Klamath Basin News, Monday, 10/19 – Circuit Court Judge Seat Election Race Heating Up

(Pictured above top left: Joshua Guest, top right: Alycia Kersey, bottom left: Bonnie Lam, bottom right: Nathan Ratliff. All are on the ballot Nov. 3rd for Klamath County Circuit Court Judge)

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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.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 72. Overnight, clear with a low near 43.

Tuesday Sunny, with a high near 70. Low of 39 overnight.

Wednesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 61.

Thursday Widespread frost before 10am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 56. Low of 29 degrees expected.

Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 59.

Saturday A slight chance of showers. Snow level 6100 feet lowering to 5200 feet in the afternoon. Partly sunny, with a high near 51.

Today’s Headlines

Health officials in Oregon reported 220 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 39,532 since the pandemic began. The Oregon Health Authority said there were no new deaths from COVID-19 to report, so Oregon’s death toll remained unchanged at 620.

Most of the new coronavirus cases were reported in Multnomah County (58), Lane County (33), and Marion County (33). As of Friday, the OHA says 2,886 coronavirus patients (or about 7%) have been hospitalized by the virus. The state has 161 adult ICU beds, 144 pediatric and NICU beds, and 786 ventilators available.

Canines will soon have a new Off-leash Dog Park in the City of Klamath Falls where they can exercise, play, and socialize.

The new dog park is located just south of Kit Carson Park. However, it won’t be as soon as first promised. Looks like it will be Spring 2021 for completion.

The new dog park will be entirely fenced for off-leash use, with the installation of the fence later this week. The park features a large open play area for large dogs, a smaller separated area for small dogs, a new paved parking lot and fully accessible concrete walkways from the parking lot to accommodate visitors to the area. This park will be a great addition to the open spaces available for citizens and their furry friends to use. As would be expected, construction activity was damaging to the existing lawn area. Although the City had hoped to open the park this fall, we have determined that postponing public use is in the best long-term interest of this new community asset. In an effort to ensure sustainability of the lawn surfaces, we have determined a postponed opening to late Spring or early Summer of 2021 is necessary for the new grass seed to mature.  Postponing the new dog park opening will allow time for volunteers with the Klamath Falls Dog Park Association to work toward their goals of providing other amenities to the park such as benches, tables, and other dog friendly features.

(Pictured above top left: Joshua Guest, top right: Alycia Kersey, bottom left: Bonnie Lam, bottom right: Nathan Ratliff. All are on the ballot Nov. 3rd for Klamath County Circuit Court Judge)

Four attorneys are vying for a coveted seat on the Klamath County Circuit Court. Alycia Edgeworth Kersey has held the seat since August when she was appointed to fill the vacancy created by Roxanne Osborne’s retirement.

Kersey, the incumbent of just a few months, is now running to keep the black judge’s robe after being Governor Kate Brown’s pick to fill the position. To do so, she’ll have to defeat challengers Nathan Ratliff, Bonnie Lam and Joshua Guest.

Lam was also interviewed by Brown for the open seat earlier this year. She has been a lawyer in the county for 24 years, mainly dealing in family and juvenile dependency law, including child welfare and custody issues.

Ratliff has served as the presiding judge of the Klamath Falls Municipal Court since 2016 while also operating his own private law practice since 2003. He is looking to join the circuit court equipped with what he’s learned in both of those roles.

Guest said it was his dream to be a “professional peacemaker” when he went to law school to become a mediator. He has been working as a public defender in the county courthouse and feels his mediator training would translate well into a position of passing down fair judgements.

The Klamath County Public Works Department (KCPW) announces restrictions on East Langell Valley Road at milepost 13 beginning October 19, 2020.

The restriction requires that the road be reduced to one lane of alternating two-way traffic at the bridge over Miller Creek. This will be accomplished by requiring southbound traffic to yield to any north bound traffic. Once northbound traffic has cleared, south bound traffic may proceed on the eastern half of the structure. This is necessary to repair the western half of the structure. Motorist should approach the area with caution and utilize other routes when able. For additional questions or concerns, please contact Jeremy Morris, Klamath County Public Works Director at 541-883-4696.

Chiloquin residents will vote whether or not to impose a 3% tax on marijuana retailers in the city. Right now, Chiloquin has one dispensary that is paying no city taxes. Donald Huff, owner of the dispensary Green Knottz, doesn’t oppose the measure though it could hurt his bottom line. Huff said he knows taxes are part of the marijuana business. He owns other stores and pays local taxes at his locations in La Pine and Madras. It was fortunate, he said, that Chiloquin didn’t have a tax on marijuana retailers, but he’s supportive of helping bring in money for the community. A “no” vote on city measure 18-119 would leave marijuana-related sales in Chiloquin untaxed.

Siskiyou County CattleWomen recently presented Ruth Porterfield of Dorris, Calif. with the 2020 Pioneer Beef Woman award during their 65th Anniversary celebration at the Butte Valley Community Center, according to a news release. The Pioneer Beef Woman of the Year award was initiated in 2001 to recognize ladies that have dedicated more than 25 years to the beef cattle industry in Siskiyou County. Their dedication to the cattle industry can be in many different forms; including various duties ranging from cattle management, farming, bookkeeping and the many day-to-day work activities on the ranch, and being involved in another professional career that benefits cattle production in a significant way. Porterfield has spent the majority of her life as a dedicated ranch wife, cattlewoman, mother, and grandmother; helping to lead an impactful legacy for her family. She moved to Siskiyou County from Montebello, Calif. in 1954 and graduated from Butte Valley High School shortly thereafter. Her father, a local butcher, loved Siskiyou County for its hunting and fishing opportunities.

Klamath County Cultural Coalition is now accepting applications for its County Coalition Arts Grant through new funds received from the Oregon Cultural Trust, according to a news release. The annual grant program supports grants of up to $2,000 awarded through a competitive scoring process. Nonprofit organizations that stage cultural events in Klamath County can apply for funds to support a specific event or project. The Count Coalition broadly defines culture as any activity related to the arts, heritage, or history of the local area. In past years grants have supported music programs, art workshops, film festivals, poetry readings, living history exhibitions and more.

A 54 year old Klamath Falls man was taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies on Gary Street Friday and charged with rape, incest, and sexual abuse in the third degree. Robert Allen Dickens is being held in the Klamath County jail on the felony charges and had a bail amount set at over $200,000. However, the jail report from Saturday does state that Dickens has been released. Further information about the case wasn’t immediately released from authorities.

Health officials say the number of COVID-19 cases in Oregon is increasing at its fastest pace since the pandemic began.  The Oregon Health Authority says new cases over the 1st week are up 18-percent.  The number of positive tests is also up slightly to six-point-four-percent.  Health officials want that number under five-percent.  Officials say there were also 147 new hospitalizations over the last week.  That’s the highest weekly figure since mid-July.

Watch out for phone scams say the sheriff’s department regarding family kidnapping for ransom calls.

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office has received multiple reports from people receiving phone calls indicating their child has been kidnapped and demanding a ransom.

The reporting parties noted that they heard background screaming and other noise that they believed was recorded. The incidents appeared to be originating from a foreign number possibly from Mexico beginning with country code +52.  Virtual kidnapping is an extortion scam where a caller pretends to have kidnapped a child or relative and demands payment.

The scammers will often make it appear they know significant details about their loved ones. They threaten extreme violence against the victim and imply that they have hacked your cell phone. The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office encourages you to share this information with friends and family members.

Klamath County Public Health (KCPH) officials announced wood stove air quality season is now on with wood stove restrictions underway.

A color-coded burning notice will be made each day through March 15.

These include: Green days: burning a fireplace, wood stove or wood stove insert will be allowed.

Yellow days: fireplaces and non-certified woodstoves are not allowed to be used, while certified wood stoves are allowed.

Red days: only low-income households with low emission woodstoves are allowed to burn with a Klamath County Public Health exemption.

Red Health Alert days: all burning of firewood is prohibited.

Wood stove air quality daily notices are published by 8:30 a.m. on the Klamath County website at airquality.klamathcounty.org, Klamath County Public Health’s Facebook page, on the air quality message board at the Fairgrounds and on the phone message at 541-882-BURN (882-2876).

It will be a spooky good time at the Ross Ragland Theater during Halloween weekend with a series of special film screenings planned celebrating an iconic slasher, midnight movie classic, and family-friendly holiday entertainment.

Dubbed the Halloween Movie Mash-up – a different Halloween-themed film will screen at the Ross Ragland Oct. 29-31 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for each showing. The trio of Halloween classics commences on Thursday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. with the film that set the mold for the standard slasher film, John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic “Halloween.”  On Friday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. the Ross Ragland Theater will screen the popular 1990s comedy “Hocus Pocus.”  On Halloween night the Ross Ragland will celebrate the 45th anniversary release of the ultimate midnight movie and Halloween classic – “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” To accommodate demand for the ever-popular Halloween screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, two screenings of the film will take place on Saturday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Opening Night this Thursday for “31 Seasons: A Musical Celebration!” at Ross Ragland Theater; Thursday, Oct. 22nd at 7:30pm
Tickets: $25

Take a trip down memory lane with “31 Seasons” a musical revue concert, celebrating the shows that the Ross Ragland Theater has produced as community productions since our launch, in March of 1989, with our first production of The Music Man.

This monumentally talented cast of 10 will perform songs and medleys from over 30 different Broadway shows that have been performed by local talent on the Ragland stage over the years. Ragland regulars will hear nostalgic favorites, such as the wistful “On the Street Where You Live”, from My Fair Lady, and a lovely, haunting a cappella rendition of The Wizard of Oz’s “Over the Rainbow”, as well as many songs you didn’t know you knew, such as the comical bantering of “How Can Love Survive”, from The Sound of Music, and the whimsically charming duet, “Agony”, from Into the Woods. The cast is comprised of both veterans and newcomers to our community of performers: Shelley Andersen, Rebekah Beger, Isaac Elkins, Shaleen Holbrook, Nathalie Reid, Sabrina Steward, Dana Wirth, director Ryan Michael Adams, and unbelievably multitalented pianists and vocalists Dan Crenshaw and Suzanne Stewart.

Come celebrate the Ross Ragland Theater and our community of talent with performances at 7:30pm Thursday-Saturday, October 22nd, 23rd, and 24th, and at 2:00pm on Sunday the 25th.

The Williamson River boat ramp at Chiloquin has reopened to the public after improvements to the site were completed. The construction project removed the outdated, inoperable and unsafe boat slide and replaced it with a concrete boat ramp, as well as a new ADA vault toilet restroom and ADA accessible parking lot.

Due to site limitations and minimizing construction impacts, the new boat ramp is steeper than usual and includes a wheel stop to help prevent users from backing into the river. The improvements were completed in partnership with Klamath Tribes and funded with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Sport Fish Restoration funds along with an Oregon State Marine Board facility grant. This facility is day-use only and intended for drift boat and small watercraft use. Users are asked to use extra caution when launching or retrieving boats at this site. Catch and release rainbow trout fishing is open thru Oct. 31 on this section of the Williamson River.

Around the state of Oregon

The Covid-19 pandemic and wildfires across the state of Oregon has sent many people looking for help when it comes to putting food on the table.

The Oregon Food Bank says the need has doubled that what they typically see. The organization estimates that one in four people are struggling to feed themselves or their family. According to the Oregon Center for Public Policy, in 2018 one in 10 Oregonians lived in poverty, that’s roughly 516,000 people. Of that forty percent live in deep poverty. 

Fire Restrictions Still In Effect on Public Lands in Medford District 

Medford, Ore. – As the weather continues to stay warm and red flag warning persist,  the Bureau of Land Management Medford District is reminding the public that we are still in Moderate Fire Danger and that public use restrictions are still in effect on BLM-managed lands in southern Oregon.  

“It’s been a long fire season, are we aren’t out of the woods yet,” said District Manager Elizabeth Burghard. “Please help protect our local communities and public lands by following the personal use restrictions.” 

Additionally, the following activities are restricted: 

  • Campfires or any other type of open fire, including the use of charcoal briquettes, is prohibited on BLM-managed land. 
  • Smoking is only allowed while inside a vehicle or while stopped in an area at least three (3) feet in diameter that is clear of flammable vegetation.   
  • Operating a motor vehicle and parking off road (including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles) is only allowed on roadways clear of flammable vegetation.   
  • Using fireworks, exploding targets, or tracer ammunition is prohibited.   
  • Using a chainsaw or other equipment with internal combustion engines for felling, bucking, skidding, woodcutting, or any other operation is prohibited between the hours of 1:00 PM and 8:00 PM. A fire watch of at least one hour is required following use of a saw.    
  • Welding or operating a torch with an open flame is prohibited.   

Visitors to BLM-managed lands are also required to carry with them tools to ensure small fires can be put out quickly, including a shovel, axe and at least one gallon of water or a 2.5 pound fire extinguisher.

Violation of these restrictions can result in a fine up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year. 

For updated information on public use restrictions, please visit www.blm.gov/programs/public-safety-andfire/fire-and-aviation/regional-info/oregon-washington/fire-restrictions and the Oregon Department of Forestry at https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx  

Federal agents and demonstrators clashed outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in South Portland for several hours late Saturday, with officers eventually using tear gas and detaining several people.

Demonstrators gathered at Willamette Park and walked about a mile (1.6 kilometers) to the ICE building, arriving at about 9 p.m. Saturday. Department of Homeland Security officers first responded as protesters tried to tie mylar balloons to a gate outside the building, according to reports.  Federal officers used smoke, an irritant and non-lethal munitions to break up the crowd while demonstrators threw playground balls or rocks at officers in several exchanges throughout the night, officials said.

The demonstration, in honor of those who have died in ICE custody, came as part of the near nightly protests in Portland calling for criminal justice reform that began after the death of George Floyd in late May.

According to a Lake County grand jury, a sheriff deputy was justified when he shot and killed an armed, mentally ill man at a Lakeview motel.

Deputy Craig Kintzley shot and killed Terry Dickson Sept. 12 at the Interstate 8 Motel in Lakeview. According to Lake County District Attorney Ted K. Martin, Dickson suffered “long term mental illness.”  According to a report completed by the Oregon State Police, Kintzley arrived at the motel after reports of popping noises and that “someone was shooting at the building.”

Kintzley talked to witnesses and determined a man inside a hotel room was shooting a gun. Kintzley called for backup and took a position nearby. Dickson soon exited his motel room while armed and “did not obey commands to drop the gun which at times was leveled at Deputy Kintzley” and near bystanders, according to Martin. Kintzley said he fired one shot as Dickson backed into his room. After a SWAT team arrived and entered Dickson’s motel room, they found him dead.

Rogue Creamery President President David Gremmels

It was exactly one year ago today that a small American creamery from Oregon made national and international news.

On October 18, 2019, Rogue Creamery from Central Point, Oregon, earned the title of “best cheese in the world” for their Rogue River Blue Cheese at the World Cheese Awards in Bergamo, Italy. It was the first time in the history of the competition that an American cheese was selected as grand champion.

In honor of Rogue River Blue’s historic win, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued a proclamation designating October 18 as Blue Cheese Day.

Similar to the “Judgement of Paris” in 1976, when American wines triumphed over the best French vintners in a blind taste test, this was a statement win and a landmark moment for American artisanal and farmstead cheeses.

U.S. Dairy Export Council President, Tom Vilsack said, “This is more than a win for Rogue Creamery of Central Point, Oregon, The ‘Best Cheese’ title creates a halo effect that will cause global customers to look at all U.S. cheeses in a brighter light.”

This was no small feat. An international panel of 260 judges selected Rogue River Blue out of more than 3,800 cheeses from 42 countries.

The judges experienced the signature Rogue Valley terroir captured within each taste of the organic, cave-aged blue cheese wrapped in Syrah grape leaves soaked in pear spirits, with flavors of sweet pine, wild ripened berries, hazelnuts, morels and pears. It earned their high praise and respect.

This special cheese is the product of seventeen years of hard work and refinement by President David Gremmels with support from his dedicated team at Rogue Creamery and their organic herd of Brown Swiss and Holstein cows. Rogue Creamery is a certified B-Corporation that serves as a model for sustainability in dairy, committed to leaving a positive impact on people, animals, and the planet.

“I am humbled and filled with gratitude. This is the greatest distinction a cheese can receive,” said Rogue Creamery President, David Gremmels. “What extraordinary validation of our commitment to quality, of the place that inspires our cheese – Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley – and of the excellence of the growing American artisan cheese industry.”

Since the 2020 World Cheese Awards were postponed to 2021, Rogue River Blue will have the rare distinction of continuing its reign as “best in the world” for two years running.

Oregon artists may now apply to a new Artist Relief Program created by the Oregon Arts Commission in partnership with The Oregon Community Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. Awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 will be distributed until the program fund, totaling just over $1.25 million, is depleted.

“Without our artists, there would be no art in Oregon,” said Brian Rogers, executive director of the Oregon Arts Commission. “We feel strongly that, in addition to the significant relief we were able to provide to arts and cultural organizations through federal CARES Act funds allocated to the National Endowment for the Arts and the Oregon Cultural Trust, we need to offer relief funding to struggling Oregon artists as well. We are extremely grateful to The Oregon Community Foundation and the Miller Foundation for joining us in that effort.”

The purpose of the Artist Relief Program is to provide relief funding to Oregon artists who have experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic due to cancellations of exhibitions, performances, rehearsals or other activities with a stipend, events, teaching opportunities, book signings or other professional presentation opportunities. Guidelines are now posted on the Arts Commission website.

“In times of crisis, artists help us make sense of our world and stay connected to one another,” said Martha Richards, executive director of the Miller Foundation. “The Miller Foundation stands with Oregon artists in this difficult time because we recognize the critical roles they play in our communities and our lives–they are the foundation of our state’s arts ecosystem.”

“Oregon Community Foundation is thrilled to be a partner in this new Artist Relief program,” added Jerry Tischleder, Oregon Community Foundation’s program officer for arts and culture. “We recognize that independent and freelance artists are vital to the recovery of our communities, bringing hope and inspiration to the world while using their creativity to help process the collective trauma, grief and loss we’ve all experienced in these unprecedented times.”

The program supports professional artists from specific disciplines who have experienced or anticipate experiencing loss of revenue of $1,000 or more between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020.

The artistic disciplines supported are: Literature (creative non-fiction, fiction, play writing and poetry); dance (including choreography); music (composition and music performance); theatre and performance art; folk and traditional arts; visual arts (crafts, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, mixed media and new media); design arts; and media arts.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10. Awards must be spent by July 31, 2021.

Artists from underserved communities, including (but not limited to) rural communities and communities of color, as well as artists with disabilities, are especially encouraged to apply.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The Oregon Arts Commission provides leadership, funding and arts programs through its grants, special initiatives and services. Nine commissioners, appointed by the Governor, determine arts needs and establish policies for public support of the arts.

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