Klamath Basin News, Friday, 9/17 – Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team Obtains Search Warrant on Enormous Illegal Marijuana Growing Operation in Bonanza.

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Friday, September 17, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Friday Widespread smoke, mainly after 2pm. Sunny, with a high near 82. Light and variable wind becoming southwest 10 to 15 mph and gusts as high as 23 mph. Overnight, partly cloudy, with a low around 48.

Saturday A 30% chance of rain after 11am with a high near 72. Overnight with 100% chance of rain with a low around 46. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Sunday Showers likely, mainly before 11am, and cloudy, with a high near 60. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Monday Sunny, with a high near 67.
Tuesday Sunny, with a high near 78.

Today’s Headlines

Early this week, Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team obtained a search warrant on an enormous illegal marijuana growing operation near Philpott Lane in Bonanza.

The search warrant was served by the Oregon State Police SWAT team, BINET, OSP Southwest Region Drug Enforcement Team, the Klamath Falls Police Department and the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office.  

The operation was purported to be “hemp”, but the illegal growing operation was not licensed or permitted and preliminary on-site testing during the search warrant services revealed the plants were high THC marijuana. Unlawful use of groundwater is also being investigated.

The illegal marijuana grow sites covered over 300 acres and consisted of 132 large greenhouses stuffed full of mature marijuana plants. The operation was run off of a newly completed and uninspected groundwater well which likely pumped thousands of gallons of water each day to water the illegal marijuana.

After evidence was collected, approximately 51,480 illegal marijuana plants were destroyed by Klamath County Solid Waste Management bulldozer on site along with the unpermitted greenhouses. A large amount of U.S. Currency was also seized as suspected drug proceeds. Criminal charges on multiple individuals were referred to the Klamath County District Attorney’s Office for review.

Klamath County has an increasing problem with large scale illegal marijuana grow.

Due to a perceived threat, Henley High School was evacuated around 1 p.m. Thursday.  As soon as the school was aware of the potential threat, the school was evacuated, authorities were notified, and an immediate investigation began. Students were not in danger. More information will be forthcoming from the Klamath County School District and Henley administration.

A Klamath Falls teen was critically injured last Sunday morning following a single vehicle crash.

The crash occurred east of Merrill on Highway 39 when a car with four occupants crossed the highway and went off the road.

The car rolled multiple times and finally stopped after it hit a barbed wire fence. According to Oregon State Police, the driver of the vehicle overcorrected after the passenger-side tires drove off the road and onto the soft shoulder, resulting in the car crossing the highway and rolling into the fence. 

One passenger, 13-year-old Kaelyn Carter from Klamath Falls, was ejected from the vehicle, according to her uncle, Monty Holloway. Kaelyn was flown to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, where she remains in critical condition, the hospital said Thursday. There are various ways to help Kaelyn in her recovery. 

They are doing everything they can to save Kaelyn’s life. Kaelyn has a laceration to her liver, ruptured spleen, lost one of her kidneys, a broken pelvis, fractured vertebraes, intubated on a ventilator, and sedated and making slow improvements. Outside of these current known injuries they are concerned about her lungs not functioning properly, and possible brain trauma.

She has already had 4 surgeries and has a long road of recovery ahead of her. Her parents Tyler and Jackie Carter have been by KK’s side praying for a miracle. KK’s younger sister, family and close friends are doing everything they can to help ease the pain from this dreadful nightmare. 

The family has set up a GoFundMe page as well as a Rogue Credit Union account where people can donate.

The family is asking those who wish to help with a financial donation in one of 3 ways:

Rogue Credit Union account has been set up. Visit Rogue Credit Union and ask to contribute to account #6000932756

GoFundMe account has been established. Click here to visit and donate: https://gofund.me/0e6dd756

Another donation account under MealTrain is here: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/rqvmdl/donate/

Firefighters continue to make significant progress on the Bear Flat Fire in the Klamath River Canyon, approximately 9 miles southwest of Keno.

As of Thursday the fire was estimated to be 60 acres in size and 10 percent contained. Its cause is under investigation. There was not much change in the fire on Wednesday, according to the Forest Service, although winds in the afternoon resulted in a couple small spot fires which were quickly lined.

On Thursday, winds, temperatures and relative humidity were expected to be lower, with moderate humidity recovery overnight. Winds are expected to pick up Friday, with gusts up to 20 mph in the forecast due to an incoming front. Firefighters worked Thursday to maximize efforts ahead of the predicted winds. There are nearly 120 people assigned to the fire, including three hand crews, six engines, two water tenders and 2 dozers.

Wildland firefighting resources will continue to work to secure lines, identify and mitigate hazard trees and identify contingency line options.

Nolan Napier

The Conquer Covid in Klamath campaign announces its winner for week 3. Nolan Napier of Chiloquin won a Top of the Line Traeger Pellet Grill and 12 bags of premium pellets from Diamond Home Improvement.

Nolan 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 $4,800 worth of gasoline. That’s basically $400 a month for the year. 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. http://conquercovidinklamath.com/

Project supporters gathered Sept. 2 for an update. Pictured are from left to right: Art Ochoa, community project coordinator; Hannah Levine, Chiloquin Community Builders; Steve Johnson, KCSD safety and risk manager; Cathy Stuhr, Chiloquin Community Builders; Barton Robison, Willamette Partnership; Roberta Frost, The Klamath Tribes; Rita Hepper, Chiloquin Elementary principal; Janelle Emard, Chiloquin Elementary vice principal; Glen Szymoniak, superintendent of the Klamath County School District; and Gayle Hatcher, The Klamath Tribes. In front are John Rademacher, KCSD school board member; and Dennis Zullo, KCSD maintenance and projects supervisor.

Groundbreaking for a $1.3 million park project at Chiloquin Elementary School could happen next month.

Organizers of the Chiloquin Green Schoolyard project have nearly all the funds necessary to build a new outdoor space that incorporates a playground area, a covered outdoor basketball court, interpretative walking paths and community garden spaces at the elementary school.

The new schoolyard will impact the area and its youth for years to come, said Rita Hepper, principal of Chiloquin Elementary and a member of the project team. Hepper was among more than a dozen project supporters who gathered earlier this month for an update from Barton Robison of Willamette Partnership, an environmental nonprofit that helps facilitate projects that improve the health of Oregon residents.

The outdoor gathering at the home of KCSD school board member John Rademacher also was a celebration of the submission of the final grant needed to complete all aspects of the green schoolyard project.

The Klamath County Public Works Department announces the following ROAD CLOSURE due to a BNSF Railroad Crossing Repair:
Harpold Road crossing between Hwy 50 and State Line Rd.
Estimated duration: 6am Monday, Sept 20th – 5pm Friday, Sept 24th
Flaggers will be on site, and detours will be posted. Motorist should
use alternative routes.

Tripcheck.com will also be kept up to date with major construction projects and/or emergency closures for fires, floods, etc. For additional questions or concerns, please contact Ryan Hamilton or Jeremy Morris with Klamath County Public Works at 541-883-4696.

In December 2020, Klamath Falls City Council passed a resolution stating it was committed to make equity a guiding principle in its decisions.

But less than a year later, the city has disbanded the task force formed to address equity and racism in the community. The city created the task force last year, with plans to establish a permanent city committee on equity.

But, according to a letter sent Sept. 10 to task force members, the city informed them their job is done. The letter thanks members of the task force for their hard work and says it will continue moving forward on its recommendations, which were presented to city council August 2.

Joey Gentry, Klamath Tribal member and an equity task force member, said the letter caught her off guard. Phil Studenberg, the city council member for ward 1, said he believes the council will still consider recommendations presented by the task force. Dan Toffell, city councilor for ward 4, said it is too early for the city council to know what action it will take on the matter.

On Sept. 25 the Bureau of Land Management’s Klamath Falls field office will host a National Public Lands Day Event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wood River Wetland.

Volunteers will meet at the Klamath Falls Field Office at 9 a.m. and carpool to Wood River Wetland. The wetland is located northwest of Chiloquin off Modoc Road. The event will focus on expanding the native plant garden by preparing the soil and planting natives.

Bring lunch, water, hat, gloves, eye protection, camera and wear sturdy shoes. Long sleeves and pants are suggested. Tools will be provided. If you are interested, please send an email to heanderson@blm.gov with your daytime phone number. There will be a safety talk at the entrance of Wood River Wetland for all participants at 10 a.m.

The group will meet at the locked gate, then will travel on foot to the worksite less than half a mile up the road.

An early, solid foundation in education – including the STEAM fields of science, technology, engineering, the arts and math – can benefit students and their communities for a lifetime.

It’s the reason why Pacific Power is deeply committed to helping schools and organizations nurture the next generation of thinkers and doers.

As part of this commitment, the PacifiCorp Foundation, a nonprofit arm of Pacific Power, is donating $630,000 in new grant funding across the six states it serves to support education and STEAM learning projects. Some of the grants will also go to help community organizations continuing to respond to COVID-related needs. This latest round of funding is one of the four grant cycles offered by the foundation annually. The following five grants were given to organizations in the Klamath Falls area:

  • Bonanza Big Springs Park and Recreation District to replace the roof on the community center that provides a safe, healthy place for school groups, clubs and other community activities.
  • Eagle Ridge High School to assist in developing a construction pre-apprenticeship program that will allow students to learn trade skills that will lead to career opportunities.
  • Klamath County Rotary Club to purchase books for the Klamath Cares, a Klamath Reads literacy program that distributes books to first graders in Klamath County and Tulelake, Calif. 
  • National Inventors Hall of Fame Oregon to provide financial assistance to enable underserved children in Southern Oregon to attend Camp Invention, a program which fosters STEAM skills, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. 
  • Oregon Tech Foundation to extend scholarships to students at the Oregon Institute of Technology. 

Around the state of Oregon

A new Oregon license plate design being released October 1 is intended to celebrate the state’s diversity of culture, coincident with the 20th anniversary of the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Once October begins, the new plate will be available on the Oregon DMV website, at DMV field offices, and at Lithia Motors’ 32 franchise dealerships throughout the state.The “Celebrate Oregon!” artwork was created by Liza Burns of Eugene, and will also be installed as full-scale murals at the Eugene, Medford, Portland, and Redmond airports through a partnership with GreenCars.com.

A 38-foot outdoor banner will also be installed at the Northwest Film Center in the Portland Art Museum.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) is investigating a homicide that occurred early Wednesday morning on the 300 block of Eagle Mill Rd. outside of Ashland.

The suspect, Auriel Scattergood, of Ashland, is in the Jackson County jail charged with second-degree murder, second-degree assault, and aggravated animal abuse.

ECSO dispatch received a call at 2:14 a.m. of a reported stabbing. JCSO responded with officers from Ashland, Phoenix and Talent Police Departments and quickly apprehended the suspect. JCSO was also assisted on scene by detectives from Oregon State Police. Major Assault and Death Investigative Unit (MADIU) was called out to investigate. The victim’s name will be released pending notification of next of kin. The victim’s dog was injured in the altercation and received emergency care at the Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center.

Further information will come from the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.

On Wednesday following a lengthy investigation, Grants Pass Police Detectives arrested Crysta McNair, a 42 year old woman, for 2 counts of Aggravated Theft, 3 counts of First Degree Forgery, 2 counts of Computer Crimes, and 3 counts of Identity Theft.  

Detectives found that during an approximate 1 year period McNair forged at least 110 checks and conducted fraudulent bank transfers to steal over $142,000.00 from an elderly relative. Crysta McNair was lodged at the Josephine County Jail. Anyone having information related to this investigation is asked to call the Grants Pass Police Department at 541-450-6260 .

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