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, March 3, 2021
Klamath Basin Weather
This Afternoon Sunny, with a high near 58. TonightMostly clear, with a low around 28.
Thursday Mostly sunny, with a high near 55.
Friday A 30% chance of rain after 4pm. Snow level rising to 5500 feet in the afternoon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 55.
Saturday A chance of rain and snow before 10am. Snow level rising to 4800 feet in the afternoon. Partly sunny, with a high near 47.
Sunday A slight chance of snow after 10am. Partly sunny, with a high near 47.
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Oregon reports 269 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 13 new deaths
There are 13 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,225. The Oregon Health Authority reported 269 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 156,037.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (2), Benton (3), Clackamas (20), Columbia (2), Coos (3), Crook (1), Deschutes (6), Douglas (20), Gilliam (1), Harney (2), Jackson (44), Jefferson (2), Josephine (20), Klamath (5), Lake (2), Lane (24), Lincoln (3), Linn (6), Marion (26), Morrow (1), Multnomah (28), Polk (4), Tillamook (3), Umatilla (11), Union (1), Washington (23) and Yamhill (6).
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 10,911 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 3,894 doses were administered on March 1 and 7,017 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on March 1.
As of YESTERDAY morning, appointments remained for todays COVID-19 vaccination clinic for Klamath County residents 65 and older, but slots are filling fast. Sky Lakes Medical Center will provide the no-charge vaccinations 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today on the fourth floor in the original medical center. The first-dose vaccinations are by appointment only and can be scheduled by calling 1-833-606-4370 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.; no walk-in slots or on-site appointments are available. Individuals who are 65 and older became eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations on Sunday, according to the Oregon Health Authority’s phased distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Sky Lakes leaders encourage everyone who’s eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to help achieve widespread community immunity. Vaccination of anyone in any of the currently eligible groups depends entirely on the limited number of doses allocated to Sky Lakes.
Meanwhile, Klamath County will receive several hundred doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week, which was just authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday. At 66% efficacy overall, it may seem like the ugly stepchild of the extremely effective Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, but experts say it’ll be a crucial tool in containing the pandemic. On Wednesday, Klamath County Public Health will receive 100 doses of the vaccine and Bi-Mart on Washburn Way will receive 200, according to KCPH Spokesperson Valeree Lane
After a lengthy process of gathering stakeholder input, a nationwide search has concluded as the KFCS has announced the lone finalist in the search for a new superintendent. On Monday, March 1, after a near 1½ hour executive session followed by a special session, the KFCS board of education unanimously named Keith Brown as the lone finalist for the position of Superintendent of Schools. The KFCS Human Resources Director will now enter into contract negotiations with Brown. If all goes as expected the board of education will vote to hire him at its regular monthly meeting on March 8. Brown will succeed Superintendent Paul Hillyer, who will retire on June 30, 2021. Hillyer has served as superintendent for the past 11 years. The KFCS board of education and district leaders expressed their thanks to all community members, leaders, teachers, parents, administrators and others who participated in this process.
The 173rd Fighter Wing will conduct night flying operations this week through Thursday, March 5. Operations will take place between approximately 4:00 p.m. through 9:00 p.m. Night flying is one part of the course curriculum for F-15C student pilots at Kingsley Field, the premiere F-15C schoolhouse for the United States Air Force. The majority of the training will occur in the military operating airspace to the east of Lakeview where the pilots can fly without lights. However, the local community will most likely hear the jets during take-offs and approaches to and from Kingsley Field. Take-offs will occur after sundown and the jets will return approximately an hour-and-a-half later. Community members may contact the wing’s public affairs office at 541-885-6677 to express any concerns they have during this time.
Klamath Community College is pleased to announce it has been recognized as a Military Friendly school for the 2021-22 academic year. The Military Friendly designation, awarded by Viqtory Media, honors colleges, universities, and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses, and to ensure their success on campus. This year, only eight Oregon institutions earned a Military Friendly designation. Schools designated as Military Friendly are included in a list of designees that is provided to service members and their families to promote education opportunities that can better help them pursue a civilian career. It also helps military families make the best use of the GI Bill and other federal benefits and to find success in their chosen career fields. KCC has supported Airmen in the pursuit of their CCAF degrees, which require completing 15 general education credits, since 2013. Airmen who complete a CCAF degree at KCC can also participate in “Base to Bachelor’s,” a program that allows active duty Airmen anywhere in the world to pursue a Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Technology and Management at Oregon Tech or a Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Business Administration at Eastern Oregon University.
Around the state of Oregon
The Oregon Department of Forestry’s National Fire Plan Coordinator, Jenna Trentadue, who manages the Firewise program in Oregon said, “Staff in our local ODF offices partner with fire departments to work with communities across the state to organize projects or activities that reduce wildfire risk. Through this process, those communities become designated as Firewise.”
To achieve the designation, communities must have at least eight participating dwelling units and conduct at least one event or activity related to reducing fire risk. Firewise is a nationwide program of the National Fire Protection Association. Oregon Dept. of Forestry
Ex-UPS Driver Sentenced to 20 years for I-5 Shootings
A former UPS driver charged in shootings that injured a woman and damaged vehicles along Interstate 5 in Southern Oregon has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Kenneth Ayers, of Roseburg was sentenced Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court for three counts of attempted murder, five counts of unlawful use of a weapon, three counts of reckless endangerment, and four counts of criminal mischief. Ayers declined to speak at sentencing.
Ayers, 49, pleaded guilty to the charges last week. From May to August 2020, multiple drivers reported to Oregon State Police that their vehicles had sustained damage from bullets, including flattened tires, loss of power steering and a pierced coolant hose in a semi. There was no apparent pattern to the shootings.
They happened in Jackson, Josephine and Douglas counties during the day and night and happened to vehicles traveling north and south.
On Aug. 19, a woman was shot in the shoulder while driving on I-5 between Gold Hill and Central Point and police arrested Ayers about 60 miles (96 kilometers) away. He was employed by UPS as a driver at the time.
Police Identify Teenage Suspect in Killing on The Bear Creek Greenway
The Medford Police Department has identified the 17-year-old suspect in homicide on the Bear Creek Greenway last week, along with providing more details about the investigation that led to his arrest.
According to the agency, officers responded just after 1 p.m. on Friday to reports of a possible shooting on the Greenway north of Railroad Park. On arrival, the officers found a man lying dead with an apparent gunshot wound to the head. The victim’s body was discovered near a tent, which investigators later found belonged to him.
Investigators canvassed the area, and witnesses reported hearing an argument from the victim’s tent just prior to the shooting. Descriptions of the other party were limited, MPD said.
Detectives later executed a search warrant on the tent — finding evidence linking a 17-year-old male to the location, according to MPD. The juvenile, now identified as Levi Murray, was located about 10 p.m. that evening in the parking lot of Ray’s Food Place in Phoenix. Police gave a home address for Murray in the 2100-block of Table Rock Road.
“[Murray] was interviewed and admitted to shooting the victim over a rather minor dispute,” MPD said.
The agency said that Murray helped detectives recover the gun that was used in the murder, finding it in some brush about 100 yards from the scene. The gun had been reported stolen to Medford Police in October of 2020.
“Detectives are still working on locating next of kin for the deceased. His name will not be released until that notification has been made,” MPD concluded.
The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office announced on Tuesday morning that Murray could be waived into criminal court instead of being tried as a juvenile.
Before 2019, Oregon law allowed for juveniles ages 15 and above who committed Measure 11 crimes to be tried as adults without going through the juvenile system. The legislature passed a bill in May of that year which changed how youth who commit serious crimes are prosecuted.
“While Senate Bill 1008 took away the state’s ability to file Measure 11 crimes directly into criminal court, it created a process for youths ages 15, 16, and 17 to be waived into adult court for certain crimes, including Measure 11 crimes after a hearing in juvenile court,” the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Under the new requirements, prosecutors must file a motion requesting a waiver hearing in order to take the case to adult court. In order to waive a youth to criminal court, the judge must find that the youth was of “sufficient sophistication and maturity to appreciate the nature and quality of the conduct involved” at the time of the offense, the DA’s Office said.
“The judge may waive a youth to criminal court if after looking at the following factors, the judge determines by a preponderance of evidence that retaining jurisdiction will not serve the best interests of the youth and of society and therefore, is not justified,” the DA’s Office continued.
Oregon Schools Have Spent Bulk of Federal Aid So Far on Virtual Learning
About $121 million that has arrived in Oregon so far, helping schools across the state purchase laptops, internet hotspots and program licenses to set up the virtual learning programs that have dominated the Oregon classroom experience over the last year.
Since the start of the pandemic, the federal government has earmarked nearly $620 million in emergency funds for Oregon schools. But a second round of federal funds is expected to deliver another $499 million to school districts by the end of the month, the state’s share of a $900 billion relief bill passed in December.
And the bulk of that money should go toward reopening schools. What that looks like will differ from district to district.
Some may need to upgrade dated ventilation systems or purchase air filters and fans. Others might opt to renovate classrooms to provide more space for students as the pandemic wears on.
Mike Wiltfong, the Oregon Department of Education’s director of school finance and facilities, said schools that are already open for in-person instruction provide a glimpse at how districts will need to spend federal aid.
“We’re already seeing where schools are struggling — some students sit in the hallway,” he told the press.
Wiltfong is concerned that Oregon schools will start burning through their federal aid allocations as districts begin rolling out their in-person offerings. Back in December, about 50,000 of Oregon’s 580,000 public K-12 students were getting some sort of in-person instruction. As of last week, that number was just over 136,000.
Only two Portland-area districts, Lake Oswego and West Linn-Wilsonville, have begun bringing elementary students back into classrooms. Most other districts will do so later this month.
Wiltfong said that once Oregon schools fully reopen for in-person learning, it’ll cost about $500 per student to educate them safely every year, or about $290 million.
Even though the White House has pledged to inoculate every adult in the country by the end of May, it doesn’t mean COVID-19 goes away. And that means schools will still need a steady supply of hand sanitizer and cleaning materials.
Some may even have to take on construction projects to increase ventilation or expand classrooms.
“What is going to be the appropriate spacing for students in the future?” Wiltfong said. “What happens if we have a run-in with another variant of the virus?”
The federal government didn’t just cut Oregon schools a $121 million check and call it good. Schools had to first make their purchases, then submit receipts to the state Department of Education for reimbursement.
“School districts are not sitting on a bunch of money,” Wiltfong told the press, citing speculation he’s heard to the contrary.
Portland Public Schools, the state’s largest district, has so far spent nearly $23 million in coronavirus-related expenses. Officials have been able to apply for reimbursements of about $7 million in federal aid so far.
The district spent nearly $13 million over the last year on laptops, headsets, software and mobile hotspots as students went virtual.
But the district also spent more than $4 million to upgrade schools in preparation for the return of in-person instruction. That includes ventilation system inspections, signage, plexiglas dividers and portable air filtration systems.
Portland Public Schools has also spent more than $3 million on learning material and personnel for hybrid and limited in-person instruction. Personal protective equipment has cost the district more than $1 million.
Health and safety supplies, including mobile nurse carts, consultations and cleaning cost another $1 million.
The initial wave of federal relief came last March when little was known about the virus. Because of that, Wiltfong said, guidelines for spending the money were broad.
Districts could tap into federal aid to pay for meal deliveries while schools were closed. Or they could spend the cash on Chromebooks and software for virtual learning.
“Basically,” Wiltfong said, “it went toward anything a principal deemed appropriate.”
Portland Public Schools will be able to tap into another $27 million in federal aid when the Oregon Department of Education opens up the second round. And if the U.S. Senate passes the $1.9 trillion aid package approved by the House in late February, the district will have another $70 million at its disposal.
COVID-19 1/4 u2032s long-term effects on Oregon education spending don’t stop there. Wiltfong expects districts will have to invest in personnel to help make up learning losses over the past year.
In Portland Public Schools, officials don’t know how much that’s going to cost. Spokesperson Karen Werstein said district leaders may have more information during a March 11 school board meeting.
Wiltfong said districts are wary of tapping into too much of the federal pot at this point in the pandemic. Even though Oregon’s economy fared better than expected over the last year and schools avoided much-feared cuts in funding, that sort of fortune isn’t guaranteed in the future. And such unknowns are part of the reason districts have until September of next year to apply for reimbursements for federal coronavirus aid. “They’re proceeding in the best manner they can based on local decisions,” Wiltfong said.
Dozens of Earthquakes Occur over 45 Minutes at Mount Hood
A 45-minute “earthquake swarm” reported this week near Oregon’s Mount Hood has the U.S. Geological Survey offering explanations — and reassurance the volcano is not becoming more active.
Dozens of earthquakes, most not felt on the surface, came in succession around 12:13 p.m. Monday, centered about a half mile southwest of the volcano, geologists say.
Data show the quakes came from 3 to 4 miles beneath the summit, officials said Tuesday. The volcano is about 75 miles southeast of Portland
“The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network located eight events so far with a maximum magnitude of M 1.3; dozens of other events were too small to locate,” the USGS posted.
“The recent earthquakes at Mount Hood are interpreted to be the movement of hydrothermal fluids along preexisting faults,” the USGS said.
“What we are seeing is slip on a fault or faults. It is easiest to achieve such earthquakes if you push a little water in there and ‘jack’ the fault apart just enough to induce slip,” the statement read. “It may be possible to do the same thing with magma, but … water is much less viscous and able to penetrate any weakness in the pre-existing rock.”
ShakeAlert Oregon starts March 11th – https://www.usgs.gov/news/shakealert-pacific-northwest-rollout?qt-news_science_products=1#qt-news_science_products
Community Garden Caretaker Murdered in Springfield
The death of a man who was the onsite caretaker of a community garden has been ruled a homicide, Springfield Police said Wednesday.
Police were called to 705 Flamingo Ave., at about 9:30 p.m. Monday. The location is the address of the Food for Lane County Youth Farm, a large community garden. There they found the body of Richard Marshall, 70, who was the onsite caretaker of the garden.
Marshall lived on the property in his RV and had been the volunteer caretaker at the Youth Farm since spring 2011. “Food for Lane County staff was saddened Tuesday morning to learn of the tragic death of Richard Marshall,” Food for Lane County said in a statement.
Marshall was last seen alive on Friday morning.
Police said their investigation determined that Marshall’s death was a homicide. Members of the Oregon State Police Crime lab also responded to help look for evidence.
The investigation is ongoing and police are asking anyone with information on any suspicious activity in the area to call Investigations at 541-726-3721.
Wyden Introduces Bill to Help Oregon Ranchers Stay in Business
The following is a press release from the office of Ron Wyden, United States Senator of Oregon.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) today with U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), introduced legislation that would restore transparency and accountability in the cattle market by establishing regional cash minimums and equipping producers with more market information.
“Cattle ranchers and rural economies have been hit especially hard during the COVID-19 public health crisis. And that economic fallout gets compounded for Oregon producers who face both a lack of processing facilities and opaque cattle markets that add up to a serious disadvantage,” Wyden said. “This detailed and common-sense bipartisan bill would provide our state’s rural producers the transparency and accountability they need to negotiate fair prices, stay in business and continue generating jobs throughout Oregon.”
The Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021 would:
- Establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trades to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions.
- Require USDA to create and maintain a publicly available library of marketing contracts between packers and producers in a manner that ensures confidentiality.
- Mandate that a packer report to USDA the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days and require USDA to report this information on a daily basis.
- Prohibit the USDA from using confidentiality as a justification for not reporting and makes clear that USDA must report all LMR information, and they must do so in a manner that ensures confidentiality.
Reward Offered for Tips in Eastern Oregon Blow Gun Poaching Case
Investigators with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are offering a $1,000 reward for tips that lead to the arrest of a person who has been shooting mule deer with blow gun darts in eastern Oregon, officials said Tuesday.
Oregon State Police troopers found the carcass of a fawn in the city of Burns in November. The young animal had a blow gun dart lodged in its neck.
Three more mule deer were found with similar injuries over the following months, but biologists were able to remove the darts and release the animals.
On Feb. 13, troopers got a call about an injured doe in the city. The animal had a dart stuck in her side and was in failing health, officials said, and the deer had to be euthanized.
It is illegal to hunt deer with blow guns in Oregon. While the darts they fire are effective at killing smaller animals like rabbits and squirrels, blow guns can cause slow and painful deaths in larger animals, according to Rod Klus, a state biologist.
“Either the wound will lead to an infection, or if the stomach or intestines are punctured, the deer will die, but it will take a while, and it will be painful,” he said in a statement. “It takes a deer anywhere from days to weeks to die from infection.”
Mule deer populations have been dropping recently, according to Fred Walasavage, Chair of the Oregon Hunters Association, and animals in places like Burns, where they’ve become acclimated to humans, make for easy poaching targets.
“It is no secret that mule deer populations continue to be on a decline in Oregon,” Walasavage said in a statement. “Granted there are many factors such as habitat loss, road kills, and predation but when it comes to intentionally poaching wildlife, that’s where OHA members draw the line.”
Aside from the cruelty to the animals themselves, these types of investigations pull troopers from other duties they could be performing, said Klus.
University of Oregon to Return to In-Person Classes
The University of Oregon will go back to predominately in-person instruction for the fall term, officials said.
President Michael Schill says the decision was made following an announcement Friday from Gov. Kate Brown that higher education will be included in the state’s next phase of vaccinations, the Register-Guard reported.
Employees of the state’s public and private colleges and universities will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination starting May 1.
In January, the university announced it was “ramping up planning” to provide access to COVID-19 vaccines for faculty, staff and students quickly when supplies become available.
The University of Oregon also has provided logistical support to current local vaccine efforts.
According to the Oregon Health Authority’s phased approach to distribution, the majority of University of Oregon students are included in Phase 2. The University will offer vaccinations to students in jointly sponsored clinics during that phase of the process.
Oregon Problem Gambling Resource
When you call, a certified gambling addiction counselor will listen, educate, answer questions, and refer you to a free and confidential treatment services.
There are approximately 46 providers throughout the state of Oregon providing FREE, state-funded, confidential gambling treatment to Oregon residents and their families or friends. All counselors are trained and certified in gambling addiction. https://www.opgr.org