(File photo of Mazama football game. No spectators allowed at upcoming games for now. Read more below.)
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.
Thursday, February 25, 2021
Klamath Basin Weather
Today Sunny, with a high near 49. West wind 6 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph. Overnight, clear and a low around 27 degrees.
Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 44. Overnight a 20% chance of snow showers.
Saturday A 20% chance of snow showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 44.
Sunday Sunny, with a high near 52.
Monday A chance of snow before 1pm, then a chance of rain and snow. Mostly sunny, with a high near 47.
See Road Camera Views:
Klamath County Public Health (KCPH) officials report six new cases of COVID-19 and one death. The local case count is 2,774. Deaths now number 54. This week’s total is 21. The deceased was a 72-year-old man who died February 23 at Sky Lakes Medical Center. He had underlying health conditions.
Oregon reports 437 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 32 new deaths
There are 32 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,194, the Oregon Health Authority reported as of this morning. Oregon Health Authority reported 437 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 154,062.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (6), Benton (22), Clackamas (38), Clatsop (6), Columbia (10), Coos (16), Crook (8), Curry (1), Deschutes (28), Douglas (28), Jackson (27), Jefferson (7), Josephine (20), Klamath (6), Lane (33), Lincoln (2), Linn (6), Malheur (3), Marion (33), Morrow (5), Multnomah (55), Polk (11), Sherman (1), Tillamook (3), Umatilla (15), Union (1), Wasco (1), Washington (41) and Yamhill (6).
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 22,406 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 14,502 doses were administered on Feb. 23 and 7,904 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Feb. 23.
Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 858,481 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 1,133,695 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon.
Spectators will not be allowed at Klamath County School District sporting events for the time being.
In a prepared release yesterday, the Klamath County School District announced “We are excited to announce that our sports teams and athletes are competing again. However, due to Oregon Health Authority guidelines, there will be no spectators allowed at Klamath County School District sporting events at this time. This also applies to away games. Only participants, coaches, and officials will be allowed on campuses for events. Our schools are working on livestreaming options to broadcast sporting events, and we will publicize details as those plans are finalized. We ask our parents and fans to please adhere to these rules so our student athletes can play. We know this year has been difficult for our athletes, and we appreciate our families, coaches, and students for their flexibility, perseverance, and determination.”
This mandate includes outdoor and indoor scheduled athletic events.
Sky Lakes Medical Center is scheduing appointments for covid vaccination clinics to be held in the coming days.
Those 70 and older may schedule appointments for Thursday and Friday this week, and those qualifying under Phases 1-A and 1-B, group 1 can schedule an appointment for Monday. Appointments must be made it advance by calling 1-833-606-4370 beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Sky Lakes will continue making appointments throughout the week until it is out of doses.
Klamath County voters will decide whether or not to raise the transient room tax on hotel, motel and vacation rental beds in the county by 3% in a special election scheduled for May 18.
The measure, which would raise the room tax in Klamath County from 8% to 11%, is the biggest item currently on the ballot. The tax would be included in a hotel bill and is charged to the occupants of RV parks, overnight stays, vacation rentals and certain campsites. The transient room tax was first adopted in Klamath County in 1978 at 6%, and was increased to 8% in 2006.
Of the proposed increase, 70% of the dollars raised would go to funding tourism promotion in the county, and the other 30% would go to county government. The city of Medford upped its transient room tax rate to 11% in August 2020. The rate in Deschutes County is 8%, and Grants Pass charges 9%.
A Chiloquin woman died and three others were seriously injured in a head-on crash on Highway 140 near Lake of the Woods on Tuesday afternoon.
According to an investigation by Oregon State Police, Paula West, 64, of Klamath Falls was heading eastbound about 2:45 p.m. when she lost control of her vehicle and slammed into a westbound minivan driven by Mary Wolf, 63, of Chiloquin. Wolf was pronounced dead at the scene. Two passengers in her car were hospitalized with injuries. David Burton, 37, of Chiloquin was taken from the scene via ambulance and a juvenile was transported via air ambulance. West was also hospitalized, according to OSP.
The highway was closed for more than an hour until some traffic was able to move through the area. ODOT did not leave the scene until about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday evening.
The Klamath County Sheriff’s office is looking for help to find a missing person. 51 year old Steven Samuel Mosttler has been missing from the Chiloquin area since December.
He’s described as 5’ 9”/190, short brown hair, brown eyes, goatee, wears glasses, small drawstring bag Often transient, Mosttler may have attempted to get to Bellingham, WA as he has family in the area. Mosttler does not have his vehicle or cell phone at this time.
If you have any information, please contact the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 541-850-5380. Refer to Det. West Packer, Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Case #21-401.
Recess, outdoor education and community livability are going to get a $1 million revamp in Chiloquin this fall and community organizers are seeking contributions to help meet their goal.
The Chiloquin Green Schoolyard project is a collaborative effort to enhance the accessibility and safety of the playground and incorporate green space at Chiloquin Elementary.
The project was spurred by the Klamath Tribal Council and will overhaul the playground area, add a covered basketball court, replace outdated playground equipment, and add ADA-accessibility. In addition, it will incorporate community spaces in and around the playground, including walking paths and gardening space on the school campus. The Willamette Partnership is an environmental nonprofit that helps facilitate projects that improve health in the state.
Robison is helping facilitate the project with nearly a dozen local entities, including Klamath Tribes, and hopes to raise $12,000 through a recently formed GoFundMe page. The page will be online through March 19.
Foster parent recruitment is going virtual today, and Oregon Department of Human Services in Klamath Falls is looking for more than a few individuals to consider taking on a parenting role in Klamath and Lake Counties.
The event, planned from 6:30 to 8 p.m. today, is the first taking place virtually and is organized by DHS and Every Child Oregon, which recruits individuals as resource parents to provide foster or respite care. Bridget King, foster recruitment and retention champion for Klamath and Lake Counties, is hoping to recruit 20 to 30 new individuals who could serve in this role. Foster care recruitment nights were previously held in-person hosted at the Klamath County Library.
King hopes the virtual component will make the process of learning how to become a foster parent and/or respite care provider more accessible.
Around the state of Oregon
Pacific Power finished restoring power following powerful ice storms on Sunday and now some of its crews plan to help Portland General Electric, which still has about 4,000 customers waiting for power, the company said Wednesday. Pacific Power predominantly serves the southern part of Oregon, but also serves cities such as Corvallis, Lincoln City, Bend and Astoria. At times, more than 80,000 Pacific customers were without power, according to media reports. The company had more than 400 field personnel working 24/7 through ice and snow to restore power as quickly as possible. PGE said on Tuesday it could be another week before all power is restored and that crews from multiple states had been helping out. Nearly half of PGE’s customers, more than 420,000, were impacted by outages during the storms, PGE President Maria Pope said. Crews are in the last phases of work that generally only restores power to about 10 customers at a time, she said previously.
Organizations representing producers of Oregon beer, wine, and spirits are sounding the alarm about a bill proposed in the legislature that would majorly hike taxes on alcohol. House Bill 3296, sponsored by Democratic Representatives Tawna Sanchez and Rachel Prusak, proposes new taxes on beer, cider, and wine. The bill proposes an additional tax of $70 per barrel of beer or cider and $10 per gallon of wine. The current taxes stand at $2.60 per barrel of beer or cider and 65 cents per gallon of wine, and the new taxes would be added on top of those existing rates. Reps. Sanchez and Prusak reference the cost of addiction in Oregon as the impetus for the bill, citing statistics that the state’s alcohol mortality rate has increased by 34 percent in the past 21 years, killing “five times as many people as all drug overdoses combined.” The bill stipulates that tax revenues would go toward addiction recovery measures. The Oregon Beverage Alliance and Oregon Wine Council both released statements this week in opposition to the bill, saying that it would be devastating to Oregon breweries.
The former UPS driver accused of shooting at drivers along I-5 in southern Oregon entered guilty pleas on 15 counts, the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office said on Tuesday. State troopers arrested 49-year-old Kenneth Ayers in August following a string of shootings along the Interstate corridor between Douglas, Josephine, and Jackson counties — one of which injured a woman near Central Point. A grand jury indicted Ayers on a total of 34 counts in December. On Tuesday, Ayers agreed to plead guilty on three counts of Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, five counts of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, two counts of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, three counts of Recklessly Endangering Another Person, and two counts of Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree.
Jackson County Parks to Manage Joseph H. Stewart Park beginning April 1, 2021
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and Jackson County Parks have agreed that the management of Joseph H. Stewart State Recreation Area will be transferred to Jackson County Parks April 1, 2021. The county will manage the day-use area, campground and Lost Lake Reservoir marina operations for the next two years, with an option to renew the agreement for an additional three years. In addition to Joseph H. Stewart park, Jackson County will also operate and maintain Prospect Wayside, Casey Recreation Area, and Tubb Springs Wayside.
Joseph H. Stewart State Recreation Area joins 21 other developed parks currently managed by Jackson County, including more than 900 campsites. Joseph Stewart park is located on Oregon Highway 62 near Prospect and is approximately 35 miles northeast of Medford and 30 miles southwest of Crater Lake National Park. Jackson County will also operate Prospect Wayside, Casey Recreation Area, and Tubb Springs Wayside. State park staff will focus their energy to provide service at Valley of the Rogue State Park, TouVelle State Recreation Site, and other state parks in the area.
“The Jackson County Parks team is excited for this new opportunity to connect with our guests at a new location and serve the needs of new park users,” says Steve Lambert, Jackson County Parks program manager. “We expect Joseph Stewart park to be extremely busy this season and we will be ready to provide a high-quality experience.”
In addition to day-use, the campground has 151 sites with electricity and water and 50 tent sites with water only, as well as two group camping areas. A boat ramp and moorage are available to day-use and overnight visitors. Jackson County expects to begin accepting camping, boat slips and boat rental reservations on March 15. More information about the park, including reservation availability, is available at www.jacksoncountyparks.com, or call (541) 774-8183.
“We welcome this new partnership with the county, especially since we know they are as passionate about helping people enjoy the outdoors as we are,” says J.R. Collier, OPRD region manager. “We’ll be working together to see if this improves efficiency and improves service to park visitors.” Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.
Helping kids get comfortable with masks; from the Oregon Health Authority
There is a lot of uncertainty about school right now. Many students are in virtual school. But in January, some students began returning to the classroom, and more will as we move into spring. One thing is clear: Kids will be wearing masks at school.
Oregon pediatricians at the Oregon Pediatric Society offer advice for parents on helping kids with mask wearing. Here are five tips that may help accustom toddlers and children to masking up:
Start early: If you can, introduce masks well ahead of when you think your child will be required to wear them. Consider starting by simply having masks around the home and pointing out their presence. Next steps can be encouraging children to touch, explore and play with the masks.
Make it familiar: Parents and older siblings can wear masks around the house or put them on stuffed animals and dolls to make them more familiar.
Make it fun: Provide masks with fun patterns or pictures and let your child choose the mask they wear before going out.
Be honest: Even for young children you can say something like “OK, time to put our mask on to make sure we all stay safe.”
Be consistent: Once a child is comfortable wearing a mask, it is important to be consistent with where and when masks are worn. Consistency is the key to habit forming behaviors. One easy place to start is everywhere outside the home (“Whenever we go somewhere that is not our home, we wear a mask”).
What the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna can do for you
We want to make sure that you are informed about what the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are — and aren’t — capable of.
What exactly is an mRNA vaccine and what sort of effects does it produce in a vaccine recipient?
For starters, these vaccines teach our immune systems how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus and provides our bodies with the means to fight the virus that causes COVID-19.
The large-scale clinical trials revealed that the vaccine prevents serious COVID-19 illness about 95% of the time. Every day, we are learning more about whether the vaccines will prevent infection or transmission. As we all know by now, it is going to take some time for everyone to get vaccinated. We don’t yet know when we’ll be able to stop wearing masks and maintaining physical distance, but OHA will continue to watch the spread of the disease in Oregon. When the spread of the disease is low enough, we’ll see some changes to these protective measures.
Heavy Snowfall Expected on Oregon Mountain Passes
The National Weather Service in Portland is forecasting massive snow totals for the Cascades Wednesday through Saturday, making for challenging driving conditions over mountain passes.
OREGON UTILITY REGULATORS EXTEND CUSTOMER PROTECTIONS
COVID-19 late fee and disconnection moratorium extended through June 30
SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved an extended moratorium on disconnections for electric and natural gas customers of investor-owned utilities as Oregonians continue to experience financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The moratorium, previously set to expire on April 1, was extended to June 30.
The PUC extended the moratorium to waive late fees and discontinue energy service disconnections due to nonpayment for customers of Portland General Electric (PGE), PacifiCorp, Idaho Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural, and Avista, through June 30, with the first 15-day late notice to be issued no earlier than June 15.
As of December 2020, the number of electric and natural gas customers with past-due balances of investor-owned utilities had increased to just over 97,000 customers who are 90-plus days behind in paying their energy bills. This is a 272 percent increase when compared to data prior to the pandemic. Additionally, the total amount of past due balances for residential customers has increased to $48.3 million, a 631 percent increase.
“As the economic impacts of the pandemic continue, the extension of the moratorium provides families continued access to essential utility services at a time that so many are struggling to make ends meet and relying on these essential services to attend school and work,” said Megan Decker, PUC Chair. “This extension, however, does not mean that utility service can be provided at no cost. Paying what you can now or getting connected with energy assistance programs will help avoid large balances once the moratorium ends.”
To further benefit Oregonians, the PUC directed investor-owned electric and natural gas companies to file arrearage management program plans for approval. PGE’s program has been filed and approved by the PUC, while the plans for the remaining investor-owned utilities will be reviewed at a special public meeting scheduled for March 23. These programs, which would go into effect April 1, offer additional options for energy customers experiencing difficulty in paying their utility bills. Funding for these programs is limited to one percent of each utility’s 2019 Oregon retail revenues, or approximately $39 million overall.
Customers having difficulty paying their utility bills should contact their service provider directly for information on arrearage management programs, payment plan options, and programs specific for qualifying low-income customers. For additional information, contact the PUC at email@example.com or call 503-378-6600 or 800-522-2404.
The PUC will hold a follow-up public meeting in mid-May to further review the impacts of the pandemic on energy customers.
The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) regulates customer rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric, natural gas and telephone utilities, as well as select water companies. The PUC mission is to ensure Oregon utility customers have access to safe, reliable, and high quality utility services at just and reasonable rates, which is accomplished through thorough analysis and independent decision-making conducted in an open and fair process. Oregon Public Utility Commission
Oregon Revenues Could Lead to Kicker Tax Credit
Despite an economic recession brought on by a global pandemic, Oregon state revenues are higher than expected, thanks in part to unprecedented federal aid, and it could lead to a kicker on 2021 taxes.
State economists shared their quarterly economic forecast with lawmakers Wednesday afternoon, and while the budget appears to be in good shape, some state leaders say it doesn’t reflect the realities on the ground for thousands of jobless Oregonians.
“Today’s positive revenue forecast is good news for our budgetary efforts. However, I’m troubled by the disconnect between these numbers and the economic pain on the ground for so many Oregonians,” said House Speaker Tina Kotek in a statement.
Shortly after the pandemic began, economists estimated the economic fallout could result in a $2 billion hole in state revenues. As of the current economic forecast, that hole has been completely filled and state leaders are now anticipating more revenues than expected prior to the recession.
Oregon shed more than 150,000 jobs since the pandemic began. Thousands had trouble getting unemployment benefits. Many people are behind on rent and mortgages.
Despite the hardship, economists say personal income rose sharply during the recession thanks to an unprecedented amount of federal aid. Being an income tax state, general fund revenues followed suit.
Economists project Oregonians will receive $12 billion in unemployment, $11 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans, and $8 billion in rebates.
According to the Tax Foundation, a tax policy nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., Oregon could collect about $402 million in state income taxes from unemployment benefits.
The state’s Legislative Revenue Office estimated stimulus checks would increase state tax collections by about $103 million for the current biennium.
Lawmakers will have an additional $800 million to play with in the current legislative session, thanks to the better-than-expected forecast.
Additional revenues mean taxpayers may get a kicker payment of $571 million when they file their 2021 taxes next year. Economists said there is a two-in-three chance the kicker will be triggered when the biennium ends.
“The forecast is way up. This allows us to start really dealing with the pain and suffering of Oregonians,” said Senate President Peter Courtney.
“I prefer to focus on the revenue coming into Oregonians’ bank accounts. The reality is that 150,000 Oregonians have been put out of work because of the pandemic and the economic lockdowns. Tens of thousands are struggling to make rent, afford child care, and put food on the table,” said Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod. “The Legislature should not be considering new taxes or rolling back COVID relief. That will simply hinder economic recovery and the chances of Oregonians getting back to work.”
Gov. Kate Brown welcomed the good forecast news but offered a word of caution.
“Even with this good news, it is important to move forward cautiously, as the road ahead remains unpredictable. We also know that many Oregonians are still struggling with job losses, underemployment, and making ends meet,” she said in a news release.
Former Grass Seed Company Manager Charged in Scheme to Defraud Simplot and its Customers
PORTLAND, Ore.—U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced today that Christopher Claypool, 52, of Spokane, Washington, the former general manager of the Jacklin Seed Company, a producer and marketer of grass seed and turfgrass based in Liberty Lake, Washington, has been charged by criminal information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering as part of multiple schemes to defraud Jacklin’s former owner, the J.R. Simplot Company, and its customers.
As general manager of Jacklin, Claypool oversaw the company’s product sales to domestic and foreign distributors. Jacklin contracted with independent growers in Oregon for the production of proprietary grass seed varieties and fulfilled orders from a distribution facility in Albany, Oregon. Differences in grass seed yield rates resulted in the over-delivery of some varieties and underproduction of others.
At some point between 2013 and 2015, Claypool and other Jacklin employees realized that growers’ preference for higher-yield grasses was creating substantial shortages of lower-yield varieties Jacklin had contracted to deliver to its customers. Claypool and a colleague who oversaw product fulfillment at the company’s Albany distribution facility recognized that these shortages would either cause Jacklin to fail to deliver on its existing contracts or require Jacklin to pay a premium to growers to acquire necessary inventory, substantially eroding company profits. Claypool and his colleague anticipated that either result would negatively affect their careers.
From January 2015 and continuing until at least the summer of 2019, Claypool and his colleague directed Jacklin employees, at the Albany facility and elsewhere, to fulfill customer orders with different varieties of grass seed than the customers had ordered, to conceal such substitutions from the customers, and to invoice the customers as though no substitutions had taken place. Claypool and his colleague referred to this scheme as “getting creative.”
To conceal the unauthorized substitutions, Claypool and his colleague directed Jacklin employees to package the substitute seed varieties with false and misleading labels. They also directed employees to invoice the customers under the original terms of their contracts, notwithstanding the unauthorized substitutions. As a result of this scheme, Jacklin invoiced customers for more than $1.1 million of grass seed the company never delivered.
In addition to the undisclosed seed substitutions, Claypool engaged in several other fraudulent schemes while serving as Jacklin’s general manager. In one scheme, he directed an accomplice to create a limited-liability corporation (LLC) to pose as an independent grass seed broker. Claypool and a colleague conspired to route a portion of Jacklin’s overseas sales through a competing grass-seed seller based in Jefferson, Oregon. The company would, in turn, add its own mark-up to the sales and kick back outsized commissions to Claypool through his accomplice’s LLC. From December 2018 through August 2019, Claypool generated more than $369,000 in fraudulent commissions.
In a third scheme, Claypool conspired with the owner of an independent travel agency in Spokane to inflate the purported costs of Claypool’s international business travel. Claypool traveled overseas extensively for business and had authority to approve his own travel expenses. In lieu of using Simplot’s contract travel agency, Claypool booked his flights through the independent travel agent. The agent booked economy and other lower-cost fares for Claypool, but created fake first-class bookings on the most expensive comparable itineraries in order to generate inflated invoices that he transmitted to Simplot, through Claypool, for payment. In total, the agent overbilled more than $500,000 for international airfare, the majority of which Claypool ultimately received in kickbacks from the agent.
In the most lucrative fraud scheme, Claypool directed Simplot’s payment of more than twelve million dollars in “rebates” and “commissions” to entities that were posing as foreign sales partners but were, in fact, fronts for Claypool’s coconspirators in embezzling those funds. The coconspirators then transmitted part of their ill-gotten gains from accounts in Hong Kong to real estate investments in Hawaii under Claypool’s control. Years later, Claypool sold the real estate and wired the proceeds to investment accounts in Spokane as part of an elaborate money laundering operation.
Claypool faces a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison, fines of more than $15 million, and 5 years’ supervised release. His arraignment has not yet been scheduled.
This case is being investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
Criminal information is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon
Oregon Short Film Festival Opens in The Dalles
The Oregon Short Film Festival is, truly, a short film festival, movies that are 30 minutes or less. Many of the films from moviemakers around the world are 5-10 minutes long. The big screen is a drive-in theater at Sunshine Mill Winery
The festival kicked off Wednesday at a newly created drive-in theater at the Sunshine Mill Winery in The Dalles. The 200 films are serious, humorous, profane, animated — just about any topic under the sun, and all made by up-and-comers in the small film segment — and all from the comfort and safety of your own car.
Mikel Fair, who founded the short film festival back in 2016, said small moviemakers really do value opinions of people here to see their films.
“They look forward to just having Oregonians sit down, relax and really take in their film. and they know that we’re not as concerned with star power of who is in the film,” Fair said. “They just want to sit back and have a good time.”
In short the Oregon audience is a sounding board for small moviemakers, a way to get instant feedback on their short stories, to find out what seems to resonate with the audience and what doesn’t.
One short on the list this week is a 7-part series premiering on Facebook called Brewcrew. It’s an animated film that won Comedy Series Award for animated cartoon.
Its not for kids, but it’s funny to its fans. Creator Zachary Madson, a film maker from Tigard, said as the tools of movie making have become cheaper and accessible, it has democratized movie making giving more people with diverse and creative talents a chance at making short films.
“If you can tell a story, you can make a film for a couple thousand dollars and a lot of people will just scrape that money together among friends,” Madson said. “So now as a writer I like it because it puts story at the forefront.”
Not everything on the drive-in big screen in The Dalles will make it big time to Netflix, YouTube or other distribution channels. But some likely will and they’ll be able to say they got their start at the Oregon Short Film Festival underway through this weekend in The Dalles.
Tickets are sold by the car and some are still available. They have food, pizza delivered and drink. It’s a night out at the drive-in movies. Shows start at 6 p.m. and go until about 11 p.m. through the weekend
Oregon Tops List of Online Searches Related To Armed Groups and Conspiracy Theories
According to Moonshot CVE, a London-based tech company founded to combat extremism, Oregon tops the list of where internet searches occurred related to armed groups, conspiracy theories, and political violence.
“For example, it was ‘how to join the proud boys’ or ‘how to build a bomb’ or ‘how to join an anti-government movement’ that these people from Oregon were searching at a disproportionate rate,” said Randy Blazak, a sociologist and extremism expert in Portland.
Moonshot CVE tracked various topics linked to the U.S. presidential election from September to December of 2020. On a per-capita basis, Oregon led all other states in related searches. Blazak says it makes sense in light of Oregon’s history.
“It points to something that we’ve long known, which is Oregon is kind of front and center in the extreme right movement,” said Blazak.
In recent history, that’s partly in response to what some see as Portland’s far-left protest reputation.
“To see what’s taking place in Portland with the rioters and the destruction and the damage, it gives Oregon a black eye,” said Mike McCarter, who leads a movement to have Oregon’s more conservative eastern counties absorbed into Idaho.
McCarter states that he denounces violence and conspiracy theories but that he sees the Moonshot research as proof his idea is a good way to ease discord between urban and rural parts of Oregon.
Moonshot doesn’t just track search information. The company is involved in ways to counteract when someone searches for a topic related to extremism.
For example, when a person searches for a flagged topic, an ad may pop up to redirect that person to information that might persuade them otherwise.