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Klamath Basin News – Thursday, 8/13 – COVID-19 Claims Seven More Lives in OR

The latest and most comprehensive coverage of local News, Sports, Business, and Community News stories in the Klamath Basin, Southern Oregon and around the state of Oregon from Wynne Broadcasting’s KFLS News/Talk 1450AM / 102.5FM, The Herald & News, and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insurance

Thursday – 08/13/20

Klamath Basin Weather

Today: Sunny, with a high near 89. Calm wind becoming west southwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.

Friday: Widespread haze before 8am. Sunny, with a high near 93. Light and variable wind.

Saturday: Widespread haze. Sunny and hot, with a high near 96. Calm wind becoming south southwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.

Sunday: Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 97.

Today’s Headlines

COVID-19 has claimed seven more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 375.

Oregon Health Authority reported 258 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of  yesterday, bringing the state total to 22,022. One of yesterday’s reported deaths was in Umatilla county.  All others were in Clackamas or Multnomah counties.

Daily cases of COVID-19 declined slightly during the week of Monday, Aug. 3 through Sunday Aug. 9, according to the COVID-19 Weekly Report. There were 2,122 new cases that week, a slight drop from the previous week’s tally of 2,278. Twenty-nine deaths were reported, a drop from 39 the previous week.

The percentage of positive tests also decreased to 5.4%, and hospitalizations have plateaued. The age group most affected by the virus remains 20-29, although the elderly remain the hardest hit age group. Persons 80 or older account for nearly half of all those hospitalized.

Most cases continue to be sporadic, meaning there is no known source, which is an indication the virus is widespread.

Early Wednesday morning, just after midnight, Klamath County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a call to assist Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office with a pursuit of a stolen vehicle that was traveling north into Oregon.

Deputies picked up pursuit of the Toyota 4 Runner, near the Midland rest area and reported speeds in excess of 100 MPH. Deputies deployed spike strips on Highway 39 at Short Rd successfully disabling the vehicle which then continued a short distance into Eternal Hills Cemetery where it caused damage to several grave sites before coming to a stop. Sheranda Sheree Cole, age 31 of Klamath Falls, was taken into custody by Klamath Falls Police Department officers related to their case for the stolen vehicle.

Cole is being lodged at the Klamath County Jail on charges including: unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, attempt to elude, reckless driving, parole violation.

Klamath County residents should beware of an alleged scam “contractor” believed to be operating in the area.

Shanadoa Wayne Johnson, also goes by Shaun, is thought to be operating in the area and targeting vulnerable citizens with driveway paving and/or sealing work. Recent information confirms he was in Northern California and may now have moved into our area. Johnson is believed to use multiple alias’ and is wanted on several outstanding warrants. Anyone who comes in contact with him is urged to contact Klamath County Sheriff’s Office at 541-883-5130.

U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced yesterday that a Klamath Falls man is facing federal criminal charges for cashing more than $458,000 worth of social security checks issued in the name of his deceased aunt.

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George Doumar, 76, has been charged by complaint with theft of public funds and mail theft.  Doumar is listed as the owner/operator of Frontier Parcel service.

According to court documents, in February 2020, the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of Anti-Fraud Programs identified a 114-year-old supercentenarian who appeared to be the second-oldest living person in the U.S. receiving Social Security retirement benefits. SSA systems indicated that no updates had been made to the person’s benefit record in more than 30 years, leading SSA staff to believe that the person may be deceased. The matter was referred to the SSA Office of the Inspector General (SSA-OIG).

SSA records indicated that the benefit recipient was born on August 7, 1905, in New York City and had first applied for retirement benefits in August 1970. The person did not receive any payments until September 1977 after she reached her delayed retirement computation age. SSA records further showed that from 1977 until present day, the benefit recipient received monthly Social Security retirement checks disbursed by the U.S. Treasury and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.

SSA-OIG investigators obtained a copy of the aunt’s death certificate from the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, confirming that she had died on March 7, 1971, in Brooklyn.

Doumar will make his first appearance in federal court at a later date. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $25,000 fine, and 3 years’ supervised release. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will also seek restitution on behalf of SSA.

The Winter Wings Festival, which draws bird enthusiasts and photographers from around the world to witness the Klamath Basin’s remarkable avian diversity, has been canceled for 2021.

Organizers with the Klamath Basin Audubon Society decided to forgo the 42nd annual festival, planned for February 11-14, due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. After reviewing travel guidelines and communicating with other bird festival coordinators, they found “too many uncertainties” surrounding their ability to keep festival attendees and Klamath residents safe during the pandemic, according to an update to the festival website

This November, festival organizers will determine whether pandemic conditions have improved enough to plan activities for local residents on Presidents’ Day weekend, and they will still hold the 2021 festival photography contest online. The next Winter Wings Festival will now take place in 2022.

Two more wolf-killed livestock have been reported this week in the Fort Klamath area. That makes more four such depredations in the Fort Klamath area in a month.

On Sunday, wildlife biologists for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed an 850-pound yearling steer found dead the night prior was a confirmed kill attributed to the Rogue Pack wolves. That pack is believed to be responsible for all four recent kills.

Two days earlier, on Aug. 7, ODFW biologists confirmed a 750-pound yearling steer was found injured. Because of the extent of injuries, the steer was euthanized.

In both cases, physical evidence determined the deaths were caused by wolves.

The death confirmed Sunday happened in a 400-acre private land pasture. The ranch manager found the dead steer. According to the ODFW report, its organs and much of the muscle from the hindquarters had been consumed. It was estimated the steer died 24 to 36 hours prior to the investigation.

Around the State of Oregon

Governor Kate Brown announced yesterday the Warner Creek Corrections facility in Lakeview may be shut down.

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Following the close of a second 2020 Special Session, Governor Brown held a press briefing to address what was accomplished and what could come next, which could include expanding face covering requirements for office workers and closing two state prisons.

When asked about a mask mandate for in-office work, Governor Brown said that her Deputy Chief of Staff, Gina Zejdlik, was working on the new proposal that would likely surface “in the next week or so.”

In initial budget proposals, both Shutter Creek Correctional Institution in North Bend and Warner Creek Correctional Facility in Lakeview were placed on the chopping block — a proposal that has seen organized resistance from officials in Lake County. However, when the session ended late Monday night with a rebalanced budget, the prisons were not slated for closure.

Brown said she had worked with the state Department of Corrections to identify the two facilities for closure because they existed in “more challenging conditions.” The Governor wanted to see them closed so that the funds used for upkeep and staffing could be rerouted elsewhere as the state faces a looming plunge in revenue.

A 57-year-old man is facing charges after allegedly strangling a woman to death inside a Corvallis hotel room.  

Police have arrested George Spencer for the death of 41-year-old Gina Vargas yesterday.  Spencer allegedly told police he had been using methamphetamine when he became paranoid and began choking Vargas until she lost consciousness.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown is being sued by three Christian schools that want to reopen this fall.  

OregonLive reports the schools dispute the governor’s executive order that prohibits faith-based gatherings of more than 25 people because of the coronavirus pandemic.  They say universities can open if they comply with physical distancing, mask-wearing and other safety measures.  The schools are Horizon Christian School, McMinnville Christian Academy and Life Christian School

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