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.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Klamath Basin Weather
Today Patchy smoke before 11am. Sunny, with a high near 77. Light south wind becoming west southwest 9 to 14 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 21 mph.
Wednesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. Light south southeast wind becoming south southwest 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon. Overnight a 30% chance of rain, low around 52.
Thursday Showers likely, mainly before 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 68. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 68.
A new contract for airplanes and people who simulate enemy aircraft means additional jets, pilots and support crews will be working and living in Klamath Falls for at least four years.
The 173rd Fighter Wing based at Kingsley Field announced Monday that Tactical Air, Inc. agreed to a four-year contract. The company supplies adversary air aircraft for training purposes.
Currently there are two F-5AT aircraft at Kingsley Field, with two more expected to arrive when they begin flying what is commonly called “red air.” That entails simulating an adversary on the field of battle during student training missions.
The aircraft and crews supplied by Tactical Air will increase training capability by freeing up F-15 cockpits for student pilot training in stead of using them to simulate an enemy.
In the past, Kingsley Field has utilized temporary adversary air services, but has not had a four-year contract in place, which meant employees of the company did not often live and work in Klamath Falls.
Klamath County Public Health officials reported three new cases of COVID-19 in the community on Monday, bringing the local count to 275.
This week’s count is two. Last week’s count, including one case announced Monday, was 30.
“This is a pivotal week for the county,” said KCPH Director Jennifer Little. “We must be vigilant in reducing the spread of the virus. We are tracing cases back to known sources, but people are taking risks by attending large gatherings and ignoring the need to social distance and wear masks.”
Little stressed that complying with social distancing, mask use and gathering size guidelines, along with frequent handwashing, goes a long way toward promoting the health and safety of yourself and others.
COVID-19 has claimed three more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 529, the Oregon Health Authority reported on Monday, Sept. 21, according to a news release.
Oregon Health Authority reported 201 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. Monday bringing the state total to 30,995.
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), in association with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), awarded the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office grant funds for traffic safety during 2019-2020 totaling $21,500. The grants are being used to increase traffic enforcement with focused patrols for Distracted Driving, Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII), Occupant Protection (Safety Belts), Pedestrian Safety and Speed Enforcement during the below specified events.
They will include:
Grant Amount = $5,000
- • High Visibility Enforcement Now – 9/30/2020
DUII High Visibility Enforcement Events
Grant Amount = $5,000
- • High Visibility Enforcement Now – 9/30/2020
Occupant Protection (Safety Belt) Blitz Periods
Grant Amount = $5,500
The Merrill Lions Club officially kicked off the 83rd annual Klamath Basin Potato Festival Sept. 14 at the Merrill Civic Center.
Vicki Liskey and Diane Ongman emceed the evening, which included introductions of and questions for the queen candidates. Tayla Berry, Bonanza, Grace Nyseth, Henley, Zoe Hill Sparks, Klamath Union, Gabby Haskins, Lost River, Jennifer Ibarra Barajas, Mazama, and Annette Chavez, Tulelake, are running for the title. Elizabeth McKoen, daughter of Mike and Jennifer McKoen, and Oaklee McKoen, daughter of Chris and Loralee McKoen, are serving as this year’s junior princesses.
Also attending the dinner were the candidate chaperones, parents, school administrators and teachers, and Lions Club members.
Bob and Jeanne Petrik of Merrill, and their family, are grand marshals of the 2020 Festival. The Petriks are graduates of Merrill High School and have been active in Lions Club, Lost River Boosters, and Merrill Presbyterian Church for decades. Their contributions to the community have made many projects possible, including the annual Potato Festival and the giant American flag that flies over Merrill.
Oregon Institute of Technology was once again ranked highly in the U.S. News and World Report “Best Colleges” rankings.
The report lists Oregon Tech at No. 2 top public college in the West and No. 5 best western regional college — the top in Oregon on both lists. Oregon Tech is also featured as a best value school for being one of the western regional colleges with the least student debt.
The overall university rankings are based on a number of criteria, including graduation and retention rates, graduation rate performance, social mobility, faculty resources, expert opinion, student excellence, financial resources and alumni giving.
In the category of best undergraduate engineering programs in the nation, Oregon Tech stayed steady at No. 46. The undergraduate engineering program rankings are based solely on peer assessment surveys.
The Dutch Bros Foundation will give $250,000 toward wildfire relief efforts throughout the Western U.S., the company announced last week.
Funds will be split between the Red Cross Western Wildfires Fund, MRG Rogue Valley Relief Fund, and the Latino Community Foundation Northern CA Wildfire Relief Fund — geared toward providing food, housing, and other resources to those impacted by the recent fires.
The Dutch Bros Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Dutch Bros Coffee. The company itself has 400 shops in nine western states — many of them directly impacted by fires this year.
Around the state of Oregon
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that it has identified Portland, Seattle, and New York City as jurisdictions that have permitted violence and destruction of property and that have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities.
The declaration comes in response to President Donald Trump’s memorandum from Sept. 2, 2020. The memorandum is titled “Memorandum on Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities.”
In a statement regarding the announcement, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said, “When state and local leaders impede their own law enforcement officers and agencies from doing their jobs, it endangers innocent citizens who deserve to be protected, including those who are trying to peacefully assemble and protest… We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance. It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Murder Suspect
On September 18, 2020 at 1924 hours, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report of a fatal stabbing in the Elderberry Flats area of outside of Wimer, OR. The reporting party was at the scene during the incident. On arrival, deputies found one male adult deceased. The suspect was contacted later after he left the scene.
The investigation lead to the arrest of Brenden Rex Stansell, birth date 07/24/2000, he is an Eagle Point area transient. The arrest was made on 092120.
Stansell has been lodged at Jackson County Jail on charges of Murder Second Degree and Assault First Degree. The Murder II charge is no bail.
Identity of the victim is not being released pending notification of next of kin.
On 09/20/20 at approximately 1747 hrs, the Medford Police Department responded to a fatal motor vehicle crash. A motorcycle was traveling at a high rate of speed southbound on Crater Lake Ave in the left lane. A truck was stopped in the lane making a left turn onto Temple Dr. The motorcycle struck the truck and the operator was launched from his motorcycle into an oncoming vehicle.
The Serious/Fatal Traffic Accidents Reconstruction (S.T.A.R.) team and a Medford detective responded to assume the investigation.
Umpqua Bank, a subsidiary of Umpqua Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: UMPQ), today announced a package of relief and support for communities, customers and associates impacted by the devastating wildfires raging across the West Coast.
“The personal loss experienced by so many people from these historic wildfires is truly incalculable. As a bank, we’ve experienced the devastation firsthand, including the complete loss of one of our stores in Phoenix, Oregon,” said Umpqua Bank CEO Cort O’Haver. “The road to recovery will take time, but Umpqua is committed to doing all we can to help our communities rebuild what’s been lost.”
Today’s announcement comes as wildfires in Oregon, Washington and California have already consumed more than five million acres and resulted in at least 36 deaths. In response to the devastation, Umpqua has activated relief programs for community, customers and associates to support both immediate needs and longer-term recovery efforts.
Umpqua has committed $750,000 in relief funding for impacted communities. This includes $100,000 for both response and recovery efforts in the coming weeks. An additional $650,000 is allocated for community organizations helping small businesses and local economies recover. The bank has also activated a 3:1 corporate match for associates donating to nonprofits supporting those impacted by the wildfires, as well as expanded its Virtual Volunteer program to support the many Umpqua associates currently volunteering time and resources to recovery efforts.
The bank has activated its Disaster Relief Loan Program to provide impacted customers quick access to cash as needed, as well as to help them recover financially. Mortgage relief options for homeowners impacted by natural disasters are also being actively made available, and the bank will work with all impacted customers to defer or waive any costs associated with their Umpqua accounts incurred as a direct result of the wildfires.
For the many Umpqua associates directly impacted by the wildfires, the bank has initiated an emergency assistance fund. In addition to providing direct financial support to these associates, the bank is also providing impacted associates access to a wide variety of services to meet their immediate and long-term needs.
“Especially in moments like this, we want our communities and people to know they’re not alone,” said O’Haver. “In addition to this initial relief, Umpqua will continue partnering closely with local leaders and organizations to help those we serve recover and move forward.”
At least half a dozen men are facing accusations of intentionally starting fires in Oregon. The Oregonian reports there’s no evidence the suspects were motivated by politics, as conspiracy theories claim. The newspaper reports one suspect was found setting fires in late July because a member of a local forest protection group wouldn’t give him a ride. Police arrested another suspect late last month after he allegedly threatened to burn down a small town if his girlfriend broke up with him. A homeless man is accused of setting a string of brush fires along an Interstate in the Portland area earlier this month.
Protests are getting back underway in Portland following a week-long hiatus due to wildfire smoke. The Oregonian reports between 100 and 200 angry protesters gathered downtown Saturday night to demonstrate against racial injustice. Police say no arrests were made. The previous night, protesters gathered near the ICE facility in South Portland.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said late Saturday that it had recovered human remains on the North Fork Road property of legendary environmentalist George Atiyeh.
The agency said it is still waiting for positive identification from the Marion County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The remains were recovered Thursday. Atiyeh, 72, who played a central role in saving Opal Creek from clear-cutters, would be the state’s ninth fatality from wildfires.
Today the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) provided the agency’s first look at how COVID-19 has impacted hospital revenue during this public health crisis. Hospital revenue and operating margins suffered steep drops at the end of March, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the first time OHA is releasing its quarterly hospital financial reports as an interactive online dashboard. The dashboard allows users to interact with hospital financial data from 2007 to 2020, displayed monthly or quarterly.
“The broad health and economic impacts of COVID-19 highlight why we need a sustainable health care system that ensures everyone has access to quality, affordable care when they need it,” said Jeremy Vandehey, OHA’s director of health policy and analytics.
Hospitals ended 2019 in a strong financial position, with revenue outpacing expenses. Net patient revenue increased 7.3% compared with the fourth quarter of 2018, while operating expenses increased only 1.2%. Uncompensated care remained essentially flat during that period. Hospitals closed out 2019 with a robust median operating margin of 4.2%.
However, the strong fourth quarter of 2019 stands in stark contrast to the first quarter of 2020. Oregon’s first COVID-19 case was identified on February 28, 2020. To conserve hospital capacity and preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for the COVID-19 emergency, on March 19, 2020, Governor Kate Brown issued executive order 20-10, prohibiting elective and non-urgent medical procedures.
Decreases in hospital utilization in March led to a drop in patient revenue. At the same time, hospital expenses continued to increase, leading to large drops in operating margins in the first quarter of 2020. A drop in hospital stocks exacerbated the losses.
Key findings from the report include:
- Statewide total margin fell from 9.3% in the first quarter of 2019 to -8.8% in the first quarter of 2020, a decrease of 19.4 percentage points.
- Median statewide total margin fell 11.3 percentage points, from 6.7% to -4.6% in the same time period.
- Statewide net patient revenue was down slightly, $22.7 million or -0.6%, when compared with the first quarter of 2019.
- Total operating expenses remained on trend, increasing $215 million, 6.3%, when compared with the first quarter of 2019.
The first quarter financial reports don’t reflect financial assistance that was provided to the health system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second quarter hospital financial reports, released later this fall, will reflect federal and state grants or other assistance that was provided to hospitals to stabilize and support the health system.
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