Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 8/31 – Klamath County School District To Give School Supplies To All Elementary Students This Year

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Air Quality Alert, heavy smoke at times

Today Patchy smoke over sunny skies, with a high near 81. West northwest wind 5 to 8 mph. Overnight, plenty of smoke, mainly between 8pm and 11pm, with a low around 45

Wednesday Patchy smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 83.
Thursday Sunny, with a high near 83.
Friday Sunny, with a high near 84.
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 84.

Today’s Headlines

Much of the smoke over the Klamath Basin is still coming from wildfires from the north, the south and from the Bootleg Fire, where parts of the interior of the fire continue to burn and burn. Firefighters have largely kept the fire from growing as they approach near-full containment.

The fire was estimated at 413,762 acres — or 647 square miles — with containment staying at 84 percent as of Monday morning. Crews reported seeing smoke from fuels burning within the fire area on Sunday as they worked to widen fire lines and soak the remaining heat and flames along the edges.

Officials said that dozers have been straightening the “ragged edge” of the fire on the east side to build better containment. Despite all the recent progress, officials noted that the Bootleg Fire’s size and local conditions mean that it still traps a great amount of heat and will continue to pose a fire hazard.

“Megafires” like the Bootleg usually will not be fully extinguished until the late fall or early winter, when temperatures drop and moisture rises. The record heat event in late June included three days in a row of more than 100-degree temperatures, adding to the phenomenon of drying trees, vegetation, and soil. Fire meteorologists anticipate thunderstorms in the area will bring isolated shower in the afternoon on Monday, but dangerous fire weather conditions are likely to return over the next several days — leaving fuels vulnerable to ignition from lightning strikes or embers.

Klamath Water Users Association expressed strong support and appreciation for today’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement of financial relief for Klamath Project irrigators who have been deprived of Klamath Project water this year.

USDA will contract with the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency (KPDRA) to provide nearly $15 million to producers who have been slammed by successive years of water shortage, compounded by the past year’s COVID pressures on production and markets. Producers would be eligible whether they participated in other KPDRA programs this year or not.

“All producers have dealt with their own unique problems, losses, and costs, and the KPDRA board is inclined to spread the assistance to all.” KWUA Executive Director Paul Simmons said that KWUA has been working with USDA officials since January to identify relief opportunities.

This year, school supplies will be provided to all elementary students in the Klamath County School District.

Supplies will be purchased by the district and distributed to students by their teachers at the beginning of the school year. Schools will let families know if there are any additional personal items students might need. The district is investing about $132,000 in supplies for 3,800 students at its 12 elementary schools. Glen Szymoniak, County superintendent says, “it has been a tough year for many of our families, and we are happy to provide this assistance”.

The Klamath County School District will host two town halls next week to provide a chance for families to have questions answered as schools prepare to open to full-time, in-person learning.

The first meeting will be WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 1st at HENLEY HIGH SCHOOL from 5-6 p.m.

The second will be THURSDAY, SEPT. 2nd at Mazama High School from 5-6 p.m. KCSD Superintendent Glen Szymoniak is organizing the events. The district is asking that questions be submitted by email to blands@kcsd.k12.or.us by noon the day before each town hall. The town halls will be moderated, and those attending will be expected to follow ground rules that promote respectful participation and exchange of ideas.

Storage rooms, corner closets and staff workspaces at the Baldwin Hotel Museum will be the subject of a special tour to be offered at 11 a.m. on Sat., Aug. 7.

Cost for the hour-long guided tour is $10 per person, with a $1 discount for students, seniors and military. Numerous pieces of spare antique furniture are stacked in one room that usually remains closed. Other rooms hold vintage garments, hats and accessories that remain in storage most of the time. The Baldwin building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, and became a public museum in 1978.

The museum, located at 31 Main Street, is open for regular tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday during the summer. For more information contact the Klamath County Museum at (541) 882-1000.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon reports 5,545 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 40 new deaths

The new cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (17), Benton (62), Clackamas (452), Clatsop (58), Columbia (66), Coos (83), Crook (27), Curry (58), Deschutes (431), Douglas (442), Gilliam (2), Grant (17), Harney (12), Hood River (17), Jackson (486), Jefferson (39), Josephine (255), Klamath (72), Lane (529), Lincoln (110), Linn (248), Malheur (21), Marion (528), Morrow (20), Multnomah (583), Polk (49), Sherman (2), Tillamook (81), Umatilla (80), Union (62), Wallowa (32), Wasco (29), Washington (451) and Yamhill (124).

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 1,120, which is 23 fewer than yesterday. There are 316 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is 14 fewer than yesterday.

There are 39 available adult ICU beds out of 671 total (6% availability) and 314 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,240 (7% availability).

Fire crews were kept busy over the weekend after a series of thunderstorms peppered Southern Oregon with hundreds of lightning strikes, sparking dozens of confirmed fires and leaving the potential for more to emerge over time.

Officials with the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest said that there were about 700 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes throughout the region on Sunday, landing both within the federal forest and on the state, county, and private lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. RRSNF said that it responded to 16 fires within the national forest in tandem with ODF and the Coos Forest Protective Association.

The largest priority was the Bear Camp Fire, which they hit with a Type 2 Initial Attack Crew and two engines. Crews were able to build a handline around the 4 or 5-acre fire, and about 40 percent of the fire has hose line around it. Firefighters remain on the scene, working toward containment.

Crews from ODF responded to about 50 separate fires in the wake of those thunderstorms, working through the night to find and extinguish the reported starts. Of those fires, 35 were confirmed to be active. The agency said that 20 have been extinguished, 15 are in various stages of response, but the majority are fully lined and in the mop-up stage.

The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office reports that a man is dead after a single-vehicle crash between Grants Pass and Merlin on Sunday evening.

Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office responded at 7:10 p.m. to calls for a single-vehicle crash in the 1100 block of Plumtree Lane. Staff from Rural Metro Fire and American Medial Response also responded to the scene.

Arriving in the area, deputies found a “heavily damaged vehicle” that had crashed into a tree and power pole. The only occupant of the vehicle was the driver, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was identified as 49-year old Rodney Paul Jones of Grants Pass. The Sheriff’s Office says that his next of kin has been notified. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Oregon’s attorney general is ordering the release of the names and addresses of the 83 confirmed victims who died during last month’s extreme heat wave.

The state medical examiner had initially denied media requests for those victims’ information, citing the state’s public records law. The media is arguing the release of the victim information will allow better assessment of the government’s preparedness and responsiveness to the heat.

The medical examiner says releasing that information could complicate further investigations that may require family cooperation.

Nearly 50 earthquakes were reported around the world Sunday, including one about 120 miles off the Oregon coast west of a small town in Curry County.

The quake — measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale — happened just after noon far off the coast from Langlois, an unincorporated community of 135 people, a place once known for blue cheese until the factory burned down in the 1950s and was never rebuilt. Sunday’s earthquake took place under the Juan de Fuca plate, a subduction that extends under the North American Plate in the Cascadia subduction zone and is continuing to move. Blakeman said the Earth is active in this area. Miles below the surface of the ocean new crust is being added to the western side of the subduction zone, which is moving east and under the North American Plate.

Employees from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, firing rifles from a helicopter, shot and killed two wolf pups from the Lookout Mountain pack on Sunday.

On Thursday, the agency’s director authorized either ODFW employees, or a Baker County ranching couple or their designated agents, to kill up to four sub-adult wolves from that pack, which has attacked their cattle at least four times since mid-July. The Lookout Mountain wolves have killed two animals and injured two others, according to ODFW investigations. The two wolves killed Sunday are 3 1/2-month-old pups, according to Michelle Dennehy, an ODFW spokesperson.

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