Klamath Basin News, Monday, 2/22 – Murder Charges After Knife Attack Behind Gospel Mission; Oregon Has Vaccinated 802,404 First and Second Doses to Residents Around The State

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The latest and most comprehensive coverage of local News, Sports, Business, and Community News stories in the Klamath Basin, Southern Oregon and around the state of Oregon from Wynne Broadcasting’s KFLS News/Talk 1450AM / 102.5FM, The Herald & News, and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insurance.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Mostly sunny, with a high near 52. Overnight cloudy, with a low around 26.

Tuesday Sunny, with a high near 49. Overnight clear and a low of 22.

Wednesday Sunny, with a high near 43. Clear skies overnight with a low of 20.

Thursday Mostly sunny, with a high near 48.

Friday A slight chance of snow showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 43.

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

There is one new COVID-19 related death in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,155.   Oregon Health Authority reported 111 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 152,818.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (3), Clackamas (4), Columbia (9), Coos (9), Curry (3),  Deschutes (11), Douglas (21), Jackson (2), Jefferson (3), Josephine (1), Klamath (1), Lake (1), Lane (13), Lincoln (1), Linn (1), Marion (11), Multnomah (8), Polk (4), Umatilla (1), Washington (3), Yamhill (1).

OHA reports that 21,202 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry.  

Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 802,404 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

To date, 924,575 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon. The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 166, which is three more than yesterday. There are 44 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is seven fewer than yesterday.

A Klamath Falls man is facing murder charges after he allegedly stabbed and killed a man in an empty lot behind the Gospel Mission Thursday afternoon, according to the Klamath Falls Police Department.

Albert Martin, 38, and Jason Malberg, 43, were arguing over property, according to Major Crime Team investigators, when Martin stabbed Malberg in the neck with a kitchen knife. When KFPD officers arrived on scene, a witness was attempting live saving measures.

Malberg was taken to Sky Lakes Medical Center where he died from his injuries. Witnesses gave officers a description of the person who stabbed Malberg, and KFPD K9 Bullit tracked Martin to a nearby trailer.

Martin was arrested without incident, according to KFPD and booked in the Klamath County Jail on charges of murder, unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with physical evidence.

The crew of Klamath County Fire District 1 has moved back into station 1 after a $2.3 million seismic retrofit and remodel for the station built in the 1940s.

Station 1 is the third KCFD1 to receive state grant funding to make the buildings more stable in case of an earthquake. Station 1 received grants from Business Oregon and tapped into the department’s reserve funds for an additional $350,000 in upgrades and repairs.

While the district ensures the seismic stability of stations to be able to serve the community in the case of a natural disaster, Chief Greg Davis said it was also a good opportunity to upgrade the old stations. The department avoided going out for taxpayer funding or levies, which Davis said is a testament to the department’s planning for the future.

Station Captain Kyle Shultz said the upgrade sets them up for the long haul of providing services to the growing community.

Citing a dismal outlook on water year 2021, the Klamath Tribes have filed a notice of intent, saying they will sue the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for violating the Endangered Species Act if Upper Klamath Lake dips below levels outlined in the 2020 biological opinion this spring.

The letter, which will allow the Tribes to file suit more quickly if they decide to pursue litigation, was sent to the principal deputy commissioner of Reclamation and the acting secretary of the Interior. It asserts that the Bureau violated the 2020 biological opinion by diverting too much of the lake’s water to Klamath Project irrigators at the beginning of last summer. That opinion stipulated maintaining lake levels at certain times of the year to provide adequate habitat for ESA-listed C’waam (Lost River suckers) and Koptu (shortnose suckers), which are culturally and spiritually important to the Klamath Tribes and have been declining in numbers for decades.

A news release from the Tribes said projected inflows to Upper Klamath Lake are some of the lowest they’ve been in 40 years, based on periodic briefings from Reclamation hydrologists.

The deadline to register children has been extended for a variety of after-school winter session classes immersing kids in various aspects of the arts with the Ross Ragland Theater’s Youth Theater Classes.

Registration has been extended to Wednesday, Feb. 23 for numerous classes teaching everything from acting and singing to musical instruments and even how to be a clown. Classes are being offered in limited class sizes from Monday, Feb. 15 through Wednesday, April 14. Sessions take place at the Ross Ragland Theater and Cultural Center, offered for multiple age ranges and specific days and times vary. Registration is $85 per participant, with the cost of additional siblings reduced to $50. Class sizes are limited to adhere to current COVID-19 precautions and protocols.

Precautions to be followed include temperature checks and face coverings for all entering and exiting the building, social distancing and avoiding physical contact. To maintain safe distancing the rehearsal space maintains six-foot distance and 12 feet between rows; masks will be taken off only for singing in designated spots and sanitizing of rehearsal spaces will take place between each class session.

An historic marker will be formally unveiled as part of a full slate of activities in celebration of the film “Phoenix, Oregon” on Saturday, Feb. 27 in downtown Klamath Falls with a simultaneous livestream.

Multiple events are planned for the official addition of the latest historic marker on the Oregon Film Trail – a network of recognizable signage placed in many iconic filming locations across the state, stitching together film history, communities, and celebrating Oregon’s contribution to filmmaking since 1904.

The sign to be placed in Klamath Falls is the 33rd historic marker designated in the State of Oregon, but only the third in Southern Oregon – two were placed in Ashland in 2020. Additionally, the program has created a large exhibit and mural at the Portland International Airport honoring Oregon’s film legacy.

One block away from The Daily Bagel, the site of many scenes in the movie,  is the Ross Ragland Theater (218 N. 7th St.) starting at 2 p.m. there will be a screening of the film “Phoenix, Oregon. All attendees will be required to wear masks, and contact tracing and temperature checks will be conducted at the door in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols. Anyone showing symptoms of illness or a high temperature will not be admitted.

Around the state of Oregon

On Friday, Governor Kate Brown said Oregon has the third-lowest infection rate for COVID-19 in the nation.

During a press conference, Brown said, “Oregonians continue to make smart choices, and the numbers speak for themselves”. Brown said “…while this is great news, we must remain vigilant in the face of the challenges ahead with the new variants”. Brown advised Oregonians to continue to follow safety measures.

Brown was joined by a number of officials from the Oregon Health Authority. She also provided updates on the number of students returning to in-person instruction in schools and vaccination efforts during the recent severe weather in parts of the state.

The Bureau of Land Management is offering opportunities to live and work in riverside settings at volunteer camp host positions in northeast California.

Near Fall River Mills in eastern Shasta County, the BLM needs a host at the Pit River Campground, an eight site facility that includes a day use area. The campground features a kayak launch site, swimming access and fishing pier that are accessible for persons with disabilities.

Near Susanville, the BLM is seeking a host for the Hobo Camp day use area that serves as one of the many trailheads for the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail. The site features picnic areas with fire rings and barbecue grills, open areas for games and access to the Susan River for fishing and swimming. At both locations the hosts live on site in their own campers or recreational vehicles.

The BLM provides hookups and a small stipend to help with living expenses. The hosts greet visitors and provide information, and complete light maintenance.

An inmate of the Siskiyou County Jail is dead after a shooting at Fairchild Medical Center in Yreka on Friday afternoon, Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue confirmed to NewsWatch 12.  

LaRue said that just before noon on Friday, a female corrections deputy from the Sheriff’s Office was bringing a male inmate to the hospital to be cleared by a doctor. Though the medical clearance apparently went ahead without issue, the trouble began when they were leaving. While the deputy was escorting the inmate back out for transport to the jail, LaRue said that the inmate “attacked” the deputy and a struggle ensued.

During a scuffle that lasted for several minutes, LaRue said that the inmate injured and “almost disarmed” the deputy. While the inmate tried to wrench away the deputy’s gun and escape, the deputy fired a single shot, hitting the inmate.

It could take up to another week to restore power to all the remaining customers in the wake of an ice storm that wreaked havoc on the electrical grid in greater Portland, Oregon, beginning more than a week ago, a utility official said.

Almost 39,000 customers remained without power on Sunday after Portland General Electric said it had restored power to more than 14,000 customers on Saturday. The utility said more than 400 crews were at work trying to restore power to remaining homes and businesses. The worst ice storm in 40 years knocked out power to more than 350,000 residents at its peak and killed five people, including four who died from carbon monoxide poisoning as they tried to stay warm. It could take as long as seven days to fully restore power, said Portland General Electric spokeswoman Elizabeth Lattanner. Some customers have experienced multiple outages, she said.

Two earthquakes rumbled deep off the Oregon coast Saturday afternoon, registering magnitudes of 4.9 and 5.1, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS categorizes earthquakes of that scale as light or moderate. The quakes were approximately 170 miles west of Bandon and 6 miles deep. They struck in quick succession, beginning a little after 1:15 p.m. The National Weather Service said there is no danger of a tsunami from the earthquakes.

Oregon GOP Changes Leadership

A conservative state senator from Myrtle Creek is the new chair of the Oregon Republican Party, following an event Saturday in which Republicans overhauled their top party leadership.

The Oregon Republican Party is under fire after electing an outspoken populist senator as the new chair of the state GOP, despite concerns over his links to far-right extremist groups and his role encouraging activists to storm the state capitol building in December.

According to multiple Republican sources, state Sen. Dallas Heard handily won the job, beating three-term chair and Adair Village Mayor Bill Currier.

Heard, 35, is just one in a slate of current and former Republican senators who now have a central role in steering the party’s course. Former Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., now a Josephine County commissioner, won a contested race for vice chair. And state Sen. Dennis Linthicum, R-Klamath Falls, will serve as party treasurer.

A third sitting state senator, Chuck Thomsen of Hood River, was unsuccessful in his bid to serve as the party’s secretary. He was defeated by incumbent secretary Becky Mitts, who also serves as chief of staff to state Rep. Mike Nearman, a Republican from Polk County.

“It’s just kind of taking the party in a little different direction, a different type of leadership,” Baerstchiger said Sunday. “No criticism really of the prior leadership. … It wasn’t like there was some kind of coup.”

The in-person election of top party officials was held Saturday at a VFW hall in Salem. Photos sent to OPB from a person who reported attending the event showed a hall packed with people in close quarters, none of them wearing face masks.

The leadership swap comes at a time the Oregon GOP has gained national attention for passing a resolution claiming the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was a “false flag” operation by leftist forces — a conspiracy theory that has been debunked in the weeks since the incident.

The statement was denounced by all 23 Republicans in the state House of Representatives. Two Republican senators representing swing districts, Thomsen and Bend-based Sen. Tim Knopp, also took exception to the statement. Knute Buehler, 2018 Republican nominee for governor, changed his party registration to nonaffiliated following the incident.

Baertschiger was less critical. “I didn’t really see an upside to that, even though there’s a lot of questions about the Jan. 6 Capitol incident,” he said. “It’s going to take a while for the facts to get out. They’re starting to come out. I think it’s gonna be a mixed bag.”

The state GOP has also been criticized in recent years for expending resources running two unsuccessful recall campaigns against Gov. Kate Brown, while at the same time failing to recruit competitive candidates for some statewide offices. Democrats currently control every executive office in the state and hold supermajorities in the House and Senate, allowing them to pass any bill without Republican support.

It was unclear Sunday how Heard and others might seek to alter that trajectory. Heard in recent months has repeatedly garnered attention for his strident stance against state rules requiring masks and shuttering businesses to stem the spread of COVID-19.

When the Legislature met in special session on Dec. 21, Heard tore off his face mask in protest on the Senate floor, and he accused Democratic legislators and the governor of a “campaign against the people and the children of God.”

On Jan. 6, the same day as the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Heard addressed supporters of then-President Trump at an “Occupy the Capitol” rally in Salem.

“I’m just kind of at a loss for words as I look at this Capitol building that is yours, the people’s, and is currently being occupied by a group of elitists,” Heard told the crowd. “Sadly I’m not sure that it’s all Democrats that are the elitists, frankly. I am a Republican, but I’m an American first and there are some Republicans that need to go.”

Later Heard told the cheering crowd: “Don’t let any of these punks from that stone temple over there ever tell you they are better than any of you. Trust me. I work with these fools. None of them are half as good as any of you.”

Baertschiger said Sunday he expected the new party leadership to improve its messaging and organization. He said that discussions for mounting a leadership challenge in the party began when he was still in the Senate.

“I think there’s a lot of tremendous people that want to get involved with the Republican Party,” he said. “We’ve seen that with the registration and we’ve seen it with the bipartisan support from both recalls. If there was ever a time to organize a little better than we have in the past, it’s probably now.”

It’s not unheard of for sitting state lawmakers to lead the state party. More often, though, elected legislators and party leadership remain distinct from one another and former lawmakers like Baertschiger pursue the chairship. Baertschiger said Sunday that Heard had a “burning desire” for the party’s top spot.

Oregon Bill Proposes Big Shift in Criminal Justice System

A bill in the Oregon Legislature proposes major reforms to the state’s criminal justice system. House Bill 2002 is a sweeping measure that would scale back the system’s reach, from limiting what offenses send a person to jail, to reforming mandatory minimum sentences, to reducing the number of people on parole.

Shannon Wight, deputy director of the Partnership for Safety and Justice, one of the groups that requested the bill, said the changes are needed. “Those are the part of the bill that actually kind of shrink the system, limit its impact because we know it’s grown too big,” Wight contended. “It’s become like the mental health default, the addiction default.”

Wight pointed out the bill came together in the wake of George Floyd’s death. She emphasized it would save money to be reinvested in things like culturally-specific services. Other groups involved in the effort include the Latino Network, Coalition of Communities of Color, and Red Lodge Transition Services. House Bill 2002 has a public hearing scheduled in the House Judiciary Committee Thursday.

Morgan Godvin, a commissioner on the Oregon Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission, spent time in Oregon jails and a federal prison for her opioid use disorder. She said her personal experience opened her eyes because she saw many women churned through the system, being released and re-arrested again and again.

“It was making them less safe,” Godvin argued. “Jail was destabilizing their lives. They were losing their housing, they were losing their job, and then being released back into the exact same circumstances from which they came.”

Godvin helped craft the bill’s parole piece. She stressed the current program negatively incentivizes people, relying on sending them back to jail. The bill would allow for tele-reporting to supervisors and limit the complexities of parole.

Wight added reforming mandatory minimum sentences is important because it unties the hands of judges. She noted, nonetheless, people who commit crimes need to be held accountable.

“Part of what we’re saying with these reforms is, let’s go back to a system that allows judges to look at the individual circumstances of those crimes and make decisions that are based on what accountability makes sense for that person and for that victim,” Wight concluded.

The bill would also increase funding for community-based victim services.

State Rep Hernandez Resigns

Embattled state Rep. Diego Hernandez, D-Portland, has resigned, rather than face the possibility this week of becoming the first person ever expelled from the Oregon Legislature, OPB reported Sunday evening.

“Today I tendered my resignation so my colleagues may focus on serving Oregonians and so I can move forward with my life and focus on my health and family,” Hernandez said in a brief statement sent to OPB on Sunday evening.

Earlier this weekend, a judge rejected Hernandez’s legal effort to stop the vote on his expulsion, OPB said.

Embattled state Rep. Diego Hernandez, D-Portland, has resigned, rather than face the possibility this week of becoming the first person ever expelled from the Oregon Legislature, OPB reported Sunday evening.

“Today I tendered my resignation so my colleagues may focus on serving Oregonians and so I can move forward with my life and focus on my health and family,” Hernandez said in a brief statement sent to OPB on Sunday evening.

Earlier this weekend, a judge rejected Hernandez’s legal effort to stop the vote on his expulsion, OPB said.

At Least One Dead after Fishing Boat Capsized Near Tillamook Bay

At least one of four crew members pulled from a capsized fishing boat on Saturday has died, according to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).

A 38-foot fishing boat capsized at about 4:40 p.m. at the Tillamook Bay bar entrance, just a few miles south of Rockaway Beach. A representative for the Coast Guard said within about half an hour, rescue crews were able to retrieve all four people who were on board.

Two of the four people were unresponsive when they were pulled from the water. All four of them were taken to a hospital. The USCG confirmed Sunday one had been declared dead soon after the rescue. Another was flown to a hospital in Portland for more care.

The Coast Guard said its personnel was watching the vessel from a tower, at the fishing crew’s request, as their boat crossed the bar to return to port. Then the Coast Guard dispatched rescue crews from a station in Garibaldi when the boat overturned.

“We had crews get on scene immediately via two small boats. And then we had a coast guard helicopter launch from Astoria,” described Steve Strohmaier with USCG. “I know there were some restrictions on the bar crossing at that time, which is probably why the crew was concerned about the crossing.”

Those restrictions were on recreational boats, not commercial vessels. The Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Coast Guard with rescue efforts. 

These data are preliminary and subject to change. OHA’s dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data, and Oregon’s dashboard has been updated today.

Local Innovation Lab Prepares SOU Interns to Lead in Disasters

The collaborative project of Southern Oregon University and the Humane Leadership Institute is finding student interns and training them as leaders to tackle some of the sticky issues faced by communities and businesses affected by the disasters.

About 30 SOU students from more than 10 separate degree programs are receiving $1,000 stipends to participate as interns ­in the new program this year, and double that number are expected for the 2021-22 academic year. Four of this year’s fall term participants already have paid jobs as a result of their internships.

“Students are learning that humane leadership applies to how they lead themselves as well as how they lead others, and that it applies equally to their personal lives and their professional lives,” said Bret Anderson, SOU’s Economics Department chair and the university’s primary link to the Local Innovation Lab project.

“We are meeting students’ innate desire to contribute to their communities, especially in the wake of the Almeda Fire, while inviting them to apply their skills to impactful work,” he said.

The project grew out of a community conversation that was initiated last April, when it was apparent the COVID-19 pandemic would have deep and long-lasting effects on southern Oregon. Stephen Sloan of the Humane Leadership Institute, a local education think tank, convened a small group of people from Ashland and the Rogue Valley to discuss the emerging problems, needs and opportunities.

Those community conversations eventually grew to include more than two dozen participants, and one of the group’s first actions was to create a 501c3 nonprofit organization – Local Innovation Works – to carry out the first project, the Local Innovation Lab.

Community leaders in the larger group had discussed the need for interns to help businesses, social service agencies and local governments reboot their operations in ways that could help address pandemic-related issues. But the interns would need to be prepared to lead, rather than be led.

“I have heard over and over again that the effort required to bring a student intern up to speed is not worth the benefit of hiring an intern for many organizations,” Anderson said. “This was a gap that we identified pretty clearly. Universities do a great job of (creating) academic foundations for careers and employers do well with on-the-job training for their long-term employees, but the short-term student intern is left in the void.

“Thus, there was a need for a community organization to build a bridge between the academic community and organizations in the community that focused on the students’ own experience of leading themselves and those around them.”

Those who apply to participate in the program as student interns are required to take an SOU course on humane leadership, which emphasizes qualities such as compassion, consideration and encouragement. That course and participation in the internship program satisfy two of the three criteria needed to earn SOU’s digital badge or micro-credential in Values-Based Leadership. The third requirement is completion of any of several elective courses that focus on equity, diversity and inclusion, and the wider social context in which entrepreneurship and civic engagement take place.

The Local Innovation Lab, humane leadership course and Values-Based Leadership badge all are open to both enrolled SOU students and community members.

The lab was initially intended to launch with a cohort of interns for winter term, but the wildfires of early September “turned the dial up to 11,” Anderson said. It was instead unveiled as a pilot program with interns lined up after fall term had already begun.

Its organizers wove together the abilities of interns, the assets of donors and investors, and the needs of organizations affected by the pandemic or fires.

The project is clearly working. One intern from SOU’s Financial Mathematics program is helping the city of Phoenix clean up the accounting for its water billings; a Continuing Education student is analyzing data from Medford’s Family Nurturing Center to better map social service outreach efforts to outcomes. Another student is helping create a community investment fund by looking at gaps between local banks’ loan terms and the ability of underserved entrepreneurs to get credit. Yet another is working “her dream job” with the Gordon Elwood Foundation, creating a “visually appealing, accessible online database profiling key funders in the Southern Oregon region.”

Two other interns are working with the nonprofit Remake Talent to create an interactive recovery dashboard using ArcGIS and to present the evolving network of fire relief organizations that provide resources to the Rogue Valley.

“Students get a real-world experience of impact, collaboration and reality,” Anderson said. “They get a sense of the practical utility of their education. They get a break from theory and a deep dive into the challenges of trying to get important things done with other people.”

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