Klamath Basin News, Friday, Feb. 2nd – Sunny, Cold Weekend For Basin; Oregon’s U.S. Representative Cliff Bentz Will Vote To Impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas

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.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Klamath Basin Weather

Today
A 50% chance of snow showers, mainly before 3pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 41. Southwest wind 7 to 10 mph. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.  Tonight, a 20% chance of snow showers before 10pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 24.  Light southwest winds to 6mph.

Saturday
Mostly sunny, with a high near 39. South southeast wind 6 to 8 mph. Overnight partly cloudy, with a low around 23.
Sunday
Mostly sunny, with a high near 43.

Monday
Snow likely before 1pm, then a chance of rain and snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43.

Tuesday
A chance of rain and snow showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 44.

 

Today’s Headlines

Oregon Senate Republicans who participated in a historic 2023 walkout will not be allowed to run for office again, the democrat controlled Oregon Supreme Court announced yesterday. This includes Klamath County’s representative Dennis Linthicum.

In 2023, nine Oregon Senate Republicans walked off the job for 42 days in protest of a bill that protected abortion rights and gender-affirming health care.

Following this walkout, the Oregon Secretary of State ruled participating senators would be unable to run for office immediately after the current term due to Measure 113.

Voted-approved Measure 113 mandates that “any state legislator who accrues 10 or more unexcused absences during a legislative session shall be disqualified from holding legislative office” immediately following the current term.

The Republicans argued that Measure 113’s wording was ambiguous when voted upon by voters, and did not support the Secretary’s interpretation and enforcement of the rule after the walkout.

The Supreme Court states that it is upholding the Secretary’s interpretation and that the Republicans who participated in the walkout will be unable to run for office again.

The Court says “that the ballot measure history uniformly supported the Secretary’s interpretation,” and that “the ballot title and the voters’ pamphlet expressly and repeatedly informed voters that the disqualification would occur immediately following the legislator’s current term.”

The Court concluded that voters would have understood the disqualification to apply to the term of office immediately following the term in which a legislator accrued 10 or more unexcused absences.

This means nine Republicans and one Independent senator who staged the record-long six-week legislative walkout in 2023 cannot file for re-election in 2024 or 2026.

 

Oregon U.S. Representative Cliff Bentz
Oregon’s U.S. Representative Cliff Bentz is explaining his position toward the pending impeachment proceedings for Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. 

Bentz represents Klamath County as well as a large part of Eastern Oregon and says Republican U.S. representatives, “are committed to properly conducting the impeachment process.”

The U.S. House Homeland Security Committee voted early Wednesday to send articles of impeachment for Secretary Mayorkas to the House floor.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas

Bentz said, “there is now evidence in the record that the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas intentionally flouted immigration law, disregarding his constitutional duty to secure America’s borders. Secretary Mayorkas deserves to be impeached, and it is my intention to vote in favor of impeachment.”

The U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee recommended two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas to the full House. The committee vote reflected political party lines, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats against recommendation for an 18-to-15 vote.

 

The Oregon Health Authority has awarded a $623,700 grant to Oregon Tech’s behavior analysis and marriage and family therapy programs.

OIT’s Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis and Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy programs received the grant to help alleviate the behavioral healthcare workforce crisis in Oregon.

The funding provides tuition assistance and stipends for current and incoming graduate students who commit to working in Oregon after graduation, and seeks to diversify the workforce and enhance recruitment, retention and capacity of culturally responsive, specific and rural behavioral healthcare workers.

According to OHA, the shortage of qualified behavioral healthcare workers impacts communities across Oregon because the existing workforce cannot meet increasing demand. Underserved communities, including communities of color, tribal communities and rural areas, face additional challenges due to the lack of culturally specific and responsive services.

The grant is currently supporting seven ABA students and 16 MFT students with tuition assistance and stipends.

Oregon Tech’s MFT is a full-time mental health graduate program that specializes in systems, families and relationships. With a focus on addressing unique challenges in rural areas, the program trains marriage and family therapists to approach assessment, diagnosis, and treatment from a relational and systemic perspective.

 

Just after 5pm on Wednesday, the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a missing hiker in the area of Hogsback Mountain near Foothills Boulevard. A 911 caller had been separated from his hiking companion and reported that the missing hiker, a 40-year-old female wearing light clothing, had not returned and was more than an hour overdue.

After initial information was gathered by responding deputies, Klamath County Search and Rescue (SAR) was activated. Fourteen (14) experienced volunteer searchers joined several uniformed deputies and conducted a search on the mountain in increasing fog. The woman was located with a minor ankle injury at 10:45pm and was assisted to the roadway with the aid of an all-terrain vehicle.

Deputy Andy Nichols advised that the volunteer turnout was immediate and without the response of the volunteers they may not have located the woman during the night.  

The Sheriff’s Office thanks each and every one of them for their contribution to our community. 

 

Oregon’s construction industry has continued to grow and started reaching record highs in 2022. Southern Oregon counties including Curry, Klamath, Lake, Jackson and Josephine are nearing their 2005 to 2006 record high.

The industry has experienced booms and busts over the last 30 years but recent trends indicate that there is a high demand in construction work.

Combined data for Curry, Klamath, Lake, Jackson and Josephine County from Oregon’s Employment Department shows that  since 2016 annual construction jobs in our region have increased by 2,000. In 2023 there were 8,240 jobs compared to 2016’s 6,180.

Employment statistics Coordinator David Cooke shared with NewsWatch 12 that job growth slumped from 2009 through 2012 and had steady and rapid growth between 2013 and 2019. Job growth also bounced back quickly from the COVID recession.

 

Oregon’s Senators are calling for more to be done by the federal government to help the agriculture community.

Earlier this month, Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley submitted a letter calling for federal agriculture officials to address long-term drought in the region.

Senator Merkley says he hopes this call will make the committee see the challenges faced by farmers in the west.

The Klamath Water Users Association is a non-profit that represents farmers and ranchers working in the Klamath Basin. They say the biggest challenge faced by agriculture workers in the basin is the persistent lack of water.

Last year, KWUA reported a massive grasshopper infestation that took out many crops in the basin. It said the dry, hot conditions help promote the birth of these bugs.

This year, we had a tremendous grasshopper outbreak and those grasshoppers were coming off of our dry refuges.

White is the general manager for the Klamath Drainage District, a member district part of the Klamath Water Users Association. He says the dry wildlife refuges that aided in the grasshopper infestation were a direct result of the federal management of water supply.

The Klamath Water Users Association executive director Paul Simmons said in a statement that he hopes the federal government will make decisions to better all communities in the basin, rather than divide water rights based on policy preference.

Senator Merkley says he believes his call for action in the bill will help improve water infrastructure in the whole state, including the Klamath Basin.

 

Klamath Community College’s Cyber Security and Networking Applied Science Program has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency following an intensive and multi-tiered review process.

Managed by the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Security and Networking program, the NSA’s National Cryptologic School, the certification designation for KCC remains in effect through the 2027-28 academic year.

The CAE-CD was established to recognize institutions that promote the highest-quality standards in training producing the nation’s cyber workforce to defend against cyber threats and manage computer networks. KCC is the fifth institute of higher learning in Oregon to earn this gold standard of cybersecurity certification by the NSA – the first outside of the Willamette Valley metro area. KCC first developed the program in 2019 to address an ever-growing global demand for qualified computer technicians.

More recently, in addition to a two-year associate degree, KCC has also created a Secure Network Technician one-year certificate, and a Computer Support Technician Pathway Certificate. Thanks to a recent Department of Labor grant and CARES Act funding, $100,000 has been invested into KCC’s lab infrastructure to expand cybersecurity and network training capacity online, thereby making the program available on a national and international level.

 

January is National Mentoring Month and in conjunction with it, Citizens for Safe Schools recently named long-time volunteer mentor Patty Case as its 2023 Ed Caleb Mentor of the Year.

CFSS said Case’s dedication to her mentee has been nothing short of remarkable. Her insights into the transformative journey her mentee has undergone sheds light on the profound influence of a nurturing mentor-mentee relationship.

CFSS also said that quality mentoring programs are proven to build relationships that help improve school attendance and academic achievement, promote responsible decision-making, and provide skills to better navigate relationships at school, socially and at home.

Citizens for Safe Schools has been celebrating National Mentoring Month alongside other mentoring and youth serving organizations all over the country.

For more information on becoming a volunteer mentor with CFSS, or are interested in donating to the organization, stop by their office at 731 Main St.

 

The Klamath Falls Lions Club will be selling See’s candy for Valentine’s Day as a fundraiser for their sight and hearing projects.

Purchases can be made at Turn Thom-Point S Tires, 2052 Washburn Way, next to Bi-Mart, beginning Wednesday.

The Lions Club conducts vision screening for most students in Klamath County, as well as provides glasses for students and others in need.

Lions Clubs collect used eyeglasses for recycling, and provide a college scholarship to a graduating high school senior from a local school.

For more information about the Lions Club and how to donate to Lion’s projects, call (541) 591-6483.

 

Each week, BasinLife.com and KFLS News 1450AM & 102.5FM feature a pet of the Week ready for adoption from the Klamath Animal Shelter.

This week’s pet of the week this week is a dog named ” Melon ” Melon is an 8 month old male Labrador Border Collie mix, he is black with white markings, he weighs around 50 pounds 

Melon’s family had to move and the new landlord wouldn’t allow him. His family said that he is started on house training, lived with children 6 months and older, he knows sit, lays down, loves belly rubs, playing with toys and playing with dogs at the dog park

If you are interested in adopting Melon the shelter is located at 4240 Washburn Way, Monday through Friday from 12:00 – 4:00, walk throughs are available, pet meet and greets are by appointment, you can reach the shelter at 541-884-PETS (541-884-7387)

View all adoptable pets anytime online at www.klamathanimalshelter.org

 

Lake of the Woods is holding a Winter Snow Festival Feb. 10th and 11th.

The Lake of the Woods Winter Snow Festival is open to the public this month with many fun events and activities planned.

Folks can join in on a snow sculpture/snowman building contest, enjoy an outdoor bonfire with music, play cornhole, snowshoe the Ancient Trees walking loop and more. For an additional 10 bucks a person, you can even get in on a horse-drawn sleigh ride.

The Lake of the Woods Kite Fest, which is held on the second weekend of every February, was canceled. George Gregory of Lake of the Woods Mountain Lodge said  the cancellation was because the ice isn’t strong enough to support people.

 

The Ross Ragland Theater will bring back local blues band Code Blue for a performance at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3. This show is for all ages.

Formed back in 2011 and brought together by the Klamath Blues Society, the band plays a selection based in blues music.

Their selections have also grown to include southern rock, R&B, bluegrass and other genres that reflect the interests of their members who include Karl Knudsen, Marty Ledgerwood, Bill Maddalena, Andrew Smith, Staton Smith, Edwin Tuhy, Corey Hansen and Robert Harlow.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 seniors/ military, $15 students, kids aged 2 & under FREE if held on lap for performance. Tickets can be purchased at the Ragland Box Office Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m., by calling (541) 884-LIVE, or by visiting their website at www.ragland.org.

 

Just for reading our news, click to enter to win Free Movie Tickets from BasinLife.com and Wynne Broadcasting. 
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Around the state of Oregon

“𝗨𝗥𝗚𝗘𝗡𝗧 𝗦𝗔𝗙𝗘𝗧𝗬 𝗠𝗘𝗦𝗦𝗔𝗚𝗘: 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗬 𝗢𝗨𝗧 𝗢𝗙 𝗜𝗥𝗢𝗡 𝗚𝗔𝗧𝗘 & 𝗖𝗢𝗣𝗖𝗢 𝗥𝗘𝗦𝗘𝗥𝗩𝗢𝗜𝗥𝗦”

That’s the message from Siskiyou County this week regarding personal and wildlife risks at areas where water levels are low.  This week, ten deer reportedly died at Iron Gate’s lakebed, stuck in mud.

It’s an advisory about mud and risk conditions at Iron Gate Reservoir where its dam removal has drained the lake’s water this month.  It is downstream from the Copco Reservoir, both in northern Siskiyou County.

They sit on the Klamath River, where four dams are getting removed in the world’s largest dam removal project to restore the river to a naturally free flowing condition.  The Iron Gate Dam is the first dam removed, a project during the past year that reached a point of free-flowing water release this month when the agency managing the dams removal project, Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC), released Iron Gate Reservoir’s water starting January 11, 2024.

KRRC said, “the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC), initiated the drawdown process by opening the low-level outlet tunnel in the Iron Gate Dam. Drawdown refers to the slow draining of the water in the reservoirs, which will be lowered in a controlled manner through tunnels located at the base of the dams. Drawdown of the JC Boyle and Copco Reservoirs will begin later this month, and all reservoirs are expected to be drained by the end of February.”

Siskiyou County’s Administration issued an advisory in a letter to residents, saying, “We are aware of the various situations where animals have become stuck in the muddy areas of Iron Gate and Copco Reservoirs and are in distress. While we value the importance of rescuing these animals, we strongly advise against attempting to do so personally. The safety and well-being of our community members are of utmost importance to us. Going into the mud can pose serious risks to your safety and well-being.”

 

Oregon’s governor and the director of the Oregon Health Authority are immune from lawsuit or liability stemming from the priorities they set that established who received COVID-19 vaccines first in state prison, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.

The three-judge panel’s ruling reverses a lower court’s refusal to grant the governor’s and health-authority director’s motion to dismiss a class-action suit by current and former inmates.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, then-Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen set priority tiers to guide the rollout of the state’s supply of vaccine, which became available in February 2021. They put state prison inmates at a lower priority than correctional officers.

The appellate panel found that the “administration” of the vaccination included its prioritization when supply was limited, and that the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP), passed in 2005, extended immunity to people who make policy-level decisions on who was eligible to receive the vaccine first.


An ODOT Maintenance Coordinator rescued several drivers who were stranded on Highway 126 between Florence and Veneta yesterday.

Freezing rain coated everything in ice and trees were coming down across the highway. ODOT’s Jake Jensen had three chain saws and got stranded drivers to help cut fallen trees to clear a path. The extreme cold had the trees frozen, and he went through six saw blades. A tree fell on his truck damaging the overhead sign. No one was hurt.

After several hours they cleared a path, and the drivers were able to get out.

 

A 22-year-old Portland man who hijacked people’s cellphone numbers to take over their online accounts and steal more than $3 million worth of cryptocurrency, was sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison.

One victim said in court that he lost 99% of his savings and was on the verge of bankruptcy several times because of Daniel James Junk.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Quinn P. Harrington called Junk a longtime thief who started at a young age and considered quitting his criminal life only when he lamented losing millions of dollars of his stolen proceeds to other hackers in 2022.

Junk’s computers had browser windows open showing he’d been actively trying to steal when the FBI arrived, the prosecutor said.

 

The newest member of the Oregon House of Representatives claimed supporting LGBTQ+ people was akin to supporting child abuse and accused drag queens of pedophilia in months-old posts on his campaign website.

Dwayne Yunker, a real estate broker and city councilor from Grants Pass, was appointed in December to finish the term of former Rep. Lily Morgan, who resigned to become the city manager of Gold Hill.

Yunker was already planning to challenge Morgan in the Republican primary, arguing she wasn’t conservative enough for the southern Oregon district.

Yunker’s campaign website includes a post from last August titled “No to Gay Pride Month,” explaining his decision to skip the beginning of a Grants Pass City Council meeting to protest a proclamation about June as Pride Month. He was a member of the council at the time.

 

The Oregon Trucking Association and three trucking companies have filed a lawsuit against the state alleging they’re over-charged for road use.

A study by the state determined trucking companies are over-paying by at least 32 percent.

ODOT is aware of the problem, but the Oregon Transportation Commission has failed to act on it. ODOT is already over budget on the cost of projects and if it reduces fees paid by truckers it would have to raise taxes on light duty vehicles, like cars and trucks. The lawsuit claims truckers are over-paying by 193-million-dollars a year.

 

FATAL CRASH – Highway 199 in JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. 1 Feb. 2024

On Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, at approximately 12:24 p.m., Oregon State Police responded to a single-vehicle crash on Hwy. 199 near milepost 39 in Josephine County. 

The preliminary investigation indicated that a Chevrolet Avalanche, operated by John Anton Renner IV (59) of Brookings, was traveling southbound on Hwy. 199 near milepost 39 when the vehicle left the roadway for unknown reasons. The vehicle crashed into a group of trees and caught on fire. 

The operator (Renner) was pronounced deceased at the scene. 

The highway was impacted for approximately four hours.  OSP was assisted by the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office, Illinois Valley Fire District, and the Oregon Department of Transportation. 

 

Controversial California Gov. Gavin Newsom is pledging to fast-track more than half a dozen projects by the end of his term to remove or bypass dams that have blocked salmon from returning to the state’s chilly mountain streams and acting as the keystone of a complex ecosystem that sustains both economies and spiritual beliefs for tribes.

Newsom — now in his second term and seen as a potential Democratic presidential candidate soon or beyond 2024 — has worked hard to stake a claim as the nation’s most environmentally-conscious governor, although is state is suffering greatly with many major issues for California residents.

Newsome’s record has been dogged by criticism from environmental groups who say his water policies benefit big agriculture at the expense of salmon and other fish species in danger of becoming extinct.

Millions of salmon once filled California’s rivers and streams each year, bringing with them key nutrients from the ocean that gave the state an abundance of natural resources that were so important to indigenous peoples that they formed the foundation of creation stories central to tribes’ way of life.

But last year, there were so few salmon in the state’s rivers that the officials closed the commercial fishing season.

Frustrated by the criticism leveled against his administration, Newsom on Tuesday released his strategy to protect salmon — a plan that includes a heavy helping of projects that would remove or bypass aging dams that prevent salmon from returning to the streams of their birth to lay eggs.

The removal of several dams in and around the Klamath Basin on the Klamath River is making the rounds on national news pages.

Newsom’s embrace of some dam demolitions comes as the largest dam-removal project in U.S. history got underway in earnest last week when crews blew a hole in the bottom of the Copco No. 1 dam along the Klamath River near the California-Oregon border. It is one of four dams set to be removed along the Klamath.

In the Pacific Northwest, tribes and environmental groups want to see four dams along the Snake River removed. The Biden administration has stopped short of promising to do so, but it has pledged $1 billion for salmon restoration.

 

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek is re-establishing the Task Force on Oregon Tribal Cultural Items. Schools, universities and state agencies across the state have tribal cultural items.

In 2017, a task force was formed to create an inventory of the items. In 2020, the work was paused because of the pandemic. The task force is now being restarted. Kotek says, “Tribes should have access to information about cultural items held in storage or on display.” They’ll develop a process to find the items, determine who they belong to, who should have them and how they should be stored.

FEDERAL CHARGES FILED AFTER INTERNATIONAL PARCEL LEADS TO THE SEIZURE OF 16 DIFFERENT DRUGS AND 42 FIREARMS FROM A GRESHAM RESIDENCE

Full seizure of guns, drugs, drug processing materials, and cashPORTLAND, Ore.—A local man is facing federal charges today after authorities intercepted an international parcel he had ordered containing MDMA and quantities of at least 16 different drugs and 42 firearms were found in and seized from his Gresham, Oregon home.

Riley James Hinds, 38, has been charged by criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents, on January 9, 2024, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Los Angeles International Airport seized an inbound package from the Netherlands containing approximately 2.5 pounds of MDMA.

The package, addressed to “James Settler,” an alias used by Hinds to open a mailing box at a UPS Store in Gresham, was handed over to special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Portland for further investigation.

On January 26, 2024, investigators arrested Hinds and executed a federal search warrant on his residence. Investigators located and seized quantities of at least 16 different narcotics in Hinds’ residence including MDMA, Adderall, counterfeit Oxycodone, cocaine, ketamine, marijuana, psilocybin, ayahuasca, LSD, opium, morphine, DMT, mescaline, peyote, GHB, 5-MeO-DMT, and a mixture of unidentified pills. They also located and seized various drug processing tools and packaging materials, 42 firearms, four firearm suppressors, two unfinished ghost guns, and six sets of body armor.

Hinds made his first appearance in federal court today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge and was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.

This case was investigated by HSI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the Portland Police Bureau Narcotics and Organized Crime Unit (PPB-NOC), and the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Interdiction Task Force (HIT) with assistance from CBP. It is being prosecuted by Scott M. Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

All Oregon resident taxpayers preparing their own returns in 2024 can file electronically at no cost using one of Oregon’s free file options, the Oregon Department of Revenue announced today.

Taxpayers in Southern Oregon can now file their returns using a special kiosk set up in the Medford Regional Office at 3613 Aviation Way, Suite 102 in Medford. The kiosk can be used to file taxes through the free fillable forms and Direct File Oregon e-file options.

The Medford office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (closed for lunch 12:30-1:30 p.m.). No appointment is necessary. Use of the computer to file taxes is on a first-come, first-served basis. Employees cannot help prepare returns but can answer basic questions.

E-filing is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get their refund. On average, taxpayers who e-file their returns and request their refund via direct deposit receive their refund two weeks sooner than those who file paper returns and request paper refund checks. 

“The computer kiosk offers a way to file electronically for those without a computer or those who fill out paper forms and want to transfer their data into one of the two available options to receive their refund sooner,” said Megan Denison, administrator of the department’s Personal Tax and Compliance Division.

Free fillable forms and Direct File Oregon
Oregon Free Fillable Forms performs basic calculations and is ideal for taxpayers who don’t need help preparing their returns and want the convenience of filing electronically. The IRS offers a similar option for filing federal taxes electronically.

 

WHITE CITY, Ore. – The suspect arrested earlier this week for a shooting in White City on Sunday, remains in the Jackson County Jail charged with attempted murder and other serious crimes.

The suspect, Hector Cruz Orozco, 27, of White City, is charged with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm. The victim has been flown to an out-of-area hospital for further treatment and remains in critical condition.

Through the initial investigation, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) detectives discovered Orozco and the victim were at a mobile home in the 3700 block of Falcon Street on Sunday evening. They exited the residence and Orozco shot the suspect at close range and fled on a bicycle. JCSO deputies responded to the call for gunshots and someone calling for help at 6:51 p.m in the area of 29th Street and Falcon Street, and Orozco was no longer on scene.

The next day, investigations led JCSO detectives to a house in the 7800 block of Laura Lane in White City. JCSO detectives served a search warrant with assistance from SWAT, K9, and the Crisis Negotiator Team. JCSO deputies took Orozco into custody Monday at 5:54 p.m.

This case is under further investigation. The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case. There is no more information available for release at this time. Further information will come from the DA’s Office.

 

Klamath Basin residents that frequently use Foothill Road when exiting highway 140 near Medford……and here’s a heads up.

Medford’s Foothill Road Project is moving to its next stage and part of the road will be closed for several months.

Cedar Links Drive to the McAndrews Road westbound ramp will be closed for the next four to five months. Detours for Cedar Links Drive to Springbrook Road to East McAndrews Road will be available. Local access will be available from Cedar Links Drive.

The $62 million project is expected to widen the lanes on Foothill Road. The city expects the project to finish by 2026.  City of Medford’s Public Works Director John Vial said, “the project is progressing very well. We’re probably slightly ahead of schedule right now. But there’s still a lot of work to do. We’re not changing the projected end date right now, but the project is definitely on schedule, on task and it’s doing great.

The four-lane road will feature two lanes in each direction, along with turn lanes, sidewalks, bike lanes and street lighting.  The road typically takes you through the backside of East Medford and will intersect with Barnett Road, where many basin residents have doctor and hospital business.

 

Two deer are dead after getting stuck in mud at Copco Lake.

According to the Hornbrook Fire Protection District’s Facebook page, it collaborated with CAL FIRE and the Department of Fish and Game in an attempt to rescue the deer which got stuck in mud at Mallard Cove. Chief Tim Thurner says it’s crucial to inform the public that the current condition of the lake bed is unsafe and the mud is deep and extremely dangerous.

Eventually, Fish and Game had to make the decision to euthanize both deer. Chief Thurner and William E. Simpson II, executive director of the Wild Horse Fire Brigade, say they don’t believe this will be the last time this happens.

But mud doesn’t seem to be the only problem. With water being drained out, long stretches of mud are being exposed and the water left has high concentrations of sediments.

 Anyone who sees any stuck animals should not try to rescue it themselves. Instead, you should call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 

Much of Oregon saw significant snowfall earlier this month. But the state’s snowpack is now on the decline. 

The Natural Resources Conservation Service measures snowpack as a percent of average – what’s considered “normal” for this point in the season. “Last Monday, statewide snowpack was about 100%. And today, it’s sitting at about 89%,” says NRCS-Oregon Hydrologist Matt Warbritton. 

He says this month’s severe weather is unusual for El Niño, which typically brings warmer, drier weather. “Those storms that did bring significant snow accumulation, that was sort of an anomaly for an El Niño year. We got a bit lucky some larger climatic patterns aligned and El Niño weakened just slightly.”

The current outlook is proving challenging for reservoirs. Warbritton says, “Reservoir managers now have to switch their operations, because they’re used to receiving snow accumulation up in the mountains, as opposed to rain, to better control for flooding.” 

Prineville Reservoir was forced to release some water last week. And that could mean less summer water for irrigators and recreators who rely on those reserves. Although Warbritton says one bright spot is the Ochocos, where the snowpack is faring better than much of the rest of the state. 

 

For seasonal workers with the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Fire and Ice program helps keep their jobs alive year-round.

 Natalie Weber, public information officer with ODF Southwest District says “these are local jobs. “Even though they’re seasonal, thankfully they’re opposite seasons, so we’re providing those local jobs year-round.”

Employees switch departments depending on the busy season. In the summer, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) sends workers to help with wildfires. In the winter, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) sends workers to help keep the roads safe.

Fire and Ice workers also get to keep their state benefits, according to Weber. Those aren’t the only perks, though. ODOT says the Fire and Ice program is a great way for employees to start advancing their professional career, in either agency.

The Fire and Ice program has been around since the 1980’s and gets participants every year. This winter, Weber said four ODF Southwest District employees are currently working with ODOT in the Rogue Valley.

 

In Portland Gov. Tina Kotek, along with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson, on Tuesday declared a fentanyl state of emergency for downtown Portland as drug use, dealing and overdose deaths continue to ravage the heart of Oregon’s largest city.

The tri-government order seeks to synchronize city, state and county responses to the public health and safety crisis through an incident command structure akin to those used during emergency events such as the coronavirus pandemic or severe weather incidents.

While the effort fulfills one of the top recommendations that emerged from Kotek’s task force on ways to bolster a beleaguered downtown Portland, its overall success faces obstacles, uncertainty and some skepticism.

And while state lawmakers will weigh proposals next month that would ban the public use of fentanyl and other illicit substances and roll back portions of Oregon’s pioneering drug decriminalization law, it’s unclear where the Legislature will ultimately land and whether such suggested remedies will have a measurable impact.

 

The number of people killed in recreational boating incidents declined in 2023. But the Oregon Marine Board still says 14 is too many fatalities, and most were preventable. In 2022, 16 people were killed in recreational boating incidents. 

Brian Paulsen, OMB’s Boating Safety Program Manager, says 12 of last year’s victims weren’t wearing a life jacket. 

Paulsen says the marine board launched an initiative last year, encouraging users of standup paddleboards to take safety measures,

Eight people drowned due to capsizing.

 

The Oregon Heritage Commission is offering grants to qualified museums for collections, heritage tourism, and education and interpretation projects. Awards typically range between $2,000 and $10,000.

Museums may apply for a variety of projects. Collections projects may include cataloging, archival storage, disaster preparedness, and conservation. Heritage tourism projects may include museum marketing and promotions, enhancing visitor experience, and training for museum staff. Education and interpretation projects may include exhibits, online education, school classes, workshops, and camps. Museums may also partner with other organizations for projects that might be outside of the museum, but still meet the museum’s mission. 

The online grant application is simple to use and includes plenty of support.  A free online workshop specific to this grant and how to use the online grant application will be offered February 20, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Advance registration is required. Recorded trainings and tips are also online.

 

Nearly all commercial egg farms in Oregon and Washington must now keep their hens cage free, under laws that went into effect Jan. 1.

The nearly identical laws in both states were passed in 2019 but neither took effect immediately in order to give egg producers time to change their practices.

The laws mandate that commercial farms with 3,000 or more chickens give their birds room to move around and that any egg producers looking to sell within the states also have cage-free birds. Oregon Senate Bill 1019 outlines minimum space for chickens, and requires that they be allowed to “roam unrestricted, other than by external walls” and are “provided with enrichments that allow the hens to exhibit natural behavior, including, at a minimum, scratch areas, perches, nest boxes and dust bathing areas.”

Eggs prices, meanwhile, reached a historic high in 2023 for a variety of reasons, including higher costs for feed and fuel and outbreaks of avian flu, but economics say more ethical eggs can mean higher prices.

Shoppers might see both cage-free or free-range labels on their eggs at the grocery store. The difference? Cage-free hens may live entirely indoors while free-range hens have outdoor access.

 

Oregonians  are still projected to spend nearly 30% more on utilities this winter than before the pandemic.

But differences in fuels, prices, and climate create large regional variation in household utility expenditures, especially during the winter months.

To determine the states most impacted by rising heating costs this winter, researchers calculated the change in monthly household utility costs from winter 2019–2020 to winter 2023–2024, then ranked states accordingly.

These are the key takeaways from the report for Oregon:

  • After remaining low since 2010, natural gas prices have risen nearly 27% since the winter of 2019–2020. Winter propane and heating oil prices also followed this trend, rising 23% and 39% during the same time period, respectively.
  • Nationally, natural gas is the predominant heating fuel, used as the primary source in over 60 million homes (46% of the total). Electricity ranks as the second most common fuel for residential heating, serving as the primary source for approximately 54 million homes.
  • Residents of Oregon—who primarily rely on electricity to heat their homes—saw average household utility costs of $180 each month during the winter of 2019–2020.
  • This winter, they’re projected to spend an average of $196 each month.
  • Based on these projections, households in Oregon will experience an 8.4% increase in their utility bills this winter.

 

Coming to Central Oregon this summer…The Doobie Brothers! 

The Doobie Brothers band repertoire ranges wide from mellow roots vibes to rock and roll with a dose of soul. They’re taking it to the streets this summer cruising to Bend, Oregon on Tuesday, June 18 with special guests, and Blues Hall of Famers, The Robert Cray Band!  This is at the Hayden amphitheater in Bend.

ONLINE PRESALE:
Thursday, Jan. 25 at 10 a.m.
PRESALE CODE: GREENLAKES

GENERAL ONSALE:
Friday, Jan. 26 at 10 a.m. online or
in-person at the Ticket Mill in the Old Mill District.

 

Also coming to Bend this summer at the Hayden will be the Dave Matthews Band

No strangers to our stage, Dave Matthews Band is arguably one of the most influential bands in music history, and it’s a guaranteed memorable night when they hit us with three hours of hits like “Satellite” or “So Much to Say” along with their famous sonic surprises. Experience it for yourself Tuesday, Aug. 27!

GENERAL ONSALE:
Friday, Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. online or
in-person at the Ticket Mill in the Old Mill District
 

Thanks for reading BasinLife.com from Wynne Broadcasting. 

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