Klamath Basin News, Monday, 9/27 – Cougar Fire at 91,730 Acres Burned, 65% Contained, Cooler Weather To Help the 828 Personnel Fighting the Fire

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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.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Rain, mainly after 2pm. High near 66. Breezy, with a south southeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming gusty southwest 17 to 22 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible. Overnight, rain, with a low around 37.

Tuesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 55. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon. Overnight low of 33.
Wednesday Widespread frost, mainly before 8am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 67. Southeast wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the afternoon.
Thursday Sunny, with a high near 74.
Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 73.
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 77.

Today’s Headlines

The Cougar Peak Fire is currently burning approximately 15 miles northwest of Lakeview, Oregon. The Incident Command Post at the Lakeview Fairgrounds is closed to all but essential personnel to help ensure the health and safety of community members and firefighters.

Weatherwise, a storm system brings a major cooling trend to the area today with a
chance of precipitation tonight. By tomorrow, temperatures will be into
the 40s-50s and snow showers are expected above 6000-6500 feet.

Yesterday’s wind event caused smoke to be visible from the interior of the Cougar Peak and Patton Meadow fires, but containment lines on both fires remained secure thanks to the great work of our firefighters. Some interior pockets of “dirty burn,” mixed burned and unburned vegetation, were consumed by smoldering fire within containment lines.
Yesterday, firefighters finished constructing fireline around Cougar Peak Mountain and transitioned to mopping-up in that area. Work began to mitigate hazard trees along roads in the southern portion of the fire.

Along the western and northern fire boundaries, crews continued patrol, mop-up, and backhaul operations. Mop-up continued in the peat bog, and several additional water tenders were brought in to support the mop-up operation. Backhaul and suppression repair were completed in the northeast. In the southeast, firefighters continued to remove and backhaul hose. Heavy equipment processed logs in the southeast and southwest areas of the fire. Road repair operations, including grading and installing water bars, were completed yesterday.

Firefighters will continue to work today on mop-up and line construction in the remaining unsecured areas of the fire, such as the peat bog. All boundaries of the fire will be patrolled, and mop-up will be conducted as needed to reinforce containment lines. Backhaul, suppression repair, and log processing will continue today.

The Klamath County Jail Log lists a 60 year old man in custody for criminally negligent homicide.

Records show Mark Wade Sardo was booked into the facility Saturday morning just after 8:30 after his arrest on Climax Avenue. No details about the arrest have been made public by police or the district attorney’s office.

Crater Lake National Park’s long-awaited trail management plan could add up to more than 20 miles of new trails to the park, are being taken through Oct. 21.

Public input is being accepted on Crater Lake National Park’s long-awaited trail management plan. Comments on the plan, which could add up to more than 20 miles of new trails to the park, are being taken through Oct. 21.

A public meeting to discuss the plan is set for Wednesday, Oct. 13, from 6-7:30 p.m. Because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the meeting will be virtual. The planning process began several years ago with a goal of developing a comprehensive trails plan that can be implemented over the next 25 years. Public meetings were held at several locations, including Klamath Falls.

Marsha McCabe, Crater Lake’s public information officer, said comments from those sessions were incorporated with plans considered by park staff and planners at the Denver office. The draft plan includes three alternatives.

The “no action alternative” would make no changes in the park’s existing trail network, which covers 95 miles of summer and winter trails, including nearly 35 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.

The Klamath County School District’s newest building opened to Stearns Elementary students this school year, offering pupils a roomier and more modern place to learn.

The eight-classroom, 11,000-square-foot stand-alone addition near the Stearns Elementary playground is the latest and largest new classroom building the district has constructed in a years-long effort to replace decades-old modular classroom units throughout the county, information provided by the district showed.

Fifth- and sixth-graders occupy half of the new classrooms, while the other four are home to the district’s special programs like communications and alternative education.   The new classroom building replaces three older modular classroom units.

Dennis Zullo, maintenance and project supervisor for the district, said the modular units were “outdated” and “unsafe environments” that he estimated were from the early 70s.  The more spacious new classrooms offer more modern finishes and classroom technologies in a more energy efficient building, Zullo said. Plus, the modular units were demolished and the areas where they sat have already grassed over, offering more usable outdoor space for the school to use. 

Numerous proposals were submitted by local organizations and businesses vying for federal funding as part of the American Rescue Plan, and a number of them have been chosen by a Klamath County committee for funding

The county made its final determinations Friday on who will receive funding and how much. A formal announcement will be made Tuesday. Presentations were from a wide variety of organizations and causes.

The Chemult Community and Tourism Association asked for money to build a new park to enhance local tourism; Friends of the Children in Klamath Basin asked for funding to restore a blighted property to use as its administrative office; Klamath County Economic Development Association asked for funding to clean Lake Ewauna to increase tourism and improve the ecosystem; Steen Sports Park asked for funding to build new bathrooms, concession stands and landscaping; and Lost River Junior High School requested money to build a new community center. 

Klamath County Economic Development Association (KCEDA) received $1 million; Friends of the Children asked for $190,000 and will receive $50,000; Steen Sports Park asked for nearly $2 million and will receive $655,000, the Chemult Community and Tourism Association asked for and received $50,000 and the Lost River project will receive $250,000 half of their request.  

Special Districts Association of Oregon distributed $65,000 between 23 special districts this year as part of a statewide program to help college-level students learn about careers and opportunities in local government.

Wiard Memorial Park District of Klamath Falls was one of the special districts chosen to receive a grant. Under the program, SDAO will provide 50% of funds up to a maximum contribution of $3,000, with the remaining half coming from the special district. Partnering with Oregon Institute of Technology, Wiard Memorial Park District created an internship position to make use of the grant.

A student from OIT’s Geomatics Department was selected to inventory and create detailed maps of irrigation systems and other assets by park location for the park district. This partnership allowed the Wiard Memorial Park District to complete this project while also providing an opportunity for an OIT student to develop and apply their skills in a professional context.

Over the weekend, firefighters continued work to secure the line near Cougar Peak. Crews began backhauling equipment and ordering resources for suppression repair in secured areas on the southern end of the fire.

Throughout the western portion of the fire, crews conducted patrol and mop-up. Backhaul of equipment and repair work by excavators began in secured areas along the western fire perimeter. Firefighters continued to patrol and mop-up around the north end of the fire, also making progress securing line in the peat bog. Backhaul and suppression repair neared completion in the northeast.

In the southeast, crews continued to grid, patrol, and backhaul equipment. Heavy equipment continued to clear interior access routes by removing hazard trees in the east and west areas of the fire. Firefighters were prepared for the red flag warning issued yesterday in the fire zone.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon reports 2,113 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 21 new deaths

Oregon Health Authority reported 2,113 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 320,990.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (15), Benton (38), Clackamas (153), Clatsop (10), Columbia (32), Coos (48), Crook (38), Curry (2), Deschutes (162), Douglas (53), Grant (11), Harney (24), Hood River (6), Jackson (90), Jefferson (42), Josephine (22), Klamath (58), Lake (24), Lane (171), Lincoln (18), Linn (148), Malheur (28), Marion (193), Morrow (8), Multnomah (275), Polk (33), Tillamook (17), Umatilla (93), Union (32), Wallowa (8), Wasco (24), Washington (161) and Yamhill (76).

Three Josephine County individuals have died from complications relating to COVID-19 infections.

A 67-year-old woman tested positive for COVID-19 Sept. 13 and died Sept. 18 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, Oregon. She had underlying conditions. She had not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

A 32-year-old woman tested positive for COVID-19 Aug. 16 and died Sept. 16 at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. She had underlying conditions. She had not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

A 69-year-old woman tested positive for COVID-19 Sept. 10 and died Sept. 23 at her home. She had underlying conditions. She had not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Josephine County now has a total of 190 COVID-19-related deaths. Of those patients, 189 died from complications relating to COVID-19 infections. Of the 190 COVID-19 patients who died, 163 were unvaccinated.

 A new Oregon gun safety law passed in the 2021 session took effect this weekend.  Senate Bill 554 took effect Saturday, September 25, 2021, as the 91st day after the session’s adjournment, signed into law by Oregon Governor Kate Brown.

The law allows the state capitol, airports, schools and universities to prohibit firearms and require firearms be securely stored when not in use to avoid unintentional shootings and gun suicides. The original measure, “Authorizes city, county, metropolitan service district, port operating commercial airport, school district, college or university to adopt ordinance or policy limiting or precluding affirmative defense for possession of firearms in public buildings by concealed handgun licensees.”

It modifies the definition of “public building,” for purposes of crime of possession of a weapon in a public building to include certain airport areas, buildings owned or controlled by public bodies and real property owned by college or university. Gun safety advocates, such as Everytown, highlight that SB 554 “will require that firearms be securely stored and locked when not in use: Research shows secure storage legislation can prevent unintentional shootings and gun suicides.

Right now, over 80 percent of gun deaths are gun suicides in Oregon. September marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.”

More than 94,000 unemployed Oregonians lost their weekly benefits this month when multiple federal pandemic aid programs expired at the same time.

That’s 80% of all the people who had been receiving assistance prior to the Labor Day cutoff, according to data from the Oregon Employment Department. There are now just 24,000 Oregonians receiving unemployment assistance, even fewer than the weeks before the pandemic when the state’s jobless rate was at a historic low.

Some business organizations hope the aid cutoff will push more people into the workforce, easing the labor shortage that is plaguing Oregon and the entire country. But the number of Oregonians receiving jobless benefits had been in steep decline all year – and the number of job vacancies kept climbing anyway.

The programs had been paying out $93 million a week in Oregon at the end of August, when the expanded benefits were still in place. That tally fell to just $29 million last week.

Three Suspects Arrested in Medford Homicide Investigation

On September 25th, 2021 at about 11:33 a.m., officers were dispatched to an apartment in the 800 block of Royal Avenue for a possible assault, with the suspect being armed with a firearm. Officers located the residence and made contact with a suspect, later identified as Brycen Scofield, in the backyard of the residence. Scofield ran back inside the home, but eventually came out when officers called him on the phone. He was detained without further incident.

Officers searched the apartment and found a deceased male inside. The victim appeared to have suffered homicidal violence. The suspect(s) made efforts to conceal the victim and clean up the scene.

Detectives assumed the investigation and determined three suspects were involved in the murder, after inviting the victim over earlier in the day, to rob him of personal property. Detectives believe the victim was murdered with blunt force objects. Firearms were recovered from the scene. An autopsy will be conducted in the near future. 

The victim was identified as Aaron Stitt, 24 years old, next of kin have been notified.

All three suspects were located and lodged on the same charges.  – Murder 2nd Degree  – Robbery 1st Degree  – Abuse of a Corpse 2nd Degree  – Unlawful Use of a Weapon  – Tampering with Evidence —

No bail.  The scene was turned over to Medford Police detectives who are being assisted by the Oregon State Police Crime Lab. Medford Police Dept. 

Jackson County Man Sentenced After Fourth DUII

A Jackson County man was sentenced to 20 months after four Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants charges within 15 a month period.

Richard William Myers had DUII charges in Jackson County from July 24, 2020, August 14, 2020, October 7, 2020, and May 11,2021.

In addition to the 20 months, Myers will have 2 years of post-prison supervision and his driver’s license permanently revoked.

Southern Oregon Missing Persons


The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to be on the lookout for a missing man. 65-year-old Lester Youngs Whitmeyer was last known to be a few miles east of the Oakridge area near McCredie Hot Springs in June of 2021.

Whitmeyer had been staying in the area and spoke to a family member on or about June 18. He was officially reported as a missing person on July 2. Whitmeyer’s belongings and vehicle were located in the Willamette National Forest east of Oakridge. However, his whereabouts remain unknown. The Lane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team continue to search the area.

Whitmeyer is described as a white male adult with gray hair and brown eyes. He stands approximately 5’10 and weighs about 210lbs. He commonly has a beard and wears glasses. Whitmeyer has ties to the Redmond area.

Western States scientific safety review workgroup recommends Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster shot after six months for certain groups

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup today completed its review of the federal process and has recommended a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months after their primary vaccination series for people older than 65 and people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

“Everyone eligible who wants a booster will get one, and I’m committed to ensuring our most vulnerable Oregonians are protected from COVID-19, including those who are at higher risk due to systemic health and social inequities. I’d like to thank Oregonians for their patience as boosters become available while our hospitals and health care workers continue to respond to the ongoing Delta surge,” said Governor Kate Brown.

The workgroup provided its confirmation to the governors of California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington today. Click here to view the news release from Governor Kate Brown’s office.

New graph shows running averages since beginning of vaccination effort

The overview tab of the Oregon COVID-19 Vaccine Daily Update dashboard includes tables which show the current 7-day running averages for total doses administered and people initiated. A new graph has been added to show these running averages over time since the beginning of the vaccination effort.

The running average for total doses administered accounts for all doses administered in Oregon, regardless of dose number (dose one versus dose two versus dose three, etc.). The running average for “people initiated” accounts for any person who received at least one shot of any COVID-19 vaccine.

The new graph will look like this example below:

Day Running Average

Summer has turned to fall, officially, but there’s still plenty of work for firefighters to do on several large wildfires, some of which have been burning for nearly two months. As of Sunday, there are still two large uncontained fires in Washington and six large uncontained fires and complexes in Oregon.

The Bull Complex Fire, sparked by lightning in early August 12 miles northeast of Detroit, has burned nearly 25,000 acres and is 20% contained, with 346 personnel still on scene as of Sunday. It’s hoped the fire can be fully contained by Oct. 30.

The Jack Fire, a human-caused blaze that was spotted on July 5 along Highway 138, has burned about 24,000 acres and has 61% of its perimeter contained.

The Cougar Peak Fire is currently burning approximately 15 miles northwest of Lakeview, Oregon. The Incident Command Post at the Lakeview Fairgrounds is closed to all but essential personnel to help ensure the health and safety of community members and firefighters. SIZE: 91,730 acres – CONTAINMENT: 65% – CAUSE: Undetermined

Fire season is not over! Please do all you can to prevent wildland fires.   

Oregon Employment Department Labor Market Information

Oregon Trade Act Program - Home | Facebook

More than 94,000 unemployed Oregonians lost their weekly benefits this month when multiple federal pandemic aid programs expired at the same time. That’s 80% of all the people who had been receiving assistance prior to the Labor Day cutoff, according to data from the Oregon Employment Department.

There are now just 24,000 Oregonians receiving unemployment assistance, even fewer than the weeks before the pandemic when the state’s jobless rate was at a historic low.

Some business organizations hope the aid cutoff will push more people into the workforce, easing the labor shortage that is plaguing Oregon and the entire country.

But the number of Oregonians receiving jobless benefits had been in steep decline all year, and the number of job vacancies kept climbing anyway. The programs had been paying out $93 million a week in Oregon at the end of August, when the expanded benefits were still in place. That tally fell to just $29 million last week. https://www.qualityinfo.org/

Myrtle Point Woman Killed In Dog Attack

A Myrtle Point woman, Amber LaBelle, was killed in a dog attack Friday.

The incident happened on the 1700 block of Spruce Street where LaBelle lived with her two daughters.

Neighbor April Shaw said she heard screaming and rushed to help out. Shaw said LaBelle’s daughter ran outside yelling for someone to call 911 and it was a bloody scene.

“It was a pretty bad scene,” said Shaw. “We had another neighbor holding a dog back, a pretty big dog, and I just ran past the dog and ran straight to Amber. She was unresponsive at the time.”

Neighbors said LaBelle was life-flighted to Riverbend Hospital in Springfield where she went into surgery. From there, she was reportedly put on life support and given 24 hours to live. Unfortunately, LaBelle passed away the next morning at 4 a.m.

Neighbors also said LaBelle did not own the dog. They also said the dog was a grey pit bull. However, Myrtle Police said the dog was known to LaBelle and it was not a random attack.

“At this point, an investigation has been launched and is ongoing,” said Myrtle Police Chief Scott Robinson.

SOLVE Beach and Riverside Cleanup

As an effort to improve the health of Oregon’s waterways, SOLVE is encouraging community members to take part in their 38th annual Beach and Riverside Cleanup.

The event is in partnership with the Oregon Lottery with support from multiple other agencies. It kicked off on Sept. 18 and will run until Oct. 3

So far, over 2,000 volunteers have come together and collected 26,815 pounds of litter and marine debris from Oregon’s coast, rivers, waterways and neighborhoods — all since the start of the event.

The goal is to create improvement through litter pick-up and restoration work.

Officials say this comes as droughts have persisted in western states through the summer months — sounding the alarm on the importance of taking care of our water as a precious natural resource. CLICK HERE to find a cleanup opportunity near you.

Willamette Valley Grass Seed Company Pleads Guilty in Federal Court

A Willamette Valley wholesale grass seed distributor pleaded guilty today in federal court for knowingly concealing a scheme to defraud the Jacklin Seed Company, then a subsidiary of the J.R. Simplot Company.

ProSeeds Marketing, Inc., a company based in Jefferson, Oregon, pleaded guilty to one count of misprision of felony.

According to court documents, ProSeeds had a longstanding commercial relationship with the Jacklin Seed Company and routinely contracted with Jacklin for the purchase and sale of grass seed. These contracts were typically negotiated with a Jacklin employee acting under the supervision of Christopher Claypool, Jacklin’s general manager. In March 2021, Claypool, 53, of Spokane, Washington, was convicted of wire fraud and money laundering for perpetrating multiple schemes to defraud Jacklin. Claypool was later sentenced to three years in federal prison.

Beginning in December 2018, Claypool and the Jacklin employee conspired to divert a portion of the overseas sales Claypool negotiated on behalf of Jacklin so that Claypool and the employee could collect commissions on those sales. As part of this scheme, Claypool incorporated Green Pyramid, LLC to pose as an independent grass seed broker and accept payment of the fraudulent commissions.

In furtherance of the scheme, the Jacklin employee whom Claypool supervised arranged for ProSeeds to book sales diverted from Jacklin with mark-ups dictated by Claypool. The bulk of these mark-ups were then kicked back to Claypool. ProSeeds participated in the scheme with the aim of creating an overseas customer base. Nevertheless, the company intended to and did conceal Claypool’s scheme.

From December 2018 to August 2019, ProSeeds booked twelve diverted and bogus sales, generating more than $474,000 in mark-ups on Jacklin seed. Although the bulk of the mark-ups went to Claypool and his subordinate, ProSeeds retained more than $78,000 in revenue from the transactions.

On September 14, 2021, ProSeeds was charged by criminal information with misprision of felony. The company faces a maximum sentence of five years’ probation and a $500,000 fine. ProSeeds will be sentenced on November 29, 2021, before U.S. District Court Judge Karin J. Immergut.

As part of the plea agreement, ProSeeds has agreed to pay $78,775 in restitution to Simplot. Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. — U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon

OSP Troopers initiates a High-Risk traffic stop after Road Rage incident in Lane County

On September 23, 2021, at approximately 4:09 P.M., members of the Oregon State Police Springfield Area Command received a menacing complaint on I-5, near milepost 189.  Troopers were advised that two vehicles were involved in a road rage incident and one of the motorists pointed a firearm at the victim vehicle during the incident.  Troopers were able to stop the vehicle on I-5 NB near milepost 205, where a high-risk stop was initiated.   The subject was taken into custody without incident.

The driver was identified as Roger Dale Brown Jr. (39) from Gresham, Oregon. 
The driver was found to be a convicted felon.  During a search of the vehicle, Troopers located four more weapons, two 45cal semi-auto pistols, a 308cal SCAR Assault rifle, and a pistol style AK47 with a 75-round drum.  All weapons were loaded with bullets in the chambers and a heavy ballistic vest with rifle-rated plates in it.  There was also a seizure of approximately $60,000.  The suspect was ultimately arrested and transported to Lane County Jail where he was lodged for Menacing, Unlawful Use of

a Firearm, Felon in Possession of a Firearm (X5), Felon in Possession of Body Armor, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm. Oregon State Police

Two Dead After Boat Capsizes Off Of Winchester Bay

A woman and a young girl are dead after a boat capsized off of Winchester Bay on Sunday. Officials said reports of the capsized vessel just outside of the Umpqua River Bar came in around 9:27 a.m. Rescue teams made it on scene within six minutes.

It was reported that five people were in the water. Three people on the outskirts of the boat were able to make it out alive, they said. But two people, a young girl and a woman, were trapped inside the cabin of the boat. 

Officials said a rescue swimmer was able to recover both of them and they were being transported to emergency medical services on a 47 feet lifeboat. The woman was pronounced dead on the lifeboat. The young child was rushed to EMS where they later passed away.

Officials originally reported the child was a young boy but later confirmed the deceased child was a young girl around 5 to 6 years old. They said the woman who died was her grandma.

Oregon Attorney Warns of Fake Job Postings

Recently, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum learned about several fake job postings targeting individuals interested in applying for jobs at the Oregon Department of Justice.

The fake job listings are created by scraping legitimate websites, such as LinkedIn, and then substituting false information and embedding links which lead to website(s) that are used to harvest personally identifiable information.

By posing as a legitimate recruitment site, the scammers then collect personally identifiable information from unsuspecting individuals which is then sold.

Please be extra cautious if you receive unsolicited job announcements. To protect yourself from fake job scams, review these tips:

1. Conduct a web search of the hiring company using the company name only. Results that return multiple websites for the same company (abccompany.com and abccompanyllc.com) may indicate fraudulent job listings.

2. Legitimate companies will ask for personally identifiable information and bank account information for payroll purposes after hiring employees. This information is safer to give in-person. If in-person contact is not possible, a video call with the potential employer can confirm identity, especially if the company has a directory against which to compare employee photos.

3. Never send money to someone you meet online, especially by wire transfer.

4. Never provide credit card information to an employer.

5. Never provide bank account information to employers without verifying their identity.

6. Do not accept any job offers that ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money. A legitimate company will not ask you to do this.

7. Never share your Social Security number or other personal identifiable information that can be used to access your accounts with someone who does not need to know this information.

8. Before entering personal identifiable information online, make sure the website is secure by looking at the address bar. The address should begin with [https://]https://, not [http://]http://.

For information on how to avoid phishing scams, review the tips in this handy one pager, https://www.doj.state.or.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/DOJ-Do_Not_Click-Flyer.pdf

And, if you have been a victim of a fake job listing, please file a complaint online at www.oregonconsumer.gov or call the Oregon Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9393.

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