Klamath Basin News, Monday, Jan. 22 – Trial Begins Today With Cisneros, Faiers v. City of Klamath Falls, et al; Chinese Billionaire and California Timber Family Become Largest Land Owners in Oregon

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. Call 541-882-6476.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Klamath Basin Weather

 
Today
Showers likely, mainly before 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 45. Southwest wind 3 to 7 mph. Snow level 5900 feet. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Tonight a 40% chance of showers, mainly before 10pm. Snow level 6000 feet lowering to 5200 feet after midnight . Mostly cloudy, with a low around 33. South wind 3 to 5 mph.
Tuesday
Patchy fog before 10am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 45. Calm wind becoming southwest 5 to 7 mph in the morning. Overnight showers mixed with snow showers, snow level 5000 feet. Low around 32.  Chance of precipitation is 80%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Wednesday
Rain and snow showers, becoming all rain after 7am. Snow level 5200 feet rising to 5800 feet in the afternoon. High near 43. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Thursday
A slight chance of showers between 10am and 4pm. Snow level 4900 feet. Partly sunny, with a high near 43.
Friday
A chance of rain and snow before 10am, then a chance of rain. Snow level 6100 feet rising to 7600 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43.
Saturday
A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 47.

See Road Camera Views around the Klamath Basin:

Lake of the Woods
Doak Mtn.

Hiway 97 at Chemult
Hiway 140 at  Bly
Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr.
Hiway 97 at LaPine

 

Today’s Headlines

After four long years and thousands of pages of documents filed, a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Klamath Falls and local leaders is set to go to trial this week.

Come today, a jury in the U.S. District Court of Oregon in Medford will hear the case of Cisneros, Faiers v. City of Klamath Falls, et al.

Dating back to February 2019, the civil rights lawsuit was filed by family owners and founders of El Palacio Restaurant and Cantina —Elizabeth and Antonio Cisneros and their son, Carlos Faiers.

Faiers purchased the business from his parents after their liquor license was revoked and the couple was banned from so much as entering their own establishment.

The family filed a complaint for civil rights violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the city and multiple officials, staff and the former chief of police, Dave Henslee, now serving as the chair of the Klamath County board of commissioners.

Also among the defendants are former city councilor Kendall Bell, former city manager Nathan Cherpeski and the municipality itself.

Elizabeth Cisneros and her family declined to comment on the upcoming trial on the basis that the court ordered all members of both parties not to discuss the case publicly. However, now county commissioner Henslee, who was the city police chief at the time of the incidents, spoke out and said the lawsuit was “frivolous”.

Although the El Palacio is centrally located by multiple other bars, including the Pikey, Black Dog, 618, V.F.W. and the Basin Martini Bar, these 70 incidents were all attributed to the El Palacio.

The defendants claimed in a previous hearing that officers have no control over the location identified by members of the public who call in to report incidents.

Every one of the 70 reports was made by a KFPD officer.

Soon after receiving a second public nuisance letter, Antonio Cisneros and his son, Faiers, met with Henslee in May 2016.

The father and son recorded the exchange and submitted the conversation as evidence, to which the defense did not initially object but later attempted to have stricken from the record. The court denied this motion to strike.

On the recording, the court opinion said, Henslee says, “It’s not your bar that’s the problem, it’s the people and your culture.”

Henslee is also heard saying that the El Palacio needs to be “pulled up like a weed.”

The trial is expected to last about four days.

 

Highway 140 east at milepost 12 was closed for hours after an RV caught fire, Klamath County Fire District 1 said in a news release Friday.

“The RV was in transit to Klamath Falls, when smoke and flames where seen coming out of the back tire area” the release said. “The driver pulled over and attempted to extinguish the fire, but was unable to.”

There were no injuries, the release said, though there is about $250,000 in damages. 

Firefighters are still investigating the cause, the release said. 

 

Klamath County is predicted to have a great economic year in store, and residents can hear all about it at the upcoming Klamath County Economic Development Association Economic Summit.

This Wednesday, KCEDA will host the third annual event at the Ross Ragland Theater from 9 a.m. to noon

Andrew Stork, operations and project manager for KCEDA, said the Economic Summit event is a way for Klamath County residents to hear about the economic outlook “straight from the horse’s mouth.”

State economists Josh Lehner and Damon Runberg are among those presenting at the summit, as well as a few local experts who specialize in topics like agriculture and construction.

“2024 should be our biggest economic development year ever,” KCEDA CEO and Executive Director Randy Cox said. “There will be a lot of groundbreaking developments throughout the year.”

Admission to the event is $10, and tickets can be purchased the day of the event at the theater or in advance online.

 

The U.S. Forest Service in Southern Oregon is working to clear hundreds of miles of trails impacted by downed trees after a severe winter storm.

A news release from the Forest Service said tens of thousands of trees fell between Lake of the Woods and Cherry Creek, affecting about 300 miles of trails and 70 miles of cross country ski paths.

Due to extreme winter weather, including high-speed winds and heavy, wet snowfall, crews are struggling to clear the trails.

“Weather events … are currently affecting the ability of crews to … remove trees, restricting crews to a peak of one mile per hour,” the release said.

Public Affairs Officer Ben Wilson said the process is “slow going,” but crews were quick to take action.

The release said crews are faced with hip-deep snow levels as they try to remove hundreds of trees per mile of affected trails.

Wilson said they have two or three crews rotating shifts to get the area cleaned up. Crews are also receiving assistance from volunteer organizations, including Klamath Basin Snow Drifters, Chiloquin Ridge Riders and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Forest managers request that the public avoid the area for recreation at this time as parking areas and roadways may be occupied by repair crew vehicles.

Trails and snow parks may take some time to reopen, the release said.

For more information, contact the Klamath Ranger District at 541-883-6714.

 

A former Klamath Falls lawyer has been nominated for a federal judge appointment. This would make him the first Muslim American to serve as a federal judge in the U.S. 

Mustafa Kasubhai is one of 20 judges whose nomination was advanced by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. 

He is a nominee to serve as a lifetime judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. 

 

An annual update on local crime and policing by city law enforcement was presented to City Council last week during a work session.

Klamath Falls Police Department Chief Rob Dentinger explained how city law enforcement is addressing criminal activity in the city through monthly meetings to discuss and analyze recent crime stats.

The monthly ImPACT meetings (“mission-based policing through analysis of crime trends”) aid in the KFPD mission to be proactive in crime prevention.

City wide, Dentinger said, property crimes are decreasing.

KFPD ImPACT reports show a 3% decrease in offenses considered property crimes which make up the majority of criminal activity in Klamath Falls.

Person crimes in 2023 were up 9% compared to the previous year; however, when comparing December of 2022 to December of 2023, the rate of person crimes dropped a significant 26%.

Assault and domestic violence both presented slight increases in city limits over the previous year.

Kidnapping charges, however, presented a shocking 600% increase with one incident in 2022 and seven in 2023.

Societal crimes, which include charges such as driving under the influence of intoxicants, drug offenses, vandalism and trespassing, have spiked by roughly 20% with 673 reports in 2022 and 806 reports in 2023.

 

The Klamath County School District is seeking nominations for its annual Crystal Apple Awards of teachers and staff members.

The Crystal Apple is given each year to eight KCSD staff who inspire and help students of all backgrounds and abilities. The winners receive their Crystal Apples during a gala at the Ross Ragland Theater. This year, the gala will be Tuesday, April 23.

A nominee can be a teacher, a counselor, a nurse or classified employee who has been with the district for at least three years. Community members are welcome and encouraged to submit nominations.

“This is an excellent opportunity for people to recognize and thank those special educators who make a positive

impact on the lives of our students,” said KCSD Superintendent Glen Szymoniak.

To be nominated, a staff member must:

  • Work for the Klamath County School District for at least three years
  • Inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities
  • Play an active and useful role in the community as well as the school

For more information, visit the KCSD website.

 

Last Saturday 2-year-old Grayson McKenzie spent nine hours in an ambulance from Klamath Falls to Portland’s Children’s Hospital in order to receive advanced care for a severe respiratory virus.

While he is currently 100% reliant upon a ventilator to do his breathing for him, he is also on sedation medication to allow his body to begin to recover, and therefore is unconscious,

Even with all of this, his blood pressure still rises when he hears his mommy and daddy’s voices.  The McKenzie’s also have a 4-week-old daughter at home.

It is expected that Grayson will be in the ICU for at least two weeks. The costs of Grayson’s care and the care of their newborn have created a large financial strain on the family, and a GoFundMe site has been set up to help with Grayson’s health care expenses.

To view and/or donate to the GoFundMe, go to the main GoFundMe account and type in Grayson McKenzie in the search menu.

 

Pacific Power is actively working to make repairs and restore power throughout its Oregon service area. Crews on the ground have been working around the clock, as quickly as they can in challenging and dangerous conditions.

Snow and ice accumulation has caused damage to power equipment and is impacting repair and restoration work. Pacific Power anticipates most customers will have service restored by Tuesday evening, but some customers in Cottage Grove and Sweet Home may see outages into Thursday, and perhaps into the weekend.

Pacific Power is closely monitoring the next storm arriving midday Tuesday into Wednesday, which is expected to bring additional freezing rain and ice. This new round of winter weather could cause additional outages.

Pacific Power encourages customers to report outages by calling 1-877-508-5088 or text OUT to 722797Text STAT to 722797 to check the status of your outage.  

 

Klamath County Commissioners Tuesday Meeting Recap

Klamath County Fire District 3, an all-volunteer fire department based out of Sprague River, is the new ambulance service provider for the Bonanza area.

The decision was made by the Board of Klamath County Commissioners in their weekly business meeting Tuesday, as recommended by the Klamath County Ambulance Advisory Committee.

Led by Fire Chief Christina Friend, Fire District 3 will be providing basic life support service across 1,500 square miles for communities in Bonanza, Beatty, Bly and Sprague River.

Also during the meeting, the board approved entering into an agreement with the Office of the (Oregon) State Chief Information Officer so that Klamath County can participate and use the OR-ALERT system for emergency notifications to the public.

In other county business, commissioner Dave Hanslee says  during the storms that dumped snow all over Klamath County last weekend, Klamath County Public Work crews plowed 6,000 miles of county roads during snow removal operations over the weekend.

To put that into perspective, that’s basically clearing snow from Klamath to Orlando, Florida, and back.

The commission also detailed their liaison responsibilities for the year:

Henslee will be in the position of Board Chair for 2024 and will be a liaison for the departments of Emergency Management, Fairgrounds, Finance, Library, Public Works, Tax Collector, Code Enforcement and Property sales.

Henslee will also be the county’s point of contact for the geographical areas of Chemult, Crescent, Gilchrist, Keno, LaPine and Rocky Point. He will also liaison for the County Assessor’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office, and Animal Control.

Kelley Minty will be in the position of vice-chair of the board and will be a liaison for the departments of Community Development (building, on-site, planning, parks and solid waste), Information Technology, Museum, OSU Extension Office and Treasurer.

Derrick DeGroot will be the Liaison for the departments for Community Corrections, Developmental Disabilities, Human Resources, Juvenile, Maintenance and Veterans Affairs.

 

Learn about updates to rental and eviction law in Oregon at the Klamath County Library
-Thursday, January 25th 6pm, at downtown Klamath County Library

On Thursday, January 25th at 6 pm, the downtown Klamath County Library will
host the latest in the “Lay Person Legal” seminar series: a tour through
recent changes to Landlord/Tenant Law in Oregon, with a focus on eviction
regulation and tenants’ rights.

Attendees will get a better appreciation of how the legal system works,
particularly if they are attempting to navigate the courts without a lawyer.

Presenter Drew Hartnett is an attorney with Legal Aid Services of Oregon,
practicing, among other areas, in the field of Landlord/Tenant law, focusing
on protecting tenant rights and maintaining safe, habitable and available
housing in the Klamath and Lake County communities.  Hartnett is licensed in
Oregon, where he makes his home.

Please note that Lay Person Legal presenters cannot give individual legal
advice on any specific case. For help with your legal research, please visit
the Loyd De Lap Law Library inside the downtown Klamath County Library.

No registration is required. For more information, please call 541-882-8894.

 

Cascade Health Alliance and Healthy Klamath are hosting Family Fun Days around the county. The events are free and open to the public to increase awareness of community resources.

Event-goers will be treated to free tacos and raffle prizes, and there will be a bouncy house for kids. Denise Martinez of Klamath Community College said the event’s purpose is “to help get the word out in smaller communities that there are resources available to them.”

Currently, there are regular weekly outreach efforts in Merrill, Chiloquin, Sprague River, Klamath Falls and Keno, and are scheduled as follows:

Klamath Falls — Every Tuesday, 2 to 4 p.m., at the Klamath County Courthouse, 316 Main St.

Keno — Every 2nd and 4th Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Keno Tractor, 15555 Highway 66, Keno Merrill — Every 3rd Wednesday, 1 to 3 p.m., Merrill Water Department., 301 E. First St., Merrill

Malin — Every 3rd Thursday, 2 to 4 p.m., Malin Library Conference Hall, 2307 Front Street Malin Chiloquin — Every 2nd and 4th Friday, Farmer’s Market Lot, Chiloquin

Sprague River — Every 2nd and 4th Friday, Sprague River Community Center, 23411 Sprague River Road.

Organizations and vendors can join by contacting jenniferd@cascadecomp.com.  

 

The Linkville Players announce the opening of their second show of the 2023-24 season, “A Company of Wayward Saints”  playing at the Linkville Playhouse.

Written by George Herman, “Saints” is a tribute to the dedication and heart of actors, as well as the understanding and truth-telling that can come out of acting.

The play follows a comedic acting troupe, with familiar Renaissance-era characters such as Pantalone the greedy old man, and Capitano the swaggering braggart, as they find themselves broke and broke down right here in Klamath Falls.

A wealthy patron offers to pay their way home — if they can impress him with an improv show on the topic of his choosing. The tale that ensues takes us through the history of man from the garden of Eden to the assassination of Julius Caesar, up into modern life.

But, when improv goes awry the troupe is forced to look beyond the slapstick and costumes and face the redeeming powers of humor and understanding.

The show, produced by special arrangement with Concord Theatricals, features an all-local cast including Em Barr, Brian Green, Chris Malloy, Mathew Landsiedel, Jared McCleve, Corrie Judd, Rikkilea McGuffy and newcomers Aidan Coe and Hanna Levesque.

Performances take place Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., with the exception of one Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. on Jan. 21. The play will enjoy a seven-performance run, ending on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024.

Tickets can be purchased for $15-18 in advance at Poppy (522 Main Street) or up to half an hour before curtain at the Playhouse directly.

 

The Ross Ragland Theater will showcase the Teen Theater program’s annual production, “Ms. Marvel — Mirror of Most Value,” at 6 p.m. on Friday, and again at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Director Heidi Neill is back for her fourth year directing the program. The play brings together a diverse cast of talented, pre-professional Ragland Teen Theater students, ranging in age from 14 to 19, to bring the play to life.

Audiences of all ages will enjoy seeing a comic-book hero jump from the page onto the stage of the Ross Ragland. Play goers will be able to support the budding acting careers of local teens.

Tickets are $10 for adults or $5 for students, and can be purchased by calling (541) 884-LIVE, or by visiting their website at www.ragland.org. Tickets can also be purchased at the Ragland Box Office, open Monday-Friday, noon to 5 p.m., or two hours prior to showtime.

 

Around the state of Oregon

MADGE Traffic stop yields 105 pounds of Meth and 12 pounds of Fentanyl in Jackson County, Or

On the evening of Tuesday, January 16, members of the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement team (MADGE) intercepted a vehicle along I-5 outside of Ashland, Oregon. MADGE investigators had received information of the vehicle transporting large amounts of narcotics in our area.

With the assistance of the Oregon State Police and the Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET), investigators stopped the vehicle and Medford Police K9 “Bodie” alerted to the presence of narcotics. A search warrant was obtained, and a search of the vehicle yielded 105 pounds of methamphetamine and 12 pounds of fentanyl.

The MADGE team is a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force that identifies, disrupts, and dismantles local, multi-state and international drug trafficking organizations using an intelligence-driven, multi-agency prosecutor-support approach. MADGE is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) which is composed of members from the Medford Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, Parole and Probation, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI.

The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives, including MADGE.

Suspect arrested:

Lopez-Ramos, Cruz Bernardo, 31 years old, who is not a local resident.

Unlawful Possession and Distribution of Methamphetamine – Commercial Drug Offense

Unlawful Possession and Distribution of Fentanyl – Commercial Drug Offense

 

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for portions of southwest Oregon, including the Curry County coast. The watch is in effect through Monday.

An atmospheric river event is forecast to bring significant rainfall to the area between Friday evening and Monday morning. Heavy rain may result in landslides in areas of steep terrain, as well as debris flows in and near burned areas from recent wildfires. 

Debris flows are rapidly moving, extremely destructive landslides. They can contain boulders and logs transported in a fast-moving soil and water slurry down steep hillsides and through narrow canyons. They can easily travel a mile or more. A debris flow moves faster than a person can run. People, structures, and roads located below steep slopes in canyons and near the mouths of canyons may be at serious risk.

If your home, work, or travel route is in a watch area:

  • Stay alert. Track the flood watch by radio, TV, weather radio or online. If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Listen. Unusual sounds might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together. A trickle of falling mud or debris may precede larger landslides. If you think there is danger of a landslide, leave immediately.
  • Watch the water. If water in a stream or creek suddenly turns muddy or the amount of water flowing suddenly decreases or increases, this is a warning that the flow has been affected upstream. You should immediately leave the area because a debris flow may soon be coming downstream.
  • Travel with extreme caution. Assume roads are not safe. Be alert when driving, especially at night. Embankments along roadsides may fail, sending rock and debris onto the road.

 

A Chinese billionaire and a California timber family have become among the largest private landowners in the U.S. following major purchases of Oregon forests. 

Those findings come from The Land Report, a magazine that details annually the top 100 private landowners in the U.S. Its most recent report was published Jan. 9. 

The magazine’s research team found that Sierra Pacific Industries’ 2021 acquisition of 175,000 acres of forestland and mills, through its buyout of a family-owned timber company in Douglas County, made the Redding, California, based Emmerson Family the largest private landowner in the U.S. The family, which owns Sierra Pacific, has 2.4 million acres of forests logged for timber in Oregon, California and Washington. 

The report also found that a Chinese billionaire and entrepreneur, Tianqiao Chen, became the second largest foreign owner of U.S. land following the purchase, through his investment company, of nearly 200,000 acres of forestland in Klamath and Deschutes counties nearly a decade ago. The Irving family of Canada is the largest foreign landowner, with more than 1.2 million acres of timberland in Maine. 

Chen’s fortune comes from an online gaming company he founded in 1999 called Shanda Interactive Entertainment. 

Chen’s stake in Oregon has drawn the ire of U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, an Oregon Republican, who expressed concern over Chen’s membership in the Chinese Communist Party. 

Chavez-DeRemer is among several members of Congress who have proposed legislation during the last year that would limit the purchase of U.S. land by foreigners, especially from China. 

Chen and his investment company said in a news release Tuesday that they did not try to hide the purchase of Oregon land. The company’s communications director, Jason Reindorp, said in an email to the Capital Chronicle that they asked the U.S. Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment to review the purchase before it was made.

 

Pacific Power crews continue their efforts to restore service to the remaining impacted customers in the Willamette Valley. Following restoration efforts over the weekend, we are now down to 900 customers.

Pacific Power anticipates that most customers had most restored by Friday evening, with some outages possibly extending into Saturday depending on the severity of damage encountered. 

As crews complete work on the existing outages, we are evaluating continued needs and looking at opportunities to assist other utilities when crews become available. 

Over this event, which came in two waves, customer outages peaked at about 46,000 on Saturday and again at about 30,000 on Wednesday. In total, approximately 146,000 customers experienced one or more outages during the weather event. During the event, Pacific Power had 858 internal and contract resources working to restore power.  

 

 

Two Southern Oregon University students have been arrested for vandalizing the Chabad Jewish Center in December. 

According to a news release from the Ashland Police Department, all three people involved have been identified as SOU students. On Dec. 14, the three of them approached the center while one of them threw eggs at it and yelled, “Heil Hitler.” 

An 18-year-old, Zachary Demarest, has been identified as the one throwing the eggs and shouting the praise for Hitler. Demarest is from Corvallis. 

Another 18-year-old, Jacob Wilhelm, has also been identified and arrested. The third person in the video “(has been) identified, but is not implicated in the commission of a crime, and is therefore not being named.”

“All three people were, at the time of the incident, students at Southern Oregon University. As such they left the area for winter break shortly after this incident was reported. The two students charged are no longer enrolled at SOU,” the release said. “APD detectives continued this investigation when the new term started, and students returned to campus.”

Demarest was told to turn himself in, and he did so Friday, the release said. He is facing charges of third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree bias crime. 

“Wilhelm was contacted and charged with Bias Crime 2nd Degree and Criminal Mischief 3rd Degree via a misdemeanor criminal citation,” the release said. “…Wilhelm’s involvement in this incident consisted of him encouraging Demarest’s criminal behavior, which makes him responsible as a co-conspirator.”

A court date for Wilhelm has been set for Feb. 7, 2024. 

 

Members from the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Incident Management Team (IMT) 1 helped assist Lane County in the recovery from the recent ice storm.  

Though ODF is normally associated with wildfire response, the agency’s IMTs are trained in all-hazard response and are ready for any emergency year-round. The members will be sharing their knowledge and experience with local emergency management personnel so that they can continue to support their communities after the team leaves. In addition to the IMT personnel assisting in Lane County, ODF staff across the state are helping their communities in a variety of ways, such as clearing downed trees. 

The team is expected to be deployed for a week but could be there longer depending on need. Please contact Lane County for any ice storm recovery inquiries. 

 

 Cases of salmonella infections nationwide that are connected to charcuterie meats have doubled. The CDC reports 23 more illnesses have been reported from eight additional states. There has been one case in Oregon and five in Washington. There are two products involved. Fratelli Beretta brand Antipasto Gran Beretta was sold at Costco and Busseto brand Charcuterie Sampler was sold at Sam’s Club. If you have those products you should throw them away and call your health care provider if you develop symptoms.

Ice and Snow and Freezing Temperatures — ODOT traffic alert. Road conditions remain challenging statewide. Delay your travel if possible and please give road crews space to do their work.

 

Three people were killed Wednesday after they were electrocuted by a live power line that fell in Northeast Portland.

Authorities say a branch fell onto a live wire, which then fell onto a Ford Expedition near the intersection of Northeast 122th and Siskiyou Street in the Russel Neighborhood. Two adults, one teen, and a 2-year-old were inside the car at the time.

It is unknown at this point if the four people were related.

When they tried to get out of the car, witnesses say one person was on fire and the group was electrocuted – killing the two adults and the teenager. Fire crews confirmed the toddler survived and was taken in by a community member until emergency crews responded to offer medical attention.

A fire crew found three individuals in the street roughly 35 feet away from the SUV with the live power line draped over the vehicle. They say there was a large tree branch on top, resting on the car’s hood.

Around Portland, driving and even walking have been virtually impossible with slick ice coated roads and sidewalks. Icicles dangle from roofs and cars, and ice encased branches, plants and leaves like thick glass.

Freezing rain could return to the region  through Friday morning, the National Weather Service said. The areas most likely to be impacted include the eastern Portland metro area and the western Columbia River Gorge.

Portland transportation officials asked the public to stay off the roads through Thursday morning, and numerous school districts, including Oregon’s largest, canceled classes for a third straight day as roads remained slick.

The three deaths Wednesday added to at least seven deaths linked to fallen trees and suspected hypothermia during the previous weekend’s storm.

 

Spectrum says that widespread outages in the Rogue Valley are the result of vandalism. 

Spectrum says fiber lines were cut earlier as a result of vandalism, impacting services for Spectrum customers in the Medford area Technicians responded right away, and  are currently making the necessary repairs to restore services as soon as possible.

Spectrum customers have been impacted by widespread outages for a couple of days. Yesterday, the areas hardest hit are Medford, Ashland, Central Point, White City, Shady Cove, Grants Pass, Cave Junction, Klamath Falls and Brookings. Other areas of Oregon were affected as well. 

 

Governor Tina Kotek is directing more state resources to respond to the winter weather hitting the state. Kotek told the Oregon Health Authority, Emergency Management, and Human Services to increase the state’s response to the storm.

Oregon activated its network of health care professionals that volunteer during a crisis. That includes doctors, nurses, and emergency medical technicians. The state is running a shelter at Portland State University and at the fairgrounds in Ontario. ODOT has 400 plows working to clear highways and the Public Utility Commission is monitoring the response to power outages.

 

Democratic Oregon Congressman Ron Wyden is announcing a bipartisan deal to expand the child tax credit and create a series of tax breaks for businesses.

The deal between Wyden and Missouri Republican Jason Smith ends months of negotiating. It will enhance refundable child tax credits to try to provide relief to struggling families and those with multiple children. It’ll also raise the tax credit’s refundable cap and adjust it for inflation.

In a statement, Smith said American families will benefit from this agreement that provides greater tax relief and creates jobs. Wyden said fifteen million kids from low-income families will now be better off because of this deal.

 

Oregonians who lost food purchased with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits due to the recent winter storms and power outages are encouraged to request replacement benefits from the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS).

Households who receive SNAP who lost or disposed of food that was unsafe to eat due to these events can request that replacement benefits be issued for the cost of the lost food. The maximum amount that can be reimbursed is the normal monthly benefit for the household.  

Replacement benefits must be requested within 10 calendar days of the food loss by:

Once approved, replacement benefits are added to the households’ existing Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.

 

Another set of passengers on the Alaska Airlines flight that made an emergency landing in Portland after a door plug blew a hole in the side of the plane filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking a yet-to-be determined amount against the airline and the plane’s manufacturer, Boeing.

The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court in Washington, appears to be the second stemming from Flight 1282, which landed Jan. 5 just 20 minutes after takeoff. The first suit was filed last Thursday against only Boeing.

The latest suit was filed on behalf of four passengers, ages 20 to 49: Hans Meier, a college student who lives in Washington; Sarah Marrow, a business analyst who lives in Washington; Ernest Talley, a school psychologist; and Gladys Talley, a teacher. The Talleys are a couple and live in California.

The suit seeks compensation for stress, physical pain, post traumatic stress disorder, hearing damage, sleeplessness and other injuries that the suit says the four passengers have suffered.

 

The Department of the Interior has announced an updated roadmap for solar energy development across the West, designed to expand solar energy production in more Western states and make renewable energy siting and permitting on America’s public lands more efficient.

The Bureau of Land Management also announced the next steps on several renewable projects in Arizona, California and Nevada, representing more than 1,700 megawatts of potential solar generation and 1,300 megawatts of potential battery storage capacity. 

Together, these milestones represent continued momentum from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda – a key pillar of Bidenomics – which is working to accelerate the clean energy and transmission buildout to lower consumers’ energy costs, prevent power outages in the face of extreme weather, create good-paying union jobs, tackle the climate crisis, advance the priorities of clean air and environmental justice for all, and achieve the President’s goal of a 100 percent clean electricity grid by 2035.

During the Biden-Harris administration, the BLM has approved 47 clean energy projects and permitted 11,236 megawatts of wind, solar and geothermal energy on public lands – enough to power more than 3.5 million homes. 

In considering updates to the Western Solar Plan, the BLM worked closely with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to examine forecasts for national clean energy needs and determined that approximately 700,000 acres of public lands would be needed to meet those goals.

The BLM’s preferred alternative in the updated Western Solar Plan would provide approximately 22 million acres of land open for solar application, giving maximum flexibility to reach the nation’s clean energy goals.  

 

The American Red Cross is experiencing an emergency blood shortage as the nation faces the lowest number of people giving blood in 20 years. 

The Red Cross blood supply has fallen to critically low levels across the country, and blood and platelet donors are urged to make a donation appointment to help alleviate the shortage and help ensure lifesaving medical procedures are not put on hold.

Over the last 20 years, the number of people donating blood to the Red Cross has fallen by about 40%. When fewer people donate blood, even small disruptions to blood donations – such as the nearly 7,000-unit shortfall in blood donations the Red Cross experienced between Christmas and New Year’s Day alone – can have a huge impact on the availability of blood products and dramatic consequences for those in need of emergency blood transfusion. 

Blood products are currently going to hospitals faster than blood donations are coming in, and in recent weeks, the Red Cross has had to limit distributions of type O blood products – among the most transfused blood types – to hospitals.

Don’t wait – to make an appointment, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

 

Following up on a feature film shot on the Southern Oregon coast, which has two limited screenings.

BAD FISH was shot almost entirely on the Southern Oregon coast.

A lot of the talent in front of and behind the cameras are Southern Oregon locals.

Without giving too much away, the thriller film follows an investigation into mermaids, terrorizing a town.

Bad Fish will have one screening in Brookings, which is sold out, Tuesday .

But Wednesday (1/17/2024, you can watch with the film with the director and cast members at the Varsity Theater in Ashland.

The film is directed by Brad Douglas, a southern Oregon native with ties to Wynne Broadcasting as a voice talent.

 

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