Klamath Basin News, Friday, Feb. 4 – Klamath Bull Sale & Events Run All Weekend at Fairgrounds; Sky Lakes Medical Center at Capacity with Covid Cases

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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, February 4th, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 51. Calm wind. Cloudy overnight with a low around 24.

Saturday Sunny, with a high near 52. Light north northeast wind. Overnight low of 23.
Sunday Sunny, with a high near 55. Overnight low near 22.
Monday Sunny, with a high near 56.
Tuesday Sunny, with a high near 56.
Wednesday Sunny, with a high near 59.

Today’s Headlines

Sky Lakes Medical Center is at capacity today. They are working on updating their graphic to include more contextual information. They have added the infection rate, positive test rate, and risk level for Klamath County.  

Today, 32 patients are hospitalized with Covid in the local hospital.  Some 18 of those patients are unvaccinated, and of the remaining 14 vaccinated inpatients, 3 have had their booster shots.

Here are the rate explanations.  The infection rate is 1.04, which means that on average, one person in Klamath County is infecting one other person. This means COVID-19 is spreading at a constant rate. The positive test rate means that 34.4% of the COVID-19 tests taken in Klamath County for the last seven days were positive. These numbers equate to Klamath County being an extremely high-risk location for the transmission of COVID-19.

There were 119 new cases of covid reported in Klamath County overnight.

Oregon reports 5,417 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 18 new deaths

There are 18 new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 6,181, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported today. OHA reported 5,417 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 649,389.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (24), Benton (132), Clackamas (325), Clatsop (53), Columbia (77), Coos (101), Crook (52), Curry (37), Deschutes (289), Douglas (145), Gilliam (1), Grant (6), Harney (8), Hood River (25), Jackson (298), Jefferson (108), Josephine (117), Klamath (119), Lake (10), Lane (546), Lincoln (73), Linn (267), Malheur (78), Marion (629), Morrow (5), Multnomah (592), Polk (110), Sherman (2), Tillamook (40), Umatilla (178), Union (36), Wallowa (14), Wasco (48), Washington (586) and Yamhill (286).

A forecast released Thursday now anticipates the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 during the omicron surge won’t surpass the pandemic high set during the delta surge last September.

After a pared down version last year, the Klamath Bull Sale is on at the Klamath County Fairgrounds all weekend, with a full slate of ranching-related events.

The event schedule — which features everything from stock dog trials to barrel racing, continues through the weekend. Saturday will of course feature the 62nd Annual Bull and Replacement Heifer Sale and a ticketed Ranch Rodeo that night. The rodeo returns Sunday morning to round out this year’s festivities.

As always, the sale will continue to be a fundraiser for the Klamath County Cattlemen and Cattlewomen’s Scholarship Program — which provides scholarship funds to local youth working toward their degrees.

Plus, along with all the events, a Western Trade Show kicks off every day at 9 a.m. Thousands typically attend the event which attracts buyers from throughout the Klamath Basin, Oregon and surrounding states.

Last year’s pandemic edition, which lacked many of the events like the ranch rodeo and stock dog trials, brought in about 4-500 people but still accumulated $452,000 in gross sales.

The Oregon Department of Forestry released a report to state forest trust land counties highlighting economic, environmental and social accomplishments in fiscal year 2021, including distributing nearly $1.1 million in revenue to Klamath County and local service providers.

Klamath County is home to the Gilchrist and Sun Pass state forests, with a combined size of about 98,000 acres. 

ODF recently released its Council of Forest Trust Land Counties annual report, which highlights the array of economic, environmental and social contributions from approximately 729,000 acres of actively managed state forestland. 

It includes a recap of timber sales and revenue distribution, conservation and forest health activities, and recreation use, including popularity and number of visitors, among other statistics. Statewide, counties and local governments received revenues of $71.4 million in fiscal year 2021, collected from timber sales on state-owned forests.

Revenues are distributed based on timber sales within a particular jurisdiction. Other highlights include replanting more than 3 million trees, hosting more than 11,000 campers at ODF campgrounds, and maintaining about 230 miles of trail.

Counties and local service providers receive approximately 64 percent of net revenues from timber harvests on state forests. The remaining revenues finance most aspects of state forest management, including ODF’s recreational offerings, environmental enhancement projects, replanting after timber harvest, and forest road maintenance. The state’s share of revenue was approximately $42.8 million in fiscal year 2021.

The agency also receives a portion of all-terrain vehicle operating permit fees. State forests managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry are distributed across 15 counties, with the largest being the Clatsop and Tillamook state forests on the north coast, the Santiam State Forest in the northern Cascade Range, and the Gilchrist and Sun Pass state forests in Klamath County.

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Emily McIntire of Eagle Point has announced Tuesday her bid to represent the newly formed House District 56, which includes half of Klamath Falls and much of southern Klamath County.

The school board chair and community leader is passionate about restoring local control of education, beating back government overreach, and securing real solutions for the wildfire crisis in Southern Oregon. Emily and her husband, Ryan, have lived in Jackson County and Eagle Point for over 20 years.

She was elected to the Eagle Point School Board in 2018 and again in 2021.

Klamath Ice Sports has announced changes in the cast of featured skaters who are scheduled to appear in GOTTA SKATE, its annual figure skating spectacular, set for Saturday, March 5, at the Bill Collier Ice Arena.

Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson, three-time U.S. pair silver medalists, will replace Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, U.S. pair champions, who will represent the U.S. at the 2022 Worlds competition in Montpellier, France, later in the month.

Anderson also notes that all competitive amateur figure skaters who agree to appear in an ice show must obtain approval from U.S. Figure Skating, the national governing body for the sport of figure skating.

The appearance of the Knierim/Frazier pair was initially approved and then denied by USFS.

Reserved seating for the ice show, which includes special on-ice and hockey box seating as well as heated bleacher seating, may be obtained in advance online at www.KlamathIceSports.org. Reserved tickets range in price from $22 to $55.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown delivered her final State of the State address on Thursday, outlining her priorities and legislative agenda for the rest of the year.

The address comes as the Oregon Legislature convenes for the first week of this year’s 35-day short session, which is scheduled to run through early March. Brown recently proposed a $200 million package for the legislature to consider called “Future Ready Oregon,” aimed at bolstering the state’s workforce and providing support to populations that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also asked for $500 million to be saved for a rainy day fund.

Brown’s current term ends in January 2023 and term limits prevent her from running for reelection this year, making this her final State of the State address unless she were to win an additional nonconsecutive term as governor in a future election.

Brown previously served as Oregon’s secretary of state and took office as governor in February 2015 when former Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned amid an ethics scandal shortly after the start of his fourth term. She won a special election in 2016 to serve out the remaining two years of Kitzhaber’s term and was reelected for a second term in 2018.

 You can watch Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s address here:

Oregon Parks Forever Funds Replacement of More than 500,000 Trees Killed by Wildfires and Excessive Heat

On January 12, 2021 Oregon Parks Forever, a statewide nonprofit, announced the establishment of the Wildfire Tree Replanting Fund. The goal of the fund is to plant at least One Million Trees. Each dollar donated will plant a tree!

As of January 31, 2022, we have been able to fund the planting of 553,000 trees across the state at Collier State Park, Silver Falls State Park, the Ben & Kay Dorris State Recreation Area, North Santiam State Park, Cedar Butte, and in the Tillamook Forest – as well as parks in Josephine and Marion Counties.

Since the 1990’s, Oregon has seen significant increases in the number of acres burned statewide each year. 2020 saw the second largest number of acres burned since 1990 with more than one million acres of trees burned on Oregon lands. 2021 followed with a similarly devastating fire year, as well as a heat dome event that killed many trees in the Coast Range. 

This comes at a time when the budgets of public land managers are already stressed due to ongoing funding challenges and the COVID pandemic. We anticipate these devastating ramifications of climate change to continue in the future and want to be ready to help.

Our goal is to help the public lands get replanted soon, so that in the future our children and grandchildren can enjoy the same green and lush forests and landscapes we have. 

Why should we replant after a fire?  Trees provide the very necessities of life. They clear our air, protect our drinking water, create healthy communities, and feed our souls. Our forests provide critical wildlife habitats, natural beauty and recreational opportunities. They sequester carbon and help reduce soil erosion by stabilizing slopes and preventing landslides. 

We all sat in the smoke and wondered…What can I do? How can I help?

You can help us reach our goal to raise enough funds to plant at least ONE MILLION trees, to ensure that in the future these devastated areas will once again be lush and green!

Each dollar donated will plant one tree!

You can make a donation online at www.orparksforever.org;  send a Text Message on your phone to REPLANT at 41444; mail a check to Oregon Parks Forever, 1501 SW Jefferson Street, Portland, OR 97201; or point your smartphone’s camera at this QR Code:

About Oregon Parks Forever:  Since 1995, Oregon Parks Forever (formerly known as Oregon State Parks Foundation) has been raising funds to help supplement existing funding sources to preserve and protect the experience of using Oregon’s parks. Oregon Parks Forever is a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission includes working with federal, state, local and tribal public land managers to enhance and preserve special places and experiences in all Oregon parks. As outdoor recreation has exploded in popularity, additional wear and tear, and years of deferred maintenance, have resulted in the costs of running Oregon parks exceeding available funding.

Since 1995, Oregon Parks Forever has supported many vital projects such as restoring Vista House at Crown Point, helping to renovate five Oregon Lighthouses, preserving the Kam Wah Chung & Co Museum, and putting the first yurts in State Parks anywhere in the country. Most recently, the organization raised funds to build a residential outdoor school facility at the Cottonwood Canyon State Park.

Oregon Parks Forever is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Our Federal Tax ID number is 93-1177836. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Please contact your tax advisor with any questions. Our website is www.orparksforever.org

More than 38,000 Oregon households have received over $268 million in rental assistance relief due to hardship from pandemic 

Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) announced that as of Feb. 2, 2022, OHCS and local program administrators (LPAs) have paid $268.1 in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA) to 38,078 households, up from $256.3 million and 36,632 applicants last week, through the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP). OHCS has paid out 93% of all federal ERA dollars available for rental assistance. 

OERAP continues to be one of the nation’s top-performing programs and is ranked fifth in the nation, in the percentage of federal ERA funds paid out and obligated, as tracked by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Denial notifications

OHCS is currently accepting applications following our portal reopening on Jan. 26, 2022.  To serve the most households, tenants who apply on or after Jan. 26 who already received assistance through OERAP are not eligible to receive additional assistance. New applications will start getting reviewed for payment after the three-to-five-week period for accepting new applications is over. Upon review, applications will be approved for payment or denied, this decision will be made based upon the highest need, not on a first come first served basis. The agency will notify tenants who do not meet the basic eligibility criteria, such as income, with a written denial. Tenants who are determined not eligible will be responsible for paying rent owed and will not have safe harbor protections once a denial notice is issued. Landlords will also be notified of the approval or denial of an application. 

Progress and updated numbers  

OHCS and its processing partner, Public Partnerships LLC (PPL), have made significant strides in the past several weeks to speed up application processing. Currently, 265 PPL staff are focusing on processing applications. In the past week alone, PPL paid 1,276 applications. This is in addition to the applications processed by LPAs working across the state to finish paying out ERA 1 funds. 

To date, OHCS and LPAs: 

  • Paid $268,134,584 to landlords and tenants to help 38,078 Oregon households, which is 93% of ERA 1 and 2 funds.
  • Are currently reviewing 5,177 applications for payment that were submitted prior to Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Need applicant or landlord response for 4,273 applications that were submitted prior to Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Received 4,635 applications since the portal reopened on Jan. 26, 2022. OHCS is focusing on paying out eligible applications that were received before Dec. 1, 2021, and will pay out the new applications after the three-to-five-week for accepting new applications is over.

Tenants can apply for OERAP at oregonrentalassistance.org. Visit the OERAP dashboard for more data. 

U.S. HUD releases details of how $422 million in federal funding can be accessed for wildfire recovery

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has released the Federal Register Notice that will allow Oregon Housing and Community Service (OHCS) to move forward on developing an action plan for $422 million in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). The funding will be used for recovery from the 2020 Labor Day wildfires. 

The release of the Federal Register Notice does not give Oregon access to the CDBG-DR funds. HUD requires that Oregon complete a series of steps, primarily the completion of an Action Plan, before Oregon can receive funds. Once HUD approves a final Action Plan, the new funds will allow OHCS to address long-term unmet recovery needs of survivors in disaster areas. 

The Federal Register Notice identified six counties and one ZIP Code as the areas most impacted and distressed by the wildfires. Federal regulations require the state to use 80 percent of the funding to benefit those locations. The most-impacted areas as designated by HUD are Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Lane, Lincoln, and Marion counties, as well as the 97358 Zip Code in Linn County.

The federal funding is part of $5 billion that Congress appropriated for disaster relief in October. CDBG-DR program funds are used to help those most impacted, especially low-income residents needing housing recovery assistance, to recover from presidentially declared disasters. 

“This important step by the federal government will allow OHCS to develop an action plan on how to get the federal funds to those wildfire survivors who need it the most,” said OHCS Executive Director Margaret Salazar. “On top of the $150 million allocation from the Oregon Legislature, not only will this additional funding help survivors recover and rebuild, it also will provide resources to put measures into place aimed at preventing future housing instability caused by wildfires.”

The Federal Register Notice requires a series of steps OHCS must take before accessing funds. These steps include an Unmet Needs Assessment, a Mitigation Needs Assessment, an Action Plan with public comment, a public engagement process, and a certification process. OHCS has already started work on these required steps, but it will take months before funding is accessible.

The state also is required to develop a Citizen Participation Plan that describes how the public will be informed and engaged throughout the grant’s lifecycle. Before the Action Plan is finalized, the public will be invited to review and submit feedback on a draft plan.  

OHCS expects a draft Action Plan to be completed ahead of HUD’s June deadline. Once complete, the draft plan will be published and made available for a 30-day public comment period. Once the public comment period is complete, HUD will take up to 60 days to review the action plan before funds can be spent. 

Full details of the Federal Register Notice can be found on the HUD website.

For more information about Oregon’s Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery and mitigation efforts, visit OHCS’ CDBG webpage and sign up for wildfire housing recovery email updates

Vehicle Rolls and Slams Into A Building In Kerby

Illinois Valley Fire District, AMR, Sheriff, OSP and ODOT responded to Hwy 199, at 6th St in Kerby, for a vehicle that had rolled on its side before slamming into a building.

One person was trapped inside the vehicle. Mercy was placed on standby and canceled after the extrication of the victim. The patient was transported by AMR, with injures.

Tow was called, and the vehicle has been removed from the building. Traffic was reduced to one lane, while the call was active. Call time 1541 hours (3:41 PM). Illinois Valley Fire District 

In an unexpected turn, the coronavirus pandemic has had some positive impact on the Britt Music & Arts Festival, just in time for the festival’s 60th anniversary. According to festival President and CEO, Donna Briggs, the pandemic has caused more artists to seek out smaller, outdoor venues; a perfect opportunity for Britt. This year, to celebrate 60 seasons of Britt, there will be special additions to the performances but details have yet to be announced Briggs says this season will be more “normal” than the past two seasons. This season there will be COVID mitigation protocols in place, similar to last season. However, this year masks will only be recommended, not required. Festival patrons will have to show proof of vaccination, including a booster shot, or a negative COVID test 72-hours before attending a show. On-site testing will be provided again this year. Britt Music & Arts Festival will be announcing this seasons orchestra line-up later this month.

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Four inmates at the Josephine County Jail were given naloxone on Wednesday evening after they overdosed on the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, according to the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, deputies at the jail learned from other adults in custody that two inmates may have overdosed. Deputies found the two in question, who “appeared to be overdosing on an illegal substance.” With the help of jail medical staff, deputies administered Narcan. Two patrol deputies also helped by performing CPR. Shortly after that initial incident, deputies reportedly found two more inmates who appeared to be under the influence of narcotics.

Again the jail staff administered Narcan, and the two were also taken to Asante Three Rivers. During the resulting investigation, two deputies also went to the hospital due to “fentanyl exposure,” the Sheriff’s Office said. All four inmates and the two deputies have since been released from the hospital.

The Sheriff’s Office said that the case is still under investigation and no more details will be released.

A Central Point man is behind bars after he allegedly raped a 70-year-old woman at her home late Saturday night.

Deputies from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office took a report about the crime shortly after it happened. According to the agency, the woman was assaulted at her home on Blackwell Road.

Her son, who lives nearby, confronted the suspect and caused him to flee the scene. The victim was taken to a hospital for a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) evaluation, the Sheriff’s Office said. According to the agency, the victim knew the suspect. Based on the evidence in the case, deputies contacted 62-year-old Michael Dean Gates of Central Point and took him into custody.

Gates has been charged with first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse, and fourth-degree assault. His bail has been set at $400,000. JCSO said that the investigation is still ongoing.

Almost seven years ago, when 2015 Phoenix High School Graduate Irving Cortes-Martinez walked across the stage to receive his high school diploma, never did he imagine that he would become a US diplomat.

Regardless, he’s now on a direct path to becoming just that. In just two years, Cortes-Martinez will become a US diplomat, the first in Phoenix High School’s history, according to Phoenix High School. He was also recently awarded the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship, which puts him on course to become a diplomat in 2024. According to Cortes-Martinez’s university, Union College, he will spend the next two years working through a two-year master’s degree in Foreign Service.

Cortez-Martinez will also intern with a member of Congress this coming summer on issues related to foreign affairs — and then in the following year, he will be sent overseas to intern in a US Embassy or Consulate to get hands-on experience in both US foreign policy and Foreign Service.

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A church is suing Brookings, the small city along the southern Oregon coast, after an ordinance was passed barring churches in residential areas from serving more than two free meals a week to people experiencing homelessness.

Rev. Bernie Lindley of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church said the church in Brookings has been serving the community for decades and picking up the slack where the need exists. The ordinance against serving more than two free meals a week came in response to a petition from people living near the church, who said the church’s programs were creating public safety problems.

The petition, which refers to the people around St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church as “vagrants” and “undesirables,” was signed by 30 people. Brookings Mayor Ron Hedenskog declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

An investigative report published by The Oregonian about the fate of Lake Abert and how the State of Oregon failed to follow through on investigations of keeping water in the lake are leading to hearings in the Oregon Legislature and pressure on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife , Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the Oregon Water Resources Department.

Lake Abert and Abert Rim are located northeast of Valley Falls in south central Oregon, about 25 miles north of Lakeview, Oregon on U.S. Route 395.

Journalist Rob Davis published an article highlighting the effort of one scientist who used to work for DEQ who was studying the decline of Lake Abert over the past several years and had come to the conclusion that a private, earthen dam at River’s End Ranch — which was subsidized by Ducks Unlimited and ODFW — was the culprit.

She was told by her supervisor at DEQ several years ago to stop the investigation and the final report was never published. Lake Abert, Oregon’s only saltwater lake and one of the state’s largest lakes, has gone dry twice in the past decade. It went dry in both 2014 and 2021; the last time it was totally dry was in the 1930s.

While the land and animals of Lake Abert are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the water resources are managed by the State of Oregon.

This region of Lake County is a major flyway for migratory birds and BLM biologists have told the Examiner that Lake Abert provides a major stop for birds making long-distance treks; the birds spend time filling up on the only species that live in Lake Abert — brine shrimp and Abert flies. 

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