Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, Dec. 8 -Klamath Community College Sues Federal Government In Dispute of Veteran Tuition Payments Regarding Aviation Flight School Classes

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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Patchy fog before 1pm. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 45. Overnight, partly cloudy, with a low around 23. Northwest wind 5 to 7 mph.

Thursday Mostly sunny, with a high near 37. Mostly cloudy overnight, with a low around 22.
Friday Partly sunny, with a high near 40. Low overnight of 21 degrees.
Saturday Snow likely, mainly after 4pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 43. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
Sunday Snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 41.

Today’s Headlines

Claiming it was an “arbitrary, capricious” attack on aviation flight schools, Klamath Community College is suing the federal government for dispute of more than $1.2 million in veteran tuition payments that has already cost the university roughly $75,000.

The Klamath Falls community college is suing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on claims that earlier this fall the U.S. Treasury began withholding roughly $37,000 per month over Trump-era disputes over covering aviation training programs through the G.I. Bill, according to a lawsuit filed late last month in U.S. District Court in Medford.

The lawsuit alleges that starting in 2017, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs used a combination of false statements, mixed messages, incorrect paperwork and “impossible to decipher” alleged discrepancies to dispute tuition payments for veteran students in the program — even for years the VA had already approved the payments.

KCC is one of four Oregon community colleges that offer flight programs such as aviation instruction for airplane and helicopter pilots.

The college claims that a wave of VA audits on the program correlated with a Trump administration cost-cutting proposal that targeted aviation training programs as part of the president’s 2017 fiscal budget.

Klamath County Fire District 1 will be conducting a live fire training, or “Burn to Learn” training event at 1439 Laverne Ave. on Wednesday, Dec. 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This live training provides firefighters with fire control techniques that help prepare firefighters for an actual fire emergency. During the live burn, flames and smoke may be visible from Washburn Way and South Side Expressway.

All activities will begin in the morning hours starting at 9 a.m. and will conclude by 3 p.m.

This will be a controlled exercise. Klamath County Fire District 1 and Kingsley Field Fire Department will be participating in the event. There will be constant monitoring of weather conditions and consideration for adjacent properties. There will not be any interruption of traffic with road closures.

John Boehm, a World War II veteran, will celebrate his 100th birthday this month Boehm served in North Africa and Europe in the 3rd Army of the United States under the command of General George Patton.

On Saturday, Dec. 11 at 12:30 p.m. VFW Post 1383 will host a celebration of Boehm’s honor. There is no cost for attending the celebration, other than tabs at the canteen.

The event is open to the public for all persons 21 years of age or older. Please come and meet one of our community heroes.

It was 80 years ago, but Cindy DeRosier still can’t forget it. It was 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning when her family received a phone call from her aunt insisting: “You better put the radio on. The Japanese are bombing us.” It was Dec. 7, 1941, the day the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor.

The 10-year-old sixth grader, then Cindy Chung, was living with her family in Honolulu. When they turned on their radio she remembers the announcer saying, “We are under attack! This is the real thing! Take cover!”

The bombing led to a declaration of martial law, the imposition of curfews, and requirements that all windows be painted black. Islanders were inoculated against possible diseases. Her father, Jack — like other amateur radio operators — had his shortwave radio confiscated. Everyone was fingerprinted and given identity cards.

Many beaches were closed and covered with barbed wire. Gas masks were issued.

Forty years ago, Christmas came to Christmas Valley. Because of its name, the rural northern Lake County community of Christmas Valley was selected as the community for the first day of issue for the 1981 Christmas stamp.

The stamp, a stuffed Teddy Bear sitting on a sleigh, was unveiled during ceremonies on Oct. 28, 1981, attended by more than 300 people. Despite a downpour of rain and hail along with wind and chilly temperatures, the cheery spirits of the attendees were not dampened.

Following the Christmas Valley ceremonies, Postal Service employees sold stamps and did first-day cancellations on cachet envelopes while stores sold a cornucopia of “first day” souvenirs — bottle openers, cups, piggy banks, stuffed teddy bears and T-shirts with the Teddy Bear logo.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon reports 945 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 31 new deaths

There are 31 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,299. Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported 945 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 397,421.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (6), Benton (14), Clackamas (67), Clatsop (4), Columbia (11), Coos (48), Crook (16), Curry (4), Deschutes (52), Douglas (30), Grant (1), Harney (2), Hood River (14), Jackson (57), Jefferson (13), Josephine (30), Klamath (24), Lake (1), Lane (58), Lincoln (12), Linn (39), Malheur (5), Marion (103), Morrow (5), Multnomah (98), Polk (36), Sherman (2), Tillamook (8), Umatilla (23), Union (5), Wallow (2), Wasco (11), Washington (107) and Yamhill (37).

More Than 50 Earthquakes Strike Off Oregon Coast Tuesday; No Tsunamis Expected

Dozens of earthquakes above magnitude 5.0 struck about 200-250 miles west of Newport on Tuesday and are still happening into this morning 12/8. The quakes hit roughly 200 to 250 miles off the coast of Newport, Oregon. 

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is reporting dozens of small-to-moderate earthquakes that started yesterday (December 7, 2021) and continued through this morning, off the coast of the U.S. state of Oregon. The largest reached magnitude 5.8, according to USGS. Earthquakes in the ocean sometimes cause tsunamis. But no tsunamis were ever expected from these earthquakes, and none are expected at this writing.

The earthquakes occurred more than six miles below the surface of the water, none of them were felt on land and no tsunamis were expected, according to the National Weather Service and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

Earthquakes often happen in a series, although it’s unusual to see so many earthquakes (at least 40 by my count) as in this series. They’re of special interest because they’re happening off the coast of a heavily populated region. We often see a dozen or so foreshocks and aftershocks around a primary earthquake. The small-to-moderate quakes off the Oregon coast on December 7-8, 2021, can be considered foreshocks and aftershocks of each other. The terms are relative. It’ll be easiest to sort out which are foreshocks and which are aftershocks (and which are both) once the earthquake series has stopped.

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network tweeted that this area — the Blanco Fracture Zone — is one of the most seismically active near North America, and the high activity is not a cause for concern. 

A former Oregon official who was tasked with fielding harassment complaints in the state Capitol before resigning in June says he was pushed out for revealing flaws in the Legislative Equity Office and is now threatening to sue the Legislature and top lawmakers for retaliation.

Attorneys for Nate Monson, the former Legislative equity officer, say they are prepared to reveal more if state leaders don’t settle before a suit is filed.

In a tort claim notice sent to top lawmakers and state officials on Monday, Monson’s attorneys, Kim Sordyl and Michael Fuller, go into additional details about allegations Monson made in June — when he quit his role after just two months on the job, amid concerns he’d lied on his resume.

Prior to the resignation, officials said they learned that Monson had misrepresented his work history on his resume and there were concerns about mismanagement at his former job leading an Iowa nonprofit.

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The last closed roadway outside of Airport Chevrolet in Medford reopened on Tuesday as investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board continued the investigation into a fiery plane crash on the dealership lot that claimed the lives of two people Sunday evening.

Airport Chevrolet said on Monday morning that it had reopened its Sales Department, but its Service Department remained closed due to the damage caused by the crash and the adjacent investigation.

Automation Way, the street to the north of the dealership off Biddle Road, was back open as of Sunday night following the initial crash response.

Medford Police announced Tuesday that Chevy Way, the street to the south that was closest to the crash, was back open for through traffic.

The pilot and a single passenger killed in the crash were identified Monday as 69-year-old Donald Harbert Sefton and 67-year-old Valerie Jean Serpa, both of Fallon, Nevada, a small city located east of Reno and Carson City. 

The aircraft, a Piper PA-31-350 “Navajo Chieftain” twin-propeller plane, was manufactured in 1977. It was registered to Sefton.

Video provided to NewsWatch 12 from two sources shows that the plane descended rapidly and at a near-vertical angle before slamming into the Airport Chevy lot, creating a plume of smoke and then exploding into flame seconds later.

Troopers and deputies arrested the suspect in a Washington state homicide case in Josephine County on Monday after he led them on a high-speed chase down I-5, according to Oregon State Police.

OSP was alerted around noon on Monday by the FBI that a wanted man, identified as Murray Maurice Edwards, was driving south on I-5 near Wolf Creek. Edwards had an active warrant out of Pierce County, Washington for homicide, and was reportedly driving in a 1999 GMC Suburban with California plates. T

roopers spotted the vehicle at the I-5 southbound Manzanita Rest Area. With the assistance of Josephine County Sheriff’s Office deputies, troopers tried to approach the vehicle at the rest area, but OSP said that Edwards drove away, speeding south on I-5. One trooper deployed spike strips on the freeway to disable Edwards’ SUV, but the suspect “swerved aggressively” to avoid them.

His speed and the sudden maneuver caused him to lose control of the vehicle and crash into a concrete center divider. Officers took Edwards into custody without any further issues.

SWAT Team Apprehends Barricaded Domestic Violence Suspect Without Incident

SHADY COVE –  Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon (ECSO) dispatch received a call at 8:25 this morning for a victim menaced with a firearm during a domestic disturbance. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) patrol deputies responded to the 100 block of Birch St. in Shady Cove and the suspect barricaded himself alone in the residence.

JCSO SWAT Team, K9 units, and the Crisis Negotiators Team responded. The suspect was uncooperative, telling deputies he wouldn’t be taken alive, and refusing to exit the residence. At 10:55 a.m. the SWAT Team deployed a noise flash diversionary device (flashbang) and the suspect surrendered without incident.

The suspect, Bart Anthony Tardif, 62, of Shady Cove, is booked in the Jackson County Jail and charged with Menacing DV, Assault 4 DV, Harassment, and Felon in possession of a firearm. Bail is set at $22,500.

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The sea otter that was found injured on the Oregon Coast last week has sadly passed away, the Oregon Coast Aquarium said Monday.

The otter – a rarity on the coast – was first spotted at Yaquina Head, just north of Newport. Once word got out, crowds started gathering to watch the otter groom itself and eat purple sea urchin.

Then last Thursday, the aquarium said the otter was being treated for infection and multiple wounds – likely from a shark bite – after a park ranger with the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area found him hauled ashore with limited mobility and poor fur quality.

Aquarium veterinary staff tended to the otter’s wounds, treated him for infection, and provided him with incrementally larger portions of food to combat emaciation. The aquarium said the otter was initially alert and accepting food, but his status quickly changed.

Trucking Industry In Oregon Struggling With Supply Chain Issues and Driver Shortage

One in 17 jobs in Oregon is related to the industry. One crucial part of the supply chain issue is trucking.

80% of the communities in Oregon are only serviced by truck, and 88% of Oregon’s manufactured goods are shipped by truck. The supply chain issues hurt more than just the trucking industry.

“There’s a real shortage of truck drivers. I’ve got 25 trucks out of my 500 truck fleet sitting for lack of drivers,” says Mike Card, President of Combined Transport. “These are $150,000 trucks with trailers that I could be hauling freight with, that I cannot.”

Industry leaders say the truck driver pool has shrunk almost 6%. But a lack of drivers is just one symptom of a bigger problem. Equipment shortages like diesel exhaust fluid sensors have contributed to the supply chain issues.

These sensors control the truck, so if you don’t have DEF it shuts the truck off. When the sensors go bad, it causes a lot a problems when you can’t replace them.

“We had a driver, we had a truck, but we couldn’t roll because there were no DEF sensors available,” Card says. “We tried to get them to give us software so we could run our trucks without sensors, but it was a mess and we lost many minutes.”

Congestion is also a factor. The I-5 bridge and the Rose Quarter choke points are in the top 30 bottlenecks in the country.

Card says legislation like lowering the minimum age for drivers, can help. You have to be 21 or older to be a truck driver. So the trucking industry can’t recruit younger workers. Nationally, the average age of a truck driver is 46.

Local workforce boards are another way they’re trying to fix the issues. The Oregon Trucking Association is working to get more people on the workforce boards to make people aware of the issues and recruit more workers.

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