Klamath Basin News, Friday, 6/18 – Gov. Brown Keeps Klamath County At Highest Covid Risk Level Despite Few Cases This Week; Considerable Restrictions Still Apply

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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 Insuranceyour local health and Medicare agents.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 94. West northwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Overnight clear with a low around 56.


Saturday Sunny, with a high near 94.
Sunday Sunny and hot, with a high near 97.
Monday Sunny and hot, with a high near 97.
Tuesday A slight chance of showers, with thunderstorms during the day. Otherwise mostly sunny, with a high near 88.
Wednesday Sunny, with a high near 86.

Today’s Headlines

The effort to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River cleared another regulatory hurdle Thursday after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allowed the dams’ original owner to exit its license to operate the facilities.

Specifically, FERC accepted a joint application to transfer the dams’ license from PacifiCorp to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation and the states of Oregon and California.

Following the successful surrender of the license (which is its own separate FERC process), KRRC, a nonprofit, will direct contractors to remove the dams and restore the river within the reservoir footprints. The Klamath dam removal effort hit a permitting roadblock last July, when FERC partially denied and partially accepted the license transfer application.

Their decision required PacifiCorp to remain on the dam license during the removal, which the utility said went against a core tenet of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.

The former Eternal Hills Cemetery owner cannot buy back property that fell into bankruptcy and disrepair under his care, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Robert Gordon, the cemetery’s former owner — and his family trust — cannot own the property because Gordon lacks the ability to obtain the state license necessary to run a cemetery, according to an opinion from Judge Thomas Renn of Oregon’s federal bankruptcy court.

State law bars anyone without an appropriate cemetery license to purchase a cemetery, Renn wrote, siding with arguments presented by the Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board. A 2019 settlement agreement stripped Gordon of his mortuary license and barred him from ever obtaining one. 

Within the next 30 days, Gordon must hand over deeds to the property to the cemetery’s court-appointed trustee, a court order accompanying Renn’s opinion stated. Additionally within the next 60 days, Gordon’s family trust must sell the property to someone qualified to purchase it. If neither of those conditions are met, then the court-appointed trustee is instructed to complete the sale of the land to the alternate buyer. 

Throughout the summer months, the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting random High Visibility Enforcement.

The purpose is to increase traffic enforcement with focused patrols for Distracted Driving, Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII), Occupant Protection (Safety Belts), Pedestrian Safety and Speed Enforcement. For more information and Summer Driving Tips please visit: https://www.nhtsa.gov/summer-driving-tips

Klamath County is at the highest risk level of Covid-19 restrictions through the eyes of Governor Kate Brown, despite the fact that just five new cases were reported in the county in the last 24 hours.

There is one new COVID-19 related death in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,745. Oregon Health Authority reported 300 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, , bringing the state total to 205,988.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (6), Benton (5), Clackamas (22), Clatsop (6), Columbia (8), Coos (2), Crook (2), Curry (7), Deschutes (11), Douglas (15), Harney (5), Hood River (1), Jackson (14), Jefferson (3), Josephine (15), Klamath (5), Lane (26), Lincoln (7), Linn (18), Malheur (5), Marion (27), Morrow (2), Multnomah (35), Polk (10), Umatilla (20), Union (1), Wasco (2), Washington (17) and Yamhill (3).

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 151, which is 11 fewer than yesterday. There are 37 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is no change from yesterday.

While California is now completely open and Washington plans to do the same around the 29th of June, Klamath County remains one of 9 counties in the entire U.S. with considerable restrictions implemented.

After a year off due to the pandemic and five plus years of coordination with tribal and county partners, the Modoc National Forest will reopen the four designated collection areas in the Warner Mountains to personal-users with a valid permit.  

The four collection areas shown on the map are the only locations obsidian collection is authorized on the Modoc National Forest.  Obsidian collection season will run this year from July 1 through Labor Day Weekend.

Adults 18 years or older will be issued one-day permits authorizing collection of two five-gallon buckets of obsidian using hand tools only. A maximum of three permits per person per year can be issued up to three days in advance.

Permits are only available at the Modoc National Forest Headquarters at 225 W. 8th St. in Alturas, Calif. Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

Around the state of Oregon

With the state and federal eviction moratorium set to expire at the end of June, Oregon lawmakers are hastily working on an amendment to keep financially struggling tenants housed and avoid mass evictions next month.

The proposed “Safe Harbor” amendment on Senate Bill 278 would “pause” rental evictions for 60 days for tenants if they provide proof that they’ve applied for rental assistance. The state currently has $200 million, in federal aid, in the state’s rental assistance fund to help both tenants and landlords.

Another round of funding is expected to be available this fall. So far, officials from the Oregon Housing and Community Services said more than 16,600 households have started or completed the application to get rental assistance.

People in Oregon who are receiving unemployment benefits face a deadline this Saturday.  

They need to be signed up for the iMatch Skills job search program.  The Oregon Employment Department is bringing back requirements that were relaxed during the pandemic.  That includes proving that they’re looking for work.  

By September 5th, all of the requirements that were in place before the pandemic will be in place again. 

Ready to budy Dutch Bros stock? Dutch Bros, the drive-through chain of coffee stands based in Grants Pass, says it has filed for an initial public offering after years of rapid growth.

It could be Oregon’s first major IPO since 2004. Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, reported last month that the chain hoped a prospective stock offering would give it a $3 billion market value. That could make it the biggest IPO in Oregon history. Founded in 1992, Dutch Bros now operates nearly 470 stores in 11 states, stretching from Seattle to San Antonio, where the franchise chain is in the process of opening its newest location. It employs about 13,000 altogether.

Dutch Bros reported in 2018 that it had sold an unspecified stake in the business to a private equity firm, TSG Consumer Products. At the time, Dutch Bros said it hoped to use “TSG’s expertise and resources” to grow to 800 locations in five years

An Oregon man pleaded guilty this week after fraudulently converting to personal use loans intended to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andrew Aaron Lloyd, 51, of Lebanon, Oregon, pleaded guilty to bank fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft.

Lloyd took advantage of economic relief programs administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), including Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). These programs were authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act provided emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans and small businesses suffering from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As traffic volumes return to normal and summer travelers start heading out, it may be time to brush up on basic rules of the road – all aimed at getting us where we’re going safely.

Traffic volumes across the state are approaching 2019 levels after falling sharply in the beginning months of the pandemic. And summer is traditionally a busy travel season. Everyone should:

  • Plan ahead to avoid the frustration of unplanned delays and construction projects.
  • Know and follow traffic laws.
  • Be aware of surroundings.
  • Pay attention to weather and road conditions and drive accordingly.
  • Put cell phones on do not disturb (i.e., don’t use it while driving).
  • Focus on the important task at hand: walking, rolling, biking or driving.

Oregon is experiencing an increase in traffic fatalities compared to the same time last year, with a 32% increase, according to preliminary data.  As of June 14, 229 traffic deaths were reported statewide compared with 173 over the same period in 2020.

Medford Water Officials Ask Residents To Voluntarily Reduce Water Usage Due To Chlorine Shortage

Officials from the Medford Water Commission sent out a request that residents of the area voluntarily reduce their water usage due to a “critical” shortage of the chlorine that is used in water treatment processes.

The shortage is not limited to Medford, but stems from production issues across the country — both from COVID-19 impacts and “unprecedented events” at several major plants, the commission said.

“Our water treatment method uses chlorine, in the form of sodium hypochlorite, in very small amounts to ensure our water is safe to drink,” the Medford Water Commission said in a statement. “Both our primary and secondary water sources are of high quality but require additional treatment to meet drinking water standards set by Oregon Health Authority.”

Officials said that they will be doing what they can to stretch the limited supply of sodium hypochlorite that they have on hand.

“Part of these operational changes will result in an excess of air in the pipelines, causing the water to appear cloudy. This cloudiness will dissipate over time, and is due to air bubbles, not poor water quality,” the Commission said.

The request for voluntary reduction in water usage applies to Medford, Central Point, Eagle Point, Phoenix, Talent, Jacksonville, and White City.

Some recommendations for reducing water usage include eliminating any sources of water waste, such as any known leaks at homes or businesses; reducing vehicle washing or using facilities that recycle water; sweeping paved surfaces instead of washing them; avoid filling pools, hot tubs, ponds, and water features; curtailing sprinkler use where possible; and making sure to turn off water when brushing teeth, shaving, and rinsing dishes.

Grants Pass Department of Public Safety Asking for Public to Call in Info Regarding Shooting Incident

Media Releases | Grants Pass, OR - Official Website

On June 11, 2021, at approximately 11:00pm, officers from the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety responded to the 200 block of Grandview Avenue for a report of multiple shots fired. Officers quickly checked the area for any victims and the suspect(s).  Officers confirmed there were no injuries.  

GPDPS Detectives responded to the scene to conduct further investigation.  This investigation is in its early stages with detectives continuing to follow up all leads.  Further information will be relayed as it becomes available. 

We are asking for the public to continue to call and report any suspicious activity. 

Anyone who may have been in the SE area of Grants Pass or with any additional  information is encouraged to call Detective Shali Marshall at 541-450-6260.  Additionally, the Department of Public Safety would like to assure citizens the recent shooting incidents have the highest priority for our personnel.

A Colorado man pleaded guilty on Thursday to a federal hate crime charge for the unprovoked stabbing of a Black man at an Arby’s in Ontario, Oregon, in December of 2019.

The victim had walked into the Arby’s at a Pilot Travel Center in Ontario to submit materials for a job application, according to court documents. He was sitting by himself in a booth, waiting for the restaurant manager, when 27-year-old Nolan Levi Strauss walked into the building and came up from behind.

A maintenance worker tried to intervene, ordering Strauss to drop the knife. The stabbing victim managed to break free of Strauss and got to the other side of the restaurant before he collapsed on the floor, and the worker used a belt to secure Strauss’ hands and detain him until police could arrive.

The victim survived after emergency surgery at a hospital in Boise, Idaho.

Oregon Experiencing An Increase In Traffic Fatalities

Oregon is experiencing an increase in traffic fatalities compared to the same time last year, with a 32% increase, according to preliminary data.  As of June 14, 229 traffic deaths were reported statewide compared with 173 over the same period in 2020.

As traffic volumes return to normal and summer travelers start heading out, it may be time to brush up on basic rules of the road – all aimed at getting us where we’re going safely.

Traffic volumes across the state are approaching 2019 levels after falling sharply in the beginning months of the pandemic. And summer is traditionally a busy travel season.

Everyone should:

  • Plan ahead to avoid the frustration of unplanned delays and construction projects.
  • Know and follow traffic laws.
  • Be aware of surroundings.
  • Pay attention to weather and road conditions and drive accordingly.
  • Put cell phones on do not disturb (i.e., don’t use it while driving).
  • Focus on the important task at hand: walking, rolling, biking or driving.

Please Drive Safe!!

One of Portland’s Entire Officer Units Resigns

A team of 50 police officers who serve on a specialized crowd-control unit in Oregon and respond to Portland’s ongoing, often violent protests have resigned en masse after a team member was indicted on criminal charges.

During a Wednesday night meeting, officers, detectives and sergeants on the Rapid Response Team voted to resign from the team because of a perceived lack of support from City Hall and from the district attorney over the past year, according to the mayor’s office and officers.

The move by officers to disband their own team came a day after Officer Cody Budworth was indicted and accused of fourth-degree assault stemming from a baton strike against a protester last summer.

“I don’t think it is just an indictment that caused this to happen, I think it is a very long complicated history of things that have gone on over the last 14 months,” Acting Portland Police Chief Chris Davis said.

Davis said that while the officers on the unit have “left their voluntary positions and no longer comprise a team,” they will continue with their regular assignments.

The Rapid Response Team is an “all-hazard incident” unit that responds to natural or man-made disasters, large-scale searches and, most recently, public order policing or riots. Members of the team are trained in advanced skills related to crowd management, crowd psychology and behavior, team formations and movements, the use of enhanced personal protective equipment, use of force, and de-escalation and arrests.

Last summer, when Portland became the epicenter of Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd, the team was on the front lines.

Many demonstrations devolved into clashes with officers late at night, and at times ended with vandalism, property damage and fires. The crowd-control team was the unit often directed to disperse groups after police declared unlawful assemblies or riots.

“Our entire organization has been put through something none of us have ever seen through our careers — and at a level and intensity that I don’t think any other city in the United States has experienced,” Davis said.

In late October, the president of the police union, the Portland Police Association, sent the mayor and police chief a letter, urging both to “stand up and publicly support Police Bureau members who voluntarily serve on the Rapid Response Team.”

“Our RRT members do not volunteer to have Molotov cocktails, fireworks, explosives, rocks, bottles, urine, feces and other dangerous objects thrown at them,” wrote Daryl Turner, then-president of the union. He noted that the team members volunteer for the work without any specialty pay.

On Thursday, Davis acknowledged that members of the team have been exposed and subjected to “unbelievable things” in the past 14 months, including ongoing protests, increased violence and the pandemic.

“I understand that those are very complex issues, but I also understand their perspective,” Davis said about the team’s decision. “If you put a human being through what they went through, that takes a toll.”

While protests have significantly decreased in the city, there are still small protests by self-described anarchists in contained areas of Portland.

Davis said in the event there’s a declared riot in the coming days, there will still be a police response from other officers within the bureau “with as close to adequate resources as we can get.”

Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who has led efforts to defund the police and proposed disbanding the team last fall, said that the “resignations are yet another example of a rogue paramilitary organization that is unaccountable to the elected officials and residents of Portland.”

“Earlier this week, for the first time in Portland’s history, an officer from PPB’s Rapid Response Team was charged with a misdemeanor for assaulting a photojournalist during a protest last summer,” Hardesty said. “Ironically, we now see some PPB officers engaging in the act they showed so much disdain for last summer by staging their own protest.”

From May 29 through Nov. 15 last year, during the height of the social justice protests in Portland, the city’s police used force more than 6,000 times, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report.

Budworth marked the first Rapid Response Team officer to face criminal prosecution stemming from force used during a protest. The police union has called the prosecution politically driven, and said Budworth’s baton “push” to a woman’s head was accidental.

Also this week, authorities said a Portland Police Bureau detective is under review by the Oregon Department of Justice for possible criminal charges related to use of force at last year’s racial justice protests.

“I have confidence that the (Portland Police) Bureau will continue their mission to maintain public safety,” Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said Thursday. “In the meantime, my office will continue to focus on the fair and just prosecution of criminal matters.”

Blood Bank Supply Low

Bloodworks Northwest says the supply of Type O blood has dropped to its lowest level since the pandemic began. Bloodworks said the supply has fallen 50% in the past few months. Overall, the supply of all blood types is down 45% The blood bank suspects lingering confusion over donor eligibility after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, warmer weather leading to “now shows” and increased usage are to blame.

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