Klamath Basin News, Monday, 9/12 – Van Meter Fire Now 40% Contained

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Monday, September 12, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Today A 20% chance of showers. Patchy smoke. Partly sunny, with a high near 84. Calm wind becoming southwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon. Tonight, Widespread haze between 11pm and 2am. Areas of smoke before 8pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 50. West wind 5 to 7 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Tuesday Widespread haze before 11am. Sunny, with a high near 82. Light and variable wind becoming southwest 8 to 13 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph. Tuesday Night, Partly cloudy, with a low around 46. West wind 6 to 11 mph becoming light west southwest in the evening.
Wednesday Partly sunny, with a high near 78. North northeast wind around 6 mph becoming calm.
Thursday Mostly sunny, with a high near 77.
Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 77.
Saturday Partly sunny, with a high near 72.

Today’s Headlines

Van Meter Fire

Incident Commander: Tyler McCarty, ODF Team 3

Fire size: 2,539 acresStructures lost: 2 homes, 7 otherContainment: 40%
Resources assigned: 538Fire information: 541-363-8140https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8405/
Evacuations: https://www.facebook.com/KlamathSheriffhttps://www.facebook.com/VanMeterFire

Monday Morning Update:

Klamath Falls, Ore. – A small amount of rain fell across the fire overnight, wetting fuels and settling dust on the roads for today, Monday.  Crews will take advantage of the higher humidity to continue increasing the mop-up depth into the interior of the fire. 

Infrared devices were used again overnight to identify hotspots for day crews to mop-up.  Hoselays are being used across the fire to deliver water to cool and dampen fuels as firefighters dig out burning material.

Due to burning of some interior islands and improvement in the mapping of the fire, it is now 2,539 acres.  There was no new growth outside the existing perimeter.   

Significant mop-up has been completed around the homes in the fire area.  Crews are continuing to monitor and patrol around the homes checking for hot spots.

Roads within the fire area are rocky, with numerous hazards such as rocks, ruts, steep terrain, and narrow roadbeds.  These conditions pose a significant safety risk for firefighters, which is being mitigated by driving slowly, using four-wheel drive if possible, and the use of spotters as needed.

Residential traffic is allowed in the fire area, but residents are encouraged to drive slowly and be aware of fire operation traffic as they travel through the fire.  Bureau of Land Management lands in and around the fire area remain closed to the public.

Cooler weather is expected to continue today, with the possibility of showers and thunderstorms.

Evacuation levels continue to be evaluated based on fire behavior.  For the latest up-to-date evacuation information, please visit the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KlamathSheriff or call 541-205-9730.  The Red Cross Evacuation Shelter at the Klamath County Fair and Event Center has been closed.

Aircraft are available to support firefighters as needed.  A Temporary Flight Restriction exists around the fire to limit any aircraft not associated with firefighting activities in the airspace.  Wildfires are always a no-fly zone for drones.  A drone flying in the area can ground all operational aircraft and impact suppression activities.

The Van Meter Fire started September 7th at approximately 12:30 p.m.  Cause of the fire is under investigation.

A Community Briefing video was released by Oregon Department of Forestry’s Incident Management Team Sunday night.  The video can be viewed on YouTube at the following link:  https://youtu.be/XUY1AugC5Q4

Evacuation levels continue to be evaluated based on fire behavior.  For the latest up-to-date evacuation information, please visit the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KlamathSheriff or call 541-205-9730 The Red Cross Evacuation Shelter at the Klamath County Fair and Event Center has been closed.


The Red Cross Cascades Region has opened shelters for wildfire evacuees of the following fires, Cedar Creek fire burning near Oakridge, Van Meter just outside of Klamath Falls, Vitae Springs Road fire near Salem, and the Milo McIver State Park in Clackamas County. The shelters are located at:

Van Meter Fire Shelter Location:

Klamath County Fairgrounds 3531 S 6th St. Klamath Falls Oregon, 97603

Milo McIver State Park Fire

Clackamas Community College, Randall Hall, Yellow #2 Parking Lot. 19600 Molalla Ave, Oregon City, OR 97045

Vitae Springs Road Fire

Judson Middle School, 4512 Jones Rd. SE, Salem, OR 97302

Cedar Creek Fire 

Lane Events Center 796 W 13th Ave. Eugene, OR 97402 

Individuals and families affected by the wildfire and in need of shelter assistance are encouraged to simply show up at the shelter for help. For more on what to bring to a shelter and the latest information: visit https://redcrossblog.org/disaster/.

The Klamath County Grand Jury announced last week that the Klamath Falls Police Department officers used necessary deadly force during a shooting last month.

On Thursday, Aug. 4, Klamath Falls Police Department (KFPD) officers responded to a report of a fight involving a knife at the White House Apartments, 224 S. Broad St.

When officers arrived, they discovered Mathew Vaughn was chasing his brother, James Vaughn, with a knife. The pair had gone down an alley near the apartments.

According to a Sept. 7 press release from KFPD, as Officers approached the alley, Mathew Vaughn exited the alley and began to chase Reserve Officer Austin Gilmore with a knife. Gilmore repeatedly told Vaughn to drop the knife as he backed away. Vaughn charged Gilmore and both Gilmore and Officer Connor Thun opened fire. Vaughn was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Grand Jury heard testimony from lay witnesses on the scene, the involved Law Enforcement Officers and reviewed video footage from body cameras and car camera before deciding, 7-0, that the officers involved exercised necessary deadly force under the circumstances.

Klamath Falls City Council members commended community members for the increased attendance at the meeting that was held last week. A score of Klamath Basin residents turned out, most of whom were there to oppose the city’s “Plane in the Park” jet memorial plan.

The public comment portion of the council meeting lasted longer than 40 minutes as city officials listened to 12 residents speak on their growing concerns, mainly the jet in Veterans Memorial Park.

One citizen, however — Joey Gentry, who is a tribal activist and member of the Klamath Tribes — used her time to ask “once again” when the City Council will reform the standing equity committee. In December 2020, Gentry said the City Council had unanimously accepted the equity resolution they had received.

In the end, Councilman Dan Tofell asked the Parks Advisory Board to come to the podium.

Board representatives explained the jet memorial had been proposed in 2015, but that Klamath had been on the wait-list since then. Their reasoning for the expedited process of funding and allocating this jet was to ensure that a jet at Kingsley field, which had just become available, could be the jet the community received, saving the cost of transportation from elsewhere.

Tofell suggested the project be tabled until after the upcoming election in January, at which point the City Council will have its usual five council members, rather than just the three that are serving the board at this time.

Healthy Klamath Age Well Expo

All ages and abilities are encouraged to attend this free event!

It is never too early to learn how to stay active, stay independent and age well. The event takes place on Tuesday September 20th from 10:30am to 1:30pm at the Klamath Basin Senior Citizens’ Center.

Age Well Expo 2022 Flyer - 8.5x11 - v.9.1.22

 Vehicle-Free Days on the East Rim Drive at Crater Lake National Park

Each September, the park’s East Rim Drive is closed to motor vehicles on the second and third Saturdays of the month.

In 2022, the dates will be:
Saturday, September 10
Saturday, September 17

The closure takes effect on Friday, the night before the event at 8 pm until 6 pm on Saturday, the event day.

The purpose of the closure is to give bicyclists and pedestrians an opportunity to enjoy 24 miles (39 km) of scenic roadway without vehicle noise and traffic.

To learn more, visit the official website of the “Ride the Rim” event. For additional information about bicycling in the park, visit our bicycling webpage.

Please be aware that the East Rim Drive is not flat. It has steep grades and is considered a strenuous ride for bicyclists. The park does not rent bicycles, so participants will need to bring their own. People not wishing to bike may want to find alternate days to visit the park. Many viewpoints and hiking trails will not be accessible to motorists; boat tours and trolley tours will not be operating; and the West Rim Drive at Crater Lake will likely be congested with automobiles (and bicyclists who are riding the full loop around the lake).

The Linkville Playhouse will be holding open auditions for its next production, “Psycho Night at the Paradise Lounge,” at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12 and Tuesday, Sept. 13.

The play, written by Kitty Burns and directed by Amanda Bose, is about, according to the Linkville Playhouse’s Facebook page, four people who have come to the Paradise Loung on the same night for the same reason … to kill the singer.

The Linkville Playhouse Facebook pages states that the cast requirements are 16 roles total: 7 men and 7 women, with 4 roles that could be either gender. There are no roles for children but mature teens that appear older are encouraged to audition.

Those who come to audition will do a cold reading from the script. Anyone coming to audition for the role of Cindy should be prepared with one chorus of a song of their choice. Rehearsals will begin Monday, Sept 19, and will be nightly Monday through Thursday of each week.

In September of 2020, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lakeview District, Klamath Falls Field Office, began a wild horse gather on private property within and adjacent to the Pokegama Herd Management Area (HMA), located about 30 miles southwest of Klamath Falls.

The BLM plans to resume this gather beginning mid-September 2022. The action is at the request of a private landowner to remove horses from private property within and adjacent to the HMA. The Pokegama HMA encompasses more than 80,885 acres of public and private lands.

Around the state of Oregon

Thousands Evacuated as the Cedar Creek fire near Oakridge, Oregon, Quadruples in Size

Fire personnel in Oakridge, Oregon, Friday.

An outburst of wildfires that broke out over the past week amid triple-digital temperatures across the Western U.S. have forced thousands of evacuations and choked the air with smoke as strong winds complicated firefighting efforts.

Nationwide, 92 active large wildland fires have torched nearly 728,000 acres – the majority of them burning in northwestern states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

The Cedar Creek wildfire at Oakridge has quadrupled in size since late last week, threatening thousands of homes and draping Hiway 58 and Interstate 5 corridor in heavy smoke.

Containment of the Cedar Creek Fire – sparked by a lightning storm on August 1 – dropped from 12% to 0% as the fire exploded in size by more than 32,000 acres over the weekend, now swallowing 85,926 acres in very steep and difficult-to-access terrain. Driven by strong easterly winds, triple-digit temperatures and dry fuels, flames breached containment lines that firefighters have for weeks worked to build.

The fire threatens more than 2,200 homes and hundreds of commercial buildings, officials said, mostly in the nearby towns of Oakridge and Westfir, which have a combined population of about 3,500 residents. Officials ordered evacuations on Friday.

Gusty winds, high temperatures and dry conditions late last week and into Saturday exacerbated the fire, fueling its growth from about 18,000 acres on Wednesday to more than four times that number by Sunday.

On Friday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state fire emergency, allowing the state’s fire marshal to support local firefighting agencies.

“The Cedar Creek Fire grew rapidly towards Oregon communities this morning, and the fire’s growth potential in the coming days is troubling, requiring additional resources to battle the fire and support the state’s response,” she said.

By Sunday, officials said weather conditions had eased. “That gives us an opportunity to be defensible with where our primary control lines are,” said Adam Veale, an incident commander trainee, in a video update Saturday.

Firefighters said Sunday they had completed strategic burning operations along the fire’s northwest edges and were working to set up protective measures along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, a 66-mile stretch of highway east of the fire dotted with campgrounds and resorts, including the Mt. Bachelor ski area, which is hosting a fire command center. “These fire breaks are high priority and will likely take most of a week to complete,” officials said.

The rural and mountainous area affected by the Cedar Creek fire is mostly within the Willamette National Forest, a popular recreation destination with lakes and trails. Much is currently closed to the public.

A Red Cross shelter has been set up at the Lane County Fairgrounds in Eugene, about 50 miles to the northwest.

Air quality worsens as wildfires rage

Oregon fire agencies are battling several other blazes statewide, including the Double Creek Fire in the northeastern part of the state. Utilities had shut down power to tens of thousands of customers Friday as a preventative measure amid the windy conditions.

As wildfires tore through the parched lands, Oregonians were also contending with power shutoffs. Thousands of customers in Oregon, including those in the suburbs of Portland, were without power for part of the weekend as Pacific Power implemented Public Safety Power Shutoffs to reduce wildfire risk as winds picked up.

As numerous fires ravaged western states, air quality alerts were in place across much of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Skies turned orange and hazy in parts of Oregon over the weekend as winds carried smoke from the multiple fires burning in the state.

The smoke was so thick in Washington that it blocked some solar radiation and created temperatures that were cooler than anticipated, according to the National Weather Service in Spokane.

Smoky conditions persisted as cooler weather with light winds moved into western portions of the geographic area. Trace amounts of precipitation were recorded across Western Washington and parts of Western Oregon. East of the Cascades conditions remained dry. One lightning strike was recorded over Portland. Large fire growth was minimal, initial attack activity was light.

May be an image of text that says 'Cedar Creek Fire- West Side Virtual Community Meeting Monday Sept. 12 at 7:00 Virtual: Facebook Event @CedarCreekFire2022 Northwest Team 6 will host this meeting in conjunction with the Oregon State Fire Marshal, Alaska Team and the U.S. Forest Service NORTHWEST INCIDENT MANAGEME TEAM NW ALASKA TEAM POEICESTSI MUASESES PS WESTIGATION FOREST SERVICE UAS PERTMENTOFAGRICU TMENRICUT'

Gold Hill Investigation into Elderly Woman’s Stolen Tractor and Water Theft Leads to Neighboring Illegal Cannabis Grow

RURAL GOLD HILL, OR – While investigating a report of a stolen tractor, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) Patrol deputies discovered water being diverted to a neighboring illegal cannabis grow.

Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) detectives assisted JCSO Patrol in serving a search warrant at the suspect’s property on the 2900 block of Birdseye Creek Road this morning.

On scene, investigators discovered the stolen tractor along with the victim’s utility trailer and two horse saddles. The water, tractor, and trailer were stolen from the suspect’s elderly neighbor. Investigators discovered the suspect had stolen approximately 1600 gallons of water from the neighbor.  

On the property, two suspects were contacted and arrested. The property owner, Joseph Allen Hope, 46, was charged with first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, first-degree theft, unauthorized use of a vehicle (UUMV), unlawful manufacture of a marijuana item, and theft of services. The tenant, Christopher Gene Lindsay, 38, was charged with first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, second-degree theft, and UUMV. Both suspects were lodged in the Jackson County Jail.

Jackson County Code Enforcement responded to conduct an independent investigation. Code Enforcement issued the property owner and tenant citations totaling $4,000.  The violations included using two camping trailers as dwellings, solid waste, and failing to obtain marijuana production approval. There was no licensing for any type of cannabis growing, handling, or processing at this location.

While regulatory agencies investigate permitted cannabis operations, IMET is focusing on the black-market marijuana trade in the Rogue Valley. IMET is a multi-agency task force funded by a grant from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission. The task force includes personnel from JCSO, Medford Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, Code Enforcement, Watermasters, and the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office. JCSO Case 22-6242 Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office 

Oregon State Police Southwest Region Drug Enforcement Team makes illegal marijuana bust in Jackson County

On Thursday, September 8, 2022, the Oregon State Police Southwest Region Drug Enforcement Section (DES) team served an illegal marijuana search warrant in the 4000 block of Fish Lake Road in Jackson County.

Located on the property were several large greenhouses with 3,162 illegal marijuana plants and several hundred pounds of hanging/drying marijuana which had been recently harvested. Also located were several hundred pounds of processed marijuana that had been packaged for transport. All illegal marijuana was seized and destroyed. Five (5) individuals were detained, identified, interviewed, and released.

Jackson County Code Enforcement responded and issued the property owner, who did not reside at the location, citations totaling $43,000.00 for violations including nineteen (19) unapproved greenhouse structures, solid waste, failure to maintain marijuana production approval, camping within a marijuana grow site, temporary fencing within a marijuana grow site and multiple unsafe and nonpermitted electrical installations.

The investigation is on-going and no further information is available at this time.

Medford Police Arrest Shooting Homicide Suspect In Ashland

Friday at approximately 1:25 p.m., Medford Police Detectives, assisted by MADGE Detectives and the MPD SWAT Team, located and arrested homicide suspect, Shawn Robert Conte.

After being located in Ashland in the first block of Lowe Road, Conte was taken into custody without incident and is now lodged at the Jackson County Jail. Conte is facing a second-degree murder charge and Felon in Possession of a Weapon. 

Around 8:30 a.m. Thursday, September 8, MPD Officers responded to the 200 block of Lincoln St. for a report of gunshots and a disturbance heard in the area. Officers arrived on scene and located a victim in the street with apparent gunshot wounds.

The victim was transported by Mercy Flights to a local hospital and pronounced deceased. The victim has been identified as 29-year-old Christopher Postlethwait. MPD staff and local partners worked diligently to identify, locate and arrest Conte in less than 48 hours. The case will now be handled by the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of the victim during this difficult time.

The Rum Creek Fire remains at 21,347 acres, jumping to 75% containment

Near Grants Pass this week, Josephine County will experience a reprieve from critical fire weather with forecasts calling for cooler temperatures, higher relative humidity, and possible showers tonight. Showers will help increase the moisture content of fine fuels, but larger fuels will require more substantial precipitation. 

Reports indicate non-residents are still moving beyond road closures. The public is reminded ONLY residents with proper identification are permitted beyond roadblocks. 

Please respect those who are returning to their homes and those who are working diligently to suppress this fire. East of the fire, road closures include Lower Grave Creek Road, Quartz Creek Road, and Galice Road at Hog Creek Road. South of the fire, Galice Road is closed at Peavine Road. West of the fire, Bear Camp Road is closed. North of the fire Dutch Henry Road is closed.

Pacific Power concludes Public Safety Power Shutoffs 

Decreased wildfire weather conditions early Saturday allowed personnel to begin patrolling lines to perform safety checks. Vegetation debris was cleared in some spots and minor wind damage repair was required in other areas. Step restorations (turning on power section by section) then took place with customers re-energized by Saturday afternoon.  

The Pacific Power meteorology team, using advanced forecast modeling, helped identify high risk areas ahead of the easterly wind conditions. The sophisticated data modeling was used to determine the timing to turn off power to help minimize the impact to the 12,000 affected customers. Pacific Power then positioned additional personnel and resources ahead of the wind event. This allowed for a quick and safe restoration process. Through real-time coordination with public safety partners, three community resource centers were established to help support impacted communities through the event.

“Community safety and reducing wildfire risk are top priorities for us,” said Allen Berreth, vice president of operations. “We thank our customers for their patience and understanding through this event. I also acknowledge the all-hands-on-deck approach from Pacific Power personnel. Our team emphasized safety for our customers, communities and co-workers. We thank the crews patrolling and repairing lines, the staff monitoring conditions and volunteers at the community resource centers.” 

For more information on Pacific Power’s wildfire mitigation practices, please visit www.pacificpower.net/psps.

Crockets Knob. 19 miles N of Prairie City, OR. Start 8/22. Cause: Lightning. 4,331 acres (+0). 75% containment. Brush. Minimal fire behavior. Road, trail and area closures.

The number of water law violations in Oregon has continued climbing in 2022, building on a trend that state regulators have observed over the past five years.

State water regulators have issued 50 notices of violation for unlawful irrigation and other problems so far this year. That’s up from 40 in all of 2021 and five times as many as in 2018.

“They have increased dramatically in recent years, largely due to illegal cannabis,” said Ivan Gall, field services division administrator for the Oregon Water Resources Department.

Black market marijuana producers have been known to steal water, but OWRD has also encountered regulated cannabis growers who’ve run afoul of water law — for example, by using domestic water sources for commercial production.

Concerns about adverse impacts from marijuana and hemp production in Oregon have prompted legal reforms and increased funding for cannabis regulation, such as the $5 million approved specifically for OWRD’s water rights enforcement last year.

Employees from OWRD have been working in conjunction with law enforcement officers who destroy illegal marijuana plants and associated irrigation equipment during raids, Gall said during a Sept. 1 meeting of the state’s water resources commission.

“That is by far the most effective way to get compliance with water law,” he said.

The water rights enforcement money was approved last year as part of an “unprecedented” investment in water resources, including funding for irrigation projects, drought assistance and basin studies, according to the agency.

Since last summer, OWRD has hired 27 new field services employees, including seven dedicated enforcement employees focused on cannabis, which has increased the division’s staff size by nearly 50%.

“We’re looking forward to some exciting times,” Gall said. “It’s really exciting to be filling these positions.”

Watermasters and other field services employees responded to 1,120 complaints and initiated 732 investigations last year, in additional to conducting more than 23,000 checks to ensure compliance with water rights rules.

The field services division also inspected more than 1,550 wells in 2021, finding construction deficiencies in about 15% of the newly-constructed ones, and about 160 of the 950 dams that come under state’s regulatory jurisdiction.

The expanded field services workforce will provide more “boots on the ground” and improve data collection at a time when water supplies are increasingly lacking, Gall said. For example, in the past couple years, the state has experienced a serious problem with domestic wells going dry due to depleted groundwater levels.

“It doesn’t look like it’s going to get resolved in the short term, so I think that’s going to be an ongoing workload the agency will need to deal with,” he said.

Illegal water diversions by illicit marijuana producers have been relatively minor on an individual basis, but that doesn’t mean the issue is inconsequential, Gall said. “Although small, in total they can certainly add up to problems, especially in times of scarcity,” he said.

Jurors Convict Oregon Man of Murdering Doctor and Drug Financier After Original Verdict Thrown Out 10 Years Ago

An Oregon man was again convicted of the 2010 murder of a doctor after his first conviction was tossed by a state appellate court.

In 2012, Brian Daniel Bement, 54, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 46-year-old David Greenspan. But key pieces of evidence were disallowed by the trial judge and Bement won a new trial on appeal in 2017. 

On Thursday, the defendant was found guilty by Washington County jurors of one count of murder in the first degree, two counts of robbery in the first degree, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

“By all accounts, Dr. Greenspan was a kind person who developed issues due to his addiction to drugs,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Jeff MacLean, who prosecuted the case, said in a statement after the verdict. “He became involved with the wrong person and paid with his life. The DA’s office never lost confidence in the defendant’s guilt.”

Greenspan was shot while inside a car outside of a cemetery on March 13, 2010. He was shot twice in the head and once in the neck.

According to investigators, they would learn the defendant and his victim were in business together selling drugs. Greenspan was the financier and Bement sold heroin to consumers. The deceased man also owned a medical practice where he worked as a naturopathic doctor. His alternative medical business was apparently failing as he spiraled into drug use. He additionally hosted a public access cable television show.

During the first trial, Washington County Circuit Court Judge Rick Knapp blocked the defense from entering into evidence a series of emails Greenspan sent in late 2009 and early 2010. The Oregon Court of Appeals later ruled that was reversible error.

In his bid for a new trial, Bement argued the emails were key to his defense, asserting they would show the truth of Greenspan’s bad business practices, his increasingly out of control drug use, and concomitant paranoia about employees stealing from him. All of that combined, the defendant argued, was essentially motive for why Greenspan tried to rob him of $20,000 on the day of the murder.

The appeals court endorsed the logic and relevance, at least, of Bement’s argument, saying jurors should have a chance to assess it:

The [trial] court . . . appears to have concluded that the first four emails are too remote to be relevant, and the state urges us to accept that determination. Under the circumstances of this case, we disagree. Although the state is correct that the earlier statements are admissible as evidence of [Greenspan’s] state of mind at the time that he made those statements, and that defendant ultimately sought to prove [Greenspan’s] state of mind at the time of the shooting, that does not make the earlier statements irrelevant. As defendant argues, those statements are evidence that “[Greenspan] had spent the last several months of his life believing that his financial straits were growing more and more dire,” culminating in the state of mind evidence on February 26, 2010, that he would “need every dollar [he could] get.” That evidence has a tendency to make it more probable that [Greenspan] reached a state of mind on March 13, 2010, that provided a “motive to act desperately and violently to get money from [defendant].” Thus, we agree that all of the emails, including those sent from November through January, are relevant to [Greenspan’s] state of mind at the time of the statements, which, in turn, is probative of [Greenspan’s] state of mind at the time of the shooting.

“When I looked up and I saw that gun in my face, the look in his eyes was a person I had never seen before,” Bement testified during his first trial in comments reported by The Times, a newspaper serving the Beaverton-Tigard area. “That person was trying to kill me.”

Prosecutors, however, argued the murder was pre-planned and then covered up after the fact, the paper reported at the time.

Bement owed Greenspan as much as $300,000, the state alleged, and set up the killing to avoid paying his money man back. The drive to the cemetery facilitated the execution, DDA Jeffrey Lesowski told jurors in 2012, after which Bement wiped the gun clean of his own fingerprints and staged the scene to look like a suicide.

Prosecutors said the defendant then fled after wrapping some $30,000 of Greenspan’s money inside of a towel.

After several COVID-related delays and court motions, the second trial began in late August of this year. Bement is currently slated to be sentenced on Sept. 13, 2022.

Northwest Cherry Harvest Is Smallest In 14 Years

The smaller-than-usual fruit harvest happened largely because Oregon and Washington were hit with a severe winter storm on April 14, during the region’s cherry blossom bloom.

According to B.J. Thurlby, the president of both the Washington State Fruit Commission and Northwest Cherries, a snow event during the cherry bloom has not happened before.

He said this year’s crop is the smallest since 2008.

“The crop should finish up at 130,000 tons going to the fresh market,” Thurlby wrote in a statement. “A normal crop is 210,000 tons going to the fresh market. While the state fruit commission cannot comment on market prices, fewer cherries will be available on the market, with the Northwest being one of the largest exporters in the nation.”

Need to talk to someone? 1-800-923-HELP(4357).

For many people in Oregon recovering from the devastating 2020 Labor Day Wildfires, it may be especially difficult to witness the current wildfires.

And for everyone affected by the current fires and evacuations, these traumatic events can bring feelings of stress, anxiety, grief, worry and anger.

If you’d like to talk with someone or find mental health resources, remember, the Safe + Strong Helpline is only a call away: 1-800-923-HELP (4357).

Cleaner Indoor Air tips. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner (if you have one) with the intake closed. Run a high efficiency particulate air filter or a non-ozone producing electro-static precipitator. Don't use anything that burns, like candles or gas stoves. Refrain from vacuuming or doing other activities that stir up dust. Find a clean air space in your community.

Smoke levels can change rapidly depending on weather.

Check current conditions on the Oregon Smoke Information Blog (http://ow.ly/hZmC50KFZn9), Oregon DEQ Air Quality Index (http://ow.ly/IWyx50KFZnf), or by downloading the free OregonAIR app (http://ow.ly/aqgW50KFZnc) on your smartphone.

Remember that cloth, dust and surgical masks do NOT protect from the harmful particles in smoke.N95 or P100 respirators approved by NIOSH may offer protection, but they must be properly fitted and worn. They won’t work for everyone, especially children.

Here’s how you can protect yourself and your family when smoke levels are high:

◌ Stay inside if possible. Keep windows and doors closed.

◌ Avoid strenuous outdoor activity.

◌ Use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in indoor ventilation systems or portable air purifiers. You can also create a DIY Box fan filter: http://ow.ly/NYMB50KFZne

◌ Wildfires and pollution contain small particles that can make asthma worse. If you can, create a cleaner air space. Make sure you have enough medication and monitor your health.

Call your health care provider or 211 if your asthma gets worse or you’re exposed to smoke. For more information on protecting your health during wildfires, visit http://ow.ly/CQIy50KFZnb.

Oregon Dept. of State Lands Closes Elliott State Forest

Elliott State Forest, South Slough Reserve Closed Due to Extreme Fire Danger
Effective immediately, the Elliott State Forest and South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve are closed to the public due to extreme fire danger.

The Oregon Department of State Lands today enacted the closures as a public safety measure. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for southwest Oregon indicating critical fire conditions. Strong, gusty winds with low humidity and high fire danger can cause significant spread of new and existing f
The Elliott and South Slough Reserve will remain closed until further notice. For current status updates, visit www.oregon.gov/DSL or call 541-388-6112 for the Elliott or 541-888-5558 regarding South Slough Reserve.


Winds have been steadily increasing throughout the state as the predicted weather event continues to intensify. Hot, dry conditions with strong east winds at the height of fire season make it easy for fires to start and spread quickly. Almost exactly two years ago, a similar weather event started on Labor Day, and the resulting fires devastated communities across the state.

Statewide, Oregon Department of Forestry firefighters are standing ready to do what they do best: find fires early, get to them quickly and keep them small. Success in limiting acres burned and people impacted by wildfires requires being proactive and prepared. 

“I can assure you that ODF absolutely understands the seriousness of the current situation and have been actively preparing for more than a week now, said Mike Shaw, chief of fire protection for the Oregon Department of Forestry. “We’ll do everything in our power to protect Oregonians and our state’s natural resources.” 

Those preparedness efforts have included moving resources—including personnel and aircraft—to the areas of highest risk. At the local level, many ODF protection districts have canceled days off to ensure they have the maximum number of firefighters available to respond when needed. ODF staff has also remained in close contact with the incident management teams handling the large fires, which helps local leadership stay up-to-date on nearby fire activity so they can prepare to defend private properties if necessary. 

An example of this type of preparedness effort in action is playing out in Lane County, where the Cedar Creek fire is burning on the Willamette National Forest.  After seeing concerning fire growth and movement earlier this week, ODF’s South Cascade District requested personnel and heavy equipment from public and private entities statewide to staff a task force. The task force, along with several strike teams of structural engines coordinated through the Lane County Fire Defense Board Chief are focused on protecting Oakridge and other nearby private lands. The task force is currently scouting access points and planning their attack in the event the east winds drive the fire off federal and onto private lands. 

The department has also increased public and industrial restrictions statewide to limit activities that pose a high risk of starting a fire. “We need help from every one of you to keep our communities and firefighters safe,” Shaw said. “With the conditions out there and the number of fires already burning, we can’t afford another wildfire.” 

ODF encourages people to check local fire danger levels and to know and follow the local public activity restrictions.

An interactive map showing fire danger levels and prohibited activities on ODF-protected lands is available at https://gisapps.odf.oregon.gov/firerestrictions/PFR.html. The map also provides information on where to learn more about fire danger and restrictions on lands outside of ODF’s jurisdiction.

For the latest news and information from ODF, follow the department on Facebook (oregondepartmentofforestry) where there are also links to other key information sources related to this weather event.

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