Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 10/5 – Klamath with 54 New Covid Cases, 27 Hospitalized, 5 in ICU, Oregon Reporting 3,286 New Cases Overnight, 8 New Deaths

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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.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

This Afternoon Partly sunny, with a high near 73. Overnight, rain likely with a low of 40. Snow level 8500 feet lowering to 7100 feet after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Wednesday A 30% chance of showers before 11am, then turning sunny, with a high near 57. Overnight a low around 34.
Thursday Mostly sunny, with a high near 62. Light and variable wind.
Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 62.
Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 62.
Sunday A slight chance of rain. Mostly sunny, with a high near 63.

Today’s Headlines

There are eight new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,823 the Oregon Health Authority reported Monday. Oregon Health Authority also reported 3,286 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the state total to 334,971.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (10), Benton (78), Clackamas (258), Clatsop (24), Columbia (50), Coos (48), Crook (27), Curry (3), Deschutes (324), Douglas (60), Gilliam (1), Grant (10), Harney (11), Hood River (48), Jackson (153), Jefferson (44), Josephine (49), Klamath (54), Lake (4), Lane (275), Lincoln (28), Linn (236), Malheur (34), Marion (333), Morrow (8), Multnomah (477), Polk (41), Sherman (2), Tillamook (7), Umatilla (80), Union (46), Wallowa (20), Wasco (39), Washington (320), Wheeler (3) and Yamhill (81).

The eight new deaths and 3,286 new cases reported today include data recorded by counties for the 3-day period between Friday, Oct. 1 and Sunday, Oct. 3. The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 769, which is two more than day prior. There are 207 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit beds, which is six more than day prior. There are 61 available adult ICU beds out of 687 total (9% availability) and 351 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,216 (8% availability).

Klamath County reported 54 cases of Covid during the time period specified.  Jackson County had over 140.

Sky Lakes reported late yesterday afternoon they are starting the week at capacity.  because Facebook was down for most of the day, they were late posting yesterday;s graphic, which states 27 patients are hospitalized with Covid in Klamath Falls, 5 of those listed in intensive care.

In addition to sharing the graphics on Facebook and Twitter, the graphic is always available on the Sky Lakes website.

You can see the latest COVID-19 inpatient status graphic and the county vaccination rates at skylakes.org/covid-19/. Sky Lakes says of the 27 patients hospitalized, only 5 are considered vaccinated.

Members of the Klamath Art Association, celebrating its 75th year, invites the public to its October exhibit showcasing the art of Sarah Robison.

The imaginative and multi-colored exhibit will be open from October 1 to October 31 at the Klamath Art Gallery, located on historic Maple Park at 120 Riverside Drive, at the south end of the Link River “birding trail.” 

Robison grew up in McKinleyville, on the North Coast of California, and as a child, was always engaged in something creative. Whether it was photography, painting, or making paper papier-mâché sculptures, art has always been a part of her life. Robison received her Bachelor of Fine Art with a photography emphasis in 2013 from BYU, Idaho. She discovered the medium of alcohol ink late 2017, instantly became entranced, and has been working with it ever since.

Robison’s first solo show was in January 2020 in Yakima, Washington, at Gilbert Cellars. The majority of her pieces are created with alcohol ink, along with resin, and some mixed media. Alcohol ink is a fluid art form and so she moves the inks around with various tools to create the forms and compositions as the ink dries.

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Oregon News Update

Takedown of Lane County Drug Trafficking Cell Leads to Largest Seizure of Methamphetamine in Oregon State History

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EUGENE, OR.—On September 15, 2021, a coordinated law enforcement operation targeting the leader and several associates of a Lane County drug trafficking cell led to the seizure of 384 pounds of methamphetamine, the largest single methamphetamine seizure in Oregon State history and valued at over a million dollars.

The operation, led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with assistance from the Springfield Police Department, Eugene Police Department, and Linn Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (LINE) came after the cell’s leader, Martin Manzo-Negrete aka Javier Cardenas-Manzo, a 47-year-old Eugene resident, was charged by federal criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Manzo-Negrete has a long history of drug trafficking and previously served 14 years in federal prison.

Manzo-Negrete was arrested during the operation and made his first appearance in federal court on September 16, 2021. He was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.

Four of Manzo-Negrete’s associates were also arrested and are facing federal drug charges. They include Eugene residents Gustavo Manzo-Mares, 45; Candice L. Barrett, 52; John C. Willis, 59; and Nathan Lee Daniels, 46. A fifth associate, Frank Buehler, 52, also of Eugene, has been charged, but remains at large.

As part of the operation, law enforcement executed federal search warrants at multiple locations in Lane County. In addition to methamphetamine, they seized 14 firearms—some of which were stolen—and more than $76,000 in cash.

DEA and the Eugene Police Department Street Crimes Unit began investigating the Manzo-Mares cell in October 2020 for its role in trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine from California to Oregon for resale in and around Lane County. The drug trafficking organization transported large quantities of methamphetamine by car from Southern California to Oregon. Once in Oregon, the drugs were stored, divided, and then distributed into the community.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement. This case was investigated by the DEA with assistance from Springfield Police Department, Eugene Police Department Street Crimes Unit, and LINE. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Huynh is prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. — U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon

Serial Killer Dies in Oregon Prison

A serial killer who murdered at least three people during the 1990s has died in prison, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections. 53-year-old Sebastian Shaw, who was serving three life sentences at the state penitentiary, died on the morning of October 3.

Police in California first arrested Shaw in 1994 on suspicion of burglary, but he was released in spite of investigators’ discovery of a “murder kit” and several weapons in the stolen vehicle. It wasn’t until 1998 that DNA evidence linked Shaw to the 1992 killings of 18-year-old Donna Ferguson and 29-year-old Todd Rudiger.

He was eventually convicted of those two murders, the attempted murder of 18-year-old Amanda Carpova, and a third, the 1991 killing 40-year-old Jay Rickbeil. All three murders occurred in the Portland area, all of them killed in the same way.

While in prison, Shaw allegedly told another inmate that he was responsible for more murders, as many as a dozen, but follow-up from detectives did not result in any further convictions.

Couple Found Dead After Boat Washes Ashore  Near Nedonna Beach

Authorities say two bodies were found in the water after a sailboat washed up south of Manzanita on the Oregon coast.

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Calls came in about a sailboat tossing around in the surf at Nedonna Beach around 6:50 p.m. Sunday. The U.S. Coast Guard sent a helicopter to the scene and found two bodies in the water.

The Coast Guard says one of the bodies was found near a dinghy and the other was found under the boat.

The Coast Guard identified one of the bodies as that of a woman. The 42-foot sailboat washed up at Nedonna Beach, just north of Rockaway Beach, on Sunday night. The name of the sailboat was Bagheera.

USDA Buys Oregon Seafood

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will buy more than 16-million dollars of Pacific seafood, giving Oregon’s seafood industry a boost. The purchase includes nine-million dollars of Pacific whiting fillets, four-million dollars of Pacific rockfish fillets, and four-million dollars in Pacific salad shrimp.

This follows a 46-million dollar Pacific seafood purchase in May.

Oregon Wolf Travels to Ventura County California

Wildlife officials confirm a gray wolf has traveled all the way from Oregon to Northern Ventura County, California marking the farthest south in the Golden State one of the animals has made it in 99 years.

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The last time it happened, a gray wolf was captured in San Bernardino County in 1922. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife received reports of wolf sightings in Ventura County three times between September 20th and 26th. Officials went to investigate, and confirmed there were wolf tracks in areas where the sightings took place. The wolf has traveled nearly one-thousand-miles through California.

Gray wolves are listed as endangered in California, so the wolf in question is believed to be OR-93, who was born in 2019 fitted with a purple tracking collar by Oregon’s Fish & Wildlife officials in June 2020. OR-93’s collar stopped transmitting in April of this year, but while it was working, authorities tracked him entering Modoc County, at the northern border of California, and making his way into Fresno County by late March. His last collar transmission was from San Luis Obispo County on April 5.

The collar transmission indicates that OR-93 traveled at least 935 air miles in California, a minimum average of 16 air miles per day, according to Fish & Wildlife officials.

Wolves pose very little safety risk to humans, but can be confused with coyotes. Fish & Wildlife officials say gray wolves are generally much bigger than coyotes, and it is against the law to harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, or capture one. Sightings of a gray wolf can be reported online to the CDFW.

Three ODF districts in western Oregon are ending their fire season on Tuesday, Oct. 5

Three Oregon Department of Forestry districts in western Oregon are declaring an end to their local fire season and dropping industrial fire precaution restrictions starting Tuesday, Oct. 5. The three are West Oregon, Western Lane and South Cascade districts. They serve Lane, Benton, Lincoln, Polk, and the southern part of Linn and Yamhill counties.

Recent rains in the district have reduced fire danger to low as have shorter day lengths and cooler temperatures. District officials caution that people should still exercise care when planning any outdoor burning as fires can escape control even outside of fire season.

Although fire danger levels have dropped around most of Oregon, fire season remains in effect in all other ODF districts pending further improvement in their local fire-risk conditions.

Bus Driver Shortage Affecting Medford Schools

The Medford School District is experiencing a bus driver staffing shortage and that crisis is having a negative effect on students and families in the district.

Medford School District Superintendent Bret Champion said the district has 98 bus drivers when it is fully staffed and right now it has just over half that number.

“We are truly in crisis, having to change routes,” Champion said. “Any extracurricular game or event or field trip or any of those pieces that are happening during the day, we just can’t do them right now because we need all of our drivers to do our school route.”

Champion said they’ve moved many extracurricular activities to the weekend because they can’t spare bus drivers during the week. In mid-September, a South Medford freshman football game, scheduled for a Friday, needed to be canceled because they didn’t have enough available bus drivers to make the trip.

Champion said the district has made two major adaptations to deal with the shortage. “We have put out an appeal to parents to, if they can drive, if they’re able to drive, or if their student is able to safely walk, then please please please please do that,” Champion said.

To further encourage parents to drive their kids to and from school, Medford School District has offered to reimburse parents for their gas money for carpooling students. Leah Thompson, the district’s communications specialist, confirmed that no parents have asked for reimbursement so far this school year.

The district has also extended its “walk-to-stop” distance, or the close distance to school that disqualifies students from getting a bus ride, by a couple of blocks.

Champion said they’re brainstorming solutions to the bus driver shortage, and a few superintendents suggested to the Oregon Department of Education that they use the National Guard to drive school buses, similar to what’s being done this school year in Massachusetts.

“The problem is that the National Guard has been deployed and they’re in our hospitals. And that’s where they currently are being used,” Champion said. “So until we get that surge taken care of, that’s not even an option. But certainly, we are searching for solutions.”

When asked why there is currently such a bus driver shortage, Champion said he did not know the cause. “I’ll be honest, I don’t know what the — I heard it referred to as the ‘great resignation’ recently,” Champion said. “I don’t know all the causes of it. All I know is that it’s impacting our ability to do our jobs well here in the Medford School District.”

Champion said, the extension of unemployment benefits and pandemic uncertainty could be contributing factors to the bus driver shortage.

“I think there is just, nationwide, this question of, ‘What do I want to do with my life, what does that look like?’ Champion said. “And so we’re seeing some of those ramifications here in the district.”

Champion said they are now offering “great” hiring incentives for school bus drivers. They are giving signing bonuses between $4,000 and $6,500 to become a driver, and they are offering a starting wage of $20 per hour.

Champion said, despite the staffing setbacks, they have not had to leave any students at their bus stop or at school. He said on occasion, they have needed bus drivers to do “double-runs,” meaning taking a second trip back around to pick up students from their bus stop or from school.

Another concern Champion mentioned, is the bus driver shortage possibly getting worse after the October 18th deadline for all school staff members to have their COVID-19 vaccinations.

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