droughtASHLAND, Ore. — More than forty people have already signed up for the City of Ashland’s lawn replacement program. City Officials said more people are concerned about the drought and want to take steps to conserve water.

One homeowner had work done to replace his lawn earlier this year, replacing grass with bark, rocks, and shrubs. He said it has cut his water bill by a third.

Tonight, hear from the City on how many people they have interested in the program.

kitzhaberCORVALLIS, Ore. – Governor Kitzhaber visited NuScale Power in Corvallis on Friday to learn about an innovative approach to nuclear power and how the company plans to bring more than 100 jobs to Oregon. NuScale Power was recently awarded a $217 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop small modular reactor technology. The company intends to use the money to fund a rapid expansion in the Corvallis area.

During the tour, Governor Kitzhaber visited NuScale Power’s control room simulator to learn how safety is incorporated into the company’s technology. Instructors gave a demonstration of how a NuScale reactor would be able to withstand a situation similar to the one that struck the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011.

The U.S. Department of Energy has designated NuScale Power as an awardee under the program for “Cost-Shared Development of Innovative Small Modular Reactor Designs.”

Coldwate,JonASHLAND, Ore. — The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded to 2253 Highway 99 in Ashland on Sunday for a man threatening others with a machete. Deputies were met by the victim, Isaac Lindsey, 28 of Ashland, who said he and three other people were confronted by Jon Coldwate, 45 of Ashland, over living arrangements.

Coldwatecam towards the group swinging a machete and screaming he was going to kill them, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. Lindsey said he stepped in front of the group and was cut by the machete in the palm of his hand. The cut was extremely deep and required numerous stitches.

Coldwate left the area before Deputies arrived, but a K-9 team was called to begin a search for the him. He was located eventually and put in the Jackson County Jail. He is charged with Assault and
Menacing. His Bail is set at $1,004,000.

marijuana(CNN) — Doctors in Macon, Georgia, told Janea Cox that her daughter, Haleigh, might not live another three months.

That was the middle of March, when Haleigh’s brain was being short-circuited by hundreds of seizures a day, overrunning the array of five potent drugs meant to control them. Worse, the drugs were damaging Haleigh’s organs.

“She was maxed out,” Cox said. “She’d quit breathing several times a day, and the doctors blamed it on the seizure medications.”

Cox had heard that a form of medical marijuana might help, but it wasn’t available in central Georgia. So a week after hearing the ominous diagnosis, she and Haleigh packed up and moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado. There, Haleigh began a regimen of cannabis oil: four times a day and once at night.

By summer, she was down to just a handful of seizures a day. In less than three months, doctors were able to wean her off Depakote, a powerful medication that had been damaging her liver.

Haleigh had never been able to walk or talk. But freed from seizures in Colorado, “She said ‘Mama’ for the first time,” Cox said. “She’s playing with puzzles; she’s walking. She’s almost being a normal child.”

Despite all the good news, Cox is living in limbo. Her husband, a paramedic, couldn’t afford to leave his job and pension; he still lives and works in Forsyth, Georgia. The family is relying on charity to keep their Colorado apartment for the next few months; beyond that, the future is uncertain.

A bill being introduced Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives could be Cox’s ticket home. The three-page bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act — the federal law that criminalizes marijuana — to exempt plants with an extremely low percentage of THC, the chemical that makes users high.

Gupta: Why I changed my mind on weed

If passed, it would be the first time that federal law allows any medical marijuana use.

“No one should face a choice of having their child suffer or moving to Colorado and splitting up their family,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pennsylvania, the bill’s sponsor. “We live in America, and if there’s something that would make my child better, and they can’t get it because of the government, that’s not right.”

The bill will land in a Congress that may be open to change. Across the country, highly sympathetic patients and a nonintoxicating product have proved a popular mix. This year alone, 11 states have passed legislation loosening regulation of cannabis strains with high cannabidiol and/or minimal THC content.

In this atmosphere, Perry says that once members and their staffs are brought up to speed, he expects the bill to attract “overwhelming” support. “In a time of intractability in Washington, D.C., this is something where we can show some progress.”

Photos: Charlotte’s Web

Dubbed the Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014, the bill is named after Charlotte Figi, a young Colorado girl whose parents have campaigned nationwide for easier access to medical marijuana after successfully controlling their daughter’s seizures with cannabis oil. Since her story became known, a growing number of parents have flocked to Colorado, hoping for similar success.

The Charlotte’s Web cannabis strain, developed by the Realm of Caring nonprofit organization in Colorado Springs, is in high demand, in part because of the attention it’s received in the media. Many families wait months for a batch to be grown and processed into cannabis oil. Perry’s bill, however, would apply to any cannabis strain with a THC content of less than 0.3%.

Charlotte’s Web and similar strains not only have minimal THC, they have high levels of cannabidiol, another chemical. A growing body of anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabidiol can effectively control seizures, though there are no published studies to support its use.

It’s easy to find critics who say parents should follow a more traditional route.

“There is no evidence for marijuana as a treatment for seizures,” Rep. John Fleming, R-Louisiana, a physician, claimed during a congressional hearing last month. “We hear anecdotal stories, and that’s how myths come about.”

Fleming and others point out that a pharmaceutical version of cannabidiol oil, called Epidiolex, is being tested in clinical trials.But many children aren’t able to get into the trials. Haleigh Cox is disqualified because she has type-1 diabetes. Others aren’t willing to wait several months to be enrolled.

“With Epidiolex, there just aren’t enough seats at the table,” said Mark Knecht, a father from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, whose story helped inspire Perry’s bill.

His daughter Anna, 11, has epilepsy and suffers anywhere from a handful of seizures a day to more than 100, despite her four anti-convulsant medications. Knecht, the chief financial officer of a large Christian medical nonprofit, says Anna has been evaluated at several top hospitals but couldn’t land a spot in the Epidiolex trial.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books allowing medical marijuana for a variety of conditions. But even as states rewrite their regulations, federal law remains the same: Marijuana is illegal to grow, sell or use for any purpose. Under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is listed on Schedule 1, meaning it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” To backers of reform, the Catch-22 is familiar: Marijuana is restricted in large part because there is little research to support medical uses; research is difficult to conduct because of tight restrictions.

A series of memos from the Justice Department has said that arresting individual medical marijuana users is not a priority, and a 2013 memo added that federal prosecutors should not target large commercial operations except on a case-by-case basis. But most observers say that shipping or transporting the drug across state lines ups the ante.

“For families like us, the biggest issue is the federal issue. You can’t take it across state lines,” Knecht explained.

His family still lives in Mechanicsburg. But after seeing CNN’s medical marijuana documentary last year, Anna and her mother, Deb, established residency in Colorado, where they obtained a medical marijuana card that let them place an order for a batch cannabis oil, in hopes it will control Anna’s seizures. If Perry’s bill becomes law, Knecht says, “Realm of Caring could just put it in a FedEx package.”

The Food and Drug Administration is conducting a review of scientific evidence to determine whether marijuana warrants looser treatment, but a spokeswoman says there’s no set date to complete the analysis. A review in 2011 ended with the Drug Enforcement Administration leaving marijuana’s status unaltered.

But certain actions in Congress give Perry and his supporters hope.

This month, the House passed a bill allowing banks to handle cash proceeds from dispensaries and other legal marijuana businesses.

The most recent Farm Bill allows industrial hemp — a strain of cannabis without THC — to be grown for academic or research purposes. That didn’t stop the Drug Enforcement Administration from seizing a shipment of hemp seeds bound for the University of Kentucky this spring. In response, the Senate Appropriations Committee, with support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, passed an amendment blocking DEA funds for anti-hemp enforcement.

In May, the House passed a measure blocking money for DEA raids on marijuana dispensaries that are legal under state law.

And just last week, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky took it a step further, introducing an amendment to the Jobs Bill that would forbid federal prosecution of doctors and patients whose actions are legal under state medical marijuana laws.

“If states allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana, and people are in good faith prescribing medical marijuana, we want to make sure it’s OK and that the federal government doesn’t come in and prosecute somebody,” said Brian Darling, Paul’s communications director.

The amendment seems likely to die amidst wrangling over the Jobs Bill, but Darling says his boss plans to move forward on a standalone measure.

“There are a lot of people who have been locked up on marijuana laws for a long time,” Darling said. “The War on Drugs has gone overboard.”

Knecht doesn’t want to uproot his family to move to Colorado. But he says his hand may be forced. “We’re taking this situation one day at a time.”

That’s where Janea Cox was a few months ago. She hadn’t heard about Perry’s bill until she got a call from a reporter but says she understands where the Pennsylvania families are coming from. She’s angry at home-state lawmakers who failed to push through Georgia’s cannabidiol oil bill this spring.

“I lived in Georgia for 17 years,” she said, “but here in Colorado, I met my child for the first time, at the age of 5.”

lightning venice beach(CNN) — A relaxing day at Southern California’s famed Venice Beach took a deadly turn Sunday afternoon when a powerful lightning bolt struck the water, killing one person and injuring at least 13, emergency officials said.

The sudden lightning strike at Venice Beach caused panic as people tried to get out of the water and off the beach.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office confirmed one man in his 20s died at a local hospital after he was rescued from the beach.

But it’s too soon to say whether he died from “a lightning strike, drowning or being trampled by the crowd,” according to John Kades with the coroner’s office.

“The day started out clear, but there were storms in the forecast for the region on Sunday,” CNN meteorologist Sherri Pugh said of the isolated thunderstorms that swept through the Los Angeles area.

The lightning hit the water and the beach at 2:51 p.m. PT (5:51 p.m. ET), according to spokeswoman Katherine Main of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Emergency responders assessed the condition of at least 13 victims — all of whom were either in or near the water — at the scene. Of those, seven adults and one teenager were transported to local hospitals.

One was listed in serious conditions and six were listed in fair condition by late Sunday afternoon

The National Weather Service in Los Angeles tweeted around the time of the strike that “cloud to ground lightning” had been reported in nearby Marina del Rey and at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Witnesses tweeted they saw a huge bolt of lightning strike the area, with one Twitter user describing an explosion that blew off nearby roof tiles.

Lightning also struck Catalina Island on Sunday. Los Angeles County Sheriff Sgt. Robert Berardi said a man was hit by a lightning strike near a golf course. He was taken to a local hospital, treated and later released.

Lightning fatalities are pretty rare in California. Between 1959 and 2012, 31 people died after they were struck by lightning, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In comparison, there were 468 deaths from lightning strikes in Florida during the same time period, followed by 215 in Texas.

The National Weather Service has compiled a list of lightning safety tips on its website.

There is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm or when lightning strikes, the agency said. To reduce the risk of injury or even death during severe weather, people planning outdoor activities of any kind should have a safety plan. At the first clap of thunder, the weather service said anybody outdoors should run for shelter or for their vehicles and they should remain sheltered for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder is heard.

When visiting the beach, where there is limited shelter available for taking cover during a thunderstorm, the weather service advises people to run for their cars at the first sign of thunder or lightning in the distance. The agency also warns against taking cover under the beach picnic shelters. It says water, wet items, like ropes and metal objects, including fences and poles, are big dangers during lightning storms because water and metal are both great conductors of electrical currents.

The weather service also offers these tips for minimizing the risk of getting struck by lightning: Avoid open fields and hilltops, stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects, set up camps in lower lying areas and remember tents do not offer protection from lightning.

There is also professional lightning detection equipment available that issues alerts when lightning is approaching an area. The weather service said it’s a good investment for outdoors sports groups or other outside events.

grass fire on cane creek rdCENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Fire crews got the call around 6:00 a.m. Monday for a grass fire on Kane Creek Rd.  The Oregon Department of Forestry responded with 2 helicopters, 2 ground crews and 3 engines and were able to contain the fire. Crews are continuing to mop up and expect to be done by mid-afternoon.

The Oregon Department of Forestry said that this fire was caused by the lightning strikes in the Rogue Valley last week. Apparently, fires can smolder for up to twelve days after a lightning strike.

Tonight on NewsWatch 12, find out what crews are doing to track down any other possible smoldering fires and how the rest of the weeks storm activity is shaping up.


Woman created a group on Facebook called Giving Back in Southern Oregon.

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MEDFORD, Ore. – An animal shelter called the Committed Alliance to Strays, better known as “C.A.T.S.” was on the verge of closing, when a celebrity Facebook share triggered a surge of donations.

The managers said it would take thousands of donations to survive. The Committed Alliance to Strays has a budget of about $15,000 a month. Back in June, the shelter reached out to NewsWatch12 to ask the community for help — fearing many of the strays would not make it if they were forced to close. Just days after the interview, Animal Planet star Jackson Galaxy shared the web article posted to facebook, on his page, liked by nearly a million followers. After, thousands of dollars were sent in to C.A.T.S., from cat lovers across the globe.

“I can honestly say, probably within I think it was an hour we did have about a thousand dollars of donations that came in, and its across the country, it’s from other countries, we’ve got, I think seven different countries, you know people from seven different countries that have actually donated so you know even those five, ten dollar ones you’re just going oh my gosh,” C.A.T.S. Shelter Manager Kristina Lanier said.

A surprise even to volunteers like Robert Fowler, who’ve worked to keep the alliance alive for years.

“The response that we got from it just floored me, I was very overwhelmed by the generosity of our community and the community around the country and the world,” Fowler said.

Now C.A.T.S. has enough in donations to get them through the end of the year, but not enough monthly commitments to keep them sustainable for the next year. The shelter cares for more than 80 cats at a time and keeps a long waiting list. The managers said the past few months have been a wake up call, and they’re looking at ways to cut costs.

“We need to look at our own operation and see if there’s ways that we can cut our spending without cutting the care, the level of care that we give to the cats” Fowler said.

They said one option is using more volunteers. Anyone 12 and older can help out in the shelter. C.A.T.S. also has a foster service for many of their kittens, where temporary pet parents can keep the pets healthy for future adoptions.

The local support for C.A.T.S. hasn’t stopped either. On Monday, August 4th, Dancin’ Vineyards will host a silent auction. All proceeds will go toward the nonprofit organization. Space is limited. To register, call Kristina Lanier at 541-621-2609. You can also donate to the shelter on their website.

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A very active week is now underway, beginning with scorching hot temperatures Monday afternoon. Triple digits are expected over West Side Valleys and Northern California today. Morning clouds and fog at the coast will gradually clear into midday. Isolated thunderstorms are possible into this evening east of the Cascades and over Siskiyou County.

A widespread event is likely Tuesday ..meaning lots of thunderstorms with frequent lightning, even for the West Side. Showers and storms will likely begin popping up by mid afternoon. Strong winds, small hail, locally heavy rain and frequent lightning will all be threats with these storms. Today, the storms will be on the drier side but as moisture continues to stream in over the next 48 hours …heavy rain is more likely.

Either way, the lightning threat is of big concern this week. An upper level low in the Gulf of Alaska, plus monsoonal moisture over the Desert Southwest will help to filter in moisture all week long. Each day another round of showers/storms are likely through the end of the week and into the weekend for the Basin and Shasta Valley. For the West Side, best bet for storms looks to be Tuesday and Thursday. We will likely see fire weather watches/warnings all week long. Temperatures will stay hot as well, in the 80′s and 90′s depending on location.

The timing of each round of storms will change from day to day so keep it here with Newswatch 12 for the latest updates. Lots to watch out for this week! You can find more information on Facebook and/or Twitter!

Meteorologist Alyssa Caroprese

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Edgar Lupton was born on July 27, 1914. The World War II veteran celebrated his 100th birthday with his family and friends at Welcome Home Adult Foster Care. Newswatch 12 Photojournalist Dustin Peters takes us to the big celebration.

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EAGLE POINT, Ore. -  On July 7, Jeremiah and Isaiah Godby started running. On September 7, they’ll stop, but during those two months the Godby brothers will travel over 1,600 miles crossing 30 Oregon counties. On Sunday the Oregon State students were in Jackson County taking a pit stop at the Butte Creek Mill. Jeremiah and Isaiah are both students in OSU’s School of Public Health and Sciences. They’re doing the 61-day trek to raise awareness for the school but more importantly for health and fitness. The Godby brothers are stopping at the OSU Extension Office in each county encouraging local people to eat a healthy diet and get out. This is the third time they’ve done a run like this in the last four years, but the brothers still encounter certain challenges.

“It’s almost mentally draining, not just physically but mentally. Just trying to get up and run every day besides all the training we did,” Isaiah Godby said. “That’s the hardest part, just taking the first couple steps in the morning, but once we do that, we just keep up the momentum and keep going. We’re burning like 6,000-8,000 calories every day.”

“We’ve had to run through a lot of pain,” Jeremiah Godby said, “but now the more running we’ve done actually, I’ve been getting in better shape. There’s no time to be tired right now. It’s time to, to keep on pushing.”

It helps to have your brother pushing you. The Godby’s say they’ll occasionally talk during the runs, sometimes listen to music and sometimes tell each other to shut up. The two brothers say they do get along great though, and it’s developed into a whole lot more than a partnership.

“Having a partner there is great,” Isaiah Godby said, “but having your brother there who knows you, who you can talk about whatever with. To have somebody there who’s running side by side with you is a lot of help.”

“Me and my brother have a great relationship,” Jeremiah Godby said. “Me and my brother are pretty close in years, and me and my brother just really try to bounce off each other’s energy.

The brothers will be at the Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center in Klamath Falls at 3:00 PM on Monday.  They’ll get a chance to talk with the president of Oregon State at that event.

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