Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 5/21 – “Call To Unity” Tractor & Truck Convoy from by Klamath Irrigation Project Farmers and Residents Planned

The latest news stories in the Klamath Basin and around the state of Oregon from Wynne Broadcasting’s KFLS News/Talk 1450AM/102.5FM, BasinLife.com and The Herald & News.

THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Mostly sunny, with a high near 61. Light winds at times.  Overnight, cloudy with a low around 33 degrees.

Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 60

Saturday Areas of frost before 7am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 70. Calm wind.

Sunday Partly sunny, with a high near 76.

Memorial Day Monday Mostly sunny, with a high near 82.

Tuesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 84.

TODAY’s HEADLINES

Klamath Irrigation Project family farmers and ranchers, along with community leaders in the rural areas of the Klamath Basin are issuing a “Call to Unity” for supporters to join them in a water rally next Friday in Southern Oregon.

The planned two-hour tractor convoy will start at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, May 29th in Merrill, Oregon. The route will wind its way through Klamath Project farmlands, proceed down Klamath Falls’ Main Street and end up in a local farmer’s field near Midland.

The convoy is intended to draw attention to a multi-decade federal water management scheme that has increasingly moved water away from farming and ranching and towards the perceived needs of fish protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

For 20 years, federal agencies have been managing the Klamath River by placing priority on salmon and sucker fish populations protected by the ESA. For 20 years, the agencies have used stored water that was intended for local irrigators to set artificially high lake levels (to stabilize sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake) and send an increasingly large amount of water downstream (intended to flush disease out of the river).  

Event organizers are asking that residents show their support for local farmers by joining this unifying rally at the lineup to start the convoy in Merrill. Alternatively, supporters can join the convoy as it passes through downtown Klamath Falls later in the morning. Convoy participants will plant crosses provided by event organizers in support of this effort.

44 new cases of Corona virus in the state of Oregon were reported with 4 new deaths yesterday. One presumptive case was announced in Jackson County, bringing the total number of cases there to 51.  No other southern Oregon county reported a case.

In an effort to ensure access to COVID-19 testing throughout Klamath County, Klamath Health Partnership is offering free testing in Chiloquin and Bonanza, according to a news release.

Walk-up and drive through testing will be offered 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at the Chiloquin Fire Hall. Testing in Bonanza will be 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, on Main Street next to Big Springs Park. Participants will be asked to complete some paperwork before being given the nasal swab test.

This service is made possible through a collaboration between Klamath County Public Health and Klamath Health Partnership. Klamath Health Partnership is providing the testing, facilitated through Public Health’s relationships with the smaller towns’ governments and citizens.

Cliff Bentz (left), and Alex Spenser (right)

Longtime Oregon lawmaker Cliff Bentz upset Knute Buehler Tuesday night to win the Republican primary in the 2nd Congressional District.

It was a hotly contested primary with 11 candidates hoping to succeed the retiring Greg Walden. Bentz led virtually all night. With more than 112,000 votes counted as of early Wednesday, Bentz had won 31% of the vote. Knute Buehler was in second place with 22% and Jason Atkinson in third with 20% of the vote. Bentz seemed to lack the name familiarity and the money of Buehler, a Bend physician who gained his party’s nomination to challenge Kate Brown for governor in 2018.

In the race for Congress, Bentz raised just $466,294 compared to Buehler’s $1.3 million. Early on, the contest seemed Buehler’s to lose. But in a race packed with 11 candidates, four of them with a legitimate chance, anything can happen. Bentz was written off by some as the agricultural candidate from faraway Ontario.

Klamath Falls based democrat Alex Spenser won a very tight race in the democratic primary and will challenge Bentz in November.

Memorial Weekend Flyovers

The Oregon Air National Guard is scheduled to continue flying multiple F-15 Eagle flyovers over hospitals and other locations throughout Oregon Friday, May 22 and Monday, May 25 in order to salute Oregonians on the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic, lift morale during a time of severe health and economic impacts, and remember those brave service members who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

The flyovers are a joint effort between Oregon’s 173rd Fighter Wing, based in Klamath Falls, and the 142nd Wing, based in Portland, aimed at supporting and thanking healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential workers who are working to keep Oregonians safe and healthy each day. The tribute also hopes to unify and boost the spirits of Oregonians and to recognize military members who have lost their lives in service to our country.

Anyone living in and around these hospitals and other locations should see and hear the jets. People are encouraged to view the flights from the safety of their own homes and practice physical distancing.

The flyovers listed below are scheduled for the following locations at the approximate times Friday, May 22.  
8:48 a.m.   Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center, Vancouver, Wash.
9:10 a.m.   Pioneer Memorial Hospital, Heppner, Ore.
9:15 a.m.   Good Shepherd Health Care System, Hermiston, Ore.
9:19 a.m.   St. Anthony Hospital, Pendleton, Ore.
9:25 a.m.   Grande Ronde Hospital, La Grande, Ore.
9:31 a.m.   Wallowa Memorial Hospital, Enterprise, Ore.
9:39 a.m.   St. Alphonsus Medical Center, Baker City, Ore.
9:48 a.m.   Blue Mountain Hospital, John Day, Ore.
10:05 a.m. St. Charles Madras Hospital, Madras, Ore.
10:07 a.m. Warm Springs Health and Wellness Center, Warm Springs, Ore.

The flyovers listed below are scheduled for the following locations at the approximate times Monday, May 25 and include previously approved Memorial Day flyover locations.
10:50 a.m.  Sky Lakes Medical Center, Klamath Falls, Ore.

10:58 a.m.  VA White City, Ore.
11:10 a.m.  VA Roseburg Health Care System, Roseburg, OR
11:10 a.m.  Mercy Medical Center, Roseburg, Ore.
11:18 a.m.  Peace Harbor Cottage Grove Community Med. Center, Cottage Grove, Ore.
11:22 a.m.  McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center, Springfield, Ore.
11:22 a.m.  Peace Harbor Medical Center at Riverbend, Springfield, Ore.
11:24 a.m.  Peace Harbor Sacred Heart Medical Center, Eugene, Ore.
11:40 a.m.  Peace Harbor Medical Center, Florence, Ore.
11:44 a.m.  Lower Umpqua Hospital, Reedsport, Ore.
12:00 p.m.  Asante Three Rivers Medical Center, Grants Pass, Ore.
12:00 p.m.  Grants Pass Riverside Park, Grants Pass, Ore.
12:10 p.m.  Brookings Harbor, Brookings, Ore.

The flyovers have been coordinated as a part of OPERATION: AMERICAN RESOLVE to salute those at the forefront of the COVID-19 response and will be done in conjunction with regularly scheduled training. Pilots must perform a minimum number of flight hours to maintain proficiency. These flyovers will incur no additional cost to taxpayers and are done in lieu of regularly scheduled training.

These flyovers will complete the Oregon Air National Guard’s Air Force Salute flyovers in Oregon. To date, the Oregon Air National Guard has flown approximately 1,920 miles covering 53 hospitals and other locations.

All passes are approximately 2,000 feet above ground level at approximately 400 mph airspeed. Flights could be canceled or times changed due to inclement weather or operational contingencies.

Anyone who gets video or photos of the F-15s flying overhead are encouraged to post on social media using the hashtags: #AirForceSalutes, #AFFlyover, #FlyoverFriday

The Oregon Air National Guard has been an integral part of the nation’s air defense since 1941. Pilots from the 173rd Fighter Wing and the 142nd Wing train for a variety of mission skill sets in order to maintain combat readiness for the defense of our state and nation. Additionally, the 142nd Wing provides around-the-clock Aerospace Control Alert for the defense of our homeland, while the 173rd FW is home to the sole F-15C pilot training facility for the United States Air Force. Both units also respond to state and national emergencies as directed by the Governor of Oregon.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon economists delivered a very bleak revenue forecast for the state over the next five years, predicting losses of almost $10.5 billion through 2025. The state’s latest economic outlook report came out on Wednesday, with lawmakers quickly voicing their reactions.     

Unsurprisingly, the outsized impact on Oregon’s revenue was attributed to the coronavirus pandemic and the state’s response, which has resulted in mass lay-offs and record unemployment.

The agency reported that the forecast is based on two major assumptions — that social distancing policies will begin lifting over the summer, and that the health crisis will wane by the end of 2021 due to an available treatment or vaccine.

Oregon officials predicted a “strong initial rebound” when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but said that the rally will be incomplete. Moreover, economists reported that the state’s reliance on income taxes has made its revenue outlook “more volatile than in most states.”

Governor Kate Brown issued a statement shortly after the revenue forecast came out, pointing toward the federal government for help in making up for the major revenue shortfalls.

Becky Hultberg, President and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, released the following statement in response to the state’s revenue forecast. 
 
“Today’s state revenue forecast presents grim news, as the public health crisis gripping the state has rippled through our economy and decimated state revenue. As the Governor and Legislature grapple with this budget reality, now is not the time to reduce investments in health care. Rather – because hospitals drive positive health outcomes and promote economic activity – the investments we make now in our hospitals, health care workforce, and coverage for vulnerable Oregonians will help lead our economic recovery while we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our community hospitals have been there for Oregon, and state leaders now have a chance to support local hospitals by prioritizing health care funding. We are committed to being strong partners with policymakers as we work together to solve our shared challenges.” 

On Tuesday, May 19, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel  responded to a two vehicle crash on Hwy 99E milepost 26 near Harrisburg, OR.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Kia Rio was traveling southbound when it crossed into the northbound lanes and into the path of a northbound Chevrolet Silverado.

The operator of the Kia sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

The operator of the Chevrolet was transported to Riverbend hospital.  The northbound lane of Hwy 99E was closed for about an hour and a half.

EUGENE, Ore.—A convicted felon from Eugene was sentenced to federal prison today for illegally possessing a 20-gauge shotgun, announced U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams.

Delano Franklin Oscar, Jr., 58, was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, in the early morning hours of December 14, 2018, Lane County Sheriff deputies identified a parked car as reported stolen. They discovered Oscar asleep in the vehicle’s front passenger seat with a 20-gauge shotgun shell near his feet. The deputies searched the vehicle and found a loaded 20-gauge pump-action shotgun, a small baggy of methamphetamine, and a glass pipe. The shotgun had been reported stolen in October 2017. Oscar was arrested without incident.

On January 16, 2019, a federal grand jury in Eugene returned a two-count indictment charging Oscar with felon in possession of ammunition and a firearm. On January 29, 2020, he pleaded guilty to both charges.

As part of his plea agreement, Oscar agreed to voluntarily abandon his interest in the shotgun seized by investigators.

Prevent Your Campfire From Turning Into A Wildfire

Sitting around a campfire is one of the special times we all enjoy, but campfires are also a major cause of wildfires. May is Wildfire Awareness Month, and the Pacific Northwest Coordination Group urges campers to follow these basic outdoor safety tips:

  • Know before you go

Before going camping, always contact the forest district, agency or landowner first to learn if there are any current campfire restrictions where you plan to recreate.

  • Have water and fire tools on site

Bring a shovel and a bucket of water to extinguish any escaped embers. When you are ready to leave, drown all embers with water, stir the coals, and drown again. Repeat until the fire is DEAD out. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.

  • Select the right spot

Where campfires are allowed, choose a site with an existing ring. Fire pits in established campgrounds are the best spots. If you choose to build a campfire, avoid building it near your tent, structures, vehicles, shrubs or trees, and be aware of low-hanging branches overhead. Clear the site down to bare soil, at least five feet on all sides, and circle it with rocks. Store unused firewood a good distance from the fire.

  • Keep your campfire small

A campfire is less likely to escape control if it is kept small. A large fire may cast hot embers long distances. Add firewood in small amounts as existing material is consumed.

  • Attend your campfire at all times

A campfire left unattended for even a few minutes can grow into a costly, damaging wildfire. Stay with your campfire from start to finish until it is dead out, as required by law. That ensures any escaped sparks or embers can be extinguished quickly.

  • Consider alternatives to a campfire this summer

Portable camp stoves are a safer option to campfires at any time of year. Areas that prohibit campfires outside maintained campgrounds with established fire pits often allow camp stoves.

  • Never use gasoline or other accelerants

Don’t use flammable or combustible liquids, such as gasoline, propane or lighter fluid, to start or increase your campfire.

  • Burn ONLY local wood

Hauling your firewood to a remote campground can potentially transport invasive species. Instead, buy it where you’ll burn it or gather wood on site where permitted. State regulations prohibit the open burning of any other material that creates dense, toxic smoke or noxious odors. Burning paper and cardboard can also easily fly up to start new fires.

Escaped campfires can be costly. State and federal law require the proper clearing, building, attending and extinguishing of open fires at any time of year. While citations and fines may apply, the biggest potential cost for an escaped campfire is firefighting costs. These can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars or more.

During Wildfire Awareness Month visit Smokey Bear’s website at https://www.smokeybear.com/en and www.keeporegongreen.org for other wildfire prevention tips.

With Memorial Day approaching, the country’s veterans are at the forefront in many people’s minds and resources are available to Oregon veterans during the COVID-19 crisis.

Carmel Perez Snyder with A-A-R-P Oregon says the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs is a good resource to start with, especially when it comes to checking up on benefits. She says the agency also has a one-time fund to help families in need. Unfortunately, the pandemic has attracted more than its share of scammers.

Snyder says veterans are targets because of the benefits they qualify for and should be on the lookout for fraud – especially folks who say they can help with getting benefits or the coronavirus stimulus checks.

She adds there also are reports that scammers are telling people on Medicaid in assisted living facilities that they have to sign their stimulus checks over to the facilities. This is not true, and she encourages anyone who hears this scam to report it to the Federal Trade Commission and the A-A-R-P Fraud Watch Network.

Oregon state officials say that they will continue to offer additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in June for families who would normally receive free or reduced-price meals.

The state announced that it would extend SNAP benefits to food insecure students in early May. More than 351,000 students around the state were eligible for the grocery benefits. According to Oregon DHS, the state is putting $134 million toward those food benefits. Households will receive food benefits equivalent to the cost of one lunch and one breakfast for each eligible student – $5.70 per normal school day for the months of March, April, May and June. Beginning in June, these additional benefits will be automatically deposited for SNAP households to their existing Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) accounts on the regular date. Benefits are sent out between the 1st and the 9th of the month, based on the last digit of the recipient’s SSN. Students who would normally receive free school meals but do not have SNAP benefits will automatically receive an Oregon Trail Card in the mail in the months of June and July. Parents do not need to apply if their children are part of a school where all students receive free meals.

Even amidst a pandemic, 141 students from across the state came together virtually to participate in Oregon History Day, the statewide qualifying competition for the annual National History Day® contest. Fifty volunteer judges evaluated over 70 projects online, inspired by the annual theme of “Breaking Barriers in History,” and 56 students qualified to advance to the National History Day® contest, which will take place online from June 14–20.

Working from home, middle and high school students developed their research projects, in the forms of papers, documentaries, websites, performances, and exhibits, persevering through hurdles that the new virtual format presented (for example, students submitting performances had to pivot their projects and provide a written script, including descriptions of settings, characters, and costumes, rather than perform in person). While the virtual nature of the contest created challenges, it also presented incredible opportunities; by removing the barrier of cross-country travel, 100% of Oregon’s qualifying students have registered to present their projects along with over 4,000 students from across the country. 

Last year marked the first year that Oregon students placed first at the national contest. Portland high school students Kyler Wang and Alan Zhou impressed judges with their powerful documentary on the history and destruction of Celilo Falls, Echo on Falling Water. They hope to defend their title this year, with a new documentary on civil rights activist Minoru Yasui, titled Breaking the Curfew: The Story of Minoru Yasui, which placed first in the senior group documentary category at Oregon History Day.

St. Mary’s Academy student Anja Jolin is also looking forward to presenting her paper, “Chipping Away at the Bullet Proof Glass Ceiling: Portland Women Breaking Barriers in Policing,” at the national contest next month. When asked why she continues to participate in Oregon History Day each year, she shared: “Oregon History Day has given me the chance to delve into topics that interest me and explore the intricate details and mysteries of historical events. I enjoy connecting local history to broader issues with national significance, such as immigration and systemic gender barriers. Oregon History Day has given me a chance to take my learning outside the classroom and learn about events and people in history and the impact that they have made to society as a whole.”

Other notable entries that will represent Oregon include:

  • Fighting for Change: The Integration of Women in the Armed Forces, a documentary by Evelyn Chen, Flora Huang, and Rachel Wang from Stoller Middle School
  • Operation Firefly: The Barrier-Breaking Battalion,a documentary by Karalin Reynolds and Rylee Mann from Helix School
  • Jane Austen’s Impact on Feminism, an exhibit by Cassady Kirchner, Eva Norman, and Mina Gregg from South Salem High School
  • Larry Itliong: Overcoming Barriers of Filipino Farm Workers in the Delano Grape Strike, a website designed by Darsh Mandera, Felix Petteni, Namrata Venkatesan, Sophia Pi, and Wenjun Hou from Jesuit High School

While students missed the comradery of an in-person contest, participants like Jolin are thankful that the contest was able to continue, providing some sense of normalcy during an otherwise chaotic school year: “In this difficult time, when so many things are being canceled, I am very grateful to Oregon History Day for creating a virtual competition and giving students a chance to showcase their projects. While it was disappointing that we did not get to gather together as a community and celebrate everyone’s hard work, having a virtual competition has given me something to work toward and look forward to during this time.”

A full list of 2020 Oregon History Day participants can be found at ohs.org/oregonhistoryday.

The Oregon State Marine Board is soliciting written public comments on two citizen petitions received by the agency.

The first citizen petition was received on May 4, 2020, regarding paddlecraft and personal floatation device administrative rules.  The petitioner is asking the Marine Board to amend its current rules regarding personal floatation devices (PFDs) to require that all persons on paddlecraft wear PFDs during the periods before June 1 and after September 15. An electronic copy of the petition can be found here: https://www.oregon.gov/osmb/info/Documents/Rulemaking/PaddlePFDPetition.pdf

The second citizen petition was received on May 14, 2020, regarding administrative rules related to the Waterway Access Permit.  Petitioners are requesting that the Marine Board amend its current rules so that the Waterway Access Permit expires one year from the date of purchase (as opposed to the end of the calendar year) for annual permits, and two years from the date of purchase for two-year permits. An electronic copy of the petition can be found here: https://www.oregon.gov/osmb/info/Documents/Rulemaking/CitizenPetition_WaterwayAccessPermit.pdf.

Written comment will be accepted until June 28, 2020, by 11:59 pm. Comment can be submitted by email to mailto:osmb.rulemaking@oregon.gov, fax at (503) 378-4597 or by U.S. Mail to Jennifer Cooper, Administrative Rules Coordinator, Oregon State Marine Board, 435 Commercial Street NE, Salem, OR 97301. Testimony will not be accepted by telephone and comments must be received prior to the closure time/date to be considered.  

Rulemaking and Public Notices are available on the agency’s website at https://www.oregon.gov/OSMB/info/Pages/Rulemaking-and-Public-Notices.aspx.

The Emergency Fire Cost Committee will meet virtually Tuesday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to noon. To join the call or provide public comment at this virtual meeting use the Zoom video conference information found on the agenda.

The meeting is accessible to persons with disabilities. Requests for an interpreter for the hearing impaired or other accommodations for persons with disabilities should be made at least 48 hours before the meeting by contacting Chrystal Bader at 503-945-7220.

Among agenda items are:

  • Financial status of the Oregon Forest Land Protection Fund
  • Weather update
  • Update on status of large fire cost collection efforts
  • Forest Land classification status report
  • Eligibility Directive review/revisions
  • Agency / Fire Division report – Strategic Investments
  • EFCC Administrator report

This meeting is open to the public. Public comments will be accepted near the end of the meeting, once the EFCC Administrator report has been given.

The Emergency Fire Cost Committee oversees the Oregon Forest Land Protection Fund (OFLPF), established by the Oregon Legislature as an insurance fund with the purpose of equalizing emergency fire suppression costs among the various Oregon Department of Forestry protection districts. The emergency funding system is designed to operate as an insurance policy whereby all districts contribute (pay premiums) into the fund so that money will be available to any individual district to pay fire suppression costs on emergency fires. More information can be found here: https://www.oregon.gov/odf/Board/Pages/EFCC.aspx

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