Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 11/18 – Gov. Brown’s Two-Week Freeze Begins Today

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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.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Rain or showers today at times, high of 42. Snow level 4900 feet. Overnight rain and snow showers likely, becoming all snow after 1am, low of 30 degrees. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Thursday A 30 percent chance of snow showers before 10am. Partly sunny, with a high near 42. West southwest wind around 7 mph. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Friday Sunny, with a high near 43. North wind 3 to 5 mph.

Saturday Sunny, with a high near 44.

Sunday Mostly cloudy, with a high near 44.

Today’s Headlines

After four months of negotiations and uncertainty, the largest dam removal effort in U.S. history is again moving forward. Signatories to the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement announced Tuesday that they’ve devised a way forward following a regulatory curveball thrown at the project this summer. The virtual gathering was an affirmation of all parties’ commitments to see the agreement through.

The Yurok Tribe, the Karuk Tribe, PacifiCorp, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation and the states of California and Oregon have signed a Memorandum of Agreement outlining the next steps they’ll take to fulfill the KHSA — namely providing extra contingency funds for the project and changing who will be on the dam licenses. Signatories will file new applications to transfer and surrender the dam licenses in the coming months, and the actual removal and restoration efforts is expected to begin in 2023.

Currently, PacifiCorp owns four dams on the Klamath River that scientists say cut off hundreds of miles of salmon spawning habitat and contribute to high fish disease rates and toxic algae blooms in what used to be the third most important salmon-bearing watershed in the Pacific Northwest. 

Klamath County Public Health officials reported 19 new cases of COVID-19 in the community on Tuesday, Nov 17, according to a news release. The local case count is 553. This week’s total is 28.

As another wave of COVID-19 infections inundates the U.S., Klamath County hasn’t been spared an uptick in cases. But county health officials say the numbers aren’t all gloom and doom.

The last three coronavirus updates from Klamath County Public Health saw three double-digit new case counts in a row —13 on November 12, 20 on November 13 and 11 on November 16, leading to an average of 7.4 new cases every day over the past week. That’s the highest rate so far this year not accounting for the October 3 addition of 56 cases in one day, attributed to an outbreak among strawberry farmworkers and not community spread, which ballooned the 7-day average to 10.1. The county has reached 534 positive cases.

To date, 275 of those people have recovered from the virus, 24 have been hospitalized and three have died.

COVID-19 has claimed 13 more lives in the state of Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 778, the Oregon Health Authority reported on Tuesday, Nov. 17thOregon Health Authority reported 935 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of this morning, bringing the state total to 58,570.

The new cases are in the following counties: Baker (4), Benton (15), Clackamas (85), Clatsop (5), Columbia (7), Coos (5), Curry (4), Deschutes (30), Douglas (37), Harney (5), Hood River (4), Jackson (60), Jefferson (28), Josephine (17), Klamath (25), Lake (4), Lane (45), Lincoln (2), Linn (16), Malheur (7), Marion (151), Morrow (1), Multnomah (208), Polk (21), Tillamook (3), Umatilla (41), Union (6), Wallowa (1), Wasco (5), Washington (88) and Yamhill (20).

KLAMATH COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT CONTINUES IN-CLASSROOM LEARNING FOR NOW

Press Release from KCSD, Nov. 17, 2020

Dear KCSD families,

Thanks to a waiver from the state, Klamath County schools will continue their current in-person school models and schedules despite a 10.7% county COVID-19 test positivity rate. The Oregon Department of Education late Tuesday agreed to a one-week stay of the rate so health officials could update data.

The county appealed to the state for a waiver, citing a ransomware attack at the local medical center. Klamath County Public Health officials are working with the state and local providers to ensure all negative test results were accurately reported in the correct week.

Case rates allow schools to stay open to in-person instruction until they go over 200 per 100,000. Test positivity percentages allow schools to stay open to in-person instruction until they go over 10%.

“Klamath County and Klamath Falls City schools do not need to take any action in relation to the 10.7% test positivity data point released this week,” said Colt Gill, director of the Oregon Department of Education and deputy superintendent of public instruction, in an email to district superintendents and commissioner Kelley Minty Morris. “The schools will need to return to normal procedures and take action based test positivity and case rate data that will be released on Monday, Nov. 23.”

Klamath County School District will continue to monitor the metrics and will alert families of any changes to our school models and schedules. If the rate goes above 10% next week, our 4th-12th grade students at Brixner, Ferguson, Shasta, Stearns, Peterson, Falcon Heights, Mazama, and the Henley Complex would be required to start classes Monday, Nov. 30 with comprehensive distance learning. We will post any updates on our website at www.kcsd.k12.or.us.

Unfavorable metrics at this time do not impact our K-3 students and students in our small, rural schools – Keno, Malin, Merrill, Chiloquin, Gilchrist, Gearhart, Bonanza, and Lost River. Those students would continue with their current in-person models under a “safe harbor” clause in the state guidance. The safe harbor clause also includes special education students and other students attending under limited in-person instruction models. If metrics remain unfavorable, these students would be required to transition to distance learning as of Jan. 4.

Klamath County School District’s top priority is the safety of our students and staff, and we will continue to monitor the impact of the virus on our communities. As of today, Klamath County Public Health officials assure us that the increasing trend in new cases is not associated with our school communities, and the county continues to experience minimal community spread.

We worked hard to bring our students back, and we hope our county’s numbers decrease so we can continue to offer in-person learning. We wish our families an enjoyable Thanksgiving break.

Sincerely,
Glen Szymoniak
Superintendent, Klamath County School District

For more: Follow this link — Ready Schools, Safe Learners – to see the metrics starting on page 12). For the county’s week-by-week COVID-19 case counts and metrics: Klamath_County_Covid-19_data.)

As coronavirus infections soar across Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown indicated Friday that she intends to take a much harder line to enforce her new “freeze” order that limits the size of social gatherings to no more than six people.

The governor warned that violations are misdemeanors punishable by citation or arrest, and Brown said she would work with state police and local law enforcement to encourage Oregonians to comply with her directive. However, on the local level, both the county sheriff and city police chief say they will not actively pursue those that break the directive.

The National Weather Service says a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY will be IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM WEDNESDAY TO 10 AM PST THURSDAY ABOVE 5000 FEET…

Snow is expected above 5000 feet. Total snow accumulations of 10 to 15 inches. Winds gusting as high as 40 mph in exposed areas. The areas affected are the South Central Oregon Cascades to include Highways 138 and 230 near Diamond Lake and Highway 62 near Crater Lake. Snow will impact areas below 5000 feet but amounts won`t be as significant.

Travel could be very difficult with low visibility and slippery roads. The heaviest snow is expected Wednesday morning and late Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

A Lakeview man died Monday night in a rollover crash on Highway 395 about 70 miles north of Lakeview. Jerry Henderson, 78, was headed southbound around 7:50 p.m. when his pickup left the road and rolled near milepost 73 of Highway 395, according to Oregon State Police. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

The City of Klamath Falls is pleased to announce the first round of 2020 Emergency Business & Nonprofit Grant recipients have been awarded.

Over $25,000 has been awarded to local businesses and nonprofits to assist with rent/mortgages, utilities, or expenses incurred due to COVID-19 regulations.  Recognizing that assistance grants such as these are essential grassroots programs to aid businesses and nonprofits facing unprecedented challenges, the City and their partners approached the award process with acute responsiveness to help applicants survive and thrive.  

It is the City’s goal to be able to continue to work flexibly with our partners to provide support to our community in future programs.

Yet another wolf kill has been reported in the Fort Klamath area. Though most cattle that graze in the Fort Klamath area have been shipped to winter pastures in Northern California, another kill — the 16th this year in Klamath County according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife — has been confirmed.

ODFW said the most recent kill happened last Thursday, Nov. 12. According to the department, that morning a rancher found a dead, approximately 750-pound yearling steer in a 160-acre private-land grass pasture owned by Roger Nicholson. The depredation is attributed to wolves of the Rogue Pack. Unusually, no cattle deaths by the Rogue Pack, which moves between Klamath and Jackson counties, have been reported in Jackson County this year.

Downtown Klamath County Library to implement new rules for “Two Week Freeze” to reduce COVID-19 spread

In response to Governor Kate Brown’s “Two Week Freeze” announcement, the downtown Klamath County library is reducing some services starting Wednesday, November 18th. The rules below will be in place through at least Wednesday, December 2nd:

  • We strongly encourage visitors to limit their stay to an hour maximum.
  • Public computers for adults will be only available via appointment. Appointments start at the top of the hour or at the half hour, and last for 50 minutes. We are also reducing the number of available public computers, to encourage physical distancing.
  • An “Express Computer” will be available for users who only need to print materials. Use of this computer will be limited to 15 minutes, and available on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • Computers for visitors under 18 are unavailable until further notice.

The Bookie Joint bookstore and the Senior Center Branch Library are also closed until further notice.

These risk reduction measures are critical in limiting the spread of COVID-19, reducing risk in communities more vulnerable to serious illness and death, and helping conserve hospital capacity so that all Oregonians can continue to have access to quality care.

The “Two Week Freeze” is also a great time to reacquaint yourself with our many online materials, including movies, music, books, comics, audiobooks and more! Visit https://klamathlibrary.org/emedia for more information.

For the most up-to-date information on measures that Klamath County libraries are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit the “frequently asked questions” page at klamathlibrary.org/coronavirus or call 541-882-8894.

Around the state of Oregon

Lydia Jazmin, missing child alert

MISSING CHILD ALERT — MISSING FOSTER CHILD LYDIA JAZMIN IS BELIEVED TO BE IN DANGER 

 Lydia Jazmin, age 16, is a foster child who went missing from Medford, Ore. on Nov. 11, 2020. She is believed to be in danger.

The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Child Welfare Division, asks the public to help in the effort to find them and to contact 911 or local law enforcement if they believe they see them. It is believed they may be travelling to Albany, Ore.

Name: Lydia Jazmin
Pronouns: They/Them
Date of birth: July 16, 2004
Height: 4’ 10”
Weight: 200 pounds
Eye color: Brown
Hair: Dark brown
Medford Police Department Case #18910
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children #14064220

Anyone who suspects they have information about Lydia Jazmin’s location should call 911 or local law enforcement.

A small number of children in foster care may be in significant danger when they run away or have gone missing. As ODHS works to do everything it can to find these missing children and ensure their safety, media alerts will be issued in some circumstances when it is determined necessary. Sometimes, in these situations, a child may go missing repeatedly, resulting in more than one media alert for the same child.

Report child abuse to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233).  This toll-free number allows you to report abuse of any child or adult to the Oregon Department of Human Services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.

MEDFORD POLICE ADDRESS GOVERNOR BROWN’S EXECUTIVE ORDER OF TWO-WEEK FREEZE

On November 17, Governor Kate Brown issued an Executive Order on the Temporary Freeze.

In collaboration with Oregon State Police, the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association, and Oregon Association Chiefs of Police, Medford Police is asking all Medford citizens to adhere to the Governor’s Executive Order to help stop the rapid spread of COVID-19.

In unison with our state and local law enforcement partners, when responding to complaints of violation of the Executive Order our officers will continue to follow an education first approach. Officers will only take enforcement action (criminal citations) as a last resort.

“Medford Police Officers will be directed, where appropriate, to not take immediate enforcement action. Law Enforcement always has the option of gathering relevant information, completing the investigation into the alleged violation of the order, completing a police report, and referring the case to the District Attorney’s office for charging considerations at a later time.” –Scott Clauson, Chief of Police

COVID-19 cases are surging in Jackson County. The sharp increase in cases have been felt in our local hospitals, which are seeing a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. We must make it a priority to take preventative actions such as wearing a mask, staying home if you’re sick, and limiting social gatherings as much as possible.

We recognize the inconvenience of the pandemic and the impacts the restrictions have had on all of us. Please join us in following the Two-Week Freeze to make our communities a safer and healthy place.

JACKSON COUNTY SHERIFF RESPONSE TO GOVERNOR BROWN’S TWO-WEEK FREEZE

In regards to the “Freeze” announced by the Governor and the subsequent Executive Order, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is reminding everyone to take some precautions to help reduce the spread of the Corona Virus in efforts to keep everyone safe and to reduce the strain and risk to our medical providers.

Deputies will certainly still respond to calls for service. However, we will encourage deputies to take precautions to reduce possible exposure to the virus. We may decide to take some additional reports over the phone and we will continue to encourage using our on-line reporting system for minor incidents.

With regards to the Governor’s restriction on “six” or more people in a private residence, the Sheriff’s Office will be referring these matters to the Oregon Health Authority. In instances where a response occurs we will follow guidelines of education and requesting voluntary compliance. If there are egregious and persistent issues the information could be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for review.

The jail has been operating in the same manner since March of this year. There are many protocols in place to mitigate the risk of the Coronavirus getting into our facility and we hope to maintain that standard so we do not lose further capacity, in an already undersized facility.

Our Concealed Handgun Licensing division will continue to operate as it has been, with the caveat we will ask people to wait in their vehicle in efforts to reduce interaction in our lobby. This process was implemented in March, allowing much of the paperwork to be done remotely. You can reference our webpage for further details on how to apply for a CHL or update one. It is important for us to continue this service for our community.

We will continue to monitor the Coronavirus situation and its impact on our community. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is always committed to serving you with Character, Competence, Courage and Compassion.”

The Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association, the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oregon State Police encourage all Oregonians to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order during the two-week Coronavirus freeze

Oregonians have a strong tradition of unifying to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities. As your fellow community members, please join us in adhering to the Governor’s Executive Order during the two-week Coronavirus freeze. As your Oregon Law Enforcement professionals, our primary objective throughout the Coronavirus pandemic has been to take an education first approach and to seek voluntary compliance with each Executive Order. We recognize the inconvenience the pandemic and subsequent restrictions have caused all of us. We also know that the risk to our most vulnerable populations is extremely high at this time and we urge everyone to follow these restrictions in order to protect them. After all, we are all in this together.

With the issuance of the latest Executive Order, Oregon Law enforcement will continue to follow an education first approach. Oregon Law Enforcement will only take enforcement action (criminal citations) as a last resort. As with most enforcement decision making, discretion will be used if/when any Executive Order enforcement action is taken. Oregon Law Enforcement recognizes that we cannot arrest or enforce our way out of the pandemic. We can however work together in following these restrictions to make our communities a safer and healthy place.

We include the following recommendations when it comes to reporting Executive Order violations.

  • Business/workplace violations-Please report these to Oregon OSHA.
  • Restaurant/Bars-Please report these violations to OSHA or OLCC.
     

Oregon Law Enforcement is faced with many challenges one of which is typically receiving more police calls for service than available resources to respond. Because of this, we ask the public to follow the above-mentioned recommendations for reporting alleged violations of the Executive Order.

Budget airline Allegiant announced this week that a new complement of non-stop flights will include one between Medford and Orange County, California.

Allegiant said that this new route will begin on February 12 of 2021, with fares as low as $69 each way. Among the other added flights is one from Orange County to Las Vegas. Non-stop flights between Medford and Orange County will operate twice per week, according to the Jackson County Airport Authority.

Allegiant announced non-stop flights between Medford and San Diego earlier this year, and Alaska Airlines announced routes between Medford and Los Angeles in July.

The Independent Restaurant Alliance of Oregon is asking the state for help before the “freeze” adds restrictions that impact their business.  

In an open letter yesterday, the group, which makes up over 300 restaurants and bars, asked Governor Kate Brown for a number of things including financial assistance.  The letter says shutting down costs each location about 40-thousand-dollars.  

The group wants a plan that “simultaneously supports the health” of their guests, employees, and “the livelihoods of the people and businesses.”

The State of Oregon is facing a lawsuit over the Oregon Cares Fund.  The fund was established by the Legislature using money from the CARES Act to help Black owned businesses, nonprofits and Black families struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.  

The lawsuit was filed by Great Northern Resources and alleges the fund is unconstitutional.  Governor Kate Brown issued a statement saying Black Oregonians are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and this fund is intended to help provide more support.

Oregon’s two largest universities are offering free coronavirus testing to their entire student population ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Oregon State University and the University of Oregon together serve more than 50,000 studentswith many in Corvallis and Eugene expected to head home next week. It’s not immediately clear how many students are expected to seek the free testing or whether each university has the capacity to test a high volume of the student body, should tens of thousands of students seek tests.

FATAL CRASH ON HWY 126E – LANE COUNTY

On Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at approximately 9:00 A.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 126E near milepost 14.

Preliminary investigation revealed a Jaguar sedan, operated by Albert Lundberg (78) of Springfield, was westbound when it left the roadway and crashed.

Lundberg was transported to River Bend Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. 

New resources to help business taxpayers and tax professionals understand and comply with Oregon’s new Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) have been added to the Department of Revenue’s website.

In October, the CAT policy staff hosted a pair of live video conference training sessions. The PowerPoint presentation used in the training sessions is available on the CAT page of the agency’s website.

In addition, questions submitted via email by participants in the two training sessions and answers provided by the CAT policy staff have been posted under the CAT training materials header. Questions and answers are divided by topic to make it easier for taxpayers to find the information they need.

In the coming weeks, a series of short, subject-specific training videos will also be added to the website.

Other information on the CAT page of the Department of Revenue’s website includes:
• A list of frequently asked questions.
• High-level summaries of the rules and other topics to help with taxpayer compliance.
• A registration training PowerPoint presentation.
• A PowerPoint presentation to help with making payments.
• A link to the CAT administrative rules.
• A link to the statutes governing the CAT. .

The page also includes an opportunity to subscribe to email updates about the CAT.

Taxpayers with general questions about the CAT can email cat.help.dor@oregon.gov or call 503-945-8005.

Paddock Butte Forest Restoration Project showcases Good Neighbor Authority, public-private collaboration

BLY, Ore. — On the Fremont-Winema National Forest, Oregon’s first Good Neighbor Authority timber sale and restoration operation is showing visible improvements to forest health.

Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) allows agreements between the state and the federal government to accomplish forest restoration work on U.S. Forest Service land using state personnel and resources. ODF’s Federal Forest Restoration (FFR) Program which works to increase the pace, scale, and quality of forest restoration work on federal land, coupled with U.S. Forest Service funding, have provided the resources to conduct work under GNA since 2016. 

Through selective tree thinning harvests, the revenue from selling the timber can then be invested in more forest restoration work as well as covering ODF costs. To date across the state of Oregon, ODF has sold 18 GNA timber sales treating 6,700 acres and generating 41 million board feet.

“It helps the U.S. Forest Service get more restoration completed. GNA allows the state to generate program revenue through timber sales, which can then be used to get more restoration accomplished on Forest Service lands,” said Amy Markus, Cohesive Strategy Coordinator for the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

At Paddock Butte, in untreated areas you can see the tangled thickets of pine, juniper, and other plants all competing for limited light and water resources. When laying out these timber sales, foresters identify large, healthy and older trees to leave behind.

“In a healthy forest you want space between the trees,” said Justin Hallett, Federal Forest Restoration coordinator for the ODF Klamath-Lake District. “You want it to be a vigorous stand where trees are continuously growing. In an overstocked forest, there’s maybe 500 trees per acre, all small and competing for resources.”

The before and after pictures show the results: Big trees with space to grow, not competing with underbrush and less healthy trees that not only are competing for resources but can serve as fuel that makes fire more intense.

Fire is not necessarily the enemy, Markus said. Low-intensity, ground fires historically have helped maintain the forest, and one of the goals for the Paddock Butte sale is to set it up for successful prescribed burning.

The last century’s focus on fire suppression has contributed to overstocked forests that otherwise may, in a sense, self-regulate with low-intensity fires, said ODF Klamath-Lake State Forests Unit Forester John Pellissier.

“It’s kind of led to an accumulation of fuels and additional density and stocking on the forest, which leads to poor growth, poor health, insect infestations and even large fires,” Pellissier said.

Recognizing that fire doesn’t stop at property boundaries, where possible GNA sales are paired with other forest restoration projects on public and private lands alike.

Paddock Butte is an isolated patch of federal forestland surrounded by private ranches, who for years have been restoring their lands to improve forest health and fire resiliency. The scale of need of forest restoration is massive, so working in tandem with adjacent landowners can achieve larger results and pay better dividends in terms of reduced fire and disease.

As an example, the Paddock Butte timber sale is 637 acres, and will fund treatment of an additional 1,134 acres. Combined with nearby private ground treatments, nearly 3,300 acres will see improved forest health and less susceptibility to large fires.

“The wildfires we’re seeing now are big, high-severity, and grow very fast,” Markus said. “They do not stop at ownership boundaries. When you start talking forest health and really trying to reduce the risk of wildfire, it’s key you’re doing it across boundaries and at large scales. We’re really trying to work hard to do forest restoration across public and all private lands involved at a scale that’s meaningful.”

The benefits of the project go beyond immediate forest health improvements. The sold timber employs crews and helps support local mills, and a more fire-resilient landscape should reduce the financial and social toll of large fires on the treated landscape.  It allows ODF to keep some seasonal employees on board outside of fire season, keeping experienced workers busy on forest health projects like Paddock Butte. Program revenue stays with ODF to achieve more forest restoration work on federal lands.

“It’s a great program that supplies a lot of benefits,” Pellissier said.

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