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.
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Klamath Basin Weather
Tonight, Cloudy, light winds, possible snow flurries with a low around 24. Little snow accumulation.
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
Drug Bust at Veterans Park on Saturday
On Saturday, April 1st, at about 9:32 AM, a Klamath Falls Police Officer stopped a 2007 GMC Yukon for a traffic infraction, at Veterans Park. The officer, noticing signs of criminal activity, asked for and was granted consent to search from the driver of the vehicle.
During the search, the officer located over 15 pounds of methamphetamine, a street value of nearly $30,000. The occupants of the vehicle, identified as Gerardo Martinez (30) and Carlos Guzman(48) both from Ivanhoe, CA were arrested for possession/delivery of methamphetamine. Gerardo Martinez was lodged at the Klamath County Jail, Carlos Guzman was issued a citation and released.
A release from the KFPD says in part that “This is a great example of how your patrol officers go above and beyond to protect our community from criminal activity by taking a proactive approach to detect crime rather than only responding to reports from the citizens we serve. The Klamath Falls Police Department’s philosophy of “Policing with Purpose” is how we operate daily to enhance our abilities to detect crime and to protect and serve the City of Klamath Falls.”
The 173rd Fighter Wing will conduct night flying operations this week, Monday, April 3 through Thursday, April 7. Operations will take place between approximately 6PM-11PM.
Night flying is one part of the course curriculum for F-15C student pilots at Kingsley Field, the premiere F-15C schoolhouse for the United States Air Force.
Much of the training will occur in the military operating airspace to the east of Lakeview where the pilots can fly without lights. However, the local community will most likely hear the jets during take-offs and approaches to and from Kingsley Field. Take-offs will occur after sundown and the jets will return approximately an hour-and-a-half later.
Community members may contact the wing’s public affairs office at 541-885-6677 to express any concerns they have during this time.
Klamath County workers or utility companies will have work crews on duty next week.
Motorists are asked to use caution when in work areas and to watch for flaggers. Motorists who are able to avoid the work zones are asked to use an alternate route for their own safety and the safety of Klamath County employees and its contractors.
Utility work with intermittent lane closures will occur in the vicinity of Stearns Elementary School on Crest Street from Clinton to Denver and on Laverne Avenue from Crest to Altamont.
Avista Gas Company will be relocating gas mains and services, while Pacific Power will be relocating power lines and services, and Bobs Excavating will be relocating sewer services.
Traffic control measures will be in place for guidance.
In general, flagging stations will be set up at the end of the work zone and delays will be zero to 20 minutes for the motoring public. The department’s goal is to minimize the delay to the motoring public.
There might be adjustments of work schedules due to weather or other items outside of the county’s control (breakdown of equipment, material/resource availability, etc.) The county requests that residents do not contact the public works department if they do not see work occurring because the work could be finished already or will be rescheduled.
For more information, contact the Public Works Department at 541-883-4696.
The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office has a new member: A Belgian Malinois named “Blitz”.
A part of the Klamath County Sheriff Office’s revitalized Canine Division, Blitz is a force multiplier that will prove to be an invaluable asset to not only Klamath County, but the whole of Southern Oregon due to his dual purpose training in explosives.
Currently, no other civilian law enforcement agency within the region has a canine trained in explosive ordnance detection. The next nearest such-trained canine lives and works in Salem. Even the 173 FW Kingsley Field, in the event of a bomb threat, must contact Beale Air Force Base for support when time is crucial to prevent a potential catastrophe.
Starting as early as 12 months, Blitz began with obedience and bite training as a puppy by operators in Germany before being sent to Ripon, Calif., where he was under the care of Top Dog Police K9 Training and Consulting until ultimately being selected by the KCSO for service after a 30-day bonding period between Blitz and Kaber, who his handler.
Blitz and Kaber then underwent eight weeks of training together where Blitz spent three weeks learning explosive detection. He is now able to detect the top 15 most common compounds found in explosives. The pair also completed five weeks working through various scenarios and patrol activities.
Blitz is able to search, track and can protect a deputy in a multitude of situations.
To ensure that Blitz is ready at a moment’s notice, KCSO trains a minimum of 16 hours a month in various field exercises with Perfect Pack Dog Training in conjunction with the Jackson County’s Sheriff’s Office Canine Division.
While not in service, Blitz will be living with Kaber in a secure kennel built by Diversified Contractors and is fed super performance dog food provided through Double-C.
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 downtown Klamath County Library has events planned for nearly every day for children, teens and families.
Additionally, there will be special events from April 23-29 to celebrate National Library Week. Those activities are:
- Guess how many books are kept in the collection at the downtown Klamath County Library and win a gift card to Canvasback Books or Basin Book Trader.
Those activities are:
- Guess how many books are kept in the collection at the downtown Klamath County Library and win a gift card to Canvasback Books or Basin Book Trader.
- Lost your library card? Get a replacement for free in April. (That’s a $1.25 value.)
- Have you had a look at what you can check out through the Library of Things? Visit the downtown library to browse through a display of games, tools, kitchen gadgets and more you can check out for free with your library card. (Note: Library of Things items can only be checked out to adult library card accounts.)
Children younger than 10 must attend library events with a parent or guardian.
For more information on any of these events, call 541-882-8894 or stop by the downtown library’s Youth Services desk.
Around the state of Oregon
Those traveling northbound to Portland through Oakridge and Eugene using the Willamette Pass….take note.
Construction season began Monday on a major culvert repair project on Highway 58, a vital corridor between the southern Willamette Valley and central Oregon.
This work will continue through early October. Plan for delays of up to 20 minutes from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. When approaching work zones, remember to slow down and drive cautiously for your safety and for the safety of highway workers.
ODOT is repairing or replacing 54 culverts on the highway, starting in Lane County today and continuing in both Lane and Klamath counties from May through October. Utility work and vegetation removal has already begun to prepare for construction.
There will be up to three active work zones each day for this project. During construction, you can expect: shoulder closures, single lane closures weekdays from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. with flagging, and potential delays up to 20 minutes. There will also be some construction noise.
The project identified 54 culverts needing repair or replacement because they are in poor condition or in need of increased size to improve water flow or fish passage.
This work is part of several projects underway to improve this route from the southern Willamette Valley and Interstate 5 to central Oregon and U.S. 97. This corridor is vital to freight and travelers, and is a critical route in disasters and disaster relief efforts.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is leading a congressional investigation into the high cost of prescription medications and the roll of pharmacy benefits managers in pricing.
About 85-percent of Americans get their drug prescriptions through a pharmacy benefits manager, or PBM. They are under fire for practices that watchdogs say drive up the cost of prescription medications, with independent pharmacies and consumers getting the worst of it. As chair of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, Wyden led a hearing last week with a panel of experts on the PBM problem.
Two Idaho men were killed in a plane crash along the Oregon-Idaho border, over the weekend.
Baker County Sheriff Travis Ash saw the aircraft in distress before it crashed, Sunday morning, and helped search for the wreckage, along with bystanders and Idaho Power employees. They found the plane on a ridge above an Idaho Power complex.
Investigators learned the plane was piloted by 43-year-old Terry Lee Richards, of Middleton, ID. He took off from the Caldwell Executive Airport with passenger 24-year-old Caleb Andrew Tennant, also of Middleton. They were flying to Lewiston, ID, but did not survive the crash.
The cause of the crash has not yet been determined.
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
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.
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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