Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 12/9 – Man Convicted of Attemped Murder, Torture and Kidnapping Charges

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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 38. West northwest wind 6 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Overnight, cloudy with a low around 23.

Friday Partly sunny, with a high near 39. 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

One of two local men charged with kidnapping and torturing multiple victims last year was convicted on December 3rd on some charges by a Klamath County judge.

Harlan Wright, 33, still faces trial and additional charges, including attempted murder. But on Dec. 3, Wright was convicted by Judge Alycia Edgeworth Kersey at the Klamath County Circuit Court on charges stemming from a brutal incident in August 2020.

According to court documents, Wright, along with Elliott Parker, 32, held a Klamath Falls man against his will, assaulted him and killed the victim’s dog.

Court documents show Wright kidnapped the victim, zipped him into a body bag and stabbed into the man and the bag with a large machete-like knife, court documents showed. Wright killed the victim’s dog, and along with Parker, forced the victim to strip naked and mutilate his own pet. 

Wright will be sentenced on those charges at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 12. That same day, he will go back on trial for attempted murder.

Brigadier General James Cunningham of the Oregon Air National Guard presented Klamath Falls Mayor Carol Westfall, city council President Matt Dodson, city manager Jessica Lindsay and airport director John Barsalou with a Seven Seals Award.

The award is the highest award the state can give and is for leadership and initiative in support of the men and women who serve America in the National Guard and Reserve. General Cunningham is the former commander of the Oregon Air National Guard.

He noted the award was “long overdue,” according to a press release from the city.

A small Klamath Falls company is manufacturing product for a major Canadian retail brand.  The company is called Fiber Light and it’s major product is a fire-start used for outdoor survival all of the world.

One of its owners — Justin Lair, an entrepreneur originally from Orange County, Calif. — started the brand in 2017.

Now, not only does Lair run Fiber Light, but he has two other local business ventures, in addition to working full time for Klamath IDEA Center for Entrepreneurship.

His enterprising spirit — which he has kindled since his youth — brings a spark of ingenuity to Klamath, giving young people with big dreams of starting a business something to look up to. 

Lair came up with Fiber Light in his mother’s kitchen in Klamath Falls, after moving to the area in search of a different lifestyle than Southern California. He took a job at Collins Products, but it didn’t take him long to come up with an idea to go out on his own. Lair said during his first month on the job, he noticed the wood fiber waste collected on the floor of the plant was incredibly combustible. That’s when a light bulb went off in his head. 

The Herald and News was once again chosen to host a Report for America journalist, one of just a few newsrooms nationwide to land the prestigious program three years in a row.

The journalist, who will join the newsroom in the summer of 2022, will focus on housing and economic development in the Klamath Basin.

Editor Tim Trainor said that newspapers, like many other industries, have struggled to recruit and retain qualified staff during the pandemic, so the award comes at an opportune time. Report for America on Wednesday noted the Herald and News will host one of 150 new reporting positions nationwide.

The selections were made mostly on the basis of which newsrooms defined the most compelling gaps in coverage and plans to deploy corps members well. Applications are accepted until Jan. 31. Corps members are selected via a highly-competitive, national competition. Last year, more than 1,800 applications were received.

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.

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.

The Board of Directors of EagleRidge High School, an Oregon Nonprofit Corporation, will hold a Board Meeting on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, at 4:00 pm at Eagle Ridge High School, 677 South 7th Street, Klamath Falls, Oregon, and via Zoom. 

The meeting agenda includes possibly changing the timing of the board meeting and a report from the Executive Director.  The Board may also consider other business brought before the board.

The Board of Directors will also hold their Annual Meeting to elect  officers and fill expiring terms.

EagleRidge High School was established to create and implement an autonomous, high achieving and equitable small high school in collaboration with the Klamath Falls City School District pursuant to the Oregon Charter School law. The meeting will be conducted in accordance with the Oregon Public Meetings law.

Klamath Basin Winter Wings Festival Opens On February 18th, 2022                                                       

America’s Oldest West Coast Birding Festival celebrates the return of Bald Eagles and waterfowl on the Pacific Flyway to the Klamath Basin from February 18-20, 2022.  It’s the 42nd anniversary of the Festival, and we are excited to return with in-person activities and new opportunities! 

Klamath Falls, OR (Dec. 8, 2021) – Bald Eagles are among the migratory birds highlighted during the 42nd Winter Wings Festival (www.WinterWingsFest.org), which will run over three days, February 18-20, 2022, during the Presidents’ Day Weekend. The primary venue for the event will be the College Union at the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls.   

Winter birds at their finest! Winter Wings brings together birders and photographers of all skill and interest levels to learn and explore with top notch professionals and experienced local guides. The Klamath Basin is renowned for its wintering population of Bald Eagles, but is prime habitat for many other raptors, as well as an abundance and diversity of waterfowl. 

In 2022 the festival will have a new format to provide a safer, in-person experience while celebrating the importance of the Klamath Basin in the Pacific Flyway. The festival will feature two top-notch and nationally-known keynoters: fine art conservation wildlife photographer Jennifer Leigh Warner and world-renowned birder, photographer, and author Richard Crossley. Join these fascinating speakers (and field trip leaders!) and many other skilled presenters for an assortment of field trips, workshops, presentations, and receptions that highlight the wonders of the Klamath Basin in winter. 

During the pandemic we have seen a surge in all age groups and all things outdoors, learning and experiencing nature and photography in new ways. Whether you are a neophyte or looking for inspiration for refreshing your passions, we have a host of activities to suit your interests. Join one of our featured presenters, 18-year-old professional photographer and podcaster Izzy Edwards, in the field for some fresh ideas in wildlife and nature photography. Break out a sketch pad with our featured 2022 Artist, Christine Elder, and see how sketching can deepen your understanding and appreciation of bird anatomy and behavior. For those looking to get out and about, strap on some snowshoes for a winter adventure at Lake of the Woods, or bring your trusty headlamp for a Lava Beds National Monument cave tour. 

In our ever-changing world we have seen extreme drought and escalating water issues in the Klamath Basin. Join us on Friday and Saturday to learn more about regional conservation issues with a continental impact from the nonprofits and agencies in the know. Alternatively, get out on nearby wetlands to see first-hand and understand the human effects on this diminishing resource, from a historical perspective or from a progressive, restoration viewpoint. 

Birders can enjoy a diverse group of activities including field trips within and around Klamath Falls. Novice birders may benefit from one of our Birding Basics trips, a Raptors 101 workshop and field trip, or a rare opportunity Learning to Look in a workshop with keynoter Richard Crossley. Intense birders may enjoy Saturday’s Big Day trek around the basin to build their life lists.  You can also round out your experience with a field trip to local hotspots, a workshop on mobile birding apps, or an educational presentation on the decline of our 2022 featured bird, the American Kestrel. 

A host of professional photographers and specialists will be on hand over the weekend to share their skills and inspiration. Learn about the history of conservation photography and how you can put your photos to work promoting wildlife conservation. Spend a morning in the field learning about waterfowl and techniques for photographing them. From storytelling through your photos, to macro photography, to photographing backlit birds, there is something for every photography skill level and interest.                                    

We are trying a new way of registering this year that should make getting your desired field trips, workshops and presentations a little easier. On December 14, registration for the festival, signing up for volunteer opportunities, the buffets and keynotes, and purchasing optional items like t-shirts and birding guides will be available. This will allow you to input all your information, answer demographic questions, and pay for the festival registration and items purchased. On December 28, the day field trips, workshops and presentations open for registration. 

The Winter Wings Festival is funded in part by a grant from Klamath County. 

Unfortunately we will not be offering vendors or children’s activities at OIT this festival, but plan to bring them back in the future.

For the complete schedule, program descriptions, covid vaccination requirements, and fees, visit the Festival website at www.WinterWingsFest.org and select the program tab. For more information email the Festival at info@WinterWingsFest.org or call 1.877.541.BIRD (2473). 

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon reports 861 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 19 new deaths

There are 19 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,318 Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported 861 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 398,262.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (15), Clackamas (62), Clatsop (10), Columbia (11), Coos (24), Crook (13), Deschutes (75), Douglas (57), Gilliam (1), Harney (5), Hood River (4), Jackson (57), Jefferson (6), Josephine (25), Klamath (4), Lake (1), Lane (68), Lincoln (8), Linn (42), Malheur (6), Marion (76), Morrow (5), Multnomah (114), Polk (23), Tillamook (8), Umatilla (14), Union (10), Wasco (5), Washington (84), Wheeler (4), and Yamhill (21).

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Medford Plane Crash Enters Second Stage of Investigation as Debris Cleared

The charred remnants of a plane that crashed into the Airport Chevrolet dealership lot on Sunday were hauled away Wednesday by investigators from the federal National Transportation Safety Board, the next stage in an investigation aimed at discovering what went wrong.

Two people died when the aircraft, a Piper PA-31-350 “Navajo Chieftain” twin-propeller plane, crashed into the dealership lot Sunday evening — producing an explosion and fire that also destroyed several cars parked in the lot and damaged Airport Chevrolet’s Service wing. Some customer vehicles awaiting pick up after being serviced were among the wreckage.

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 was registered to Sefton.

Officials from the NTSB and FAA arrived in Medford on Monday afternoon to take control of the inquest from local authorities. NTSB senior aircraft accident investigator Zoe Keliher said that the two bodies were recovered by the medical examiner soon after their arrival.

The team spent Tuesday working through the remains of the aircraft and documenting ground scars from the impact it caused on the surface of the dealership parking lot, Keliher said — working to salvage any possible clues from components that weren’t obliterated by the explosion and flames.

As of Tuesday, NTSB was still in the “fact-finding phase,” which means that were documenting everything at the scene and trying to determine what could produce meaningful data. When they do find something of interest, it is taken off-site for analysis.

With the debris catalogued, the agency began hauling it away on Wednesday morning — loading pieces, much of it charred beyond recognition, into a trailer so that it can be transported up to the Seattle area for the next stage of the investigation.

Holiday Food Drive for Victims of Almeda Fire

Jackson County Sheriff’s Department is honored to be part of a Holiday Food Drive to support families still recovering from the Almeda Fire. With your help we can deliver a holiday dinner and essential household items to these families. Please drop off the non-perishable items listed below or make a monetary donation. Thanks much for your support. https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=268488048655208&set=a.222916653212348

May be an image of text that says 'HOLIDAY FOOD DRIVE DEC. 2021 DINNER FOR VICTIMS OF THE ALMEDA FIRE September 2020, many our community were devastated Almeda fire. Sadly, many could season. Fire WE NEED YOUR HELP EITHER FINANCIAL FOOD DONATIONS THESE SELECTED ITEMS: teaming DROP OFF DONATIONS BY DECEMBER 21ST AT: Fire District No.5 South P”ific Hwy, Phoenix Station 534 Highland John Scott Medford 871 Medford Center, Medford Canned Mashed Potatoes -Gravy Packets Canned Cranberry Sauce -Canned Green Beans -Canned Peas Boxed Mac Cheese Boxed Stuffing Medford Sponsored By: John District Admin Building. 8383 Agate Road, White City Guild COUNTRY Monetary Donations are Appreciated: venmo'

Marketplace financial help makes health coverage more affordable for thousands of Oregonians: Dec. 15th deadline looming for health coverage to begin Jan. 1, 2022

OHIM logo

Oregonians who are currently uninsured or are looking for better health insurance rates should visit OregonHealthCare.gov/WindowShop to preview plans and savings available to them. Most people who visit the Marketplace are surprised to see how much they can save on their monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. But time is running out to get coverage starting Jan. 1, 2022: you must enroll by Dec. 15, 2021.

People who have checked out the Marketplace in the past should explore their options again. The Marketplace has seen a significant increase in financial help for Oregonians:

  • 2021 brought a 46 percent reduction in average monthly premium for Marketplace-enrolled Oregonians after financial help.
  • Extra savings brought the average monthly premium down to just $84 per month due to expansion of eligibility for financial help from the American Rescue Plan.
  • Lower-income Oregonians who are just barely ineligible for the Oregon Health Plan may get coverage for as low as $1 per month with no-cost preventive health care included and significantly reduced out-of-pocket costs on Silver plans.

Wading through health coverage options can be difficult. Health coverage experts throughout the state are available to help with applying for financial assistance and choosing private plans. Oregonians can find a local expert to help enroll in health coverage at OregonHealthCare.gov/GetHelp

Not sure if you qualify for Oregon Health Plan benefits or coverage through the Marketplace? Curious about the plans and savings available to you? Visit OregonHealthCare.gov/WindowShop to get a quick snapshot of your eligibility. 

Though this year’s open enrollment deadline is Jan. 15, 2022, people who want their health coverage to start Jan. 1, 2022, must sign up by Dec. 15, 2021. Even if people are temporarily uninsured, they can sign up for help by the Jan. 15 deadline to get health insurance for next year.

To apply, go to OregonHealthCare.gov before Jan. 15, 2022, and answer a few questions to get to the right application or search the directory of health coverage experts by selecting “Get Help” on the site. Health coverage experts are licensed insurance agents and community partners who provide local, one-on-one assistance at no charge to the client. This help is available virtually and over the phone, and in person following COVID-19 safety protocols.

The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, a part of state government, helps people get health insurance when they do not have job-based coverage, and do not qualify for the Oregon Health Plan or another program. The Marketplace is the state-level partner to HealthCare.gov. For more information, go to OregonHealthCare.gov

US Senator from Oregon Ron Wyden on Tuesday called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the increasing consolidation of Oregon’s retail pharmacy market, asking the federal agency to find out whether national pharmacy chains and health plans have acted to make the market less competitive.

In a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan, Wyden referenced the recent purchase of Bi-Mart’s chain of pharmacies by Walgreens, impacting 56 pharmacies across the Northwest, including 37 in Oregon. While the sale allowed for pharmacies within Bi-Mart stores to continue under the Walgreens brand if there were no other nearby locations, the majority of Bi-Mart pharmacies were simply shuttered with their patients transferred to the nearest Walgreens location.

At the same time, staffing shortages at many Walgreens pharmacies have resulted in reduced hours and longer wait times. Wyden’s letter also took aim at a practice called “direct and indirect remuneration,” which he characterized as a form of retrospective fees leveled against pharmacies by pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs), and which has been cited as a major challenge to the finances of pharmacies.

Officials are confirming a series of earthquakes off the Oregon Coast. More than ten earthquakes were reported in an area about 270 miles west of Newport yesterday.

The largest quake had a magnitude of five-point-eight. The quakes were not strong enough to cause a tsunami warning.

Police in Seaside say a threat made against a local high school has been found not to be credible.

Seaside Police says the Instagram account where the threat was made was created one hour before the threat was posted and immediately deleted. The FBI joined the investigation and determined the account was created by someone out of the area and the threat wasn’t legitimate. Several threats have been made on social media to schools around the Northwest.

The new Concourse B at Portland International Airport was debuted Wednesday morning, as the first flights departed from the terminal.

The first flight out of the expanded concourse — which has 10 new gates for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air — took off around 6 a.m.

The original version of Concourse B had just two gates. The terminal now has plenty of room for visitors to get views of arriving and departing flights, with are 8,900-square feet of south-facing windows.

There are also 500 seats and more than 300 places in the gate areas to plug and charge mobile devices. The expanded terminal wing is the latest upgrade in an ongoing $2 billion series of renovation projects collectively titled PDX NEXT. The multi-billion dollar upgrade, announced in 2019, will change the look of the airport.

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