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Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023
Klamath Basin Weather
Sunny, with a high near 81. Light southwest winds 5 to 7 mph today. Clear overnight, low of 48.
It’s the first day of school today (Tuesday) for students in the Klamath County School District, and it’s the first day of city schools for elementary students and 9th graders, and Wednesday is the first day for city school students 7th, 8th, 10th-12th grades. Please be on the lookout for students crossing streets and slow down near bus stops.
Their bright yellow buses are back on the roads, and they are counting on drivers to follow the rules to ensure students are safe while they are entering and exiting the bus. Also, don’t forget to slow down while driving in school zones and keep an eye out for kids walking or bicycling to school. School buses use flashing lights to notify drivers. Here is a rundown of what the rules when you are sharing the road with a school bus and students: Yellow lights: Prepare to stop. Slow down. Do not pass the bus. Red lights: Stop. Drivers coming from both directions must stop. Do not pass the bus when the lights are flashing. When the lights turn off, proceed with caution. Be on the lookout for children near the road. School zones: Oregon state law requires drivers to go no faster than 20 mph in school zones between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. Bus routes for the 2023-24 school year are available on the KCSD website. Please be sure to check your route on the website for any updates as the first day of school nears. (KCSD press release)
A local man is in custody today after allegedly firing rounds from a rifle at buildings, residences and vehicles along the streets of Chiloquin.
Brian Mason, 40, of Chiloquin, was arrested Thursday evening, Sherriff Chris Kaber said, after attempting to elude police by swimming across the Williamson River. The suspect’s wet footprints were followed to a nearby residence where police confirmed Mason’s identity and arrested him for the alleged crimes. “He was taken into custody, and he had already changed into dry clothing,” the release said. “Wet clothing evidence was located inside of the house. After positive identification was made he was transported and lodged at the Klamath County Detention Center.” A news release from Klamath County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) said law enforcement first received a call just after 2 p.m. about a man entering a woman’s home, holding a rifle. By 4:18 p.m., the sheriff’s office started to receive multiple calls about a man in the area pointing a rifle at people and shooting the firearm at vehicles and nearby structures. One of the subsequent reports originated from the Chiloquin Community Center. “A caller reported that the armed man had entered the Community Center and then was seen shortly afterwards behind the building still in possession of a rifle,” the release said. “An emergency alert was sent out for the Chiloquin area east of US Highway 97 advising everyone to shelter in place.” Chiloquin schools were placed on lockdown until the suspect was apprehended, and roadways were also shut down into downtown Chiloquin, the release said. All shelter in place orders were lifted at 5:47 p.m. Mason is currently in custody at Klamath County Jail and is facing multiple charges, including two counts attempted murder, four counts menacing, unlawful use of a firearm, felon in possession of a firearm, first-degree burglary, first-degree theft, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. (Herald and News)
Police shut down a marijuana grow site north of Yainax Drive north of Beatty yesterday, according to a news release from the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office.
“The outdoor grow was dismantled after 579 plants were discovered,” the release said. “The value of the illegal crop on the black market would have been approximately $3.3 million if the plants had been successfully harvested. It is also estimated that 312,660 gallons of water had been used throughout the growing season.” No one was on the property when police raided the site, the release said. (Klamath County Sheriff’s Office)
It’s been one year, almost to the day, since John Casalino was appointed interim district attorney for Klamath County. He fit right in.
After Eve Costello stepped down as district attorney in 2022, former Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered Casalino, a renowned attorney from the Department of Justice, to fill the position until a new one could be appointed. As the latest application period for the position of Klamath County DA is now closed, Casalino’s time here will soon come to an end. Casalino, the senior assistant attorney general for the DOJ criminal justice division, has spent the past 11 months dedicated to the people of Klamath County. He likes it here. Casalino relocated from his home in Multnomah County last October, traveling back and forth between family and work. In his time in Klamath Falls, Casalino has tackled some of the county’s more notorious cases, including the kidnapping and police evasion case of Eric Koon and the Jessica’s Law case of Souner Crane. Last month, Casalino successfully prosecuted the state’s case against Hailie Harkins, a woman convicted for the murder of Chiloquin resident Tyler Bates. Bates, a father of five, was shot in front of his home in August 2022. Multiple shots fired resulted in the injury of two additional family members inside the dwelling. Casalino worked closely with Bates’ family throughout the case. The Yurok people, who have a tradition of carving canoes and paddles from fallen redwood trees, expressed their gratitude to Casalino by carving him a redwood paddle which now hangs in his Klamath County office. Casalino’s efforts on behalf of Klamath County have extended beyond just the needs of the victims. With only two on-staff deputy district attorneys and two attorneys from the DOJ filling in, the prosecutor’s office is severely understaffed, since it was approved for 10 full-time attorneys to fulfill all the necessary duties. (Herald and News)
The Klamath National Forest is reducing the emergency closure order for the Oak Knoll and Scott River Ranger Districts.
The decision to reevaluate the closure order was made after close coordination between California Incident Management Team-5, local cooperators, and the Klamath National Forest. The emergency closure order for the Happy Camp Ranger District remains unchanged. The purpose of an emergency closure order is to provide for public safety in response to ongoing wildfire activity across the forest, including the Happy Camp Complex. A forest closure prohibits the public from entering portions of the forest in or near the vicinity of ongoing wildfire activity. The closure order also prohibits the use of roads, trails, and developed recreation sites within the closure area. Fire restrictions remain in place to help minimize the chances of human-caused wildland fires. These restrictions prohibit campfires outside of designated improved recreation areas and wilderness. Recent rainstorms that came into the area are aiding firefighters in fighting the Smith River and Happy Camp complexes, despite flash flood warnings in some areas of the frontlines. The Smith River Complex gained ½ an inch of rain last night, while certain areas of the Happy Camp Complex gained ¼ inch of rain. The rain helped wet fine particle fuels, slowing down the spread of the fires. The storm did bring 75 lightning strikes into the Smith River Complex, firefighters today will be those areas and examining if any combustions occurred. The Happy Camp Complex did have some lightning strikes near the area, but none touches the footprint of the Happy Camp Complex itself. (klamath national forest District)
Regional economies were boosted by several million dollars because of the allure of Crater Lake National Park and the Lava Beds and Tule Lake National Monuments.
A new National Park Service report shows that 647,751 visitors to Crater Lake and 131,000 visitors to Lava Beds and Tule Lake in 2022 spent more $69 million in communities near the parks. That spending supported 961 jobs in areas near the park and had a combined cumulative benefit to the local economies of $97.7 million. Nationally, the peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by NPS economists shows $23.9 billion of direct spending by nearly 312 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. The spending supported 378,400 jobs nationally; 314,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $50.3 billion. Based on the report, Crater Lake had 527,259 total recreation visits, total visitor spending was $51,208,0,00, accounted for 728 jobs, resulted in a labor income of $27,715, with value added totaled $42,626,000, with a total economic impact of $4,757,00. The report says 98.4 percent of the visitor spending was by non-locals Lava Beds-Tule Lake had 130,969 total recreation visits, total visitor spending was $6,446,000, accounted for 74 jobs, resulted in a labor income of $2,597,000, with value added totaled $4,032,000, and had a total economic impact of $7,206,000. The report says 95.3 percent of the visitor spending was by non-locals. (Herald and News)
Around the state of Oregon
Another Missing Woman in Oregon
Gwen Brunelle shouldn’t have been in Jordan Valley in late June, buying gas. The Boise woman was supposed to be hundreds of miles away near Fresno, California, getting coached in rabbit judging.
But roughly 24 hours after she told the station attendant she was “in a hurry,” her unattended vehicle was spotted off a state highway north of Jordan Valley. The 27-year-old woman had disappeared. A missing person report soon triggered one of the most intense searches ever undertaken in Malheur County. Repeated searches found no trace of Brunelle. Authorities believe she is somewhere out in rangeland that is sparsely vegetated with sagebrush, rabbitbrush, cheat grass and crested wheatgrass. Authorities report that 9 out of 10 of missing people are found within 48 hours. Only 1 out of a 100 are still missing after a year. In Oregon, 220 people are still missing after being reported in 2022, according to Oregon State Police data. That includes two cases in Malheur County. (oregon news)
Oregon employees who need time off to care for family members or navigate serious illnesses can now take paid leave under the new state’s long-awaited paid family and medical leave program which began on Sunday.
Angela Yeager, a spokesperson for Paid Leave Oregon, said benefit payments will start going out Sept. 13. The program has received over 9,000 applications as of Thursday. The state has approved just over 1,250, according to Yaeger. The Oregon Legislature established the program in 2019, making Oregon one of just 11 states, along with Washington, D.C., to offer paid family and medical leave. Oregon’s program is funded by a payroll tax of 1% on gross wages. Employers with 25 or more workers pay 40% of the contribution while employees pay 60%. Workers participating in the program receive between $63.48 and $1,523.63 a week during their leave, depending on their base salary. Yaeger said the program “levels the playing field for working Oregonians who may not have had any access to paid time off until now.” (oregon news)
Cannon Beach lifeguards rescued six people, including two children, swept up by a rip current at Chapman Point on Saturday over the busy Labor Day Weekend.
Lifeguards watched the group get dragged farther from the shore by the current at 12:18 a.m., and one of them dove into the water while another guard called for help from local fire departments. Three other beach lifeguards dove in to help find the group. Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District and the U.S. Coast Guard responded with water scooters and a helicopter, Cannon Beach lifeguards said in a social media post. With the help of three local surfers, all six people were rescued, officials said. One lifeguard was treated for minor injuries. Rip currents, sometimes called riptides, are strong, narrow channels of water moving toward the ocean starting near the shoreline. Rip currents often look like darker, narrow gaps of water heading offshore between breaking waves or whitewater, according to the National Weather Service. Beachgoers should look for choppy, rippled water heading offshore. These areas will often seem like safe places to enter because no waves are rolling in, but should be avoided. (oregon news)
Woman fatally struck by freight train in Salem
Salem, Ore. — Emergency responders were called to the area of 12th and Marion STS NE at approximately 9:40 a.m. Saturday on the report of a woman struck by a freight train.
Officers determined the woman stood on the tracks facing the oncoming train. The rail crew sounded the horn and attempted to stop but could not avoid the collision as the woman did not move. She was declared deceased at the scene.
The name of the decedent will not be released pending notification to the family.
Due to the significant length of train, about 74 rail cars, traffic impacts occurred along the Union Pacific track line from Court ST to Silverton RD NE for more than two hours.
Fire information for the Smith River Complex North in Southern Oregon
Recent rainstorms that came into the area are aiding firefighters in fighting the Smith River and Happy Camp complexes, despite flash flood warnings in some areas of the frontlines. The Smith River Complex gained ½ an inch of rain last night, while certain areas of the Happy Camp Complex gained ¼ inch of rain.
The rain helped wet fine particle fuels, slowing down the spread of the fires. The storm did bring 75 lightning strikes into the Smith River Complex, firefighters today will be those areas and examining if any combustions occurred. The Happy Camp Complex did have some lightning strikes near the area, but none touches the footprint of the Happy Camp Complex itself.
Lookout, Bedrock, Horse Creek, Pothole and Grizzly Fire Updates
— The United States Forest Service has additionally implemented a forest closure for the entire Cottage Grove Ranger District.
An evacuation map is available at https://www.lanecounty.org/news/brice_dinner_grizzly_fires Residents are encouraged to sign up for emergency alerts at www.LaneAlerts.org
Oregon Finalizes 2024 Health Rates for Individuals, Small Group Markets and More
Salem – The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation has finalized the rate decisions for 2024 health insurance for the individual and small group markets. The division reviews and approves rates for these markets through a detailed and transparent public process before they can be charged to policyholders.
The division hosted public hearings, took public comment, and – after careful consideration and a rigorous review – reached the final decisions announced today. The division published preliminary decisions in July before the public hearings. In the public hearings, members of the public, health insurance companies, and the division had the opportunity to further review and analyze the preliminary decisions. “We know the cost of health insurance and medicine continue to rise due to circumstances out of people’s hands,” said Andrew R. Stolfi, Oregon’s insurance commissioner and director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. “We work hard to ensure consumers have multiple choices for coverage and to keep premium costs down as much as possible. We are fortunate to have the Oregon Reinsurance Program, which helps stabilize the market and leads to more options in every county across the state.” Oregon currently has at least five health care options for people to choose from in the individual market in all but one county. All 36 counties have at least four options. This is a big improvement from 2019 when 12 of Oregon’s counties had three or fewer insurers in the individual market. The improvement is even better when factoring in the Health Insurance Marketplace. In 2019, only five counties had at least four companies selling marketplace coverage; today, that is all 36 counties. Also in 2019, 24 of the 36 counties had two or fewer marketplace plans for people to choose from. “This is a testament to how far we’ve come in increasing access to comprehensive health care to as many people in the state as possible,” Stolfi said. “We will continue to work to make health care accessible and affordable for all Oregonians.” Individual market The division issued final decisions for six companies in the individual market with average rate changes ranging from a 3.5 percent increase to an 8.5 percent increase for an overall weighted average increase of 6.2 percent, which is a half percent improvement over last year’s average of 6.7 percent. Under the decisions, Silver Standard Plan premiums for a 40-year-old in Portland would range from $467 to $537 a month. Small group market In the small group market, the division issued final decisions for eight companies with average rate increases ranging from 0.8 percent to 12.4 percent, for an overall weighted average increase of 8.1 percent, which was slightly higher than last year’s average of 7.8 percent. Under the decisions, Silver Standard Plan premiums for a 40-year-old in Portland range from $387 to $459 a month. 2024 final health insurance rate request chart Facts for 2024:
- All 36 Oregon counties will have at least four health plan options in the individual market for its residents and 35 will have at least five. One-third of Oregon counties are offering six options.
- The Oregon Reinsurance Program continues to help stabilize the market – lowering rates by nearly 6 percent for the sixth straight year.
- Medical costs continue to rise due to inflation, increased use, and the cost of new specialized prescription drugs.
Final decisions for each insurance company can be found at oregonhealthrates.org.
Tens of thousands of people gathered for the Burning Man festival remained stranded in the Nevada desert on Sunday after heavy rain storms that swept through the area, as authorities investigated a possible death and worked to open exit paths by the end of the Labor Day weekend.
Organizers closed vehicular access to the counterculture festival and attendees trudged through mud, many barefoot or wearing plastic bags on their feet. The revelers were urged to shelter in place and conserve food, water and other supplies. Most remained hunkered down hoping roads open as early as Monday, though a few managed to walk several miles to the nearest town. The counterculture gathering in the Black Rock Desert about 110 miles north of Reno typically attracts nearly 80,000 artists, musicians and activists who spend tens of millions of dollars in Nevada. Combining wilderness camping with avant-garde performances at a Mardi Gras-like celebration, the event typically goes for a week and emphasizes self-sufficiency — meaning most people bring in their own food, water and other supplies. Many that attend that travel from Portland, Seattle, and other northwest cities routinely pass through Klamath Falls, increasing sales of water, food and fuel supplies before and then upon their return trip home from the festival. (oregon news/local sources)
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