Klamath Basin News, Friday, 3/17 – Southern Oregon Lawmakers Hoping to Reform Oregon’s Drug Laws

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Mick-insurance-2020-new-728x90-1-1024x127.jpg
Mick Insurance, call 541-882-6476

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 Insuranceyour local health and Medicare agents.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Increasing clouds, with a high near 51. Light and variable wind. Overnight, cloudy with a low around 24.

Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 52. Light and variable southeast winds to 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon. Overnight, cloudy with a low around 32. Southeast wind 5 to 8 mph.
Sunday A chance of rain and snow before 11am, then rain. Snow level 4400 feet rising to 5300 feet in the afternoon. High near 47. South wind 6 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Little or no snow accumulation expected. Rain mixed with snow overnight into Monday morning, low of 31. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
Monday Rain and snow before 8am, then snow between 8am and 11am, then rain likely after 11am. Snow level 4300 feet. High near 45. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
Tuesday A chance of snow before 2pm, then a chance of rain. 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

Reforming Oregon Drug Laws

On Monday, Representative Lily Morgan (Grants Pass) and Representative E. Werner Reschke (Klamath Falls) announced the introduction of HB 3549. It would reform Oregon’s drug laws broken by Ballot Measure 110.

Measure 110 created a Class E Violation for hard drug possession in Oregon law. As of the end of February, law enforcement had issued 4,164 violations, nearly 20% of them coming from Josephine County alone. Only 34 individuals (less than 1%)  have had a substance use assessment.

HB 3549’s tiered approach would keep Measure 110’s Class E Violation for the first offense with escalating accountability measures for subsequent offenses. The second offense would be a felony possession, with eligibility for conditional discharge. The third offense would be a felony charge with mandatory drug court.

The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Judiciary and is awaiting a public hearing.

This year Klamath Falls is marking 20 years as a Tree City USA community. ODF administers the Tree City USA program in Oregon for the national Arbor Day Foundation. ODF Community Assistance Forester Brittany Oxford explains that cities and towns need to meet four criteria to become a Tree City USA: 

Klamath Falls is also one of three dozen Oregon cities that has planted a peace tree, one grown from the seeds of a ginkgo tree that survived the atom bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. Oxford said, “In fact, Klamath Falls is one of only a handful of Oregon cities to actually have two Hiroshima peace trees, two ginkgos planted at the high school.”

Oxford said cities benefit from sustained support of their urban forestry programs. “Trees are a long-term investment. Keeping engaged with maintenance and replacement tree plantings can help a community increase its tree canopy and keep that  urban forest healthy, helping make  that community more climate resilient,” she said.

Other cities marking milestone years include:

  • Rogue River – 40 years
  • Grants Pass – 35 years
  • Madras – 30 years
  • Coburg, Seaside and Wilsonville – 25 years
  • Bend – 20 years
  • Cannon Beach, Dallas, Gresham and Lincoln City – 15 years
  • Central Point – 10 years
  • Hillsboro and Umatilla – 5 years

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office has the potential to earn more than $77,000 next year through a lucrative new deal.

During the Klamath County Board of County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, March 14, the commissioners approved a motion allowing the KCSO to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service.

Under the terms of the agreement, the sheriff’s office will be performing patrol services in and around the Fremont-Winema and Deschutes National Forests on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Sheriff’s Office also will be conducting investigations and working to eradicate any illegal marijuana grows that might be in those areas.

Funding for the service is based on hours the sheriff’s office performs. With this agreement, the KCSO has a potential to earn $77,969.14.

The sheriff’s office also funds be approved so the KCSO can replace a 2009 Ford Explore that was wrecked Nov. 11, 2022. In the request, the sheriff’s office explained they played to purchase a 2018 Ford Explorer from the Lithia Toyota of Klamath Falls for a total of $20,462.42.

While approving the request, Commissioner Dave Henslee thanked the sheriff’s office for buying local and keeping money in the Klamath Basin.

Funds used to make the purchase will come from an insurance payout of $8,333 and 12,129.42 from the Sheriff’s Office — Corrections Equipment Reserve.

Klamath County Juvenile Department Director Dan Golden addressed the commission to explain about the changes and plans for juvenile crime prevention (JCP) in Klamath County for the next biennium.

The JCP plan will fund continuing programs at Lutheran Community Services, Klamath Tribal Youth Court and Citizens for Safe Schools for their efforts on mentorships, counseling services and their prosocial pursuits.

In other commission business, Klamath County Property Manager Rick Vaughn talked to the board about coyotes that he said are plaguing the airport and living on county property.

To potentially remedy the situation, Andy Cleland, a trapper for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, has been brought in to rid the county of coyotes and to perform abatement activities.

VFW Auxiliary Post 1383 is seeking new members to make a difference in the lives of Klamath Falls veterans, service members and their families.

The Auxiliary is hosting an information session Saturday, March 18 for anyone who wants to learn about the organization and its work in the community.

The informational session is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 515 Klamath Ave. in Klamath Falls. Refreshments will be served. Those interested in learning more about the VFW Auxiliary are welcome to come and learn how they can help make an impact on the lives of veterans in Klamath Falls.

To learn more about the information session, the Auxiliary or its service projects, call Carol Pinner at 541-273-5472, email cjc1021c@charter.net or go to the VFW Auxillary’s Facebook page.

During the months of April and May, more than 900 third-graders throughout Klamath County will receive free, potentially life-saving swim lessons through the Everyone Swims program at Ella Redkey Pool.

Ella Redkey Pool is looking for Volunteer Swim Lesson Instructors.

The Everyone Swims program has been a huge success in the past years, according to a press release.

The press release states that “recovering from COVID-19 regulations has been a long journey, but with the huge support from Sky Lakes Medical Center and the City of Klamath Falls, the Ella Redkey Pool is able to host the program again.”

Volunteer as much or as little as you’d like. All help is appreciated. All volunteers are required to pass a background check with the City of Klamath Falls.

Prior registration is required. As you register, you will be able to select the week(s) you’d like to volunteer along with the morning and/or afternoon timeslot.

Register online EllaRedkeyPool.com.

Students and parents of the Klamath Falls City Schools District do not yet need to worry that weather-related school closures will extend the instruction year.

During it’s Monday, March 13 meeting, the KFCS Board of Education members discussed the recent string of schools closures caused by inclement weather.

For the 2022-23 school year, the district has had a total of three “snow days” and even closed school in September due to poor air quality resulting from surrounding forest fires.

Board Member Vanessa Bennett told the other board members she had heard parent complaints about the closures while School Board Chairwoman Trina Perez said she even heard concerns from high school seniors about their “seat time” because the students “don’t want to have school be extended” as a result of too many closures.

Board member Patrick Fenner applauded the superintendent and city schools staff by saying, “it’s a good job you guys are doing. The circumstances are really difficult because you just don’t know [what the weather will do].”

Bennett agreed, stating that the county has better logistics when it comes to snow removal and that the safety of students, parents and bus drivers making the morning commutes is always a priority.

Further on in the meeting, Brown shared with the board that a city school-owned property on Orindale Road has received an offer of $129,000 from Martinson Land Holdings (which is the property’s asking price) and motioned that the board approve the sale.

Providing background, Brown explained that the building is under KFCS ownership, but is no longer within the district after the decision was made to realign district lines in 2008. The building hasn’t been in use by the city schools and is vacant.

Plenty of attention is on the amount of late season snow the Klamath Basin and in particular, Crater Lake, has received in the past couple of weeks.

Crater Lake National Park is reporting a snow depth of 140 inches today after this last atmospheric river over the weekend. The average snow depth is 102”. The snowfall tally since July 1st is 437.7” (77” above average). In case you’re curious, the average yearly snowfall for Crater Lake is 463.1”.

Currently, the road is closed to Rim Village due to heavy snow.

Despite the incredible amount of precipitation, the Bureau of Reclamation issued a notice that Klamath Basin farmers will miss at least one month of water allocation for the Klamath project.  Another assessment is due before May 1st.

Project Homefront received a house this past weekend.  A tiny house that is.

During the Home and Outdoor Expo on Saturday, March 11, the Klamath Basin Home Builders Association of Klamath and Lake Counties gifted a tiny house — built by local high school students in less than 48 hours — to the Klamath Falls nonprofit housing organization.

The tiny house was built as part of the Klamath Basin Home Builders Association’s (KBHBA) Build My Future Event during which local high school juniors and seniors pair with local contractors to get a hands-on experience of trades, KBHBA Executive Assistant Jeni Aldrich said while providing details of how 25 students built a 160-square-foot tiny house in less than two days for Project Homefront.

Build My Future, according to Aldrich, illustrates for the students that a career in a trade is a viable opportunity to make money.

KBHBA Vice President Matt Johnson, also the owner of Seasons Change, provided guidance to students on the installation of the tiny house’s HVAC systems.

Alex Salazar of Concept and Design Construction served as general contractor for the project and explained most builds of a tiny house take closer to four weeks to complete. How KBHBA completed the project so quickly came from each component of construction working at one time. While the roofers were hammering, the electricians were wiring. As the floors were being installed, so was the toilet.

The tiny house was donated to Project Homefront and is the first that will be going into the RV lot that sits behind Project Homefront’s main building to be used as a transitional living space for those on post-prison supervision or probation with Klamath County Corrections.

Twice each year there are open burn windows that allow Klamath County Air Quality Zone residents the opportunity to burn yard waste.

This week, Klamath County Public Health announced the 2023 spring open burning window: It begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, March 18 and ends at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 2.

In communities outside the Air Quality Zone, residents must contact their local fire district before open burning.

Burn conditions vary greatly throughout Klamath County and open burn periods are determined locally based on current risk.

Public Health officials have set the following guidelines for the open burning window:

1. The air quality advisory must be green. The daily advisory is available at 541-882-2876.

2. Only residential yard waste, such as tree limbs, brush and leaves may be burned.

3. All burning must occur between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and be fully extinguished by 7 p.m.

4. No trash, plastic, rubber, tar, petroleum products, or treated or painted wood may be burned.

5. The use of burn barrels is prohibited.

6. The burning of commercial, construction, demolition or industrial waste is not included in this burn window. Burning for these purposes requires a special permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality; contact the DEQ office in Bend at 541-633-2016.

7. Agricultural burning inside the Air Quality Zone is prohibited without a certificate of variance issued by KCPH.

Fire District guidelines for public safety are:

1. The wind must be no greater than 10 mph. For wind speed, call 541-883-8127.

2. An appropriate means to extinguish the fire needs to be present (charged hose or extinguisher).

3. A responsible adult must be present at the fire from the first flame until the fire is extinguished.

4. The burn pile shall be no larger than 6 feet in diameter and 4-feet high.

5. There must be a 6-foot clear area down to mineral soil around the burn pile, and the pile must be at least 20 feet from combustible fences and buildings.

6. The person conducting any burning is responsible for damage and the cost of an out-of-control burn, traffic problems and other hazards caused by the smoke. Any escaped fire, burning of unauthorized material, traffic problems or other hazards not mentioned could result in violations and fines.

7. Smoke creating a nuisance (even if burning authorized materials), may result in a request to extinguish the fire. Planning an open burn according to where other neighbors live and monitoring wind directions will reduce the chance of smoke creating a nuisance.

The open burn window may be canceled at any time due to air quality or fire hazard conditions. KCPH reminds people that the smoke from burning yard debris is equally as harmful to lungs as cigarette smoke.

To see a map of the Air Quality Zone, go to tinyurl.com/HN-Air-Quality-Zone.

During the open burn window, residents should check with their local Fire District or the City of Klamath Falls (inside the city limits) for additional restrictions.

Phone numbers for these agencies include: Klamath County Fire District No. 1 541-885-2056; Klamath County Fire District No. 4 541-884-1670; Klamath County Public Health 541-883-1122; City of Klamath Falls Code Enforcement 541-883-5358.

In honor of Women’s History month, four women in Klamath Falls will be awarded a total of $6,000 today, on St. Patrick’s Day, to aid them in pursuing their dreams.

Soroptimist Klamath Falls, a local branch of an international women’s organization, will be hosting the Live Your Dream & More Award Luncheon starting at 11:30 a.m. Friday, March 17 at in the Mazama-Scott room at Oregon Tech, 3201 Campus Drive.

The Live Your Dream Award is one of the global organization’s education and training awards for women.

A news release from the local branch said, “[These awards are a part] of a movement fiercely dedicated to ensuring every woman and girl has the opportunity to reach her full potential, free from violence, and live her dreams.”

Each year, Soroptimist International presents education grants to more than 1,700 women, totaling more that $2.8 million in awards.

At the local level, awards are granted to three women in need who have submitted an application to Soroptimist Klamath Falls. A fourth recipient will be awarded funds through the Dream Investment Award. This is a new award that will only be given this year.

Klamath Falls, Oregon marked a significant milestone as one of Oregon’s Tree City USA communities this year with 20 years at a partner.  

Oregon Department of Forestry administers the Tree City USA program in Oregon for the national Arbor Day Foundation. ODF Community Assistance Forester Brittany Oxford explains that cities and towns need to meet four criteria to become a Tree City USA: 

  1. Maintain a tree board or department 
  2. Have a community tree ordinance 
  3. Spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry 
  4. Celebrate Arbor Day 

Klamath Falls has maintained its designation for 20 years, according to Oxford. Oxford said cities benefit from sustained support of their urban forestry programs. “Trees are a long-term investment. Keeping engaged with maintenance and replacement tree plantings can help a community increase its tree canopy and keep that urban forest healthy, helping make  that community more climate resilient,” she said.

Cities marking milestone years include:

  • Madras – 30 years
  • Coburg, Seaside and Wilsonville – 25 years
  • Bend, Klamath Falls – 20 years
  • Cannon Beach, Dallas, Gresham and Lincoln City – 15 years
  • Hillsboro and Umatilla – 5 years

“Although it’s only been a Tree City for five years, Hillsboro has already earned two growth awards for improving and enlarging their urban forestry program, including one this year,” said Oxford. 

Jeremy Curry, Kabir Singh and Jay Rich are slated to perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 18 in the March Ragland Comedy Night. This show is appropriate for ages 18 and older.

The event will be emceed by Jim Turner and Hurricane Andrew of Retro Room Records, with special guest performances from comedians from all over the Pacific Northwest, according to a press release.

According to the press release, “this show is a guaranteed night of laughter brought to you from some of the funniest people on the west coast.”

This show is sponsored by The Running Y Resort and presented by Retro Room Records. General admission tickets are $20 while Vegas Box Seats are $40.

The Vegas Box Seats tickets include a Meet and Greet with the Comedians from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Cultural Center as well as two drink tickets per seat. Special lanyards and drink tickets can be picked up at the Meet and Greet event.

Tickets can be purchased on the theater’s website at www.ragland.org.

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. in Klamath Falls.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon DEQ to temporarily suspend Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program as of May 1st

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality today announced it will temporarily suspend the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program as of May 1, 2023. Projections show the program will be oversubscribed in late spring 2023. Program rules require DEQ to suspend rebates once funds are depleted.

“DEQ has one of the most generous EV rebate programs in the country. It has been extremely successful, and 2023 rebate applications are coming in at our highest rate yet. People are choosing electric vehicles and rebates are instrumental in lowering the costs to Oregonians.” said Oregon DEQ Director Leah Feldon.

The program receives funds annually from the state’s Vehicle Privilege Tax . It covers all program costs, including rebates, program administration and community engagement. The Oregon Department of Revenue projects the program will receive about $14 million for 2023. Also, it was able to carry over approximately $3.5 million due to a one-time allotment of $15 million last year. Therefore, the 2023 budget was $17.5 million, with $15.5 million available for rebates. DEQ expects the fund to be depleted in the next few months, based on volume of EV sales.

If you buy or lease an eligible battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle or zero-emission motorcycle before May 1, you may still apply for a rebate . DEQ has created an Available Rebate Funding web page so applicants can see how much money is left for 2023. Once funds are depleted, eligible applications will go on a waiting list, to be paid once DEQ receives its next allotment in early 2024.

Electric vehicles purchased or leased after April 30, 2023, will not receive state rebates, but can still qualify for federal tax credits . They will not be placed on a waiting list for rebates at a later time.

“Other states look to the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program as a model. That’s because we understand transitioning to electric vehicles is an important part of the state’s overall climate plan to reduce emissions, promote cleaner air and improve public health,” said Director Feldon.

A variety of state agencies and public electric utilities offer savings on EV purchases or charging infrastructure. The Go Electric Oregon website lists available incentives and provides helpful information for potential electric vehicle buyers and lessees.

If you have any questions about the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program suspension, please contact cleancars@deq.oregon.gov.

About The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality — The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality protects human health and the environment by controlling air and water pollution, reducing the impacts of manufactured products and cleaning up contaminated properties.

DEQ engages the public in decision-making and helps communities solve problems in ways that are economically and environmentally sustainable. https://www.oregon.gov/newsroom/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?newsid=87788

Bend Snowboarder Killed In Avalanche At Paulina Peak

A Bend snowboarder killed in an avalanche at Paulina Peak Wednesday has been identified.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says Erik Hefflefinger, 33, was snowboarding with friends when an avalanche swept him away and over a cliff at around 12:50 pm. His two friends, also from Bend and who had already made their descent when the avalanche happened, found him and immediately began CPR and other lifesaving measures. 

DCSO says Oregon State Police responded to the incident after receiving two SOS notifications from the area, however they were unable to get to the scene because of snow conditions. Deschutes County Search and Rescue (SAR) deployed three volunteers using Airlink. When they got there around 4 p.m., DCSO said Hefflefinger’s pulse was faint, so they began life saving measures. 

At 5 p.m., SAR determined Hefflefinger was beyond help and they stopped. DCSO said. They transported him to the 10-mile snow park, where he was then taken to the funeral home. 

DCSO said it was determined that Hefflefinger possibly hit a tree when he was swept away. The three snowboarders used snowmobiles to approach the area and made a final approach on skis and snowboards. 

The summit of Paulina Peak is 7,984 feet. It’s the highest point on the Newberry Volcano.

Earlier this month, experienced backcountry skier Aaron Griffith, of Bend, was killed by an avalanche while skiing with a friend at Black Crater, north of the Three Sisters.

DCSO said that prior to these two fatalities, it has been nine years since a fatality has been recorded directly due to an avalanche.

Study Finds Lack Of Nursing Teachers Causing Nurse Shortage in Oregon

The Oregon Longitudinal Data Collaborative (OLDC) is pleased to announce a newly published study: “Postsecondary Healthcare Education Shortage in Oregon,” a statewide analysis of the nursing education shortage that is impacting every region of Oregon.

According to the study, more than 6,800 qualified nursing student applications were submitted to Oregon postsecondary institutions in 2020, yet only 23 percent were accepted. At the same time, Oregon ranks 47th in graduates per capita from registered nursing programs.

This study examines the causes of the postsecondary education bottleneck which is limiting institutions of higher education from providing enough capacity to meet student and job market demand for registered nurses and makes recommendations for policymakers to address these issues. Read the full analysis here or the Summary of Findings and Recommendations here.

Barbara Holtry, interim executive director of the Oregon State Board of Nursing says, “This report confirms what has been known in nursing circles for decades; that there is a nursing faculty shortage in Oregon, that nurses avoid teaching because they can earn more in other nursing roles, and that student cohorts could be larger if only there were more faculty to support them.”

The researchers found that there are more than enough qualified applicants to Oregon’s nursing education programs to meet job demand in the state. However, in a survey of Oregon’s healthcare education programs, the researchers found that significant barriers have prevented registered nursing programs from expanding to accept more qualified students, including: difficulty hiring and retaining faculty, limited clinical placement opportunities, and fiscal challenges including costs to update and expand their facilities. Further investigation revealed that Oregon has one of the largest salary gaps nationally between nursing faculty and registered nurses.

Analysis showed that states like Oregon with a higher nursing faculty salary gap graduate fewer students per capita. The survey also found that 95 percent of nursing programs were denied one or more attempts to establish a clinical placement between 2016-2020. 

Based on the findings in the study, the OLDC developed recommendations which are detailed in the summary here and include: establishing a state workgroup to address nurse faculty salary, establishing a statewide centralized clinical placement system, addressing needs for program expansion including facility and equipment needs and expanded access to bachelor programs, and conducting additional research to identify additional support for students.

“This study is a great example of the value that comes from sharing data with the Oregon Longitudinal Data Collaborative and other partner agencies. It sheds light on the complex challenges contributing to the shortage of health care workers and points to some possible policy solutions,” said Acting Oregon Employment Department Director David Gerstenfeld. “These collaborations help Oregon businesses and workforces compete, thrive, and flourish in our ever-changing labor market. Together, we can serve Oregonians better than we ever could on our own.”

This is the first comprehensive report of the OLDC, a program governed by multiple agencies, that looks at the intersections of K-12, postsecondary education, workforce training, and employment to examine how these sectors influence and impact each other. The OLDC, located in the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, is working to tackle topics like nursing education that require integrated data and analysis from multiple sectors: K-12 education, postsecondary education, licensing, workforce, and more.

Ben Cannon, executive director of HECC says, “This study provides an in-depth analysis of a critical and complicated issue we face, and concrete actions for Oregon policy makers and institutions to consider to help more Oregon students enter rewarding, well-paying careers, and to help Oregon communities that are in such need of quality healthcare workers. I’m pleased that we can benefit from the rigorous research of the OLDC and all the partners they have worked with.”  

The study was created over the course of the last year through analysis of data from the OLDC Statewide Longitudinal Data System with additional data provided by Oregon State Board of Nursing, Oregon Employment Department, Oregon Health Authority, and surveys to the Oregon healthcare education programs. The OLDC thanks the many college and university deans and their program staff, the Oregon State Board of Nursing, HECC program staff, OHA, and the research directors from the HECC, OED, ODE for their involvement during the research process.  Source: Oregon Longitudinal Data Collaborative

Oregon is one of 20 states with so-called “red flag” gun laws, and Deschutes County continues to lead the state in using them to prevent harm.

The law allows for the temporary removal of someone’s firearms if a judge agrees they’re displaying clear signs of danger to themselves or others. Built into the system is the opportunity to contest the removal and automatic expiration after a year if an order isn’t extended with more evidence.

Experts say the laws allow for intervention before a person’s behavior turns dangerous. Since Oregon’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law took effect in 2018, Deschutes County has issued those orders more often than most other counties in the state, according to a review of judicial department data.

Jake Chandler, an investigator in the Deschutes County District Attorney’s office and former Bend Police officer, says the law took effect right at the time he and the department’s Community Response Team was responding to two tragic fatalities.

“(We looked) at those saying hey, what can we do on our team, on the mental health team, to make sure that doesn’t happen again, or do everything in our power to try to stop that from happening?” Chandler said. “So once we found the ERPOs being available to us, our team really started pushing that.”

Even several years into their existence, the protective orders remain at times a little-known tool for preventing deaths and injuries from firearms, as passage of the law came with little state support for public education around the orders and their use.

But “red flag” laws have gained national attention as investigators find missed warning signs left by the perpetrators of mass shootings.

“We all have been touched by violence in our community or nationally that people say ‘why didn’t somebody do something?’ when there were red flags,” said Kecia Weaver, a former Bend Police officer now working for the Sunriver Police Department. “This is a tool, a ‘something’ that myself or other lawful officers can do when we become alerted to some red flags by an individual’s statements or communication about what they might do to themselves or others.”

The orders are not cure-alls, Weaver notes, saying people could still find ways to be dangerous with an order applied to them, but that temporarily reducing access to firearms can still be an improvement.

Requests for orders can be filed only by certain people for certain reasons. Law enforcement, close family members and intimate partners can apply to have someone’s weapons removed with an order, but not friends, coworkers or acquaintances.

Those narrow rules are important for making sure orders are used only in serious situations, according to Kerry Spurgin, president of the Oregon Sports Shooting Association.

“The most important thing is we need to save lives and that person is given the opportunity to regain (their firearms),” Spurgin said. “But I rest on the fact that It starts with events that are defendable in front of a (judge), with the knowledge that there are second steps to regain.”

While certain family members can petition for an order, Chandler notes that asking law enforcement to do so is also an option to avoid direct confrontation if preferred.

The rules also mean clinicians like therapists or doctors — while they are mandatory reporters who have to report certain threats of violence — can’t directly petition for an order.

That can be reassuring for someone experiencing mental health challenges who might be afraid that being honest with a counselor could get their guns taken away, according to Donna-Marie Drucker, founder of the Oregon Firearms Safety Coalition, which provides suicide prevention training for gun clubs and ranges.

“Mostly my focus is letting people know that your clinician, your person at the VA, your primary care doctor cannot petition (for an order),” Drucker said. “You go and ask for help and nobody’s going to be taking away your guns.”

If an order is granted, a person has 24 hours to surrender their weapons to law enforcement, a firearms dealer or other specified people.

Since their inception, most of the state’s 500-plus granted “red flag” orders that have been granted have included concerns about a person’s risk of suicide.

Petitions are granted for a handful of other reasons, including if a person makes threats of violence, purchases a weapon for the purpose of committing violence, violates certain restraining orders or is convicted of certain crimes — and, most often, some combination of multiple reasons.

Still, not every petition is granted.

“I’ve only had one that was declined by the courts — which again is a great part of the process, because officers just apply for orders when they think it would be an appropriate and helpful tool,” Weaver said. “But ultimately it is up to a judge.”

In that specific case, the individual had been making threats toward family members, but the judge didn’t see enough evidence to issue an order.

“But a few days later the individual contacted law enforcement that they did not feel safe having access to firearms, and they felt that they could potentially be a danger to others,” Weaver said.

About 20% of ERPO petitions have been denied since the law took effect, most for the same reason that a judge didn’t find “clear and convincing evidence” that the person presented a risk of harm to themselves or others, or because they didn’t actually have access to a weapon, according to judicial department data.

“Many, many things you can’t enforce unless a bad act has occurred, and for community safety, we’re trying to avoid a bad act … while still respecting someone’s constitutional rights,” Weaver said. “So it’s not something that we take lightly, and it does have to have good foundational information.” (SOURCE)

Statewide Speed Related Fatal and Serious Injury Crashes up 67%, Local Law Enforcement Conducting Awareness Campaign

March is Speed Awareness Month, speeding is a dangerous and aggressive behavior that accounts for more than one-quarter of all traffic-related fatalities nationally. There are many reasons drivers choose to speed, but lateness, traffic, and a general disregard for others are the main culprits behind this risky behavior. Much like impaired driving, speeding is a selfish choice that can have deadly consequences for the driver.

Speed related fatal and serious injury crashes were up 67% statewide in 2021. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), 2021 represents a 32‐year high in traffic fatalities (599 total) and a 25‐year high in serious injuries (2498 total). Almost one‐third (29%) of the 2021 fatal and serious injury crashes were flagged as speed related. According to initial fatal crash notifications, ODOT anticipates these trends continued through 2022.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and other local agencies are teaming up to remind drivers to stop speeding and to help put an end to this risky driving behavior. We will be participating in this statewide speed awareness campaign for the entire month of March.

Note: Photos are from separate cases. Speed-Related Crash Photo: Vehicle suspected of reaching speeds around 100 mph before hitting the tree. Speeding Ticket Photo: Taken last month in Jackson County.

Medford Police Phoenix Oregon Police Department NHTSA Oregon Department of Transportation

Back to the BasinLife.com homepage

Ready to Advertise? We’re ready to help you with Daily Radio Mentions, Articles, direct link Banner Ads, Geo-targeting and Geo-fencing, Social Media Posts, Email Blasts and smart digital marketing strategies for 2023 for your business, website and social media pages. Call 541-363-7503 or email us at Info@BasinLife.com

Enter to win CAR PAYMENTS FOR A YEAR from BasinLife.com and other great weekly prizes through March 2023. Look for Entry Boxes now at Lithia Ford of Klamath Falls, Napa Auto Parts on Washburn Way, MPH Diesel and Auto Repair on East Main, Ken’s Affordable Tire on 5th, D&R Auto and Industrial, Bedroom Gallery, Tater Patch Quilts, and Main Street Jewelers downtown. Stop by these locations and look for the entry boxes!

Must Read

Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 1/20 – Klamath County Public Health Working To Vaccinate Individuals Within Phase 1-A Groups

Brian Casey

Can’t Use the Kitchen? Time For A Special Pizza Delivery At Chiloquin Elementary

Brian Casey

Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 10/28 – Sky Lakes Medical Receives Ransomeware Attack, Issues Statement

Brian Casey