confidence and an understanding of what future employers will expect.”

The team will be going on to compete in a global case study conference in Dallas in April.

Jordan Levy, whose company CapSource designed the contest, said, “The Oregon Tech team produced results that were extremely impressive. The students were well-researched, prepared, and professional. The most rewarding aspect of coordinating these types of collaborations for students is watching them hit it out of the park. I can’t wait to see how this team builds on their initial success this Spring when they compete in the ‘big leagues’ at the IACBE Live Case Competition, where they’ll be working on an up-to-date challenge featuring CoinSource, the world’s leader in Bitcoin ATMs.”

“Working on this project was such a great fit for the ‘hands-on’ approach we take at Oregon Tech,” noted team advisor, Professor Sharon Beaudry. “Business students at Oregon Tech often partner with engineers and health students to develop projects for our inventor contest and senior projects. This contest is another way for students to get a real-world experience.”

Oregon Tech Business degrees include nine programs: Accounting, Business Management, Cybersecurity, Information Technology, Health Care Management, Health Informatics, Marketing, Operations Management, and Technology & Management. These programs are offered at the Klamath Falls campus, and many are also offered at the Portland-Metro campus as well as online. To learn more visit www.oit.edu/academics/degrees/business.

An Oregon Tech student is in need of funds to rebuild her goat herd after at least one cougar is believed to have killed her livestock sometime Friday morning, which were located near a business in Bly.

Jacy Wasoski, 19, owns the goats, and over the weekend formed a Go Fund Me page to help rebuild her goat business “Mihi Trip.” She is counting her losses at approximately $4,000, since three of her female goats were pregnant, with some baby goats already accounted for. She also sold cheese and milk from the goats to support herself and work towards a degree in Professional Writing.

“I’m losing out on all the money I would get from milking all Summer long and making cheese,” Wasoski said. “So it was a bigger cut to me than if someone was just to lose a pet.

“I lost my whole business,” she added.   “It was helping pay for groceries and college.”

Jacy’s Dad Joe Wasoski and grandfather Tim Sunnafrank also care for the herd but the business was funded mostly by Jacy.

Sunnafrank found the three females and one male – mostly registered goats – dead in their pens at the Bly property on Friday morning, during a routine visit to feed the livestock.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Sunnafrank said. “All the gates were closed, nothing was open. It just boggled the mind.”

Jacy found out about the kill via social media before checking with her grandfather.

“He confirmed it for me,” she said.

Tom Collom, Klamath District wildlife biologist, was called to the scene of the kill, in addition to Andy Cleland, Wildlife Services Agent.

Collom said although the tracks inside the pens weren’t identifiable due to frozen ground, the way the goats were killed were tell tale signs of a cougar. Cougars generally bite and either break their prey’s neck or they crush the wind pipe, according to Collom.

The goats were all found with severe trauma up around the throat and neck area and it appeared a cougar had started to consume the male.

“We don’t know how many (cougars) – the fact that there were four goats killed, potentially could be more than one, but we don’t have any confirmation on that,” Collom said.

“Given where this occurred right in Bly, a cougar may have been planning to pack an animal off or feed on it more but just — with it being busy right in town like that — it could have been spooked off of that.”

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is working with Wildlife Services to monitor the situation.

“When we have livestock issues or human safety issues, we try to take some action, like we’re trying to do with this one,” Collom said.  A live trap has been set without any further cougar activity, Collom said.

“Generally that can work because when you have a livestock kill, because cougars when they kills something, they come back and feed on it a number of times,” Collom said.

“A little different situation with it being right in town,” Collom added. “The cat may have not felt comfortable coming back. We haven’t had any other reports that the cat has been back in town.”

Collom said while he’s seen lots of livestock kills by cougars on the outskirts of Bonanza and Keno, he said he’s not seen as many in the middle of Bly. Collom doesn’t know for certain specifically what drew the cougar closer to town.

“Under darkness, they’ll wind up in areas where you have people,” Collom said.

“Then it gets light and they find out they’re in a spot they don’t want to be,” Collom added.

“Wherever you have a prey base, that’s where you could find a cougar.”

Collom emphasized it is legal to hunt cougar with a proper license and tag.

“The season is open year around,” Collom said.

Meanwhile, Wasoski isn’t giving up on her dream to be a writer and run an agricultural business. Having grown up in Bly and participated in 4-H, FFA, and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) while attending Bonanza High School, Jacy has a solid background to back up her plans.

She plans to relocate her goat pens from the property in Bly to the family’s farm in Beatty to continue to rebuild her herd, which will include one female goat that’s been living in Nevada.

Wasoski plans to invest in one to two livestock guardian dogs to help protect them.

“We’re going to completely rebuild and work on the amount of goats I had and the same quality,” Wasoski said.

She hopes to have a new set up in place by April.

For those wishing to contribute to her rebuilding plans, go online to her Go Fund Me account here: https://tinyurl.com/ueeva92

Two documentaries on Southern Oregon events during WWII will be screened at 6 p.m. the Ross Ragland Theater Friday, Feb. 28. First up will be “On Paper Wings,” recounting the Japanese balloon bomb explosion that killed six Klamath County residents near Bly in 1945.

Showing at 7:30 p.m. will be “Samurai Over the Oregon Sky,” a new documentary that tells the story of a Japanese pilot who dropped a bomb in the forest near Brookings, then made a peacetime reconciliation visit to the coastal community that turned out to be highly controversial. Both films run about an hour.

Filmmaker Ilana Sol will be on hand for Q&A session. This is a free event sponsored by the Klamath County Museum, and cosponsored by the Klamath County Historical Society.

The 18th annual Red Tie Romp took place last Saturday at the Ross Ragland Theater. The theater raised awareness for their twelve revered Art’s Education and Outreach Programs which offer more than 20,000 individual opportunities for Arts education of all kinds for students in the Basin, K-12 every year.

The quests raised their bidder numbers throughout the evening to the tune of almost $40,000.00 by the end of the night. Guests also took part in a delicious spread of appetizers by Mia and Pia’s along with a silent auction in the lobby before entering into the theater for dinner on stage by Encore Catering, stellar entertainment and a live auction.  Every year the Ragland sells raffle tickets to coincide with this event. Three winners are chosen at the end of the night and announced on stage regarding the 3 trips up for grabs.

This year Pam Silcox won a trip to NYC, Jill and Ryan Russel won a trip to San Francisco and Scott Shaull won a trip to Ashland.

Around the region

Bend City Councilor Justin Livingston announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Oregon’s Second Congressional District, currently held by retiring Congressman Greg Walden.

42 year old Justin Livingston won a seat on the Bend City Council in 2016, and during his tenure touts his opposition to a gas tax increase and a city climate change regulation that would have driven up housing costs. Livingston joins a crowded field of Republican and Democratic candidates. Presently there are four Democratic candidates, while Livingston is the ninth Republican to file for the primary.

Other candidates seeking Republican nomination include Jason Atkinson, Cliff Bentz, Knute Buehler, David Campbell, Jimmy Crumpacker, Justus Mayo, Kenneth Medenbach, and Jeff Smith.

Around the state

A body found in the waters off Newport has been identified as that of a fisherman who has been missing for nearly three weeks. Norman Grant was reported missing on February 9th and hadn’t been seen since the evening of February 8th.

Grant’s body was discovered about 80 feet south of the Hallmark Fisheries dock when another boat ran into something under the water Wednesday. A subsequent inspection of the boat found clothing entangled in the vessel’s prop and a diver was called in. No cause of death or other details about the case have been released.

A federal grand jury in Eugene returned an indictment last week charging a Bend  resident with using a microbrewery equipment company to defraud customers of more than $800,000.

The seven-count indictment alleges that 48 year old Matthew Mulder used his company WeCan Brewing Systems to solicit payments from 23 customers located throughout the U.S. Mulder’s company supplied custom-built microbrew systems, keg washers, and other industrial brewing products. Many of his customers were microbrewery owners.

According to court documents, beginning in at least 2017, Mulder began soliciting and accepting orders for microbrewery equipment he knew his company was not capable of fulfilling. Mulder faces four counts of wire fraud and three counts of mail fraud.

Wire and mail fraud are both punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years’ supervised release.

On Thursday Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to  a two vehicle crash on Hwy 126E near milepost 13.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Harley Davidson motorcycle, operated by Kurt Rauch (65) of Springfield, was traveling eastbound on Hwy 126E and lost control while attempting to stop for traffic in front of him. Rauch left his lane of travel, crossed into the westbound lane, and collided with a Ford F350 PU operated by David Doerr (50) from Bend.

Rauch sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Doerr was not injured in the crash. Hwy 126E was closed for three hours following the crash. OSP was assisted by ODOT, McKenzie Fire and Rescue, and Northwest Hazmat.

For the 18th year, the Oregon Council on Problem Gambling dedicates March to help increase public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment and recovery services. This coincides with the National Problem Gambling Awareness Month whose campaign theme is “Awareness + Action.”

“Problem Gambling Awareness Month is important to us because, although millions of Americans are affected by problem gambling, it’s one of the least talked about addictions,” said Executive Director of the Oregon Council on Problem Gambling Julie Hynes. “With the expansion of legalized gambling, we want to help people be aware that gambling isn’t risk-free. We want people who know they are affected by problem gambling that they are most definitely not alone—in fact, research shows that one in every 38 Oregon adults has a gambling problem.” 

National Problem Gambling Awareness Month is a grassroots effort that brings together a wide range of stakeholders – public health organizations, advocacy groups and gambling operators – who work collaboratively to let people know that hope and help exist.

Last year, visits to the Oregon Problem Gambling Resource website (www.opgr.org) increased dramatically during March as result of the focused marketing and outreach efforts.

“Creating awareness of problem gambling and available resources is a statewide commitment that is reflected in the official proclamation that Oregon Lottery and the Oregon Health Authority worked with the Governor’s office to develop,” added Lottery’s Senior Manager Product Market and Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Stacy Shaw, who is also an officer on the National Council on Problem Gambling board of directors.

“It’s great that people are seeking information,” Shaw added, “and we hope that the conversation and action continues to grow this year. We’re proud to be in a state that has robust system of prevention through treatment services that are free to anyone concerned about gambling problems, and we want people to know that they don’t have to worry about seeking help.

“This year we are focusing on letting people know that in Oregon treatment is really free, a message that’s important to people struggling with gambling issues.”

Roger Nyquist, a member of the Oregon Council on Problem Gambling as well as an Oregon Lottery retailer and county commissioner said awareness about treatment is key.

“I recognize the importance of an ongoing focus to ensure community awareness of the risks associated with gambling and the resources available for both prevention and treatment,” he said. “The impact of problem gambling extends beyond the gambler, affecting families, friends and communities.”

The Oregon Lottery’s commitment to problem gambling support is year-round. Since 1992, one percent of Oregon Lottery profits has funded problem gambling treatment and prevention efforts throughout Oregon. Since that time, over $100 million in Lottery funds has supported those services.

To get help for a gambling problem, anyone can call 1-877-MYLIMIT. Treatment is free, confidential and it works. For more information about problem gambling treatment, how to have the conversation or to chat with a specialist, go to Oregon Problem Gambling Resource at opgr.org

Klamath Falls News from partnership with the Herald and News, empowering the community.

…For complete details on these and other stories see today’s Herald & News.  Wynne Broadcasting and the Herald and News…stronger together to keep you informed.

More Klamath Local News Here.

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