Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 12/28 – Cold Temps, Winter Driving Conditions Continue Through New Year’s Weekend; Little Snow Expected for the Basin But Icy Slick Roads for Days

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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today A 40% chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 29. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. Overnight tonight, more snow showers with a low of 19 degrees. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Wednesday A 30% chance of snow showers before 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 31. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Thursday A 20%chance of snow after 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 33.
Friday A slight chance of snow before 10am. Partly sunny, with a high near 32. Overnight low of 7.
Saturday, New Year’s Day Mostly sunny, with a high near 29.

See Road Camera Views

Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr. (Bi-pass)
Lake of the Woods   
Doak Mtn.   
Hiway 97 at Chemult   
Hiway 140 at  Bly
Hiway 97 at LaPine

Today’s Headlines

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The holiday weekend may be over, but the holiday winter storm system isn’t, and transportation officials are warning drivers to be prepared.

ODOT, The Oregon Department of Transportation, said Monday that snowy roads and winter conditions will continue throughout the week, urging drivers to plan ahead, take extra time, and expect delays.

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Roads in high elevation areas could be covered in packed snow and ice. ODOT pointed to Highways 62, 138, and 230 as particularly treacherous.

Traffic on I-5 near Wolf Creek came to a standstill Monday afternoon due to a downed tree blocking part of the roadway. ODOT reports that the northbound lanes were blocked while southbound was reduced to one lane through the area.  Traffic was said to be backed up for miles, much of it truck traffic.

Chains are still required through several of these high elevation areas — including I-5 over the Siskiyou Summit — and requirements could change  frequently, ,as conditions evolve.

Drivers are asked to monitor Tripcheck.com for the latest information and use designated chain-up areas and road shoulders only for chaining up. Travel is strongly discouraged because of dangerous conditions.  

If you must travel, keep tire chains, a flashlight, blankets, food, water, medications, and a fully charged phone with you.  The safest place during a winter storm is indoors. 

Locally, federal and state offices were open but Oregon Tech closed its campus to all activity yesterday.  The Klamath County School District also suspended all extra curricular activities and announced a district wide closure yesterday.

Beginning at midnight and continuing until approximately 8:00AM, Klamath Falls City Streets crews will be pulling snow from the curbs in the downtown core (Center Street to Esplanade and 6th Street to Washburn) and placing it in the middle of the roadway in preparation for future removal.

Snow haul-off operation will begin tomorrow at midnight and will continue until approximately 8:00 a.m. For additional information, contact Public Works at (541) 883-5363.

An active duty sergeant in the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office faces charges of sexual abuse and harassment in Lane County after he allegedly touched a Klamath Falls woman inappropriately and without her consent.

Benjamin James Scheen, 45, faces third-degree sexual abuse and sexual harassment charges, according to court documents filed in April 2021 with the Lane County Circuit Court.

The charges were filed after a Klamath Falls woman — the fiancée of a former fellow Klamath County deputy who left their post last summer — alleged Scheen touched her inappropriately at a bar in Eugene while they were attending a law enforcement training in July 2020. The 34-year-old victim reported Scheen subjected her “to unwanted, intimate touching,” court filings showed.

Public information officer for the KCSO, Brandon Fowler, said the agency plans to evaluate the situation after the legal process in Lane County takes its course.  An arrest warrant was issued for Scheen on the two Class A misdemeanor charges on April 21, 2021, court filings showed.

Scheen pleaded not guilty to both charges, and his six person jury trial is scheduled for March 15, 2022.

A New Year’s Day tradition in Klamath Falls, the Hangover Handicap, will return on Saturday.

Race director Alden Glidden said the run, which was canceled last year because of concerns about Covid-19, will begin at 9 a.m. at Veteran’s Park in downtown Klamath Falls.

Participants are asked to register by 8:45. a.m. There is no entry fee. The course is 2.3 miles long. From Veteran’s Park, it goes along Klamath Avenue to and around the Klamath County Museum, then returns to the park along Main Street. Runners and walkers typically participate. Some years the event has lured 100 men, women, children and — increasingly — dogs. The event has been held for about 50 years. Although the 2021 run was formally canceled, many runners and walkers unofficially continued the tradition.

As part of a relatively new tradition, trophies will be given to the first place male, first place female and, unusually, the first place dog.

As the weather gets colder and the snow starts to fall, it can be dangerous to the unhoused community in Klamath Falls.

Fortunately, there are a few warming shelters in Klamath County, some of which are daytime shelters while others provide overnight accommodations

One of the traditional sanctuaries from the winter elements is the warming center at Thrive Church, 235 South Laguna Street in Klamath Falls. Across the river, the Klamath Falls Gospel Mission will provide shelter to anyone in need at any time, granted they are not under the influence of drugs and alcohol, said director Ammond Crawford.

Additionally, the Link Access Center across the street from the Gospel Mission also is open to those looking to get out of the cold.

The Link Access Center has a sobering center on site, which is available to those who are in need of a place to stay while struggling with alcoholism. 

The Youth and Family Guidance Center is located at 635 Main Street in Klamath Falls, and provides Tribal members in need with a place to stay warm during the day.

Finally, the RRW Red is the Road to Wellness provides a daily warming center as well.

The Hope Center is located at 925 East Main Street and is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. 

Around the state of Oregon

Blowing snow in mountains of Northern California and Nevada closed key highways, while an arctic blast brought frigid temperatures to the Pacific Northwest and unusually warm weather settled over parts of Texas and the Southeast.

At Donner Pass in the Sierra, officials with the University of California, Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory on Monday said recent snowfall has smashed the snowiest December record of 179 inches (4.6 meters), set in 1970. The record is now 193.7 inches (4.9 meters) as more snow is expected.

In Nevada, freezing air and blinding snow blasted across the northern part of the state on Monday, affecting travel and business, closing Sierra Nevada highway passes, delaying airport flights and shutting state offices.

Several flights were canceled or delayed at Reno-Tahoe International Airport and at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, where skies were clear but nearby mountains were capped by snow.

Following nationwide trends, the Rogue Valley International Airport has been dealing with canceled and delayed flights over the holiday weekend.

Its largely because of omicron related covid callouts from airline employees and the imclement weather hitting much of the West Coast.

The Rogue Valley Internationals website indicates that at least 5 flights were canceled on Sunday, some yesterday, and many more have been delayed. Across the country, airlines canceled hundreds more flights today because of staffing shortages tied to COVID-19 as the nation’s travel woes extended beyond Christmas. There was no clear indication when normal schedules would resume.

More than 700 flights entering, leaving or flying within the U.S. were called off. That’s according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware. That figure was down from nearly 1,000 on Saturday. More than 50 flights were already canceled for Monday.

Delta, United and JetBlue have blamed the omicron variant of the coronavirus for causing illness among many employees.

Pacific Power Continues Service Restoration Work In Wake Of Winter Storms

With cold temperatures persisting and more snow likely, the company making progress restoring power, with service returning to most customers by tonight. 

Customers in Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine counties are experiencing lingering outages related to multiple snowstorms that continue to hit the area since Christmas Day.

With nearly 275 Pacific Power employees and contractors working in freezing conditions to repair damage, the pace of restoration is accelerating. Additional personnel have been directed to the region from other Pacific Power operating regions to assist in the restoration.

As of 4 P.M. today, approximately 2,700 customers are in the process of having service restored. Most customers are expected to have service restored later tonight.

Visit pacificpower.net/outages for a map showing current restoration estimates.

“With severe weather and the holidays, any outage is too long,” said Curtis Mansfield, senior vice president of power delivery. “We are battling the elements to restore power as quickly and as safely as possible. We appreciate the patience shown by customers during this challenging time.”

Pacific Power emergency managers and regional business managers are working with local emergency officials to prioritize power restoration to critical facilities in the communities affected by extended outages.

Pacific Power encourages customers to report outages by calling 1-877-508-5088 or text OUT to 722797Text STAT to 722797 to check the status of your outage. 

TIPS FROM PACIFIC POWER

To ease the inconvenience of power outages and assist crews in restoring power, Pacific Power suggests the following tips and safety precautions:

  • Stay away from all downed power lines and utility lines. Even if the lines are not sparking, they could be energized and extremely dangerous. Call 911 and report the outage to Pacific Power at 1-877-508-5088
  • Don’t drive over downed power lines.
  • Maintain safe distances from workers. Repair work is being done under our COVID-19 safety protocols. Waves and acknowledgement are welcome, but please allow crews to do their work at an appropriate distance both for operational and COVID-19 safety.
  • If there is damage to your service mast or weather head, where the powerline connects to your home or business, you will need to contact a licensed electrician for repairs before service can be restored. Our crews can only work on company-owned equipment.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially those who may need special assistance. Also, check with others who have electricity, to see if you can visit.
  • If you have power at this time, keep mobile devices charged so that may be used in an emergency. Before anything happens, download the Pacific Power app to your smart device so you can have information readily available.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. 
  • Remember your pets! Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy.
  • If you are using alternate heat or cooking sources, remember to allow plenty of ventilation. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. 
  • If you are using a generator, make sure to follow all manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure the generator is outside and not near any household air intakes. Do not connect the generator directly to your breaker box as this can create a dangerous situation for crews working on the powerlines. Instead, plug essential appliances directly into the generator.

Investigators are still looking for answers in the apparent shooting death of a 17-year-old male near Trail on Sunday evening, according to the latest from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies responded to a call from the 600-block of Netherlands Road southeast of Trail around 8:15 p.m. on Sunday. They arrived to find a 17-year-old male dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

JCSO said that no charges have been filed at present, and “all involved parties are cooperating with authorities.” The Major Assault and Death Investigative Unit (MADIU) was activated. JCSO detectives are leading the investigation with help from Oregon State Police, the Medford Police Department, and the Jackson County District Attorney’s office. Authorities have yet to locate next of kin for the victim. JCSO said that the investigation remains active and ongoing.

Oregon reports 3,585 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 25 new deaths

There are 25 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,623, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported today. OHA reported 3,585 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 414,140.

The 25 new deaths and 3,585 new cases reported today include data recorded by counties for the four-day period between Dec. 23 and Dec. 26.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (9), Benton (105), Clackamas (428), Clatsop (10), Columbia (30), Coos (26), Crook (6), Curry (1), Deschutes (324), Douglas (52), Grant (5), Harney (8), Hood River (13), Jackson (169), Jefferson (25), Josephine (104), Klamath (18), Lane (256), Lincoln (32), Linn (155), Malheur (9), Marion (97), Morrow (7), Multnomah (1,032), Polk (23), Tillamook (12), Umatilla (37), Union (20), Wasco (10), Washington (540) and Yamhill (22).

A 62-year-old with memory issues was reported missing from his care facility in southeast Portland, and police are asking for help bringing him home safe.

David Pond was last seen at about 1 p.m. Saturday when he left his care facility at 7759 SE 72nd Avenue.

Officials said he left on a pass and was expected to return in an hour. Police said Pond might be in danger, due to the freezing and wintry conditions, and because he was unfamiliar with TriMet’s holiday schedule.

Pond is described as about 5-foot 7-inches tall, but is often hunched over and appears to be closer to 5 feet tall, officials said. He weighs around 150 pounds, and was last seen wearing a long navy blue pea coat and blue jeans. He has balding white hair and a full beard.

The mother of a Ridgeview High School cheerleader who broke her arm at practice is suing the Redmond School District.

Freshman Reese Evenhus was attempting a group stunt called a 360 in 2019, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Deschutes County Circuit Court.

Reese’s mother, Amy Evenhus, claims the stunt was beyond her daughter’s abilities as a junior varsity athlete and is seeking $850,000 in compensation for alleged permanent injuries. The district has yet to respond to the claims in the suit. A spokesperson said Monday the district cannot comment on pending litigation.

State Provides Insurance Tips For Snowstorm, Freezing Temperatures

If your home or car is damaged in this month’s snowstorm, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recommends calling your insurance company or agent to ask about your policy coverage, exclusions, and deductibles before filing a claim.

Winter storms can cause several different types of damage. Extensive damage, such as trees falling on a home or car, may require immediate attention. However, minor damage, such as food spoilage, a few missing shingles, or a scratch on a car door, may not exceed your deductible.

Before filing a claim, it is important to know if the amount of your loss is worth the effect filing a claim can have on your premium rates. It may be better to handle repairs yourself, if the loss is less than or close to your deductible.

Review these tips to understand how your coverage may apply and talk to your insurance company or agent to understand your specific policy coverage, exclusions, and deductibles.

Homeowners

A typical homeowners policy covers damage to the home caused by falling trees or limbs and weight of ice and snow.

For example, if your home sustained severe structural damage from a fallen tree or other storm debris, and it is deemed uninhabitable, you may qualify for additional living expenses, which helps cover the extra costs of lodging, meals, and even pet boarding while you are unable to live in the home.

If your home lost power and received only minor damage, it will probably still be considered safe to live in, so additional living expenses may not apply.

If your home received minor damage, such as the wind blowing a few shingles off your house, your homeowners insurance will probably replace the damaged shingles, but not the entire roof.

Winter storms can also create sudden damage caused by an ice dam on the roof or pipes bursting due to freezing. This type of damage is typically covered, and can be extensive if a pipe burst floods a home or minor, such as a leak from an ice dam causing a stain on a ceiling.

Coverage may be available for food spoilage due to a power outage. However, be sure to consider if the actual benefit from filing this type of claim is worth the potential effect it can have on your premium. Remember, if the loss is close to or less than your deductible, you may not want to file a claim. If you need to file a claim for another type of damage to your home, food spoilage can typically be added to the claim you need to file for repairs.

Auto

There are three coverage options on an auto insurance policy that typically apply to winter storms.

  • Comprehensive covers damage caused by falling trees or limbs. This includes while your car is parked inside a garage.
  • Collision covers damage to your car that occurs while driving. This includes hitting storm debris or sliding on ice.
  • Liability covers damage you accidentally caused to another person’s property or to a person who is injured in an accident.

Once again, if the cost to repair your car is less than or close to your deductible, you may not want to file a claim.

Remember, the first step is to determine your policy coverage, exclusions, and deductibles. Call your insurance company or agent if you have questions about your policy, and take time to consider if the loss is extensive enough to file a claim.

If you still have questions or concerns, the division’s consumer advocates are here to help. Oregonians can contact the division’s advocates three ways:

Visit the division’s storm insurance resource page for more information.

The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov. Oregon Dept. of Consumer & Business Services 

Scott Erik Asphaug Appointed to Serve as U.S. Attorney for Oregon

USA Asphaug Headshot

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has appointed Scott Erik Asphaug to serve as U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon in an interim capacity, effective December 25, 2021.

Asphaug, who was previously appointed to serve as Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon beginning February 28, 2021, will serve as U.S. Attorney for up to 120 days or until the confirmation of Oregon’s next presidentially-appointed U.S. Attorney by the U.S. Senate. If after 120 days, a new presidentially-appointed U.S. Attorney has not been confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Marco A. Hernández, Chief U.S. District Judge for the District of Oregon, will appoint a U.S. Attorney to serve until such confirmation occurs.

“It is a privilege to serve Oregonians as U.S. Attorney and I look forward to continuing to do so for the next four months or until the confirmation of Oregon’s next presidentially-appointed U.S. Attorney,” said U.S. Attorney Asphaug. “During this time of transition, our office continues to focus intently on our ongoing mission of protecting the safety and wellbeing of all Oregonians.”

Asphaug is a 16-year veteran of the Department of Justice, joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in October 2005. He has held several leadership positions in the district including First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Mortgage Fraud Coordinator, Discovery Coordinator, and Professional Responsibility Officer. Asphaug previously served as a line Assistant U.S. Attorney in both the Civil and Criminal Divisions.

Asphaug received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Minnesota in 1979 and his law degree from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College in 1983. U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon 

OSU Study Shows Exports of Agriculture from Oregon Increased 25% Over Past Six Years

According to an economic analysis report from Oregon State University, exports of agriculture from the state increased 25% over the past six years. That report also showed the number of small farms in Oregon increased since 2015. 3,417 small farms, which is an operation of nine acres or less, have started over the past six years. Meanwhile, 21 new large, or farms of over 2,000 acres started during the same time period. OSU reported the number of midsized farms and organic farms dropped from 2015.

As a whole, agriculture, food, and fiber industries in Oregon account for 9.1% of the state’s economy and 371,300 jobs, with a total value of more than $42 billion.

OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Extension Service produces the report every five or six years in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. It also looked at the effect of wildfires and the pandemic on agriculture, indicating that mechanization of the food industry and supply chains has increased significantly with disruption of the labor market.

The report highlighted Oregon’s competitive advantage in seed crops, hazelnuts, pears, wine grapes, hops, potatoes, onions, mint, cherries, wheat, beef, and dairy.

Museum Announces Submission Opening Date for 2022 Waterston Desert Writing Prize

BEND, OR — The High Desert Museum will begin accepting submissions for the 2022 Waterston Desert Writing Prize on Saturday, January 1.

The ninth annual Prize honors literary nonfiction that illustrates artistic excellence, sensitivity to place, and desert literacy with the desert as both subject and setting. Early, mid-career and established writers are invited to apply.

The Prize award grew to $3,000 this year. The winner also will be featured in a reception and awards ceremony at the Museum in Bend, Oregon in September 2022.

Inspired by author and poet Ellen Waterston’s love of the High Desert, a region that has been her muse for more than 30 years, the Prize recognizes the vital role deserts play worldwide in the ecosystem and human narrative. In 2020, the High Desert Museum—which has long hosted events for the Prize—adopted the program.

“The literary arts provide such a dynamic way to explore the depth and complexity of deserts,” said Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “And since its inception, the Waterston Desert Writing Prize awards ceremony has been a favorite event at the Museum. We’re excited to hear from writers near and far again in 2022.”

The winner of the 2021 Waterston Desert Writing Prize was Ceal Klingler (lookwhereyoulive.net) for “How We Live With Each Other.” Klingler’s submission addressed how animals, plants and other organisms have created livable places with each other at the hard edges of heat, cold, dehydration, floods and fires at the westernmost overlap of the Mojave and Great Basin deserts.

The 2021 finalists were Charles Hood (workman.com/authors/charles-hood) for “Deserts After Dark” and Joe Wilkins for “Desert Reckoning” (joewilkins.org).

To learn more about the Waterston Desert Writing Prize and how to submit an entry, visit highdesertmuseum.org/waterston-prize. Submissions will be accepted through Sunday, May 1 at 11:59 pm.

The High Desert Museum is excited to also announce the return of the Waterston Student Essay Competition, open to young writers from Crook, Deschutes, Harney, Jefferson and Lake counties. It’s open to students in grades nine through 12, in public or private school, or home-schooled. Submission is free. Students may submit essays of 750 to 1,000 words of nonfiction prose to ston@highdesertmuseum.org“>waterston@highdesertmuseum.org from January 1, 2022 through May 1, 2022. The submissions will be judged on originality, clarity of expression, accuracy, and their contribution to the understanding and appreciation of desert regions. 

To learn more about the Waterston Student Essay Competition and how to submit an entry, visit highdesertmuseum.org/waterston-student-prize.

ABOUT THE MUSEUM:

THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM opened in Bend, Oregon in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, is the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence and is a 2021 recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. To learn more, visit highdesertmuseum.org and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

To the east, Idaho’s population keeps growing at a faster clip than other states. The state has led the country in population growth for the fifth year in a row.

From 2020 to 2021, Idaho’s population grew 2.9%, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates. Idaho welcomed 53,000 new residents, bringing its population up to about 1.9 million, the Spokesman-Review reported. The main reason was people moving from other states.

Neighboring states Utah and Montana ranked just behind Idaho, growing 1.7% each. Washington ranked 23rd, gaining about 0.3% in population. Nationally, the U.S. population grew about 0.1%, the slowest growth since the country was founded.

The U.S. Census Bureau attributes that to decreased international migration, decreased fertility and increased mortality due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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