Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 11/23 – Sky Lakes Operating at Covid Capacity Level Today, Heading Into The Holiday Weekend

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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, November 23, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 44. West northwest wind around 13 mph, gusty at times. Overnight, clear with a low of just 14 degrees.

Wednesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 46. Calm wind.
Thursday, Thanksgiving Day Mostly sunny, high near 54.
Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 56.Clear overnight witha low around 33.
Sunday Sunny, with a high near 56.

Today’s Headlines

Oregon reports 1,753 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 103 new deaths

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (4), Benton (29), Clackamas (204), Clatsop (12), Columbia (35), Coos (29), Crook (10), Curry (4), Deschutes (190), Douglas (58), Harney (6), Hood River (9), Jackson (105), Jefferson (17), Josephine (38), Klamath (19), Lake (2), Lane (145), Lincoln (53), Linn (99), Malheur (2), Marion (123), Morrow (10), Multnomah (288), Polk (31), Tillamook (7), Umatilla (16), Union (4), Wallowa (1), Wasco (1), Washington (168), Wheeler (1) and Yamhill (33). 

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 395, which is eight fewer than yesterday. There are 86 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is five fewer than yesterday.

There are 74 available adult ICU beds out of 682 total (11% availability) and 354 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,043 (9% availability).

“As we head into the second Thanksgiving holiday since the start of the pandemic, too many Oregon families will see empty chairs around their holiday dinner tables, making this latest tragic milestone all the more heartbreaking,” shared Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen.  

Read Director Allen’s full statement on the state’s COVID-19 related deaths surpassing 5,000. 

Sky Lakes Medical Center is operating at capacity level today. The hospital reports 17 Covid-19 inpatients, with only three of those patients vaccinated.  Three are in the ICU.

The Conquer Covid in Klamath campaign announces its winner for the week. David Wiles of Klamath Falls won $2,500.00.

David 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 a brand new Snowblower, a propane firepit and a $500 Gift Certificate. 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. There is nothing to buy and no charge whatsoever to enter. The site also lists prizes, rules and vaccination sites.

Samantha Huber sentenced 30 months in prison for hitting pedestrian in the Fred Meyer parking lot, Oct. 8th.

A Klamath Falls woman was sentenced to 30 months in prison after allegedly hitting and injuring a pedestrian in the Fred Meyer parking lot and then speeding away. 

On Oct. 8, Samantha Huber, 33, was driving through the Fred Meyer parking lot “at a dangerous speed,” before hitting the victim and fleeing the scene, the Klamath County District Attorney’s Office said in a release Friday. 

Witnesses reported that Huber then drove around the victim and fled at a high rate of speed,  The victim suffered a concussion, bruised ribs and various scrapes and bruises. Huber had previously left treatment without authorization and an active warrant out for her arrest at the time of the accident, the release said.

Huber had been charged several times for unlawful use of methamphetamines, according to court documents filed in Klamath and Jackson counties. 

As the Bootleg Fire raged through the Sprague River watershed in mid-July, Joe Garrett and Nate Ganong feared the old ranch they had purchased last fall would burn up before they had the chance to transform it into the wildlife preserve they both envisioned.

Winds reaching speeds of 50 mph roared over Bailey Flat, north of Bly, causing fire crews to begin evacuating. But then, right as the flames reached the property line, the wind suddenly died down.

The meadow and surrounding uplands along the North Fork Sprague remain largely green, while the trees just upstream stand toasted and torched. Garrett said the stars have aligned in more ways than one on this 912-acre property, now called Harmony Preserve.

He and Ganong — both avid fly fishermen — purchased it last October and have been working with Trout Unlimited and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore its land and water. While Harmony Preserve is largely a private fishing getaway for the current Bay Area residents, both of whom have roots in the Klamath Basin, it’s also an exceptional opportunity to provide habitat for fish and wildlife, naturally store water and even capture eroded sediment from the Bootleg Fire scar.

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Dressed professionally and feeling confident, emerging leaders from various high schools in Southern Oregon competed in the District III DECA competition at Oregon Tech.

The event featured DECA role plays on a business situation judged by volunteers from Klamath Falls and a multiple choice test. DECA, an acronym for Distributive Education Clubs of America, helps high schoolers develop leadership skills and obtain experiences in the areas of marketing, business, hospitality, and many more.

DECA competitions are composed of specific industries in which students can choose to compete. 126 students from Klamath Union High School (KU), Henley High School, North Medford High School, South Medford High School, Crater High School, and Phoenix High School competed.

Around the state of Oregon

The Oregon Supreme Court on Monday dismissed two challenges filed by Republicans to new state legislative districts approved by the Legislature in September.

The lawmakers passed new legislative and congressional boundaries that included a new, sixth U.S. House seat.

The ruling Monday was specifically about the 90 state legislative districts that will likely enable Democrats to continue to hold majorities in the House and Senate but will not guarantee the party the three-fifths supermajorities it currently holds.

Republicans throughout the redistricting process accused Democrats of gerrymandering. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that in petitions challenging the maps, Republicans alleged that Democratic lawmakers drew districts for partisan political gain and to help incumbents.

In its ruling the Supreme Court said the GOP failed to show that the new districts violated state law. This contentious redistricting year was marked by a broken power-sharing deal.

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OSP Fish & Wildlife is seeking public assistance with poaching case. 

According to Oregon State Police, the buck was located near Pair A Dice Ranch Road on Nov. 20 2021.  The Trooper who located the buck says the animal had a large mortal wound on its right side and accident caused a large blood trail. OSP believes  a vehicle made a sudden stop angling toward the buck. As of right now police have not discovered any bullets or casings.  

The Oregon State Police is requesting public assistance with information about this case. Any person with information related to this incident is encouraged to call the OSP TIP (Turn-In-Poachers) Reward line at 1-800-452-7888.

The drought in the western United States is so severe that it’s now getting frequent headlines in the east, where rainfall has been plentiful.

The latest report zeroes in on Idaho Power’s efforts to prove the worth of its two-decade-long cloud-seeding program for southern Idaho and eastern Oregon.

The private utility estimates its cloud-seeding operation results in about “600,000 acre-feet of additional water in the Payette, Boise and Wood River basins as well as over 400,000 acre-feet of additional water each year in the upper Snake River basin.”

Much of Idaho and Oregon are facing dire drought conditions. You’ve probably heard about cloud seeding now and again over the years. Scientists discovered way back in the 1940s that injecting silver iodide into certain winter storm clouds appeared to prompt more rainfall, and various states and countries have been doing this for years to increase mountain snowpack.

If your holiday travel plans this year include heading over the mountains make sure to use extra caution and watch out for changing weather.

We always need to be especially alert when traveling over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. But wet weather and the potential for snow at higher elevations this year could spell problems.

AAA Oregon/Idaho projects 652,000 Oregonians will hit the road over the Thanksgiving holiday this year, an increase over 2020 and close to 2019 pre-pandemic levels. That’s a lot of vehicles on the road, especially on the busy holiday weekend travel days Wednesday and Sunday.

Holiday travelers on Interstate 84 should expect rolling slowdowns Wednesday in both directions between Cascade Locks and Memaloose State Park, east of Mosier, between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. These slowdowns create 20-minute windows with no traffic during rock blasting for the new 655-foot Mitchell Point Tunnel. The Wednesday work is the only scheduled slowdown during the Thanksgiving weekend.

If there’s snow, ODOT’s current staffing shortages mean we may need a little more time to clear roads. This is a continuation of a trend we saw last year. We’re working hard to fill vacant positions and will shift resources as needed when we see significant snow on our roads.

And remember that Oregon and Oregon State will play football in Eugene on Nov. 27, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Expect slow traffic along Interstate 5 Saturday in the Willamette Valley both before and after the 12:30 p.m. game.

Here are some travel tips for the weekend.

  • Know before you go. Visit com and find out conditions all along your route, start to finish.
  • Remember that many Tripcheck cameras include temperature, elevation and other critical details about road conditions.
  • Drive for conditions. Rain, snow, or extra traffic – slow down and give space for stopping time.
  • Keep your vehicle in good operating shape, checking brakes, lights, tires and wipers regularly.
  • Watch out for bicyclists and pedestrians. In wintry conditions, visibility drops.
  • Pay attention to roadside message signs. They contain critical information about conditions on the road ahead.
  • Use patience, wear your seat belt, pay attention to conditions and keep a sober driver behind the wheel to help ensure a safe arrival for holiday activities.

SALEM, Oregon – Spice up your holiday gift giving this season by selecting from three new parking permit designs. The new permit hangtag designs feature the whimsical work of Portland artist El Tran.

Holiday shoppers can buy the annual parking permits for only $25 each–that’s $5 off the regular price of $30, Dec. 1-31.

“Give the gift of unlimited access to Oregon’s state parks during our 100th anniversary in 2022,” said Lisa Sumption, director of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). “The new permit designs showcase iconic park views, plants and animals, and the visitors who cherish state parks.”

Purchasing passes is easy–buy them online at store.oregonstateparks.org. Parking permits are also sold at some state park friends’ group stores and selected local businesses throughout the state. For a complete list of vendors, visit stateparks.oregon.gov.

Parking costs $5 a day at 25 Oregon state parks unless you have a 12- or 24-month parking permit or a same-day camping receipt. The 24-month pass is $50 and are also available at store.oregonstateparks.org. The permits are transferable from vehicle to vehicle.

Oregon State Parks are primarily funded by camping and day-use fees, the Oregon Lottery, and a portion of state recreational vehicle registrations.

State health officials take steps to bolster Oregon’s healthcare workforce

State health officials have expanded measures to ease staffing constraints among Oregon’s health care workforce, maintain adequate staffing through the end of the year, and support health care workers.

This fall, Oregon has spent more than $140 million to help health care workers.

Hospitals, clinic and other health care programs continue to grapple with the strains of a recent surge as the Delta variant rages among unvaccinated people. While new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are expected to decline in coming weeks and months, hospital beds remain in high demand across the state. State health experts remain cautious in the face of case increases elsewhere in the nation and the coming holidays, when many people will gather indoors.

Oregon has extended the term of approximately 1,000 crisis response and other medical personnel for understaffed hospitals throughout the state, which was set to expire today, Nov. 22, 2021. Governor Brown approved a contract extension with Jogan Staffing through mid-January 2022. The contract will cover pediatric and adult behavioral healthcare residential treatment programs, emergency staffing for hospitals with acute COVID-related needs, emergency medical services, long-term care facilities, vaccine hubs, homes for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other programs. To date, Oregon has spent more than $90 million to provide emergency staffing needs across the state.

Governor Brown approved continued Oregon National Guard deployments to the understaffed hospital missions and the Oregon State Hospital through the end of December. Guard members who have been serving at the hospital have a two-week break from Nov. 14 to Dec. 1, 2021, but will return to serve until Dec. 31, 2021.

The steps taken this week are part of larger efforts to support the state’s behavioral health workforce, which has long been understaffed and, like the healthcare workforce in every state, has experienced increased resignations due to compassion fatigue, increased pressure, and childcare issues throughout the pandemic

Oregon has made more than $50 million available to behavioral health providers in recent months, as a surge in COVID-19 cases, driven by the Delta variant, impacted the workforce while the demand for mental health and substance use treatment increased.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has awarded $6 million in grants available with an additional $9 million being provided soon to help behavioral health residential providers retain direct service staff. Funds can be used to pay for: hiring and retention bonuses for current, newly hired, or returning staff for up to $2,000 per staff person; additional staff for supervision or relief shifts and other investments to improve working conditions.

In addition, the state has paid approximately $30 million in vacancy payments to residential behavioral health programs to ease financial burdens due to the inadequate staffing and social distancing challenges that providers have confronted during the pandemic. These payments will go through Dec. 31, 2021, and Oregon is considering an extension. The state is requesting to extend a 10 percent rate increase for residential treatment programs through the end of the year. To date, Oregon has expended approximately $13 million in funds in temporary rate increases.

Steve Allen, OHA’s Director of Behavioral Health, said: “Counselors and other workers in behavioral health programs across Oregon are a lifeline for people and families grappling with depression, substance use and many other issues. They do lifesaving work every day. We owe them our gratitude and support. We’re doing everything we can to recognize and reward their vital work.”

Structure Fire In Josephine County Believed To Be A Marijuana Drying Facility

Illinois Valley Fire District, Rural Metro Fire Department and AMR responded to a reported structure fire behind the Holiday Motel on Redwood Hwy early Sunday morning.

As crews from the fire district, Grants Pass Fire and Rescue, and AMR fought the flames, officials discovered hemp and marijuana plants.

John Holmes, the Fire Chief for IVFD sayss “We’re not sure if it was a legal or illegal grow but it looked like a drying operation with all of the marijuana or hemp that was inside.”

Marijuana drying is a common procedure practiced in Southern Oregon by people in the cannabis industry during the late fall and early winter months.

Processes for marijuana could include flammable materials like butane and propane, which have a history across the use of leading to fires erupting.

The 40×60 building was fully involved with fire. The fire was contained to the building and brush area surrounding the structure.

Safety officer and water operations were established and the fire was mitigated with extensive mop up. No civilian or fire personnel injuries were reported. The fire scene was flagged and units were clear. The fire is currently under investigation.

Oregon State Treasury Auctioning Off Contents Of Unclaimed Safe Deposit Boxes

The Oregon State Treasury hopes you’ll see what Oregonians have left inside their old safe deposit boxes this Black Friday.

Pre-bidding for the state’s Online Auction of Unclaimed Property is happening now until 11 a.m. on Black Friday. That’s when the live auction kicks off, hosted by Capitol Auction & Estate Services.

The auction will feature 89 lots of unclaimed property, items once cherished but now unclaimed or forgotten. Included in the auction is a five-piece silver coin set featuring members of the Portland Trail Blazers’ 1990-91 team. There are also gold watches, silver bars, collectable stamps and graded baseball cards.

“We’ve had these for almost four years now and the banks had them for two to five years before they send them to us,” said Claudia Ciobanu, trust property director at the Oregon State Treasury. “So at some point it’s just unmanageable to hang on to all of them, but our preference is that we give the owners their contents intact.”

Past auctions have fetched $120,000. Money raised goes into the state’s Common School Fund. There, the principal amount from each sale is held for the rightful owners. Interest earned goes to Oregon’s K-12 public schools.

One thing the state will never sell or dispose of are military medals. Instead, they’ll post photos on the treasury’s website where people can search for them.

“We really hope that either the medal earners themselves or their families come forward and get those,” said Ciobanu.

Around $80 million in unclaimed funds are reported to the state every year. To see if any of it belongs to you, just go to treasury’s website and look up your name


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