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 Insurance, your local health and Medicare agents.
Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Klamath Basin Weather
Today Mostly sunny, with a high near 32. Light winds. Overnight, a 30% chance of snow showers after 4am, with a low around 14. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
Wednesday Snow, mainly after 10am. High near 34. Gusty winds at times to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
Thursday A 50% chance of snow showers, mainly before 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 38.
Friday Partly sunny, with a high near 34.
Saturday A chance of snow before 1pm, then a chance of rain. Snow level rising to 5000 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 40.
A Klamath Falls man will serve more than 37 years in prison after being convicted of multiple sex crimes against minors for more than a decade.
Thomas Grisgby was sentenced Nov. 16 by Judge Marci Adkisson after Grigsby was convicted on two counts of first-degree sodomy and four counts of first-degree sex abuse.
The charges stemmed from Grigsby’s abuse of two juveniles over 11 years, starting in 2006 and continuing until 2017.
The Oregon Department of Corrections calculates Grigsby’s earliest possible release date as September 7, 2064.
He will be subject to post-prison supervision for his entire life, Klamath County District Attorney Eve Costello said Monday she was “proud of the team that brought justice for these individuals who were abused and their trust violated as children.”
According to Costello, Detective Labeads Yahwhee of the Klamath Falls Police Department led a professional, detailed initial investigation. CARES provided medical services and expert testimony critical to the prosecution.
Klamath County schools had their first snow day of the year yesterday. All KCSD schools were closed Monday due to incoming inclement weather and the ability to safely transport our students home.
County schools are open today, Tuesday. The district said they were advised by the weather service that high winds and snow accumulation are expected by the end of the school day. All extracurricular activities were also canceled.
Information on possible closures anytime snowy weather happens can be found at www.kcsd.k12.or.us for updates.
With lawmakers returning to the Oregon state Capitol for a special session on Monday, Gov. Kate Brown said eviction protections and rental assistance won’t be the only topics of discussion.
Included in a heat and drought package is $40 million for an agricultural forgivable disaster loan program, $12 million for the Klamath Basin for domestic well assistance, $9.7 million to address drought relief on Klamath Tribal lands, $10 million for agricultural workers who miss work due to unsafe working conditions resulting from extreme heat or smoke and $9.75 million for irrigation district assistance to offset water user costs.
Kelley Minty Morris, chair of the Klamath County Board of Commissioners, said she expected the legislature will pass the drought relief package on Monday. Minty Morris said she worked out details with representatives from the Klamath Water Users Association, the Klamath County Farm Bureau, the Klamath Tribes, and other stakeholders, and then approached the governor’s office with the plan.
Minty Morris said Klamath will receive the biggest chunk of the drought relief dollars in the state, due to the severity of the local problem.
The advocacy group Disability Rights Oregon is alleging that the Klamath Falls City School District and the Oregon Education Department are violating laws that guarantee equal education for students with disabilities.
The group’s attorney, Joel Greenberg, filed a complaint Tuesday, Dec. 7 at the state agency that names Education Department Director Colt Gill and Keith Brown, Klamath Falls City School District superintendent, on behalf of three students with autism.
The group alleges the district has been reducing students’ classroom instruction time by shortening or eliminating school days since December 2019. The complaint against the agency itself alleges officials failed to operate a system that provides equal opportunities for students with disabilities. The complaint will trigger an investigation by the Education Department into the allegations against the school district.
The central reason the district gave for cutting students’ class time, according to the complaint, was because each of them “lacked stamina” or had “limited stamina” for academic tasks and school activities
A Sprague River woman has been charged with homicide after Klamath County Sheriff’s Deputies found a dead man in a trailer on Skamania Road.
Amy Lynn Smith, 36, was charged Thursday after police say she admitted to shooting Dustin Luke Hudson, 38, of Sprague River on the morning of Dec. 6.
Smith was charged with murder, as well as felon in possession of a weapon and unlawful use of a weapon.
According to a probable cause statement, Smith was reported on Dec. 6 be in possession of a firearm and making suicidal statements. The gun was seized and turned over to law enforcement and the next day, Smith was admitted for further care. Later that day, sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to an address on Skamania Road near Sprague River for a welfare check. According to police, deputies on scene saw what they believed to be a dead body in a travel trailer.
Deputies later confirmed the body was Hudson. Smith and Hudson had been involved in previous disputes.
The VFW Post 1383 in Klamath Falls was buzzing with laughter and conversation Saturday for a special celebration of one of Klamath’s local war heroes.
John Boehm, who was born on Dec. 5, 1921 in Sullivan Mo., turned 100 years old.
At his birthday party, the room smelled of fried chicken and birthday cake while folks — some dressed in military garb — mingled at the bar. Boehm made his round, dressed to the nines in his military issued Army Class A uniform, shaking hands and telling stories to the eager guests who came to celebrate with him. The uniform still fits, all these decades later. Boehm went into the service at the age of 21 and served in North Africa and Europe in the 3rd Army of the United States under the command of General George Patton.
He was drafted, he said. But the idea of going to war didn’t stifle his courage.
The Conquer Covid in Klamath campaign announces its winner for the week. Brittany Kostecka of Klamath Falls won Christmas Clothing and Boots for the entire family.
Brittany 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 they will pay your electric bill for one year up to $2500. 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.
There are 39 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,420. OHA reported 1,387 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 401,564.
There are four new cases were reported in Klamath County. 71 new cases were reported in Jackson County.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (10), Benton (20), Clackamas (138), Clatsop (14), Columbia (39), Coos (46), Crook (5), Deschutes (101), Douglas (46), Gilliam (1), Grant (1), Hood River (3), Jackson (71), Jefferson (15), Josephine (55), Klamath (4), Lake (1), Lane (108), Lincoln (20), Linn (81), Malheur (2), Marion (89), Morrow (2), Multnomah (218), Polk (15), Tillamook (28), Umatilla (8), Union (4), Wasco (7), Washington (190), Wheeler (1) and Yamhill (44).
Oregon confirms three Omicron-variant cases of COVID-19
Omicron Hits Oregon
Oregon’s first three cases of Omicron-variant COVID-19 have been confirmed in Washington and Multnomah counties. Oregon Health & Science University Laboratory conducted the sequencing that detected the variant Dec. 13. The samples the laboratory tested were from:
- A Multnomah County resident in their 20s, tested on Dec. 7, who was fully vaccinated. The individual traveled internationally to Canada prior to symptom onset. Additional details on the condition of the individual are not yet available.
- A Washington County resident in their 20s, tested on Dec. 9, who was fully vaccinated. Additional details on the condition of the individual are not yet available.
- A Washington County resident in their 30s, tested on Dec. 9, who was fully vaccinated. The individual traveled internationally to Mexico prior to symptom onset. Additional details on the condition of the individual are not yet available.
“On Dec. 1, when the first case was reported in the United States, we shared that it was a matter of ‘when,’ not ‘if,’ the Omicron variant of COVID-19 would be detected in Oregon,” said Dean E. Sidelinger, M.D., M.S.Ed., health officer and state epidemiologist at Oregon Health Authority.
“We recognize this news is concerning to many people. However, if history is our guide, we do know that even if a vaccine doesn’t target a specific variant, the strong immune response you get from being fully vaccinated can still be highly protective against severe disease from all COVID-19 variants,” he said.
“It was only a matter of time before we identified the first case of the Omicron variant in Oregon,” said Governor Kate Brown. “As we continue to learn more about this new variant, we know the measures that are most effective in helping to keep ourselves and our families safe from Omicron, Delta, and other COVID-19 variants: get vaccinated, get your booster, and wear a mask. That’s the key to saving lives and keeping our businesses, schools, and communities open. If you aren’t yet vaccinated or need a booster dose, get an appointment or find a walk-in vaccine clinic in your area today.”
Klamath Falls water and geothermal division crews will perform maintenance today and tomorrow, from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on 8th Street.
Today, crews are expected to excavate and repair geothermal lines in the east bound traffic lane of 8th, located between Klamath Avenue and Walnut Street On Wednesday, crews will conduct temporary repair to asphalt as needed. Detours and signage will be in place. Work may be delayed or canceled due to weather, equipment breakdown or unexpected emergencies.
For more information, call the city public works department at (541) 883-5363.
Icy Slick Roads in Southern Oregon, Be Prepared
Winter weather conditions that started over the weekend are expected to worsen in Southern Oregon, and the Oregon Department of Transportation warns that drivers should be prepared.
As of Monday morning, Highway 199 at Hayes Hill and Highway 140 through Lake of the Woods were snowbound. Snow was sticking periodically to the I-5 passes north of Grants Pass and at the Siskiyou Summit south of Ashland, with more snow expected into Tuesday. Keep up to date with traffic conditions in Oregon with TripCheck and in Northern California with QuickMap.
A holiday-themed model train show opens Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Klamath County Museum, 1451 Main Street.
A variety of train layouts, including N, O, HO and G-scale model sets, will be displayed by the Klamath Rails model railroad club.
The show runs through Dec. 31, with hours the same as the museum’s normal schedule, which is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday each week.
The museum will be closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Entry to the train show is free with regular paid admission to the museum.
Admission fees are $5 for adults, and $4 for seniors, military and students. Youth 12 and under are free. Santa Claus will be available to visit with children attending the train show from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day through Dec. 24.
Around the state of Oregon
Oregon Lawmakers Pass Rental Assistance In Special Session
Oregon adds additional $100 million for rental assistance, other state funding to support renters and landlords impacted by the pandemic
Once signed by the Governor, tenants who have or will apply for rental assistance before June 30, 2022 cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent until their application is processed; Protections end on Sept. 30, 2022
Monday the Oregon State Legislature in a special session passed SB 5561 (2nd Special Session of 2021) that adds an additional $100 million in state funding to the federal Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) to help tenants and landlords in need. The Legislature also passed SB 891 (2nd Special Session of 2021) to ensure tenants who apply for rental assistance before June 30, 2022 cannot be evicted until their application is processed. The protections end on Sept. 30, 2022. The legislation is now with Governor Brown for her signature.
Following is a statement from Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) Executive Director Margaret Salazar:
“We are deeply appreciative that the Oregon State Legislature and Governor Brown came together to provide more time and protection for renters to get the rental assistance they need during this critical time. We know eviction risk is real for too many families. As renters testified to over the weekend, the looming fear of eviction is devastating. The anxiety of a 60-day clock hanging over the heads of tenants in need has taken a toll.”
“We are also grateful that additional state funds will go toward OERAP assistance while the state awaits the potential for additional federal funding. Together with our local program partners and our vendor Public Partnerships (PPL), we are quickly processing as many applications as possible so that landlords can be made whole, and tenants can remain safely and affordably housed.”
It’s been eight months since the launch of the federal OERAP, and as of this week, more than $181 million has been paid to more than 26,000 households. OERAP continues to be one of the nation’s leading programs. As of today, Oregon is ranked 4th in the nation, up from 6th in the nation last week, in the percentage of ERA funds paid out and obligated, as tracked by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In the past 11 months, OHCS has distributed more than $381 million in emergency rental assistance––more than every year in the prior decade combined.
Highlights from the legislation that will impact tenants and landlords include:
- Renters who fall behind on current or future rent now have until June 30, 2022 to apply for OERAP to access the safe harbor period ending on Sept. 30, 2022. If they apply before June 30, they cannot be evicted before their application is processed. Renters must show their landlord they have applied for the program to receive the protections.
- The new legislation overrides previous “safe harbor” periods passed by the Oregon State Legislature (60 days statewide) and some local jurisdictions (90 days in Multnomah County, unincorporated Washington County and Lane County).
- An additional $100 million in state funds will be added to OERAP, which had previously been funded solely by federal funds. The state is working to secure additional federal funds from the U.S. Treasury, but the timeline is unclear.
- OHCS will notify landlords if an application is approved or denied.
- Landlords will have access to compensation if a tenant is denied rental assistance after using the safe harbor protections through the Landlord Guarantee Program, which will receive $10 million from SB 5561.
- The Legislature also allocated $100 million for eviction prevention efforts in the immediate and intermediate term.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies arrested a Medford man Friday morning after serving a search warrant at his residence on the 3900 block of West Main Street. Emilio Castillejos-Lopez, 46, of Medford is lodged in the Jackson County jail on 12 sex crime charges.
On November 24, 2021, JCSO deputies responded to a report of a sexual assault in the Medford area. After the initial report, detectives identified a previous possible victim. Upon further investigation it was determined that there was probable cause to arrest Castillejos-Lopez for numerous sex crimes including rape, sex abuse, sodomy, and luring a minor.
Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force assisted with the search warrant and will forensically examine digital devices seized for further evidence of sex crimes. Castillejos-Lopez has been charged with four counts of first-degree sexual abuse, two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, second-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, two counts of second-degree sodomy, second-degree sexual penetration, and luring a minor. Bail is set at $2,272,500.
Lane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue personnel have located the missing subjects in the Box Canyon area off of Forest Service Rd. 19.
All five persons are accounted for and in good health,” the sheriff’s office said Monday afternoon.
“The Lane County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank those that promptly provided information on this case. Tips provided by the public allowed searchers to quickly narrow the search area and find the missing persons”.
A group of five people did not return from a snow trip as planned on Sunday night, The group – an adult man and woman with three boys – were traveling in blue/gray 2018 Chevrolet Silverado pickup.
OREGON ADDS 10,000 JOBS IN NOVEMBER
Nonfarm payroll employment in Oregon rose by 10,000 in November, following a revised gain of 6,400 jobs in October.
In November, gains were largest in leisure and hospitality (+4,100 jobs), construction (+1,800), professional and business services (+1,600), and retail trade (+1,100). These gains were partially offset by a loss of 1,100 jobs in health care and social assistance.
Several industries added enough jobs to reach all-time highs. Construction employed 113,800 in November, which was 500 jobs above its prior record reached in February 2020 during the peak of Oregon’s prior economic expansion. Similarly, wholesale trade, which added 400 jobs in November, reached 77,400, enough to boost it to a record high for the first time since February 2020. Professional and business services rose to 257,500 jobs in November, which was 100 jobs above its pre-COVID record.
Leisure and hospitality added 4,100 jobs in November, following a gain of 3,600 in October. Despite these gains, leisure and hospitality still accounts for a large share of Oregon’s jobs not recovered since early 2020, with 25,400 jobs left to recover to reach the prior peak month of February 2020. The industry has regained 77% of jobs lost early in the pandemic.
Education and health services was 16,000 jobs — or 5% — below its pre-recession peak. Within this broad industry, nursing and residential care facilities was 6,900 jobs below its pre-recession peak, and private educational services was down 3,900. Employment in hospitals was down 2,700 jobs, and ambulatory health care services was down 1,200.
Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.2% in November, down from 4.4% in October. The U.S. unemployment rate was also 4.2% in November. Oregon’s unemployment rate has declined rapidly over the past six months; it was close to 6% throughout the first half of the year. Oregon’s unemployment rate is now close to the state’s historically low unemployment rates which averaged 3.9% during 2017 through 2019, the three calendar years at the end of the prior economic expansion.
Oregon Farm Bureau helps secure historic state disaster funding package
The Oregon Farm Bureau today helped secure over $75 million in disaster aid from the Oregon Legislature to help producers who were impacted by the 2021 natural disasters. The funding includes $40 million in a direct assistance program for producers who experienced less than average farm income in 2021 due to natural disasters, nearly $14 million for irrigation districts impacted by drought, millions in domestic well assistance, and millions for drought resiliency.
The program also includes $5 million for grasshopper and cricket eradication. The $40 million direct assistance program is structured as a forgivable loan, which will be forgiven if a producer’s revenue losses are demonstrated at the close of the year. The program will work through local lending institutions, so stay tuned for information on how to apply.
“The Oregon Farm Bureau and our partners have been working toward this package since early this summer, and we are grateful that the Legislature was able to secure its passage today,” said Mary Anne Cooper, VP of Government Affairs at the Oregon Farm Bureau.
“Relief to producers impacted by this year’s natural disasters cannot come soon enough, and we look forward to working with the Oregon Department of Agriculture to get the direct assistance program up and running. We particularly want to thank the Governor for her diligent pursuit of this natural disaster package, and our advocates in the Legislature for being such strong advocates for its passage. We also want to thank the producers who wrote their legislators, advocated at the legislative hearings, and had their legislators out to see the damage natural disasters have had on their operations. This package would not have happened without their strong advocacy.” Oregon Farm Bureau
Grocery workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington are going on strike
The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 says its members voted Saturday to authorize a strike against Fred Meyer and Quality Food Centers.
The union says the chains disregard federal labor law, engage in unfair labor practices and have failed to negotiate in good faith with the union. Workers have been fighting for a new contract since July. The bargaining process is set to resume tomorrow.
Legislature approves $18 million funding package for refugee resettlement and support
- Oregon has committed to resettling 1,200 Afghan arrivals, but existing federal funding does not provide adequate support for these efforts.
- The Oregon Legislature has approved $18 million in funding to support emergency and ongoing refugee resettlement activities.
- The funding package addresses gaps in federal funding that would have made it difficult for the state to meet immediate resettlement needs of Afghan arrivals.
(Salem) – During the December special session, the Oregon Legislature approved $18 million in funding for Afghan refugee resettlement efforts. This funding will help provide Afghan individuals and families resettling in Oregon with housing, education, legal aid, job training and other culturally responsive services.
The Oregon Department of Human Services’ (ODHS) Refugee Program administers federally funded cash and medical supports to refugees and individuals with eligible immigration statuses, and contracts with Resettlement Agencies (RAs) to provide initial resettlement services.
The United States is currently coordinating the relocation of more than 70,000 people following their evacuation from Afghanistan. Afghan families began arriving in Oregon this fall, and the number of arrivals will increase in the coming months. Oregon has committed to resettling 1,200 Afghan arrivals, but existing federal funding does not provide adequate support for these efforts. This newly approved funding will address critical resource gaps in the state’s resettlement plan.
Refugee resettlement activities declined during the previous administration due to lower annual refugee admissions, which in turn prompted a drawback of resources. The Biden Administration has since increased the number of refugees permitted to enter the United States, but funding and capacity have remained major issues. Senator Kayse Jama (D-Portland) and Representative Khanh Pham (D-Portland) have called for a compassionate response to evacuated Afghan allies, urging the state to address the gaps and create a strong foundation for refugees’ future in Oregon.
“We know that Afghan families and individuals coming to Oregon have experienced trauma,” said ODHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht. “We must be mindful that Afghan arrivals have left behind friends, family, cherished homes and established businesses to start a new life. They will become our neighbors, coworkers and productive members of our communities. We owe it to them to make their first days, weeks and months in Oregon as stress-free as possible, connecting them to quality and easy-to-navigate resources, from meals to jobs supports to connections with faith-based organizations.”
The approved $18 million in funding will enable the department to meet the immediate needs of Afghan arrivals while building back much-needed refugee resettlement infrastructure to accommodate the increase in arrivals from around the world. Funding includes allocations for the following:
- Short-term housing and food assistance
- Long-term housing assistance
- Case management and community-based outreach and support
- Legal services to seek permanent immigration status
“The state of Oregon has really stepped up to meet the needs of individuals and families from Afghanistan,” said Claire Seguin, deputy director of ODHS Self-Sufficiency Programs and the state’s refugee coordinator. “We began this year with three partner resettlement agencies, and now we have five. The level of commitment and the outpouring of community support has been astounding, in addition to the refugee support network that already existed. This funding, paired with so much thoughtful planning, allows us to channel that commitment into real supports for Afghan arrivals.”
The state’s Refugee Program assists refugees and individuals with qualifying immigration statuses. The program partners with Oregon’s five local refugee resettlement agencies (Catholic Charities, Lutheran Community Services Northwest, Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees, Salem for Refugees, and the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization) and other community partners to provide services. Statewide coordination of services and resources is provided by program staff. Learn more at: https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/assistance/refugee/pages/index.aspx
Crook County is situated in one of the driest parts of the state — it’s one of two counties in Oregon to be completely in the highest level on the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Now, one of the county’s biggest employers is trying to combat the drought with an aggressive water restoration program.
Facebook’s parent company Meta, which operates a data storage center on the outskirts of Prineville, is implementing two projects it says will improve water availability in Crook County. The social media giant says the projects will help it to achieve its water conservation goals, which include being “water positive” by 2030, meaning that it will return more water to the environment than it consumes at its facilities.
Meta, which also owns Oculus, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, plans to accomplish this feat by partnering with environmental groups and federal regulators to restore degraded habitats in Oregon and five other states. It is also upgrading its technologies to make its data centers more water efficient.
Technological developments in the last decade, as well as the use of outside air for cooling, have allowed Meta’s data centers “to operate 80% more water efficiently on average compared to the industry standard,” said Melanie Roe, a spokesperson for Meta.
A convicted pedophile from Grants Pass died in state custody while serving his prison sentence, the Oregon Department of Corrections reported on Monday.
50-year-old Lloyd Brian Jones died Monday morning. He’d been serving time at Two Rivers Correctional Institution (TRCI) in Umatilla and died at a local hospital, DOC said. Jones was handed over to state custody on December 29, 2016, from Josephine County. His earliest release date was January 22 of 2025.
According to court documents, Jones pleaded “no contest” to five counts in October of 2016, with all of the charges related to the abuse and sexual exploitation of several children. He’d been arrested just a few months earlier, in April.
Grocery workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington are going on strike. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 says its members voted Saturday to authorize a strike against Fred Meyer and Quality Food Centers.
The union says the chains disregard federal labor law, engage in unfair labor practices and have failed to negotiate in good faith with the union. Workers have been fighting for a new contract since July. The bargaining process is set to resume tomorrow.
Legislature Approves Funding To Combat Illegal Cannabis Operations in Oregon
On Monday, the Oregon State Legislature approved funding to combat illegal cannabis operations in the state.
SB 893 provides $25 million to local law enforcement agencies to address unlawful marijuana cultivation or distribution operations.
Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp said, “It’s clear that law enforcement needs more help to stop these dangerous illegal operations. This package gives our county partners the resources they need to hire the law enforcement and water masters to oversee the huge task they have in front of them”.
Democratic State Senator Jeff Golden said “Illegal cannabis operations in Southern Oregon have been using our limited water supply, abusing local workers, threatening neighbors and negatively impacting businesses run by legal marijuana growers. This is urgent funding we need right now to protect our agriculture industry, a pillar of Oregon’s economy and the Rogue Valley’s quality of life”.
SB 893 passed on unanimous votes in both the Senate and the House. Lawmakers covered a number of other topics in bills passed in Monday’s one-day special session.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is holding a drawing for a chance to buy rare spirits.
They include several varieties of Pappy Van Winkle whiskey, A Midwinter Nights Dram, and Eagle Rare 17 year. These are liquors that are difficult to find at state liquor stores in Oregon, because they usually go to bars. Prices range from 80 to 330 dollars a bottle. The chance to purchase opens online on Wednesday.