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Klamath/Lake Counties Food Bank
304 Vandenberg Dr., Suite 41   
Klamath Falls, OR 97603-1939   

PHONE: 541-882-1223 
FAX: 541-882-0065 

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Representative Tom Butler        Senator Steve Harper
R-Ontario, District 60           R-Klamath Falls, District 30

Representative Bill Garrard      71 st Assembly of
R-Klamath Falls, District 53     The Oregon Legislature

NEWS RELEASE                                     JUNE 7, 2001

Klamath County Advocates Call on State Leaders For Help

(Salem)  "I've never felt so powerless in my life," said 
Klamath County Commissioner Al Switzer during a news conference 
at the State Capitol today. Switzer was one of several local 
advocates who met with legislators and the Governor today to 
ask for help for their drought stricken region.

The federal government cut off irrigation water in the Klamath 
Basin in early April and ever since farmers have been feeling 
the effects. Niki Sampson, Director of the Klamath-Lake Food 
Bank says promises of government assistance may not become 
reality for another six months and she pointed out, "you can't 
wait that long to eat." Her organization is currently feeding 
5,000 families, that's up 700 from a month ago. The Oregon 
Grocery Industry Association put a call out to its members for 
help. Fred Meyer responded and brought a semi truckload full of 
food and parked it in front of the Capitol today.  It contains 
23,000 pounds of food, enough to feed 600 families for three 

Calls for help to the Klamath County Mental Health Department 
are up over 60 percent this spring.  More and more residents in 
distress are in need of counseling services and County 
Commissioner John Elliott told reporters today, "I'm not sure 
where this is going to end."

Representative Butler, Representative Garrard, and Senator 
Harper are currently working on a comprehensive aid package for 
the Klamath Basin. The package includes money for well 
drilling, and possibly job training. Hundreds of farmers have 
applied for unemployment benefits and the Oregon Health Plan 
but can't qualify because they still have land assets. The 
legislative delegation is working on exemptions to those 
programs. There is also a concern about allowing farmers to 
restructure mortgages.

The advocates at today's news conference are hoping to raise 
awareness statewide. A new clearinghouse is being established 
to assist families in need. The Merrill Drought Relief Center 
has been set up at the Merrill Health Clinic. The new number 
people can call to get help or offer to provide help is 
541-798-5171. The Oregon Food Bank is also accepting calls to 

For more information contact Dawn Phillips 503-986-1314

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