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Snowpack levels lower near Mt. Ashland
By Will Maetzold/KTVL.com

ASHLAND, Ore. -- As the staff from the Jackson County watermaster's office surveyed snow near Mt. Ashland on Friday, there was a sharp difference from when snowpack was measured just one month ago.

"The temperature have been very warm or above freezing so all the precipitation has fallen as rain," Jackson County watermaster Travis Kelly. "So our snowpack is very low. Less than 20-percent."

The group had planned to use snow shoes to reach at least three of the survey sites, but because of the lack of snow, they weren't needed on the first two stops.

"Sampling zero (inches) in courses that have seen 48 or 49 inches of snow in a median year is a lot less than we would have expected to have found," Jackson County assistant watermaster Greg Wacker said.

The numbers measured during these snow surveys, taken from January through May each year, help to set the forecast for the upcoming water year.

Watermaster Travis Kelly says a smaller snowpack could make the year especially difficult in areas where there aren't man-made reservoirs.

"If people are interested, they can contact their local water supplier," Kelly said. "The Medford Water Commission and the city of Ashland both have specialists that work for them that emphasize conservation."

Conservation efforts that may be necessary more this year than ever before.

News10 News Break Jan. 30
1. Police identified the bodies of a Georgia couple killed after trying to buy car on Craigslist. When buying and selling online, Craigslist and police advise meeting in a public place, telling a friend or family member where you are going and trusting your instincts. Grants Pass police officers say to always keep your guard up when dealing with someone online. If you do not feel right about a situation, call police. Officers say they will do what they can to help. They say meeting at the police station when exchanging items is always an option and probably the best one.

2. Two people are behind bars in Siskiyou County. Junior Quintanilla and Victor Lueras are accused of breaking into a home, tying down the residents and robbing them. Siskiyou County sheriff's deputies say the couple stole guns and other things around the house, then took off. The two were later found on Interstate 5 near Mount Shasta. They face numberous felony charges. 

3. Oregon State Police are investigating a deadly crash on Interstate 5 near Roseburg Thursday afternoon. Jonathan W. Graham of Myrtle Creek was driving northbound on I-5 when his black Ford Focus drifted into a traffic barrier and crash, sustaining heavy front and side damage. The 58-year-old died from his injuries at a hospital. Why he drifted remains under investigation. 

4. Medford police officers and city leaders may renew their photo enforcement contract. They are also looking at getting cameras throughout the city. Photo radar enforcements are already around town, like at Biddle and McAndrews, as well as, Stewart and Barnett Streets. Plus, they have two photo radar enforcement vans available for use. The city has a contract with a company called Red Flex through February. Before they renew it, they need accident numbers  and surveys to determined the next intersections they will add enforcement to. Two possible areas for photo radar enforcement include North Riverside and Jackson and the intersection of Stewart and Columbus Avenue.

5. Vacant homes on your street could cost you. Traci Johan works with Keller Williams Realty and says these days homes can sit vacant for over a year without anyone living in or maintaining it. Local banks buy the foreclosed home, then it's handed over to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office to facilitate the switching of the deed before the bank puts the home back on the market.The Jackson County Sheriff's Office has dozens of vacant homes on their website up for sale.

6. Economists at a business conference today say the high-tech industry is growing in Medford, but most folks do not even know it is there. Economists say it is growing almost 30 percent faster than the national average. The growth includes pharmaceutical and computer project manufacturing and software development. Medford is the 11th most diverse in the tech industry out of 179 small cities. Also, the high-tech industry is a large portion of the Medford economy. 

7. Downtown Medford vacancies are a problem for some, but not everyone in the area. A real estate company owner says the downtown area has a healthy vacancy rate at nearly 5 percent. The number includes a school, library, police department, city hall and other commercial buildings. But the percentage of vacancies affecting businesses is considered unhealthy. Although vacancy rates are lower in other areas in Medford, business owners and employees think Downtown Medford needs help.

8. About 1,000 people in Josephine County did not have a permanent home last year, according to a survey by United Community Action Natwork and Josephine County's Homelessness Task Force. However, some people did not want to be counted beause of personal concerns and a lost trust in government agencies. U-CAN directors say they were lucky to have volunteers who have connections with some of the local transients. Directors say this event underestimates the true nature of homelessness in the community. Official numbers of the county are available after Feb. 28.

9. The second Sierra Snow Survey is in the books and it appears we are heading in the wrong direction to get out of the drought. A survey team from the Department of Water Resources took the measurements at Echo Summit Thursday morning. The survey shows less than an inch more of water content compared to last year, making it one of the worst on record.There has been close to zero snow fall in that part of the Sierra since the beginning of the year. Higher than average temperatures and high pressure systems have been keeping the storms away from California. A third of California relies on water from the Sierra run-off.

10. Black smoke seen pouring out of Knife River Materials in Central Point. Fire crews were called to Kirtland Road just before 3 p.m. Thursday. Firefighters say the fire started in the oil cylinder when workers were loading oil in the tank. The oil in the tank is used to make asphalt. Several roads were closed as a precaution and firefighters were able to put out the flames in several minutes. 

11. Longtime former Klamath County District Attorney Ed Caleb has passed away after a long battle with health issues. Caleb died Thursday night. He announced his retirement a few years ago, after 27 years in the district attorney seat. According to former Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger, Caleb faced health issues, including a form of dementia. Friends and family refer to him as a legend, a well-known face in the community who cared about the people he served. They say he was also a big family man and sports fan. Evinger worked with Caleb for 24 years. He says it is a difficult day and he is still processing the news. We here at News10 extend our condolences.

12. The Klamath County District Attorney's Office is working to add more staff members with new grant funding. It plans to add four positions. One full-time Deputy District Attorney, one part-time probation officer and one part-time correction officer. The goal is to deal with local offenders at the local level and not have to send them all to the state prison system.

13. Police arrested a mother accused of showing up drunk at a Medford Elementary School to pick up her child. It happened at Lone Pine Elementary in Medford. Police say she was well-over the legal limit. A relative was called to pick up the student. 

14. Medford police officers are trying to figure out who stole weapons, cash and electronics from a home on Wabash Avenue. Police say the suspect took off with a laptop, jewelry, stun gun and two handguns. Police say the burglars found the homeowners small safe, which was not bolted down. 

Coming Out to be Counted
By Aaron Nilsson/KTVL.comJOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. -- Standing up to be counted.About one-thousand people in Josephine County didn't have a permanent home last year.That's according to a survey by United Community Action Network and Josephine County's Homelessness Task Force.Some people didn't want to be counted because of personal concerns and a lost trust in government agencies.Directors said this event underestimates the true nature of homelessness in the community.U.C.A.N. directors said they were lucky to have several volunteers who have connections with some of the local transients."They went with us to each site and went into the brush and coaxed some of them out, saying 'it's okay, they're safe and they have some supplies if you just answer a few questions," Dominick Lucia with U.C.A.N., said.Official numbers of the count are available after February 28th.

Secret Booming Industry in Medford
Ariana Rakhshani/KTVL.com

MEDFORD, Ore. -- The parking lot was full. Inside, everyone was dressed business professional, drinking coffee and tea. It was a business conference.

A Milken Institute economist came to the Inn at the Commons to relay some information about Medford--that people who live here in the city of Medford may not even know.

Medford's high-tech industry is growing at a rate 30 percent higher than the national average.

"It is the 11th most diverse in the tech industry amongst small metros that we look at and it's also a large portion of the output of the Medford economy," Milken Institute economist Minoli Ratnatunga said.

Medford has been in the top tier for this growth for the last five years--out of 179 small cities.

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