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 Insurance, your local health and Medicare agents.
Monday, April 3, 2023
Klamath Basin Weather
Tonight, Mostly clear, with a low around 21. Northwest wind 6 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.
See Road Camera Views around the Basin:
Lake of the Woods
Hiway 97 at Chemult
Hiway 140 at Bly
Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr.
Hiway 97 at LaPine
Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is reminding communities that workers, patients and visitors in healthcare settings statewide will not be required to wear masks starting today.
Healthcare settings include, but are not limited to, hospitals, mobile clinics, ambulances, outpatient facilities, dental offices, urgent care centers, long term care facilities, counseling offices, school-based health centers and complementary and alternative medicine locations.
Some health care settings may decide to continue requiring masks even after the statewide requirement is lifted. Some of the restrictions have already been lifted in the Klamath Basin area health care facilities, while others have remained in place.
Anyone who wants to continue to wear a mask can do so, including in public places and in workplaces. Wearing a mask remains an effective way to reduce transmission of respiratory viruses. OHA continues encouraging people to wear a mask in any setting – including health care settings – if they are sick, have health conditions that put them at high risk for severe illness from a respiratory virus exposure (or lives with someone at high risk), or any time wearing a mask makes them feel more comfortable.
The order, which has been in effect since August 2021, is rescinded as of today, April 3rd.
A northern California tribe is pressing the federal government to stop water deliveries for farming in southern Oregon and northern California unless a federal agency can show it’s met all legal requirements for endangered species, including salmon and killer whales.
The Yurok Tribe, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Institute for Fisheries Resources filed a motion for a preliminary injunction last week, the Capital Press reported. It’s part of a 2019 lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Reclamation and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The Bureau of Reclamation operates the Klamath Project, which provides water for about 200,000 acres of farmland in southern Oregon and northern California. But the operations cannot threaten the survival of endangered species. The agency must consider water needs for threatened coho salmon in the Klamath River and two species of endangered sucker fish in Upper Klamath Lake. Southern resident orcas are also impacted, because they depend on Klamath River salmon for prey. Three consecutive years of drought have prompted the Bureau of Reclamation to adopt a more flexible management strategy for the Klamath Project. However, snowpack in the region is reportedly at 140% of normal for this winter, according to climatologists.
The goal was to hold more water back in Upper Klamath Lake near Klamath Falls, allowing Lost River and shortnose suckers — fish also called C’waam and Koptu — to access critical shoreline habitat for spawning and rearing.
But according to the Yurok Tribe, the cutbacks dropped Klamath River flows below what is necessary to protect “extremely at-risk” Coho. The tribe and fishing groups are asking a U.S. district judge in San Francisco to order the Bureau of Reclamation to withhold water for irrigators until the agency satisfies its obligations for endangered fish. Stay tuned.
The largest dam removal in U.S. History is officially underway.
Crews quietly broke ground earlier this month on March 10th. Right now, crews are constructing access roads to the dams to be able to bring in heavy equipment for the actual dam removal.
There are some steps that need to be completed before crews can start working, however, like reinforcing bridges for equipment access as well as building some new bridges.
Crews are also working on building new sites and lodging to accommodate the workforce that will be working on the dams.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Mark Bransom, the CEO of the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, reiterated that the restoration aspect of the 0project is also a huge priority.
Bransom said that part of the preparation process also includes building a new water supply line for the city of Yreka. Construction for that will begin in May. Bransom said that the actual removal of the dams won’t begin in the summer as previously planned. It will instead begin at the start of 2024.
Each April, community members gather in a local hub to celebrate and spread awareness of Child Abuse Prevention Month with the annual Day of Hope Rally.
Due to forecasted inclement weather, this year’s gathering, scheduled for Tuesday, April 4, has been cancelled.
Klamath County Child Abuse Prevention Coalition (KCCAPC) announced the cancelation Thursday, March 30. Amanda Squibb from “Friends of the Children” had been announced as the keynote speaker for the rally. According to KCCAPC, Squibb will instead be posting a video recording of her speech on the Stand Up for Klamath Kids Facebook page later this week.
As of today, there were no plans to reschedule the rally.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office seized 35 firearms and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition from two properties in Christmas Valley.
According to the sheriff’s office, two search warrants were served on Buffalo Wells Road that led to the arrest of two men. They were charged with possession of firearms, methamphetamine and psilocybin mushrooms among others.
A week ago, seventeen young women from Klamath and Lake Counties competed for over $28,000 in cash, scholarships, in-kind tuition, and the prestigious titles of Miss Klamath County 2023, Miss City of Sunshine 2023, Miss Klamath County’s Teen 2023, and Miss City of Sunshine’s Teen 2023.
Presented by the Women’s Scholarship Foundation of Klamath County, Saturday’s competition marked the 48th rendition of the Miss Klamath County-Miss City of Sunshine Scholarship Program, held at Mills Auditorium. This annual competition serves as an official preliminary pageant to the Miss Oregon and Miss Oregon’s Teen pageants, whose winners continue to Miss America and Miss America’s Teen pageants.
Shelby Johnson, a nursing student at Oregon Health and Sciences University, was crowned Miss Klamath County 2023. She performed a lyrical dance, and her Social Impact Initiative is “Drug Prevention Among Youth”.
McKenzie Simono, a student at Penn Foster College, was crowned Miss City of Sunshine 2023. She performed a vocal, and her Social Impact Initiative is “We Are Warriors.”
Ashten Helms, a student at Bonanza High School, was crowned Miss Klamath County’s Teen 2023. She performed a self-written monologue, and her Social Impact Initiative is “The Importance of 4-H for Youth.”
Makina Start, a student at Lakeview High School, was crowned Miss City of Sunshine’s Teen 2023. She performed a ballet dance, and her Social Impact Initiative is “Cancer Awareness.”
The Women’s Scholarship Foundation of Klamath County would like to offer their sincere gratitude to our sponsors and benefactors, whose generosity helps our contestants reach their educational goals.
National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March, everyone was invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.
This year’s March theme, “Fuel for the Future,” highlighted the importance of fueling our bodies at every age and eating with the environment in mind.
Local opportunities to eat with the environment in mind include the various farmer’s markets held throughout the region and the online resource through Klamath Grown at klamathgrown.org/market.
During #NationalNutritionMonth and beyond, people are encouraged to focus on the environment when meal planning. For example, you can shop locally and choose foods with minimal packaging. Get more tips to lighten your carbon foodprint at sm.eatright.org/carbonfdprint.
A good way to focus on sustainability is by starting a container or backyard garden to grow food at home. For tips on how to get started, go to sm.eatright.org/contnrgarden.
Eat with the environment in mind by getting creative with plant-based recipes and trying new foods. A few healthful vegetarian meal ideas are available at sm.eatright.org/vegmealideas.
To help save money and reduce food waste, plan your meals and snacks and make a grocery list before heading to the store. More tips for shopping healthfully on a budget can be found at sm.eatright.org/shopbudget.
Give your body the fuel it needs during every stage of life. Enjoy a variety of foods from all food groups and in various forms. Discover the benefits of fresh, frozen and canned foods at sm.eatright.org/frshcanfrzn.
Preparing food at home can be good for you and the environment. Enjoy meals with friends and family and add some variety by trying new flavors and foods from around the world with recipes available at sm.eatright.org/globalbrkfst. (BasinLife.com also has many delicious recipes on our Recipes page!)
Around the state of Oregon
Oregon to Review Health Coverage for 1 in 3 State Residents
State reviews benefits for Oregon Health Plan members as continuous eligibility under federal COVID-19 emergency ends
SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will review income eligibility for approximately 1.5 million Oregon Health Plan (OHP) and Medicare Savings Program (MSP) members starting April 1, 2023, after federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) protections for continuous eligibility will end. State health officials urge OHP members to review any notices they receive from OHA about their health benefits and respond promptly with any requested information.
State administrators need updated information to determine whether a member remains eligible for coverage for OHP and other Medicaid-funded services and supports.
During the federally-declared COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) extended coverage for all Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) members. This extension is ending today, March 31, 2023.
What to expect – When the pandemic began, the federal government allowed states to keep people on Medicaid once they became eligible. During an historic health emergency, OHP grew to nearly 1.5 million people, or one in three Oregonians.
Today marks an end to the federally enhanced Medicaid coverage. While most people will continue to qualify for existing benefits, OHA is required to review eligibility for all OHP members by mid-2024. Oregon will begin to notify OHP members starting in mid-April.
“We want to do everything we can to make sure Oregon Health Plan members stay covered as long as they are eligible,” said OHA Medicaid Director Dana Hittle. “It’s important for OHP members to keep their address up to date with us and for people to respond to any notices they receive. We know this process can be stressful for many members. We don’t want anyone to lose health coverage because of a missed notice.”
All OHP households will receive a renewal notice over the next ten months. It is very important that people understand that everyone will receive a notice and receiving a notice does not mean that action is required. The notice will tell members what they need to do, or if they don’t need to do anything at all.
If someone is determined to be no longer eligible for OHP, they will have 60 days before their OHP benefits will end. State officials will work to connect people who lose eligibility for OHP to the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace to find other health coverage. The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace (OHIM) will be sending information to people who are no longer eligible for OHP benefits and advising of potential coverage options and financial help through the Marketplace. People who do not enroll through the Marketplace will receive a second notice 30 days before their Oregon Health Plan benefits end.
The Marketplace Transition Help Center will be available starting April 13 to help people understand their options, how to transition to the Marketplace, and to find help from local health coverage experts.
“We are committed to helping eligible Oregon Health Plan members maintain their coverage,” said Hittle. “We don’t want anyone to fall through the cracks. We want to protect and expand health coverage so more children and adults have access to the health care they need.”
Extending health coverage – Oregon plans to allow children to stay on Medicaid until age six and allow everyone else up to two years of eligibility regardless of changes in income and without having to reapply. No other state provides more than one year of guaranteed eligibility.
The state has also created a safety net for those who through redetermination no longer qualify for Medicaid but have an annual income below 200% of the federal poverty level, which amounts to about $29,000 for individuals. This safety net will allow someone to keep the coverage they have.
OHP members who have questions about the renewal process can call the ONE Customer Service Center (1-800-699-9075 or TTY 711) or local health coverage experts to assist with the renewal process in a free one-to-one visit.
The large number of OHP redeterminations is expected to cause greater wait times, delays, and possible interruptions to people’s OHP benefits. OHP members are encouraged to respond as quickly as possible after they receive a request for information to avoid any possible delays. The fastest way members can provide an update is by going to benefits.oregon.gov and logging into their ONE account.
More information can be found here: OregonHealthCare.gov/GetHelp.
Legislature Approves $7.5 Million For Oregon Food Bank With COVID Food Benefits Gone
The Oregon Food Bank offers an assortment of food, including frozen vegetables like these beans. (Courtesy of the Oregon Food Bank)The Legislature soon will send $7.5 million to the Oregon Food Bank as hundreds of thousands of Oregonians deal with plummeting federal food benefits.
The state Senate voted 22-7 on Thursday to approve House Bill 5045, a budget rebalancing measure that reconciled the state’s accounts and provided $7.5 million to the Oregon Food Bank, along with extra money for public defense, hospital staffing and repairing weather-damaged roads. Gov. Tina Kotek advocated for additional funding for the food bank and is expected to sign the measure.
It coincides with a steep cut to federal food benefits. About 720,000 Oregonians qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The federal government increased monthly SNAP benefits when the COVID pandemic hit in spring 2020, but that temporary increase ended last month.
Oregonians who receive food benefits have gone from receiving an average of $450 per household per month to $270, with food prices significantly higher than before the pandemic.
Jason Stephany, a spokesperson for the Oregon Food Bank, said via email that the network of free food markets, pantries, meal sites and delivery programs it works with have seen a sharp rise in demand for food during the past few weeks.
“We’re only a few weeks into this federal cut to families’ grocery budgets, yet we’re already seeing new records set for Oregonians served in a single day at area food assistance sites,” he said.
The organization’s CEO, Susannah Morgan, previously told the Capital Chronicle the additional money would be enough to buy food through the end of June. By that time, the food bank anticipates more federal aid will flow in, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture received approval last fall to buy $2 billion worth of domestically produced food for food banks and school meal programs.
Separately, the state Department of Human Services announced this week that it will send $170 million in extra food aid to low-income families with young children.
Many Republicans object to the spending, saying the food bank is too involved in partisan issues —– The food bank’s funding was met with skepticism from many Republicans in the Senate and the House, where it passed 38-19 on March 20 with only Republicans opposed. Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis, R-Albany, said during the House debate that the Oregon Food Bank should not have publicly opposed the 2020 Republican walkout over climate change legislation, or publicly supported a 2022 law requiring overtime pay for agricultural workers or a pending measure to guarantee access to abortions and other reproductive care.
“If their focus was simply feeding Oregonians, I would not have a problem with the $7.5 million allocation to this organization,” Boshart Davis said. “But after the past years of watching this organization engage in very partisan activities, I do not have faith in providing millions of state dollars to a politically active organization.”
Sen. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, read a nearly identical speech on Thursday, adding that he’ll draft a bill calling for an audit of the Oregon Food Bank to ensure none of the state funding it has received will be used for political activity.
Sen. Elizabeth Steiner, D-Portland and the Senate co-chair of the budget-writing Joint Ways and Means Committee, retorted that the budget measure explicitly prohibits the Oregon Food Bank from spending money on anything other than buying food.
“The money for the food bank is statutorily dedicated for food,” she said. “It cannot be used for anything else. The bill says explicitly it is for food purchases only.”
Stephany said the food bank tracks every dollar it spends, and that providing food alone isn’t enough to address the root causes of hunger and poverty.
“We need policies and investments that improve access to health care and housing statewide, especially in under-resourced small towns and rural and remote areas,” he said. “Since our founding, Oregon Food Bank has supported important legislation to ensure everyone in Oregon has access to the resources we need to thrive — regardless of race, gender, religion or immigration status.”
The measure includes $70 million for the Department of Transportation’s maintenance budget to pay for higher-than-anticipated repairs to weather-damaged state highways, though the department estimates most if not all of that money will be reimbursed by the Federal Highway Administration.
It also has $25 million for the Oregon Health Authority to help address staff shortages at hospitals across the state. Throughout the pandemic, the health authority has paid for nursing contracts and other temporary medical staff.
The measure further included $1.1 million for public defenders to represent clients convicted by non-unanimous juries. A December Oregon Supreme Court decision that made retroactive a U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring unanimous jury decisions in serious criminal cases resulted in at least 225 people challenging their convictions. There could be up to 2,000 potential cases, according to legislative researchers.
Lawmakers are expected to spend millions more on public defense during the next two-year budget, as a shortage of public defenders has left hundreds of people unconstitutionally deprived of their right to an attorney.
Source: Legislature approves $7.5 million for Oregon Food Bank with COVID food benefits gone – Oregon Capital Chronicle
Linn County Deputies Find That Stolen Vehicle Suspect Drowned in Calapooia River
Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan reports that on March 29, 2023, at 3:53 p.m., the Linn County Dispatch Center received a 911 call regarding a suspicious vehicle. The caller reported finding a friend’s pickup, which had been stolen several days prior from a farm located at Venell Place in Corvallis, Benton County.
The caller and their associates followed the stolen pickup and provided updated location information as deputies responded to the area. Deputies located the stolen 2015 Ford F550 flatbed in the area of Wirth Road in Tangent, as it drove into a grass field, followed by two citizens who were also in pickups. The stolen Ford pickup crashed into an embankment against a tree near the Calapooia River, and the driver fled on foot from the pickup towards the river. The driver was later identified as Elijah Lyle Robb, 43, of Corvallis.
Robb was seen by witnesses running through thick brush where he jumped in the river and attempted to swim across the strong current as deputies arrived and began trying to locate him. Robb was then witnessed swimming back to the bank, where he became hidden in thick brush hanging over the water. Due to the thick and tall brush, deputies had to cut and climb over 100 yards to get to the bank of the river to try and locate Robb. Sheriff’s Office drones were used to help find Robb and spotted some clothing in the water through the brush. Deputies believed this to be Robb hiding in the water.
Deputies were unable to reach the clothing in the water they believed to be Robb, so the Sheriff’s Office Water Rescue team was called to assist. As deputies tried to get to where Robb was spotted, it was noticed that he was not moving in the water. Once deputies made it to the bank above where the clothing was, they found Robb floating face down in the water and he appeared deceased under the brush. The Water Rescue team was able to get to the location and confirm Robb was deceased and removed him from the water.
Responding deputies also located a 2005 Ford Focus nearby in which witnesses indicated was associated with the stolen vehicle. Deputies found and detained Vanessa Morton, 38, Jesse Michael-Corona, 20, William Connell, 43, and Angie Nisly, 37, all from Albany. Investigators were able to determine that Morton, Michael-Corona, Connell and Nisly had been with Robb while committing several burglaries in the area earlier that day. Investigators recovered a large amount of jewelry and several electronic devices that had been reportedly stolen from the burglaries.
Jesse Michael-Corona was arrested and charged with two counts of Burglary in the First Degree. Angie Nisly was arrested on outstanding warrants for her arrest. The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests and charges are likely. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Detective Kyle Connelly of the Linn County Sheriff’s Office at 541-967-3950.
The Linn County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by multiple citizens, Albany Police Department, Albany Fire Department, Linn County Road Department, and the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office.
Proposed Oregon Senate Bill 611 Could Help Renters Who Are Struggling
With rents rising across the state, many renters are struggling to pay for a place to live. But a bill in the Oregon Senate may help take the pressure off — if it passes.
Oregon currently has the ninth highest average rent of all states in the United States. State lawmakers have written Senate Bill 611 in the hopes of establishing a lower state maximum rent increase to help lower-income residents. The bill would put a cap on rent increases that tenants currently face in addition to reducing exemptions for new housing construction. .
A work session for Senate Bill 611 is scheduled for Monday, April 3. There, legislators may or may not decide to move forward with the bill.
Shooting At Central Point Skate Park in Rogue Valley
The Central Point Police Department is releasing new details involving Sunday’s shooting at Joel Tanzi Skate Park. According to police, as of 4:21 p.m., investigators have confirmed the encounter between the male suspect and male victim “was not random, but rather a component of their interaction during a pre-planned meeting at the location.”
Central Point Police have also confirmed that multiple shots were fired at the victim, striking them multiple times.
Right now police are unsure where the suspect fled after the shooting. Police say they are still attempting to identify a suspect in the shooting and are working on getting security camera footage. Right now it is believed that the suspect drove away in a Subaru, but could not confirm any specific of the model and color with us.
The suspect is still at large and Central Point Police are asking residents to remain on standby and send in any video footage from the area. This is an ongoing investigation.
Oregon State Parks Officials Plan Changes At Smith Rock
Smith Rock State Park is poised to get a makeover this year, with state officials seeking public input on the plans.
The popular stop near Terrebonne is a magnet for rock climbers, photographers, nesting raptors and others seeking sublime views of Central Oregon.
The annual number of people visiting Smith Rock has tripled since 1991. That’s when the park’s master plan was last updated. This year, state officials are revamping the plan, which promises to guide the construction of a new visitor center with better parking, traffic flow and improvements to some trails.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department expects to publish a draft 20-year master plan on its website by April 10 and will take public comments on the document through May 15.
“People love this park, and they love it the way it is,” said OPRD planner Jenna Marmon. “We’re trying to make minor adjustments in both the physical park and the management strategies to resolve some of the bigger issues, while recognizing that love for the park.”
Parking concerns are top of mind, Marmon said, describing how drivers on the hunt for a spot will clog traffic by waiting or circling. Then, the overflow backs onto a Deschutes County road.
“It’s a safety concern,” Marmon said.
Statewide, Oregon’s most beloved day-use areas are increasingly popular, said OPRD spokesperson Chris Havel. He cited a 25% increase in daytime visits to state parks over the last decades, which outsteps the state’s population increase of 9%. Improvements to state parks aim to do two things, Havel added: “Provide more service through existing facilities and open new opportunities without sacrificing park resources.”
On April 10, OPRD will host two informational meetings about its plans at Smith Rock: at 3 p.m. virtually, and at 6 p.m. in Bend, at the Bend Park and Recreation District Office, 799 SW Columbia St. The draft plan will then be presented to the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission for adoption at its June 2023 meeting. MORE INFO: https://smithrock.com/news-all/public-input-time-on-master-plan-details-for-smith-rock-state-park-in-april
And finally, wouldn’t it be nice… Actor Patrick Duffy’s longtime southern Oregon residence along the Rogue River is for sale, with the main house and 327 acres listed at $10,995,000, and four smaller parcels, from two to 30 acres, to be sold separately.
The entire 383-acre estate outside of Eagle Point was for sale at $14 million in September 2022, and brokers Alan DeVries and Matthew Cook of Cascade Hasson Sotheby’s International Realty say they were “flooded” with interest by potential buyers as well as worldwide media. But there were no takers. The Duffy Ranch at 436 Staley Road is the largest, most significant listing, with 327 acres of land plus a 15-acre island in the Rogue River. The ranch includes a 1950s lodge-style house with river-stone fireplaces and knotty pine walls under exposed beam ceilings, and an enclosed sunroom facing the water.
The main ranch, with nine tax lots that can be sold separately, also has two riverfront homes, two detached guest cottages, a manufactured home and three barns. One of Duffy’s sons was married in one of the barns with a river view.
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