Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 1/27 – Oregon Allowing Limited Use of Gyms, Movie Theaters and More Options for Restaurants Beginning Friday

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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, January 27, 2021

Today’s Basin Weather

Today A 50% chance of snow before 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 38. Gusty winds at times today. Overnight a 30% chance of snow after 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a steady temperature around 32. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Thursday A chance of snow showers before 1pm, then a chance of rain and snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 40. South wind 6 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible. Overnight a chance of rain and snow with a low around 25.

Friday Patchy freezing fog before 1pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 38. Calm wind becoming south southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Overnight a 50% chance of snow, with a low of 27 degrees. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Saturday A 20% chance of snow before 10am. Partly sunny, with a high near 40.

Sunday A chance of rain and snow before 1pm, then a chance of rain between 1pm and 4pm, then a chance of rain and snow after 4pm. Snow level rising to 4800 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 42.

See Road Camera Views

Lake of the Woods   
Doak Mtn.   
Hiway 97 at Chemult   
Hiway 140 at  Bly       
Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr.            
Hiway 97 at LaPine

Today’s Headlines

Klamath County Public Health officials reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 and one death on Tuesday. The local case count is 2,581. Deaths now number 49. This week’s total is 31.

As a reminder 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.

To protect others around you: Cover coughs and sneezes.

Stay home when sick.

Wear a clean mask in public spaces, including outdoors when six feet of social distance cannot be maintained.

The state of Oregon is reporting there are 22 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,904, the Oregon Health Authority reported today. Oregon Health Authority reported 796 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of today, bringing the state total to 139,355.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (21), Clackamas (100), Clatsop (11), Columbia (8), Coos (2), Crook (8), Curry (2), Deschutes (70), Douglas (20), Harney (9), Hood River (8), Jackson (49), Jefferson (1), Josephine (14), Klamath (13), Lake (3), Lane (50), Lincoln (6), Linn (12), Malheur (16), Marion (61), Morrow (1), Multnomah (195), Polk (11), Sherman (1), Tillamook (2), Umatilla (18), Union (6), Wallowa (1), Wasco (2), Washington (37) and Yamhill (31).

Vaccinations in Oregon: Today, OHA reported that 17,422 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 10,178 doses were administered on Jan. 25 and 7,244 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Jan. 25.

Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 325,473 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccinations were administered by Oregon hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service (EMS) agencies, urgent care facilities and Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs).

To date, 589,200 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon.

Despite gradually declining coronavirus cases statewide, Oregon’s county risk levels remain largely unmoved under the latest list published by state officials. But for counties under the highest restrictions, the new list brings with it some relief for gyms and similar businesses.

Effective January 29 through February 11, there will be 25 counties in the Extreme Risk level, two at High Risk, two at Moderate Risk, and seven at Lower Risk.

In southern Oregon, the only county to see a change was Curry County, which dropped from Moderate to Lower Risk — the lowest possible level of restrictions under the state plan. Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath counties remain at Extreme Risk, with Lake County remaining at Moderate.

Brown’s office said that some of the Extreme Risk guidance has been modified, also effective January 29.

The change allows for a maximum of six people to be indoors at facilities over 500 square feet — for “all indoor activities except dining” — as long as social distancing, cleaning, and face covering guidance is followed. For smaller buildings, the modified guidance allows for “1:1 customer experiences, such as personal training.”

Police say that a Klamath County man is dead and a woman injured after their vehicle slid on icy roads near Beatty on Monday afternoon.

Troopers from Oregon State Police and emergency crews responded to the single-vehicle crash around 3 p.m. in the afternoon, arriving to a spot on Highway 140E less than ten miles southwest of Beatty.

According to a preliminary investigation, 41-year-old William Springer of Beatty was driving westbound in a Nissan pickup when he lost control on the icy highway and rolled down an embankment. Springer did not survive the crash. His passenger, 51-year-old Michelle Thomasson of Beatty, was taken to Sky Lakes Medical Center for treatment of unknown injuries. OSP said it was assisted at the scene by the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office, Bonanza Fire Department, and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Pacific Power crews ready for heavy snowstorm and potential weather-related outages

Company reminds Northern California, Southern Oregon customers to prepare and stay safe

A fast-moving storm packing wind and heavy snow is hitting Northern California and Southern Oregon this evening with the possibility of weather-related power outages ranging from the Mount Shasta area into the Rogue Valley.

As of 8 p.m., Pacific Power crews are responding to scattered outages affecting  customers in the region.

“Crews and equipment are set and ready to be deployed when needed,” said Allen Berreth, vice president of operations. “We appreciate the patience that customers always show during these storms and we want to remind everyone to stay clear of any down lines you may see. Assume they are live and dangerous and give us a call to report them.”

Pacific Power encourages customers to report outages by calling 1-877-508-5088 or text OUT to 722797Text STAT to 722797 to check the status of your outage.

With a winter storm heading into the region, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is warning drivers to brace for severe weather on southwest Oregon mountain passes.

StormWatch 12 meteorologists have been tracking the winter storm, which is coming into the region from the southwest.

Significant snowfall is expected, particularly in areas of Siskiyou County. In Shasta Valley and Mt. Shasta City, those blizzard conditions could bring several feet of snow.

At least a few inches are expected on the I-5 Siskiyou Summit, Sexton Summit, and Hayes Hill on Highway 199. Drivers on I-5, Highway 97 and Hwy 199 should be aware and prepare for those conditions. You can keep track of current road conditions online for Oregon (Tripcheck) and California (QuickMap).

ODOT said it and Caltrans will likely need to halt traffic between Ashland and Redding if the storm quickly overwhelms their resources. Snow levels and storm tracks can vary, so be aware of the changing conditions.


ODOT: SW Oregon:
Interstate 5 south of Ashland into California: At Caltrans request, ODOT is stopping all southbound traffic at Exit 14, south Ashland, due to ongoing winter conditions in the Weed/Mt. Shasta area.
There is no estimated time for opening.
Monitor Tripcheck in Oregon and Quickmap in California for the changing weather conditions

Chain requirement for all vehicles except 4x4s, unless towing.

Interstate 5, into California: Open but closed from Yreka to Lakehead, according to Caltrans Quickmap.

U.S. 97 south into California is closed at Macdoel, according to Caltrans Quickmap.
Interstate 5, north of Grants Pass, MP 66-81: Carry Chains.
Interstate 5, Canyon Mountain Pass: MP 90: Carry Chains.

U.S. 199, Redwood Highway: Chains Required. Traction tires allowed in place of chains on vehicles under 10,000 GVW and not towing. Vehicles towing must use chains.

For the latest conditions go to Tripcheck in Oregon; Quickmap in California. UPDATE

While the AARP tax aide service will not be at the downtown Klamath County Library or at the Chiloquin Branch Library this tax season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Klamath County libraries are offering an alternative starting Monday, February 1: private computer rooms for members of the public to file their taxes online.

Two private rooms at the downtown Klamath County Library will be available: one on a first-come, first-served basis and the other via appointment. Each room will come equipped with its own computer, scanner, and printer, as well as supplies to sanitize between users.

The library requires users to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose the whole time while using the private rooms. Two people per room maximum, please.

The downtown library’s appointment-only computer will be available at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays and at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, until at least April 15. Additional days may be added if the government extends the tax filing deadline.

Downtown Klamath County Library

Genealogists rejoice – the HistoryGeo database service can now be accessed from home for free with your Klamath County Library card.

The HistoryGeo database of antique maps and atlases includes over 9 million records of deeds and landowners. HistoryGeo is made available to Klamath County Library members through generous funding by the Klamath Basin Genealogical Society.

To get started, head to klamathlibrary.org/genealogy and click the link in the gray box to enter your library card barcode and the password you use to login to your library catalog account. (If you’re not sure what that is, don’t worry – click the “Forgot your password?” link or visit your local library to get that reset.)

For help getting connected or for more information, call 541-882-8894 or visit the downtown library’s Information and Reference desk. For more information about the Klamath Basin Genealogical Society, email them at kbgskf@gmail.com.

Eastbound traffic on West Main Street between Highway 97 ramp and Payne Alley and Pine Street between 2nd and 7th Streets will have rolling closures January 28th through January 29th from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for tree pruning and removal.  

Southbound traffic on Riverside Drive between Dover and Memorial Drive will have rolling closures January 27th through January 28th from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for tree pruning and removal.  There will be flaggers present so please use caution when driving in areas where work is being performed.

A Klamath Falls woman had a very happy holiday after her Scratch-it stocking stuffer netted her a $75,000 prize.

The Oregon Lottery says that Contessa McConnell’s sister buys Scratch-it tickets as stocking stuffers every holiday, and this year was no different. McConnell started her “Reindeer Riches” ticket and received a pleasant surprise. Players who win $50,000 or more have to make an appointment at the Oregon Lottery office in Salem to claim their prize. McConnell made the trip to Salem on January 21 to pick up her winnings.

According to the Oregon Lottery, McConnell’s sister had bought the winning ticket at Sherm’s Thunderbird Market in Klamath Falls. Lottery officials recommend that you always sign the back of your tickets with each Oregon Lottery game you play.

Around the state of Oregon

The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association welcomed news that the state would allow more activities under the “Extreme Risk” category, beginning this Friday.

But the lobbying group questioned ongoing restrictions on restaurants, citing statistics about COVID-19 deaths and the status of restaurants in various states across the U.S. The state of Oregon adjusts categories every 2 weeks. 

Updates released Tuesday ahead of Friday’s changeover date show most counties will remain in Extreme Risk.

But the category itself will change on Friday to allow limited indoor use of gyms and movie theaters – and give restaurants more options in terms of outdoor dining and customer access to video lottery machines.

The group noted that leisure and hospitality businesses in Oregon lost 25,500 jobs in December. ORLA shared an analysis “across states with mask mandates shows no correlation between the number of cases and deaths and the decisions to close indoor dining.”

Oregon is reviewing 19 applications from non-profits and government agencies in 14 different counties to create unconventional motels-turned-apartment complexes to house wildfire victims and others experiencing homelessness.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports this comes three months after the Legislature allocated $65 million to buy motels to combat homelessness. However, the non-profit organization tasked with vetting applicants and distributing money to purchase the motels now anticipates that the first properties won’t be available for occupancy until at least mid-February, more than a month after the agency had hoped to start having units available.

The state had hoped to have the motels-turned-apartments available in time for the winter months, but Loeb said it has taken time for the foundation to vet applicants and potential properties.

Oregon lawmakers allocated the millions this fall to purchase hotels and motels across the state to house wildfire victims and people experiencing homelessness.

Yesterday on Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at about 1910 Hours, the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety (GPDPS) Dispatch received numerous 911 calls of a male subject being struck by a vehicle on Williams Hwy near New Hope Rd.

Personnel from the GPDPS Police, Fire/Rescue, AMR and Rural Metro Fire responded to the scene. The male subject was located near the “A” lane of the highway and the scene was secured, which involved the closure of Williams Hwy from W. Harbeck to New Hope for over 4 hours. 

Lifesaving measures were attempted, but the male was pronounced deceased at the scene. The driver of the vehicle that struck the male subject remained at the scene and cooperated with the investigation.

The deceased male is a 20 year-old from New York whose name will not be released at this time, pending next of kin notification. 

GPDPS Traffic Team members and Detectives responded to the scene and continued the investigation. At this time it does not appear there was criminal conduct by the driver of the vehicle.  Anyone who may have witnessed this event is asked to please call the GPDPS at (541) 450-6260 and reference case # 2021-3965. 

If your watch battery dies there are scores of shops that will quickly swap it out for a new one – or you can do it yourself with a simple toolkit.

If your smartphone’s charging port stops working, though, options are far fewer. That’s because electronics manufacturers like Apple and Samsung control the tools and parts needed to make the fix. And critics say that makes it harder, more expensive – and sometimes impossible – to perform even straightforward repairs. Oregon lawmakers will consider legislation this year designed to make that process easier by requiring manufacturers to make repair tools, parts and instructions readily available. on “fair and reasonable terms.” 

House Bill 2698 is among two-dozen similar bills before state legislatures across the country this year.

SALEM, Ore. – In June 2020, the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) was allocated $3.5 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars for the Oregon Lifeline Program to temporarily increase the discount on telephone or high-speed internet service for eligible low-income households, which expired December 30, 2020.

Yesterday, the PUC approved to extend the deadline to continue offering substantial discounts through June 30, 2021.

“The decision to extend the increased subsidy to benefit those experiencing financial hardships due the pandemic was an easy one,” said Megan Decker, PUC Chair. “These funds lessen the burden on low-income Oregonians, and provides them an affordable option to retain voice or broadband internet service to keep them connected to family, friends, and resources.”

Oregon Lifeline, a federal and state government program, typically provides a $7 per month discount for telephone or high-speed internet service with participating companies. Through June 2021, qualifying Oregonians can receive a discount of $12 per month, a more than 70 percent increase in the subsidy.

Oregonians receiving benefits from select public assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Medicaid may qualify. Residents may also qualify if their total household income is at or below 135 percent of federal poverty guidelines.

For additional information about the Oregon Lifeline program or to request an application, call 800-848-4442, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., email at puc.rspf@state.or.us or visit www.lifeline.oregon.gov.

Oregon Community Foundation Announces 2021 Priorities Aimed at Building Stronger, More Equitable Communities Throughout Oregon

Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) today announced 2021 priorities that build upon the foundation’s commitment to support Oregon communities through the COVID-19 pandemic and build a better Oregon where everyone can thrive. The announcement follows the latest wave of economic pain brought on by a pandemic that continues to intensify.

In response to unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires, alongside increased visibility of historical and current systems of racial injustices, OCF builds upon significant shifts last year to ensure resources are deployed where they are needed most as the foundation transitions into 2021.

“Communities throughout Oregon continue to struggle with food insecurity, job losses, small business closures, children struggling to learn and the devastation of entire towns impacted by COVID-19 and wildfires,” said Max Williams, OCF president and CEO. “We have seen how these crises are compounding existing inequities, resulting in disproportionate impacts on Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), low-income Oregonians and struggling rural communities,” he added.

Throughout 2020, OCF responded quickly and urgently – distributing a record-setting $220 million in charitable dollars to more than 3,000 nonprofits throughout Oregon working to address urgent needs, stabilize communities and prepare for long-term recovery in Oregon. OCF donors responded to the magnitude of need, as reflected in a 44% increase in donor advised fund grantmaking from the previous year. 

Williams noted that every sector of society that OCF supports is grappling with the need for systems change: education, arts and culture, housing, business infrastructure, health care, and more. Recognizing that community organizations are the heroes on the front lines of addressing these changes, he recommitted OCF to deepening efforts, in partnership with community, to deliver relevant, timely support to help Oregonians in need.

He pointed to four impact areas in 2020 where OCF, alongside partner funders, business leaders and individual donors delivered overwhelmingly generous and critical response.

  • Meeting Urgent Basic Needs of Oregon Communities: Established early in 2020, in collaboration with partners throughout the state, the Oregon Community Recovery Fund rapidly deployed $87.7 million grants to 1,350 community-based organizations at the front lines of the Coronavirus outbreak. Recognizing the disproportionate health, social and economic impacts for BIPOC and rural communities – OCF directed more than 40% of the COVID-recovery funds to BIPOC-led or focused organizations.
  • Stabilizing Small Businesses: Small businesses in Oregon make up about 99.4% of all businesses and employ 55% of Oregon’s employees. Many small businesses such as childcare centers, restaurants, and other businesses reported they would not remain open and retain employees without immediate assistance to pay their operating costs. The Oregon Small Business Stabilization Fund, launched in March 2020, awarded $2.6 million in grants to organizations that assist small businesses across the state. Forty-one percent of the grants were awarded to organizations that specifically serve women or people of color-owned businesses. Grant recipients used the funds to make small grants or loans to businesses in their communities.  
  • Providing Relief for Artists Devastated by COVID-19 Impact:  The depth of financial loss in the arts and culture community has been staggering. The creativity of artists and cultural organizations is vital to building the collective hope and inspiration needed to process the trauma, grief and loss of the past year. Eight collaborating funders and many individual donors distributed $5.25 million in funds to 400 arts organizations and 646 individual artists.

According to OCF, the challenges of the past year also presented opportunities for the foundation to strengthen how it is addressing deep and widening disparities among Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and rural Oregonians to create positive systemic change that strengthen our state.

“To effectively dismantle systems of oppression and create equitable opportunities and advancement, we must invest in local organizations leading the work in our communities,” said Sonia Worcel, the OCF chief community impact officer. “A stronger, more equitable future is achievable for Oregon if we work together to address root causes of these inequities, and philanthropy can play a strategic and leveraged role to make this happen.”

To that end, Worcel forecasted priority focus areas in the years ahead for OCF that will encompass grant making, research, a strengthened policy and advocacy agenda and concerted efforts in community engagement approaches that lead to more equitable and responsive systems supporting Oregon families.

  • Protect Our Houseless Neighbors: Affordable housing availability in Oregon has only been exacerbated by the pandemic and wildfires. OCF is advocating to increase federal funding for affordable housing and investing in community-driven solutions like Project Turnkey, the $65 million public/private/community-convened effort to convert hotels and motels into non-congregate shelter, and ultimately into transitional/permanent supportive housing units.
  • Ensure Kids Thrive: OCF is advocating for significant investment in the nation’s childcare system to help families access quality, affordable care they’ll need to return to work and for the economy to thrive. OCF supports retaining recent investments in state equity plans for African American, Latinx, and Native American students; the Student Investment Account of the Student Success Act; additional investments in early learning programs and an expansion of a Black Student Success initiative launched in 2019.  
  • Prepare for Long-Term Wildfire Recovery: The Community Rebuilding Fund was established at OCF at the request of Governor Kate Brown and launched in partnership with OCF, Meyer Memorial Trust and The Ford Family Foundation in response to the wildfires that started on Labor Day. Working in shared purpose, resources will support the communities that were impacted by the fires and recognizing that recovery will be a multi-year process. The fund will support community-led, equitable investments for a stronger, more resilient Oregon.
  • Support Disproportionately Impacted Communities: OCF research outlined in a new report, ‘Cornerstones: Economic Mobility and Belonging in Oregon’ helps identify key areas of investment and policy change needed to create more high opportunity neighborhoods in Oregon: economically integrated neighborhoods, high-quality schools, living wage jobs, and increased social capital. Findings inform OCF grantmaking, programs and advocacy and will serve as a working framework to bring communities together in shared purpose to address economic and racial equity. In 2021, OCF’s responsive grantmaking program will continue to support Oregon communities with a sharpened focus on the most pressing challenges: the impact of COVID-19, promoting racial justice, wildfire recovery and the underinvestment and lack of infrastructure in under-resourced rural and marginalized communities across the state. 

“In wave after wave of crises throughout 2020, OCF’s ecosystem of good emerged as a reflection of Oregon’s better angels – resilient in the face of great difficulty – responding with urgency and priority to the disproportionate impacts faced by communities, said Williams. “The magnitude of pressing needs in our state will continue for months and years to come, and we are relying on this sense of community and generosity to meet the moment.”

About Oregon Community Foundation

Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) puts donated money to work in Oregon – more than $100 million in grants and scholarships annually. Since 1973, OCF grantmaking, research, advocacy and community-advised solutions have helped individuals, families, businesses and organizations create charitable funds to improve lives for all Oregonians. Impactful giving–time, talent and resources from many generous Oregonians–creates measurable change.

Around the state of Oregon

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