10:15 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Tuesday Update: Crews Gain Ground On Oregon Gulch Fire

The Oregon Gulch fire, straddling the Oregon-California border southeast of Ashland, is Oregon's biggest active fire at 36,568 acres as of Tuesday morning.
Credit US Forest Service

UPDATE, TUESDAY, 9:00 a.m. -- Lower temperatures and higher humidity, coupled with lower winds, have resulted in little new fire activity on the Oregon Gulch fire that straddles the Oregon-California state line. The lull has given fire crews a chance to gain ground on the fire, which is now 30 percent contained.

It's also allowed authorities to lift evacuation orders along Copco Road in Siskiyou County and to lower the evacuations level along Copco Road from Hyatt Lake to the state line from Level 3 (Get out now) to Level 2 (Be ready to go at a moment's notice). 

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Jefferson Exchange | August 5, 2014 | 8:00
10:10 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Health Insurance Without The Profits

Credit NIH/Public Domain

One of the major gripes about the Affordable Care Act--Obamacare--is that it does not include a public option, a Medicare-style single-payer element. 

Many of the people who like the concept of single-payer health care do not like the concept of for-profit insurance companies. 

There are non-profit insurance co-ops out there, including Health Republic Insurance. 

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Jefferson Exchange | August 5, 2014 | 9:00
10:10 am
Tue August 5, 2014

The Heart Of Fire Season (We Hope)

The plume from the Oregon Gulch Fire, seen from miles away in Ashland.

It's been a busy couple of weeks for firefighters in the region. 

The Oregon Gulch fire is one of those rare ones that involves both states, and it's a big one. 

It is also far from the only big one burning; crews are working fires in many places in both states. 

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Jefferson Exchange | August 4, 2014 | 8:00
10:10 am
Mon August 4, 2014

Breaking The Cycle Of Opioid Abuse

Credit Wikimedia

While much of the focus on illegal drug abuse went to meth and heroin, prescription drugs came along and became a huge problem. 

The opioids--Oxycontin and the like--are responsible for much of the illegal drug trade. 

And medical professionals have teamed up to curb the trade, through groups like the Opioid Prescribers Group in the Rogue Valley. 

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Jefferson Exchange | August 4, 2014 | 8:30
10:10 am
Mon August 4, 2014

"Hotel Hell" In The Applegate Valley

Credit Wikimedia

"Gordon Ramsay Checks Into a Hotel Run By Hippies," reads the promo headline for Fox TV's "Hotel Hell" airing tonight (August 4).  

Who are they calling hippies? 

The owners of the Applegate River Lodge west of Medford, it turns out. 

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Separate Fire Closes US 97
1:10 pm
Sun August 3, 2014

10,000 Acres A Day: Oregon Gulch Fire Marches On

The Oregon Gulch Fire in its early stages. Note the red trees to the left, indicating a retardant slurry drop from a plane.
Credit Lee Winslow/ODF


ODF says crews "made excellent progress on the fire" during the day Sunday.  Fire acreage at 36,500+... first day since Thursday fire did not gain 10,000 acres during the day.


The Oregon Gulch Fire continues to burn through a vast swath of land on the Oregon/California state line, generating large amounts of smoke and obscuring dozens of other fires burning in the region.  The fire zone is south of Oregon highway 66 and generally east of Jenny Creek, with land scorched in Jackson, Klamath and Siskiyou Counties.

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Evacuations Jackson-Klamath-Siskiyou Counties
4:37 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

UPDATED: Oregon Gulch Fire Continues To Spread

A fire cloud forms over the Oregon Gulch fire, southeast of Ashland, on Thursday evening.
Credit Keith Henty/

Much of the Rogue Valley is shrouded in a smoky haze, as southern Oregon’s largest wildfire so far this season grows at a rapid pace.

The lightning-caused fire -- reported Thursday morning as 10 acres -- exploded across southeastern Jackson County overnight and spread into Klamath County as well as Siskiyou County, California.

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Jefferson Exchange | August 1, 2014 | 8:30
10:10 am
Fri August 1, 2014

New Boss, New Look At Ashland "Tidings"

Say goodbye to the broadsheet; tabloid is coming to the Daily Tidings.

Ashland's daily newspaper is getting a new boss and a new look.

Incoming editor Bert Etling revealed on The Jefferson Exchange that the Daily Tidings will switch from a broadsheet to a tabloid format on Tuesday, August 12.

It's one of several changes coming to the small-town daily, including the hiring of Etling.

The paper has not had its own editor for most of the last decade. 

It shared Bob Hunter with its sister paper, the Mail Tribune of Medford. 

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Live Session Archive
9:14 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Josh Ritter Live Session

Dominic Barth

Born in Idaho, singer-songwriter Josh Ritter recorded and released his self-titled debut in 1999 after graduating from Oberlin College with a self-created “American History through Narrative Folk Music” major. While attending college in Oberlin, Ohio, Ritter got his first listen to Leonard Cohen and Gillian Welch. He instantly fell in love with their songs and dropped his neuroscience major in favor of the pursuit of music.

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8:01 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Study Says Poor Planning Contributes To Wildfire Costs

An Oregon Army National Guardsman looks for spot fires around the Government Flats Complex fire from a Blackhawk helicopter, near The Dalles, Aug. 21, 2013.
Credit Oregon Military Department

Wildfires in the West are getting bigger, hotter – and more costly. A new report from a national science advocacy group says climate change is one major reason wildfires are getting worse.

And short-sighted development policies are a big reason they’re costing more.

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Green Springs On Alert
4:33 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

More Lightning, More Fires, More Evacuations

Lightning strikes near Ashland, July 30.
Credit Geoffrey Riley/JPR

Lightning continues to set fires around the region, keeping firefighters busy and forcing evacuation alerts.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office issued a level one evacuation order for Copco Road east of Ashland Thursday afternoon (July 31).

The Oregon Gulch fire burning in the nearby Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument prompted the order, which means residents should be ready to evacuate if needed.

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Jefferson Exchange | July 31, 2014 | 8:30
10:10 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Questioning Health Insurance Rate Hikes

Credit Wikimedia

As we move further into the age of health insurance reform, the arguments just keep coming. 

One concerns individual health insurance rates: will they go up? Down? Stay the same? 

Excellent question. 

Oregon insurers propose a variety of new rates for 2015, and they're all over the map. 

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Jefferson Exchange | July 31, 2014 | 9:00
10:10 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Ashland's Drought Summit

Credit Wikimedia

The euphemism "D word" went out of favor early in this calendar year. 

Public officials and water managers just came right out and said "drought" when it became clear the winter would not deliver the usual amount of snow and rain. 

California's governor made his drought declaration before the end of January, and efforts to conserve water have been widespread. 

The City of Ashland is one of several jurisdictions making special moves to encourage conservation. 

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Bad Fire Weather
11:29 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Firefighters Looking For Smokes

Lightning strikes near Ashland Tuesday evening. Note the very few raindrops under a partly sunny sky.
Credit Geoffrey Riley/JPR

Nature continues to provide a one-two punch to the region: hot, dry weather AND thunderstorms.

Oregon Department of Forestry reports seven new fires across the Medford district from Tuesday's storms.  None are big, but more may develop.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning covering the Rogue Valley, South Cascades, Siskiyous, the Klamath Basin and Siskiyou County.  It remains in effect until 11 PM Wednesday (July 30).

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Jefferson Exchange | July 30, 2014 | 8:00
10:10 am
Wed July 30, 2014

CalTrans Brings Fish Scientists To The Smith

River and road are close neighbors in the Smith River canyon.
Credit Graham Hughes/Wild California

Environmental groups complained about plans to widen California highway 197 and U.S. 199 along the Smith River, because the work could hurt fish. 

A judge agreed, and postponed the beginning of the work. 

Now CalTrans will consult with the federal fisheries agency, to assess the possible effects of the highway projects on salmon. 

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The Missing of Summer Lawns
4:31 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Water Wasters Beware: California Approves Fines as Drought Deepens

Credit Victoria Reed/JPR

The last year has been the driest in history for California, which is enduring its third year of drought. 

When Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency in January, he asked Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 20 percent. Instead, the state’s total water consumption actually increased by one percent.

State water officials have decided to get a tougher with water wasters and the water agencies that supply them. They’ve issued an emergency order that takes effect this week.

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Jefferson Exchange | July 29, 2014 | 8:00
10:10 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Water Rights For Bodies Of Water

Credit PGHolbrook/Wikimedia

Does a river or a lake have a water right? 

This question gets asked more often lately, as the drought makes lakes and rivers run low or dry, while nearby water users still get their water. 

A California court just ruled that the pumping of water out of the ground must be regulated to protect nearby rivers.   An environmental group filed the suit.

It's the first use of the "public trust doctrine" in this manner in the state. 

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Jefferson Exchange | July 29, 2014 | 8:30
10:10 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Stepping Up The Crime Fight In Redding

Credit Scott Sanchez/Wikimedia

Regardless of the actual crime numbers, there is a perception of a crime problem in downtown Redding. 

Business owners have banded together as Redding Merchants Crime Watch, and the council and mayor are floating proposals to beef up law enforcement. 

Right smack in the middle is Police Chief Rob Paoletti, who plans a town hall meeting Wednesday at 6 PM (at Sequoia Middle School) to release crime stats and take input. 

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75% Contained Monday Evening
5:16 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Klamath County Fire Approaches Containment

Credit South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership

Firefighters appear to have the upper hand on the Ferguson fire, burning on private land in Klamath County. 

By Monday afternoon, the fire was listed as 75% contained on 200 acres.

The fire was first reported on Friday, and quickly burned down three structures and threatened several more, forcing evacuation orders.

Those orders had been dialed back to less urgent advisories by early Monday.  The fire zone is 30 miles east of Klamath Falls, five miles north of Beatty.

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Jefferson Exchange | July 28, 2014 | 8:30
10:10 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Eugene's Big Sick Leave Vote

Credit Tuality Healthcare/Jeff Schilling

Few people think workers should NOT get paid sick leave. 

The major questions revolve around who should provide it, and if government should order it. 

The Eugene City Council may vote tonight (July 28) on whether to require paid sick leave at companies doing business in city limits. 

The Lane County Commissioners voted first, though, and their ordinances may stop any sick leave ordinance cold. 

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