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April 24, 2024

Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, Feb. 28 – Winter Storm Warning, High Wind Advisory for Klamath Basin In Effect Today; New Civil Lawsuit Filed Against Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center and Nurse

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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Klamath Basin Weather

Winter Storm Warning in effect Wednesday, February 28, 04:00 PM until March 1, 04:00 AM

…High Wind Warning in effect from February 29, 01:00 AM PST until March 1, 04:00 AM PST

Today
Mostly cloudy, with a high near 52. Light and variable wind becoming southwest 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon. Overnight expect rain, mainly after 5am. Snow level 5200 feet. Low around 37. Breezy, with a south wind 15 to 23 mph or higher. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
 
Thursday
Rain before 11am, then rain mixed with snow through the afternoon and evening. Patchy blowing snow after 2pm. High near 33 degrees. Windy, with a south wind 25 to 32mph with much higher gusts at times. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible. Overnight, blowing snow with a low around 27. Breezy, with a southwest wind 20 to 22 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.
Friday
Snow showers. Patchy blowing snow. High near 35. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 23 to 29 mph, with gusts as high as 44 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
Friday Night, Snow showers, mainly before 5am. Patchy blowing snow before 11pm. Low around 21. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
Saturday
Snow showers likely, mainly after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 34. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible. Saturday Night, A chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 18.
Sunday
A chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 35. Overnight low around 20.
Monday
A chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 40.

Today’s Headlines

A number of items approved during the City of Klamath Falls’ previous fiscal biennium are still in progress.

Due to the delay in these projects as well as a few unforeseen costs, Klamath Falls City Council adopted a supplemental budget Tuesday night, totaling just over $1.7 million.

“The majority of it is rollover,” city Finance Director Jessica Lindsay said.

Purchases of items such as trucks and other necessary construction equipment experienced extended delays, Lindsay said.

Because these expenditures were covered by the 2021-2023 biennium budget, the unused funds can be utilized in the current biennium to complete the purchases.

In total, the city’s reserve funds will decrease by $1,701,850.

A portion of the funds provided by the supplemental budget will be appropriated to an ongoing wastewater improvement project as well.

Council also approved the entry into a construct services contract with Bob’s Excavating Inc. to install updated, energy efficient pumps at the California Wastewater Pump Station on California Avenue.

The city approved the contracted amount of $1,032,142 with a contingency allowance of $206,428 in order to install the new pumps.

 

Every fourth-grader in the Klamath Basin, year after year, gets to experience a field trip to the Farm Expo held at the Klamath County Fairgrounds during the month of February.

Put together by the Klamath County Farm Bureau and Klamath County Cattlewomen, a tradition since the 1970s, has persevered for fourth-graders across Klamath County, reaching more than 900 fourth-graders this year.

“It is the most important field trip for these kids to come and learn anything about agriculture,” said Sue Gallagher, Farm Expo committee chair and president of the Klamath County Cattlewomen. “Every booth is passionate about their lifestyle, so the kids have a glimmer that agriculture is not the bad guy … we take care of our land, animals.”

Gallagher said she has been a part of the expo since 1989, when she ran a beef booth.

She was tasked to organize fourth-graders in the Klamath Basin to partake in the Farm Expo on Feb. 21-22, splitting students into four different time slots.

The event invites an abundance of local farmers, ranchers, dairymen and Future Farmers of America groups involved in agriculture to share a presentation for students. Fourth-graders learned about beef cows, dairy cows, sheep, pigs, goats, horses, honeybees, hay, mint, water, master gardeners, potatoes, grains and forestry.

The event has seen its share of change since it was first established, formally holding a booth which had an emu present, back when emu meat was popular in the area, Gallagher said. The booth explained the benefits of emu oil, along with a sugar beet booth.

Fourth-graders from Lakeview, Bly, Tulelake and Gilchrist also visited the expo.

 

After this winter storm the Klamath Basin is experiencing for the next two days, the National Weather Service in Medford says the weather is warming up.  And that means it’s almost time to spring into the wondrous world of science with Klamath Outdoor Science School.

KOSS summer camps are held in the scenic Sun Pass State Forest near Fort Klamath, offering youth and families “jam-packed weekend adventures,” a news release from the program said.

Registration for the annual summer camp excursions is now open, and registration fees are offered at a discounted rate for those who sign up before May 1.

June 17-20: ages 8 through 13 are the dates for the Artists and Scientists camp takes a dualistic perspective look at the world around us. Campers will explore local ecosystems, create works of art inspired by their findings and learn from local professionals in both the artistic and scientific fields.

June 28-30: ages 7 through 9,  this discovery-filled weekend offers young campers all basics of a good old fashioned summer camp. Kids will stay in yurts on site and learn about local plants and animals as they make new friends and explore the wilderness in Kimball Park.

Early registration fee: $295 per camper.

Finally, May 25-27 and July 5-7: children ages 3-6 with accompanying adult(s) will enjoy a holiday weekend introductory camp with the KOSS Family Camp experience. This camp is designed specifically for the littler tikes and the adults who care for them.

Campers will cook and sing around campfires and learn about the woods and wildlife.

Each child can bring between one and three adults along for the fun.

 

The future workforce of tomorrow, Klamath Basin high school students, recently completed the building of two tiny homes in 48 hours.

One of those homes will be given away in a raffle next week.

Put on by the Klamath Basin Home Builders Association — the idea was first presented by Jennifer Fairfield, principal broker of Fairfield Realty, in 2021 — the 48-Hour Tiny Build has grown to be a mainstay component of the Build My Future event that provides an experience for local high schoolers to engage and learn about various jobs in the construction and trades field.

A group effort, students alongside over 30 local contractors, attacked the construction of two 170-square-foot tiny homes. Working together with licensed professionals to hang drywall, install plumbing, wire electrical — everything it takes to build a home — the students accomplished all of it within 48 hours on Nov. 2 to 3.

Lead contractor Alex Salazar said typically building a home of this size would take months to complete.

Now, one of the tiny homes is available to be won via a raffle.

Raffle tickets can be purchased from the Klamath Home Builders Association and any member affiliate, or from Fairfield Realty and during the Home & Outdoor Expo on March 8 and 9. The drawing will take place on March 9. Tickets are being sold for $100 and only 800 are available.

The other is going to be donated to Project Homefront to add additional transitional housing.

 

Chipotle is joining other new businesses going into the old Sizzler restaurant off South 6th Street, near Washburn Way.

Closing its doors during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Sizzler building has remained a vacant space ever since, but according to a commercial property listing posted by owners of the building, the Carrington Company, plans are to convert the space into three rentable suites: two that are planned for food service and one as a retail venue.

The property listing reads that one space has already been rented by the Tex-Mex food chain Chipotle and has been confirmed by Annie Gradinger, a spokesperson with the company.

“We are currently scheduled to open a new location in Klamath Falls sometime this summer. The new location will be located at 2506 S 6th Street (old Sizzler building) and will feature the brand’s signature Chipotlane, a drive-thru lane that allows guests to conveniently pick up digital orders without leaving their cars,” she said.

Director of the department Joe Wall said that so far the city has approved the land use and restaurant conversion and given approval to construct the drive-thru on the building.

“(The City Planning Department) did a complete land use review for the rehabilitation and reuse of the former Sizzler building with the understanding of it being a three-tenant space with two of them being food service,” Wall said.

Garret Jacobs (listed realtor) of the Carrington Company was unavailable for comment, but a leasing brochure released by the Carrington Company sounds promising for the old Sizzler building.

“The Carrington Company is pleased to present for lease this Chipotle anchored strip center located at 2506 S Sixth Street in Klamath Falls,” the lease brochure from the Carrington Company reads.

“This property is a high-profile redevelopment of a strategic site located on the highest energy intersection in the county.

The site is anchored by Bi-Mart, as well as over 237 hotel rooms (Holiday Inn Express) and is located within the densest retail pocket in Southeastern Oregon. With a Q1 2024 anticipated opening for Chipotle, this strip center is rife with opportunity.”

 

Something new is coming to the Tulelake Veterans Park, a wall of bricks inscribed with the names of military veterans.

David Porter Misso, who has long been active in Tulelake Basin projects, said the recently launched “Bricks For a Veteran” project has already resulted in purchases of bricks by veterans and family members of veterans both regionally and from as far away as Washington.

The city of Tulelake has bricks available for purchase at $50 per brick. All proceeds will go to the Veterans Park Memorial Monument, which is located in downtown Tulelake. Each 4- by 8-inch brick will be engraved with the name of the veteran, branch of military, rank and years served on active duty. Misso said several people who have purchased bricks were Army privates, with one Tulelake resident reaching the rank of general.

Orders are being taken through March 1 with placement of the bricks planned to be done this spring. Concrete for the bricks, which will be placed around the Veterans Park Memorial Monument, will be poured sometime in March. Forms for ordering bricks are available at City of Tulelake website at www.cityoftulelake.com or at the City Hall at 1591 Main St. Checks should be made to the City of Tulelake. For information call the City Hall at 530-667-5522.

The park is located on property that was donated to the city of Tulelake. The first phase of development began in 2003. Efforts to expand the park and “make it more representative of Tulelake’s heritage, especially its veterans,” followed over a several-year period.

The park’s expansion work began in 2020, when the existing park was extended to the corner of Main Street. The park archway is one of the first things people see as they turn off Highway 139 into town. A gazebo, sundial, interpretative panels and an archway featuring the seals of each branch of the military were added. That expansion was largely funded though a $425,000 grant through California Proposition 68 grants.

 

The 2024 Subaru Klamath County Fair is thrilled to unveil the latest addition to its star-studded lineup with the announcement of Pecos & The Rooftops as the Friday headlining act for this year’s Subaru Klamath County Fair.

The concert, set to take place at the John Hancock Event Center on Friday, August 2nd, offers fans a chance to experience the band’s dynamic blend of country and rock.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., with the show slated to begin at 7:30 p.m., setting the stage for a night filled with soulful Americana, gripping guitar solos, and the heartfelt lyrics that have become a hallmark of Pecos & The Rooftops’ sound. Since their formation in 2019 in Lubbock, Texas, the band has swiftly risen to prominence, captivating audiences with their debut Warner Records single “5AM” and a sound that seamlessly marries the grit of classic rock with the storytelling traditions of country music.

Pecos Hurley, the band’s lead vocalist and a former Marine, alongside his bandmates, has earned widespread acclaim for their deep dives into themes of heartbreak, resilience, and the journey to find redemption through music. With over 350 million global streams and a growing legion of fans, Pecos & The Rooftops are not just on a tour but on a mission to connect, inspire, and uplift.

Tickets for this must-see event will be available online at Klamathcofair.com and in person beginning March 1st at the Klamath County Fairgrounds Office, located at 3531 S. 6th Street. General Seating tickets are priced at $20, with Party Zone tickets available for $25.00 for those seeking to be closest to the action on stage. All concert tickets purchased before midnight March 22nd will include admission to the fair at no additional cost.

 

In honor and recognition of inclusivity in Klamath Falls, Sky Lakes Rehabilitation Services and community partners hosted another memorable Night to Shine event earlier this month.

The annual occasion celebrates peoples with developmental and intellectual disabilities within the community. A news release from Sky Lakes said the prom-style event was a resounding success thanks to the efforts of more than 200 volunteers.

“Volunteers dedicated their time and commitment to ensure a positive experience [for more than] 100 honored guests,” the release said.

With limousine rides, horse-drawn carriages, karaoke and dancing, the Night to Shine inspired smiles and joy for all who participated.

“The Klamath Falls community’s tremendous support for this event underscores the value it places on inclusivity and support for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities,” the release said.

The prom offered the complete package with a few special additions including karaoke, gifts and a sensory room. And at the end of the night, everyone was honored with a crown or tiara.

 

Following two weeks of meeting and work session cancellations, the Klamath County Board of Commissioners were back in business at their regular meeting early last week. Commissioners provided the public with their whereabouts and goings-on during that time.

Commissioner Derrick DeGroot said the majority of his time was spent in Washington, D.C., working on natural resource issues involving the Endangered Species Act concerning the Oregon and California Railroad and Coos Bay Wagon Road Grant Lands Act of 1937 (O&C Act).

Degroot said he was busy, too, with the Oregon Timber Country Coalition of which he is president, and also testified virtually last Friday in a hearing that took place in Salem in support of juvenile projects.

Vice-Chairwoman Kelley Minty was in San Antonio, Texas, most notably at Lackland Air Force Base, fulfilling her duties on the Air Force Civic Leader Council. There, she was spoken to about the challenges the Air Force is facing with the recruitment of airmen and pilots.

Most vocal about his pursuits to advocate on behalf of Klamath County, Chairman Dave Henslee said he was in Washington, D.C., discussing the Farm Bill in service to the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Task Force of the National Association of Counties.

Henslee also spent time with the Association of Oregon Counties acting as co-chair of the Veterans and Public Safety Steering Committee, and also co-chair of the Joint Public Safety and Health and Human Services Steering Committee where debates and discussions took place about “several” pieces of legislation.

Henslee said the AOC chose to support the following bills: SB 1587, which protects children’s advocacy centers from legal action; HB 4140, which funds various programs that help victims of crime; HB 4074, civil commitments for mental health treatmen; HB 4001, taskforce for specialty courts; and HB 4081, emergency medical services modernization.

As part of the commission’s new Staff Success Stories, the board recognized Heidi Gaither, director of Klamath County Developmental Disabilities Services, for being chosen as the Inspiring Leader of the Year at the 2024 Chamber of Commerce Gala, and also recognized Klamath County Solid Waste staff for processing 14,000 tons of concrete.

The board also made a contribution of $6,750 to the Oregon Living With Fire fund.

During the meeting, Klamath County Public Health was awarded $36,139 grant dollars from the National Association of County and City Health Officials for use towards the Suicide, Overdose and Adverse Childhood Experiences Prevention Planning project.

Working closely with Klamath Basin Behavioral Health’s You Matter to Klamath suicide prevention coalition and with Klamath Promise and the local Alcohol and Drug Planning Committee, the awarded grant funds will be used to provide technical support, facilitation and framework to create a collaborative strategic plan to align and integrate SOAPP.

 

                  Coming to Ross Ragland Theater!
The Missoula Children’s Theatre Spring Break Theater Camp Presents
Jack and the Beanstalk

Dates: Monday-Friday, March 25-29; 8:30am – 1:00pm
Performances: Saturday, March 30 at 3pm & 5:30pm

The Missoula Children’s Theatre presents JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, an original adaptation of the classic children’s story. What happens when a young boy plants Wonder Beans in his own backyard? For Jack, it is the beginning of a great adventure. With a little help from P.T. Wonder and a Giant, Jack learns a valuable lesson about true happiness. This musical production also features a host of other characters, including the Elegant Harp, Jill, Mother, Milky White, the Farmers, the Merchants, the Circus Performers and the Wonder Beans.

There are three age groups for the Spring Break Camp with opportunities for students from Kindergarten to age 18!

Cost: $175, multi-student discount available; scholarships available

Group 1: Kinder – age 7 have the opportunity to be part of the production on stage! They will audition on Monday and begin rehearsals that day! (16 spots available)

Group 2: Ages 8 – 8th grade have the opportunity to be part of the production on stage! They will audition on Monday and begin rehearsals that day! (44 spots available)

Group 3: Ages 12-18 have the opportunity to be an assitant director for the show! Have the experience of helping backstage and to learn from MCT’s director team! (4 spots available)

 LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ROSS RAGLAND SPRING CAMPS HERE!

 

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 ready for adoption at Klamath Animal Shelter is a dog named ” Darcy “.

Darcy is a 5 month old female Labrador mix with tan with black peppering and white on her chest and toes.  She already weighs over 40 pounds.

Darcy is part of a litter that their family was unable to find homes for. They were started on their house training, raised with children as young as 6 years and other adult dogs.

Her siblings Destiny and Dallas are also available for adoption.

Puppies, like baby humans, require significant time and attention commitments to grow up happy and healthy.

If you are interested in adopting Darcy 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

 

Just for reading our news, click to enter to win Free Movie Tickets from BasinLife.com and Wynne Broadcasting. 
  Click here!

 

 

Around the state of Oregon

A new civil lawsuit filed in Jackson County Circuit Court names Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center as a defendant in a wrongful death case. It also names a nurse.

The filing by Idiart Law Group lists Asante and Dani Marie Schofield as defendants. The 33-point civil complaint represents Patti Wilson for the Estate of Horace Earl Wilson of Jacksonville.

The lawsuit involves a claim of drug diversion at Asante by a now-former nurse causing death by infection from tap water used to replace fentanyl for a patient.

The lawsuit seeks $11,475,000 for personal injuries and wrongful death of Horace Wilson from Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center (RRMC) in Medford, noting that during Wilson’s hospitalization there, “At all material times, Defendant DANI MARIE SCHOFIELD, RN was an employee, agent, and servant of Defendant ASANTE.”

The claim says Horace Wilson was a 65-year-old patient at RRMC when he went there Jan. 27, 2022, for care for left-side abdominal pain and left shoulder pain after falling from a ladder, with a subsequent scan of his abdomen and pelvis showing broken left ribs and a spleen laceration with active bleeding.

The complaint says though he appeared to have some recovery from his initial treatment, then his condition worsened, and Wilson died Feb. 25, 2022 while at Asante RRMC.

The lawsuit says, “From January 29, 2022 to February 2, 2022, Horace Wilson appeared to be improving and was extubated. During this time, ASANTE employees and agents continued to administer multiple potent medications through a central venous catheter (known as vasopressors) to maintain a minimally safe blood pressure.”

The filing says a third procedure February 3, 2022, required him to be intubated and stay in an intensive care unit where, “Horace Wilson demonstrated multiple clear markers of suffering from an infection.”

The complaint says Asante testing showed two days later Wilson’s blood tested positive for bacteria.

It says, “During Horace Wilson’s time in the intensive care unit, Asante ordered Defendant Dani Marie Schofield, RN to administer the drug fentanyl through infusion via the patient’s central (intravenous) line. Defendant Schofield was ordered to attach ‘hang bags’ of 1250 micrograms of fentanyl in 250 mL of 0.9% NaCL solution to a programmable pump which dripped the medication to Horace Wilson at the prescribed rate.”

The filing says Schofield recorded that she administered fentanyl to Horace Wilson several dates beginning Jan. 29, 2022, alleging that, “In order to divert the fentanyl, Defendant Schofield replaced this entire quarter of a liter of ‘missing fluid’ with non-sterile tap water, thus reintroducing new inoculums of the bacterium Staphylococcus epidermidis into Horace Wilson’s bloodstream via his central line each time she administered the solution.”

Last November, Schofield agreed to refrain from practice or to suspend license pending completion of an investigation with Oregon Board of Nursing.

Medford Police Department (MPD) says Asante officials contacted MPD about a former employee they thought was involved in diversion of fentanyl prescribed to patients possibly causing illnesses.

MPD days Asante started contacted possible affected patients and their relatives in December.

Oregon’s Secretary of State’s Office says it’s prepared for this year’s elections in our mail-in ballot state, which opponents find questionable in recent elections.

Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade says that 2024 will be the most secure election in Oregon’s history.

State officials held a training exercise this month with the Oregon Association of County Clerks and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in an effort to coordinate efforts. They worked through realistic scenarios to explore how best to respond to situations and protect election infrastructure that includes physical security, threats to elections officials, cybersecurity risks and the proliferation of misinformation.

 

Hours of testimony were taken Monday night on a bill that would recriminalize illegal drugs in Oregon

 

Under the revised bill, possession of controlled substances in Oregon would bring the possibility of jail time.  

Brandt Harley, with Metropolitan Public Defenders, says lawmakers are ignoring facts about why criminalizing drugs doesn’t work.

Representing the Oregon Sheriff’s Association, Hood River County Sheriff Matt English says this bill does allow for treatment before jail.

Umatilla County D.A. Dan Primus, representing the Oregon District Attorneys Association, says this gives counties the ability to get people into treatment.

 

The Ashland School District has placed a Trails Outdoor School employee on administrative leave after a report of sexual abuse and misconduct.

The incident occurred between a school employee and a minor in 2022. The district says the minor was not a Trails student and the incident did not occur on any Ashland School’s campus.

A community forum was held at Trails by the school district to give updates on the alleged sexual misconduct case, allowing parents to raise questions and concerns. Superintendent Samuel Bogdanove told parents there was a delay in communication about the incident because of a failure in the cross-reporting system used by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), the Office of Training Investigations and Safety (OTIS) and law enforcement.

Parents expressed many concerns, such as their child’s safety, the amount of background checks on staff members and how staff is trained to handle matters like this. Most were not happy with how the school district was responding.

Bogdanove says the district wants to get a clear sense of direction with the help of parents. He says the district is planning on implementing additional training for staff, working to improve communication, providing resources for students and parents and more. But parents say that’s not enough, and the cross-checking system between schools, OTIS, DHS and law enforcement needs to be re-examined.

 

The Oregon Employment Department’s website will be going offline for several days. The Employment Department says starting at 5:00 Wednesday night (2/28/24) the website will go offline until 8 a.m. on Monday, March 4.

OED says this is in preparation for the new system for unemployment benefits, which includes claims and questions for Paid Leave Oregon.

The new system, Frances Online, is scheduled to go live on March 4. People will not be able to file, restart, check, or make changes to claim information until next Monday. Customer service, along with making payments or ID verification will also be unavailable.

Auto crash claims the life of 18-year-old North Bend High School student

The community of North Bend is mourning after a student at North Bend High School passed away in a car crash in the evening of February 22.

According to the North Bend Police Department, Shaun Hensey, 18, was involved in a fatal single-car crash at the intersection of Crowell Lane and Pony Creek Road, near North Bend High School on the evening of February 22. Police said Hensey was found deceased at the scene when they arrived. He was the only person in the vehicle. Police said an investigation is underway.

North Bend High School is closed for February 23 to allow the community time to grieve. North Bend School District officials said South Coast Educational Service District and Coos health and Wellness will provide counseling service to support students, families and others affected by the tragedy. The counselors will be located on the high school campus.

 

Due to a security threat, Umpqua Community College in Roseburg closed its campus Monday to prioritize student, staff, faculty and community safety.

All classes, events, activities were canceled around 7:45 a.m. and the campus will remain closed until further notice.

“We are committed to taking all necessary precautions to ensure safe learning and working environments for everyone,” UCC President Rachel Pokrandt said “We understand that this closure may cause inconvenience to the academic and personal lives of our community, and we appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

Around 8:30 a.m. several Douglas County Sheriff’s Office patrol cars were on scene.

Meals on Wheels of Roseburg is unable to deliver meals as it operates out of Umpqua Community College.

A mass shooting occurred on October 1, 2015, at the UCC campus near Roseburg, Oregon, United States. Chris Harper-Mercer, a 26-year-old student who was enrolled at the school, fatally shot an assistant professor and eight students in a classroom, and injured eight others. Roseburg police detectives responded to the incident and engaged Harper-Mercer in a brief shootout. After being wounded, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. The mass shooting is the deadliest in Oregon’s modern history.

 

Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, joined eight other states and the Federal Trade Commission in blocking the proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger, she announced yesterday. 

“We are doing this to protect Oregon consumers and workers,” Rosenblum said in a Monday news release from the Office of the Attorney General. “We believe this proposed merger would hurt both, and we’re doing our part to prevent it from going forward.” 

FTC commissioners voted Monday after “thorough investigations by the FTC… into the proposed merger’s anticipated effects.” 

According to the release, Kroger owns 51 Fred Meyer and 4 QFC stores in Oregon, while Albertsons owns 96 Safeway and 25 Albertsons stores. Together, they own 176 stores across the state. 

In the lawsuit filed today, the FTC and several states — including Oregon– say that this merger would violate the federal Clayton Act by lessening competition. 

According to the release, investigators from the FTC and Oregon Department of Justice found evidence that competition between Kroger and Albertsons has led to competitive prices and quality. 

The other states in the lawsuit are Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming, the release said. Colorado and Washington state have filed lawsuits to stop the merger in their states courts. 

 

The labor union representing classified employees at Oregon’s seven public universities has declared a bargaining impasse.

Some 45-hundred support staff, including food service and I-T workers represented by the Service Employees International Union, are affected.

Schools and the union are discussing financial and other matters in the current five-year contract that continues through June of 2026. Wages are the biggest sticking point. SEIU and the universities will submit final offers followed by a 30-day cooling off period.

 

The Oregon Legislature is considering a bill that would re-criminalize possession of small amounts of controlled substances if the person doesn’t complete addiction treatment.

Democratic leaders say the goal is to get people addicted to drugs help and not just send them to prison. The compromise bill has lost support from some Democrats and there are Republicans who are also opposed to it, because it’s not strict enough. The compromise bill gets its first hearing Monday afternoon.

 

The State of Oregon will allocate more money to build charging stations for electric vehicles.

Under the next round of funding for the “Our Community Charging Rebates Program”, ODOT will allocate two-and-a-half million dollars to businesses, nonprofits, Tribes, public agencies and apartment complexes to purchase and install Level-2 electric vehicle charging stations. In the first round, last year, ODOT provided nearly two-million-dollars to 94 projects in 23 counties. Most of the projects were in areas considered rural or disadvantaged.

 

A grand jury indicted 24-year-old Justin Ryan Trompeter today on two counts of second-degree neglect, felony fourth-degree domestic violence assault, third-degree robbery, first-degree theft, harassment and two counts of reckless endangerment. 

According to a news release from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Trompeter remains on the run and is known to frequent Jacksonville, Shady Cove, Eagle Point and Trail. 

Friday , JCSO released bodycam footage on their Facebook page of police rescuing his children from a car in the woods. 

JCSO deputies were originally searching for Trompeter in connection with a February 7 domestic violence assault call where he fled the scene at a high rate of speed with the children,” the release said. “On Friday, January 16, JCSO deputies received information that Trompeter was hiding with the children, ages 6 months and 1.5 years, deep in the surrounding Jacksonville woods.” 

Police found the car on Wagon Trail Drive at about 1:30 p.m. last Friday, the release said. Trompeter had fled the scene and left the children alone in the car. 

“Deputies believe the children may have been left alone in the vehicle for up to two hours. Further investigations revealed suspected fentanyl and meth in the car with the children,” the release said. “Mercy Flights medics checked the children on scene then turned them over to Department of Human Services (DHS) personnel. After the incident, the children were treated at a local hospital and remain in DHS care.”

Police urge anyone with information to come forward. 

 

Medford Police Department says 2 people died on the evening of Thursday, February 22nd in an apparent murder-suicide.

It happened on Highgate Street in south Medford, at one of the city’s largest apartment complexes, the Charles Point Apartments.

The deceased have not been identified.

MPD Lt. Geoff Kirkpatrick said he would not release any information about the deceased, saying in a brief written statement that “Out of respect for the family of a very delicate and difficult situation we will not be doing a release on the case from Highgate Street from last night. There is no public safety aspect to this case. Thank you for understanding”>

 

Democratic leaders in the Oregon Legislature are strengthening a bill that would re-criminalize possession of small amounts of controlled substances.

Instead of 30 days in jail, possession could bring a sentence of 180 days. Counties would also have the option of setting up a system where people would be directed to addiction treatment. The changes were made to get law enforcement and prosecutors on board. House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich says they are conceptually aligned but need to see the final draft.

 

A Washington man was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for posing as a 15-year-old boy on Snapchat, traveling to Portland and recording himself having sex with underage girls he met on the app and then posting the videos on his Snapchat Stories page.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon struggled to understand what drove Rolando Daniel Benitez to commit such a crime.

Benitez, now 30, said he couldn’t explain it.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Sussman urged a 23-year prison term, citing Benitez’s “predatory and repetitive” conduct.

Posing as a 15-year-old named “Marcos,” when he was actually in his mid- to late 20s at the time, Benitez traveled from Seattle to Portland to have sex with multiple girls in 2019, according to Sussman. Benitez allowed girls to join and view his Snapchat Stories only if they sent him photos of their nude breasts or buttocks, the prosecutor said.

 

Oregon, and Portland, are ramping up efforts to prevent child sextortion, after seeing  a massive increase in sextortion in recent years.

“From out to Prineville, to Bend, to Medford to Eugene and here in Portland, to the coast. It is happening everywhere,” Supervisory Special Agent Travis Ostrem told parents during a Wednesday webinar.  The crime involving explicit images of children boils down to blackmail and there are two forms: Financial and Traditional.

 

“Financial sextortion, where the predators are looking for monetary gain from the children, to stop them from sending images. We’ve also sextortion, which is the typical child exploitation of sexual images, where they’re asking for additional images.”

He urges parents to start talking with kids early about the dangers of sending any photos online. Predators target victims as young as 11. He also suggested parents monitor the apps children are using, set parental controls and know who kids are talking to online, “Technology is growing faster than we can control it. But you all can get ahead of it. Look out for your children.” 

 

FENTANYL OVERDOSES SOARING IN OREGON

Yearly fentanyl overdose deaths in Oregon grew by an estimated 1,500% since before the pandemic, by far the largest increase in the United States, federal data show.

There were 77 known fentanyl overdose deaths in the state during the 12 months ending September 2019. Oregon deaths from the cheap, super-powerful opioid, mostly produced in China and Mexico and smuggled into the United States, ballooned to an estimated 1,268 during the 12 months ending September 2023, according to a federal analysis of the most recent available overdose-death data.

While the dramatic increase is at least in part due to Oregon recording so few deaths in 2019, the trend has been consistent: Oregon also recorded the highest percentage increase in fentanyl deaths from 2022 to 2023.

The precipitous rise means Oregon has shifted from a state with one of the lowest fentanyl death rates in America to one that’s now near the middle of the pack nationally — with no indication deaths will subside anytime soon. Oregon had the nation’s 17th-highest death rate last year, with 30 fentanyl overdose fatalities for every 100,000 people, up from ranking 36th out of the 39 states, including Washington, D.C., that reported fentanyl overdose deaths in 2019.

 

Oregonians remain strongly in favor of rolling back drug decriminalization and support tougher penalties for drug possession, echoing the results of a poll taken six months ago, according to a new survey commissioned by proponents of repealing Measure 110.

The new polling released by the group lobbying for cracking down on drug possession shows little change in public opinion since last August.

The results come as leading Democrats in the Legislature attempt to broker an agreement that would repeal Oregon’s first-in-the-nation drug decriminalization policy, which drew strong voter support in 2020.

 

A bill that resulted from a student coming within seconds of being struck by an aggressive driver is one step closer to becoming law in Oregon. 

A high school student, Sean Sype, saw and reported the incident, prompting Rep. Courtney Neron, D-Wilsonville, to introduce House Bill 4147, which would allow school districts to add cameras to school buses to catch and ticket drivers who break state law by blowing past the stop signs and flashing red lights on buses, endangering students’ lives. The measure passed the House on a bipartisan 49-5 vote on Monday and is headed to the Senate. 

At least 24 states, including Idaho and Washington, have laws allowing such cameras, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The National Transportation Safety Board recommended every state allow the cameras after a pickup truck driver struck four children, killing three of them, in Indiana in 2018. 

Representative Neron cited a 2023 report from the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, a school bus driver organization, that surveys drivers throughout the country each year. Oregon bus drivers documented 1,427 incidents of drivers illegally passing them on just one day, and throughout the country bus drivers reported more than 62,000 violations in a single day. 

Failing to stop for a stopped bus with flashing red lights is already the highest level of traffic violation, punishable by a fine up to $2,000.

The bill would allow districts to partner with local law enforcement to send tickets to drivers caught on camera breaking the law. 

 

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is recruiting 250 seasonal park rangers and assistants for positions across the state.

The position durations range from four to nine months, and the peak season is April through September. However, positions start as early as March and run as late as December.

The seasonal staff helps visitors access world-class experiences and ensures clean, safe park areas for all visitors to enjoy. Some seasonal staff duties include janitorial work, landscape maintenance, visitor education, and visitor services.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said that salaries start at $17.34 per hour for seasonal employees and $20.06 for seasonal rangers. They said the positions include paid sick leave, vacation, personal leave and 11 paid holidays per year. Student workers, ages 16 and older, start at $17.32 per hour, or more depending on experience, and they do not receive benefits.

More information about current job openings is available on the Oregon State Parks website. Questions can be directed to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Recruiting email.

Police are still looking for a man wanted on several charges including first and second-degree child neglect.

Friday, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office rescued an infant and toddler that were abandoned by 24-year-old Justin Trompeter. Trompeter was hiding with the two children in Jacksonville when he fled the scene before deputies arrived.

“To protect victims, we don’t put a lot of information out about them. I wanted to put their ages just because it was so egregious… 6 month and 18 months… that’s very, very young,” Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Aaron Lewis says.

If Trompeter has crossed states lines, Lewis says retrieving him will depend on whether his warrants are extraditable.

 

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved listing the Southern Resident orcas as an endangered species.

They spend much of their time in the Salish Sea, but travel along the coasts of British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon feeding on salmon. The decline in salmon, pollution, and disruptions from boats and ships are causing the population of orcas to decline.

In the mid-1990s there were nearly 100 whales and now there are about 74.

 

The Oregon Unemployment Department is switching to a new online system. Benefits for unemployment insurance customers go live through their new system ‘Frances Online’ on March 4.

Department representatives say claimants should create an account online once it launches. The department says that most things will stay the same, including contact information and unemployment eligibility rules, but employers will now be able to view documents and respond to information about former workers.

mportant due dates to file a claim and avoid a delay in payments are at 5pm on Tuesday, February 27, for new initial claims and 5pm on Wednesday, February 28, for weekly benefit claims for the week of February 18-24. Otherwise, claimants will need to wait until after 8 a.m. on Monday, March 4.

-Director Lindsi Leahy says ‘Frances Online’ will be more user-friendly for claimants and employers.

 

COVID-19 transmission in Oregon remains moderate; isolation guidelines reminder

If you test positive for COVID-19, symptom-based isolation guidelines in Oregon are as follows:
  • Stay home until fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication, and other COVID-19 symptoms are improving.
  • Avoid contact with people at high risk of severe illness (including older adults and those with underlying medical conditions) for 10 days after testing positive or developing symptoms, whichever happens first.
  • Consider masking for 10 days.
  • A five-day isolation period is no longer recommended for the general population, including those in K-12 education settings.
  • For health care workers, Oregon remains aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The symptom-based isolation recommendations have been in place since May 2023, when the federal COVID-19 public health emergency ended, and there is no plan to change them at this time.

“Because COVID-19 is exceptionally transmissible and a large proportion of cases do not develop symptoms or develop only mild symptoms, the previous five-day isolation policy was not slowing transmission,” said Melissa Sutton, M.D., M.P.H., medical director, respiratory viral pathogens at OHA. “Families and communities are used to following symptom-based recommendations for other respiratory viruses, and doing so for COVID-19 will allow otherwise well individuals to attend school and work while asking that they mask and avoid individuals at increased risk for disease. Oregon has not experienced any notable increase in COVID-19 transmission, hospitalizations or deaths following our shift in isolation policy last spring.”

This week we reported an 8.9% test positivity rate for COVID-19, which indicates ongoing moderate community transmission in Oregon, based on data reported to health officials during the week ending Feb. 17.

“COVID-19 continues to circulate freely in our communities,” Sutton said. “To protect themselves and their loved ones, we encourage all people in Oregon to get vaccinated with the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine.”

Over time, test percent positivity has proven to be an extremely accurate measure of COVID-19 community transmission, correlating with wastewater surveillance data that Oregon collects and reports weekly. Both tools can be found on our Respiratory Virus Data homepage.

 

The right to buy a gun in Oregon remains stalled.  Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, has filed a motion requesting gun regulation law Measure 114, stay in effect while it goes through a lengthy court process. 

According to a news release from Rosenblum’s office, this would be temporary. 

“This January, the same court issued its final decision saying that Measure 114 violates the Oregon Constitution. The state promptly appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals,” the release said. “That appeal is pending, but the appeals court processes could reasonably take up to a few more years.”

Voters narrowly approved Measure 114 in Nov. 2022. However, it has been in court since then and has not had a chance to take effect. 

Opponents of the measure claim that it violates the Second Amendment and restricts the right of Oregonians to bear arms and defend themselves. They also claim that it would not stop shootings or fatalities. 

 

Daylight saving time begins this year at 2 a.m. on March 10, 2024.

Most devices these days will adjust automatically to the time change, but don’t forget to set any traditional clocks forward by one hour.

Twice a year — when we spring forward and then again when we fall back — we get questions about this: Didn’t Oregon decide not to participate in the time change any longer? So why are we still doing it?

In 2019, Oregon and Washington agreed to partner to abolish seasonal time changes, remaining on daylight saving time year-round. California also joined the agreement, seemingly paving the way for the West Coast states to get rid of standard time permanently.

However, any such change is dependent on approval by the federal government, which hasn’t happened.

In 2023, members of Congress reintroduced the long-stalled Sunshine Protection Act, which would allow states to remain on daylight saving time all year.

That bill has yet to make it out of committee.

 

The 20th Annual Oregon Chocolate Festival is this Friday, March 1st through Sunday at the Ashland Hills Hotel.

There’s something for everyone including a Chocolate Brunch at the Stardust Lounge where you get to enjoy a delicious buffet-style menu by Ashland’s award-winning Executive Chef, David Georgeson, and savor a variety of chocolate-infused delights, from savory to sweet.

There are also vendors to explore, the First Friday Art Walk, or you can participate in the Charlie’s Chocolate Run taking place at Emigrant Lake. Race distances include a 1-mile fun run, a 5K and a 10K. All participants will receive a chocolate bar at the end of the race with the potential of finding that one and only golden ticket.

You can purchase tickets for the events and find out more information at the Oregon Chocolate Festival website.

 

 

Oregon’s struggling cannabis industry endured another difficult year in 2023, and there’s no indication conditions will ease in the foreseeable future.

 

Prices remain severely depressed, under $4 a gram for 11 consecutive months. Sales fell by nearly 4% last year. And harvests remain elevated, which means supply is likely to continue outstripping demand – making life tough for those who grow and sell recreational marijuana.

The market bloomed in the first years after Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2014. Sales began in 2015 and climbed for four subsequent years, with a jump that brought sales above $1 billion for the first time in 2020 as people embraced new forms of entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sales fell sharply in 2022 and 2023, dropping by 19% as market conditions returned to more normal patterns. But since Oregon put no limits on how many businesses may grow or sell cannabis, and since marijuana grows like a weed — so to speak — in many parts of Oregon, the state quickly had a cannabis glut.

Oregon farmers harvested 9.6 million pounds of marijuana last year. That’s down from 2021 but still far more than the state’s residents are buying — state analysts estimate demand for marijuana is a third lower than what the industry is supplying.

 

A Milwaukie, Oregon retiree is the latest winner of Oregon’s Game Megabucks, with a winning ticket worth $8.4 million.

David Schultze, 68, said he didn’t know he was sitting on millions until he checked his ticket last Friday morning. The winning numbers were drawn back on January 24, 2024. He spent the whole weekend in shock and claimed his prize on Monday at Oregon Lottery’s Wilsonville office.   

He doesn’t play much, but when he sees the jackpot “getting up there,” he can’t help but buy a ticket – just in case. Schultze purchased the ticket at Fred Meyer in Gladstone. The store earned a $84,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket. 

When asked about his plans for the winnings, Schultze said he will invest most of it. There are no plans for any big splurges.

Oregon’s Game Megabucks has some of the most favorable big prize jackpot game odds in the world. The jackpot resets to $1 million after someone wins. 

The Oregon Lottery recommends that you sign the back of your ticket to ensure you can claim any prize. In the event of winning a jackpot, players should consult with a trusted financial planner or similar professional to develop a plan for their winnings. Players have a year to claim their prize. 

U.S. News & World Report recently released their 2024 hotel rankings and a Willamette Valley wine country resort tops the list for Oregon: The Allison Inn & Spa.

The luxury resort in Newberg has been known for its spacious suites with sweeping vineyard views since it opened in 2009. It’s been showered with accolades from Travel + Leisure magazine, Forbes Travel, AAA and more.

U.S. News says its hotel ratings are “based on an analysis of industry awards, hotel star ratings and user ratings.”

Other amenities at the 85-room hotel include an indoor swimming pool under a large skylight and a whirlpool with picturesque views.

If you want to stay in a bigger city, U.S. News’s pick for the No. 2 hotel in the state is The Nines in downtown Portland. Rounding out the top 5 are Stephanie Inn in Cannon Beach, Oxford Hotel Bend and The Heathman Hotel in Portland.

 

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