Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 1/19/22 – Employment Numbers Looking Good in Klamath County Say The Commissioners

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Thursday, January 18, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 36. North northwest wind around 6 mph. Overnight mostly clear, with a low around 10 degrees. Light winds to 5 mph.

Friday Sunny, with a high near 37. Calm wind. Cloudy overnight with a low of 15 degrees.
Saturday Areas of freezing fog before 10am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 42. Light and variable wind. Overnight, partly cloudy, with a low around 22.
Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near 42.
Monday Sunny, 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

“Employment in Klamath County has fully recovered,” declared Commissioner Derrick DeGroot this week.

During the Klamath County Board of County Commissioners weekly business meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17, DeGroot shared an email he’d received from the state economist, Josh Lehner, that stated Klamath County is outpacing other rural counties and is on par with smaller- and medium-sized metropolitan areas.

DeGroot went on to disclose that Klamath County still has a high level of poverty, but that the poverty level is also rapidly improving.

During public comments, the board heard from constituent Alan Headly who strongly advised against the county affiliating with the new political organization the Braver Angels.

Headly stated that he believes the Braver Angels leaders are socialists who are trying to infiltrate conservative areas to spread socialism. He submitted to the board a packet of emails he stated were from Braver Angels leadership which allegedly communicate these plans.

During the meeting, the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office requested approval to purchase a trace detection unit for the county jail in order to combat the growing amount of contraband being snuck in.

Sheriff Chris Kaber informed the board that inmates have gotten very creative in how contraband is brought inside the jail facility.

When local entrepreneur and innovator Brian Weissmeyer saw the old baseball field in Mills Addition, he saw not just a vacant lot, but an opportunity for housing.

Weissmeyer, owner and CEO of Vioweiss Co., envisions the unused three acres as the site of a new, middle-class housing development project.

During the pandemic, the mounting need for additional housing grew rapidly, leaving Oregon 111,000 units short, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting and numerous national reports.

On Thursday, Jan. 19, Weissmeyer will be presenting his proposal to the Klamath County Board of County Commissioners, hoping to convince the board to award Vioweiss a portion of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant funding made available for projects of this type.

The housing development start-up project would consist of four homes and a development center to house the 3D printers used in creating much of the necessary materials for constructing the units.

In total, the start-up would cost around $350,000, Weissmeyer said.

Earlier this year, Weissmeyer received a portion of the funds when the company was awarded funding by the Missing Middle Housing Fund (MMHF). MMHF Co-Founder and CEO Nathan Wildfire also will be involved in the presentation for the commissioners.

The space in Mills, however, would work for 70 Vioweiss homes. Constructed from used 20- and 40-foot-long shipping containers, the units are entirely off the grid, relying solely on solar energy.

PLAY Outdoors is once again offering a daylong event featuring information booths as well as activities all promoting the outdoors this weekend.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, PLAY Outdoors is set to take over the Klamath County Fairgrounds Event Center with interactive activity or informational booths.

PLAY Outdoors began in 2010 as a coalition of local groups in Klamath Falls all with interests in the outdoors.

According to a press release, the organizations’ purpose is to introduce youth to outdoor activities with an attempt to sway them from electronic devices and other unhealthy activities while promoting family-oriented activities. While each group has its own goals and objectives, PLAY Outdoors put them aside to focus on the youth.

PLAY Outdoors is regularly scheduled the third Saturday of January every year.

The first evet was held in January 2011 with more than 820 youth and 890 adults passing through the door to visit the 30-plus events. After a record-setting year in 2015, PLAY Outdoors saw 1,800 youth and adults each.

The past three years has brought 1,250 youth and 1,100 adult attendees. The numbers for the 2017 event scaled back to 1,405 youth and 1,398 adults.

Lake Of The Woods Tops Best U.S. Ice Fishing Locations List

Lake of the Woods isn’t just near the top of a pass in Oregon’s Cascade mountain range.  It’s also at the top of a list of the best ice fishing locations in the United States.

Online fishing enthusiast website fishingbooker.com lists Lake of the Woods at the top of “The 9 Best US Ice Fishing Destinations for 2023.”

Its recent article ranking Lake of Woods as #1 notes, “Fish don’t hibernate and neither should you.”  FishingBooker says it is the world’s largest platform for booking fishing trips, and when it compiled a list of the best ice fishing destinations in the nation for this year Lake of the Woods topped the list.

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lists ice fishing as a recreation option in its information about Lake of the Woods resort.

FishingBooker notes the Klamath County lake “spans 1000 acres” (officially listed as more than 1,100).  It wrote, “Crowned by towering forests, the lake is also blessed with a stunning view of the snow-capped Cascades. But besides the scenic setting, the lake is famous for its incredible fishing opportunities. Lake of the Woods is home to a variety of fish species, but Trout, Crappie, Perch, Salmon, and Bass are the main targets here. Yellow Perch, in particular, are eager to bite.”

In Oregon, fishing licenses are valid January 1 to December 31, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) licensing staff will answer questions at 503-947-6101.  While the State has various options for fishing licenses, its Annual Angling License costs state residents $44 and nonresidents $110.50, clarifying, “Resident is defined as a person who has resided in Oregon at least six months immediately prior to applying for a license, tag or permit.”

The USFS points out nearby Mt. McLoughlin standing almost 10,000 feet is another attraction for the resort located 40 minutes from Klamath Falls and 45 minutes from Medford, Oregon.  Lake of the Woods is listed at 4,949 feet elevation.

FishingBooker wrote that, “Besides fishing, the area boasts numerous resorts and events. Nature lovers can keep on admiring the wildlife by bird watching. Families can spend some quality time ice skating. Meanwhile, those keen on having a cup of hot beverage in a cozy armchair can check in at one of many superb accommodations.”

Its list of the 9 Best US Ice Fishing Destinations for 2023 include:

  1. Lake of the Woods, Oregon
  2. Bonaparte Lake, Washington
  3. Henry’s Lake, Idaho
  4. Sheridan Lake, South Dakota
  5. Lake of the Woods, Minnesota
  6. Boom Lake, Wisconsin
  7. Shores and Islands, Ohio
  8. Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
  9. Moosehead Lake, Maine

If you are an outdoor enthusiast looking for some adventure this summer, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) might have just what you are looking for.  The local BLM Klamath Falls Field Office is looking for volunteer campground hosts for the Gerber Recreation Area.

“This location is right by the water and is a great opportunity for an adventuresome person or couple with an RV,” said Assistant Field Manager Mike Limb. “We are looking for someone who would enjoy working with the public and maintaining the campground.”

The campground host makes visitor contacts and helps with minor maintenance such as painting, cleaning restrooms, cutting weeds and restocking permits and fee envelopes.

The BLM is seeking volunteers to live on-site from mid-May through mid-October. The BLM will provide the selected hosts an RV camping spot, propane and sewer. The camp host chosen also will receive a small stipend to help cover incidental expenses.

Gerber is set on a vast plateau in the high desert about one hour’s drive east of Klamath Falls. Mountain ridges and scattered Ponderosa Pine forests add variety and texture to the area. Gerber offers opportunities for camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking, along with access to 100,000 acres of backcountry suitable for exploring, hunting, wildlife viewing and scenic OHV driving. Developed campsites are available at Gerber North and South Campgrounds. The area also offers primitive campsites, a horse camp and a day-use area as well as two boat ramps

Integral Youth Services has launched two free afterschool clubs for youths in middle and high school.

The first pilot session is beginning to wrap up now, and session two will begin Wednesday, Jan. 25.

The IYS afterschool clubs run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays for seven weeks per session. Transportation and services are available for youth who need help getting to the club, and multiple club options are available:

• Culinary Club: The Culinary Club is designed to teach students the skills necessary to become a novice chef. Students will cook and bake meals for the youth housing programs, and learn their way around a kitchen. The Culinary Club meets downtown at 1011 Main St.

• Conservation Club: The Conservation Club gets students actively engaging with the IYS Work2Learn program during the school year. Youth will get to learn workforce etiquette that can be a lead into future jobs in conservation. In this program, students will get to explore the great outdoors, learn to use tools and build job skills not taught in a normal brick and mortar classroom. The Conservation Club meets at 601 E. Main St.

These clubs have no cost to join and participate. To get registered for a class, go to integralyouthservices.org or call 541-882-2053.

The United Way of the Klamath Basin will hold its 78th annual meeting of the board and its supporters at noon Tuesday, Jan. 24 with a luncheon at the Waffle Hut on Main Street.

Admission is $10 per person and reservations are required by contacting United Way at 541-882-5558 or stopping by the office at 136 N. Third St. The public is invited.

United Way Community Campaign chairperson Jenine Stuedli will give a progress report but not a final report as several companies and individuals have not yet provided their pledge amounts, according to a press release.

Officials announced that 76% of the $507,000 campaign has been pledged.

Among the meeting highlights are Juan Maldonado, general manager of Klamath Falls Toyota, will be introduced as the 2023 board president; Kristin Sayles will receive the United Way Award of Excellence for lifetime achievement; Jessica Chastain, manager of Klamath County’s IT Department, will receive the Campaign Volunteer of the Year award; Several Sprit Awards will be presented; and United Way Campaign Loaned Executives will also receive an award.

A special Community Pillars Legacy award will be presented to Washington Federal Bank for donating a major capital contribution.

The United Way of the Klamath Basin supports 16 vital local social service agencies.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon lawmakers in both the Democratic and Republican parties named housing, homelessness and mental health as top priorities Tuesday, Jan. 17 as they began the 2023 legislative session on a note of relative bipartisan good will.

Whether that lasts, or dissolves into acrimony, threats and walkouts as occurred in recent sessions, will be tested as the lawmakers grapple with more divisive issues, such as gun control, drugs and abortion rights.

Convening in person without COVID-19 restrictions for the first time since the pandemic, legislators reiterated calls to boost housing construction, protect renters from eviction, increase homeless shelter capacity and expand mental health and addiction services.

In a gesture of bipartisanship, Democratic and Republican leaders in the Oregon House held a joint news conference to highlight areas of common ground.

In the face of solid Democratic control of the Legislature, Republicans in recent years have relied on delay tactics, including walkouts, to stall legislation.

Frustrated by the walkouts, Oregon voters in November overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure aiming to limit them. Measure 113 added language to the Oregon Constitution establishing that state lawmakers will be disqualified from re-election if they are absent from 10 legislative floor sessions without permission or excuse.

Marijuana Search Warrant and Arrests in Grants Pass

On January 18, 2023, the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) executed a search warrant in the 5000 block of Tunnel Loop Road in Grants Pass, regarding an illegal indoor marijuana grow site.

During the execution of the warrant, more than 700 marijuana plants were seized and destroyed.  The property also had multiple electrical, water and solid waste code violations. These violations could result in the civil forfeiture of the property. 

Roy Kuang and Guo Xian Chen were taken into custody and lodged at the Josephine County Jail for Unlawful Manufacturing of Marijuana and Unlawful Appropriation of Water.

At the time of this press release the investigation is ongoing and no further details are being released.

Britt Festival Announces More Performers For 2023 Season

The Britt Festival is advancing its 2023 musical performances lineup.

Today the annual music festival announced that the Good Vibes Summer Tour 2023 with California reggae band Rebelution will perform on the Britt stage August 27.  The Britt Music & Arts Festival (Britt) says that show also includes Britt favorite, Iration, plus The Expendables, Passafire, and DJ Mackle.

Britt says the 2023 performance will be Rebelution’s eighth appearance at Britt.

Britt notes that since its founding in Isla Vista, CA, “Rebelution has followed their instincts since the release of their breakout 2007 debut, Courage To Grow. In 2009, the band topped the Billboard Reggae Chart for the first of what would be five consecutive #1 records; in 2017, they garnered a GRAMMY nomination for Best Reggae Album. Rebelution’s transcendent live performances, meanwhile, have earned the group sell-out headline shows everywhere from Red Rocks to The Greek Theatre, along with festival slots at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, ACL, Glastonbury, and more.”

Rebelution is:

  • Eric Rachmany – Vocals / Guitar
  • Rory Carey – Keyboards
  • Marley D. Williams – Bass
  • Wesley Finley – Drums

Britt says, “Iration has a natural affinity for reggae and island sounds. Their love and appreciation for music spans across a wide range of styles and genres including rock, pop, R&B, and funk. Over the past 15 years, the celebrated five-piece – Micah Pueschel [Lead Vocals / Guitar], Adam Taylor [Bass], Joe Dickens [Drums], Cayson Peterson [Keyboard / Synth], and Micah Brown [Guitar / Vocals] – have perfected their distinct hybrid style of music, blending all influences together as evidenced on their seventh, and most recent, full-length album Coastin’.”

It says, “The Expendables have proven anything but in their nearly 25-year career since starting out as a spirited party band in high school covering surf-rock nuggets such as Dick Dale’s ‘Miserloo’ and ‘Wipe Out’ for birthdays and family gatherings. A quarter-century later, elementary school buddies Raul Bianchi, Adam Peterson, and Geoff Weers, along with bassist Ryan DeMars, who joined in 2000, have forged a unique original sound born in the laid-back beach life of their Santa Cruz, CA. hometown.”

Britt says, “Passafire’s single, Keepin’ On, serves as a mission statement for the veteran rock-reggae outfit as they continue to forge ahead through their second decade of reimagining the boundaries of the current rock-reggae landscape.”

It says DJ Mackle is a versatile disc jockey and music producer with a passion for delivering music and energy to the masses.

The Britt Music & Arts Festival uses its scenic hillside venue in Jacksonville, Oregon, for diverse live performances, a classical music festival and education programs for a sense of discovery and community. Since its grassroots beginnings in 1963, the non-profit organization has grown from a two-week chamber music festival to a summer-long series of concerts in a variety of genres, including a three-week orchestra season and year-round education and engagement programs.

The full 2023 Britt Presents concert season will be announced March 3rd and April 6th. Information on programs, membership and more is available at brittfest.org.

Study Ranks Oregon In Top 10 States Spending The Most On Rent

Another reason Governor Tina Kotek and the Oregon State Legislature can be embarrassed about and needs to deal with, is the fact that Oregonians are spending more of their income on rent than most other renters in the U.S., a study conducted by moving experts with Forbes Home shows.

Oregon is one of the many states across the United States where residents spend an increasingly large portion of their income on rent. According to a study conducted by moving experts with Forbes Home, Oregon ranks 9th in states where residents spend the largest percentage of their income on rent. 

Forbes Home’s complete top 10 list:

The states that spend the highest percentage of income on rent. (courtesy of Forbes Home)

Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Forbes Home determined that Oregon ranked 9th in the U.S. for states where residents spend the largest percentage of their income on rent.

On average, Oregonians spend about $1,284 per month on rent, which is equal to more than 25% of their monthly income. This amount is higher than many other states in the U.S., and it has only been rising over time as rents continue to increase while incomes remain stagnant.

What makes this situation even worse is that high rental costs are not just a problem in Oregon; they are pervasive throughout the entire country. In fact, according to the same study, Hawaii had the highest disparity between rent and income, with 42% of monthly earnings going toward rent. California and New Jersey were not far behind at 28.47% and 27.50%, respectively. Clearly, this is a problem transcending state lines, but why does Oregon have it worse than most?

The answer lies in a combination of factors: rising housing costs and increasing demand for rental properties due to population growth and economical migration from other parts of the country. 

According to data from Zillow, median rents for single-family homes have steadily increased since 2011—from about $1,200 per month to nearly $1,400 today—while wages have remained largely stagnant over that same period (after adjusting for inflation). This means that despite earning more money over time, renters are paying a larger portion of their income toward rent year after year.

At the same time that housing prices are skyrocketing and wages remain stagnant, Oregon’s population is proliferating due to people migrating from other parts of the country seeking better job opportunities or a lower cost of living (which can sometimes be offset by higher rental costs). 

As more people move into the state looking for affordable housing options, competition increases significantly—driving up prices even further as landlords take advantage of increased demand—and leaving those who already live here fighting for limited space in an ever-shrinking market.

Oregon’s largest nurses union and the hospital industry are gearing up for a push — and potential fight — in the Legislature to bolster the ranks of nurses that have dwindled throughout the past three years.

COVID-19 pushed hospitals into a crisis, with nurses reaching a breaking point as the pandemic dragged on. They also faced surges of other respiratory illnesses such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. Patients paid a price, with long emergency room waits and delayed care while burned out nurses fled the field.

The state’s largest nurses union and hospital industry agree that Oregon needs more nurses but they disagree on how the state should fix the problem. The Oregon Nurses Association, which represents about 15,000 nurses, wants a bill passed this session that would establish minimum staffing standards and levels in law for each part of a hospital, including emergency care and intensive care units.

Nurse staffing is not determined by state law. Rather, nurses and nurse managers are required to work together in staffing committees on plans that establish how many nurses are needed in each part of hospitals.

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, which represents all hospitals in the state, said staffing requirements set in state law would take a wrong one-size-fits-all approach. The group, in a statement to the Capital Chronicle, said that other solutions deserve a look, such as state funding and incentives awarded to hospitals that offer clinical training programs and state tax credits to nurse educators.

TSA Breaks Another Record Nationally In Oregon For Guns Found At Checkpoints In 2022

Transportation Security Administration officers in Oregon detected 108 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage in 2022, with the majority of the firearms discovered at Portland International Airport’s security checkpoints.

Every one of these firearms was discovered during the routine X-ray screening of carry-on property. Nationwide last year, TSA officers found 6,542 firearms at 262 different airports.

Below is a summary of TSA firearm discoveries at Oregon airports and nationally for the past five years:

Oregon totals:76874981108*
National totals:4,2394,4323,2575,9726,542*

Note: no firearms have been discovered since 2018 at Southwest Oregon Regional Airport
* Record number of firearm discoveries.

The five U.S. airports with the most TSA firearm discoveries are Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which topped the list with 448 firearm finds. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport came in second with 385 followed by Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport with 298; Nashville International Airport with 213 and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with 196. Orlando International Airport; Denver International Airport; Austin-Bergstrom International Airport; Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Tampa International Airport round out the Top 10.

In 2022, TSA screened approximately 761 million passengers and crew at airports nationwide. TSA officers across the country discovered firearms in carry-on luggage at a rate of 8.6 firearms per million passengers screened. Stated another way, TSA detected one firearm for every 116,394 travelers screened.

The busiest airport in Oregon is PDX, where TSA officers screened approximately 7.7 million departing passengers and crew. Statistics show that travelers flying out of PDX brought firearms in carry-on luggage at a rate of around 10 firearms per million travelers screened, exceeding the national average. That equates to a firearm discovered for 99,219 travelers screened.

Jackson County Man Gets Life-In-Prison Sentence For The Death Of His Wife

A Jackson County Circuit Court jury convicted 56-year-old Kevin Dean Hicks Sr. last Thursday of second degree murder for the death of his wife in 2018.

The court sentenced him Wednesday for criminal charges of Murder in the Second Degree, Arson and Abuse of a Corpse.  Judge Timothy Barnack sentenced Hicks to life in prison with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years for his murder conviction. 

Barnack sentenced Hicks to thirty-six months in the Oregon Department of Corrections to be served consecutively for the arson conviction, and the corpse abuse conviction received a sentence of 20 days in the Jackson County jail.  The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office (JCDA) says additionally, Hicks is subject to lifetime post-prison supervision if he is ever released.

JCDA says, “Hicks was convicted for his role in the murder of his estranged wife, Tammy Hicks. The two had been living apart due to a prior domestic violence incident in October of 2017 wherein Mr. Hicks was convicted of Felony Assault in the Fourth Degree against Ms. Hicks. On June 30, 2018, Ms. Hicks went to discuss an ongoing tax issue with the defendant. While at their RV (located at 3150 McMartin Lane in Central Point) the Defendant strangled her to death and then lit the RV on fire, abusing her corpse in the process. The fire quickly spread to adjacent trailers, sheds, and land before being knocked down and put out by local fire personnel.”

JCDA says two of the victim’s surviving children and her adult brother spoke at sentencing and both children discussed how the murder of their mother has impacted them on a daily basis, noting, “The children told the Court that Tammy was a devoted mother who went out of her way to show the kids she loved them on a daily basis. ‘She gave the best hugs in the world…She would have done anything for us. She lost her life to free us from (Defendant’s) grasp.'”

Following the request of the family and prosecutors, Judge Barnack ran Hicks’ sentences consecutively.  The victims requested that media not release their names for the purpose of maintaining privacy.

Hicks was indicted by a Jackson County Grand Jury on July 5, 2018. He has remained lodged in the Jackson County jail since June 30, 2018.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorneys Zori Cook and Ben Lull.

ODOT Begins Work On New EV Fast Charging Stations – Seeks Public Opinion

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) announced that they’re partnering up with private companies to begin work on new EV fast charging stations along Interstate 5, U.S. Highway 97, and Interstate 205.

The new charging stations are funded thanks to the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program.  $7.5-billion in funds has been secured for EV charging infrastructure across the U.S., with more than $7-billion going towards ‘critical minerals supply chains that are necessary for batteries, components, materials, and recycling.  

NEVI will provide $5-billion in funding to states in order to build charging stations along highway corridors.

ODOT says that the stations will be no farther than 50 miles apart from each other, and, if possible, within one mile of an exit.   ODOT is asking residents who live along those corridors to check out their online open house and take a survey so they can gather data on local factors to consider. 

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