Klamath Basin News, Monday, July 13 – Oregon Continues With Large Increases in Covid-19 Cases

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Monday, July 13, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Monday  Sunny, with a high near 85. Overnight, expect clear skies with a low of 53.

Tuesday   Sunny, with a high near 88.

Wednesday   Sunny, with a high near 93.

Thursday   Sunny, with a high near 93.

Friday   Sunny, with a high near 91.

Today’s Headlines

The Klamath Falls Police Department has arrested man they believe had something to do with the death of a 69-year-old Klamath Falls woman. 

According to the Klamath jail log, 38 year old James Johnson was booked into the county jail on charges of first degree arson, criminally negligent homicide, tampering with evidence, fourth degree assault, and menacing.

Police responded to a house fire at 112 Wendling Street on Friday. They were told an elderly woman lived there. Officers found Joan Pittennger, 69, outside near a detached garage. Police say the woman had been severally beaten and had a weak pulse. 

Pittennger was taken to Sky Lake Medical Center. She had to be airlifted to a different hospital because her injuries were so severe. Klamath Falls Police say she later died at the hospital.  During the investigation, police say they learned the fire was intentionally set.  More details will be forthcoming.

COVID-19 has claimed two more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 234, the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. today.

Oregon Health Authority reported 332 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday afternoon.   OHA on Saturday reported 409 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19.

Sunday’s new cases are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (2), Clackamas (33), Deschutes (16), Douglas (4), Hood River (1), Jackson (2), Jefferson (5), Klamath (2), Lane (10), Linn (8), Malheur (71), Marion (28), Morrow (7), Multnomah (70), Polk (4), Sherman (1), Umatilla (27), Wasco (1), Washington (35), Yamhill (4).

Two new cases were reported in Klamath County on Sunday.

Sky Lakes Medical Center has expanded its COVID-19 testing hours to accommodate increased traffic at the drive-thru testing site.

The Monday after the Fourth of July, the drive-thru testing site saw its highest number of people to date, testing 165 people in under four hours, according to testing supervisor Ron Woita.Woita wasn’t sure if Monday’s high traffic was due to pent up demand since the testing site was closed the Friday before the holiday or if it was people who were concerned after attending Fourth of July gatherings.

Normally, he said they were getting about 80 cars a day in the four hours of operation at the site before the expanded hours. While he increased staffing at the center to try to accommodate high traffic, Woita said that wasn’t enough and expanded to eight hours of testing during the week.

A large increase in coronavirus cases is being traced back to social gatherings, according to the Oregon Health Authority.   In the OHA’s Saturday records, they said recorded outbreaks were tied to bachelor parties, fraternity parties and exercise classes.

Backdropped by a dusty field filled with white crosses representing lost farms, Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt chatted casually with Klamath Basin farmers and ranchers and their families Thursday afternoon, vowing to chart a path towards a solution to water conflicts in the Klamath Basin.

Bernhardt was joined by Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman, Congressmen Greg Walden (R-OR) and Doug LaMalfa (R-California), and other top water officials in the field that hosted the “Shut Down Fed Up” rally held on May 29. The rally that drew more than 4,000 people, following a tractor and vehicle convoy that spanned more than 29 miles between Merrill and Klamath Falls, also drew national attention across the miles from Bernhardt and other top federal officials.

With Bernhardt and officials nearby, one of the rally co-organizers Bob Gasser held up a photograph of the rally for all to see.  He pointed out that the photograph was signed by President Donald Trump on Air Force One.

Friday afternoon, Klamath County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Klamath County Search and Rescue teams were deployed to an area in Sky Lakes Wilderness in search of a lost hiker from the Ashland area.

The teams worked through the night with Klamath County 911 dispatchers who had intermittent contact with the hiker by cell phone attempting to plot their location. Cellphone locations were very sporadic which caused ground teams to go to a couple of different locations several miles apart.

Just before 10:00AM on Saturday July 11, 2020 ground teams working with air resources and assisted by Jackson County Search and Rescue located and airlifted the hiker to safety.


The Ross Ragland Theater announces auditions for What About Dan?, a new musical review for the Ragland created by Dan Neubauer and Dan Crenshaw on Monday, July 20, 2020 at 6:00pm.

Auditions will be held in the Honzel Studio in the Ragland’s Cultural Center at 218 N 7th Street in downtown Klamath Falls. The review will be directed by Dan Neubauer with Music Direction by Dan Crenshaw and Choreography by Samantha Burris. Performances are scheduled on September 10, 11, & 12, 2020 at 7:30pm in the Ross Ragland Theater.
Audition Registration begins at 5:30pm.

Audition Requirements: All roles are open. This is a musical and everyone will be required to sing 32 bars from a song, participate in the dance/movement part of the audition and reading from the script. Covid-19 prevention procedures will be in place. Call for information.

Notification of Cast List: Roles will be offered by Monday, July 27, 2020.

The Ross Ragland Theater’s mission is to provide high-quality performing arts and educational experiences that enhance community life in the Klamath Basin. The business office is now located at 200 North 7th Street in Klamath Falls. Call 541-884-0651 for information regarding upcoming events and or rental space opportunities.

Klamath Film, a Klamath Falls-based nonprofit that promotes filmmaking in the Klamath Basin, has announced its 2020 selections for the eighth annual Klamath Independent Film Festival, slated for Sept. 18-20 in Klamath Falls.

The festival is a three-day extravaganza of Oregon filmmaking, welcoming a variety of shorts and feature-length films exclusively made in Oregon or by Oregon filmmakers. Through KIFF’s Oregon-centric approach the festival has grown a loyal following, welcoming filmmakers from across the west coast to Klamath Falls to celebrate the best in Oregon independent films.

Over 80 films were submitted from across Oregon for this year’s festival, ranging from K-12 student films and college films, to amateur productions and feature-length professional productions. Genres ranged from dramatic narrative films and light comedies, to documentaries, and several animated films. Multiple panels of judges carefully reviewed each film and through a scoring system chose the final selections to be shown at this year’s festival.

Klamath County and/or other agencies will have work crews at the following locations.
Please use caution when in these areas and watch for flaggers. If you are able to avoid the work zones, please use an alternate route for your safety and the safety of Klamath County employees and our contractors.
Homedale Sidewalk Replacement/Asphalt Inlay (Contractor)
Lane Closures with Flagging – expect delays

Chip Seal Crew
July 13th to July 14th – Ivory Pine Road
July 15th – Pinecrest Drive area
July 15th to July 16th – Campbell Road, Bley Was area

4:00 AM – Early Morning Broom Crew
July 14th – Ivory Pine Road
July 15th – Ivory Pine Road, Pinecrest Drive area
July 16th – Ivory Pine Rd, Pinecrest Drive area, Campbell Road
July 17th – Campbell Road, Bley Was area

Paint Striping/Stencil Crew
July 13th to July 17th

Miscellaneous County Roads
South Suburban Sanitary District (Contractor) – Sanitary Sewer Pipe Installation
Skyline, Cannon, Watson, Western and Donegal Crescent Area

Asphalt Patching and Paving
See the following link for a map of roads to be chip sealed for the 2020 season, or log onto the Klamath County Public Works website at http://www.klamathcounty.org/734/Maps.
In general, flagging stations will be set up at the end of the work zone and delays will be 0 to 20 minutes for the motoring public. Our goal is to minimize the delay to the motoring public. If you have any questions regarding work, please contact the Public Works Department at (541) 883-4696.

Around the state of Oregon

Videos posted to social media appear to show a police officer shooting a protester in the head with an impact munition outside of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in downtown Portland on Saturday. Friends and family say the man suffered skull fractures and required surgery.The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Federal Protective Service charged with security for federal property, and the Portland Police Bureau did not immediately respond to requests to comment.Domacratic Gov. Kate Brown said President Donald Trump’s deployment of federal officers to Portland “only serves to escalate tensions” and will continue to bring “unnecessary violence and confrontation.”

On Saturday, the Medford Police Department responded to a report of an assault with a weapon which occurred in a field behind the Albertson’s shopping center, 113 N Ross Lane.  

Upon officers arrival they located a 48 year old homeless male that was suffering from several stab wounds.  The Medford Fire Department and Mercy Flights paramedics attempted life saving measures, but ultimitely the victim died at the scene.  A perimeter was quickly established and after searching for approximately two hours the suspect was located and arrested without incident. 

The suspect has been identified as 18 year old, Ethan Gabriel Guitierrez.  The name of the victim is not being released at this time.  Law Enforcement is working to notify the Next of Kin.  Guitierrez has been lodged at the Jackson County Jail for the crime of Murder II. 

This investigation is on-going and more information will be released when appropriate.  The Medford Police Department was assisted by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Central Point Police Department, Oregon State Police, Jackson County Medical Examiner and the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.  

Today, Monday, July 13th, the City of Medford will be reducing the posted speed limit for southbound traffic on N. Central Ave. at E. Jackson St.  The speed limit at this intersection is currently 30 MPH, but will be reduced to 20 MPH.  The speed limit will remain 20 MPH on Central Ave. through downtown Medford.

The intersection of N. Central Ave. and E. 4th St. is affected by this speed change and is one of four photo enforced intersections in the City of Medford.  Photo enforced intersections detect speed and red light violations through the use of an automated system.  Traffic citations are issued at photo enforced intersections when red light violations or speed violations (of 11 MPH or more over the posted speed limit) occur.

The City of Medford photo enforcement program will not be issuing traffic citations for speed violations that occur at this intersection for the first 30 days after the speed limit reduction. Warning letter notifications will be sent to individuals who exceed the posted speed limit by 11 MPH or more during this 30 day warning period.  Citations for speed violations at this intersection will be issued through the photo enforcement program starting on August 12th, 2020. As a reminder, there are currently four photo enforced intersections in the City of Medford:

  • N. Central Ave./E. 4th St.
  • S. Riverside Ave./E. 8th St.
  • Biddle Rd./E. McAndrews Rd.
  • Barnett Rd./Stewart Av.

The City of Medford would like to remind drivers how important it is to obey posted speed limits and traffic signals to help reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes and to save lives.

This afternoon, more than 130 citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen from the Oregon National Guard completed their two-day wildland firefighter refresher course at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem. 

The two-day session was for those who had already completed the course and were “Red Card” certified.  The weekend included training on firefighter safety, fire conditions, hose lines, hand tools, deployment of fire shelters, and concluded with attendees applying all that they learned with a number of live-fire scenarios.

Funds were allocated to the Department of Defense by Congress to enable the National Guard to prepare its members ahead of wildfire season just in case their assistance may be needed. 

This was the first of two groups of Guard members being trained this year by the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST).  More than 300 members of the Guard will arrive at the Academy tomorrow, Monday, July 13, 2020, to complete the wildland firefighter training course. 

The Guard has been activated in previous years under a standing agreement between the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon Military Department called “Operations Plan Smokey.”The men and women re-certified this weekend, along with those that will be trained in the week ahead, will return to their local communities, careers, and families and standby until the call comes.  This proactive work by the Guard will enable the deployment of trained wildland firefighters from its armories and air bases around the state to be deployed much faster if, and when, the call for assistance comes in.

Traffic fatalities

On Friday, July 10, 2020 at approximately 6:33 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 97 near MP 151.

Preliminary investigation revealed a green 2001 Ford Explorer, operated by Ysabell Joseph (24) of Lapine, was south on Hwy 97 when it left the roadway and rolled.The front passenger, Joseph Kushner (34) of Lapine, was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle.Kushner sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. Ysabell Joseph was wearing a seatbelt and she was transported via air ambulance to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.

On Friday, July 10, 2020 at approximately 7:35 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 224 Expressway near milepost 5.5.Preliminary investigation revealed that a black 2006 Pontiac GTO, operated by Anthony Higgins (32) of Portland, was traveling westbound on Hwy 224 Expressway in the left lane when it hit the median, lost control, traveled down an embankment, and rolled.  Higgins sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.A passenger, Kendra Stockberger (19) of Portland, was transported by ground ambulance to Emanuel Hospital for non life threatening injuries.

On Thursday, July 9, 2020 at approximately 1:52 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of Hwy 101 and Long Prairie Rd.Preliminary investigation revealed that a blue Hyundai SUV, operated by Miriam Wolfe (90) of Netarts, was crossing Hwy 101 traveling west from Long Prairie Rd onto Gienger Rd.  She pulled into the path of a Jeep Cherokee, operated by Alan Mulvaney (38) of Cannon Beach, that was southbound on Hwy 101 and it was unable to avoid the crossing Hyundai.    Both drivers were injured and transported by ambulance to the Tillamook Hospital.  Wolfe was pronounced deceased at the hospital. Mulvaney was then transported to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.

The Oregon Employment Department launched a new informational website today aimed at improving customer service for the record number of Oregonians applying for and receiving unemployment benefits.The new site, unemployment.oregon.gov, is designed to help Oregonians more easily find information on: the new programs created by the CARES Act, whether they might qualify for unemployment benefits, how to apply, and what’s different during the pandemic.              “We’ve heard the many Oregonians who’ve said we need to do a better job communicating about their benefits and the unemployment claims process,” said David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department. “Our goal with this new website is to provide clear information so people can file their claims, avoid unnecessary delays, and get their questions answered without having to call us,” he said. “We know that ultimately Oregonians need their claims processed, but we also want to ease some of the communication frustrations people have experienced.”

Over the next few days and weeks, the Department will add more content and features to the informational website. Highlights of the current site include:

  • A Contact Us form to assist Oregonians who have been waiting the longest to have their claims resolved
  • Information about new federal CARES Act benefit programs        
  • An Eligibility Quiz to help people figure out which program to apply for
  • Step-by-step videos and guides for how to apply for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits
  • Resources for employers about the Work Share program, reopening business, and more
  • Other resources available to Oregonians while they wait for unemployment benefits, such as benefits to help with rent, utilities, health coverage, or groceries
  • A robust section of Frequently Asked Questions, which will be updated weekly as new questions arise

In March, high traffic to the Department’s oregon.gov/employ site risked crashing all oregon.gov sites, so the Department’s COVID-19 content was moved to a temporary website commonly used by agencies during crises. The limitations of the content management system of the temporary website made information difficult to find. As one of his first steps as Acting Director, Gerstenfeld initiated the development of a cleaner, simpler, more user-friendly site. Some of the content on unemployment.oregon.gov existed on the old COVID-19 site, but much of it is brand new.

“I’ve made doing a better job of communicating with Oregonians a top priority,” said Gerstenfeld. “We believe this website is a much-needed step in the right direction, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to make this a better experience for you.”

The website underwent usability testing by the Department’s Equity Council, partners, and claimants who have had challenges applying for unemployment benefits from both the regular UI and PUA programs. Improvements are ongoing.

Red Cross Needs Volunteers

Experts say the Pacific Northwest could be in for a busy wildfire season this summer and the American Red Cross needs volunteers to help in our local communities.

“The coronavirus pandemic will make it challenging to deploy trained disaster volunteers from other parts of the country should a large emergency occur in Oregon or Southwest Washington. In light of this, the Red Cross is asking you to be ready to help your community,” said Rebecca Marshall, Regional Disaster Officer, Red Cross Cascades Region. “Train now to be a Red Cross volunteer and answer the call to help if the need arises here in our region.”

Full information on volunteer opportunities is available here.

SHELTER HELP NEEDED There is a special need for volunteers to support sheltering efforts. Because of COVID-19, the Red Cross is placing those needing a safe place to stay in emergency hotel lodging when possible. If hotel stays aren’t possible, then the Red Cross will open traditional shelters. To help keep people safe, we have put in place additional precautions and developed special training for our workforce.

We need volunteers to help staff shelter reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection and other vital tasks to help those we serve. We have both associate and supervisory level opportunities available.

HEALTH SERVICES SUPPORT NEEDEDIf you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO or PA with an active, current and unencumbered license, the Red Cross needs your support. Volunteers are needed in shelters to help assess people’s health. Daily observation and health screening for COVID-19-like illness among shelter residents may also be required. RNs supervise all clinical tasks.

Roles are also available for Certified Nursing Assistants, Certified Home Health Aides, student nurses and medical students. We need volunteers who can provide care as delegated by a licensed nurse in shelters. This could include assisting with activities of daily living, personal assistance services, providing health education and helping to replace medications, durable medical equipment or consumable medical supplies.

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN VOLUNTEERINGIf you are interested in helping our community should a disaster occur, please go to redcross.org/volunteertoday or contact our region offices at volunteer.cascades@redcross.org.

Be sure to review the CDC guidance for people who are at higher risk for severe illness, consult your health care provider and follow local guidance. Our number one priority is the health and safety of our employees, volunteers and the people we serve.

For the first time in the 50-year history of the Marine Board’s Boating Facility Grant Program, the public now has an opportunity to weigh in on where they’d like to see their boating dollars invested. Marine Board staff wants to provide an opportunity for the public to comment directly to the agency and to create more public involvement in how the Board awards grant dollars.

Applications for Cycle 2 motorized and non-motorized funding closed July 1. These are the first applications to be considered for non-motorized boating access and education grants with Waterway Access Permit revenue. In 2019, the Oregon Legislature approved SB 47, creating a dedicated account for non-motorized boating access, where boaters who operate boats 10 feet long or longer are required to purchase and carry a Waterway Access Permit. The revenue helps fund two programs: AIS Prevention Program (co-managed by the Marine Board and ODFW) and Boating Facility Grant Program; a competitive process for eligible applicants. Boating facility grant funding can be used to improve facilities by adding car parking spaces, non-motorized boat launches, restrooms, low-freeboard docks, and more. Grant funding is also available to tribal governments and public and non-profit entities for boating safety education/equipment in underserved communities.

There’s nearly $900,000 in (motorized and nonmotorized) Cycle Two grant revenue available with 19 applications, requesting nearly $1.5 million, for a total project value of more than $2.5 million. The deadline to review applications and provide comments is August 7. Comments will be reviewed and shared with the Marine Board prior to a special August 27 Board meeting to consider the grants.

Visit the Boating Facility Grant Application Comment Page to view applications and provide comments. 

Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant funding was part of a 2019 legislature approved lottery bond package scheduled for spring 2021. The sale of the bond package has been canceled due lottery shortfalls from the impacts of COVID-19. Without the $5,000,000 expected from the sale or additional action by the legislature, a new round of grants can’t be awarded.

This is a devastating blow to Oregon’s 93 historic downtowns and organizations that participate in the Oregon Main Street Network. They have struggled these past several months to meet the challenges their communities are facing during the pandemic. They have been vital to the preservation of jobs, businesses, and community resilience. Many have already been preparing for the application process slated to open in January, 2021.

The grant program was created during the 2015 legislative session, and placed with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office. The grant funds building acquisition, rehabilitation, or construction projects that support community revitalization in Oregon Main Street Network communities. The program also requires that at least 50 percent of the funds go to rural communities as defined in the bill.

The legislation established a permanent fund for the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant, and provided an initial infusion of funds from the sale of lottery bonds. Subsequent funding through the sale of lottery bonds was approved in 2017 and 2019. While the 2019 approved funding is now unlikely, the fund itself remains and can be replenished by other sources including other government and private funds.

The first two grants cycles resulted in awards for 56 projects in 37 communities. Awards were spread all over the state, from Enterprise to Lakeview to Gold Beach to Astoria, and included 30 communities under 30,000 population. Types of projects funded include:

  • Full restoration of several buildings, some decades vacant, including the Central Hotel in Burns, Merwyn Building in Astoria, Mills Garage in Independence, Au Franc Building in Port Orford, IOOF Building in La Grande.
  • Creation of new or improved residential units including eleven new apartments in Coos Bay, six apartments and retail upgrades in Cottage Grove, two projects to support a total of 24 units in Klamath Falls, 40 new units in Astoria, four new apartments in Tillamook, renovation of five apartments in Reedsport, three new spaces in The Dalles, and 10-12 new units in Woodburn.
  • Façade restorations including a model block program coordinated by Revitalize Downtown Stayton that includes improvements on seven of nine properties in downtown. Other facade improvements include the Litch Building in Enterprise, Riviera Building in Astoria, Railroad Avenue buildings and The Coin in Oregon City, Morris Miles & Co Building in Newberg, and Alberta district in Portland.
  • Structural and roof repairs including five properties in Reedsport, two buildings in Baker City, the historic Masonic Building in Bandon, the Hill Theater (antique store) in Hillsboro, the Bungalow Theater & Museum building in Woodburn, and one building each in Dallas and Weston.
  • Historic Theater acquisition and improvements including purchase of the Alger Theater in Lakeview, and improvements to the Liberty Theater in La Grande, Columbia Theater in St. Helens, OK Theatre in Enterprise, and Rivoli Theater in Pendleton.

To learn more about the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant or the Oregon Main Street Network, visit www.oregonheritage.org or contact Kuri Gill at Kuri.gill@oregon.gov or 503-986-0685.

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