Rogue Valley News, Friday 6/25 – Greenway Fire Fully Lined After Intense Efforts; Record-High Heat Wave Raising Concerns about Wildfires and People’s Health For the Weekend

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

Friday, June 25, 2021

Rogue Valley WeatherExcessive Heat Warning in effect from June 26, 11:00 AM PDT until June 29, 11:00 PM

Record-Breaking Heat Possible This Weekend and Early Next Week

Dangerously hot conditions are possible with daily record high temperatures expected.

Today– Sunny and hot, with a high near 101, with calm winds.

Saturday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 107. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Sunday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 113. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Monday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 108.
Tuesday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 102.

COVID UPDATES

Oregon reports 232 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 1 new death

There is one new COVID-19 related death in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,760. The Oregon Health Authority reported 232 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 207,558.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (2), Clackamas (12), Clatsop (3), Columbia (5), Coos (2), Crook (1), Curry (7), Deschutes (14), Douglas (10), Harney (1), Hood River (1), Jackson (16), Jefferson (3), Josephine (15), Klamath (6), Lake (1), Lane (12), Lincoln (3), Linn (18), Marion (25), Morrow (1), Multnomah (29), Polk (7), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (12), Wasco (1), Washington (19) and Yamhill (4).

Josephine County Public Health updates list of COVID-19-related deaths

Following an internal review, Josephine County Public Health staff discovered that a deceased COVID-19 patient previously identified as a Josephine County individual was a resident of another Oregon county.

A 63-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19 May 23 and died June 10 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford. While considered a Josephine County individual at the time, JCPH records have been updated to indicate that the patient was not a resident of Josephine County.

Josephine County now has an updated total of 76 COVID-19-related deaths. Of those patients, 75 died from complications relating to COVID-19 infections.

OHA updates vaccine target ZIP code tableau

Last week the Oregon Health Authority released an update to the vaccination metrics dashboard showing the number of people remaining to be vaccinated to reach 65% vaccinated by demographics and county.

Today a ZIP code tab on the vaccination metrics dashboard was added.  Tracking people remaining to be vaccinated by ZIP code will help target where vaccination efforts can reach the most people and promote access across the state. The new dashboard shows the top 40 ZIP codes with the most people remaining and allows for sorting by individual counties.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 11,168 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 4,978 doses were administered on June 23 and 6,190 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on June 23.

The seven-day running average is now 9,620 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered 2,454,959 first and second doses of Pfizer,1,715,306 first and second doses of Moderna and 164,742 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

As of today, 2,365,580 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,122,292 have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.

The number of adult Oregonians needing vaccinations to reach the 70% threshold is 35,290. A daily countdown can be found on the OHA vaccinations page.  

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, 2,946,375 doses of Pfizer, 2,225,020 doses of Moderna and 299,100 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.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 162, which is seven more than yesterday. There are 32 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is two fewer than yesterday.

The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 1,050, 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 162.

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.

Cases of COVID-19 are trending downward in Oregon following a slight increase after Memorial Day weekend.  

Over the last week, new cases declined nearly five-percent.  The number of hospitalizations increased slightly, but deaths declined.  The number of positive tests declined to three-point-three-percent. 

Oregon is on track to reach a COVID-19 vaccination rate of 70-percent by June 30th, or maybe a little sooner.  The
Oregon Health Authority says 83-hundred new doses of vaccinations were recorded yesterday.  The state is now 38-thousand-143 vaccinations away from reaching 70-percent.  When Oregon reaches the 70-percent mark, most of the COVID-19 restrictions will be dropped.

LOCAL HEADLINES:

Record-High Heat Wave Raising Concerns about Wildfires and People’s Health

Record-high heat is forecast in the normally mild-weathered Pacific Northwest this weekend, raising concerns about wildfires and the health of people in a region where many people don’t have air conditioning.

City officials in Seattle were opening libraries as cooling centers and crews were being sent to places in Oregon where the risk of wildfires was high.

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch and predicted “dangerously hot” conditions Friday through at least Tuesday. The heat wave will cover portions of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, with temperatures rising to 114 degrees Fahrenheit (45 Celsius) in places, the agency said.

In Oregon, forecasters predicted record-setting weekend temperatures between 102 and 106 degrees
Fahrenheit (38 and 41 degrees Celsius) — and possibly higher — in the Portland metropolitan area.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in Portland was 107 degrees Fahrenheit (41 Celsius), in 1965 and 1981. Cooling centers will open in most cities on Friday.

According to Weather.gov :: “A record-breaking and dangerous heat wave is coming to the West,” and will affect most of Oregon later this week and through this weekend. A strong high pressure over the Pacific Northwest will bring unseasonably hot weather beginning Friday and lasting through next Monday. Temperatures will be 20 to 30 degrees above normal for this time of year, and will remain hot overnight, which will limit relief from the heat and contribute to increased risk of heat related illness.”

Temperatures are forecast to climb to record levels, but you can stay cool, use less energy and save money with these tips from Pacific Power

With triple-digit temperatures forecast throughout the Northwest over the next several days, Pacific Power wants to remind customers how to beat the heat, use less energy and save money.

Be air conditioner smart

  • Set your thermostat at 78 degrees. Cooling your house below that temperature can increase your air conditioning bill as much as 8 percent.
  • Don’t turn off the air conditioner when you’re gone; instead set it at 85 degrees. That setting allows your air conditioner to use less electricity to cool the house than if the air conditioning has been off all day.
  • Use a smart or programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature around your schedule. Set it to start bringing your home’s temperature from 85 degrees down to 78 degrees no more than 30 minutes before you get home.

Don’tlet the sun shine in

  • On warm days, close blinds and drapes, especially in south-facing windows which allow in the most heat.

Open windows and circulate cool air

  • Open windows in evening and early morning to let in cool air.
  • Use fans to bring in and circulate cool air. Ceiling and window fans use much less electricity than air conditioning. Running an air conditioner in fan-only mode can also be effective as outside temperatures drop.

Reduce the heat inside

  • Use heat-producing appliances like ovens, dishwashers and dryers in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler.
  • Use a microwave, slow cooker or toaster oven. A toaster oven uses one-third to one-half as much energy as a regular oven and releases less heat into the home.
  • Turn off heat-generating devices when not in use, including lamps, televisions and computers.

Be safe. With sweltering temperatures, you need to protect yourself. Drink plenty of water and stay out of the sun as much as possible. Also check on any neighbors who may have limited contact with others and may need a fan or other assistance.

Heat waves are something Pacific Power experiences each year. From a power supply perspective, we do not anticipate heat-related service interruptions during this current heat wave. In addition to regular maintenance and equipment upgrades, Pacific Power, as part of PacifiCorp, can access a diverse mix of available energy resources – solar, wind, hydro and thermal – which is key to fulfilling our promise of reliability and stability.

The company owns and operates over 16,500 miles of high-voltage transmission across 10 states. That reach is essential in accessing available energy and delivering it to our customers. Still, extreme weather–either summer heat or winter storms–has the potential to produce localized outages. So we’re closely monitoring the system and will respond promptly if an outage of any nature occurs.

If you are concerned about your power bill, call us now. We can set up a payment plan or refer you to local agencies for bill assistance. Call us any time at 1-888-221-7070.

ABOUT PACIFIC POWER

Pacific Power provides safe and reliable electric service to more than 783,000 customers in
243 communities across Oregon, Washington and California. Pacific Power is part of PacifiCorp, one of the lowest-cost electricity producers in the United States, serving nearly two million customers in six western states as the largest regulated utility owner of wind power in the West. For more information, visit www.pacificpower.net.

Medford Cooling Shelter Will Open This Weekend

A cooling shelter will be open in Medford on Saturday, June 26 after the National Weather Service forecasted temperatures reaching 111 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend.

“Everybody’s welcome; we’re actually getting a system outside for this weekend that’s going to have misters for animals also,” Christine Quitt, pastor and Jackson County Homeless Taskforce chairman, said. “We’re going to provide water. We’re hoping to have popsicles. We’re also going to have like a sack lunch to make sure that they’re fed.”

Medford’s mayor or city manager can declare a severe event for a cooling shelter if the temperature is forecasted at 102 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Additionally, they can declare one if the temperature is 80 degrees or more with additional weather factors such as wind or smoke.

“What we do is we’re going to look forward seven days and look at a pretty consistent kind of Weather Channel, if you will, to determine the weather,” Medford Deputy City Manager Kelly Madding said. “Then we will be able to give those nonprofits ample notice if we if the city manager declares that emergency.”

Some of those nonprofits and partnerships include St. Vincent de Paul, Rogue Retreat, the Gospel Mission, Medford’s Livability Team and Jackson County Mental Health. Yet when asked why they didn’t create a cooling shelter for Monday, June 21, with a temperature of 102 degrees, Madding said they did not have enough time to prepare.

“How the process works is the nonprofit service providers need 24 to 48 hours notice to get their groups together to volunteer,” Madding said. “The weather that we looked at did not say it was going to be 102 degrees.”

The cooling shelter is located at 510 E Main Street in Medford, where the old Medford Senior Center used to be. The center’s website said the building is no longer in use due to the building’s age and an increase in the surrounding transient population. Yet Madding said she was told it was closed to a different reason when asked.

The cooling shelter will be open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 26, and close the earliest on Tuesday, June 29, but will reopen when necessary. It will not require COVID-19 vaccinations, but there will be a COVID-19 check-in.

“We just want to make sure that they’re out of the heat and we can help them,” Quitt said. “In this facility here, we can have up to 45 people at one time (according to the fire marshal). I’ve worked in shelters before, and typically, people will come and go, and so we’re happy with that.”

Medford Police Department’s Livability Team will make people living on the Bear Creek Greenway aware of the cooling center when moving them off the Greenway. This is due to the prohibited camping ordinance that bans all camping on the Greenway during fire season.

MPD Sergeant and head of the Livability Team Geoff Kirkpatrick said their process would continue through the week. However, they will not remove anyone on June 26 and June 27.

“We’re really cognizant of the fact that when it’s hot, we don’t want to put anybody out in the middle of the sun in 105 degrees,” Kirkpatrick said. “There’s a humanizing aspect where we have to be really empathetic towards kind of the environmental situation as well.”

Kirkpatrick said 49 camps have been removed off the Greenway since May 1 and predicts 11 more will be cleared by the end of the week. He said there is still a long way to go, though.

“That’s been something I’ve been trying to make sure that people are aware of, that it’s just such a long process,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s not something where we’re telling everybody on the Greenway all at once, you all have to go. That’s not that’s not manageable.”

Kirkpatrick urges people to stop lighting warming or cooking fires on the Greenway. He said just of that morning, MPD was called to warming fires there. “That behavior is still continuing, and we’re trying our best to put an end to that part of it,” Kirkpatrick said.

Greenway Fire Fully Lined After Intense Efforts

The fire that broke out along the Bear Creek Greenway north of the Jackson County Expo on Wednesday evening has been fully lined according to the latest from Fire District 3.

Officials said that the fire broke out around 6 p.m. on Wednesday near Dean Creek Road, with flames gradually creeping across roughly three acres.

The first firefighters on the scene found a fire about a quarter-acre in size, located deep into some blackberry bushes within the Greenway. Because of windy conditions and tough terrain in the area, fire crews had a difficult time getting ahead of the fire for several hours.

A Type 2 helicopter from the Oregon Department of Forestry was also called in to help do bucket drops on the flames. Luckily the fire was located relatively far from homes and businesses, and there were no evacuations prompted by its spread.

As of Thursday morning, fire crews had the area completely lined with both dozers and hoses. Fire District 3 said that crews would focus on removing hazard trees and mopping up the interior throughout the day.

Lightning suspected as cause of fire on Greenway, pending official investigation

With even hotter and dryer conditions expected this coming weekend, FD3 deputy chief Mike Hussey said that fire crews will be keeping an eye on the area, even once mopped up, for any potential flare ups. 

“This fire shows the potential we currently have within the valley,” said Hussey. “We recognize that we only have a small window before the heat sets in. So we are going to committed a lot of resources here and get this mopped up.”

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

Treasurer Read Praises Inter-Agency Team Working to Move Unclaimed Property and Estates Programs to Oregon State Treasury

Oregon’s Unclaimed Property and Estates Administration programs will move from the Department of State Lands to Oregon State Treasury on July 1.

Salem, OR – State Treasurer Tobias Read today praised months of behind-the-scenes work by employees preparing for Oregon’s Unclaimed Property and Estates programs to move from the Department of State Lands to Oregon State Treasury on July 1, 2021.

The transfer, initiated by Senate Bill 454 and approved by the Oregon Legislature in June 2019, will move oversight of the two programs to Treasury while continuing to protect Oregonians’ assets. Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program holds more than $773 million in unclaimed funds and other property for owners to claim in perpetuity. The Estates Administration Program safeguards personal estates when Oregonians die without a will and known heirs.

“These programs are vital to reuniting Oregonians with their lost property, and I appreciate the inter-agency team working hard to complete the transfer without any interruptions or hiccups for people claiming or reporting funds,” said Treasurer Read. “I’m especially impressed by the collaboration and attention to detail despite the fact that many employees are working remotely during the pandemic.”

Most U.S. states house their unclaimed property programs in state treasuries. In 2019, Oregon legislators determined that moving Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program to Oregon State Treasury would better align with other states’ programs. The transfer will integrate unclaimed property program staff with the Treasury team responsible for investing and managing unclaimed funds until they are claimed by their rightful owner. Treasury’s investment staff oversee the $2.2 billion Common School Fund in a diversified portfolio of investments.

The Oregon Department of State Lands will retain responsibility for distribution of investment earnings income to public schools. Two disbursements per year go to public schools across Oregon; in 2020, nearly $55 million was distributed.

Vicki Walker, Director of State Lands, applauded her team for carefully preparing for the move while also overseeing the program’s day-to-day responsibilities. “Our goal all along has been for the program transfer to be as seamless as possible for the people who rely on it,” said Director Walker. “I’m proud of the staff who have done an excellent job of overseeing the operations of the program while working on program transfer logistics.”

A total of 16 staff from both programs will become Oregon State Treasury employees on July 1; all existing positions were retained by the Legislature. “We look forward to officially welcoming the unclaimed property and estates staff to our team,” said Treasurer Read.

Following the transfer, most people using the program will see no difference in their experience submitting or following up on a claim, and the main portal for searching for and claiming unclaimed property will remain the same: unclaimed.oregon.gov. Businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies that report and remit unclaimed property should continue to meet the annual reporting deadline for unclaimed funds. Oregon Dept. of State Lands

Mail In Voting Bill

Oregonians could mail their ballots right up until Election Day and still have them counted under a bill headed to Gov. Kate Brown. House Bill 3291 would eliminate the need for the traditional warning given to voters about five days before each election: “It’s the last day to safely mail your ballot.”

Currently, ballots that arrive at county elections’ offices after 8 p.m. on Election Day are not counted, regardless of when they were mailed. Ballots that arrive in the mail up to seven days after an election would be counted, unless their postmark showed that they were mailed after Election Day. If a postmark is missing or unreadable, the bill would direct elections officials to assume the ballot was mailed prior to the deadline.

Gov. Brown Commutes Sentences Of 41 Inmates For Helping Fight 2020 Wildfires

In recognition of 41 inmate’s efforts to help fight wildfires in 2020, Gov. Kate Brown has commuted their sentences by 12 months.

The Oregon Department of Corrections conducted a case-by-case analysis of all inmates who worked as firefighters for a potential one-time, 12-month conditional commutation of their sentence.

The governor’s office released a statement in part here: ” While the Labor Day 2020 wildfires destroyed homes and forests across Oregon, many adults in custody—who qualified for participation in a fire crew due to good behavior and having received proper training—bravely fought these wildfires, alongside civilian firefighters, and helped prevent further destruction and loss of life across the state. The governor recognizes that these adults in custody served our state in a time of crisis, and she believes they should be rewarded and acknowledged for their contribution to this historic firefighting response.:

The governor’s office also added that DOC screens inmates prior to fire crew participation to ensure the safety of the public. Criteria includes having a record of good conduct for the last 12 months, having a suitable housing plan, having their out-of-custody health care needs addressed and not presenting a safety risk to the public.

Those who have been approved for commutation will be notified by the end of next week through their release counselor.

The Kruise of Klamath is Back!

Kruise of Klamath

The entirety of the Kruise of Klamath will be held downtown this year due to dry conditions at Moore Park. There will be street closures to accommodate the event: SHOW ‘N SHINE: Main Street will be closed from 11th Street
to 3rd Street from 6:00 AM until 1:30 PM.

Please note: Any vehicles parked within this section of Main Street this morning after 5:00 will be towed off of Main Street to the closest convenient location.

EVENING CRUISE: Main Street will be closed from 12th Street to 4th Street and Klamath Avenue will be closed from 12th Street to 3rd Street from 6:00 PM until 9:00 PM. Side streets within these routes will be closed and motorists detoured around the event.

A Klamath Falls man has been jailed with bail set at over 500-thousand dollars on several felony charges.

33-year-old Larry David Burkett was arrested and charged with multiple charges including rape, sexual abuse, and sodomy charges. Klamath Falls City Police took Burkett into custody yesterday afternoon. No further information is available on this case at this time.

Fatal Crash on Hwy 101 – Curry County

Cover picture for the article

On Thursday, June 24, 2021 at approximately 11:30 A.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a vehicle crash on Hwy 101 near milepost 339.

Preliminary investigation revealed a Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle, operated by James Rice (29) of Brookings, was northbound when it struck a, also northbound, Infiniti QX60, operated by Brecken Watterson (43) of Cedar Park, TX. The Infiniti was turning left into a viewpoint.

Rice sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. Watterson and 4 juvenile passengers were not injured.

OSP was assisted by the Curry County Sheriff’s Office, Gold Beach Police Department, Gold Beach Fire Department, Pistol River Fire Department, and ODOT

Oregon Bottle Drop mark Bottle Bill’s 50th birthday with ‘Hidden Bottle Hunts’ Across the State

Oregon’s iconic Bottle Bill is turning 50! On July 2, 1971, Governor Tom McCall signed into law the nation’s first bottle and can redemption system, which has helped keep Oregon clean and litter-free for 50 years. Not only was it the first, but it remains among the best, with Oregon regularly seeing some of the top redemption and recycling rates in the nation.

To mark the 50th Anniversary of the Bottle Bill, the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC), parent company to BottleDrop, is hosting a treasure hunt by hiding six commemorative, gold-colored, 50th Anniversary bottles in parks throughout the state. 

The six, statewide Hidden Bottle Hunts will take place July 7-11. OBRC will release one clue per bottle, per day, on this webpage, leading hunters to the final hiding spot. The lucky winners will get to keep the commemorative bottle and select a BottleDrop nonprofit partner to receive a $500 donation through BottleDrop’s Containers for Change program.

Participants can sign up to receive daily clues at our BottleDrop Hidden Bottle Hunt webpage, or can view new clues each day at bottledropcenters.com/hunt. Six separate hunts, geographically dispersed across Oregon, will be conducted simultaneously, with separate clues being released daily for each hunt. 

”There’s no better way to celebrate the Bottle Bill’s 50th birthday than to engage Oregonians in a fun outdoor activity that features the special places it helps keep litter free,” said Eric Chambers, external relations director for OBRC, the not-for-profit cooperative that serves as the operational steward of the Bottle Bill.

“Our Hidden Bottle Hunts will be fun for individuals and families, connect closely with the Bottle Bill’s mission of protecting public spaces, and best of all, the winners get to ‘redeem’ their bottle for a nice donation to one of 4,000 participating nonprofits serving communities across Oregon,” Chambers added.

What is the Bottle Bill?

On July 2, 1971, Oregon became the first state in the nation to pass a Bottle Bill – a system that provides a redemption value to Oregonians, incentivizing recycling and keeping bottles and cans out of our natural areas. It remains a groundbreaking approach to addressing the issue of litter in our forests, rivers, beaches, scenic byways and other natural areas. Over time, Oregon’s system has grown and innovated, and has become a national model of beverage container redemption and recycling, inspiring national and international delegations to visit Oregon to learn about its unique and effective system. Learn more about the Bottle Bill here

About BottleDrop and the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative

The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC) is the industry steward of Oregon’s nationally recognized beverage container redemption system and operator of the BottleDrop network. Headquartered in Clackamas, Ore., OBRC is a statewide, not-for-profit cooperative, formed by the beverage industry to serve as the operational steward of Oregon’s Bottle Bill. OBRC helps keep Oregon beautiful by providing outstanding services to partners, distributors, retailers and the public for the recovery, reuse and recycling of beverage containers. Through OBRC’s BottleDrop Redemption Centers and container pickup service for more than 2,500 retail partners, the co-op recycles nearly two billion beverage containers annually, protecting the Oregon we love, supporting the causes we cherish, and inspiring innovation beyond our borders – all without any taxpayer funding. 

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