Klamath Basin News, Thursday, Dec. 1 – Snow Arrives in Basin; Schools Closed, Drive Safely; Robbery Suspects Arrested in Oregon Avenue Neighborhood Incidents

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The latest and most comprehensive coverage of local News, Sports, Business, and Community News stories in the Klamath Basin, Southern Oregon and around the state of Oregon from Wynne Broadcasting’s KFLS News/Talk 1450AM / 102.5FM, The Herald & News, and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insuranceyour local health and Medicare agents.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Winter Storm Warning in effect through today, December 1st, 2022.

Today A 50% chance of snow, mainly before 4pm. Partly sunny, with a temperature falling to around 25 by 5pm. West southwest wind around 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than one inch possible. Overnight a 20% chance of snow, mostly cloudy, with a low around 10 degrees. West southwest wind 5 to 7 mph.

Friday Partly sunny, with a high near 30. Southeast wind around 6 mph. Overnight, mostly cloudy, with a low around 15 with light winds.
Saturday A 20% chance of snow after 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 36. Overnight a 50% chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 22. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
Sunday A 30% chance of snow, mainly before 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 37. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible, overnight low of just 18 degrees.
Monday Mostly cloudy, with a high near 36. Low of 15 degrees overnight.
Tuesday Partly sunny, with a high near 34. Overnight a low of around 12 degrees.
Wednesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 32.

See Road Camera Views

Lake of the Woods   
Doak Mtn.   
Hiway 97 at Chemult   
Hiway 140 at  Bly       
Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr.            
Hiway 97 at LaPine

Today’s Headlines

Two men were arrested this week as part of an investigation into several robberies in Klamath Falls, several of them in the Oregon Avenue neighborhood.

The Klamath Falls Police Department said Wednesday, Nov. 30 in a press release that Samuel J. McConathy, 27, and Geoffrey W. McKay, 25, were arrested Tuesday, Nov. 29.

According to the press release, the reported robberies began Tuesday, Nov. 22 and continued through Monday, Nov. 28 at the following locations: The Yellow Flamingo Lottery Bar at 1819 Avalon St., the Tyler Texas BBQ at 1414 Oregon Ave. twice, the Oregon Avenue Food Mart at 2123 Oregon Ave. and the Stop-N-Go store at 1710 Oregon Ave.

Tuesday, Klamath Falls police detectives identified and arrested McConathy and McKay in connection to the robberies. The two men were contacted after McConathy reported his van stolen shortly after a report of a robbery at the Speedway Express at approximately 5 that morning.

Before this incident, KFPD detectives were conducting surveillance operations during the late evening and early morning hours due to the recent robberies, according to the press release.

McConathy was lodged in the Klamath County Jail for four counts of Second-degree Robbery, Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Robbery, Second-degree Attempted Theft, Third-degree Criminal Mischief and Initiating a False Report.

McKay was lodged in the Klamath County Jail for for five counts of Second-degree Robbery, Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Robbery, Second-degree Attempted Theft and Third-degree Criminal Mischief.

Anyone with additional information regarding these robberies is encouraged to call the Klamath Falls Police Department at 541-883-5336 or the anonymous tip line at 541-883-5334.

Klamath County Board of Commissioners Chairman Dave Henslee heard his eligibility to serve on the commission called into question this week.

During the Commissioner’s Business meeting Tuesday, Nov. 29, a county resident brought up concerns regarding Henslee serving on the board.

In his public comment, Allen Headley said Henslee “has pending 14th Amendment violations of racial discriminations while under the color of the law [his previous tenure as Klamath Falls City Police Chief].”

Headley continued to state that “any individual known to have, or that may have, personal liabilities from prior positions must make them settled before accepting a new position of public trust” according to the Oregon Constitution.

Headley accused the elected officials of Klamath County of either ignoring or intentionally disobeying the Oregon Constitution regarding election law.

In a private comment, Henslee said he “wouldn’t be [on the board] if I wasn’t lawfully able to be.”

During the normal business portion of the meeting, the commission approved and signed the final order and ordinance for a 906-acre solar facility seven miles south of Keno off highway 66.

Klamath Basin Behavioral Health then requested the county transfer property located at 705 and 725 Washburn Way to be used as a part of Behavioral Health’s community mental health system. Behavioral Health would take on paying the expenses for indigent aid and forensic investigation services. The agreement was signed and the transfer was made.

Three Klamath Falls teenagers are facing criminal charges in Washington state over an alleged hazing and assault incident involving a teammate on the Klamath Falls Falcons baseball team during a tournament in August.

All three teens — along with their alleged 15-year-old victim — are students in the Klamath County School District and play on local high school football and other sports teams.

Grant County Prosecutor Kevin McCrae on Tuesday, Nov. 29 confirmed the misdemeanor charges against three local teens to the Herald & News.

18-year-old as Owen Cheyne has been charged as an adult, since he was 18 when the incident occurred. Grant County District Court records show Cheyne is scheduled for a hearing in the case Dec. 20.

In addition, two juveniles were identified as having probable cause to believe misdemeanor assault (assault 4) was committed and sent to that county’s diversion program in accordance with Washington law. 

A defense counsel is not yet listed for Cheyne, according to court records as well as a clerk for Grant County District Court. Assault in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor in Washington with penalties including up to 364 days in jail as well as fines up $5,000. No contact orders with the victim can also be part of court proceedings related to the charge, according to attorneys who handle such cases.

The Klamath case centers around an alleged incident and assault at a hotel in Ephrata, Wash., where the three teens are accused of harassing and accosting their 15-year-old teammate, during a summer baseball tournament. The younger teammate said the older teens, ages 17 and 18, tried to sexually humiliate and sexually accost him in his hotel room during the tourney.

The Falcons baseball team — which is not affiliated with KCSD — forfeited its last game of the baseball tourney after the alleged assault. The team is made up of players who attend local schools in the Klamath Falls area.

Sky Lakes Medical Center’s President and Chief Executive Officer David Cauble recently announced and shared revised strategic priorities for the local medical center.

The strategic priorities, called Pillars, were revised by Sky Lakes senior management and the board of directors earlier this year. Together Sky Lakes leaders helped align a sound strategic path forward as they remain steadfast in their commitment to helping people live the healthiest lives possible.

Health care continues to change at a dynamic pace with the pandemic exacerbating longtime industry issues surrounding access to equitable care and staffing.

Cauble also announced that strategic initiatives tied to the new Pillars are underway and they will be engaging with Sky Lakes team members to participate in the upcoming long-range strategic planning process.

The new Pillars are an optimistic outlook on Cauble’s first year as president and chief executive officer at Sky Lakes Medical Center.

Earlier this year, the Klamath Falls City Council took a hit with the loss of two of its five councilors: Todd Andres and Matt Dodson.

Although elections were held earlier this month to fill the two vacant seats, there is a chance only one will be filled come this January. On Nov. 8, residents of Klamath Falls took to the polls during the general election. Although the official vote count will not be canvased until Dec. 5, the councilor-elects — both of whom, so far, have the majority of votes — are likely to be Kelsey Mueller-Wendt for Ward 5, and local attorney Stephen Hedlund for Ward 3.

Hedlund will likely win the popular vote to serve on council but his term might be very brief. On Sept. 20, Gov. Kate Brown announced an open judiciary position with the Klamath County Circuit Court following the retirement of Judge Dan Bunch at the end of the year.

A list of the potential candidates for the position on the Oregon State Bar website lists Hedlund as an applicant.In addition to Hedlund, another elected official is also listed among the applicants: Councilor Mika Blain. Elected in 2020, Blain has served two of the four years of her term on City Council.With only four names on the list of possible candidates, the likelihood that one of the councilors will be unable to serve are high.

According to Section 32 of the Klamath Falls City Charter (“FILLING OF VACANCIES”), “vacant elective offices in the City shall be filled by appointment.”

The Klamath County Clerk’s Office recently announced it is searching for residents interested in joining the county’s Border Relocation Committee.

The committee is the result of initiative petition K-20-5 which was filed with the Klamath County Clerk on May 27, 2020.

According to the Notice of Receipt of Ballot Title documentation with the county, the initiative asked whether a board should be “created to study state border relocation benefits for Klamath County citizens?”

The petition led to the creation of Measure 18-121, Border Relocation Board, which was passed by Klamath County voters May 17 with 79.31 percent of the vote. Measure 18-121 is part of the larger Greater Idaho project. 

This Saturday, December 3rd, an Ugly Sweater 5k Run will take place, put on by Friends of the Children – Klamath Basin.

The Run will start and end at the Fairfield Inn, utilizing parts of Spring, Oak, and South Broad Streets, Klamath Avenue, Commercial and Elm Streets. In addition, a separate children’s scavenger hunt will be conducted in collaboration with local downtown businesses.

The event will take place from 7:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Please use caution when driving in the affected areas. For more information, contact Anne Keyser at (541) 273-2022 or Johanna Scholer at (541) 892-6561.

Forecasters are calling for cold and windy days for the Pacific Northwest, which means you should update your household outage kit.  

Pacific Power’s meteorology team is forecasting periods of wind, rain and snow from late tonight through Thursday.

Gusty winds may lead to a few power outages for coastal areas, the Willamette Valley, Pendleton and Walla Walla Wednesday morning. Elsewhere, heavy snow could cause power outages in portions of far southern Oregon and northern California on Thursday, including in and near Klamath Falls and Mount Shasta City. Another round of cold, unsettled weather is expected to arrive late in the week.

To ensure that you are prepared for outages, we ask that every home maintain an Emergency Outage Kit that includes the following:
 

  • Flashlight
  • Battery-operated radio and clock
  • Extra batteries
  • Non-perishable foods 
  • Manual can opener
  • Bottled water
  • Blankets

Get the new COVID-19 booster at the Bonanza Branch Library, Thursday, December 8th from 1pm to 5pm, at 31703 Hwy 70.

Protect yourself against the latest COVID-19 variants and prepare for flu season at free vaccine clinics at the Bonanza Branch Library!

The Oregon Health Authority will be administering vaccines on Thursday, December 8th from 1 pm to 5 pm at the Bonanza library, 31703 Hwy 70, against both this year’s seasonal flu and the latest variants of COVID-19, while supplies last.

They will also be distributing free food boxes with a variety of pantry staples to anyone who stops by, whether they stay to get a vaccine or not. (Also while supplies last.)

Some important facts to know:

  • You don’t need to present any medical insurance to receive a vaccine, and it’s totally free.
  • It is both safe and recommended to get your COVID-19 booster and the annual flu shot together, but it’s not required.
  • The new bivalent vaccines for the latest COVID-19 variants will be available for people (Ages 12 and up for Pfizer, ages 18 and up for Moderna) who have already received at least two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines (or the one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine), and it’s been at least 2 months since the last time you’ve gotten a vaccine, including any additional boosters.
  • If your family isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19 yet, folks ages 12 and up can get started on the original COVID vaccine series, but you won’t be able to get the bivalent booster at the same time.

For more information, contact the Bonanza library at 541-545-6944. For more about the Oregon Health Authority and other health initiatives, head to www.oregon.gov/oha.

Christmas tree permits for the Bureau of Land Management Klamath Falls Field Office, can be purchased online starting now.

Permits cost $5 per tree with a limit of two trees per household. Go to forestproducts.blm.gov, select Oregon and “Klamath Falls Field Office” from the drop-down menu, and follow the prompts. A permit, stipulations and a map will be emailed to you following purchase.

Though some restrictions may apply, Christmas tree cutting is permitted on most BLM-administered lands within the Klamath Falls Field Office. Maps of cutting areas are available with permits.

Before you head out to find your perfect tree, review the details below to have the best experience.

• You must have a valid permit to cut and/or remove trees from BLM-managed public lands. Check with your local BLM field office as cutting areas, guidelines and restrictions vary. Tag prices and restrictions are different for trees cut on U.S. Forest Service land.

• No topping of trees.

• Cut below lowest live limb — Leave stumps no higher than six inches.

• Avoid damage to other trees.

• Drive only on existing roads. Don’t block traffic when you park. Comply with road closures.

• Do not trespass on or through private land.

• Stay on designated roads and respect private land. Some tree cutting areas may be inaccessible after a snowfall — early-season cutting is advisable.

• Be safe and prepared. Check road and weather conditions before heading out. Ensure you have everything you need for an outdoor venture, including warm clothes, food, water, and safety equipment. Let someone know where you’ll be going and when you plan to return. If you get stranded, call for help, and stay with your group and vehicle until help arrives.

The fences that went up more than two years ago around an empty plot on the corner of Homedale Road and South Sixth Street had the town of Klamath Falls all abuzz with rumors of a potential new restaurant in the community.

Co-owner and connoisseur of all things Sonic, Stacy Parrott, has confirmed that the once-vacant lot is the future home of his latest Sonic-Drive-In restaurant. The new addition will be Parrott’s ninth and final branch.

Following a fire which consumed one of his branches in Bend in 2019, Klamath Falls became Parrott’s first choice for a new location. Parrot said the town is located centrally amongst all of his other branches throughout the West and has the added benefit of beautiful scenery.

The timing wasn’t right, however, as the onset of COVID-19 brought the project to an abrupt halt.

Though the project was delayed for more than two years, the contracted construction company, Modoc Contracting, confirmed that its crew had “broken ground” earlier in October.

With day-to-day life slowly returning to normal, Parrott said the restaurant should be ready for business before the end of March 2023.

Parrott’s history with Sonic dates back 46 years when he first started working at a Sonic in Euless, Texas.

Nowadays, Sonic stores are estimated to pay between $13 and $15 an hour for restaurant staff in Oregon and upward of $22 an hour down in California, according to Parrott.

Though the pay rate is above average, Parrott said these days it can be difficult to build and retain a full staff.

Although times are tough, Parrott noted that it doesn’t always take a college degree to make a sustainable living.

Around the state of Oregon

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect through 10:00 a.m. Thursday (today) for much of Southern Oregon.

An Urgent Winter Weather Message from the National Weather Service said snow showers are expected above 1,500 feet. Total accumulations will vary between a trace and 2 inches, with up to 4 inches possible above 2,500 feet.

Snowy roads in Klamath Falls with closed schools today and is it trecherous travel over Highway 140 to the Rogue Valley.

The Advisory area includes Klamath County, Jackson County, Douglas County, the south-central Oregon coast and the Curry County coast. Forecasters said travel could be difficult. Hazardous conditions could impact the Thursday morning commute.

For current travel conditions, go to www.tripcheck.com

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Icy slick freeways and roads call for safe driving today throughout Oregon.

Portland Woman Sentenced to Federal Prison for Stealing Covid Relief Funds While on Supervised Release

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Portland woman was sentenced to federal prison today for violating the terms of her post-prison supervised release by submitting two fraudulent applications for loans intended to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tiairre Travonne Chaney, 35, was sentenced to six months in federal prison followed by a 24-month term of supervised release.

According to court documents, in September 2015, Chaney was charged by criminal information with one count of wire fraud after she submitted 35 fraudulent income tax returns and caused the IRS to pay her more than $155,000 in unwarranted tax refunds. One month later, Chaney pleaded guilty to the single charge and, in February 2016, was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison followed by a three-year term of supervised release. Chaney was released from prison in November 2016.

By June 2018, Chaney was found to have violated her supervised release conditions by failing to pay restitution, failing to file true and correct taxes, and failing to report to her probation officer. As a result, she was placed on GPS monitoring for 30 days. In December 2019, Chaney violated her supervision terms a second time by again failing to report to her probation officer and pay restitution and also failing to obtain lawful employment. She was sentenced to three months in prison and her 33-month term of supervised release was reimposed.

In January and May 2021, Chaney violated her supervised release a third time by submitting to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) two fraudulent applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs)for Tncw Baked Goods, LLC, a straw entity she formed after the onset of the pandemic. In her applications, Chaney falsely denied being on supervised release and denied her felony conviction. In the second application, she falsely claimed Tncw Baked Goods, LLC, realized gross revenues of $45,663 in 2020 when in fact it had done no business whatsoever. 

This case was investigated by the SBA Office of Inspector General and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). It was prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Justice Department’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

OSP is seeking the public’s assistance with a death investigation in Douglas County

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The Oregon State Police is asking for #publicassistance with a death investigation that occurred on November 30, 2021.  OSP is hoping with the 1st anniversary of this incident that someone will come forward with new information.

On November 30, 2021, at approximately 1:00 P.M., Larry Mell was traveling westbound in his red 2003 Dodge Ram truck on Hwy 38 near Putnam Valley Rd, just west of Drain, Oregon, when he was shot.  Mr. Mell later died as a result of his injuries.  The Oregon State Police’s preliminary investigation suggests this incident appears to be accidental. 

Mr. Mell was 72 at the time of his death.  He had 8 children, several grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. Mr. Mell’s family described him as a Navy veteran who served in the Vietnam War. Mr. Mell loved fishing and crabbing and is greatly missed. Mr. Mell’s family said he was a strong survivor who had overcome heart surgery, a brain injury, and cancer. 

The Oregon State Police along with Mr. Mell’s family is requesting if anyone was shooting or who knows of someone who was shooting in the area of Hwy 38 and Putnam Valley Rd on November 30, 2021, call us.   

Help provide some closure to this family who is desperately seeking answers to what happened.  If you think you might have some information on this incident, we urge you to call the Oregon State Police at 800-442-2068 or OSP from your mobile phone. Reference case # SP21-335049.

Oregon State Parks offers $5 off annual parking permit purchases in December 

SALEM, Oregon— Give the gift of the outdoors and save this season with the Oregon State Parks 12-month parking permit sale through December.

The permit hangtag once again features whimsical designs from Portland artist El Tran. Holiday shoppers can buy the annual parking permits for only $25, which is a $5 savings starting Dec. 1 and running through Dec. 31. The pass is good for 12 months starting in the month of purchase.

Purchasing passes is easy. Buy them online at the Oregon State Parks store. Parking permits are also sold at some state park friends’ group stores and select local businesses throughout the state. For a complete list of vendors, visit stateparks.oregon.gov.

Parking costs $5 a day at 25 Oregon state parks unless you have a 12- or 24-month parking permit or a same-day camping receipt. The 24-month pass is $50 and is also available at store.oregonstateparks.org. The permits are transferable from vehicle to vehicle.

Although marijuana is legalized in several dozen states and easily obtainable even in areas where it’s illegal, scientists have faced big bureaucratic barriers to conduct research on the drug.

A new, bipartisan bill just passed by Congress aims to snip away some of that red tape.

The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act does not change the federal classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance, which means the Drug Enforcement Administration considers it addictive and without medical value. But the act will reduce some of the hurdles researchers have faced in their research.

It will streamline the application process researchers go through to obtain marijuana for study and will allow them to research a much wider variety of cannabis, said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon and the chief sponsor of the act in the U.S. House.

Blumenauer would like scientists to develop a more sensitive detection test for employment that shows whether someone is inebriated. The test employers use now only detects whether someone has consumed marijuana within weeks or months.

Marijuana is legalized for medical use in 37 states and for recreational use in 21. Both uses are legal in Oregon.

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