Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 5/15 – Klamath and Lake Community Action Services Celebrating 20 Years;  Wildfire Risks Reduction Program Includes Klamath Falls; Oregon Now Ranked in Top Ten Most Dangerous States To Live; Oregon International Airshow This Weekend

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. Call 541-882-6476.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Klamath Basin Weather

Today
Sunny, with a high near 81. Northwest wind 3 to 7 mph.  Overnight, clear with a low near 49 degrees.
Thursday
Sunny, with a high near 83. Light and variable wind becoming west northwest 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon.
Friday
Sunny, with a high near 73. Northwest wind 6 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
Saturday
Sunny, with a high near 76.
Sunday
Sunny, with a high near 68.

Today’s Headlines

2024 marks the 60th year since the Community Action Network was established to help American families and communities overcome obstacles to poverty.

Over 1000 agencies across the country are working every day to create opportunities and transform the lives of their neighbors, making communities stronger and helping families across the US survive and thrive.

This year, Klamath and Lake Community Action Services, a proud member of the Community Action Network, will also be celebrating 20 years of helping Oregonians throughout Klamath and Lake counties.

 See us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/klamathandlakecommunityactionservices

Community Action Agencies serve 99% of all American counties with life-changing services to help families achieve financial stability. All agencies are locally controlled and represented by the private, public, and low-income sectors of the community.

Klamath and Lake Community Action Services is a member of the National Community Action Partnership and the Community Action

Network, which was created by the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.

 

Twenty-six students from Oregon Tech’s Baja Racing team traveled to Lebec, Calif., April 25-28 to compete in Baja Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) California, where students test their self-built off-road vehicle for performance and endurance.

Baja SAE is a Collegiate Design Series competition run by SAE International. Oregon Tech finished No. 17 out of 61 teams from Canada, Mexico, India, and the United States in the three-day competition, which included static and dynamic events. The static events consisted of engineering design, safety and cost presentations. The dynamic events included an acceleration braking event, a maneuverability event, a hill climb, and a four-hour endurance race that pitted all the vehicles against each other on an extreme rough off-road course.

Oregon Tech Racing advisor Cliff Stover is also a Professor of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and Technology and believes that combining an engineering education with the hands-on aspect of building and testing a racing vehicle from the ground up enhances student education.

Each year, Oregon Tech Baja students build a new off-road vehicle from scratch, sometimes using the knowledge gained from students in the previous year but many times experimenting with their own mechanical engineering skills and fabrication techniques.

The Oregon Tech Baja team began building its car in the fall, and it was ready for off-road testing in March. During this testing, they experienced parts breaking and practiced troubleshooting repairs, each time learning why pieces failed and how to avoid that in the real competition.

 

This Saturday, May 18th, the annual Dirty Pelican Race will take place.

The race will last from 8:00 AM until 12:30 PM, the boundaries of which are Lakeport Drive, Moore Park, and Moore Park Marina #1. See traffic control plan below. Racers will be walking, biking and running across the street off and on during the race. Motorists will be stopped as these crossings occur.

Any questions can be directed to Teri at 541-883-4357.

 

A mother’s day residential fire sends one person to the hospital and destroys the house.

At approximately 1:26pm, Klamath County Fire District 1 (KCFD1) was dispatched to a fully involved structure fire in the 3900 Block of Altamont Drive. Crews were notified while responding to the fire, that the occupant had been removed from the structure by a passerby, but will need medical attention to treat burn injuries.

Several calls into 911 said they had multiple explosions coming from inside the residence. Engines arrived to find an injured occupant at a neighbor’s house and heavy smoke and flames coming out of the windows at the front of the house and explosions where still happening.

Sparking, downed electrical lines at the front of the house hindered fire suppression. The injured occupant was transported to the hospital by a KCFD1 ambulance. The explosions in the structure where from the occupants oxygen bottles. The house suffered a significant amount fire damage.

The cause is still under investigation at this time. 

 

A Klamath Falls, Oregon man with multiple previous drug- and firearm-related convictions was sentenced to federal prison Monday, after he was caught in 2020 by local law enforcement with methamphetamine and a handgun.

Andrew Miles Devos, 42, was sentenced to 75 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, in January 2020, law enforcement learned that Devos, who at the time had eight prior felony convictions for drug and firearm offenses, was actively selling methamphetamine in Klamath Falls. After further investigation, on January 8, 2020, Devos was arrested when he arrived to complete a drug transaction. Law enforcement officers searched Devos’ vehicle and located 80 grams of methamphetamine, a 9mm firearm, 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition, a digital scale, and drug packaging materials concealed inside a backpack. 

On June 3, 2020, Devos was charged by criminal complaint with illegally possessing a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Later, on September 17, 2020, a federal grand jury in Medford indicted Devos on the same charges.

Prior to being sentenced Monday, Devos pleaded guilty to a one-count superseding criminal information charging him with possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

This case was investigated by the Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET) with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF). It was prosecuted by John C. Brassell, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

BINET is a Klamath Falls area narcotics task force comprised of Oregon State Police, the Klamath Falls Police Department, and Oregon National Guard.

 

Oregon Tech welcomes graduates, their families, and friends to the Klamath Falls campus on June 15 at 10 a.m. to celebrate the Class of 2024.

Hoffman Construction Company President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Drinkward will provide the keynote address at the ceremony.

Founded in 1922, Portland-based Hoffman Construction Company has grown to become one of the largest construction companies in the United States. As CEO, Drinkward is ultimately responsible for creating Hoffman Construction’s vision and executing all aspects of the company’s work.

With nearly 17 years at Hoffman Construction, Drinkward has led some of the company’s highest-level initiatives and held several leadership roles in Risk Management, Safety, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Virtual Design and Construction.

Drinkward is active in his community, serving as a Director for several organizations such as Meals on Wheels People, Ace Mentor Program of America, Oregon Business Council, and Constructing Hope, and as a Trustee of Willamette University.

Drinkward has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Linfield College and a Juris Doctor from Willamette University College of Law. He and his wife, Erin, have four children and live in Portland.

Following the Klamath Falls event, Oregon Tech’s Portland-Metro campus will celebrate commencement on June 16, at 11 a.m., with Oregon House Representative Tawna D. Sanchez serving as the keynote speaker. Oregon Tech’s Seattle campus commencement will take place June 17.

 

MAZAMA, HENLEY TO OFFER MEDICAL ASSISTANT PRE-APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM

Klamath County School District will offer a new medical assistant pre-apprenticeship program at Mazama and Henley high schools starting in the 2024-25 school year.

The new program partners with Sky Lakes Medical Center to provide students with a full year of medical assistant college-level courses. Lauren Lorenz teaches CTE (career and technical education) health occupation courses at Mazama High School and will be teaching the medical assistant pre-apprenticeship course there next year.

“We will be teaching the same curriculum that medical assistants are taught at Sky Lakes,” she said. “The medical center wants to build a bridge and have students continue their training at Sky Lakes.”

Students who complete the pre-apprenticeship will be eligible for a one-year post-graduation certified medical assistant training program at Sky Lakes Medical Center that prepares students for national certification. The students also will have an opportunity while still in high school to join a newly launched Clinic Ambassador Program at Sky Lakes that provides on-the-job paid learning opportunities at its primary care clinics.

“We are excited to help build the next generation of health care clinicians,” said Dr. Erin Gonzales, Sky Lake’s chief medical officer. “These programs help to expand access to care and change the lives of students through exposure to lifelong learning in the medical field.”

The new program adds to an already robust CTE health occupations line up. Students in Health Occupations 1 class visit and shadow medical professionals at Sky Lakes once a week to learn about job options in the medical field. Health Occupations II provides students an opportunity to earn their certified nursing assistant (CNA) certification. The new medical assistant course will be Health Occupations III.

Mazama High School juniors Mada Lee and Rylee Blaschke plan on taking the medical assistant pre-apprenticeship courses as seniors next fall.

Lee is interested in a career in the medical field and plans to study to become a physician’s assistant (PA). Blaschke is planning for a career as a firefighter. Both say studying to be a medical assistant is a stepping stone to their goals.

Lee has taken Health Occupations I and says the ability to shadow medical professionals at Sky Lakes helped her decide her career path.

“When I graduate, I should be able to work at a hospital,” Lee said. “College is expensive so I feel getting a job right after graduating high school is a big deal.”

Blaschke said being able to see how a medical center operates is valuable knowledge as she pursues her career as a firefighter.“I think anyone interested in the medical field should take these courses,” she said. “The medical field is just so broad. There are so many options, and a lot of people end up paying for college and going through all the training before they really know if it is the career field they want.”

Medical assistant will be the second pre-apprenticeship program offered at Mazama and Henley. Currently, Henley offers construction pre-apprenticeship, and that program is expanding to Mazama, Lost River, and Bonanza next school year.

Mazama also is exploring a pre-apprenticeship pathway in manufacturing for the future, said Vice Principal Sergio Cisneros.

“Our commitment is to educate and help students by providing opportunities that are tangible,” Cisneros said. “Students are still in high school, yet have a hands-on chance to see what they are learning in action so they can make educated decisions on what they may or may not want to do in the future.”

The key to these programs is the support of local businesses and organizations. Sky Lakes Medical Center, for example, currently partners with the school district to offer on-the-job training opportunities to high school students through its Unit Ambassador Earn to Learn program. That program provides students with hands-on experience in non-clinical roles while earning wages for their time.

“The amazing part about our community is health care professionals want to partner with us,” Lorenz said. “They see the need. They see the value.”

Jennifer Hawkins, principal at Mazama High School, says pre-apprenticeship programs give students a chance to explore career options and learn skills before they graduate and make a career decision.
“I think it’s a way to serve students and serve the community. We’re growing our own,” she said.

 

The U.S. Forest Service – Fremont-Winema National Forest has released Prescribed fire information for the week of May 13th through May 18th, 2024.

𝐌𝐚𝐳𝐚𝐦𝐚 𝐙𝐨𝐧𝐞-

  • J Lo RX, 509 acres. Located approximately 15 air miles North of Klamath Falls and 2 miles south-southeast of Chiloquin, OR.
  • North II RX, 920 acres. Located 7 miles east/northeast of Chiloquin, OR. between Mile Posts 1 and 4 on Williamson River Rd.

𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐑𝐢𝐦 𝐙𝐨𝐧𝐞-

  • Bridge Buck RX, 167 acres. Bridge Creek-Buck Creek/12 miles SW of Silver Lake, OR.
  • Jakabe RX, 1812 acres. Located near Coffee Pot Flat-Parker Hills/15 miles SW of Paisley, OR.

𝐒𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐙𝐨𝐧𝐞-

  • Bly Ridge RX, 553 acres. 5 miles west of Bly, OR. on Hwy 140 E.

The purpose of prescribed fire is to help restore natural ecological processes associated with low intensity burning and in turn, will help improve overall forest health.

Signs will be placed in the area during operations to identify the activity as a prescribed burn and to warn travelers of potential reduced visibility.

Prescribed burning requires careful planning and consideration of things like weather, fuel conditions, and resource availability.

 

Meanwhile to the west, the U.S. Forest Service is working with multiple organizations for prescribed burns throughout the week. 

A 46-acre prescribed fire started around 11 a.m. yesterday morning on the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District near Flumet Flat Campground. 

The Forest Service said it is advising residents about smoke in the area, and they should travel with caution and watch fore firefighting crews. Air quality and visibility may be impacted in the area.

They say this will help restore ecosystem health, minimize fire fuels and reduce the threat of large wildfires. The burns will happen in Applegate Valley, Ashland watershed, in Waters Creek near Grants Pass and the Willow Lake area. 

 

Memorial Day celebrations are back on, thanks to a group of volunteering veterans.

When the Klamath Freedom Foundation announced it was disbanding, local vets stepped up to the plate.

Disabled American Veterans Chapter 12 Commander Ray Ramirez is spearheading the project.

Fellow veterans from DAV, CVMA (Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association), Oregon Tech and various other organizations met with Ramirez last week to set up an official committee.

With only a couple of weeks left before Memorial Day — Monday, May 27 — time is limited.

Though the group has already managed to find a number of volunteers, more assistance is needed.

Registration for parade floats is still available online through the Klamath Freedom Foundation website. To register for the parade, visit klamathfc.org/event-registration and submit the online form.

Registrants will gather at the same location as in previous years, along Spring Street on the morning of Memorial Day at 8:30 a.m.

The parade will proceed down Main Street at 10 a.m., arriving at Veterans Memorial Park at 11 a.m.

The annual celebration at Veterans Park will begin then, shortly after the annual Kingsley Airfield F-15 flyover.

For more information, submit emails to klamathfallsparades@gmail.com.

 

Road Work This Week in the Basin

Please use caution when in these areas and watch for flaggers. If you are able to avoid the work zones, please use an alternate route for your safety and the safety of Klamath County employees and our contractors.

ROAD/LANE CLOSURES

May 13 to August 16

Laverne Avenue (Vicinity of Stearns Elementary School). Daily lane closures.

CITY WATER MAIN REPLACEMENT WORK

May to July

Eberlein Avenue (from Patterson Street to Hilton Drive)

SKINNY PATCH

Maywood Drive, Riverside Drive, Greensprings Drive

Traffic control measures will be in place for guidance. Motorists should use alternative routes possible. In general, flagging stations will be set up at the ends of the work zone and delays will be 0 to 20 minutes for the motoring public. Our goal is to minimize the delay to the motoring public.

Other minor work is occurring through the County but we are only listing the major items in this announcement. There may be adjustments of work schedules due to weather or other items outside of the County’s control (breakdown of equipment, material/resource availability, etc.) Please do not contact the County if you do not see work occurring, it could be finished already or will be rescheduled.

 

Wildfire Risks Reduction Program Discussions Include Klamath Falls

A series of six open houses about the state’s new community wildfire risk reduction programs are scheduled June 3 through July 1 across Oregon. These events will offer opportunities to learn about new defensible space and home hardening standards, as well as the draft wildfire hazard map. 

The resource-fair style open houses are being held in the communities that have some of the greatest levels of wildfire hazard within the wildland-urban interface. Each open house will begin with a short presentation and introductions, but visitors may stop in at any point during the event to get questions answered about the draft hazard map and associated community wildfire programs. 

Representatives from multiple agencies will be present to have one-on-one or small group conversations to help people understand Oregon’s statewide wildfire programs.

  • Oregon Department of Forestry representatives will address questions on administrative rules and hazard zone assessment appeals.
  • Oregon State University representatives will address questions on wildfire hazard science, statewide data sources, and updates to the draft hazard map made over the last two years.
  • Oregon State Fire Marshal representatives will address questions regarding defensible space standards, code adoption process and implementation.
  • Building Codes Division representatives from the Department of Consumer and Business Services will address questions on home hardening construction standards, related code provisions, and implementation.
  • Division of Financial Regulation representatives from the Department of Consumer and Business Services will address questions on home insurance market and requirements of insurers under Senate Bill 82 (2023).
  • Wildfire Programs Advisory Council members will address questions on statewide policy direction for wildfire programs and council business.

Meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Redmond—Monday, June 3, Deschutes County Fairgrounds and Expo Center, South Sister Hall, 3800 SW Airport Way, Redmond, OR 97756
  • La Grande—Tuesday, June 4, Union County Fairgrounds, Mount Emily Building, 3604 N 2nd St., La Grande, OR 97850
  • Central Point—Monday, June 17, Jackson County Fairgrounds, Mace Building, 1 Peninger Rd., Central Point, OR 97502
  • Grants Pass—Thursday, June 20, Grants Pass High School, 830 NE 9th St., Grants Pass, OR 97526
  • Klamath Falls—Monday, June 24, Klamath County Event Center, Hall #2, 3531 S 6th St., Klamath Falls, OR 97603
  • The Dalles—Monday, July 1, Oregon Military Department Armory, 402 E. Scenic Dr., The Dalles, OR 97058

Find more information on ODF’s wildfire hazard webpage.

To subscribe to information related to updates on the statewide wildfire hazard mapvisit the ODF website.

 

On Thursday, May 16th at 6 pm, the downtown Klamath County Library will host the latest in the “Lay Person Legal” seminar series: a guide to your rights as a renter – or your responsibilities as a landlord – in Oregon.

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

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

This seminar series is a partnership between the downtown Klamath County Library, the Loyd De Lap Law Library, the Klamath County Bar Association and Legal Aid Services of Oregon. Please note that Lay Person Legal presenters cannot give individual legal advice on any specific case.

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

 

Friends of the Children – Klamath Basin invites the community to its annual fundraising dinner auction, Friend Raiser, presented by Lithia Ford of Klamath Falls, Thursday, May 30th. Doors open at Mike’s fieldhouse at Steen Sports Park at 5 p.m.

“This year’s event theme is ‘You Belong!” because we help children feel the belonging and value they need to develop hope and skills for bright futures,” said Executive Director Amanda Squibb. “Our community health depends on our kids’ well-being, and I’m excited to see everyone come out to support professional mentoring in the Klamath Basin.”  

Friend Raiser begins with dinner and cocktail stations, a silent auction, wine and bourbon games, and raffle sales. A seated program and live auction follow at 7 p.m.  

To reserve seats, visit friendsklamath.org or https://fckb.ejoinme.org/FR2024. Silent and live auction items will be added May 23rd for preview. 

Friends – Klamath Basin was established in 2000 to impact generational change by empowering youth facing the greatest obstacles. It pairs youth with professional mentors for 12+ years, no matter what, and will serve 72 youth this year. 

 

Around the State of Oregon

University of Oregon students are going into week three of camping out on the university campus as part of a pro-Palestine demonstration, and remain committed to their demands, despite university administration urging them to disperse.

On May 9, University of Oregon administrators gave protestors a deadline of May 11 to stop camping overnight, dismantle the encampment, and reserve a designated space to gather during daytime hours through an officially recognized student group. However, as of May 13, protestors say they are there to stay.

On Monday, protestors had conversations about what their next course of action will be after calling the University’s recent response to their demands “cowardly.” The university told protestors they will not call for a ceasefire or divest from companies protestors have asked them to, as the university does not make decisions based on political views.

To try and compromise, the UO negotiating team said the university will provide more education on the conflict and will increase resources for people to learn about it. They also said they are willing to arrange a meeting, after the encampment has been dismantled, for a select group of students to meet with the president and CEO of UO Foundation, the UO’s senior vice president for finance and administration, and President Karl Scholz to share the university’s approach to investment and to also hear from students.

 

Following news of the $1.3 billion Powerball win in Portland this April, Oregon Lottery is urging the public to beware of scams and phishing attempts associated with jackpots.

Over the weekend, a text message was circulating that falsely promised the Powerball winner was donating prize money to 10 citizens chosen at random. It asked those receiving the message to call a phone number to claim the winnings.

Oregon Lottery will never ask you to pay a fee to access your winnings.

If you believe you’re a victim of a scam, you can report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center: https://www.ic3.gov/. If you received a suspicious text message, forward it to SPAM (7726) and report the phishing attempt to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

If you filed your Oregon income taxes using TurboTax you may need to file an amended return.

In some cases, TurboTax selected the standard deduction when an itemized deduction would have saved more money. As many as 12-thousand taxpayers may have been affected by the problem. Turbo Tax contacted those customers and provided instructions for filing the amended return with the Oregon Department of Revenue at no extra cost.

 

A Medford man will spend at least six years in federal prison for distributing fentanyl that caused the overdose death of a local teen back in 2021.

According to the Oregon justice department, 31-year-old John Rocha was sentenced Monday to over six years with four years’ supervised release.

Court documents show Medford police officers responded to the overdose death of 17-year-old high school student on September 7, 2021.

During the investigations, officers learned that the teen had taken counterfeit Percocet pills that were laced with fentanyl. Just days later, Rocha was identified as the victim’s drug supplier. He was confronted by officers and admitted to selling counterfeit pills.

In 2022, Rocha, along with four other people, was indicted on five counts including distributing fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, and possessing a firearm for use during drug trafficking.

He pled guilty to distributing fentanyl in February 2024.

 

In a related story, new data show more than 300 lives were lost to fentanyl in Multnomah County last year.

The county released preliminary data from its fentanyl overdose mortality report yesterday. The data show a total of 322 people died from fentanyl overdoses countywide in 2023. That brings the total number of fentanyl overdose deaths in Multnomah County to 868 since 2018.

 

On Monday, May 13, 2024, Oregon State Police responded to a three-vehicle crash on Hwy-101, near milepost 250, in Coos County.

The preliminary investigation indicated a northbound Nissan Frontier, operated by Tracy Martin Goforth (63) of Gold Beach, crossed into the southbound lane for unknown reasons and struck a Toyota Prius, operated by Ronald Willam Lyons (76) of Bandon, head-on. The Nissan came to rest in the northbound lane while the Prius spun in the southbound lane and struck a Toyota Venza, operated by Dennis Joseph Dugan (70) of Bandon, nearly head-on.

The operator of the Nissan (Goforth) was transported and declared deceased at the hospital.

The operator of the Prius (Ronald Lyons) and passenger, Delia Villarreal Lyons (73) of Bandon, were transported due to injuries suffered during the crash.

The operator of the Venza (Dennis Dugan) and passenger, Mary Therese Dugan (69) of Bandon, were transported due to injuries suffered during the crash.

The highway was impacted for approximately 15 hours during the on-scene investigation. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

OSP was assisted by Green Acres Fire, Bandon Fire, and ODOT.

 

The increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is 10 times faster than any other point in the last 50-thousand years.

Studying air bubbles trapped miles deep in Antarctic ice, researchers from Oregon State University found the increase is greater than any natural increase in carbon dioxide that occurred.

They say this increase is due to human causes and it will overwhelm the ocean’s ability to trap carbon dioxide. It also leads to increased westerly winds that cause the ocean to release more carbon dioxide, which results in warmer temperatures.

 

Oregon is being called one of the nation’s top ten most dangerous states. U.S. News and World Report’s public safety rankings are based on 2022 statistics for violent crime and property crime in each state.

Oregon is ranked the 8th most dangerous state. Washington is 5th, while New Mexico takes the top spot as the most dangerous state in the nation.

 

Portland State University has estimated it will cost about $750,000 to repair the damage to Millar Library from the three-night occupation of its central library by pro-Palestinian protesters earlier this month.

That estimate could go up or down by about $125,000, according to Katy Swordfisk, university spokesperson.

The figure, however, doesn’t include costs of replacing and repairing damaged technology or furniture, she said by email.

Police moved in early May 2 to clear the library. They arrested 31 people, including at least six students, during the sweep and throughout the day as people continued to demonstrate.

University officials found paint splattered on library floors, glass broken, spray-painted messages covering walls and furniture moved and overturned. Security cameras had been disabled. Fire extinguishers were missing and the fire alarm system was dismantled, according to Gail Hamilton, a university construction manager who has worked for the school for 21 years.

 

Human remains found in the Fieldbrook area in Northern California back in 2006 have been identified.

According to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, DNA technology helped to identify Freddie Earl Long of Big Bar, California.

Police say in October of 2006, a human skull was found on property owned by a timber company. Detectives located additional skeletal remains as well as clothing and other various personal items nearby.

At the time investigators said there was no evidence to indicate foul play, nor could the coroner’s office find any identifying features to identify the remains even with the use of DNA or dental records.

However more recently with the use of forensic genetic genealogy and genome sequencing, police were able to determine that the remains belonged to Long. With a DNA sample, Long’s closest living relative was located and confirmed he had gone missing around 1993 but had never been reported missing.

Long would have been 50-years-old at the time of his disappearance and sometimes went by the alias “Cowboy Fred.”

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information to contact them.

 

The Portland bureau of the FBI is investigating an emerging social media scam.

Hackers take over a person’s Facebook account, then post big-ticket items for sale that don’t exist, like trucks, trailers and ATVs. They claim to be selling the possessions of a relative forced to move into “aged care” and can only communicate through online messaging apps. In just one Oregon incident, around a dozen people lost more than $10,000.

FBI Portland Cybersquad Supervisory Special Agent Yaqub Prowell says the first step to protecting yourself is to try to avoid getting hacked….. and, one should start by using strong, unique passwords, as just kind of the basics of cyber hygiene.

Agent Prowell also says you also want to enable multi-factor authentication, wherever that’s available. You want to avoid unsecure wifi networks. Also limit oversharing..  Be mindful of what you post on social media, because personal information can always be used against you.

 

A Medford man was sentenced to federal prison Monday for distributing fentanyl that caused the overdose death of a local teenager.

John Rocha, 31, was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison and four years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, on September 7, 2021, officers from the Medford Police Department responded to a report of an overdose death of a local 17-year-old high school student. Investigators soon learned that the teenager had taken counterfeit Percocet pills containing fentanyl. Within days, investigators identified Rocha as the victim’s fourth-level drug supplier and, when confronted by law enforcement, he admitted to having recently sold counterfeit pills.

On February 3, 2022, a federal grand jury in Medford returned a five-count indictment charging Rocha and four others with distributing fentanyl, possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

On February 20, 2024, Rocha pleaded guilty to distributing fentanyl.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Team (MADGE). It was prosecuted by Marco A. Boccato, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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

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

 

Gov. Tina Kotek abruptly pulled back this week on a pair of nominations to the board that oversees Oregon forest policy, after blowback from environmental groups over one of her picks.

Kotek had planned to tap two men for the state Board of Forestry who have often been on opposite sides of debates over how much of Oregon’s forests should be open to logging.

One was Bob Van Dyk, a conservationist who formerly spent a dozen years with the Portland-based Wild Salmon Center. The other: Heath Curtiss, vice president of government affairs for Hampton Lumber.

The dual appointment would have left the balance unchanged on a seven-member board that is closely scrutinized for where its volunteer members stand on forest issues.

Van Dyk was slated to take the place of Chandra Ferrari, an environmental attorney who works for the state and recently began a stint in Kotek’s office. Ferrari isn’t attending meetings or taking part in votes while working in the governor’s office.

Curtiss would have stepped in for Karla Chambers, a farmer and board member of Hampton Lumber. Chambers is one of three members with financial interest in the timber industry — the maximum amount that can serve on the board under state law.

But Kotek’s office wound up scrapping both nominations. A lengthy list of board and commission nominees released by the governor’s office Wednesday contained no appointees for the forestry board, meaning lawmakers will not consider them when they meet in confirmation hearings later this month.

Van Dyk and Curtiss separately told OPB the governor’s office told them this week their names wouldn’t be on the list.

The groups also attempted to get Kotek to rethink the balance of the forestry board, writing that Curtiss’s appointment “would also lock in the troubling notion that the Board of Forestry must always have three members who derive income from forest practices.”

“The statute allows for a maximum of three members to derive income for logging related activities, but for too long this provision has, in practice, been used as an excuse to have a minimum of three members with direct conflicts on the board,” the letter said.

 

Oregon State lawmakers will embark on a 12-stop tour of the state this summer, to hear Oregonians priorities for transportation.

Members of the Joint Committee on Transportation will hold hearings in each of the 12 cities, which include Albany, Eugene, Coos Bay, Hermiston and Bend. They say they’ll use information gathered to craft a transportation package for the 2025 legislative session. The tour starts in early June and runs through the end of September.

 

Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has a new Director. Dr. Debbie Colbert is the first woman to be appointed to the permanent role.

She’s been ODFW’s Deputy Director for Fish and Wildlife Programs for several years. Prior to that, she was Deputy Director for Administration. She’s also worked for Oregon Water Resources and Oregon State University and, at one point was a researcher at sea. Colbert was selected by unanimous vote Friday, by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

 

The Oregon International Airshow is coming up this weekend at the Hillsboro Airport.

Performers include the Air Force F-16 Viper Demo Team, the Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet Demo Team. Flybys with Air Force F-35A Lightnings and historic aircraft. There is also static displays on the tarmac. Friday night features a new drone display after the sun goes down. You can buy tickets online in advance.

 

Busy Wildfire season is on the horizon. The Red Cross says get ready now, prepare and volunteer.

Volunteers are needed to support families affected by continuous disasters.   

Residents of Oregon and SW Washington are anticipating another busy wildfire season as the climate crisis threatens to upend more communities. The best defense during an emergency is to be prepared and the American Red Cross, Cascades Region advises everyone to get ready now. 

“Today, the Red Cross is responding to more large disasters — almost twice as many — than we did a decade ago,” said Priscilla Fuentes, CEO of the Red Cross Cascades Region. “This growing need for help means we need more volunteers trained and ready to support families facing their darkest moments. Plus, it is critical for Oregon and SW Washington residents to make an emergency plan now.” 

The number of billion-dollar disasters in the U.S. has increased 85% in just the last decade as disasters grow in frequency and intensity. People across the country are feeling the impact as an estimated 2.5 million were forced from their homes by weather-related disasters in 2023 — with more than a third displaced for longer than a month. 

LOCALLY:

  • In 2020, Oregon experienced the worst wildfires on record, burning over a million acres of land. The Red Cross sheltered thousands of people for months across the state.  
  • In 2021, Oregon experienced a heat dome with record high temperatures. Later that summer, we responded to the Bootleg Fire which was the third largest in Oregon history.  
  • In 2022, dozens of fires consumed 465,000 acres. The Red Cross opened 10 shelters in one month alone. A wildfire erupted in Clark County in October, an unusually late time in the year.  
  • In 2023, the Red Cross started the summer with four times as many wildfire responses than the previous year. Our Cascades Region sent people on over 300 deployments, from Alaska to Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Maui wildfires. 
  • In 2024, we are anticipating warmer summer temperatures which can intensify wildfire activity. 

Comprising 90% of the Red Cross workforce, volunteers are continuously providing shelter, comfort, hot meals, health services and recovery support to families in need across the country. We need you! 

VOLUNTEER TODAY The Red Cross is seeking new volunteers who are team-oriented and want to make an immediate difference. Visit redcross.org/volunteertoday to sign up. Free online training will be provided 

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR HOUSEHOLD With the increasing risk of climate-driven disasters, help keep your family safe by getting prepared today.  

  • Build an emergency kit with bottled water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, and battery-powered radio. Also include medications, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers and emergency contact information.
  • Make an evacuation plan with what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and if you must evacuate. Make sure to coordinate with your child’s school, your work and your community’s emergency plans — and don’t forget your pets.
  • Know how to stay informed by finding out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders.

Plus, download the free Red Cross First Aid app so you’ll know what to do if emergency help is delayed and the free Emergency app for weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and more safety tips. Choose whether you want to view the content in English or Spanish with an easy-to-find language selector. Find these and all the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps. 

 

Less than a month after he was granted compassionate release during COVID-19 and let out of federal prison early in a drug-and-money laundering case, Johnell Lee Cleveland schemed to make money through insurance fraud, a government benefits scam and pushed a woman to sell sex and turn over the proceeds to him, a prosecutor said.

Last Tuesday, a federal judge sentenced Cleveland, nicknamed “Bankroll Johnny,” to nine years in prison, accepting the recommended sentence reached in a negotiated plea deal.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman called it a “very troubling” case for both the breadth of crimes Cleveland committed and how quickly he returned to committing them after his release from custody.

Cleveland, 42, made no statement.

Twenty-four days after his release, he and an alleged accomplice submitted a bogus application to State Farm Insurance for a policy to cover nine pieces of jewelry, providing written appraisals.

The insurer issued a policy for $105,800 for 12 months, ending in late August 2021, without examining the watches, rings or necklaces. If the insurer had, it might have learned that the jewelry had been seized by federal agents years earlier in Cleveland’s 2018 drug trafficking case.

 

There’s less than a month left for Oregon’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program. It closes June 3.

Those drivers in the market for an electric vehicle can get thousands of dollars back on their purchase through the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

This year the fund has just under $8 million to give out with two rebate offers.

First the standard rebate, which is up to $2,500, applies to anyone buying or leasing a new eligible vehicle. Second the charge ahead rebate, which is up to $5,000, is geared toward low and moderate income households.

For the rebates to apply, vehicles must be purchased at a licensed dealership. Applicants have six months from the date of their lease or purchase to apply.

More information can be found on the program’s website.

 

Opioid Settlement Board OKs $13.7 million to boost Oregon’s prevention workforce

OHA to provide allocation proposed by Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Opioid Settlement Prevention, Treatment & Recovery Board (Settlement Board) has approved a proposal to direct $13.7 million toward increasing and strengthening the state’s substance use prevention workforce.

On May 8, the Board approved an Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission (ADPC) proposal to build Oregon’s workforce capacity for primary substance use disorder prevention by providing:

  • $9.5 million to counties to strengthen local prevention workforce and evidence-based prevention programming.
  • Nearly $3.8 million to culturally and linguistically specific community-based organizations and regional health equity coalitions to increase the number of primary prevention initiatives in communities experiencing disproportionate impacts of substance use and overdose.
  • $450,000 to the Oregon Coalition for Prevention Professionals to train and certify up to 100 new certified prevention specialists.

The funding will be sent to Oregon health Authority (OHA), which will administer the allocations. The Board’s decision can be viewed in a recording of its May 8 meeting here.

Settlement Board Co-Chair Annaliese Dolph said, “The Settlement Board is setting an example for the state with this support of upstream prevention. We cannot treat our way out of the substance use disorder crisis. We must also prevent substance use disorders from occurring in the first place.”

Prior to awarding any funding, OHA must engage the partners listed in the ADPC proposal and provide a proposed funding formula and implementation plan to the Board for approval no later than Sept. 4, 2024. OHA is developing a partner engagement plan to begin this work.

Since July 2021, the State of Oregon has reached agreement on national lawsuits against several companies for their roles in the opioid crisis. Through these agreements, nearly $600 million will be awarded to Oregon over the course of 18 years. Settlement funds from opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies are divided between the State of Oregon (45%) and local jurisdictions (55%).

The state’s share is deposited into the Opioid Settlement, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery (OSPTR) Fund as it becomes available. This fund is controlled by the 18-member OSPTR Board.

Local jurisdictions receiving settlement funds (those with populations greater than 10,000) decide how to use their funds. Cities and counties must report to the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) annually on how they have allocated their funds. The annual OHA-DOJ expenditure report for fiscal year 2022-2023 will be posted to OHA’s website soon. The report for the current fiscal year will be published no later than Dec. 21, 2024.

OHA contracted with Comagine Health to convene a monthly Opioid Settlement Learning Collaborative for local jurisdictions to discuss allowable uses of settlement funds and best practices, including prevention best practices from other local jurisdictions.

OSPTR Board allocations to date

Through the current fiscal biennium that ends in June 2025, about $89 million will be deposited into the OSPTR Fund. To date, the OSPTR Board has decided on the following allocations:

  • $26.7 million to the nine Federally Recognized Tribes in Oregon – this is equivalent to 30% of all funds anticipated this biennium. This 30% set-aside will continue for the life of the fund as additional settlement payments are deposited.
  • $13 million to the Save Lives Oregon Harm Reduction Clearinghouse to distribute naloxone and other life-saving supplies to qualified entities.
  • $4 million to develop a unified and evidence-based state system for collecting, analyzing and publishing data about the availability and efficacy of substance use prevention, treatment and recovery services in Oregon as required by ORS Chapter 63, Section 6.

To learn more about Oregon’s opioid settlement funds, visit oregon.gov/opioidsettlement.

 

Gas prices have fallen slightly in the past week, according to a news release from the American Automobile Association.

The national average has dropped two cents to $3.64 a gallon, while Oregon’s much higher gas prices decreased by four cents to $4.46. 

AAA of Oregon says falling crude oil prices have helped push pump prices lower. While some refinery maintenance is still underway in the U.S., the seasonal spring run-up in gas prices is settling down.  But crude oil prices are still the big wildcard as global conflicts in the Middle East and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will continue to keep oil markets volatile.

The national and Oregon prices are still at their highest prices since October, the release said. Oregon is one of 32 states with lower prices than a week ago. 

In the Southern Oregon region, these are the average gas prices by county:

Klamath County: $4.417

Curry County: $4.743

Josephine County: $4.552

Jackson County: $4.535

Lake County: $4.524

 

The Oregon Health Authority is launching a fentanyl awareness campaign on its social media site.

It’s called “Fentanyl Aware” and will post messages on fentanyl risks, harm reduction strategies, and Oregon’s good Samaritan law that provides legal protections for people using Narcan during an overdose. The messages will be posted over the next five weeks.

 

For the first time, researchers in Oregon have identified a brain syndrome caused by fentanyl.

A man in his 40s was hospitalized after snorting crushed fentanyl. There were no signs he had previously used opioids. An MRI showed inflammation in the white matter of his brain. It’s happened in heroin patients, but this is the first time with fentanyl. Researchers say it can lead to permanent brain damage. The man was hospitalized for nearly a month before going to a nursing home for further rehabilitation. Researchers don’t know how much fentanyl is needed to cause the syndrome..

 

A new OHSU study finds the use of nicotine and cannabis during pregnancy dramatically increases the rate of infant death.

Researchers evaluated hospital data and vital statistics from more than three million pregnant patients with documented substance use. They found that the rate of infant death was four times higher in users of both cannabis and nicotine compared with non-users, and nearly twice as high compared with users of just one of those. Researchers are calling for more research and patient education for better outcomes. The study is published in JAMA Network Open.

 

PORTLAND, Ore.—In honor of National Police Week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon recognizes the service and sacrifice of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement. This year’s commemoration is observed Saturday, May 11 through Friday, May 17, 2024.

“As our country recognizes National Police Week, the Justice Department joins families and communities in remembering the members of the law enforcement community who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting the public,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.  “Policing is difficult and dangerous, yet time and time again, law enforcement officers answer the call, showing up for their communities when they are needed the most.  Their devotion to duty is matched only by that of their loved ones who make daily sacrifices to support them.  The Justice Department is committed to doing everything in our power to help provide our law enforcement partners with the resources they need to carry out their noble work on behalf of the public.”

“At the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we are inspired daily by the service and sacrifice of all our law enforcement partners. We offer our deepest gratitude to each and every one of our partners as well as their families and loved ones who make it possible for them to do the work they do,” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

In 1962, President Kennedy issued the first proclamation for Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week to remember and honor law enforcement officers for their service and sacrifices. Peace Officers Memorial Day, which every year falls on May 15, specifically honors law enforcement officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.

Each year, during National Police Week, our nation celebrates the contributions of law enforcement from around the country, recognizing their hard work, dedication, loyalty and commitment to keeping our communities safe.

On Monday, May 13, the names of more than 280 officers killed in the line of duty in 2024 who have been added to the wall at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial were read during a Candlelight Vigil. To view a recording of the livestream of this event, visit https://nleomf.org/memorial/programs/national-police-week-2024/candlelight-vigil/.

To learn more about National Police Week and the virtual candlelight vigil, please visit www.policeweek.org.

 

Portland, Ore. – After selling the winning Powerball ticket worth $1.3 billion, the fourth largest jackpot in the game’s history, Plaid Pantry was presented a bonus check worth $100,000 on Thursday. Oregon Lottery officials celebrated with store representatives at the location on 6060 NE Columbia Boulevard in Portland.

“The excitement and impact of a win like this in Oregon is incredible, not only for our prize winners, but also for our communities and locally owned retailer Plaid Pantry,” said Oregon Lottery Director Mike Wells.

Cheng “Charlie” Saephan of Portland, his wife, and their friend claimed the winning ticket from the April 6, 2024 drawing. The ticket was the only one in the country to match all five numbers plus the Powerball.

“The energy and excitement we experienced from selling the winning ticket has been a big morale boost for the entire Plaid team,” said Plaid Pantry President and CEO Jonathan Polonsky. “We are very proud of our brand, which has been serving the Pacific Northwest for over 60 years. This bonus check will be reinvested in our business to benefit our associates, customers, and local suppliers.”

Oregon Lottery staff also surprised store customers at the Thursday event by handing out free $2 Scratch-its.

Plaid Pantry has 104 stores in Oregon and has sold other sizable wins in recent years, including a $3.3 million Megabucks ticket in August of 2023 and a $1 million Powerball prize in March of 2023.

Since the Oregon Lottery began selling tickets on April 25, 1985, it has earned nearly $15.5 billion for economic development, public education, outdoor school, state parks, veteran services, and watershed enhancements. For more information on the Oregon Lottery visit www.oregonlottery.org

 

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