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MEDFORD, Ore. — Medford Fire will continue to operate with a separate administrative body than Jackson County Fire District 3.

In a study session today, the Medford City Council took an in-depth look at months worth of research.

Originally, city leaders thought it might save money for the agencies to function as one body with a single overhead administration.

Ultimately, the council decided against the merger, but will continue to evaluate how the city can work with District 3 in other ways.

However, the process of even looking into the possibility did cause some tension for Medford’s existing partnership with Jackson County Fire District 2.

“District 2 has been a little upset in the process. We’ve done everything we can do reach out and communicate, we’ve bent over backwards. They’ve been at every meeting that’s been involved in this process for a year. We’ve really tried to reach out, and we do have a long relationship with District 2 and we like having them as partners,” said Medford City Councilor Daniel Bunn.

Medford fire district has contracted with district two for more than 50 years, and district two owns several pieces of equipment medford fire currently uses.
council members say they plan to continue the relationship… but also hope to take action to gain ownership of some of that equipment moving forward.

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TALENT, Ore. — Oregon Department of Transportation planners are hoping to facilitate some some big changes along highway 99 in the next several years.

At an open house on Thursday, the public got a first look at some proposed improvements along the highway between North Ashland and South Medford.

One of those changes, and perhaps the most controversial, is making less-traveled stretches of the highway three lane instead of four lanes with an added turn lane.

The areas that may see that change would be the strip between Talent and Phoenix, and Talent and North Ashland.

Some other proposed improvements are added or improved bike lanes, new sidewalks, and wider traffic lanes.

Project managers hope to implement all the improvements in the next 20 years and it will cost about 20 million dollars.



CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — A state committee is trying to decide how much pot someone could buy if voters approve recreational marijuana. The November ballot measure would also allow the state to tax any marijuana.

However, the bill also puts an end to any new city taxes on medical or recreational marijuana, but if cities approve marijuana tax by that time, it will be “grandfathered” in. Central Point has moved a step further to make that possibly at Thursday night’s city council meeting.

The council voted unanimously tonight to have a second reading for an ordinance that will establish tax on marijuana and marijuana infused products.

Following suit with other cities in the area, council members decided to tax five percent on medical marijuana, and 10 percent on any future recreational marijuana sales. The council also discussed possibly raising the percentage at a later time.

The second reading of the ordinance will be august 14.

The city currently has a medical marijuana dispensary moratorium in place until next may.

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Thursday proved to be beautiful, with plenty of blue skies and spring-like temperatures.  It was a rare gem in our typical summer pattern.  That summer heat returns by the end of the weekend and sticks around for the majority of next week.  The coolest days that we will see for a while are going to be this Friday and Saturday.

The trough that brought showers, storms, and cooler temperatures is much further north and east now, and we are seeing dry, west to east flow aloft.  Over the next several days, a high pressure ridge will develop in the upper levels of the atmosphere.  At the surface, there are already signs of a thermal trough forming to our south.  This is the same set-up we see when afternoon temps climb near and above 100 degrees.  In fact, by Sunday, highs will be about ten degrees above average.  That’s a stark contrast from Thursday, where record lows were set in both Klamath Falls and Lakeview.

To go along with the oppressive heat next week, there is the chance for isolated thunderstorms in northern California, as well as along and east of the Cascades and west side valleys.  A few waves of energy enter the region, and with plenty of daytime heating, that means a few afternoon storms.  We will keep a close eye on any thunderstorm activity, as fuels are still very dry, even after the rainfall earlier this week.

For more information, or to send me your weather pictures, log on to Facebook or Twitter.

Chief Meteorologist Kate McKenna

electionsMEDFORD, Ore.– The measure to require Oregon to label genetically modified products was approved for the November ballot on Wednesday. The Secretary of State’s office said the near 119,000 signatures turned in for the initiative were validated. They said just over 87,000 were needed to qualify, and it only took campaigners six weeks to get them all.

If approved, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers would have to label raw and packaged foods produced entirely or partially by genetic engineering. The requirement would begin January of 2016. Similar efforts were voted on in the state of Washington and California, but they did not pass.

A group called “Oregonians for Food and Shelter” said they will launch a campaign in opposition soon. The Executive Director of the group, Scott Dahlman, said the proposal would mandate costly and misleading food labeling regulations in Oregon. He said growers will be required to track foods that end up in the state, which is expensive and hard to do since genetically engineered crops can’t be tested in it’s final product. Dahlman said the only way to know is to track it from the beginning, but this places a burden on everyone throughout the supply chain.

Aurora Paulson from the Center for Food Safety and a co-petitioner for Measure 92 said, “The Center for Food Safety is committed to this issue because we believe that one of the great freedoms we have as Americans is the basic right to choose what foods we feed our families,”

This measure is the last that will qualify for the November Election.

The other six include:

  • Creating a top two primary voting system.
  • Amend the constitution to require equal rights among all.
  • Allow judges to join the National Guard or hold teacher positions
  • Create a special scholarship fund for low-income children
  • Allow immigrants to get drivers licenses
  • Legalize the sale and taxing of recreational marijuana.

Stay with Newswatch 12 throughout the election for the most up to date information about these measures progress.


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CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Byron Higinbotham is not an actual ninja based on traditional standards, but he sure looks like one on the Higs Gym obstacle course in Central Point.

“I was really interested in how the Navy SEALS do their physical fitness and watched several videos and thought, man, that looks so fun,” Higinbotham said. “I think I can build something like that.”

That’s exactly what he did. Higinbotham built the sprint obstacle course on his own property right next to his house.

“It went through several different phases and built different things,” Higinbotham said. “I’ve tried to build an environment where it’s littered with tons of different obstacles of different sizes, different shapes.”

The course offers a fitness regimen to people of all different sizes and ages. Higinbotham said kids are actually the perfect candidates for the course.

“Kids innately do this stuff, you know, in their living room, at home,” Higinbotham said. “They’re building forts, and they’re jumping off stuff and climbing stuff. Unfortunately as we get older, we lose that playful side, and fitness, getting in shape should be fun.”

Besides the fun and the exercise, there’s an added benefit to obstacle course training.

“It forces you to think on the fly, to make quick decisions as you’re running through your environment, and so it’s training  your body physically but it’s also training your mind to stay sharp and to stay engaged with what you’re doing,” Higinbotham said.


If you want more information on the Southern Oregon Ninja Challenge or Higs Gym, go to:

Out & AboutButterfly & Moth Bioblitz

Crater Lake National Park is calling all “citizen scientists”. This weekend head up to cool down and take part in the “Butterfly and Moth Bioblitz.”

Local and regional experts will be on hand this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., for talks and to lead field trips in order to document the diversity of butterflies and moth who call the park home.

The event and activities are appropriate for all age groups and abilities. The all-day event is free and but space is limited with registration beginning at 8 a.m.

Siskiyou Folk & Bluegrass Festival

The Illinois Valley is home to the Siskiyou Folk and Bluegrass Festival this Saturday. The family event features lots of music, food, drinks and vendors all surrounding the trout pavilion at Lake Selmac.

Admission is $15, but kids 12 and under are free. Gates open at 9:30 Saturday morning, don’t forget your blanket and lawn chairs.

Berry Picking Expedition

There are a lot of summertime activities unique to the Klamath Basin; this weekend’s event is Saskatoon Picking.

The Klamath County Museum is leading picking expeditions along Link River Trail in search of the berries also known as serviceberries. The event is free and begins at 9 a.m. Sunday at the North Trailhead.

Hanley Farm: Farm to Table

Historic Hanley Farm is hosting a traditional farm to table meal this weekend. The four course local meal is paired with local wine.

Anyone who grabs a seat at this Saturday’s event outside of Jacksonville will also hear from local historian Larry Smith – who shares unique and entertaining tales of times forgotten.

The space around the table is limited so reservations are needed. All the money raised from the event goes to the Southern Oregon Historical Society.

Teen Star Wars Party

Finally, May the Force Be With any teen heading to the Klamath County Library.

The downtown branch is hosting Star Wars event, not this weekend, but this Wednesday. The party in the galaxy *not so* far, far away begins, at 1:30 p.m.

The teens must choose between the force and the dark side as the dress the part for door prizes. The event includes a screening of the fourth film and plenty of treats, like “Wookie Cookies”, “Hans Rolos”, “Ewok Snacks”, “Yoda Soda” or “Vaderade”.

Potential CPR Training RequirementMEDFORD, Ore. — A new app is being used to help people dealing with a cardiac emergency.

The app is designed by a non-profit group and sets off an alert when there’s an emergency near you. Even if you don’t know CPR, the app shows you how to do it with visuals.

“If anything can help someone to get that aid to someone quickly, the sooner someone can get the aid the more possibility of success that we ca use and if we can have somebody notified who has been trained in CPR to get to that location the better that’s going to be,” said Mark Tunrner, with the Red Cross.

This app, called Pulse Point, is being credited with saving a man’s life in Portland, when a fire fighter, who just so happened to have the app on his phone, was able to save a man who was nearby.

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Ronnie Budge an OSU Master Gardener and in this segment, she talks about the best time to pick your vegetables to get the best flavor. Nearly all of summertime vegetables that are ready for harvest soon should be picked while still young and not too mature. This includes:

a. Summer squash, e.g. zucchini, yellow squash: Pick while still small. Fruits may even still have flowers attached. (Flowers are edible.) If they grow too big, stuff and bake them or shred for zucchini bread.

b. Tomatoes: Should have deep color, be a little soft, separate easily from the stem. Don’t refrigerate! Some varieties called “determinate” tend to ripen all their fruit at once, and are good for canning. Other varieties called “indeterminate” ripen a few at a time until frost kills them.

c. Corn: Silks should be brown. If you peel back the husk and cut into a kernel with a fingernail, the juice should be milky but not thick.

d. Green beans. Should still be very slender with the beans inside just barely developed.

e. Peppers: If you like them green, pick whenever they reach a usable size. Otherwise let them turn color (red or gold depending on variety) when they’ll be sweeter and even more nutritious. They freeze well.

f. Eggplant: The skin should still be shiny and the fruit not yet full size. The color may be purple, white, orange or green depending on the variety.

g. Potatoes: “New” small potatoes can be dug carefully with the fingers or a trowel to cook right away, leaving the plant to continue growing and developing big potatoes for winter storage.

h. Salad greens: Lettuce, escarole etc. can be harvested by pulling off some of the outside leaves, leaving the rest of the plant to continue growing.

One of the main advantages of growing vegetables in your home garden is being able to harvest them at exactly the right time for best flavor and maximum nutrition. Vegetables for winter storage won’t be ready until fall.

OSU Master Gardeners will be giving a workshop full of harvesting tips for all sorts of vegetables next Tuesday, July 29 at 7 p.m. at the Jackson County Extension Service. There will be a similar workshop at the Josephine County Extension Service the following evening, Wednesday, July 30 at 6:30 p.m.

You can also contact the OSU Master Gardener near you.

Jackson County – (541) 776-7371
Josephine County – (541) 476-6613
Klamath County – (541) 883-7131
Coos County – (541) 572-5263
Douglas County – (541) 672-4461

rsc hot note odfMEDFORD, Ore. — 6,000 feet above Southern Oregon, a recon flight for the Oregon Department of Forestry laid out coordinates on nearby smoke. With weather conditions heating up and drying out since thunderstorms moved through earlier this week, smoldering fires are now growing.

Lightning strikes plagued the region, and in the sky, on an iPad, each hit is searched to see if ground resources need to head that way.

“We’re looking at the map on our lap in electronic version and the ground folks have the same identical map in paper copies, so, we can reference accurately where we’re at in reference to them,” said ODF Forest Officer Jesse Blair.

One of the smokes discovered Thursday morning was spotted by a camera on a mountain top, but typically they’re spotted by simply looking out the plane’s window, which is harder than it sounds.

Smoke can be so thin or light at first, it takes flying from multiple directions to fully cover the area. Multiple directions and multiple flights are all in a day’s work following thunderstorms. The reconnaissance flights will continue every day until there are three consecutive days without any smoke.

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