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, your local health and Medicare agents.
Friday, September 10, 2021
Klamath Basin Weather
Air Quality Alert
Today Showers and possibly a thunderstorm before 11am, then a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 11am. Patchy smoke. High near 75. South southeast wind 5 to 11 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Overnight, partly cloudy, with a low around 48. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming light north after midnight.
Saturday Widespread haze before 11am. Patchy smoke after 11am. Sunny, with a high near 80. Calm wind. Overnight, partly cloudy, with a low around 49.
Sunday Patchy smoke. Sunny, with a high near 83. Calm wind becoming west northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Monday Patchy smoke. Sunny, with a high near 81.
Tuesday Patchy smoke. Sunny, with a high near 83.
Wednesday Sunny, with a high near 80.
Oregon reports 2,437 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 21 new deaths
There are 21 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,394, the Oregon Health Authority reported 2,437 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 294,392.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (22), Benton (27), Clackamas (204), Clatsop (37), Columbia (27), Coos (45), Crook (39), Curry (13), Deschutes (152), Douglas (168), Grant (20), Harney (6), Hood River (8), Jackson (190), Jefferson (21), Josephine (90), Klamath (25), Lake (7), Lane (189), Lincoln (18), Linn (134), Malheur (75), Marion (203), Morrow (2), Multnomah (203), Polk (98), Tillamook (15), Umatilla (119), Union (22), Wallowa (3), Wasco (23), Washington (180) and Yamhill (52).
Sky Lakes Medical Center reports that it continues to operate under “surge” status as coronavirus patients continue to pack hospitals across the state and nation.
Last month, as the surge threatened to overwhelm parts of southern Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown activated up to 1,500 Oregon National Guard members to assist hospitals dealing with surges and staff shortages across the state.
Yesterday, the hospital reported they had 27 COVID-19 inpatients, 24 throughout the hospital and three in intensive care. This is the largest number of COVID inpatients they have had at Sky Lakes since the beginning of the pandemic.
Some of the 155 airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing based at Kingsley Field will be recalled to serve a hospital system closer to home, base leadership said on Thursday. An initial group of 50 airmen were activated last week to help hospitals in the Springfield-Eugene area with logistical support as healthcare staff deal with the surge in serious COVID-19 cases.
The 173rd announced on Wednesday that 100 more would be deployed to the Salem area. Now 23 of those airmen will instead be heading to Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls, beginning Friday. Like the first group, the newly activated airmen will be put to work in non-clinical roles; material handling, equipment support, COVID testing support, laundry and custodial services, and other tasks as needed.
Researchers at the University of Oregon say proper ventilation — such as opening a window — may help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The researchers say a small study of quarantined students who had tested positive for the coronavirus indicates that opening a window in their room resulted in a decrease of the virus in their rooms. They say masking is still important but that other strategies — such as ventilation — can help manage the virus.
The Conquer Covid in Klamath campaign announces its winner for week 2. Gillian Bradford won $6,000 worth of groceries from Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in Klamath Falls.
Gillian was selected in a random drawing of all Klamath County residents that have entered at conquercovidinklamath.com.
Each week the prize changes and this week it is a top of the line Traeger Pellet Grill along with 12 bags of premium pellets from Diamond Home Improvement. The drawing for this weeks prize will take place on Monday morning. There is a different prize each week along with the Grand Prize, which is the winners choice of a new Dodge RAM pickup or a new Dodge Durango SUV. There are numerous runner up prizes as well.
To enter Klamath County residents can go to conquercovidinklamath.com. The site also lists all prizes, rules and vaccination sites.
Oregon Health Authority says Third Dose data to be included in daily dashboard
As of today, third dose data has been included in the “Oregon COVID-19 Vaccine Daily Update” dashboard. The total number of third doses added to the state immunization registry on Sept. 8 was 24,308. Of that total, 710 third doses were administered on Sept. 8.
It is important to note that “third dose” (aka “third shot” or “dose three”) and “booster dose” (aka “booster shot” or “booster”) are not the same.
A third dose is specifically for individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and may not have built up an adequate protective immune response with their first series of vaccinations. Currently, the only authorized third doses are for the Moderna and Pfizer Comirnaty vaccines. The recommendation is for immunocompromised individuals to receive a third dose of the same mRNA vaccine at least 28 days after receiving the second dose in the series (for individuals 18 years and older for Moderna and 12 years and older for Pfizer Comirnaty).
At this time, the CDC does not have enough data to suggest that an additional dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would produce an enhanced immune response in an immunocompromised person. Another dose of Johnson & Johnson or an mRNA vaccine is not recommended for immunocompromised individuals who have already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. These recommendations will be reviewed as the data becomes available.
A booster dose is for people whose immunity may be fading after they complete their first vaccination series. There is currently no COVID-19 vaccine authorized as a booster. The FDA and CDC will examine data on the safety and efficacy of booster doses in order to issue guidance, which will inform recommendations in Oregon.
Weekly cases drop as hospitalizations and deaths rise
The Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 Weekly Report, released today, showed a slight drop in weekly cases, and an increase in virus-associated hospitalizations and deaths.
- OHA reported 15,753 new daily cases of COVID-19 during the week of Monday, Aug.30, through Sunday, Sept. 5. That represents a 3% decrease and follows eight straight weeks of rising cases.
- COVID-19 related hospitalizations rose again – though less steeply – from 1,000 to 1,036. That marked another pandemic high. It is the ninth straight weekly increase.
- There were 176 reported COVID-19 related deaths, up from 119 reported the previous week. That marked the sixth consecutive week of rising deaths.
- OHA reported 146,344 tests for COVID-19 for the week of Aug. 29 through Sept. 4. The percentage of positive tests increased to 11.1%.
The Bureau of Reclamation began releasing water from the Klamath River to Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge on Sept. 3.
Advocates hope it will improve wetland habitat on the refuge for migrating birds this fall. Last week, California Waterfowl Association officially purchased approximately 3,750 acre-feet of water from Agency Ranch in the Wood River Valley, above Upper Klamath Lake, having announced the purchase and fundraising effort this spring.
Lower Klamath has been plagued by insufficient wetland habitat due to a lack of deliveries from the Klamath Project for the past 20 years. All wetland habitat on Lower Klamath is dry save for Unit 2, on the northwest part of the refuge. It contains Sheepy Lake, the last piece of open water on the refuge, which had been drying up all summer, stranding molting waterfowl and making them prone to predation by raccoons and coyotes.
Water is now headed there through the Ady Canal. However, not all 3,750 acre-feet will enter the refuge this year. Because the water right only allows for diversion through September 30 at a maximum rate per day, only about 700 acre-feet will be available to divert this summer.
The Klamath County Chamber of Commerce announced it will postpone its centennial celebration and 100th Annual Awards Gala until late 2021 or early 2022.
The event had been scheduled for September 25. Chamber leadership was excited to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its incorporation on Sept. 25 with members and the community, but held a board meeting to reconsider the date and timing given the current uptick in local COVID cases. The chamber will announce the new date in the near future. Ticket sales are still available and both tickets and sponsorships previously purchased will be honored.
For questions, contact the chamber at (541) 884-5193 or visit www.klamath.org.
Mountain biking and hiking at Spence Mountain reopened Wednesday afternoon. Drew Honzel, a member of the Klamath Trails Alliance, which is creating a complex network at Spence Mountain, said the barricades were removed after a month-long closure due to hire fire danger.
Honzel expressed appreciation to Michael Schaaf, a KTA member who talked with Jason Pettigrew with the Oregon Department of Forestry, which had requested the closure because of concerns about the lack of crews available to respond in case of wildfire. According to Honzel, Pettigrew “felt conditions had changed from a month ago in terms of fire danger and ODF’s ability to respond if a fire was to breakout.”
Honzel contacted JWTR, the company that owns the lands on Spence Mountain “and they agreed to open. Now we just need some clean air!”
The Cougar Peak Fire northwest of Lakeview continued to grow unabated on Wednesday, surging to an estimated 25,000 acres with no containment as of Thursday morning.
The fire was first reported on Tuesday afternoon, growing quickly among elevated winds and dry conditions. It is located about 15 miles to the northwest of Lakeview, burning primarily to the northeast within the Lakeview Ranger District of the Fremont-Winema National Forest and on Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) protected lands Fire officials said that the fire remained highly active on Wednesday, with the flames running, torching, and spotting amid mixed conifer and brush.
To the south, A series of fires sparked by lightning across Siskiyou County at the beginning of August have come roaring back after several weeks of progress made by fire crews.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office issued new evacuations for the River Complex fires and Antelope Fire on Wednesday. On the Antelope Fire to the east of Mount Shasta, the new evacuations covered the area east of Forest Road 15 Davis Road, south of Bonita Butte, west of Fourmile Hill and north of Little Glass Mountain.
Fire officials said that the Antelope Fire remained active overnight, heading into critical fire weather conditions on Thursday. By 5:30 a.m., fire crews saw active spotting as the fire again started its inexorable march to the north and east.
Several wildfires across Oregon and California, including locally, are contributing to periods of thick smoke and haze.
The wildfire smoke will continue to impact parts of the region this week. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued an air quality advisory on Thursday for central, eastern, and southern Oregon, plus parts of the Oregon Cascades, due to unhealthy levels of smoke from fires in both Oregon and Northern California.
Jackson, Klamath, and Lake counties are expected to be under an air quality advisory until at least Monday afternoon. To the east, Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Malheur, Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties could be under the advisory until at least Saturday morning. The eastern portions of Douglas, Lane, Linn, and Marion counties may also continue through Monday afternoon, depending on nearby fire activity.
According to DEQ, pollutants in smoke can cause burning eyes, runny nose, aggravate heart and lung diseases and aggravate other serious health conditions. Limit outdoor activities and keep children indoors if it is smoky. Consult a doctor and follow medical advice if you have a heart or lung condition.
Health officials advise people to refill inhalers and air out homes and businesses when smoke levels improve to moderate or healthy (yellow or green on the Air Quality Index).
Around the state of Oregon
Oregon Employment Department and WorkSource Oregon Host statewide ‘Back to Work Day’ Sept. 15
The OregonEmployment Department, in partnership with WorkSource Oregon, is launching a statewide Back To Work campaign Thursday, Sept. 15, to help people find jobs and businesses to find talented workers.
“We are hosting scavenger hunts, job fairs, drive thru and virtual hiring events, and even a ‘Large Business Extravaganza’ in Albany with more than 50 employers,” said Jim Pfarrer, director of workforce operations at the Oregon Employment Department. “We have a deep well of experience helping people find work during and after a recession, and our dedicated and knowledgeable employees can help people find the right job or training.”
WorkSource Oregon and its partners are coordinating job fairs and hiring events across Oregon in 24 locations. OED is a major partner in the WorkSource Oregon system.
People can find out what events are happening in their area by contacting their local WorkSource center or the WorkSource Oregon website.
All events will follow the state and CDC guidance to make sure everyone is safe during these events. To ensure the safety of our visitors and employees and prevent further spread of COVID-19, all customers and employees must wear masks.
Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services. Oregon Employment Department
Deschutes County drug enforcement team raided and dismantled a 30-acre illegal marijuana grow operation in Alfalfa that detectives say was operated by a Mexican drug cartel. The team seized 9,227 plants and 2,800 pounds of processed marijuana in what is considered the largest drug bust in county history.
Two pistols and an AR-15 rifle were also seized. Detectives, along with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, arrived Thursday at the property at Dodds Road and Alfalfa Market Road.
The officials detained and released about 21 people, mostly Mexican residents illegally trafficked into the United States to work in the illegal marijuana trade, said Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Kent Vander Kamp.
The workers were found living in wooden structures and dome tents with limited clean water sources, Vander Kamp said. Several suspects in charge of the operation have been identified, but their names have not been released by the sheriff’s office. A Bend woman who oversaw the workers and the property was arrested and released with a citation to appear in court, Vander Kamp said. Other local people are suspects, and detectives expect to make more arrests.
The mayor of Sandy, Oregon — Stan Pulliam — has announced he’s running for governor on the Republican ticket.
Earlier this year, Pulliam had announced he was forming an exploratory committee for the race next year. Pulliam has been a critic of some of the COVID-19 restrictions installed during the pandemic.
He joins several other Republicans seeking the nomination, including Bud Pierce, who sought the governor’s office in 2016 as a challenger to Governor Kate Brown.
Brown cannot seek reelection because of term limits.
Community Honors Fallen Medford Wildland Firefighter
Friends, family, and fellow firefighters from around Oregon gathered at the Jackson County Expo Thursday to honor the memory of Frumencio Ruiz Carapia.
Flags flew at half-staff around the state in his honor.
On Aug. 23, Ruiz-Carapia was working the Gales fire burning southeast of Eugene — part of the Middle Fork Complex burning in the Willamette National Forest — when he was killed by a falling tree.
Following the ceremony arranged by the National Wildfire Suppression Association, Ruiz-Carapia’s body will be sent to Querétaro, Mexico, where his mother and brothers live, according to the governor’s office.
Fielder Creek Fire Contained at 32 Acres
Crews made progress on the Fielder Creek Fire burning northwest of Rogue River on the 900-block of Fielder Creek road holding the line and keeping the fire at 32 acres.
According to a press release from the Oregon Department of Forestry South West District, resources assigned to the fire have been bolstering fire lines, falling hazardous trees, and continuing mop-up operations.
The fire is affecting private and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Minimal fire activity was reported today, with only a few hotspots flaring up well within the interior of the fire.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Jackson County Emergency Management lowered evacuation notices to residents on Fielder Creek Road to a Level 1 (BE READY) just after 6 p.m on Wednesday. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Southern Oregon’s Largest Ever Sex Offender Sweep
Joint Task Force Sweep Arrests Six Local Suspects for 61 Felony Counts of Encouraging Child Sex Abuse, Investigations Uncover Nearly 7000 Explicit Images
The Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) joint inter-agency task force arrested six separate suspects Thursday on 61 Encouraging Child Sex Abuse felony charges. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies and the US Marshals’ Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force (PNVOTF) along with Central Point Police Department (CPPD), and Grants Pass Department of Public Safety (GPDPS) assisted with the operation that included warrants served throughout Jackson and Josephine County.
Although the cases are not connected, in total investigations uncovered nearly 7000 images of child exploitation among the six suspects. Felony charges include 44 first-degree, and 17 second-degree Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse. Out of those arrested, one-third had local child victims.
Investigations led the task force throughout the Rogue Valley including addresses in Ashland, Central Point, Grants Pass, Medford, Talent, and White City. These locations included where suspects uploaded child exploitation images, as well as their residences and places of employment.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) tips started each investigation, which led to subpoenas, followed by search warrants at the respective residences. Digital devices were seized, additional warrants were obtained, and the digital devices were forensically examined at the Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force (SOHTCTF) where evidence was located.
Anthony Paul Craker, 33, of Ashland, was arrested on 15 felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree. A NCMEC cyber tip led investigators to the 500 block of Tulipan Way in Talent where child exploitation images were uploaded. During the course of the investigation it was discovered Craker was communicating sexually with underage minors and was found to be in possession of more than 700 child exploitation images. Craker was arrested Thursday in the 200 block of Lowe Rd. in Ashland. He is now lodged at the Jackson County jail on $250,000 bail.
Jon Paul Bouchard, 31, of White City, was arrested on two felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree. A NCMEC cyber tip led investigators to the 500 block of Benson St. in Medford where the images were uploaded to social media. Bouchard was arrested in the 3700 block of Falcon St. in White City. He is now lodged at the Jackson County jail on $50,000 bail.
Omar De Jesus Galvan, 19, of White City, was arrested on 10 felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree. A NCMEC cyber tip led investigators to the 3400 block of Avenue C in White City where child exploitation images were uploaded to social media. During the course of investigations, De Jesus Galvan was found to be in possession of more than 3600 images of child exploitation. He was arrested at his place of employment in the 7500 block of Crater Lake Highway in White City, and is now lodged at the Jackson County jail on $250,000 bail.
Stephen Bernard Habermann, 60, of Grants Pass, was arrested on 11 felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree. A NCMEC cyber tip led investigators to the 3000 block of Old Military Rd. in Central Point where child exploitation images were uploaded to social media. Images were also uploaded at his place of employment in the 800 block of O’Hare Pkwy. in Medford. Investigations discovered images of local children downloaded from social media and altered so the victims looked nude. The images were then traded online for child pornography. Habermann was found to be in possession of more than 500 child exploitation images. He was arrested in the 400 block of “I” St. in Grants Pass, and is now lodged at the Josephine County jail on $250,000 bail.
Christopher Randall Savage, 39, of Medford, was arrested on two felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, and 12 felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree. A NCMEC cyber tip led investigators to the 700 block of Crater Lake Ave. in Medford where child exploitation images were uploaded to social media. Savage was found to be in possession of more than 2000 images of child exploitation. He was arrested at his place of employment in the 1200 block of East McAndrews Rd. in Medford, and is now lodged at the Jackson County jail on $250,000 bail.
Matthew Alan Desmet, 38, of Central Point, was arrested on four felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, and five felony counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree. A NCMEC cyber tip led investigators to the 4000 block of Old Upton Rd. in Central Point where child exploitation images were uploaded to social media. Desmet was found to be in possession of 19 child exploitation images. He was arrested in the 4000 block of Old Upton Rd. in Central Point and is now lodged at the Jackson County jail on $250,000 bail.
SOCET is a joint inter-agency task force that started in June of 2020 to combat child exploitation and human trafficking. The task force consists of investigators from JCSO, Medford Police Department (MPD), GPDPS, Oregon State Police (OSP), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and prosecutors from our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Jackson and Josephine County.
JCSO Case #’s 21-1870, 20-17946, 21-0038, 21-0840, 20-7217, 20-17750 — Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office