Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 12/16 – KCSD Schools Two Hour Delayed Start; Slippery Road Conditions for Klamath County and Southern Oregon

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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.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today A 20% chance of snow showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 38. Overnight cloudy with a low around 17. Calm wind.

Friday Cloudy through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high near 34. Overnight mostly cloudy with a low around 15 degrees.
Saturday Partly sunny, with a high near 38. Overnight a 20% chance of snow after 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 20.
Sunday A 40% chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 38. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Monday A chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 39.

See Road Camera Views

Lake of the Woods   
Doak Mtn.   
Hiway 97 at Chemult   
Hiway 140 at  Bly       
Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr.            
Hiway 97 at LaPine

Today’s Headlines

After months of contract negotiations have led to an impasse, 164 members of a labor union that represents Klamath County employees who work in multiple departments have voted to authorize a strike.

The strike was authorized by the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 737, and union leaders met with members in Klamath Falls on Tuesday night to discuss the details of possible labor action.

Now that members have given the union the power to call a strike, the union must then give the county a 10 day notice before it can go into effect.

Local 737 represents employees ranging from developmental disability services to the juvenile department, community corrections, assessor and finance offices, landfill employees and more.

Brian Davidson, field representative for the union in Southern Oregon, said the impasse stems from a disagreement on wage increases. The union, Davidson said, is asking for a six percent wage increase each year for the next two years. He said that is necessary to bring pay in line with workers doing similar jobs in other municipalities and the private sector and keep up with rising inflation.

After reviewing feedback from thousands of people from around the Klamath Basin and across the state, the Klamath Falls Parks Advisory Board voted to rename Kit Carson Park.

At the routine parks advisory board meeting on Thursday, Dec. 9, all of the board’s members were present and the final vote was in favor of renaming, said John Bellon, parks and recreation public relations manager and urban forester for the city.

Bellon said it is not certain when the recommendation will be sent to the Klamath Falls City Council for final deliberations and decision, but he anticipated it will happen in the next couple months. There are seven members on the parks advisory board, with the majority voting in favor of the change while two members abstained.

The board came to their conclusion after reviewing community feedback from a survey the city sent out last month asking if the name change should move forward. Klamath Falls Mayor Carol Westfall said the board will present its recommendation to city council at its next meeting. 

A local air ambulance service recently purchased a helicopter which it will donate for use primarily by the Klamath Falls Sheriff’s Office.

Emergency Airlift, the Klamath Falls-based air ambulance operation, recently bought the Bell UH-1 helicopter. It will be primarily used for search and rescue tactical operations in Klamath County, Emergency Airlift said in a statement last week.

The helicopter will be available not just for Klamath, but six other counties in southern Oregon. The helicopter can carry 12 passengers and its ample fuel capacity makes it one of the highest performing aircrafts in its category, the release said.

Ed Langerveld, CEO of Emergency Airlift, has been a volunteer reserve deputy for the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office since 2010. He has been generous in donating aircrafts to the Sheriff’s Office in the past, Brandon Fowler, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office said.

There are two director position vacancies for the Bonanza-Langell Valley Vector Control District effective in January 2022.

To be eligible, applicants must be a registered voter in Klamath County and reside within the boundaries of the District. Applications are available online at the Klamath County Commissioners website. On top of page, click on “government.” On right hand column click on “special districts vacancies” and applications.

For more information, call Linda at 541-281-3772.

There are 49 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,469. OHA reported 883 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 402,436.

Klamath County reported 18 new cases yesterday.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (8), Clackamas (63), Clatsop (25), Columbia (5), Coos (23), Crook (12), Curry (7), Deschutes (39), Douglas (51), Gilliam (3), Grant (12), Harney (3), Hood River (5), Jackson (63), Jefferson (5), Josephine (36), Klamath (18), Lake (2), Lane (68), Lincoln (8), Linn (45), Malheur (4), Marion (90), Morrow (3), Multnomah (128), Polk (28), Tillamook (13), Umatilla (16), Union (2), Wasco (2), Washington (87), and Yamhill (30).

More than 3 million Oregonians have received COVID-19 vaccines

More than 3 million Oregonians have received at least one dose of the three authorized COVID-19 vaccines as of Tuesday, OHA is reporting.

Oregon reached the milestone just two days short of the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 vaccine doses — made by Pfizer-BioNTech — administered in Oregon on Dec. 16, 2020. All told, 3,002,602 persons have been vaccinated, or 70.4% of all people living in Oregon, as reported to the state’s vaccine registry known as ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).

“Vaccines continue to be our most effective tool in our ongoing response to pandemic,” said Dean Sidelinger, M.D., M.S.Ed., health officer and state epidemiologist at OHA. “All of the vaccines now authorized for people ages 5 and older in the United States provide protection from COVID-19 infection and illness, including the more transmissible variants. Thank you to everyone who has taken this important step to protect themselves, their families and loved ones. We continue to ask all Oregonians who have not received a shot to get vaccinated as quickly as they can, and for those who already started their vaccine series, to get their next shot or schedule a booster as soon as they are able.”

Along with increasing vaccinations and boosters, OHA continues to encourage Oregonians to wear masks in indoor public settings as the state continues to fight the impacts of the Delta variant and prepares to the face the even more transmissible Omicron variant.

COVID-19 illness remains the greatest threat to anyone who is not yet vaccinated.

Oregon State Police says that a two-vehicle crash along Highway 62 north of Eagle Point on Tuesday resulted in the deaths of two people.

Troopers and emergency crews responded to reports of the crash just before 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday. According to the initial OSP investigation, 35-year-old Whitney Smith of Medford had been driving a Chevy Cruise eastbound on Highway 62 when she moved into the oncoming lane in order to pass another driver who had been preparing to make a left turn on Hammel Road.

When Smith went to pass, OSP said, she collided head-on with 35-year-old Elyse Hines of Eagle Point in a Subaru Legacy heading the opposite direction. Hines received fatal injuries in the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene. Smith was taken to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center where she later died from her injuries.

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Sherm’s Markets is set to deliver its annual truckload of food items to the ACCESS Food Bank, what is now an annual tradition of helping to fight food insecurity.

The Olsrud family, owners of Sherm’s Food 4 Less and Thunderbird Markets, will deliver about 23,000 pounds of food to ACCESS on Friday.

The non-perishable food items will then be distributed out to food pantries throughout the region, which ACCESS says are seeing an increase in the amount of people needing assistance this time of year.

The Olsrud family has donated tens of thousands of pounds of food every year since 2000. In fiscal year 2021, more than 44,000 Jackson County residents received food assistance through ACCESS’ food programs, and 5.2 million pounds of food were distributed through 18 pantries in Jackson County. 

Yesterday’s significant snowstorm put a crimp on local educational outlets. Oregon Tech closed its campus at 2pm.

Also, all afterschool and extracurricular activities in the Klamath County School District were canceled for yesterday. This includes: Athletic practices and/or open gyms, Games/contests (at home and away), School programs and Club activities.

 While the snowfall was more than most anticipated, forecast information calls for the snow to diminish late tonight.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon Wildfire Recovery Update

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management has posted the Oregon Wildfire Recovery Update for Dec. 15, 2021, to the Oregon Wildfire Response & Recovery website. View today’s Wildfire Recovery update here.


Dark Horse Comics releases comic book exploring how to prevent and prepare for Northwest wildfires

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management and Dark Horse Comics have released a new comic book titled, Without Warning! Wildfire. Addressing what to do before and during a Northwest wildfire, the comic is third in a series of educational and entertaining comic books promoting emergency preparedness.

“The Without Warning! comic book series began because we found that many public education publications struggled to resonate with younger audiences,” said Althea Rizzo, OEM Geologic Hazards Program Coordinator. “The series has been a huge hit, helping us engage with youth while introducing and reinforcing the concept of readiness.”

Emergencies and disasters can happen at any time, often without warning. Empowering every Oregonian – including youth – to reduce their risk, be ready, and know what to do when disaster strikes is critical to staying safe. Kids and teens who are prepared often experience less anxiety and feel more confident during actual emergencies and disasters.

“Smokey Bear offers a variety of educational options for young children, but it’s been challenging to find engaging and creative resources to talk with teens and young adults about wildfire prevention,” said Kristin Babbs, President and CEO of the Keep Oregon Green Association. “This comic book fills that important gap.” 

Without Warning! Wildfire features characters hiking and camping in a Northwest wilderness area who are forced to flee for their lives to escape a quickly moving wildfire. The comic helps teach readers how to protect themselves, their loved ones and wildlands when wildfires occur. 

Without Warning! Wildfire is available to read for free at Dark Horse DigitalOEM’s website, and on iOS and Android apps. It is also available on Kindle, Comixology, Google Play and Apple Books. Printed copies are available in English and Spanish through county emergency management offices, Clackamas Community College and Keep Oregon Green.

The first two comics in the series, Without Warning! Earthquake (published in 2014) and Without Warning! Tsunami (published in 2016), have been distributed throughout the Northwest and adapted for other regions, helping support readiness in communities across the U.S. 

The comic book series originated with OEM’s GeoHazards program, which works with partners to create tools and programs to make Oregon more resilient to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes. This latest issue was produced in collaboration with OEM, Dark Horse Comics, Clackamas Community College, Oregon Dept. of Forestry and Keep Oregon Green.

Oregon Dentist Faces Federal Charges for Stealing Nearly $8 Million in COVID-Relief Program Funds

A federal criminal complaint was unsealed today charging an Oregon dentist with fraudulently converting to his personal use nearly $8 million in loans intended to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Salwan Adjaj, 43, a former dentist residing in West Linn, Oregon, has been charged with aggravated identity theft and wire fraud.

According to court documents, in and around March 2021, Adjaj allegedly   submitted dozens of fraudulent loan applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in an attempt to obtain funds through the Economic Impact Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. The EIDL program was one of several economic relief programs originally authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). It enabled SBA to issue low-interest loans to small businesses adversely impacted by the pandemic and associated mitigation measures. 

Adjaj used the names and employer identification numbers (EIN) of fictitious business entities on the fraudulent EIDL applications. He further provided false information about the business start dates, number of employees, and locations, and the identities of the purported applicants and business owners. Most of the fraudulent applications were submitted in other peoples’ names, but with Adjaj’s personal residence as the business mailing address. All of the applications were submitted online from an internet protocol (IP) address associated with Adjaj’s dental practice.

The Medford Police Department believes that hypothermia may have been the cause of death for a man whose body was discovered underneath the 10th Street overpass on Wednesday morning.

Around 8:30 a.m., MPD said that a passerby flagged down an officer to tell them that someone was under the bridge and in need of help. The officer found the man in question by the waterline of Bear Creek, but he was “beyond help” Police began a death investigation, assisted by detectives from the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s office. Evidence at the scene suggested that the man had suffered from hypothermia, and MPD told NewsWatch 12 that several of the man’s articles of clothing had been removed. The man was identified as 29-year-old transient Manuel Barboza-Valerio.

His next of kin have been notified of his death. Barboza-Valerio’s officials cause and manner of death remain under investigation.

Grants Pass Man arrested for Child Pornography

Bateman mugshot

The Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) joint inter-agency task force alongside the Grants Pass Police Department served a search warrant on Wednesday morning, December 15, 2021, at a residence in the 800 block of NE D Street in Grants Pass. 

Investigators discovered numerous images of child pornography had been uploaded at the residence. 

Investigators conducted interviews and ultimately arrested Dalton Bateman, a 22-year-old male, for the following offenses: Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse 1st Degree (6 counts) and Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse 2nd Degree (6 counts). Bateman was lodged at the Josephine County Jail.

Tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) initiated the investigation, which led to subpoenas and ultimately a search warrant at the residence.  Digital devices were seized that will be forensically examined by the Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force for evidence of child exploitation.

SOCET is a joint inter-agency task force that started in June of 2020 to combat child exploitation and human trafficking.  The task force consists of investigators from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, Medford Police Department, Grants Pass Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations as well as prosecutors from our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners in Jackson and Josephine Counties. 

If you have any information about this ongoing investigation, please call Detective Heather Yerrick at 541-450-6260 (GPPD Case #21-48259).

A Bend Police officer charged with assaulting a man while on duty has pleaded not guilty.

Kevin Uballez, 38, appeared by video Tuesday in Deschutes County Circuit Court, where he entered pleas of not guilty and was given future court dates, The Bulletin reported.

Uballez now has an address in southwest Portland listed with the court. He has been on paid leave since October, when he was charged with harassment and fourth-degree assault, both misdemeanors. A call and email from the newspaper to Uballez’s attorney, Steven L. Myers, were not returned.

Prosecutors said that in June, while attempting to take Caleb Hamlin into custody, Uballez slammed him into the ground.

The captain of a commercial crab boat in Oregon has been criminally cited for Taking Undersized Commercial Dungeness Crab.

Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife troopers were inspecting catches at a seafood processing plant in Warrenton when they noticed many of the crab were too small. The boat had 46-thousand pounds of crab. Nearly 12-thousand pounds were inspected and over 22-percent of the crabs were undersized.

The illegal crab was worth 49-thousand dollars. Besides being cited for the illegal catch, the captain could also face restitution of twice the crab’s value, or nearly 100-thousand dollars.

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