Two-Mile Backup for 25 Days on I-5PHOENIX, Ore. — Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) analysts say drivers should expect delays on Interstate 5 for the next few weeks. Starting Monday, ODOT will drop travel down to one lane in each direction at exit 24 near Phoenix. This change will allow crews to install a storm water pipe below the highway. It’s part of the Fern Valley Interchange project.

For 25 days, speeds will likely be reduced to 50 mph. ODOT experts say some 38,000 drivers travel through that section of I-5 between Medford and Phoenix.

But this is just the first travel impact of several to come. After this pipe is completed, there will be temporary on and off ramps at that exit for nearly a year. And at some point, for a five day period, those ramps will be shut down completely for project work. Most drivers can use Highway 99, however trucks will have to drive to exit 27 to turn around.

The $72 million Fern Valley Interchange project runs through September 2016.

When complete, exit 24 will feature Oregon’s first diverging diamond interchange with a narrower footprint that aims to move traffic safely and efficiently while saving right of way costs.

Oregon Head Coach George Horton:

Oregon Outfielder Austin Grebeck:

Oregon Pitcher Trent Paddon:

Oregon First Baseman A.J. Balta:

Courtesy: Oregon Sports Information

EUGENE, Ore. – Austin Grebeck didn’t start in Oregon’s 2-1 win over Washington State on Sunday at PK Park, but he ended the Cougars best chance to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Ducks.

Grebeck, who entered the game as a pinch runner in the bottom of the seventh inning, threw out Nick Tanielu at second for the final out of the eighth inning after the WSU third baseman took too big a turn on a base hit by Luke Stratman. Shortstop Mark Karaviotis took Grebeck’s throw and tagged out Tanielu before Michael Monda could score from second base on the hit.

“My first thought was home, but I knew I had a safety valve at second,” Grebeck said. “It wasn’t the hardest hit ball so I knew I really had to make a perfect throw at home, then I saw that guy round second pretty hard so that was my best chance to at least end the inning and if I got it there in time to save that run at home.”

Grebeck got the chance to be the hero on defense after a couple of clutch hits by A.J. Balta and Tyler Baumgartner. After WSU took a 1-0 lead with a run in the top half of the inning, Oregon answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning.

Balta tied the game when he ripped a double on the first pitch he saw with two outs into right field scoring Shaun Chase, who led off the inning with a walk, from second base. Baumgartner followed with a RBI single that just eluded shortstop Trace Tam Sing scoring Balta from second.

Freshman Trent Paddon, making his second start of the season, kept Oregon in the game early as the Ducks (31-10, 10-5 Pac-12) struggled against Washington State (17-19, 7-8 Pac-12) starter Jason Monda.

Paddon (1-2) picked up his first career win allowing just one run on five hits with six strikeouts in six innings. Monda (1-4) took the loss, despite allowing just one hit over the first five innings, after allowing two runs on three hits with three walks and two strikeouts.

Baumgartner helped Paddon on defense as well gunning Tanielu at home to end the fourth inning and keep the game scoreless.

Aaron Payne became the all-time steals leader at Oregon when he stole his 41st career base in the bottom of the eighth. Balta led Oregon with two of the team’s four hits.EUGENE, Ore. – Austin Grebeck didn’t start in Oregon’s 2-1 win over Washington State on Sunday at PK Park, but he ended the Cougars best chance to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Ducks.

Grebeck, who entered the game as a pinch runner in the bottom of the seventh inning, threw out Nick Tanielu at second for the final out of the eighth inning after the WSU third baseman took too big a turn on a base hit by Luke Stratman. Shortstop Mark Karaviotis took Grebeck’s throw and tagged out Tanielu before Michael Monda could score from second base on the hit.

“My first thought was home, but I knew I had a safety valve at second,” Grebeck said. “It wasn’t the hardest hit ball so I knew I really had to make a perfect throw at home, then I saw that guy round second pretty hard so that was my best chance to at least end the inning and if I got it there in time to save that run at home.”

Grebeck got the chance to be the hero on defense after a couple of clutch hits by A.J. Balta and Tyler Baumgartner. After WSU took a 1-0 lead with a run in the top half of the inning, Oregon answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning.

Balta tied the game when he ripped a double on the first pitch he saw with two outs into right field scoring Shaun Chase, who led off the inning with a walk, from second base. Baumgartner followed with a RBI single that just eluded shortstop Trace Tam Sing scoring Balta from second.

Freshman Trent Paddon, making his second start of the season, kept Oregon in the game early as the Ducks (31-10, 10-5 Pac-12) struggled against Washington State (17-19, 7-8 Pac-12) starter Jason Monda.

Paddon (1-2) picked up his first career win allowing just one run on five hits with six strikeouts in six innings. Monda (1-4) took the loss, despite allowing just one hit over the first five innings, after allowing two runs on three hits with three walks and two strikeouts.

Baumgartner helped Paddon on defense as well gunning Tanielu at home to end the fourth inning and keep the game scoreless.

Aaron Payne became the all-time steals leader at Oregon when he stole his 41st career base in the bottom of the eighth. Balta led Oregon with two of the team’s four hits.

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WEATHER DISCUSSION

After a morning and an afternoon of scattered showers, conditions are finally starting to calm down. A small upper level disturbance moved into the area Thursday afternoon allowing for some showers to fall along the coast and the Northern Cascades. These showers did not hang around for too long as most had dissipated by 4 p.m. A few showers were picked up on the radar in the Valleys, but most of the precipitation evaporated before hitting the ground. High pressure will stick around tomorrow for Easter Sunday. This will keep dry and warm conditions throughout the day.

Next week is proving to be very active. Showers will start at the coast Monday afternoon ahead of an upper level low moving onshore. These showers will last through Tuesday. Temperatures will also drop anywhere from 10-15 degree after the passage of the first cold front. Zonal flow of the jet stream will be pushing these storms in one after the other. We expect a slight break in precipitation on Wednesday, with isolated showers in most locations. However, we get right back into the rain and snow (yes snow!) by Thursday. A very strong front moving in overnight Thursday will bring heavy rain to most areas as well. Shower activity will persist into next weekend. We are finally going to get some much needed rainfall.

Snow levels will also be dropping as cooler air is rushed in behind the fronts. Snow levels in the upper elevations will start at around 6,000′ on Monday evening. After the front passes levels will get into the 4,500′ – 5,000′ range. Post frontal precipitation will hang around on Tuesday allowing for a rain and snow. Since temperatures will not be below freezing for too long, models are unsure how much snow will stick. This will depend on the rate of snowfall and rate of temperature rise throughout the days. It’s safe to say that any areas up to 5,000 will probably only see a dusting. Higher elevations may see a few inches. As we get closer to these systems, we’ll have a better idea on just how much moisture these systems will bring.One thing is for sure, it’s finally good to see the moisture return to the area.

Thanks for logging on and have a great Easter weekend!

Meteorologist Seth Phillips

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Mona Loses WeightGRANTS PASS, Ore. — A local woman known for her efforts to help make playgrounds more wheelchair accessible in southern Oregon is now taking the time to re-build herself.

Over the past year, Mona Pinon, the founder of the Blue Slide Project, has been focusing on making lifestyle changes of her own.  Once morbidly obese, Pinon decided it was time to lose weight and get healthy.  She dropped more than 160 pounds in the past twelve months, but she said she could not have done it without the support of her friends, family and community.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own… it was too much… the picture was too big… it was too big of a number, and I always go overwhelmed with the number… so I would always start and give up because it was just too big you know,” said Pinon.

Pinon said she got most of her motivation from her brother who died from obesity. The community also played a big role in her weight loss.  When she decided to drop the pounds, she asked blue slide followers to donate per pound that she lost.   She raised more than $1,500 that will go towards the wheelchair accessible playground being built at a southern Oregon school.

She revealed her success to those who helped her along the way at a dinner on Saturday night.

Pinon said she is looking for volunteers for to help in the construction process of her new wheelchair accessible playground.  Construction starts June 23.  If interested contract Pinon at monapinon5@gmail.com or through the Blue Slide Project Facebook page.

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SHADY COVE, Ore. — On Saturday,  nearly 200 people rallied in Shady Cove to protest a proposed natural gas pipeline. The Jordan Cove Pacific Connector would transport billions of feet of gas obtained through fracking overseas.

Protesters shared a number of concerned about the proposed pipeline.  Many are concerned about the effects on wildlife, property rights, clean energy and climate.

The proposed pipeline will be 230 miles long, and 36 inches in diameter.  It would run from Malin to Coos Bay, Oregon, and will cross nearly 400 bodies of water.

Protesters believe the pipeline could contaminate the major Oregon Rivers.  They also worry it would endanger the fish and other wildlife that rely on the river for survival.

“The message we are trying to send is Oregonians don’t want to be shipping fracked gas throughout state,” said Forrest English, Rogue River Keeper. “You know this is not our job to bear the brunt of the impacts to ship Canadian gas and other states gas elsewhere.”

The pipeline will also take property from more than 300 land owners through eminent domain.  Those property owners have received letters in the mail, saying they will have to give up their land if and when the pipeline goes through.

NewsWatch 12 did reach out to Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline officials.  They did not immediately return our calls.  The official website says the pipeline is a commitment to providing a new source of natural gas and jobs to Oregon.

Shelter Marks Adoption MilestoneMEDFORD, Ore. — Southern Oregon Humane Society is celebrating 5,000 dog adoptions this weekend through its “Saving Train” program. The shelter saves lives through that program, targeting dogs who are in line to be euthanized at other shelters.

Saturday the shelter commemorated the milestone with a party. Also, every dog adopted Saturday left with a special bandana.

Earth DayASHLAND, Ore. — Thousands celebrated Earth Day early at ScienceWorks in Ashland Saturday. There were 65 exhibits showing visitors different technologies, tips for energy conservation, waste management, habitat restoration and even a cardboard city.

One of the event coordinators, Paige Prewett, says the focus of the event was education. “All of the exhibitors are here with the intention of education in mind. We don’t have any exhibitors that are selling things or here to distribute junk. All of them are here and we require them to distribute quality information to the people who are here to learn.”

The official Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22.

Meanwhile, Arbor Day enthusiasts celebrated the holiday early in Talent. The holiday is marked on the final Friday in April.

Dozens gathered in Talent to enjoy kid-friendly offerings like coloring and tree and leaf stamp art. Experts say Oregon celebrates an Arbor Week because of the high value placed on trees in the state. The “Friends of Trees” group organized the event in Talent. It’s a city subcommittee dedicated to the care and health of local trees.

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CRATER LAKE, Ore. — The US Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, is kicking off National Park Week with a visit to Crater Lake National Park.

Secretary Jewell strapped on snowshoes and hit the trails with students and teachers from Eugene’s Network Charter School. She also held an informal question and answer session with students to talk about why these natural treasures are worth protecting.

Jewell says these parks provide economic value in addition to recreational value.

“There is no better return than the return we get on our national parks. We return $7 for every $1 spent,” said Jewell.

Over the past few years national parks have struggled to get funding, with sequestration cuts forcing many to temporarily close.

In an appeal to students, Jewell made a case for why a new generation of stewards needs to step up.

“You know you try to get done what you can get done, but you can’t do more with less. After a while you start doing less with less,” said Jewell during a speech to the gathered crowd.

according to the Southern Oregon Visitors Association, Crater Lake leads a tourism industry that employs more than 10,000 people in the area. In 2012, national parks combined to support nearly 250,000 jobs and generate nearly $27-billion to the economy.

Jewell says the goal of National Park Week is to simply encourage people to show up in the hopes that they enjoy their experience and choose to advocate for national parkland. All national parks will offer free admission for the remainder of the week.

KiwanisegghuntMEDFORD, Ore. - The moment the ribbons were cut, kids raced to grab as much candy as they could Saturday at the annual Kiwanis Egg Hunt in Hawthorne Park.

Medford Kiwanis members said every year they see about 500 kids show up for the egg hunt in the park. Members are prepared to hand out about 40 pounds of candy. Balloons were handed out and the Easter Bunny was even there to cheer the kids on and pose for photographs.

Past president of Kiwanis of Medford, Ronald Naumann, said it’s marvelous to see the kids get so excited about the event. “We joke about it starting at 10:00 and being over at 10:02 because the kids take no time at all to find all the eggs!” Naumann said.

Kiwanis club members said they appreciate the help of high school volunteers who help make the event possible every year.

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NEAR CHILOQUIN, Ore. – Governor John Kitzhaber and other Oregon and California leaders are gathering this morning for the official signing of the historic Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement.

Members include Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Undersecretary of the Department of Commerce Kathryn Sullivan, California Resources Secretary John Laird, Klamath Tribal Chair Don Gentry, and members of the Klamath Basin Task Force.

Members of the Klamath Tribes and Upper Basin water users have come together and developed solutions to water issues affecting the region. The Upper Basin Agreement represents a historic milestone for one of the most complex and contentious natural water wars in the West.

Friday’s event will celebrate the leadership, good faith, and hard work that made the Agreement possible while highlighting the economic and environmental benefits for the Klamath region.

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