Klamath Basin News, Monday, 9/13 – Several Agencies Helping Out Sky Lakes Medical Center with Surge in Covid-19 Patients

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Monday, September 13, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Monday Patchy smoke. Sunny, with a high near 80. North wind 5 to 7 mph. Overnight, mostly clear, with a low around 46. North wind 7 to 11 mph.

Tuesday Widespread haze before 8am. Patchy smoke after 8am. Sunny, with a high near 84. North wind 5 to 7 mph.
Wednesday Patchy smoke. Sunny, with a high near 83.
Thursday Patchy smoke. Sunny, with a high near 80.
Friday Patchy smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 77.
Saturday A chance of rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 66.

Today’s Headlines

Oregon reports 2,453 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 20 new deaths

There are 20 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,414, the Oregon Health Authority reported Friday evening. Oregon Health Authority reported 2,453 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 296,825.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported are in the following counties: Baker (37), Benton (38), Clackamas (139), Clatsop (7), Columbia (38), Coos (34), Crook (31), Curry (8), Deschutes (199), Douglas (129), Grant (12), Harney (11), Hood River (7), Jackson (156), Jefferson (23), Josephine (77), Klamath (44), Lake (12), Lane (248), Lincoln (42), Linn (173), Malheur (24), Marion (201), Morrow (8), Multnomah (246), Polk (67), Sherman (1), Tillamook (37), Umatilla (89), Union (43), Wallowa (9), Wasco (28), Washington (190) and Yamhill (45).

From extra help to extra space, Sky Lakes Medical Center has received significant community support to help its staff and facilities weather the current surge in COVID-19 patients.

Sponsored by Oregon and the federal government, 48 temporary clinical care staff, including nurses, certified nursing assistants, respiratory therapists and paramedics, arrived at the hospital last week and completed their orientations on Wednesday. Now working with patients alongside permanent Sky Lakes nurses and providers, they are alleviating stress on existing clinical staff.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown also activated the state’s National Guard members to assist with non-clinical operations in hospitals across the state.

The 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field has sent 23 airmen to the hospital, and they’re currently undergoing orientation to be ready to start work Monday. Hottman said they’ll help with everything from sorting files to maintaining hospital equipment — activities that help keep Sky Lakes running smoothly. A majority of the airmen said they live in the Klamath Falls area.

More local assistance came from Keno Rural Fire Protection District, which lent two large tents to the Sky Lakes Emergency Department. They originally set up the tents last March in preparation for a COVID-19 surge early in the pandemic, but Klamath Falls’ rural location meant the surge didn’t arrive until that winter.

The Cougar Peak Fire, which was discovered on Sept. 7, has grown to 83,339 acres, burning about 15 miles northwest of Lakeview on the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Management and the Incident Commander have identified areas for evacuations in the fire area. After a light rain in the morning, firefighters anticipated fire spread would be minimal Friday, due to the moderate weather. As the temperatures ease back into seasonal norms, fire behavior will likely increase over the weekend, according to a news release from the fire incident command.

Area residents and visitors are reminded that Public Use Restrictions are still in effect on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, as well as fire restrictions in effect on neighboring landscapes. 

Meanwhile, just across the border in California, the Antelope Fire has burned 143,826 acres and remains at 66% containment.

A public meeting will be held on Monday, September 13, 2021 at 7 p.m. at the Tulelake-Butte Valley Fairgrounds in Tulelake.  Some evacuations in Siskiyou County were downgraded to warnings. No evacuation orders currently exist.

Residents returning to downgraded areas, including Medicine Lake, are urged to remain aware of the fire situation and be prepared to leave again should conditions change. Vegetation further warms and dries Sunday, crews expected fire activity to increase.

Gusty northwest winds predicted for this week could pose challenges to containment lines on the southeastern edge of the fire, and the priority today is to strengthen containment there, especially along Forest Road 77.

Oregon Health Authority has extended the recreational use health advisory for Shoalwater Bay and Howard’s Bay on Upper Klamath Lake on Friday to include all of Upper Klamath Lake.

The expanded advisory is due to the presence of cyanobacteria blooms and cyanotoxins above recreational use values for human exposure in all sampled areas of the lake in Klamath County.

In addition, an advisory was also issued for all of JC Boyle Reservoir, located 16 miles west-southwest of Klamath Falls along Oregon Route 66 in Klamath County.

People should avoid swimming and high-speed water activities, such as water skiing or power boating, in areas of the lake where blooms are, as the major route of exposure is ingestion of water. Toxins are not absorbed through the skin. However, if you have skin sensitivities you may get a puffy red rash. Everyone is encouraged to visit Upper Klamath Lake and enjoy activities such as fishing, camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, and bird watching. Boating is safe as long as speeds do not create excessive water spray. Sprays could lead to the risk of inhaling cyanotoxins.

Be aware that dogs can become ill and die from water intoxication after drinking excessive amounts of water while swimming or fetching objects for long periods of time.

Around the state of Oregon

President Biden criticizes Greg Abbott, Ron DeSantis over COVID-19

State and local officials say it’s too early to tell exactly what impact President Biden’s mandate for COVID-19 vaccinations will have on cities and businesses.

Last week, the president said all businesses with 100 employees or more must require their employees be fully vaccinated or tested weekly.  Officials with the Oregon Health Authority and Governor Kate Brown’s office say they’re still studying the order.  Portland Police Bureau officials say more than 75 percent of the force is fully vaccinated and at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office, at least 72 percent of employees have been vaccinated.

Numbers are much lower in other parts of the state and some Klamath County Firefighters have filed a class action lawsuit against Brown.

Six Oregon workers subject to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates are asking a federal judge to require Oregon to carve out an exception for people like them who have acquired some degree of natural immunity after they got sick with the virus.

They contend in a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Eugene that the state must more narrowly tailor its school employee, healthcare worker and state government employee vaccination mandates to exempt workers who already have some immunity against the virus because they contracted and recovered from it.

The workers say in their lawsuit that the state vaccination rules, which Gov. Kate Brown adopted last month, force workers like them “who have robust natural immunity, to choose between their health, their personal autonomy, and their careers.”

To the employees, getting vaccinated “would involve more risks than benefits” and they are “exceedingly unlikely” to pass the virus to others, they wrote.

Some local companies are coming out in support of President Joe Biden’s new vaccination guidance for businesses, while other business owners say they are wary of its impact on an already struggling work force.

The president said the new vaccine mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees is an important step in the fight against COVID-19.

The mandate requires weekly COVID testing for unvaccinated employees.

The Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association (ORLA) says it is not as straight forward as it sounds, adding that it could potentially be a few weeks until we find out how it will really work. ORLA also says this could create and even more difficult hiring issue than business owners are already dealing with amid the pandemic.

The association’s president, Jason Brandt, says that while they support vaccination, this one-size-fits-all approach needs to be flushed out.

Search Warrant Served for Another Illegal Marijuana Operation in Josephine County

On Thursday, September 9, 2021, members of Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) in partnership with Rogue Area Drug Enforcement (Grants Pass DPS, OSP, Josephine County Parole and Probation), Bureau of Land Management and Josephine County Code Enforcement; served search warrants relating to illegal marijuana grow operations in the 6000 block of Caves Highway and 5000 block of Holland Loop Road, outside of Cave Junction, Oregon.

During the execution of the search warrants, 7,600 illegal marijuana and hemp plants were seized and destroyed. Additionally, 5,000 pounds of processed marijuana was seized and destroyed along with 200 pounds of illegal cannabis extract.  Also seized were 19 firearms and approximately $210,000 cash. (Side note: the cash, which is subject to forfeiture, can only be used for training and equipment, not personnel.)

At the Caves Highway location, a large, closed loop cannabis extraction lab was located and seized.  Due to the explosive/flammable nature of these extraction labs, a specialized HAZMAT team responded for the safe removal of 2,000 gallons of solvent and other hazardous materials. 

Barry Greenwalt, 50, was arrested and lodged in the Josephine County Jail for Unlawful Manufacture of a Marijuana Item. 

Mitchell Seguin, 33, was arrested and lodged in the Josephine County Jail for Unlawful Manufacture of a Marijuana Item x2, Unlawful Possession of a Marijuana Item x2, Unlawful Delivery of Marijuana x2 and Unlawful Possession of a Marijuana Extract.  Additionally, 19 subjects were detained due to safety concerns. At the time of this press release, the investigation is ongoing, and no further details are being released.   Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office

Ashland Police Shoot And Kill Cougar Outside a Resident’s Home

The Ashland Police Department says that it shot and killed a cougar within the Ashland city limits after it settled outside of a home and was showing no fear of humans.

Officers responded Friday morning after an Ashland resident called to report that a friend had gone outside of the home and encountered a cougar “in the garbage cans” outside. The cougar did not run away, which the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife said is normal behavior when cougars see people.

When police arrived, the cougar had settled under the home’s elevated porch. It did not seem perturbed by the presence of the officers and was not scared away when police used sirens. After consulting with ODFW, Ashland Police decided it was time to kill the cougar due to safety concerns.

“The decision to put an animal down is never easy. The City of Ashland appreciates its long-standing partnership with ODFW and the support ODFW brings as difficult decisions such as this are made,” said Tighe O’Meara, Ashland Police Chief.

ODFW’s Steve Niemela, Rogue District Wildlife Biologist, supported the decision. “Cougars normally display fear of humans and are nocturnal animals. With the cougar just feet away from the resident’s friend during daylight and showing no signs of fear and not responding to hazing efforts, human safety was an issue and this was the right decision,” Niemela said.

The cougar was a 60-pound male, ODFW said.

Oregon is home to more than 6,000 cougars, and there are relatively frequent sightings in Jackson County. In 2018, Ashland Police shot at a cougar on the Southern Oregon University campus but did not kill it. Medford Police killed a cougar in 2019 after it was spotted around E Barnett Road and N Riverside Avenue.

Online Sexual Corruption of a Child Arrest


On 09/09/2021, detectives with the Grants Pass Police Department traveled to Roseburg, Oregon for an investigation related to online corruption of a child.  With the assistance of Roseburg patrol and detectives, Ernest Langford Jr was contacted, interviewed, and later lodged at the Douglas County Jail after Langford attempted to have sexual contact with two minor females via the internet.  

ARRESTED: Langford Jr, Ernest Dwayne

CHARGES:  Online Sexual Corruption of a Child in the First Degree X2, Luring a Minor x2

This criminal investigation is on-going and anyone with information is encouraged to contact Grants Pass Police Department Detective Yerrick at 541-450-6260.  Grants Pass Dept. of Public Safety


InciWeb has INFO on the larger fires still burning in Oregon.

This public lands link is super helpful to check before you head outdoors. The Keep Oregon Green website carries ODF’s public use restrictions. Click the link for up-to-date information: https://keeporegongreen.org/current-conditions/

Today, 9/13 Is the Last Chance for Voters to Suggest How Oregon Should Draw Congressional Districts

The state’s population increase over the past decade means Oregon gets a sixth seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. State lawmakers now must draw the maps that determine where those congressional districts lie since the location of the districts determines how blue or red those districts are.

New boundaries will determine legislative districts and how many of Oregon’s six congressional seats will belong to each party. You can check this more info here: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/redistricting-2022-maps/oregon/plan_a/

Maybe you have a better plan. The deadline to submit written testimony to the Legislature is 8:30 pm Monday, Sept. 13. Just email Oregon.Redistricting@Oregonlegislature.gov. (You can also sign up for a time slot to offer verbal testimony on Zoom during two virtual sessions tomorrow. Presumably, you can hold up maps to the Zoom camera.)

On Sept. 20, lawmakers from both parties will try to reach a compromise in a special redistricting session, focused both on congressional districts and state legislative districts.

Fatal Crash on Hwy 30-Clatsop County 

On Friday, September 10th, 2021 at about 8:20am, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to the report of a two-vehicle crash on Hwy 30 near milepost 94. 

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Honda Civic passenger car, operated by Debra Livingston (67), of Astoria, was travelling eastbound on Hwy 30 when she lost control of her vehicle, went into the westbound lane, and struck a westbound Toyota Tacoma, operated by Robert Tikkala (57), of Astoria. 

Livingston suffered significant injuries and was transported Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria where she was pronounced deceased. Tikkala was transported to Columbia Memorial Hospital with injuries.

Hwy 30 was closed for 2 hours following the crash.  OSP was assisted by the Knappa Fire, Astoria Fire and ODOT. 

Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division is requesting Public Assistance with a Poaching case of a Spike Elk in Lincoln County

The Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division is seeking the public’s assistance to identify the person(s) responsible for the unlawful taking and wasting of spike elk in the Logsden area in Lincoln County. 

Poached Spike Elk Lincoln County

On August 16, 2021, the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division was notified of a deceased spike elk that had been shot with a firearm, gutted, and left to waste.  The initial investigation determined the animal had been shot sometime between August 12 and August 15.  The carcass was located on Fall Creek Road, northeast of the intersection of Fall Creek Road and Big Rock Creek Road, in a clear-cut area. 

This area is heavily traveled, and other hunters are believed to have been in the area during this time frame. If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact the OSP TIP Hotline: 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP (677) or TIP E-Mail: TIP@state.or.us reference case # SP21233495.

** Report Wildlife and Habitat Law Violators** 

The Oregon Hunters Association TIP reward offers preference points or cash rewards for information leading to an arrest or issuance of a citation for the unlawful take/possession or waste of Bighorn Sheep, Rocky Mountain Goat, Moose, Elk, Deer, Antelope, Bear, Cougar, Wolf, Upland Birds, Waterfowl, Furbearers, Game Fish and Shellfish.  Cash rewards can also be awarded for turning in people who destroy habitat, illegally obtain licenses/tags, and for the unlawful lending/borrowing of big game tags.

Portland unveils new Ned Flanders Crossing bridge. Yes, that Ned Flanders.

Fans of the popular animated TV series — The Simpsons — will love the name of Portland’s newest pedestrian bridge.  

The creator of the show — Matt Groening is a Portland native and graduate of Lincoln High School but until yesterday, there was no public acknowledgment of his success in his hometown.  

Yesterday, city officials announced the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 405 in Northwest Portland will be named the Ned Flanders Crossing, after one of the long running series’ most iconic characters.  Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty says it shows Portland can build great things — and have some fun, too.

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