Klamath Basin News, Monday, July 31st – Start Pumping Your Own Gas Saturday; Golden Fire Update: 48% Contained

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Monday, July 31, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

Sunny, with a high near 91. Calm wind becoming west 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon and gusts to 15mph at times.  Overnight, clear with a low around 54.
Sunny, with a high near 93. Calm wind becoming west 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon. Low overnight of 56.
Mostly sunny, with a high near 92. Light and variable wind becoming west southwest 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon.
Sunny, with a high near 92.
A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 11am. Sunny, with a high near 89.
Sunny, with a high near 91.

Today’s Headlines

Progress is being made in fighting the Golden Fire, now 8 days old burning on Bly Mountain near Bonanza.  Firefighters push containment to 48% and look to demobilize (tomorrow) Tuesday morning.

Mop up operations continue as firefighters continue to build containment and focus on hotspots within the interior of the fire.

Commander Matt Howard says Saturday’s Red Flag warning conditions tested lines and gave confidence that we’re in position to hand this fire back to the local district.  The Incident Management Team will demobilize tomorrow, (Tuesday), and will be freeing up resources to fight active fires and increase readiness across the state.

Elsewhere, firefighters are starting to remove fire hose around portions of the fire and beginning to repair dozer lines to prepare for winter rain and seasonal drainage.

With wind speeds reducing, the area is no longer in Red Flag warning, but the area is still dry and hot. The estimated cost of fighting this fire is currently at 7.4 million dollars.

Nearly 500 personnel remained on the Golden Fire firelines as of yesterday fighting the blaze.  A total of 48 homes and 69 structures were destroyed by the fire. (SCOFM press release)


A ban on wood and charcoal fires, fireworks and smoking goes into effect this Friday at Crater Lake National Park.

Crater Lake Park officials said that with the increase in fire danger in southern Oregon, the park will go into a full fire ban. According to Fire Management Officer Phil Heitzke, “The outlook is for above normal significant wildland fire potential for the next several months, To ensure public safety and to provide the highest degree of protection to park resources, the following fire ban will be implemented effective at 12:01 a.m. Friday.”

Under the restrictions, wood fires and charcoal fires are not allowed. Liquid fuel and propane camp stoves and gas grills are permitted in campgrounds, picnic areas, backcountry areas and residential areas.

Smoking is permitted only in vehicles — “provided that an ashtray is used for ashes and butts,” or “while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or free of all flammable materials. Ashes and butts must be disposed of safely and may not be discarded on the ground.”

Fireworks are prohibited in the park at all times.

“The purpose of these restrictions is to ensure the safety of park visitors and employees, and for the protection of the park’s natural and cultural resources,” Heitzke said in the statement. “These restrictions are dependent upon fire activity and weather conditions and will remain in effect until conditions improve. … Our goal is voluntary compliance; however, persons who fail to comply with these restrictions may be cited or arrested.” (CLNP/Herald and News)


The city of Bend Police Department still asking the community of Klamath Falls for assistance in a homicide investigation. 

Evelyn Weaver, a 28-year-old Bend woman, was found dead in her Bend home on July 18. Weaver’s vehicle was found on the morning of July 20, parked at the corner of Shasta Way and Division Street in Klamath Falls near the corner of South 6th and Shasta Way.

A male is seen on surveillance video walking away from the vehicle. The male is wearing khaki pants and a black or dark colored long sleeve top. Investigators are now seeking video from businesses or residents in the area of Mills Addition – between the rail lines on the west and Washburn Way on the east, and Crater Lake Parkway to the north and South Sixth Street to the south. 

If you live or work in that area and have residential or business video between 7 p.m. on July 14 and 8 a.m. on July 20, we’d like to take a look at it. You can contact Det. T.J. Knea at tknea@bendoregon.gov or 541-948-0980 or Detective Sergeant Tommy Russell at trussell@bendoregon.gov or 541-408-8776. KFPD/Bend PD press release)


Coming to The Ragland Theater, Klamath Falls…. Disney’s THE LION KING!


Around the state of Oregon

Two weeks into its burn, the Flat Fire in western Oregon has grown from 2,000 acres to nearly 24,000 acres with firefighting efforts achieving only 4% containment.

The fire began July 15 two miles southeast of Agness. While the cause is still under investigation, reports from the U.S. Forest Service said the blaze is “human caused.” The recent report said crews are firing out the southwestern flank of the burn to prevent growth to the south.

“In some areas crews paused burning operations due to ensure advantageous wind direction,” the report said.  Firing depth, the report said, helps create a buffer between the main fire and control lines.

Crews are in place to ensure structure protection along the Illinois and Rogue Rivers and along Cougar Lane.

A community meeting will take place today at 6:00 p.m. at the Brookings-Harbor High School in the cafeteria. The address for the school is 625 Pioneer Road, Brookings, OR 97415.  (RR/Siiskyoo NF/Herald and News)


Wildfire smoke continues to clog the air in Central Oregon, the Willamette Valley, and Southern Oregon. The Department of Environmental Quality and the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency have extended an Air Quality Advisory through at least Monday night, because of smoke from the Bedrock Fire. The advisory is for Deschutes and eastern Lane counties.

The Flat Fire is also triggering advisories in eastern Curry and western Josephine counties. Infants, young children, pregnant women and people with heart or lung conditions should stay indoors and use HEPA filters to reduce smoke in the air. (ODEQ)


You can start pumping your own gas this Saturday.  Despite strong opposition from many Oregonians, Gov. Tina Kotek will allow a bill allowing self-serve gasoline across Oregon to become law, ending a 72-year ban on most drivers pumping their own gas.
Oregon will join 48 other states allowing Americans to pump their own gas, leaving only New Jersey out.

Announcing a slate of potential vetoes Friday, as required by the Oregon Constitution, Kotek did not include House Bill 2426, which will permit Oregon gas stations to open up to half of their pumps for self-serve gas. The law will still require gas stations to staff at least half their pumps for people who can’t, or don’t want to, pump their own gas.

The new law will simplify Oregon’s patchwork of self-serve gas regulations. Since 2015, some rural counties have permitted self-serve gas at night. And each summer since 2020, the state fire marshal has permitted self-serve gas statewide during wildfire season and heat waves, when smoke or extreme temperatures make it dangerous to be outside. (Oregon News sources)


In Medford, police destroyed 7,500 marijuana plants this month on three black-market marijuana grow sites in Jackson County, owned by the same California man. 

According to a news release from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the three properties are all owned by a California man who bought several local properties and turned them into illegal grow sites. The property owner was fined a total of $281,471 for several violations, ranging from failure to obtain land use approval for marijuana production to solid waste code violations. 

“On Thursday, July 6th, IMET detectives along with Oregon State Police (OSP) Southwest Region Drug Enforcement Team and JCSO deputies busted (a) property owned by the same man in the 9200 block of Butte Falls Highway in rural Eagle Point,” the release said. “On the property, IMET detectives discovered 10 hoop houses with approximately 3,704 illegal cannabis plants. Four subjects were detained on the property, and are awaiting charges from the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.”

Later on July 6, police uncovered another grow site in the 9000 block of West Evans Creek Road in Rogue River, the release said. There were five greenhouses with 2,880 illegal marijuana plants, the release said, with six suspects on scene who are currently involved with police investigations. 

The third property discovered was this morning, the release said, in the 2500 block of Skyes Creek Road in rural Rogue River. 

“On scene, detectives discovered approximately 863 black-market cannabis plants, 41 pounds of processed marijuana, and 4.7 pounds of THC infused candy,” the release said. “One subject was detained during the search warrant.”

The investigations are ongoing, the release said. (KDRV 12)


A former employee at America’s Best Kids pleaded not guilty to 27 criminal charges in court today, after being arrested on June 23 for allegedly taking pictures of female staff members in a staff changing room. 

The employee, Blaine Howitt, is facing a variety of charges ranging from encouraging child sex abuse to invasion of personal privacy to computer crimes. The Deputy District Attorney’s office did request that Howitt’s bail be increased to $500,000 but it will stay at $250,000.

Howitt’s pretrial is scheduled for Aug. 28 at 9 a.m., and four more devices are being investigated as a part of the case. According to court statements today from deputy district attorney Zori Cook, Howitt also had victims from Oregon, California and Missouri. 

Judge Sara Collins ordered that while Howitt is out on bail he must remain on pretrial supervision.  He was formally arraigned at the Jackson County Courthouse on June 23. His bail was set at $250,000. According to court and jail records, it appears Howitt bailed out of jail and was summoned back to court today for another arraignment and hearing.  (KDRV 12)


On Friday, July 28, 2023, at approximately 4:26 P.M., the Oregon State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash on Hwy-20, near milepost 15, in Deschutes County.

The preliminary investigation indicated a Subaru Forester, operated by Janet Diane Abelein (68) of Portland, was traveling eastbound on Hwy 20 in Tumalo when the driver made a U-turn in the middle of the highway. The Subaru was t-boned by a Ford F350, operated by Policarpo Vasquez Prudente (46) of Redmond, which was also traveling eastbound. 

All occupants were transported from the scene to local hospitals for treatment.

The operator for the Subaru (Janet Abelein) was later declared deceased a the hospital. A passenger in the Subaru, Dwayne Milo Abelein (65) of Portland, received treatment for injuries.

The highway was impacted for approximately 1 hour during the on-scene investigation.

OSP was assisted by the Deschutes County Sheriffs’ Office, Bend Fire, Sisters Fire, and ODOT.


Oregon House and Community Services is surpassing its goal to triple the amount of affordable housing in the state. There are now as many as 25-thousand affordable housing units in Oregon.

The goal was set in 2019 to fund 12-hundred permanent supportive housing units, triple affordable housing units funded in rural Oregon, and to triple affordable rental housing to 25-thousand homes. They surpassed the goals a year before the deadline. This year, Governor Tina Kotek extended the goal to 36-thousand units a year for the next ten years.  (Oregon News)


The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs today announced that it is now accepting competitive grant applications for its Campus Veteran Resource Center Grant Program, which helps Oregon veterans succeed in their educational and vocational pursuits by expanding and enhancing Campus Veteran Resource Centers on Oregon college campuses.

The 2023 Oregon Legislature has approved up to $1 million for the 2023-25 Campus Veteran Resource Center Grant Program. 

The purpose of the Campus Veteran Resource Center Grant is to augment existing campus programs that help veterans successfully transition from military service to college life, succeed in college and complete educational goals, and then transition from college to the workforce and the community.

Oregon’s 17 community colleges and seven public universities (excluding Oregon Health & Science University) are eligible to apply for these grant funds. 

To be eligible for the grant funds, a community college or public university needs to currently have a Campus Veteran Resource Center, a Campus Veteran Resource Coordinator (or intends to hire one prior to the distribution of grant funds), or both. 

“A post-secondary degree or course of study at a technical or vocation college is a critical gateway for many veterans to transition out of the military into a successful civilian career,” said ODVA Director Kelly Fitzpatrick. “Campus Veteran Resource Centers provide critical veteran resources and offer support networks with other student veterans, which can drastically improve outcomes and help ensure success for student veterans in their educational endeavors and future careers.”

The window for new applications for the Oregon Veteran Campus Resource Center Grant Program opens Monday, July 31, 2023, and will close Monday, September 4, 2023. Grant requests can be up to $100,000.

A webinar will be hosted at 10 a.m. August 4 to provide additional information about the application process. To register for the webinar, visit app.smartsheet.com/b/form/4c98d102bb1e410296997ecf38134579.

For more information about this grant or to apply, visit www.oregon.gov/odva/agency-programs/grants/pages/campus-grant.aspx or contact ODVA Grants Coordinator Brenna Bandstra at brenna.bandstra@odva.oregon.gov or 503-373-2290. 

Established in 1945, the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs is dedicated to serving Oregon’s diverse veteran community that spans five eras of service members. ODVA administers programs and provides special advocacy and assistance in accessing earned veteran benefits across the state. Learn about veteran benefits and services, or locate a local county or tribal veteran service office online at oregon.gov/odva


A popular harbor seal at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport has been euthanized after tests revealed throat cancer. “Boots” was taken to the Veterinary School at Oregon State University where they initially thought Boots only had an ulcer that was treatable.

Results from a biopsy came back and showed there was also cancer, so the 35-year-old seal was euthanized. Boots was found stranded as a pup on a beach in Mexico in 1988, treated at Sea World San Diego and then transferred to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in 1992.  (Oregon News Sources)


Benton County Fair returns bigger and better in 2023

The excitement is building for the annual Benton County Fair! From Aug. 2-5, the Benton County Fairgrounds will be transformed into a vibrant hub of entertainment, fun, and community spirit.

The 2023 Benton County Fair promises to be bigger and better than ever before with an extensive lineup of attractions, competitions, exhibits, live performances, and mouthwatering treats, this year’s fair is all set to captivate the hearts of locals and visitors alike.

Key highlights of the 2023 Benton County Fair include:

  • Thrilling Rides and Amusements: Get ready to scream with delight as we present an exhilarating carnival filled with classic rides, thrilling roller coasters, and fun games that will delight thrill-seekers of all ages.
  • Livestock Exhibits and Competitions: Agriculture and farming are at the heart of Benton County, and we are proud to showcase the finest livestock exhibits and competitions that celebrate the hard work and dedication of our local farmers and ranchers.
  • Culinary Delights: Indulge your taste buds in a gastronomic adventure with a diverse selection of food vendors offering everything from classic fair favorites to international cuisines.
  • Entertaining Performances: The Benton County Fair stage will be graced with talented performers, including live music concerts, dance troupes, magicians, and more, promising entertainment for everyone.
  • Art and Craft Exhibitions: Immerse yourself in the creativity of local artisans and crafters as they display their remarkable works, adding a touch of culture and artistry to the fair.
  • Family Fun Zone: Families will find a special haven of activities, including interactive games, educational exhibits, and fun challenges that will create lasting memories for parents and children alike.
  • Community Engagement: The Benton County Fair is more than just a celebration; it’s an opportunity to foster a sense of community spirit. Local organizations, charities, and businesses will be actively participating, strengthening community bonds.

“We are thrilled to present the 2023 Benton County Fair, an event that holds a special place in the hearts of our community members,” said Benton County Natural Areas Parks & Event Director Tomi Douglas. “This year’s fair will highlight our community spirit with a commitment to providing a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.”

For media inquiries, interviews, and press passes, please contact Benton County Public Information Officer Cory Grogan at 541-766-6843 or pioinfo@bentoncountyor.gov.

The Benton County Fair is an annual event celebrating the diverse culture, heritage, and accomplishments of Benton County, Oregon. Drawing thousands of visitors each year, the fair serves as a platform to showcase local talent, agriculture, arts, and community engagement.

Benton County is an Equal Opportunity-Affirmative Action employer and does not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission or access to our programs, services, activities, hiring and employment practices. This document is available in alternative formats and languages upon request. Please contact Cory Grogan at 541-745-4468 or pioinfo@bentoncountyor.gov.


Girls in traditional attire celebrate during a Centro Cultural del Condado de Washington County community cultural event. The image will be featured on the Arts Build Communities grant program page of the new Arts Commission website.
Salem, Ore. – A new, more user-friendly Oregon Arts Commission website will launch the week of Aug. 21, 2023.
The url will be artscomission.oregon.gov (not live until after launch). Visitors to the old website will be automatically redirected after the new site launches.

“The new website is a simple, straight-forward design with easy access to grant opportunities, information and timely news items, including community impact stories made possible by Arts Commission funding,” said Arts Commission Executive Director Brian Rogers. “It also features photographs depicting the arts throughout Oregon.”

The homepage will include links to all grant programs and resources for arts organizations and individual artists. Economic impact data of the arts and a focus on art-based community development will also be featured.

The new site also will mark a transition from a .org to a .gov platform, ensuring ongoing recognition as an official Oregon state agency website. 

The Oregon Arts Commission provides leadership, funding and arts programs through its grants, special initiatives and services. Nine commissioners, appointed by the Governor, determine arts needs and establish policies for public support of the arts.


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