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.
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Klamath Basin Weather
There are five new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 6,975. OHA reported 560 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 701,729.
The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 192, which is two more than yesterday. There are 29 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is two fewer than yesterday. Regional county by county numbers include Klamath with 7 new cases, Jackson with 27, and Lake county with 5.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (14), Clackamas (42), Clatsop (7), Columbia (6), Coos (7), Crook (2), Curry (4), Deschutes (52), Douglas (3), Hood River (3), Jackson (27), Jefferson (9), Josephine (14), Klamath (7), Lake (1), Lane (51), Lincoln (3), Linn (19), Marion (42), Multnomah (139), Polk (8), Tillamook (4), Umatilla (2), Union (2), Wasco (1), Washington (82) and Yamhill (9).
Oregon reports 296 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on March 18, 157 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on March 19 and 107 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on March 20.
As people move from precautions against COVID-19 to influenza, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) wants Oregonians to take their shots. It says today the flu virus is circulating as COVID-19 masking guidelines are easing. OHA says Oregon is experiencing a late flu season as cases are rising.
It says flu season generally peaks around late January or February. OHA says the flu increase comes as as mask requirements for public indoor spaces and schools ended this month, allowing the flu virus to spread more easily from person to person.
OHA says that during the week of March 6 to March 12, Oregon reported that 3.1% of influenza tests were positive, compared with 2.5% the week of Feb. 27 to March 5, 1.6% the week of Feb. 20 to Feb. 26, and .6% the week of Feb. 6 to Feb. 12. During the same week of the 2020-2021 season, a scant .1% of flu tests were positive. The vast majority of flu cases have been influenza A.
Two men face drug trafficking charges after a police dog named Trapper sniffed out suspected crystal meth in a car, according to police. The K-9 cop helped police discover the alleged methamphetamine during a search on March 19. Luis Pacheco-Lopez, 40 of Medford, and Daniel Velarde-Medrano of Huntington Park, California, were booked into Douglas County Jail on drug possession and trafficking charges.
The Assistance League of Klamath Basin (ALKB) is pleased to announce the Rogue Credit Union has donated $2,000 to be used exclusively for supporting ALKB’s signature philanthropic program, Operation School Bell (OSB)®. The funds will be used to allow more of the Klamath Basin’s children needing help to take part in ALKB’s OSB program aimed at addressing the basic issues of neglect, health, and education. The OSB program helps children to be successful, to maintain school attendance, and enhances their self-esteem. This support will provide access to clothing and other necessities for students grades K-12 who need assistance in purchasing these items. By providing essential needs, ALKB transforms lives, strengthens our community, and helps families to flourish. Beginning as a 10-teacher, member-owned cooperative in 1956, Rogue Credit Union has grown to a financial cooperative serving over 184,000 members. Rogue is committed to improving the lives of its members and of our communities through its local programs. It works to create stronger and healthier communities for us all. To learn more about the Assistance League, please visit our website https://www.klamathbasinassistanceleague.org/ or visit our Facebook page.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, hosted a virtual town hall in Klamath Falls on Friday from the Herald and News’ offices. During the local event, Wyden talked about the importance of community journalism. The Oregon Democrat is a prime sponsor of legislation to offer federal tax breaks and credits to help local newspapers and media nonprofits. health and the regional water crisis, and talked about economic sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. A teacher from Falcon Heights Alternative School told Wyden the school has seen an increase in students challenged by mental health situations and homelessness. “Our enrollment has almost doubled,” the teacher told the senator. Homelessness is a problem across Oregon and the Pacific Northwest including in smaller towns and rural communities. “Klamath has a very serious homeless issue,” Wyden said. Wyden and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, have written President Joe Biden asking for an additional $4 billion in federal homeless grants.
Todd Gessele hopes to bring his business acumen and some new blood to Klamath County politics. Gessele is running for an open seat on the Klamath County Board of Commissioners. Other candidates include former Klamath Falls police chief Dave Henslee, conservative activist Allen Headley and Brandon Fowler, who serves as the county’s emergency manager and public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office. Election day is May 17. The candidates are looking to fill a seat left vacant by the resignation of Commissioner Donnie Boyd in January. Gessele and his family moved to Klamath Falls in 2021. He said his wife, Gioni, is from Bend. Gessele said he has grant writing experience he hopes will bring in more funds for local efforts — including hiring more law enforcement officers. He said the community needs to figure out how to handle issues such as homelessness.
Street Division crews will be closing the east bound and west bound outer lanes on the S. 6th Street Viaduct for bridge inspection on March 23, 24 and 25 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Traffic control will be set in place. Streets Staff thanks our citizens in advance for proceeding with caution in areas where crews are working. Work may be delayed or canceled due to weather, equipment break-down or unexpected emergencies. If you would like more information about this topic, please call City Public Works Department at (541) 883-5385.
The Oregon Department of Forestry is inviting public comment on annual operations plans for state-owned forests in fiscal year 2023. These plans lay out the on-the-ground activities expected to take place in the coming fiscal year, such as timber harvests, reforestation, and trail improvements. The public can weigh in starting Monday, March 21, through Thursday, May 5, on the draft annual operations plans for state forests in the Astoria, Forest Grove, North Cascade, Klamath-Lake, Tillamook, West Oregon, and Western Lane Districts, which includes the Tillamook, Clatsop, Santiam, Sun Pass and Gilchrist state forests and other scattered parcels. By law, state forests must provide social, economic and environmental benefits to Oregonians. These lands are managed to create healthy, productive forests that provide high-quality habitat, clean water, revenues for rural communities, and recreation opportunities. Overall management policies and goals are established in long-range forest management plans and mid-range implementation plans. Annual operations plans describe activities to achieve the policies and goals laid out in those longer-range plans. Activities that affect fish and wildlife habitat are reviewed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, while operations that may affect threatened and endangered fish and wildlife habitat are shared with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Nominations for the 29th annual Klamath Country Volunteer of the Year are due April 1st. Categories include youth, adults, seniors, public service/public safety, and education. Everyone nominated receives an award. Contact United Way to receive an entry form at 541-882-5558, or download an entry form at their local website at www.unitedwayoftheklamathbasin.org.
Four Klamath Community College students have earned nomination for the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team, a program recognizing college students with academic excellence, leadership, intellectual rigor, and service to community beyond the classroom. Four current KCC students have been notified of their nomination for the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team: Frank Bertalot, Charisse Wells, Jacob Baldwin and Heather McCray. The Coca-Cola Scholars foundation, administered by Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, announces nominees each year for students in four-year universities and community colleges nationwide, awarding scholarship stipends to those selected for the academic team. For community colleges, 150 stipends are distributed annually to academic team honorees, divided into three tiers (bronze, silver, gold) with scholarships ranging for community college students. Additionally, Phi Theta Kappa provides 150 scholarships for Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise for enrolled PTK members currently pursuing an associate degree.
Around the state of Oregon
As people move from precautions against COVID-19 to influenza, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) wants Oregonians to take their shots. It says today the flu virus is circulating as COVID-19 masking guidelines are easing. OHA says Oregon is experiencing a late flu season as cases are rising. It says flu season generally peaks around late January or February. OHA says the flu increase comes as as mask requirements for public indoor spaces and schools ended this month, allowing the flu virus to spread more easily from person to person. OHA says that during the week of March 6 to March 12, Oregon reported that 3.1% of influenza tests were positive, compared with 2.5% the week of Feb. 27 to March 5, 1.6% the week of Feb. 20 to Feb. 26, and .6% the week of Feb. 6 to Feb. 12. During the same week of the 2020-2021 season, a scant .1% of flu tests were positive. The vast majority of flu cases have been influenza A.
Statewide Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program Closed
Over $302 million in federal emergency rental assistance paid to nearly 46,000 households so far
SALEM, ORE. – Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) closed the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) portal and stopped accepting new applications after 11:59 p.m. PDT today, March 21, 2022. The portal remained open an additional week after $16 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Treasury were allocated to Oregon on the day the portal was to close. Governor Brown, Oregon’s federal delegation and OHCS Acting OHCS Executive Director Andrea Bell actively advocated for more funds to help tenants pay rent and remain stably housed.
“We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Treasury for reallocating additional emergency rental assistance (ERA) funding to Oregon, thus recognizing the galvanization of community-based organizations, culturally specific organizations, community leaders and the department in helping a record number of Oregonians stay housed during the pandemic. This has always been about Oregonians helping all Oregonians,” OHCS Acting Executive Director said Andrea Bell. “Housing continues to be a vital determinant of health for all of Oregon’s beloved communities and our work continues.”
The agency paused accepting new applications for OERAP at the beginning of December 2021 when the agency successfully hit a critical milestone when available federal funding had been paid or requested. However, the portal reopened on Jan. 26, 2022, after the Oregon Legislature allocated $100 million in additional rental assistance funding along with an additional $100 million in state resources to plan, develop and implement eviction prevention measures for Oregonians who have not yet financially recovered from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s some important information for renters:
- Anyone who has not applied for OERAP in the past and has fallen behind on rent is encouraged to apply for emergency rental assistance before 11:59 p.m. on March 21, 2022, at oregonrentalassistance.org.
- Applications to the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program are approved for payment or denied based upon the highest need, not on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Applicants can continue to log on to the OERAP portal to complete their application or check the status of their finished application. They will be alerted by email as their application advances.
- If a tenant has an incomplete application in the portal, they now have until March 28, 2022, to complete it. This extension applies to applications that are incomplete at the time of closure. New applications will not be accepted after March 21, 2022.
- Tenants who submit new applications can access protections from eviction for nonpayment of rent while their application is being reviewed and processed. Tenants must show proof to their landlord that they applied for the program to receive the protections.
- Tenants at immediate risk of eviction should apply for rental assistance right away to access safe harbor eviction protections and contact a legal organization:
Several of Oregon’s U.S. lawmakers, including Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, have asked President Joe Biden to invest in the container port in Coos Bay. In a letter, the lawmakers said it is important to invest in the country’s rural ports because of supply chain issues, job growth and economic benefits. The lawmakers said establishing a container port in Coos Bay would immediately increase West Coast port capacity by up to 10 percent. The project would also have significant environmental benefits, according to the letter. This is because while other U.S. ports rely heavily on truck transportation, the port of Coos Bay will be the first ship-to-rail port facility on the West Coast.
A first-time Raffle player won $1 million after learning about the game from her boyfriend. Janelle Visaya of Corvallis claimed her $1 million prize Thursday after using the Oregon Lottery app to check her tickets on the day of the Raffle drawing. Visaya said when she let her boyfriend know, he was also very happy, surprised and glad he had pointed out the game to her. Visaya bought the winning ticket, number 089715, at the Corvallis Fred Meyer in early February. The company will receive a 1-percent winner bonus of $10,000 for selling the top winning ticket. A Fred Meyer spokesperson said they congratulate Visaya on her big win. With more than 1,800 prizes, Oregon Lottery Raffle winners can be found in every corner of the state. With 300 prizes of $500 and 1,500 prizes of $100, players should check their tickets as many of the smaller prizes remain unclaimed.
The High Desert boasts some of the darkest night skies in the continental United States. But with the region’s population growth, dark skies are a natural resource being lost. Increasing light pollution emanating from developed areas threatens the health and populations of species that depend on the dark including insects, migrating birds and even humans. A new, original exhibit examines this issue. Vanishing Night: Conserving Dark Skies in the High Desert opens at the High Desert Museum on Saturday, April 16. The exhibit features breathtaking large-scale imagery of the changing High Desert skies and information about the harm light pollution causes to wildlife. It also offers simple solutions for all residents to cut back their use of artificial light. The exhibit examines the ways that light pollution negatively affects wildlife. Given the fact that 60 percent of invertebrates and 30 percent of vertebrates are nocturnal, sky glow can have an overwhelming impact on an ecosystem. For example, moths are critical nighttime pollinators and are also drawn to artificial light. Their populations can be decimated when they exhaust themselves from frantic movement around artificial light. Predators can also easily find them en masse at those sites. Also, humans depend on circadian rhythms like other animals. Light pollution is associated with hormonal imbalances and higher cancer rates. Artificial light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that fights cancer cells THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM opened in Bend, in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert.
Lines for Life in Oregon will receive $432,000 in extra federal funding to help reduce the risk of youth mental health crisis and suicide, according to US Senator Ron Wyden. Due to the pandemic, Wyden said that youth face greater mental health stressors than ever before. The federal money will go toward Oregon’s YouthLine, which is operated in part by 170 adolescent volunteers. Volunteers take calls and text messages from people experiencing mental health crises, referring them to treatment and support. The $432,000 in federal funding coming to Lines for Life in Oregon aims to change that trajectory.
The Oregon Legislature passed a bill this year to make one-time 600-dollar payments to low-income Oregonians to help them with expenses, or loss of income, during the pandemic. To receive the payment, residents need to have filed for an Earned Income Tax Credit on their 2020 Oregon tax return. Residents who are eligible for the tax credit but didn’t claim it can file an amended return by April 15th and still receive the one-time payment.
Two Rogue Valley cities ten miles apart are next-door neighbors in new safety research. Ashland is in a research report’s top 20 safest cities in Oregon, listed as the #17 safest city in the state, with Central Point listed #18. They are the only Southern Oregon cities listed in the top 20. Online safety and security resource Safewise says, “Just 40% of Oregon residents say they feel generally safe in their state (one of the lowest percentages in the country).” After analyzing violent and property crime data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, SafeWise this week released its 8th annual “20 Safest Cities in Oregon for 2022” report.
- West Linn tops the list of Oregon’s safest cities for the third year in a row.
- There are two new cities in the top 20 this year: Milwaukie (#6) and Ashland (#17).
- Two cities on the list have populations more than 100,000, rare among safest cities in any state: Hillsboro (population 111,146) and Bend (population 103,485).
- One crime Oregonians are most concerned about is package theft, with 22% of state residents saying they experienced it in the past year.
- 55% of Oregon residents believe crime is increasing, compared to 66% of Americans.
As winter term comes to a close at the University of Oregon, students are heading to their spring break destinations. When they return, officials say campus life will likely look more similar to pre-pandemic days. On Saturday, masks will become optional in most indoor spaces, according to the university’s website. Some students said they’re planning to continue wearing masks after the mandate lifts. Students said they’re hopeful people are understanding of the COVID safety decisions they make once classes resume in the spring. The deadline for UO community members to submit proof they received their booster shot was Friday.
Eugene is sending $10,000 to Ukraine relief efforts. City councilors voted unanimously this week to use money from the city’s “Emerging Need Fund,” to provide humanitarian relief to Ukraine. The money will go toward a non-profit “Direct Relief” a humanitarian aid organization that is active in all 50 states and more than 80 countries. Mayor Lucy Vinis said she’s proud of the council’s unanimous agreement to aid Ukrainians who are suffering deeply. She said Direct Relief has an excellent track record and every dollar will be used to provide medical aid.
Gas prices in Oregon leveled out this week well above the $4 mark as rideshare giants Uber and Lyft announced temporary fuel surcharges to offset record-high prices at pumps across the country. Drivers will receive 100% of those charges. The price of oil also temporarily reversed its upward trajectory, dipping below $100 per barrel on Tuesday, March 15, according to Brent Crude. Crude oil prices fell by roughly 20% since last week, driven largely be fears of reduced demand amid China’s COVID-19 lockdowns in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.
By the numbers:
- Current price: $4.78
- Oregon average: $4.71
- Oregon gas tax: $0.36 per gallon (#10 highest among all states)
- Week change: +$0.01 (+0.3%)
- Year change: +$1.61 (+50.9%)
- Historical expensive gas price: $4.79 (3/15/22)
A Portland man who works with children and young adults is facing federal charges for allegedly soliciting and receiving explicit images from a girl he met at a high school basketball camp. Officials say 35-year-old Nathan Bowie was charged in federal court Tuesday with sexual exploitation of a child, coercion and enticement, and the receipt of child pornography. Bowie was originally facing only state charges. He’s been transferred from state to federal custody and will have his first detention hearing on Friday. Bowie is the head men’s basketball coach at Mt. Hood Community College and an educational assistant at Hall Elementary School in Gresham. Portland is on track for another record setting year of gun violence. Mayor Ted Wheeler says the city has allocated money to five community organizations that work to reduce gun violence. Wheeler says there needs to be several solutions to the problem and he says he’s confident the action they’re taking will work.
Medford Modular Apartment Project Could Address Housing Needs In Southern Oregon
The project is being funded in part by a state initiative aimed at helping communities recover from the Labor Day fires of 2020.
It’s also an experiment aimed at tackling multiple issues at once: rising material costs, a severe shortage of construction labor, and an urgent need for housing for working families and fire victims.
In the fall of 2020, just after the Almeda Fire had devastated the Rogue Valley, Tom Cody traveled through the burn zone. Driving along Highway 99, he witnessed block after block of destruction—homes, businesses, apartments, and RV parks reduced to ash and rubble. Cody, founder and managing partner at Project^, a Portland-based real estate development firm, felt compelled to help rebuild.
If all goes according to plan, his new apartment development will break ground in Medford this summer. But MOSAIC is no ordinary construction project; instead, the 148 units will be built in a modular factory, then trucked to the site. The project is being funded in part by a state initiative aimed at helping communities recover from the Labor Day fires of 2020. It’s also an experiment aimed at tackling multiple issues at once: rising material costs, a severe shortage of construction labor, and an urgent need for housing for working families and fire victims.
The devastating fires that torched off in September 2020, destroyed over 4,000 homes in at least nine Oregon counties. Between the Almeda and South Obenchain fires, Jackson County suffered the worst impacts. More than 2,300 dwellings were lost, many of them manufactured homes and RVs.
“The fires burned through where our most vulnerable populations live: retirees, older people, Latinx, and working people,” says Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, who represents southern Jackson County. “Where we are now is an example of climate injustice.”
The fires exacerbated what was already a dearth of affordable and workforce housing in the Rogue Valley.
Housing for the ‘missing middle’ — Through the governor’s office, Cody learned about the state’s push to find innovative ways to deliver new projects quickly, including modular prefabrication. He was already developing a modular apartment project for Bend—a first for his company—so he decided to apply the same concept to a new wildfire relief project in the Rogue Valley.
“My attitude is, it’s always easier to talk about something if you have a case study,” says Cody.
He started looking for land for the development, initially focusing on those in the burn zone. Soon Cody learned about an undeveloped 7.5-acre property owned by Ivanko Gardens Apartments. Last spring Project^ purchased the property, a long, narrow parcel tucked between a residential neighborhood and an apartment complex in northeast Medford.
In June of 2021, the Oregon Legislature approved a $600 million dollar package which included $150 million for wildfire recovery housing supply and land acquisition. As part of that funding, then-Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, chair of the House Special Committee on Wildfire Recovery, championed an initiative called Oregonians Rebuilding Oregon.
“The original idea was to provide temporary shelters for fire victims that could be repurposed, possibly for those experiencing homelessness,” says Clem. The initiative would also create economic activity in the state by requiring the units to be built by Oregon companies and labor, and, possibly, use lumber salvaged from burned roadways.
Marsh, who also served on the House committee, thought the MOSAIC project was a “perfect fit.”
“It’s really hard to develop workforce housing in the Rogue Valley,” says Marsh. Subsidies and incentives are not available for projects in the “missing middle” between affordable and market-rate housing. From a developer’s standpoint, it’s hard to make them pencil out.
Project^ negotiated with Oregon Housing and Community Services on the terms of a $10 million loan, which was offered at 0% for the first 24 months and 1% thereafter. In exchange, 100% of MOSAIC’s apartments must be marketed as workforce housing. The units will be available to those who earn at or below 120% of area median income, and rates will be set so households don’t pay more than 30% of their income on rent.
“We wouldn’t be doing MOSAIC in Medford were it not for OHCS,” Cody says.
Another stipulation is that the units must be built in Oregon. Cody is negotiating with a company in Klamath Falls called InteliFab to produce the structures. If all goes according to plan, says Cody, MOSAIC will cost 30% less and will be built 40% faster than a conventional multifamily project.
Prefab solution? — Prefabricated modular construction, or “prefab,” can save both time and materials, says John Mick, owner of InteliFab. The modules can be framed while the sites are being excavated and concrete foundations poured, and work can carry on without weather delays. Extensive preplanning can also help managers catch errors before construction begins.
MOSAIC will consist of nine three-story buildings and will include one, two, and three-bedroom floorplans. Amenities, such as kids’ play areas, will be tailored for working families. The project will be built to Earth Advantage Platinum, a green building standard that addresses five “pillars” of sustainability: energy, health, land, materials and water.
Modules are built using conventional light-wood construction methods, and while machines supplement human labor, the process in not so different from site-built construction, says Mick. “The biggest difference an employee sees is that they are less impacted by weather, and their job is always in the same place.”
Modular methods also reduce the carbon footprint of construction, says Cody, in part because building material deliveries to the site are drastically reduced.
Going modular can also potentially speed up the permitting process. While projects must seek land use approvals and permits for site improvements from the local jurisdiction, most of the building permitting happens in the factory, at the state level. Oregon also offers a “master permit” for prefabricated construction.
“If you get permitted for a particular building, you can use it on multiple sites,” explains Cody. Project^ intends to use module plans approved for the Bend project in Medford. Modular construction also offers flexibility, says Cody. Once cranes swing the factory-built modules into place on site, siding and roofing will be installed, selected to best fit the character of the neighborhood.
The need to innovate — There is great demand for housing across the state, especially affordable and workforce housing, says Greg Wolf, executive director at Oregon iSector, a nonprofit that supports public-private partnerships that are addressing various community challenges.
“We really have a serious problem here in Oregon,” says Wolf. “We’re tied for last in having [the] worst housing deficit in the country.”
According to Wolf, Oregon underbuilt 150,000 homes between 2000 and 2015, and the state must build at least 29,000 units a year just to keep up with demand. A severe labor shortage, gaps in the supply chain, and growing homeless population are worsening the crisis.
In some regions, the housing shortage is directly impacting economies, says Wolf. On the coast, for example, while vacation rentals proliferate, people in service industries like teaching and firefighting can’t afford to work and live in their communities.
To tackle these issues, the Oregon iSector’s board of directors is spearheading an effort called the Housing Innovation Partnership, which launched late last year. Composed of representatives from public, private, and civic organizations from across the state, its main objective is to identify innovative approaches that help build housing more quickly and affordably. Marsh and Megan Loeb, senior program officer at the Oregon Community Foundation, are co-convening the effort.
Working groups have formed to tackle different issues—financing models and modular housing, for example. Cody is part of a group studying incentives that could help make workforce housing projects viable. Ultimately, the partnership will develop an “innovation agenda” they can present to the Oregon Legislature in 2023.
Several promising ideas are already cropping up. The Port of Portland, for example, is exploring the possibility of building a modular housing manufacturing facility that utilizes cross-laminated timber panels. These strong but lightweight panels are composed of layers of solid wood that are glued together. They can be made from small-diameter trees, including those thinned to improve the health of Oregon forests.
In Eastern Oregon, the towns of Lakeview, Burns, and John Day are partnering in a new intergovernmental agency aimed at spurring new housing, in part by utilizing 3D-printing technology to build foundations and walls. A lack of quality housing stifles economic development in these towns, but they lack the labor to build enough new housing quickly. By teaming up, they hope to garner enough resources to build 100 houses in each community over the next five years.
A test case in Medford — Back in Medford, MOSAIC will be a test case to see if alternative construction methods can get units on the ground more quickly. Cody hopes the project can break ground this summer, but it will depend on scaling up a manufacturer like InteliFab to build the boxes.
“There’s currently no modular builder or factory in Oregon that is capable of building the modules, yet we have this state requirement [to build them in Oregon],” says Cody. “That is our biggest challenge right now.”
InteliFab is in the process of shifting its operations from panelized construction to modular prefabrication. To that end, the company has enrolled four current and two new employees in a 12-week basic construction skills course at Klamath Community College (KCC). WorkSource Oregon will reimburse InteliFab for half of the cost of tuition. Employees will see a wage increase once they complete the course.
New Museum Exhibit Marvels at High Desert Dark Skies and Explores Conservation Efforts
BEND, OR — The High Desert boasts some of the darkest night skies in the continental United States. But with the region’s population growth, dark skies are a natural resource being lost. Increasing light pollution emanating from developed areas threatens the health and populations of species that depend on the dark including insects, migrating birds and even humans.
A new, original exhibit examines this issue. Vanishing Night: Conserving Dark Skies in the High Desert opens at the High Desert Museum on Saturday, April 16. The exhibit features breathtaking large-scale imagery of the changing High Desert skies and information about the harm light pollution causes to wildlife. It also offers simple solutions for all residents to cut back their use of artificial light.
“People might not think of dark night skies as a type of natural resource,” says Hayley Brazier, Donald M. Kerr curator of natural history and curator of Vanishing Night. “We’re excited to inspire visitors to make small changes that can help local ecosystems.”
The exhibit examines the ways that light pollution negatively affects wildlife. Given the fact that 60 percent of invertebrates and 30 percent of vertebrates are nocturnal, sky glow can have an overwhelming impact on an ecosystem. For example, moths are critical nighttime pollinators and are also drawn to artificial light. Their populations can be decimated when they exhaust themselves from frantic movement around artificial light. Predators can also easily find them en masse at those sites.
Also, humans depend on circadian rhythms like other animals. Light pollution is associated with hormonal imbalances and higher cancer rates. Artificial light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that fights cancer cells.
For simple solutions that everyone, homeowners and renters alike, can do, a variety of down-facing outdoor lights will be on display and other tips will be shared including putting lights on timers, motion sensors and more.
“Living in an urban area, it’s difficult to notice the slowly brightening night sky,” says Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “Vanishing Night helps us build appreciation for both the beauty and importance of keeping night skies dark.”
The Museum’s popular Natural History Pub lecture series at McMenamins Old St. Francis School in April focuses on light pollution. “For the Love of Dark Skies: Good for People, Ecosystems and the Economy” takes place on Monday, April 4 from 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm and features Mary Coolidge of Portland Audubon and a board member of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) Oregon Chapter and Dr. Bill Kowalik, board chair of the IDA Oregon Chapter. Natural History Pub is free, and registration is required at highdesertmuseum.org/natural-history-pub-april. Participants ages 12 and older will be required to show a COVID-19 vaccination card or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event and a photo ID.
Vanishing Night: Conserving Dark Skies in the High Desert (highdesertmuseum.org/vanishing-night) will be on display through July 10. The exhibit is possible with support from Central Oregon Radiology Associates and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM:
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. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, was the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence and was a 2021 recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. To learn more, visit highdesertmuseum.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Police Ask for Public’s Help in Search For Victim’s Roommate In Albany Homicide – A 42-year-old woman, the roommate of a 75-year-old man whose death was ruled a homicide, is wanted for questioning in the case, Albany police officials said.
Elvin “Al” Pierce was found dead by officers around 9:10 p.m. Friday after a 911 caller reported a man was unconscious and not breathing. Investigators at that time said the circumstances surrounding his death were suspicious.
APD said Pierce’s roommate, 42-year-old Elizabeth Nicole Tyler Jimenez, wasn’t there at the home when officers found Pierce dead and they don’t know where she is. Authorities did not specifically state whether Jimenez is a suspect or if there are any charges against her.
Pierce’s car, a tan 2004 Buick Park Avenue with Oregon license plate 081FAX, is also missing.
Jimenez, who investigators believe is currently without a job, is described as often visiting local soup kitchens. She also has skills as a masseuse and a seamstress, officials said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact APD at 541-917-7680 or APD Lt. Buck Pearce at 541-917-3209.