Klamath Basin News, Thursday, May 26 – KCSD Superintendent Glen Symoniak Offers Message To Parents For Students Regarding Uvalde, Texas Tragedy

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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 Insuranceyour local health and Medicare agents.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Today A slight chance of thunderstorms after 5pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 79. West wind 7 to 12 mph increasing to 15 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 10%. Evening and overnight may bring a slight chance of showers with a low around 47.

Friday Mostly cloudy, with a high near 69. Light and variable wind becoming west 11 to 16 mph in the morning. A 40% of showers overnight with a low near 43.
Saturday Rain likely, with thunderstorms also possible after 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 60. Breezy, with a southwest wind 8 to 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch. Overnight, mostly cloudy, with a low around 36.
Sunday A 40 percent chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 52.
Monday Memorial Day Partly sunny, with a high near 58.
Tuesday Sunny, with a high near 71.

Today’s Headlines

KCSD Superintendent Glen Symoniak

The superintendent of the Klamath County School District made public a message yesterday after the horrific shooting in Texas which left over a dozen students, a teacher, and two additional adults dead.

In the message, Glen Symoniak says that “the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas is a horrific reminder of an all-too-often tragedy that is playing out in our nation’s schools.

Today, as your children return to school, our staff and counselors are ready to help them with any strong feelings and uncertainty they may be experiencing.

Symoniak continued by saying “We also want to share information about how you can help your children at home. Helping students after a school shooting is important, says Symoniak. KCSD takes staff and student safety seriously. He says they want to let you know what the district and your schools are doing to ensure everyone is as safe as possible at school.  

As always, please reach out to your school or to the district office if you have any concerns.

Meanwhile, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) is offering advice to help parents manage the topic of a Texas elementary school shooting with their children.

OHSU said yesterday, “As health care professionals, we implore all those with the ability to take action to come together and take immediate steps to stop this violence.” OHSU notes that its message “contains topics that may be activating for survivors of gun violence and those who have been impacted by gun violence.” 

Its Confidential Advocacy Program (CAP) helpline can be reached anytime at 833-495-2277.

Today OHSU knows parents might be struggling with how to help children process trauma, understand tragedy and deal with fear. Oregonians may contact OHSU’s CAP 24 hours a day, seven day a week at: The local Klamath Falls number is: 833-981-2277 

KLAMATH COUNTY FAIR ~ FROM THERE TO HERE; 100 YEARS IN THE MAKING. That phrase says it all!

Every year many Klamath Basin residents come together to share in a time honored tradition of showcasing their talents in many areas.

From over 1500 categories of entry opportunities, the Klamath County Fair is a place to show off your creative talents. The Fair is also a place to reconnect with family and friends and to enjoy entertainment such as headliner concerts, free music entertainment on the stage, 4-H and FFA animal exhibits and competitions and, the Demolition Derby to be held on Saturday afternoon.

The fair board says they are so very excited to see the crowds, hear the sounds, and taste the tastes – of fair food that is, and visit with friends and neighbors.

For more than 100 years, the Klamath County Fair has been showcasing the best of the best, and because of that, we encourage individuals, young and old, to show off their talents in a variety of competitive exhibits opportunities ~ from the Mommy/Daddy & Me Class to the Professional Classes. We look forward to hosting the Klamath County Fair and providing a venue for you and your family to enter your art, photography, quilting, needlework, floral design, or baking items. Who knows, you might win Best of Show and bragging rights with your family, friends and neighbors.

While Exhibitor Handbooks won’t be mailed out this year, we have made every attempt to make entering simple.  You can either enter online at https://www.klamathcountyfair.com/showcase-entry OR you can stop by our business office at 3531 S. 6th Street for personalized service between now and July 29th at 5:00 PM. 

A film screening of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Gardens of Stone” in honor of Memorial Day will be presented at the Ross Ragland Theater at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 29, with free admission for veterans and their families.

The event is being put on by Klamath Film in partnership with the Klamath Veterans Enrichment Center and Marine Corps League.

Tickets for the film screening are $10, $5 for students and active Klamath Film members, and free for veterans and their families. In addition to the film, activities will also include a short film about Veterans Enrichment Center services, and an on-stage panel discussion with local leaders in veterans services.

Around the state of Oregon

The Oregon State Fair, happening August 26 – September 5, has announced its 2022 concert lineup.

Organizers say this year’s lineup at the L.B. Day Amphitheater includes: Monday, August 29: Rascal Flatts lead singer, Gary LeVox; Tuesday, August 30: Grammy Award-winning reggae artist Shaggy; Wednesday, August 31: Dove Award-winning faith and worship leaders Bethel Music; Thursday, September 1: Pioneering R&B girl group TLC; Friday, September 2: Country music superstar Scotty McCreery; Saturday, September 3: Rock and Roll Hall of Famers THE BEACH BOYS and Monday, September 5: Best-selling hip hop artist Nelly.

Organizers say fans can sign up for fair presale tickets at oregonstatefair.org/newsletter now through Wednesday, May 4.

Boatnik Kicks Off

The activities start Thursday evening with the Davis Shows Carnival featuring food, rides, games and family fun. The excitement continues Friday with the concert, a spectacular fireworks display on the river, midway vendors, and the carnival! Saturday morning features the well-known Boatnik parade that travels through downtown Grants Pass and ends at Riverside Park.

Throughout the weekend the festivities continue in the park where there are a whirlwind of activities that include: Sprint and Drag boat racing, carnival rides, arts and crafts, children’s activities, Bingo, food vendors, Monday Sundaes, the Boatnik Brewfest, the Chevy Drive It Home Golf Shoot Out and a second night of patriotic fireworks.

Monday is the highlight of Boatnik featuring the World Famous Tom Rice Memorial White Water Hydroplane Race, and the Memorial Day Service including a jet flyover.

Thousands of locals and visitors from around the world come to share the tradition and unique experience of Boatnik. FOR MORE INFO: https://www.boatnik.com

Grants Pass Detectives Arrest the Knifepoint Robber

Xavier Durham

Wednesday afternoon, at the end of an intensive investigation, Grants Pass Police Detectives arrested Xavier Bruce Durham, a 22-year-old male, for 1st-degree Robbery, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, 2nd-degree Theft, and Menacing. Detectives identified Durham as the man who had robbed a woman of her purse outside the NW 6th Street United States Post Office on Monday, May 23rd.

As previously reported, Durham threatened the woman with a knife, took her purse and contents, and fled the scene in a waiting vehicle. The victim was not seriously injured. Durham was lodged at the Josephine County Jail.

The Grants Pass Police Department would like to thank the community for their assistance in this investigation. Anyone having information about this robbery or related crimes is asked to contact the Grants Pass Police Department at 541-450-6260. Grants Pass Police Department 

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Here for each other. Safe + Strong Helpline at 800-923-4357 or visit safestrongoregon.org. Oregon YouthLine at 877-968-8491, text "teen2teen" to 839863 or visit oregonyouthline.org. National Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990. The Dougy Center at dougy.org.

Pacific Power Plans To Raise Electricity Rates 14%

Customers of Pacific Power would see their power bills increase 14% if a plan proposed by the company is approved. In the plan filed with the state, the utility is asking for an $84 million yearly increase in rates for customers in Oregon, a 6.8% increase. But that increase would impact different types of customers in different ways.

The average residential bill is $91.89 for customers in single-family homes using 900 kilowatt hours per month. The company’s request would increase that to $104.90 per month. That would be a 14.2% increase.

Also, multi-family homes that use an average of 600 kilowatts per month would see their bills increase $6.97 per month, an 11% increase, under the proposal.

“Pacific Power’s big bill increase could break customer’s budgets,” Knowledge Murphy, sustainability coordinator for Multnomah County, testified at a public comment hearing held by the state Tuesday.

Commercial and industrial customers would have smaller percentage increases, though the company didn’t indicate what that would be in publicly available information.

Pacific Power serves about 600,000 Oregon customers in cities such as Albany, Bend, Dallas, Grants Pass, Hermiston, Independence, Lebanon, Lincoln City, Medford, parts of Portland, Roseburg and Stayton.

As an investor-owned utility, Pacific Power’s rates are determined by the state. The company files to the state for rate increases. They are approved or denied by the state’s commission.

Everyone who testified at Tuesday’s hearing was against the increase.

“This rate increase puts thousands of Oregonians at risk,” said Alessandra de la Torre of Phoenix, who works with RealClimate.

Some customers of Pacific Power would see their power bills increase 14% if a plan proposed by the company is approved.

In the plan filed with the state, the utility is asking for an $84 million yearly increase in rates for customers in Oregon, a 6.8% increase. But that increase would impact different types of customers in different ways.

The average residential bill is $91.89 for customers in single-family homes using 900 kilowatt hours per month. The company’s request would increase that to $104.90 per month. That would be a 14.2% increase.

Also, multi-family homes that use an average of 600 kilowatts per month would see their bills increase $6.97 per month, an 11% increase, under the proposal.

“Pacific Power’s big bill increase could break customer’s budgets,” Knowledge Murphy, sustainability coordinator for Multnomah County, testified at a public comment hearing held by the state Tuesday.

State of Oregon announces timelines to release more than half a billion dollars in funding to support behavioral health treatment, workforce retention and support services;

$132 million in funding to be distributed to treatment programs starting this week

State health officials at the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) have announced a plan to distribute a package of $517 million in investments aimed at improving behavioral health services in Oregon. This includes $132 million which will flow to treatment providers starting this week.

The investments will be used to bolster the behavioral health workforce and expand treatment services. The state also will distribute funds to provide housing and other support services to people with mental health and substance use issues.

Key elements of the new grants are designed to eliminate health inequities.

The funding includes:

  • Approximately $132 million in one-time grants to stabilize a behavioral health workforce that was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which are currently being distributed to treatment providers.
  • Approximately $155 million in behavioral health provider rate increases to sustain and support behavioral health services, some of which would begin to take effect July 1, 2022 (pending legislative and federal approval).
  • Approximately $230 million for supportive housing and residential treatment programs, which they will begin to receive later this summer.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Legislature and to Governor Brown for providing these critical investments,” Steve Allen, OHA’s behavioral health director said.

“These resources are intended to provide immediate support to behavioral health workers and give programs a sustainable base of funding they can count on to make behavioral health treatment more accessible and equitable in Oregon.”

Workforce

OHA is issuing grants to 159 organizations across the state to recruit and retain employees for behavioral health service providers. These funds are beginning to be distributed directly to treatment programs this week. The funds were allocated by the Legislature through House Bill 4004 to supplement staffing losses exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The median award is approximately $334,000.

Providers must use at least 75 percent of the funding for wages, benefits and bonuses and the remainder for non-compensatory forms of retention or recruitment. To ensure accountability and that these dollars are spent on bolstering the behavioral health workforce, OHA will get reports about how and where these dollars will be spent. Lean more about the workforce stability grants.

“Rarely does an email bring tears, but this one did,” said Janice Garceau, behavioral health director for Deschutes County Health Services in response to receiving notification of the workforce investments for programs in her county. “This will make a meaningful difference.”

Rate increases

OHA is also proposing increasing provider payment rates to better coordinate access to care, incentivize culturally and linguistically specific services, invest in workforce diversity and support staff recruitment. The legislature allocated $42.5 million last year, which is expected to bring approximately $112 million in matching federal Medicaid funds.

The $155 million in rate increases will not only increase funding for treatment programs, it will also increase access for people who need mental health and substance use treatment. In total, this increase would put an extra $109 per Medicaid member into the behavioral health system.

Under the proposed fee-for-service rate increases for providers:

  • Programs providing children with intensive psychiatric treatment would receive rate increases of approximately 37 percent.
  • Substance use disorder residential treatment services would receive rate increases of approximately 32 percent.
  • Adult residential mental health treatment programs would receive rate increases of 30 percent.
  • Some providers will receive an over 20 percent bump for providing culturally and linguistically specific services.
  • Adult outpatient mental health treatment programs would receive rate increases of approximately 28 percent.

OHA is working on getting federal approval for these increases, and providers that bill OHA directly through Medicaid on a fee-for- service basis this summer.

These fee-for-service increased payments will be retroactive to July 1, 2022. In addition to the fee-for-service increases, OHA will be providing increases to coordinated care organizations that should be passed along to behavioral health providers beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

Supportive housing and residential treatment

The funding for supportive housing and other residential options includes $100 million in direct awards to Oregon’s counties which will be issued by the end of summer. In addition, a competitive grant program totaling $112 million will expand housing and residential services for mental health treatment and substance use disorders.

These grants follow two earlier rounds of funding.

In the fall of 2021, OHA awarded $5 million in planning grants to 100 community organizations and four Tribes. In addition. OHA awarded $10 million earlier in 2022 to projects that could expand residential treatment capacity in the short-term, resulting in the availability of 70 additional beds.

The $112 million grant program will support longer-term projects, including new construction and renovation to further expand licensed residential and supportive housing services.

The remaining $20 million has specifically been identified to support Oregon’s federally recognized Tribes for funding housing and residential treatment projects. Qualifying programs will receive awards in late summer and funding would continue through spring 2023.

The county funding will be used to develop housing options, expand residential treatment capacity and increase access to low and no-barrier shelter options.

The goal of the competitive grants is to create substantially more capacity in Oregon’s continuum of community-based residential and housing services for people with behavioral health needs, offering culturally responsive, person-centered programming. 

This will ensure that people are supported in settings that best meet their needs and will create more equitable and effective housing alternatives for people with serious and persistent mental illness, requiring a higher standard of care. 

New funds are separate from M110 grants

These investments are separate from, and in addition to, the Measure 110 grants that are currently being awarded to Behavioral Health Resource Networks (BHRNs) around the state to expand substance use treatment.

To date, the Measure 110 Oversight and Accountability Council has approved BHRN applications in 29 Oregon counties. Last week, OHA funded the first BHRN in Harney County.

Medford Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison Under Armed Career Criminal Act

MEDFORD, Ore.—On May 24, 2022, a Medford man with a long criminal history, including multiple convictions for strangulation and assault, was sentenced to federal prison for illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

James Calvin Patterson, 46, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison and five years’ supervised release. Patterson’s sentence will run concurrently to a 45-month sentence recently imposed for a drug conviction in Jackson County Circuit Court.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) with assistance from the Medford Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marco A. Boccato of the District of Oregon.

Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Myrtle Creek 

On May 25, 2022, at approximately 08:00 AM, Deputies with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office responded to an address on Weaver Road in Myrtle Creek to investigate a domestic violence complaint.  

Upon arrival the suspect, Spencer Cassanova Heckathorne (60), had fled the scene. Probable cause was established to arrest Heckathorne for the crimes of Menacing and Recklessly Endangering.  Shortly after 10:00 AM, DCSO Deputies and officers from the Myrtle Creek Police Department located Heckathorne on Weaver Road near his residence.  Heckathorne rammed two deputies in their vehicles before crashing into a ditch. 

After exiting his vehicle Heckathorne remained uncooperative and engaged a uniformed Deputy.  The Deputy fired his duty weapon and Heckathorne was struck one time. Deputies quickly began rendering aid to Heckathorne who was pronounced deceased at the scene. 

OSP Major Crimes Detectives from the Springfield and Roseburg Area Commands responded to assist Douglas County Major Crimes Team and is leading the investigation into the Officer Involved Shooting Incident.  The Douglas County Major Crimes team is comprised of members from the Roseburg Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office and the Oregon State Police.  

Additional details regarding the investigation will be made available through the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.       Oregon State Police   

A Vancouver, Washington man faces federal charges for distributing fentanyl that led to the overdose death of a Portland teenager.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Oregon says 24-year-old Manuel Souza Espinoza allegedly sold pills that led to the teen’s death. He also sold one-thousand counterfeit “M30” Oxycodone pills that were made with fentanyl to a confidential informant. They say Espinoza is a known, high volume Portland area drug dealer.

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The Oregon Zoo is welcoming five new chimpanzees to its recently opened Primate Forest habitat.

They join three chimps already at the zoo. The new group includes four females and one male. They came to the zoo on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums which works to find locations where endangered chimps can be cared for.

It’s almost time for athletes from all over the world to arrive in Eugene, Oregon for the World Athletics Championships.

Many are arriving early next month to training camps, which are spread throughout the state. The camps are usually just weeks prior to the big event. They’re designed to get athletes geared up and give them time to acclimate to Oregon.

There are about 15 to 20 training camps so far and some are even located outside of Oregon.

More than two years into the pandemic, Americans report that gas prices and inflation will impact their summer travel decisions more than concerns about COVID-19, according to a new survey conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Memorial Day Weekend marks the start of summer travel season, a traditionally busy time for the hotel industry. And this year, nearlyseven in ten Americans (69%) report being likely to travel this summer, with 60% saying they are likely to take more vacations this year compared to 2020-21.

New concerns about gas prices and inflation, however, are impacting Americans’ travel plans in a variety of ways.

Majorities say they are likely to take fewer leisure trips (57%) and shorter trips (54%) due to current gas prices, while 44% are likely to postpone trips, and 33% are likely to cancel with no plans to reschedule. 82% say gas prices will have at least some impact on their travel destination(s).

Oregon State Police say a wolf that was found dead in Wallowa County in January was killed by a motor vehicle.

It was initially believed the wolf died from a shooting. An examination at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Forensic Lab in Ashland determined the wolf had been shot in the leg, but the wound had partially healed and it happened before the wolf was hit.

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