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May 30, 2023

Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 12/27 – High Winds Continue Through Tonight; Over 70,000 Without Power in Oregon

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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.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

High Wind Warning through Southern Oregon until 7PM, Tuesday, December 27th

Today Rain before 1pm, then rain, possibly mixed with snow. Snow level 4700 feet. High near 44. Windy, with a west southwest wind 25 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.Tonight, snow likely, mainly before 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 27. West southwest wind around 14 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

Wednesday Some rain mixed with a slight chance of snow at times through the evening. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 38. Overnight, good chance snow, mainly after 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 27. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.
Thursday One to three inches of snow possible before 1pm, then rain and snow. High near 39. Southwest winds with gusts as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible. Overnight mostly rain showers with the snow level at 4400 feet. Low around 32. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Little or no snow accumulation expected overnight.
Friday Rain. Snow level 5400 feet. High near 41. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible. Overnight rain, with a low around 30.
Saturday Rain and snow likely, becoming all rain after 1pm. Snow level 4500 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 40. Overnight, rain and snow between 7pm and 10pm, then a slight chance of snow after 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 23.
Sunday, New Year’s Day Mostly sunny, with a high near 38.

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

An Oregon judge will decide by Jan. 3, 2023, whether to keep in place or lift his order blocking part of a new, voter-approved gun safety measure requiring a completed criminal background check before a gun can be sold or transferred.

During a hearing Friday, Dec. 23, an Oregon special assistant attorney general, Harry B. Wilson, urged Harney County Judge Robert S. Raschio to allow the completed background check requirement to take effect, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Wilson argued it will save lives, is constitutional and wasn’t directly challenged by the plaintiffs.

Under federal law, firearms dealers can sell guns without a completed background check if the check takes longer than three business days. That’s how a man in a Charleston, South Carolina, bought his gun in 2015 and killed nine people at a church. The new measure in Oregon would end that practice.

Raschio this month paused all parts of the Oregon gun control measure. He issued a preliminary injunction against its restrictions on the sale, manufacture and use of large-capacity magazines and a temporary restraining order on the requirement that a permit be obtained to buy a gun.

The state has said it will be ready to support a permit program in March.

Northwest Farm Credit Services Klamath Falls branch employees and volunteers packed 200 boxes of non-perishable food items for elementary students in Klamath County last week as part of the branch’s 100% Committed project — just in time for the students’ holiday break.

The 100% Committed project is a Northwest FCS stewardship program that encourages staff to support and serve the local communities where they work and live with paid time off to volunteer and $400 per team member (employees and local advisors) to donate to the selected organization.

The food box project was started by the branch in 2016 to assist families in Klamath County facing food insecurity during the holiday season. The branch coordinated with schools in the Klamath County and Klamath Falls City school districts.

Donations were received from Whiskey Creek Timber Company, Pape Machinery, Basin Tire, Ed Staub and Sons, ZCS Engineering, Webb-Wilson Insurance, Winema Electric, Woodhouse Company, and Zachary and Alicia Stokes. Northwest Farm Credit donated $3,600 in 100% Committed funds, and employees also individually contributed to the project.

Potatoes and boxes were donated by Riverside Potato, Cal-Ore Produce and Circle C Marketing. The Klamath and Lake County Food Bank contributed vegetable oil and hand sanitizer for the boxes. Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center donated the use of its learning center for packing and storage, assisted with packing, and included educational materials about potatoes and how to prepare them. Volunteers from AmeriTitle and ZCS Engineering came to assist in packing the food boxes.

With the Klamath Basin remaining in “severe to extreme drought status” and dry weather is expected to continue for a fourth consecutive year, the federal water management agency proposed reducing flows by up to 40% until April 2023.

Water is released from Upper Klamath Lake past a series of dams on its way to the Pacific Ocean. At the same time, the Klamath River will soon be the site of the nation’s largest dam removal and river restoration project. One of its key pillars involves restoring habitat for endangered coho salmon.

News of proposed reductions to the river’s flow was met with frustration by members of the Yurok Tribe, who just hours earlier had been joined by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and the governors of Oregon and California at a celebration about the dam removal project. Reduced flows could further stress downriver coho and Chinook salmon populations.

The Bureau of Reclamation declined to comment for this story. The federal water manager is again in the impossible position of having to split an over-allocated water supply four ways. Water must be balanced between the needs of ESA-listed species both above and below the dams, for the basin’s agricultural community, and for the nation’s oldest National Wildlife Refuges created for waterfowl, which are an important stopover for birds on the Pacific Flyway.

Addressing a major need in the Klamath Basin, Klamath Community College will soon launch a new well drilling program that will provide training for licensure of well drillers and well construction workers.

Partnered closely with KCC’s welding program, students will acquire a welding and pipe welding certificate, and be instructed in well construction — including 90 hours of hands-on training for vertical and horizontal drilling.

The program will also include job site safety training, and preparation for testing on laws and codes to acquire well drillers licensure, and the American Welding Society’s pipe welding certification.

Need for licensed well drilling or well expansion on rural and agriculture properties remains a high-in-demand career path in Southern Oregon and beyond, particularly in times of sustained drought where some wells have gone dry or may require deepening. The KCC well drilling program will increase the availability of workers who are licensed and proficient in this important trade skill.

Earlier this month, Oregon’s Joint Legislative Emergency Board approved $975,000 in funding for KCC through the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) to invest in the well drilling program and a well drilling rig.

The program is scheduled to begin with winter term 2023 starting in January, with participating students recruited directly from the KCC Welding program. For more information, go to www.klamathcc.edu.

Klamath County libraries to close for New Year’s, Martin Luther King Jr. Day

All Klamath County libraries will be closed on Sunday, January 1st and Monday, January 2nd in observance of New Year’s Day, and on Monday, January 16th in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. No materials will be due on a date that the libraries are closed.

For more information, call us at 541-882-8894, or see our events calendar at klamathlibrary.org/library-events-calendar.

Around the state of Oregon

High winds along coast and inland increase outage risk over next 24 hours

Check your emergency outage kit, keep mobile devices charged, revisit family storm prep plans

A powerful Pacific storm is here, on the heels of a significant ice and wind event will increase the potential for widespread power outages from Crescent City, Calif. across much of Oregon during next 24 hours. It will be a wet and windy week as a series of low-pressure systems will bring stormy weather to the region.

“The winds that are headed our way have the potential to cause damage to trees already weakened by the previous storm,” said Allen Berreth, vice president, operations. “We are always prepared to respond with crews at the ready to repair damage as fast as possible and reduce the amount of time any customer is without service. We are staging personnel and equipment to respond to outages as they occur.”

Already over 70,000 people were without power in Oregon while over 30,000 were without power in California and over 10,000 in Washington, according to PowerOutage.US, as wind gusts topped 70-80 mph along the coastal headlands and mountain tops while Astoria, Oregon hit a gust of 69 mph.

Pacific Power’s meteorology team is closely monitoring forecasts and field personnel are prepping for wind-related impacts late this evening and into Tuesday. Forecasts call for potentially damaging winds hitting Crescent City and Yreka by 8 p.m. tonight. The storm will work its way north along the coast overnight with high winds likely in the Willamette Valley and the Portland area by Tuesday morning.

Forecasts indicate the fast-moving storm will exit the area by Tuesday evening.

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

If a power outage occurs, Pacific Power encourages customers to first check their fuses and circuit breakers. If the power failure is not caused inside the home or business, customers should report the outage to Pacific Power at 1-877-508-5088 or by texting OUT to 722797.

Get the App. The Pacific Power App for mobile devices can become invaluable during an outage. You can report and track an outage affecting you from your mobile device. The app is free and can be downloaded on the App Store or Google Play.

Pacific Power suggests these safety precautions once a storm has hit: 

  • Stay away from all downed power lines and utility lines. Even if the lines are not sparking, they could be energized and extremely dangerous. Call 911 immediately, then report it to Pacific Power at 1-877-508-5088. 
  • Extensive rain may cause flooding or landslides. Be especially careful of any standing water or even soggy ground. A live, downed wire may seem to be a safe distance away, but it is still extremely dangerous due to wet conditions.
  • Don’t drive over downed power lines. 

High Wind Watch Through Tuesday Evening

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Forecasters at the National Weather Service said south winds of 35 to 45 miles per hour with gusts up to 80 miles per hour are possible.

The Advisory area applies to the south central and southern Oregon Cascades and the Siskiyou Mountains. That includes Crater Lake and Mt. Ashland.

Forecasters said damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines. Power outages will be possible. Travel could be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.

Snow levels will lower around 7:00 a.m. Tuesday to where heavy, wet snow is falling at the rate of one inch per hour. That is very likely to cause white out conditions, which would severely restrict visibility. The combination of heavy snow and strong winds will also increase the chance for trees to fall.

Check back for updates on this situation. Dangerous driving conditions are possible. Fasten loose objects or shelter objects in a safe location prior to the onset of winds.

Oregon Among States Raising Their Minimum Wages In 2023

Amid inflation, and no changes on the federal level, multiple states will be raising their minimum wages in 2023.

The federal minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25 , a rate that hasn’t changed since 2009. As of fall 2022, 15 states have minimum wage rates that match the federal minimum wage, down from 16 last year .

In the new year, 27 states will see an increase in their minimum wage. Most will take effect on January 1, but others will have to wait until further into 2023.

California will have the highest minimum wage rate at $15.50, up from the $15 it set in 2022. Only Washington, D.C. has a higher minimum wage of $16.10. D.C.’s wage will rise again in July, 2023 in proportion to the increase in the Consumer Price Index, according to its Department of Employment Services .

Oregon and Nevada won’t see their minimum wages increase until July, 2023. Then, Oregon’s rate will rise from the current $13.50 to a yet-to-be-determined number based on the Consumer Price Index, a figure released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving Awareness Campaign

The weeks leading up to the holiday season are a busy period on America’s roads. To help keep drivers safe, our local law enforcement departments will work with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the national Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving drunk-driving-awareness campaign.

If you plan to go out and include alcohol in your celebration, make sure you refrain from driving. Review these facts and spread the word about the dangers of drunk driving.

  • During the 2016-2020 December months, more than 4,400 people were killed in drunk-driving-related crashes. 
  • Drunk male drivers were involved in fatal crashes at a much higher rate (660) in December 2020 compared to female drivers (191). 
  • Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers (with BACs at or above .08). In 2020, there were 11,654 people killed in drunk-driving crashes.
  • Although it’s illegal to drive when impaired by alcohol, in 2020 one person was killed every 45 minutes in a drunk-driving crash on our nation’s roads.
  • The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2020 was 3.1 times higher at night than during the day.

Plan for a Safe Celebration

Always remember to plan ahead when you will be celebrating with alcohol. If you plan to drink, make arrangements for a sober driver to take you home. Before you start celebrating this holiday season, look over these safety tips to keep you, your loved ones, and everyone else safe on the road. 

  • Plan ahead: If you wait until you’ve been drinking to make a smart decision, you might not. Before you have one drink, designate a sober driver who won’t be drinking.
  • If it’s your turn to be the designated driver, take your job seriously, and don’t drink. 
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, 911 immediately.
  • Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and let a sober driver get your friend home safely.

Free Ranger-Guided Hikes at 20 Oregon State Parks On New Year’s Day

Rangers will guide hikes at Oregon state parks on New Year’s Day to kick off 2023. Choose from 24 hikes in 21 parks across the state. All hikes will be guided by a park ranger or volunteer who will share stories about the park’s history, geology, wildlife, and plants. 

Known as “First Day Hikes,” the trips typically cover just a few miles and are considered family-friendly.

The tours are free and the $5 day-use parking fee is also being waived on New Year’s Day at every state park that normally requires a fee. A few of the guided hikes do require registration.

Rangers will cover park history, geology, wildlife and plants during the hikes at parks around the state from the high desert to the coast, according to a news release.

“A guided hike is great way to kick off 2023 in the outdoors and begin a new tradition or continue a longstanding family tradition,” said Lisa Sumption, director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. “As our centennial year comes to a close, we’re excited to begin the next 100 years of Oregon State Parks and continue to offer year-round recreation.”

The hikes begin at different times and locations. To get information on each of the different treks, including length, difficulty and whether you need to register, go to https://stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm?do=v.feature-article&articleId=263

“Remember to plan for winter weather, dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, bring water and carry binoculars for viewing wildlife,” the news release said.

Here’s a list of some of the planned hikes:

Southern Oregon

  • Collier Memorial State Park: 10 a.m., meet at the Logging Museum parking lot. Call the park office, 541-783-2471 X21 to register by Dec. 30. Leave a message that includes name, contact info and number of people attending.
  • TouVelle State Park: 1:30 p.m., meet at the day-use area by Area F at the far end of the park.
  • Valley of the Rogue State Park: 10 a.m., meet at the amphitheater fire pit in the program area.

Willamette Valley/West Cascades

Oregon Coast

Eastern/Central Oregon

Oregon’s Paid Family And Medical Leave Program Will Begin Collecting Money From Workers And Businesses Jan. 1st

Oregon’s paid family and medical leave program will begin collecting money from workers and businesses Jan. 1, 2023 and employees will be able to start applying for benefits Sept. 3, 2023.

The program will cover leave for the birth or adoption of a child, for serious illness or injury, for taking care of a seriously ill family member and for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or harassment, according to the state. Most workers will be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave annually through the program, although those who are pregnant, have given birth or have health issues related to childbirth, may be eligible for up to 14 weeks of paid leave, the state said.

Starting Jan. 1, workers will pay 0.6% of their gross wages every paycheck and big employers will contribute an additional 0.4% to fund the program. For the first eight months of 2023, the state will use that money to build up a fund that it will tap starting in September to pay benefits to workers.

Employers with fewer than 25 employees will not be required to pay into the program but they can choose to pay into it if they wish to access grants to cover costs such as overtime or a temporary replacement worker. Those small employers will still need to collect and remit contributions from employees even if they decline to pay into the program themselves.

Oregon is set to join 10 other states and Washington D.C. in offering some sort of paid leave program.

To ensure that employees and employers are informed about the program, The Oregonian/OregonLive recently compiled a list of reader questions and posed them to Paid Leave Oregon spokesperson Angela Yeager. Here are her responses:

Who will be covered by Oregon’s paid leave program? Will temporary and part-time employees be covered?

Yeager: “An employee who made at least $1,000 the year before applying for paid leave, and qualifies for benefits, may be eligible for the paid leave program. This includes temporary, part-time, and seasonal employees, as well as people who work for more than one employer.

“Individuals who are self-employed are not automatically covered, but can choose coverage. Federal government employees are not covered, and cannot choose coverage.”

What if a worker has mostly retired and is receiving a pension or Social Security but still works part-time?

Yeager: “If a worker is mostly retired, but works part-time and makes at least $1,000 per year, the worker is required to contribute to the program.”

Do employees get paid 100% of their salary when they’re on leave? Do all workers, regardless of income, get the same percentage of their salary covered?

Yeager: “The amount an employee gets paid while on leave will depend on how much the employee has earned. Lower-wage earners will receive 100% of their paycheck, while higher-wage earner will receive a portion. Please see the chart on the employee section of our website that shows the contribution and benefit payments for minimum-, median- and higher-wage earners.”

Do the 12 weeks of paid leave have to be used consecutively or can they be broken up?

Yeager: “Leave can be taken consecutively or intermittently, in days, for a qualifying condition. For example, someone who has ongoing chemotherapy treatments may need a few days per month for their treatments. Leave has to be taken for an entire workday though, not by hour or minute.”

A pregnant worker is going to give birth in April 2023, after the state has started to collect paid leave contributions from that worker but before the state will begin offering paid leave benefits, which will not be until September. Will it be possible for that worker to claim retroactive leave payments after September?

Yeager: “Employees can take paid leave for the first year of a child’s life. An employee who gave birth in April 2023 can’t take retroactive leave; however, beginning in September 2023 they could still apply to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave off work to bond with their child until April 2024.”

What if a worker’s employer already offers more than 12 weeks of parental leave? Would that employee and employer still have to pay into Oregon’s paid leave program?

Yeager: “An employer that already offers paid leave to their employees that is equal to or greater than the leave benefits of the paid leave program can apply for an equivalent plan. The equivalent plan must offer paid leave for at least 12 weeks of family, medical and safe leave (for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment or stalking). If the equivalent plan is approved by the Oregon Employment Department, the employer can choose to have the employee pay contributions or the employer can choose to pay the contributions on behalf of the employee.”

Do employees have any option to opt out of paying into the paid leave program?

Yeager: “There is no option to opt out. Paid leave supports employees during life’s most challenging moments, which are often unplanned. To ensure benefits are available when needed, employees – regardless of the size of their employer or hours worked – do not have the option to opt out of the program based on how it was written into statute.”

MORE INFO: https://paidleave.oregon.gov/Pages/default.aspx

Federal Study Confirms Oregon Spike In Homelessness

A recently released national report shows the number of people experiencing homelessness nationwide has remained relatively steady since 2016 despite the pandemic.

The report also shows what most Oregonians already know: The number of people sleeping on the streets in this state has spiked.

There were 582,462 people sleeping on the streets nationally during a single night in January this year, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — a 0.3% increase since 2020.

Point-in-time counts are meant to provide a snapshot of who is sleeping on the streets on any given night, and they are often considered an undercount.

In Oregon, according to federal data, there were 14,655 people, an increase of 22.5% since 2020.

Margaret Salazar, who recently ran the Oregon Housing and Community Services state agency and now works for the federal Housing and Urban Development office as a Northwest regional administrator, said the numbers are “heartbreaking.”

She said a new plan from the federal government should help Oregon combat the crisis unfolding on the streets.

“We’re very excited about it. It’s bold,” Salazar told OPB.

The plan sets the goal of reducing homelessness by 25% by 2025 and encourages states to use the federal plan as a strategic guide.

The plan includes ideas on how to boost affordable housing and emergency shelters, but the real focus will be trying to keep people on the verge of losing their home keep it. The federal government also plans to offer more support to state agencies through both technical assistance, using available data to gain a sense of the problem, and also by providing more human power — sending people who can reach out to the unhoused population and help connect them with resources.

There was one notable semi-brighter spot in the federal data: The report shows a decrease of about 18.9% or 248 unaccompanied homeless youth in Oregon. Kids experiencing homelessness, however, are often referred to as “invisible children” because many intentionally try to go unnoticed.

Oregon Gov.-elect Tina Kotek has promised to make addressing the homeless crisis a priority.

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