Klamath Basin News, Monday, 5/16 – Young Girl Struck and Killed by Motorist on Friday

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Monday, May 16, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Partly sunny, with a high near 70. Overnight clear with a low of 36.

Tuesday Sunny, with a high near 73. West wind 3 to 7 mph. Overnight mostly clear with a low around 42. Northwest wind 6 to 11 mph becoming light west northwest after midnight.
Wednesday Partly sunny, with a high near 67.
Thursday Mostly sunny, with a high near 59.
Friday Sunny, with a high near 67.
Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 74.

Today’s Headlines

A 10 year old girl was struck and killed by a motorist on Friday afternoon in the city of Klamath Falls.

Just after 4pm, emergency personnel responded to the area of North 3rd and McKinley street, where a vehicle had struck a young girl on her bicycle. Upon arrival of medical teams, it was determined the victim was not breathing and CPR was administered. She was then transported to Sky Lakes Medical Center.

Unfortunately, after intensive efforts by emergency room personnel, the victim was pronounced deceased. The victim’s name is Katie Fridenfelt.  She was a student at Conger Elementary.

Katie’s mother, Melissa Freidenfelt, has started a GO FUND ME PAGE to help with funeral expenses.

The driver of the vehicle in the crash remained on scene and was fully cooperating with authorities in their investigation of the incident.

Anyone with information or those that may have witnessed the crash are asked to call the Klamath Falls Police Department at 541-883-5336.

Oregon Tech announced Friday the school will reduce its proposed tuition increase to 4.5%, instead of the previously announced rate increase of 6.6%, based on adjustments to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) funding model.

After the April board meeting, Oregon Tech continued working with colleagues at the HECC to better understand details of how the new funding allocation model was implemented and whether it is achieving expectations.

Following a series of discussions with Oregon Tech leadership and HECC executive staff, the HECC agreed to revise formula weights for select allied health programs. During a joint meeting last week with HECC staff, financial representatives from Oregon’s other six public universities unanimously supported the revision.

Oregon Tech trustees reviewed the revised funding at a special meeting Friday and voted to reduce the earlier approved tuition increase to 4.5% with a 0.5% mandatory fees increase.

Important Primary Election Information

  • May 17, 2022 – County Clerk’s office open 7 am – 8 pm. Official dropsites open until 8 pm, for minimum of 8 hours. (Primary Election)
  • May 17, 2022 – Last day to file write-in declaration or write-in nomination for precinct committeeperson. Must be filed no later than 8 pm. (Primary Election)
  • May 17, 2022 – Last day for voter to return ballot. Ballots that are mailed must be postmarked by election day. Ballots deposited in an official drop box must be received by 8 pm on election day. (May Election)

Tomorrow, Klamath County citizens will vote on whether they want to create a three-person board to “study state border relocation benefits” to join the state of Idaho by moving the borders that separate the two states.

If the movement is successful, the borders of Idaho will stretch all the way to the Southern Oregon coast, taking the majority of Oregon’s land with it. In doing so, Oregon will be reduced only to the densely populated Northwest corner of the state, west of the Cascades.

Rural counties, including Klamath, will no longer fall under the influence of Salem, instead joining Boise to the east.

The movement is partisan in nature, divided sharply down political lines, separating the Democratic government in Salem from the conservative majority found in the rural parts of the state.

Already, eight conservative counties have voted to become a part of Idaho, with Klamath having its chance to join them. While movements focused on changing state borders have happened in the past, Greater Idaho stands out for its local electoral success and for its historical context, given the political polarization in the country.

According to Mike McCarter, the founder of Greater Idaho, the movement began as a humble Facebook conversation in 2019 before blossoming into a series of meetings.

Eight Oregon communities, including Chiloquin, will share in $4.4 million from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to clean up contaminated buildings and industrial sites.

The money comes from the EPA’s Brownfields Program. These are sites across the country where communities haven’t been able to expand or create development projects because of contamination such as asbestos, lead and hazardous waste. EPA estimates there are more than 450,000 such sites in the U.S.

There are 474 current and former brownfield sites in Oregon, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Most of Oregon’s recipients will use the money to survey and study their contaminated sites. Clatsop County, Hillsboro, Lincoln City, Portland, Rogue Valley Council of Governments and Tillamook County will each get $500,000.

The city of Chiloquin will get $500,000 to clean up a vacant 1929 Markwardt Brothers automotive garage so it can be used for another purpose. Though it also served as a second-hand store in the 1960s and a wood products store in the 1980s, it suffers from contamination left over from its days as a garage, when there weren’t many regulations around the storage and disposal of oil and auto chemicals, according to the city’s grant application.

Taking time to give back from KCSD Bonanza Students

Bonanza students spend morning cleaning up school grounds, classrooms

In one classroom, students wiped down tables and mopped floors to a shine. In another, a group replaced ceiling tiles. Outside, groups of students weeded flower beds and cleaned up grassy areas.

More than 200 Bonanza Junior/Senior High School students spent a morning last week brightening their campus during the school’s annual Give Back Day. The event is a way for students and staff to take action to make their school and community a better place to live. In the past, students have cleaned up the community park and planted trees.

“Give Back Day is an important part of our culture and climate at school,” said Bonanza Junior/Senior High School Principal Jordan Osborn. “School and community beautification and improvement is all of our jobs. I want our students to have a servant leadership mindset when they leave Bonanza so they can go out into the world and make it a better place for all.”

As their classmates worked around the school, Bonanza FFA students prepared lunch, grilling burgers on the school’s over-sized barbecue.

Bonanza sophomore Jadyn Maddock helped clean classrooms. “It’s a way to give back to our school and help the staff who do so much for us,” she said.

Around the state of Oregon

Josephine County Rural Metro Fire Responds To Five Crashes In Three Hours

Rural Metro Fire and AMR were dispatched to five crashes that spanned from Merlin to Wilderville, to New Hope in a span of about three hours Saturday afternoon.

Each crash varied from non-injury to serious injury, including a rollover in the 1400 block of Jaynes Drive, according to RMF.

“The pickup hit a tree and the driver was pinned inside when the dash was crushed down on the driver’s legs,” RMF stated. “RMF crews were assisted by Grants Pass Fire crews in removing the doors and roof, as well as pushing the dash away, using heavy-duty rescue tools commonly referred to as the “Jaws of Life”. Once freed, the driver was transported to the hospital with leg trauma.”

The cause of each crash is being investigated by law enforcement.

Senator Merkley Visits Jackson County Pipeline Project

Senator Jeff Merkley visited the new water pipeline project in the works in Jackson County on Friday. The development of the 13.6 mile-long pipeline marks a significant investment in water-moving infrastructure in Southern Oregon that could benefit both farms and fish.

“It helps everyone by conserving water and making more water available throughout the irrigation district,” Merkley said, during his visit in Eagle Point.

The pipeline will be used by the Rogue River Valley Irrigation District and Medford Irrigation District. It will upgrade the existing cement and earthen system known as the Hopkins Canal which stretches from Eagle Point to Little Butte Creek. The system supplies water to thousands of acres of agricultural land.

Under the Omnibus Spending Bill recently passed by congress, $5 million is headed to the Joint System Canal Piping Project. The project is part of a broader system improvement plan to modernize the irrigation system for the Medford Irrigation District and Rogue River Valley Irrigation District.

“This will be the biggest irrigation infrastructure project in Jackson County,” said Paul DeMaggio with the Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District.

The purpose of the pipeline is to prevent water from leaking out of the aging canal system that hasn’t seen significant improvements since the 1950s, DeMaggio says. A pipeline, instead of an open canal, will also prevent evaporation and allow more water to be kept in smaller tributaries in the Little Butte Creek watershed, which supports Chinook salmon, steelhead trout and coho salmon, among fish species.

The Little Butte Creek basin “produces more of these fish than any other tributary of the Upper Rogue,” according to the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy.

“By making the canals more efficient, they can just divert a little bit less and leave more water in-stream for fish, rather than diverting their full amount and letting that water seep out uncontrolled,” DeMaggio said.

As a member of the congressional appropriations committee, Merkley helped secure $5 million for this initial funding phase of the pipeline. The full cost to modernize the canal is expected to be $56.2 million.

“If we’re going to keep our agriculture strong, we have to use water more efficiently,” Merkley said. “These types of projects are essential to a future of climate change where we’re anticipating that we’re going to have a lot less water than we’ve had in the past.”

Unlike millions of dollars in recent federal investments for Western water projects, the Jackson County pipeline has been in the works for several years. After an initial feasibility and engineering stage, it will take several more years to be built during winter months when the canal is kept dry.

Additional benefits of a pipeline will include preventing flooding from breaks in the canal and increased water pressure to allow farmers to use sprinklers, rather than less efficient flood irrigation, according to members of the irrigation districts. The piped system could also potentially support micro-hydroelectric energy generation.

The 13.6-mile pipeline will tie into an existing 3.5-mile pipeline created by the Rogue River Valley Irrigation District several years ago.

Much larger pipeline projects have already been built in arid Central Oregon, DeMaggio says. With ongoing droughts, similar investments are starting in Southern Oregon.

MORE INFO on PIPELINE PROJECT: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/or/newsroom/stories/?cid=nrcseprd1499265

Oregon’s education and health departments are issuing a new “School Health Advisory for Continuity of Instruction.”

The new advisory insists schools use their layered approach of preventive measures, including masks, to retain in-person for the balance of the school year. 

The advisory says a pre-pandemic protocol for respiratory disease outbreak is in place with the state experiencing a respiratory illness increase as people relax pandemic guidelines.

The advisory is the first from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) since March 2, 2022.  That advisory ended April 30.  The new advisory is effective today through August 31, 2022. The state agencies say knowledge and operational experience leaders gained implementing layered mitigation safety protocols during the coronavirus pandemic “are key to maintaining in-person instruction. Implementing layered mitigation can prevent illness and keep students in school learning with teachers and staff.

When school communities have illness rates that result in high numbers of staff and student absences, they should lean into the protection offered by layered mitigation safety protocols.

U.S. Marshals Capture Oregon Escaped Prisoner in Nevada

U.S. Marshals say a 38-year-old fugitive that escaped from a Federal Prison camp in Sheridan at the end of April was captured Friday, May 13 in Nevada.

Courtesy Carson City Sheriff

Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong states that Andrew Cain Kristovich was staying in a tent on a property, that ironically was only a 100 yards from a prison. Kristovich was armed with an AR and five magazines, but he surrendered when he saw his tent surrounded by deputies.

After escaping the FCI Prison Camp in Sheridan on April 25, Kristovich traveled to an ex-girlfriend’s house in Clark County, WA, where he allegedly assaulted and raped her. He then fled with her debit card, cell phone and car. Kristovich told deputies in Carson City he had driven to Nevada in a stolen car, but authorities have not located it.
Originally, Kristovich was arrested in 2018 for manufacturing ghost AK-47s for a Mexican drug cartel. He was sent to the minimum security prison he escaped from, because it was his first offense.

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The Josephine County Sheriff Marine Patrol announced Sunday that the Rogue River will be closed in designated areas during designated times for  the Marathon Jetboat Races.

River Closures start Thursday May 26, 2022, at the Rogue River from Baker Park to Almeda Park. All boat ramps will also be during race events scheduled from 7:30am to 3:00pm.

The parol says all spectators are to remain off the water until the races are over and remain 50 feet from the waterway at all times.  Movement on the water is restricted to Law Enforcement, Rescue personnel and Authorized Race Officials during the closures. Private boats are not allowed to assist with crash/rescue operations for safety reasons.

Officials from all over the state came together Thursday for the very first meeting of the Task Force on Cannabis-Derived Intoxicants and Illegal Cannabis Production.

The goal of the task force is to improve Oregon’s cannabis and hemp markets while keeping the public and environment safe and illegal growers held accountable. The meeting took place over Microsoft Teams.

During the meeting, the Oregon State Police, local cannabis and hemp growers, agriculture scientists, state representatives and more voiced their concerns about illegal marijuana operations in Oregon. Representative Pam Marsh was elected Chair and Representative Lily Morgan was elected Co-Chair. Illegal marijuana is a significant problem in southern Oregon, according to police. Sergeant Tyler Bechtel with OSP shared his concerns during Thursday’s task force meeting.  “There is a massive problem in southern Oregon,” Bechtel said

A La Pine man was sentenced late last week to more than 90 years in prison for child sex abuse.

Rusty Allen Pugh was found guilty earlier this year on 17 charges involving three victims. In court documents, prosecutors argued Pugh’s sentence should represent the years of abuse that each child victim was subjected to.  Pugh was initially charged with more than 90 counts involving six victims. Prosecutors say he will be tried separately for charges involving the other three victims. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a drought in Douglas County on Friday. Now 15 of the state’s 36 counties are subject to active drought declarations.

Brown included Douglas in a drought declaration Friday along with Baker and Wallowa counties in northeastern Oregon and Wheeler County. Drought, severe weather conditions, and the upcoming fire season pose significant threats to the local economy, agriculture and livestock, natural resources, and recreation in Baker, Douglas, Wallowa, and Wheeler Counties,” according to the governor’s office.

Governor Brown’s drought declaration unlocks a number of drought-related emergency tools for water users, including assistance to local water users. Drought declarations also allow the Water Resources Department to expedite review processes and reduce fee schedules. Declarations are intended to be short-term emergency authorizations to address water supply challenges. Klamath County was one of the first states declared a disaster county earlier this year.

The Oregon Employment Department has set the rate for Paid Leave Oregon. It’s a new program that offers up to 12 weeks of paid time off for family, medical and “safe” leave.

Workers will be taxed one-percent of their income with employers paying 40-percent and the employee paying 60-percent. The employer can pay the entire amount as a benefit. On one-thousand dollars in wages, the employee would pay six dollars and the employer will pay four dollars. The new fee takes effect next January.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown is ordering all flags at Oregon public buildings to be flown at half-staff until sunset tonight, May 16th in memory of the nearly one-million Americans who have died from COVID-19.

That includes seven-thousand-548 Oregonians. Brown says every life lost to COVID-19 is a tragedy, and too many families are now without a friend, family member, or other loved one.

Fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased by 74-percent in Oregon from 2019 to 2020, and the state is taking action to help school districts.

Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Education have released a Fentanyl & Opioid Response Toolkit for schools. It includes how to create an emergency protocol for naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an overdose. It also includes resources for staff training, prevention education and information on implementing a school emergency response plan.

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