Oscar13SMU, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It's been a fear in Medford for a long time... that gangs would gain a foothold and drive up the crime rate.  Some of that has come true. 

But Medford Police have a few tools in the toolbox for monitoring and curtailing youth gang activity. 

And Matt Sweeney at Rogue Valley Youth For Christ has a plan to turn an old firehouse into a community center, in the heart of the area with the most gang activity. 

OSF Photo Illustration

The plays of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival show clearly the festival's commitment to diversity.  Characters of all colors and genders appear. 

And the work of OSF extends well beyond the boundaries of its stages.  The education department at the Festival reaches out to the community in a number of ways, including an upcoming project called "Take Them Into the Dirt."

It's an immersive experience--meaning audience involvement--that explores indigenous stories. 

Rob Goodwin, our host for "The Keenest Observers," is part of the project at OSF. 

California Dairy Farmers Send Aid To Hurricane Victims

Sep 25, 2017

California’s dairy farmers have come to the aid of the hurricane victims in Houston and Florida. Seventy Thousand pounds of dairy products have been delivered to local food banks there.

Geoffrey Riley/JPR News

You don't have to sell people in the state of Jefferson on the region's charms.  And tourism certainly helps pay the bills around here. 

But are we getting a rep as a place that's on fire or smoky or both?  It's been a rough fire season, with a number of events canceled by smoke concerns. 

Travel Oregon and Discover Siskiyou are in the business of convincing people they want to come here.  We check in with them to see if that job has become more difficult. 

Centers for Disease Control

Only two students in Ashland schools were confirmed to have pertussis (whooping cough) when Jackson County Health officials declared an outbreak. 

But as they have pointed out in the past, pertussis is not something to take lightly.  It's one of those diseases that had become rare until parents concerned about vaccines stopped having children vaccinated against it. 

Now under-vaccinated students are required to stay out of school for three full weeks, and that includes students who came in contact with the children with confirmed cases.  27 were excluded at first, down to 18 as of September 25th.

Salem May Outlaw Sitting On Sidewalks In Homeless Crackdown

Sep 21, 2017
Molly J. Smith/Statesman Journal

Salem is poised to outlaw sitting and lying on city sidewalks from dawn to dusk.

But the city is taking its chances with such a proposal after a Multnomah County court ruled a similar Portland ordinance was unconstitutional several years ago.

No public hearing is scheduled on the plan, but city councilors could vote Monday to hold one.

California Sues To Stop Trump's Border Wall

Sep 21, 2017
WBUR, flickr

California has filed a lawsuit against President Trump’s border wall. The suit filed Wednesday argues that plans to begin construction in San Diego and Imperial counties could harm the state’s sensitive environmental resources.

Eric Mindling,

Eric Mindling is not a just-scratch-the-surface kind of guy.  When he takes photographs, they convey a deep sense of the people portrayed. 

And when he takes tour groups to Mexico, he skips the tourist spots in favor of an authentic flavor of Oaxaca. 

Mindling keeps an apartment in Ashland, but he's lived in Mexico since 1992, so he's quite knowledgeable about the culture, traditions, and challenges of life off the beaten path.

The biggest circus in the country may have shut down, but there's plenty of circus left to enjoy. 

In fact, the Rogue Valley is home to a circus academy, Le Cirque Center. 

The center and Ashland's Flying Actor Studio are putting on the first-ever Lunacy Festival, this weekend and next in Ashland.  Circus acts, physical comedy, and music are among the attractions. 

For nearly two decades, Willie Watson has made modern folk music rooted in older traditions. He’s a folksinger in the classic sense: a singer, storyteller, and traveler, with a catalog of songs that bridge the gap between the past and present. On Folksinger Vol. 2, he acts as a modern interpreter of older songs, passing along his own version of the music that came long before him.

Larry Lamb, CC BY-SA 3.0,

At its most basic level, fishing is trying to grab an animal out of water with a hook. 

But for the people who do it regularly, it's so much more.  Peace, quiet, accomplishment, fulfillment... it can be all that and more. 

For the organization Healing Waters, it's a way for disabled veterans to feel whole again.  A chapter set up at the VA facility in White City takes vets out for fishing and fly-tying. 

University of Washington Field Methods in Indigenous Archaeology

When we talk about "unearthing history," it's quite literal for archaeologists. 

And while the professionals supervise the work, there's room for amateurs to dig in the ground for clues to the lives of the people who preceded us. 

In this month's installment of "Underground History," our partners at the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology introduce us to the Oregon Archaeological Society

OAS provides volunteers for digs around the state, and provides those volunteers with training. 

SOU still out $1.3 million in email fraud

Sep 20, 2017

Southern Oregon University has recovered less than a third of the $1.9 million it was bilked out of in an email fraud earlier this year.

In April, the university wired $1.9 million to fraudsters posing as the construction contractor for the McNeal Pavilion and Student Recreation Center project. Of that amount, $609,000 was recovered earlier this summer, according to SOU spokesman Joe Mosley.

“It’s money that remained in the frozen bank account,” Mosley said.

New Report Calls For Changes To California Dam Policies

Sep 19, 2017
CA - DWR / Twitter

A new report from a collection of environmental, fishing, and river rafting groups recommends changes to dam management following the failure of the main spillway at Lake Oroville in February.

Oregon consistently shows up high on the list of states where people go hungry from time to time. 

And a new food insecurity report shows it remains above the national average.  But there is a glimmer of something positive in the news: some of the numbers show a decline in food insecurity. 

Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon work to curb food insecurity, as does the food program at Access, Inc. in Jackson County. 

Wikimedia Commons

If it seems like just a few more birds are flying around of late, your powers of observation are acute. 

Plenty of birds are on the move this time of year, heading south for winter breeding and feeding grounds before frost settles in here. 

Klamath Bird Observatory will honor the semi-annual migration with a set of events on Saturday, September 23rd. 

They include a visit from Noah Strycker, world-class birder and record holder.  Noah, from Oregon, saw more than 6,000 bird species in a single year.

The heavy fire season of this summer is just the latest in what appears to be a growing trend. 

Even fires that are not terribly large or intense can have drastic consequences, large loss of life and property. 

Michael Kodas examines the trend in his book Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame

Rains Seriously Dampen Chetco Bar Fire

Sep 19, 2017
Nighthawk via

FINAL UPDATE: TUESDAY, SEPT. 19 ... Continued wet, cool weather has largely dampened the Chetco Bar fire, which now stands at 190,512 acres and is 68 percent contained.  

This will be our final update on the Chetco Bar fire in this separate post, barring an unexpected serious fire threat. We'll continue to post daily updates on size and containment as part of our Oregon Wildfire Roundup post.

We Can All Breathe Again!

Sep 19, 2017

FINAL UPDATE: TUESDAY, SEPT. 19 ... Rain over the past few days throughout southern Oregon and northern California has dampened the wildfires and cleared the air, so much so that, as of this morning, the Air Quality Index readings in the JPR listening area are all in the "GOOD" range, except for two locations near the Oregon coast. And those readings (in Gold Beach and Agness) are "MODERATE."

Crater Lake webcam

A night and a day of rain on much of the region cleared the air in two senses: removing the smoke and lessening the fire danger.