VAWHITE CITY, Ore. — A newly released audit of the Veterans Health Administration shows White City VA workers may have been pressured to manipulate or falsify data.

The report included findings from more than 700 clinics and found the White City location had 50% of schedulers say they felt pressure to manipulate or falsify data.

In Roseburg, 30% of VA schedulers reported the same. Some veterans said they have had poor experiences waiting for care, until recently.

“I got told ‘Just exercise, just exercise.’ Now, I brought it up two days ago and now I got an appointment in Portland because now they’re in a panic over the wait times,” said veteran Jerry Scriptor.

White City VA officials released a statement saying the audit does not reflect the reported statistics. They say there were not one of the locations referred for further assessment to the office of the inspector general and that more scheduling training was needed.

compass houseMEDFORD, Ore. — A first of its kind facility opened in Medford on Friday, aimed to help people with mental illnesses feel normal.

Compass House is offering a place to work for its members; it operates on a clubhouse model. The members of the clubhouse will be able to work on their interests, from business accounting to culinary arts.

Members can get even get help finding a job or tutoring if they attend school. Each member is referred to Compass House from a mental health professional.

“They can have a place where they belong. They can have a place where they can have meaningful work. They can develop relationships and in that sense. We’re restoring the feeling of humanity to people that have many cases have lost it due to isolation,” says Matthew Vorderstrasse.

Compass House moved into a remodeled version of the old SO-NORML building on Sixth Street.

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NEAR ASHLAND, Ore. –  In just 24 hours, the Oregon Gulch Fire has escalated from just a few hundred acres to 11 thousand. Thick smoke can be observed at the fire, and it continues to linger throughout the valley.

The Oregon Department of Forestry said the drought conditions have created extremely dry foliage, which paired with constantly shifting winds made the fire grow quickly.

Fire officials are using several resources to fight the fire including several hand crews, bulldozers, and aircraft support. Officials say they are facing many challenges while trying to get the fire under control.

Oregon Department of Forestry Public Information Officer Don Hickman talked about some of the many challenges faced by fire fighters working on the fire.

“One of them is just the heat, you know we have to make sure that we’re well hydrated and we have plenty of food on board to the point where we can function without succumbing to heat exhaustion,” said Hickman.

Fire fighters have also been faced with constantly shifting winds, making it difficult to find good vantage points to fight the fire with ground forces.

At this point, all crews and equipment working on this fire north of the Oregon border are from in-state, but fire officials are looking into pulling in other resources if needed.

yreka water rationingYREKA, Calif. — The city of Yreka is implementing a mandatory water rationing starting Friday.  This comes after the state approved an emergency regulation to increase water conservation practices.

This isn’t due to the wildfires in the area, but because of the drought.

“I think we all recognize that we all need to do our part, and that’s what we are thinking.  We’ve had a fairly secure water supply and have for a long time, but I think everyone recognizes this is a historic drought and certainly worse than other situations we’ve had in recent years,” said Steve Baker, the City Manager of Yreka.

The main change for Yreka residents is the watering schedule.  Even number addresses can water Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Odd number addresses can water on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

The mandatory water rationing could last up to 270 days.

The maximum fine for anyone who is found violating the new regulations could be fined up to $500,000.

klamath fireYREKA, Calif. — With dozens of lightning strikes hitting the Klamath National Forest in the past three days, dozens of small wildfires are starting to burn.

While no evacuations have been issued, two popular hiking trails are closed for the time being.

The US Forest Service estimates there are 40 fires burning in the area, and are considering four of those fire to be large.  The Whites Fire in White Gulch has triggered the closure of the Pacific Crest Trail from Carter Meadows to Etna Summit.

“They are concerned with the fire activity, it is basically a completely uncontained fire so the perimeter is unchecked,” said Kerry Greene, a public information officer with the US Forest Service.

The Shackleford trail near Fort Jones is also closed.  Type One and Type Two Incident Management teams are on their way to the Klamath National Forest and should arrive by Saturday.

fire behaviorGREENSPRINGS, Ore. — In the past 24 hours, the Oregon Gulch Fire has continued to jump in size. Part of the reason for that fast growth is because of rugged terrain, plenty of fire fuel, and changing winds.

The area where the fire is burning near the Greensprings has lots of dry fire fuel, including timber and grass, and crews said it has been logged over the years.

They also said the wind patterns can change quickly throughout the day, which spreads the fire.

“When that happens, the winds from the northwest cause a gusty, swirly behavior that’s what made the fire difficult to contain,” said Fire Behavior Analyst Tod Haren.

Crews says watching those winds and weather forecasts will be the key to putting firefighters in the best spots. Most of the winds have been blowing to the southeast, which has pushed the fire into California.

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GREENSPRINGS, Ore. – Crews battling the Oregon Gulch Fire have kept close contact with people living and working along Highway 66, to keep them safe and calm concerns.

When the fire was first reported Thursday night, fire crews quickly got in contact with the Box R Ranch, which was hosting a children’s camping trip by the Ashland YMCA. Crews informed organizers of the fire’s size and path, and the two sides coordinated a possible evacuation plan in the event that the fire changed course, although there was no risk to the camp.

Organizers informed parents of what was happening, and allowed parents to pick up kids Thursday night if they felt threatened. A handful of families chose to pick up their child early. On Friday, the fire had continued to burn south away from Highway 66, and parents were able to pick up their children at the regularly scheduled time Friday morning.

“They didn’t have any smoke here, no problems here at all,” said Michele Mitzel with the Ashland YMCA.

Fire crews have tried to put out as much information as possible to residents to keep them informed. The owners of the Pinehurst Inn, which sits a few miles from the fire camp, had packed up their car Thursday in case they needed to evacuate. But Friday morning, they felt confident enough to keep the inn open to visitors.

“This is not only my home, but this is my business,” said owner Denise Rowlett. “And so you have to make sure that you do your best to comply with the fire orders, and notify your customers and keep them safe.”

pytcSOUTHWEST, Ore. – Greeensprings Fire is reporting that one home on South Copco Road was destroyed by the Oregon Gulch Fire and 170 homes remain threatened.

The Oregon Department of Forestry released an update Friday that states what’s being called The Beaver Complex now consists of the Salt Creek Fire and the Oregon Gulch Fire. The Oregon Gulch Fire grew rapidly and is now estimated at 11,000 acres. The Salt Creek Fire grew very little overnight and is currently at 108 acres.

Both fires were caused by lightning from thunderstorms that moved through the area over the last few days. ODF reports that due to the complexity of the Oregon Gulch Fire, a unified command management structure with Oregon Department of Forestry, CAL Fire and Oregon State Fire Marshall’s office will be established.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office issued a Level 3 evacuation order Thursday evening for homes near Oregon Gulch Fire, specifically near Copco Rd. the 6,000 block to the Oregon border.

Below is information released from the Oregon Department of Forestry on these two fires.

Salt Creek Fire

The east side of the fire has been lined using a bulldozer. Also, hose used to transport water to the fireline will be installed and mop up will begin.  The west side of the fire is more problematic for fire personnel due to the steep terrain, making it difficult for personnel to work along the fireline directly.  Roads near the west side of the fire will be cleared to help create better access.

Oregon Gulch Fire

This fire was integrated into Beaver Complex yesterday afternoon.  The fire is burning in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.  The fire grew rapidly, crossing into Klamath County in Oregon and crossing over the Oregon-California border early last evening.  Resource advisors from Bureau of Land Management have been dispatched to the fire to assist with minimizing the effects of fire suppression activity within the Monument.  Fire growth is expected to move in a southeast direction.  The number of structures threatened is 170.  Multiple outbuildings were destroyed.  Fire personnel from California, Bureau of Land Management, and various structural fire departments are assisting with fire suppression and structural protection.

Contreras,SantiagoMEDFORD, Ore. — Detectives from the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Agency (MADGE) arrested 32-year old Santiago Martinez-Contreras on Thursday evening after a yearlong investigation.

The investigation concluded when detectives received information on Contreras’ whereabouts. MADGE Officer Rob Havice stopped the suspect in a vehicle on Crater Lake HWY near Interstate 5. Officer Havice ‘s narcotics detection canine “Narc” alerted on the vehicle and officers conducted a search.

The search revealed over eight ounces of meth, 71 grams of heroin, and $11,711 in cash. All of this evidence was seized and Contreras was arrested and lodged in the Jackson County Jail. He’s facing charges of possession, manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine, possession and delivering of heroin. His bail is set at $1,040,000.

pcthikers.previewYREKA, Ca. — Officials with the Klamath National Forest are reporting Friday that two lightning caused wildfires are prompting them to close portions of trails on the Klamath National Forest, including Shackleford Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. The closures are necessary for trail user safety as well as fire fighter safety during effort to suppress wildfires.

The Shackleford Trail is in close proximity to the Log Fire, which is estimated to be at 317 acres. It’s burning in the Shackleford Creek and Mill Creek drainage west of Fort Jones, Ca. Starting Friday, Shackleford Rd. will be closed from mile marker one to its terminus at the Shackleford Trailhead.

The Whites Fire, estimated at 1,300 acres in size is close to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and a number of trails feeding into the PCT. Therefore, according to the Klamath National Forest, the following trails will be closed:

  1. PCT (Forest Trail 2000) is closed from its junction with County Road 1C02 at Carter Meadows Summit north to its junction with County Road 1C01 at Etna Summit.
  2. Trail Creek Trail (Forest Trail No. 5521) from Forest Road 39N06 to it junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (Forest Trail 2000).
  3. Deacon Lee Trail (Forest Trail No. 5436 and 5519) from the Deacon Lee Trailhead to its junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (Forest Trail 2000).
  4. East Whites Trail (Forest Trail No. 5446) from the Timber Camp Trailhead to its junction with the Deacon Lee Trail (Forest Trail No. 5436).
  5. South Russian Creek Trail (Forest Trail No. 5453) from the South Russian Trailhead to its junction with the Deacon Lee Trail (Forest Trail No. 5436).
  6. Horse Range Trail (forest Trail No. 5450) from the Music Creek Trailhead to its junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (Forest Trail 2000).
  7. Taylor Lake Trail (Forest Trail No. 5439) from the Taylor Lake Trailhead to its terminus at Taylor Lake.
  8. Hogan Lake Trail (Forest Trail No. 5451) from its junction with the Taylor Lake Trail (Forest Trail No. 5439) to its terminus at Hogan Lake

Maps and description of the closed trails are available at the Klamath National Forest offices in Yreka, Fort Jones, Happy Camp, and Macdoel, CA as well as online at
http://www.fs.usda.gov/klamath/

 

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