Klamath Basin News, Monday, 12/6 – Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge Receiving Measurable Water Flow, For Winter Irrigation Season

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Monday, December 6, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

This Afternoon A 30% chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. Overnight, a 30% chance of rain before 10pm. Snow level 7200 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32.

Tuesday Partly sunny, with a high near 50. Calm wind. Overnight low around 30 degrees.
Wednesday A 30% chance of rain after 4pm. Snow level 4900 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 45. Rain mixed with snow overnight, low around 25. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
Thursday A 20% chance of snow. Mostly sunny, with a high near 37. Low overnight of 21.
Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 37.
Saturday A chance of snow. Partly sunny, with a high near 41.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

After a summer spent drying up, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge finally began receiving a measurable flow of water, thanks to the start of the winter irrigation season on December 1.

The refuge can receive up to 11,000 acre-feet of water between December and February depending on how Upper Klamath Lake is filling. Water began flowing into the refuge’s Unit 2 wetland through the Ady Canal on Wednesday and was flowing at around 60 cubic feet per second at 5 p.m. on Friday.

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It was the only significant inflow to the refuge since last winter other than roughly 750 acre-feet transferred from the Wood River Valley by the California Waterfowl Association in September. However, 2021’s disaster of a water year continues to wreak havoc on Water Year 2022.

In August, the Bureau of Reclamation had to ‘borrow’ 9,300 acre-feet from the flow of the Klamath River to stabilize the only remaining wetland unit on Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The agency must now pay that water back to Iron Gate and Copco Reservoirs, which were drawn down to facilitate the transfer while keeping lake levels and Klamath River flows in line with Endangered Species Act requirements.

Reclamation says that means water must once again stop flowing to Lower Klamath (and to the adjacent Klamath Drainage District, where farmers flood irrigate their fields during the winter) — at least temporarily. The agency has directed all diversions from the Klamath and Lost rivers to cease by December 6, according to a statement posted on the Klamath Basin Area Office’s website Friday. 

Dave Henslee, former chief of Klamath Falls Police Department, filed Friday to fill the seat of outgoing Klamath County Commissioner Donnie Boyd in a 2022 election.

Henslee retired from KFPD in May 2020 after a 27-year career in law enforcement. He has since started 5H Cattle Company outside of Merrill, which he said has not received a drop of irrigation water the last two years.

Henslee said having a home and business dependent on water, while also being a supporter of the wildlife refuges downstream and the basin ecosystem that requires it own share, has given him “a broader perspective on the water issue.”

He said his top priority as a county commissioner will be to find a way to solve the basin’s worsening water problems.

In a news release, Henslee said his other priorities, were he to be elected, include ensuring exceptional public safety in Klamath County and advancing county needs at both the state and federal level. Henslee also said he would be interested in being appointed to the position temporarily, if county commissioners choose fill Boyd’s vacant seat until a new, elected commissioner can join them in 2023.

Boyd has until Jan. 10 to put his resignation in writing, according to Rochelle Long, Klamath County Clerk.

Sergeant Dennis Davenport. retired Tuesday, November 30, 2021 after 25 years in law enforcement from the Klamath Falls Police Department.

Prior to his career in law enforcement Sergeant Davenport volunteered with the Klamath Falls Police Department as a Reserve Officer and a Police Explorer. Sergeant Davenport has dedicated a total of 32 years to the City of Klamath Falls.

This winter, nearly 400 Klamath County School District students will receive a “warm hug” in the form of a handmade blanket thanks to Project Linus.

Suzy Field and Susan Oates of Project Linus delivered bags filled with colorful blankets to the KCSD Central Office this week.

Over the past decade, the local chapter has provided more than 12,000 blankets to community organizations who help youth. They refer to the blankets as “warm hugs.” Stacey Ramirez, the school district’s social emotional learning administrator, said the blankets made by Project Linus volunteers will provide a needed boost to students during the winter months.

The Klamath County School District’s Bonanza Junior/Senior High School unveiled a new, updated weight room this week featuring five complete power rack stations, as well as new equipment and a fresh coat of paint.

The $25,000 renovation came courtesy of a $10,000 grant from the Oregon School Activities Association and $15,000 in private donations.

The weight room opened to students on Nov. 29. During a weight class at the end of the day, students were joined by a few staff members and even the school’s resource officer, Deputy Justin Horton.

Bonanza’s athletic director Sergio Cisneros challenged students to try the pull-up bar, and Horton was among those who took a turn. The power rack stations allow groups of students to do four core workouts – clean, bench, squat and dead lifts. There also is space for circuit training and calisthenics.

As part of the GrangeGives initiative, Grange Co-op has awarded more than $132,000 to local high school seniors over the last nine years.

Grange Co-op will continue investing in hard-working students in local communities by announcing the opening of the 2022-2023 Grange Co-op scholarship application window.

This year, Grange Co-op is offering nine scholarships to high school seniors, including eight $1,500 scholarships and one $2,000 scholarship, totaling $14,000 in available aid.

To qualify for these scholarships, students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher and have participated in FFA, 4-H, Young Farmers, Horticulture, DECA, FBLA, student body leadership, sports, or non-related activities such as work experience.

In addition, students must reside in Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Curry, Douglas, Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama, Del Norte, Modoc, Yuba, Sutter, Colusa, Glenn, or Butte counties. The application window opened November 1 and will close January 31, 2022.

Students can apply by visiting https://www.grangecoop.com/scholarship-program. Reach out to scholarship@grangecoop.com for additional questions.

Around the state of Oregon

Plane Crash Bursts into Flames at Valley Chevrolet Across From Rogue Valley-Medford International Airport

 One person is dead after a plane crashed and burst into flames near the Chevrolet dealership in Medford across from the Rogue Valley-Medford International Airport early Sunday evening.

Medford Police officers, firefighters, and rescue personnel responded to the crash site in a parking lot adjacent to Airport Chevrolet, 3001 Biddle Road

Initial information indicates that one person was aboard the plane when it crashed, and they did not survive.

The Medford Airport tower notified its fire department just before 5 p.m. that an “Alert Three” had been issued, which usually means that a local plane had experienced an incident.

Airport Fire Chief John Karns told reporters that he believed the plane had just taken off from the airport with only one person on board immediately prior to the crash. Karns said he believed that the plane was not a local aircraft.

Karns said he understood the plane to be a Piper Navajo, which is a twin-engine, gas-powered aircraft. First responders had described it as a 9-passenger propeller plane. Karns said that the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified of the incident.

The fire chief for the Medford Fire Department, Eric Thompson said the call came about a possible explosion which was then upgraded to an ‘Alert Three’. Thompson said the alert indicates there is an aircraft emergency and a possible crash.

“Upon arrival, we had at least 20 vehicles that were fully involved,” Thompson said. “We know that the aircraft took off from the Medford airport, they just filled up with fuel they had 128 gallons of fuel onboard, and the incident occurred only a few minutes after they took off.”

Major news channels across the country have covered the story too. This is an ongoing story and additional details will be posted once they are available.

Oregon reports 1,352 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 16 new deaths

There are 16 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,243, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported OHA reported 1,352 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 394,569.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (21), Clackamas (95), Clatsop (7), Columbia (21), Coos (40), Crook (45), Curry (8), Deschutes (74), Douglas (45), Grant (6), Harney (8), Hood River (14), Jackson (63), Jefferson (19), Josephine (35), Klamath (22), Lane (181), Lincoln (16), Linn (92), Malheur (2), Marion (105), Multnomah (150), Polk (55), Sherman (2), Tillamook (4), Umatilla (3), Union (12), Wallowa (1), Wasco (9), Washington (159) and Yamhill (35).

The likely arrival of the new omicron variant and questions about its strength and speed are clouding an otherwise cautiously optimistic outlook of the course of COVID-19 in Oregon, according to a new state report.

The forecast from Oregon Health and Science University, released late Thursday, shows the delta variant spike that hit Oregon over the summer and peaked around Labor Day continues a steady if the stubbornly laborious decline in the state.

New infections, hospitalizations and deaths are falling, if not as quickly as forecast a month ago. But projecting trends into the future is more difficult with the arrival of the omicron variant. 

First reported by South African researchers on Nov. 25, it has now been found in more than 20 countries. No cases have been reported yet in Oregon, though it’s unlikely the virus would somehow skip the state. But continuing delta’s drop is the main focus of public health officials until more is known about omicron.

“We don’t think it’s a big threat in Oregon because we don’t yet have a confirmed case and it will take time for it to spread,” said Peter Graven, director of OHSU’s Office of Advanced Analytics.

Scientists have been rushing to find out if the new variant is more contagious, more severe and can get around vaccinations or natural immunity from earlier exposures.

“It really comes down to vaccination,” Graven said. “If the vaccines work, we’re fine. If they don’t work at preventing hospitalizations, we may have to go back to protecting our vulnerable populations until we get a booster that effectively neutralizes the omicron variant.”

South African researchers reported Friday that omicron spreads twice as rapidly as the delta variant. But they differed on whether the cause was just rapid contagion or that omicron was getting around defenses of vaccines and earlier natural exposures.

Graven said that the infection situation in Oregon was quite different. About 82% of Oregonians have immunity, which includes both those vaccinated or recently infected. At about 85%, Graven estimated the delta variant would be unable to create another spike because of the low number of unprotected people.

The Oregon Health Authority reported this week that about 28.7% of new infections were in people who had been vaccinated — so called “breakthrough” cases. But the vaccines have kept the percentage of severe cases and death much lower than in unvaccinated people.

Those who have been inoculated account for about 4.4% of cases requiring hospitalization and just over 1% of deaths. The deaths of vaccinated people were primarily in those over age 80.

The delta variant, which drove a spike in infections, remains the main threat to Oregonians who are not vaccinated or were exposed naturally to the virus. 

Oregon health officials are opening 11 “high-volume” COVID-19 vaccination clinics statewide, offering free walk-in-only shots in an effort to boost vaccination rates.

Some clinics, including one opening shop Sunday in Wood Village, will run only several days. The clinics will offer Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, as well as booster doses for people who have already been vaccinated and doses of the Pfizer shot for children five to 11.  

Insurance is not necessary, the Oregon Health Authority said. Many of the sites will have between 500 and 1,000 available doses per day, a health authority spokesperson said.

Washington state health officials say the first three cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been confirmed in the state.

The Department of Health said Saturday the cases were identified in three counties: Thurston, Pierce and King.

The patients are two men and a woman, and they range from 20 to 39 years old. The department noted the investigation is still early and said details are not yet known on the patients’ travel histories. Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah urged people to get vaccinated and get their boosters as soon as possible to maximize their level of protection from all variants.

Union Workers At Mckenzie-Willamette Medical Center in Eugene Plan Five-Day Strike

Over 300 McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center workers are gearing up for their second unfair labor practice strike.

This includes including certified nursing assistants, MRI technicians, respiratory therapists, pharmacy technicians and more.

The five-day strike will begin on Monday at 7 a.m. when those participating will walk out. The union workers will strike Monday until 1 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Organizers say this comes after they took a strong stand in October with a two-day Unfair Labor Practice strike alleging unfair labor practices by the hospital, saying that management is interfering with their rights as union members.

They say that despite several bargaining sessions with a federal mediator following the strike, workers allege management has not addressed their safety concerns for patients and workers and also allege that management has engaged in more unfair labor practices.

The members of SEIU Local 49 are working to settle a new union contract with management that includes safe staffing, fair wages, COVID protections, contained healthcare increases, and helps keep good jobs at the hospital.

They are also striking understaffing, high turnover, low wages, lack of affordable healthcare and lack of adequate COVID protections.

“It’s extremely disappointing that McKenzie-Willamette management continues to ignore our safety concerns and to stonewall bargaining when so much is at stake,” said Aaron Green, CNA2. “We take great pride in providing quality care for our patients and serving our community. And when you’re not safe, you have to stand up and do something about it. You cannot ever bargain away your safety and the safety of your patients.”

A spokesperson for McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center shared the following statement with reporters:

“On Thanksgiving, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) notified McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center (MWMC) of its intention to strike and picket beginning at 7 a.m. on Dec. 6 until 7 a.m. on Dec. 11. Hospital operations will continue uninterrupted. We are prepared to execute our contingency plans during the SEIU strike. All departments will be appropriately staffed. All inpatient, outpatient, and emergency services will remain available.”

The statement continued on to say that MWMC has been in an active mediation with the SEIU since October, seeking a resolution and new overall contract which expired Aug. 31. They said they remain hopeful for a “mutually beneficial agreement.”

“The hospital remains focused on what matters most—safely caring for our patients in a healing environment,” the statement said.

With the holiday shopping season in full effect after Black Friday, it’s also that time of year that brings a rise in robbery and shoplifting cases nationwide.

Especially now as the days get darker earlier in the day, law enforcement officials encourage several tips for shoppers to keep in mind before heading to stores. Preferably park your car in a well-lit area, as well as close to the store or shopping center as possible. Place shopping bags or any packages in the trunk rather than upfront, to prevent people from looking through the windows and finding the urge to break in.

Make sure to have you’re car keys and phone in an accessible place as you make you’re way from or to the car in case something were to happen.

The FBI in Portland is warning shoppers to beware of fake shipping notices.

They often contain links that can download malware on computers or cell phones. The FBI says that if you’re expecting a delivery to use the website where you bought the item to track its location.

Gov. Kate Brown wants Oregonians to quit wasting food to help reduce greenhouse gases.

The initiative to do so took Brown halfway around the world to the United Nations l Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, last month. The Oregon governor explained the state’s drive to cut down on food waste as a panelist at the international gathering called COP26. For Brown and the state, reducing food waste isn’t about clearing out the refrigerator crisper. It’s about paring back on carbon emissions by not growing and transporting food that won’t get eaten.

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Police Seek Public’s Help: Missing 77-Year-Old Myrtle Creek Woman

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— Police made a public appeal for help locating a woman who left home early Saturday morning and hasn’t been heard from since.

Myrtle Creek Police say Bonnie Jo Short, 77, left her residence around 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 27, 2021. She is about 5-foot-4 and weighs around 110 pounds with grey hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing blue slacks, a grey and black striped sweatshirt, black boots and a grey robe.

Short was driving a silver 2015 Ford Escape bearing Oregon license plate 900MLJ.

“It is unknown where Bonnie may have gone, and her cell phone appears to be shut off,” police said. “If you have any information regarding Bonnie’s whereabouts or have seen her vehicle, please contact the Myrtle Creek Police Department immediately at 541-440-4471.” 

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