Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 3/3 – Oregon’s Mask Mandate Ends Friday, Including for Schools

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Thursday, March 3, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Rain likely. Snow level 5800 feet. Cloudy, with a high near 49. Overnight, more rain likely, with a low of 32. Snow level 5500 feet lowering to 4200 feet after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Friday A chance of rain and snow showers before 1pm, then a chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43. Overnight a chance of snow flurries, low around 29. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

Saturday A 20% chance of snow showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 42.

Today’s Headlines

Oregon reports 696 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 4 new deaths

There are four new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 6,652, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported today. OHA reported 696 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 695,323.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (25), Clackamas (54), Clatsop (3), Columbia (10), Coos (10), Crook (10), Curry (2), Deschutes (25), Douglas (19), Gilliam (1), Harney (1), Hood River (12), Jackson (59), Jefferson (2), Josephine (26), Klamath (12), Lake (1), Lane (77), Lincoln (5), Linn (44), Marion (40), Morrow (2), Multnomah (121), Polk (8), Tillamook (2), Umatilla (18), Union (1), Wasco (4), Washington (89) and Yamhill (10).

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office is now asking for the public’s help in locating Christopher Aubrey from the Happy Camp area.

He was last seen in late February. The Sheriff’s Office has informed us that Aubrey was last seen in the Happy Camp area after he was planning to float across the river in the Ferry Point area. Aubrey’s truck was located earlier this week, March 1, at the Ferry River Access.  A kayak believed to be Aubrey’s was also found further down the Independence River. 

Police are also asking that locals do not call dispatch for updates. 

This time of year, a low hum emanates from wooden boxes throughout the Klamath Basin.

Soon, groggy honeybees will emerge from their winter rest, restarting an age-old tradition of turning flowers into food. Local beekeepers are gearing up for another eventful growing season, ordering new colonies and sprucing up their hives.

Some are practically drowning in bees that unexpectedly survived the winter — Lorena Corzatt, president of the Klamath Basin Beekeepers Association, said all nine of the hives she tends to have made it through the not-so-cold season, and their growing numbers may require her to split each one into two new colonies to take care of. A Klamath Falls resident since 1992, Corzatt first took a beginning beekeeping class put on by KBBA eight years ago. She’d long been curious about bees and, sometimes, a little freaked out. She made the plunge two years later, purchasing her first two hives, and never looked back. The honeybees commonly kept by people today aren’t native to the Americas and were instead brought over by colonizers several hundred years ago, but they join local bee species to feed on nectar and pollen dispensed by plants in the area.

Today, they’re essentially considered livestock due to their inextricable links with agriculture — in 2019, beekeepers in the U.S. raised 2.8 million honeybee colonies, literally billions of bees.

A Klamath Falls woman is worried about her homeland, the Ukraine.

Nataliya Hamilton was born in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, in 1971. The youngest of 13 Levchuk children, her parents were World War II heroes that, over the decades, had been pushed deep into poverty by the yoke of the USSR.

Her homeland, Ukraine, is now fighting for its democratic life. And the people who live there are fighting and dying for it, too. Nataliya, now 50 years old with two daughters, last visited her home country in 2017.  She says the homeland will be forever changed by the current war being staged there. She says she’ll never be able to go back and see things as they used to be. She hears of children being killed by bombs, cities surrounded by Russian troops, and knows there is the real possibility the young democracy will be toppled by a dictatorial regime. It’s hard not to feel helpless and overwhelmed, she said.

She asks her friends in Klamath Falls to appreciate their freedom and support the cause worldwide, to give to international charities that help victims of war, and to keep Ukraine front of mind during this struggle.

Broken tail lights, Russian vodka, the Great Resignation, overtime pay, and a machine speed-reading a 193-page budget bill were pieces of a hyperactive Tuesday as the Legislature hit the final week of the 2022 session.

In the main event of the day, the Senate and House swapped political hot potatoes.

The House voted 37-23 along party lines to approve a contentious farmworker overtime bill, sending it to the Senate. The Senate voted 16-11 for what’s been dubbed “the broken tail light law” that would limit police vehicle stops. It now goes to the House.

Signs the Legislature was coming into the final days of its 35-day sprint of a “short session” could be seen in the committee calendar. In the first weeks after the session began Feb. 1, the 37 legislative committees held up to 30 meetings a day, five days a week. By Tuesday, the trickle was down to two committees, with no meetings scheduled for Wednesday.

Legislation cannot be amended on the floor of the House and Senate, so the final committee hearings were sometimes dramatic showdowns over which bills would make the jump to the floor and which would remain in the legislative graveyard at the end of the session.

The Klamath Tribal Youth & Family Guidance Center — the dic’ii yawqs or (Good Medicine) Team — worked with the Klamath Tribes Youth Council and Klamath County Public Health.

On March 1, the Klamath Tribes Prevention staff, along with the Klamath Tribes Youth Council and Valeree Lane of Public Health, attended the monthly Klamath County Commissioners board meeting with commissioners Derrick DeGroot and Kelley Minty Morris, where the youth council accepted a proclamation from commissioners that officially named March and April as Alcohol Awareness Months in Klamath County.

In a proclamation, the county commissioners said  the Board of Klamath County Commissioners proclaim March and April to be Alcohol Awareness Months in Klamath County. The proclamation was submitted to commissioners in early February and was officially announced at the Tuesday meeting. The document stems from the work these groups have done to promote alcohol awareness in Chiloquin through the “Think Twice Sticker Shock Campaign” for more than five years. The goal of the proclamation is to extend the Sticker Shock campaign and overall awareness of underage alcohol use beyond Chiloquin and into the other communities of Klamath County.

Members of the public are also invited to attend the March 7 Klamath Falls City Council meeting where Klamath Tribes Youth Council will present the proclamation. The council meeting is set for 7 p.m. at City Hall, 500 Klamath Avenue.

Around the state of Oregon

Gov. Kate Brown says that Oregon, California and Washington would lift their mandates simultaneously on Friday at 11:59 p.m., March 11th.

The new date includes ending mask mandates in schools. The order will affect over 51.2 million people from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, which is about 15% of the national population.

The announcement is the third time in the past month that Oregon has revised its plans for lifting masking requirements while indoors. The state had previously planned to lift requirements in late March and moved those plans up to March 19 last week, prior to Monday’s revision.

The move comes on the two-year anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 reported in Oregon, on Feb. 28, 2020 in Washington County.

When DMV offices open the following Monday, March 14, customers can leave their masks at home if they choose; masks will be optional inside DMV offices and during driving tests.

The Bureau of Land Management Oregon/Washington Medford District Manager has approved a plan to promote resilient forests across southwestern Oregon.

The Decision Record for the Integrated Vegetation Management for Resilient Lands Environmental Assessment (IVM EA) was signed Wednesday. The plan aims to protect forests from fire, drought, insects, and disease. It is also designed to improve habitat for wildlife and plants.  The forests of southwest Oregon are fire-adapted ecosystems.

Reducing competition among trees allows them to grow larger in diameter becoming more resilient to impacts of fire, drought, insects, and disease. The plan will preserve large trees and reduce the risk of large-scale, high severity fires.  By analyzing similar actions across the Medford District, the IVM EA creates a framework to increase the pace and scale of critical resiliency treatments. While developing the IVM EA, BLM officials consulted with local Tribes, worked with other government agencies, and provided multiple opportunities for public engagement. 

The BLM will provide additional public engagement opportunities for future projects involving commercial harvest treatments under the IVM EA. Learn more about the IVM EA by visiting the project website.

Yesterday, Pacific Power filed a general rate case, along with its annual power cost forecast, with the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

The general rate case, which proposes a 6.6 percent rate adjustment, or $82.2 million, supports continued investments in wildfire mitigation strategies, vegetation management and clean energy resources, while also responding to inflationary impacts. If approved, this would be Pacific Power’s first general rate increase in nearly a decade.

The company’s annual power cost forecast (Transition Adjustment Mechanism or TAM) is being filed concurrently with the rate case. The initial forecast shows power costs increasing for the first time in five years, if approved. The proposed 5.6 percent increase for rates effective in 2023 is primarily due to inflationary pressures related to increases in wholesale electricity and natural gas commodity prices.

The final approved 2023 TAM rate will be updated in November with the most current forecasted prices for wholesale energy and natural gas.  The proposed TAM increase is well below the U.S. Consumer Price Index for the energy sector and energy services, which increased 27 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively, over the last 12 months.[2] 

The TAM increase is lower in part due to Pacific Power’s expansion of low-cost, zero-carbon renewable resources and its participation in the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM). The EIM enables access to even more low-cost, zero-carbon energy across the entire Western U.S. market while reducing emissions and increasing reliability. Since Pacific Power helped form the EIM in 2014, it has provided its Oregon customers with $102 million in savings through year-end 2021 and $24 million of expected benefits in the 2023 TAM.

Later this year, Pacific Power plans to work with the commission to develop an on-bill rate discount to support customers who are experiencing income restraints. This will be separate from the current rate process to allow for faster adoption of the proposed rate discount, enabling us to mitigate the impact of the proposed rate increase for our most vulnerable community members.

Hundreds of Oregon residents who lost their homes in the Almeda and South Obenchain fires are currently housed in FEMA trailers. Now, with few housing alternatives in the Rogue Valley and thr slow recovery from the wildfires these residents are being asked to pay market rate rent.

FEMA installed around 180 trailers after the devastating 2020 fires. The temporary housing was planned to be removed on March 15, so Oregon lawmakers applied for an extension. When that was approved, it came with a catch. Residents got letters a week-and-a-half ago telling them that they would be expected to pay market rate rent.

“For a two-bedroom, it’s about $1,100. It’s more like $1,700 for a three-bedroom,” says Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland. “So it’s caused a tremendous amount of alarm and anxiety and sort of retraumatization among residents.”

Marsh says residents should begin an application for FEMA subsidies, which are priced according to individuals’ income. “People who are at 50% of median income can get their rent decreased to as little as $50 a month,” says Marsh. “Which, I think we’d all agree, is probably manageable for everybody.”

Financial assistance is also being offerred by the Medford nonprofit, ACCESS. https://www.accesshelps.org/

Governor Brown Responds After Judge Blocks Clemency Commutation Orders

After a judge blocked Gov. Kate Brown’s order which would let the parole board review commutations, her office says they will be evaluating their legal options going forward.

The order would have allowed dozens of juvenile convicts the chance for an early release from prison.

A circuit court judge decided that by allowing the parole board to make release decisions, Brown could hand off her responsibility. The move would have expanded the parole board’s authority through executive action, which isn’t allowed.

Kevin Mannix, the president of Common Sense for Oregon and one of the attorneys behind the lawsuit, said there were “up to 250 cases that could be considered here.”

Despite this decision, the governor’s office said Brown will continue to use her clemency authority and thinks executive clemency “can be used to address systemic failures in our criminal justice system while we work to make lasting change.”

In the same lawsuit, the judge upheld some other commutations the governor recently made.

“The Governor is pleased the court’s letter opinion has affirmed that her use of clemency powers was within her authority and upheld every single commutation granted to date, impacting almost 1,200 individuals,” according to Gov. Brown’s office.

Large Clackamas County Drug Seizure Leads to Federal Indictment of Local Drug Traffickers

PORTLAND, Ore.—A federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment today charging two local men for trafficking and selling large quantities of methamphetamine and counterfeit prescription pills across the Portland Metropolitan Area.

Photo of Seized Narcotics

Juan Manuel Angulo, 50, of Gresham, Oregon, and Enrique Ocegueda, 31, of Beaverton, Oregon, have been charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl.

According to court documents, on February 2, 2022, Angulo and Ocegueda were arrested when they showed up to a drug deal with an undercover law enforcement informant in Clackamas County, Oregon.

Investigators found and seized a combined 50 pounds of methamphetamine and more than 10,000 counterfeit pills suspected to contain fentanyl from Angulo and Ocegueda’s vehicles. Later that same evening, agents executed federal search warrants on both men’s residences and a storage locker belonging to Ocegueda. They seized several thousand additional counterfeit prescription pills, 15 additional pounds of methamphetamine, one pound of heroin, and approximately $50,000 in cash.

Both defendants will be arraigned on March 4, 2022. If convicted, they face maximum sentences of life in prison with ten-year mandatory minimum sentences.

U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) and the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Scott M. Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Bureau Of Land Management Plan Protects Oregon Forests Through Integrated Vegetation Management

The Bureau of Land Management Oregon/Washington Medford District Manager has approved a plan to promote resilient forests across southwestern Oregon.

The Decision Record for the Integrated Vegetation Management for Resilient Lands Environmental Assessment (IVM EA) was signed Wednesday. The plan aims to protect forests from fire, drought, insects, and disease. It is also designed to improve habitat for wildlife and plants.

The forests of southwest Oregon are fire-adapted ecosystems. Reducing competition among trees allows them to grow larger in diameter becoming more resilient to impacts of fire, drought, insects, and disease. The plan will preserve large trees and reduce the risk of large-scale, high severity fires.

“This plan supports the Rogue Valley Fire Integrated Community Wildfire Protection Plan,” said Jen Smith, acting Medford District Manager. “The IVM plan is critical in helping us reduce the threat and severity of fire across a very large wildland urban interface area.”

By analyzing similar actions across the Medford District, the IVM EA creates a framework to increase the pace and scale of critical resiliency treatments. While developing the IVM EA, BLM officials consulted with local Tribes, worked with other government agencies, and provided multiple opportunities for public engagement. The BLM will provide additional public engagement opportunities for future projects involving commercial harvest treatments under the IVM EA.

Learn more about the IVM EA by visiting the project website at: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/123406/510.

https://www.blm.gov/press-release/bureau-land-management-protects-oregon-forests-through-integrated-vegetation

The High Desert Museum will kick off spring break with special programs and extended hours from Saturday, March 19 through Sunday, March 27, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Visitors pay winter rates with summer hours through Thursday, March 31. It’s all made possible by Oregon College Savings Plan. The popular indoor flight demonstration Sky Hunters returns inside the E.L. Wiegand Pavilion after a two-year hiatus. Visitors can experience powerful predators close-up as raptors fly just overhead and Museum wildlife specialists showcase the birds’ agility and grace. The program runs from Saturday, March 19 – Saturday, March 26 with demonstrations daily at 11:00 am and 1:30 pm. Tickets are $5 and available at Admissions. Museum members receive a 20 percent discount. Sky Hunters is possible with support from Bigfoot Beverages. The festivities truly start on Wednesday, March 16 with Senior Day. Visitors 65 and older are invited to enjoy the day with free admission. Senior Day is made possible by Mid Oregon Credit Union and T-Mobile. On Saturday, March 19 from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm, visitors can stop in the Spirit of the West Silver City scene and experience what school was like in the program Go to School in 1885. A living history interpreter will share lessons and artifacts that give visitors a taste of what education was like during that time period.  THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM opened in Bend, Oregon in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert.

Whale watching season has arrived on the Oregon Coast as 25-thousand gray whales swim north after giving birth off the coast of Baja, Mexico. Normally, Oregon Parks and Recreation has staff and volunteers at whale watching sites to help show you how to spot the whales, but this year that’s been canceled. The Oregon Parks website has a list of the locations and tips on how to find the whales.

Jackson County Parks Officially Closes Emigrant Lake Water Slide Permanently

The Jackson County Parks Department has officially closed the Emigrant Lake Water Slide permanently. The facility has been open for 38 years but has struggled in recently due to drought and disrepair.

May be an image of body of water, nature, grass and mountain
Current picture Emigrant Lake(2022) ….courtesy of Shelly Jaynes

The slide was already closed in both 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 and a lack of water, and now that change is permanent.

“The slide, if we decided to keep it open, would take a significant investment to get it up to snuff and safe to continue into the future. For a very old facility, that has reached frankly the end of its life span,” said Jackson County Parks Director Steve Lambert at a presentation to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

According to Jackson County Parks, the slide used thousands of gallons of water per day when operational and it would have cost at least $500,000 to repair. With Emigrant Lake getting more depleted by the day, the slide no longer made sense to keep up.

“This is not a moneymaker, it’s a money loser. It’s very difficult to even get staff who will work, when Steve talked about the staff we can get, we’ve had to limit hours and reduce use just because of the inability to staff it,” said Jackson County Administrator Danny Jordan.

Jordan said the ongoing drought has made it necessary to prioritize certain Emigrant Lake functions over others, and the slide could not take precedence over more essential services.

“We have an extreme water shortage out there, where we’re just trying to keep the bare minimum of water available to serve our guests in the R/V park, restrooms etc. From a drinking water point. And, we’re also looking at revenues going forward that are extremely unstable due to a bunch of different factors,” said Jordan.

The city of Medford will be opening up a water park of their own in 2023 that the county believes will give anyone looking for a splash of fun everything they need. Jackson County Parks will devise a new use of the space once the water slide is gone. https://jacksoncountyor.org/parks/Day-Use/Emigrant-Lake/Water-Slide

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