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 and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insurance, your local health and Medicare agents.
Tuesday, January 10, 2023
Klamath Basin Weather
This Afternoon Rain likely before 5pm, then rain and snow likely. Snow level 4600 feet. Cloudy, with a high near 41. South southeast wind around 17 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Little or no snow accumulation expected. Overnight, rain mixed with snow, snow level at 4700 feet, low temp of 37 degrees. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Thursday A 30% chance of rain, mainly before 10am. Snow level 6800 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. South southeast wind around 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Overnight, a 20% chance of rain, heavy winds to 25 mph, low around 37.
Friday A 40% chance of rain, mainly after 10am. Snow level 5900 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 47. Overnight rain, then snow likely, possibly mixed with rain. Snow level 5200 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 35. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Saturday Rain and snow likely, becoming all rain after 7am. Snow level 5200 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Sunday Snow likely, mainly after 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 42.
See Road Camera Views:
Lake of the Woods
Hiway 97 at Chemult
Hiway 140 at Bly
Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr.
Hiway 97 at LaPine
Oregon Tech’s Dr. Riley Richards Awarded Rising Faculty Scholar Award from Oregon Tech Foundation
An Assistant Professor in the Oregon Tech Communication department, Riley Richards, Ph.D., has been at the university for just two years but has made a significant impact during that time. His work supporting students and colleagues has earned Richards a positive reputation, and he was recently awarded the 2022 Rising Faculty Scholar award from the Oregon Tech Foundation.
Originally from Greenville, Mich., Richards came to Oregon Tech with what he refers to as “formal teaching methods,” including lecturing and keeping concepts theoretical.
“To say that this teaching style didn’t go over well with students during my first few weeks would be an understatement,” said Richards. Oregon Tech prides itself on hands-on, project-based learning, and Richards has now successfully transitioned to this style in his Communication Studies courses. “I have changed to an activity, instructor- and student-led discussion-based style. Essentially, an application and modified flipped classroom.”
In addition to teaching, Richards focuses on his research interests and supporting colleagues. “As I say to my research methods students, ‘Riley is my name, and research is my game,’” said Richards. “In the future, I plan to expand professionally within my research agenda and support other faculty who wish to grow as researchers.”
Richards recently co-facilitated a university research roundtable where colleagues were encouraged to generate interdisciplinary ideas.
“I look forward to seeing the results of these new projects and collaborations,” he said. “I’m proposing a faculty research writing group and seminars on tips and tricks for conducting research at teaching-focused institutions through the University Research Committee. In the past, working with colleagues in this different capacity of helping them advance their research has challenged me intellectually in a new and rewarding way.”
Richards studies interpersonal communication in romantic and/or sexual relationships. “My next major research undertaking will be on financial communication between couples. With the national student loan crisis, I will be researching financial literacy communication before taking it into the context of romantic relationships.”
Richards’ work was recently recognized with a Rising Faculty Scholar award at Oregon Tech’s 2022 Convocation. This award recognizes significant achievements in scholarship and creative works. Such achievements include scholarly publications, grant-funded research, and creative and artistic works that enhance the reputation of Oregon Tech and its faculty. Richards said winning the award is one of his favorite memories at Oregon Tech.
“Last year, I was in my office working on my research projects every weekend, holidays, and summer break. It’s nice to have all that work pay off in terms of publications and grants, but also recognition from Oregon Tech.”
Richards is a tenure-track faculty member working on what he calls the “tenure-track hustle.”
Here at trial in Klamath Falls last week on Jan. 5th, Jason Alexander Gaskill (52 years old) pled guilty to unlawful delivery of methamphetamine and felon in possession of a firearm. Gaskill was sentenced to state prison for 66 months.
The Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) initially arrested Jason Gaskill in 2021 where over 500 grams of methamphetamine were seized along with a loaded handgun and a large amount of US Currency.
On December 14, 2022, Kenneth Wayne Haddock (53 years old) pled guilty to multiple counts of felon in possession of a firearm and delivery of methamphetamine. Kenneth Haddock was sentenced to 60 months in state prison.
BINET originally served a search warrant on Kenneth Haddock in Klamath Falls in 2020 where approximately a pound of methamphetamine was seized along with multiple firearms. BINET again served a search warrant on Bly Mountain in October 2022 where dealer amounts of methamphetamine and multiple firearms were seized. Kenneth Haddock was arrested again and lodged in the Klamath County Jail. The Oregon State Police Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT) served both the warrants on Haddock and Gaskill. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) assisted with the investigations.
BINET continues to work with numerous agencies and other drug enforcement teams to focus investigations on these high-level drug traffickers operating in the Klamath Falls area.
Anyone with information regarding the distribution of dangerous drugs within Klamath County is encouraged to call the Klamath Falls Police Department Anonymous Tip Line at (541) 883-5334 or the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at (541) 850-5380.
A bill inviting Idaho to begin talks with Oregon on the potential to relocate the state line they share was read on the floor of the Oregon Senate yesterday. Oregon state senator Dennis Linthicum of Klamath Falls is the lead sponsor, and the initial cosponsors are Senator Brian Boquist and Rep. Werner Reschke.
Freshman Representative Emily McIntire, sworn in yesterday, has indicated to leaders of the Greater Idaho movement that she will sign on as a cosponsor when House rules allow.
The bill, SJM 2, became public yesterday along with other pre-session filed bills. It states “we, the members of the 82nd Legislative Assembly stand ready to begin discussions regarding the potential to relocate the Oregon/Idaho border, and invite the Idaho Legislature, the Governor of Idaho, the Governor of Oregon to begin talks on this topic with this Legislative Assembly.”
The bill notes that, of the 15 rural, conservative counties of eastern Oregon that are proposed to become parts of Idaho, eleven have already approved ballot measures indicating voter support. It notes that Oregon slightly relocated its border with Washington in 1958.
The bill lists several reasons that the Democrat majority of the Oregon Legislature should want to relocate the boundary: support for the self-determination of the people of eastern Oregon, financial benefits of offloading eastern Oregon, and concern about the interference of (conservative) eastern Oregon into the (progressive) politics of western Oregon. The bill states that eastern Oregon is an economic drain on Oregon’s state budget because of the high income taxes paid by the Portland area. The bill also references a poll that found that only 3% of the voters of northwestern Oregon are willing to pay what it costs to have rural regions of Oregon included in the Oregon state budget. The movement estimates the cost is over $500 per northwestern Oregonian wage earner annually.
Along with all other bills filed prior to the beginning of the legislative session, the bill now lies on the desk of the new President of the Senate, Rob Wagner. According to rules approved yesterday, any progress on a Senate bill requires his approval. The Greater Idaho movement’s website greateridaho.org calls on him to allow their bill to get a hearing. Spokesman for the Greater Idaho movement, Matt McCaw pointed to the same January 2022 SurveyUSA poll that showed that 68% of northwestern Oregon voters thought that the Oregon Legislature should hold hearings on the idea, and only 20% opposed.
Discuss the fight against the Bootleg Fire with Bill Ganong
Wednesday, January 18th 2PM, Bill Ganong Zoom Regarding the Bootleg Fire and Recovery Efforts
A year ago, the Friends of the Klamath County Library heard from Bill Ganong, who was dealing with the effects of the devastating Bootleg Fire on his family’s ranch. The Friends are checking in with Ganong to see how recovery efforts are going in a presentation on Wednesday, January 18th at 2 pm at the downtown Klamath County Library.
The Bootleg Fire – which torched more than 400,000 acres before being fully contained in August 2021 – was the second-largest wildfire in the United States that year and the third-largest in Oregon since 1900.
Bill Ganong will discuss how his family’s holistic, sustainable approach to forest management ended up reducing the damage that the property suffered in the Bootleg Fire, and how the land as recovered since then. The Ganongs apply principles set forth by the American Tree Farm System, a network of family forest owners who aim to balance the economic needs of the wood and paper industry with stewardship of the water, wildlife and soil quality on their properties.
The presentation will be followed by a brief business meeting of the Friends.
The presentation is free to the public, presented both in-person at the downtown library and streamed online via Zoom. If you’d like to watch the presentation from your computer, email the Friends at email@example.com for the link to the stream.
For more about how you can become a Friend of the Klamath County Library, visit klamathlibrary.org/friends.
Four massive dams on the Klamath River in northern California and Oregon will start coming down this July.
Beginning this summer the Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa, Shasta and Klamath tribes living along this river since time immemorial, will celebrate the fight for salmon fish that attorneys for them have long fought for, saying the dams harm the lives of the fish and the tribe’s right to fish for them. The dams will begin being removed in July of 2023.
Even PacifiCorp, which marketed the electricity of the four hydroelectric-producing dams, will also have something to cheer about. PacifiCorp, which is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett, won’t have pricey fish ladders to install and its share of the cost of dam removal has been passed to ratepayers in both states.
Environmentalists are also hailing this latest victory for river-renewal, based on the Electric Consumers Protection Act of 1986. The law ordered operators of most federal dams to provide passages for fish so they could swim upstream to spawn.
For California and Oregon officials, along with farmers and others who had reached an agreement as far back in 2008, the dam removals signal that this long and emotional fight is finally over. And why has there been a settlement after all this time? A short answer is the growing reality of the West’s increasing aridity.
In 2001, yet another dry year in the upper Klamath, farmers woke up to find their headgates for irrigation water locked. It was done to preserve flows for endangered salmon, but for outraged farmers it meant their crops were ruined and they lost anywhere from $27 million to $47 million. Death threats followed, along with shootings and even a farmers’ cavalry charge.
At the time, the newly elected Bush administration reacted by making sure the farmers got their water, though this triggered one of the largest salmon die-offs in history. The Klamath Tribes were infuriated.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission started tackling the issue in 2007 by ordering PacifiCorp to install fish ladders on its four, fish-killing dams. After electric rates soared 1,000%, that left everybody mad and set the stage for a deal.
In a turnaround for the Bush administration, a pact was almost reached in 2008, when Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, who had stubbornly opposed breaching dams, persuaded Oregon Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to reach an agreement.
The deal had something for everyone: The Klamath Tribes, with senior water rights, subordinated those rights for a large grant to purchase land. The federal government paid half the cost of removing the dams, and the state of California paid the other half.
Then a stumbling block intruded: Powerful Republicans opposed dam removal and the legislation that would have put the agreement into effect.
But negotiations continued, this time without the federal government picking up any of the costs. As 2022 ended, California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, PacifiCorp, the Tribes and others to celebrate the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of the dams coming down.
Three wildlife conservation groups are adding $10,000 to a reward for certain information about an Oregon wolf killed illegally last fall in Klamath County.
The Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands today announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction for the illegal killing of a collared male grey wolf in Klamath County.
On October 6, 2022, a male grey wolf known as OR103 was found dead near Upper Klamath Lake.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) already was offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) related to the death of the federally protected grey wolf in southwest Oregon. Killing a federally protected grey wolf is a violation of the Endangered Species Act; the grey wolf is an endangered species in the western two-thirds of Oregon. OR103’s death is being investigated by USFWS and Oregon State Police. They invite people with information about this case to call USFWS at (503) 682-6131, or Oregon State Police Tip Line at (800) 452-7888. Callers may remain anonymous.
The illegal killing of wolf OR103 was reported publicly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service December 15. The Oregon Wildlife Coalition and conservation partners have a standing reward offer to assist in prosecutions of illegal wolf killings. This $10,000 is in addition to a $5,000 reward offered by USFWS, for a combined reward offer of $15,000.
From Oregon Tech Sports Dept…
For the second time during the 2022-23 season, Oregon Tech’s Olivia Sprague was named Rize Laboratory-Cascade Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, announced by the league office.
The sophomore, from Clatskanie, was instrumental in a pair of weekend home wins, extending the Lady Owls win streak to 6-in-a-row.
Watch Olivia Sprague in action here! https://youtu.be/mUFJ26tUVBw
Sprague had 18 points, along with four rebounds and five assists in Friday’s 66-53 win over Corban, following it up with 20 points, four rebounds and four steals in a key 71-64 victory over Bushnell. It was the sixth time this season, Sprague has recorded 4-or-more steals, the seventh game with 20-or-more points and the eighth game with 5-or-more assists. She has recorded 16-straight games with 10-or-more points, becoming just the second OIT player to achieve the feat.
The Lady Owls hit the road this weekend for games Friday at Lewis-Clark State and Saturday at Walla Walla.
Ross Ragland Theater is partnering with Retro Room Records to bring three of Jim and Hurricane’s Funniest Friends to the January Ragland Comedy Night.
Starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6, this show meant for ages 18 and older, will offer up laugh-out-loud comedy with Jim Turner and Hurricane Andrew of Retro Room Records emceeing and with special guest performances by Anthony K, Key Lewis and Sam Bam.
This is the first show at the Ross Ragland Theater for 2023, and guests are in for a night of laughs at a reduced ticket price. General Admission is now only $20, and Vegas Box seats—which include drink vouchers and a meet and greet with the comedians—are now only $40.
These uprising Californian comedians have performed openers for well-known acts including Kevin Hart, Katt Williams and Gabriel Iglesias. Featured on Comedy Central and in stand-up competitions throughout the state of California, this show is guaranteed laughter brought to you from some of the funniest people on the west coast, according to a press release.
This show is sponsored by The Running Y Resort and presented by Retro Room Records.
Vegas Box Seats include a Meet and Greet with the Comedians in the Cultural Center from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. as well as two drink tickets per seat. Special lanyards and drink tickets can be picked up at the Meet and Greet event.
Go to the theater’s website at www.ragland.org to purchase tickets to the show. The box office is open from noon to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays or two hours before show time the day of any show at 218 N. 7th St.
The Klamath Art Gallery will be showing art pieces that are small in size made by gallery members for the new show “It’s The Little Things.”
This show begins with a free opening reception from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8.
Local artists, craftsmen, weavers, photographers and jewelry designers will show their one-of-a-kind products at the Klamath Art Gallery.
“It’s The Little Things” is scheduled to remove up for viewing through Thursday, Jan. 29.
The Klamath Art Gallery is located at 120 Riverside Drive.
For additional information, call 541-883-1833, go to klamathartassociation.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week Basin Transit Service (BTS) showcased how it enhances the livability of our community beyond rendering commute options to the people we serve.
Connor Carson is a Klamath Union High School Senior who completed a portion of his Senior Project at BTS. Brenden Westfall, BTS’s Lead Mechanic and Klamath Union graduate, served as his mentor and shared best practices related to preventive maintenance of different public transportation vehicles.
BTS is excited to be a part of Connor’s milestones that he is planning to reach including membership in the Oregon Air National Guard and attending Oregon Institute of Technology with the goal of becoming an Electrician or an Electric Engineer.
In Klamath County, the Klamath Basin Audubon Society is once again offering grants of up to $400 to elementary teachers in the Basin to assist in science, environmental education and outdoor education activities.
The deadline for submission is Jan. 31. Questions should be addressed to Jim Rooks, grant coordinator, at email@example.com. A full description of the grant program and application can be found at www.klamathaudubon.org/grants.
Completed applications should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or, if absolutely necessary, mailed to KBAS, P.O. Box 354, Klamath Falls, OR 97601.
Effective February 1, 2023, the Klamath County Board of Commissioner’s meeting schedule has adjusted times and days. Meetings will be changed to the following:
- Business Meeting: Tuesdays at 1:00 PM
- Administrative Meeting: Tuesdays at 3:00 PM
- Executive Session/County Counsel Meeting: Wednesdays at 1:00 PM
- Work Session: Wednesdays at 3:00 PM
- Finance Meeting: the last Tuesday of the month in place of Executive Session/County Counsel.
For meeting schedules and agendas, go to www.klamathcounty.org
Around the state of Oregon
February is the last month Oregonians will receive increased emergency food benefits
(Salem) – Since April 2020, most people in Oregon who receive food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have also received extra emergency food benefits each month on their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. These emergency food benefits were provided to help people who receive SNAP get enough healthy food for themselves and their families during the COVID-19 emergency.
February will be the final month that the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) is allowed to provide these emergency food benefits.
March 2023 will be the first month since April 2020 that most people on SNAP in Oregon will only receive their regular SNAP food benefits.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic we have had the opportunity to provide these emergency food benefits to most SNAP households in Oregon,” said ODHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht. “We know that many rely on these additional emergency food benefits to get enough healthy food for themselves and their families. As Oregon continues to be impacted by COVID-19, we know that without these emergency food benefits some in Oregon may experience hardship and hunger. We encourage them to contact our partners at 211, Oregon Food Bank and their local Community Action Agency for support during this difficult time.”
Oregonians who receive SNAP are encouraged to prepare for this change in the food benefits they receive.
Find out what your regular SNAP benefit amount is. Knowing your regular SNAP benefit can help you budget. You can check how much your regular benefits are by accessing your EBT account online at www.ebtEDGE.com or by logging into your ONE account at Benefits.oregon.gov.
More information about emergency allotments is available at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/About-SNAP.aspx.
Resources to help meet basic needs
- Find food resources in your community: needfood.oregon.gov
- Find a food pantry: foodfinder.oregonfoodbank.org
- Learn about government programs and community resources for older adults and people with disabilities: Aging and Disability Resource Connection of Oregon at 1-855-673-2372 or www.adrcoforegon.org.
- Dial 2-1-1, or text your zip code to 898-211, www.211info.org
- Find local resources and support by contacting your local Community Action Agency: www.caporegon.org/find-services/
- Oregon Department of Human Services COVID-19 help center
Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, families and individuals with low incomes in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities.
** UPDATED ** Major Crash Rogue River Hwy at Florence Lane – Road Closure
UPDATE Rogue River Hwy Re-Opened to Traffic
The Grants Pass Police Department has completed its crash investigation, and the roadway has been opened to through traffic. Investigators appreciate the public’s patience while the investigation was conducted.
Grants Pass, Ore. – At 5:26 PM Grants Pass Police and Grants Pass Fire and Rescue responded to the intersection of Rogue River Highway and Florence Lane regarding a major vehicle collision.
Responding units are still on the scene for the investigation, and citizens are asked to avoid the area. Further information will be released at a future time.
Today is #WearBlueDay and we are wearing blue to bring awareness to #HumanTrafficking.
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is recognized each year on January 11th. In recognition of this important day, and throughout the month of January, Blue Campaign hosts several special events and educational activities.
Blue Campaign’s largest initiative is #WearBlueDay on January 11th. To raise awareness of human trafficking, we invite the public to take photos of themselves, friends, family, and colleagues wearing blue clothing and share them on social media – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – along with our #WearBlueDay hashtag. Anyone can participate, all you need is a piece of blue clothing!
Follow @DHSBlueCampaign on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information about #WearBlueDay and Campaign efforts throughout the year. Learn more from @DHSBlueCampaign: dhs.gov/blue-campaign/wearblueday
Governor Kotek Signs Three Executive Orders To Address Housing And Homelessness In Oregon
Already at work prior to her first official day as Oregon’s chief executive, Governor Tina Kotek held a press conference on Tuesday during which she signed three executive orders to address the state’s housing and homelessness crises.
The first executive order establishes a statewide goal of building 36,000 housing units per year and creates the Housing Production Advisory Council. Kotek said the council will be tasked with creating a budget and policy recommendations to reach that goal.
The governor added that the 36,000-unit goal will be an 80% increase over recent construction trends. She said meeting this goal will require collaboration between local, state, and federal partners. “The housing construction goal is ambitious because Oregonians are demanding bold solutions to address this crisis. I set this target to reflect the level of need that exists, knowing that we will not get there overnight or even in one year,” Kotek said.
Kotek said this order will take the framework of an “emergency management structure” similar to when there is a natural disaster.
“We all have to work together in a new framework if we’re going to make progress,” Kotek said. “There are good things happening on the ground today and we need more solutions, we need more urgency.”
The second executive order declares a state of emergency due to homelessness in “regions of the state that have experienced an increase in unsheltered homelessness of 50% or more from 2017 to 2022,” Kotek said, adding, “unfortunately, that includes most of the state.”
The third executive order, Kotek said, will work in tandem with the others to direct state agencies to prioritize reducing unsheltered and sheltered homelessness in the state, not only in areas under the state of emergency.
During the press conference, Kotek said in the week after the election, she met with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson to discuss how the leaders can work together.
“We need to make sure that every dollar, every resource is actually showing progress,” Kotek said.
While addressing housing and homelessness, Kotek said a key part of tackling the issue includes behavioral health — saying it will be a top priority in her budget which will be released in February.
“We have to make sure that when people are ready for services, can we connect them to services? Is the workforce there to serve them?” Kotek said — adding she’s “excited” for the new leadership at the Oregon Health Authority.
“We are going to put as much urgency into that side of the challenge as well as the housing and shelter side,” Kotek stated.
Kotek, took the oath for a 4-year term on Monday. In her inaugural address at the state Capitol in Salem, Kotek also proposed a $130 million emergency investment to help unsheltered people move off the streets.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Kotek said “we have to bring urgency to this. It’s not enough to sign executive orders. So, with that $130 million investment, I will be encouraging our legislative leaders to work with me to move those resources as soon as possible to prevent more people from becoming unhoused, to help create more transitional shelters and to provide more services to those folks who are living on the streets.”
The governor also pledged to unite Oregonians after a bitterly fought gubernatorial race — the tightest in a decade — in which Republicans sought to break the Democrats’ dominance of the state. She said she plans to visit every county in Oregon during her first year in office.
Kotek was a state representative from 2006 until 2022, when she resigned to run for governor. During her time in the Legislature, she became the longest-serving speaker in Oregon history after nine years in the role and cemented her status as a key player in state politics, earning a reputation for cutting deals and muscling bills through the state House.
Lawmakers also were sworn in on Monday. Democrats still control both chambers of the Legislature, but they lost their three-fifths supermajority in November’s election.
Hwy 101 South of Port Orford Still Closed Due to a Landslide
According to the Curry County Emergency Management team, all lanes of U.S. Highway 101 are closed about 12 miles south of Port Orford.
At milepost 312 a landslide beneath the highway look out a portion of the road. The Oregon Department of Transportation expects this will be a long closure. We will continue to update you as we learn more about this situation. Travel along and to the coast will certainly be affected — Check http://tripcheck.com
Oregon Shakespeare Festival Announces Layoffs, Furloughs, And Departure Of Executive Director Due To Financial Troubles
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has started the new year by announcing a shift in management, a dozen layoffs, seven employee furloughs, and halting or delay of filling 18 open positions.
As part of a restructuring strategy aimed at “aligning its business model with its vision and realities of the post-pandemic market,” OSF announced changes Tuesday in leadership, staff, and programs.
David Schmitz announced his decision to step down as executive director, effective immediately, as part of OSF’s restructuring to ensure that the artistic and business sides of the organization can be brought into further alignment with OSF’s mission.
Amanda Brandes will step down as director of development in mid-February, OSF said. During this transition, Artistic Director Nataki Garrett will step into a dual role as interim executive artistic director, overseeing development and marketing in addition to artistic direction. Anyania Muse, currently managing director of IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) will step in as interim chief operating officer, taking on finance, audience experiences and education. She will report to Garrett.
Schmitz, who came to OSF after 15 years at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, oversaw all administrative functions, including development, marketing, facilities and operations, according to an OSF announcement of his hiring in May 2020. He started that fall, succeeding interim executive director Paul Christy, who served in 2019 and 2020, and Cynthia Rider, who was executive director from 2013 through 2018.
“We are grateful for David’s contributions to OSF and his leadership under very challenging times at OSF,” says Diane Yu, OSF board chair, in Tuesday’s news release. “We have experienced Nataki’s leadership through crisis many times before, but most notably during the pandemic when she took on the responsibilities across the organization to help OSF survive. I have no doubt that she, along with other members of the leadership team, will lead this organization through this transition period and into a place of stability and success.”
“These past two and a half years have been among the most challenging times in OSF’s history — from COVID, to the Almeda Fire, to the ongoing racism and threats to members of our community, to inflationary challenges, to rebuilding the company coming into 2022,” Schmitz said in a statement. “These years have also been rewarding because of the opportunity I had to get to know and witness the incredibly talented people who dedicate their lives to this company. It has been my great privilege to work alongside Nataki and with such an exceptionally talented and dedicated staff and Board. I also treasured the opportunity to get to know and work with members of OSF’s incredible donor base as well as Ashland’s business community.”
Garrett expressed admiration for Schmitz and his contributions to the organization.
“I am very grateful to David for all the work he’s done,” said Garrett. “I will be forever thankful that David was fearlessly optimistic from his very first day working to bring OSF forward to vitality while celebrating its glorious past. I was privileged to witness David’s expert work in advocating for federal funding, while stewarding numerous connections and relationships within Ashland and working to ensure that OSF remained a collaborative and supportive partner in this interdependent community. We have been lucky to have him here for a time and I look forward to witnessing all of the ways he will impact the theater field.”
These decisions come after OSF took several bold actions throughout the 2022 season and in advance of the 2023 season to offset inherited structural deficits and the pandemic’s impact on operational costs, investments, ticket sales, and donations, according to the announcement, including reducing the number of shows per season, decreasing the number of weeks it offers performances, and diversifying its offerings. While these efforts provided short-term solutions, OSF said it realizes it must invest in a strategy that will impact the long-term success of the organization.
In November, OSF secured a $10 million multi-year gift from The Hitz Foundation, at $2 million per year for five years. In addition, OSF has received $1.5 million in pledges. In December, the OSF Board made the decision to release $4.25 million from its endowment to help support operating expenses. These pledges of support set up the next step in OSF’s Restructure, Reframe, Revitalize (3Rs) Strategy, which will focus the next 12-24 months on shifting and modernizing administrative systems that have existed since the inception of the OSF’s charter that are no longer serving the organization, OSF announced.
The goal, OSF said, is to recommit to centering artists and their work so that they can continue to deliver the best theater in the nation, and to continue investing in Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) as OSF has for 87 years.
Regarding the revitalization strategy, Garrett acknowledges that OSF has launched similar strategies in the past and emphasizes the difference and unique urgency in this case.
“This idea of revitalization is not new to OSF, but the extended pandemic recovery is forcing us to look at it in a different way,” she says. “We spent part of the pandemic focused on restructuring artistic and production practices. We now have an opportunity to turn our eye to parts of our organization that support our artistic efforts and invest in systems that will uplift our Finance, Information Technology, Human Resources, Marketing and Development departments. We must shift our business model in a way that works successfully in this post-pandemic paradigm.”
OSF leadership worked with its Board of Directors on the creation of a strategic plan, which is part of its efforts to implement systemic change. That plan includes several pillars and a restating of OSF’s vision, values and purpose to be in alignment with its IDEA-centered approach to theater and its systems.
Through its strategy, OSF seeks to thoughtfully diversify its artistic offerings, manage resources to offset pandemic losses, generate new resource opportunities both in earned and contributed revenue, and shift its operations to be in fiscal alignment.
Included in this strategy will be the launch of an $80 million campaign during the first quarter of 2023 to build capacity and help fund operations at OSF.
“We are revitalizing our business model so we can provide a strong foundation that supports our purpose,” says Muse. “And that purpose is clear: To expand access to the transformational power of art and performance.”
Jacksonville Inn Closes Down Dining Services
The famous Jacksonville Inn is no longer offering its dining services after decades of serving quality food to the Rogue Valley and the unique experience of dining there.
The historic brown bricked building was built back in the Jacksonville community more than 100 years ago. For years the hotel offered a wide variety of high-quality food to its diners, but as of January 7, 2023 officials say the inn is no longer offering those dining services.
The owners of the business put out a statement stating: “As owners, we have made the difficult decision to close this portion of our business management while beginning to search for a tenant that complements this exceptional restaurant space.”
Emma Root, the store owner of Willow Creek right across the street from the Jacksonville Inn, said she had no idea the business was ending it dining services.
“I think there will be a lot of people disappointed to see it go,” says Root. “You know, cause there are a lot of regulars. I even hear about people who come here every summer or you now, every holiday to go there. So I think it will impact local people and also people who travel here.”
The hotel is still offering its wine bar and room services.
Oregon Workforce Declining As Population Ages
Finding work isn’t as hard as was in the past in Oregon, yet finding workers has proven to be more challenging for employers.
The combination of an aging population and the younger adult demographics being reticent to join the workforce has created a declining labor force participation rate, especially in rural areas.
We learn from an Oregon Live article written by Mike Rogoway on Jan. 8, 2023, called “Workforce participation remains depressed, especially in rural Oregon,” that 19 percent of Oregon is over the age of 65 and the workforce participation rate is 62 percent, down from its peak of 70 percent in the 1990s.
Labor force participation rates have been declining across the country since around 2009 and Oregon has been slightly below this average, dropping around 4 percent during the 2011-2012 time frame.
The article explains the rural areas of Coos, Curry and Lincoln counties have the lowest labor force participation rates at under 50 percent and more than a quarter of the residents in those counties are older than 65.
Labor force participation is highest in Multnomah, Washington and Hood River counties at around 70 percent and these urban counties have a younger demographic.
State economists have explained the declining workforce participation will only continue in the future as the Baby Boomer generation ages and moves into retirement. This is especially going to affect rural counties where the demographics are older.
Finding future population growth by attracting workers from outside of the state and retaining workers through any future recessions are key solutions to combat the trend, as the article explains.
Wildlife Safari In Winston Oregon Welcomes New Cheetah Cubs
Wildlife Safari in Winston welcomed some new furry faces last Monday with the birth of new cheetah cubs.
Starting at 4 a.m., the first cub was born with several more coming shortly after. Their mother, Paca, has had two previous litters.
According to the Wildlife Safari website , their cheetah facility is the number-two breeding facility in the world, and number one outside of Africa. The new cubs are the first cheetahs to be born in the U.S. in 2023.
Oregon’s commercial Dungeness crab fishery season opens from Cape Falcon to Cape Arago on Jan. 15 after having passed all tests for the crab being ready to harvest.
The season opens Feb. 1 from Cape Falcon north to Washington State in accordance with the Tri-State Protocol. Meat fill now meets or exceeds criteria in all areas of Oregon, and biotoxins are below alert levels in all crab tested from Cape Arago north. Domoic acid testing of crab will continue from Cape Arago south to the California border as test results today showed elevated levels of the biotoxin in that area.
ODFW works closely with the crab fishing industry, the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture on testing and season openings. ODFW also coordinates with California and Washington to help create an orderly start to the season within the Tri-State region.
Tim Novotny with the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission stressed the importance of being able to deliver a level of certainty in the product to the marketplace to start the fishery, both for industry and consumers to have confidence in the product. That comes through rigorous preseason testing and only opening regions where crab are ready for consumption.
Six rocky areas on the Oregon Coast are being considered for conservation.
The sites have been through a multi-year process, including engagement with nearby communities. The Marine Affairs Coordinator said one proposed site is at Cape Foulweather, south of Depoe Bay, where stewardship activities would help maintain key habitats, “Specifically submerged aquatic vegetation, the marine kelps, which are very important.” He explained, “They are a nursery ground for many of our much longer-lived fish species, they provide habitat in the marine environment for many different organisms.”
He also said a proposal at Cape Lookout, near Tillamook, would focus on restoring a kelp bed that suffered a recent die-off. Because coastal communities recognize its importance, fishing regulations would not be affected by the new designations. The process is expected to take many months to coordinate and complete.
The six rocky areas proposed for marine conservation are Cape Foulweather, south of Depoe Bay, Cape Lookout, south of Tillamook, Chapman Point, north of Cannon Beach, Ecola Point, north of Cannon Beach, Fogarty Creek, near Depoe Bay and Blacklock Point, north of Port Orford.
OSU Archaeologists Uncover Oldest Known Projectile Points
Oregon State University archaeologists have uncovered some tools that add to a new understanding of the timeline of human life in the Americas — projectile points.
The projectile points, or spear tips; razor sharp and ranging from half an inch to two inches long, that are so telling about the people who came here to hunt, to fish and to gather. They are about 3000 years older than what had been found before.
“This record is notable because now we realize it extends back to 16,000 years ago or probably a little earlier,” said OSU Anthropology Professor Loren Davis who has led expeditions of students to Cooper’s Ferry for the duration of the project.
In 2019 they found bones and other items that gave them evidence of human life arriving here roughly 3000 years sooner than was previously believed.
Now carbon dating of these sharp hunting tools confirms it — and shows how advanced those native peoples were early on.
“Something in your hand that’s that old, and to think about somebody actually took a block of rock through a series of steps, turned it into a spear point that I have in my hand is really pretty amazing,” said Davis.
In collaboration with the Nez Perce Tribe and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Davis and more than 200 students have spent thousands of hours carefully clearing the dirt, discovering signs of the first human life in the Americas, right here in the Pacific Northwest.
“Looking back, we didn’t realize exactly how old this was going to be, but I hope students or ex-students now are looking back and thinking they’re part of something pretty magical and rather special.”
Davis has been studying the Cooper’s Ferry site since the 1990’s when he was an archaeologist with BLM. Now he brings OSU graduate and undergraduate students to the site to work during the summer.
The team also works closely with the Nez Perce Tribe to provide field opportunities for tribal youth and to communicate findings.
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