Klamath Basin News, Friday, 12/16 – Klamath Remains Cold, Oregon Unemployment Rate At 4.4%; Santa Comes to Klamath Co. Library; Ella Redkey Pool Nears Fundraising Goal; New Electronic Message Signs Oregon Keep Travelers Informed

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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.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

This Afternoon Sunny, with a high near 30. Calm wind. Tonight, widespread dense freezing fog after 10pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 8. Calm wind.

Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 31. Calm wind. Saturday Night, patchy freezing fog after 10pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 8. Calm wind.
Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near 33. Light south wind. Sunday Night, partly cloudy, with a low around 10.
Monday Mostly cloudy, with a high near 34. Monday Night, mostly cloudy, with a low around 19.
Tuesday A chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 39. Tuesday Night, a slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 25.
Wednesday A slight chance of snow. Snow level rising to 5600 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 42.

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

Santa Claus is coming to the downtown Klamath County Library. Stop by between 10 a.m. and noon Saturday, Dec. 17 for some quality time with Jolly Old Saint Nick.

Enjoy a cookie, get a photo with Santa (don’t forget to tell him your wish list) and stick around for fun holiday crafts. Stay after for a free all-ages concert by local Celtic folk band Lads of Leisure, starting at 1 p.m.

This event is open to Santa fans of all ages, but children younger than 10 should come with a parent or guardian.

For more information, call 541-882-8894 or visit the Youth Services desk.

This weekend at the Ross Ragland Theater

Saturday night, December 17 at 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm Divas 3 Christmas

Divas 3 Christmas… A celebration of the biggest hits by the greatest divas in music history! Three female singers with powerhouse voices sing the biggest hits of the greatest divas in music history. This vibrant show spans four decades of hit music.The Ross Ragland 218 N 7th Street, Klamath Falls, OR

And at the Ragland on WednesdayCelebrate the end of the year at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21 at the Ross Ragland Theater with world renowned jazz musician Gunhild Carling.

Carling is a Swedish jazz star. She plays multiple instruments, sings and tap dances. She performs all over the world and has more than 50 million views in YouTube, Facebook and other platforms. Carling plays several instruments such as trombone, trumpet, recorder, bagpipe, harmonica, drums and piano. Additionally, she juggles and dances tap, and has toured around Europe since a very early age together with her family.

To Carling, jazz performance isn’t just the music she plays, it’s her lifestyle. Carling has traveled all over the world and has performed and led several of her own bands.

Join the Ross Ragland Theater as Carling serenades us into the new year. Carling’s sublime showmanship shines in a show you don’t want to miss.

This show is sponsored by the Running Y Resort and Discover Klamath.

Tickets are $29 for adults, $26 for seniors and military, $19 for students, $10 for youths 12 and younger and $35 for Vegas Box Seats.  Go to the theater’s website at www.ragland.org to purchase tickets or learn more.

Chiloquin’s Emma Friedman last month earned the title as the champion of the United States Hunter Jumper Association’s Quiz Challenge Nationals.

The title for Friedman, 15, the daughter of Jacky and Ned Friedman, came a year after she placed second overall. The University of Findlay’s James L. Child, Jr. English Equestrian Center in Findlay, Ohio, hosted the competition.

Friedman said she felt the pressure to improve and bring her best effort forward this year after last year’s second-place finish. According to an interview with USHJA, because she knew where she needed to improve, Friedman said she took extra time to make flashcards, listen to podcasts and watch YouTube videos on areas that needed improving to prepare for Nationals. Her extra study efforts paid off, as she received the highest practicum score of 99.5 out of 100.

As the winner of HQC Nationals, Friedman received a Charles Owen helmet, a SmartPak gift card, an internship with Spy Coast Farm in Lexington, Ky., and a $2,000 training and education grant from the USHJA Foundation.

Staff at the Ella Redkey Pool here in Klamath Falls say they are very excited and with good reason: The fundraising efforts for a pool upgrade are just $4,000 away from the goal of $150,000.

The Ella Redkey pool is going to get its first upgrade in more than two decades. Not since 1999 when the water slide was put in has the local pool staff planned a remodel this massive.

Funded completely by grants and private donations, Ella Redkey’s Capital Campaign began in October 2021. The fundraiser was launched to help finance improvements to the pool area such as a much-needed ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) walkway to allow greater access for all patrons to the pool and bathhouse.

The remodel plan includes enlarging the current plaza and creating a walkway from the new pavilion to the pool deck. Improvements to the locker rooms also are part of the plan as is a replacement of the existing water slide.

So far, $95,000 has been raised through grants and $51,000 has come from donations by individuals and local businesses. The Klamath Falls City Council has committed to match the Capital Campaign’s goal of $150,000.

Donations can be made directly to the Capital Campaign at the Ella Redkey by cash, check or credit/debit card. 

If the holiday season has sparked your inner Santa Claus, and you’re itching to give back to those in need, then pack up your sack of gifts to drop off at our very own local North Pole: the Toys for Tots Foundation.

Applications for the program closed Friday, Dec. 9, with roughly 1,500 families signed up to receive donated toys in Klamath County.

According to former Director JoAnn Moorer-Roberts, those 1,500 families equate to an estimated 4,500 children, depending on the number of kids in each home.

At this time, Toys for Tots is asking the community for donations appropriate for teenagers, including items such as board games and outdoor activities.

The Klamath program hopes to give each child at least two gifts this year. With the deadline approaching quickly — this Friday, Dec. 16 — Moorer-Roberts and other program volunteers are concerned they might not make the cut. Toys for Tots has received 6,000 toys in total, just over half of its overall goal of 10,000.

City of Klamath Falls Streets Division thanks our citizens for your patience and extreme caution when driving in winter weather. 

For Snow Plan and Snow Plow priorities, visit the City’s website at:  WINTER WEATHER INFORMATION

The Klamath Falls Lions club will be selling See’s Candy for the Christmas Holidays as a fundraiser for its sight and hearing projects.

See’s candy will be available at Turn Thom, Point S Tires next to Bi-Mart from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

According to a press release, the Klamath County Lions clubs conducted vision screening for more than 4,000 students in Klamath County this past fall.

Lions also provide glasses for students and others in need, the press release states.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon’s unemployment rate rose to 4.4% in November, up from 4.1% in October 2022.

The unemployment rate increased 0.9 percentage points over the past four months from its recent low of 3.5% in May, June, and July.

The last time Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.4% or more was in October 2021.

In contrast, the U.S. national unemployment rate has remained below 4%, as it was 3.7% in both October and November of 2022.

The job gains in November were largest in government (+2,900 jobs); health care and social assistance (+1,400); wholesale trade (+1,100); and leisure and hospitality (+1,000). None of the major industries cut a substantial number of jobs in November.

All major sectors of government grew. Federal government added 900 jobs in November. State government added 300 jobs, continuing its slow growth. Local government added 1,700 jobs, but still remained far below pre-pandemic numbers.

Police in Central Oregon are asking for help with a missing person case that’s tied to Southern Oregon.

On December 12, 34-year-old Nadeya Vergara Aguilar left her home in Bend to walk to a nearby convenience store. She reportedly left her children with a family member, saying she’d be back soon. However, Vergara Aguilar didn’t return.

On the evening of December 14, Vergara Aguilar was found alive and safe in the Shady Cove area. She reportedly received medical attention while police investigated the reason for her disappearance and whether any crime occurred.

Bend police are now asking for the Medford-area community’s help with the case.

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Six new electronic message signs on northbound Interstate 5 will help keep travelers informed on changing conditions and help regulate speeds on the highest summit on the Interstate 5 corridor.

The signs are located between the Oregon-California border and Ashland, and will be live by January 1, 2023.

Three of the six new signs can show drivers a legally-enforceable lower speed limit. Computers will automatically adjust speed limits displayed on the electronic, black-on-white speed signs based on weather and pavement conditions on the summit. The computers gather information from sensors that can measure factors like road surface traction, humidity, air temperature and visibility. 

When conditions improve, speed limits will be automatically raised again.

The variable speed limit signs are regulatory, meaning Oregon State Police can ticket drivers for going over the displayed speed limit. The new electronic signs will replace the existing static speed limit signs, to avoid confusion.

In addition to the three variable speed signs, there are two dynamic “curve warning” signs. They show drivers their speed as they approach two sharp curves near the Mt Ashland exit and a railroad trestle. The electronic curve warming signs are similar to ones on I-5 at the Myrtle Creek curves.

The sixth new sign, a variable electronic message sign at the summit, will be used to update drivers on conditions or hazards ahead. They’ll also help inform ODOT staff and emergency responders about such incidents.

Travelers can also use tripcheck.com for the latest road conditions.

Oregon Attorney General Announces Nearly $700-Million Monsanto Settlement For PCB Contamination

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (AG) announced today the Monsanto Company will pay Oregon a $698-million lump sum for polychlorinated biphenyls contamination (PCBs).  She says the historic $698-million dollar settlement involves polluting Oregon with PCBs for more than 90 years.

The AG Office says Monsanto was the only manufacturer, seller, and distributor of PCBs which are toxic compounds formerly used in coolants, electrical equipment such as fluorescent lighting fixtures, and other devices, as well as hydraulic oils, paint, caulking and copier paper.

Rosenblum said the Monsanto case was the kind of lawsuit Oregon’s AG office should make to protect Oregonians.  She noted that one of the AG staff even came out of retirement to help handle the matter with the AG’s office.

“This is a huge win for our state,” said Rosenblum, adding, “PCBs are still present throughout Oregon — especially in our landfills and riverbeds — and they are exceedingly difficult to remove, because they ‘bioaccumulate’ in fish and wildlife. Cleaning up our state from this horrific environmental degradation will be as costly and time-consuming as it sounds, but this settlement means we now will have resources to help tackle this problem.”

Monsanto is owned by Bayer AG, a massive German pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, which paid more than $60-billion for Monsanto in 2018.  Creve Coeur (St. Louis), Missouri-based Monsanto’s best known product is Roundup, and its herbicide work is the source of other lawsuits.

Today’s settlement stems from a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Rosenblum against Monsanto in 2018 alleging Monsanto was aware as early as 1937 of the highly toxic nature of PCBs and, “Even with that knowledge, Oregon asserted, Monsanto continued to produce and promote the compounds for decades — until they were finally banned in 1977.”  Oregon’s lawsuit asked for damages for harm to Oregon from PCB contamination as well as clean-up costs.

The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ), which AG Rosenblum leads, will work with the Legislature, the Governor and state agencies to put the funds to use for statewide remediation and clean-up.

Oregon Coast To Hold ‘Whale Watch Week’ In Person Again For The First Time Since 2019

Oregon State Parks will host Whale Watch Week in person along the Oregon Coast Dec. 28 – Jan. 1. — Previous Whale Watching events were canceled during the pandemic since 2019.

Every year thousands of Gray whales migrate south through Oregon’s waters at the end of December, and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) invites visitors to the coast to see their journey.

Trained volunteers will be stationed at most of the 17 sites to help visitors spot whales, share information and answer questions from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. The sites are some of the best places to watch for whales on the Oregon Coast.

“We really enjoy getting folks out to the coast for Whale Watch Week,” OPRD Park Ranger Peter McBride said. “It’s something that Oregon State Parks has been doing for more than 40 years now, and we’re really glad to be able to bring it back in person,” he said.

A map of volunteer-staffed sites is available online on the official event webpage: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=thingstodo.dsp_whaleWatching

An estimated 19,000 Gray whales are expected to swim past Oregon’s shores over the next several weeks as part of their annual migration south to the warm calving lagoons near Baja, Mexico. The end of December is the peak time for their migration; roughly 30 whales pass by per hour.

The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Visitors to the center can enjoy interactive whale exhibits and take in the panoramic ocean views. Binoculars are provided. Rangers from Oregon State Parks will also be on hand to answer questions about the whales.

All Whale Watch Week visitors are encouraged to dress for the weather, to bring binoculars and to follow beach safety guidelines such as remaining out of fenced areas, knowing the tide schedule and keeping an eye on the surf at all times. Go to https://visittheoregoncoast.com/beach-safety/ for a list of safety tips.

For more information about coast parks and campgrounds, visit http://oregonstateparks.org

AAA Holiday Travel Forecast: Expect Busy Roads and Crowded Airports

AAA projects 112.7 million Americans (33.8% of the population) will travel for the Christmas and New Year holidays. This is up 3.3% from 2021 and closing in on pre-pandemic numbers.

About 1.6 million Oregonians will pack their sleighs for a holiday trip. 2022 is expected to be the third-busiest year for holiday travel since AAA began tracking in 2000, only trailing 2019 and 2018.

While about 90% of travelers will drive to their holiday destinations, air travel is seeing a jump this year, up 14% compared to 2021. The holiday travel period is defined as Friday, December. 23 through Monday, January 2.

“With Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays, many are taking long weekends to celebrate the holidays. And with hybrid work schedules, we’re seeing more flexibility with the days people are traveling because they can work remotely at their destinations,” says Doreen Loofburrow, senior vice president of travel for AAA Oregon/Idaho.

“Despite roller-coaster gas prices and a bumpy year for flights, people are ready to wrap up the year with a holiday trip. This will be one of the busiest times for holiday travel in the last two decades. Travelers should expect busy roads and crowded airports this holiday season,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.

Peak traffic expected Dec. 23, 27, 28 and Jan. 2 — Travelers can expect the busiest roads on Dec. 23, 27 and 28 and on Jan. 2. Delays will be the longest in the afternoons and evenings, especially in urban areas, as travelers mix with commuters. Some metro areas across the U.S. could see more than double the delays versus typical drive times, and larger urban areas could experience three times the normal delays.

“Knowing the busiest drive times can help you avoid the stress of being stuck in stop-and-go traffic,” says Dodds.

Just over one in four Oregonians eligible for a dose of the relatively new COVID-19 vaccine booster have opted to get the jab, state data released Wednesday show.

That amounts to about 764,000 people out of the more than 2.9 million who already got a full course of vaccines at least two months ago. Health officials have touted the booster dose, designed to build immunity against the omicron subvariants that have dominated for about a year, as a key measure to ease the pressure on the health care system this fall and winter as multiple respiratory viruses hit the population.

Demand for the booster, first available in September, peaked in mid-October at more than 11,000 shots a day on average. While uptick remains relatively high, with about 4,100 new doses administered per day — compared to about 360 first vaccine doses administered per day — demand for shots has apparently slowed down to the point that the state last week shut down an online resource for people trying to find where to get one.

Since at least February of last year, a state-run website helped Oregonians track down pharmacies and other locations that administered COVID-19 tests and vaccines. The Oregon Health Authority shut the site down Dec. 9, citing the wide availability of vaccines, the pandemic’s “less-urgent phase,” the fact that federal and local health officials provide similar resources, a reduction in federal funds and a dramatic drop in demand for the site.

Oregon State Fire Marshal Opens New Grant Funds To Help Communities Better Prepare For Wildfire

The Oregon State Fire Marshal has opened the application period for a new $18 million grant fund geared toward helping communities be better prepared for wildfire.

The Community Wildfire Risk Reduction Grant is a competitive opportunity open to local governments, special districts, structural fire service agencies, and non-governmental organizations that can use the funds to support individual community members. Those eligible can apply for funding for wildfire risk reduction projects, equipment, and staff to support local efforts.

The funds will enable local organizations to create and/or support existing programs that reduce wildfire risk. These projects may include yard debris recycling days, curbside chipping programs, community education, equipment purchases, Firewise community support, and staffing to support local efforts.

“This grant fund is a major step forward in giving communities the tools they need to be better adapted to living with wildfire,” Oregon State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple said. “These funds will empower communities to create solutions that work best for them. They also embody the essence of our mission of protecting people, property, and communities from wildfire.”

The OSFM will host two virtual educational webinars for those interested in learning more about the grant. Links to attend can be found on the OSFM’s website.

Oregon’s 2022 General Election Results Officially Certified Now

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan certified the 2022 General Election yesterday. Official election results are available at the Oregon Secretary of State’s website.

Fagan says, “Since the 2020 election, proponents of the Big Lie — the false belief that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump — have eroded public trust, increased violence and threats of violence related to election administration and put core American values of democratic self-governance at risk of erosion. In the face of these challenges, the 2022 midterm election went off without any major issues.”

Fagan says Oregon’s November 2022 election was smooth and secure, a testament to the resiliency of Oregon’s vote-by-mail system and the importance of democracy to Oregonians.

The Oregon Elections Division’s official statistics for the November election show preliminary voter turnout at 61.5% of registered voters, placing Oregon as the top state in the country, tied with Maine, for voter turnout according the U.S. Elections Project.

In the run-up to the November Election, Secretary Fagan visited all 36 county elections offices to hear from county clerks and staff about the challenges they face and the status of vote by mail in each county.  She says, “In every corner of Oregon, the state of our vote-by-mail system is strong.  I want to thank the elections workers around Oregon whose integrity and hard work makes our democracy work.”

Mt. Ashland Ski Area Is Officially Open

Mt. Ashland Ski Area is finally open for the season of snowboarding and skiing after experiencing a slight weather delay. And they’ve added a new attraction for people who want to learn how to ski or snowboard.

The new addition is called the magic carpet and can be located at the learning center. The brand-new magic carpet is used to teach people how to ski and snowboard. The learning center is open every day the resort is open.

There are also new rentals and exciting new things at the mountain. Mt. Ashland hopes you’ll come enjoy the snow soon!

Recreational Ocean and Bay Crabbing Reopens From Cape Blanco to California Border

The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has reopened all recreational crabbing from Cape Blanco to the California border.

A release said two consecutive tests show domoic acid levels are under the closure threshold.

However, all recreational crabbing from Cap Blanco to eight miles north of Winchester Bay remains closed with elevated domoic acid levels.

ODFW said recreational bay clam and mussel harvesting also remain open along the entire Oregon coast. Razor clamming is still closed coastwide.

ODA tests for shellfish toxins twice per month, as tides and weather permit. Reopening an area closed for biotoxins requires two consecutive tests with results below the closure limit.

The release said it is recommended that recreational crab harvesters always eviscerate crab before cooking. This includes removing and discarding the viscera, internal organs and gills.

For more information, call ODA’s shellfish biotoxin safety hotline at 800-448-2474. Contact ODFW for recreational license requirements, permits, rules and limits: https://www.dfw.state.or.us/

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