Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 6/29 – KF 4th of July Parade is Monday, 10AM

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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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 84. Light winds to 7 mph. Overnight, clear with a low around 50.

Thursday Sunny, with a high near 86. Calm wind becoming west southwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.

Friday Sunny, with a high near 84. Calm wind becoming west southwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.
Saturday A 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms after 11am. Sunny, with a high near 82.
Sunday A slight chance of showers, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 70.
Monday, 4th of July! A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 69.

Today’s Headlines

It’s still hot in the Klamath Basin and the National Weather Service wants to remind you to remain hydrated to beat the effects of the heat and protect yourself from the strong Summer sun.

The National Weather Service says to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible.

To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location.

Temperatures should stay in the mid-80’s for the rest of the calendar week and into the fourth of July holiday weekend.

For Klamath Falls, residents and visitors can enjoy this year’s 4th of July Parade, held downtown next Monday at 10AM. 

Of course, South Spring Street will be used for staging of participating vehicles, marching bands, and horse teams. The parade will proceed down Main Street from South Spring Street and end at Veterans Park.

Any questions can be directed to Doug at the City of Klamath Falls at (541) 281-7094.

For the second straight year, the Klamath Falls Downtown Association (KFDA) has been designated as an accredited Main Street program for meeting rigorous performance standards.

Each year, Main Street America and its partners announce the list of accredited programs to recognize their exceptional commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach.

In 2021, Main Street America programs generated $5.76 billion in local reinvestment, helped open 6,601 net new businesses, generated 30,402 net new jobs, catalyzed the rehabilitation of 10,595 historic buildings, and leveraged 1,427,729 volunteer hours.

Klamath Falls Downtown Association’s performance is annually evaluated by Oregon Main Street, which works in partnership with Main Street America to identify the local programs that meet rigorous national performance standards.

The family of a man missing since 2019 is offering a five thousand dollar reward for his location and physical discovery, according to the Klamath Falls City Police.

Ethan Swiger was last seen on December 16, 2019.  Swiger would be 24 years old this year. He was last seen wearing a yellow jacket and camo pants.

Swiger has a physical disability which causes him to walk with a severe limp and has disfigurement to both wrists.

KFPD detective Yahwee (yaw-wee) is the lead investigator on the case. She can be reached at KFPD at 541-883-5336.

The busy weekend in the Klamath Basin with the Kruise of Klamath, the Sentry Eagle Air Show, and Klamath Freedom Celebration had massive crowds attending all events.  

However, there is the stark reminder that Covid is still prevalent in our community.

Monday, Sky Lakes Medical Center announced they have 13 COVID-19 inpatients.  Three are vaccinated and six are boosted.

Also of note, Klamath County’s community risk level remains high, and the county averaged 34 new confirmed COVID-19 cases over the last seven days.

With a fourth of July weekend ahead of us, officials continue to urge people to wash their hands frequently, and continue to use precaution if attending functions with large crowds.

Oregon Water Resources Department’s (District 17 watermaster’s field office serving the Klamath Basin has moved from its previous location at the Klamath County Courthouse to 3125 Crosby Avenue. The new facility provides more space to accommodate the growing water resources staff in the area and enables OWRD to continue providing crucial services to the Klamath Basin.

Though the field office’s physical location has changed, the main office phone number remains 541-883-4182. This phone number is used for general water rights questions, well log requests and other OWRD general business specific to the area. The Oregon Water Resources Department is the state agency charged with studying, allocating, and distributing water in Oregon.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon To End Bail-Based Pretrial Release System On Friday

A new state law that takes effect on Friday, July 1st makes major changes in Oregon’s process for determining whether and how arrested individuals can be released from jail before their first court hearing or trial, with a new system that focuses on their danger to the community — not whether they can afford bail.

Senate Bill 48, passed by lawmakers and signed by the governor last year, significantly changes the way that people who are charged with a crime are released from jail, Deschutes County Trial Court Administrator Angie Curtis said in a news release Tuesday.

As of July 1, “the historic security or ‘bail’ schedule will be replaced with new criteria that determine who can be released on their own recognizance, released with conditions or held in jail until an initial appearance before a judge,” Curtis wrote.

“The new release categories are based on the seriousness of the charges and the person’s individual history, such as prior convictions or failure to appear in court on past charges,” she said.

Based on the SB48 legislation, the Chief Justice of the Oregon Judicial Department issued Chief Justice Order 22-010, with guidelines for circuit courts to develop local presiding judge orders (PJOs) that refine release criteria, based on the needs of the community.

“The community should not be concerned about community safety” as a result of these changes, Deschutes County Presiding Circuit Judge Wells Ashby told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday as the court released his order.

“People who qualify for release and can be safely released will be released into the community,” Ashby said, “and those who require that security be set and need to visit with the judge will be held until that takes place.”

Although there has been some criticism of the changes, District Attorney John Hummel said, “This bill improves community safety.” 

“Right now, if you are arrested, dangerous, and have money, you can post bail at the jail and be released before seeing a judge,” he told us recently. “Come July 1, if you are arrested and dangerous, you will not be able to post bail at the jail, and instead will have to appear in front of a judge to request release. At a release hearing, the State and the victim will be able to argue against release. 

“Another positive result of this bill,” Hummel continued, “will be that if you are arrested and not a danger to the public, you will be released without having to pay bail money, and will be ordered to appear at a future court date to resolve your case. This is good, because right now, many people who are not a danger to the public sit in jail awaiting their first court appearance in front of a judge because they cannot afford to pay bail.”

Hummel pointed out three key aspects to the changes:

“1. People charged with certain dangerous crimes will not be released prior to a court hearing;

“2. Certain crimes will result in a release prior to a court hearing, but conditions will be placed on the person that they have to comply with when on release (depending on the charged crime, no alcohol, no contact with the victim, etc.).  This is different than the status quo.  Today, if a person is released from jail prior to a court hearing, the jail places no conditions on them. 

“3. There is an override section that will result in no release, even if the person is charged with a crime that is listed in the release section.  Override reasons include a pending criminal charge, threat of violence, on probation, prior failure to appear in court, and other listed conditions you’ll see if the draft order. “

Hummel said Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters “created guidelines that compiled with the bill, and she granted counties latitude to craft our own system, as long as it did not conflict with her guidance or with the bill.”

Ashby also noted that the county order, drafted with input from the local legal community, can be modified if any issues arise after implementation.

Klamath County Sheriff Chris Kaber recently issued a news release sharply critical of the SB 48-driven changes in the release process made by the chief justice. “One of the negative effects of this decision,” it stated, “is that many people battling mental illness, who are taken into custody for lower-level offenses, will be released and miss an important opportunity for connecting with mental health services to aid them in their illness and maybe prevent future criminal activity.”

Kaber said, “When someone is suspected of victimizing others, it is appropriate for them to be brought before the judge for their initial plea. That is best accomplished by holding them in jail until they appear before the court or requiring some form of assurance (bail) that they will appear before the judge at a later date.

“With the implementation of this law, in many cases being arrested will merely become an inconvenience for them, once they realize they will be released as soon as the initial booking process is complete,” the sheriff continued. “Many adults in custody will also not receive the mental health care they desperately need to help them avoid future conflicts with society.”

“This decision by progressive government officials, who do not understand the complexity of the criminal justice system, does not help our rural community. It is becoming easier each day to be a criminal in our state,” he said.

Kaber concluded the news release by saying: “Remember to lock your doors, lock your cars, keep an eye on your neighborhood, and report suspicious activity.”

 Hummel said after reading Kaber’s news release that it’s important to note “the sheriff of Klamath (County) is arguing for the status quo. The status quo is that rich, dangerous people can get out of jail right now without having to appear in front of a judge.”

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is proposing a unique plan to tackle record-high gas prices.

The Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is putting forward a bill that would include a surtax on oil company profits.

The surtax would be on top of the corporate tax rate and would push oil companies to either invest their profits back into their companies and workers or face a higher tax rate.

Wyden said, as paying for gas becomes more difficult for everyday Americans, their representatives are feeling pressure to get something done. Wyden’s plan would also impose a higher tax on stock buybacks and eliminate loopholes that allow oil companies to downgrade their profits.

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) says Independence Day should be a holiday marked by freedom and fun – not forest fires.

Forest Service officials in the Pacific Northwest want people to celebrate safely with fire safety always, including this holiday weekend.

USFS says all explosives and pyrotechnic devices, including fireworks and explosive targets, are prohibited in national forests in Oregon and Washington. It says, “Violators who bring fireworks onto national forests and grasslands can be fined up to $5,000 and sentenced with up to six months in jail, and may be liable for suppression costs and property damage.”

Despite a seemingly extended damp spring, it says summer’s arrival is quickly drying potential forest fire fuels in the Pacific Northwest.

USFS is reminding people about standing safety practices for visiting public lands, starting with a check of fire danger level and public use restrictions in effect. It also suggests using a fuel stove with an on/off switch to prepare hot meals if cooking outdoors, and if campfires are allowed, keep coals inside a steel container or fire ring and never leave a fire unattended.

Extinguish campfires by stirring water into the ashes and break up any coals until the ground feels cold. It asks smokers to smoke on places without vegetation-free area or stay inside a car to never toss lit cigarettes. USFS recommends people have fire extinguishers or several gallons of water when traveling in remote areas.

In a related story,  Independence day gives people freedom — to “Keep it legal, keep it safe.”

That’s the message from the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) about Oregon’s 2022 fireworks retail sales season.

It is underway, running through July 6.

To reduce wildfire risk, some local governments in Oregon have regulations, some including bans such as Talent and Phoenix, on sale or use of fireworks.

OSFM insists people check local regulations and follow them to celebrate the 4th of July holiday.

OSFM says consumer legal fireworks can be purchased only from permitted fireworks retailers and stands, and State regulations restrict where fireworks may be used. It says people who get legal fireworks should “practice the four Bs of safe fireworks use:”

We want to keep you informed about COVID-19 in Oregon. Data are provisional and change frequently. For more information, including COVID-19 data by county, visit our dashboard: http://ow.ly/58vb50JJZGx

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows an increase trend in cases, test positivity, and hospitalizations. Vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus for more.

Identified coronavirus cases jumped 32% in Oregon last week compared to the previous week, according to state data released Monday, with hospitalizations rising above projections for the omicron wave.

Oregon recorded about 12,000 weekly cases, up from about 9,000 the previous week. The state is now identifying about 1,700 daily cases – the highest level since February – but reported case numbers are a dramatic undercount because of at-home testing.

The number of people hospitalized and testing positive in Oregon also jumped in the past week, reaching 357 as of Monday, exceeding the June 5 peak of 327 projected by Oregon Health & Science University. The increase comes as Oregon sees more iterations of the highly contagious omicron variant.

Nine Oregon counties are now in the high category for spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with indoor masking recommended in public places.

The high counties are: Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Lane, Douglas, Coos, Jackson, Klamath and Lake. In the metro area, Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties are in the medium range, with people at high-risk of severe infection encouraged to talk with a health care provider about whether to wear masks.

Wildfire in Eastern Oregon Grows Past 40,000 Acres

Firefighters from several agencies around the region are working to contain a wildfire in Malheur County, Oregon, north of Vale. Smoke from the fire also is noticeable in much of southwestern Idaho. 

The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and local rural and rangeland firefighters responded Tuesday night to what is now called the Willowcreek Fire. The fire was reported on private land at about 4 p.m. and spread to land managed by the Vale District BLM.

Shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday, the BLM estimated the fire to be 15,000 acres with zero containment. As of 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, the fire’s estimated size is 40,000 acres and the fire remains uncontained, said Larisa Bogardus, public affairs officer for Vale District BLM.

The fire is burning in grass and sagebrush. The BLM says no injuries have been reported, the fire is not threatening any structures, and no evacuation orders are in place.

Cooler weather and calmer winds overnight gave firefighters the opportunity to get around hot spots move crews and other resources into a better position to fight the fire, Bogardus said Wednesday morning. Fire activity is expected to increase as temperatures rise through mid-morning and afternoon, but lighter winds are expected and the fire is not expected to spread as quickly as it did Tuesday evening.

Oregon Department of Transportation closed Interstate 84 from Ontario to Baker City due to smoke. The highway reopened by 11 p.m. Tuesday.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Firefighters from Burnt River and Vale Rangeland Fire Protection Associations, Vale Rural Fire Department, Oregon State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service, two water tenders and two dozers are on scene, fighting the fire on the ground and from the air.

Two-Week Non-Compliant Sex Offender Sweep Concludes with 32 Arrests

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – Operation Copperhead, a non-compliant sex offender registration sweep concluded last week with a total of 32 arrests in the Jackson County area. The suspects arrested were charged with failure to report as a sex offender (ORS 163A.040).

The operation ran for two weeks and also resulted in the registration of 34 out-of-compliance sex offenders. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) detectives conducted the sweep using United States Marshal Service funded overtime. During the sweep JCSO detectives documented approximately 75 compliance checks with non-compliant sex offenders and cleared six additional active warrants. 

A major goal of these operations is to lower the risk non-compliant sex offenders pose to public safety. Sex offenders are required to report their current address, place of employment or school status, any change in name or residence, and any intended travel outside of the US. They must also participate in a sex offender risk assessment and submit to fingerprinting and photos of their face, and identifying scars, marks or tattoos. Compliance checks involve law enforcement contacting sex offenders or conducting research to confirm addresses.

Oregon State Police keeps an updated map of registered sex offenders at https://sexoffenders.oregon.gov/ 

Man Found Deceased in the 1000 Block of Biddle Road

On 6/28/22 at 08:41 hours, Medford Police patrol officers responded to the report of a body in the irrigation canal in the 1000 block of Biddle Road.  Upon arrival, officers located a deceased male and Medford Police Detectives were called to assist with the investigation.  

A Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Medical Examiner was also called to the scene to assist with the investigation.  At this time, the circumstances of the man’s death are unknown and he did not have any obvious signs of trauma.  

This incident is under investigation and more details will be released when they are known.  The identification of the deceased male is being withheld at this time pending notification of next of kin.  A Forensic Pathologist will confirm the cause and manner of death as part of this investigation.  

Jackson County Jail Reports Oregon’s Highest Overcrowding Releases Last Six Years; Providing Social Media Updates

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – The Jackson County Jail consistently reported the highest amount of releases due to overcrowding in the state of Oregon over the last six years. From 2016 through 2021, our community’s jail has averaged more than 5,300 overcrowding releases per year. These 30,900 forced releases are the most overcrowding related releases reported from any jail in Oregon during this time period.

Beginning this Wednesday, June 29th the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) will provide updates on social media showing a snapshot of the people recently released from the Jackson County Jail due to overcrowding. This information can be accessed on Facebook and Instagram Story @JCSheriffOR. These “Stories” will include the total number of Adults-In-Custody (AIC) released that day as well as their individual charges.

The Jackson County Jail has an operational capacity of 300, although that number has been much lower the last couple years because of precautions put in place due to the Coronavirus. When the jail population exceeds that capacity, Jail Staff must release an individual with orders to appear in court at a later date. When releases are required, JCSO leadership utilizes a proven standardized assessment tool with the intention of releasing individuals who are at the lowest risk to re-offend while awaiting trial.

More than half of the jail’s population is ineligible for pre-trial release due to the nature of their charges. This population includes Measure 11 offenders awaiting trial for murder, manslaughter, sex offenses, and other serious crimes. 

To see the Jackson County Jail overcrowding releases social media updates go to the JCSO Facebook or Instagram account and click on our “Story” @JCSheriffOR

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