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.
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
Klamath Basin Weather
Klamath Falls Police Department made another arrest Monday in connection with last month’s drive-by shooting.
Daniel James Beverly, 36, was arrested on charges including four counts of felon in possession of a firearm, possession of heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl, delivery of all three drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.
According to police, the Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team and the Klamath County Parole and Probation Department found Beverly at a home on Feb. 7 in the 6000 block of Shasta Way. The convicted felon subject on Shasta Way was found in possession of four semi-automatic handguns and approximately 2 ounces of fentanyl, 1 ounce of methamphetamine and a half ounce of heroin. Other items of drug dealing evidence were also located and seized during the search, including a large amount of money suspected to be drug proceeds, according to police.
The visit was a follow-up to the previous day’s search of a home on Gatewood Drive, during which KFPD found drugs and guns which may be connected to a previous shooting.
Anyone with information regarding the illegal sale or distribution of drugs within Klamath County is encouraged to call the Klamath Falls Police Department Anonymous Tip Line at (541) 883-5334 or the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at (541) 850-5380.
The Klamath/Lake Counties Food Bank is asking readers to be an all-star this football season.
According to executive director Niki Sampson, the food bank needs to restock its shelves for the rest of the winter months.
Sampson said that a Souper-BOWL food drive at your Super Bowl party can help bring-in a much-needed jolt of non-perishable food items for the pantry. Call the food bank at 541-882-1223 for information and collection boxes or barrels.
A sample of military life in the 19th century will be offered Saturday during 1800s Days at the Klamath County Museum.
The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the museum, 1451 Main St. Admission is free and open to anyone interested.
The Civil War club will display antique and replica firearms, including two heavy artillery pieces mounted on wheels. The museum will display numerous historic firearms, including one dating to the Modoc Indian War of 1872-73. Army officer from a Modoc fighter,” Todd Kepple said.
“We’ll also display a pistol found in the Lava Beds area years after the war.” A Colt Model 1855 revolver rifle that was found in the Malin area will also be displayed. For more information contact the museum at (541) 882-1000.
Around the state of Oregon
The 2015 case of a Josephine County man who was shot and killed by two Oregon State Police officers will go to trial, the result of an Oregon Court of Appeals decision last year.
According to contemporary reports, two Oregon State Police troopers responded to the property of 55-year-old Robert Box on Fir Canyon Road in May of 2015, after Box’s daughter called to report that she’d been injured by her father in a domestic assault.
OSP’s news release said that the two troopers made contact with Box, but soon reported that “shots had been fired,” and Box was down. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Neither trooper was harmed in the shooting.
Bernadette Box, Robert Box’s widow, filed a $6 million wrongful death suit against OSP in April of 2016 — alleging that the troopers had illegally trespassed on the family property, hailed him from the darkness, then shot him when he emerged with a handgun in his pocket.
Robert Box had been on the phone with his wife when he was shot that night, the suit says. In 2018, a Josephine County Circuit Court judge tossed out Bernadette Box’s lawsuit, concluding that the troopers had not done anything wrong.
According to Bernadette Box’s attorneys, the judge also sealed “hundreds of pages of evidence” in the court record.
There are 21 new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 6,265, the Oregon Health Authority reported on Tuesday. OHA also reported 3,248 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, bringing the state total to 665,486.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (93), Clackamas (261), Clatsop (18), Columbia (57), Coos (49), Crook (40), Curry (14), Deschutes (178), Douglas (161), Gilliam (6), Grant (13), Harney (12), Hood River (22), Jackson (201), Jefferson (21), Josephine (89), Klamath (48), Lake (16), Lane (317), Lincoln (53), Linn (111), Malheur (49), Marion (337), Morrow (7), Multnomah (382), Polk (88), Sherman (1), Tillamook (22), Umatilla (67), Union (34), Wallowa (10), Wasco (29), Washington (349), Wheeler (10) and Yamhill (80).
The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 1,055, which is 17 fewer than day prior. There are 190 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit beds, which is seven fewer than Monday. There are 57 available adult ICU beds out of 618 total (9% availability) and 297 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,105 (7% availability).
On Tuesday, OHA reported that 8,323 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry Feb. 7.
The seven-day running average is now 7,472 doses per day. Oregon has now administered 4,083,702 doses of Pfizer Comirnaty, 219,019 doses of Pfizer pediatric, 2,679,827 doses of Moderna and 266,336 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.
As of Tuesday, 3,137,126 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 2,839,066 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.
Oregon’s indoor mask mandate will be lifted no later than March 31, the Oregon Health Authority announced on Monday.
The news was accompanied by an announcement that OHA has filed for a permanent mask mandate with the Secretary of State’s office, replacing the temporary rule that expires February 8.
State health officials have maintained that a “permanent” rule was the only way to extend the mask mandate for the near future, as the temporary rule extensions have nearly reached their expiration date. Permanent rules can be repealed by state agencies at their discretion.
At the end of January, the OHA began filing permanent rules for a number of COVID-19 measures, including mask and vaccine mandates for school and healthcare settings. The agency said at the time that it was still sorting through public comment on the statewide mask mandate.
COVID-19 cases have dropped about 40% in Oregon over the past week, though hospitalizations have yet to drop below the 1,000 mark. As of Monday, Oregon’s seven-day total in COVID-19 hospitalizations inched down another 1%, with 1,072 people reported hospitalized with COVID-19.
More than 9 in 10 intensive care unit (ICU) and acute care beds in Oregon were occupied by a patient — continuing to strain nurses, doctors and other medical staff at hospitals.
Common School Fund will send $64.2 million to Oregon schools in 2022
STATEWIDE – Oregon’s K-12 public schools will receive $64.2 million from Common School Fund in 2022, officials announced during today’s State Land Board meeting.
Every one of Oregon’s 197 public school districts receives money from the Common School Fund every year. How much each district receives depends on the number of students served. In 2022, Portland Public Schools, the state’s largest district, will receive $5.7 million. Lincoln County School District will receive about $600,000. Rogue River School District will receive just over $100,000. See 2022 distributions for all Oregon school districts.
The average 2022 district distribution is approximately $326,000. Pendleton School District, with about 2,900 students, will receive $326,897 in 2022.
“Every dollar that the district receives is important,” said Michelle Jones, Pendleton School District’s director of business services. “We count on these resources to make sure we can keep class sizes small and provide needed technology and facilities for students.”
The Common School Fund has supported Oregon schools since statehood, when the federal government granted our new state nearly 3.4 million acres “for the use of schools.” The State Land Board was established to oversee these school lands, which generate revenue for the Common School Fund.
Now valued at $2.2 billion, the Common School Fund is invested by the State Treasurer and the Oregon Investment Council. The Fund earned an average 13.53 percent rate of return over the three-year period ending in 2021.
“Strong returns from the Common School Fund in recent years are allowing schools around the state to invest in our most precious resource — our children,” said Mary Paulson, deputy executive director of the Oregon School Boards Association.
Annually, 3.5 percent of the Fund is distributed to schools. The 2022 distribution of $64.2 million is $4.1 million more than the 2021 distribution of $60.1 million and $9.2 million more than the 2020 distribution of $55 million.
The 775,000 acres of school lands in state ownership today are managed by the Department of State Lands on behalf of the Land Board. $22.8 million in net income from school land leases, sales, and other land management activities was added to the Fund in fiscal year 2021.
“School lands have helped support generations of Oregon students,” said DSL Director Vicki Walker. “The $22.8 million school lands generated last year for the Common School Fund directly benefits my grandchildren, just as the past millions generated by school lands directly benefitted my children and me.”
About the State Land Board and the Department of State Lands: The State Land Board consists of Governor Kate Brown, Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and State Treasurer Tobias Read. Established by the Oregon Constitution in 1859, the Land Board oversees the state’s Common School Fund. The Department of State Lands is the Land Board’s administrative agency, managing the lands and resources that help fund Oregon’s public schools and protecting the state’s waterways and wetlands for the many benefits they provide. https://www.oregon.gov/dsl/About/Pages/AboutCSF.aspx
New health insurance survey data show record-high health coverage for people in Oregon
Federal rule changes for Medicaid stabilize health coverage for households struggling to make ends meet
Today the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced that its biannual Oregon Health Insurance Survey data showed a record-high 95.4% of people in Oregon had health coverage in 2021, up from 94% in 2019. This was the first year since the ACA expansion that insurance coverage increased significantly.
The gains were driven largely by federal pandemic rule changes for Medicaid, which ensured that people enrolled in Medicaid coverage stayed covered. The largest coverage gains were among low-income adults as far fewer people reported being uninsured due to loss of Medicaid coverage. In fact, people reporting Medicaid coverage jumped to 29% in 2021 from 25% in 2019. At the same time, employer-based insurance coverage continued its slow multi-year decline while Medicare and Individual remained steady.
One of the key factors in the improved coverage rate was the near elimination of Medicaid population “churn” – people returning to Medicaid coverage after less than a year. In September 2019, the “high churn” population made up 34% of new enrollees that month. With continuous enrollment policies during the Public Health Emergency (PHE), only 8% of new enrollees were returning after less than a year. The number of people entering Medicaid per month who have never been on Medicaid before has stayed stable before and during the pandemic at about 9,000 people per month.
“We know that keeping people enrolled in health insurance – whether it is a public program or their job-based coverage – is key to lowering our rate of uninsurance so people can access critical health care services,” said Jeremy Vandehey, Director of Health Policy and Analytics at OHA. “Specifically, this two-year period shows that people cycling on-and-off insurance means they eventually lose coverage. Therefore, its deeply important to break those cycles and keep people continuously enrolled. For low income families, we know that incomes fluctuate, but access to the health care should not.””
Oregon made progress in reducing disparities in health coverage caused by health inequities and structural racism during this period. Notably, the uninsured rate for Black/African American individuals dropped from 8.2% to 5% between 2019 and 2021. In other communities the improvement was less pronounced: Uninsured rates among Hispanic/Latinx communities dropped slightly, as it did among American Indian/Alaska Native communities. Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander communities showed an increase in uninsurance, which OHA will seek to understand and to address.
“With our goal of ending health inequities by 2030, OHA is committed to enacting policies that continue our progress,” added Vandehey. “One key area we look to sustain this improvement is through our upcoming Medicaid waiver, where we are asking the federal government’s permission to implement policies like continuous Medicaid enrollment for children until their sixth birthday, and two-year continuous enrollment for people age 6 and up. We now have proof that such policies will make a significant difference for Oregon families – particularly those harmed by historic and contemporary racism.”
Meanwhile, OHP coverage also increased in rural and frontier regions of the state. Although insurance coverage lags from the statewide average, coverage did increase to 92.3% from 91.0% in frontier and to 94.6% from 93.8% in rural parts of the state. In some rural and frontier counties, such as Jefferson, Josephine, Malheur, and Klamath, 2 in 5 residents receive health coverage through OHP, far higher than the state average. And in frontier regions of the state overall, about 2 in 5 people who remain uninsured are eligible for Medicaid.
“OHA’s goal is to ensure that at the end of the Public Health Emergency, we work systematically to keep people covered,” said Vandehey. “For those who are no longer eligible for OHP, we will be working to make sure they access a Marketplace plan or connect to other programs. This handoff is critical, as the data show, because we cannot lose people as they exit Medicaid. If we do, much of this hard-won coverage gain will be lost.”
OHA’s current plan for transition includes:
- Implementing a robust outreach and communication plan to let Medicaid members know what to expect and encourage them to update their contact information so that their coverage can be renewed.
- Creating ongoing coordination between Medicaid and the Marketplace to ensure that members who lose Medicaid coverage are supported in their transition to a private plan.
- Maximizing the existing automated renewal process to reduce the burden on members. If coverage cannot be automatically renewed, members receive a pre-populated renewal notice that they must sign and return.
- Engaging community partners to help connect people leaving OHP to other sources of health coverage, such as through a job.
 In March of 2020, Congress passed the Family First Coronavirus Recovery Act which:
1) Provided 6.2% enhanced federal Medicaid funding for states to maintain continuous Medicaid coverage and not disenroll Medicaid enrollees for the duration of the federal public health emergency (PHE).
2) Removed administrative barriers to enrollment, such as
- Allowing applicants to attest to most eligibility criteria
- Expanding presumptive eligibility and options for remote assistance
Not terminating coverage for people who are found ineligible during annual renewals.
Renters Being Evicted by IRS After Oregon Man Convicted of Stealing Pandemic Relief Loans
The federal government notified tenants they have 30 days to move out of their homes after Lebanon man’s conviction for stealing millions in pandemic relief loans resulted in the forfeiture of his rental property in Toledo, as well as millions of dollars in stocks and two dozen other properties in Oregon and California.
A Jan. 21 letter from Bret Kressin, a special agent in charge at the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation division, to occupants of five rental units on Northwest Sixth Street in Toledo reads, “The property … was forfeited to the United States on Jan. 18, 2022 … As a result of this action, you are required to vacate the property no later than 30 days from the receipt of this notice … ”
The letter warns that any personal property left on the premises after that date “will be considered abandoned property, without value, and will be disposed of according to law,” and advises residents they will soon be contacted by a contracted property manager responsible for inspections until the government disposes of it, presumably through sale.
“Please cooperate with the property manager, who is not an employee of IRS-Criminal Investigation but is contracted to perform a service,” the letter reads.
The forfeiture of the property follows the conviction and sentencing of Andrew Aaron Lloyd, 51, of Lebanon, for fraudulently obtaining six Paycheck Protection Program loans and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, amounting to $3.4 million and $160,000, respectively.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon, Lloyd began submitting loan applications for programs set up through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act shortly after it was passed in late March 2020. Lloyd applied for the loans under numerous business names and used the personal information of relatives and associates without their consent, claiming corporate entities he controlled paid wages of as much as $4.7 million.
Instead of using the loans to maintain payroll, the purpose of those programs, Lloyd purchased 25 real estate properties in California and Oregon, as well as securities including more than 15,000 shares in the automaker Tesla.
Lloyd was arrested in January of last year and in June pleaded guilty to bank fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft. Early last month, a federal judge sentenced him to four years in prison.
He was ordered to pay more than $4 million in restitution and forfeit the 25 real estate properties, as well as the Tesla shares and other securities. That automaker’s stock price has skyrocketed since mid-2020. On July 1, 2020, 15,000 shares were worth $3.34 million. At the market’s close on Monday, they were valued at more than $13.5 million.
Lloyd’s forfeit real estate elsewhere in Oregon includes properties in Bly, Klamath Falls, Coos Bay, Coquille, Myrtle Point, Roseburg and Sutherlin, among others, as well as addresses in Toledo on East Slope Road, Sixth Street and on Business Highway 20.
It’s not clear if the residential properties on East Slope Road and Highway 20 have tenants. Evans said there are five households at the Sixth Street property, two of which are families with two adults and four children each.
The final order signed Jan. 18 by U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said a forfeiture notice was first published on an IRS website on Sept. 1, 2020, and notices were sent to all third parties who might assert a legal interest of the government’s intent to sell them and of their right to request a hearing. Rentals tenants were not among those served notice.
With as many as 18 people affected, the potential eviction would be the second large-scale displacement in Toledo since the first of the year, following emergency closure of Yaquina Bay Hotel Jan. 31 and evacuations of dozens of long-term residents.
Most businesses in Oregon would be required to accept cash as payment under a bill being considered in Salem.
Senate Bill 1565 would mean that stores would have to take cash or coins. Supporters say doing so is a matter of fairness for people who don’t use traditional banking, either by choice or because they can’t get an account.
“Some people do not have them, meaning plastic and credit cards, because they may not qualify,” said Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, who is one of the bill’s sponsors. “Or they just choose not to have that type of transaction. They want to pay with US currency.”
Prozanski testified during a Tuesday meeting of the Senate Committee on Labor and Business.
The bill would exempt some types of businesses including farmers markets or roadside stands, which could continue to accept credit or debit cards only. The measure also wouldn’t apply to online transactions.
Some business groups testified against the measure.
“Cash is a labor intensive process,” said Anthony Smith, a lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business. “As more and more customers pay electronically, employees would still have to make bank deposits, count out cash registers before and after each shift, accounting for every transaction down to the last penny, even if the business makes very few or even no cash sales on an average day.”
Smith said having cash on hand makes a business more vulnerable to theft.
The Oregon House approved a similar measure in 2020. The bill died in the Senate when Republicans denied majority Democrats a quorum in a dispute over a climate change bill.
CONSTRUCTION NOTICE: CENTRAL POINT – Drivers on Oregon 140 east of Interstate 5 Exit 35 will see construction beginning today through October for a project designed to upgrade the narrow roadway for safety with a straighter alignment, center turn lane and wider shoulders.
Knife River Materials will begin the $10 million project by removing trees and shrubs in the project area before starting roadway construction. Drivers should expect flaggers and short delays during the day. Some of the tree removal will be done at night.
Besides a straighter and wider roadway, the project will build a center turn lane to safely access adjacent properties, wider shoulders for emergencies and, on the east side, a 10 foot multi-use path which will act as an extension of the Bear Creek Greenway from Dean Creek Road to Blackwell Road.
By July, an informal park and ride near the Exit 35 southbound on-ramp will move to Willow Springs Road, west of the interchange to accommodate a water quality pond.
One full weekend closure will be in effect Friday, July 29 through early Monday, August 1 at Willow Creek to adjust the roadway grade.
Known locally as Blackwell Road, ODOT acquired this section of road and Kirtland Road from Jackson County. Oregon 140 between White City and Interstate 5 has a mix of commuter traffic along with a high number of interstate and aggregate trucks. For more information, contact Gary Leaming, 541-621-3074
Medford Man Arrested After Setting Apartment On Fire Then Threatening First Responders
Medford police arrested a man after he set his apartment on fire and then threatened to hurt first responders in the 700 block of Royal Avenue in Medford Tuesday night.
Medford Fire Chief Eric Thompson said the man told Medford police dispatch he lit his own apartment on fire, had weapons and planned on hurting police and fire responders when they got to the scene.
“We responded as normal, however we didn’t immediately respond into the scene. We staged up a couple blocks down the road, at least the fire department did,” Thompson said. “Medford police responded in, made sure the area was secure. Once the area was secure, they had visibility on the suspect and determined it was safe for the fire department to approach.”
Thompson said the suspect had the doors to the apartment barricaded with couches and other furniture so the Medford firefighters could not immediately get inside to put the fire out. When firefighters did get inside, Thompson said they were able to put the fire out quickly despite some dangers left behind by the suspect.
“We did find some ammonia and bleach that were mixed together and another booby trap,” Thompson said. “The occupant was not injured but he was obviously suffering a mental crisis.”
When Medford fire and police arrived, they witnessed the man suffering a mental crisis on the balcony of the apartment. Thompson said they were able to coach him down a ladder to safety. He said, he is now in the custody of Medford police and is being evaluated. Thompson confirmed the man will be charged with arson.
“Our fire marshals and MPD will continue working through an investigation, however he did tell us exactly what all happened,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the fire was contained to the living room of the man’s apartment, but it also burned through the floor into the downstairs apartment. He said the fire caused minimal damage to the downstairs apartment, and most of the fire damage was upstairs.
Thompson said all residents will be able to return to their apartments except in the apartments that sustained fire damage.
The year: 2021. You: At home, again, considering your liquor cabinet. “Eh,” you say. “Why even bother?” According to a study from DrugAbuse.com, in 2021, Oregonians on average drank 27% less than they did in 2020, averaging a mere 669 alcoholic drinks for the entire year.
That’s just 4.20 drinks every 2.9 days (or 1.83 drinks a day, depending on how you do the math). Possibly more importantly, though less hilariously, that’s 12.9 drinks a week, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is well over the seven drinks per week for women and just slightly under the 14 drinks per week for men threshold for “heavy drinking.” According to the study, New Mexicans were the biggest drinkers in 2021, averaging 787 drinks per year and South Dakotans were the lowest, averaging 520 drinks per year.