Klamath Basin News, Thursday 2/16 – County Commissioners Spearheading Renewed Strategic Plan To Better Serve Vision, Values and Interests of the Community

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Thursday, February 16, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

This Afternoon Mostly sunny, with a high near 45. South southeast wind around 7 mph. Overnight cloudy with a low around 20. East winds 5 to 7 mph.

Friday Sunny, with a high near 48. Northeast wind around 6 mph becoming calm in the morning. Overnight clear with a low of just 19 degrees expected.
Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 50. Cloudy overnight with a low around 23.
Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near 53.
Monday, President’s Day Partly sunny, with a high near 50.
Tuesday A chance of snow. Partly sunny, with a high near 43.

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 Bureau of Reclamation, in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, announced Tuesday that it will direct “temporary adjustments” to Iron Gate Dam effective immediately.

Flows from the Iron Gate Dam, the lowest of the four Klamath River dams scheduled for removal in 2023 and 2024, are being reduced by about 11 percent, or 105 cubic-feet per second. The reductions began Tuesday and will continue through April 1.

According to a news release announcing the reduction, the agencies said, “The operational change will be informed by ongoing real-time environmental and hydrologic monitoring; further management may be implemented after considering this information.”

According to the release, the agencies “will continue Tribal Nation and stakeholder communications initiated last fall, as well as the adaptive management process they have established to consider the best available scientific information in managing risks.” The process is described in the Klamath Project January 2023 Temporary Operating Procedure, and the Klamath Project Operating Coordination, Winter/Spring 2023, released Feb. 13, 2023.

Klamath County Commissioner Dave Henslee said this week that he wants the decisions the commissioners make to be in the best interests of the county, and what the community wants.

Henslee’s comments came during the weekly Klamath County Board of County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Feb. 14 while the commissioners discussed the need for a strategic plan.

According to county documents, the strategic plan will function both as the county’s blueprint for success and as a powerful communication tool that will incorporate the vision, values and objectives of Klamath County.

The creation of the plan will come together in four phases: Project Coordination, Fact Finding, Facilitation and the drafting of the plan itself. Moss Adams will assist county leadership in setting priorities for the strategic plan based on current budgets, challenges the county is facing and opportunities the county holds.

Moss Adams will be conducting a needs assessment to determine the county’s current and future needs by interviewing the county commissioners and other county leaders as well as key stakeholders and/or any partners.

Moss Adams said they are prepared to begin the project at contract signing and that a strategic plan of this nature typically takes upward of six months.

The County Commissioners approved an agreement between the county and Moss Adams in facilitating the creation of a five-year strategic plan for the county at a fiscal impact not to exceed $66,000.

During the meeting, the board also reviewed a request for an extension of a Tourism Competitive Grant awarded to Klamath Ice Sports in May 2022. The original grant was contractually agreed to be completed by Feb. 17.

Bob Kingzett, board president of Klamath Ice Sports, requested the extension to complete the project due to product availability being hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grant was to be used for the purchase of a prefabricated building that consists of two locker rooms in hopes of expanding the number of hockey tournaments and teams that could participate in such a tournament with the goal of bringing more people into the county during the months of October through March.

Aside from fiscal reasons, the need for new locker rooms also rose to allow for a space for female players to change who are currently forced to do so in either the restroom or in the ice rink’s office. There was also a need for making the locker rooms ADA compliant as the current one is only accessible via staircase.

The board agreed to grant the extension for six months expiring Aug. 17.

Last year, Crater Lake National Park was the quietest it’s been in a decade.

A total of 527,259 people visited the park in 2022, according to National Park Service data, a 19% decrease from 2021 and a 30% decrease from 2016, when a record 756,344 people visited the beautiful blue-hued lake in southern Oregon.

Last year’s annual visitor count is the smallest since 2013. Superintendent Craig Ackerman said park officials are not sure why numbers have fallen, since so many factors can influence travel.

Soaring gas prices over the summer were at the top of his list of potential reasons for the decline, as well as extreme weather patterns and the fact that several of the park’s main draws weren’t offered last year, with some campsites closed and boat tours to Wizard Island canceled.

But unlike some years past, 2022 saw no closures at Crater Lake and relatively mild impacts from nearby wildfires. In September, lightning strikes started two small fires that park officials said would not affect visitors, and smoke only briefly drifted in from the Cedar Creek fire to the north.

But unlike some years past, 2022 saw no closures at Crater Lake and relatively mild impacts from nearby wildfires. In September, lightning strikes started two small fires that park officials said would not affect visitors, and smoke only briefly drifted in from the Cedar Creek fire to the north.

Still, Ackerman said the mere threat of smoke or fire could keep people at bay. With more resources to track air quality online, travelers have become more savvy and cautious about making the long trek to the park, he said.

Roosevelt Elementary School’s student council made itself heard this week.

Excited to share their ongoings, the RES student Council (composed of fifth-graders nominated and selected by school faculty) detailed events and activities the school has held throughout the year to the Klamath Falls City Schools Board during its regular meeting Monday, Feb. 13.

Leif Sanders, a member of Roosevelt’s student council, spoke to the board about the Roughrider Gallop, a fundraiser the school held in November 2022 that raised $19,500.

“Funds were used to support our Accelerated Reading program and a majority of it was split amongst classrooms to help fund field trips, purchase classroom supplies, and so much more,” Sanders said to the board.

RES student councilor Sloan Henderson told the KFCS board that Roosevelt has installed a “Buddy Bench” on the school’s playground. “It’s a place where students can take a break or sit so others can see they are looking for a friend to play with,” Henderson explained.

The student council also reported to the board about the annual food drive they held in December 2022 that brought in 1,342 pounds of food for the Klamath and Lake Counties Food Bank.

“All students were grateful we had the opportunity to give back to our community,” said RES student councilor Everly Stewart. “We hope to have another [food drive] this spring.”

Roosevelt Elementary School Principal Scott Olson also engaged with the board by speaking about intervention groups that not only Roosevelt, but all Klamath City elementary schools are involved in.

“The goal and focus is to look and see where a student is [academically and emotionally] and identify the needs they have and how we are going to meet those needs,” Olson said. “We put effort into every student. This is an effort the entire [city school district] is making.”

The board also heard from Tommy Biggs, a representative of Ponderosa Middle School’s Student Leadership, about the reopening of Ponderosa’s library. The library has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic and will be available for student use again next week, Biggs said.

Sky Lakes Medical Center’s free CNA training program application is open again.

This program is funded and supported by Sky Lakes Medical Center and hosted at Klamath Community College. Sky Lakes will cover the cost of the program and required materials. Those who successfully complete the program will be offered full-time employment at Sky Lakes Medical Center.

You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school degree or earned a GED, successfully complete the interview process, and pass a background and drug screening to enroll in the program.

Learn more and apply by visiting the Sky Lakes Medical Center’s website. https://www.skylakes.org/

22nd Living Well Community Health Fair

Klamath County Fairgrounds 3531 South 6th St. Exhibit Hall 1

Sky Lakes is bringing back the Living Well Community Health Fair! Join us at the Living Well Community Health Fair for free health screenings and exhibits from Sky Lakes Medical Center and our community partners for all ages.

These preventative health screenings will be available to the public for free:

  • Cholesterol screening (recommended 8-12 hour fast)
  • Blood glucose screening (recommended 8-12 hour fast)
  • Blood pressure check

For more information, go to https://www.skylakes.org/healthfair/

The Veterans Memorial Project is ready to accept applications for more brick orders.

Spring brick orders are due by Feb. 28 for bricks dedicated to military veterans to be placed at the Veterans Memorial.

The Veterans Memorial Project is a community-wide project which honors and recognizes Veterans who have served this nation. The memorial features a pavilion, war monuments and more than 5,000 dedicated bricks meant to be a lasting legacy to military individuals. Each brick is a tribute to a military member and their service. Bricks can be ordered for $50 each and dedicated to any United States veteran, regardless of where they live and whether they are living or deceased.

A brick order form can be downloaded from the city website at www.klamathfalls.city/262/Veterans-Memorial.

For more information, contact the City of Klamath Falls Development Services Office at 541-883-4950 or email cityparks@klamathfalls.city.

The deadline for the second year of the Alleyway Activation Project is fast approaching.

In 2022, Healthy Klamath was able to install four pieces of art on the exterior wall of a building downtown thanks to the AARP 2022 Community Challenge grant. Due to the success of this initial project, Health Klamath has announced a plan to continue these beautification efforts.

The Alleyway Activation Project is designed to beautify alleyways in the downtown corridor of Klamath Falls. Recruiting from the abundantly creative regional community, a selected artist’s work will be mounted to one of the historical buildings off Main Street. This is an opportunity to be a part of the effort to make Klamath falls a livelier and more beautiful place.

Artists will be given a 4-foot-by-8-foot space to paint on that will be mounted to a steel frame. Taking great care, these frames will be mounted to the building in a safe and preserving manner so the integrity of the brick and mortar remains intact.

Each artist will be given a $600 stipend for their time and creativity spent on the piece as well as an allowance for paint. To apply, artists must provide a conceptual drawing of what they plan to create.

Applications are due Feb. 28 and selected artists will be notified by March 2 with a mandatory meeting March 6. Paintings must be completed by May 22.

If artists fail to complete their paintings, they will forfeit their stipend. Artists are responsible for purchasing their own paints and will be reimbursed for any costs associated with creating their piece.

Artists will have to coat the final product in a sealant to preserve the paint from fading and moisture. Artists will be asked to paint on plywood, but multi-media art is welcome, as long as the wood is coated with a sealant. Plywood and marine varnish will be provided at the mandatory meeting with the project coordinator.

Healthy Klamath is looking for a range of artistic styles, themes, techniques and experience levels. The organization asks that if painted, make the design picture based, not word-based. Designs that include logos, copyrighted or trademarked images, advertisements, or political, commercial, religious or sexual symbols, themes or messages will not be accepted; however, special exceptions may be granted for logos that connect the community to existing themes. Designs should be appropriate for a diverse, broad-based audience.

Around the state of Oregon

Human Remains Found in 1986 in Josephine County Finally Identified

Press Release

In June, 1986, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Quartz Creek area regarding human skeletal remains being located on a homeowner’s property.

The homeowner was in the process of putting in a new septic system when the owner discovered the remains in the ground approximately 4 feet deep and notified law enforcement. The homeowner had only owned the property for approximately 10 years.  

With the remains, other items were located within the gravesite such as, fabric believed to be from a dress, a worn set of dentures and two rubber implements, believed to be from a walker or crutches. 

At that time, law enforcement was unable to identify the decedent and forwarded the remains to the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office for further examination and DNA processing. It was believed based on the condition of the remains that the decedent may have been in the ground for approximately 15 to 25 years. 

Between 1986 and 2016, the investigation into the identification of the remains was attempted multiple times by detectives and forensic examiners. No leads were ever discovered to help with the identification.

Ultimately, due to the poor condition of the remains, in 2018 the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office was awarded a grant allowing the office to send the remains to Parabon NanoLabs for further DNA and genetic genealogy processing. With Parabon NanoLabs assistance, it was discovered that the remains may be of a missing person from 1959 out of the Rogue River area named, Elsie Baker, who went missing under suspicious circumstances. 

The circumstances were deemed suspicious after law enforcement learned that family and friends of Elsie Baker had not heard from her for a period of time. Law enforcement responded to Elsie Baker’s home and found her wheelchair but no sign of her. An investigation between 1959 and 1960 was started and numerous individuals were interviewed. It was discovered that Elsie Baker was being treated for cancer and would have needed assistance to leave her home as she was mainly wheelchair bound. It was also discovered that approximately $10,000 was missing from the home. Unfortunately, law enforcement was unable to come up with any leads regarding the missing person case. 

In 2022, Parabon NanoLabs suggested that through combining genetic genealogy, DNA Phenotyping and kinship analysis, if the remains were Elsie Baker, she may have a living grandson who was believed to be in the Utah area. If this were true, the grandson would be the closest genetic match and would possibly solve the missing person case, identifying the remains. 

Josephine County Detectives contacted the grandson and explained the case and circumstances leading law enforcement to contact him. With consent from the grandson and assistance from Emery County Sheriff’s Office, Utah, the grandson provided an oral DNA swab sample for comparison which was submitted for review. In early January, 2023, Parabon NanoLabs and the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office were able to positively identify the decedent as Elsie Baker based on the matching DNA from the grandson. 

At the time of this press release, no further details are being released.

Possible Expansion To The Pipeline That Runs Through Southern Oregon

Canadian-based TC Energy is looking to expand the Northwest Pipeline that runs through Southern Oregon by adding new compressors in Oregon and Washington to increase its production potential.

Activists from Rogue Climate in partnership with other environmental groups hosted a community meeting Monday evening to inform residents about the project.

“There wasn’t a lot of opportunity for public engagement. Because it’s an expansion project and not a new pipeline, the timeline is very quick. A lot of people actually just don’t even know that this is happening and that this is being proposed,” said Maig Tinnin, spokeswoman for Rogue Climate.

The project has been opposed by both Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley. Merkley spoke at Monday night’s meeting.

“The last thing we should do is continue building more fossil fuel infrastructure. In doing so, we’re not only creating infrastructure that will facilitate the burning of fossil fuels for a generation to come, but was also facilitating the donations that flow from that to corrupt our political system,” Merkley said.

Because it is an expansion of an existing pipeline and not the construction of a new one, the regulatory hoops are much smaller. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which will make the decision, downplayed the risks involved in an Environmental Impact Statement late last year, saying

“Staff concludes that modifying and installing the project facilities would result in limited adverse impacts on the environment. Most adverse environmental impacts would be temporary or short-term and would have minimal impact on existing land use.”

The Attorneys General from Oregon, Washington, and California are all in opposition to the project, while Republican legislators from Idaho have shown support.

There was a chance that FERC was going to decide on Thursday. As of Wednesday, it’s not on the meeting agenda. The next possible decision point could be March 16th.

OLCC Board Approves Interim Director

The board of Oregon’s alcohol and cannabis regulatory agency OLCC, approved its new interim director at a hearing Wednesday as the criminal investigation into the ousted director moves forward.

Executive director Steve Marks was set to resign at the end of the day Wednesday after an internal investigation found that he and five senior managers diverted rare and expensive whiskey for their own personal use.

Craig Prins, who has been inspector general of the Oregon Department of Corrections, will take over as interim executive director after a unanimous approval vote from the board.

Things got heated during the hearing, and OLCC chairman Paul Rosenbaum expressed his frustration with media inquiries regarding the scandal.

“We have not dodged the press – we follow the rules. We follow our attorneys. We follow what we’re supposed to. So please, dear god stop asking us to make comments on this – it’s inappropriate until now. This is the right forum, this is the right place, this is the right opportunity,” Rosenbaum said.

He went on to say that he knew about the state police investigation into the OLCC director back in September, but that he was told the record was confidential.

Interim Director Prins says he knows he’ll be facing some challenges, but he hopes to restore the trust in the OLCC.

Oregon Bill Would Require Law Enforcement Officers To Have Higher Education

Amid a renewed national focus on police qualifications following the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, an Oregon lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require law enforcement officers to complete at least two years of higher education.

Police departments have wrestled for years with officer education requirements. Many say that raising them would worsen current staffing shortages and make it harder to recruit candidates from diverse backgrounds. But reform advocates say that continuing education past high school can equip officers with critical life skills that could help improve their interactions with the public.

“You’re learning, you’re reading about other communities, you’re reading about other people, you’re getting a sense of respect for people who you do not know, communities that you do not know,” said Democratic Oregon state Sen. Lew Frederick, the bill’s chief sponsor.

The bill, which was introduced last month, would push back against the recent trend of lowering police hiring standards by requiring two years of higher education for departments with less than 50 officers and a bachelor’s degree for departments with more than 50. It would apply to police, corrections, parole, probation and reserve officers.

The bill would set police education requirements in state law. Generally, these requirements are determined by municipalities or individual departments.

Nationwide, about 80% of police agencies only require a high school or GED diploma, according to a 2016 survey of more than 2,700 agencies by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. The number requiring a two-year degree hovers around 10%, while just over 1% require a bachelor’s degree.

Many police agencies that do have college credit requirements waive them if a candidate has military or law enforcement experience. These include departments in major cities, such as New York City, Dallas and Washington, D.C. Tulsa’s police department is among the few requiring a bachelor’s degree.

Many agencies, however, have dropped degree requirements in recent years because of recruitment difficulties stemming partly from a crisis of public trust, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington-based think tank. Its executive director, Chuck Wexler, said that while many departments may want more educated entry-level officers, they can’t raise the bar when a shrunken hiring pool means they already have less applicants to choose from.

While a college education doesn’t automatically make a good officer, it can help people develop critical thinking and communication skills, Wexler said.

“I think merely requiring a high school degree is hugely inadequate for the complexities associated with a very complicated and important position in America,” he said.

The Portland Police Bureau in Oregon is among the agencies that have struggled to recruit. The city was gripped by months-long protests in 2020 following the racial justice demonstrations sparked by Floyd’s death, and has seen record numbers of homicides the past two years.

The police bureau only requires a high school or GED diploma. But that minimum requirement, it says, doesn’t necessarily result in hiring candidates with less education. While testifying against the Oregon bill on Tuesday, PPB Capt. Greg Pashley said that about 70% of the bureau’s sworn employees have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and that 46% of applicants have a two-year degree or higher.

Echoing other agencies around the country, he also said that requiring college courses excludes lower-income candidates who aren’t able to afford them and makes police forces less diverse. Another hearing for the Oregon bill has yet to be scheduled.

A group of seniors in Brookings are asking Oregon lawmakers to step in and adjust the rent cap increase formula.

The seniors live in a 55 and older mobile home park in Curry County, and all 44 of the spaces rented by a senior received a 14.6% rent increase last month. That is $100 per month increase this year.

“For senior citizens, you don’t expect to work so hard, this group, we have put in a lot of time, effort, research, talking, writing letters,” Robbin McMain said. “We are exhausted, but we are scared enough that we will keep going, we are fighting for our homes.”

The 68-year-old, along with 66-year-old John Canalin and a group of other seniors residing on the coast are advocating for lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 611.

The bill would drop the rate of allowable rent increase to 3% plus the consumer price index with a total maximum increase of 8% per year.

Currently, the law, which was passed in 2019 through Senate Bill 608, allows annual rent increases at 7% plus the consumer price index that adjust each year with inflation.

“We are looking at $100 just this year alone, we have several people that are already wanting to know what to do because social security gave us a little boost this year, which was nice, it got us through this year,” McMain said.

McMain explained although the slight increase in social security will help her and her husband survive this year’s rental increase, that isn’t the case for the seniors in the park living on a fixed income.

“Some people are now saying, although we got a small social security increase now that our rent is going up, they are now $12 in the hole, they lost the increase all to rent,” she said.

McMain and Canalin explained they are both lucky enough to have a spouse, but not everyone in their mobile home park can rely on more than one income.

The group is pleading with lawmakers, including Governor Tina Kotek to change the trajectory rental prices are headed before it is too late.

“If you want to talk about dealing with the homeless issue in the state, this is a way to not add more to it, if they can somehow adjust the rent increases and adjust the eviction reform,” Canalin said.

If the rent cap increase formula is not adjusted, the two said it will lead to more seniors becoming homeless across the state or force them to move and lose the life they have created.

“We are barely getting by this year, but next year could be devastating to many people, things need to be done this year.”

Both, McMain and Canalin, said many of the mobile homes are owned by the individual who rents the space from the park.

They said a majority have added to the manufactured home, including adding porches, garages, and an additional room. All the additions would be lost if the tenants were forced to relocate due to the rent increases.

“We would lose quite a bit of money that we invested in our home to come here,” Canalin said.

One thing the two said would be irreplaceable, is the community they have created during their retirement years.

“We already have a lot of senior citizens who are homeless,” McMain said. “We need to stop the rent increases here or see the consequence all elderly people living in tents, or living with their kids that is then a burden on their children, or going to head and getting rental assistance which is a burden on the state, so all the way around the state is losing, the state is not winning anything, the owners and their profits are going up.” (source: https://ktvl.com/news/local/seniorsmobilehomepark-oregon-lawmakers-adjustrent-capincrease-formula-senatebill611-oregonlaw-rentallaws-housingcrisis-seniorhousing-renterrights-renters)

Free Fishing Weekend This Weekend In Oregon

Make fishing part of your three-day weekend plans. Everyone can fish, clam and crab for free in Oregon on Saturday and Sunday of President’s Day Weekend, Feb. 18-19, 2023.  

No fishing/shellfish licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement or Two-Rod Validation) are required those two days. Both Oregon residents and nonresidents can fish for free.  

 All other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. See the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for rules and remember to check for any in season regulation changes at the Recreation Report especially for salmon and steelhead fishing. Click on the zone where you want to fish and then click the “Regulation Updates” tab to see the in-season changes.   

The Recreation Report is updated weekly and features the best bests for fishing for the upcoming week. For beginners, Easy Angling Oregon is a great guide to getting started fishing in Oregon, and if you live near Portland, Bend, Medford, Roseburg or in Lane County, there are lots of nearby options.  

Prefer to crab or clam instead? MyODFW has all the information you need to get started clamming or crabbing. Remember to check ocean conditions and take safety precautions—always clam with a friend and never turn your back on the ocean.   

As of Feb. 14, crabbing is open coastside but razor clamming is closed along the entire Oregon coast due to biotoxin levels.   

Remember to call the ODA Shellfish safety hotline at 1-800-448-2474 or check their Shellfish page before you go clamming or crabbing. The Oregon Department of Agriculture regularly tests shellfish and closes areas when naturally occurring biotoxins get to levels that make crabs and clams unsafe to eat.  MORE INFO: https://myodfw.com/articles/2023-free-fishing-days-and-events

BLM Waives Day Use Fees For Washington’s Birthday

In honor of George Washington’s birthday and to increase recreational access to public land, the Bureau of Land Management is waiving recreation standard amenity and day-use fees for visitors on February 20th.

A release said the BLM is inviting the public to visit unique and diverse natural landscapes and visitor facilities on BLM-managed lands to celebrate the life of the first U.S. President George Washington.

This marks the second of the BLM’s fee-free days of 2023. Fee-free days refer to the waiver of standard amenity fees and day-use fees, such as visitor centers, picnic/day use areas, and National Conservation Land units where fees are charged. Expanded amenity fees and other fees, like group day use, overnight camping, cabin rentals and individual special recreation permits, will remain in effect unless the authorized officer determines it is appropriate to waive them.

MORE INFO: Winter adventure in the Pacific Northwest – Our top locations for recreation in the snow, rain, or ice  https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/766c58075f574db2b52f3d2e13b75bb8

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