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.
Friday, July 8, 2022
Klamath Basin Weather
Today Sunny, with a high near 84. Calm wind becoming west 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon. Overnight, clear with a low around 52.
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 84. Calm wind becoming west 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon. Overnight, clearn with a low around 52.
Sunday Sunny, with a high near 89. North northwest wind 3 to 6 mph.
Monday Sunny and hot, with a high near 98.
Tuesday Sunny and hot, with a high near 99.
Wednesday Sunny, with a high near 90.
The Oregon Health Authority has issued a recreational use health advisory for areas around Eagle Ridge County Park in Upper Klamath Lake due to the presence of a cyanobacteria bloom and cyanotoxins that are above safe recreational values for human exposure.
Eagle Ridge County Park is 634.88 acres in size, located off Highway 140, about 15 miles west of Klamath Falls. This park contains 6 campsites, a boat launch and more.
OHA recommends that people avoid swimming and performing high-speed water activities such as water skiing and power boating in areas of the lake where blooms are present.
In its guide to identifying cyanobacteria, the OHA website states that “there are two major groups of cyanobacteria blooms. One can look foamy, scummy or thick like paint and is often blue-green, brownish red, pea green or white in color. The other looks like a dark green or black slimy mat that can have a smelly, offensive odor.”
Residents should be on the lookout for bloom beyond Eagle Ridge County Park, such as Upper Klamath Lake, given the hot weather and the cyanobacteria’s ability to spread.
While the toxins from cyanobacteria bloom cannot be absorbed through the skin, ingestion poses a serious health risk, especially for pets and children. Drinking water directly from areas of the lake affected by a bloom is especially dangerous. Toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating water with camping-style filters.
People in 24 Oregon counties — including Klamath— and 15 counties in Washington state should resume mask-wearing indoors in public and on public transportation, according to recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Data from the CDC shows the counties are considered high risk for COVID-19 infection, The Oregon counties include: Clatsop, Tillamook, Lincoln, Lane, Douglas, Josephine, Jackson, Klamath, Lake, Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, Wasco, Sherman, Hood River, Clackamas, Washington, Multnomah, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Baker and Malheur counties.
High risk means the counties have had 200 or more new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, or they’ve had more than 20 new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people within a seven-day period.
The South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership is raising the Fire Danger Level to “High” on Friday, July 8, for all federal, state, county and private lands in Klamath and Lake counties that fall under its agencies’ protection.
The raised level is the result of early season summer-like heat, dry weather, depleted snowpack and the rapid drying of forest fuels. Fires starting in these conditions have the potential to spread rapidly and cause significant damage.
The Fire Danger Level includes all private, county and state wildlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Klamath-Lake District. It also applies to the Fremont-Winema National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lakeview District, the Sheldon-Hart Mountain and Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complexes and Crater Lake National Park.
The increased Fire Danger Level adds fire restrictions to private, county and state wildlands in order to minimize the chances of fire.
• Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads.
• Open fires are prohibited, including campfires and charcoal, cooking and warming fires, except at designated locations.
• Chainsaw use is prohibited between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
• Use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, is prohibited, except on improved roads.
• Use of all fireworks is prohibited.
Also, cutting, grinding and welding of metal are prohibited.
To boost capacity within the Oregon fire service, the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) has awarded $6 million in grants to the structural fire service to hire firefighting staff during the 2022 wildfire season.
The OSFM is excited to announce that 180 local fire districts and departments across Oregon were awarded $6 million in grant funding to support staffing through the 2022 wildfire season. As part of the OSFM’s Response Ready Oregon Initiative, this grant opportunity was available to all 306 local fire districts and departments.
A local model railroad club is returning to the Klamath County Museum this July with an exciting, new display.
Opening Saturday, July 9, the Klamath Rails exhibit will include additions to models that had not been featured in previous shows.
Todd Kepple of the Klamath County Museum says the train club plans to bring in bigger layouts than they had in their last show,.. It should be interesting to railroad fans of all ages.
Klamath County Museum, 1451 Main St., is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturday. The railroad show will be on display for two weeks, ending Saturday, July 23.
The Klamath County Board of Commissioners and the Klamath Falls City Council have finalized approvals for their $300,000 shares for a new $600,000 installation of a fighter jet at Veterans Park in Klamath Falls.
The city of Klamath Falls and Klamath County will cover $300,000, each, as part of a memorandum of understanding for the static display of U.S. military firepower and to honor veterans.
The MOU was inked in June and the July 5 county vote gives final approval to its portion of the funding. The county funds are coming from local allotments from the American Rescue Plan Act pandemic relief programs.
The static display will be located at Veterans Park in downtown Klamath Falls.
The permanent display will feature a “decommissioned Air National Guard jet as a tribute to all community members who have served in the United States Armed Forces,” according to council documents.
County documents from May show the jet installation could be an F-15 fighter jet. The city has also approved its half of the project, also via ARPA funds.
Last week, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton, who leads the federal agency that oversees water management in 17 Western states, traveled through Oregon and California, visiting projects and meeting with concerned communities.
Touton started her week in the Klamath Basin and ended it near the California-Mexico border. Thursday, she sat down for an exclusive virtual interview with the Capital Press.
She was asked, with the West likely isn’t getting any more water, so what is Reclamation’s plan for better managing the water the region does get?
The Klamath Basin, straddling Oregon and California, is a center of conflict where farmers and ranchers compete with tribes and fish managers for scarce water during the ongoing drought.
The current interim plan is set to expire Sept. 30. Many farmers, ranchers and tribal members are urging Reclamation not to extend the interim operations plan and instead to do annual consultations to determine allocations, which they say would be more flexible and based on current conditions.
Touton was asked if she will consider granting this request. The commissioner declined to give a definite yes or no, but she didn’t rule out the option.
The commissioner said which tools her agency uses in the basin will depend on which tools local partners — including irrigation districts and tribes — welcome.
There’s a summer surge of Covid-19 cases happening around the state of Oregon. Locally at Sky Lakes Medical Center reported yesterday that they have 13 COVID-19 inpatients.
The CDC’s definitions for fully vaccinated and up to date have changed depending on age, dose timing, and which vaccines were administered. Sky Lakes says this complicates how they identify and report vaccination status for our COVID-19 inpatients. They say they anticipate these definitions will continue to evolve and change, and as such, will no longer report vaccination status as a result.
From the Oregon Health Authority, see our latest dashboard of Covid-19 cases and information. http://ow.ly/3HnZ50JPVNX
OHA releases COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough report
PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon Health Authority’s most recent update on COVID-19 breakthrough cases, released today, reported 45,843 cases of infection during the month of June.
Of those cases, 19,923, or 43.5%, were unvaccinated people, and 25,907, or 56.5%, were vaccine breakthrough cases. Among the breakthrough cases, 10,644, or 41.1%, were fully vaccinated and boosted.
To date, there have been 259,450 COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases in Oregon. Of those cases, 78,313, or 30.2%, were fully vaccinated and boosted at the time of infection.
To date, 2.6% of all vaccine breakthrough cases have been hospitalized, and 0.6% have died. The median age of vaccinated people who died is 80.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at protecting people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized and dying. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a COVID-19 primary series vaccines for everyone ages 6 months and older, and COVID-19 boosters for everyone ages 5 years and older, if eligible.
The latest breakthrough report can be found here.
Around the state of Oregon
Gun Safety Measure Poised To Appear On November Ballot
Supporters of a gun safety ballot initiative say they have gathered more than enough signatures to guarantee a statewide vote on a law that would require licenses for all gun owners. If voters approve it, the measure will require completed background checks and ban large-capacity ammunition magazines.
Hundreds of volunteers for Initiative Petition 17 will continue collecting petition signatures across Oregon until Tuesday night, then deliver them to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division on Friday. As of Monday afternoon, organizers estimate that they’ve collected between 135,000 and 140,000 signatures – well above the 112,000 needed to make the ballot and ensure a comfortable buffer in case some aren’t valid.
The initiative would tighten Oregon’s gun laws, which allow gun ownership at 18 and requires criminal background checks before gun purchases, though a loophole in federal law allows firearms dealers to sell guns without a background check if it takes longer than three days to complete. The man who killed nine people in a racially-motivated shooting at a South Carolina church in 2015 acquired his gun that way.
If the measure were enacted, everyone would have to complete a background check, no matter how long it takes, and pass firearm safety training to obtain a permit before buying a gun. It would not apply to current firearm owners unless they purchase additional weapons after the law took effect.
The measure would also prohibit the sale of ammunition magazines that can contain more than 10 rounds, though people who already own large magazines could continue to use them on their property, while hunting or at shooting ranges.
The initiative would not ban assault-style weapons, which have been used in many mass shootings, though petitioners plan to work with legislators to pass such a ban in 2023. They initially planned to put that ban on the November ballot but decided it worked better to focus all their efforts on one initiative, a spokesperson said.
Fentanyl-driven overdoses sharply increasing throughout Oregon
OHA, counties, CBOs working to get word out about rescue drug naloxone
PORTLAND, Ore.—Drug overdose deaths in Oregon more than doubled between 2019 and 2021, with the increase driven largely by misuse of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, an Oregon Health Authority (OHA) analysis has found. Preliminary data indicate that this trend has continued in 2022.
Over the last 30 months, fentanyl has become a leading cause of overdose deaths, particularly among people who don’t have access to harm-reduction services. This trend is prompting urgent requests for supplies of naloxone, the rescue drug that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose.
“We are seeing a critical need for naloxone as many communities experience dramatic increases in overdoses due to fentanyl misuse,” said Dean Sidelinger, MD, MSEd, health officer and state epidemiologist at OHA. He noted that many counties have reported multiple opioid overdoses over the last several weeks, and that there has been a corresponding demand for naloxone. “We encourage everyone in Oregon to educate themselves and their loved ones—including young people—about the importance of naloxone, how to use it in an overdose emergency, and where people can access it.”
In 2021, nearly a third of Oregon’s counties saw more people die from fentanyl overdose than overdose from any other drug, OHA analysts found.
An overdose is always a medical emergency. Individuals should call 911 immediately after administering naloxone, and be aware that it may take multiple doses of naloxone to reverse the overdose. Oregon’s Good Samaritan law protects the caller and the person who has overdosed against possession and paraphernalia charges.
People who are taking prescription opioids should ask their health care provider or pharmacist for a naloxone prescription. Health insurance may cover the cost of naloxone. Individuals who want to have naloxone on hand for someone else should ask their pharmacist for a prescription. While health insurance usually will not cover this, coupons may be available online to offset the cost.
OHA’s Naloxone Rescue for Opioid Overdose webpage contains naloxone frequently asked questions and a map showing Oregon pharmacies that distribute the medicine. Anyone actively using opioids, or other illicit substances, can get naloxone and other harm-reduction materials at no cost through syringe service programs. Syringe service programs are available to anyone who uses drugs, regardless of whether they inject them. Here is OHA’s list of syringe and needle exchange services available in Oregon.
In addition, OHA is issuing the following warnings to people who use drugs:
- Unless a pharmacist directly hands you a prescription pill, assume it is counterfeit and contains fentanyl.
- Assume any pills obtained from social media, the internet or a friend are counterfeit and contain fentanyl.
- If you are using pills, don’t use alone and always have naloxone on hand and visible.
- Test your drugs with fentanyl test strips before you use them. Fentanyl test strips can often be accessed at local harm-reduction sites.
A review of State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS) and Oregon death certificate data by analysts from OHA’s Injury and Violence Prevention Section found that unintentional/undetermined drug overdose deaths increased from 496 in 2019 to 1,072 in 2021. The 2021 figure doesn’t include all fourth-quarter overdose deaths, which are still being tallied and analyzed.
Unintentional/undetermined fentanyl overdose deaths jumped more than 600% between 2019 and 2021, from 71 to 509, respectively. Of unintentional/undetermined drug overdose deaths in 2021, 47.5% were due to fentanyl; in 2020, fentanyl caused 32.1% of overdose deaths; in 2019, the drug was responsible for 14.3% of overdoses.
Overall, unintentional/undetermined overdoses from opioids, including fentanyl and heroin, also rose sharply during that time, from 280 to 739 deaths – a 164% increase. Unintentional/undetermined stimulant – methamphetamine – overdoses were up two-fold, from 325 to 658 deaths from 2019 to 2021.
While exact reasons for the overdose increases are unknown, public health officials have long suspected that disruptions to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been a factor. Those with substance use disorder have been hit particularly hard by job losses, school closures and social isolation resulting from restrictions put in place to limit exposure and transmission of the virus.
OHA is taking steps to reduce drug overdose deaths:
- OHA, in collaboration with OR-ID HIDTA, is working with public safety and public health partners to implement Overdose Mapping and Application Program (ODMAP), a real-time suspected overdose surveillance data system to mobilize an immediate response to a sudden increase in overdose events in local communities. HIDTA has recently found a large number of narcotic pill seizures by participating law enforcement agencies that appear to be pharmaceutical narcotics like oxycodone but are likely counterfeits containing fentanyl.
- Oregon established a Harm Reduction Supply Clearinghouse to support agencies that serve people at risk of overdose, including offering community-based outreach, prevention and harm-reduction programs, withdrawal and substance use treatment programs, and rural and frontier first uniformed responders across Oregon. Currently, there are 127 organizations set up to order harm-reduction supplies online through the Clearinghouse. Organizations participating in the Clearinghouse have ordered nearly 130,000 doses of naloxone and other supplies, including syringes, wound care, PPE, disinfectants and personal hygiene products (to prevent COVID-19 and treat wounds).
- The PRIME+ (Peer Recovery Initiated in Medical Establishments) program provides peer-based harm reduction support for persons currently using drugs who present to medical settings. The program goals are to reduce overdoses and infections related to harmful drug use. PRIME+ peer support specialists assist people who are using drugs to access naloxone, safer use supplies, HIV and hepatitis C testing, primary care and substance use treatment, and more. The PRIME + program operates 23 sites in 20 counties in Oregon and has reported more than 20,000 contacts with community members and provided harm-reduction-centered peer support to more than 3,400 people who are using drugs in participating counties since January 2021.
- About 10,000 to 11,000 patients in Oregon are receiving methadone through Oregon’s opioid treatment providers (OTPs). Most OTPs are concentrated along the Interstate 5 corridor serving Oregon’s four largest metropolitan areas, although federal funds have helped with expansion to rural and frontier areas, such as the Oregon Coast, and central and eastern Oregon. As of spring 2022, Oregon also had about 2,100 practitioners federally certified to prescribe buprenorphine for treating opioid use disorder, although only around half of providers choose to use their certifications in any given year. Despite expansion efforts, coastal and rural communities in Oregon are still lacking in access to medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) in many cases.
Health officials are reminding people that opioid use disorder can be successfully treated. Those who need help to stop using opioids can talk to their health care providers or view OHA’s list of resources. In addition, Oregon law allows lay people to carry and use naloxone, a medication that can be used to reverse an opioid overdose, on other people. Learn more about naloxone. If a person is using substances alone, the Never Use Alone Hotline 800-484-3731 can be a nonjudgmental and lifesaving point of contact for emergency services.
Oregon-based nonprofit Lines for Life and OHA recently launched the Safe + Strong Helpline at 1-800-923-4357 (800-923-HELP). The line offers free, 24-7 emotional support and resource referral to anyone who needs it—not only those experiencing a mental health crisis. The Safe + Strong Helpline is a response to needs for emotional support around disasters like COVID-19 and wildfires and was funded by the CARES Act. Callers are routed to a counselor who can provide emotional support, mental health triage, drug and alcohol counseling, crisis counseling or just connection.
Fatal Crash on Hwy 260-Josephine County
On Thursday at approximately 6:12 PM, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single-vehicle crash on Hwy 260 near milepost 18.
Preliminary investigation revealed an eastbound purple Mazda B23 pickup, operated by Tracy Allen (49) of Grants Pass, left the roadway and collided with a tree. The vehicle caught fire and was totally engulfed. It is unknown why the vehicle left the roadway.
Allen sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. — OSP was assisted by Josephine County Sheriff’s Office, Rural Metro Fire and ODOT.
Oregon State Police SW Region Drug Enforcement Team serves illegal marijuana warrant-Josephine County
On Wednesday, July 6, 2022, the Oregon State Police (OSP) Southwest Region (SWR) Drug Enforcement Section (DES) team served an illegal marijuana search warrant in the 300 block of Gene Brown Rd. O’Brien, Josephine County.
As a result, 3,547 illegal marijuana plants contained in five (5) large greenhouses, were located, seized, and ultimately destroyed. Additionally, the property is subject to multiple code violations through Josephine County Code Enforcement, for unpermitted structures (greenhouses), unpermitted water tanks, unpermitted electrical installations, and illegal water diversion from a nearby waterway. Josephine County will move forward with enforcement action against the property owner which could result in closure of the property for one calendar year (illegal drug cultivation) and possible civil forfeiture.
The investigation is on-going and no further information is available at this time.
Marijuana Search Warrant – Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office
INCIDENT DATE AND TIME: July 6, 2022
DETAILS: On July 6, 2022, the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) executed a search warrant in the 1300 block of Frontage Road and the 80 block of Speaker Road, Wolf Creek, regarding illegal marijuana grow sites.
During the execution of the search warrants approximately 14,000 marijuana plants located inside multiple greenhouses and indoor grow facilities were seized and destroyed. In addition to the growing marijuana plants, approximately 7,000 pounds of processed marijuana was located in one of the outbuildings.
Josephine County Code Enforcement responded to the scene and identified multiple code violations to include electrical and solid waste issues and misappropriation of water by taking it from a creek. The power has since been turned off due to electrical issues and the property is subject to potential seizure by the county. Josephine County Code Enforcement will continue to interact with the property owner in an attempt to resolve the numerous code violations.
58 year-old Chen Fengzhi and 41 year-old Liang Zhao were taken into custody and lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Unlawful Manufacturing of Marijuana and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana.
At the time of this press release the investigation is ongoing and no further details are being released.
New Report Finds Hundreds Of Oregon’s Disabled Students Are Illegally Denied Full School Days
Dozens of school districts across Oregon continue to deny some students with disabilities their right to full school days as a means to deal with behavioral challenges and classroom disruptions, and the state Department of Education is shirking its responsibility to monitor and correct those denials, a new expert report has found.
Students with disabilities including autism, emotional disturbance and communication impairment were given as few as 10 or even five hours of instruction per week, despite a longstanding federal law requiring schools to offer such students access to the same sort of free public education as their non-disabled peers and with the least possible restrictions, the report says.
The report, written by a consortium of special education experts, documents that Oregon schools often give students with significant behavior issues reduced instruction time rather than greater attention and the individualized education they need to succeed. The experts were chosen by state officials and advocates for children with disabilities and paid by the Oregon Department of Education.
Oregon GOP Has New Chairperson
Oregon’s Republican Party has a new chair today to replace its interim leader from Josephine County.
The Oregon Republican Party (ORP) officially has Portland restauranteur Justin Hwang as its new Chairman today.
Hwang was elected as Vice-Chair in May, then moved up to fill the vacancy after Herman Baertschiger of Josephine County resigned as Chairman of the state party.
Hwang says, “I am humbled and honored to serve as the new Chair of the Oregon Republican Party. I want to thank the ORP delegates and ORP leadership, including former Chair Baertschiger, for believing in me. I’m excited to bring a fresh voice to the Party along with my years of experience as a small business owner. My colleagues and I are ready to get to work and we only have one vision in mind for 2022 – to elect more Republicans to office.”
Hwang says ORP is committed to doing the work to ensure Oregon Republican election victories this November.
ORP says Hwang is the first Asian-American and first Korean American to be serve as Chairman of the Oregon Republican Party, noting Hwang is a business owner with more than 30 restaurants across the Portland-metro area and a former state legislative candidate.
Senator Jeff Merkley is blaming the steep gas costs on price gouging by American oil companies.
To counter this, the senator is sponsoring a ‘big oil windfall profits tax’, a bill that would get money back into the hands of Oregonians, in the form of a check.
Senator Merkley says the bill would raise about 45 billion dollars from big oil companies. He also says he supports President Biden’s proposal to suspend the gas tax for short-term relief.
Oregon Republican Congressman Cliff Bentz has also been weighing in on gas prices on Twitter. Early last month he said it’s time to unleash American energy and quote “end this madness”.
Bottle Hunting Season Has Begun! — The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative released the first clues Wednesday for the 2022 Oregon Hidden Bottle Hunt
Six commemorative bottles have been hidden around the state of Oregon to celebrate more than a half-century of Oregon’s Bottle Bill. Each bottle has been placed in parks and trails throughout the state.
Five daily clues as to the bottles’ locations will be revealed through Sunday. All clues can be found on the BottleDrop website.
The second clues for this years 2022 Oregon Hidden Bottle Hunt were revealed Thursday.
The hunt is divided into six geographical zones. Deschutes, Jefferson, Crook and Harney counties are in Zone 4. Klamath, Lake, Josephine and Jackson counties are in Zone 3. Eastern Oregon is in Zone 5. Southwest Oregon is in Zone 2 while Zone 1 has been split into an east and west region covering Portland and Northwest Oregon.
The green, refillable bottles come with a small, Oregon-shaped tag that says “The Oregon Bottle Bill: Promoting a legacy of recycling since 1971.” They will come with a small bag to keep the bottle in.
The winners get to keep the bottle and will get to choose one of the 5,000 BottleDrop Give nonprofit partners to receive a $1,000 donation.
Important Bottle Hunt rules
- Do not trespass on private property. All bottles are hidden in parks or trails open to the public.
- Do not go inside any buildings to look for bottles. All bottles are hidden outside.
- Do not dig for the bottles or otherwise damage/destroy any plants or structures at the park/trail, and bottles will not be hidden in any community garden spaces. The bottles may be concealed but will not be hidden in places that require damaging property in any way. You do not need to dig underground or destroy anything to access the bottles, and doing so is prohibited.
- Abide by any park/trail hours while you are hunting.
The Oregon Bottle Bill, signed into law on July 2, 1971, was the nation’s first beverage container redemption system that allowed people to get money back for returning bottles.
OBRC said the Oregon redemption rate was 83.9% in 2021, with Oregonians returning nearly 2 billion containers for recycling.