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Klamath Basin News, Thursday 12/3 – Mazama High School’s “Load The Boat” Food Drive Kicks Off, County Officials Discuss Covid-19

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, and powered by Mick Insurance.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Today- Mostly sunny, with a high near 48. Northeast wind around 6 mph becoming calm in the morning.

Friday- Sunny, with a high near 50. Light east northeast wind.

Saturday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 49. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph in the morning.

Sunday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 48.

Monday- Patchy fog before 8am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 49.


Klamath County Public Health (KCPH) officials reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 in
the community on Wednesday, Dec. 2, according to a news release. The local case
count is 926. This week’s count is 54.

To protect yourself: keep your distance by
maintaining six feet of social or physical distancing between yourself and others. Wash
your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, utilizing hand sanitizer when washing facilities are not available. Sanitize surfaces that are often touched. Avoid gatherings of any size where social or physical distancing is not possible. COVID-19 has claimed 18 more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 953. Oregon Health Authority reported 1,244 new confirmed and presumptive cases
of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 78,160.

Weekly cases, hospitalizations set new pandemic highs

OHA’s COVID-19 weekly report released today, set new weekly highs for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for the second consecutive week. OHA reported 9,100 new daily cases during the week of Monday, Nov. 23 through Sunday, Nov. 29, a 5% increase over the previous week.

Weekly hospitalizations associated with COVID-19 rose to 398, a 9% increase, a significant slowing from the previous week, yet still the highest weekly total reported during the pandemic. There were 86 reported COVID-19 reported deaths, up from 61 the previous week.

People aged 20 to 49 have accounted for 55% of the cases, while people 70 and older have accounted for 74% of the deaths. During the week of Nov. 22 to Nov. 28,141,356 COVID-19 tests were administered. The percentage of positive tests was 8.6%.

In related news, Oregon Tech President Nagi Naganathan tested positive for COVID-19
Tuesday, is in quarantine and is recuperating, according to the school.
Naganathan’s absence, Joanna Mott, provost and vice president of academic affairs,
will act in his capacity. The university announced Wednesday that Naganathan has not
been on campus since Nov. 23 and has had limited in-person contact with school
officials since then. Oregon Tech said it will work with county public health officials to
trace any possible contacts.

County commissioners and medical professionals met Tuesday at the Sky Lakes
Community Health Education Center to discuss rising COVID-19 cases and
hospitalizations in Klamath County, while cars lined up at the virus testing site just
outside the building.
Providers and nurses said they hoped the work session would
inform commissioners about the pandemic’s impact on hospital patients and staff, as
increased hospitalizations begin to stress the local healthcare system. They hoped to
improve cooperation between county leadership and the medical community in
combating the virus’s spread. The meeting followed statements issued by Klamath

County Commissioners two weeks ago arguing that Governor Kate Brown’s mandatory
2-week “freeze” would further harm struggling businesses in Klamath County. Though
the commissioners said they did not intend to diminish the seriousness of the
pandemic, many healthcare professionals interpreted their statements rejecting
statewide public health measures as dangerous. On Monday, 16 patients were
hospitalized at Sky Lakes for COVID-19 and one person, a 68-year-old woman who had underlying conditions, died.

Mazama High School this week kicked off a food drive and a virtual social media challenge to help the local food bank fill its shelves for the holiday season.

Laura Nickerson, a Mazama teacher who is leading the school’s Load the Boat: MHS Canned Food Drive Virtual Challenge, kicks off the two-week campaign with a video. The community is invited to “Load the Boat” with canned food for the local food bank. The Mazama Viking wooden boat will in the front parking lot for no-contact drop-off donations from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Donors are encouraged to make a video for social media (hashtag #LoadtheBoatMHS) challenging five other people to donate food during the campaign.

The community is invited to “Load the Boat” with canned food for the local food bank. The Mazama Viking wooden boat will be open for no-contact drop off donations from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Donors are encouraged to make a video for social media (hashtag #LoadtheBoatMHS) challenging other people to donate food during the campaign.

Mazama challenges community to ‘Load the Boat’ for food bank

Mazama High School this week kicked off a food drive and a virtual social media challenge to help the local food bank fill its shelves for the holiday season.

The school, in partnership with its Sparrow Club, on Wednesday (Dec. 2) started the two-week campaign for the Klamath Lake Counties Food Bank. The “Load the Boat: MHS Canned Food Drive Virtual Challenge” hopes to leverage the power of social media to challenge everyone in the community to do their part.

Plans are for donors to drop off canned food items at the Viking’s wooden boat, which will be in the school’s front parking lot. At that point, they are asked to inspire others to donate as well.

“When someone donates food to the boat, we are asking them to make a quick video to virtually challenge five others to do the same,” said Laura Nickerson, a Mazama teacher who is heading up the school’s #LoadtheBoatMHS campaign.

Laura Nickerson – Mazama teacher

Her hope is that campaign will spread beyond the school district and into the community. The virtual challenge uses the same playbook as the ALS ice bucket challenge that went viral several years ago.

Nickerson, during a kickoff video posted Wednesday morning, challenged KCSD Superintendent Glen Syzmoniak as well as other staff members throughout the district. Mazama Principal Michael Schaefer also plans to donate and post a challenge.

“This is an outstanding opportunity to create a sense of community while serving and challenging others to help during these challenging times,” Schaefer said. “I continue to be amazed at the creativity, strength, and personal and professional excellence that the entire Viking community shows.”

Szymoniak responded Wednesday afternoon, and will post a video that challenges the community to not just load the boat, but to sink it. “I want to encourage everyone who is able to participate and help out our local food bank,” he said.

Every year, Mazama students volunteer to help the food bank with Supermarket Saturday and other events. However, those events couldn’t happen this year because of Covid-19 restrictions, and the food bank is short on supplies heading into the holidays, Nickerson said.

The Sparrow Club also will host a drive-through donation day to encourage community members to join the effort. Donations will be accepted at the boat from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Check out the Mazama Vikings Facebook page to follow the progress and see the social media challenges to students and community members. For the kickoff video:

Whether or not former Eternal Hills Cemetery owner Robert Gordon could regain
ownership of the dilapidated property has been the subject of a three-year court battle.

But that question may soon be answered. Judge Peter McKittrick is considering
arguments from the Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board, the court-appointed trustee,
as well as Gordon on the Klamath Falls man’s legal eligibility to own the cemetery. A
settlement in the 2017 involuntary bankruptcy case against Gordon and Eternal Hills
stripped Gordon of his mortuary license and denied him from ever being licensed in
Oregon again. After the settlement, the cemetery was listed for sale for $250,000.
Gordon outbid Klamath County for the property first when it was first put up for sale, and
again when it was put up for auction.


M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Distributes Nearly $700,000 in Wildfire Relief Funding

Contributions made to nonprofits supporting individuals and families during community recovery

(Vancouver, WA) – The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust will contribute $680,000 to 12 nonprofits in Oregon and Washington serving individuals and families impacted by the deadly wildfires that swept through the region earlier this year. The funding decision was made at the nonprofit foundation’s most recent board meeting, and recipients were told of the contributions in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We all know that 2020 has been an exceptionally hard year for so many in our region. To then see entire communities that we love be ravaged by once-in-a-century fires is heartbreaking,” said Steve Moore, executive director, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. “We also know that a years-long rebuilding process is just now getting underway. We are grateful to play a small role in supporting the organizations on the ground in these communities as they seek to help individuals and families begin anew.”

According to reports, the 2020 wildfire season was one of the most destructive in history throughout the Western United States. In total, 11 people were killed in Oregon as flames destroyed more than one million acres of land and thousands of homes and buildings. Similarly, the state of Washington saw more individual fires in one season than ever before as more than 713,000 acres burned, taking one life.

As rebuilding efforts begin, nonprofit organizations are working tirelessly to help address the needs of families and communities as they seek to navigate a season made all the more challenging against the complex backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. To support those serving this critical need, Emergency Fire Relief and Rebuilding Support* contributions will be made by the Trust to the following organizations:

  • Salvation Army, Cascade Division                                                  
  • Catholic Charities of Oregon                                                         
  • American Red Cross of Northwest Oregon                                              
  • Northwest Division of Salvation Army                                          
  • Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington                                   
  • American Red Cross Northwest Region                                        
  • Community Foundation of North Central Washington              
  • United Way of Jackson County                                                      
  • Greater Douglas United Way (Douglas County)                                                  
  • Klamath Community Foundation                                                   
  • Teresa McCormick Center, Medford                                             
  • Northwest Relief Fund of the National Christian Foundation                                                                           

These donations are the second collection of emergency contributions made by the Murdock Trust this year. In addition to the Murdock Trust’s ongoing Strategic Project and Initiative Grants programs, which are awarded quarterly and have proceeded as planned through the year, the foundation has also awarded more than $15 million in emergency grants to nonprofits serving community needs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are so grateful for all of the organizations, agencies, business partners, school districts, faith communities and individual volunteers who sprang into action to serve the immediate needs of those affected, first by the COVID-19 pandemic and then by these fires,” said Moore. “We are grateful to play a small role in supporting these groups in these first moments of recovery, and we stand ready to continue to help strengthen and build the capacity of these groups and other nonprofits serving the diverse needs of our region during these unprecedented times.”

*Due to capacity, distributions through this program are made by invitation only. Nonprofits that serve the Pacific Northwest community and are interested in pursuing a grant with the Murdock Trust are encouraged to review and consider a Strategic Project or Initative Grant. For more information and funding criteria, please visit our website:

About M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust

The Murdock Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest—Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington—that seek to strengthen the region’s educational, spiritual and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Since its inception in 1975, the Trust has awarded more than 7,000 grants totaling more than $1 billion. For more information, find the Murdock Trust on TwitterFacebookLinkedInInstagram and on our website.


Oregon SHIBA

(Salem) – Time is running our for people with Medicare to make changes to their health plans and prescription drug coverage for 2021. Medicare’s open enrollment period for 2021 benefits ends Monday, Dec. 7.

There are several things to take note of for the 2021 plan year. They are:

  • 29 prescription drug plans
  • A variety of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, including a new Medicare Medical Savings Account MA option, are available in all Oregon counties (only two MA plan options are available in Baker, Gilliam, Harney, Lake, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa counties) 
  • Part D senior savings model for diabetic supplies
  • Acupuncture, telehealth, and other virtual services
  • End-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients can enroll in Medicare Advantage plans for 2021

Visit to find 2021 health and drug plans, compare coverage options, or estimate Medicare costs. For more details, check out or the 2021 Oregon Guide to Medicare Insurance Plans viewed online at

The Oregon Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program is available to help beneficiaries understand their options. To find free, local Medicare counseling help, go to or call 800-722-4134 (toll-free) to speak to a state-certified Medicare counselor.

SHIBA counselors can help Oregonians navigate the Plan Finder tool to enter prescriptions and compare the cost and benefits of individual drug plans, provide enrollment guidance, and answer any other questions related to Medicare benefits. All of these services are available remotely statewide to ensure the safety of both clients and counselors.

Find local help by calling 800-722-4134 (toll-free) or visiting Follow SHIBA on Facebook and Twitter. Oregon SHIBA is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dcbs.oregon.govFollow DCBS on Twitter: Receive consumer help and information on insurance, mortgages, investments, workplace safety, and more.

The Rogue Pack of gray wolves has made its way back to Jackson County in
southwestern Oregon and killed a cow, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and
The pack created by the now-dead wolf known as OR-7 was blamed for a
Thursday kill of a year-old cow in the Rancheria area east of Butte Falls, The Mail
Tribune reported. Fish and Wildlife officials say the heifer was on private grass pasture
about a quarter-mile from the rancher’s home. The carcass was discovered with the
entrails and part of its hind legs consumed. The injuries were consistent with previous
livestock kills by wolves in the area known to be Rogue Pack habitat and thus was
attributed to the pack, officials said.

A registered sex offender accused of trafficking in child exploitation was sentenced to
more than 17 years in prison on Tuesday, the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office
In August of 2019, the Medford Police Department began an undercover
investigation into people using Peer-to-Peer software in order to share explicit images of
children. During that operation, the DA’s office said, police identified 55-year-old Central
Point man Christopher Sartin as one of the suspects. Sartin is a registered sex offender,
having been convicted on a child pornography charge in 2011. The Southern Oregon
High Tech Crimes Task Force served multiple search warrants and seized evidence for
analysis. Detectives later identified one high-resolution image that included a
thumbprint, one which they believed might be a match for Sartin, the DA’s office said.
Investigators also came to believe that the child in the photos could be local, prompting
a push to identify the victim. Medford Police detectives were ultimately able to identify the child the images as a “local girl who was under the age of twelve.”

An Inmate from Jackson County has died in Oregon State prison custody. Michael Alvie
Murray, died the morning of December 2 nd
. Murray was incarcerated at Oregon State
Penitentiary (OSP) in Salem and passed in the infirmary. As with all in-custody deaths,
the Oregon State Police have been notified, and the Medical Examiner will determine
cause of death. Murray entered DOC custody on August 8, 2013, from Jackson County
with an earliest release date of April 20, 2021. Murray was 73 years old. Next of kin has
been notified. DOC takes all in-custody deaths seriously. The agency is responsible for
the care and custody of approximately 13,100 individuals who are incarcerated in 14
institutions across the state. While crime information is public record, DOC elects to
disclose only upon request out of respect for any family or victims. OSP is a multi-
custody prison located in Salem that houses over 2,000 adults in custody. OSP is surrounded by a 25-foot-high wall with 10 towers.

A retired dentist and former candidate for the Oregon House of Representatives died
Tuesday, after she was struck by a car on a West Salem road.
Selma Pierce, 66, was
struck near Doaks Ferry Road NW and Hidden Valley Drive NW, police said. Officers
believe she was in the roadway when she was struck. The driver who struck her
stayed at the scene and cooperated with investigators, police said. Pierce was
married to Bud Pierce, a Salem oncologist who announced his second bid for
governor this week. Bud Pierce, 64, previously ran for governor against incumbent
Kate Brown in 2016. Selma Pierce played an active role in her husband’s campaign,
making appearances at campaign events across the state and managing his social
media accounts. Pierce released a statement through his campaign organization on Tuesday evening.

A doctor from Dallas is making headlines after saying he refuses to wear a mask while
caring for his patients
.  Video surfaced of Dr. Steven LaTulippe giving a speech at a
“Stop the Steal” election rally in Salem in November.  LaTulippe said in the speech that
he and his staff have “not once” worn a mask at South View Medical Arts.  Currently,
there is a state government order that requires health care providers to wear face

Deputy Involved Shooting Case — On 12/02/20 deputies with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a disorderly loud party in the 2500 block of Agate Meadows in White City, Oregon. Neighbors reported a group of more than 25 subjects were inside the house and there were several speeding vehicles leaving the scene as well as other vehicles parked illegally in the neighborhood. A deputy on scene reported being involved in a shooting. All law enforcement on scene are unharmed. One individual received a gunshot wound that is non-life threatening. The male subject is being treated at a local medical facility. The Jackson County Major Assault Death Investigation Unit (MADIU) was called out and is coordinating the investigation. No further information is available at this time.


Oregon OSHA has fined a Roseburg contractor for the second time in as many months as the company continues to fumble basic workplace safety standards that protect workers from falls that could kill them.

In fact, Mid Oregon Builders LLC has a history of failure when it comes to following a straightforward and reliable requirement: Implementing adequate fall protection systems where workers are exposed to falling six feet or more to a lower level.

“There is absolutely no good reason for an employer to neglect fall protection requirements that are proven to protect workers,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “To repeatedly choose to disregard them is inexcusable. It serves only to leave preventable hazards unaddressed and people’s lives at increased risk.”

The most recent citation – issued in November and carrying a penalty of $42,000 – resulted from an inspection that found the company had exposed an employee to a potential fall of about 20 feet. The employee, who was doing a roofing job on a new house in Sutherlin, was not connected to a fall protection lifeline.

The citation is on top of another issued in September. In that case, Oregon OSHA fined the company $38,390. That citation involved other workplace safety violations. But the bulk of it – $36,000 – stemmed from Mid Oregon Builders’ repeated failure to heed the same six-foot trigger-height requirements for fall protection.

The gravity of the situation cannot be overstated: Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Yet, Mid Oregon Builders has violated the same fall protection rule five times since July 2018.

In one case, the company provided no fall protection systems to four employees working on a framing job. They were working more than nine feet above a lower level.

In another case – also a framing job – the company provide no type of protection, exposing two employees to a potential fall of about 10 feet to lower levels. In yet another case, Mid-Oregon Builders left two employees unconnected to their fall protection lifelines. The workers were two stories up on a roof, exposed to a potential fall of 21 feet to the ground.

From just its history of violating the six-foot trigger-height requirements, Mid-Oregon Builders has incurred penalties totaling more than $120,000. Under Oregon OSHA’s rules, penalties multiply when employers commit repeat offenses.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers resources to help improve workplace safety and health. These resources include the division’s Fall Protection Suite of online video training and its A-to-Z topic page about fall protection.

Learn more about help provided by Oregon OSHA’s consultation servicestechnical staff, and additional education and training services. Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, visit

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to

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