Klamath Basin News, Monday, 2/13/23 – Another Blast of Cold Winter Weather and Possible Snow Coming to the Basin

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Monday, February 13, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

Winter Weather Advisory in effect until February 14, 10:00 AM PST
Wind Advisory in effect thru 6PM.

This Afternoon A slight chance of snow showers before 1pm, then a chance of snow, mainly after 4pm. Partly sunny, with a temperature falling to around 32 by 5pm, gusty winds at times. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected. Overnight, snow likely, winds to 20mph with gusts as high as 31 mph, low near 20. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Tuesday Snow likely, mainly before 10am. Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 34. Mostly clear overnight with a low around 11 degrees. North northwest wind 6 to 11 mph.
Wednesday Sunny, with a high near 40. Calm wind becoming south southeast around 6 mph in the afternoon. Overnight low of 17.
Thursday Partly sunny, with a high near 41.
Friday Partly sunny, with a high near 44.
Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 47.

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

The most important factor of a child abuse case is the affected child or children. That was made clear to all agencies involved in Klamath County’s multidisciplinary team (MDT) during a child abuse case training course organized this week by Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Services (CARES).

“The child is our priority. Full stop,” stated documents given out during the training — held Wednesday, Feb. 8 at the Henzel Pavilion Auditorium. “Not the court. Not the needs of law enforcement or prosecutors.”

MDTs are collaborations between multiple county resources, including mental health and developmental disabilities programs, the Department of Human Services (DHS), agencies on aging, law enforcement agencies and the District Attorney’s office, to name a few.

Speakers that lead the training presentations included Alison Martin, child and elder abuse prosecutor and former Klamath County MDT chair; David Schutt, former MDT chair for Klamath and Lake counties and current criminal defense attorney; and Klamath County Interim District Attorney John Casalino, who has also served as a child abuse prosecutor in Multnomah County.

The training focused on the importance of functioning as a team, encouraging members to recognize that each entity has a role to play.

Klamath County Sheriff Chris Kaber noted after the training that “group training improves the consistency in which child abuse reports are documented, investigated, and if warranted, prosecuted. More importantly, how child victims of abuse are cared for from the day the abuse becomes known until there is an appropriate resolution.“

One woman died this week in a fatal two-vehicle crash in Lane County northwest of Klamath County.

Oregon State Police and emergency personnel responded at about 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8 to the crash on Highway 58 at milepost 59, near Waldo Lake Sno-Park.

At the crash scene, emergency personnel found in a preliminary investigation that a silver Honda Civic, driven eastbound by Cynthia Ann Waters, 52, of Eugene, struck a dump truck that was pulling a trailer.

The dump truck driver — Jesse Alan Rodolf, 44, of Lakeview — was uninjured.

Waters was pronounced deceased at the scene. Icy road conditions are believed to be contributing factors in this crash.

Toys for Tots in the Basin had another successful and abundant year this past holiday season.

Thanks to generous residents of Klamath and Lake counties who made toy and monetary donations, as well as provisions which came directly from the national Toys for Tots foundation, a total of 4,096 children were served in the region.

The national Toys for Tots foundation provided an additional 6,491 toy donations and 1,000 books. According to Eric Anderson, the national foundation also gave $24,000 to serve the children of Lake County.

A Marine Corps veteran himself, as well as the local Toys for Tots coordinator, Anderson also said the local Marine Corps League Crater Lake Detachment hosted a fundraiser dinner that successfully raised $3,000 on behalf of Toys for Tots.

In total, the toy drive campaign distributed 14,077 toys and 2,160 books to children throughout the region.

Commandant of the Crater Lake Detachment #373 Eric Levesque said that the Toys for Tots campaign is the “largest fundraising effort of the year” aside from the detachment’s Scholarship Fund program.

Protect yourself against the latest COVID-19 variants and prepare for flu season at a free vaccine clinic at the downtown Klamath County Library.

The Oregon Health Authority will be administering vaccines from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14 against both this year’s seasonal flu and the latest variants of COVID-19, while supplies last. They will also be distributing free food boxes with a variety of pantry staples to anyone who stops by, whether they stay to get a vaccine or not. (Also while supplies last.)

Some important facts to know:

You don’t need to present any medical insurance to receive a vaccine, and it’s totally free.

It is both safe and recommended to get your COVID-19 booster and the annual flu shot together, but it’s not required.

The new bivalent vaccines for the latest COVID-19 variants will be available for people (ages 12 and older for Pfizer, ages 18 and older for Moderna) who have already received at least two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines (or the one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine), and it’s been at least two months since the last time you’ve gotten a vaccine, including any additional boosters.

The Klamath Hospice and Palliative Care annual Valentine’s Day Bake Sale has returned.

The sale will be from 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14 in the Three Rivers room at Sky Lakes Medical Center.

At the sale, there will be traditional Valentine’s Day cookies as well as other cookies, baked goods, candy, dog biscuits, flowers, children’s items and two drawings for baskets.

All proceeds from the sale help support patients and families of Klamath Hospice and Palliative Care.

Around the state of Oregon

Get Prepared For A Round Of Snow And Winter Weather

Parts of the Pacific Northwest should brace for a winter storm Monday as the National Weather Service says in the forecast of heavy snowfall and strong winds in some areas.

A cold front is sweeping through western Oregon, bringing the potential for snow from the coast to the Cascades.

Winter storm and winter weather advisories were issued for western Oregon and parts of southeastern Washington. Officials said the snow is expected to blanket the region beginning this evening through mid-day Tuesday.

In the Coast Range and Cascade foothills, a Winter Storm Warning is posted. In the Coast Range, total snow accumulations of 6 to 11 inches are possible. Below 2000 feet, 2 to 7 inches are expected. The Cascade foothills, 3 to 9 inches are forecast below 1,500 feet. Above that, 8 to 18 inches are possible.

For the Cascade passes, 12 to 17 inches are expected. Below 4000 feet, forecasts are calling for 6 to 12 inches.

On top of an expected six to 11 inches of snow in areas above 2,000 feet (two to seven inches below 2,000 feet), the NWS warned of wind gusts as high as 40 mph in some parts. Officials strongly cautioned against travel in some areas, such as Medford, Oregon.

Portland, under a winter weather advisory, expects to receive around half an inch of snowfall late Monday night into Tuesday morning. Officials urged residents to drive with caution as they expected slippery road conditions.

Oregonians who received a pandemic relief payment from the state in 2022 can now file their tax returns, the IRS said, and don’t need to report the $600 check as taxable income.

The federal agency earlier this month asked tax filers in Oregon and at least 18 other states who had received special payments or state tax refunds last year to hold off on filing their 2022 tax returns.

On Friday it gave the all-clear for most of the states, including Oregon, saying it had determined taxpayers not need to report the payments “in the interest of sound tax administration and other factors.”

Oregon last summer issued $600 economic stimulus payments to 236,000 qualifying households. Most tax filers who qualified for the Oregon Earned Income Tax Credit on their 2020 tax filing received the payments automatically, either by direct deposit or mailed checks.

The Oregon Department of Revenue had said those payments aren’t taxable income, but the IRS wasn’t so sure and said it needed more time to examine the question before reaching the same conclusion Friday.

Emergency Physicians from Providence Medford Will Unionize, to Address Patient Safety and Staff Burnout

Fifteen emergency department physicians working at Providence Medford Medical Center announced their plans to file with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for union recognition.  

The new group, Southern Oregon Providers Association (SOPA), will focus its collective bargaining power on addressing understaffing and safe patient care and ensuring access to care for the region’s most vulnerable patients. SOPA will partner with the Pacific Northwest Hospital Medicine Association (PNWHMA), an existing hospitalists union represented by the American Federation of Teachers (Local 6552) and serviced by the Oregon Nurses Association. 

“Our patients have experienced increasing wait times and delays in care because of a lack of staff. In many cases I have had to transfer them to facilities hundreds of miles away because we don’t have anyone who can perform certain procedures,” said David Levin, DO. “Providence management should be focusing on improving staffing and gaps in patient care, but when we repeatedly brought our concerns to their attention we have been met with silence. Unionizing helps balance the scales between us and management so we can make this a place that patients recommend first to their loved ones, and a magnet workplace for providers.” 

On Thursday, February 9, 2023, the physicians delivered a letter to management petitioning for voluntary recognition so that they could promptly begin collective bargaining over their concerns about patient care, staffing, and other issues. After being declined for voluntary recognition by Providence administration, the physicians filed for a union recognition election through traditional NLRB mechanisms today, February 10, 2023.

Dr. Mollie Skov-Ortega, President of the PNWHMA at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, said, “It is exciting to add another group of physicians to our association. When we voted to unionize more than eight years ago, it gave us the strength and the voice to be able to stand up for what matters most – patient care and patient safety. We stand behind Southern Oregon Providers Association so they can have the opportunity to do the same.”

Dr. Levin says it’s the strong bond his colleagues share with each other and the community that keeps them there but being called upon regularly to fill in for other roles in the hospital is taxing. “As ER physicians we have a diverse skill set that can be put to use in other departments, but when I leave to help the ICU, who is going to take care of those in the ER waiting room? Providence must make a renewed commitment to how they recruit and retain staff so I and my colleagues can focus on what we do best – treating patients who come to the emergency room.”

(Salem) – Most Oregonians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will receive emergency allotments in February but that is the final allotment according to the state of Oregon.

In February, approximately 416,000 SNAP households will receive approximately $71 million in extra food benefits in addition to their regular SNAP benefits. This will be the final emergency allotment provided to Oregonians.

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. 

“We know that many rely on these additional emergency food benefits to get enough healthy food for themselves and their families,” said ODHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht (he/him). “As Oregon continues to be impacted by COVID-19 and the rising cost of food, we know that without these emergency food benefits some in Oregon may experience hardship and hunger. We encourage people who are concerned to start planning for this change today. Having a plan ahead of time will reduce the chance of experiencing an emergency or crisis later. There are food supports available to everyone in Oregon, you can find what is available in your community by contacting our partners at 211, the Oregon Food Bank or by visiting needfood.oregon.gov.”

“It’s critical that Oregonians facing reduced support for groceries know that food remains available to all who need it,” said Susannah Morgan (she/her), Oregon Food Bank CEO. “Across rural, urban and suburban communities, more than 1,400 free food markets, pantries and meal sites are moving mountains to make sure families have the resources we need to fill the gap. And everyone is welcome — regardless of race, gender, religion or immigration status.”

“The end of the emergency allotments, as we all know, will be a very hard time for many folks and families, but we know there are great people at 211, ODHS and our partner agencies who stand ready to help and will lead with compassion to help the community navigate this change,” said Kerry Hoeschen (she/her), 211info emergency management director. “At 211info we are available 24/7 to provide information and referrals to agencies offering support for a wide variety of needs such as rent and utility payment support. This includes more than 1,000 food resources across Oregon and Southwest Washington like food pantries, farmers markets, community gardens, fresh food distribution and summer food programs for all Oregonians. To find out more about general resources and food programs contact us! Language interpreters are available.”

Current SNAP households will receive emergency allotments on Feb. 10. Emergency allotments will be issued Feb. 27 or March 1 for households who did not receive benefits in the first monthly issuance.

Oregonians who receive SNAP are encouraged to prepare for this change in the amount of food benefits they receive. Having a plan ahead of time will reduce the chance of experiencing an emergency or crisis later.

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.

Questions about your SNAP benefits can also be directed to the ONE Customer Service Center at 1-800-699-9075. The ONE Customer Service Center is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time. 

Regular SNAP benefits are added to EBT cards between the first and the ninth day of the month.

You can report changes to your income or household in many ways: 

  • Online at: Benefits.oregon.gov
  • By mail at: ONE Customer Service Center, PO Box 14015, Salem, OR 97309
  • By fax at: 503-378-5628
  • By phone at: 1-800-699-9075 or TTY 711, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

Know what food supports are in your area. There are many different organizations providing food support in communities throughout Oregon:

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

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. Oregonians in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP, child care, cash assistance and Medicaid. Learn more at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefits. For local resources in your area, such as food or shelter, please call 2-1-1 or reach out to the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 1-855-ORE-ADRC or 1-855-673-2372.

TRAFFIC STOP LEADS TO ARREST AND DRUG SEIZURE- JEFFERSON COUNTY

On Sunday, February 12, 2023, at approximately 7:20 P.M., an Oregon State Police Trooper stopped a vehicle for speeding on Highway 97 near E street in Madras.  

During the stop, the Trooper noticed signs of criminal activity, and a consent to search the vehicle was conducted.  During the search of the vehicle, the Trooper located over 7 pounds of Methamphetamine.

 The occupants of the vehicle, identified as Luiz Maria Ramirez-Gutierrez (42) and Reyna Paola Marin-Ramirez (20) Washington, were lodged at the Jefferson County Jail for Possession of a Controlled Substance, Manufacture of a Controlled Substance and Attempted Distribution of Commercial Quantities of Methamphetamine.   

 OSP Troopers were assisted during the investigation by Detectives from the OSP-Criminal Investigations Division-Drug Enforcement Section (Domestic Highway Enforcement Initiative), Special Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration – Bend Task Force, and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

 The Oregon State Police-Domestic Highway Enforcement Initiative is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

 The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives, including the OSP-DHE Initiative.

California Woman Sentenced to Federal Prison for Role in Multistate Credit Card “Bust-Out” Conspiracy Operated from Corvallis

EUGENE, Ore.—A California woman was sentenced to federal prison today for her role in a multistate credit card “bust-out” fraud scheme that cost multiple banks more than $2.5 million.

Mariam Gevorkova, 37, of Glendale, California, was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release. Gevorkova was also ordered to pay more than $2.5 million in restitution.

According to court documents, in December 2016, the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) initiated an investigation into a credit card “bust-out” fraud perpetrated by individuals residing in the Corvallis, Oregon area.

A credit card “bust-out” is a scheme in which perpetrators obtain credit cards for the purpose of making purchases and running up large balances with no intent to pay. After making credit card purchases, payments are made to the cards from accounts controlled by the perpetrators. After numerous purchases and payments are made, the perpetrators report to their banks that the payments made on the credit cards were not authorized. The banks, in turn, seek and obtain reimbursement from the credit card companies who, as a result, incur a loss when the funds are returned to the perpetrator’s bank.

Gevorkova and her co-conspirators opened credit card accounts using stolen and fictitious identities and used them to purchase jewelry and clothing, fund gambling and vacations, establish and begin operating at least two large marijuana grows, and cover the operating expenses of the Corvallis Cannabis Club, a state-licensed marijuana shop in Corvallis. Gevorkova recruited others into the conspiracy, including Corvallis Cannabis Club employees.

On June 11, 2018, Gevorkova and eight accomplices were charged by criminal complaint with conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and manufacturing, distributing, and possessing with intent to distribute controlled substances.

On August 31, 2020, Gevorkova was charged by criminal information with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to manufacture or possess with intent to distribute marijuana. Two weeks later, on October 13, 2020, she waived indictment and pleaded guilty to all three charges in the criminal information.

This case was investigated by the FBI, USPIS, and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from Oregon State Police and the Corvallis and Philomath Police Departments. It was prosecuted by Gavin W. Bruce, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Oregon Attorney General Launches Criminal Investigation Into OLCC Scandal

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced on Friday she will investigate whether there was any criminal wrongdoing by top managers at the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission who diverted specialty bourbons away from public consumption for their own personal use.

An internal OLCC investigation revealed a long-standing practice in which liquor commission staff, including director Steve Marks, sent rare bottles of bourbon to certain stores where they could purchase it, violating state ethics laws and denying the general public access to rare, highly-priced brands. One employee said the practice was widespread and included state lawmakers.

On Wednesday, Governor Tina Kotek sent a letter to members of the liquor and cannabis commission calling the conduct “wholly unacceptable” and asking commissioners to fire the five managers who admitted to the practice. Kotek had already asked Marks to step down before learning of the internal OLCC investigation.

Oregon heavily regulates when and where liquor can be sold. While beer and wine can be purchased in a supermarket or a convenience store, hard alcohol is sold in liquor stores operated by the state and managed by liquor agents who are selected by OLCC commissioners. There are 248 liquor stores in Oregon distributed throughout the state on the basis of population.

The state is in charge of determining how many stores there are, where they are located, purchasing the liquor, and distributing it as well. Kotek has asked members of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, a board she appoints, to install new leadership and remove the managers who were implicated in the scandal.

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