Klamath Basin News, Monday, 6/3/24 – Basin Temps Hitting 90s This Week; Former KF Physical Therapist Facing Sexual Assault Lawsuit; State Lawmakers Looking To Reduce Student Cell Phone Distractions in Classrooms; Student Party-Goers Leave Shasta Lake A Mess On Memorial 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.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Klamath Basin Weather

Today
A 40% chance of rain, mainly before 9am. Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 67. Southwest wind 14 to 17 mph. Overnight, partly cloudy with a low of 45. Winds southwest to 15 mph.

Tuesday
Sunny, with a high near 81. Light and variable wind becoming west 8 to 13 mph. Clear overnight, low near 49.
Wednesday
Sunny, with a high near 87. Light north wind. Mostly clear overnight, low around 54.
Thursday
Sunny, with a high near 90.
Friday
Sunny, with a high near 92.
Saturday
Sunny, with a high near 90.
Sunday
Mostly sunny, with a high near 86.

Today’s Headlines

With summer coming into the Klamath Basin and Rogue Valley in full force, some high heats are starting to roll in. The upcoming week is expected to bring temperatures upwards of 100 degrees to the Rogue Valley – and 90 plus in Klamath Falls- and with that comes dangers for both people and pets. 

Temperatures in the triple digits put people into the National Weather Services extreme caution category against heat illness and heat stroke — but with humidity, can put people into levels of extreme danger depending on the percent of humidity.

As the temperatures creep upwards, local physicians and the Oregon Health Authority want people to be mindful of the symptoms of and preparation needed to guard against heat illnesses.

 

A former physical therapist and his previous employer, Sky Lakes Medical Center, are facing a lawsuit filed by a former patient and alleged victim of sexual assault. 

The victim and her attorney Sean Riddell are seeking a total of $7.5 million in damages from defendants.

Allan Santiago, 55, was also charged criminally last month for third-degree sexual assault. He is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing in June.

Sky Lakes has not yet responded to inquiries from the Herald and News.

When Santiago sent a text message to his then-patient two days after she’d undergone neck surgery in June of 2022, she believed the context of the visit was professional.

According to disciplinary action documents from the Oregon Board of Physical Therapy (OBPT), Santiago had ascertained the victim’s phone number from her private Sky Lakes medical records.

Later that day, Santiago’s inappropriate conduct devolved into illegal, abusive action when the physical therapist visited his patient in her home, the complaint says.

Still recovering from surgery, the victim accepted Santiago’s request to visit, under the assumption that his motivations stemmed from that of a medical care provider.

In the lawsuit complaint filed earlier this week, Riddell said the defendant threatened future sexual violence before leaving. According to OBPT documents, Santiago admitted to all allegations and violations outlined in the board’s final order and stipulated agreement.

The board revoked Santiago’s license in February. Riddell said the complaint has been processed, and Sky Lakes and Santiago are likely to be served within the coming weeks.

 

The city’s geothermal heating system is scheduled to be shut down for the summer as of next week.

Klamath Falls city staff announced on Friday that geothermal division crews will turn off the downtown infrastructure system on Tuesday to allow for inspections and preventive maintenance.

The goal, staff said, is to complete all maintenance and restore the system to full operation by October 1.

While the system is off, staff said residents who use geothermal will have to rely on secondary heating sources.

For more information, call the Water/Geothermal Division at 541-883-5388 or the Public Works Department at 541-883-5363

 

Klamath County Public Works announced upcoming roadwork projects for the week of June 3. Motorists are asked to use caution when traveling through work zones. For more information, contact the Public Works Department by calling 541-883-4696.

Laverne Avenue — Daily lane closures near Stearns Elementary School until Aug. 16.

Eberlein Avenue — Klamath Falls city water main replacement work from Patterson Street to Hilton Drive.

Dead Indian Memorial Drive — Asphalt patching.

Round Lake Road — Asphalt patching.

 

Klamath County School District is offering a full-day summer school for elementary students (K-6) from June 24 to July 19. Space is limited and registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Students will receive literacy, math, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) lessons by KCSD certified teachers. Small group instruction strategies will be a part of the day as well. Field trips will be available along with family engagement opportunities.

The locations will be:

Ferguson Elementary School: For students who attend Stearns, Shasta, Peterson, Henley, Keno, and Ferguson.

The other location is  Merrill Elementary School: For students who attend Malin and Merrill.

More information is available on the KCSD website.

 

A portion of U.S. Highway 97 in Klamath Falls will be fully closed for six weeks beginning Monday, July 8, with detours for a bridge replacement project.

U.S. 97 over Lakeport Boulevard will be fully closed while crews replace the Pelican Bridge as part of the U.S. 97: OR 58-California Border Bridge Retrofits project

The purpose of this project is to improve the seismic resiliency of bridges on U.S. 97 so the highway can continue its role as a primary north-south lifeline route in the aftermath of a major earthquake.

Detours have been established and drivers should expect delays when traveling through the area until late August.  All work is dependent on weather conditions, and schedules are subject to change.

The U.S. 97 northbound detour route will begin at Cross Road, turn left onto OR 39 following OR 39 as it becomes South 6th Street in Klamath Falls, turn right onto Crater Lake Parkway (OR 39) and return to U.S. 97.

 

Klamath County Library Offers Many Summer Programs

As schools start to wind down parents might be planning activities for their kids to keep them busy this summer.

Klamath County Library is offering a great option with a reading program that offers some fun prizes and cool performances.

That includes a magic show, a close encounter with some reptiles, and even a border collie show.

You can learn more about the fun activities they have planned at the Klamath County Library website.

If kids complete the challenge of the reading program they get a t-shirt as well as many other prizes.

 

Around the State of Oregon

Man dead after response to domestic dispute leads to Linn County Sheriff officer-involved shooting

A man died in an officer-involved shooting in rural Linn County Thursday night after deputies responded to a reported domestic incident, according to Linn County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the Oregon State Police, at about 8:16 p.m. on May 30, Linn County Sheriff’s Office deputies heard a report of a domestic disturbance on Speasl Road, north of Sweet Home.

OSP said that as deputies were on the way, a firearm was discharged at the home. Deputies eventually arrived and found the suspect, Gino Anthony Marcoccia, 49, of Lebanon, outside the home with a rifle.

OSP said Marcoccia advanced aggressively towards one of the responding deputies, and refused commands to drop his rifle. According to OSP, as he closed with the deputy, that deputy fired his gun and Marcoccia fell to the ground, dropping the rifle. OSP said LCSO deputies removed the rifle and tried to provide emergency medical aid to Marcoccia, but he was declared deceased at the scene.

The LCSO said the sheriff requested an outside agency investigate the incident according to standard procedure for incidents with deadly force, and Oregon State Police are investigating.

 

Cal Fire Law enforcement arrested one man for arson early in the morning on Friday, May 31st.

Weed City Police initially responded to the call then requested Cal Fire Law Enforcement around 6 a.m.

Victor Blanchard was arrested and sent to the Siskiyou County Jail for two felony charges. Blanchard is also being charged with California Penal Code 451.1(a), which is a felony enhancement.

This means that Blanchard has either committed a felony before, the fire seriously injured emergency personnel, the fire seriously injured another person, the fire caused multiple structures to burn or he used special equipment to speed up the fire or delay ignition. Cal Fire1 says  they were unable to say which Felony enhancement Blanchard is facing.

Cal Fire told media reporters that Weed City Police were already at the scene before they requested Cal Fire Law Enforcement around 6 a.m. Cal Fire also said that the address has not been released yet due to the ongoing investigation.

 

The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office is reporting that one man is dead after drowning in the Illinois River at Forks State Park.

On Saturday, June 1 at 11:53 a.m., a report was made to 911 of a drowning in the river. The Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, Illinois Valley Fire and American Medical Response came onto the scene to find 39-year-old Zeke Grant of Cave Junction had drowned while swimming in a swimming hole at the park.

Witnesses had seen Grant swimming in the water earlier, and then found him submerged about 15 minutes later. There were no witnesses to the drowning.

Next of kin have been notified. The Sheriff’s Office says no further information will be released.

 

A 36-year-old man from Central Point is in jail after holding two children hostage in an Ashland Apartment in the 300 block of Engle Street Thursday night. 

According to a news release from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, they got a call about a “suicidal, potentially armed man” holding children hostage at about 5:53 p.m. last night. The children were 4 years old and 7 years old.

“After a nearly 7-hour standoff with police, the man is in the Jackson County Jail, and the children are safe,” the release said.

After negotiating with the man — Erik Macias — for hours, the SWAT and Crisis Negotiators Team arrived at about 9 p.m., the release said. CNT were able to call him and negotiate for about three hours.

“When negotiations failed, the SWAT team used a (flash bang) outside the apartment along with JCSO K9 announcements, and made entry into the apartment,” the release said. “SWAT arrested the suspect without incidence, and rescued the children at 12:42 a.m. The children are safe and were returned to their mother.”

According to the release, Macias is facing charges of fourth-degree domestic violence assault, domestic violence menacing, coercion and driving while suspended. He also had outstanding felony warrants including fourth-degree domestic violence assault and driving under the influence of intoxicants.

 

Sharp rise in Oregon Pertussis Cases Prompts Public Health Warning

Vaccine-preventable disease known as whooping cough can be deadly for infants

Oregon health officials are concerned about a sharp increase in cases of pertussis – known as whooping cough – across nine counties and are encouraging people to get vaccinated against the disease.

As of May 29, 178 pertussis cases have been reported to Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division. That’s a 770% increase from the 20 cases reported by that date in 2023. However, the 2024 numbers are roughly in line with those seen during similar time frames in the immediate pre-pandemic years, including 2019, when there were 93 cases, and 2018, which saw 248 cases.

Pertussis is cyclical, and before the COVID-19 pandemic – when restrictions that included masking requirements and school closures were in effect – pertussis peaked every three to five years. In 2012, 910 cases were reported, the highest annual count since 1953.

“Our concern is with how quickly we jumped to such a high number of pertussis cases, which tell us that the disease is doing what it does best: spreading fast and taking a greater toll on undervaccinated persons,” said Paul Cieslak, M.D., medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations at the Public Health Division.

Among the nine counties with reported pertussis to date in 2024, Lane County leads with 64 cases, followed by Multnomah (41), Clackamas (33), Deschutes (15), Washington (13), and Jefferson (8). Three other counties have also seen cases. School-aged children and adolescents account for 92 (52%) of cases. Among them, only 51 (55%) are up to date with recommended pertussis vaccinations.

Infants are at highest risk of pertussis-related complications and death, and they have the highest reported incidence rate. Between 2003 and 2023, infants accounted for 12% of cases and 76% of pertussis hospitalizations. And Oregon pertussis deaths have been limited to infants – five have occurred since 2003.

Babies too young to have been fully vaccinated are most likely to be hospitalized with pertussis. Cieslak said that pregnant people can protect their young babies by getting Tdap vaccine – which protects a person against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis – at 27–36 weeks’ gestation. The mothers will make antibodies and pass them to their babies across the placenta, protecting them from birth. Among 16 infant cases reported in Oregon to date in 2024, only one mother had a documented dose of Tdap during the pregnancy.

When an infant or pregnant person is in the household of someone with pertussis, all household members should receive a course of antibiotics effective against Bordetella pertussis – typically, a five-day course of azithromycin.

Vaccination against pertussis is routinely recommended for infants, children, adolescents and adults. Children should receive the DTaP vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis at 2, 4, 6 and 15 to 18 months, and again at age 4 to kindergarten age.

All persons ages 10 and older should receive a single dose of Tdap.

 

An organization formally known as “Parents Demanding School Shooting Safety” has sent a notice to the Ashland School District of their intention for legal action.

A coalition of concerned parents is set to hold a press conference outside the Ashland School District offices, where they will publicly address multiple legal actions against the Ashland School District and the Oregon Department of Education on Wednesday.

The coalition is focusing on three key issues: neglecting recommended safety assessments, preventing school shooting exercises and blocking qualified school shooting safety plans.

“We allege the school board and/or school authorities was reported by multiple anecdotal accounts that the Ashland School District hindered the Ashland Police Department’s ability to carry out shooting exercises on school premises outside of regular school hours,” the coalition wrote. “By denying permission for the Ashland Police Department to practice their response to a school tragedy, the school district has put our students in even greater danger. (The Ashland School District) has failed to comply with the guidelines and recommendations set by the Oregon Department of Education.”

Officials from the Ashland School District did not immediately comment.

 

Campbell Soup Company has announced it will close their Tualatin plant and lay off all 330 workers over the next year.

The company says the facility will close by July 26, 2026, and will happen in three phases.

According to a press release from Campbell, the closure is part of a plan to invest in and transform its supply chain to fuel business growth, improve return on invested capital, and enhance the overall effectiveness and efficiency of its manufacturing and distribution network.

Officials say the aging facility and inefficient nature of the site’s configuration can no longer support the increased consumer demand and continued business growth.

The first phase is set to happen by August 2nd of this year. The company says 120 employees will be laid off on that day.

 

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is looking at how to reduce distractions caused by cell phones in classrooms. 

State Rep. Emerson Levy (D-Central OR) says technology became a necessity to keep kids connected to learning during the pandemic, “But, just as a life preserver is never meant to do what a boat can, distance learning tools were only intended as a temporary emergency measure to keep students’ heads above water.” She believes phones and other personal devices are now over-used in schools, dragging down test scores.

Levy told the House Education Committee Thursday about a study in Norway, “When they took the cell phones out of the classroom, their scores returned back to normal; back to baseline. And we’re seeing more and more studies that show us that.”

Psychologist Dr. Doreen Dodgen-Magee has studied the cost of tech over-use for kids. She told a House committee adults are almost always multi-tasking with technology. using either multiple devices or multiple apps at once. Kids picked up the same habit while distance learning, during the pandemic,.

Amy Formica, with the Bend-based group Well-Wired, says her team has talked about the issue with educators, “As one middle school teacher explains, most of of the major social conflicts, including threats to safety, sexual misconduct, repeated vandalism and intense bullying is from kids’ online social media use on their phones.”

 

It was a messy Memorial Day weekend at Shasta Lake, and some University of Oregon students are partially to blame, according to officials.

The U.S. Forest Service says they always expect large crowds in May, and say every Mother’s Day and Memorial Day Weekend bring lots of college students to Shasta Lake.

Over Memorial Weekend they had about 3,000 young people show up.  And they left behind a mess.

The University of Oregon issued a statement about the students who visited the lake over the weekend. The university thanked the U.S. Forest Service for contacting them, and apologized for the garbage in and around the lake.

“The garbage left behind does not represent the values of our institution. We are sorry for the impact to the island and extra work for the Forest Service,” the statement said, in part.

“We are investigating this event and working with the U.S. Forest Service and our students to remediate the damage and hopefully prevent similar actions in the future. This is not a university sanctioned or sponsored event but is attended by university students, many of whom are members of university-recognized fraternities and sororities.”

 

Oregon has the highest rate of vehicle collisions on the West Coast.

The Oregon Zoo and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have developed a project to identify the deadliest roads. The iNaturalist Roadkills of Oregon project asks you to take photos of animals killed by cars. The picture will be uploaded into an app, so biologists will be able to track areas where the most collisions occur.

Currently, only large animals like deer and elk are tracked. This project will monitor all animals that are killed.

 

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) seeks to fund projects that improve urban and community forests in areas of Oregon that need it the most.

ODF’s Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program received $26.6 million from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) through the United States Forest Service (USFS). Out of this, $10 million will be awarded to the nine Federally Recognized Tribes of Oregon, and $12.5 million will be available for all eligible entities in Oregon. This opportunity promotes equal access to the benefits of trees and aims to get more people involved in tree planting and comprehensive urban forest management.

“This is going to be a game changer for Oregon,” said Scott Altenhoff, ODF’s UCF Program Manager. “This is the largest and most significant urban and community forestry investment in Oregon’s history.”

ODF’s UCF Program officially issued the call for proposals for all eligible entities on May 31. The application portal and resources related to this funding opportunity can be found on the UCF subaward program webpage.

Proposals can be submitted starting, July 1, through Sept. 30 at 11:59 p.m. Project funding will range from $10,000 to $750,000 and can be spent over the next four years. The ODF UCF Program can provide support to organizations with project development, grant writing, and performance reporting. 

Altenhoff said that he hopes these subaward programs will support groups who have been historically less likely to apply for grants. “We are excited to empower communities who typically lack access to federal resources. We want to meet communities and organizations where they are at and provide support for their good ideas and projects.”

Hilary Olivos-Rood, ODF UCF Grant Program Administrator, suggests contacting the ODF UCF Program staff if you are unsure whether your program or project proposal meets the eligibility requirements, would like support with proposal development, or need help navigating SAM.gov registration. “The UCF Program will support communities that receive awards in many ways, and UCF program staff are ready to provide assistance and guidance from start to finish.”

Olivos-Rood encourages all interested entities, grant networks, and community-centric organizations to share this unique funding opportunity. Engaged communication and outreach will be essential for this new program’s success.

SALEM, Oregon — Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) has formed a committee to begin the process of amending the Oregon Administrative Rules guiding general park rules within state parks. 

A Rule Advisory Committee (RAC) will meet virtually three times this summer to review and discuss proposed changes to administrative rules. The RAC will review rules to consider any barriers to park use for historically underrepresented groups and make administrative changes to make rules clearer, easier to enforce and more flexible when possible.

These meetings are scheduled for the following dates and times:

Meeting 1 – Monday, July 8, 9 a.m.-11 a.m. 

Meeting 2 – Thursday, Aug. 8, 9 a.m.-11 a.m.

Meeting 3 – Thursday, Aug 29, 10 a.m.-noon

The meeting can be viewed online at  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkqL6iVPBrfCTO27cNmCTwg 

After the committee review, the rule will open for public comment. Details will be posted on the Proposed OPRD Rules web page.

Division 10, the Park Area Rules are intended to guide public use of park properties. This division includes rules around use of motor vehicles, bicycles, boats and animals in parks, as well as, day use and overnight campground use. Proposed changes will address management issues staff face as visitation grows, make rules and penalties clearer and provide more flexibility for managers to provide public services, when possible

OPRD appointed members to the advisory committee. Members include mental health practitioners, representatives from the disability’s community, equestrian community, and diversity and environmental conservationists.

Individuals who require special accommodations to view the meetings should contact Helena Kesch at least three days in advance of the meeting at helena.kesch@oprd.oregon.gov or 503-881-4637.

 

Oregon State University supporters will be able to get a new license plate from the DMV.

It features OSU’s orange beaver logo in the foreground, over a black and white graphic showing the rings of a cut tree. The words “The Beaver State” are at the bottom.

They need to sell 3,000 $40 vouchers to get the plate into production. Of that fee, $35 will go toward athletics and strategic marketing. Once that plate goes into production, DMV will stop making the current OSU plate which is the standard tree license plate with the orange beaver logo.

 

Dozens of Oregon wineries and vineyards have sued PacifiCorp over the deadly 2020 wildfires that ravaged the state, alleging that the utility’s decision to not turn off power during the Labor Day windstorm contributed to blazes whose smoke and soot damaged their grapes and reduced their harvest and sales.

In the latest lawsuit to hit the utility over the fires, some 30 wineries and vineyards in the Willamette Valley accused PacifiCorp of negligence and requested over $100 million in damages. The suit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court last week.

In an emailed statement, PacifiCorp said it is “committed to settling all reasonable claims for damages as provided under Oregon law.”

“The safety of our customers and communities remains our top priority,” the statement said.

The wine producers named as plaintiffs in the suit are located in the Willamette Valley, home to two-thirds of Oregon wineries and vineyards and the oldest wine region in the state, according to the Oregon Wine Board.

In their complaint, the wine producers say the fires “produced harmful smoke particles that landed on and infused themselves into the grapes.”

Vineyards couldn’t sell their grapes to winemakers, and wineries have been unable to sell their wines, resulting in lost revenue and damaged reputations, the complaint says.

 

At least 20 people have been sickened after eating mussels they gathered at Short Beach near Oceanside, Hug Point, and near Seaside.

Oregon Fish and Wildlife has shut down mussel harvesting from Washington to Seal Rock State Park until further notice, because high levels of a naturally occurring biotoxin has been found in mussels. The Oregon Health Authority says anyone with mussels harvested from that area should throw them away.

Anyone experiencing symptoms after eating mussels that include numbness of the mouth and lips, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and in severe cases shortness of breath or irregular heartbeat should immediately get medical help.

 

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