Klamath Basin News, Monday, 3/14 – As We Enter Daylight Savings Time, Many of Oregon’s Statewide Mask Mandate For Face Coverings Now Lifted

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Monday, March 14, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Partly sunny, with a high near 60. Light southeast wind becoming south 8 to 13 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph. Rain expected overnight with a low around 38. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Tuesday Showers likely, mainly before noon. Snow level 6200 feet lowering to 5700 feet in the afternoon . Mostly cloudy, with a high near 52. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Overnight cloudy with a low around 28.
Wednesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 56.
Thursday Partly sunny, with a high near 58.
Friday Partly sunny, with a high near 61.
Saturday Rain. Snow level 5400 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 51.

Today’s Headlines

If it seems people are grumpier than normal Monday, they may or may not have changed their clocks to Spring forward, as we are now into Daylight Savings Time in Oregon.

It’s also a great time to Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas. Test alarms monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year if your model requires it. Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years or older. That’s because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time.

Check the date of your smoke alarms and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Oregon’s statewide mask mandate and face covering requirements at local schools in Klamath County and Klamath Falls has finally been lifted — effective Saturday.

But masking requirements remain at health care settings locally and statewide under state and federal orders. That means masking is still required at Sky Lakes Medical Center and other Oregon hospitals and medical facilities.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has lifted the state’s mask mandate for most settings. It also allows for local school districts to chart their own paths on COVID rules. The Biden administration also still has federal mask mandates for airports, airplanes as well as rail and bus stations in place. The administration has also sought to impose vaccine mandates and other pandemic requirements on health care workers and settings.

Oregon health officials Friday declared an end to the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating they will now focus on helping the state recover from the damage wrought by the coronavirus and prepare for a potential resurgence of disease. While the state expects there to be little danger of a surge in the immediate future, officials did not dismiss the possibility that one could come again. So many people in Oregon have some protection from infection now that forecasts do not predict a rise in hospitalizations once the statewide mask mandate took affect Saturday.

Average daily cases have fallen almost 95% since the omicron surge peaked and declines in hospitalizations have consistently beaten forecasts.

While health officials don’t see any variants to be concerned about in the immediate future, the purpose of the new plan is to prepare the state in case the virus does come back in force.

With a new optional mask policy now in effect at the Klamath County School District and Klamath Falls City Schools on March 12, over half of the city employees are in favor of the decision

In a survey conducted three weeks ago by Maureen Lundy, president of the Klamath Falls Education Association, she found more teachers to be in favor of the new policy, yet a sizable portion still disapproved. 

Overall, 57% of the teachers of the Klamath Falls City Schools that were surveyed were in favor of not having to wear masks anymore, 35% wanted to keep the mask mandate and 8% said they needed additional information at the time the poll was conducted.

Lundy says the county school teachers are generally more in favor of the new policy than the city teachers.  The city’s classified union paraprofessionals including secretaries, bus drivers and kitchen staff had higher rates of approval for the optional mandate compared to teachers.

Around 78% wanted to see masks eliminated and around 22% wanted to keep them.  Lundy explained that many school employees are feeling COVID and mask fatigue and are ready to move forward. 

Oregon reports 411 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 15 new deaths

PORTLAND, Ore. — There are 15 new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 6,869, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported Friday afternoon.

OHA reported 411 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 699,362.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (4), Clackamas (27), Clatsop (4), Columbia (6), Coos (8), Crook (5), Curry (2), Deschutes (30), Douglas (25), Grant (6), Harney (1), Hood River (2), Jackson (16), Jefferson (1), Josephine (15), Klamath (3), Lake (1), Lane (32), Lincoln (10), Linn (17), Marion (27), Multnomah (107), Polk (8), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (3), Union (1), Wasco (3), Washington (40) and Yamhill (6).

Pacific Power on Monday announced $800,000 in grant funds for electric mobility projects across Oregon, with Klamath Community College among recipients to receive allocated funds for installation of an electric vehicle charging station and EV development in the automotive program.

KCC was one among three statewide community colleges and 10 recipients in total to receive grant funds for electric vehicle development. Funds are provided for electric vehicle charging infrastructure and for KCC to initiate plans to create a workforce training program in electric vehicle systems analysis, equipment, and vehicle repair.

According to Peter Lawson, director of resource development at KCC, KCC will be investing in a fast charger to be initially installed in conjunction with ongoing construction of an apprenticeship center on campus. This would be available for students, staff, and community use. Completion of the apprenticeship center would coincide with expansion of KCC’s automotive program and acquisition of a KCC electric fleet vehicle.

Presently there are no regional charging stations south or east of Klamath Falls, making placement of an electric vehicle station on campus at the intersection of Highways 39 and 140 strategically important for travelers who own an electric vehicle.

Charging facilities would be available for staff, students and the general public.

Grant funding is made possible through the Oregon Clean Fuels Program, administered by the State of Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality. Funds are raised through the sale of Clean Fuels Program credits, aggregated on behalf of customers who charge electric vehicles at home.

Lost River, Henley, and Bonanza high schools have been awarded Career and Technical Education (CTE) Revitalization Grants to expand hands-on programs, update and build computer and business labs, and improve career and technical readiness pathways for students.

Lost River and Henley receive $125,000 and Bonanza 17 thousand dollars in grant money. This year, the state awarded 54 CTE Revitalization Grants to schools across Oregon.

The Oregon Legislature established the competitive grant program to strengthen the alignment of CTE, workforce development and economic development.  The CTE Revitalization Advisory Committee with representatives from organized labor, trade organizations, education and Oregon’s business, labor, industry and trades communities, the applications, prioritizing awards based on geographic diversity, community partnerships and programs that lead to high-wage, in-demand occupations, especially for historically and currently marginalized students.

Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced last week that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will begin accepting grant proposals for restoration activities in the Klamath Basin.

Over the next five years, project proposals that are approved will receive federal funding to address longstanding water problems in the Basin.

As Chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, Merkley secured this pool of $162 million dedicated specifically for Klamath Basin restoration projects in the infrastructure law.  

USFWS invites restoration project proposals from Tribes, local and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other conservation partners who are committed to finding long-term solutions that will move the Basin forward.

Project proposals must demonstrate how planned restoration activity will improve conditions and achieve habitat restoration for native fish and other aquatic species throughout the Klamath Basin. These project grants are intended to support or help improve river, riparian, lake, and wetland habitats, which historically supported millions of fish and water birds. Applicants are encouraged to submit project proposals that seek out or build upon opportunities for collaboration with other conservation partners in the Klamath Basin.

Senator Merkley has also used his position on the Appropriations Committee, along with Senator Wyden as a senior member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, time and again over the years to fight for funding as the Klamath Basin has faced severe drought challenges.

The Klamath Falls Farmers Market Association is announcing its annual spring sign-up events.

They are looking for returning and prospective agriculture or artisan vendors who can meet at the Ediblearth Farmers Market Collective at 107 North 9th Street from 12 p/m. to 3 p.m. on the following dates: Friday, March 18, and Saturday, March 19, and Friday, March 25, and Saturday, March 26.  At that time, you will be able to pick up or drop off applications.

Market manager and board members will be available during these times to handle the application process and answer questions. Applications will be available at the Ediblearth Farmers Market Collective at 107 North 9th Street and on the Klamath Falls Market website at www.Klamathfallsfa or https://www.facebook.com/EdiblearthFarms/

The stakes could get a little bit higher at local card games. That comes after the Klamath Falls City Council approved changes to city ordinance governing “social gaming”.

The local rules govern card games and card rooms. City Attorney Michael Swanson said the local ordinance needed a refresh. The rules have not ben updated since 1994, according to city documents.

The changes suggested by staff were to ditch a line that governed how much could be bet at games. The council agreed and voted March 7 to eliminate ordinance language saying “there shall be a limit on any bet of five dollars and a three-raise limit on any social game.” The measure was approved unanimously and without debate.

The Klamath Falls City Council has given final approval to the hiring of Jonathan Teichert as city manager.

Teichert will officially take the helm April 1 with a starting salary of $171,564. The city council needed to give final approval to Teichert’s hiring and employment agreement, according to City Attorney Michael Swanson. The council unanimously approved the hiring at its March 7 meeting.

Teichert was previously city administrator in Douglas, Wyoming. He previously held the same post in Afton, Wyoming. The council first announced its offer to Teichert in January. City finance director Jessica Lindsay has been serving as temporary city manager after Nathan Cherpeski stepped down in July. Cherpeski, who served as Klamath Falls city manager since 2013, took a job in Utah.

The West is far from the only region experiencing remarkably dry weather so far this year.

According to Thursday’s report from the US Drought Monitor, more than 61% of the contiguous US is in some classification of drought. It is the largest portion of the country in a state of drought since 2012, the year when the continental US saw an all-time record of 65% during September. And in recent weeks, drought has increased significantly. In the last month alone, the percentage of the continental US in drought has jumped from 55% to more than 61%, an increase of nearly 170,000 square miles; an area larger than the size of California.

California’s snowpack, which had been at 160% of normal in December, is down to around 90% due to the lack of new accumulation and some midwinter melting. A recent snow survey from the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) showed reservoirs across the state will likely not fill up again this year.

Around the state of Oregon

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Authorities say a 71-year-old man was reported missing Friday afternoon by his skiing partner.

A search was initiated by Mt. Ashland Ski Patrol and supported by Jackson County Search and Rescue. A helicopter was dispatched to aid in the search. The man was found by Ski Patrol beyond the boundary ropes at the intersection of the trails Dream and Rodger’s Way.

He was unresponsive and lifesaving efforts were initiated immediately. Both Ski Patrol and Search and Rescue continued their efforts as he was transported by the search helicopter to the Mt. Ashland patrol room. Ashland Fire and Rescue transported him by ambulance to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The identity of the man was not immediately released by Ski park officials.

Police say a woman gave birth on a sidewalk in downtown Portland and then walked away. Bystanders who saw it happen covered the baby and called 911.

Police found the mother several blocks away. Officers say she was suffering a mental health crisis. They say the baby girl appeared to be in good condition. The mother was taken to a hospital and the newborn was taken to a children’s hospital for treatment.

Marijuana Robbery and Kidnapping in Grants Pass

On March 12, 2022, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 hang up, in the 700 block of Pyle Drive. Upon arrival, deputies located multiple victims tied up, with others fleeing on foot through the wooded area.

During the investigation, deputies found that approximately eight Hispanic males arrived at the location, armed; wearing clothing that resembled law enforcement, attempting to take hundreds of pounds of marijuana from the location. Alan Lopez was located a short distance from the location attempting to hide from law enforcement, matching the description given to deputies.

While law enforcement searched the area, some of the items described were located throughout the wooded area. Those items being a ballistic vest, DEA hat, fake badges, and firearms.

Individuals residing in the area of Pyle Drive are encouraged to keep an eye out for items that appear out of place that may be related to this case. Do not touch or move the items if located, call the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office immediately.

Alan Lopez, 20, was arrested and lodged in the Josephine County Jail for Robbery I, Kidnapping II, and Impersonating a Peace Officer.

At the time of this press release, the investigation is ongoing, and no further details are being released at this time. Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office

A potential shooting at the Rain Rock Casino has been averted. According to a Rain Rock Casino Press Release, at approximately 11:06 am Sunday, a male entered the Casino brandishing a weapon.

Officials say that the incident was swiftly mitigated due to the Casino’s staff and the quick and decisive actions of local law enforcement agencies. As a result, no guests or team members were harmed in any way and all were safely evacuated. The one and only suspect was detained and placed in custody by law enforcement without incident or injury. The incident is under investigation.

The Evergreen Fire near Evergreen Lane & Hwy 97, northeast of Weed is now estimated 12.5 acres with 5% containment

The fire is now in its third day.  Smoke from that fire was prevalent over the weekend here in the Klamath Basin. Forward progress of the fire has once again been stopped according to fire officials. The Evacuation Order for Hoy Road has also been downgraded to an Evacuation Warning. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Further east in Siskiyou County, the Gulch Fire burning near Dorris Brownell Road & East Butte Valley Road, and southeast of Dorris is now estimated at 40+ acres and 0% containment.

There are still no evacuations at this time.

An advisory panel seeks public comments as it writes rules for how Oregon will offer paid family and medical leave, which is scheduled to start next year.

The Legislature approved the program in 2019. But last year, it extended the deadlines from Jan. 1, 2022, to Jan. 1, 2023, for the program to collect its first payroll taxes — workers will pay 60% and employers 40% of the fund — and from Jan. 1 to Sept. 3, 2023, for the first payments of benefits.

Oregon will join eight states and Washington, D.C., with similar programs.

Workers who earn at least $1,000 during the previous year would qualify for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave, the maximum benefit set at $1,215 per week. Oregon’s program is more generous than a proposal last year by President Joe Biden for a federal program, which would offer up to $4,000 per month.

Six seats, 45 candidates, lots of unknowns: Congressional primaries promise  intrigue - oregonlive.com

Due to 18-term Rep. Peter DeFazio’s retirement and the creation of a new district, Oregon is guaranteed to elect at least two new members to the U.S. House of Representatives this year.

That hasn’t happened since 1998. A total of 45 candidates have filed to run to represent Oregon in the House.

By comparison, as recently as 2016, just 20 people were on the primary ballot across Oregon’s five districts. The surge in candidates is due in part to the added district, Oregon’s first since 1982. It comes thanks to the once-a-decade reapportionment of House members.

Oregon’s population growth made it one of six states to gain at least one seat in Congress this year. The new 6th District stretches from eastern Washington County, including parts of Beaverton, and to the south and west to include McMinnville and Salem. Sixteen people have filed to run for the seat: nine Democrats and seven Republicans.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley says there’s broad support in Congress to help Ukraine. The House passed a spending bill that includes 14-billion dollars to help Ukraine respond to the invasion by Russia. Merkley says the country needs anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. Merkley says supporting Ukraine is vital to helping the country keep its democracy.

Port of Newport to make major repairs this year to the seawall that supports Rogue World Headquarters in Newport

A $1.14 million appropriation from the State of Oregon will allow the Port of Newport to make major repairs this year to the 540–foot seawall that supports Rogue World Headquarters in Newport.  

Built in 1979, the seawall was under study by an engineering firm in 2021 after showing signs of considerable wear and corrosion. PBS Engineering reported that the seawall “is considered to have exceeded its useful design life” and predicted eventual failing of the corroded steel piles if measures weren’t taken to repair or replace the structure.

Last November, General Manager Paula Miranda outlined the options at a Port Commission meeting and recommended refurbishment at a price of $1.4 million, since it would not require relocating the tenant (Rogue) and would mean 20 more years of useful life for the structure. The Port’s administrative team was actively seeking grant opportunities when good news arrived.

State Rep. David Gomberg notified Miranda that $1.14 million in funding was expected to make it out of the short legislative session that began on February 1. The budget reconciliation that included the seawall funding was official passed on Friday, March 4.

“With that appropriation, roughly 80 percent of the project cost will be covered and we can get started on those major repairs to the seawall right away,” the general manager explained. “The Port is very thankful for Rep. Gomberg’s efforts in keeping this project in the forefront and we are grateful to the Oregon Legislature for its final approval.”

The seawall, which is on the south end of the South Beach marina, also has an attached dock that Port officials are hoping to upgrade when the project occurs. The Port is budgeting for that expenditure in its 2022/23 fiscal year budget, which begins in July.

The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission is voting to discontinue all of the 18 Russian distilled spirits they sell at liquor stores. OLCC had pulled the items because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Now, they won’t carry them at all.

The OLCC regularly delists items that don’t sell well. Last year, 260 items were delisted, but they added 100 new products.

Tigard, Oregon (March 14, 2022) — Every couple of hours, Olena Sheremetyeva tries to call or text her parents in Ukraine from her home in Salem, Oregon. They are trying to stay safe in their apartment building in Kyiv – and are spending much of their time in a makeshift bomb shelter in the basement.

“It’s a tough situation every time we talk,” Sheremetyeva said, “because it feels like it could be the last time we may be able to talk.”

Sheremetyeva is grateful for the outpouring of financial support for Ukraine, particularly from the credit union community. Her husband, Joey Rudisill, is Chief Information Officer at Central Willamette Credit Union, one of a group of 15 Oregon credit unions collaborating to contribute tens of thousands of dollars to organizations helping Ukraine, amid Russia’s full-scale invasion of the sovereign country. True to their “people helping people” mission and not-for-profit, cooperative roots, the group of credit unions determined that pooling their contributions would be more impactful. Thus far the collective efforts have raised $67,000. 

Their funds are supporting two organizations that are directly engaged in providing aid to Ukraine. Oregon-based Mercy Corps is on the ground in Ukraine, Romania, and Poland, working to meet the most urgent humanitarian needs in the region. The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions’ Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund will provide direct support to mitigate both short and long-term impacts to Ukraine’s credit union system, employees, and consumer members of Ukrainian credit unions.

“It is critical that the global community oppose the atrocities currently happening in Ukraine,” said Aaron Goff, President and CEO of Clackamas Federal Credit Union. “Oregon credit unions stand together with credit unions around the globe in support of the people of Ukraine.” 

Goff helped to organize the collaborative fundraising effort. In addition to Clackamas FCU, credit unions participating in the fundraising effort include:

  • Advantis Credit Union
  • Central Willamette Credit Union
  • Consolidated Community Credit Union
  • First Tech Federal Credit Union
  • Forrit Credit Union
  • Ironworkers USA Federal Credit Union
  • Northwest Community Credit Union
  • OnPoint Community Credit Union
  • Oregon Community Credit Union
  • Pacific NW Federal Credit Union
  • Point West Credit Union
  • Rivermark Community Credit Union
  • Trailhead Credit Union
  • Unitus Community Credit Union

In addition to the contributions made by the Oregon credit unions, the Northwest Credit Union Foundation announced a $10,000 contribution to the Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund.

“As the impacts of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine unfold, the need for support is urgent,” said Sharee Adkins, Executive Director. “We appreciate the ways credit unions are responding to bring aid to the extended credit union family in Ukraine.”

For Sheremetyeva, the fundraising brings a great deal of comfort.

“It really gives me strength that there is support for my family and friends,” she said. “This is important to me not only as a U.S. citizen, but as a native of Ukraine.”

Oregon’s economy added 57-hundred jobs in January as the unemployment rate increased from four-point-two to four-point-three percent. More than 107-thousand jobs have been added over the last year. The Oregon Employment Department says nearly every sector of the economy has more jobs now that it did before the pandemic.

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