Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 11/25 Thanksgiving Weekend Begins with 60 New Cases of Covid-19 in Klamath County; Forecast of Cold Weather of Rain Mixed with Snow

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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 25, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Today A chance of snow showers after 10am, mixing with rain after 1pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 40. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected. Overnight, cloudy, with a low around 26.

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day Mostly sunny, with a high near 41. Overnight, patchy freezing fog after 4am. Mostly clear, with a low around 21.

Friday Patchy freezing fog before 10am. Sunny, with a high near 44.

Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 47.

Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near 48.

Monday Partly sunny, with a high near 46.

Today’s Headlines

Klamath County Public Health officials reported 60 new cases of COVID-19 in the community on Tuesday. The local case count is 745.

KCPH Director Jennifer Little says, “Case investigations and contact tracing continues as positive cases come in,” She added, “We anticipate the statewide report will have outbreaks listed for Klamath County tomorrow. However, in the nine months of our experience with COVID-19, many cases result from social and professional contacts. People tend to let their guards down among family, friends and colleagues. We have all be asked to make prudent choices this holiday weekend. Our personal actions effect our own health and that of others.”

Sky Lakes Medical Center announced Tuesday that the Klamath Falls hospital’s isolation unit for COVID-19 patients reached capacity for the first time and that a second unit has been opened. Seven patients were in the dedicated third-floor COVID unit Tuesday morning, up from four the day before. Three more patients were admitted before lunchtime.

A second isolation unit has opened on the medical center’s second floor to deal with the increased COVID-19 patient volume, according to the hospital. Providers and staff can access both of those units without entering public space. The rest of the hospital’s inpatient care area remains open to non-COVID patients.

Sky Lakes Primary Care Clinic remained closed yesterday following a sudden increase in the number of positive COVID-19 tests among staff.

Clinic leaders took the necessary precautions to protect patients and the community so seriously that they temporarily closed the clinic on Monday. While clinic leaders closely and continually monitor employees for any illness, this brief closure allows time to complete testing and contact tracing of staff, and ensures facilities are thoroughly cleaned and prepared for safe patient visits.

Watch and listen for updates as the situation evolves.

COVID-19 has claimed 21 more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 847.  The total number of Oregonians hospitalized with COVID-19 also increased, along with the number of people with the virus who are in intensive cares.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (7), Benton (20), Clackamas (106), Clatsop (7), Columbia (7), Coos (4), Crook (3), Curry (7), Deschutes (44), Douglas (19), Grant (4), Harney (2), Hood River (6), Jackson (56), Jefferson (12), Josephine (11), Klamath (60), Lake (9), Lane (57), Lincoln (23), Linn (21), Malheur (17), Marion (113), Morrow (5), Multnomah (150), Polk (30), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (34), Union (4), Wasco (9), Washington (183), and Yamhill (24).

The 21 deaths that OHA health officials are reporting yesterday sets a one-day record in the state of Oregon.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients across Oregon increased to 474, 18 more than yesterday. There are 113 COVID-19 patients in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, 4 more than yesterday. Medical professionals around Oregon are asking urging people again not to gather to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

The Oregon Medical Association, Oregon Nurses Association and the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems teamed together to write a letter, warning people to celebrate safely. The healthcare community is begging Oregonians to take advantage of technology like Skype and FaceTime to celebrate with their loved ones. Healthcare professionals say hospitals are filling up quickly. They soon worry that ICUs could become overrun by COVID-19 patients.

Klamath Community College announced Tuesday it received a $100,000 donation from former Hewlett-Packard president, John Young, to help fund construction of an Apprenticeship Center that will house apprenticeship and training facilities for skilled trades at the college.

Young, former president and CEO of the Hewlett-Packard Co., grew up in Klamath Falls. His father, Lloyd “Lube” Young, was a supervising electrician at East Side Electric in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. John worked as an apprentice electrician during breaks from school, before graduating with a degree in electrical engineering from Oregon State University.

Jim Pinniger, founder and owner of Precision Homes, was a college roommate and lifelong friend. The 35,000-square-foot Apprenticeship Center will span five acres, and include nearly 12,000 square feet of hands-on training space for students enrolled in industrial trades and apprenticeship programs such as electrical, plumbing, millwright, pipefitter, and machinist. The center will also include a fire training academy. Students enrolled in fire sciences and emergency medical operations programs will have a 3,200-square-foot fire training academy for wildland and structural fire instruction.

As part of the donation, John will name the Apprenticeship Center Industry and Construction Flex Lab in honor of Jim and Jean Pinniger

The Klamath County Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) will receive $32,646 in Phase 38 funding to support local public and/or private non-profit organizations with existing programs that provide emergency food (meals and food boxes), shelter (mass shelter or rent), and utility assistance (gas, electric and water service) for needy individuals throughout Klamath County, according to a news release.

FEMA funds cannot be used as seed money for new programs. Earlier in the year, the national FEMA board allocated a total of $91,396 to Klamath County in Phase 37 and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in FY 2020. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under its Phase 38 program nationally will be allocating $140 million with $32,646 being awarded to the Klamath County jurisdiction to be utilized during the first half of 2021.

These federal funds will be awarded by a local FEMA board of directors chaired by Frank Hernandez and administered by the United Way of the Klamath Basin.

The Friends of the Klamath County Library has been awarded a second $7000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) to continue their partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL) in Klamath County.  

The Friends group underwrites the DPIL, which mails a free, age-appropriate book every month to any registered child from birth to 5 years old, regardless of their economic situation or location in the county. In the last year, almost 18,000 books have been sent to Klamath County children; there are over 1750 youngsters participating in the program and 645 have graduated. This grant, from the Jerome S. and Barbara Bischoff Library Subfund of the Oregon Community Foundation, will allow the Friends to offer this service to even more youngsters.

Parents, expectant parents or guardians of children under 5 who live in Klamath County can sign up at any Klamath County library branch, or online at klamathlibrary.org/dollyparton. If you’re interested in donating funds to help the Friends underwrite more recipients, visit klamathlibrary.org/dollyparton for more information. The OCF puts donated money to work in Oregon – more than $100 million in grants and scholarships support Oregonians annually.

For nearly 45 years, OCF grant-making, research, advocacy and community-advised solutions have helped individuals, families, businesses and organizations create charitable funds to improve lives for all Oregonians. For more about them and what they do, visit oregoncf.org.

As part of assistant professor and co-director of Professional Writing at Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech), Amber Lancaster, Ph.D., tasked her students to partner with professional clients to pursue funding for a number of community projects.

The result of two of those projects amounted to $9,500 in grant funding awarded to the Klamath Falls Blue Zones Project. During winter 2020 term, four students in Dr. Lancaster’s Writing 410 Proposal & Grant Writing class worked with Blue Zones Project as their client to help write proposals for needed grants.

These projects included a separated bike lane, a bike share program near the hospital and Oregon Tech, a playground project to raise funding for an 80,000 square foot playground in Moore Park, and a Pedlet Project to increase foot traffic in downtown Klamath Falls and help with economic vitality. Writing 410: Proposals & Grant Writing is a practical, hands-on course that teaches students how to identify community needs and seek funding for solutions.

Klamath Basin Sunrise Rotary Club recently presented the Oregon Tech Dental Hygiene Community Health Outreach Program with a check for $2,000, according to a news release.

A Rotary District 5110 Matching Grant was used to fund the program. Oregon Tech Dental Hygiene students will use the funds to assess dental needs within local elementary schools, provide education and then provide dental treatments free of cost at the Oregon Tech Dental Hygiene Clinic for these underserved children. This is the sixth year Klamath Basin Sunrise Rotary Club has helped fund this project.

For information about this project and Rotary contact Jack Baumann at baumann@aol.com.

Crews will break ground in just a few weeks on the Department of Human Services service center at TimberMill Shores downtown along Lake Ewauna.

There will not be a ground-breaking ceremony due to the COVID regulations and restrictions. The three-story 91,950-square-foot building will allow for consolidation of separate departments within the State of Oregon Department of Health and Human Services in Klamath Falls. The facility design has a focus on trauma informed care, with special attention to details for sounds and visual calming, as well as some elements that give a visual nod to the region, according to the developer.

Klamath Falls Holdings, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Medford based Rubicon Investments, will lead the project. Construction will begin in early December and is expected to finish by April 2022. Rubicon Investments purchased multiple lots in the TimberMill Shores Development from the Shaw family.

The decision on siting the facility in the development was made in 2018, and design and permitting for the project has been completed.

Friends of the Children “Let’s Run to 2021” – with a Virtual Ugly Sweater Run!

Drag this year to the finish line by rummaging up your ugliest sweater and walking or running your own 5K any time 11/27-12/6! Post your pics and step your way to freezing fun and fabulous prizes!

Just $20 per person or $50 per team (up to 4). Kids 10 and under are free. 

Every registrant earns a raffle ticket for 1 of 9 prize baskets! Teams earn 2 tickets! Extra tickets will be awarded for these bonus photos uploaded to the Facebook group Klamath Ugly Sweater Run:

(1) a photo with your Peoples’ bank race bib (download it here), #KFallsPeoplesBank

(2) a photo at the Ugly Sweater selfie station at Klamath Spine, Rehab & Sports Centre (2800 Crosby Ave), #KlamathSpine

(3) a photo at the Ugly Sweater selfie station at Klamath Falls Subaru & Klamath Falls Honda (2800 Washburn Ave., north side of the building), #KFallsSubaruHonda

All proceeds benefit Friends of the Children. Questions? Reply to uglysweater@friendsklamath.org.

Around the state of Oregon

On Tuesday, November 24, 2020, at approximately 2:33 A.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Interstate 84 near milepost 68.

Preliminary investigation revealed a Honda Accord, operated by Noel Hernandez (24) of Hood River, was eastbound when it left the roadway and rolled multiple times.

Two passengers, Rosalia Gonzalez-Ortiz (23) of Hood River and a juvenile male, sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced deceased.

Hernandez was transported to the Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital where he was treated for injuries. Upon being released from the hospital, Hernandez was arrested and lodged at NORCOR on two counts of Manslaughter II and DUII.  

In the Rogue Valley, the Coquille Tribe’s property on South Pacific Highway in Medford will soon be home to a hotel inspired by Jimmy Buffet’s escapist “state of mind.” Last week, Cedars Development announced a partnership with Margaritaville Enterprises to bring a new 111-room Compass hotel to the area, slated to open in early 2022. Cedars Development is the Coquille-owned management firm for the Cedars at Bear Creek, the Tribe’s development project along Pacific Highway in south Medford. That property was also supposed to be the site of a casino, until the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs rebuffed that proposal in May. Casino or no, the Coquille Tribe says that the Compass by Margaritaville Hotel is coming, “bringing the fun and flavor of their full-scale resorts to a more boutique concept.” There are over already a dozen Margaritaville hotels and resorts, but the Compass Hotels brand launched this year. The Medford location — the first Margaritaville hotel in Oregon — promises “plush and comfortable, island-inspired accommodations and amenities signature to the branded concept in an attentive but laid-back ambiance.”

The Oregon Historical Society has sent the Afro-American Heritage Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt for conservation following the vandalism to the Oregon Historical Society’s (OHS) downtown facility on the evening of Sunday, October 11, 2020. During that evening, the quilt was taken from its temporary display in the OHS pavilion, where it was on exhibit as part of a collaboration with Portland Textile Month in order to offer free public access for community members to view the quilt during the month of October. Thankfully, local police recovered the quilt early the next morning, returning it to the care of OHS collections staff.

Each square of the quilt, crafted from 1974 to 1976 in honor of the American Bicentennial, honors a Black individual or moment in history. Fifteen Black women from Portland sewed the quilt, who later donated it to OHS and entrusted it to the Society’s care.

Upon its return, museum collections staff quickly moved to stabilize the quilt, carefully but quickly drying it to prevent mold and microbial growth. Once dry, staff members carefully cleaned the quilt with a variable-speed, HEPA filter vacuum through a screen to prevent force or damage to the textile. Fortunately, the quilt did not sustain notable structural damage, but it did suffer from red pigment staining throughout. The quilt was condition reported and documented as is, and staff sent this information to several potential textile conservators.

Last week, OHS sent the quilt to the Textile Conservation Workshop (TCW), a non-profit organization focused on the preservation of textiles. Located in South Salem, New York, TCW is a highly respected leader in textile conservation with a focus on quilts. The founder and director, Patsy Orlofsky, is also the author of Quilts in America, which provides history and technical information about quilting.

“I am confident that Patsy and her team will do the very best to address the conservation issues with the Afro-American Heritage Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt,” said OHS Deputy Museum Director Nicole Yasuhara. “Speaking to Patsy, I have been impressed with her knowledge, realistic approach, and thoughtful recommendations. We will continue to communicate throughout the process, and hope to have the quilt back in our care in a few months.”

After consulting with Dr. Sylvia Gates Carlisle, the last living quilter from the original group, OHS has decided to attempt to restore the front of the quilt as much as possible, but will remove and replace the quilt backing, which is severely stained. The original backing will remain in the OHS collection as its own museum object, with the history of the vandalism captured and added to its story.

You can learn more about this important piece of local African American history through a recent blog post at ohs.org/blog and view a recorded virtual panel discussion on the quilt’s history on our website at ohs.org/events, which featured Dr. Sylvia Gates Carlisle, Dr. Carmen P. Thompson, Sheridan Collins, and Mary Bywater Cross.

Oregon Marine Board Reminds You of Safe Boating 2021

Oregon is blessed with a plethora of boating opportunities year-round but fall and winter require more preparation and planning. This year is no exception and boaters are urged to take a few extra steps to ensure a safe voyage.

Oregon’s waterways are cold year-round and noticeably cold now, so dress for the water temperature and expect to get wet. For paddlers, SUPers, and rafters, the Marine Board recommends wearing a wet suit, dry suit, warm layers, and a life jacket designed for the activity. At a minimum, carry a cell phone in a dry bag/container or other communication device, and share a float plan with friends or family so they can call for help if you are overdue. 

Fall rains can also cause dramatic rises in river flows. Because of this year’s historic wildfires, these fluctuations may be quicker and larger, and more debris is entering the rivers and lakes. The water is staying muddy much longer as well. Boaters are encouraged to monitor NOAA weather for their region, check river gauges and reservoir levels, and to visit the agency’s interactive Boat Oregon Map with information to contact facility owners and learn if access is open. The Marine Board works closely with marine law enforcement to assess reported navigation obstructions as well, adding verified obstructions to the map with river sections to avoid or recommendations for safe passage, where possible. Conditions are dynamic, though, with new obstructions reported almost daily right now. Scout ahead in unknown waters.

Boating has become a great escape during this time of COVID but requires vigilance and skill. If you’re new to boating, take advantage of a free online paddling course or other boating safety education offerings for motorboat operators. Start out in locations that are calm and sheltered from rapidly changing conditions due to weather or water volume.

Learn more at www.boatoregon.com.

 As EPA pauses to retool its wildfire household hazardous waste recovery operations for the Thanksgiving holiday, agency officials  are reflecting on the results achieved by cleanup teams over the past 90 days in Oregon.

After the holiday, EPA will continue reducing their “footprint” in the state, with many crews already departing to return to their normal schedules, teams and families.

Since mobilizing on September 24 by FEMA “Mission Assignment,” 17 EPA field recovery teams, working 12-hour days, seven days a week, have retrieved and removed household hazardous waste from over 2300 fire-ravaged parcels in eight Oregon counties.  In addition, EPA teams stabilized and consolidated ash and debris from more than 230 parcels along Oregon waterways – including five miles of the Bear Creek riparian area in Jackson County – protecting water quality from toxic runoff.  In all, EPA mobilized over 250 responders, both virtually and in the field, from all over the country to support response operations.

According to EPA Incident Commander, Randy Nattis, the Agency has been proud to help Oregon recover from the devastating fall wildfires, crediting local support and guidance as critical to EPA’s success. 

“Make no mistake, I couldn’t be prouder of our work and what  our teams have accomplished,” said EPA’s Nattis. “But we are standing on the shoulders of the County Public Works directors, DEQ On-Scene Coordinators, FEMA disaster officials, our support contractors and countless Oregon responders. Projects of this size, scope and scale demand ultimate teamwork. And we couldn’t have asked for better, more resilient partners than Oregonians.”

With Step 2 of the Oregon state-managed cleanup getting underway, Step 2 cleanup crews are expected to begin clearing properties throughout wildfire impacted areas in mid-December, removing hazard trees, ash and debris.  EPA’s presence will remain at a more compact profile, with several smaller mobile crews remaining to respond to any additional properties that still need attention. EPA crews will also back up ODOT’s contractors as they start removing heavy debris, cars and appliances and find hidden household hazardous waste, cylinders, ammunition or other hazardous materials.

For more information about EPA’s Step 1 work, please visit our 2020 Fire Recovery Story Map . For more information about Oregon’s Step 2 work please visit the 2020 Oregon Wildfire Recovery website or call the Wildfire Debris Cleanup Hotline at 503-934-1700.

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