Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 6/1 – Crater Lake National Park Opens the North Entrance Road and West Rim Drive, Medford Homicide Investigation

The latest news stories of interest in the Rogue Valley and around the state of Oregon from the digital home of Southern Oregon, Wynne Broadcasting’s RogueValleyMagazine.com.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Heat Advisory in effect from June 1, 11:00 AM PDT until June 2, 12:00 AM PDT

Today– Sunny and hot, with a high near 105. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.

Wednesday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 99. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.

Thursday– Sunny, with a high near 94. Light west northwest wind becoming northwest 8 to 13 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph.

Friday– Sunny, with a high near 90.

Saturday– Sunny, with a high near 85.

COVID UPDATES

Oregon reports 220 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 3 new deaths

There are three new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,671. The Oregon Health Authority reported 220 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 201,475.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Clackamas (35), Clatsop (1), Columbia (3), Coos (1), Curry (1), Deschutes (17), Douglas (15), Jackson (17), Josephine (6), Klamath (6), Lane (21), Lincoln (3), Linn (9), Marion (31), Morrow (2), Multnomah (39), Polk (5), Tillamook (1), Union (1), Wasco (4), Yamhill (2).

Oregon’s 2,670th COVID-19 death is a 93-year-old man from Jackson County who tested positive on May 13 and died on May 29 at Providence Medford Medical Center. He had underlying conditions.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 10,198 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 3,943 doses were administered on May 30 and 6,255 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on May 30.

The seven-day running average is now 24,730 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered a total of 2,210,833 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,601,554 first and second doses of Moderna and 143,157 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

As of today, 1,850,566 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 2,240,922 people who have had at least one dose.

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).

These data are preliminary and subject to change. OHA’s dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data, and Oregon’s dashboard has been updated today.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 249, which is one fewer than yesterday. There are 61 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is one more than yesterday.

The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 1,819, which is an 8.8% 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 274.

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.

The state of Oregon is nearing four million doses administered for Covid-19 vaccines, according to data collected by the Oregon Health Authority. On Sunday OHA reported that 2,203,469 doses of Pfizer, 1,599,347 first and second doses of Moderna and 142,531 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the state. That totals up to a grand total of 3,945,347 doses administered across the state since vaccinations began. However, new daily vaccination rates continue to decrease across the state.

According to OHA on Sunday, 17,982 doses of new Covid-19 vaccine doses were added to the state’s immunization
registry. Of this total, only a little more than 8,100 doses were administered on Saturday while the rest were from previous days. The seven-day running average also fell to 19,942 doses, that’s according to the Covid-19 vaccine tracker on the Oregon Health Authority’s website. 

LOCAL HEADLINES:

Crater Lake National Park Opens the North Entrance Road and West Rim Drive

Operating Hours & Seasons - Crater Lake National Park (U.S. National Park  Service)

Warm temperatures and a low snowpack allowed Crater Lake National Park to open the North Entrance Road and West Rim Drive for the Memorial Day Weekend.

Opening the roads means easier access to the park for people traveling north towards Bend or the Rogue Valley or south towards Klamath Falls and typically results in much higher visitation.

The road openings took effect Friday Superintendent Craig Ackerman said visitors can now access “spectacular views of the lake from West Rim Drive.”

Some snow still remains throughout the park, including many locations around and along Rim Drive. All trails are still covered with snow and debris. The Cleetwood, Watchman and upper half of Garfield Peak trails are all officially closed because of hazardous conditions. Also closed is the path to the Sinnott Memorial Overlook.

Medford Homicide Investigation

Fisher mugshot
Fisher mugsho

On May 29th, 2021, at about 1957 hours, Medford Police Officers were dispatched to a report of a person down in the parking lot of Weldon’s Cleaners, 644 Crater Lake Avenue. An officer arrived on scene and found a male suffering from a gunshot wound to the body. He was transported by ambulance to hospital where he died shortly thereafter. Victim: Houze, Robert Douglas 45 years old.

Detectives assumed the investigation, and determined the victim had been inside the business when he got into a verbal dispute with another male. The other male left and came back minutes later in a black SUV. The victim approached the SUV in the parking lot, and victim was shot from the male seated in the vehicle. The vehicle then fled the scene.

Officers later located the vehicle in the 500 block of Mary Street, unoccupied. The vehicle was then linked to a nearby residence, which officers surrounded. The suspect was identified as Lorenzo Fisher, 45 years old. Detectives obtained a search warrant for the residence, and for officer safety reasons, called his cell phone prior to making entry.

The suspect indicated he was not home, and agreed to turn himself in to police in Josephine County. At 2:26 a.m., Fisher was taken into custody by law enforcement in Josephine County and turned over to Medford Police Detectives. He was interviewed and lodged in jail. He was lodged for Murder, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and Unlawful Use of a Weapon.

A search of the suspect’s residence yielded a handgun, believed to be used in the homicide. The investigation revealed the suspect and victim did not know each other prior to the dispute. — Medford Police Dept

Southern Oregon Fires Updates:

Emergency alerts on cell phones and radio and TV stations were activated over the weekend in Klamath County. Residents of the Sycan area were told to “be ready”, also known as level 2, in the evacuation tier. The Sycan River Fire continues to burn on the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Klamath County approximately 20 miles north of
Beatty. The fire is estimated to be approximately 650 acres with no containment.

Approximately 5 acres of private wildlands are in the fire area. The fire was reported Sunday afternoon around 2:30. The cause is under investigation. Firefighters made progress great progress on the fire overnight, with an estimated 80 percent of the fire lined and successful burnout operations took place. Firefighters are focusing on the
southern side of the fire today to strengthen protection for nearby private lands.

Resources on the fire include engines, fire crews, dozers, water tenders, and aerial resources from federal and state agencies and contractors. The South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP) Type 3 Team took over the management of the Sycan River Fire this morning. A Level 2 (get set) evacuation order remains in place for the Sycan Forest Estates per the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office. This means residents need to be prepared to leave immediately if needed.

Meanwhile, in the Rogue Valley… East Antelope Road Fire Near Eagle Point

The fire burning on East Antelope Rd in Eagle Point with Level 2 evacuations started for all addresses South of the roadblock at 8465 E Antelope Rd. Eagle Point, OR 97524.

Initial notifications to residences were made by Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) patrol units and Oregon State Police (OSP). Approximately 14 JCSO Search and Rescue volunteers are now assisting with roadblocks and evacuation notifications.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office at noon on Sunday lowered from Level 2 to Level 1 (Be Ready) the evacuation alert on the East Antelope Road Fire near White City, which also prompted roadblocks. The Oregon Department of Forestry reported it burned nearly 50 acres before it was fully lined, and mop-up was underway.

Oregon Department of Forestry information on the fire fighting efforts is available at this link: https://www.facebook.com/ODFSouthwest/

The Jackson County Emergency Management information is available at: https://jacksoncountyor.org/emergency — Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office 

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

Staffing Shortages at the Oregon State Hospital

Significant staffing shortages at the Oregon State Hospital prompted health officials to call for the National Guard’s assistance at the psychiatric facility this week. The state’s health authority, which oversees the hospital, requested 30 nurses from the National Guard.

Oregon Health Authority : About Us : Oregon State Hospital : State of Oregon

The governor’s office has not reached a decision on whether to fill that request. Officials say the hospital, which employs 1,800 people and has more than 600 patients, is full and temporarily stopped new admissions.

The hospital treats some of the state’s most vulnerable: those found guilty except for insanity, civil commitment patients, and those ordered to the hospital by a judge on aid and assist orders.

The staffing crisis at the hospital has persisted on and off throughout the pandemic. But the number of staff out on coronavirus-related leave has increased dramatically since February.

Man Dies After Falling 500 Feet Off  Mount Hood

Sadly a climber hiking Mount Hood fell to his death Sunday, according to Oregon officials.

a group of people standing on top of a snow covered mountain: Rescuers found the victim dead on Mount Hood Sunday afternoon.
Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office

The man, identified only as a 63-year-old, was climbing with his adult son when he fell approximately 500 feet from the Old Chute route, at approximately 10,500-foot elevation, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Portland Mountain Rescue, the Hood River Crag Rats and American Medical Response’s Reach and Treat Team all began searching for the victim, but struggled to navigate a difficult terrain and hazards from hydrogen sulfide and other toxic gases.

Rescuers found the victim dead on Mount Hood Sunday afternoon. (Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office/)

Around 10:30 a.m. Sunday, rescuers made visual contact with the victim, who was already dead when they reached him. Around 4:30 p.m., they were able to load the victim into a ”skiable rescue litter basket” and carry him down the mountain.

“Warm weather at this time of year can create very unstable conditions on this area of Mt. Hood, including falling ice,” the sheriff’s office warned in a statement. “The addition of many climbers of varying skill levels can add additional hazards.”

Recent Report Shows Water Infrastructure Across Oregon Is Becoming Too Expensive For Local Governments To Afford

The League of Oregon Cities partnered with Portland State University to survey water supply and quality throughout the state.

They found decades of backlogged water infrastructure needs, and cities across Oregon are struggling to pay the price. The survey shows water infrastructures across Oregon need billions of dollars of improvement.

Tracy Rutten is with the League of Oregon Cities. She says state and federal governments should step in and offer funding help. “There are a lot of communities that are already having citizens that are feeling the financial stress of those increased water and sewer rates,” said Hall. “So I think they’re really finding themselves in a tough position of, do you continue to increase those rates to try and finance this really important and necessary infrastructure locally?”

Rutten said smaller and lower-income communities are hit especially hard by rising utility costs. She thinks federal and state governments should help bridge the gap between what local utilities can afford and what low-income residents can pay.

“A lot of our cities have established their own water rate or sewer rate assistance programs,” said Rutten. “But for a community that is lower income or has a really small population, you’re kind of taking out of the existing water rates only to put back as assistance for low income. So it doesn’t always make sense to do it locally.”

The League of Oregon Cities report assumes that the need for affordable drinking water will increase in coming years, particularly in areas prone to earthquakes. The survey identified approximately $23 billion in statewide water infrastructure costs over the next 20 years — which would be a nearly impossible bill for local governments to cover alone.

Teen Pinned Beneath Vehicle Succumbs to Injuries

At approximately 3:30 a.m. this morning, May 31, 2021, officers responded to the call of a person pinned beneath a vehicle in the south parking lot of Riverfront Park. On arrival, officers found a 15-year-old young man trapped underneath a car.

Four teenage friends were in the vehicle driving through the parking lot. When the 16-year-old female driver stopped the vehicle, the young man exited and climbed onto the hood. The driver proceeded forward when the young man slid off the hood, ultimately becoming pinned under the vehicle.

Another young woman in the group called 9-1-1 immediately, while the fourth juvenile attempted to get assistance.

Salem Fire Department personnel arrived to extricate the injured teen after which paramedics immediately transported him to Salem Health where he died from his injuries.

Due to the age of victim and those involved in the tragic incident, names are not being released. The Salem Police Traffic Team is handling the investigation and no further information will be released at this time. — Salem Police Dept

Record Heat Wave in Western USA

A heatwave is pounding the West where scorching temperatures will reach Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona on Tuesday.

PHOTO: A map shows record heat expected in California and the western U.S., June 1, 2021. (ABC News)
PHOTO: A map shows record heat expected in California and the western U.S., June 1, 2021. (ABC News)

Sacramento smashed a record high on Memorial Day, reaching 104 degrees.

Redding, also in Northern California, reached a sweltering 109 degrees on Monday, breaking the record for the entire month of May.

On Tuesday temperatures are expected to climb to 107 degrees in Bakersfield, California; 105 degrees in Las Vegas; 104 degrees in Medford, Oregon; and 104 degrees in Phoenix.

The heatwave comes as fire danger is especially high in southern Oregon, where a red flag warning has been issued. West anticipating dangerous fire season due to severe drought conditions.

California’s snow has been melting ahead of schedule, which means vegetation will be unusually dry as the Golden State approaches wildfire season later this summer and early fall.

Meanwhile, four states from Texas to Missouri are under flood alerts Tuesday morning. More flooding is forecast Tuesday as this storm system slowly moves through the area.

By Wednesday, the severe weather and heavy rain will move into the Ohio River Valley and Tennessee River Valley with damaging winds and flash flooding possible.

By Thursday, the storm will reach the Northeast with severe weather and damaging winds expected from Virginia to New Jersey.

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