Klamath Basin News, Friday, Dec. 1 – Klamath County Museum Tax Levy Passes; Cold Winter Weather for the Weekend

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Friday, December 1, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

Winter Storm Watch in effect through Saturday Dec. 2nd. at 10PM.
Today
Rain and snow before 1pm, then a chance of rain between 1pm and 5pm, then a chance of rain and snow after 5pm. Snow level rising to 4800 feet in the afternoon. High near 42. Gusty winds 11 to 16 mph and much higher possible at times.  Chance of precipitation is 90%. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. Overnight a chance of rain mixed with snow, low around 29.  Chance of precipitation is 80%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Saturday
Snow before 9am, then rain and snow between 9am and 11am, then rain after 11am. Snow level rising to 5700 feet in the afternoon. High near 44. Breezy, with a south wind 14 to 22 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Little or no snow accumulation expected. More rain or snow overnight, low around 37, snow level rising from 5300 feet to 6700. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Sunday
Rain likely, mainly before 11am. Snow level 6800 feet. Cloudy, with a high near 49.
Monday
A 20 percent chance of rain before 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 51.
Tuesday
A chance of rain, mainly after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 53.

Today’s Headlines

The votes are fully counted and Klamath County residents have spoken — the Klamath County Museums tax levy has passed, but just barely.

The Nov. 7 election presented voters with only one ballot measure — a proposed tax levy to fund county museums for a period of five years.

For the past 12 years, the museum tax levy rested at 5 cents per $1,000 assessed property value, with no proposed increases during that time.  Due to the museums’ dire needs for repairs and modifications, the museum system proposed a measure to increase county taxes to 10 cents per $1,000.

The Klamath County Elections office announced the final, certified vote Wednesday afternoon.

Of the total 14,029 votes, 7,043 were in favor of the measure, a margin of only 0.4%. The results were close, but not close enough for a recount.

Oregon recount laws will only conduct a recount of a ballot measure if the margin is 0.2% or less and if at least 50% of registered residents voted.  (HeraldandNews.com)

 

The Klamath Falls Police Department is asking the community of Klamath Falls for assistance in a robbery investigation that occurred on November 18th, 2023, in the early morning hours at the Pinnacle 365 located at 2123 Oregon Avenue in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

The unknown suspect is described as a white male adult, approximately 5’10” tall and 190 lbs. The suspect was last seen wearing a light grey Champion brand hoodie, dark colored jeans, and a red baseball cap. The suspect was armed with a handgun during the robbery and was last seen fleeing the location and possibly heading west towards Modoc Street.

The suspect should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who may have video surveillance in the area, or information related to this case is encouraged to contact the Klamath Falls Police Department at 541-883-5336 and contact Officer Fuller or contact anonymous tip line at 541-883-5334.

Please reference KFPD case 23-02998. The Klamath Falls Police Department appreciates any assistance you can provide.  (kfpd)

 

Downtown Tree Lighting Scheduled for Monday

The Klamath Falls Downtown Association in partnership with the City of Klamath Falls announced the cancellation of the highly anticipated Downtown Tree Lighting Ceremony scheduled for Monday, December 4th earlier this week.

That has now changed. The good news says the Association, in collaboration with the City of Klamath Falls and other community organizations, is thrilled to announce the reinstatement of the Klamath Falls Tree Lighting event as a Holiday Community Gathering happening at the Klamath Commons on Monday, December 4th, at 6 pm.

Location: Klamath Commons, corner 11th/Klamath Avenue

This festive event welcomes all community members to join in the merriment, bringing their holiday spirit and favorite Holiday attire to create an atmosphere of joy and togetherness.

The Klamath Falls Downtown Association extends its gratitude to the City of Klamath Falls and other partnering organizations for their collaborative efforts in making the Holiday Community Gathering a reality.

(KFDA)

 

Get ready for a series of winter storms impacting Oregon and our Southern Oregon region through the weekend, bringing areas of heavy rain, heavy snow and strong winds to portions of Southern Oregon and Northern California.

The next round of widespread and heavier precipitation moves in Friday morning with snow levels as low as as 2,500′ then climbing to 4,000′ to 4,500′ in the afternoon on Friday. Heavy snow in our higher elevations, especially, along the Cascades and along Highway 97 in northern Klamath County will make for very difficult travel conditions. Strong winds picking up will also reduce visibility due to blowing snow. A lull in the action is expected into Friday night, but we’ll see another round of widespread and heavier precipitation into Saturday with snow levels climbing even higher through the weekend. Snow and winter weather will continue to impact travel greatly for the high Cascades above 5,500′ right through Sunday morning.

The Red Cross has some tips to weather the storm, whether you are staying home or if you have plans to travel over the passes.

  1. Allow enough time to get where you are going.
  2. Keep a snow shovel, ice scraper, blanket, warm clothes, and other emergency supplies in your car.
  3. Minimize travel because traffic lights may be out, and the roads may be icy and dangerous. Don’t drive through large puddles or flooded areas.
  4. Watch for fallen trees and powerlines and stay clear of them until help can arrive.
  5. Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  6. Do not follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  7. Do not use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  8. Do not pass snowplows.
  9. Ramps, bridges, and overpasses freeze before roadways.
  10. Always stay connected with loved ones and neighbors to make sure they know where you are and that you are safe.

Inside Your Home:

  1. Plan to stay warm. Make sure you can safely heat your home. Dress in layers. Check insulation, caulking and weather stripping. Learn how to keep your pipes from freezing.
  2. Learn emergency skills. First aid and CPR skills are important to learn. Have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to keep your home safe. Keep generators outside, keep 3 feet of clearing around space heaters, and make sure your gas fireplace or other heating sources are working properly. Recognize the warnings of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you feel dizzy or nauseous, go outside and call 9-1-1.
  3. Stay connected through local media channels. Have a battery-operated radio. Download the Red Cross Emergency App to stay informed.
    org/apps
  4. Gather emergency supplies. Have fresh water (one gallon per day per person), non-perishable foods, and medications on hand. Ideally, you should have a 2-week supply.
  5. If you lose power, have a working flashlight available. Unplug appliances and turn off lights so you do not get a surge when the power returns. Keep the doors to the refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible to keep the cold inside and your food supply safe.

People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.    (nws/red cross)

 

Klamath Community College is working to bring law enforcement training and certification to its students.

This is due to a new partnership with The Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.

The partnership allows officers across Southern Oregon to attend recertification and maintenance training courses on campus.

The program hopes to help current KCC students in the criminal justice program through exposure and access to training and educational opportunities, offering a different offering a direct route to a law enforcement career.

For more information, visit Klamathcc.edu

 

OSP troopers rescue abandoned dogs from a U-Haul Truck in Love’s Truck Stop Parking Lot
   …25 dogs turned over to the Klamath County Animal Shelter

On Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 23, 2023) Oregon State Police troopers responded to the Love’s Truck Stop in Klamath Falls for the report of a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot. A U-Haul truck had been abandoned in the parking lot for approximately two days.

When the troopers arrived, they could hear barking from the back of the enclosed truck. 

An investigation revealed the U-Haul had been reported stolen and troopers obtained a search warrant for the vehicle. Troopers found seven cages with 15 abandoned dogs including several puppies. The dogs had been severely neglected; however, all were found alive. The dogs had been abandoned in the back of the U-Haul since Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. 

Troopers contacted two suspects and were able to recover an additional 10 dogs. David Eugene McMillion (50) of Klamath Falls was arrested for Animal Abandonment, Criminal Mischief II, Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle, and Animal Neglect II.  Lisa Annette Weeks (39) of Klamath Falls was charged with Animal Abandonment, Unauthorized Use of Vehicle, and Animal Neglect II. 

In all, 25 dogs were turned over the Klamath County Animal Shelter for evaluation and care. One puppy has tested positive for canine parvo. All dogs currently at the shelter have been quarantined and the shelter sanitized to help prevent further spread of the disease.

Once medically cleared the dogs will be available for adoption and the animal shelter has already received dozens of adoption applications for the dogs.  

 

A couple of well attended events in years past will take place this weekend.

The Jefferson State Shooting Association’s Fall Gun Show is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2 and 3, at the Klamath County Fair/Expo Center in Klamath Falls.

The show will run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

There will be 200 show tables to look over and many different types of collectibles, including antique and modern firearms, knives, ammunition, optics, targets, holsters and other leather gear.

There will be a special display by the Cascade Civil War Society showing a typical encampment from the Civil War time and displaying weapons, uniforms, cooking implements, medical supplies and a cannon.

The Jefferson State Shooting Association is a nonprofit organization devoted to shooting sports in Klamath County. It builds and maintains the ranges at Sportsman’s Park east of Keno.

Membership is available at the show.

 

Also, Klamath Basin Sports is scheduled to hold its annual Ski and Snowboard Swap this weekend.

The event is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to bring in old/used ski and snowboard gear, winter apparel, gloves, goggles, etc., for a chance to turn it in to cash or store credit.

For more information, stop by Klamath Basin Sports at 316 S. 6th St. or call (541) 273-9527.

(HeraldandNews.com)

 

Oregon saw a small population increase in 2023, according to preliminary estimates from the Population Research Center at Portland State University.

The center figures Oregon gained about 22,600 residents in the year leading up to July 1, 2023, representing about a 0.53% gain to a total of 4,290,225.

The growth extended to Multnomah County, reversing a decline in population the center reported last year. This year, it said the county grew 0.56%, gaining 4,600 residents. The increase would more than make up for the loss reported the year prior, putting the county’s population at an all-time high.

Klamath County went the opposite direction, losing 0.25% of residents in the 12 month period.  

The Population Research Center estimates that 23 other Oregon counties saw growth, while 10 counties lost residents in the period between July 2022 to July 2023. Counties that grew more than 1% over the same period included Deschutes, Lake, Malheur and Morrow counties. (Oregon news sources)

 

On Saturday, December 2, 2023, Friends of the Children will be putting on the Ugly Sweater Run. The run will start at 9 a.m. and will take place in the Harbor Isles area. Hope to see you there and help with this great organization in the basin!

Please contact Danelle Harmon with any questions at (541) 331-5580. (city of KF press release)

 

Firefighters from as far away as Chiloquin gathered at Klamath Community College (KCC) Tuesday, Nov. 28 for a friendly timed physical challenge – part of month-long competitions coordinated in recognition of “No-Shave November,” or “Mo-member,” efforts to raise awareness about men’s physical and mental health.

Launched in partnership with Healthy Klamath and Klamath Basin Behavioral Health (KBBH) in 2019, the annual firefighter-themed obstacle course was the last of multiple contests held among regional fire and police departments competing for bragging rights, and to support charitable causes related to men’s cancer screenings and mental health support.

Each partner – local police, firefighters, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), and Kingsley Field – offered up direct competition with their physical aptitude tests to see how each first responder agency measured up against others.

Part of a global movement held every November to raise awareness and money for charity, participants are encouraged to grow moustaches for November and do their part to share information and resources for suicide prevention and cancer screenings. (KCC)

 

The Great Outdoors will soon be coming indoors to the Klamath County Fairgrounds!

The first Newswatch 12 Klamath Falls Sportsmen’s & Outdoor Recreation Show is scheduled for March 15-17. The show will feature a wide array of outdoor products, demonstrations and activities, covering camping and boating to hiking and hunting to recreational vehicles and traveling.

Gregg Sherrill, chairman of the fairground’s board of directors, said a sportsmen’s show is something the Klamath Basin has needed for decades.

The three-day show will have a host of vendors and exhibitors, representing all aspects of the outdoor recreation industry. In addition to products, there’ll be advocacy groups, governmental agencies, seminars and presentations by hunting and fishing experts, kid activities and prize giveaways. (kdrv12)

 

Back in the 1960s, the Oregon Institute of Technology was looking for somewhere to build a new campus.

School leaders picked a spot on the northeast corner of Klamath Falls, with one very unusual feature.

Oregon Tech administrators wanted to showcase the emerging technology of geothermal energy, essentially a process in which hot water hidden deep underground is brought up to the surface and put through heat exchangers to warm buildings.

Oregon Tech bought the land and drilled 2,000 feet into the rock — the equivalent of 185 stories down — to a deposit of water that measured 196 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 16 degrees short of boiling.

Sixty years later, the water remains just as hot, and the Southern Oregon school still uses the clean, cheap energy to heat classrooms and dormitories; campus leaders estimate that saves them $1.4 million a year.

The school is in the process of replacing its old heat exchangers, valves and pipes at a cost of $18 million, which is being picked up by state taxpayers.

Such high maintenance costs — and the geographic availability of hot water — help explain why not everyone in Klamath Falls uses geothermal energy.

Residents in neighborhoods like Pacific Terrace and Hillside, on the northeast edge of Klamath Falls, have been tapping geothermal since the 1930s. But they lie on a fault line, meaning property owners only have to dig 100 to 400 feet to reach hot water. Homes sell for a premium of $10,000 to $30,000 over other neighborhoods in the Klamath Falls area because of the cheap energy.

The finances mean that it’s mainly just large institutions, like Oregon Tech or the city government, that have the deep pockets to tap geothermal.

Once in use, the resource is a real boost for the town. For example, the local outdoor pool is heated year-round. (HeraldandNews/OPB)

 

Toys For Tots Annual Drive Is On

With the holidays upon us, the season brings a time of giving for children in need in both Klamath and Lake counties.

The annual Toys for Tots toy drive is already underway this year, and the longstanding organization is asking community members to give what they can.

Online monetary donations for Klamath County children can be made by visiting klamath-falls-or.toysfortots.org.

To donate online to children in Lake County, visit lake-county.toysfortots.org.

For those who want to donate a new, unwrapped toy in Klamath County, you can drop off your donation at one of four locations:

  • Leatherneck Club, 1019 Main St.
  • My Mechanic, 3000 Pershing Way
  • Fred Meyer, 2655 Shasta Way
  • Bi-Mart, 1920 Washburn Way

In-person monetary donations can also be made at the Leatherneck Club. (HeraldandNews.com)

 

Permits are available this month for Christmas tree cutting in U.S. national forests where allowed, starting today in Klamath National Forest.

The Klamath National Forest (KNF) and Six Rivers National Forest (SRNF) in Northern California issue permits that allow Christmas tree cutting.

SRNF knows cutting a holiday tree is a special tradition for family and friends “while helping to maintain a healthy forest. For every tree that is found, cut and carried home as a holiday fixture, you’re also contributing to the overall forest health. Christmas tree permits are a unique opportunity for citizens to help thin densely populated stands of small-diameter trees – the perfect size for a Christmas tree.”

It reminds people they must purchase a Christmas tree permit before their visit to Six Rivers National Forest, and permits can be purchased in-person at a local ranger district office or online through December 23, 2023, using this online site to purchase a permit online, following tips and guidelines for the cutting area to ensure a safe and fun forest adventure.

SNRF also notes that fourth graders who participate in the Every Kid Outdoors program are eligible for a free Christmas tree permit.

Permits cost $10 each with a limit of two permits per household, and maps of cutting areas are provided by SRNF, which says people must be at least 18 years old to buy permits. The Forest Service accepts cash, check, or credit/debit cards as payment. All sales are final with no refunds.

(kdrv12/Klamath national forest)

 

Friends of the Children – Klamath Basin will host its Ugly Sweater Fun Run on Saturday, December 2, starting at 9 a.m. from Harbor Links Golf Course.

The 10th annual fundraising event will feature a 5K fun run, a free Santa Dash with prizes for kids, festive beanies for all registrants and extra swag for the first 125, free drinks and snacks, and prizes for first finishers and best-dressed people and pets.

Register through the QR code, at http:tiny.cc/uglysweater23, or by calling 541-273-2022.

Friends of the Children is a national nonprofit that creates generational change by empowering youth through relationships with professional mentors (“Friends”) for 12+ years. The Klamath Basin chapter was established in 2000 and will support 70 youth this year. Learn more at friendsklamath.org.  (submitted press release)

 

Around the state of Oregon

SNOW IS COMING TO THE CASCADES

A winter storm watch will be in place in many parts of Oregon and SW Washington over the next few days. That means the mountains are expected to see heavy snow and the valleys will see heavy rainfall. Wind gusts could be as high as 55mph. The American Red Cross of Oregon has some tips to weather the storm, whether you are staying home or if you have plans to travel over the passes. 

Outside Your Home

  1. Allow enough time to get where you are going. 
  2. Keep a snow shovel, ice scraper, blanket, warm clothes, and other emergency supplies in your car. 
  3. Minimize travel because traffic lights may be out, and the roads may be icy and dangerous. Don’t drive through large puddles or flooded areas.
  4. Watch for fallen trees and powerlines and stay clear of them until help can arrive.
  5. Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  6. Do not follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  7. Do not use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  8. Do not pass snowplows.
  9. Ramps, bridges, and overpasses freeze before roadways.
  10. Always stay connected with loved ones and neighbors to make sure they know where you are and that you are safe. 

Inside Your Home:

  1. Plan to stay warm. Make sure you can safely heat your home. Dress in layers. Check insulation, caulking and weather stripping. Learn how to keep your pipes from freezing. 
  2. Learn emergency skills. First aid and CPR skills are important to learn. Have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to keep your home safe. Keep generators outside, keep 3 feet of clearing around space heaters, and make sure your gas fireplace or other heating sources are working properly. Recognize the warnings of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you feel dizzy or nauseous, go outside and call 9-1-1.
  3. Stay connected through local media channels. Have a battery-operated radio. Download the Red Cross Emergency App to stay informed. 
    Redcross.org/apps
  4. Gather emergency supplies. Have fresh water (one gallon per day per person), non-perishable foods, and medications on hand. Ideally, you should have a 2-week supply.
  5. If you lose power, have a working flashlight available. Unplug appliances and turn off lights so you do not get a surge when the power returns. Keep the doors to the refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible to keep the cold inside and your food supply safe.

People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.

 

19 Year Old Charged with Murder in Yamhill County

A 19-year-old has been arrested in the Monday, Nov. 27, shooting death of a teenager near Yamhill.

Cornelius resident Brendan Dante Waco was arrested for murder in the second degree by the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday night, Nov. 28.

The arrest follows a shooting Monday, Nov. 27, which left a 16-year-old from Polk County dead. The teenager’s body was found by a local resident on Northwest Russell Creek Road on Monday afternoon, according to the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office.

“The victim suffered multiple gunshot wounds, with one of those wounds being fatal,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

According to authorities, a local area law enforcement bulletin was sent out earlier this week with a description and surveillance image of a vehicle connected to subjects involved.

On Tuesday, Nov. 28, around 1 a.m., a Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy located a vehicle matching the description parked in a residential neighborhood in Cornelius.

“Washington County Sheriff’s Office set up containment and observation of the vehicle, and Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office detectives responded to the scene,” authorities said. “A search warrant was served at about 6 a.m. and the vehicle, a tan 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe, was seized and taken to the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office for evidence processing.”

Deputies from Yamhill and Washington counties arrested Waco that night. The arrest took place after detectives conducted interviews in the area and worked with the Washington County sheriff’s Office and discovered that a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy had seen the same vehicle the previous afternoon at a local business, Yamhill County officials said.

“When observed, the vehicle had different license plates displayed,” the Sheriff’s Office added.

Detectives obtained a search warrant for a Cornelius residence in the area of 28th and Holladay streets. At about 8 p.m., the Yamhill County and Washington County authorities executed the search warrant, recovering evidence and arresting Waco.

The suspect is currently lodged in the Yamhill County Jail without bail.  Detectives are continuing the investigation, and additional arrests are expected.

 

Lower crude oil prices and weak demand continue to send gas prices down.

Triple-A reports that over the last week the national average declined a nickel to three-25 a gallon.  Oregon’s average dropped seven cents to four-04.  Triple-A projects Oregon’s average will move below four dollars a gallon.  Seventeen Oregon counties currently have averages below four dollars.  There are reports OPEC Plus could cut production levels which could slow or end declines in fuel prices.

(Oregon news)

 

A week after fleeing the scene of a homicide, a Riddle, Oregon man has been located and taken into custody in Redding, California. 

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon was notified that on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, at 10:15 a.m., the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of the United States Marshal’s Office took 19-year-old homicide suspect Gauge Douglas James Main of Riddle, Oregon into custody. Main was located at a residence in Redding California. Main had stolen a silver 2017 Honda Civic 4-door sedan following the homicide, which was recovered in Redding late last week. 

Mr. Main is suspected of killing 20-year-old Devonte Lovell Clark of Grants Pass and injuring another man. A felony warrant had been issued for his arrest for homicide. Sheriff John Hanlin had requested the assistance of the United States Marshal’s Office Fugitive Apprehension Team in locating Main. 

Main has been booked into the Shasta County Jail. (douglas county so)

 

Hundreds of thousands of Oregonians traveled over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA.

And recently published data shows that the simple act of going from point A to point B is becoming a riskier proposition every year.

The Oregon Health Authority has released its Oregon Transportation Safety Dashboard, a collection of state data that shows the number of traffic deaths and injuries climbed from 2010 to 2022.

The Oregon Department of Transportation already compiles a yearly report of traffic deaths on state highways and Oregon State Police are often the agency tasked with investigating car crashes. But Dagan Wright, an epidemiologist in the state’s injury and violence prevention program, said OHA plays a role in traffic safety, too. OHA gets a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work on injury prevention issues like traffic safety and the dashboard seemed like an extension of that work, Wright said.

Wright said OHA didn’t just study car collisions, but also walking, cycling, boating and driving recreational vehicles. Regardless of how people got around, the results show the past few years have been more dangerous than ever.

Despite hundreds of workplaces, restaurants and schools shutting down during the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic deaths did not slow down in Oregon. While the number of Oregonians who died from transportation-related injuries was flat from 2019 to 2020, it rose from 530 to 597 in 2021 and then to 606 in 2022.

(HeraldandNews.com)

 

With the holidays here it’s important to recognize the dangers of scams. The Better Business Bureau said it’s important to be wary this time of year.

The Better Business Bureau says the scams are around — we’ve all been targeted daily by them and employment is a big one. “When we look at how employment is done, most of it is actually done via applying online or online interviews, so it kind of lends itself to where scammers like to live.

Scammers exploit people seeking employment by offering roles that are overpaid or don’t require proper interviews.

The Better Business Bureau also says that some of these scams prey on emotions, promising high pay for minimal skills — which should raise immediate red flags for potential applicants.

Young adults aged 18-24 remain particularly vulnerable to such fraudulent activities due to them wanting to secure jobs without always recognizing the signs of scams.

Online purchasing scams and pet scams are also a concern during the holidays.  (kdrv12/BBB)

 

An Oregon judge will hear arguments today that the state has been acting unconstitutionally when trying to claw back unemployment benefits from more than 60,000 people since 2020.

A lawsuit filed last year argues that the Oregon Employment Department has a convoluted and chaotic process for notifying people when the agency believes it has paid them too much. Many faced claims that they owed the state thousands of dollars. In some cases, the state sought $10,000 or more from people who reported losing their jobs during the pandemic.

The lawsuit seeks to compel the employment department to reform its process for notifying people when the agency thinks it has paid them too much and to overhaul its policies for collecting the money.

The employment department declined to comment on the suit but in legal filings argued the court doesn’t have jurisdiction to order the changes the plaintiffs seek.  (Oregon news)

 

Oregon’s unemployment rate remains near a record low at 3.6%, but many laid-off workers are having to wait much longer for assistance. The share of jobless claims processed within three weeks fell sharply beginning in August, from more than 90% to around 75%.

The delays are reminiscent of the agency’s pandemic breakdown, when Oregon was among the slowest in the nation at paying jobless benefits. But the reasons for the new delays appear very different.

Three years ago, Oregon was coping with an unprecedented number of jobless claims and a dysfunctional agency that had endured a succession of leadership failures and had repeatedly postponed structural reforms. The state notoriously delayed replacing the employment department’s obsolete computer system despite receiving more than $80 million in federal funds to pay for an upgrade in 2009.

The department says bigger factors in the slowdown are a decline in federal funding and a deluge of fraudulent claims. (Oregon news)

 

Avian Flu Kills One Million Birds in Oregon
Close to one-million birds have been euthanized in Oregon after avian flu was detected in two commercial poultry operations and two backyard flocks earlier this month.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture says a total of 790-thousand birds were put down. The Department reports the commercial operations are in Linn and Marion counties. The backyard flocks are in Deschutes and Marion counties.

Quarantines were placed around the commercial operations to make sure no additional cases are detected. (Oregon news)

 

State attorneys general in Oregon, Washington and California and two Oregon-based environmental groups are asking federal energy regulators to reconsider their approval of a natural gas pipeline project that would increase the flow of gas through the Northwest.

Federal regulators voted unanimously Oct. 19 to allow Calgary-based TC Energy to expand the capacity of its 1,400-mile-long GTN Xpress gas pipeline through Oregon, Idaho, Washington and northern California. The expansion would allow 150 million more cubic feet of gas to be delivered to the region each day. It currently transports about 2 billion cubic feet of gas from western Canada to West Coast consumers each day — enough to power 5 million U.S. homes each day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and California Attorney General Rob Bonta and lawyers for Rogue Climate in southern Oregon and Hood River-based Columbia Riverkeeper, filed petitions with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Environmentalists on Tuesday asked for a rehearing from the commission, and accused commissioners of violating two federal laws meant to mitigate environmental harm and ensure gas projects are in the public interest. The state attorneys general filed their petition Wednesday.

Natural gas is almost entirely made up of methane, a potent greenhouse gas and a main contributor to global warming. It’s primarily used to heat homes and businesses, including at least a quarter of all homes in Oregon, according to the state’s Department of Energy.

The state attorneys general claim that TC Energy has not demonstrated the long-term demand for the increase in gas, and that the project is counter to the region’s climate laws, which require greenhouse gas emissions to decrease at least 90% in Oregon by 2050 and 95% in Washington by the same year. In Oregon, at least 26% of that reduction will have to come from natural gas. (HeraldandNews)

 

Unusual Respiratory Illness Effecting Oregon Dogs

Veterinary laboratories in several states are investigating an unusual respiratory illness in dogs and encouraging people to take basic precautions to keep their pets healthy as veterinarians try to pin down what’s making the animals sick.

Oregon, Colorado and New Hampshire are among the states that have seen cases of the illness, which has caused lasting respiratory disease and pneumonia and does not respond to antibiotics.

Symptoms of respiratory illness in dogs include coughing, sneezing, nasal or eye discharge and lethargy. Some cases of the pneunomia progress quickly, making dogs very sick within 24 to 36 hours.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has documented more than 200 cases of the disease since mid-August. It has encouraged pet owners to contact their vet if their dog is sick and told state veterinarians to report cases as soon as possible. The agency is working with state researchers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory to find out what is causing the illnesses.

Dogs have died, said Kurt Williams, director of the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University. But without a clear way to define the disease or test for it, he said it’s hard to put a number on how many died from a severe form of the infection.

Williams had a simple message for dog owners: “Don’t panic.” He also said dog owners should make sure that their pets are up to date on vaccines, including those that protect against various respiratory illnesses.

Labs across the country have been sharing their findings as they try to pinpoint the culprit.

David Needle, senior veterinary pathologist at the University of New Hampshire’s New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, has been investigating the mysterious disease for almost a year.

His lab and colleagues at the university’s Hubbard Center for Genome Research have looked at samples from dogs in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts and more will be coming from Oregon, Colorado and possibly other states.

He said his team has not seen a large increase in dogs dying from the illness but still encouraged pet owners to “decrease contact with other dogs.” (SOURCE)

 

Red Cross of Oregon Asking for Blood Donations During The Holidays

Help on Giving Tuesday and during the holidays by visiting redcross.org to make a financial donation or an appointment to give blood or platelets. Individuals can also register for volunteer opportunities in their area.

INCREASING SUPPORT AMID EXTREME DISASTERS With the growing frequency and intensity of climate-driven disasters, the Red Cross is racing to adapt its services and grow its disaster response capacity across the country. As part of this national work in 2023, the Red Cross distributed $108 million in financial assistance directly to people after disasters of all sizes, including for wildfire recovery in the Cascades Region.

Across the country, the Red Cross is delivering this vital financial assistance on top of its immediate relief efforts — including safe shelter, nutritious meals and emotional support — which have been provided on a near-constant basis for this year’s relentless extreme disasters. In fact, this year’s onslaught of large disasters drove an increase in emergency lodging provided by the Red Cross with partners — with overnight stays up more than 50% compared to the annual average for the previous five years. 

In the Cascades Region we opened four times as many evacuation shelters in June than previous years because of a wildfire season that burned more than 250,000 acres across Oregon and SW Washington. Altogether, nearly 200 of our local volunteers responded to disasters in 2023, including more than 770 in the Cascades Region.

RESPONDING TO ADDITIONAL EMERGING NEEDS Beyond extreme disasters, people stepped up through the Red Cross to address other emerging needs for communities, including:

  • BLOOD DONATIONS: As the nation’s largest blood supplier, the Red Cross is grateful for the millions of donors who rolled up a sleeve throughout the year and helped us meet the needs of patients in the Cascades Region in 2023. To further improve people’s health outcomes, the Red Cross has been working with community partners to introduce blood donation to a new and more diverse generation of blood donors — which is critical to ensuring that a reliable blood supply is available to the 1 in 7 hospital patients who need a lifesaving blood transfusion. 
  • The holidays can be a challenging time to collect enough blood for those in need. To book a time to give, visit RedCrossBlood.org, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App or call 1-800-RED CROSS. As a thank-you, all who come to give blood, platelets or plasma Dec. 1-17 will receive a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card by email. Terms apply. See rcblood.org/Amazon.
  • LIFESAVING TRAINING: This year, the Cascades Region has trained more than 57,000 people in lifesaving-skills while, nationally, the Red Cross expanded its training to empower people to act during current-day crises — which is vital considering that nearly half of U.S. adults report being unprepared to respond to a medical emergency. This included launching the new “Until Help Arrives” online training course last spring for opioid overdoses, severe bleeding, cardiac arrest and choking emergencies, and partnering with professional sports leagues through the Smart Heart Sports Coalition to help prevent tragedies among student athletes by offering CPR training and increasing access to AEDs. 
  • MILITARY FAMILIES: Red Cross workers helped service members on U.S. military installations and deployment sites worldwide — including in Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. As part of our support this year, Red Cross volunteers delivered emergency communications messages connecting more than 87,000 service members with their loved ones during times of family need, while also engaging members in morale and wellness activities during deployments.

Visit www.redcross.org/CascadesGiving for more information about how the Red Cross Cascades Region helped people in 2023.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood and is the primary blood supplier to 65 hospitals throughout Washington and Oregon; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

 

Silver Falls in winter with snow on the ground.SILVER FALLS STATE PARK HOSTS WINTER FESTIVAL DEC. 9 AND 10

Enjoy guided nature hikes, seasonal crafts and educational activities at the Silver Falls State Park Winter Festival 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10. 

Visitors will have a chance to learn about the park in winter including the changing landscapes and habitats for resident and migratory birds and animals. 

Activities include guided walks and talks; building bird nest boxes; making bird feeders and paper bird crafts; creating wreaths and decorating gingerbread and sugar cookies.

Schedule of Activities:

  • Make a wreath at the Evergreen Picnic Shelter (South Falls day-use area)
  • Build a bird nest box at the Creekside Shelter (South Falls day-use are)
  • Make a bird feeder or paper bird craft in the Stone Kitchen Shelter (South Falls day-use area)
  • Attend a short educational talk or guided walk at the South Falls Theater (South Falls day-use area unless otherwise noted)
    • 11 a.m.*: Winter Hibernators Walk (45-minute walk *at Smith Creek Village)
    • 12 p.m.: Mushroom ID hike (1-hour hike)
    • 1 p.m.: Winter Tree ID hike (1-hour hike)
    • 2 p.m.: Learn to Love a Lichen (20-minute talk)
    • 3 p.m.: Winter birds of Silver Falls (20-minute talk)
  • Visit a discovery table near South Falls to learn about the waterfalls in winter or learn about the winter solstice (South Falls day-use area)
  • Decorate a cookie, make a paper bird craft or learn about winter animal tracks (Smith Creek Village, 1.5 miles from the South Falls day-use area)
  • Earn a commemorative Silver Falls ornament from taking part in at least five of the above activities

All activities are free, but a day-use parking permit is required. Permits cost $5 per day; annual permits, normally $30, are on sale for $25 in the month of December and are available at the park. For more information, visit the event page on our calendar at stateparks.oregon.gov or call 503-874-0201.

 

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