Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 7/23 – Gov. Brown Issues New Rules for Oregonians And Businesses To Begin Friday

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Today   Sunny with a high of 89 degrees.

Friday   Sunny, with a high near 90.

Today’s Headlines

Oregon reports 264 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 2 new deaths

COVID-19 has claimed two more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 271, the Oregon Health Authority reported late yesterday.  Oregon Health Authority reported 264 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 15,393.

The new cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (3), Clackamas (24), Clatsop (1), Coos (3), Crook (2), Curry (1), Deschutes (8), Douglas (2), Grant (1), Hood River (4), Jackson (11), Jefferson (6), Josephine (1), Klamath (6), Lane (6), Lincoln (2), Linn (6), Malheur (13), Marion (31), Morrow (3), Multnomah (51), Polk (4), Umatilla (24), Wasco (1), Washington (45), and Yamhill (4).

Oregon’s 270th COVID-19 death is a 77-year-old man in Umatilla County who tested positive on July 9 and died on July 20 in his residence. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.

Oregon’s 271st COVID-19 death is an 82-year-old man in Umatilla County who tested positive on July 16 and died on July 21 at Good Shepherd Hospital in Hermiston. Presence of underlying conditions is being confirmed.

More changes announced for Oregon citizens from Gov. Kate Brown yesterday. Effective Friday statewide, Brown said that face covering requirements — which now cover both indoor and outdoor public spaces — will be expanded to include children age 5 and older. Face coverings are still recommended for kids ages 2 through 5 under Oregon’s guidance. Face covering exceptions for indoor exercise will also be removed, meaning that people working out in gyms or fitness centers will have to wear masks even while exercising. Gathering size will be limited to 100 in all indoor venues — including churches, gyms, and movie theaters. The outdoor gathering limit of 250 will remain unchanged, Brown said. Bars and restaurants will also be required to stop serving customers at 10 p.m. statewide. All of these changes go into effect on July 24. The new mask requirements for children mean changes for how schools operate when classes resume in the fall. Most southern Oregon school districts have indicated that they will provide a combination of full in-person learning, particularly for younger students, and a hybridized model for students to learn both at home and in classrooms. However, plans are likely to change depending on conditions as the school year draws closer.

Klamath Falls City Council has agreed to create an equity task force, one piece of the city’s approach to tackling issues of racial and socio-economic equality. The next steps will include reaching out to individuals who expressed interest in joining such a task force at the June City Council meeting. Multiple residents spoke at the June meeting following the May 31 protests in downtown Klamath Falls, which included Black Lives Matter supporters and individuals concerned about an attempt by Antifa-affiliated individuals to harm businesses. Klamath Falls Police Department Chief Dave Henslee confirmed at the June meeting that the rumors surrounding a visit by individuals affiliated with Antifa were unsubstantiated. Assistant city manager Eric Osterberg said there are a lot of different perspectives about the experiences that minorities have had within the community. He emphasized the formation of a task force will help the city understand the issue and what staff can do to help.

Fire crews continue to fight a wildfire in Lake County that began on Tuesday afternoon, according to the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP). The Ben Young Fire covers now more than 700 acres on both private and Forest Service lands about 11 miles to the south-southwest of Paisley. SCOFMP said that it is located on the east side of the Chewaucan River. It is burning south and east. On the scene are two hand crews, six fire engines, one single-engine air tanker, two helicopters, and four heavy air tankers. Fire managers say an “ad hoc” Type 3 Incident Management Team is in place, and they are calling in a Type 2 Incident Management Team that is expected to arrive Wednesday evening.

The Klamath County School District will host a series of community forums for parents interested in learning about their school’s reopening plan for the 2020-21 school year. The forums will provide parents a chance to hear from district administrators and school principals and ask specific questions about their school’s plan to reopen under a hybrid-learning model, which balances face-to-face classroom instruction with distance learning at home. The 2020-21 school year for students is scheduled to begin Aug. 31. Schools statewide have been closed since March 16 to limit the spread of COVID-19. The district has received letters and comments from parents demanding the district fully reopen so their children can be back in school full time. At schools where it may be possible to get all students back every day, the district will be working with the principal and community to make that happen.

The Jordan Cove Energy Project hit another roadblock after a state agency reversed local approval for part of the project’s construction.  A major part of the pipeline would be located near Malin here in Klamath County. The city of North Bend had approved a local land use permit last year for Jordan Cove to operate a dredging project in the Coos Bay Estuary, which would make room for natural gas tankers to dock at its proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility. To deepen portions of the Coos Bay Deep Draft Navigation Channel, the company would construct a temporary pipe to transport the dredged material to two sites, along with a bridge between those sites and an offloading facility in the estuary connected to the pipe. The pipe and other dredging infrastructure would run through several zones of an estuary. Each zone’s designation involves a specific set of management practices that development projects must abide by. The Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition and Coos Bay organization Citizens for Renewables appealed the city council’s decision to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), raising objections to the city’s approval on the grounds that Jordan Cove’s project would not satisfy those management goals. LUBA agreed with several of these points, two of which were significant enough to reverse the decision and require Jordan Cove to reapply for the permits.

Oregon Tech is offering free dental cleanings for children from kindergarten through sixth grade in July and August on the Oregon Institute of Technology campus at the Dental Hygiene Clinic in Semon Hall. Any students accompanied by a parent or guardian that reside in the Klamath Basin may make an appointment to visit the OIT Dental Hygiene Clinic, and will receive all of their dental hygiene and preventive care free of charge including x-rays, cleaning, homeware products, and limited dental exams. Work in the Dental Hygiene Clinic is conducted by Oregon Tech dental students under close supervision of licensed dental professionals. 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says the Rogue Pack of wolves is responsible for a dead steer in Klamath County.  The 725 lbs. yearling steer was found dead Friday afternoon on private land. The steer was partially eaten.  ODFW says fresh wolf tracks were found at the scene.  This is the third wolf attack attributed to the Rogue Pack this year.  The Rogue Pack has been one of the most active of the protected gray wolf groups in Oregon when it comes to preying the livestock of farmers and ranchers. The Rogue Pack topped depredation lists over both 2019 and 2018.

Around the state of Oregon

Warner Creek Correctional Facility in Lakeview has been recommended for closure by the Ways and Means Committee, according to a letter from the Oregon Department of Corrections. The decision is not final, and will require a vote during a special legislative session. The closure is recommended to ease Oregon’s massive projected budget shortfall of more than $1 billion due to COVID-19’s impact on the economy. The plan proposed by the Ways and Means Committee suggests that WCCF would remain open for the remainder of the current biennium but would be slated for closure during the 2021-23 biennium. Closure of WCCF would result in employee layoffs. The facility employs 110 people. WCCF Superintendent Steve Brown noted that the majority of the facility’s staff are union employees and, based on their seniority, could find other jobs within the Department of Corrections System if WCCF closes. But as WCCF is the only correctional facility in the region, those staff would have to relocate.


Late Tuesday night, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office acted on a tip received from the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Task Force (MADGE) regarding an armed and wanted subject possibly in possession of a large quantity of narcotics in the parking lot of Dairy Queen, located at 7635 Hwy 62, White City. Upon arrival, deputies contacted the suspect and a struggle ensued. During the struggle, a deputy discharged his firearm, striking the suspect. The man was transported via
ambulance to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries. A firearm, that was in the suspect’s possession, was located at the scene. The Jackson County Major Assault and Death Investigative Unit (MADIU) responded to the scene; Oregon State Police is the lead agency. Personnel from the following agencies are assisting: Medford Police Department, Ashland Police Department, Jackson County District Attorney’s Office and Jackson County Fire District 3. The suspect has been identified. However, his name, as well the names of the involved deputies will not be released at this time. The case remains under investigation.

On Tuesday evening Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 234 near mile post 12. Preliminary investigation revealed that a Honda motorcycle, operated by Mark Nienhouse (42) of Medford, was traveling west on Hwy 234 when it struck an elk in the roadway. Nienhouse and his passenger, Jennifer Ayala (30) of Central Point, sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced deceased. OSP was assisted by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson County Fire District 3, and ODOT.

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

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