60.55 F
Klamath Falls
April 24, 2024

Klamath Basin News, Friday 3/15 – Basin Transit Services Holding Open House Saturday To Hear From Residents, Sportsmen’s and Outdoor Recreation Show Starts Today  & Other Local and Statewide News…

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, March 15, 2024

Klamath Basin Weather

Today – Sunny, with a high near 57. North wind 7 to 15 mph becoming east in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 23 mph.

Saturday – Sunny, with a high near 62. North northeast wind around 7 mph becoming southeast in the morning.

Sunday – Sunny, with a high near 65. East northeast wind 3 to 6 mph.

Monday – Sunny, with a high near 67.

Tuesday – Sunny, with a high near 67.

Wednesday – A slight chance of rain. Snow level 6500 feet. Mostly sunny, with a high near 62.

Thursday – A slight chance of rain. Snow level 4900 feet rising to 5400 feet in the afternoon. Partly sunny, with a high near 56.

See Road Camera Views around the Klamath Basin:

Today’s Headlines

Basin Transit Services Holding Open House Saturday To Hear From Residents

   Public transportation services in the Klamath Basin are unable to sustain current service levels, and the organization wants to hear what residents think.

Basin Transit Services announced earlier this month that the organization will have to decrease transportation services throughout Klamath County come April 1.

BTS is holding an open house event from noon to 3 p.m., Saturday at the Ross Ragland Cultural Center, located at 218 N. Seventh St.

The open house will serve as a public forum during which BTS leadership and community members will have an opportunity to discuss the current status of the service district and the coming changes to available services.

Starting April 1, regular service hours will be reduced, operating only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.  Basin Lift services also will be reduced to these same hours of operation.

 

Klamath Falls Man Requests To Represent Himself Against Federal Criminal Kidnapping Charges

A Klamath Falls man facing federal kidnapping charges said he wants to represent himself in his criminal trial.  He also requested to be referred to as “Sukima Zuberi” in court.

30-year-old Negasi Zuberi had a late afternoon arraignment when federal prosecutors requested maximum sentences on all eight criminal counts against Zuberi. He has another hearing April 1, 2024, before Zuberi decides to represent himself in court fully.

Zuberi has two counts of kidnapping, one count of transportation for criminal sexual activity, two counts of felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, two counts of a felon in possession of ammunition and one count of attempted escape from custody. 

Zuberi received a new federal court indictment last month, charging him with kidnapping a second victim and with weapons charges from a prior conviction of assault with a deadly weapon. 

Zuberi’s original kidnapping charge filed last summer accuses him of taking a woman from Seattle, WA to his Klamath Falls home and holding her captive in an in-home cinder-block cell that she escaped.

He’s accused of trying to escape from Jackson County Jail last August while held there for federal court. A review of jail records show Zuberi is at Jackson County Jail today, held since his return there Feb. 15, 2024.

Zuberi’s original two charges included kidnapping and transportation for criminal sexual activity. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Oregon (USAO) filed the charges, saying Zuberi kidnapped a woman by pretending he was a law enforcement officer.

USAO said a federal grand jury initially indicted Zuberi, also known as Sakima, Justin Hyche, and Justin Kouassi, for kidnapping the woman using handcuffs, and forced her into his vehicle to take her approximately 450 miles to his Klamath Falls home, “stopping along the way to sexually assault her and cover her face with a sweatshirt.” 

Interstate kidnapping is punishable by up to life in federal prison and transporting an individual across state lines with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison.

USAO reminds that an indictment is an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

It said Zuberi has lived in 10 different states during the last 10 years including Oregon, California, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Alabama and Nevada, and federal law enforcement has reason to believe he may have victimized additional women.

It insists, “If you or someone you know have information about possible crimes committed by Zuberi, please visit fbi.gov/sakimavictims or call 1-800-Call-FBI.”   (SOURCE)

 

Sportsmen’s and Outdoor Recreation Show Starts Today

Anyone looking for outdoor gear, accessories or automobiles can find the item of their dreams with dozens of booths and companies in the community ready to great them.

Organizations from across Klamath County will be at the show ready to engage with the community.

Held at the Klamath County Fairgrounds & Event Center at 3531 S Sixth Street in Klamath Falls on March 15, 16 and 17. Below are hours of operation: 

  • Friday: 12 to 9 p.m.
  • Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is $8 for adults or $5 with a Bi-Mart $2 off coupon, which are good on Friday and Sunday only. Children 6 to 11 years old cost $1 to get in, and children 5 years old or under are free. 

Klamath County has another candidate in the race for Position 1 on the Board of County Commissioners.

Moss Driscoll, director of water policy for the Klamath Water Users Association, announced his candidacy early Wednesday morning. “My ultimate decision to run is based on a sense of obligation to public service and to my community,” Driscoll said in a post on social media. Driscoll said he does not take the decision lightly and has spoken with numerous local entities and leaders, including all members of the BoCC. The current holder of the title, Dave Henslee, announced his withdrawal from the race earlier this year.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Driscoll is one of nine candidates who’ve filed to run for the county government position.  The nomination also lists certification in criminal law and construction. To view the current candidacy filings for elected county positions, visit klamathcounty.org/692/Election-Calendar-Candidates.

 

March is Speed Awareness month and the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting high visibility enforcement.

 
May be an image of text
 
Speeding endangers everyone on the road:
In 2021 there were 12,330 fatalities in speeding-related crashes, 29% of total traffic fatalities for the year and an increase of 8% from 11,428 in 2020, the highest since 2007.
There were an estimated 328,946 people injured (13% of total people injured) in speeding-related traffic crashes in 2021.
35% of male drivers and 21% of female drivers in the 15- to 20-year-old age group involved in fatal traffic crashes in 2021 were speeding, the highest among the age groups.
Let’s make this month about saving lives, not taking risks. (https://www.facebook.com/KlamathSheriff)
 

A 2.5 Million-Acre Area of South East Oregon has Been Named the Largest Dark Sky Sanctuary in the World.

 

The region, which on Monday was officially named the Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary, comprises the southeastern half of Lake County, including Hart MountainLake Abert and Summer Lake. Future plans include expanding the sanctuary to 11.4 million acres across Harney and Malheur counties. 

stars and milky way over a small wooden cabin at night

The designation was given by DarkSky International, an organization dedicated to protecting the nighttime environment and preserving dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. The project is the work of the Oregon Dark Sky Network, an ad-hoc group of state, local and federal officials, private individuals, business owners and tourism agencies.

Travel Southern Oregon, which is a member of the network, celebrated the designation in a news release Monday.

“This four-year collaboration brings together so many of the elements we try to achieve in regenerative tourism,” Bob Hackett, executive director of Travel Southern Oregon, said. “It not only elevates the destination experience for visitors to Lake County and opens up opportunities for local businesses, but it also helps agencies and residents steward their lands in ways that celebrate a legacy of starry night skies for generations to come.”

Oregon already has two destinations with official DarkSky International designations: Prineville Reservoir State Park, which in 2021 became a Dark Sky Park, and Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory, which was named a Dark Sky Place in 2020. 

The Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary is now the largest of 19 Dark Sky Sanctuaries, which are spread out across five continents. At 2.5 million acres, the Oregon sanctuary is larger than Minnesota’s 1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which was designated as a Dark Sky Sanctuary in 2020.

The expansion of the Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary seems inevitable, with only a few local approvals and lighting changes needed to make it happen, DarkSky International said. Most land in the region is either privately property or public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The largest city in the area is Lakeview, home to fewer than 2,500 people.

Stargazers know southern and southeast Oregon as home to some of the best places to watch meteor showers and other astronomical events. Dark, clear skies are ideal for anyone hoping to peer into the cosmos, whether with a telescope or the naked eye.

Amber Harrison, program manager for DarkSky International, said in a news release Monday that the organization is already looking forward to the second phase of the Oregon Outback project, the big expansion, which would be the first landscape-scale sanctuary of its kind. (SOURCE)

May be an image of golf and text that says 'SKYLAKES FOUNDATION ANNUAL GOLF TOURNAMENT Titleist 2 $135-PER PLAYER $500 4PLAYERS *includes box lunch heavy apps FRIDAY, 9:00 AM SHOTGUN START 21 JUNE *All proceeds go to the Sky Lakes Foundation Running Ranch Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course 5500 Running Rd., Klamath Falls, OR 97601'

May be an image of text that says 'POLICE Klamath Falls Police Department POLICE SERVICE P $71,100 $94,932 OFFICER FALLS ★ KLAMATH KLAMATE OAAOOS KLAMATHFALLS INTEGRITY ★ SERVICE Minimum Requirements: US Citizen Minimum 21 years of age High School Diploma or GED Valid Driver's License Successful applicants must pass a law enforcement test and physical abilities test. Benefits: Apply online www.klamathfalls.city Questions? Contact Sgt Morrie Smith, msmith@klamathfalls.city'

 

The 2024 Benefit for the Basin Scholarship is Now Open

Two scholarships of $ 750 will be awarded to each High School in the Klamath Basin.

Applicant must be a Graduating high school senior or the equivalent in June 2024 and live within the Klamath Basin.

The application deadline is April 26. 

Benefit for the Basin “My Community” Scholarship Application
Applicant must meet the following criteria:
1. Graduating high school senior or the equivalent in June 2024 within the Klamath Basin.
2. Complete and submit Application – Please print clearly.
3. Submit a five-hundred word essay on the topic: “How I Contribute to My Community”.
Definition of “My Community” can be: Family, School, Church, Town or County.
4. Deadline for Submitting Application with Essay: April 26, 2024.

Submit application and essay by the deadline: April 26, 2024 by one of the following methods:
1. Email: benefitklamathbasinkids@gmail.com
2. Mail: BFTB, 6510 S. 6th St #130, Klamath Falls, OR 97603 (Postmarked by 4/26/2024)
*Applications and essays that do not meet ALL above criteria will NOT be eligible*
http://www.benefitforthebasin.com

 

Klamath County and the city of Klamath Falls are accepting grant applications from residents for projects aimed at economic and tourism development in the respective communities.

County tourism grants     

Klamath County’s 2024 tourism grant application cycle is now open and will accept proposals for “tourism-focused businesses” until 5 p.m., March 29.

A county news release said that the Board of County Commissioners are looking for projects that offer unique or special opportunities and are aimed at increasing tourism in the region.

“Projects should identify a target market and offer a specific strategy for reaching this market,” the release said.

Klamath County has established a tourism grant program to provide funding opportunities to eligible applicants for projects that contribute to the development and improvement of communities throughout the county by means of the enhancement, expansion and promotion of the visitor industry.  The grant funding is made possible by the local transient room tax.   

Review Panel – Grant applications are reviewed, and recommendations made, by a seven-member review panel appointed by the Board of Commissioners. The review panel recommends applications and funding levels to the Board of Commissioners who will then make the final decision for awarding funds.

Grant Application: /FormCenter/Finance-20/Klamath-County-Tourism-Grant-Application-91

For more information on the tourism grant program, visit klamathcounty.org/1252/Tourism-Grant-Program.

City economic development grants

Nonprofits in Klamath Falls may apply for the city’s economic development grant program from now until April 1.

These city grants are for local nonprofits with projects that drive business expansion, retention and recruitment.

According to a city news release, grants are also awarded to support small businesses, improve downtown vibrancy and increase housing availability.

The city economic development grants are available in two categories: economic development funding program (requests of $2,500 or more) and community initiative or event sponsorship (requests of less than $2,500).

The maximum grant award is $50,000, but additional funds may be awarded if available for emphasis on special projects.

The finalist applicants will give a 10-minute presentation before city council during a work session held in March.

Funding will be available starting July 1.

For more information, visit klamathfalls.city/486/Grants.

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Do you have a project idea for Give Back Day?

May be an image of 3 people and text that says 'Saturday April 27 Do you have a project idea for Give Back Day? We are hosting a community Give Back day on Saturday April 27th. We would like to identify 10 community projects and are hoping to to get hundreds of community members to volunteer in service projects to improve our community.If you have a community project idea, let us know! OLUITEER FOOD AID CHARIT cUA Medicine SEND US A DM OR COMMENT BELOW'

 
We are hosting a community Give Back day on Saturday April 27th. We would like to identify 10 community projects and are hoping to to get hundreds of community members to volunteer in service projects to improve our community. If you have a community project idea, let us know!
Send us an email (bluezonesproject@healthyklamath.org), direct message or comment below.
 

 

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 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.

                  Coming to Ross Ragland Theater!

The prehistoric age is going futuristic for an upcoming show at the Ross
Ragland Theater.

Lightwire Theater is presenting DINO-LIGHT. It’s a glow-in-the-dark story of
adventure, self-discovery, and of course dinosaurs. The show itself
combines dance and puppetry as well as some cool light displays.
Artistic director for Lightwire Theater, Ian Carney, said, “The technology is
called electroluminescent wire or EL wire or L wire for short. It is a
phosphorus-based wire, so a copper wire with phosphorus sprayed on it
and a gel coating, PVC coating basically around it. That’s what gives us its
different colors.”
Lightwire Theater will be in Klamath Falls on April 4 and the show starts at
6:00pm. It is only in town for one day so make sure to buy your tickets at
the Ross Ragland Theater website.

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.

George

If you are interested in adopting, 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!

 

 

Kicker claims top $1.6 billion with a month to go before tax deadline

Salem, OR—Oregon taxpayers have already claimed nearly $1.6 billion of the record $5.61 billion surplus revenue kicker tax credit being returned to taxpayers in 2024, the Oregon Department of Revenue announced.

The department also reported that it has received more than 950,000 tax returns thus far this year. Another 1.2 million returns are expected to be filed in 2024 and more than $4 billion in kicker surplus remains to be claimed. The tax filing deadline is April 15.

“More than 1 million taxpayers still need to file and we are urging Oregonians not to wait until the last minute,” said Megan Denison, administrator of the agency’s Personal Tax and Compliance Division. “We also urge anyone who is owed a kicker to file and claim it.”

The kicker—the largest in state history—is being returned to taxpayers through a credit on their 2023 state personal income tax returns filed in 2024. The credit is based on tax liability for the 2022 tax year. Taxpayers who have not yet filed a 2022 tax return, should file now so they can claim their kicker credit when they file their 2023 tax return.

Who is eligible?
Taxpayers are eligible to claim the kicker if they filed a 2022 tax return and Oregon state income tax due before credits. Even taxpayers who don’t have a filing obligation for 2023, still must file a 2023 tax return to claim their credit. The kicker is based on Oregon income tax paid in 2022, not federal income tax paid.

Who is not eligible?
Taxpayers who have not filed a 2022 Oregon income tax return or did not have income tax due for 2022 are not eligible to receive a kicker. The same is true for filers who didn’t complete the filing process last year because they failed to respond to letters from the department seeking more information.

How is the kicker calculated?
To calculate the amount of their credit, taxpayers can multiply their 2022 tax liability before any credits—line 22 on the 2022 Form OR-40—by 44.28 percent. This percentage is determined and certified by Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. Taxpayers who claimed a credit for tax paid to another state would need to subtract the credit amount from their liability before calculating the credit.

Taxpayers whose 2022 Oregon income tax owed was adjusted by the department when they filed last year, should use the adjusted amount of tax when calculating their kicker.

Taxpayers should not guess at their kicker amount. They can determine the amount of their kicker using the What’s My Kicker? Tool available on Revenue Online. To use the tool, taxpayers will need to enter their name, Social Security Number, and filing status for 2022 and 2023.

What form should taxpayers use?
Residency status determines what form taxpayers should use. More information is available on the What form do I use page of the agency’s website.

The 2023 Oregon personal income tax return instructions include detailed information on how to claim the credit on Form OR-40 for full-year Oregon residents, Form OR-40-P for part-year residents, and Form OR-40-N for nonresidents. Composite and fiduciary-income tax return filers are also eligible.

Taxpayers should keep in mind that the state may use all or part of their kicker to pay any state debt they owe, such as tax due for other years, child support, court fines, or school loans.

Taxpayers can donate their kicker with a checkbox on their tax return to the Oregon State School Fund for K-12 public education, but they must donate the entire amount. The donation is permanent and cannot be taken back.

Taxpayers also have the option of donating part or all of their refund to any or all of the 29 charities approved by the Charitable Checkoff Commission. Taxpayers use Form OR-DONATE to designate any amount or all of their refund to donate to charity.

Free tax preparation services are available for both federal and Oregon tax returns. Some software companies offer free software use and e-filing for eligible taxpayers. Visit the Department of Revenue website to take advantage of the software and free offers and get more information about free tax preparation services .

For more information, go to the Oregon surplus “kicker” credit page of the Department of Revenue website.

Visit www.oregon.gov/dor to get tax forms, check the status of your refund, or make tax payments; call 800-356-4222 toll-free from an Oregon prefix (English or Spanish); 503-378-4988 in Salem and outside Oregon; or email questions.dor@oregon.gov.

Grants Pass Homeless Case Will Be Heard By Supreme Court April 22nd

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case out of Grants Pass regarding criminalizing sleeping in public spaces next month. The ruling ordered the City of Grants Pass to cease enforcing its ban on homeless people sleeping on public property. Now the Supreme Court will hear the case on April 22nd.

Grants Pass, like many cities, is also dealing with a housing shortage. Over the past two decades, as more people moved in, housing costs went up, forcing a growing number of people onto the streets. Grants Pass, like other cities, is dealing with a housing shortage. Over the past two decades, as more people moved in, housing costs went up, forcing a growing number of people onto the streets.

The Supreme Court agreed to take up City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson in January and is set to hold oral arguments. The case is being led by the local government of Grants Pass, which was barred by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from enforcing its broad anti-camping ordinance when homeless people have no other place to go.

Martin v. Boise and Grants Pass v. Johnson have prevented cities from punishing people for sleeping in public spaces when they have nowhere else to go. The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals denied a re-hearing of the case last year. This comes after the court ruled against the City of Grants Pass in 2022.

The Grants Pass case came to the Supreme Court after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the city’s homeless residents. The appeals court ruled 2-1 that the city, which is about 250 miles south of Portland, can’t “enforce its anti-camping ordinances against homeless persons for the mere act of sleeping outside with rudimentary protection from the elements, or for sleeping in their car at night, when there is no other place in the city for them to go.” The decision applies only in situations in which homeless people “are engaging in conduct necessary to protect themselves from the elements when there is no shelter space available,” the court added.

The City of Grants Pass hopes the supreme court will issue a ruling in the summer of 2024. The City of San Diego has joined Grants Pass in the lawsuit.

Ed Johnson, the lead counsel for the respondents in the case, said it hinges on whether cities should be able to prioritize criminalization over solutions. Johnson said, “criminalization of our neighbors that have been forced to live outside, is not a solution. It’s very expensive, it wastes limited resources.”

Johnson said every court that has heard the case has ruled against Grants Pass so far. “Grants Pass wants to make it illegal on every inch of property, 24 hours a day,” Johnson said. “The problem is if that’s allowed, many cities will simply try to run all of the homeless people out of their community, and they have to go somewhere, so they’re going to go somewhere else, and they’re still going to have to live outside because of the affordable housing shortage.”

Johnson said that people are being punished for “simply existing” and that if more cities enact strict anti-camping ordinances like Grants Pass’, it could make the homelessness crisis worse.  “If we go down this line of spending money on criminalization and banishing people from their hometowns, we’re going to wake up in a year or two years or five years and we’re going to have twice as many of our neighbors living outside,” he said. 

Oregon’s Final Presidential Primary List Released by Secretary Griffin-Valade

Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade released the final list of candidates to appear on the 2024 Democratic and Republican Presidential Primary today for Oregon’s primary election on May 21st.

Democratic Candidates:
Joseph Biden
Marianne Williamson

Republican Candidates:
Donald Trump

ORS 249.078 (1)(a) states that a Secretary of State may place the name of a candidate on a major party Presidential primary ballot if the Secretary, in their “sole discretion, has determined that the candidate’s candidacy is generally advocated or is recognized in national news media.” Candidates may also access the ballot by nominating petition as provided in ORS 249.078 (1)(b).

Oregon law allows major parties to decide whether to hold “open” or “closed” primaries. In this year’s May Primary, both the Democratic and Republican parties will hold “closed” primaries — meaning that a voter must be registered with that party by April 30th to participate in its primary election. Oregonians can register to vote or change their party registration at OregonVotes.gov.

“Oregonians are voters,” said Secretary Griffin-Valade. “In 2022 we had the highest voter turnout in the county. We have been trailblazers in creating modern and secure elections through our vote-by-mail system, which we’ve operated for more than 20 years without a single instance of widespread voter fraud. We are taking every precaution to ensure the 2024 elections will be no different.”

OHCS to launch first phase of the Homeowner Assistance and Reconstruction Program on March 25th

Call center and local partners will be available to help 2020 Labor Day Disaster survivors with application process 

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) is going to launch the intake phase of the Homeowner Assistance and Reconstruction Program (HARP) for survivors of the 2020 Labor Day wildfires and straight-line winds on March 25. Phase 1 of HARP will help low- and moderate-income homeowners who still need assistance to repair, rebuild, or replace their homes.  

Beginning on March 25, applicants can fill out an Eligibility Questionnaire on the re.oregon.gov website where eligibility requirements are listed. OHCS will notify applicants who are eligible to apply for the first phase of HARP. Those who may not be eligible during this first phase may qualify in later phases if there are still funds available.  

“We are excited to announce this first step in the process to get survivors the help they need to fix existing homes or get new ones,” said Alex Campbell, chief external affairs officer of the Disaster Recovery and Resilience Division at OHCS. “We have been working with local partners to make resources available that we hope will make the application process easier for survivors.” 

OHCS opened a call center, which is ready to take questions. Applicants can call or text 1-877-510-6800 or 541-250-0938. They can also email t@oregon.org“>housingsupport@oregon.org. Additionally, OHCS is partnering with community-based organizations to provide in-person support. A full list of these partners is on the re.oregon.gov website

Survivors can help make the process as smooth as possible by making sure they have the correct documents on hand when they are invited to apply. No documents are needed to complete the Eligibility Questionnaire.  

HARP applicants need the following: 

  • Personal identification such as a photo ID or driver’s license (U.S. citizenship is not required.)   
  • Proof applicant is the homeowner, and the damaged home was their primary residence   
  • Records of damages from the 2020 Labor Day Disasters  
  • Proof of the applicant’s current income  
  • Receipts of recovery expenses for repair, replacement, or construction  
  • Property tax and mortgage information, if applicable  
  • Record of any disaster assistance payments, loans, or insurance benefits received  
  • Power of attorney, if applicable  

HARP is part of ReOregon, which is funded by a $422 million Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). To stay up to date on ReOregon programs in various stages of development, survivors can sign up for email updates and visit re.oregon.gov

About Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS)  – OHCS is Oregon’s housing finance agency. The state agency provides financial and program support to create and preserve opportunities for quality, affordable housing for Oregonians of low and moderate income. OHCS administers programs that provide housing stabilization. OHCS delivers these programs primarily through grants, contracts, and loan agreements with local partners and community-based providers. For more information, please visit: oregon.gov/ohcs.  

Cherry blossoms illuminated at State Capitol State Park March 16-April 6

Salem, OR—Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will host “Yozakura,” night viewing of the Akebono cherry blossoms, March 16 through April 6 in the North Mall at State Capitol State Park.

Parks staff will illuminate the cherry blossoms with Japanese lanterns and lights nightly 6-9 p.m. Visitors may bring blankets, camping chairs or an evening picnic to enjoy under the canopy of the illuminated trees.
The lanterns and lights create a striking and beautiful scene inside the park at night.

The Focal Point Photography Club of Dallas will be in the park March 23 at 7 p.m. to help photographers capture the perfect shot of the illuminated blossoms. SamaZama, a koto and cello duo, will perform in the park March 30 at 7 p.m. The duo will also perform March 16 as part of the Cherry Blossom Day, https://oregoncapitol.com/event/cherry-blossom-day… , sponsored by the Oregon State Capitol Foundation and the City of Salem.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will livestream the cherry blossoms on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@OregonParks beginning March 16 during the day and evening through April 6.

Park staff ask that tree limbs and blossoms are left as is so everyone can view them throughout the bloom. Alcohol is not allowed in State Capitol State Park (without permits) and the park closes at 10 p.m.

For more information on events at the Capitol, call Visitor Services at 503-986-1388 or visit the events page, https://oregoncapitol.com/events/ .

Spring Whale Watch Week returns to the Oregon coast for spring break 2024

OREGON COAST, Oregon— Oregon State Parks will host Spring Whale Watch Week along the Oregon Coast Saturday, March 23 through Sunday, March 31.

Trained Oregon State Park volunteers will be stationed at 15 sites along the Oregon Coast to help visitors spot whales and their calves and answer questions from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily March 23-31. The sites are some of the best places to watch for whales on the Oregon Coast. 

The spring event is three days longer than last year and might include better odds of seeing gray whales on their journey home from the calving lagoons in Mexico in light of today’s announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

NOAA announced the end of an Unusual Mortality Event, a significant die-off of the gray whale population, that had affected the marine mammals since 2019.

“The latest counts indicate that the gray whale population has likely turned the corner and is beginning to recover. It’s a perfect time for people to see them as they swim north with new calves to feed,” said Michael Milstein, public affairs officer with NOAA Fisheries.

Researchers counted about 412 calves last year, which was almost double the number from the year before. That helped signal an end to the Unusual Mortality Event and a likely turnaround in numbers as the species begins to rebound.

An estimated 14,500 gray whales are expected to swim past Oregon’s shores from late winter through June as part of their annual migration back to Alaska.

“Spring is a great time for whale watching because the gray whales are usually closer to shore on their return trip, typically around a mile or so out, and the weather can be better for viewing. But don’t forget your rain gear just in case,” said Park Ranger Peter McBride.

A map of volunteer-staffed sites is available online on the official event webpage: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=thingstodo.dsp_whaleWatching

The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay will be open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 23-31. Visitors to the center can enjoy interactive whale exhibits and take in the panoramic ocean views. Binoculars are provided. Rangers from Oregon State Parks will also be on hand to answer questions about the whales.

All Whale Watch Week visitors are encouraged to dress for the weather, to bring binoculars and to follow beach safety guidelines such as remaining out of fenced areas, knowing the tide schedule and keeping an eye on the surf at all times. Go to https://visittheoregoncoast.com/beach-safety/ for a list of safety tips.

For more information about coast parks and campgrounds, visit oregonstateparks.org.

Visitors are encouraged to share their photos and videos from Spring Whale Watch on social media using #OregonStateParks and #ORWhaleWatch24.

Respect nesting areas to protect threatened snowy plover March 15 – Sept. 15

OREGON COAST, OR – The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and Siuslaw National Forest remind visitors that it is plover nesting season on the Oregon coast March 15 to Sept. 15 ­— visitors can help recovery efforts for the threatened western snowy plover by observing recreation restrictions in designated plover areas.

Sensitive plover nesting areas will be roped off or identified by signs with rules and limits, such as staying on the wet sand, to help protect the small shorebirds and their exposed nests during this crucial period.
Recreation restrictions occur in designated plover management areas: stretches of beach along the coastline where plovers nest or might nest. These areas combined make up about 40 miles of Oregon’s 362 miles of shoreline.

Seasonal recreation restrictions have helped protect these small birds that nest on open sand. Nests, and especially chicks, are well-camouflaged. During the nesting season, human disturbances can flush adult plovers away from their nests as they attempt to defend their young. Left alone too long, or too often, eggs or chicks can die from exposure, predators or people.

Reminders for recreation on designated plover beaches March 15-Sept. 15:

*The following are not permitted: dogs (even on a leash), driving a vehicle, riding a bicycle, camping, burning wood, flying kites or operating drones.

*Foot and equestrian traffic is permitted below the high-tide line on wet, packed sand.

*Respect signs and barriers to protect nesting habitat.

“We’re making great strides in reversing the decline of this species,” said Cindy Burns, Siuslaw National Forest wildlife biologist. “But it takes all of us, so we urge people to do their part to understand nesting season rules and to share the beach this spring and summer.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed western snowy plovers as a threatened species in 1993, when officials counted only 45 breeding adults. The numbers of breeding adults have steadily increased since then due to ongoing efforts. Officials counted 433 during the breeding season survey in 2023.

“We appreciate visitors’ support in keeping these shorebirds safe in the combined 40 miles of protected area along the coast. We invite visitors to enjoy permitted recreation in those areas or to recreate without seasonal restrictions on the hundreds of miles of beaches not designated as plover nesting areas,” said Laurel Hillmann, ocean shore specialist for Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

More information on the snowy plover, including detailed maps of nesting sites, can be found on the Oregon State Parks website https://www.oregon.gov/oprd/pcb/pages/pcb-plovers…. and on the Siuslaw National Forest website https://t.ly/AKPAN

Visitors to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area can review Off-highway Vehicle (OHV) maps at its website to identify unrestricted recreation areas and information on riding motor vehicles on the sand: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/siuslaw/recreation…

New plover activity — The increase in plover numbers may result in nesting occurring in new or historical nesting sites. For example, visitors to Sand Lake Recreation Area may see small roped off areas near the lake’s inlet to protect active nests, and may encounter plovers on the beach. Beachgoers are encouraged to protect these birds by restricting recreation activities to wet sand areas, avoiding roped off nesting areas, packing all trash out and keeping dogs on leash.

Background on plover protections — Several land managers oversee beach activity for plover protection, primarily the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD).

Habitat loss from invasive plants — as well as human disturbances, including litter and discarded food scraps that attract predators — have contributed to the birds’ decline. The Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative, http://www.saveoregondunes.org/ , is working with land managers on a restoration strategy and to raise public awareness about the need to restore the dunes ecosystem for western snowy plovers, rare plants and animals and the unique recreation opportunities offered here.

Nationwide Cyberattack Keeping Some Oregon Healthcare Workers From Being Paid

A national cyberattack targeting the healthcare industry is impacting medical staff in Oregon. For almost a month, providers haven’t been able to collect insurance payments through a third-party, Change Healthcare. 

The company pays out claims to doctors’ offices and other service providers. Those claims make up a large portion of payments for many providers.

“Some businesses have to shut down temporarily in order to sort of save their business, basically,” said Athena Phillips, the founder of Integrative Trauma Treatment Center.

Change Healthcare works with some of the biggest healthcare companies in the Portland metro area, such as Providence and Kaiser Permanente, a medical worker said. 

Since many clinics or treatment centers are not receiving insurance payments, some medical workers may not be getting paid. Workers at other centers told KGW that they are relying on savings in order to pay staff until the problem is fixed.

“It’s really scary,” Phillips said. “We basically cannot even submit our claims.” Since Feb. 21, Phillips, like many medical workers around the country, haven’t received payments from Change Healthcare. Instead, she’s been forced to pay her staff through company savings.

“This is not something I could have foreseen,” Phillips said. “And I suspect there’s going to be ripple effects that we can’t anticipate.”

Others are facing similar issues.

“About 60% of our clients that we see every week are Medicaid funded,” Megan Geary, the CEO of Cascade Counseling and Consulting, said.

Between 60% to 75% of patient payments are affected by the cyberattack. Geary is also turning to company savings to pay staff.

“We’ve also had to apply for a business line of credit so that we can make payroll,” Geary said.

Along with Providence and Kaiser Permanente, Change Healthcare provides service for Care Oregon and the Oregon Health Plan, Geary said.

“Those are some big names,” she added.

Pharmacies are also dealing with repercussions of the cyberattack. KGW spoke with a pharmacist who didn’t want to go on camera, but said they were temporarily unable to search for prescription insurance claims. The pharmacy also was unable to utilize copay cards, which drug manufacturers use to provide discounts on medication. Those problems have since been resolved.

In a press release, UnitedHealth Group, which owns Change Healthcare, said it is working to mitigate impact to consumers and care providers. They expect to re-establish connection to its insurance claims network by Monday. 

Still, some aren’t convinced the problem will be fixed quickly. “I’m not holding my breath,” Geary said. “It’s not proper for one company to have that much power,” Phillips added. (SOURCE)

OFSM launches incentive program for defensible space projects

SALEM, Ore. – To help those living in communities more likely to be impacted by a wildfire, the Oregon State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is launching an incentive program to help Oregonians pay for defensible space projects. Defensible space is one of the most effective ways to better protect a home during a wildfire. The OSFM understands that money may be a barrier for some to do these projects.

As part of the program, those who meet eligibility requirements will receive a $250 one-time payment. Homeowners, renters, and property owners must live in select areas of the state and request and receive a free defensible space assessment.

The free assessments are given by a local fire service agency member or an OSFM representative. An expert will walk the participants’ property with them and provide valuable one-on-one time to discuss how to build and increase their fire resiliency. 

After the assessment, those who qualify will receive the payment in the mail for their participation. This incentive is designed to encourage people to implement the recommendations received during their assessment.

For a list of eligible communities, please read the program guidelines here. These communities were chosen based on their vulnerability to wildfire to get money to those who need it the most.

The OSFM’s defensible space program is a crucial step toward building more resilient communities in the face of increasing wildfire risks. By empowering Oregonians to take proactive measures, we will reduce the impact of wildfires on lives, property, and the environment.

For more details about the OSFM’s defensible space program, visit their website.

Oregon to Honor Fallen Law Enforcement Officers May 7th, 2024

Every year, the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony honors the state’s law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. This year’s ceremony will be held Tuesday, May 7 at 1 p.m. at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem.

The annual event commemorates the more than 190 fallen officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the state of Oregon since the 1860s. This includes law enforcement, corrections, and parole and probation officers from city, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies.

The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training is proud to host the ceremony in partnership with the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, Oregon Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), Oregon Fallen Badge Foundation, and various statewide law enforcement associations.

SOLVE invites volunteers to register for their annual Earth Day celebration: The Oregon Spring Cleanup

SOLVE Oregon Spring Cleanup at Cannon Beach 2023

Portland, Ore., March 12, 2024 – From April 13 to April 22, families, community members, neighborhood associations, and environmental enthusiasts are invited to engage in a signature event in SOLVE’s annual calendar: The Oregon Spring Cleanup, presented by Portland General ElectricRegistration for this environmentally conscious event series is now open.

Participants are invited to join SOLVE, event leaders, and partners from across the Pacific Northwest in a collective celebration of Earth Day. The SOLVE calendar showcases a variety of events throughout Oregon and SW Washington between April 13 and April 22, with the majority of events culminating on April 20. Diverse initiatives address specific environmental needs with opportunities ranging from beach cleanups to neighborhood and city litter pickups. Further activities include restoring natural habitats through native tree and shrub plantings, weed pulls, and mulching projects. Each project contributes to the enhancement of our shared surroundings.

With a variety of projects already online, the Oregon Spring Cleanup invites enthusiastic volunteers to contribute to a cleaner, greener, and brighter planet. Interested individuals can browse the map of projects to find events near them, learn about each opportunityand sign up for a meaningful contribution to the environment. Participating in the Oregon Spring Cleanup provides an excellent opportunity to bond with family members, coworkers, and neighbors, while collectively contributing to preserving some of Oregon’s most stunning locations.

As SOLVE anticipates another successful event, valued partner Portland General Electric, shares their commitment to the cause: ” PGE proudly supports SOLVE’s efforts to make our communities cleaner and greener. In 2023, our employees and their families volunteered with SOLVE for more than 220 hours. We’re excited to join community members again this Earth Day to help improve our beautiful state.” said Kristen Sheeran, Senior Director of Policy Planning and Sustainability, Portland General Electric.

For those inspired to host an event, SOLVE is still accepting new volunteer-led projects. The sooner projects are submitted, the faster SOLVE can care for the rest. Event leaders receive full support, including free supplies, access to project funding, disposal assistance, and help with volunteer recruitment

For more information, please visit solveoregon.org/oregon-spring and be part of the collective effort to create a cleaner, greener planet.

Along with Portland General Electric, other event sponsors include Clean Water Services, AAA Oregon/Idaho, Fred Meyer, Metro, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, KOIN, The Standard, Swire Coca-Cola, Holman, Demarini-Wilson, Trimet, and PepsiCo.

About SOLVE – SOLVE is a statewide non-profit organization that brings people together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship. Since 1969, the organization has grown from a small, grassroots group to a national model for volunteer action. Today, SOLVE mobilizes and trains tens of thousands of volunteers of all ages across Oregon and Southwest Washington to clean and restore our neighborhoods and natural areas and to build a legacy of stewardship for our state. Visit solveoregon.org for more information. 

 

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