Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 3/8 – Gov. Brown Declares State of Emergency in Klamath County as Third Year of Record Drought Ahead, Asking Agencies to Provide Assistance to Water Users in The Region

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Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Mostly sunny, with a high near 53. Northwest winds to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph. Overnight, cloudy with a low around 30.

Wednesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 46. 
Thursday Sunny, with a high near 50.
Friday Sunny, with a high near 60.
Saturday Partly sunny, with a high near 58.

Today’s Headlines

Oregon Governor Kate Brown yesterday declared a State of Emergency in Klamath County, as southern Oregon faces another dry year in an ongoing drought that shows no sign of letting up.

The declaration directs state agencies, including the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon Water Resources Department and the Water Resources Commission, to provide assistance to water users in the region and to seek federal resources to help residents and wildlife.

Snowpack in the Klamath Basin sat at just 60% of normal as of Monday, which prompted the governor to make the declaration.

Central and southern Oregon are entering a third consecutive year of drought, and the state saw its third driest period from October 2019 to September 2021 since records began in the late 1800s, according to Larry O’Neill, a climatologist at Oregon State University. Klamath County has been particularly hard hit.

Some residents have seen wells run dry as groundwater recedes. There have also been contentious fights over how to allocate the water in Upper Klamath Lake, which is desperately needed by farmers, ranchers and two species of endangered fish that are cultural mainstays of Indigenous people in the region.

Oregon reports 1,116 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 35 new deaths

There are 35 new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 6,743, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported at 12:01 a.m. today. OHA reported 1,116 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 697,775.

The 35 new deaths and 1,116 new cases reported today include data recorded by counties for the three-day period between March 4 and March 6.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (2), Benton (21), Clackamas (90), Clatsop (9), Columbia (19), Coos (18), Crook (6), Curry (8), Deschutes (63), Douglas (38), Gilliam (1), Grant (13), Harney (1), Hood River (8), Jackson (55), Jefferson (2), Josephine (34), Klamath (15), Lake (1), Lane (103), Lincoln (14), Linn (81), Malheur (5), Marion (66), Morrow (1), Multnomah (220), Polk (13), Tillamook (8), Umatilla (13), Wallowa (6), Wasco (10), Washington (153) and Yamhill (19).

Numbers of those hospitalized with Covid in the Klamath Basin are on the upswing yet again. Sky Lakes Medical Center reported yesterday that they are on strain status, with 23 Covid in-patents.

Fourteen of those patients are unvaccinated, six are vaccinated, and three are both vaccinated and have had subsequent booster shots.

The COVID-19 isolation units are open again. The numbers are rising again as we get closer to the end of the mask mandate. Please remember that the pandemic isn’t over and that while we see fewer masks out and about these days, it’s still important to take precautions to protect ourselves and our community. Especially for immunocompromised community members. Please stay home if you are sick or have symptoms of sickness.

There are 35 new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 6,743. OHA reported 1,116 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 697,775. 15 new cases were reported here in Klamath County, 55 new cases in Jackson County.

Researchers at OHSU and other well-known medical facilities say patients with even a mild case of Covid-19 may experience accelerated aging of the brain and other changes to it, according to a new study.

The study, published Monday in the journal Nature, is believed to be the largest of its kind. It found that the brains of those who had Covid-19 had a greater loss of grey matter and abnormalities in the brain tissue compared with those who didn’t have Covid-19.

Many of those changes were in the area of the brain related to the sense of smell. It is normal for people to lose 0.2% to 0.3% of grey matter every year in the memory-related areas of the brain as they age, but in the study evaluation, patients who had been infected with the coronavirus lost an additional 0.2% to 2% of tissue compared with those who hadn’t been infected.

The authors cautioned that the findings were only of a moment in time but noted that they “raise the possibility that longer-term consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection might in time contribute to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.”

The highest average price of a gallon of regular gas in Oregon was recorded yesterday.

And the end of climbing prices isn’t in sight. Portland gas prices hit an all-time average high of $4.51 Monday, according to AAA, amid a price spike stemming from concerns that the United States and European countries would halt oil imports from Russia, one of the world’s largest oil producers. That’s about 50 cents higher than it was a week ago. And it’s $1.50 higher than the average price a year ago, back when regular unleaded cost about $3.01 a gallon.

Oregon’s gas prices are the fourth highest in the nation, AAA says, behind California (where the average price is a whopping $5.34), as well as Hawaii and Nevada.

Locally in the Klamath Basin today, gas prices range from $4.19 a gallon to $4.69 a gallon. Stay tuned.

The Oregon Public Guardian is accepting applications for those wanting to serve as a volunteer guardian for people residing in Douglas, Klamath, Lane, Jackson, Josephine, and Washington Counties.

The Oregon Public Guardian (OPG) program serves as court-appointed, surrogate decision makers for adults that are incapable of making some or most of the decisions necessary for their basic care and safety. The Oregon Public Guardian is the guardian of last resort and only serves when there is no less restrictive option available for addressing a serious safety risk and no appropriate alternative guardian is available. Oregon has a very high need for public guardian services.

OPG estimates that there are still between 500 and 1,000 adult Oregonians in need of public guardian services. With current resources, OPG has caseload capacity for approximately 160-185 clients.

Trained volunteers will help to increase this capacity. Successful applicants will be trained through evening online classes and supervised training in the field. Those who successfully complete their training will be assigned guardianship for someone in their community. Those trained are asked for a commitment of two years volunteering at least 8 hours a month.

The trainings are currently happening via Zoom, so a computer and a good internet connection are needed. If you are interested in attending the evening training, an application process must be completed. 

Around the state of Oregon

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Oregon State Police shot a man wielding a knife Sunday afternoon on Interstate five near Grants Pass. The person struck by gunfire was transported to a local hospital and is recovering from injuries.

The freeway was closed in both directions for several hours as police conducted their investigation. The incident took place  along I-5 between mileposts 55 and 48.  A motorist stopped a the scene captured the event on video and has shared that with authorities and some members of the news media. During this incident, a northbound tractor-trailer collided with a parked Rogue River police vehicle that was unoccupied.

The southbound lanes of I-5 were closed for approximately 3 hours.

The Oregon State Police Trooper involved in this incident has been place on administrative leave, which is standard protocol. Once the investigation is completed, the information will be forwarded to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office for review. The name of the Trooper involved will not be released until the Grand Jury has reviewed the matter.

This incident is currently being investigated by the Medford Police Department and is being assisted by members of the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office. During this incident, a northbound tractor-trailer collided with a parked Rogue River police vehicle that was unoccupied. There were no injuries as a result of this collision. The northbound lanes were closed for approximately 1 hour.

Any further details will be released by the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office. Charges will be filed pending identification of the suspect. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to phone 541-770-4783.

Suspect In Selma Double Homicide Shot In Standoff With Law Enforcement

A man suspected of murdering two people was shot by Josephine County Sheriff’s Deputies after a standoff in Selma that lasted almost an hour on Sunday.

The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office received an eye-witness report of a murder in the 3400 block of Lakeshore Drive and went to the scene supported by troopers from the Oregon State Police.

When they arrived, deputies reportedly found two deceased people in the driveway of a residence and were confronted by an armed man.

JCSO said the standoff between this man and law enforcement lasted almost an hour.

“This rapidly evolving and dangerous situation escalated to a point where two deputies fired their weapons despite efforts to deescalate the situation,” JCSO press release stated.

The deputies on the scene provided first aid to the armed man. The suspect was transported to an area hospital where he remains in stable condition.

JCSO said no deputies were injured in this incident.

The two deputies who fired their weapons have been placed on administrative leave, which JCSO said is standard procedure, adding that the officers will not be identified at this time.

After historic effort to keep Oregon renters housed during the pandemic, statewide Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program to close on March 14

More than $289 million in federal emergency rental assistance paid to more than 40,000 households throughout the pandemic 

SALEM, ORE. – Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) announced during a media briefing today that the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) Portal will close and stop accepting new applications on March 14, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. PT.

The portal reopened on Jan. 26, 2022, for a limited time after the Oregon State Legislature allocated $100 million to support renters facing eviction. The state had paused accepting new application on Dec. 1, 2021, due to dwindling federal funds.

Due to demonstrated ongoing need and feedback from community and housing stakeholders, OHCS has redirected additional resources to help tenants applying for OERAP. Nearly $13 million in funds have been redirected to more renters applying for assistance. The additional funds will support an estimated 1,900 households. 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. 

During this historic crisis, the agency served as a national leader in providing rental assistance to more than 40,500 households, which means that an estimated 104,600 people in households served have been able to stay safely and affordably housed during the pandemic.Only three other states have provided a higher percentage of assistance according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, ranking Oregon 4th in the nation in the percentage of emergency rental assistance funds paid out and obligated. More than $289 million has been paid in the past nine months.  

“The additional resources have allowed OHCS to keep the portal open longer than initially estimated. Oregon renters will have more time. Those who have applied—or will apply for OERAP—will be protected from eviction until their application is processed,” said Jill Smith, interim director of Housing Stabilization at OHCS. “This program was set up as a temporary program to assist the people most impacted by the pandemic and, unfortunately, it will soon be coming to an end.”

Arbor Month grant from Oregon Community Trees will help Medford honor fallen police officer with plaque

A grant from Oregon Community Trees will help the City of Medford honor a police officer who died trying to rescue swimmers.  Medford is one of five Tree City USA communities across Oregon receiving a grant this spring to boost tree-related activities in April. 

The $500 matching grant to Medford will cover half the cost of a permanent granite boulder plaque to mark the Colorado blue spruce being dedicated as a Medford Heritage Tree. The City of Medford paid the remaining half. The tree was planted in honor of Medford Police Officer Ken Mainwaring in Fichtner-Mainwaring Park, named for him and another fallen Medford police officer. 

Officer Mainwaring’s life focus was working with various local youth programs. He was a detective and crime prevention officer in Medford and was vice chairman of the Oregon Crime Prevention Officers Association. His life focus was working with various local youth programs. He died in June 1974 at the age of 31 while on a two-day backpacking trip with troubled youth from the Lincoln Center. He was trying to help some swimmers who were struggling in the Rogue River about three miles downstream from Grave Creek when he disappeared. His body was recovered about a week later at Devil’s Stair near Blossom Bar. Colorado blue spruce was chosen as a memorial as it was his favorite tree, according to his family.

The formal dedication of the tree and memorial plaque will be held during Medford’s Pear Blossom/Arbor Day event on Saturday, April 9 and will be open to family, friends and the public who wish to honor Officer Mainwaring’s service and life. For more information on the Pear Blossom event, visit http://pearblossomparade.org/

Other communities receiving grants include:

  • Bandon – creating a community mural celebrating trees in City Park.
  • Hillsboro – nature-themed prizes, materials and supplies supporting a variety of educational activities for children and adults, including a tree identification scavenger hunt.
  • Pendleton – a large tree for a free raffle and educational materials.
  • Rivergrove – four native species trees to be planted in a localcity park with students from Rivergrove Elementary School’s “Green Team” and watering supplies.

Since 2014 Oregon Community Trees has supported 38 different communities with these grants. Made up of arborists, urban planners, community activists, foresters and others interested in trees, the non-profit group’s mission is to promote healthy urban and community forests through leadership, education, awareness, and advocacy.  Oregon Dept. of Forestry

One Dead and One Injured on Mount Hood

Crews found one person dead and another with critical injuries on Oregon’s Mount Hood Monday after they were forced to pause rescue efforts over the weekend due to avalanche conditions and deep snow. 

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office

The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office launched a multiteam search-and-rescue mission on Sunday after two people fell around 200 feet in the Leuthold Couloir area of Mount Hood, the agency said in a news release.

Both had initially been injured in the fall, but one of them was able to call 911 using a cellphone and also used a Garmin inReach device to notify an emergency contact something was wrong, according to the sheriff’s office.

A rescue team was deployed, with volunteer rescuers also joining the effort.

The sheriff’s office said rescuers were met with “extremely challenging” conditions, with winds blowing between 50 to 70 mph. 

By around 11:40 p.m. Sunday, the first climbing team was able to make it within around 700 feet elevation below the pair, according to the release. The team was ultimately forced to turn back due to heightened avalanche danger in the area.

On Monday, the sheriff’s office said rescuers were finally able to reach the duo, despite Mount Hood seeing at least two natural-release avalanche events that day.

When they reached them, they found that one of them had died.

As rescuers looked to get the second person to safety, the sheriff’s office said they were forced to make “the tough decision to leave the deceased on the mountain, with plans to mount a recovery mission when conditions improve.”

With winds too strong to carry out a chopper rescue, crews carried the second person on foot before using a snowcat to take them to medical personnel staged nearby, according to the release. The rescue effort ended around 7 p.m., and the second person was taken to a hospital for treatment, the sheriff’s office said.

It is unclear what their relationship was to the deceased. The sheriff’s office did not identify either of the victims, but said identification would be forthcoming.

Time Change This Weekend

The sun will set at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 12. — Sunset moves to 7:16 p.m. Sunday, March 13.

The hour change is a familiar one: We “spring forward” to daylight saving time in March, just as we “fall back” to Pacific standard time in November.

But it’s a familiar change Oregonians may be excused for thinking they’d putting behind them for good with the passage of a law in 2019 to “lock the clock” on daylight saving time all year round.

Since 1918, most of the United States has made the twice annual switch from standard time to daylight saving time.

State lawmakers passed a bill in June 2019 to keep Oregon on daylight saving time all year. The governor signed it into law a week later.

But you’ll still need to set your clock back an hour this Sunday at 2 a.m. And odds are good that, even after we spring forward again March 13, 2022 – and fall back once more on Nov. 6, 2022.

Even though Senate Bill 320 – which would keep most of Oregon on daylight saving time year-round – took effect January 1, 2020, that key provision – locking the clock on daily saving time – has yet to be triggered.

The bill would keep Oregon on daylight saving time and skip “falling back” in a future November. The portion of Oregon on Mountain Time in the far eastern portions of the state – cities like Ontario and Jordan Valley – would be exempt.

But Oregon lawmakers said the change would only take effect the first November after both Washington and California adopt year-round daylight saving time.

Washington lawmakers passed legislation to do so, and California voters cast ballots directing lawmakers there to do the same. But the law hasn’t been a priority for California lawmakers since it stalled last year in the state senate.

All three states also face one final hurdle: Congress needs to sign off on the deal.

Oregon State University will hold in-person graduation ceremonies for the first time in two years.

The Corvallis ceremony will be held June 11th and the OSU-Cascades ceremony will be held in Bend on June 12th. Commencement ceremonies in 2020 were canceled to help reduce risk of COVID-19. Last year, virtual ceremonies were held for 2020 and 2021 graduates.

All students graduating between summer 2021 and summer 2022 can participate in the ceremonies.

Farm workers in Oregon will be paid overtime under a bill that’s on its way to the Governor.

The bill passed on a party-line vote. It phases in overtime requirements over four years. A tax credit would be available to small farmers that will help cover some of the higher salary costs. Farmers say it’ll result in more automation and some farmers will have to sell their farms to larger corporations.

Oregon Music Hall of Fame

The Oregon Music Hall of Fame needs help finding 70 stolen guitars.

Officials say the guitars were in storage for the annual fundraiser in October. They were signed by The Monkees, George Clinton, Lucinda Williams, Arlo Guthrie, and Portugal The Man. The fundraiser is for a scholarship program. At least four scholarships are awarded to students in music education.

Anyone with information about the guitars should contact Portland Police.

Volunteer registration is now open for SOLVE’s April 23rd Oregon Spring Cleanup.

The event combines SOLVE IT for Earth Day and the Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup. The two events have removed more than 17-million pounds of litter and over 250-thousand volunteers have taken part in the events. You can sign up at solve-Oregon-dot-org.

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