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, January 4, 2022
Klamath Basin Weather
Today Rain and snow. Snow level 4400 feet. Steady temperature around 36. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than one inch possible. Overnight rain with a snow level at 5300 feet, gusty winds at times, low of 36.
Wednesday A 40% chance of rain. Snow level 5600 feet rising to 6800 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43.
Thursday A 30% chance of rain. Snow level 6200 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 44.
Friday Rain before 4pm, then a chance of rain and snow. Snow level 5100 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 42.
Saturday Partly sunny, with a high near 39.
See Road Camera Views:
Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr. (Bi-pass)
Lake of the Woods
Hiway 97 at Chemult
Hiway 140 at Bly
Hiway 97 at LaPine
Southern Oregon and Northern California were late to the winter storm party yesterday, but it happened, as another system of winter storms rolls into the region.
Monday saw Oregon’s northern reaches practically at a standstill due to blizzard conditions and heavy snow on the roadways.
The Oregon Department of Transportation shut down I-84 from Troutdale to The Dalles after storms dumped powder on the interstate, and blizzard conditions severely reduced visibility in some areas. ODOT also closed I-84 to traffic between Pendleton and Baker City. A number of other highways were closed due to similarly dangerous conditions: Highways 245, 204, 11, 74, 331, 334, and 335.
ODOT said that conditions were so extreme in some areas that plow drivers couldn’t see the roads well enough to effectively clear them. In at least one case, a plow truck became stuck on a snow drift along Highway 11. Plowing was postponed on some highways in Umatilla County, and ODOT said that closures could remain in place for several days on “lower priority routes” with more snow and wind in the forecast.
The agency urged drivers to not drive on closed roadways or through snow drifts, which could result in them becoming stuck “with little chance of rescue until conditions significantly improve — possibly days.”
Locally, Klamath County School district announced Gilchrist and Chiloquin schools were to remain closed on Monday and later in the day, announced that parents should pick up their children early and buses would be running early. School was dismissed at Bonanza, Lost River, and Merrill elementary due to lack of power.
Traffic was temporarily held southbound over the Siskiyous mid-day yesterday due to blizzard conditions, high winds, and little visibility. Travelers were told to expect lengthy delays once the road was reopened.
Pacific Power reported a power line down near Henley Road and Homedale yesterday due to high winds. Several customers in the Falcon Heights area reported a loss of power as the high winds hit the Klamath Basin.
In a statement, Pacific Power stated “We are aware of scattered outages throughout the Oregon service territory caused by a severe weather event. We have crews working around the clock to restore services to all those affected as quickly and safely as possible. For your safety, always treat downed power lines as live and dangerous. To report a downed power line or other outage information, please dial (877) 508-5088. We appreciate your patience during these extreme weather events.”
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 weatherhead, 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 they 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.
- Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. If you are using alternate heat or cooking sources, remember to allow plenty of ventilation.
- 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.
A Klamath County Sheriff’s Office deputy was charged with a DUII after crashing his vehicle into a power pole early Saturday morning.
Deputy Gregory Fox, 45, crashed into a power pole in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day while driving under the influence, according to police.
At around 3:40 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 1, Oregon State Police responded to a call about a motor vehicle crashed into a light pole near Lawanda Drive and Gearhart Court, according to OSP sergeant Bob Fenner.
When police arrived, they determined Fox was the driver of the vehicle. He was arrested and charged with a DUII and reckless driving, Fenner said.
Brandon Fowler, public information officer for the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office said Fox has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of OSP’s investigation into the crash. Fowler added the Sheriff’s Office will conduct its own internal investigation into the matter as well.
No one was hurt in the crash.
It didn’t take long for Klamath County to welcome its first baby of 2022.
Natasha Prince of Klamath Falls, already the mother of two, arrived at the Sky Lakes Family Birthing Center a little after 10 a.m. on Jan. 1. Less than three hours later she had given birth to her third child: Nalinah Love Peoples, a daughter.
Nalinah weighed 7 lbs, 15 oz and measured a little over 20 inches. She was born at 12:45 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2022.
Prince said that her baby’s due date was Jan. 6. Her other two children — both born in October — came a few days late, so she didn’t give much thought to having a New Year baby until Saturday morning, when she became fully dilated and rushed to the hospital.
On Monday, both mother and daughter were healthy and resting at home.
The Klamath Falls city council voted Monday night to rename Kit Carson Park.
During the city council meeting on Monday, Jan. 3, three councilors – Phil Studenberg, Ward 1, Matt Dodson, Ward 3, and Dan Tofell, Ward 4 – voted in favor of the name change, with one opposed. Ward 5 councilor Todd Andres was the only council member present to vote against the renaming. Mika Blain was absent.
John Bellon, parks and recreation public relations manager and urban forester for the city, delivered the advisory board’s recommendation to rename the park.
“Based on individual research, community input and independent reasons, the PAB (Parks Advisory Board) by unanimous vote recommends the council move forward with renaming Kit Carson Park,” Bellon said.
Daniel Blake, chair of the Parks Advisory Board, provided some background for council on how the parks board came to its decision.
“We felt like it was important to recognize the challenges the name brings to the community,” Blake said. “There are two sides to the issue, probably more than that, we recognized that as well … we felt it was important to recognize all of the views and there were some parties that were being hurt more than others by the existing name of Kit Carson Park.”
Blake added that part of the name change process should include an educational component, possibly an informational kiosk installed at the park to inform people on the history of the park, about Kit Carson himself and how it came to be named after him.
“I don’t see this trying to erase history, history can still be discussed. Kit Carson can still be discussed as can the history of the Tribes here and the history of building of Klamath Falls and Klamath County, those are all still open for discussion,” said Phil Studenberg, the city councilor in Ward 1. “I think having a park with Kit Carson’s name does present an affront to many of the people in this community both Native and non-Native, and I think changing the name to something that can be more healing and create more reconciliation is what we need to do.”
Andres, who voted no on the name change, expressed apprehension. He said that while he believes the renaming process was educational and a good debate to bring before the community, he felt renaming Kit Carson Park sets a bad precedent.
“What’s the next thing that comes in front of us?” he asked fellow councilors.
Now that the city council has decided to move forward, it is now up to the parks advisory board to figure out how it will select a new name.
After the council meeting, Bellon stood in front of city hall to discuss with members of the public.
“At the very least, it is a part of education isn’t it?” he said. “We would have never had those conversations had we not come to the point where we are discussing the possibility of renaming the park and why.”
Bellon said it will cost between $3,000-$5,000 to change out the signage at Kit Carson Park, including labor and necessary paperwork. That expenditure, he said, is already built into the city’s budget.
The parks advisory board meets on the second Thursday of every month, and its next meeting will be 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 13. The board is expected to discuss the next steps in the renaming process.
The emergency closure for the Cougar Peak Fire, approximately 15 miles northwest of Lakeview, has been extended through August 31, 2022.
The extension of the closure order, originally scheduled to expire Dec. 31, aligns with the closure order for the Bootleg Fire. Work is expected to continue in both areas through the spring and summer.
The closure affects National Forest lands damaged by the Cougar Peak on both the Lakeview and Paisley ranger districts of the Fremont-Winema National Forest.
The closure area is generally from Cougar Peak and the recreation sites west of Cottonwood Reservoir extending northeast towards Cox Pass and Moss Pass trailheads and Moss Meadow Campground to the forest boundary. A map of the closure area is included in the closure order posted at www.fs.usda.gov/fremont-winema.
Around the state of Oregon
Oregon reports 9,701 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 11 new deaths
There are 11 new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,666, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported today. OHA reported 9,701 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 430,931.
The 11 new deaths and 9,701 new cases reported today include data recorded by counties for the four-day period between Dec. 30 and Jan. 2.
Today’s update includes the largest single-day total of newly identified cases reported to public health, with 3,534 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on Dec. 30.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (16), Benton (243), Clackamas (1057), Clatsop (50), Columbia (58), Coos (44), Crook (22), Curry (27), Deschutes (881), Douglas (119), Gilliam (5), Grant (3), Harney (7), Hood River (7), Jackson (572), Jefferson (71), Josephine (161), Klamath (27), Lane (696), Lincoln (96), Linn (280), Malheur (11), Marion (231), Morrow (16), Multnomah (2565), Polk (66), Tillamook (69), Umatilla (61), Union (41), Wallowa (6), Wasco (21), Washington (2079), Wheeler (2) and Yamhill (91)
Oregon students could lose out on after-school activities for January if school districts follow new state guidance that extracurricular activities should be cancelled to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant.
But the guidance, issued Monday by state health and education officials, is simply a recommendation — not a requirement. That means it’s unclear how many, if any, schools or districts will actually cancel extracurricular activities and when.
The recommendations were among a series of steps the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Education want districts to take as the rapid spreading omicron variant threatens to force thousands of children to stay home due to an infection or exposure.
Schools and organizations that go forward with extracurricular activities “should expect rapid transmission of COVID-19 that will prevent students from participating in in-person learning,” the state wrote. The state is giving school districts the freedom to “ensure” schools and other groups hosting activities are following the same safety protocols in after-school activities as they do during the school day.
Two 19-year-old men were rescued Saturday in Lane County by the U.S. Coast Guard after signaling for help by writing an SOS sign in the snow.
The two men went camping near Swastika Mountain southeast of Eugene around Christmas Day and failed to return as expected on Dec. 29, officials said. Officials said the men were reported missing on New Year’s Eve.
Due to heavy snow in the area, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew assisted the Lane County Sheriff’s Department in finding the two men, whose names have not been released.
The helicopter crew also spotted two other people in distress while searching for the two men and reported the location of those individuals to Lane County officials, according to the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard crew was also able to find the two 19-year-olds and they were evacuated via helicopter to the Eugene Airport, officials said. They did not suffer any injuries, according to the Coast Guard.
Coast Guard officials said the men were smart to stay near their car and logging roads and to write, “SOS” in the snow to ensure they could be found easily.
Salem Grandfather Shoots Home Intruder
A Salem grandfather shot and killed an alleged home intruder Sunday while his adult daughter and two grandchildren were inside the house.
Marion County sheriff’s deputies were called to the home in an unincorporated area of east Salem just before 7 p.m. for a disturbance. When they arrived, they found the suspect dead at the scene.
The suspect was identified as Peter Bishop, 42, of Salem. The resident reported to have shot Bishop is an unidentified 62-year-old Salem man, according to a press release. Investigators say a 911 caller reported an unknown male was trying to break into the home before a resident shot the intruder. No one in the home was injured during the incident. The investigation into the shooting is ongoing. Once complete, the case will be forwarded to the Marion County District Attorney’s Office for review.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to submit tips online or by texting TIPMCSO and their tip to 847411.
Oregon DMV Can Now Register Emergency Contacts To Alert Family Faster In Case of A Crash
If you are in a crash or other situation where you can’t communicate with emergency responders, a new service for Oregonians will help police contact your family faster.
With today’s speed of online information, especially with mobile phone video and pictures through social media, there is a risk your friends and family could learn you’re in an emergency before law enforcement can contact your family. That’s a traumatic way to get such critical information – and possibly misinformation.
That’s one reason many states, including Oregon, are setting up emergency contact registries through their DMVs.
The 2021 Oregon Legislature, under House Bill 3125, created an emergency contact service for Oregon residents. Starting Jan. 3, 2022, you can register up to two people, age 18 and older, as emergency contacts for situations where you can’t communicate.
Only Oregon law enforcement personnel will be able to access your emergency contact information. They are able to do so securely through their patrol cars so they can contact your loved ones quickly.
Your emergency contacts can be anyone you choose – family or friends. The only exception is if you are under age 18 – then you must include a parent or legal guardian as one of your contacts.
A parent or legal guardian can also register as an emergency contact for their children under 18 years old.
To register, go to DMV2U.Oregon.gov and sign in to “Access My DMV Profile.” You need to have an Oregon driver license, permit or identification card to register with the service.
Ask your family and friends to register their emergency contacts too!
The emergency contact registry is the newest among more than 20 services DMV has created on DMV2U in the past two years. These and other new DMV services are part of ODOT’s commitment to put new technology to use to make Oregon’s transportation system safer, more efficient and more user friendly.
Before you visit a DMV office, see if you can get the DMV service you need at DMV2U.Oregon.gov.
DMV has added over 20 new services to DMV2U, including driver license renewal, and you can make an appointment for services that must be done in person – such as applying for a new license or the Real ID option for air travel.
Oregon Secretary of State’s office raises Residency Questions on Oregon Governor Candidate Kristof
Former New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof has told Oregon’s top election official that his having voted in New York state in 2020 doesn’t disqualify him from being a candidate for governor in Oregon.
According to Oregon law, a candidate must have been a resident of the state for at least three years before an election.
His having voted in New York in November 2020 has raised questions in the Oregon Secretary of State’s office about his eligibility to run in the November 2022 election.
Kristof is running in a crowded field for the Democratic nomination for governor and has raised some $2.5 million for his campaign war chest.
New High Desert Museum Exhibit Invites Visitors to Consider Concepts of Community
BEND, OR — The COVID-19 pandemic, which has shaped our lives in so many ways, has precipitated a moment of asking questions—about who we are and who we want to be as individuals and as a society. It has highlighted the importance of community, and perhaps prompted us to reflect on the communities we want to be a part of and create.
While these questions are relevant, they are not new.
In the new, original exhibit Imagine a World, opening Saturday, January 29, the High Desert Museum examines efforts over the decades to create ideal societies throughout the Western United States—and what we can learn from them. And through an interactive element, Imagine a World gives visitors the opportunity to articulate what kind of world we want to live in for the future.
For generations, people have journeyed to the High Desert and Western United States with visions of founding their own utopias, ranging from the Kaweah Co-Operative Colony in central California in the late 1800s to the artistic and back-to-the-land communes of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Drop City.
The exhibition looks at the ambitions, intentions and outcomes of utopian and intentional communities across the West, delving into approaches ranging from ecological to spiritual to political. Some groups focused on creating an ideal society, while others searched for an idyllic place already in existence to call home.
“The intentional communities featured in the exhibit all pose interesting questions,” says Laura Ferguson, Ph.D., Museum senior curator of Western history and curator of Imagine a World. “By exploring the ideas that inspired each group, we’re able to consider what we might learn from each society and imagine more possibilities. Ultimately, we hope the exhibition sparks conversations about what kind of world we want today.”
Imagine a World explores philosophies around community and how they’ve been put into practice. One is ecological laboratories, such as Biosphere 2 in Arizona. In that instance, eight people in 1991 sealed themselves for more than two years into a vast structure of glass pyramids and buildings. They were attempting to thrive as a closed ecosystem that could create its own oxygen and grow enough food to support the inhabitants. It didn’t fully succeed in those aims, but the facility continues to be a hub of scientific research today.
The exhibit also explores spiritually oriented endeavors, such as Oregon’s most famous (or infamous) intentional community–Rajneeshpuram. In 1981, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a spiritual teacher with an international following, left India for the United States. The Bhagwan and his chief lieutenant, Ma Anand Sheela, selected a site in Wasco County, Oregon, for their planned community, embracing narratives about an “empty” American West. Just a few years later, in 1985, the community collapsed. Objects in the exhibition, including a Rolls Royce from the same time period, will offer a closer look at the Rajneeshees and the community they sought to create.
The communes of the 1960s and 1970s are featured, as well. One such community is Drop City in Colorado, where residents lived minimally and communally, sharing money, clothing and food. They embraced geodesic domes, advanced by the architect Buckminster Fuller, as the building style that would make up the community. They constructed the domes from salvaged wood and scrap metal, taking pride in living off other people’s trash. While Drop City dissolved by 1973, ideas that germinated there continue to flourish today.
In addition to examining physical settlements, Imagine a World will feature several Native artists who envision alternative worlds and recognize the ways that cosmology, science and futurism have long been part of Indigenous worldviews and oral traditions. Called Indigenous futurisms, the artists imagine Native people well into the future, including in the realms of science fiction and outer space.
As the culmination of the exhibit, visitors will be invited to contribute what they believe should be included in an ideal society through an interactive, immersive experience.
“The history of Rajneeshpuram in Oregon’s High Desert led us to explore broader questions of communities,” said Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “Imagine a World examines different groups that have come to the High Desert inspiring visitors to ask their own questions about what can community look like and how do we work to create it.”
Imagine a World (highdesertmuseum.org/imagine-a-world) will be on display through September 25, 2022.
Experts Say Winter Storms Will Improve Drought Conditions
Experts say we may see improvement and even removal of drought conditions in areas of Southern Oregon. The record early-season amount of snowfall on Mount Ashland, an impactful snowpack at Crater Lake, and more rainfall predicted throughout the week will help.
“We are seeing quite a bit of improvement in our snowpack and the U.S. drought monitor is even showing that it’s likely that we will remove all droughts along the coast over the course of this water year and improvements in the majority of our area,” said National Weather Service Hydrologist, Spencer Higginson.
He noted that water reservoirs are not yet seeing impacts of the recent storms because they are mostly still held in snowbanks at higher elevations.
“It’s (the water) still sitting there waiting to reach the rivers and lakes,” he said. “Right now, we are getting rainfall. With some of that rain and snow, we should see some of that snow coming off and see some rises in the rivers and the lakes.”
He noted that the best-case scenario for drought relief is actually one that sees snow packs staying intact without too much shedding from rainfall.
“We think of it as kind of a bank account the snowpack sitting up in the mountains, the longer we can keep it there into the early summer, the better,” he said. “Because once we start to draw down on those reservoirs it would be nice to have the warming of the summer melt that snow and then refill those reservoirs.”
Higginson noted that just in the last few weeks, the storms have pushed the area’s snowpack from a below-normal level to an above-normal level for this time of year.
“We’ve seen some good improvement, it’s encouraging,” he said.
However, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center’s Drought outlook points out that “long term drought conditions continue to blanket nearly 94 percent of the Western Climate Region.” Thanks to predicted La Niña conditions across the west though, the outlook remains positive.
“During the first three months of 2022 (JFM), the pattern across North America is likely to be strongly influenced by ongoing La Niña conditions, which typically favor an active pattern and below-normal temperatures across the Northwest,” the Climate Prediction Center notes.
Higginson said it’s hard to say exactly how much of an impact we could see on the drought locally.
“Our reservoirs are very very low, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a year where they didn’t fill or come close to filling, but I also haven’t seen them start as low as they are starting this year. However, he noted that sometimes it just takes one good season to get them back to optimal or even above optimal levels.
“Lake Shasta a few years ago was very low and people were saying ‘yeah we probably need several years of above-average snowpack and rainfall in order to fill that’ and we had one good year of snow and it filled it completely and they were dumping water to try and prevent flooding,” Higginson said. “It can happen in one year.”
Unfortunately, the upper Klamath Basin in the Oregon portion is not likely to see major drought improvements though areas of the Klamath Basin on the California side could see improvement from the accumulating snow packs.
He said the areas most impacted are the coastal areas in Coos and Curry counties where drought conditions are expected to be reversed in the spring with inland areas of Douglas, Josephine, and Jackson counties seeing a positive impact.
Armed and Dangerous Suspect Flees Law Enforcement, Canine Team Tracks, Finds Loaded Pistol, Suspect At Large
On Saturday, JCSO Deputies attempted to stop a vehicle in south Medford. The vehicle fled in a reckless manner and JCSO initiated a vehicle pursuit. The driver fled thru Jacksonville and continued to the Applegate Lake area. The driver, later identified as Anthony Minneci, fled into the lake area on foot.
JCSO conducted a K9 track in an attempt to apprehend Minneci. Several items of interest were located, including a loaded pistol which appeared to have been dropped by the suspect. Minneci was not located that evening and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
Anthony Minneci, 33, of Medford is considered armed and dangerous and has been involved in numerous vehicle pursuits recently. Several prior convictions include felon in possession of restricted weapons and firearms, as well as assault. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has Probable Cause to arrest Minneci in connection with this case.
If you know his whereabouts, please contact JCSO and DO NOT APPROACH OR ATTEMPT TO APPREHEND HIM. Minneci may still be armed and has active warrants for his arrest. If located, please call Dispatch at (541) 776-7206 and reference JCSO case #22-0010. Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office
Medford Police Searching for a Man Who Robbed the O’Reilly Auto Parts Store
Medford police are searching for a robbery suspect after he pulled a gun on the store manager of O’Reilly Auto Parts on Stevens St. near Royal Ave. just after 6:00 p.m Monday.
According to store employee, the suspect walked around the store for several minutes, picking up a handful of items before making his way to the back of the store.
Moments later the store manager reported being robbed at gunpoint.
Medford police state at some point the suspect dropped his phone and the store manager picked it up, that’s when the suspect pulled a gun on the manager. The manager returned the phone and the suspect left the store with the items in his hands.
Police believe the suspect is a white man in his 20’s, about 5’11” and 180 lbs. They believe he used a subcompact handgun and is wearing all back.
The suspect was reported to have ran south from the O’Reilly Auto Parts store. If you have any information you’re asked to contact police. (541) 774-2250