Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 1/27 – United Way of Klamath Basin Thanks Community for Reaching $501,000 Goal

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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Air Stagnation Advisory until Saturday, January 29, 04:00AM.

Today’s Headlines

The Klamath County School District Board of Directors sent a third resolution to Gov. Kate Brown this week, urging the state to change COVID-19 requirements to recommendations and allow the district to work directly with Klamath County Public Health to determine appropriate mitigation strategies for its schools.

The board unanimously approved the resolution, which is similar to two other resolutions approved and sent to the state in August and September.

It reiterates the need for local decision-making so the district can best educate students in its 21 geographically and culturally diverse schools.

A letter to the governor, dated Jan. 24 and signed by the board and KCSD Superintendent Glen Szymoniak, states in part: “It is critical to note that the Klamath County School District Board members feel strongly that they need to advocate for their community and feel disenfranchised from the current process of governing education in their community. While some school districts may have had input into the decision making process, our Board has not been involved. It would be a great move forward if the governor’s office could begin a dialogue with the Klamath County Board of Directors about how best to serve our students.”

The district’s focus is keeping schools open to in-person learning as much as possible while prioritizing the safety of staff and students.

Oregon reports 8,207 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, Oregon surpasses 6,000 COVID-19 related deaths

There are 54 new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 6,048, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported today. OHA reported 8,207 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 605,363.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (45), Benton (289), Clackamas (551), Clatsop (46), Columbia (92), Coos (158), Crook (110), Curry (33), Deschutes (541), Douglas (188), Gilliam (2), Grant (41), Harney (9), Hood River (51), Jackson (558), Jefferson (104), Josephine (224), Klamath (155), Lake (20), Lane (692), Lincoln (69), Linn (398), Malheur (78), Marion (910), Morrow (55), Multnomah (931), Polk (238), Sherman (6), Tillamook (48), Umatilla (198), Union (55), Wallowa (26), Wasco (82), Washington (911), Wheeler (14) and Yamhill (279).

“Today Oregon surpassed another heartbreaking milestone – the 6,000th COVID-19-related death. We’ve lost mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers. Coworkers and neighbors. These losses pain all of us,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health officer and state epidemiologist.

“What makes these losses more painful is that nearly all our most recent deaths could have been prevented by COVID-19 vaccines, which remain the best protection against serious illness and death.

“These losses also remind us that COVID-19 is still a formidable foe in Oregon, and the heart wrenching impact on our lives is not behind us yet.”

United Way of the Klamath Basin held its 77th annual meeting of the board of directors and supporters at the Waffle Hut on Tuesday.

Attendees celebrated surpassing its $501,000 campaign goal, and 26 workplace campaigns were presented with a Spirit award for outstanding achievement according to a release.

Juan Maldonado, general manager of Klamath Falls Toyota and vice president of the United Way board announced that $502,400 had been raised.

Amber Gomes, vice president and community manager of Umpqua Bank, was introduced as the 2022 United Way president.  Jean Phillips, recently retired after 46 years as vice president/general manager of AmeriTitle, received the United Way Lifetime Achievement award for serving 23 years on the board of directors.  Martin Felsinger, safety manager for Columbia Forest Products, was recognized as the 2021 Campaign Volunteer of the Year. Jessica Chastain, Klamath County IT manager, was recognized for chairing the Klamath County Government employee campaign that achieved a 12% increase in total contributions.

Jeff Bullock, Klamath County Schools Improvement Director, was recognized for coordinating their employee campaign that contributed a record $25,362 for a 20% increase in donations. Mel and Renée Ferguson chaired the Leadership Giving Key Club that raised $212,564 from 108 individual donors.

Maldonado closed the meeting by saying that “it’s never too late to contribute to our local United Way.”

You can send a a check to United Way of the Klamath Basin, 136 N. Third Street Klamath Falls, OR 97601. Contact United Way at (541) 882-5558.

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) will hold a remote and telephone town hall for constituents in Klamath County on Tuesday, Feb. 1st.

According to the senator’s staff, he will update constituents on his work in Washington, D.C., answer questions and invite suggestions about how to tackle the challenges facing Oregon and America. Since joining the Senate in 2009, Merkley has held a town hall in each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year.

This town hall will be his 471st as a U.S. Senator and his third town hall this year. Details are below. The town hall starts at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Around the state of Oregon

The price of gas in Oregon increased about a penny last week to three dollars and 93 cents a gallon. It’s the second-smallest weekly increase in the country.

The triple-A reports the national average increased two cents to three dollars and 34 cents a gallon. The high price of crude oil and tight fuel supplies are keeping gas prices high.

Jan. 26, 2022 (Salem, OR) — This month, the Oregon Employment Department will mail 1099G tax forms to the nearly 400,000 people who received unemployment insurance benefits in the 2021 tax year. 

The 1099G form is used for filing both federal income taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and state income taxes to the Oregon Department of Revenue. 

People can expect to receive the 1099G form by Jan. 31, 2022. Starting Feb. 1, the form will be on the Online Claims System under the tab “1099G Tax forms” toward the bottom of the page.

Sara Cromwell, unemployment insurance division deputy director for benefits, urges people to inform the Employment Department if they receive a 1099G and did not claim benefits in 2021. 

“If you didn’t file a claim last year, this means someone may be trying to steal your ID. Please complete our online ID theft form or call 503-947-1995, so we can review the claim for possible fraud,” she said. 

More information on the 1099G form is at unemployment.oregon.gov. For more information on what to do if your identity has been stolen, visit the IRS website and the department’s fraud resources web page.

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Even if the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause canceled local events, the Jackson County Fair is galloping into 2022 with a confidence.

This week, Expo organizers announced that tickets would go on sale this Friday for the event in July — and a full list of Concert headliners have already been announced. The 2022 Bi-Mart Amphitheater stage at the fair is bringing the fun to you in ’22 with performances by Nelly, Chris Lane, Sawyer Brown, and Five for Fighting.

Increased emergency SNAP benefits continue in February

  • Most Oregonians who receive SNAP benefits will continue to receive increased emergency food benefits in February
  • Approximately 380,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $61 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits
  • Find resources to meet your basic needs: Dial 2-1-1, or text your zip code to 898-211, www.211info.org 
  • Oregon Department of Human Services COVID-19 help center 

Most Oregonians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will receive emergency allotments in February. 

The federal government has approved emergency allotments every month since March 2020. This gives SNAP recipients additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In February, approximately 380,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $61 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits.

“We know that many rely on these additional emergency food benefits to get enough healthy food for themselves and their families,” said Claire Seguin, deputy director of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Self-Sufficiency Programs. “We also know that many Oregonians are still struggling to meet their basic needs and we encourage them to contact our partners at 211 and the Oregon Food Bank for support during this difficult time.”

Emergency allotments will be available on Feb. 11 for current SNAP households. New SNAP households will receive the emergency allotments Feb. 26 or March 2.

SNAP recipients do not have to take any action to receive these supplemental benefits as they will be issued directly on their EBT cards. 

More information about emergency allotments is available at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/Emergency-Allotments.aspx.

Questions about your SNAP benefits should be directed to the ONE Customer Service Center at 1-800-699-9075.

Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) today began again accepting new applications for the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP). 

This will be a limited reopening of at least three weeks, based on availability of funds. The agency estimates there are enough funds to support 6,700-9,300 additional renters, who will be prioritized based on those who have the most need, not on a first-come, first-served basis. 

OHCS was forced to pause the intake of applications on December 1 because the agency did not have sufficient federal funds to serve additional renters. To serve the most households, applications are being offered for first-time assistance only, and the program will not be offering utility assistance.

Tenants seeking utility assistance may access additional Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) resources at the local level from community action agencies. Renters who submit new applications can access protections from eviction for nonpayment of rent while their application is being reviewed and processed. OHCS will begin processing these new applications and paying out funds in about three to five weeks.

Applications for tenants who applied before the OERAP application pause on Dec. 1, 2021, will be processed before applications received on or after Jan. 26, 2022, as directed by the Oregon Legislature.

The State of Oregon’s independent advocate to help injured workers navigate the workers’ compensation system is changing its name and adding workplace safety and health as part of its services.

The Ombudsman for Injured Workers is now the Ombuds Office for Oregon Workers. It has expanded its role to also help workers protect their rights under Oregon OSHA’s laws and rules. 

The Office of the Ombudsman for Injured Workers was created in 1987. Since then, it has served as an independent advocate for injured workers by helping them understand their rights and responsibilities, investigating complaints, and acting to resolve those complaints. It is an independent office that is part of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS).  Even though the office is taking on this new role, the needs of injured workers will still be met.

In addition to expanding its services for helping Oregon workers understand their rights in workplace safety and health, the Ombuds Office will also work with the DCBS director and Oregon OSHA to identify ways to improve protections and interactions with workers. 

The Ombuds Office for Oregon Workers can be contacted at 800-927-1271 (toll-free). Direct services are available in English and Spanish. Language service is used to help callers who speak other languages.

Investigators raided a home on the outskirts of Grants Pass on Tuesday morning after discovering that multiple images of child exploitation had been uploaded from the address, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

The Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) served a search warrant at a residence in the 1000-block of Plumtree Lane. Investigators said that they are interviewing possible witnesses and involved parties, and the investigation is ongoing. Tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children kicked off the investigation, leading investigators to seek subpoenas and a search warrant for the home.

Investigators seized digital devices during Tuesday’s search, which will be forensically examined by the Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force for further evidence of child exploitation.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Honored as United States Artist Fellow

Nataki Garrett, artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, has been picked as a 2022 United States Artist fellow. She will receive a $50,000 fellowship.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious honor and thank United States Artists for continuing to illuminate the value of artists in American society,” Garrett stated in a press release. “This fellowship will empower me to push the boundaries of my work and passion as an artist, including the intersection between immersive technology and live performance—which are both exciting and illuminating areas on which to focus my artistry.”

The fellowship is yet another triumph during Garrett’s trailblazing tenure over the festival. She is the first Black woman to serve as OSF’s artistic director, she has raised $19 million on behalf of the nonprofit theater industry, and she conceived O!, OSF’s digital platform.

The USA Fellowship has been supporting artists since 2006. More than 750 artists have been awarded over $36 million.

“We are thrilled to award fellowships to 63 artists—the largest cohort in USA’s history—this year,” said Ed Henry, board chair of United States Artists. “These 63 fellows are representative of the magnificent range of disciplines and diversity of our nation’s artists.”

Half of the residents in Multnomah County are expected to get the omicron variant of COVID-19.

That’s according to County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines. She says the county has around 12-hundred new cases a day, and those numbers don’t reflect people who test at-home and don’t report the results. She says vaccinations remain the best way to avoid a serious illness from COVID-19 and potential hospitalization.

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