The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Rogue Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s RogueValleyMagazine.com
Thursday, May 27, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today– Partly sunny, with a high near 73. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.
Friday– Sunny, with a high near 83. Calm wind becoming north around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Saturday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 86. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Sunday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 92.
Monday, Memorial Day– Sunny and hot, with a high near 96.
Oregon reports 399 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 11 new deaths
There are 11 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,639. The Oregon Health Authority reported 399 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 199,784.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (11), Clackamas (60), Columbia (4), Coos (1), Crook (3), Curry (2), Deschutes (38), Douglas (20), Harney (4), Hood River (2), Jackson (29), Jefferson (4), Josephine (13), Klamath (9), Lake (1), Lane (24), Lincoln (1), Linn (18), Malheur (4), Marion (43), Morrow (2), Multnomah (58), Polk (2), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (6), Wasco (3), Washington (28) and Yamhill (5).
Risk level changes announced
Governor Kate Brown yesterday announced several updates to the County Risk Levels. From Thursday, May 27through Thursday, June 3, there will be 18 Oregon Counties in Lower Risk, three in Moderate Risk and 15 in High Risk.
Among the counties moved this week was Multnomah County, which moved from High to Lower Risk after vaccinating 65% of its residents ages 16 and older and submitting a vaccine equity plan.
Other counties that moved were:
- Baker County from High Risk to Lower Risk
- Clatsop County from High Risk to Moderate Risk
- Curry County from Moderate Risk to Lower Risk
- Tillamook County from Moderate Risk to Lower Risk
Earlier this month, Governor Brown announced that counties that vaccinate at least 65% of residents 18 and older with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and that submit an equity plan to close gaps in their vaccination efforts will be eligible to move into the Lower Risk category.
In addition, Oregon continues to make progress toward the statewide goal to have 70 percent of adults (age 18 and above) vaccinated, which would allow the state to lift the current risk metrics. The 70 percent target is based on CDC vaccination data, which is more comprehensive in scope, and captures vaccine doses administered by federal entities – such as the Veterans Administration– that are not reflected on OHA’s vaccine dashboard.
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 27,555 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 14,972 doses were administered on May 25 and 12,583 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on May 25.
The seven-day running average is now 29,993 doses per day.
As of today, 1,771,880 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 2,194,351 people who have had at least one dose of a vaccine.
Oregon has now administered 2,138,051 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,561,198 first and second doses of Moderna and 136,795 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.
Cumulative daily totals can take several days to finalize because providers have 72 hours to report doses administered and technical challenges have caused many providers to lag in their reporting. OHA has been providing technical support to vaccination sites to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).
To date, 2,619,045 doses of Pfizer, 2,090,720 doses of Moderna and 286,600 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to sites across Oregon.
These data are preliminary and subject to change. OHA’s dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data, and Oregon’s dashboard has been updated today.
The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 273, which is one fewer than yesterday. There are 77 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is two more than yesterday.
The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 1,905, which is an 18.5% decrease from the previous seven days. The peak daily number of beds occupied by COVID-19 positive patients in the most recent seven days is 301.
The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity. More information about hospital capacity can be found here.
Weekly COVID-19 cases, deaths, hospitalizations decline
The Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 Weekly Report, released today, shows decreases in daily cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the previous week.
OHA reported 3,090 new daily cases of COVID-19 during the week of Monday, May 17, through Sunday, May 23. That represents a 25% decrease from the previous week.
New COVID-19 related hospitalizations fell to 224, down from 265 last week and the lowest figure in five weeks.
Reported COVID-19 related deaths fell to 34, down from 57 last week.
There were 107,233 tests for COVID-19 for the week of May 16 through May 22 — a 4% increase from last week. The percentage of positive tests fell from 6.4% to 5.4%.
People 70 years of age and older have accounted for 38% of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and 75% of COVID-19 related deaths.
Today’s COVID-19 Weekly Outbreak Report shows 32 active COVID-19 outbreaks in senior living communities and congregate living settings, with three or more confirmed cases and one or more COVID-19 related deaths.
Property Owners Have Until June 7 To Submit The Necessary Form For State Debris Clean-Up Following The Almeda Fire
State managed clean-up crews are in the final stretch of debris removal after the Almeda Fire, and Jackson County officials are putting out one last call for property owners to turn in the required form so that crews can work on their property before the effort ends.
Oregon’s Debris Management Task Force can provide no-cost debris removal for all homes and properties in the eight counties impacted by the September 2020 wildfires, but property owners must sign a Right of Entry (ROE) form to allow crews onto their property. The deadline to submit an ROE form is June 7 for the Almeda Fire.
Crews will remove ash and structural debris, hazard trees, concrete foundations, and burned vehicles at no charge to the homeowner. When the clean-up is finished, the property will be cleared for rebuilding.
“We had initially identified a 6-18-month timeline for completion of cleanup in the Almeda Fire area but through our partnerships between the state, Jackson County, and the cities of Talent and Phoenix, we have made significant strides in approaching completion closer to the 6-month mark,” said John Vial, director of the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center. “Now we want to make sure that any property owner who wants to participate in the no cost program does not miss their chance.”
So far, crews with the Task Force have finished clean-up of more than 1,400 home sites in the Almeda Fire area, representing roughly 80 percent of all properties currently enrolled.
To submit your Right of Entry form and for more information:
- Visit wildfire.oregon.gov/cleanup or
- Call the wildfire debris cleanup hotline: 503-934-1700.
Governor Brown Declares May 22 to be Crater Lake National Park Day
A bill introduced by two Republican state lawmakers passed and has now been signed into law by Governor Kate Brown, declaring May 22 to be Crater Lake National Park Day.
HB 3162 was introduced by Representative E. Werner Reschke of Klamath Falls, along with his colleague Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson of Prineville.
The bill aims to give Crater Lake National Park its own official day, 119 years after the territory was set aside by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902. Crater Lake is now located in Klamath County, but it was formed by an eruption on Mount Mazama 7,700 years ago.
Reschke’s office said that local Native Americans witnessed the collapse of Mount Mazama and kept the event alive in their legends. Today Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. and ninth deepest in the world. Some 750,000 people from around the world visit Crater Lake National Park every year.
Police Ask For Help Finding Missing Jacksonville Man
The Jacksonville Police Department has asked for help from the public in locating a local man who was reported missing this week.
51-year-old Eric Wroblewski lives at 815 Applegate Street in Jacksonville, and police say that he was last seen in that area on Tuesday, April 27. He was reported missing this Tuesday.
Wroblewski is described as being 5-foot, 8-inches tall, about 155 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He is known to frequent both the Medford and Jacksonville areas.
Anyone with information about Wroblewski’s location is asked to contact the Jacksonville Police Department at 541-899-7100, call dispatch at 541-776-7206, or call 911.
Selma Man Sentenced To More Than 6 Years In Prison For Deadly DUII Crash
A Selma man has been sentenced to more than six years in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to charges arising from a deadly crash on Redwood Highway in August of 2019.
David Leon Ramsh pleaded guilty to Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Assault in the Third Degree – DUII, and Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants.
Ramsh was sentenced to 75 months concurrently by judge Brandon Thueson at the Josephine County Circuit Court.
Ramsh was driving on U.S. 199 in Josephine County on August 4, 2019, when he crossed the lane divider into oncoming traffic, killing 54-year-old Guy Fetty of Gold Hill, and injuring Fetty’s wife Anna. According to court records, Ramsh was under the influence of methamphetamine when he was driving.
Ramsh was airlifted to the hospital. Two passengers in his car, 31-year-old Amber Gaylord of Glendale, and 29-year-old Kali Ramsh of Grants Pass, were taken by ground ambulance.
“Your actions took away our rock. You took away Guy’s chance to watch his family grow. You took away the best part of our lives, our time, and you almost killed me as well. I saw it . . . it’s a miracle I survived,” said Anna Fetty during the sentencing hearing. Guy Fetty left behind his wife, 13 children and 10 grandchildren.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Memorial Day Weekend Comes with Higher Fire Risk
The first holiday getaway of the season is finally here as families and friends look forward to Oregon’s great outdoors. AAA reports that about 485,000 Oregonians plan to travel over the Memorial Day weekend, a big increase from 2020.
Also up will be fire danger. As people head to their favorite camping spot this weekend, fire professionals are spreading a word of caution with temperatures expected to be near 90 degrees.
“It’s time for everyone to put their Smokey hat on,” said Oregon Department of Forestry’s Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. “The continued drought and unseasonably warm weather we’re facing could lead to unintentional wildfires.”
Fields says that ODF firefighters have already been busy this year with 267 fires burning over 1,900 acres, more than twice the 10-year average for number of fires. Fire crews on patrol have also extinguished about a dozen abandoned campfires.
“The last thing anyone wants is to have their holiday weekend ruined by not putting out their campfire.” Fields reiterated that people should follow well-known fire prevention tips listed below.
- Know before you go: Before going camping, always contact the forest district, agency or landowner first to learn if there are any current campfire restrictions where you plan to recreate.
- Have water and fire tools on site: Bring a shovel and a bucket of water to extinguish any escaped embers. When you are ready to leave, drown all embers with water, stir the coals, and drown again. Repeat these steps until the fire is DEAD out. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.
- Select the right spot: Where campfires are allowed, choose a site with an existing ring. Fire pits in established campgrounds are the best spots. If you choose to build a campfire, avoid building it near your tent, structures, vehicles, shrubs or trees, and be aware of low-hanging branches overhead. Clear the site down to bare soil, at least five feet on all sides, and circle it with rocks. Store unused firewood a good distance from the fire.
- Keep your campfire small: A campfire is less likely to escape control if it is kept small. A large fire may cast hot embers long distances. Add firewood in small amounts as existing material is consumed.
- Attend your campfire at all times: A campfire left unattended for even a few minutes can grow into a costly, damaging wildfire. Stay with your campfire from start to finish until it is dead out, as required by law. That ensures any escaped sparks or embers can be extinguished quickly.
- Consider alternatives to a campfire this summer: Portable camp stoves are a safer option to campfires at any time of year. Areas that prohibit campfires outside maintained campgrounds with established fire pits often allow camp stoves.
- Never use gasoline or other accelerants: Don’t use flammable or combustible liquids, such as gasoline, propane or lighter fluid, to start or increase your campfire.
- Burn ONLY local wood: Hauling your firewood to a remote campground can potentially transport invasive species. Instead, buy it where you’ll burn it or gather wood on site where permitted. State regulations prohibit the open burning of any other material that creates dense, toxic smoke or noxious odors.
Escaped campfires can be costly. State and federal law require the proper clearing, building, attending and extinguishing of open fires at any time of year. While citations and fines may apply, the biggest potential cost for an escaped campfire is firefighting costs. These can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars or more.
Klamath Water Crisis Ongoing
Twenty years after a shut-off of most irrigation water in the parched Klamath Project brought the competing needs of farmers, fishermen and tribes to a head, a new drought — and a fresh federally ordered water shut-off — is triggering a sense of déjà vu.
Now, two Klamath Project irrigators with ties to radical activist Ammon Bundy have purchased private property located next to the headgates of the “A” Canal in Klamath Falls, which would normally deliver water to area farms. And along with local members of the Oregon chapter of People’s Rights, a group founded by Bundy in 2020, they’ve set up an information center and gathering place to talk to the public about the brewing water crisis in the Klamath Basin.
The headgates are essentially like a massive spigot that controls the flow of water stored in Upper Klamath Lake and releases it to farms and ranches via a network of canal ditches throughout the Klamath Reclamation Project. In
2001, after most irrigation water was cut off to protect endangered fish, thousands of demonstrators formed a symbolic “bucket brigade,” passing buckets of water from Lake Ewauna and emptying them into the “A” Canal that runs through Klamath Falls. Another gathering is planned at the tent today, Thursday, May 27.
A two-count indictment was unsealed today charging a former Klamath Falls, Oregon police officer for stealing methamphetamine and fentanyl from an evidence room.
Thomas Dwayne Reif, 27, has been charged with two counts of possessing a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge. According to the indictment, on or about November 27, 2020, Reif is alleged to have entered the Klamath Falls Police Department’s temporary evidence room using an unauthorized key and removed an evidence item containing methamphetamine and fentanyl.
Reif briefly left the evidence room before returning the evidence item to the evidence locker and leaving the facility. Shortly thereafter, Reif overdosed while operating his police car. The car jumped a median, travelled into oncoming traffic, and caused a multiple-vehicle accident. Reif was rushed to the hospital and successfully revived by medical personnel.
Toxicology reports showed that Reif was under the influence of substances including methamphetamine and fentanyl. Investigators searched the personal locker assigned to Reif at the Klamath Falls Police Department. Inside the locker, investigators found that Reif had concealed an evidence bag containing methamphetamine.
Reif made his initial appearance in federal court today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. He was arraigned, pleaded not guilty, and released pending a jury trial scheduled to begin on August 3, 2021. If convicted, Reif faces a maximum sentence of four years in federal prison, one year of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.
Ty Burrell will be UO 2021 Keynote Speaker
The University of Oregon has revealed award-winning actor and former Duck Ty Burrell to be its 2021 keynote speaker at the June 12 commencement ceremony. Burrell is most famous for his 11-season run as Phil Dunphy on ABC’s hit show, “Modern Family”.
The Grants Pass native grew up rooting for the Ducks with his family before attending the university in the late 1980s, studying theater. In an alumni newsletter in 2015, he credited the university for being the place he discovered he wanted to be an actor.
Burrell and his wife continue to support the UO through the Ty and Holly Burrell Scholarship in the Department of Theatre Arts. He has also been spotted many times attending football games at Autzen Stadium.
Oregon to Accept Ballots Postmarked by Election Day
Oregon, the first state to conduct all elections by mail, would join the ranks of states accepting ballots postmarked by election day under a bill that has cleared the Oregon House. House Bill 3291 was approved on a 39-21 vote Monday, May 24, and goes to the Senate. The bill would align Oregon with 17 states — including Washington,
California and Nevada — that allow ballots to count if they are postmarked by election day. Four other states count ballots if they are postmarked the day before the election.
Oregon is among the states that have required ballots to be in the hands of county elections offices by the close of election day. Under the bill, ballots would have to arrive in county elections offices no later than seven days after the election if they are to count. States that allow election-day postmarks range widely from three to 20 days.
Legislature Approves Bill That Will Ban Online Sales Of Nicotine E-Cigarettes and Vaping Products
Both chambers of the Oregon legislature have now approved a bill that will ban the online sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and vaping products, sending it to Governor Kate Brown for her signature.
House Bill 2261 bans all online sales of tobacco or nicotine-related vaping products. It does not apply to marijuana vape devices. Representatives in the House passed the bill with broad bipartisan support in April.
Supporters of the bill say that it will cut down on the availability of e-cigarettes for Oregon’s youth, “closing loopholes” that made it easier for underage Oregonians to buy the products. Oregon banned the online sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in 2017, and the new bill adds vaping products to the list.