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Klamath Basin News, Monday, 8/22 – U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Wants Halt of Water to Farmers & Wildlife Refuges From Klamath Lake; KWUA Says That Will Shut Down More Farms and Drastically Reduce Food Production In The Basin

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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.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 89. Calm wind becoming west 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon. Overnight clear with a low of 54.

Tuesday Sunny, with a high near 92. West northwest wind 3 to 6 mph.
Wednesday Sunny, with a high near 95.
Thursday Sunny, with a high near 94.
Friday Sunny, with a high near 93.
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 90.
Sunday Sunny, with a high near 90.

Today’s Headlines

Friday, the United States Bureau of Reclamation said that irrigation districts that provide water to family farms and national wildlife refuges should immediately cease all diversion of water from Upper Klamath Lake, the major water storage reservoir for the Klamath Project.

The move is the latest chapter in a two-decade history of requiring ever-higher levels of flow in the Klamath River, and water surface elevations in Upper Klamath Lake, both ostensibly for protection of threatened or endangered fish species. The policy has caused severe damage to rural communities, food production, and terrestrial wildlife, with no identifiable benefit for the target fish species. 

Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) Executive Director and Counsel Paul Simmons said that drought is a factor this year, but in the Klamath Basin, reckless federal water management is the real problem.

In mid-April, Reclamation announced that the water supply for producers and wildlife would be about 15 percent of the actual demand. KWUA estimates that about 100 square miles of otherwise productive Project farmland (roughly one-third of total Project acreage) will have received zero water this year, and all of the rest will receive very limited water. 

KWUA President Ben DuVal said that farmers are mystified by the federal government’s insistence on shutting down farms, especially amid global food insecurity.

Frodau’s federal action virtually guarantees that there will be no water deliveries to Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges for the foreseeable future. For the first time ever, both refuges are bone dry. 

A few more days of summer, then it’s back to school….and there is some good news from both County and City school districts.

Like last year, Klamath Falls City Schools will be paying for school supplies for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year.

School supplies will be purchased by KFCS and be dispersed to students by their school. Parents will be notified by their school if there might be something else students would need to buy before school begins.

In the county, school supplies will be provided and most class fees will be covered for all students in the Klamath County School District.

Supplies will be purchased by the district and distributed to students by their teachers at the beginning of the school year. Schools will let families know if there are any additional personal items students might need.

The district is investing about $230,000 to provide supplies for more than 6,900 students at its 21 schools.

At the elementary level, families may still need to pay activity or field trip fees, and families of junior high and high school students may still need to pay for clubs and extracurricular activities, gym uniforms and locks and parking permits. Schools may charge a supply fee in courses that provide a take-home item upon completion.

A calf seen being attacked by two wolves in the Winter Rim area of Lake County was later found dead.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said that on the morning of Sunday, Aug. 14, a motorist saw a calf being attacked and scared away the wolves. Later that day a livestock producer found the dead, 500-pound, five-month-old calf on a public land grazing allotment.

An investigation found pre-mortem bite scrapes measuring up to three inches long and a quarter-inch wide at both elbows and on both hind legs above the hocks with associated tissue damage up to four inches deep. According to the report, “The severity, size and location of these wounds are consistent with injuries to cattle attacked by wolves.”

The depredation is attributed to the LAS13/OR115 wolves. That Area of Known Wolf Activity, or AKWA, runs east of Fort Klamath past Beatty, and north of Chemult south toward Klamath Falls. The Upper Deschutes AWKA in Deschutes County was added earlier this year in July.

The name of the person struck and killed by a motorist last Saturday night on South Sixth has been released by police.

The victim is 66 year old Ronald Symonds of Klamath Falls.

On Saturday August 13 , at about 9:30 PM, Oregon State Police (OSP) Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a vehicle versus pedestrian crash on South Sixth Street near Hope Street in Klamath Falls.  

Preliminary investigation revealed that, an adult male pedestrian, walked out into the roadway and stopped in the middle of the travel lane facing westbound traffic. A westbound Toyota pickup, operated by James Richardson-Lawson, age 38, from Klamath Falls, collided with the pedestrian.

The pedestrian was pronounced deceased at the scene by emergency personnel.  Richardson-Lawson was uninjured and cooperated with investigators at the scene.  OSP was assisted by Klamath County Sheriff’s Office and ODOT.

Also, last Wednesday, On Wednesday at approximately 6:33pm, officers from the Klamath Falls Police Department responded to a motor vehicle accident in the area of 3370 Washburn Way. 

The accident involved a passenger vehicle that had left the scene and a motorcycle.  The motorcycle was stated to be traveling northbound on Washburn Way near Onyx Avenue, and the passenger vehicle was traveling southbound on Washburn Way before turning eastbound onto Onyx Avenue. 

Officers found the 34- year- old, male, motorcycle rider laying in the roadway, at which time officers, witnesses, and medical personnel from Klamath County Fire District #1 attempted life saving measures. The male was soon declared deceased from injuries sustained during the incident.

Klamath Falls Police Officers and Deputies from the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search for the involved vehicle and a later located the maroon, 2007 Dodge Caliber, and later identified the driver as Tashia Medina  of Klamath Falls.  After an interview and further investigation, Ms. Medina was arrested and lodged at the Klamath County Jail on charges of Failing to Perform Duties of a Driver-Felony.

Oregon State Police Troopers are assisting with an accident reconstruction, and further investigation into the circumstances of the incident are ongoing.

Bicyclists and others planning to participate in the Crater Ride the Rim 2022 on two Saturdays in September, the 10th and 17th, can take advantage of a shuttle service in the park.

Ride the Rim organizers said trolleys will be available to transport bicyclists, walkers, joggers and others. Trolleys will shuttle participants with stops at parking areas at park headquarters in Munson Valley, Picnic Hill in Rim Village and the North Junction. East Rim Drive will be closed to motor vehicles from the North Junction to park headquarters.

The free rides will be offered on both directions along West Rim Drive. Helmets are required for all ages, including adults. Because Rim Drive is closed for both Ride days from the North Junction to park headquarters, most participants begin from that location.

On both days, 25 miles of the 33-mile-long Rim Drive from the North Junction to park headquarters will be closed to motor vehicles from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Five rest stops will be available but there will be no sag wagons. Basic bike repair tools and basic first aid kits will be available at the rest stops.

Un-fenced bike corrals will be located at both the North Junction and park headquarters. The corrals can be used to park bicycles while riding the shuttle to begin the ride and to retrieve parked vehicles.

In addition, organizers said a concessionaire, Explore Southern Oregon, will offer a round-trip shuttle from Klamath Falls to Crater Lake and back Sept. 10 for $99. Space is limited. Shuttles will leave at 6 and 9 a.m. For details and reservations visit southernoregontours.com.

Get on your favorite outfit and hit the town for a Broadway Classic: The Ross Ragland Film Series will present “Kinky Boots” at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 23.

Direct from the London stage, the “freshest, most fabulous, feel-good musical of the decade” (The Hollywood News) “Kinky Boots”, comes to U.S. cinema screens with this dazzling musical, according to a press release from the Ross Ragland Theater.

“With songs by Grammy- and Tony-winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper, direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell (“Legally Blonde,” “Hairspray”) and book by Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein (“La Cage Aux Folles”), this ‘dazzling, fabulously sassy and uplifting’ (Time Out) award-winning musical celebrates a joyous story of Brit grit to high-heeled hit as it takes you from the factory floor of Northampton to the glamorous catwalks of Milan,” the press release states.

General admission tickets for the showing — which runs 133 minutes with one 10-minute intermission — will cost $5. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to ragland.org.

Emergency work is right now underway on U.S. 97 at various locations following mud flows from thunderstorm activity over the last several weeks just across the Klamath County line into Northern California.

According to Caltrans District 2, work is being conducted from about 2.5 miles north of Big Springs Road to just south of County Road A12 and from north of Grass Lake to south of Macdoel (near Mt. Hebron).

Crews have been working off the roadway at Whitney Creek since August 6th to remove debris flow material to preserve roadway integrity.

Drivers are urged to use caution and reduce speeds in construction zones.

Around the state of Oregon

Bend Police Investigate Double Homicide

Bend Police discovered the bodies of two teens inside a garage on the south end of town late Wednesday. Officers were called the home on Mt. Faith Pl just after 11 p.m. when the homeowner reported finding a dead body in the garage.

The two victims are from Bend and were identified as Angela Pastorino and Alfredo Hernandez, both 18.  

An initial investigation found that on Tuesday, Aug. 16, the victims and 41-year-old Wesley Abel Brady were doing work around the house for the homeowner. While drinking alcohol at the home later that evening, Hernandez and Brady got into a fight, and police say Brady murdered both Pastorino and Hernandez. He then put their bodies in the home’s garage before eventually traveling to a property in Christmas Valley. The victims had been reported missing earlier in the day by a concerned family member. 

While police were at the scene, Brady arrived in the area of the home and was detained. He is now at the Deschutes County Jail on charges of Aggravated Murder, Murder in the Second Degree, two counts of Abuse of a Corpse, Sodomy, Sexual Abuse, Strangulation, Tampering With Evicence, Arson and Burglary. 

Bend Police applied for and received search warrants for the home on Mount Faith Place, two vehicles and the property in Christmas Valley. The Central Oregon Major Incident Team was activated. The investigation is ongoing. 

Firefighters Engaged on Numerous Lightning-Caused Fires Across Jackson and  Josephine Counties

Fire crews securing safe access to Rum Creek Fire 

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Aviation resources worked steadily throughout the day Sunday, dropping water and retardant to slow the spread of the Rum Creek Fire while ground resources developed safe routes to the Rum Creek Fire perimeter. 

Firefighter and public safety are always the top priority on a wildfire. Although the Rum Creek Fire started on a ridgetop, the steep topography allows burning debris to potentially roll downhill, spreading fire as it goes, with the possibility of spotting and torching.  

Additional resources have been ordered and are arriving steadily. This morning, 266 personnel were assigned to the fire, including one hotshot crew, 10 hand crews and one dozer. 

Among the natural resources threatened by the fire is an endemic stand of Port-Orford-cedar, which is unique to southwest Oregon and northwest California. Historically, native Karok people of northwest California used Port-Orford-cedar for a variety of purposes. 

Three hand crews, three engines and three water tenders will continue mop-up today on the Hog Creek Fire, which is holding at 32 acres and is 30 percent contained. Mop-up is the process of extinguishing residual fire and hot spots to make sure it doesn’t continue to spread outside of an established containment area. 

Weather: Slightly cooler today, highs in the 80s, humidity in the 30s and light winds with gusts up to 12 miles per hour.  

Safety: Be alert while driving and watch for increased fire traffic in Merlin and Rand, especially in the morning and evening as resources head into and out of the fire closure areas at shift changes.  

A river ranger is stationed above Rainie Falls to direct boating traffic. Boaters may be asked to pull over while helicopters dip water from the pool. 

Closures: Medford BLM has closed the Rainie Falls Trail until further notice. For more information about closures and fire restrictions, go to  https://www.blm.gov/programs/public-safety-and-fire/fire-and-aviation/regional-info/oregon-washington/fire-restrictions 

Other fires: For information about other fires in the Lightning Gulch Complex, go to Southwest Oregon Department of Forestry’s website www.swofire.com or https://www.facebook.com/ODFSouthwest

Tribal Officials Say Two People Were Shot As An Armed Man and Police Exchanged Gunfire At Pendleton Casino

Police stopped a man with a gun at the door of Wildhorse Casino and Resort in Pendleton after he tried to rob the casino in the small northeastern Oregon city of Pendleton, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation said Wednesday.

A bystander and the suspect were struck by gunfire during the shootout, tribal officials said. Both were taken to a local hospital for treatment. No one else was injured, officials said.

People inside the casino say it was a scary situation. Customers were told there was a gunman in the building and they were evacuated out a back door.

Casino employees say this is the first time they’ve seen an attempted robbery and shooting at the resort. They also say the suspect was someone they’ve seen before in the area.

Officials said Wednesday afternoon that the suspect was in custody and the site was secure. Police from multiple agencies responded, officials said. “We are grateful no one else was physically injured with all that took place,” CEO Gary George said in a statement on Facebook. “Security personnel and Tribal Police were quick to act and the situation was controlled in a swift manner.”

Officials said later Wednesday that the resort and casino were open except for the food court, while the investigation continues.

Another Illegal Grow Bust in Josephine County

On August 17, 2022, the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) executed a search warrant in the 800 block of Coyote Creek Road in Josephine County regarding an illegal marijuana grow site.  The search warrant was executed with the assistance of Rogue Area Drug Enforcement (RADE) and Josephine County Code Enforcement. 

During the execution of the warrant more than 3,000 growing marijuana plants were seized and destroyed. Multiple firearms, silver and cash was also seized. 

The property also had multiple electrical, water and solid waste code violations. These violations could result in the civil forfeiture of the property. 

The primary suspect was not located during the execution of the warrant. The charges listed above are the charges the primary suspect will be facing based on the evidence located. 

At the time of this press release the investigation is ongoing and no further details are being released. Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office 

Joint Task Force Arrests Child Porn Suspect; Investigators Discover 100k Images/Videos


The Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) joint inter-agency task force arrested a Central Point man today after investigators discovered he possessed over 100,000 images and videos of child pornography.

The suspect, Dennis Clark Thorson, 83, of Central Point, has been federally charged with two felony counts of possession and receipt of child pornography. SOCET, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) Patrol deputies executed a federal arrest warrant today at the subject’s residence on the 90 block of Bigham Drive in Central Point. Thorson was using sophisticated computer software that allowed him to search other people’s computers who were sharing their child pornography collection and download it directly from them.  

Central Point Police Department initiated the investigation into Thorson after receiving a tip that he had been viewing child pornography on his computer. Digital devices were seized, and a federal search warrant was obtained to examine the contents. The Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force (SOHTCTF) conducted the forensic examination of the devices. 

SOCET is a joint inter-agency task force that started in June of 2020 to combat child exploitation and human trafficking. The task force consists of investigators from JCSO, Oregon State Police, Grants Pass Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and HSI; as well as prosecutors from our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Jackson and Josephine County.

On August 19, 2022, at about 9:00 AM, an Oregon State Police (OSP) Trooper located a deceased pedestrian on I-84 WB near milepost 89.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the pedestrian was struck by an unknown vehicle between the hours of 4:00 AM to 5:20 AM.   Troopers located a vehicle that belonged to the pedestrian in the area. 

OSP is requesting anyone that may have witnessed or been traveling through the area and hit what they thought could be an animal during those hours to please call *OSP (*677) or 800-442-0776.  Reference Case Number SP22-217109. 

OSP Troopers are still on scene and more information will be released when it becomes available. 

From the Oregon Health Authority

As students prepare to head back to school, Oregon state leaders say this year school districts will have control when it comes to COVID-19. That means school districts will decide what mitigation strategies are best based on local COVID conditions.

Right now, the state isn’t recommending universal masking inside schools or quarantines unless you test positive.
Additionally, state leaders said Wednesday there’s no plan to require COVID vaccine for Oregon students, not this year or in the near future.

This comes as the number of daily cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations have declined in the state since mid-July. Mid-July was the last COVID-19 peak, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 22 of Oregon’s 36 counties were considered to have high levels of COVID-19.

For students, this year will be the most normal start of school in years. More COVID boosters are expected to arrive this fall to better protect against omicron subvariants, but state leaders have no plans to mandate them.

Political Center Rates Oregon Gubernatorial Race To “Toss-Up” As The Race Sets Up An Unusual Situation With Three Candidates

The University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, a nonpartisan political center, has changed its prediction for Oregon’s three-way gubernatorial race from “leans Democrat” to “toss-up.”

The University of Virginia’s Center for Politics made the announcement Thursday, saying that “despite the state’s blue lean and the fact that Republicans have not won a gubernatorial race there since 1982” when the late Gov. Vic Atiyeh won re-election, it considers the race to be open.

It said the competition among progressive Democrat Tina Kotek, Republican Christine Drazan and nonaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson, who all served in the state Legislature, had created an unusual dynamic. The center noted that Johnson, though a former Democrat, is “more conservative than most of the members of her former party” and had garnered the support of Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who typically backs Republicans.

“The race sets up an unusual situation where the winner may not need to crack even 40%,” the center said, noting that outgoing Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, “is deeply unpopular, and there may be some desire for change in the Beaver State.”

The center said Johnson “would still be the most surprising winner, and Kotek and Drazan both will be working to try to prevent their voters from flocking to her banner. There’s just enough uncertainty here that we’re looking at the race as a toss-up now.”

The other states that the center considers a toss-up in the governor’s race are Arizona, Nevada, Kansas and Wisconsin. Democratic governors are running for re-election in Kansas, Nevada and Wisconsin, while Arizona has an open race in a state where Republicans have held the governorship since 2009.

The Cook Report, which also keeps a close eye on key races nationwide, changed its rating for Oregon’s gubernatorial race on July 22 from “likely Democrat” to “lean Democrat.” Political forecasting site FiveThirtyEight, meanwhile, still gives Kotek better than seven in 10 odds of winning the governorship.

Political analyst John Horvick, senior vice president at DHM Research, a nonpartisan opinion research firm, said little has changed in the race recently to prompt a change of rating.

“I think they’re just catching up with the fact that Betsy Johnson is a real credible candidate that’s got money behind her and that’s going to have an influence on the race,” Horvick said.

In terms of fundraising, Johnson is ahead, according to the Portland Record. She has drawn $10.2 million, including $466,000 to date from Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, and $1.75 million from Knight. Kotek has raised nearly $6.8 million, followed by $6 million for Drazan.

Voters are also responding to issues, Horvick said. Polling by DHM Research last week which has not yet been released showed that the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, rescinding the constitutional guarantee of abortion rights, is galvanizing some Democrats.

“There is a big change with Democrats and abortion,” Horvick said. “In January, just 1% of Democrats said abortion is the most important issue in the gubernatorial election. Now 16% of Democrats say it’s the most important issue,” Horvick said.

Kotek has long supported abortion rights, including the decision by the Legislature this February to allocate $15 million to help women access abortion care. Drazan opposes abortion but she has said she would follow Oregon’s laws placing no restrictions on abortions. Johnson has also consistently supported abortion rights, though she disapproved of the Legislature giving money to help women from out of state access care.

Nevertheless, Democrats concerned about abortion access seem to think Kotek is a safer choice, Horvick said.

“I really think among those wavering Democrats that they have responded to the issue of abortion and are coming back home,” Horvick said.

He said two-thirds of Oregon voters support abortion rights when asked about abortion in general. But nearly 60% say they would support a ban on abortions in the third trimester except to protect the life of the mother.

“There is more nuance in public opinion than perhaps we’ll see in the next two and half months,” Horvick said.

His recent polling also showed that a majority of Oregon voters place themselves on just to the left of center, which he said is favorable for Johnson.

“Betsy Johnson seems to be getting that message across where she fits ideologically,” Horvick said. “That’s a success and an opportunity for her.”

Jennifer Sitton, Johnson’s communications director, said the rating change was not news.

“The race is a legitimate toss-up,” Sitton wrote in an email. “We believe Kotek would continue to lead Oregon in the wrong direction, and Oregon isn’t going to elect its first anti-choice governor ever. Most of us want to protect abortion rights and clean up our streets. Betsy Johnson is the only candidate who would do both.”

Drazan’s campaign also responding, hopping on the announcement with a tweet: “Oregonians are ready for a new direction and we are ready to turn the page on one-party rule.” Her campaign spokesman John Burke added: “This rating change and the multiple polls showing Christine leading both of her Democrat opponents are proof that she is well-positioned to win and make history this November.”

Katie Wertheimer, Kotek’s communications director, also responded to the rating change. “While Christine Drazan and Betsy Johnson continue to fight over the same conservative special interests, Tina Kotek is gaining momentum across the state,” Wertheimer said in an email. “With so much at stake in November – defending abortion access, preventing gun violence, addressing our homelessness crisis – Tina is the proven probelm-solver that Oregon needs.”

A new position has been created with the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services to help people who have student loans and to make sure student loan servicers are in compliance.

The Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 485 in 2021 requiring all student loan servicers doing business in Oregon to obtain or renew a license. The bill also created the student loan ombuds position in the department’s Division of Financial Regulation (DFR).

The division hired Lane Thompson to kick off the program. She has a background as a housing counselor and saw how crippling student loan debt was for Oregonians trying to buy a home.

This gives the state the authority to keep student loan servicers in compliance. Thompson said there was a rash of class action lawsuits against federal and private student loan servicers and, as a result, many states created positions similar to this.

Federal student loan servicers are private companies that have federal contracts. If they service loans for people who live in Oregon, SB 485 requires them to have a license in Oregon. This allows DFR to regulate student loan servicers in the same way the division regulates other financial services.

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