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December 3, 2023

Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 1/5 – Rain Continues Mixing with Snow Across Oregon with Many Traffic Fatalities

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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.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Today A 40% chance of rain. Snow level 6600 feet rising to 7600 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 41. Overnight a 30% chance of rain with a steady temperature around 38.

Thursday A 20% chance of rain before 11am. Snow level 6800 feet lowering to 5900 feet in the afternoon . Mostly cloudy, with a steady temperature around 38. Overnight rain likely after 11pm, mixing with snow after 2am. Snow level 5400 feet lowering to 4700 feet after midnight with a low around 32. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Friday Rain, possibly mixed with snow showers. Snow level 4600 feet. High near 41. Low of 26.
Saturday Partly sunny, with a high near 38. Low of 18.
Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near 41.

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

There are 44 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,710. OHA reported 4,540 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 435,453.  It is the highest single day total in Oregon’s history.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (8), Benton (102), Clackamas (652), Clatsop (38), Columbia (34), Coos (3), Crook (59), Curry (4), Deschutes (280), Douglas (54), Gilliam (8), Grant (6), Harney (4), Jackson (132), Jefferson (21), Josephine (55), Klamath (86), Lake (6), Lane (443), Lincoln (13), Linn (102), Malheur (38), Marion (464), Morrow (6), Multnomah (786), Polk (123), Sherman (7), Tillamook (17), Umatilla (109), Union (29), Wallowa (10), Wasco (30), Washington (610), Wheeler (1) and Yamhill (200).

There were 86 new cases were reported here in Klamath County, with 132 new cases reported in Jackson County. The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 510, which is 12 more than yesterday. There are 111 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is seven more than yesterday.

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People looking to receive first, second or booster doses of Johnson & Johnson, Moderna or Pfizer vaccines soon will have week of opportunities.

Free COVID-19 vaccinations will be offered for those age five and older from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily from Thursday, Jan. 6 through Wednesday, Jan. 12 at Klamath County Fairgrounds’ main building in meeting room A.

Free transportation will be available. Basin Transit Service will provide cost free round trips to those needing transportation to the vaccination site. 

Call BTS at (541) 883-2877 a day prior to schedule a round trip from your doorstep to the vaccination site. No appointments are necessary for vaccination. Spanish-language professionals will be onsite daily.

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.

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. 

A state moratorium on residential foreclosures, meant to provide temporary relief to those struggling to pay during the pandemic, went out with the new year.

While its end spells uncertainty for some homeowners across the state, it does not appear to cause major concern in Klamath County.

Randy Shaw, a longtime realtor in Klamath Falls, said while he expects some homeowners will face foreclosure, he does not think the end of the moratorium will cause a big flood of them locally. That’s because housing prices have risen significantly in the past year, meaning homeowners can sell out — most of them at a profit. Shaw said there are two reasons why things are different in this COVID-caused crisis, compared with previous economic disruptions.

Since the crash of 2008-09, Shaw said the mortgage industry has been under tighter regulations — which means fewer unqualified people got mortgages, and therefore fewer will face foreclosure during unexpected downturns. Jim Chadderdon, executive director of Discover Klamath and a owner of local real estate, says he knows people who have fallen behind on their mortgages and the end of the moratorium will have an effect on them.

Klamath Community College  is pleased to announce the college has entered into a partnership with AmeriCorps and is now a member of the AmeriCorps Schools of National Service consortium.

The Schools of National Service designation allows KCC to provide tuition waivers to two new full-time students who have earned a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award and are AmeriCorps alumni. Recent AmeriCorps volunteer opportunities in Oregon include: youth employment trainer, nature park learning program leader, equitable pathways specialist, grant writer, and music facilitator.

The AmeriCorps mission is to “improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering.” AmeriCorps is the only federal agency tasked with elevating service and volunteerism in America. Through service and volunteerism with AmeriCorps, members gain experience in leadership, problemsolving, and civic engagement.

Several highways through the Cascades of Southern Oregon remained closed on Tuesday morning after being shut down Monday amid heavy snow.

The Oregon Department of Transportation says that crews are working to get them back open later in the day. As of 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Highway 138E was closed between Glide and Toketee, and from Toketee to the intersection with Highway 97.

All of Highway 230 remained closed, and Highway 62 was closed from Prospect north to the intersection with Highway 230. Crews from the Oregon Department of Forestry and contractors were also in the area, cutting down heavy snow-laden branches and trees leaning over the roadways, and helping ODOT remove fallen branches and trees.

ODOT predicted that all or some sections of the three highways could be reopened later on Tuesday, “depending on weather.” Regardless, transportation officials warned travelers to be prepared for severe winter conditions in the Cascade mountain passes.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon is waking up Wednesday to winter weather making a mess on state roads at various points around the state.

We’re in for more rain in the lowlands and perhaps more snow in the upper elevations, adding go what those earlier storms left with us over the past week. And that means travelers needs to be prepared for anything that comes their way and be ready for lengthy delays.

That means go to Tripcheck.com to check conditions on your route and check for closures. That means be extra wary on the roads for dangerous conditions like blowing snow, falling trees and high water. And that means keep your car stocked with the supplies you might need if you get stuck in a closure.

Some roads at upper elevations remain closed or snowy. Westbound U.S. 20 is closed two miles east of the intersection with Suttle Lake Loop at milepost 89. But U.S. 26, closed over Mount Hood earlier this week by the winter blast, fully re-opened early Wednesday.  Most state roads are open in Eastern Oregon although OR 334 west of Athena in Umatilla County will remain closed for the next few days while crews attack six-foot high snow drifts.

And look out for the crews who have been working so hard in recent days to keep the roads safe and clear. Give crews a wide berth so they can get the job done. More Info Here

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ODOT Issues Warnings to Be Ready for Road Delays with Winter Weather Continuing

Travelers everywhere in Oregon should prepare as dangerous winter weather persists this week making road conditions treacherous.

Around the state cars and trucks have found themselves stuck by winter weather and in need of a basic emergency kit. Slides, snow, high water and trees can all block roads. If traveling during this stormy season be ready for a long delay by keeping handy:

  • Chains
  • Flashlight
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Food and water
  • Flares
  • Tools
  • Maps
  • Blankets
  • Extra clothes
  • First aid kit
  • Ice scraper
An emergency travel kit used by an ODOT crew member during winter travel. (Image courtesy of ODOT)

The forecast for the next few days around the state offers little relief. Expect snow in the higher elevations, closing some roads and slowing others, and rain in the lower elevations, already saturated.

Oregon Department of Transportation crews are working to keep the roads clear and safe and are encouraging travelers to remember best safety practices. Near the top of the list is the importance of observing highway signs. Travelers who find themselves stranded after recklessly crossing highway barricades may find rescue slow to arrive.

The new year saw a number of new laws go into effect across Oregon, including one that requires retailers to buy a license in order to sell tobacco or e-cigarette and vaping products.

According to public health officials, the purpose of Tobacco Retail License law is to let the state more accurately track where tobacco is being sold to ensure that businesses are following Oregon’s tobacco laws, like not selling to anyone under the age of 21.

One in six Oregon tobacco retailers inspected in 2019 sold tobacco illegally to people under 21. For flavored products, which are most popular with kids, it was one in five. Over 50% of stores that were inspected in Jackson County sold tobacco to people under 21 in 2019.

Prior to January 1, Oregon was one of only seven US states that didn’t require a tobacco retail license of some sort. Retailers must now buy an annual license for $953 from the Department of Revenue in order to legally sell tobacco products.

The fee is supposed to be used only to cover the costs of running the licensing program and conducting inspections.

ODOT Employee Dies After Accident On Job

After an incident on an Oregon Department of Transportation jobsite in Ashland, 58-year-old Wes Hamner of Eagle Point died in the hospital on Jan 2.

He had been employed with ODOT for 12-years and leaves behind five daughters, a son, a wife, a loving extended family, 10 grandchildren, and another one on the way.

Spokesman for ODOT, Gary Leaming, said the incident happened on Thursday, Dec. 30 at the Ashland shed and did not involve any other motorists.

He said Hamner had been working with some equipment and fell. The details of the incident are still unknown. Leaming said the department is conducting an internal investigation and OSHA will also be investigating.

Hamner coached the Eagle Point High Softball team, Eagle Point College softball, and Upper Rogue Little League. His daughter says he was well known in the community and beloved by many.

The family is looking into where to host a memorial, but noted that they are hoping to find a place that will accommodate his many loved ones. They said they would be in touch with community members to let them know then that will happen.

On Tuesday, January 4, 2022 at approximately 10:58 PM, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a vehicle vs. pedestrian crash on Highway 101 near milepost 239. 

Preliminary investigation revealed a southbound Toyota 4Runner, operated by a 17-year-old of Coos Bay, struck a pedestrian that was crossing the roadway. Weather and low visibility are being investigated as contributing factors. 

The pedestrian sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. The name will be release when appropriate. 

The southbound lanes of Hwy 101 were closed for several hours.

OSP was assisted by Coos Bay Fire and Rescue, Coos Bay Police, Coos County Sheriff’s Office and ODOT. 


News Release from Oregon State Police
Posted on FlashAlert: January 5th, 2022 9:07 AM

On Wednesday, January 5, 2022 at approximately 1:50 AM, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two-vehicle crash on Interstate 5 near milepost 220. 

Preliminary investigation revealed a southbound Chrysler PT Cruiser, operated by Michael Elliott (79) of Sublimity, collided with a Volvo semi-tractor that was being towed. The Chevrolet tow truck, operated by Walker Farnham (26) of Eugene, is owned by A+ Towing. 

Elliot was transported by ambulance to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis where he was later pronounced deceased. Farnham was uninjured. 

Interstate 5 remained open to traffic. 

OSP was assisted by Linn County Sheriff’s Office, Albany Medics, Halsey Rescue.

Three Redmond residents were killed Monday night when a pickup truck driver lost control while passing on icy Highway 97 north of Terrebonne and it slid into the oncoming lane, colliding with a utility truck, Oregon State Police said Tuesday.

Troopers and other emergency personnel responded shortly before 10 p.m. to the two-vehicle crash on Highway 97 near milepost 113, just south of the “High Bridge” over the Crooked River Gorge. A preliminary investigation found that Jared Lewis, 39, was driving north in a Dodge Durango with two passengers and lost control while passing on the icy roadway, troopers said. The pickup spun broadside into the southbound lane, where it collided with an International 749 utility truck driven by a 26-year-old Bandon man, OSP said. Troopers said he was traveling with several utility vehicles from Washington state to California. Lewis and his passengers, Kristopher Frisbee, 44, and Heather Good, 40, sustained fatal injuries, troopers said. The utility truck driver was uninjured, they added. The crash and investigation closed Highway 97 at the crash scene for about five hours, the agency said.

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 Investigators from a local task force raided two separate addresses on Tuesday as part of an investigation into the upload of child pornography to the internet, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. The

Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) task force and Sheriff’s Office deputies served search warrants at one home in the 2500-block of Terrmont Street in White City and an “associated” home in the 700-block of Hedy Jayne Drive in Medford.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, investigators had learned that numerous images of child pornography had been uploaded from the Medford address. Investigators are still interviewing possible witnesses and involved parties. The investigation began with tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), leading to subpoenas and search warrants.

The NCMEC tip led detectives to seize nearly 47,000 images for evidence of child exploitation. Digital devices were also seized during the raids, which will be forensically examined by the Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force for further evidence of child exploitation.

Officials are advising residents to avoid contact with Willamette River water from the Ross Island Bridge downstream due to sewage overflows caused by heavy rain.

The Portland Bureau of Environmental Services says normally the advisory last for two days after an overflow, but they’re keeping the warning in place through Sunday, January 9th because more heavy rain is forecast later in the week.

Oregon And Washington Facing Severe Blood Shortage

Blood service organizations like the American Red Cross and Bloodworks Northwest have called on the public for help, as the region reaches unprecedented blood shortage levels.

“There is truly an unprecedented, prolonged national blood shortage,” said Bloodworks Northwest Executive Vice President of Blood Services, Vicki Finson . “I would call it a crisis.”Blood shortage: Red Cross in need of donors”

Finson said the dire, pre-existing need for donors was exacerbated by recent inclement weather, staff shortages, and the Omicron variant surge. “Locally, as we speak right now, we have less than 50% of a one-day supply of blood,” Finson explained.

American Red Cross Regional Biomedical Services Support Manager for the Pacific Northwest Region, Mack Fitz-Gerald says that road closures caused by the winter storms have forced the organization to close blood drives and cancel blood transport to local hospitals in need.

“In the last two weeks alone, the Red Cross in our Pacific Northwest region has seen about 1,000 units lost,” said Fitz-Gerald. “That is critical to us. That is 3,000 potential lives that have been affected. And the only way we can make that better is to try and get the donors in the door now to help fulfill that need.”

He added, “To most people 1000 units doesn’t sound like much, but to us it is detrimental. It’s a huge loss. When we’re already impacted by COVID, and the normal deficit as it is, this is really devastating.”

Although, Bloodworks Northwest and The American Red Cross both claim to be experiencing ongoing staff shortages, the organizations say they have enough staff to meet the rise in demand and service incoming donors.

“We do have adequate staff to be collecting way more blood than we are right now. But it is impacting our ability to set up pop-ups,” Finson stated. “I don’t think anyone has gone without a transfusion, but I know there have been delays.”

According to Fitz-Gerald, the severe lack of blood donations comes down to a matter of life and death.

“You don’t want to use the word death, but that’s exactly what it is,” he explained. “The blood product services and platelets go to the hospitals for a reason, whether it be for surgeries or other life saving issues.”

Fitz-Gerald continued, “So, if we’re not getting it [blood] there, and patients are postponing surgeries or not having procedures done, that could have a detrimental impact on those individual’s lives.”

Bloodworks Northwest currently has all centers open . Blood donations can be scheduled online and are available by appointment only.

Finson said, sometimes appointments go quickly — but that doesn’t mean the need has been met. She recommends making an appointment for a later time, if possible.

“You might try to make an appointment and not find something and think, ‘Oh gosh, they don’t need me.’ Yes we do!” Exclaimed Finson. “We draw blood 364 days of the year, patients are transfused 365 days. This is ongoing, it’s forever, and everyday. So don’t get discouraged. Whenever you donate, you’re helping.”

The American Red Cross is accepting blood donor appointments online , through their app , and over the phone at: 1-800-398-7888.

“Having these shortages and patients not be able to have their lives saved due to the blood not being there is a huge problem right now.” Fitz-Gerald said. “The number one reason why people don’t donate is because they weren’t asked. So we just need to put the ask out there. We desperately need it, the patients need it.”

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