News Stories for Fri., Jun. 23, 2017

A gathering of public safety, wildfire, health and community programs was held yesterday at Kah-Nee-Ta resort to discuss response to possible emergency scenarios that could occur on the days before, during and after the Solar Eclipse on August 21st.  Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to travel to Central Oregon during that period and so public agencies are bracing for worst case scenarios. Central Oregonians are being advised to plan on staying close to home and avoid the heavy traffic.  Also to do shopping at least the week prior and have enough food and water on hand to last a week or two. Other things you should do: Fill your gas tanks.  Get cash in case ATMs run out or are affected by slow internet due to high demand. And, prepare defensible space around your home to help keep you safe thru the summer and during the time leading up to and through the solar eclipse.

The Oregon House approved legislation Thursday paving the way for continued growth in the state’s newest agriculture industry. SB 1015 eases restrictions on the sale of industrial hemp products by allowing growers to sell their crops to OLCC-licensed processors, who would then be allowed to put industrial hemp products up for sale in licensed retail locations. The bill received broad bipartisan support from lawmakers.

Public hearings to address the third application for approval of the Pacific Connector pipeline are coming up next week. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will host a hearing on Thursday from 4-7 PM at the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls. Folks can go early to meet for a potluck, to learn about the pipeline, and to prepare testimony. On June 9th, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) to draft an Environmental Impact Statement for the Jordan Cove LNG export project and fracked gas pipeline that would run through the Klamath Basin. There is a 30-day public comment period.

The Warm Springs Oregon Prospects Youth Boys Basketball team is heading to Las Vegas next month to compete in the Grand Finale Championships.  They are the only all-Native American high school team competing. It’s a chance for the boys to compete in front of college coaches and play for a National Amateur Athletic Union championship! The team is fundraising for their trip today across from the Warm Springs Market.  They are selling strawberry shortcakes and selling squares for a 50/50 raffle. You will find them under the blue canopy!

The overwhelming majority of the $3.4 billion Cobell trust fund settlement has been distributed but some Indian beneficiaries still haven’t been paid. Those beneficiaries, or their heirs, are now facing a court-ordered deadline of November 27 to submit documentation to Garden City Group, the entity that has been administering the settlement since it was approved by Congress. The Group largely relies on the Department of the Interior for information about eligible beneficiaries. But inaccurate and outdated records have prevented all of the funds from going out to Indian Country. Approximately 30,000 individual Indians are among those who haven’t received their share of the settlement. Shares of Individuals considered “whereabouts unknown” after November 27 will be transferred to the Cobell scholarship fund. Checks that have been mailed but haven’t been cashed by the deadline also will go to the fund. The deadline, though, does not affect the estates of deceased beneficiaries that are still being processed by Interior.