Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 3/21 – C-SPAN Announces Cassidy Bogatay and Mia Hidden of Klamath Union High School as Honorable Mention Prize Winners in 2023 StudentCam Competition

Pictured above, K U’s Mia Hidden (left) and Cassidy Bogatay (right), $250 prize winners in C-Span Studentcam nationational competition. Congrats from BasinLife.com and Wynne Broadcasting!

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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Mostly sunny, with a high near 49. East northeast wind 8 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Overnight partly cloudy, with a low around 26.

Wednesday A chance of rain and snow showers between 11am and 2pm, then a chance of rain showers after 2pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 49. Light winds at times, chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected. Overnight a chance of rain showers, mixing with snow, and a low around 29. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Thursday Snow showers likely after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 45. Breezy, with a southwest wind 7 to 12 mph increasing to 26 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. Overnight a 40% chance of snow showers, mainly before 11pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 23. Breezy. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
Friday A 50%chance of snow showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 38. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. A slight chance of snow overnight, low of 29 degrees.
Saturday A chance of snow showers after 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 38.
Sunday A slight chance of snow showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 41.

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

Connecting local producers with area commercial buyers is an important way to support the local agricultural community.

To that end, Healthy Klamath has been creating connections through the Find Your Farmer events for the past six years. These events have given producers a venue in which to showcase their products, learn about growth and development opportunities, and get connected with businesses.

Producing food at any scale is no easy task in the high desert of southcentral Oregon, according to a press release.

“Agriculture producers must persist against increasing environmental pressures, and often must consider taking significant risks to scale-up or diversify their operations,” the press release states. “This arid region has a short growing season — about 100 days (about 3 and a half months) — and receives an average of 13 inches of precipitation annually. Finding ways to support our food system and our local producers is a priority for Healthy Klamath.”

This year, Healthy Klamath is teaming up with OSU extension and Klamath Grown to host the sixth annual Find Your Farmer Event, according to the press release. This event will have two educational panels: One with local buyers and processors, and one with producers that sell their products locally, according to the release.

Any local producers, processors, or commercial buyers interested in attending are asked to reach out to Kelsey Mueller-Wendt, policy manager for Healthy Klamath. Mueller-Wendt can be called at 541-827-9442.

Mia Hidden (left), Cassidy Bogatay (right)

On Wednesday, C-SPAN announced that students at Klamath Union High School in Klamath Falls, Oregon are honorable mention prize winners in C-SPAN’s national 2023 StudentCam competition.

Cassidy Bogatay will receive $250 for the documentary, “Water: Beauty of the Basin,” about endangered species. 

Mia Hidden will receive $250 for the documentary, “Flowers that Fly – Saving the Monarchs,” about climate change and habitat loss. [videos below]

C-SPAN, in cooperation with its cable television partners, asked middle and high school students to engage in a national conversation on the challenges our country is facing with the theme: “If you were a newly elected member of Congress, which issue would be your first priority and why?” 

Now in its 19th year, this project-based learning experience gives students the opportunity to explore multiple perspectives on topics that are important to them and consider solutions to address them. In response, nearly 3,000 students participated, and C-SPAN received over 1,500 entries from 40 states, Washington, D.C. and Abu Dhabi.

Klamath Community College has once again earned a gold rating as a Military Friendly School.

The designation comes from Viqtory Media Company.  It assesses schools on several criteria like student retention, graduation and loan repayment.

Over 1800 schools participated in the survey and only 530 earning a gold designation.

The Klamath Falls City Police responded on Friday to a 911 call coming in at about 11:30 in the morning, notifying them of a gunman in H&R Block on South Sixth Street. 

Multiple police units responded proceeded and then began evacuating people in the H&R office and adjacent buildings. H&R Block is less than two blocks from the KFPD’s headquarters on Shasta Way.

Police say a man was apprehended after barricading himself in a bathroom.  As it turns out, the person apprehended was also the one that made the initial call to Klamath County 911.  He was identified as Jerry Regis, 30 years of age, and charged with a probation violation and lodged in the Klamath County jail.

Eagle Ridge High School has been putting its best foot forward, according to the board of directors and members of the teaching staff.

The charter school has been taking steps to improve the quality of the educational environment and increase enrollment to pre-pandemic levels.

At the regular school board meeting Thursday, March 16, board members, administrative staff and teachers discussed some of the success stories that have come from recent events and projects. Executive Director Kim Cappel spoke about the recently developed internship database program organized through Klamath Promise.

The database, which is provided by East Cascade Works — the workforce provider for the Klamath Basin area — creates a network for local businesses and high schools to share internship opportunities. The database launched March 3.

Also during the meeting, the construction contract for an additional building on site was announced to have been awarded to Diversified Contractors, Inc.

In previous meetings, it was noted that students interested in careers in the field of construction will be able to participate in some aspects of erecting the new structure. What will be offered in the new addition has not been made concrete yet as the board intends to involve the community in making those decisions.

As for enrollment, it was reported in the Eagle Ridge board meeting agenda in February that enrollment was down to 137 students. This leaves the school 18 students short of what is needed to make the budget.

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.

Open Burning for the Spring period is now open, according to Klamath County Air Quality office, giving residents the opportunity to burn yard waste.

Burning is allowed now through 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 2nd, 2023.

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.

Coming to the Ragland Theater in April

Motown with a Twist (Saturday, April 1st, 2023 at 7:30 PM)
● Here comes Motown with a Twist – a new twist on classic Motown. It’s a sparkling,
electrifying night of the Motor City’s most famous hit songs featuring Celebrity Pros
from Dancing with the Stars performing with finalists from So You Think You Can
Dance,and vocals by American Idol, The Voice, and America’s Got Talent finalists. This
family friendly night features songs from Diana Ross & The Supremes to Smokey
Robinson to The Jackson 5 with everything in between. You’ll Twist and Shout to
Motown with a Twist.
● Showing on Saturday, April 1st, 2023 at 7:30 PM
● Tickets are $45 for general admission, $10 for youth ages 12 and under, and $65 for
Vegas seating.
Get tickets at ragland.org

Meet the Easter Bunny fundraiser (Sunday, April 2nd at 2:00 PM)
Meet the Easter Bunny. Have your picture taken with him. Get goodie bags & cotton
candy and slushie’s will be available from the Slush ‘n Smart cart. Donations are
accepted, and everyone is welcomed
● Happening Sunday, April 2nd at 2:00 PM
Young Musicians of Excellence (Tuesday, April 4th,
2023 at 7:30 PM)
● Enjoy burgeoning young artists performing on the Ragland stage. Featuring a
smorgasbord of vocal and instrumental talent, these high school musicians are
considered the best of the best in their chosen field by professional judges and
● Showing on Tuesday, April 4th, 2023 at 7:30 PM
● Tickets are $15 for General Admission, and $5 for youth ages 12 and under
● Get tickets at ragland.org
● Youth Oriented

Ragtag Choir Spring Performance (Friday, April 7th, 2023 at 6:00 PM)
● Ragland’s own youth choir; The Rag Tag Choir, performs twice a year on the main stage.
The Spring concert is an annual event that is now a seasonal tradition. Join the Ragland’s
youth choir for a concert of popular songs that celebrate all the joys of springtime.
● Showing on Saturday, April 7th, 2023 at 6:00 PM
● Tickets are $10
● Get tickets at ragland.org
● Youth Friendly show

Hotel California – a tribute to the eagles (Thursday, April 20th, 2023 at 7:30 PM)
● A spirited blend of originality and the pursuit of excellence have taken Hotel California “A
Salute to the Eagles’ ‘ to a level of recognition normally reserved for Gold and Platinum
recording artists. The most successful and longest running show of its kind, Hotel
California “A Salute to the Eagles,” is the ONLY show to have ever received “Official
Authorization” to perform the Eagles catalog of music. So join us on a trip down a dark
desert highway… Feel the cool wind in your hair … It’s time to check into …The Hotel
● Showing on Thursday, April 20th, 2023 at 7:30 PM
● Tickets are $29 for general admission and $49 for Vegas seating.
● Get tickets at ragland.org

Ragland Comedy Night (Friday, April 28th, 2023 at 7:30 pm)
● Join us for another month of Ragland Comedy Nights with Jim and Hurricane’s funniest
● Happening on Friday, April 28th, 2023 at 7:30PM
● Tickets are $20 for General Admission, and $40 for VIP box seating
● Get tickets at ragland.org
● Suggested for ages 18 and up

Around the state of Oregon

Eight months after Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act, a $280 billion boost to the U.S. semiconductor industry, a panel of state legislators on Wednesday endorsed the Oregon CHIPS Act to give local companies a leg up in competing for federal money.

The bipartisan, bicameral 14-member committee started its work in January with the goal of making Oregon as competitive as possible for the nearly $53 billion in grants and tax credits the U.S. Department of Commerce will begin providing this year for semiconductor research and manufacturing because of the CHIPS and Science Act.

Senate Bill 4, the Oregon CHIPS Act, would create a $200 million fund for grants and loans for businesses seeking federal funding to expand in Oregon. It also would give Gov. Tina Kotek the authority to designate some land outside urban growth boundaries, the invisible line that limits where cities can expand, as industrial land for annexation by cities. In particular, Hillsboro is seeking to add hundreds of acres of land near its northwest corner, creating a roughly 800-acre plot that could be used for a major manufacturing facility, or fab.

While the bill is the Legislature’s main response to the federal law, it fits within a patchwork of other proposals that address semiconductor industry needs, lawmakers said. They highlighted last year’s $200 million workforce training plan, which focuses on jobs in manufacturing and health care, as well as pending legislation to expand broadband, build more homes and make child care more affordable and available.

Separately, Kotek last month announced a $1 million grant program to help small and mid-sized firms prepare applications for federal funding. Business Oregon will run that grant program, and it plans to post updates online once it finalizes rules for the grants.

Oregon lawmakers are pursuing a package of firearm bills aimed at preventing gun violence and curbing the proliferation of untraceable guns.

They say the proposals are needed to stem gun violence and give law enforcement the necessary tools to address the issue.

The Democratic lawmakers have the support of House Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, who asked the group to work on the issue, and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who is concerned about the rise of “ghost guns,” which are untraceable.

In 2020, 593 Oregonians died from homicide or suicide by firearms, state data shows. Of those, 110 cases involved homicide, up from 78 in 2019. The proposals follow the narrow passage by voters in November of Measure 114, which would require gun purchasers to go through safety training before obtaining a permit, ban the sale of magazines with more than 10 bullets and close a loophole that allows people to buy firearms without a background check. The law remains stalled in a Harney County court and is set for a trial in September.

The Oregon House is expected to vote today on a bill that would allow self-service gas statewide. Currently, self-serve gas is only allowed in counties with lower populations. Gas station owners say the low unemployment level makes it difficult for them to hire enough people to staff all of their pumps. This bill would require at least one attendant, and some of the pumps would continue to be served. The bill has bipartisan support.

Oregon’s Jobs Report for February Released

In Oregon, nonfarm payroll employment declined by 100 jobs in February, following a gain of 9,600 jobs in January. Job losses in February were largest in manufacturing (-1,300 jobs) and financial activities (-1,000). Gains were largest in construction (+1,400 jobs), private educational services (+1,000), and government (+700). 

Nondurable goods manufacturing experienced more job cuts than normal in both January and February. The industry employed 57,800 in February, which was close to its February totals of the prior two years. Food manufacturing comprises about half of nondurable goods manufacturing employment and, at 27,800 jobs in February, was close to its February totals of each of the past seven years. Meanwhile, durable goods manufacturing hasn’t gained much ground lately, as it has hovered close to 137,000 jobs during the past eight months. Recent gains in machinery manufacturing have been offset by declines in computer and electronic product manufacturing

Construction employment rose sharply in February, reaching another record high of 122,700. The industry added 7,500 jobs, or 6.5%, over the past 12 months. Since February 2022, all published components of construction are up between 3.8% and 9.3%. The component that grew the fastest was building equipment contractors, which added 3,000 jobs, or 9.3%, in that time. Both components within construction of buildings grew close to 4%, with residential building construction up 800 jobs, or 3.8%, and nonresidential building construction up 500 jobs, or 4.3%. 

Government employment rebounded above to its pre-pandemic high of early 2020, as it rose to 302,100 jobs in February. Local government education rose to 139,100 jobs in February, which was 6,500 jobs above its year-ago figure, and is now nearly back to its February 2020 total of 141,900. Local government, excluding education slowly expanded over the past eight months; it employed 97,700 in February. 

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.7% in February, little changed from 4.8% in January. Oregon’s unemployment rate averaged 4.8% over the past six months. In February, the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 3.6%, from 3.4% in January. 

Home Share Could Help Oregon’s Housing Crisis 

Oregon’s housing crisis is a huge problem that Governor Tina Kotek and legislators are working to tackle. It has been front and center during this year’s legislative session as the crisis grows worse each month around the state.

The scale of the shortage makes it difficult for even aggressive solutions to produce quick improvements; it will take a long time to build the hundreds of thousands of housing units Oregon will need to not only make up for the exsiting shortfall but stay ahead of future population growth.

But there is one creative approach that can produce additional housing much faster, and without having to build anything at all: home sharing, in which existing homeowners rent out their unused rooms to tenants in search of affordable housing.

HomeShare Oregon

Tess Fields, executive director of Home Share Oregon, and Margaret Van Vliet, former director of Oregon Housing and Community services, were guests on this week’s episode of Straight Talk to discuss the state of Oregon’s housing crisis and the immediate impact that home sharing can have.

They were joined by James Dirksen, an Oregon homeowner who has rented out a portion of his house for more than 20 years, hosting a variety of tenants, to talk about his experience as a home sharing participant. The conversation also touched on Oregon House Bill 3032, which would create tax incentives for homeowners who rent out rooms long-term at affordable rates.

A mix of problems have caused Oregon to fall behind on housing production over the years and fail to keep up with population growth, Van Vliet explained.

“One thing that stands out for me is that lots of industries have evolved and changed and seen a lot of innovation, but home building and home construction really has not changed much in many decades. So that’s one piece — the pace of construction really hasn’t changed much,” she said.

Local governments also need to be able to plan, zone and issue permits for building, she said, and that can often become a bottleneck. Financing for affordable housing can also become very complicated. It’s also not just a question of affordable housing availability, she added. The shortage is more concentrated at lower levels, but Oregon is short on housing stock at all income levels. 

The housing shortage has negative impacts on the state’s economy, she said, because it leaves employers struggling to recruit workers as those workers can’t find affordable housing nearby. First responders and public employees can also struggle to find housing.

Construction costs for affordable housing currently runs about $400,000 per unit, Van Vliet said. Apartment buildings will often use several sources of public money for financing, she said, creating added legal costs, and there are tough requirements for things like energy efficiency and quality building materials.

Home Share Oregon is a relatively new nonprofit that matches people who have unused rooms in their homes with people in need of affordable housing. The group just surpassed 900 homeowners signed up, Fields said.

“There’s about 1.5 million owner-occupied homes across the state of Oregon that have a spare bedroom available, and one out of every three homeowners are mortgage-burdened,” she said. “Our seniors specifically — 40% of our seniors are reporting that they’re at risk of foreclosure.”

Matching those homeowners with housemates could potentially house another 30,000 people, Fields said, without having to build any new infrastructure and while giving homeowners more financial resilience at the same time.

Home Share Oregon’s most common clients are women over the age of 50, many of whom have experienced the death of a spouse or a divorce, Fields said. The average homesharing agreement tends to be about $750 per month, but the agreements can vary significantly, with room for bargaining and negotiations.

The organization provides free screening technology to find compatible housemates and homeowners, she said, as well as free background checks and home sharing agreements, plus case management services for senior clients. Those components are all important, she said, because the organization does get a lot of questions about safety. The screening process works both ways, making sure housemates feel comfortable too.

“Homesharing isn’t for everyone, and it’s absolutely not a decision that should be made impulsively,” she said.

Dirksen said he and his wife jumped into the home sharing world two decades ago, and they’ve hosted a wide range of housemates in that time.

“Right after the pandemic (began) I think we had 14 people in our home,” he said. “We had four college students, two high school students, a young family plus our own family, all living in various places in our big house.”

And a few years ago, during a summer of intense wildfires, the couple hosted a 75-year-old man who had been homeless in their neighborhood. The thick smoke made it unsafe for him to be outside, Dirksen said, so they initially hosted him for a few days, but he ended up staying with them for about two years until he found his own housing.

Safety concerns are important in the home sharing world, Dirksen said, so the background checks and home sharing agreements are important, and homeowners do need to be conscious of who exactly they want to invite into their homes.

“There’s a large demand for affordable housing right now, so homeowners are in a great situation to be kind of picky about who they want to come in, and make sure it’s a really good fit for them, for their lifestyle and for political choices, dietary choices, do they want dogs, do they not want dogs, do they want sponges or dish towels, those kind of things,” he said.  (SOURCE)

The Mt. Ashland Ski Area has set a new record of visitors to the Southern Oregon slopes. On Saturday, the ski area broke its all-time season attendance record with 106,762 visits. The previous record was 106,003 skier visits in a season.

This comes as Mt. Ashland saw record snowfall this season compared to the previous few years.

Because of this, Andrew Gast has also announced that the Ski Area is extending its season to April 23, two weeks later than its usual closing date. 

This season has been historic in several ways.  From the first day of the season, the community has supported the mountain in record numbers. They’ve  had outstanding snowfall this winter, and currently have 125” of snow on the ground, and that combination of skier support and great snow coverage allows them to stay open a few weeks later. With 24 days of skiing and snowboarding left this winter, the new attendance record will be set very high and we they thank the community for coming up to the mountain.

Interior Secretary Haaland Announces Wildfire Risk Money on Visit to Southern Oregon

Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, visited Southern Oregon on Sunday. She announced $21 million was on its way to Oregon to help reduce the risk of wildfires.

The secretary spoke at a media event in the Oregon Department of Forestry’s log cabin crew house at the department’s command center in Central Point, Oreogn.

Alongside her were U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, and Mike Shaw, chief of fire protection at ODF. Merkley sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. Haaland said the money will go toward completing fuels management work on more than 170,000 acres in the state.

The funds come from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which contains $1.5 billion over five years to combat the wildfire threat on several fronts, from prevention and mitigation to firefighter response.

Since December, $278 million has been allocated. This includes a $50 million allocation announced Friday that will, among other things, pay for remote sensing equipment that detects wildfires; provide communities with slip-on water tanks that turn trucks into fire rigs; and boost the pay of federal wildland firefighters, whose fire seasons, year after year, begin earlier and end later.

“We’re like fire years instead of fire seasons anymore,” Haaland said. “I know that Oregon, unfortunately, knows this all too well, with so little room for error.”

Oregon is also among 13 states that will benefit from a pilot program supporting projects aimed at fuel reduction — that is, reducing vegetation that can fuel fires — on private lands.

“We must remain steadfast in our commitment to wildland fire preparedness, mitigation and resilience,” she said. “We at the Department of the Interior are doing everything we can to work with the states, Tribes, local governments to reduce these risks and support the firefighting workforce.”

Sunday’s event took place on day three of Haaland’s three-day trip to Oregon. She visited Bend Friday to discuss the Interior Department’s investments in the state’s outdoor recreation economy.

In Central Point, Shaw, the ODF chief, spoke first. Though snowpack in Southern Oregon is higher than in recent years, he said, “I do project that we’re going to have another challenging fire season.”

Climate change has become inescapable in Southern Oregon, where drought conditions have persisted since 2019 and wildfires have become commonplace.

“‘All hands on deck’ is the approach that we’re taking, and all wildland fire agencies are working together,” he said.

In recent years, wildfire smoke has often covered the region in an orange-gray haze, forcing residents to stay indoors for days and choking off business and tourism.

The 2020 Almeda and South Obenchain fires that displaced thousands of people brought home the risks that wildfires and a warming climate pose.

Last summer’s Rum Creek Fire, sparked by lightning, torched more than 21,000 acres near Galice.

Haaland, the first Native American to serve in a presidential cabinet, had come from a briefing with fire response coordinators, state leaders and others who confront the wildfire threat. “‘Collaboration’ is the word that was most used in that briefing,” she said.

“One thing from our conversation is profoundly clear, that climate change will continue to make fires in the West larger and that we must continue to invest in conservation of our ecosystems. Nature is our best ally in the fight against climate change.”

Will it be possible to tell if the investment in combating wildfire is working when the climate itself is in flux? How will policy makers track progress?

In an interview afterward, Merkley said people can look at such markers as the number of acres that have been treated through prescribed burning, thinning or mowing. They can also look at the number of wildfires that erupt in Oregon, or to the amount of wildland fire personnel dispatched, along with their equipment, to the incidents.

“There are ways of measuring it, even with the ups and downs of fire season,” the Oregon Democrat said.

The public conversation around climate change has evolved in the time Merkley has been in office. Years ago, in the town halls the senator conducts every year in every Oregon county, the subject produced consternation, he said. People would ask, “‘Is that really real?’ Because there (was) a lot of messaging coming out of the fossil fuel world saying it’s not real,” he recalled.

“But now I don’t get that reaction at all,” he continued. “In those forums, generally the conversation is about the impact that we see on our farming, on our fishing and on our forests. And people who live in rural Oregon see those impacts every single day. They see it through the drought. They see it through the fires. They see it through the beetles attacking our trees. Over on the coast, we’re seeing very significant changes in the warmth and the acidity of the ocean affecting our ocean ecosystem. So it’s everywhere we look.”

Haaland said, “The science is such in 2023 that it’s very difficult to deny that climate change is happening. And people who do deny it aren’t really looking at the science and the reality of the situation.” (SOURCE)

Gresham company recalling frozen strawberry products linked to hepatitis A cases in Washington

Oregon health officials are working with federal partners to determine whether product has caused any illnesses in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore.— Scenic Fruit Company of Gresham is recalling frozen “Organic Strawberries” sold at Costco, Aldi, KeHE, Vital Choice Seafood and PCC Community Markets, and frozen “Organic Tropical Fruit Blend” sold at Trader Joe’s, due to an outbreak of hepatitis A illnesses.

Five outbreak-associated cases of hepatitis A have been reported in Washington since March 13. The five cases occurred between November 11 and December 27, 2022, and two individuals required hospitalization. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone reported eating frozen organic strawberries.

Although no patients with hepatitis A in Oregon have been definitively linked to the consumption of these products, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) officials are monitoring the outbreak in Washington. In addition, OHA is interviewing persons diagnosed with hepatitis A to determine if any have consumed frozen berries.

“Since these products were available in Oregon stores, we want to let people know about them so they can take steps to protect themselves and their families,” said Ann Thomas, M.D., M.P.H., a public health physician in OHA’s Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention Section. “At this point, OHA is carefully investigating any new cases of hepatitis A virus to determine if they are associated with the outbreak, but we have not yet been able to link any Oregon cases to these products.”

The company has ceased the production and distribution of the product as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the company continue their investigation into what caused the problem. In addition, the company is removing all inventories of the affected lot from sale.

“The company is voluntarily recalling the affected products and cooperating with the FDA,” said Karel Smit, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Program manager. “The purpose of the recall is to remove the products from commerce and prevent the public from consuming potentially affected products.”

Although no hepatitis A virus has been found in the products, consumers should stop eating the product, and return it to the place of purchase for a full refund, or throw it away. Consumers with questions may contact the company at customer.service@scenicfruit.com.

Thomas said, “People who believe they’ve gotten sick from consuming frozen strawberries purchased at Costco or Trader Joe’s should contact a health care provider.”

Since 2014, Oregon has seen an average of 20 cases a year, with 2020 having the highest number at 29. Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), tiredness, stomach pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (frequent watery bowel movements), dark urine, and light-colored bowel movements.

The disease varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting four to six weeks or longer. Hepatitis A infection can result in hospitalization. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice and may have a mild illness that can go unnoticed. However, even mildly ill people can be highly infectious. People with symptoms suggestive of hepatitis should consult a physician immediately, even if symptoms are mild.

For information about the national hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries, visit the CDC website. General information about hepatitis A is available on OHA’s and CDC’s websites.

Fatal Accidents in recent days in Oregon

On Saturday, March 18, 2023, at approximately 3:05 P.M., the Oregon State Police responded to a single vehicle crash on Interstate 5, near milepost 210, in Linn County.

The preliminary investigation indicated a 2022 Freightliner (CMV) and trailer, operated by Branden Hamilton (50) of Buffalo (NY), went off the roadway and impacted the guardrail and bridge cement barrier on Interstate-5 southbound, near milepost 210. Hamilton was pronounced deceased at the scene from injuries sustained in the crash. 

The highway was closed for approximately 6 hours during the on-scene investigation. The cause of the crash is unknown, however investigators believe the operator may have suffered a medical event prior to the crash.

OSP was assisted by the Halsey/Shedd Fire Department and ODOT.

On Monday, March 20, 2023, at approximately 7:45 A.M., the Oregon State Police responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 97, near milepost 151, in Deschutes County.

The preliminary investigation indicated a 2005 Toyota 4Runner, operated by Leland Daniel Angier (31) of Bend, was traveling northbound on Hwy 97, near MP 151, when it lost control on icy road conditions, slid off the roadway and rolled several times before coming to a stop. The single occupant of the vehicle was declared deceased at the scene.

The roadway was impacted for approximately 4 hours during the on-scene investigation of the crash.

OSP was assisted by the Deschutes County Sheriffs’ Office, Sunriver PD, Sunriver Fire, and ODOT.

On Friday, thousands of people across Northern California and Southern Oregon were surprised to see a mysterious “light show” happening in the sky.

A video footage taken by a resident in Medford captured the moment as dozens of lights burned throughout the sky before eventually fizzling out.

But what were those lights? Some have claimed that it was a meteorite burning away in our atmosphere. However, according to one astronomer, the answer is much more simple.   

Johnathan McDowell is an astronomer for the CfA and explained over Twitter that the “mysterious light show” was, in fact, space junk that had re-entered the atmosphere. 

In his Twitter thread, McDowell explained that the debris was an ICS-EF, or an Inter-orbit Communications System – Exposed Facility, Japanese communications package that had been used to send data between the ISS Kibo module and Mission Control Tsukuba via the Kodama data relay satellite.

McDowell continued to explain that it was launched to the ISS on the Space Shuttle in 2009, but became space junk around 2020.

For three years he said it orbited the Earth as space junk before finally reentering earth’s atmosphere over California.

The Jackson County Expo is adding more musical artists to complete its summer 2023 Rogue Music Fest two-day concert line-up.

The Expo says the upcoming Father’s Day weekend music festival includes performers Dillon Carmichael on Friday, June 16. It also includes Tenille Townes and Frank Ray on Saturday, June 17, 2023 at the Expo.

They join a Friday list of performers including Chris Janson and the Cadillac Three with headliner Eric Church at the Expo before Saturday’s concerts offer Sawyer Brown and Brothers Osborne with headliner Carrie Underwood.

The opening artist Friday, June 16, for the two-day music festival is Dillon Carmichael, whom Rolling Stone called, “country music’s most convincing young star since Stapleton.” The Kentucky native rose to fame in 2018 with his critically acclaimed Riser House debut, leaving New York Times to declare that his voice moves “with the heft and certainty of a tractor trailer.”

On Saturday, Oregon’s largest Tesla supercharging center opened in Sutherlin, around 13 miles north of Roseburg. 

Courtesy: @TeslaCharging

The location at 116 Clover Leaf Loop includes 51 superchargers, also making it the largest center in North America outside of California (which boasts a 100-stall supercharging center in the Mojave Desert). 

The chargers are now available for around-the-clock service. The Sutherlin Chamber of Commerce celebrated the grant opening on its Facebook page. 

The supercharger station, which was selected as the site due to the city being located at the approximate halfway point between Seattle and the Bay Area in California, is the largest in Oregon.

“I think it’s a wonderful addition to our city,” said Sutherlin mayor Michelle Sumner. “We’ve been working really hard to enhance our downtown area…so that people from outside the area know we’re here. This is a place that people can stop and see what we have to offer here.”

2023 National Earthquake Program Managers meeting in Portland strengthens earthquake preparedness and collaboration


PORTLAND, Ore. – March 20, 2023 – The 2023 National Earthquake Program Managers (NEPM) meeting will take place March 21-23 at the Duniway Hotel at 545 SW Taylor St. The event aims to provide information sharing and capacity-building opportunities for state, federal, non-profit and private sector members of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP).

This year’s NEPM meeting is co-hosted by the Oregon Department of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup (CREW). OEM Geological Hazards Program Coordinator and 2023 NEPM Chair Althea Rizzo will lead the meeting, alongside 2023 NEPM Vice-Chair Scott Gauvin, who also serves as manager of strategic operations and preparedness with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

“It’s a privilege to work with people from across the country so passionate about improving earthquake safety,” said Rizzo. “Earthquake preparedness and mitigation is a vital investment in our collective resilience, safeguarding our communities and securing the future against nature’s unpredictable upheavals.”

The NEPM group is primarily composed of state emergency management agency representatives who actively plan and prepare to reduce earthquake-related losses in their states. While some states have a dedicated earthquake program manager, in others, the responsibility is shared. Collectively known as the National Earthquake Program Managers, the group holds annual meetings to develop programs, share best practices and foster relationships.

The NEPM group first began holding annual meetings in the early 1990s, and after a brief hiatus, resumed meeting in 2004 at the National Earthquake Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Since then, the group has met yearly to continue building resilience against the high-consequence hazard of earthquakes.

For more information, visit EQProgram.net.

Scaled Down Permit System This Summer Will Focus On Congestion At Multnomah Falls Lot

Timed use permits will focus on the Multnomah Falls parking lot and not the Waterfall Corridor for summer 2023 in the Columbia River Gorge.

From Friday, May 26 through Monday, Sept. 4, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., a timed use permit will be required for each personal vehicle accessing Multnomah Falls from Interstate 84 Exit 31. 

Project partners will target congestion at Multnomah Falls. The effort will help reduce congestion by:

  • Reducing safety concerns and backups on I-84 with required timed use permits at Exit 31, the Multnomah Falls parking lot on Interstate 84. 
  • Using a flagger to direct traffic at the Historic Columbia River Highway/U.S. 30 crosswalk at Multnomah Falls.
  • Using a private concessionaire to manage the small parking lot along the Historic Highway/U.S. 30 at Multnomah Falls. The concessionaire will operate this lot on a first come, first-served basis. There are six ADA parking spots at this lot for those with valid ADA placards. When the parking lot is full, vehicles will not be allowed to stop or wait for an open space. 

Multnomah Falls (I-84) timed use permits will be available online at recreation.gov for a $2 transaction fee per vehicle up to two weeks in advance of your visit. A limited number of permits will also be available for pickup without a fee at the Gateway to the Gorge Visitor Center in Troutdale and the Cascade Locks Historical Museum.   

Unlike last year, permits will not be required on the Historic Columbia River Highway/U.S. 30 Waterfall Corridor in 2023. Last year’s 2022 Waterfall Corridor timed use permit pilot was successful in providing a safer, more reliable, enjoyable experience for visitors within the corridor. However, without a dedicated funding source, partners cannot staff and operate the full system and will instead focus our limited resources on the main sources of congestion and safety concerns at the most visited site in the corridor: Multnomah Falls.

“We learned a lot in 2022 about visitor practices and that information will help us as we plan for the future,” said Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann. “Multnomah County, ODOT, Oregon State Parks, the Forest Service, and all our partners are continuing to look for ways we can reduce congestion and improve the visitor experience to this wonderful treasure.”

The most reliable way to see Multnomah Falls continues to be transit, by bicycle or by tour/shuttle. Avoid the congestion by planning your trip in advance. Permits are only needed if you arrive by personal vehicle at I-84 Exit 31 for Multnomah Falls. 

If you want to visit Multnomah Falls by personal vehicle, the best way is to get a permit and take I-84 to Exit 31. 

For more information on the program go to www.WaterfallCorridorPermits.org. — https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/ORDOT/bulletins/34eb59d

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