Klamath Basin News, Friday, 9/25 -Crater Lake National Park lifting Restrictions and Is Open Again

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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.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Today   Patchy smoke before 8am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 72. A 20% chance of rain overnight. Low of 45.

Saturday   Mostly sunny, with a high near 75. West southwest wind around 5 mph.

Sunday   Sunny, with a high near 82.

Monday   Sunny, with a high near 87.

Today’s Headlines

COVID-19 has claimed two more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 539, the Oregon Health Authority reported yesterday. They also reported 382 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 today bringing the state total to 31,865.

Klamath County reported two new cases.  Jackson County reported 20 new cases. Yesterday’s case count is the highest since mid-July and is a reminder of the importance of staying six feet apart from each other; wearing a face covering when six feet of physical distance cannot be maintained and limiting the size of gatherings.

The new cases  in the state reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (8), Clackamas (32), Clatsop (4), Columbia (1), Coos (2), Crook (1), Deschutes (5), Douglas (5), Grant (1), Hood River (1), Jackson (20), Jefferson (5), Josephine (1), Klamath (2), Lake (1), Lane (38), Linn (15), Malheur (15), Marion (48), Morrow (4), Multnomah (92), Polk (3), Umatilla (11), Union (4), Wasco (6), Washington (50) and Yamhill (6).

Klamath County Public Health (KCPH) officials issued a request for quotations seeking isolation and quarantine opportunities in the county. “We are seeking to contract for accommodations for the purposes of quarantine and isolation of Klamath County residents,” said KCPH Director Jennifer Little.

She noted this is particularly relevant now with COVID-19 being at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but that isolation and quarantine are elements of Public Health practice that can occur at any time with communicable diseases. Little said she was hopeful to hear from a variety of lodging providers, including traditional hotels and motels and individuals who host rooms in their homes or rental spaces. All quotes will need to provide a minimum of one space reserved for Public Health, a stated refundable damages deposit, and rates for daily, weekly and monthly accommodations. A minimum of a one-year agreement is sought and facilities must be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.

Crews from Klamath County Fire District No. 1 quickly extinguished flames from a vacant building in the 300 block of South Fifth Street in downtown Klamath Falls on Wednesday afternoon.

The building, owned by the Klamath Tribes, was set for a remodel, according to Jerry Mellentine, facilities and security director for the Klamath Tribal Health/Family Services. Mellentine said the tribes may still remodel it in the future. A cause of the fire is still under investigation as of press time. Additional grass fires were reported near the railroad tracks by Klamath Falls Gospel Mission.

The Interfor Mill in Gilchrist in northern Klamath County has been purchased by Neiman Enterprises of Wyoming, and is expected to be back in operation November 1st. The mill closed due to COVID-19 in the spring putting about 150 people out of work. Deschutes County Commissioner Patti Adair took notice of the sale and says she looks forward to meeting the new owners. Commissioner Phil Henderson said the mill is needed and can help with fire prevention efforts in the years ahead. Commissioner Tony DeBone noted the reopening will bring back much needed jobs to the region that will produce finished wood products like windows and doors.

Based on the status of nearby fires, local forecasts with cooler temperatures and some precipitation, and long-range projections for fire behavior, Crater Lake National Park lifted the Level 1 Evacuation Notification on Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The park will continue to monitor conditions and will reissue any evacuation notifications if needed. Fall can be a beautiful time to enjoy Crater Lake National Park. All trails are currently open as well as all park entrances.  Rim Village Café and Gifts is open daily.  Mazama Campground and Camper Store are open through the weekend but are scheduled to close for the season on Monday, September 28.

Crater Lake Lodge will remain open for guests until Monday, October 12, 2020.  All roads within the park are open except for the Pinnacles Road which has been closed due to the threat of falling trees. Pinnacles Road will be reassessed later this week for possible reopening. Please be aware that effective September 8, 2020 the park implemented a complete ban on all wood and charcoal fires, and the ban is still in effect. Wood and charcoal fires are not permitted in any location throughout the park.  This regulation is being strictly enforced.  For more information, please go to 2020 fire ban

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon’s wildfires have “turned a corner” as firefighters continue to make significant progress containing the flames, but Oregonians still face a long road to recovery, Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday. Officials are hopeful that rain, which is expected during the next three days, will help in the fight against the remaining seven large blazes in Oregon. Nine people have died from the wildfires and five remain missing. Approximately 1,500 square miles (3,880 square kilometers) have burned in Oregon. Officials say, prior to this year, the average of land burned each year in Oregon for the last ten years was roughly half that. Doug Grafe, the chief of Fire Protection at the Oregon Department of Forestry, announced that the wildfires have cost $78 million so far, and by the end of the season could reach $100 million.

Protesters in Portland hurled Molotov cocktails at officers in Oregon’s largest city during a demonstration over a Kentucky grand jury’s decision to not indict officers in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, police said Thursday. Thirteen people were arrested. Police and the protesters clashed as demonstrators in cities around the U.S. raged against a criminal justice system they say is stacked against Black people. In Taylor’s hometown of Louisville, gunfire rang out and wounded two police officers. The protesters in Portland Wednesday night also threw rocks that shattered windows at a law enforcement precinct station, targeted the station with projectiles fired from slingshots, police said in a statement. The Oregonian/Oregonian Live said they set an awning at the station on fire. The people taken into custody were arrested on suspicion of charges ranging from attempted murder to attempted assault, riot, interfering with a police officer and disorderly conduct, police said.

As Jackson County officials prepare to open a new resource center at the old Central Medford High School building for those displaced by wildfires, they addressed the media with updates on fire recovery efforts — including a newly-completed damage assessment of the areas burned by the Almeda Fire. The original assessment by a Utah-based Urban Search & Rescue Team completed last week found more than 2,800 structures damaged or destroyed, Sheriff Nathan Sickler said at the time. In the intervening days, a group of local agencies have been working on a more detailed assessment that will be vital for additional FEMA assistance. As of Wednesday, they had assessed 3,395 properties — finding 2,790 damaged or destroyed. Roughly 2,606 were considered residential structures, along with 181 commercial buildings. Numbers are expected to change slightly as more specific evaluations finish up. These assessments are necessary for those who lost property to be eligible for FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program, Jackson County said.

Working with licensed contractors is one of the best ways for Oregon consumers to protect their most valuable investment and avoid common scams   

Salem, Ore. – The Construction Contractors Board (CCB) and construction industry leaders have a shared message for Oregonians who have had their home or business damaged or destroyed by wildfires: protect your investment – hire licensed contractors.

“It is unfortunately quite common after disasters for consumers to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals,” said Chris Huntington, Administrator of the Construction Contractors Board. “Consumers who do their homework and hire licensed contractors have protections that all Oregon licensed contractors provide.”

Oregon licensed contractors provide financial protections to Oregon consumers. Licensed contractors carry a bond and insurance, which protect the consumer if things go wrong during construction. Working with licensed contractors also provides homeowners with access to CCB’s dispute resolution service if a conflict arises, potentially avoiding lengthy and expensive court proceedings.

“On behalf of over 2,500 home builder members,” said Mark Long, CEO of the Oregon Home Builders Association, “Oregon Home Builders Association wants to remind consumers to collect references and written contracts from the start of a repair project, and avoid contractors who ask for cash up front.”

Licensed construction firms are an important part of Oregon’s economy and our Oregon communities. Oregon has approximately 41,000 licensed construction firms that have made an investment in their industry and in their communities by playing by the rules.

“AGC applauds the CCB for taking steps to protect the interests of Oregonians recovering from these wildfires as they begin the process of rebuilding their homes, businesses, and lives. We will work with the CCB to ensure state law is fully enforced, and Oregonians understand the benefit of using licensed contractors,” stated Mike Salsgiver, Executive Director of Associated General Contractors (AGC), Oregon-Columbia Chapter.

Licensed contractors also have a license history that consumers can easily check on the CCB’s website. This allows the consumer to know how long the firm has been in business and whether there is any history of complaints. Unlicensed firms found through online listing sites may not provide consumers with any verifiable history.

In addition to checking for a valid license, consumers can avoid common construction scams by simply being aware. Consumers should be wary of demands for large up-front payments, demands for cash-only payments and contractors who use high-pressure tactics, door-to-door or over the phone.

How Do You Check a License?

To verify licenses:

  • Visit http://search.ccb.state.or.us/search/  
  • Enter the license number in the box, then hit the “search” button.
  • Select the “choose” button beside the proper license.
  • Verify that the license is “active,” and that the name and other information on the license matches the contractor you are considering.
  • Call 503-378-4621 for help searching or understanding the results.

Contractors and consumers can report unlicensed contractors and other illegal activity on the CCB’s website http://search.ccb.state.or.us/online_complaint_enf/ or by calling 503-934-2246.

The Portland Parks Bureau is denying a permit to far-right organizers planning a rally at Delta Park on Saturday.  The Parks Bureau says the permit was denied because of the expected crowd size, which would violate the Governor’s limits for COVID-19.  Organizers estimate several thousand people will attend the rally.  Counter protesters plan to gather at Peninsula Park at the same time. They didn’t apply for a permit.

A former Redmond Police detective who sexted with an undercover informant will serve five days jail and 18 months probation, a judge ruled Tuesday. The Deschutes County jail will make “special accommodations” to protect Cory Michael Buckley because of his status as a former officer, The Bend Bulletin reported. Buckley, 43, pleaded guilty to official misconduct for improperly using his work-issued cellphone to send inappropriate texts to a woman in 2017. He was sentenced Tuesday. Buckley was working on the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team when he met with a Prineville woman who provided him with information about a drug buy. At the time, the woman had an open criminal case and was facing a possible prison sentence for her involvement with illegal drugs. Several weeks later, Buckley began sending her “sexually charged” texts.

The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) has conducted an investigation and approved a framework designed to protect residential and small commercial utility customers by ensuring continued access to essential services during COVID-19 and in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“During the pandemic, Oregonians have found themselves more reliant on their utility services as they now stay at home to combat the pandemic, stay home to work where possible, and even educate their children at home,” said Mark Thompson, PUC Commissioner.  “This increased reliance on utility services also comes at a time where many customers’ ability to pay for these services has diminished due to the economic impacts COVID-19 has had on so many in our communities.”

In June 2020, the PUC held a public meeting to hear from the regulated investor-owned utilities, as well as customer groups and interested stakeholders on the impacts of COVID-19 and actions taken by utilities to protect customers. Even prior to this time, investor-owned utilities proactively suspended disconnections of residential and non-residential accounts, stopped issuing late and final notices, suspended assessing late fees, and offered more flexible payment options for their customers in recognition of the hardships caused by the pandemic, and the importance of utility services.

“In addition to confirming the actions taken by the utilities, the Commission also wanted to further investigate the impacts of the pandemic on customers, and further evaluate additional and future actions to protect utility customers, especially low income and vulnerable populations, during and after the pandemic,” added Commissioner Thompson.

As part of the investigation, the PUC engaged participants in a dynamic and inclusive public process, which provided invaluable feedback, collaboration, and compromise from stakeholders representing utility and customer interests across Oregon. The results of these discussions were separate agreements, which had broad support from the participants in the investigation, for energy, telecommunications, and water utilities that would benefit utility customers through a variety of measures. These included establishing terms on service disconnections, reconnections, time payment arrangements, waiver of fees related to late payments, provisions to protect customers’ credit, self-certification of medical certificates, and work on programs that can assist people in donating funds to help neighbors unable to pay their bills, among others. The agreement for energy utilities also includes a condition concerning arrearage management plans to assist residential customers with outstanding balances.

The terms of the agreements are being finalized by PUC Staff and regulated energy, water, and telecommunications service providers, including: Portland General Electric, NW Natural Gas, Pacific Power, Avista, Idaho Power, Cascade Natural Gas, Avion Water, Oregon Water Utilities, NW Natural Water, Oregon Telecommunications Association, Lumen (formerly CenturyLink), and Ziply Fiber (formerly Frontier); as well as numerous stakeholders including Citizens’ Utility Board, Community Action Partners of Oregon, Verde, Northwest Energy Coalition, and Multnomah County Office of Sustainability, among others.  

“We value stakeholders’ active participation in this process and willingness to compromise and work together to develop agreements that benefit utility customers, especially as Oregonians are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic and now the wildfires that have impacted so many in our state,” added Commissioner Thompson. We also recognize the need to further examine systemic problems that low-income and vulnerable populations face with high energy burden on an ongoing basis, which were explored in our investigation. The Commission is committed to taking this challenge on.”

Staff Counsel will develop stipulations based on the tentative agreements. These stipulations will be brought back to the Commission for final approval at a later date.

For additional information, view the PUC’s COVID-19 Aftermath Report with details on the agreements for energy, telecommunications and water utilities.

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

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