Klamath Basin News, Friday, 4/9 – Oregon Tech Faculty Union Submitted Notice of Intent To Strike on April 26th

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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.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 65. Mostly clear overnight, with a low around 29.

Saturday Sunny, with a high near 54. Overnight clear with a low around 24. North northwest wind 11 to 16 mph.

Sunday Sunny, with a high near 61. Clear overnight, with a low around 26.

Monday Sunny, with a high near 64.Monday NightClear, with a low around 28.

Tuesday Sunny, with a high near 63.

Today’s Headlines

On Sunday Klamath Falls Police Department responded to High Lakes apartments at 2260 Shasta Way, on a report of an assault.

Officers learned a female reported to have been tied up, physically assaulted, and forced outside of her apartment by her ex-boyfriend.  The ex-boyfriend was identified as Zachary Brennan who was also reported to be in possession of a handgun. Brennan fled the scene in a vehicle. Officer canvassed the surrounding area, and searched for him throughout the evening, but were unable to locate him.  

On Tuesday officers responded back to the High Lakes apartments where the previous victim reported Brennan had just fired several rounds into her apartment. The two occupants of the apartment at the time of the shooting were uninjured.

Brennan fled the scene of the shooting in a vehicle which was later located, unoccupied in a nearby alley. Officers continued to search for Brennan throughout the evening, but again were unable to him. On Wednesday Klamath Falls Police Investigative Division conducted surveillance in areas Brennan was known to associate. At approximately 2:50 PM Brennan was observed getting into a vehicle in the 2500 block of Applegate Avenue. The vehicle was driven away, and members of the Klamath Falls Police Department and Oregon State Police conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle on Washburn Way near Crater Lake Parkway. 

Zachary Brennan was taken into custody without further incident. Brennan, 25, of Klamath Falls, has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, kidnapping, assault, strangulation, theft, reckless endangering, criminal mischief, felon in possession of a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon. The investigation is continuing.

The Oregon Tech faculty union, the American Association of University Professors, submitted a notice of intent to strike on April 26 if no contract deal is reached by that date. 

The union submitted the required 10 day notice of a strike to the Oregon Employment Relations Board on Thursday, which meant the faculty could strike as soon as April 19. Yet, the union set the date out another week to allow more time for negotiating, according to an AAUP statement.

If the faculty does strike later this month, it would be the first faculty strike at a public university in Oregon history. The union and university administration have been negotiating a three-year faculty contract for 16 months. An impasse in negotiations was declared in March. The Oregon Tech AAUP formed in 2018.

This is the first contract the union is negotiating.

Klamath County Public Health officials remind the community the annual air quality zone Spring open burn window begins 8 a.m. Saturday. Residents within the air quality zone are allowed to burn yard waste. The burn window ends 5 p.m. Sunday, April 25.

Due to the lack of precipitation, Governor Kate Brown declared a drought emergency in Klamath County on March 31. Residents are urged to use caution when burning. Public Health officials have set the following guidelines for the open burning window: The air quality advisory must be green.

The daily advisory is available at 541-882-BURN (2876). Only residential yard waste, such as tree limbs, brush, and leaves may be burned. All burning must occur between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

No trash, plastic, rubber, tar, petroleum products, treated or painted wood may be burned. The use of burn barrels is prohibited.

The burning of commercial, construction, demolition or industrial waste is not included in this burn window. Burning for these purposes requires a special permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Agricultural burning inside the Air Quality Zone is prohibited without a certificate of variance issued by Klamath County Public Health.

Oregon reports 678 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 5 new deaths

There are five new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,439. The Oregon Health Authority reported 678 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 168,795.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (4), Benton (4), Clackamas (65), Clatsop (6), Columbia (10), Coos (7), Crook (4), Curry (3), Deschutes (47), Douglas (14), Gilliam (1), Grant (7), Hood River (5), Jackson (88), Jefferson (5), Josephine (27), Klamath (42), Lane (47), Lincoln (8), Linn (18), Malheur (1), Marion (48), Morrow (1), Multnomah (108), Polk (14), Tillamook (8), Umatilla (6), Union (1), Wasco (1), Washington (69) and Yamhill (9).

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 50,429 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 27,783 doses were administered on April 7 and 22,646 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on April 7.

The 50,429 doses submitted to the state’s immunization tracking system on April 7 was the highest number of COVID-19 vaccine doses entered into the database on a single day since the COVID-19 vaccines began to be administered in Oregon. The 7-day running average is now 34,733 doses per day.

As of today, 824,299 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 522,780 people who have had at least one dose.

Oregon has now administered a total of 1,083,978 doses of Pfizer, 971,012 doses of Moderna and 61,539 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking into whether a previously unexplored vitamin deficiency could play a role in the decline of sucker species in the Klamath Basin.

Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, is essential for all vertebrates. It helps enzymes break down sugars, produce energy and create genetic material. In fish, it plays a significant role in early growth and development.

Local researchers saw parallels between a situation in the Great Lakes and the situation in Upper Klamath Basin: Adult  Lost River and shortnose suckers successfully reproduce year after year, but almost none of their offspring live long enough to reach sexual maturity.

The issue has been going on for long enough to render the fish endangered. And the aquatic ecosystem has been modified significantly from its original state, from water quality to species composition.

Christie Nichols, science coordinator for the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program in the Klamath Falls FWS office said the plan for this year is to collect tissue samples from all sucker life stages to paint a better picture of “normal” thiamine levels in suckers, which will give them something to compare future egg samples to. She emphasized that this research is in its infancy, and no definitive claims can be made about thiamine deficiency in the Klamath Basin at this point.

City Water Crews are replacing the water mainline in the 1800 block of Lancaster between Shelley and Addison streets. Work will be ongoing for 2 to 3 weeks.

The roadway at Lancaster and Addison will be closed so crews are able to perform the work and crews are diligent in keeping the affected residents notified. If you would like more information, please call Public Works at (541) 883-5363.

Around the state of Oregon

Restaurants in 6 Oregon Counties Will Have to Cutback Indoor Dining Capacity

Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association

The framework for mitigating Covid risk in Oregon across a variety of industries has changed once again with newly established statewide hospitalization metrics among other factors defining Oregon’s new ‘Extreme Risk’ category. As a result, all Oregon counties for the first time in many months will once again have access to indoor dining operations.

“The news this week is bittersweet,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “While five counties moved down in risk (Grant, Malheur, Umatilla, Coos, and Curry), six moved up in risk (Clackamas, Deschutes, Klamath, Linn, Multnomah, and Tillamook) which means moving down from 50% to the dreaded 25% indoor capacity restriction starting Friday, April 9. Anything less than 50% capacity poses ongoing survival challenges for our small businesses.”

In a press release issued by Governor Brown’s office, Oregon’s new extreme risk category includes a new statewide metric: Covid-19 positive patients occupying 300 hospital beds or more, and a 15% increase in the seven-day average over the previous week. As of April 6, Covid-19 related hospitalizations totaled 163 in Oregon.

“We are past due in developing a hospitalization metric as the central tool to determine all county risk levels,” said Brandt. “Over 2 million vaccine doses have been administered in Oregon. The risk associated with each Covid case diminishes with each vaccination and our stringent risk categories have not changed since they were implemented to mitigate the severity of Oregon’s winter surge.”

Concern regarding variants have been commonly cited by health officials as the reason for ongoing economic restrictions as the majority of other states move well past Oregon’s reopening status. According to recent comments by Dr. Dean Sidelinger, initial results show all vaccines to be effective in preventing serious Covid illness even if the virus is still contracted and results in a documented case.

“As we learn about the effectiveness of vaccines in protecting Oregonians against serious illness caused by variants, we should use that crucial information to change the crippling restrictions still being lived out by too many Oregonians,” said Brandt. “After reviewing all the facts, any reasonable person would conclude the vaccines are effective at keeping Oregonians out of the hospital and as a result, our risk metrics and widespread economic restrictions should change accordingly.”

ORLA continues to call for a statewide indoor restaurant capacity of at least 50% including an adoption of physical distancing standards between parties that align with international health guidelines (1 meter or 3.2 feet). 

For more information on the efforts of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association please visit OregonRLA.org

New Budget Airline Coming to Rogue Valley International Airport

New airline Avelo thinks it's the perfect time to start flying

A new airline is coming to Medford and flights are starting cheap.

A new airline is coming to Medford and flights are starting cheap. Avelo Airlines launched today at Hollywood Burbank Airport.

The airline claims to be America’s first new mainline airline in nearly 15 years. Avelo is offering one-stop routes between Hollywood Burbank Airport and 11 destinations along the West Coast, including the Rogue Valley International Medford Airport, Arizona, Montana and Utah.

Avelo Airlines launched today at Hollywood Burbank Airport. The airline claims to be America’s first new mainline airline in nearly 15 years. Avelo is offering one-stop routes between Hollywood Burbank Airport and 11 destinations along the West Coast, including the Rogue Valley International Medford Airport, Arizona, Montana and Utah.

“We are so pleased to partner with Avelo Airlines to make that connection between Burbank and the Rogue Valley. Two very proud and cultural communities offering much different experiences; and now our communities are bridged by only a couple hours of travel,” said Jerry Brienza, Rogue Valley International Medford Airport Director.

To kick off its service, Avelo is offering introductory one-way fares starting at $19.00 on all of its routes.

The airline says flights start taking off on April 28th. The first flight to land in Medford will be on May 9th.

The startup plans to expand to other routes as it adds more planes to its fleet, which numbers just three planes.

Western Oregon University in Monmouth will cut multiple programs and the equivalent of over a dozen full-time faculty, hoping to get ahead of falling enrollment that became worse during the pandemic.

Administrators say the cuts are necessary to protect the university’s financial health, and are a way to keep the 165-year-old institution affordable. The university also announced last year that more than 50 staff members were either to be laid off or not have their contracts renewed. As for the current program eliminations, the faculty union said that it is not persuaded that such drastic cuts are needed, and if they are needed, then there needs to be a more transparent process.

Western has seen a trend of declining enrollment for years. From 2011 to 2020, the university’s enrollment has decreased more than 25%, according to the university.

AAA Explains Why Oregon Sees Deadly Wrong-Way And Fatal Crashes Spike

Deadly wrong-way crashes are happening at a higher rate across the country, and the numbers are rising even faster in Oregon.

New numbers show the streets in Oregon are getting more dangerous.

Preliminary data from the National Safety Council (NSC) shows an increase in car crash deaths between 2018 and 2019.

According to the NCS, 489 people were killed in car crashes in 2019 in Oregon – a 4% increase from 2018.

According to AAA, those fatal crashes have jumped by 164% in Oregon. The association compared data over two 4-year periods, covering 2010 to 2014 and 2015 through 2018.

“They’re happening more often, and the numbers are pretty staggering,” said AAA spokesperson Marie Dodds. “We found that there are three things that really increase or decrease your odds of being in a wrong-way crash.

The first of those three factors is impairment. Unsurprisingly, the higher a driver is over the legal limit of .08 blood alcohol content (BAC), the more likely it is that person will be involved in a wrong-way crash. Oregon State Police stopped about 2,700 impaired drivers in 2020, which is down a bit from previous years and likely due to the pandemic.

The second factor of AAA’s list is age.

“If you are 70 or older, you are much more likely to be in a wrong way crash than younger drivers,” explained Dodds.

“We know that with age comes slower reactions, decision making, easier to become confused, and so we do encounter those occasionally,” said OSP Captain Tim Fox.

If state troopers stop an older driver who they believe shouldn’t be behind the wheel, they’ll typically call a loved one to pick them up and ask for a re-test from the DMV.

The third factor that could make a driver more likely to end up in a wrong-way crash is not having a passenger. One explanation is that whoever is riding with you can actually warn you before you make a potentially dangerous mistake.

To help prevent these wrecks, OSP says to make sure you rest up and keep your speed down.

“Fatigue is something that I don’t think people talk about quite enough,” said Fox. “Be patient, get where you’re going safely. If you’re a few minutes late, people will understand at least you got there alive.”

AAA also noted a few factors that do not make a driver more likely to end up in a wrong-way crash: gender, the type of vehicle you drive, and whether your license is in good standing.

Some SNAP Recipients May See an Increase in Benefits in April

In April, some SNAP households will see a change to their benefit amount for emergency allotments (EA). The federal government has provided emergency allotments since March 2020, to give SNAP recipients additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. SNAP households have received EA in an amount equal to the maximum benefit for the household size, minus their monthly base benefit. But this means households that are at or near the maximum SNAP benefit were receiving little or no additional support.

The April 2021 changes provide an increase in benefits to those who were previously receiving little or no EA. For example:

  • Households not currently receiving an emergency allotment will now receive an additional $95 per month.
  • Households currently receiving an emergency allotment that is less than $95 will receive an additional allotment for the difference.
  • Households currently receiving an emergency allotment of more than $95 will not see a change in their benefits.

EA benefits will be dispersed on April 13 for current SNAP households and April 30 for SNAP households who did not receive the first EA payment or who are now eligible for a minimum $95 EA payment.

SNAP recipients do not have to take any action to receive these supplemental benefits as they will be issued directly on their EBT cards. Total benefits will be different based on each household’s regular monthly allotment for the month of March.

The maximum monthly SNAP benefit amounts by household size are listed below.

More information about emergency allotments is available at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/About-SNAP.aspx.

Questions about your SNAP benefits should be directed to your local office or by calling the ONE customer service center at 1-800-699-9075.

Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, low-income families and individuals in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities. Oregonians in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP, child care, cash assistance and Medicaid. Learn more at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefits. For local resources in your area, such as food or shelter, please call 2-1-1 or reach out to the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 1-855-ORE-ADRC or 1-855-673-2372.Oregon Department of Human Services 

A Hillsboro man is the latest Oregon’s Game Megabucks jackpot winner, taking home a $3.9 million jackpot.

Melvin Date matched all six numbers for the April 3 Megabucks drawing to win the $3.9 million jackpot. A long-time player, Date routinely checks his tickets the day following the drawing. Using the Lottery’s mobile app, Date checked his tickets and learned he’d matched all the numbers drawn. Date split his prize with his son.

Both Date and his son chose the one-time lump sum amount, which is one-half of each man’s total prize. The $2.9 million portion, after taxes, is $986,000. While his son’s lump sum amount is $340,000, after taxes. Date bought his winning ticket at Beaverton Safeway on Tualatin Valley Highway.

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