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, March 4, 2021
Klamath Basin Weather
Today 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.
See Road Camera Views:
Oregon reports 276 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 27 new deaths
There are 27 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,252, the Oregon Health Authority reported today. OHA also reported 276 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of today, bringing the state total to 156,287.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (2), Benton (3), Clackamas (20), Clatsop (2), Columbia (3), Coos (24), Deschutes (10), Douglas (22), Grant (2), Harney (2), Jackson (47), Jefferson (5), Josephine (5), Klamath (2), Lane (15), Linn (4), Malheur (2), Marion (28), Multnomah (26), Polk (4), Tillamook (4), Umatilla (7), Union (10), Washington (25) and Yamhill (2).
The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 140, which is nine fewer than yesterday. There are 31 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is two more than yesterday.
One Million Vaccine Doses
Oregon has now administered a million doses of the vaccine to Oregonians. The cumulative total today stands at 1,019,767 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
OHA recorded more than 1 million vaccines administered to Oregonians. There were 22,346 doses recorded yesterday, bringing the total number of doses administered in the state to 1,019,767. The first dose was administered on Dec. 14, less than three months ago.
Approximately one in five Oregonians who likely are eligible have received at least one dose. The vaccine has been delivered to every Oregon county and to long-term care and residential care facilities, adult foster homes, group homes for those with disabilities, hospitals, mass vaccination events, mobile events, clinics, Tribal health centers, group homes, congregate care settings, pharmacies, outpatient clinics, federally qualified health centers and other locations throughout the state.
You can still book an appointment for the 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 Klamath Falls City School District 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
DEA Releases National Drug Threat Assessment – The Pacific Northwest is Flooded with Fentanyl by the CJNG Cartel
DEA Acting Administrator D. Christopher Evans today announced the release of the 2020 National Drug Threat Assessment, DEA’s annual publication outlining the threats posed to the United States by domestic and international drug trafficking and the abuse of illicit drugs.
“This year’s report shows the harsh reality of the drug threats facing communities across the United States,” said Acting Administrator Evans.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic plagues this nation, so, too, do transnational criminal organizations and violent street gangs, adjusting to pandemic restrictions to flood our communities with dangerous drugs. DEA and our local, state, and federal partners continue to adapt to the ever-changing landscape, remaining focused on the current threats and looking to the horizon for emerging threats. We will always defend the American people against illicit substances that ruin lives, devastate families, and destroy communities.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino said, “The DEA Seattle Field Division, which includes the Pacific North West states of Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska is primarily focused on the opioid threat, more specifically the illicit manufactured fentanyl that many drug trafficking and transnational criminal organizations are smuggling into our communities and selling to our citizens with dire consequences.”
Drugs trends in the United States continue to evolve. While fentanyl and fentanyl analogues from China have decreased substantially following the DEA’s 2018 emergency scheduling action of fentanyl related substances and China’s enactment of fentanyl-class controls in May 2019, the opioid threat remains at epidemic levels, affecting large portions of the country. Meanwhile, the stimulant threat, including methamphetamine and cocaine, is worsening both in volume and reach, with traffickers selling increasing amounts outside of traditional markets.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 83,000 people lost their lives to drug-related overdoses in the twelve-month period ending in July of 2020, a significant increase from 2019, when more than 70,000 people died of overdoses.
2020 NDTA findings of note:
·Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) remain the greatest criminal drug threat in the United States.
·Illicit fentanyl is one of the primary drugs fueling the epidemic of overdose deaths in the United States, while heroin and prescription opioids remain significant challenges to public health and law enforcement.
·Mexican cartels are increasingly responsible for producing and supplying fentanyl to the U.S. market. China remains a key source of supply for the precursor chemicals that Mexican cartels use to produce the large amounts of fentanyl they are smuggling into the United States.
·Drug-poisoning deaths and seizures involving methamphetamine have risen sharply as Mexican TCOs increase the drug’s availability and expand the domestic market.
·Constraints associated with the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic – daily travel restrictions, U.S. border closings, closure of nonessential businesses, and broad shelter-in-place orders – temporarily posed new challenges to criminal organizations’ movement of drugs during the first half of 2020.
The Pacific Northwest of the United States is under siege by the Mexican based Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) cartel who is flooding the region with clandestine produced synthetic opioids in the form of prescriptions pills. This transnational criminal organization (TCO) is taking advantage of the readily available and extremely dangerous, in fact lethal, synesthetic opioid; Fentanyl. These transnational criminal organizations, specifically CJNG are mixing illegally and clandestinely made fentanyl into most illicit narcotics, to include cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and pills, resulting in a significant increase in non-fatal and fatal overdose deaths.
The National Drug Threat Assessment provides a yearly assessment of the challenges communities face related to drug abuse and drug trafficking. Highlights in the report include usage and trafficking trends for drugs such as prescription drugs, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, and hundreds of synthetic drugs. New to this year’s report is the effect of COVID-19 during the first part of 2020.
The assessment gathers information from many data sources such as drug investigations and seizures, drug purity, laboratory analysis, information on transnational and domestic criminal groups, and U.S. government drug cultivation and production estimates.
The National Drug Threat Assessment is available at www.dea.gov/documents/2021/03/02/2020-national-drug-threat-assessment.
Oregon Bill Under Consideration to Ban Display of Nooses Due to it Being a Racist Symbol
Greg Evans, a Black man who joined a parade of witnesses urging Oregon lawmakers to ban the display of nooses, said the issue was personal for him: A member of his family had been lynched over a century ago in South Carolina.
“He was killed basically for offending a white man,” Evans, a member of the Eugene City Council, testified Tuesday. “He was hung by a noose. His body was riddled with bullets, and then he was set on fire.”
Louisiana, Virginia, California, New York, Maryland and Connecticut previously criminalized the display of nooses. The bill under consideration in Oregon would make intimidation by display of a noose a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a $6,250 fine.
In Virginia, displaying a noose in public places is now a felony, with a maximum prison term of five years. The state Supreme Court, ruling in the case of a man who hung a life-sized, black mannequin in his front yard, said in 2018 that the law also applies to private property. Two Black families lived in the neighborhood, including one next door.
Last month, a noose was placed on the recycling container of a mixed-race couple in Eugene, Oregon, and their car was spray-painted with a racial epithet, Evans said in an interview. He believes most people who place nooses are fully aware of the pain it causes Black people.
“Some are just kids that are ignorant, that are playing a joke,” Evans said. “But it’s not a joke. It’s not a prank. This is serious business.”
Federal hate crime laws do not address nooses. Amendments were introduced in Congress years ago to specifically include them as an intimidation threat, but nothing has been passed.
In a 2017 report, t he nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative described lynchings and the trauma they caused.
“During the period between the Civil War and World War II, thousands of African Americans were lynched in the United States,” the report said. “Lynchings were violent and public acts of torture that traumatized Black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials.”
In 2018, the Equal Justice Initiative, which is committed to challenging racial and economic injustice, opened the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. It bears the names of lynching victims, but Evan’s ancestor is not among them. He was one of the uncounted lynching victims whose deaths weren’t recorded by officials or newspapers.
Walter Graham was only a teenager when white men dragged him from his home in Blacksburg, South Carolina, in 1915, Evans said, recounting the story passed down by three generations of his family.
After killing Graham, the mob burned down the home of the extended family. A short while later, they joined an exodus of Black people terrified by the epidemic of lynching.
The Equal Justice Initiative says “terror lynchings” fueled the mass migration of millions of Black people from the South throughout the first half of the 20th century. It documented 4,084 racial terror lynchings in 12 Southern states. The NAACP says it knows of 700 more.
In 1918, a mob killed Hayes Turner, suspected in the death of an abusive plantation owner. When the victim’s wife, Mary Turner, publicly opposed the killing of her husband and threatened to have members of the mob arrested, she was doused in gasoline, dangled from a bridge and set on fire.
“Turner was still alive when a member of the mob split her abdomen open with a knife and her unborn child fell on the ground. The baby was stomped and crushed as it fell to the ground,” the NAACP said.
Evans said the noose is a symbol of white supremacy that conveys the message: “The white man is still in charge, and remember your place in this society.”
One of the witnesses at the hearing Tuesday for the Oregon bill described the effect of the placement of a noose last May at a Portland State University construction site.
“It was shocking and terrorizing for our community. Staff and faculty were not only afraid to go to our new building but were afraid to attend PSU in general,” faculty member Kelly Cutler told the Oregon Senate Committee on Judiciary.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and city commissioners urged the committee to support the bill, saying it “opens the door for legal remedies” against intimidating people with nooses in Oregon, where records show hate crimes and bias incidents increased 366% in 2020.
“The harm to communities impacted by the display of a noose should not be understated,” the city leaders wrote.
A Republican on the judiciary committee, Sen. Dallas Heard, who is white, asked how the state would enforce an anti-noose law if antifa protesters came to the Oregon State Capitol and hanged his effigy, under a First Amendment right to protest.
The committee chairman suggested Heard speak to legislative counsel to get clarity.
Oregon Lawmakers Pushing to Compensate People Wrongfully Convicted and Imprisoned
Senate Bill 499 calls for exonerees to receive $65,000 for every year they were behind bars.
Lisa Roberts spent 12 years in prison for a crime she did not commit. She missed her only child’s high school graduation. She missed the birth of her first grandchild.
“And the worst of all, I missed spending time with my mother before she passed away,” Roberts said.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, Roberts says she lost everything when she was in prison. And after she was exonerated, she struggled to find a stable, good-paying job.
“I was completely reliant on friends and family and supporters to help me when I tried to rebuild my life,” she said.
What Roberts shared in a public hearing Wednesday is unthinkable for most people, but help may be on the way in the form of Oregon Senate Bill 499.
The bill would give people who are wrongfully convicted and imprisoned, $65,000 for every year they were behind bars and up to $25,000 for every additional year served on parole or supervision. The bill also calls for records to be expunged.
More than 30 states, including the federal government and District of Columbia, already have compensation legislation. Most average about $50,000 per year. A few states like California stipulate an amount per day like their $140 a day…which works out to about to $51,000 for a full year behind bars. Look up other states here.
“When people are in prison and they’re innocent, often their best earning years have been obliterated,” said Sen. Kim Thatcher. “This bill rights a wrong and offers assistance to people who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned and help them get back on their feet.”
Senate Bill 499 also gives the court the right to offer wrongfully convicted and imprisoned people financial help for counseling and housing assistance. Critics of Senate Bill 499 do not necessarily trust the court to handle that. They are calling for a criminal justice reform commission to be established.
“We need civil rights, human rights leaders who are known and respected the governor can appoint and have them be the listening body, the oversight body,” said Lucinda Hites-Clabaugh, who was wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing a child in Woodburn in 2009.
Regardless of how Senate Bill 499 may or may not be tweaked in the coming weeks, Roberts believes it is a step in the right direction.
“It’s more than just financial security,” she said. “The ability to receive compensation is also about the state acknowledging it made a mistake and taking responsibility for that mistake.”
Oregon Historical Society’s Museum Reopens Saturday, March 6, with Limited Weekend Hours
The Oregon Historical Society (OHS) is excited to announce the reopening of its museum and museum store this Saturday, March 6 in Portland. Until further notice, public museum and store hours will be Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm – 5pm. The museum will also have special hours during the week of Oregon’s spring break, opening from Tuesday, March 23 through Sunday, March 28, from 12pm – 5pm.
The OHS Research Library remains closed for renovations that began in January 2020. More information on library services that are available during the renovation can be found at ohs.org/libraryreno.
Following the guidance and requirements of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) for indoor entertainment establishments, the Oregon Historical Society has implemented important safety protocols for the health of our staff and visitors. Current protocols are detailed at the bottom of this press release as well as at ohs.org/reopening.
Nevertheless, They Persisted: Women’s Voting Rights and the 19th Amendment
On exhibit through December 5, 2021
Discover the many ways that Oregon history connects to the national history of woman suffrage and to the complex history of democracy in the United States in the original exhibition, Nevertheless, They Persisted. The exhibit focuses on the work necessary to win the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment (granting women the vote) as well as invites visitors to consider how and why political leaders have denied women the vote; how women have fought for equal rights; and how teamwork and fights across race, class, and organizing tactics have shaped this history. Through storytelling and original artifacts and documents, visitors will connect to the past and feel the struggles and triumphs of the women and men who demanded the vote and used their rights to shape our nation and our world.
We are the Rose City! A History of Soccer in Portland
On exhibit through September 26, 2021
Attend a soccer game at Providence Park and you may hear people chanting, “We are the Rose City, the mighty PTFC!” Thousands of supporters flock to the park on match days to watch the Portland Timbers and the Portland Thorns take to the pitch, competing in a sport that is beloved by many in the Pacific Northwest. From the athletes, to the fans, to the many events that have shaped “Soccer City,” We are the Rose City! explores the history of professional soccer in Portland and the cultural context of the game.
Visitors of all ages, and from all parts of the world, come to the Oregon Historical Society each year to learn about Oregon. Whether you were born here, have chosen to make this place home, or are just passing through, it is undeniable that there is something special about this state. From its varied geography to its innovative legislation, Oregon is complex and distinctive, filled with people whose stories are the foundation of the state we see today. A dynamic educational space, Experience Oregon allows visitors to learn about the countless people, places, and events that have shaped this place.
The Oregon Historical Society is excited to reopen its museum to share these exhibitions with visitors, while continuing its efforts to provide programs and content virtually for those who are not able to visit in person. For a full schedule of upcoming virtual programs, visit ohs.org/events. For other ways to discover Oregon history online, visit the OHS blog Dear Oregon for weekly blog posts; explore over 33,000 photographs, manuscripts, and clips of archival footage on OHS Digital Collections; and learn about Oregon history from A to Z on The Oregon Encyclopedia!
Current Health and Safety Protocols
The Oregon Historical Society thanks visitors in advance for adhering to the following guidelines in an effort to keep staff and visitors as safe as possible:
Wear A Face Covering: Pursuant to the statewide reopening guidance on masks, face coverings, and face shields, all visitors age five and older are required to wear a face covering at all times during their visit.
Maintain Distance: Signage throughout the museum will remind visitors to keep six feet of distance between themselves and visitors outside of their party.
Modified Exhibit Access: For visitor safety, only a limited number of interactive elements in the Experience Oregon and Oregon Voices exhibits that visitors can operate using a stylus pen will be available. OHS’s History Hub exhibit is closed until further notice due to the hands-on nature of this exhibition.
Other Safety Precautions Include:
- Additional hand sanitizing stations installed at the museum’s entrance and throughout the building
- Plexiglass sneeze guards installed at point of sale stations
- Designated one-way paths to maintain required distancing as visitors enter, exit, and enjoy the exhibitions
- Limited contact transactions; at this time, OHS discourages cash/check transactions
- At this time, building capacity is limited to a maximum of 50 people (includes staff and visitors) in the museum at one time
- Museum Store capacity is limited to four shoppers at one time
Museum and museum store hours are subject to change; OHS recommends visiting ohs.org/reopening before visiting or calling 503.222.1741. Please note that while OHS’s visitor services staff are not on site during weekdays they are checking voicemails and returning calls remotely.
About the Oregon Historical Society
Fatal Crash on Hwy 223 in Polk County
On Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at approximately 7:44 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a vehicle crash on Hwy 223 and Pleasant Drive in Dallas.
Preliminary investigation revealed that a pedestrian, Chloe Blatchley (77) of Dallas, was crossing Hwy 223 when she was struck by a Landrover, operated by Curtis Cook (72) of Dallas.
Blatchley sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.
OSP was assisted by Polk County Sheriff’s Office, ODOT and Dallas Fire Department. Oregon State Police
Spring Whale Watching on The Oregon Coast Will Be Another Do-It-Yourself Event
In previous years, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has celebrated its Spring Whale Watch Week by staffing trained whale watching volunteers at park sites up and down the Oregon coast. Volunteers educated visitors and helped people spot the passing whales. Gray whales be migrating along the Oregon coast this spring, and visitors will once again be on their own to spot them.
That tradition was halted after the parks department canceled the event and shut down all park sites amid the spread of COVID-19. Whale watchers were able to return to park sites for the winter migration, though volunteers were still absent.
State park officials said the spring 2021 migration, which begins in late March and lasts through June, will once again be a do-it-yourself event, and that the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay, which closed last March, will remain closed to the public.
Whale watchers headed out on their own for the spring migration will want to find a good oceanside viewpoint, bring a pair of binoculars and exercise patience, as gray whales can be tricky to spot.
The first thing to do is find a good whale watching spot, and a good place to start is with the 24 whale watching sites where volunteers are normally stationed.
Once you’re situated, look out at the ocean for a spout (a burst of mist as a whale exhales at the surface) and then watch to see if the gray whale’s tail (called a fluke) emerges from the water as it dives deeper underwater. Gray whales also occasionally breach, or leap from the ocean, which is a magnificent sight for those lucky enough to see it.
Those who want a closer look can book a spot on one of several whale watching tours, most of which launch out of Depoe Bay. Whale watching outfitters are operating this spring, with public health protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The spring migration typically brings some 25,000 gray whales past Oregon, as they move from their warmer breeding grounds off the coast of Mexico to cooler feeding grounds off the coast of Alaska. Gray whales travel in pods, and in the spring they travel with newborn calves alongside the adults.
Those calves can also attract another great marine mammal: the orca, also known as the killer whale, which feeds on the young gray whales. An orca attack may be a grisly sight to some, but consider yourself lucky if you witness one from shore.
The state parks department is asking visitors to avoid crowded areas, maintain physical distance from others and wear face masks when around people not from your household, including in restrooms. Some park sites may not be open, so check stateparks.oregon.gov before you go.
Medford’s Tinseltown Theatre Prepares for Friday Reopening
Cinemark plans to reopen the Tinseltown USA theatre in Medford on Friday with the necessary coronavirus safety measures in place, the company announced Tuesday.
After the widespread COVID-19 shutdowns in March of last year, Cinemark moved ahead with reopening the theatre in September, but it was not destined to last for long. In November, Governor Brown issued her two-week “freeze,” followed by the state’s new system of risk level restrictions. Up until last Friday, Jackson County was kept on “Extreme Risk” restrictions, all but ensuring that venues like Tinseltown remain closed.
With Jackson County now on High Risk, theaters are allowed to operate at 25 percent occupancy or admit 50 people total, whichever is smaller. They must also close by 11 p.m.
“The theatre is reopening in accordance with local mandates and will have enhanced clean and safety protocols,” Cinemark said. “Moviegoers can purchase tickets for standard showtimes, and those looking to stay within their trusted group can book a Private Watch Party to watch the film of their choice with the group of their choice for just $99 for Comeback Classics and $149 for new movies.”
Cinemark said that the reopening line-up will include Tom & Jerry: The Movie, Wonder Woman 1984, Judas and the Black Messiah, Land, The Little Things, The Marksman, and The Croods: A New Age, among others. People who spring for a Private Watch Party can also choose from more than 20 “Comeback Classic” movies, including A League of Their Own, Airplane!, Clue, Pitch Perfect, Stuart Little, The Iron Giant, and Thelma and Louise.
“The theatre will reopen with greatly enhanced cleanliness, sanitizing and safety measures at every step of the moviegoing experience,” Cinemark said.