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Klamath Basin News, Friday, 10/15 – Fire at Jeld-Wen’s Thomas Lumber Extinguished and Under Investigation

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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.

Friday, October 15 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 71. Calm wind southwest around 5 mph.

Saturday Sunny, with a high near 77.
Sunday A 30% chance of rain after 11am, otherwise partly sunny, with a high near 64. Snow level 6100 feet lowering to 4800 feet after midnight . Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Monday Partly sunny, with a high near 52.
Tuesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 60.

Today’s Headlines

Authorities are continuing to investigate how a structure fire started at a lumber mill on Lakeport Boulevard in Klamath Falls.

The Klamath County Fire District No. 1 fire marshal was on scene — Jeld Wen’s Thomas Lumber — Thursday morning investigating the scene, said Chief Greg Davis.

The fire impacted “drying kilns” on the property, Davis said. Prior to the fire, there was “alterations” being done to a couple of the kilns where there was some “cutting and welding being done.” There were no reported injuries, he said. Emergency responders got reports of fire venting through the roof at 7:59 p.m. Wednesday.

The initial response included a battalion chief, four engines, a ladder truck and ambulance, Davis said. Additional resources were called in soon after that. Neighbors report seeing large flames and lots of smoke emanating from the site. 

The Jeld-Wen campus on Lakeport includes a sawmill, lumber yard, a wood component manufacturing plant and a facility that makes wooden doors, as well as nearby offices and research facilities.

Sky Lakes Medical Center announced yesterday that they are at capacity, with a high number of COVID-19 inpatients requiring intensive care.  

This is the highest number of COVID patients requiring intensive care since they began tracking and publishing this data back in August. 26 total patients are hospitalized, seven of those in the ICU. Only one of the 26 patients is vaccinated.

Oregon reports 1,237 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 24 new deaths

There are 24 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 4,141, the Oregon Health Authority reported today. Oregon Health Authority reported 1,237 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of today, bringing the state total to 347,616.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (11), Benton (26), Clackamas (87), Clatsop (7), Columbia (8), Coos (27), Crook (37), Curry (3), Deschutes (136), Douglas (39), Grant (10), Harney (13), Hood River (10), Jackson (56), Jefferson (21), Josephine (16), Klamath (48), Lake (6), Lane (93), Lincoln (11), Linn (22), Malheur (33), Marion (98), Morrow (4), Multnomah (132), Polk (37), Tillamook (6), Umatilla (75), Union (11), Wallowa (7), Wasco (25), Washington (88), Wheeler (5) and Yamhill (29).

COVID-19 hospitalizations

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 575, which is 20 fewer than yesterday. There are 146 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is one more than yesterday.

There are 56 available adult ICU beds out of 685 total (8% availability) and 289 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,094 (7% availability). 

The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity.

Oregon has now administered 3,144,034 doses of Pfizer Comirnaty, 1,926,449 doses of Moderna and 221,987 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

As of today, 2,779,073 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,563,481 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.

Klamath Basin Behavioral Health and Sky Lakes Medical Center today officially launched The Link Access Center, a collaborative behavioral health and sobering center in Klamath Falls.  

The Link Access Center is now open and offers walk-in behavioral health services 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and voluntary sobering services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is located at 1501 Foster Ave., on the Klamath Works campus.

The Link Access Center, a collaborative project between Klamath Basin Behavioral Health and Sky Lakes Medical Center, provides a service entry point for individuals suffering from mental health and addiction challenges, and is designed to remove barriers to engaging in local behavioral health services. Collaboration at the new facility also includes staffing and operations support from The Klamath Tribes to ensure culturally responsive and best practice services for the Tribal community.

Around the state of Oregon

Officials said on Wednesday that around 50% of the roughly 4,500 employees at the Oregon Department of Corrections are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The DOC has approved exemptions for nearly 16% of its workforce, or 713 employees, which corrections officials said were mostly for religions reasons, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

The reported vaccination rate comes just before an executive order signed by Gov. Kate Brown goes into place Oct. 18, which requires some state employees to either be fully vaccinated, request an exemption, or risk losing employment. Correctional officers were among the earliest groups in the state to get access to COVID-19 vaccines because they work in settings where the coronavirus can spread easily.

A new ski pass that allows people who pay more to bypass most chairlift lines at Mt. Bachelor in Bend is causing concern among skiers, snowboarders and Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden over equity issues.

The pass, called Fast Tracks, starts at $49 and allows buyers to use a dedicated lane at each chairlift. Mt. Bachelor calls the pass an “upgradable experience” — on top of buying a ski/snowboard ticket — that allows for more ski runs each day. Leigh Capozzi, brand and communications director at Mt. Bachelor, said she anticipates the limited quantity sold will mean minimal impact on wait times. Skiers and snowboarders in the Facebook group, Mt. Bachelor Conditions, have said the new pass is unfair for people who can’t afford it and will make wait times longer in regular chairlift lines.

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Jackson County Declares Emergency Over Illegal Marijuana

While Jackson County officials were declaring a local state of emergency on Wednesday morning, precipitated by the proliferation of unlicensed marijuana grows in southern Oregon, investigators from Jackson County’s marijuana task force were in the process of raiding a facility west of Medford suspected of being the very same.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the facility raided on Wednesday had applied for permits to legally grow marijuana, but it never obtained them.

Regardless, cannabis plants were everywhere in evidence — planted in rows outside on the property, hanging from netting to dry inside large warehouses, and stacked within columns of identical storage containers. There were about 35 workers detained inside once investigators had accounted for everyone. Some of the “larger players” were immediately taken into custody, while other workers were detained on-site.

NewsWatch 12 saw three people cuffed and apparently taken into custody. After detaining the workers, officers and detectives from other agencies were called in to process the site. Investigators sifted through the marijuana in various stages of processing, tested samples, then destroyed it.

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Police say a group of 100 anarchists went on a rampage through downtown Portland Tuesday night causing over 500-thousand dollars in damage.

They smashed windows, damaged ATMs, started fires, and spray painted graffiti. There was damage at 35 locations. Police responded and broke up the crowd. No arrests were made, but police are working to identify suspects and they’ll make arrests later. The group had gathered to hold a memorial to honor an activist who was killed two years ago.

Oregon Employment Department – Helping Oregonians Get Back to Work

WorkSource Oregon centers offer a variety of services to help Oregonians get back to work. The centers refer people to jobs, connect job seekers to resources that reduce barriers to returning to work, help people explore career options and training opportunities, assist with iMatchSkills® and work search requirements, and more. 

Last week’s Hiring Heroes for Healthcare statewide virtual job fair was a success, with more than 50 employers and 300 job seekers attending.

Here are just a few highlights of upcoming WorkSource Oregon events:

  • WorkSource Oregon – Newport is hosting a job fair 1:30 -3:30 p.m., Wed., Oct. 20.
  • Drive-thru job fair hiring events are scheduled Oct. 20-21 for job seekers in Clatskanie, Rainier and Vernonia.
  • Walk’n’Talk in Hillsboro is focusing on manufacturing careers on Oct. 20 and Oct. 27 at the Hillsboro Brookwood Library.
  • WorkSource Oregon is partnering with LinkedIn to host a profile workshop to help job seekers boost their online presence. From 9 – 10 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 21, LinkedIn expert Cecily Hastings will give job seekers tips and tricks to optimize their profile so employers come to them. Nearly 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn, and job seekers are hired two times faster on their site.

Economic Update

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that U.S. employers added 194,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in September. That would have been a typical number of jobs to add in a month prior to the pandemic. However, that 194,000 was a slowdown from the 366,000 jobs U.S. employers added in August, and significantly lower than the nearly 1.1 million jobs added in July. Employers still have five million fewer jobs than before the pandemic recession.

Leisure and hospitality – which includes jobs at hotels, restaurants, bars, and entertainment places – added the most jobs (74,000) in September. Public K-12 schools and universities fell 161,000 jobs short of their typical hiring as they struggled to find enough workers as the school year started. Health care lost 18,000 jobs in September.

There are three broad parts of the health care sector. They include ambulatory health care services (such as doctor’s and health practitioners’ offices); hospitals; and nursing and residential care facilities. Nationwide, ambulatory health care services has recovered 99.7% (all but 4,700) of the jobs lost in the spring of 2020. At the same time, hospitals are still down 93,000 jobs compared to February 2020, having only regained 28% of jobs lost in the recession. Nursing and residential care facilities have generally continued to lose jobs since the pandemic began. The industry has 426,000 fewer jobs than it did before the recession.

Oregon has seen some similar trends in the health care sector. As of August, ambulatory care jobs had increased by 3,100 during the past year. Meanwhile, hospitals saw small gains (300 jobs) during the past year, and employment at nursing and residential care facilities dropped by 1,300 jobs.

While the pace of job growth has slowed in the U.S., the number of job openings remains near record highs. There were 10.4 million unfilled jobs nationwide at the end of August. The number of people who quit their jobs hit a new record high at 4.3 million, or almost 3% of the workforce. At hotels, bars, restaurants, and entertainment places, almost 7% of the workforce quit in August.

The Employment Department will release information about Oregon’s unemployment rate and jobs numbers for September next Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 10 a.m. Next week, we also expect to have our quarterly job vacancy release, with new information about job openings in Oregon from July to September.

Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation receives $18.2 million federal grant to help students with disabilities advance their careers

  • Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is awarded $18.2 million for a new project called Inclusive Career Advancement Program, or ICAP  
  • The program will serve 500 people with disabilities, with intentional outreach being made to marginalized communities  
  • Oregon’s 17 community colleges as well as workforce development partners across the state will participate 

The Oregon Department of Human Services’ Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is one of eight programs across the nation that has been awarded the Disability Innovation Fund (DIF) Program grant. VR received $18.2 million to plan, develop and implement the Inclusive Career Advancement Program (ICAP) project. 

“Thank you to our federal partners for seeing the potential in the ICAP project to increase access to career advancement for people with disabilities,” says Keith Ozols, VR Director. “We are excited to work with partners across the workforce development system to achieve equal economic opportunity for all.”  

ICAP will leverage Oregon’s current statewide network of career pathway services to advance educational and economic equity for people with disabilities, with intentional outreach and inclusion of marginalized communities. ICAP will braid the supports and services of VR, Self-Sufficiency Programs, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act workforce partners, and Oregon Commission for the Blind (OCB) with the three interrelated and foundational initiatives of Oregon’s 17 community colleges. These three initiatives are:  

  • Career Pathways  
  • SNAP Training and Employment Program  
  • Pathways to Opportunities  

As a leader in these initiatives, Portland Community College (PCC) will serve as the intermediary between core partners and community colleges.  

This new project will serve 500 people with disabilities to help them get support and services needed to reach their career goals, advance in their career and ultimately reach their career potential. The project will be student-centered, evidence-based and reflect the latest research on workforce development. With equity at the forefront, VR will focus on doing intentional outreach to those who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Color with disabilities about ICAP.  

Cornell University will evaluate the project’s implementation and performance to determine efficacy of ICAP practices and strategies. These findings will be shared nationally to expand access and opportunities for people with disabilities to enter and be supported in their career goals.  

Oregon Democrats In Congress Want Answers From Gov. Brown On Treatment Of National Guard

Oregon’s Democrats in Congress want answers from the governor about the alleged mistreatment of Oregon National Guard troops deployed to assist with the state’s COVID response.

In a letter to Gov. Brown and Major General Michael E. Stencel, the lawmakers “called attention to reports they’ve received from ORNG members regarding mismanagement, lack of organization, delay of benefits and pay, and failure to pay ORNG members what they are owed. These reports indicate a potentially disturbing pattern of mistreatment during this recent ORNG deployment.”

The letter was sent by senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Reps. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici – all Democrats.

“ORNG Members are fellow Oregonians who give their time and sacrifice to serve our communities in times of need. Many ORNG Members have full-time jobs, families, and other responsibilities that they willingly pause in order to serve their fellow Oregonians,” the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers have “requested a detailed response from the state on how it will address the issues and called on leaders to immediately rectify the reported accounts.”

“The 20-Dollar Art Show” Comes to the High Desert Museum

BEND, OR — In the fall of 2013, Bright Place Gallery in Bend debuted The 20-Dollar Art Show as a vehicle for artists to share their art with the public in a low-pressure setting where they could build confidence selling art. The Gallery did not take a commission. The artist kept 100 percent of sales and the art show was a success for all. 

Fast-forward to 2019. The annual show displayed more than 2,100 pieces of art from 120 local and regional artists, amateur and professional. On opening night, 900 pieces sold in three hours for $20 each. Like many beloved events, the COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on the thriving local art show. Now, The 20-Dollar Art Show is returning and moving to the spacious gallery walls of the High Desert Museum. 

“We are thrilled to move this event to the Museum,” said Bright Place Gallery owner Stuart Breidenstein. “The 20-Dollar Art Show had grown beyond the walls of the Bright Place Gallery, and the Museum allows us the opportunity to make it bigger and better.”

At this year’s opening event on Saturday, October 30 beginning at 5:00 pm, participants will enter the High Desert Museum through the large meadow. The snaking line will allow for physical distancing, and face coverings will be required both inside and outside of the Museum. A limited number of participants will be allowed inside the Museum at a time to provide for adequate spacing indoors.

Participants will be required to show upon arrival proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours and a photo ID. Those under 12 years of age are welcome without a vaccination card or negative test.

Art lovers may begin lining up at the Museum’s meadow entrance at 4:00 pm. While guests wait, local poet and artist MOsley WOtta will MC the event, with special guest Killy Holiday. The event takes place the day before Halloween and participants are encouraged to wear costumes. Participants should come prepared for the elements, rain or shine.

Local artist Monica Helms has shown her colorful, impressionistic work since the show’s inception. She witnessed the show go from a handful of artists and patrons to hundreds of fellow art lovers and buyers waiting in long lines for their chance to view and purchase artwork.

The 20-Dollar Art Show is pure inspiration and joy, the perfect catalyst for creativity and growth,” said Helms. “I’m so excited that the show is going to be at the High Desert Museum this year. It’s a perfect venue for an incredible community-inclusive art event. I couldn’t think of a more perfect combo.”

Other popular local artists creating work for The 20-Dollar Art Show include Abby Dubief, Amanda Toms, Evan Namkung and more than 100 other local and regional artists.

Art will become available to take home starting Monday, November 1. Buyers may pick up their purchases during Museum hours, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm daily, through the show’s closing on Wednesday, November 10. Artwork is for sale throughout the duration of the show and each $20 piece directly supports the artist.

Tickets for The 20-Dollar Art Show Opening Night Party are available for $5 from the High Desert Museum at highdesertmuseum.org/20-art-show-opening-night-partyThe 20-Dollar Art Show (highdesertmuseum.org/20-dollar-art-show) closes Wednesday, November 10.

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In November, the state of Oregon will fall back to standard time as always. Didn’t we change the law so we don’t ever have to go back to standard time?

Well, it turns out we haven’t quite gotten to the end of our twice-yearly-self-imposed-sleep-disruption just yet. Oregon, like several other states, has signed permanent daylight saving time legislation, based on the opinion of many experts that time changes are actually dangerous, increasing rates of things like car accidents and heart attacks. But we are all still waiting on the federal government to act before the states can make it official.

In March, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, co-sponsored the Sunshine Protection Act, which was reintroduced by U.S, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who originally introduced it in 2019.

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