Klamath Basin News, Friday, New Year’s Eve – Drive Carefully; Bullmania PBR Event Tonight at the Fairgrounds!

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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.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today A 30% chance of snow showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 31. Overnight, cloudy, with a low around 5 degrees.

Saturday, New Year’s Day Mostly sunny, with a high near 28. Overnight cloudy, with a low around 8. Calm wind to 5 mph after midnight.
Sunday Partly sunny, with a high near 34. Snow likely overnight with a low around 20. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
Monday Snow flurries to start the day. High near 39. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible. Overnight, possiblie snow flurries with the snow level at 4300 feet. Low of 31.
Tuesday Snow before 11am, then rain and snow between 11am and 2pm, then rain after 2pm. Snow level rising to 5100 feet in the afternoon. Cloudy, with a high near 41. Overnight, cloudy, with a low around 34.
Wednesday Rain likely. Snow level 6600 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43.

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

It’s Tonight! The Fun, the excitement, the party of the year in the Klamath Basin is annual New Year’s Eve Bullmania Professional Bull Riders Event….the duel between cowboys and bulls returns to the Klamath County Fairgrounds.

Co-sponsored by Wynne Broadcasting’s KIX 96 Better Country Radio, doors for the 29th Bullmania open at 5PM at the John Hancock Event Center inside the Fairgrounds.

Bullmania tonight, New Year’s Eve at the Klamath County Fairgrounds.

This year’s rendition of Bullmania is the first-ever in Southern Oregon to be sanctioned by the PBR (Professional Bull Riders).

The main event starts at 7:15 p.m. and when the bullriding wraps up, local band Fat Sexy will provide live music for a dance party that will feature Oregon’s largest balloon drop at midnight. Bullmania will be apart of the PBR’s entry level Touring Pro division. The PBR-sanctioned event is attracting multiple high-level riders, said Jamie Berg, the event producer. Berg added that a 20-by-18-foot jumbotron will also be present for instant replays and a preshow featuring “lasers and all that good stuff” will lead off the bullriding action.

Tickets will be sold at the door for $23. An already sold-out VIP dinner will take place at 5:15 p.m. Presale tickets, each $20, are available at any Coastal, Grange Co-op, Sherm’s Thunderbird, Albertson’s, Lane’s Market and the Bonanza General Store. Bulls are coming from Howell Rodeo Company, Doug Aue, Steve Hawkins, Andrew Culp, the Ireland Brothers and Julio Moreno — the owner of Bushwacker, a three-time PBR world champion.

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Bullmania bull riders come to town tonight, New Year’s Eve, co-sponsored by Wynne Broadcasting and KIX 96 Better Country Radio!

There are 15 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,655. OHA reported 2,948 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, bringing the state total to 421,263.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (4), Benton (61), Clackamas (269), Clatsop (12), Columbia (15), Coos (39), Crook (26), Curry (11), Deschutes (286), Douglas (57), Gilliam (1), Grant (9), Harney (2), Hood River (19), Jackson (185), Jefferson (12), Josephine (48), Klamath (35), Lake (2), Lane (244), Lincoln (37), Linn (75), Malheur (24), Marion (148), Morrow (6), Multnomah (641), Polk (39), Sherman (3), Tillamook (15), Umatilla (121), Union (11), Wallowa (5), Wasco (10), Washington (418) and Yamhill (58).

Klamath County reported 35 new cases, but Jackson County reported 185 new cases. Sky Lakes Medical Center reports they are at what they call “active” status today, with inpatient numbers remaining low but confirmed COVID-19 cases are increasing again.

Seven total inpatients with Covid are reported by Sky Lakes.  Only one of those is previously vaccinated. Due to delays in processing COVID-19 samples, the Oregon Health Authority does not yet have the hard data to back up assertions that the super-contagious omicron variant has become the dominant strain of the disease in the state, driving a new wave of infections and the recent uptick in hospitalizations.

Nonetheless, public health officials insist that a wave of omicron infections is about to sweep the state, as it already has on the East Coast and across Europe.

The OHA on Wednesday reported 2,331 new cases of coronavirus, a number that has shot up in the past two weeks and is quickly approaching the peak of the pandemic in late August, when new cases reached a high of about 2,600. The agency also reported nine new deaths.

The OHA also released a report for the week ending Dec. 26 showing that cases jumped 25% over the previous week, to 6,798, even as test results reported for the holiday week dropped by 7.1%. The percentage of positive tests increased to 7.4% from 4.8% the previous week. But the report also showed a decline in the number of new hospitalizations, from 286 to 185. While spreading across the country fast, symtoms of Omicron are milder than the Delta variant so far.

AARP Tax-Aide is the nation’s largest, free, volunteer-run tax counseling and preparation service. Each year from Feb. 1 through April 15, AARP volunteers prepare federal and state tax returns for middle and low-income taxpayers, with special attention to those aged 50 and older.

Tax counselors will be certified to prepare both Oregon and California returns this year. Spanish speaking counselors will be available on a limited basis. Returns for prior years will also be considered, depending on circumstances.

Due to Covid restrictions this year, returns will be done by appointment only. Paperwork for returns will need to be dropped off at designated sites to be completed by counselors and returned. Appointments can be made as early as Jan. 17. Further information as to times and dates and numbers to call will be available after the first of the year.

Paperwork needed to file will be available to pick up after Jan. 11 at the Klamath County Library and at the Klamath Basin Senior Center. No one there will be available to answer questions. Times and dates may change without notice.

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Like much of Southern Oregon’s higher-elevation areas, Crater Lake National Park is getting a major helping of powder this month, more so than is usual for this time of year.

The National Weather Service noted on Tuesday morning that Crater Lake received 27 inches of snow within just 24 hours between December 26 and 27. Its total snow depth was last recorded at 76 inches, when the normal depth would be 52 inches for this date.

The three miles of road between the park headquarters and Rim Village remain closed until two lanes of travel can be cleared through the snow drifts and across avalanche areas. Chains or traction tires are required on all roads in the park.

Mt. Ashland Ski Area reported a similarly significant dumping on Monday, reporting that the mountain had received almost 100 inches of annual snowfall in the less than 10 days since the season began.

Diamond Lake Resort reported Monday that it had received 13 inches of snow in the previous 24 hours. Despite ODOT shutting down snow parks along state highways in the region, Diamond Lake Resort’s parking lots remain plowed and maintained for visitors.

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Fred Kepner estate sells his railroad engine collection to Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad in Garibaldi.

More than a dozen steam locomotives, part of perhaps the single largest private collection of its kind, have been purchased from the estate of a Merrill collector by the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad in Garibaldi.

Fred Kepner collected the equipment over the course of decades and kept most of it outdoors, alongside the Union Pacific railroads tracks that ran past his property.

The collection included a dozen rare steam locomotives in addition to old cranes, cabooses, cars and more, most of which date back to the late 1800s through the 1930s.

As engines started to change over to diesel power, Kepner starting buying the now-obsolete machinery. His goal was to develop and manage the Great Western Rail Museum, though that never came to full fruition. Kepner died in October.

Kepner had long advocated for preserving railroad equipment in the Klamath Basin throughout his life, including the Oregon, California & Eastern Railway that ran from Bly to Klamath Falls until 1990.

He also advocated to save the long abandoned Southern Pacific roundhouse in Klamath Falls, which was on the historic register.

Around the state of Oregon

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Oregon State Police has launched an investigation after the discovery of a body under an I-5 overpass in Central Point on Wednesday.

State troopers and emergency crews responded at 2:19 p.m. on Wednesday to reports of a deceased person along I-5 near milepost 33. Troopers arrived to confirm the discovery of an adult man’s body beneath the E Pine Street overpass. OSP said that the man’s identity will be released once his next of kin have been notified. His cause of death is still under investigation.

The agency said that I-5 traffic was not impacted by the investigation and the roadway remained open during the response.

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Fatal hit and run investigation continues near McDonalds at Highway 62 and Aero Way.

Medford Police confirmed on Wednesday that the agency is investigating a fatal hit-and-run crash that happened Monday evening near Highway 62 and Aero Way.

Medford Police confirmed that officers and medical teams responded just after 6 p.m. on Monday to the area near McDonald’s and Walmart along Highway 62, in the parking lot west of the fast food restaurant.

MPD said that a man had been run over by an unknown vehicle, but he remained conscious when first responders arrived. The victim was taken to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries.

MPD said he appears to have been homeless and was panhandling on the concrete median at an intersection in the parking lot when he was hit. His name is not being released until next of kin have been notified. Lieutenant Mike Budreau indicated that a description of the suspect vehicle is limited, but MPD detectives and the Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction (STAR) team have been investigating the fatal hit-and-run since the initial response.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Medford Police dispatch at 541-770-4783 and reference case 21-21029.

Backers of a Southern Oregon gaming and entertainment venue have filed a legal petition against the Oregon Racing Commission over purported licensing delays for gambling machines.

The petition, filed in Josephine County Circuit Court, suggests that the delays may be driven by Tribal concerns over the gambling operation. TMB Racing, which is backed by Dutch Bros. Coffee co-founder and CEO Travis Boersma, wants to install 225 “Historical Horse Racing” terminals — similar to slot machines — at the Grants Pass facility called The Flying Lark.

The new entertainment venue boasts that it will create over 150 jobs and is near the Grants Pass Downs racetrack, which is also owned and operated by Boersma.

At the urging of Oregon Tribes, Governor Kate Brown requested that the ORC put a pause on its consideration of the racing terminals, the state reported in November.

The Oregon constitution prohibits casinos outside of Tribal reservations, but a 2013 law referenced in TMB’s petition allows commercial horse tracks to offer betting on certain historical horse racing machines.

Oregon orders 12 million at-home COVID-19 tests

Record order for 6 million two-test kits comes as Omicron continues pace to become dominant variant

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – SEPTEMBER 14: In this photo illustration, An at-home COVID-19 test by Abbott shows a positive result on September 14, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. At-home tests are becoming increasingly difficult to find despite manufacturers boosting production as COVID-19 cases rise in schools and employers increase monitoring. (Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The state of Oregon has made its largest order yet of COVID-19 tests that will be offered to people around the state for free so they can find out, at home, if they are carrying the virus, and take steps to prevent its spread.

Oregon Health Authority placed an order Wednesday with iHealth Labs for 6 million of its COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test kits. Each kit contains two tests – amounting to a total of 12 million tests coming to the state – that can be performed at home, with results available in 15 minutes.

OHA’s previous largest order was for about 1.46 million Abbott BinaxNOW rapid tests. Of that, the agency has distributed nearly 1.3 million tests to almost 400 community partners and more than 1,300 K-12 schools.  

“Oregon learned during the Delta surge that we must be prepared for the unpredictable – we knew we had to be ready for future variants so we could continue to protect the most vulnerable in our communities while keeping our schools, businesses and communities open,” said Gov. Kate Brown.

“As cases rise in Oregon and across the nation due to the Omicron variant, we are applying the lessons we have learned to support our hospitals and health care workers, and arm Oregonians with the information and tools they need to keep themselves and their families safe. Through vaccination, wearing masks, and utilizing widespread testing, we can make it through this latest surge the same way we have before – working together to protect each other.”

The kits will be distributed throughout January and will begin arriving next week at OHA’s warehouse in Wilsonville, where they will be disseminated to numerous OHA partner agencies and organizations.

OHA does not have the capacity to individually send out tests, so it will prioritize distribution to the following partners that can disseminate them to their communities as they see fit:

  • Local public health authorities and Tribes, based on population size and some health equity metrics.
  • Migrant and seasonal farm and agriculture workers.
  • Head Start and some other high-risk early learning settings.
  • K-12 schools to support at-home test to stay.
  • Health care workers.
  • Shelters.
  • Community-based organizations.

From Jan. 3 to Jan. 7, the OHA warehouse will receive six trucks delivering about 1.1 million test kits. Starting Jan. 10, the warehouse will receive five trucks per week – for five consecutive weeks – until the order is fulfilled. Since iHealth Labs is planning to ramp up product of the test kits, Oregon’s order may be fulfilled ahead of schedule.

The test kit order comes as Omicron continues its steady overtake of Delta as the state’s dominant COVID-19 variant. With its high transmissibility, Omicron is already thought to be driving a steady increase in hospitalizations over recent days.

As the number of cases increase, rapid testing will be critical to efforts to encourage people to take steps that reduce transmission, including isolating and quarantining at home, wearing masks and face coverings, keeping their distance from others and getting vaccinated as soon as they’re healthy.

Health Care Workers at Risk as OSHA’s COVID-19 Safety Rules Expire

Oregon Nurses Association press release

The news that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has failed to adopt a permanent standard to protect health care workers during COVID-19 is extremely disappointing. OSHA’s health care emergency temporary standard (ETS)–which OSHA recently allowed to expire–was designed to protect frontline health care workers who faced extreme COVID-19 risks in hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes and other health care facilities. The ETS provided essential safety rules for workers and employers, including regulations around infection prevention protocols, exposure notifications, disease education, personal protective equipment (PPE) standards, and support for health care workers who contract COVID-19 at work.

Health care workers–and in particular frontline nurses–are experiencing unprecedented levels of physical and mental fatigue. They do not feel valued, protected or supported by their employers. In fact, frontline nurses are leaving the profession at a rate that has never been seen before. OSHA’s failure to extend COVID-19 safety protections will only exacerbate our country’s nurse staffing crisis.

Health care workers in Oregon are fortunate to have a state COVID-19 safety standard through Oregon OSHA which holds companies accountable to several common sense precautions. Oregon nurses believe every health care worker in the nation deserves these same permanent safety protections.

Unfortunately, Oregon OSHA’s safety standard fails to provide paid time off when frontline health care workers contract COVID-19 at work. Nurses across the state are being denied benefits by hospitals and health care companies who claim COVID-19 infection did not occur in the workplace. These blanket denials place an impossible burden of proof on frontline caregivers and ignore the risks of ongoing patient exposures. The federal ETS remedied this problem and offered additional protections to frontline health care workers who have faithfully served our communities during this pandemic. It is abundantly clear that companies will not do the right thing unless compelled to. Federal OSHA’s failure to extend safety measures gives health care corporations permission to continue devaluing nurses and other caregivers. 

Nearly two years into this pandemic health care workers are still without any federal law, rule, or standard that protects them from economic harm if they become infected with COVID-19. Considering OSHA’s failure to support and protect healthcare workers, the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is calling on the Governor, Oregon OSHA and health care companies to honor frontline health care workers’ commitment by unconditionally providing sick leave and other medical removal benefits to frontline workers when they contract COVID-19.  

“We can’t allow safety standards to disappear while COVID-19 cases skyrocket. Frontline health care workers who contract COVID-19 while caring for sick patients deserve companies’ full protection and support,” said ONA spokesperson Kevin Mealy. “Every Oregonian needs permanent job protections that are responsive to the crises we’re facing.”

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents 15,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state. Our mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.
 

The common practice of making booking photos, commonly called “mug shots,” readily available to the public after an arrest will be effectively “outlawed” in Oregon starting January 1 under legislation passed earlier this year.

House Bill 3273 was passed by the Oregon legislature in June and signed into law by Governor Kate Brown.

Under the bill, law enforcement can only release booking photos under certain circumstances — directly to the person who was booked, to another law enforcement agency, to the public if it will assist with the arrest of a suspect, or in an attempt to identify other suspected crimes.

Law enforcement agencies could also share these photos with the Oregon state mental hospital if a defendant is admitted, share them with the victim of a crime, or release them once a defendant is convicted.

The law also targets a number of “publish-for-pay” publications, usually websites or periodicals that display mug shots and charge fees for their removal.

The new law requires that such publications remove and destroy booking photos of someone who requests it within 30 days, and for a fee no higher than $50. The doxing bill went into effect immediately when it was signed into law on June 15.

Until recently, Oregon’s southernmost glacier was on Mount Thielsen, an extinct volcano mountain in the Cascade Range, east of Diamond Lake in Douglas County.

But sometime over the past half decade, Lathrop Glacier disappeared. Oregon Glaciers Institute President Anders Carlson said Lathrop Glacier was a little less than half the size of a football field, just 0.002 square kilometers in area. It was Oregon’s smallest glacier.

The glacier formed two arms going down steep chutes. There’s likely enough buried ice to keep the creek going another 10 or 20 years, but then it will dry up and the little ecosystem will disappear.

AARP Tax-Aide is the nation’s largest, free, volunteer-run tax counseling and preparation service. Each year from Feb. 1 through April 15, AARP volunteers prepare federal and state tax returns for middle and low-income taxpayers, with special attention to those aged 50 and older.

Tax counselors will be certified to prepare both Oregon and California returns this year. Spanish speaking counselors will be available on a limited basis. Returns for prior years will also be considered, depending on circumstances.

Due to Covid restrictions this year, returns will be done by appointment only. Paperwork for returns will need to be dropped off at designated sites to be completed by counselors and returned. Appointments can be made as early as Jan. 17. Further information as to times and dates and numbers to call will be available after the first of the year.

Paperwork needed to file will be available to pick up after Jan. 11 at the Klamath County Library and at the Klamath Basin Senior Center. No one there will be available to answer questions. Times and dates may change without notice.

Historic Snowfall on Mt. Ashland

This week’s snowfall at Mt. Ashland made history. Nearly 100 inches of snowfall has been recorded less than 10 days into the season.

Mt. Ashland Ski Area posted on its Facebook that there is a “powder paradise today” after receiving 20 inches of snow in the last 24 hours.

In a video linked to the post, Mt. Ashland General Manager, Hiram Towle, talks about important deep-snow safety measures to keep in mind. https://www.facebook.com/MtAshlandSkiArea/videos/601186987844802

“When the snow gets deep like this, there are issues out in the woods, especially with snow immersion suffocation,” Towle said. “What that is is when the trees hold back the snow and create a cavity. You’ve gotta ski with partners when you’re in the woods especially, and stay close, stay within sight of each other for safety.”

The post also reminds visitors that with snow comes the road hazards, and to please be extra careful when driving up.

“Safety also continues out to the road, we have seen evidence of dozens of car wrecks already,” Towle said.

Towle also reminds visitors about the importance of mask safety in the lodge and states that they are required in all indoor areas.

“Please remember to wear your mask when inside the lodge or any other indoor area,” the post also reads in part. “We’ve been handing out hundreds of masks daily, however, it’s preferred if you bring your own.”

New Law Protects Against Surprise Medical Bills

Salem – The situation happens all too often: You go to an in-network hospital, but receive a surprise medical bill from an out-of-network doctor. However, starting Jan. 1, 2022, a new federal law – the No Surprises Act – will protect consumers from many types of these surprise bills. 

Surprise billing happens when you get an unexpected bill after you receive care from an out-of-network provider or at an out-of-network facility, such as a hospital. It can happen for both emergency and nonemergency care. Typically, patients don’t know the provider or facility is out of network until they receive the bill.

Surprise medical bills typically are sent by your health care provider for the remaining charges for services you received that are not covered by your insurance (known as balance billing). The new law protects consumers from either of the following situations:

  • Emergency services provided out of network, including air ambulance services (but not ground ambulance services)
  • Nonemergency services provided by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility

In an emergency situation, a facility or provider may not bill you more than your in-network co-insurance, co-pays, or deductibles for emergency services as outlined in your plan documents, even if the facility or provider is out of network. However, if your health plan requires you to pay co-insurance, co-pays, or deductibles for in-network care, you are still responsible for those.

In a nonemergency situation, out-of-network providers (such as an anesthesiologist) may not bill you more than your in-network co-insurance, co-pays, or deductibles for covered services performed at an in-network facility without your consent.

If you believe you have received a surprise medical bill from a health care provider that meets either of the above criteria, contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to file a complaint by calling 800-985-3059 (toll-free) or going to https://www.cms.gov/nosurprises/consumers.

If you have received a surprise bill you believe is not allowed under the new law, you can file an appeal with your insurance company, then ask for an external review of the company’s decision after the initial appeal is completed with your plan. You can also contact Oregon’s Division of Financial Regulation to speak with a consumer advocate or file a complaint in any of the following ways: 

The law applies to most health insurance plans, including those offered by an employer. It includes group health plans, health insurance companies for group and individual health coverage, grandfathered health plans, ERISA plans, and self-insured government plans. Medicare and Medicaid have their own protections against balance billing. 

The law also has the following protections:

  • Health plans and their facilities/providers must send you a notice of your rights under the law.
  • Insurance companies must keep their provider directories updated. They must limit co-pays, co-insurance, or deductibles to in-network amounts if you rely on inaccurate information in a provider directory.
  • Health care providers must provide a good faith estimate for services to anyone who is uninsured or self-pays (without insurance). 

The Division of Financial Regulation is hosting No Surprises Act: Provider Requirements, a Zoom webinar, on Wednesday, Jan. 5, from noon to 1 p.m. PST. In the webinar, staff members from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will present on provider requirements and answer questions from stakeholders. To view the webinar, go to https://www.zoomgov.com/j/1603031760.

More information about the new law is available at dfr.oregon.gov.

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

Oregon Cannabis Rules Change Next Year

New year, new cannabis rules. In response to the rapid growth of the legal cannabis market, the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) has greenlit several changes regarding recreational marijuana regulations in a meeting on December 28, 2021.

For the past year and a half, the commission has partnered with the legal cannabis industry to develop new changes which will decrease violations, streamline oversight, increase THC potency limits, and develop regulations and child safeguards for hemp products.

The new rules will be adopted by the OLCC on New Year’s Day, though some of the changes won’t go into effect until 2023.

“These rules try to balance a number of different concerns – consumer health and safety, interests of small and large operators in our industry, and public safety concerns around loopholes in the Federal Farm Bill of 2018, and the illicit farm production taking place in Oregon,” stated OLCC Executive Director, Steve Marks.

Many of the changes were driven by the Oregon Legislature’s recent approval of House Bill 3000 , which addressed the unregulated sale of THC-hemp products in the state, and Senate Bill 408 , which gave the OLCC a template to re-define violation penalties.

To avoid mixing products with high amounts of THC with other items, hemp edible products will be limited to 2mg THC per serving, and 20 mg THC per container starting July 1, 2022.

As a part of the new rules, the OLCC will have 18 months to bring non-intoxicating artificial cannabinoids in compliance with the same review process and standards, currently required for ingredients in food products and dietary supplements.

“It may not make everybody happy, but it’s a pathway, and I think it solves a lot of the issues,” said OLCC Commissioner Matt Maletis.

For cannabis connoisseurs, the new changes include some major perks for consumers, which include doubling the marijuana purchase limit from one ounce to two ounces, effective January 1, 2022.

The commission has also approved the increase of edible concentration limits from 50 mg THC to 100 mg beginning April 1, 2022.

Oregonians can now have at-home delivery of cannabis products from across county and city lines with officials’ approval.

“We did listen to the public and did make significant changes to these rules and I want to reiterate that we have come a very long way,” said Marks. “And this industry established success for Oregon. We are creating a successful business market, a successful consumer market. This is another big turn of progress.”

The OLCC’s changes will have the greatest impact for licensees, with a massive re-categorization of violations that will reduce penalties and decrease the number of violations resulting in license cancellation.

Under the new guidelines, licensees will be able to better self-distribute products and reduce the time and cost needed to report plant and harvest details to the Oregon Cannabis Tracking System.

New Transportation Laws in Oregon

On Jan. 1, a series of new laws will take effect that will increase the equity in Oregon’s transportation system, improve safety, increase local control and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is responsible for implementing these new laws.

“These new laws will help us move quicker toward building a modern transportation system that minimizes negative impacts to the environment and serves all Oregonians equitably,” said Kris Strickler, ODOT director.

Increasing safety and local control

HB 3055: ODOT has statutory authority for setting the speed limit on all roads in Oregon. While this has ensured consistency in statewide application of relevant laws and rules, this legislation will allow some local governments to set speeds on their roads which will result in greater local control, more expedient speed reductions and increased safety on local road networks.

This legislation allows ODOT to delegate its statutory authority for speed setting to a city or named county for roads under their jurisdiction.

“Local governments across Oregon are doing what they can to build a transportation system in which no one has to lose their life on the road,” said Strickler. “Excessive speed is a consistent factor, among others, in traffic deaths. Reducing speed limits, in conjunction with road design changes and increased enforcement, can improve the safety of our roads. We don’t have to accept the loss we see on our streets. This legislation allows ODOT to remove a major impediment to adopting safer speeds and increases local control over local roads.”

HB 3125: With today’s speed of online information, especially with mobile phones, video and pictures through social media, there is a risk a family could learn someone was in an emergency before law enforcement can contact the family.

Starting in 2022, Oregon driver license and ID cardholders will be able to register up to two people at DMV2U.Oregon.gov, age 18 and older, as emergency contacts for situations where they can’t communicate.

Only Oregon law enforcement personnel will be able to access the emergency contact information.

Improving access and equity

HB 2498: This bill enhances the safety of Oregonians who are deaf or hard of hearing by creating an option to add a notification to their driver license and vehicle registration card.

“This significant milestone is geared to build trust and cooperation between more than one million Oregonians with hearing loss and our law enforcement,” said Chad A. Ludwig, Executive Director of Bridges Oregon, “It will foster a better understanding of communication needs while protecting and facilitating a strong relationship with law enforcement officers.”

Ludwig said over half (51.7%) of deaf and hard-of-hearing Oregon residents had difficulties communicating with police, according to a survey by Denise Thew Hackett, a Ph.D. at Western Oregon University.

The indicator will be voluntary, and drivers can sign up any time through DMV2U.Oregon.gov.

HB 3026: According to Pew Charitable Trusts, many people experiencing houselessness lack photo identification because of the cost and difficulty of maintaining the required personal documents.

A study from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) indicated that 36 percent of clients could not obtain photo identification because they could not afford it, and homeless persons were denied Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Aid to Needy Families, food stamps, access to shelters or housing services, and Medicaid or medical services.

The NLCHP’s study also found that people without identification face increased difficulty with law enforcement.

Beginning later in 2022, individuals experiencing houselessness will no longer need to pay a fee to receive, renew, or replace their identification cards.

ODOT will be developing rules and partnering with homeless service organizations to certify an individual’s eligibility for the waiver and provide a form to bring to DMV to apply. More information on how this program will be administered will be available soon.

HB 2985: The legislation directed ODOT to diversify specific advisory committees to reflect the racial, ethnic, and ability composition of Oregon. ODOT’s actions have an enormous impact on communities across Oregon.

To ensure all Oregonians have their voice heard in the process, we intend to apply this direction not only to the committees listed in the measure but across ODOT’s various advisory committees as recruitments for new members are conducted.

Reducing greenhouse gases

HB 2165: Now Oregonians looking to switch to an electric vehicle, and dramatically reduce their carbon emissions, can do so knowing that rebates will be available to subsidize that purchase. This legislation removed the sunset on funding Oregon’s Charge Ahead EV rebate program, funded through a vehicle privilege tax created by passage of HB 2017 (transportation funding package). The program originally was set to expire in 2024. The eligibility and value of the Charge Ahead rebates were modified to make the program more accessible. Electric vehicle adoption has lagged state goals, but has recently jumped with a 70% increase in registration in 2021 compared to 2020.

Mount Thielsen Glacier Has Disappeared

Until recently, Oregon’s southernmost glacier was on Mount Thielsen, an extinct volcano mountain in the Cascade Range, east of Diamond Lake in Douglas County. But sometime over the past half decade, Lathrop Glacier disappeared.

Oregon Glaciers Institute President Anders Carlson said Lathrop Glacier was a little less than half the size of a football field, just 0.002 square kilometers in area. It was Oregon’s smallest glacier. The glacier formed two arms going down steep chutes. There’s likely enough buried ice to keep the creek going another 10 or 20 years, but then it will dry up and the little ecosystem will disappear.

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A 17-year-old was reported missing in Salem and detectives say the teen might be the victim of an online catfishing scheme.

Ezra Mayhugh, 17, was last seen on October 15, 2021 after being dropped off in downtown Salem by a friend, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said. He was reported as a runaway the following day when he did not return home.

Investigators say he might be in Washington or California. They hope to reunite Ezra safely with family members.

He’s described as about 5-foot 11-inches tall, weighing 130 pounds, with blonde hair and brown eyes.

If you have had contact with Mayhugh since October 15 or have other helpful information on his whereabouts, the sheriff’s office asks you to contact Detective M.J. Sphoon at 503-588-6808 or to submit a tip by texting TIPMCSO and your tip to 847411.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Have-You-Seen-Me-Southern-Oregons-Missing-People-161249961222839/posts/

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