Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 10/15 – Wilsonart Engineered Services To Build Manufacturing Plant in Klamath Basin

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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.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 69. Overnight clear, with a low around 35.

Friday Sunny, with a high near 76. Low overnight of 43.

Saturday Sunny, with a high near 75.

Sunday Sunny, with a high near 71.

Monday Mostly sunny, with a high near 68.

Today’s Headlines

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Oregon reports 390 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 3 new deaths

Oregon Health Authority reports todays COVID-19 numbers which has claimed three more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 608. Oregon Health Authority reported 390 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 38,160.

Klamath County reports 2 new cases overnight.

Bad news coming out of Jackson County as public health officials there marked a new daily high for coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with 28 new confirmed and presumptive cases. Of those cases, at least 195 are still considered “active infectious.” A total of 103 people have been hospitalized with the virus since March — up from 10 at the beginning of July. This week saw the beginning of several free COVID-19 testing events in the county, with testing available to anyone — regardless of symptoms. The process uses a “PCR” test, collecting nasal swabs with results expected within four days.

Oregon’s new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (3), Clackamas (27), Clatsop (1), Columbia (1), Coos (3), Crook (2), Deschutes (7), Douglas (8), Jackson (28), Jefferson (2), Josephine (2), Klamath (2), Lane (60), Lincoln (2), Linn (5), Malheur (11), Marion (63), Multnomah (88), Polk (4), Umatilla (14), Wallowa (1), Washington (51), and Yamhill (5).

An international company announced Wednesday that it will build a multi-million dollar manufacturing plant in Klamath Falls that will employ about 50 people.

Wilsonart Engineered Services, based in Temple, Tex., manufactures and distributes materials used in furniture, office spaces, countertops and more. It will construct a 95,000-square-foot building located on 19 acres of private WESGO industrial park land near the Klamath Falls airport.

Construction will begin immediately and the plant is slated to open by July 2021 According to the company, the site “allows for future expansion.” The Klamath County Economic Development Association estimated the development will create 50 direct family-wage jobs, 40 spinoff jobs and invest more than $20 million into Klamath County. Wilsonart was founded in 1956. It has manufacturing facilities and retail stores in 16 states and in Canada.

Tuesday morning, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 97 near milepost 245. Preliminary investigation revealed that a Chrysler 300, operated by Lester Plowman (76) of Klamath Falls, was northbound when it went off the road and struck several trees. Plowman was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased. OSP was assisted by the Chiloquin Fire Department, Klamath County Sheriff’s Office, and ODOT.

Amtrak’s only rail passenger train connecting Oregon with California — Coast Starlight — is reducing its long-distance services from daily to three times a week, effective Monday.  In addition to Klamath Falls, stations losing daily service include Portland, Salem, Albany, Chemult and Eugene to the north and Redding and Sacramento to the south. The service reduction is to due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting decrease in travel demand, Amtrak announced earlier this summer. The Coast Starlight is one of the 10 long-distance routes that Amtrak will only run three times weekly this month.  The other route that will impact Oregon is the Empire Builder train, which provides service from Chicago to Seattle and Portland. Its service reduction to three times a week begins Oct. 19. The Amtrak train network spans 21,000 national miles and hit peak ridership last year with 32.5 million passengers in 2019. Amtrak anticipates only half the amount of passengers in 2021 compared to what it experienced two years before.

Bonanza Junior/Senior High School leadership students kicked off their year with a school-wide benefit — BoTown for ChiTown — for Chiloquin students and their families who were impacted by the Two Four Two Fire last month.

During the weeklong campaign, Bonanza students and staff collected more than 1,000 items — about two truckloads of food and clothing. School administrators will bring the supplies to the Klamath Tribes for distribution to those in need.

Leadership advisor and teacher Corey Hedger challenged his class to find a way to help, and the students took it from there. An earlier attempt to collect donations fell flat so students came up with a theme — BoTown for ChiTown — and provided incentive. Students directly challenged staff members, and whoever collected the most donations would throw a cream pie in the face of the “loser.”

Leadership student Paislee Miranda said she was pleased at the number of students who contributed. 

The South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership lifted public use restrictions on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, Lakeview District Bureau of Land Management and Klamath-Lake District Oregon Department of Forestry lands Wednesday night. In addition, fire danger on the lands has been dropped to “moderate.” According to SCOFMP, that decision was based on current temperatures, relative humidity, fuel moisture levels and projected conditions over the coming weeks. The area still remains in fire season, however. Residents are asked to be vigilant and use caution when recreating on public and private lands.

There will be some new faces on Merrill city council next year as two current incumbents did not seek re-election. The only contested race in Merrill is between Steven Baley and Gary Robeson for council position 4. While Baley noted his 31 years as a Merrill resident, Robeson highlighted his experience as an attorney and his intention to ensure equality with his vote. All other races in Merrill are uncontested with mayor Bill Carlson and councilors Regina Picke and Dick Carleton running unopposed to keep their positions. Rodney McCollam is the sole candidate for council position 3. In Malin, there are four competitors vying for three council seats. Incumbents Ryan Bartholomew, Connie Venegas and Rafael Ivan Hernandez hope voters will keep them on city council. Walt Harrison is challenging for a seat.

Discover the “haunted history” of Halloween with TV ghost hunter Dustin Pari
Thursday, October 29th 7PM
via Zoom – email dnemanic@klamathlibrary.org for invite

Get ready for Halloween with ghost hunter Dustin Pari in an online presentation hosted by the Klamath County Library on Thursday, October 29th at 7 pm.

Pari – a regular on television programs such as SyFy’s Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters International and Destination Truth – will discuss the paranormal history and spooky lore of the Halloween season. (And he’d be happy to share a few of his own “ghost story” experiences, too.)

The presentation is free, but registration is required so we can send you the invite to connect via Zoom teleconferencing. For more information and to register, email Denae at dnemanic@klamathlibrary.org.

For more about Dustin Pari, head to his website at www.dustinpari.com.

Around the state of Oregon

Today OHA released its Weekly Report which showed that during the week of Oct. 5 through Oct. 11, OHA recorded 2,418 new cases of COVID-19 infection—up 18% from last week’s tally of 2,055 and the highest weekly total reported in Oregon to date.

The number of Oregonians newly tested rose 26%, to 28,490, and the percentage of tests that were positive rose slightly to 6.4% from 6.3% the prior week. Twenty-seven Oregonians were reported to have died in association with COVID-19—compared to 25 last week. One hundred forty-seven Oregonians were hospitalized, up from 119 in the previous week, and the highest weekly figure since mid-July.

Meanwhile, If passed by voters, Measure 108 in Oregon would increase taxes on cigars, cigarettes and nicotine vaping devices. The measure is on the ballot this November. It would increase taxes on a pack of cigarettes to $3.33 per pack, up from the current amount of $1.33. It would also increase cigar taxes to $1 per cigar, doubling the current rate of 50 cents. The measure would also create a 65% wholesale tax on e-cigarettes and nicotine vaping products. Ten percent of the new tax money would go toward smoking prevention programming while 90 percent would go to the Oregon Health Plan.

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.0 percent in September from 8.5 percent, as revised, in August. For the past few months, Oregon’s unemployment rate has closely tracked the national unemployment rate which fell to 7.9 percent in September from 8.4 percent in August. Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 5,100 jobs in September, following a revised gain of 16,200 jobs in August. Over the past three months the rate of job growth slowed, with 39,000 jobs added in that time, following more rapid growth in May and June, when 83,100 jobs were added. Despite the recent slowdown, Oregon employers added jobs in each of the past five months, and the state has recovered 45 percent of the jobs cut in March and April. Over-the-month job gains in September were largest in leisure and hospitality (+2,600 jobs); financial activities (+1,600); health care and social assistance (+1,600); retail trade (+1,500); and information (+1,200). Employment totaled 163,200 in September, which was down 53,400 jobs, or 24.7%, since its peak month of February.

The University of Oregon said Tuesday that winter term courses will continue to be largely remote and online. The university in Eugene said it will continue to offer some classes in-person, such as science labs and physical education courses, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. Thoe in-person courses will require face coverings and physical distancing, according to the university. The university in October has reported nearly 200 cases of coronavirus in university employees and students living on and off campus. Likewise, Lane County, where UO’s main campus is located, has also reported an increase in cases, some from the university community as well as other spikes such as workplace outbreaks.

Measure 107 is packed with proposed new limitations on campaign contributions that would amend the Oregon Constitution. The measure, which will be on the ballot this November, would allow the Legislature, local government bodies and voters to create laws that would limit political campaign contributions and expenditures, require disclosure of political campaign contributions and would require advertisements to display information about who funded them. Currently there are no such limitations on political campaigns in Oregon. A “yes” vote on the measure would allow laws to be created in Oregon that limit those contributions and expenditures. A “no” vote would keep current laws on the books.

Oregon State Police are investigating the unlawful killing of a wolf in the Keating Wildlife Management Unit on or about September 24, 2020. 

This incident occurred north west of New Bridge, OR in the Skull Creek drainage of the Wallowa Whitman National Forest.  The United States Forest Service 7741 Road accesses the Skull Creek drainage and the wolf was located off the 125 spur road.   

Anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact OSP Sergeant Isaac Cyr through the Turn in Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP (mobile).

** Report Wildlife and Habitat Law Violators** 

The TIP program offers preference point rewards for information leading to an arrest or issuance of a citation for the unlawful take/possession or waste of big game mammals.

The TIP program also offers cash rewards for information leading to an arrest or issuance of a citation for the unlawful take/possession or waste of Mountain Sheep, Mountain Goat, Moose, Elk, Deer, Antelope, Bear, Cougar, Wolf, Upland Birds, Waterfowl, and Furbearers. Cash rewards can also be awarded for the unlawful take of Game Fish and Shellfish and for Habitat Destruction.

* $1,000 Mountain Sheep, Mountain Goat and Moose 
* $500 Elk, Deer and Antelope 
* $300 Bear, Cougar and Wolf 
* $300 Habitat Destruction 
* $100 Upland Birds and Waterfowl 
* $100 Furbearers 

* $100 Game Fish and Shellfish 

How to Report a Wildlife and/or Habitat Law Violation or Suspicious Activity: 

TIP Hotline: 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP(677)

TIP E-Mail: TIP@state.or.us (Monitored M-F 8:00AM – 5:00PM)

A former U.S. Postal Service employee was sentenced to federal prison today for stealing mobile phones out of packages at the Portland postal sorting facility, announced U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams.

Rico Alvarez, 24, was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

 “It is imperative that the community has confidence and trust in the integrity of the U.S. Postal Service” said United States Attorney Billy J. Williams “Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, this defendant is held to account for violating that trust.”

U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, Western Area Field Office, Executive Special Agent-in-Charge John D. Masters said, “The U.S. Postal Service has a long and proud history dating back to 1775. The Postal Service employs over 630,000 men and woman who are dedicated public servants. Mr. Rico Alvarez willfully chose to violate that public trust and his duties. Today’s sentencing of Mr. Alvarez demonstrates that theft of U.S. Mail, committed by a Postal Service employee, will not be tolerated and carries serious consequences.”

According to court documents, beginning in about August, 2019, Alvarez, an employee of the United States Postal Service, began stealing smartphones placed into the mail for delivery to customers.  Over the course of the next three months, Alvarez stole more than 400 phones, by surreptitiously opening the box as it passed his mail sorting station, removing the phone, and then sending the empty package on for delivery to the intended recipient. On the day he was caught by Postal Inspectors, he had over a dozen stolen phones in his possession. When interviewed, Alvarez admitted to stealing high end, recently released, smartphones, which he subsequently sold for his own profit.

On June 25, 2020 Alvarez was charged by criminal information with Theft of Mail. He plead guilty to the charge on July 20, 2020. During sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon ordered Alvarez to pay $253,550 in restitution.

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