Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 5/16 – Klamath County Commissioners Meeting Update; Migratory Bird Day is Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park; Oregon Employment Dept Has Online System Breakdowns on Unemployment Claims; Pro-Palestine Protestors Remain Camped On UofO Campus in Eugene

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.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Klamath Basin Weather

Today
Sunny, with a high near 83. Light northwest winds to 10 mph. Overnight, clear with a low around 42. Northwest wind 5 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph.
Friday
Sunny, with a high near 72. North northwest wind 6 to 9 mph. Overnight low of 39.
Saturday
Sunny, with a high near 74. Light and variable wind becoming west 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon. Overnight low of 35.
Sunday
Sunny, with a high near 67.
Monday
Sunny, with a high near 65.

Today’s Headlines

Klamath County Commission News

Oregon’s Department of Consumer Business, Building Codes Division (DCBS) is asking if Klamath County’s Community Development Building Division can provide the service when needed. Their inquiry is in needing assistance conducting plan reviews and inspections for residential and commercial structures being built at a prefabrication plant in Klamath Falls.

Klamath County Commissioner Kelley Minty said this is unusual, and not something the state typically does.

As explained by Stephanie Brown, county Building Division manager, Klamath County holds a third-party license allowing inspections to be made on outside projects. Brown said that the incentive for DCBS is it saves them from having to send their inspectors down from Salem.

With the board approving the state’s request for the work, Klamath County will be reimbursed by DCBS at $86 per hour, with a minimum of one-half hour worked for each review and 90% of total reviews not to exceed $75,000. The agreement is good for five years and is effective upon signing.

In other county business, approved at a May 1 work session, during Tuesday’s meeting the board made a grant agreement (worth $100,000) for grasshopper and Mormon Cricket mitigation from the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) official.

Recognizing the devastating impacts posed by the grasshoppers and crickets, ODA has created the program to provide direct financial assistance to those affected by and efforts that support the management of the pests on agricultural lands.

To better disburse the funds, Klamath County has formed a committee that will review applications received from local farmers and ranchers and make allotment recommendations to the board. Those who have been impacted and are interested in applying can do so once the grant application goes live on the county website, klamathcounty.org, later this month.

Also, The board approved Klamath County Community Corrections receiving $184,625 from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission as Klamath County has been identified as one of 23 Oregon counties to be early adopters of the Oregon Behavioral Deflection Program.

Commissioner Derrick DeGroot thanked Community Corrections Director Aaron Hartman for his willingness to “step up” on behalf of the county to do the work.

Finally, The board also took time to proclaim the month of May as Community Action Month, acknowledging the work and services provided by Klamath and Lake Community Action Services (KLCAS).

 

BLM is hosting public meetings to discuss the draft management plan for the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Brown says they’re still looking for public feedback for the draft plan to make sure there’s nothing they’ve missed.

The public meeting is on Thursday (today)  from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Klamath Community College

According to Lauren Brown, Field Manager for BLM’s Ashland Field Office, the national monument has grown to protect over 113,000 acres of federally owned land. Brown says the monument is currently managed under three separate management plans, but with the draft plan, management of the monument will be more consistent. She says the draft plan has many alternatives that update guidelines to better protect important biological, historical, and public resources. She believes BLM’s preferred alternative hits all the necessary marks.

 

bird day 1.jpg

A longtime favorite event, Migratory Bird Day, is set to fly from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park in Klamath Falls.

The 24th annual event is sponsored annually by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the City of Klamath Falls. The free family event includes a variety of fun outdoor activities provided by nearly two dozen community groups and agencies.

Susan Sawyer, spokesperson for the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, said the focus of the event is “learning about the world around us through a variety of entertaining and educational nature programs, displays and hands-on engagement as it relates to the wonderful world of migratory birds.”

The many activities include: build a bird house; fly tying; how to make a bird nest; nature shirt stamping; the underwater world of aquatic insects; bird identification and banding; the secret life of a beehive; making bird masks, origami and puppets; exploring the bird beak buffet; dissecting owl pellets; creating a butterfly life cycle; playing telemetry hide and seek; what is a feather; and much more

Staff from the Klamath refuges are offering a new activity, an air boat climb-aboard with their fire crew and biologists.

Returning is the “Bird Search” challenge, with prizes for all who finish the task. Entertainment will be provided by professional puppeteers, storytellers and singers who welcome audience participation. Food vendors will be on site.

Event coordinator John Fitzroy, the visitor services manager for the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, said this year’s Bird Day is “shaping up to be the best local event yet.”

The Klamath Falls event is one of thousands taking place around the world in support of World Migratory Bird Day 2024.

This year’s theme is “Protect Insects, Protect Birds.” Fitzroy said many local migratory birds rely on a diet of insects so “Bird Day events like this present an opportunity for the public to learn the importance of the connection between insects and birds, and how to help conserve and protect them.”

 

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.

 

The Klamath Yacht Club will be hosting an open house this weekend to carry on an ancient tradition.

A custom dating back centuries in Mediterranean fishing villages that saw community members come together in celebration of the sailing season (late spring to early summer) and capped off with a blessing of new and old vessels to ensure the protection of the crew and a bountiful catch, the Blessing of the Fleet ceremonies — known also as a christening — is an event that has continued to be practiced in various forms across ports worldwide.

Saturday and Sunday, Klamath Yacht Club members will continue the tradition with their modern celebration: commissioning weekend.

Beginning with a silent auction at 5:30 p.m. Friday that is carried through the weekend, the real party begins Saturday once the gates open.

There are a slew of activities planned for all ages, from remote-controlled boat racing, to sailboat rides and tours of the club. The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office will also be present for free boat inspections. Music, food and libations are going to be served as well, with a bar opening at 2 p.m. and a dinner held at 6 p.m. for club members and their guests..

Culminating on Sunday, the blessing of the fleet will begin at 3 p.m. with Pastor Steve Garza of Sacred Heart performing the christening. Following will be a slideshow and a raffling off of a print by Paul Tremaine.

Describing the Klamath Yacht Club as “blue-collared,” club member Stephen King said that is not as “snooty or highbrow” as is commonly associated with clubs.

Founded in 1947, the Klamath Yacht Club operates to further the interest of boating and promote the navigation of Upper Klamath Lake. Throughout the summer the club offers youth and adult sailing camps and hosts boat races every Wednesday and Friday with the biggest being the Firecracker Regatta in July.

 

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 will continue with help from The 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 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 into their 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.  There seems to be on backbone from UofO officials.

Tensions over the protest encampment on the University of Oregon’s campus are reaching a new pitch after a group of protestors marched and chanted in front of university President Karl Scholz’s home early Wednesday morning.

Neighbors in Eugene’s Fairmount Neighborhood just a few blocks from the UO campus said the group walked through the neighborhood chanting slogans and making noise at President Scholz’s home at about 1:55 in the morning. Neighbors said the chanting lasted for several minutes before protestors left.

Last week University of Oregon administrators gave protestors a deadline of May 11th 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 16th today, protestors say they are there to stay.

Protestors are still having 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.

Delays with the Oregon Employment Department’s new online system for unemployment benefits have several Republican lawmakers in Oregon writing to Governor Tina Kotek asking for a plan to remedy the issue.

OED’s Frances Online program is intended to increase convenience and accuracy for Oregonians’ unemployment claims. However, since the program began earlier in 2024, many Oregonians have encountered major hurdles in getting their unemployment benefits, including issues with the website, extremely long holding times when calling OED offices, and long waiting times to actually receive unemployment benefits. While OED officials said they have made efforts to address these issues including hiring more staffers, call volume to the employment center is still high.

On May 14, a group of Republican lawmakers in Oregon’s House of Representatives and Senate sent a letter to Democratic governor Tina Kotek urging her to lay out a detailed plan of action to address the issue. The letter said Frances Online has failed to meet its goals and is failing to provide funds to Oregonians who need them the most. Lawmakers suggested going beyond the planned staffing increases to also set performance targets and plan strategies to meet those targets.

The letter from lawmakers says that a third of unemployed Oregonians using the new system have had to wait at least three weeks to begin getting their unemployment benefits, and some have waited several months since filing for benefits without getting anything. The letter asks the governor’s office to publicly release a detailed plan of action for how the OED will clear the backlog of unemployment cases as well as implement a better strategy to communicate with claimants.

 

With just over a week to go before the Oregon Primary Election on May 21st Primary, only 10% of Oregon voters had turned in their ballots, state elections officials reported Tuesday.

The statewide rate compares to 17% of voters who had turned in ballots at the same point in 2020, the most recent primary election that included a presidential contest but not one for Oregon governor.

The presidential primary races have been decided for months, a factor that may be impacting turnout this year.\

Oregon voters have also increasingly waited until the final days before election deadlines to cast ballots and, as of 2022, can mail them on Election Day and have them still count. That makes election night tallies harder to regard as final.

So far this year, just 312,000 voters have gotten their ballots to county election offices, representing 13% of registered Democrats, 15% of registered Republicans and 4% of unaffiliated voters.

 

“Track Town Fever” is already underway in Lane County ahead of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and the Olympic Trials in June at Hayward Field.

Of course in Eugene, track and field events are a multi-million dollar industry.

“People come, they stay in hotels, they eat at the restaurants, they shop in the retail stores,” said one official.  Businesses are preparing for the busy summer at “Track Town USA”.

Events like the famous Eugene Marathon will attract12,000-13,000 runners alone, bringing in millions of dollars to the city and businesses.

The NCAA Outdoor track meet is from June 5-8.

The Olympic Trials begin June 21 and run for 10 days.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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. 

 

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.

 

Thanks for reading the the news on BasinLife.com from Wynne Broadcasting.

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