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, The Herald and News, and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insurance, your local health and Medicare agents.
Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Klamath Basin Weather
Sunny and hot, with a high near 97. Calm wind becoming west northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon. Overnight clear with a low around 59.
The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians disbursed nearly $1 million in grants to 85 groups from Klamath, Coos, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine and Lane counties June 29, 2023, at the Seven Feathers Casino Resort and Convention Center in Canyonville.
The Assistance League of Klamath Basin received a $15,000 grant in support of its Operation School Bell program. The goal of Operation School Bell is to help children succeed in school by providing new clothing, literacy, cultural and higher educational enrichment. The Assistance League distributed new clothing vouchers to more than 1,900 children this past school year.
The Assistance League said in a news release it was grateful of the tribe’s generous grant and support of the children of the Klamath Basin. (Herald and News)
Sections of East Rim Drive, part of the 33-mile road that loops around Crater Lake, will be closed this summer for reconstruction.
Park officials said the reconstruction, part of a $56 million project, will result in a safer and smoother road. The funding is being provided through the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) Legacy Restoration Fund. The work, which will start at a to-be announced date, will improve about 19 miles of East Rim Drive and a portion of the Cloudcap Spur Road.
East Rim Drive, which runs between the North Entrance Junction and park headquarters, extends along the southern, eastern, and northern rim of the Crater Lake caldera, providing visitor access to panoramic views, a campground, hiking trails, picnic areas, geological formations, waterfalls, and several overlooks.
Park officials said sections of the road, which was built in the 1930s, are narrow, wavy, have potholes and rockfall-damaged areas, “is structurally failing and in desperate need of an upgrade. The project will stabilize the road, replace sections of pavement, and incorporate modern safety standards for sight lines, curvature, and elevation changes to ensure a consistent travel width and more stable shoulder.” In addition, work will also “repair guard walls on several damaged historic rock walls, improve drainage structures, prevent further erosion, strengthen shoulders, and enhance parking areas with accessibility-compliant slopes, markings, curb cuts, walkways, and overlooks.”
The revamped road will “better protect the 1,943-foot-deep lake and other natural, cultural, and recreational features of the park. The new grading and drainage system will prevent erosion issues and divert stormwater away from Crater Lake’s famous pristine water. Road improvements will reduce congestion areas and increase public access and opportunities for recreation, including biking, hiking, camping, fishing, birding, and stargazing. (Herald and News)
Two illegal marijuana grow and manufacture operations located near Sprague River have been searched and seized according to a news release from the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office. (KCSO).
The release said a search warrant dated June 15 led to the dissemination of six green houses containing 3,200 illegal marijuana plants, amounting to a potential yield of $3.5 million in sales on the black market. All crops were destroyed.
“The grow was irrigated by a residential well with a yearly estimated use of 787,000 gallons of water,” the news release said.
Gustavo Miranda-Zarrabal, 46, was arrested on site and charged with unlawful manufacture and unlawful possession of marijuana.
A second nearby illegal grow site was seized Wednesday, July 12, after KCSO granted a search warrant of the property.
The release said 1,362 marijuana plants housed in four greenhouses were discovered at the site and destroyed soon after. An estimate of 335,000 gallons was used, taken from a residential water well.
Total value of the mature marijuana crop was estimated at $1.5 million on the black market.
No arrests were made as no one was found on site at the time the search warrant was served. The release said the investigation will continue regarding the known property owner. KCSO’s efforts were primarily funded by a grant from the Criminal Justice Commission under the Illegal Marijuana market Enforcement Grant Program, the release said.
Klamath County received $2.6 million in grant funding in 2022 to provide for KCSO marijuana enforcement detectives and vehicles, code enforcement officers and vehicles, heavy equipment for the county’s solid waste division for transport and destruction of marijuana, evidence storage, aircraft fuel, among other items
(Herald and News)
Healthy Klamath’s “Alley Activation Project” installed new artwork downtown Friday morning. Four additional framed works were added to the existing four, with one being a mosaic created by patients and staff at Sky Lakes Cancer Treatment Center.
The event was dedicated to Cathy Nevala, a former art teacher at Mazama High School and artist of one of the paintings in Phase 1 of the project. Nevala lost her battle to cancer during the preparation of Phase 2.
Healthy Klamath, a multi-sector partnership established to guide community health improvement efforts in Klamath County and head of the project, partnered with Sky Lakes Cancer Treatment Center for one of the artworks.
Johanna Shearer, director of the cancer treatment center, explained that art is a therapy for patients.
Frames for the paintings were donated by S & S Manufacturing of Klamath Falls, and the artwork was hung on the side of the Atone Construction building for free by owner Mike McKay. One of the new works titled “My First Crush,” by artist Cheyenne Lundsten of Klamath Falls, is done in doodle-like fashion. According to Lundsten, she reached out to people on Facebook for ideas of what doodle they felt represented the Klamath Basin. (Herald and News)
The Klamath County Public Works department will have work crews out at several locations all week. Motorists are asked to use caution when in work areas and to watch for flaggers.
Any motorists who are able to avoid the work zones, are asked to use an alternate route for their safety and the safety of Klamath County employees and contractors.
Chip seal crew will be at the following locations next week:
- Monday, July 17: City of Chiloquin, South Chiloquin Road
- Tuesday, July 18: S. Chiloquin Road, Modoc Point Road
- Wednesday, July 19: Modoc Point Road, Longacre lane, Uhrmann Road, Wocus Road
- Thursday, July 20: Shady Pine Road, Algoma Road
Additionally, the Early Morning Broom Crew will be working at 4 a.m. at the following locations:
- Tuesday, July 18: City of Chiloquin, South Chiloquin Road
- Wednesday, July 19: City of Chiloquin, South Chiloquin Road
- Thursday, July 20: South Chiloquin Road, Modoc Point Road
- Friday, July 21: Modoc Point Road, Longacre Lane, Uhrmann Road, Wocus Road, Shady Pine road, Algoma Road
Road and utility work is also scheduled for the vicinity of Stearns Elementary Schools on Crest Street from Clinton to Denver. Motorists should expect daily lane closures.
Log onto the Klamath County Public Works website at www.klamathcounty.org/734/Maps for more information about road work projects.
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 county’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 such as the breakdown of equipment or the availability of materials or resources
Motorists are asked to drive slowly through chip seal and paint stripe areas. This will reduce damage to the chip sealed and painted areas. It will also reduce the probability of oil or paint getting on vehicles.
For more information, contact the Public Works Department at 541-883-4696.
(Herald and News/KC news release)
A federal judge has upheld a voter-approved Oregon law that bans large ammunition magazines and requires permits to buy guns.
U.S. District Court Judge Karin Immergut wrote in a 122-page opinion published late Friday afternoon that all parts of Oregon’s Measure 114, approved by voters last year, are constitutional. But the law remains on hold because of an ongoing court case in Harney County, where a trial is scheduled for September.
Measure 114, which narrowly passed last fall, would ban making, selling or buying ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. It also would require people to take a firearm safety course and pass a background check to receive a permit to buy a gun. And it would close a loophole in federal gun law that allows people to buy guns without a completed background check if it takes more than three days to process a background check.
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, whose office defended Measure 114, welcomed the news.
The Oregon Firearms Federation, which describes itself as the state’s “only no-compromise gun rights organization” was the lead plaintiff in the case. Three other federal lawsuits filed by Oregon residents, gun manufacturers, gun shops and other firearms groups were consolidated with the Oregon Firearms Federation’s case.
The firearms federation posted a statement on its website indicating that it will appeal the decision, which it called “absurd.” The group also personally attacked Immergut, calling her “painfully ignorant and in the pocket of Oregon’s far left ‘Department of Justice.’”
(Herald and News/Oregon Capital Chronicle)
Around the state of Oregon
OREGON’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPS TO 3.5% IN JUNE
Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.5% in June, down from 3.7% in May.
This was the fifth consecutive monthly drop in the unemployment rate, down from a recent high of 4.8% in January. The June rate was near Oregon’s record low of 3.4%, which was reached in November and December 2019. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.6% in June 2023, which was very close to Oregon’s June rate.
In June, Oregon’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 5,700 jobs, following a revised gain of 4,200 jobs in May. June’s job gain was the largest monthly increase since January, when 9,600 jobs were added.
Over-the-month job gains were largest in government (+2,400 jobs); other services (+1,800); leisure and hospitality (+1,600); and professional and business services (+1,500). Declines were largest in wholesale trade (-1,300 jobs); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-1,000); and manufacturing (-1,000).
Payroll employment grew by 2.3% over the past 12 months. Over-the-year job growth decelerated to about 2% in the past five months from 12-month growth rates that were above 3% during the economic recovery period, which included much of the prior two years.
Since June 2022, several industries have continued to expand rapidly, while others have been relatively flat or declining. Construction, which added 6,500 jobs, or 5.7%, grew at one of the fastest rates of the major industries. In addition, the following three major industries each expanded by close to 4%, while adding close to 10,000 jobs each: leisure and hospitality; health care and social assistance; and government. However, a few industries cut jobs by about 2,000 each in the past 12 months, including manufacturing (-1.1%); wholesale trade (-1.9%); and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-3.0%).
“As harmless as 911 hang-up calls may seem, they impact resources,” explained Oregon Department of Emergency Management State 911 Program Manager Frank Kuchta.
“Each one of these calls ties up a call taker, who must call the number back to ensure there’s no emergency. If those callbacks are unanswered, an officer must locate the caller and check on their welfare. This ties up emergency responders who are then unavailable for actual emergency calls.”
A growing list of safety features added to smartphones, smartwatches and tablets give users more ways to reach out in an emergency. Android and iPhones offer crash detection and emergency SOS features that can potentially trigger false 911 calls. When these features are activated, an alarm may sound, and a countdown timer will appear on the phone to allow the user to cancel. If the countdown isn’t canceled, the phone will call 911.
In other cases, dropping a device, putting it in a pocket or purse, or holding certain buttons too long can trigger an emergency mode that, if not responded to, can automatically call 911. Even voice assistants can result in a false call if triggered accidentally.
The Oregon Department of Emergency Management and the state PSAPs are sharing useful tips on what people should do when they dial 911 by accident:
- If you do misdial, don’t hang up. Stay on the line, let the telecommunicator know it was an accident, and answer the questions they may have.
- If you do hang up, the telecommunicator will call you back. Answer the call and explain what happened.
- Deactivated cell phones will still call 911 if the phone turns on. Don’t let kids play with deactivated cell phones unless the battery is removed or dead.
- Teach kids about 911. It’s not a game when a child is calling 911 repeatedly and hanging up or making false statements to the telecommunicator.
- Turn off the automatic dialing setting so your phone doesn’t accidentally dial 911.
- Place your phone on sleep mode when you put it in your pocket.
Emergency settings can be changed or turned off, depending on the phone. For information about emergency features on Android phones, visit https://support.google.com/android/answer/9319337. For information about emergency features on iPhones, visit https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208076.
“Just remember, if you do accidentally call 911, stay on the line and let them know there’s no emergency before you disconnect,” said Kuchta. “Please do your part to help reduce the number of accidental calls and hangups so we can keep units available for those who truly need assistance.”
About the State 911 Program — Established in 1981 by the Oregon Legislature, the State 911 Program provides immediate access from all telephones to critical public and private safety services within Oregon. The state has 43 Public Safety Answering Points covering 36 counties. The State 911 Program is part of the Oregon Department of Emergency Management. Learn more at Oregon.gov/oem/911.
# # # Caption: Android phones and iPhones have crash detection and emergency SOS features that can potentially make false 911 calls. This infographic explains what to do if an accidental 911 call is made (available in English and Spanish, courtesy Oregon Department of Emergency Management).
Caption: Oregon Department of Emergency Management logo (courtesy Oregon Department of Emergency Management).
Flat Fire Update, 7/19/2023
Flat Fire stands at 12,756 acres, night crew continues to build fireline
The Flat Fire burning near Agness was human-caused, Curry County Sheriff John Ward confirmed Monday. No arrests have been made, and the investigation has been turned over to federal authorities, Ward said. Federal fire authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Flat Fire has spread toward Wild Horse Ridge and up Lawson Creek on the west side. Dry vegetation and winds have been the primary driver of this fire growth. Northeast winds have helped prevent the fire from being able to grow to the north.
The fire at Oak Flat Campground along the Illinois River, a few miles from Agness and 35 miles from Gold Beach.
Ward said there were a number of witnesses, but they have not been interviewed yet. When the 911 call came in about the fire, Curry County sheriff’s deputies responded and worked initially to get people out of harm’s way. But deputies did identify the starting point of the fire and taped the area off for later investigation, Ward said.
At that point deputies were focused on making sure people were safe, Ward said.
On Sunday, fire crews focused on structure protection in the communities of Oak Flat and Agness, the Forest Service said in a press release Sunday evening. Approximately 40 structures are threatened, the release said.
Aircraft from the Medford Air Tanker Base are hard at work battling the Flat Fire in Curry County.
Sheriff Medical Examiners Respond to 10 Fatal Drug Overdoses in 5 days; Jackson County Issues Public Health Alert
Jackson County Public Health issued an overdose alert today for fentanyl and other illicit opioids. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) Medical Examiner detectives responded to 10 fatal overdoses over the five days.
Medical examiner detectives suspect fentanyl as a contributing factor in nine of the deaths. From Wednesday, July 12 through today, ME detectives responded to overdose deaths in Ashland, Central Point, Trail, White City, Talent, and five in Medford. The decedents ranged in age from 22 to 63, and nine of them were men. Our condolences go out to the friends and family of the deceased.
For 2023 Jackson County has 33 confirmed overdoses, with 30 of them containing fentanyl. There are 41 cases pending toxicology, with at least 23 of them having some evidence of fentanyl use.
Although it is too early in the investigations to determine the exact drug that caused the deaths, many were found with fentanyl on scene. Investigations also determined some of the deceased may have not known they were using fentanyl. The drug is often mixed in with other illicit substances such as cocaine. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl can be sold as counterfeit pills, such as oxycontin or in a powder form, which can look like other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Fentanyl can also be mixed with other illicit opioids, such as heroin. The increased presence of fentanyl in the drug supply increases the risk of an overdose for people who are experimenting with drugs and not intentionally using fentanyl.
As part of the overdose alert, Jackson County Public Health is encouraging the medical community, community partners, parents, family and friends, and people with an active substance use disorder to be aware of the increased overdoses and harms associated with opioid use, specifically fentanyl. Using illicit opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl, increases the risk of overdosing. There is no safe way to use illicit opioids, but precautions can be taken that may help reduce the risks associated with illicit opioids. The street drug supply is unpredictable and inconsistent. Assume there is a risk of overdosing no matter what drug is used.
Here are resources from Jackson County Public Health for those in danger:
– Abstaining from drug use is the best way to eliminate the risk of overdosing. Ask the person about their willingness to begin medication-assisted treatment or drug treatment. A list of resources can be found on the Oregon Recovers website https://oregonrecovers.org/
– It is critical to call 911 when someone is overdosing. If naloxone is used, the effects are temporary, and the person still needs medical attention. After the medication wears off, the person could fall back into a coma. Good Samaritan Law protects someone from being arrested or prosecuted for drug-related charges or parole/probation violations based on information provided to emergency responders. If someone overdoses on fentanyl, it may take more naloxone to reverse the overdose. It can take about 2-3 minutes for the naloxone to take effect. Naloxone doesn’t work on xylazine, but it will help if the opioid/fentanyl is making it hard for them to breathe.
– People who haven’t used opioids in a while are at an increased risk of overdosing. It is important to be aware of your tolerance and always use less.
– Have an overdose plan, make sure someone can get to you, and it is safest when you are with someone you trust. Use the 24/7 Never Use Alone Hotline: 1-800-484-3731 if you cannot have a safe person with you.
– While injecting drugs carries the highest risk, always assume there is a risk of overdosing no matter the method being used to consume the drug.
– BE PREPARED. GET NALOXONE. SAVE A LIFE. Oregon law allows people to carry and use naloxone on others. You can get naloxone through these avenues:
– Any pharmacist in Oregon can prescribe naloxone to you. You do not need a prescription in Oregon to access naloxone through a pharmacy.
– Anyone who can prescribe medication can send a prescription for naloxone to your pharmacy.
– People who utilize the Jackson County Syringe Exchange Program can receive free naloxone.
– Free naloxone is available through Max’s Mission and HIV Alliance.
There are links between four women found dead in and around Portland over the past six months, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office reported Monday. The four women are Kristin Smith, Charity Perry, Bridget Webster and Ashley Real.
The DA’s office said no charges have been filed against anyone in connection to the four deaths, but at least one person has been identified as a person of interest who is linked to all four of the dead women. They have not released that person’s name.
There is not, according to police, an immediate threat at this time to the public.
For FAIR Information: https://www.atthefair.com/
The Scandinavian Festival is warning potential visitors of a scam trying to charge people for admission fees, vendor spaces and entertainment tickets.
There are fraudulent sales happening. Vendor spaces and admission/entertainment tickets are being advertised as available. We do not have admission fees or entertainment fees, this is fraudulent. We are no longer accepting vendors for this year. All communication via email will come from an official address (@junctioncityscandia.org) or direct from our social accounts. https://www.facebook.com/JunctionCityScandinavianFestival
Oregon is expected to receive nearly $700 million to expand broadband access to rural and underserved areas in the state.
The funding comes from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and spending will be overseen by the Oregon Broadband Office. The office held public hearings around the state to learn from community members how the lack of reliable broadband has affected them, as well as what they would like to see. Nick Batz, director of the office, believes this funding will have a big impact for rural communities that have not had access to high-speed internet.
Surveys and research conducted by the office will be used to help construct a five-year action plan that will guide how the federal money is spent. The office has a deadline in December to deliver a plan to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for review.
(Herald and News/OPB)
Oregon Governor Tina Kotek is allowing more drug use in a state where drug use is already a major concern of families. Kotek on Monday signed a bill that changes Ballot Measure 110. It’s the bill that decriminalized possession of small amounts of illegal drugs. And it will require some addiction treatment facilities around the state. Is this the best answer?
HB 2513 as it is known hopes to help with several aspects of the voter approved law that’s drawn criticism for not working. It simplifies access to treatment services, adds staff, creates a hotline to access services, and improves data collection to monitor the programs. The Governor has not signed HB 2645 that would create a misdemeanor penalty for fentanyl possession.
Kotek has until July 25th to sign or veto bills from the Legislature.
A wildfire burning south of the Illinois River has reached over 5,000 acres in size. The “Flat Fire,” located in Oak Flat southwest of Agness, grew rapidly over the weekend in steep, rugged terrain.
The RRNFS says the fire remains very much active. It’s the largest fire reported. Over 300 personnel have been deployed to fight the fire, with seven helicopters and 19 engines engaged.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Portland Field Office is offering up to a $50,000 reward for information leading to the location and arrest of wanted fugitive David Durham.
Durham is wanted for attempted aggravated murder after shooting a Lincoln City Police officer multiple times in January 2011. In addition to the increased reward, the FBI, under its Regional Fugitive Program, will also be adding additional investigators with a concentrated effort to locate Durham.
At approximately 11:00 p.m. on January 23, 2011, a Lincoln City Police officer pulled over an SUV for a traffic violation. During the traffic stop, the driver of the vehicle, later identified as Durham, shot the officer multiple times, critically wounding him. Durham then fled the area. A police chase ensued, and Durham exchanged gunfire with officers before abandoning his vehicle in Waldport, Oregon. Durham disappeared and there have been no confirmed sightings since.
Local authorities obtained an arrest warrant for Durham in Lincoln County on January 27, 2011, charging him with dozens of counts—including four counts of attempted aggravated murder. The FBI obtained a federal arrest warrant on January 29, 2011, charging Durham with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution (a federal fugitive warrant). Since that time, the FBI has assisted the Lincoln City Police in the fugitive hunt—providing resources, following up on potential leads, and assisting with publicity efforts.
Durham is known to possess survival skills. He was wearing full green camouflage at the time of his disappearance, as well as tan or dark boots and a dark-colored beret. In the past, he has expressed a desire to travel or is believed to have traveled to California, the Caribbean, and Thailand.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the location and arrest of Durham. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI, submit a tip online at https://tips.fbi.gov, or call the nearest FBI office.
It took nearly three years for national air travel to rebound from COVID-19, and some airports – notably Portland – are still reporting passenger volumes far below pre-pandemic numbers.
Oregon’s regional airports have fared much, much better. It only took about 15 months for Redmond, Eugene and Medford to return to 2019 travel numbers. And though Medford has faded since then, Redmond and Eugene are soaring.
The Redmond Municipal Airport, which also serves the booming market in neighboring Bend, reports that passenger volumes were up 17% so far this year compared to 2019. Passengers flying through Eugene are up 44% from before the pandemic.
New carriers are a big reason why. In 2021, Eugene added Southwest Airlines and the new budget carrier Avelo Airlines. Eugene also has some popular new routes, including Dallas-Forth Worth and California destinations San Diego, San Jose and Burbank.
The situation in southern Oregon is a little more complicated. Passenger volumes at the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport recovered from the pandemic just as quickly as in Eugene and Redmond but then began a steady decline about a year ago.
Passenger volumes in Medford are down about 12% this year compared to 2019.
The Oregon School Activities Association is currently looking for referees for football, volleyball and soccer for the fall sports season.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, OSAA has seen a decrease in high school sports officials and referees every year except the most recent school year.
Last year, OSAA had just over 2400 referees for seven sports and one activity. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, OSAA had over 3300 officials. Because of this difference, referees might have to do two games in one day, which isn’t normal if OSAA is fully staffed.
NewsWatch 12 spoke with the executive director of the Oregon Athletic Officials Association, Jack Folliard, who said he hopes they can make up some of that gap before the fall sports season starts.
“We’re down almost 900 officials. So, ideally, if we get back up to 3300, that would be great,” Folliard said. “We know that’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take a time.”
Folliard also said schools are raising pay for referees and officials.
“The schools helping to address the shortage issue have come through by significantly increasing the pay for officials, ranging from 15 to 20%,” said Folliard. “An example: a varsity football official two years from now will be able to make $100 per game plus mileage.”
If you’re interested in becoming a referee or official, you can go to https://www.osaa.org/new-officials/index.html for more information.
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