REDMOND, OR -- Redmond has seen exponential growth in new housing starts. Mayor George Endicott tells KBND News, "Last year, the entire year, we had 159 building permits. This year, so far, we have 156. So, you know, if that trend keeps up, it would almost double." He says commercial developments aren’t moving quite as quickly, "Right now, it is so expensive to build – you know, land, labor, materials – because of all the demand, we’re having trouble finding speculators, in particular, that are willing to build industrial buildings. But, even given that, our building permits are up 56% over last year."
Overall, he says, it points to a booming city, "Total plans, right now, we’ve got 243 actually in our Planning Department that are being approved. So, it is a growing area. And, as our staff said, every house that’s being built is being sold."
Endicott also hopes several proposed projects will revitalize downtown. including plans to renovate the New Redmond Hotel into a boutique hotel. And, on Wednesday, several potential developers took part in a tour of Redmond’s former City Hall building, at SW 7th and Evergreen. Endicott would like to see it converted to some type of housing - maybe condos, "Some sort of a multi-family unit, there; hopefully upper-end. You know, get some people in town for disposable income." He says that could stimulate the creation of more night-time activities in downtown. "There’s more and more of an evening –restaurants and so forth – down there. But, if you get people actually living there, then chances are there’s an opportunity for even more entertainment and things like that." The building was vacated when the new City Hall opened just two blocks away, earlier this year.
Mayor Endicott says it could be a couple of months before they secure a plan for the old facility.
To hear more of our conversation with Redmond Mayor George Endicott, click HERE
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CLARNO, OR -- Wildland firefighters from the Prineville BLM and Wheeler County are battling a new blaze near Clarno. The Rhoades Canyon Fire was reported just before noon, Tuesday, about a mile east of the John Day River.
It grew quickly, fueled by dried grass and wind. As of Wednesday evening it was estimated at 10,000 acres and 30% contained. Officials say its rapid growth is a sign that vegetation in Central Oregon is quickly drying out, raising the fire danger.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- An illegal open burn pile in Prineville blew out of control, Wednesday afternoon, igniting a grass fire on the hill behind SE Willowdale Drive.
Crook County crews responded just before 5 p.m. and found the fire being pushed by the wind and threatening several homes. The blaze was held at about seven acres; no structures were lost and no injuries were reported.
BEND, OR -- A 16-year-old Outward Bound student from Florida was injured on South Sister, yesterday afternoon (Wed), prompting a rescue effort by Deschutes County Search and Rescue. The teen was part of a group of eight students and two instructors; he suffered a non-life threatening injury during their descent. Airlink flew Search and Rescue medics to his location then transported the patient to St. Charles Bend.
At nearly the same time, SAR teams also attempted to help a hiker lost in the Lucky Lake area. They were first called out, after a woman reported that she and her friend had become separated. Eleven SAR volunteers were deployed, including an overhead team and a horse team.
A couple hours later, a witness spotted the missing woman on Cascade Lakes Highway and SAR shifted their efforts to a road search. Two hours after that, they learned she had received a ride into Bend from a passerby, and was fine.
REDMOND, OR -- Two people were killed in separate Central Oregon crashes, Wednesday afternoon, just hours apart.
At about 1:30, State Police responded to Highway 97, a mile south of Terrebonne. Investigators believe 26-year-old Amber Paplia, of Madras, was northbound when she crossed into oncoming traffic and hit a car driven by a Gaston man. He was seriously injured; his wife was killed and two others in the car suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Paplia was also taken to the hospital with serious injuries.Fatigue is believed to be a contributing factor in that crash.
Just before 5 p.m., crews responded to Highway 26, between Madras and Prineville, after a car crashed into a tree, sparking a four-acre grass fire. A passerby rescued a woman and three children from the vehicle, but the male driver was killed. The woman was flown to St. Charles Bend; the three kids were taken by ambulance to the Madras hospital with minor injuries.
That crash remains under investigation.
BEND, OR -- A fast moving fire in southeast Bend damaged or destroyed two houses, a large shed, a mobile home, two campers a pickup and three camp trailers, Wednesday evening. A third house sustained minor damage.
Bend fire crews responded to SE Miller Ave. just after 6:30 p.m. and found several buildings and large pine trees involved in the blaze. Officials say dry fuels and the congested arrangement of the structures contributed to its rapid spread. Witnesses heard explosions, which officials say were tires and aerosol cans exploding in the intense heat.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The Red Cross is helping the impacted family.
BEND, OR -- On the first full day of summer, Deschutes County Commissioners recognized more than a dozen individuals and businesses for their snow removal efforts, and other ways they’ve gone “above and beyond” to improve sidewalk safety.
The Downtown Bend Business Association was honored, Wednesday. Executive Director Rod Porsche says it takes a village to keep pedestrians moving under the extreme conditions experienced, last winter. "There are many businesses, and some of those are being honored today as well, with their own awards, for doing outstanding snow removal. So, it’s not just us doing it; it’s not just the building owner, the business owner; it’s everyone jumping in for the safety of our downtown sidewalks."
Porsche tells KBND News, "We clear a 4' path throughout the downtown: sidewalks, common areas, crosswalks. We’re trying to make it safe for Bendites and visitors alike to get to those coffee shops, to get into work safely. And, we do it as long as it continues to snow. We start at 5 a.m. and if it’s snowing in the afternoon, we’re still out there." He adds, "The other thing we did is we bought two snow-blowers for the first time. One was donated from a downtown business and the other one our organization was able to purchase; and that was really a game-changer. And, yes, I was behind the snow-blower for 14+ hour days. It was pretty crazy."
County Commissioners handed out 16 “Safe Sidewalk” awards, to those who took extra care over the past year to clear snow and ice, overgrown landscaping and other pedestrian hazards. Other recipients include McKay Cottage, Bond Street Barber Shop and the Redmond Fred Meyer. The Downtown Bend Business Association's winter effort was also recently recognized by the city’s Accessibility Committee.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County will soon have a new District Attorney. Governor Kate Brown has tapped D.A. Daina Vitolins to fill a vacancy on the Crook-Jefferson County Circuit Court, effective July first.
Vitolins tells KBND News, "I actually applied to become a Circuit Court Judge in April, which is when Governor Brown opened the position. And so, I went through the interview process; and I’m deeply honored that Governor Brown chose me to fill the Jefferson/Crook County vacancy." She replaces retiring judge Gary Lee Williams.
She won’t become an acting judge until August 14. Vitolins says, "I would essentially resign from the District Attorney’s office and then Governor Brown would open the position and accept applications and appoint somebody to take my place. It’d be on Governor Brown’s timeline, but I would hope that it would happen quickly." She adds, "I think it’ll be a smooth transition. I have a very competent staff: A Chief Deputy who’s very good and two Deputy District Attorneys, and I think it’ll be a smooth transition. And I’ll, of course, support them between now and then the best I can."
Vitolins has been the Crook County D.A. since 2008. She worked as a Deputy D.A. in Prineville from 2006 to 2008.
BEND, OR -- We all know Bend is a growing community. The city's population is expected to increase by 30,000 over the next decade and many people blame tourism. Regional Economist Damon Runberg is one of three local experts participating in the "Tourism 101" event, Wednesday afternoon.
Runberg tells KBND News, "I often hear people talk about how Bend is a tourism town with a tourism economy. My goal on the panel is to just pop a hole in that and say, 'That's not really what we are; that's not what our economy looks like.' If anything, I'd classify Bend as a lifestyle community that has benefited from the tourism economy and has seen just really robust growth and diversification of our economy - due to our economy, not in spite of it." He adds, "Places like San Diego have significantly more tourism jobs as a percent of their economy, than we do here in Bend. And so, it's kind of this misconception that we're this kind of mountain tourism town. Really, we look a lot more like some place like Austin, Texas, with our industry make-up, than someplace like Jackson Hole or Vale."
The discussion will focus on the pros and cons of regional tourism, and how visitors impact the local economy and community. Runberg says tourism is an easy fall guy. "The traffic, it's really hard to pinpoint - is it a tourist or not, is it a commuter? And, our population is also one of the fastest growing in the United States, right now, as a percentage of population, over the last couple of years. We're just a really fast-growing community and there's a lot of growing pains that comes with that. I'm kind of trying to defend the tourism industry a little bit in saying that all those growing pains that we see aren't necessarily tourists in town; a lot of them are new locals, as well."
The Tourism 101 event at the Tower Theatre begins at 1 p.m. with the panel speaking for about a half an hour. Then they'll open it up to questions from the audience. Tickets are $5.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County posted its 70th consecutive month of job gains, in May. The unemployment rate in Central Oregon’s largest county remained little changed from the month before, dropping from 3.6 to 3.5%. Deschutes County also posted big gains in the labor force, adding 5,000 employed residents in the past year.
Crook County’s jobless rate also remains at historic lows, falling .1% to 5.6%, last month. Compared to this time last year, the Employment Department says, there are about 110 additional jobs in nonfarm businesses in Crook County; about a 2% gain.
Jefferson County saw the biggest monthly improvement in May, hitting a new record low of 4.9%; that's .3% lower than in April. This time last year, Jefferson County's jobless rate was 7%. The county added 120 jobs, last month, which is fewer than the 170 typically expected this time of year.
LA PINE, OR -- Work on the new Highway 97 over-crossing at Wickiup Junction remains stalled, after the Oregon Department of Transportation discovered the land was sinking under the weight of the new bridge and adjoining ramps. Crews stopped building the bridge and ramps in May.
ODOT’s Peter Murphy says crews recently drilled five test wells at the site (right), "To be able to see exactly what the dirt, or lower layer, shows us, and then send some electrodes down to do some further probing – kind of like sonar, where you send a pulse out and it comes back to you. And, what we see on the backside of that will tell us more about the rock or the dirt, or whatever it might be that’s down there; and based upon that information, we’ll decide what the next step will be." He adds, "The crews that have been at work out there are trying to remove some of the ramp material that has weighed down the whole ramp, itself. This all gives us further information about what’s going on down below, and that’s the key to where we’re going to go with this. The more we can get information about what’s underneath, it’s going to give us a better idea of how to fix it."
He tells KBND News the problem is the land under the new ramps leading to the over-crossing. "The ramps themselves, where we’ve been building up to the bridge, have been sinking – almost a foot or so, and the bridge itself had settled, as well. When you add weight at ground level it compacts what’s underneath, and that compresses and that is to be expected as you get into this kind of a project. It’s the ‘how much.’"
The bridge is designed to take traffic over the railroad tracks and improve safety along that stretch of Highway 97. Murphy says there’s no timeline to resume construction, although he’s hopeful they’ll receive test results in the next couple of weeks, so they can determine their next move.
REDMOND, OR -- Thanks to several grants, totaling nearly half a million dollars, Mosaic Medical will open a new health clinic in Redmond, which will include medical, behavioral health, dental, nutrition and pharmacy services. It'll be on the first floor of the Cook Crossing affordable housing complex (pictured), currently under construction on Veterans Way, near Kalama Ave. Mosaic Medical provides medical care regardless of income or insurance status.
The nonprofit received $250,000 from the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, $138,500 from the Ford Family Foundation and a $75,000 grant from The Collins Foundation for construction of the clinic. New dental services are funded by a $200,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation, $2,500 from The Roundhouse Foundation and $1,000 from the Curran Family Fund.
The new facility is close to schools, social services and a future transit hub planned for just a couple blocks away. It's expected to open September 12.
LA GRANDE, OR -- Oregon State Police are searching for two 18-year-old men who escaped from the Camp Riverbend Youth Transitional Facility in La Grande, Tuesday evening. The pair were discovered missing at about 7:50 p.m.
Brittain McAuliffe (pictured, left), of Central Point, is white, 5'10", 220 pounds with tattoos on both forearms – one says “Native Pride.” His hair is short on the sides and the top is longer, with a ponytail. McAuliffe wears glasses and was wearing a white tank top, black shorts with a red stripe on the sides, and black and red mid-top shoes.
Micah West, of Salem, is white, 5'11", 155 pounds, with multiple tattoos, including a derringer pistol on one arm. He has an eagle tattoo on his chest and a cross on his left forearm. West is bald and was wearing a dark blue hoodie and blue jeans.
Anyone who sees the pair is encouraged to not approach them, use caution and call law enforcement or 911 immediately.
BEND, OR -- Changes may be coming to how Bend elects its Mayor and City Councilors. The Council is poised to create a Charter Review Committee at its Wednesday meeting.
The group would consider whether future Councilors should be elected based on the geographic area in which they live, instead of the current "at large" system. Councilor Bill Moseley tells KBND News, "It's all fine to build an affordable housing complex or an apartment building on the east side, and generally we don't get any complaints. But, as soon as you want to put one next to the community college, everybody's up in arms. So, the feeling I get from representatives, generally, is that they're not represented well and they think a ward system would do a better job." He adds, "It's accountants and lawyers and doctors, people who are more likely to be activists, be in favor of a particular sub-set of issues around environmentalism, etc; and it kind of tips our politics and doesn't really represent issues that face everyone. I think that if most of the people sitting on the City Council were renters, and their rent was going up 30-40% a year, that we would get an entirely different set of policies coming from City Council than the ones that we have right now."
The other big charter change under consideration is whether to allow voters to select the city's Mayor. Moseley says, "I've just almost heard no dissension on whether or not we should have an elected Mayor. Currently, the Mayor is elected by the Council, itself. One of the problems with that is that it's very difficult for us to have a clear community vision that we can put before voters and say, 'is this where you want to go?' Instead, you get these kind of seven disparate voices and it's a little confusing, I think, to the average person living here."
If approved, the Charter Review Committee would be appointed almost immediately and would include neighborhood associations and Bend 2030. The group would make recommendations to Council in the coming months, then voters would need to approve any actual changes to the charter. That could happen as soon as November.
SALEM, OR -- Governor Kate Brown has ordered flags flown at half-staff Tuesday, in honor of a native Oregonian and Medal of Honor recipient who passed away, last week. Arthur Jackson received the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions in the battle of the Pacific Island of Peleliu, code-named "Operation Stalemate II.".
The Governor says Jackson represents the best of Oregon and she asks everyone to pause and remember his service and sacrifice. Jackson died June 14, at the age of 92, in Boise, Idaho.
BEND, OR -- Bend is a bike-friendly town, but not everyone who visits or attends school here brings their bike. The community bike sharing company Zagster is expanding its options in Bend; they cut the ribbon on a new downtown station, Monday.
Casey Bergh, Transportation Program Manager for OSU-Cascades, is excited about how the program will benefit students and visitors. "The annual membership is $30 for the year. The monthly membership is $15. And then a third option is, if someone is just in town for a few hours and they want to get a little exercise or get on a bike, they can rent for $3 per hour." Zagster members use a mobile app to access a code, which unlocks a bike. Bergh tells KBND News, "We're really trying to make it affordable for the community. All the OSU employees and students get free memberships through our sponsorship." He adds, "We just really want to promote that culture of active transportation, so we're kind of taking this step forward. For the university, I think, it's been beneficial, and really just providing a new option for folks to get around and reduce vehicle miles traveled."
OSU-Cascades partnered with Zagster, Visit Bend and the local tech company G5, to open the new station at Bond and Franklin. Bergh says, "One of my responsibilities is to provide better options for students to get to campus, and to get around once they get to campus. So, bike-share for us is a good benefit in that, when people take the bus to campus or carpool, they they can grab a bike at lunch to ride down the street and grab a sandwich or run an errand, or whatever that might be."
So far, there are 30 bikes available at three stations around Bend. Several Local businesses and organizations are involved in the local program and more bike-sharing stations are expected to open later this summer.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville Police are looking for witnesses to Monday evening assault. Officers responded to SE Second St., just before 5:30 p.m. They arrested 19-year-old Noah Lopez-Koops (left) and 18-year-old Andrew Lopez-Koops (center) for allegedly assaulting a family member.
During the altercation, 71-year-old Charles Banks tried to intervene by firing a gun at a fixed object. He was arrested for reckless endangering.
Investigators believe two other men are either witnesses or potential victims. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call Prineville PD at 541-447-4168.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville is bracing for an influx of visitors this summer. Police Chief Dale Cummins expects those heading to the Rainbow Family Gathering in Grant County will travel through town over the next 10 days; that event takes place outside John Day, July 1-7. Plus, the city is within the path of totality for the August 21 total solar eclipse.
Prineville Police Chief Dale Cummins says, "We only have about 22,000 people in Crook County, currently. We could see three or four times that amount during that time. Anytime you have that kind of population occur, there’s just a certain element of people that come with it that commit crimes." He tells KBND News, "We still have a lot of residents that don’t necessarily lock their doors, or the kids will toss their bikes down in the front yard and run in for dinner and maybe leave them out overnight. And, generally speaking, they’re relatively safe; they’re generally going to be there again in the morning. But, with people that are just wandering through, you never know what you’re going to run into."
Chief Cummins says a few precautions will help everyone get through this season safely. "The small town leaving your bike on the front lawn, leaving your generator out somewhere overnight, is just probably not a good idea during these periods, when you have the ability to lock those things up and just reduce your risk." He also suggests locking doors, securing dumpsters and garbage cans to discourage people from going through them and, in general, be aware of suspicious activity.
Cummins also warns it could take longer for law enforcement to respond to non-emergency calls, with so many people in town. "We’re going to have a big influx of folks, but the majority of them are going to do the right thing. So, it’ll be a great summer and the businesses are really going to prosper."
Eclipse Coverage on KBND is supported in part by Awnings Unlimited. Shade yourself from the sun with Awnings Unlimited at 5541-389-1619 and awningsunlimited.net.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors will discuss this week, whether to allow the sale of individual parcels inside Juniper Ridge. Mayor Casey Roats says the city was approached with an offer to buy a parcel inside the under-developed industrial park in northeast Bend. "I believe there's been an offer made. A company is wanting to purchase to relocate their facilities and consolidate a couple of their campuses into one, on one of the vacant parcels of Juniper Ridge. That's pretty exciting for us because there's not been much development up there. And, assuming the Council accepts the offer, we're going to see a significant employer relocate and consolidate their facilities into one."
Mayor Roats tells KBND News he can't reveal the name of the company until the procedural change to allow for individual parcel sales is made, and the deal is finalized, "It's a good local company, and we're excited that they were able to stay in Bend because there are other communities in the region that are well-positioned to take that on. And I, as Mayor of Bend, I don't want to lose Bend companies. And, so I'm doing what I can to keep Bend companies here, help them grow and thrive and attract more employers. And, especially traded sector employment, where people are principally deriving their income from somewhere out of the area. Because, the more of that we get, the less dependent we are upon the cycles of our local economy. Anything we can do to smooth out this boom and bust cycle would be a real achievement for the community."
Wednesday's public hearing will take place during the regular City Council meeting.
TUMALO, OR -- Tumalo residents are once again cleared to drink their tap water.
A potentially harmful strain of E.coli was found in the drinking water during a routine monthly test, last week. Laidlaw Water District Manager Dale Peer tells KBND News, "We have four dedicated sampling sites throughout our system at the far extremes of our system in each direction, and we test each one each month on a rotation basis. One tested positive the first time on the routine, and then when we came back for our retest, we found two stations positive." Crews flushed and chlorinated the system, and after follow-up testing came back negative for the bacteria on Saturday, officials lifted the boil water order for the 130 impacted customers.
Peer says they haven't yet tracked down the cause of the E.coli, "Our system is totally enclosed. We go from our well to our sealed reservoir and out the system. And, the first time it sees daylight is when it hits the tap, so it's a really difficult situation to say 'this is what caused it.'" He adds, "We pump our water from a very deep well, which was negative for E.coli, so we know it wasn't coming from our source."
Once the boil order was lifted Saturday afternoon, residents were encouraged to flush their own pipes of excess chlorine. There have been no reports of any health issues.
GATES, OR -- Three Central Oregonians were killed in two separate weekend crashes. According to State Police, a Redmond couple was westbound on Highway 22 in Marion County, Saturday evening, when the driver, 84-year-old William Bodden, crossed the centerline and hit another car head-on (pictured). He died on the way to the hospital ... His passenger, 77-year-old Diane Bodden, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other driver - a Hillsboro woman - suffered serious injuries.
Later that night, 20-year-old Braden Fillmore, of Bend, drifted off Highway 78 in Malheur County. He overcorrected, crossed the highway and rolled his pickup. Fillmore was pronounced dead at the scene; no one else was involved in that crash.
REDMOND, OR -- A Prineville man is accused of breaking into the Redmond Campus of Central Oregon Community College, Friday. A COCC employee interrupted the early morning burglary. Responding officers stopped a vehicle at First and Veterans Way and arrested 36-year-old Tracy Downing after finding suspected burglary tools in his car.
Investigators executed a search warrant at his Prineville home, Friday afternoon and are now looking into whether Downing may be connected to recent burglaries at the Bend and Prineville COCC campuses. He faces a list of charges including burglary, theft and meth possession.
Photos of alleged stolen property, courtesy Redmond Police
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors have agreed to partner with Visit Bend and the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) to offer a free summer shuttle service. COIC Executive Director Karen Friend says what’s being called “Ride Bend” is an effort to ease congestion in high-traffic areas, "It will run from 2-10 [p.m.]. The idea was that it would capture people trying to go to dinner; give them both a ride there and home. People kind of recreate in the morning, and that was the timing that would work for people." She tells KBND News, "It will have 15 minute service; it will be the highest frequency of service in Central Oregon."
Bend City Manager Eric King says Councilors realized something needs to be done to mitigate parking and traffic problems. "Especially in the downtown/Old Mill District, if there’s a way to alleviate that through a circulator shuttle. So we’ve worked in partnership with COIC to make that happen."
Friend says this summer is a pilot, "It’s going to be fare free, so no cost to ride. It gets them downtown, Old Mill, Galveston, 14th, OSU. So, breweries and restaurants; sort of doing a circulator." It’ll operate June 23 through Labor Day, through Cascades East Transit
REDMOND, OR -- Plans are underway to renovate one of Redmond’s tallest buildings and turn it into a boutique hotel. The New Redmond Hotel was built nearly 90 years ago, after the original Hotel Redmond burned down at SW 6th and Evergreen.
Community Development Director Kate Porsche says a California developer is in the process of buying the three-story building from its current owner. She tells KBND News, "It’s long been identified, in our various plans, as this substantial catalyst project for our downtown. It’s this enormous historic hotel, 46 rooms, that was built back in 1928. And, the rooms upstairs have been sitting vacant since 2005. The downstairs has been active - we’ve got some cool restaurants and things going on; but upstairs, nothing happening." But Alpha Wave Investors LLC plans to change that. Porsche says, "Their plan for renovation is that it’s this authentic historic building, but then with a fresh facelift and some contemporary features."
Redmond is committing a million dollars of urban renewal funds to the project. "There are other funding sources coming into play, including federal historic tax credits and a state historic tax freeze. So, that’s more a matter of them filling out the paperwork and then doing the work in a way that’s still historically sensitive, which is exactly their plan." She says the hotel investment group will "Rehab the building, which is, I think, a treasure to us in Redmond; it’s part of our cultural history. It’s one of only three nationally registered buildings in Redmond. For us, this was a win-win, because it’s that pairing of the historic preservation component and then the reactivation, which we see as a huge benefit, economically, for our businesses, downtown: filling the rooms, bringing people in downtown. Because, when they’re staying, they’re shopping at the shops, they’re eating in the restaurants; they’re spending time in our great community."
She says the developer hopes to open it as a boutique hotel by 2019, with rooms costing about $120 a night. Once open, it will be downtown Redmond's only hotel.
BEND, OR -- An old wood bridge on the Cascade Lakes Highway will be replaced with a new concrete span, this summer. Work on the Fall Creek Bridge, at milepost 26.57, is expected to begin Monday.
Just up the road, the Deschutes National Forest and county road crews will replace the undersized Goose Creek culvert with a new concrete arch culvert, in an effort to enhance fish passage. That project, at milepost 26.85, gets underway in July.
Both projects are funded in part by the Federal Lands Access Program and should be done by late October.
SISTERS, OR -- A group of wildland firefighter trainees will practice their new skills on a small prescribed burn outside Sisters, Thursday. Kassidy Kern, with the Deschutes National Forest, says the 45 recruits spent the last several days in the classroom and practiced with equipment on Wednesday.
Kern says they're now ready to work on a real fire, "While they have learned, theoretically, about putting in a hose lay, now they’re hooking up hoses to an engine or to a pump that would go into a creek; and making sure that the pump works and that the hoses are all hooked up and they have the right fittings. You know, it’s just one of those things where the rubber is meeting the road." She tells KBND News they'll work on a 28-acre burn a mile southwest of the Edgington Road community, supervised by experienced firefighters. "They’ll be able to see the ends of the unit. It’s a matter of, ‘OK, we’re going to put lines around this, so that it doesn’t go where we don’t want it to go.’ We have our hose lays that are going to be ready, and we’re going to cool off the hotspots on the edges. They’re going to learn all of those things that they need to know, whether it’s a prescribed for, in the case of the season, obviously, a wildfire." If conditions allow, fuels specialists will burn an additional 108 acres near Sisters.
The new firefighters are part of the Central Oregon Fire Management Service and will be ready to respond to incidents this season. Kern says, "They’re both Deschutes National Forest, Ochoco National Forest, but also Prineville BLM recruits. They’re going to be people who are going to be wildland firefighting this summer in Central Oregon, but also across the nation." She says that because these firefighters will be trained in the Forest Service Incident Command system, they could be sent anywhere. "The way that we manage fire is the same, whether you’re in Oregon or Tennessee or Alaska."
BEND, OR -- A new fish ladder will be dedicated on the Deschutes River, Wednesday. Experts say it’ll help native trout move freely between both sides of the North Canal Dam in Bend for the first time in more than 100 years.
Upper Deschutes Watershed Council Executive Director Ryan Houston says the $1.6-million dollar project is the result of about seven years of collaboration between three groups. "State Fish and Wildlife Department says, ‘we care about the fish and the health of that population;' the irrigators say, ‘we care about the river and the fish; we also care about our business operations;' and then we as a nonprofit, we say, ‘we care about the river; we also care about the community and the health of the community, which includes the farming community.’ And we ask, ‘How do we put it all together?’ So, these are projects that are fundamentally trying to be win/win." He tells KBND News, "The irrigators put money in the bucket, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife put money in the bucket; then my organization went to the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, which is the state agency that issues grants for restoration projects, and we were able to secure a grant. So together, those three sources of funding made up the $1.6 million that was necessary."
Houston says most people think fish ladders only help salmon and steelhead. But, "In this particular case, salmon and steelhead don’t get this far up the Deschutes and they never have, naturally. So, this is a project that’s really about the resident trout – the ones that live in the river, year round – and, the conservation of those populations and their ability to interbreed with each other, so that we have a stronger fish population, here in the Deschutes."
Until now, fish from the Upper Deschutes, like Redband Trout, were blocked by the dam from mingling with those in the Middle Deschutes, which Houston says put some species at risk. He believes allowing the fish to co-mingle will strengthen their populations.
WASHINGTON, DC -- Oregon's Congressional delegation is reacting to Wednesday morning's shooting in Virginia that wounded Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), an aide and two Capitol police officers.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) spoke at the opening of the Senate Finance Committee. He said, "We all said once again unspeakable violence is coming very, very close to this community." Adding that he's, "Very grateful for the Capitol Police, the first responders who did so much to keep this act of violence from becoming far worse."
Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) issued a statement saying he's horrified by the evil, cowardly attack and that Whip Steve Scalise (right) is a friend, a good man and a valued member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, of which Walden is the Chairman.
The shooting occurred at a baseball field in suburban Alexandria, VA, where lawmakers were holding an early morning practice for a charity baseball game scheduled for Thursday. Officials say the shooter, identified as James Hodgkinson, died from injuries he sustained in the attack.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors unanimously approved a $447,750 contract, Tuesday night, to add left turn lanes to Highway 126 at SW 35th Street, at the western city limits. City Engineer Mike Caccavano says the goal is to improve safety at an intersection that’s seen a number of serious – some fatal – crashes in recent years. "Over a three-year period, where we analyzed accident history, 10 out of the 13 significant collisions there were rear-end collisions; and most of them westbound."
Caccavano tells KBND News, "They did traffic studies. We looked to see what could be safety problems and capacity problems at this intersection. And then we look at our Master Plan, which has two projects that impact this intersection. One is to widen Highway 126 from 27th to 35th to add lanes, including the turn lanes. And, also to put a signal there, eventually." There are two new housing developments slated for the area, but he says the intersection doesn’t yet meet the threshold for a traffic light and the city is limited on what else it can do because of the power substation located on the northwest corner.
A mother of two was killed in December, when she turned left on to the Highway from 35th, in front of another vehicle. Caccavano admits this project won’t prevent that type of crash, but says this is just an interim fix. "We got close to the point where we triggered the need for a traffic signal, but we’re not there yet. So that is going to be a longer term solution – some kind of further intersection control."
Caccavano says work should begin by the end of June. "Most of the widening is off of the north side. It’ll have significant impact on 35th street as it intersects; that’ll be the construction access. This is just on the north side; the south side should be open most of the time. So, there will be time when there’s detours. There will be time when there’s flagging on the highway." The new turn lanes should be done by the end of October.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office continues to search for a man who ran from a car chase, Tuesday night. A deputy attempted to stop the car for traffic violations near the Deschutes River Woods Store, just before 10 p.m. But, the suspect drove off. He took several dirt roads, ignoring the deputy. Eventually, he drove through a property on Comanche Circle, a dead-end road, running over rocks and railroad ties, causing his air bags to deploy.
The suspect ran from the scene and, despite a search by the Sheriff's Office, Bend, Sunriver and State Police, along with a Redmond PD K9 unit, he was not found. Two passengers identified the suspect as 20-year-old Shawn Ison.
Investigators found miscellaneous drug paraphernalia in the car, but otherwise don't know why he took off. Anyone with information on Ison's whereabouts is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.
WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: Just after 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Sheriff's Office received a call that a man matching Shawn Ison's description was walking on Highway 97 in Terrebonne. A deputy contacted the man who confirmed his own identity. During the investigation, Ison ran toward Lower Bridge Estates. Law enforcement set up a perimeter and began searching for the suspect. A citizen called to report a man was hiding in a large open area used as a drain field for the neighborhood. After a brief foot chase, Ison was arrested without further incident.
BEND, OR -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) wants answers to why the Forest Service has shut down a popular Central Oregon campground. The Deschutes National Forest announced this week the Cultus Lake campground and day use area would not open for the summer, because of hundreds of dead and diseased trees that are in danger of falling. The Forest Service says the trees can't be removed until fall when the breeding season for the Northern Spotted Owl is over.
Congressman Walden sent a letter to the Forest Supervisor. He says while safety must be a top priority, he's concerned the Forest Service could have acted sooner and not disrupted the summer season. He also wants to know why action can't be taken now, because the Forest Supervisory has said owls are not likely to be living in the campground area.
Walden has requested an in-person meeting with the Forest Supervisor to get answers about when the problem was discovered and what the timeline is to get an environmental analysis.
BEND, OR -- About half of the kids at Bend's Buckingham Elementary qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunch, and the school cafeteria doesn't turn away students who can't pay. But, with the end of the year fast approaching, the school lunch program has racked up an $800 debt.
Student teacher Michelle Kajikawa started a GoFundMe account to help erase that debt. She says if it isn't reduced, it'll be paid from elsewhere in the budget. "With our particular population at Buckingham, I think they feel that it's better to have fed, healthy kids. That supports learning, and if it sometimes creates a financial challenge at the end of the year, it's worth it to keep kids fed and keep that going throughout the year."
As of Wednesday morning, the page has raised $130, but Kajikawa is hopeful they'll meet the $800 goal before school ends next week. She tells KBND News, "I actually got this idea - I can't remember what school it was, but I have some friends that are teachers in the Portland area, and there's a number of Portland Public Schools that have done similar campaigns. Sometimes those campaigns get so lively, people talk about them so widely, one person will step in and pay off the entire balance for the school."
TUMALO, OR -- A home under construction in Tumalo suffered $100,000 in damage from a fire, Tuesday morning. The homeowner, who lives on-site, reported the blaze on Gerking Market Road, just after 6:30 am.
Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames, but not before it damaged the floor in a second story room. Investigators believe the fire started with stain soaked sawdust in a floor sander. The sander had been used on the new wood floors but was not emptied at the end of the day. It’s not clear if it malfunctioned or if the sawdust spontaneously combusted.
Cloverdale Fire and the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office assisted Bend Fire at the scene. The family's living quarters were not damaged and there were no injuries reported.
BEND, OR -- Bend has felt the pains of recent exponential growth. City leaders will discuss how to manage housing and other issues, in Tuesday evening's "State of the City" address. Mayor Casey Roats will speak at Deschutes Brewery, beginning at 5 p.m. Assistant City Manager Jon Skidmore and Community Services Director Russ Grayson are also scheduled to discuss the planning and projects Bend's future.
Mayor Roats tells KBND News, "I really do believe we're on the path towards meeting a bunch of these needs. And, it's going to take a while for the market to react, and it's going to take a little bit longer for us to finish these plans in these new expansion areas and hopefully create the incentive for folks to want to develop that housing that we need so desperately in those areas." He adds, "I think one of the things we're going to try and do is match livability with these growth needs. And, a lot of these higher density units are going to come in places that don't abut existing neighborhoods. To the extent I can, that's what I'm working on, is trying to meet these needs and yet stay away from existing neighborhoods. That's why I'm focusing on the Central Area, in between Third Street and the Parkway, where there's not a lot of residences."
As a fourth generation Bendite, Roats says he's seen a lot of change, "A lot of that comes down to the investments we're going to be making as a community, and the pieces and assets of infrastructure, in particular, that make it that way. So, one of those is land use planning and making sure we have the land we need for employment opportunities and housing, because housing is such a critical shortage. We're prioritizing our resources around the city's core service areas, in particular, the street preservation and maintaining the city's streets."
The State of the City event is part of the Bend Chamber's What's Brewing series.
BEND, OR -- Local school districts and law enforcement agencies are holding community meetings to help parents and teens talk about youth suicide. The second in a series of forums was held Monday night at St. Charles Bend; they're part of the region-wide "Hope and Help" campaign launched last month. Sean Reinhart, with Bend-La Pine Schools says they want to help start the conversation. "It's really about raising the conversations between parents and their children regarding the issue, destigmatizing the conversation around suicide and helping to get out resources."
David Visiko, with Deschutes County Mental Health, says the forums help families get started. "I think that this is a community issue. So, we're really trying to engage people to start talking about mental illness to break that stigma; break the silence about talking about suicide. We encourage people, all people to get trained." He tells KBND News that talking about it does not increase the suicide risk, "There's such a silence and stigma around mental health that they're afraid to talk about it with anyone. So, if someone asks that question, they're actually pretty relieved to be able to finally talk about something that's a problem that they think is unsolvable and to be able to talk with a trusted adult who is trained, in order to get the help they deserve."
The next Hope and Help forum is scheduled for Wednesday, June 14 at Sisters Middle School. Two more are planned for next month: July 17 at La Pine High School and July 26 at Barnes Butte Elementary in Prineville. All are at 6 p.m. Click HERE
for more information.
To listen to our full conversation with Sean Reinhart and David Visiko, click HERE.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville officials continue to answer questions about electricity, after the Bonneville Power Administration announced it may not be able to generate enough power to accommodate future data centers or solar farms. City Manager Steve Forrester recently told the local Kiwanis Club that despite the concerns, companies are still considering building in the area. "We know we have Apple; we know we have Facebook. We believe that there are other big-named people that are very interested in our community. We’re not allowed to talk about it, and I really don’t know specific names, but what I can tell you is there’s other people actively interested in our community to invest here, besides the ones that we have here now: Apple and Facebook."
The BPA announced last month it's working on upgrades
that would provide an additional 585 megawatts of electricity. But, Forrester says that may only last 5-8 years, if more than a couple new companies move in. "So, this 585 megawatts could go away very, very quickly. And what that leaves us with is - the updates that I spoke about that are going to come on line in the next couple of years to satisfy what’s already in the queue are going to be used up. Then, the BPA will have to be looking at constructing a new line between the Gorge and Prineville." He says that's why it's important the city and county remain in close talks with the utility, to "keep them aware of the interest level, and make sure that we’re a high-probability user of big blocks of electricity, going forward." Forrester says they also need to push for "an expedited review of getting started on building on what would be a fourth line between the Gorge, where the big power is, to our community."
Click HERE to watch City Manager Steve Forrester's full presentation.
MADRAS, OR -- With 100,000 visitors expected in Madras for this summer’s eclipse, the small town is likely to swell to more than 10-times its normal size. And, all those people ors are going to generate a lot of trash. Madras Sanitary Service has been planning for more than a year. President Melanie Widmer says the big events, like Oregon SolarFest, have done a good job preparing well in advance. "So, they have boxes and carts and things ordered up already. The City of Madras is trying to plan as much as they can, so they have quite a few different things located all over town to try and be as prepared as possible." But, she hopes it will be enough, because her company is now running short on containers.
In a typical summer, Widmer says they handle 800-900 tons of garbage. But, she has no idea what to expect, this year. "For a once in a lifetime kind of thing, everyone is trying to cover all their bases," Widmer tells KBND News. "So our biggest issue we’re anticipating will be the transportation part. In the few days before and after the eclipse, we’re going to shift a lot of our work to the middle of the night, hoping that they’ll be able to get around a little better, then." She adds, "We’ve been making sure that we’re in touch with the city and the Chamber and kind of knowing what their plans are so we can be prepared, so we have the access we need to get to. We’re making sure we’re staffed up." She says she warned employees months ago there would be no time off surrounding the eclipse.
Widmer also says, "We’re looking at some kind of temporary service, some help with hauling all the garbage out of the area. Because there’s no landfill here, everything gets hauled to The Dalles, so we know we may need some extra help getting things trucked out of the area." She points out that could also happen at night, to try and avoid traffic that could stall efforts. "We have room and trailers enough to stockpile some, but we can’t go too long without hauling to The Dalles or we’ll just run out of space to store the garbage."
Eclipse Coverage on KBND is supported in part by Awnings Unlimited. Shade yourself from the sun with Awnings Unlimited at 5541-389-1619 and awningsunlimited.net.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Plans for a new Crook County solar farm on prime industrial land near Highway 126 and Millican Road are changing, after the county sent a letter to the Department of State Lands asking them to reconsider. County Judge Seth Crawford participated in a conference call with state officials, last week. He says he's pleased with the new direction. "Where we’re headed now is that they’ve pulled back a little bit, and they’re going to look for some other places that they have land that might be a better fit for this solar. And, just look for some options to find a way to put this [vacant parcel] back into the equation for selling to a larger industrial property."
Read more about the Dept. of State Lands' original plans.
Crawford says he's not opposed to solar power. But, he doesn’t want a solar farm utilizing land he believes could better be used to bring jobs or agriculture to the area. He tells KBND News, "The optimal location for a solar farm is non-productive EFU [Exclusive Farm Use] land. We don’t want to put it on, you know, a great place where you can grow things – green pastures. We want to put it where there’s rocks and sagebrush and different things that – you can’t really graze a cow on it."
He’d like to see the development moved to near another proposed solar farm, which is expected to be the largest in the state, with 1500 panels. "That’s going to be about 6 miles down the road, and the Department of State Lands actually owns property very near that. So, what we’re pitching is that’s probably a really good location to switch that lease to; so you could have that lease for the School Fund, so we make sure to get money for the kids. But, we could still keep that prime industrial land that could be sold later to somebody that’s going to bring a lot more jobs and to use the infrastructure that we’ve put in." Crawford believes the disputed property near the Prineville Airport would be better used for industrial development that he says could bring hundreds of jobs to the area. A solar farm typically employs only a couple workers.
to listen to our full conversation with Crook County Judge Seth Crawford, or visit our Podcast Page
LA PINE, OR -- The Cultus Lake Campground and Day-Use area is closed for the summer, due to what officials are calling a “serious public safety hazard.” The Deschutes National Forest announced Sunday the boat launch is still being evaluated for potential opening, this year.
An in-depth review of the trees in the area uncovered at least 160 dead hazard trees and 300 that are diseased and could fall on people. The Forest Service plans to remove the affected trees in the fall, in an effort to reopen the campground for the 2018 season.
They note there are more than 80 other campgrounds within the Deschutes National Forest that will be open this summer.
BEND, OR -- A brief police chase led to the arrest of a suspected car thief, although another suspect remains at large. Saturday morning, Bend Police tried to stop a pickup on Highway 20 near Flint Rock Trailhead, believing the two men in the truck were involved in several thefts in the region. After speeding away from officers, the passenger was dropped off on the side of the highway. Police arrested 48-year-old Christopher Tucker (above) of Bend for two outstanding warrants.
The driver continued onto BLM land, where he later ditched the pickup. He was not found, despite an extensive search of the area with a police K9.
Investigators later recovered a number of stolen vehicles on BLM property in the Millican area. The two utility trailers, a Bobcat-style excavator, two toy-hauler-style travel trailers, two quads and a side-by-side ATV were stashed in the area; all were reported stolen over the past two weeks.
Bend Police continue to look for the driver, as well as others who may be involved. Anyone with information is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.
MONDAY UPDATE: Thomas Castiglione (right) was arrested at a local hotel, Sunday. Bend Police say the 38-year-old transient was the driver in Saturday's chase. He taken into custody without incident. Castiglione is charged with Identity Theft, Attempt to Elude, Giving False Information to Police, Aggravated Theft and others. Detectives believe the recovered stolen property (below) is valued at over $200,000.
BEND, OR -- A local anti-human trafficking group has paired up with a Martial Arts studio to offer a unique self-defense class for women, this weekend. Alex Dugan, with the Bend-based tech company Guardian Group
, says the first part of the free seminar focuses on social media safety. "We go into the long-distance self-defense, the cyber self-defense; the things that you can do online, on your social media profile to protect yourself from predators marking you as a target." She says predators often groom potential victims through the internet. Dugan suggests not posting on social media about your emotional state, "Because that’s a way that you portray your vulnerabilities and predators like to capitalize on that. The other thing I would say is, don’t share your location; don’t check in to places. People can start tracking that."
Whether a woman is online or out in the community, Dugan tells KBND News self-esteem is a big factor in safety. "If an individual or young woman is walking around with her head held high and she’s looking confident, the likelihood of a predator trying to take advantage of her is much lower than it would be if she’s showing signs of sadness or lack of self-confidence."
Saturday's seminar takes place at Clark’s University of Martial Arts
in northeast Bend, from 11 to 1. Women will also learn hands-on self-defense techniques. Dugan hopes to offer the trainings each month.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond is working to update its Parks Master Plan to determine the direction of outdoor recreational space over the next 10 years. And, the city is looking for more public input.
Parks Division Manager Annie McVay says an open house last month provided some good feedback on what Redmond is missing. "We heard a lot about trails; people want more connectivity. They want more experiences like the Dry Canyon, which is a little difficult because the Dry Canyon is pretty unique. But, they really like that idea of recreational trails and connecting our parks together." She says others want more youth sports fields and pickleball courts.
She's hoping for more ideas at the next and final open house, Monday afternoon at 4:30, at City Hall. "We've done a survey, we've taken a lot of public input. So, now we're actually forming some solid recommendations that people can respond to. Then we'll have a draft master plan after that, that people can comment on. But, this is the last sort of like input gathering session." McVay tells KBND News getting ideas from the community is key to the entire process, "I think most of it will be guided all by public input. There are some certain maintenance items that aren't as much fun for residents. But, as far as growing the system and adding new things, it'll be almost entirely public input."
to learn more.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Plans for the new Crook County Jail have hit a snag. Sheriff John Gautney says the design team is now working with contractors to re-engineer the foundation. "When they came and did the core samples on the soil, in the location where the jail is going to be built, what they found is that the soil there is a little bit too soft based on the seismic regulations for the area."
Those changes will likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, although Gautney says final estimates are not yet in. "We have to be within the budget," he tells KBND News, "So it’s just a matter of how we get there. We’re looking at cost savings that we can do in order to still have the jail functionable [sic] and still meet budget requirements." In November, voters approved a $10 million bond
to help pay for the $17 million project. To offset the foundation changes, Gautney says they'll adjust other components like which building materials will be used. Also, he says they'd hoped to make the inmate housing area two stories so there was room to eventually expand into the second level. But, Gautney says, "At this point in time, it made more sense to reduce the housing level to a single level. That would save us money on construction costs, currently, and it would save us money in the long run on maintaining the building, because the heating and cooling of an area that wouldn’t even be in use for some years."
He says such a large project was bound to have some surprises. "It’s a changing target, you know? Our target is we have to hit the $17 million; we have to come in under that. But, how we get there and what change we have to make on the way, that’s constantly changing. It’s just trying to make everything work out and still have the facility functionable [sic] for what we need in order to be able to open up when we’re done building."
Crews finished asbestos and lead paint removal at the site, this week. Gautney expects contractors will demolish the existing buildings at the site by next month, with construction slated to begin on the new 76-bed facility
by fall. He says, so far, they’re still on schedule to open late in 2018.
BEND, OR -- A 24-year-old Bend man was rescued from South Sister, following an eight-hour operation by Deschutes County Search and Rescue. Adam Redfield activated the “SOS” feature on his emergency "SPOT" device, Wednesday afternoon. He'd reached the summit but reportedly got lost and became disoriented during his descent. International Emergency Response Coordination contacted Deschutes County 911 at about 4:30 p.m. to report the SPOT activation between South Sister and Broken Top, although there was no way to contact Redfield to find out the nature of his problem.
Redfield's friends confirmed he set out at 4:30 a.m., intending to summit South Sister and then return home. They described him as very experienced in the back country and avalanche trained.
A DCSO SAR team located his car at the Devil's Lake Trailhead and skied into the Moraine Lake area to search for the man in intermittent rainy conditions. At about 9:10 p.m., they established voice contact with Redfield. They found him in a snow cave at 9:30. He told the team his cell phone battery had died and he wasn't sure the SOS signal had worked; he was preparing to spend the night, although he had not brought overnight supplies.
Redfield was cold but unhurt. The SAR team helped him back down to the Cascade Lakes Highway, arriving after midnight.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police say Emil Johnson, reported missing earlier this week after he failed to show up for work, was found safe yesterday afternoon. But, within an hour of that announcement, officers again asked for the public’s help to find a missing person.
Investigator say 27-year-old Chase Hove hasn’t been seen since leaving his northeast Bend home, Monday. Police believe he may have traveled to southwest Deschutes County, specifically around Cascade Lakes Highway.
Hove is 5'11", 155 pounds with red hair and hazel eyes. He was driving a white 2014 Chevrolet Cruze with Oregon plates 121-HED. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Bend PD at 541-693-6911.
FRIDAY 8:30 AM UPDATE: Bend Police say they located the vehicle in southeast Bend, Thursday night. However, officers and detectives continue to search for Hove.
REDMOND, OR -- Graduation season is exciting for seniors and families, but it’s a bittersweet time for at least one local nonprofit. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon Director Amanda Gow says she’s losing nearly two dozen volunteers from one mentoring program. "Our school-based program started about three years ago. We piloted the program in the Redmond School District and in our first year we had 15 kids in the program; and now we, three years later, have a 110 and we’re in Redmond School District, Madras and Bend-La Pine." According to Gow, 22 of those 110 mentors are graduating, this year, from Redmond Proficiency Academy, Ridgeview HS, Bend Senior High and Madras HS.
She says the kids get together at nearby elementary schools, "They meet once a week in the classroom with their high school ‘bigs’ and work on a variety of things; they might have lunch together, arts and crafts, homework. So, really getting high school kids out of their classroom and giving back to the community and learning about their own leadership skills."
Gow says the program was originally designed to help reach young kids who otherwise wouldn’t be served by Big Brothers Big Sisters, but the high school kids end up learning, too. She tells KBND News they realize, "'I do have something to give back and I can be a benefit for somebody; and this little brother or sister really does look up to me and I’m someone to be respected and admired.' For our seniors, I’ve watched, for the last couple of years, the youth write their college essays about their experience with Big Brothers Big Sisters."
In the fall, Big Brothers Big Sisters will work to recruit and train replacements for those graduates.
LA PINE, OR -- A large outbuilding was heavily damaged by a Wednesday evening fire, in La Pine. Fire district officials say crews responded to the home on Bristlecone Lane just after 6:15 p.m. They found smoke pouring from the 24'x30' workshop and began pulling a hose line to keep the fire from spreading to the nearby house.
The interior of the shop sustained substantial damage, but officials credit the property owner for leaving all doors and windows in the shop closed, which slowed the fire's spread and lessened its intensity. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
BEND, OR -- An investigation that started at the San Francisco Air Mail facility with Homeland Security and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, has led to the arrest of a 49-year-old Bend man. The feds discovered a substantial amount of MDMA – also known as Ecstasy – in a package destined for Bend. They contacted the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team, which executed a search warrant at an apartment on NE Lotus Drive, last week, along with detectives from the DCSO Street Crimes unit, Bend Police and Postal Inspectors.
They arrested Bryan Ross Thomas Boyden and seized evidence of his drug trade, including commercial quantities of LSD and MDMA, several firearms and "illicit financial records." Investigators believe he would purchase drugs from an overseas retailer via the Dark Web, then resell the product throughout Central Oregon.
Boyden faces a list of charges, including manufacturing, possessing and distributing drugs within a thousand feet of a school and money laundering.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are asking for help in finding a missing 44-year-old man. Emil Johnson left work near 15th and Reed Market just after midnight Tuesday night. He rode his bike south on 15th, toward his home. But, he didn’t show up for his scheduled shift at the Expressway Market and Deli early Wednesday morning, and his friends and family haven’t heard from him.
Officers and detectives spent several hours searching for Johnson, but are now turning to the public for help.
He is 5'8", 160 pounds with grey hair and blue eyes. Johnson was last seen wearing blue jeans and a white V-neck t-shirt.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Bend PD at 541-693-6911
THURSDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Bend Police say Johnson was located and is safe. They received a large amount of help from the community and are "very thankful."
EUGENE, OR -- A couple was sentenced this week to more than 40 years in prison for sexually abusing two children in southern Deschutes County and Lane County. Gregory and Doreen Cater entered guilty pleas in a Lane County court on Tuesday.
Prosecutors say they abused two kids multiple times a week over three years, beginning in 2011 when the victims were 9 and 12 years old. They often video recorded their crimes. The abuse was discovered after the couple moved from La Pine to Florence. The Florence Police Department and Deschutes County Sheriff's Office worked with the Lane and Deschutes County District Attorneys to investigate the case. Deschutes County D.A. John Hummel says they wanted to find a resolution that would "bring the Caters to justice while sparing the children the additional trauma of having to testify in court. The two counties’ cases were consolidated to ease the burden on the victims.
Gregory Cater was convicted of 78 total counts, including 21 counts of Using a Child in a Display of Sexually Explicit Conduct and 22 counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse. He was sentenced to nearly 46 years in prison. Doreen Cater was convicted of 94 total counts. She also pleaded guilty to sexually abusing an additional 14-year-old. She was sentenced to more than 41 years in prison. Neither is eligible for early release.
BEND, OR -- Scams can be just as popular this time of year as mosquito bites and sunburns. Whether you’re heading out on vacation, moving or working on home improvement projects, cyber security expert Adam Levin says there are easy ways to keep from becoming a target.
Levin tells KBND News vacation rental scams abound, especially for those who choose not to use services like AirBnB. "You go online, you look for what appears to be a deal, you call and talk with somebody or you email somebody; you show up on the appointed day and someone opens the door looking at you strangely. Or, you put your key in the door and someone looks at you and goes ‘what are you doing here?’" But, he says you can avoid being taken advantage of by researching the rental online. "If it says you’re speaking to a real estate agent, then confirm the legitimacy and existence of that agency; you can do that online. You can also check the ad and then match it against other things you may see on Google and if it comes up where it looks like different people are offering the same property for rent that could be an issue."
He says young people can easily fall prey to employment scams and identity theft, this time of year. Levin cautions against turning over a social security number too early. "You should never be providing that kind of information until you confirmed it’s a legitimate job with a legitimate organization, you’ve talked with someone from the organization; you confirm that they’re real. Then, if they say, ‘we need to do a background check, we need your Social Security Number for W9 purposes, or whatever,’ then it’s OK. But, you still have to be careful."
Summer is also a popular time for door-to-door salesmen. But, Levin warns against turning anything over to a solicitor. Whether it’s a construction worker claiming to be doing a project in the neighborhood or someone who says they represent a local charity, Levin says, "It’s important to have them prove to you with credentials that they are, or to go online and independently confirm that the company, their business is door-to-door. And don’t give out personal information and don’t simply give someone a check!"
to listen to our full conversation with Adam Levin, or visit our Podcast Page
REDMOND, OR -- A social media post claiming women are being targeted by a suspicious man at the Redmond Fred Meyer has been shared hundreds of times. But, Redmond Police say it’s only partly true. In the post, a woman says her daughter was followed through the parking lot by a man who ran off after trying to open her car door. She claims the it happened again last weekend and that other women have reported similar incidents to police.
Redmond Police Lt. Curtis Chambers tells KBND News the account is loosely based in reality. "Back in February, at about 6:30 in the evening,
a female caller reported that a male had followed them through the parking lot and attempted to enter their vehicle and then walked off. Redmond Police were called; responded to the area and looked for the subject and did not find the described person." Chambers says, "However, since then there have been no other calls."
Lt. Chambers says social media posts are often based on truth but embellished to garner more shares or re-tweets to gain "viral" status. "While some of these incidents have a loose connection to reality and it may be difficult to decipher what is accurate or not, sometimes the underlying message is still a very good message in the form of safety. Being aware of what’s going on around them, knowing of their surroundings and just being part of where you are at that moment, so you can be safe." He adds, "Yes, an incident as described in the post did occur back in February. But, that is the only incident that we’re aware of. Redmond is still a very safe community and people don’t need to live in fear."
Redmond PD responded to 165 calls at Fred Meyer, between January 1 and June 6, 2017, which Chambers considers unsurprising given the popularity of the location. He says most of those are "officer-initiated," like traffic stops. Hit and run and traffic complaints are also frequent.
BEND, OR -- The Oregon Department of Forestry Central Oregon District officially declared Wednesday the start of the 2017 fire season. A strong winter snowpack delayed the on-set of the season, compared to recent years, however forestry officials say limited spring precipitation and warm weather has dried out vegetation.
Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, says this year is hard to predict, partly due to the recent rain/sun weather pattern. "Looking at the summer, we have obviously some good things going on, with all the water that we got. However, we are seeing some really tall grasses out there - particularly cheatgrass – taller than people have recalled in a long time." She adds, "We could easily get some fire starts out of that, with that tall grass getting under cars and starting a fire. So, that’s one thing we’re concerned about. We’re also, I think for this fire season, concerned about the huge influx of people that everyone keeps talking about." That influx of people is expected for the August eclipse, during the height of fire season.
"For the last two years, we weren’t looking at really good fire seasons, and then we didn’t have anything. So, a lot of it comes down to natural ignitions; what kind of lightning we get," says Nelson Dean. "But, this year with the amount of people that we’re going to be seeing – there’s just people packed in all over the place, already." She’s concerned visitors may not realize the importance of following fire guidelines and restrictions.
Those recreating in the forest are asked to be deliberate about dousing campfires and fully extinguish cigarettes. Never leave a fire unattended; clear the area around your campfire of flammable material. Industrial slash and debris burning is now not allowed on ODF protected lands and industrial operations must meet fire prevention requirements
. In 2016, human caused fires accounted for 75% of the fires in the Central Oregon District.
WILSONVILLE, OR -- A Powell Butte man is one of two construction workers hurt in a hit and run crash near Wilsonville. The Knife River crew was working in a closed lane of I-5 when their construction vehicle was hit by a box truck, early Tuesday morning. According to Oregon State Police, 57-year-old Ronald Davis, of Powell Butte, and 20-year-old Antonio Bahena, of Troutdale, were taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
State troopers located the box truck a short time later, and arrested Colin Cook, a 27-year-old Fairview man, for failing to perform the duties of a driver, assault and reckless driving. He was lodged at the Marion County Correctional Facility.
As emergency crews worked the crash site, a black Jeep was reportedly traveling recklessly toward the scene, passing stopped traffic on the shoulder. Troopers arrested that driver on several charges, including reckless driving.
Following the incident, Brian Gray, President of Knife River's Oregon operations, released a statement in support of the injured workers. He also asked drivers to "pay extra attention and slow down in work zones so something like this never happens again."
THURSDAY, JUNE 15 UPDATE: The Powell Butte man hurt in a hit and run crash on I5, last week, has died from his injuries. Authorities say 57-year-old Ronald Davis worked for Knife River and was inside a construction vehicle parked in a work zone, when it was struck by a box truck near Wilsonville. The suspect was later arrested for failing to perform the duties of a driver and other charges and remains in the Marion County Jail.
BEND, OR -- An estimated one-million visitors are expected in Oregon for the August eclipse, given that the state is the first place to view the solar phenomenon. While Oregon's Department of Transportation works to mitigate problems on highways, local first responders are planning how they will get through all that traffic to emergencies.
Nathan Garibay is the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Services Manager. He tells KBND News, "It’s kind of a multi-layer plan that’s still in development. But, we’re looking at where we locate resources so that there’s less travel time through major ‘choke points.’ We’re communicating with Oregon State Police and other law enforcement agencies in the county, as well as the region, and looking how we can better position resources to be able to be closer to incidents when they occur." Garibay adds, "Our staff are familiar with some alternate routes that we might be able to utilize." But he admits, "Ultimately, it’s going to increase our response times. That’s just the reality of the situation. But, we are looking at how we can better position assets to be closer to potential trouble areas."
He says potential delays shouldn’t stop Central Oregonians from calling 911 in a life-threatening situation. "It may take a little longer for emergency services, whether that’s law enforcement, fire or EMS to arrive. But, we are working with all our partners to ensure that we can mitigate those response times as best as possible."
ODOT warns back-ups are inevitable and officials say cities may close local streets or ban right or left turns to keep traffic moving. Garibay urges locals to pre-plan and try to travel as little as possible in the week leading up to the eclipse. He says they’re planning for over 200,000 visitors in Central Oregon - or more, if it’s cloudy on the west side of the state.
Eclipse Coverage on KBND is supported in part by Awnings Unlimited. Shade yourself from the sun with Awnings Unlimited at 5541-389-1619 and awningsunlimited.net.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County officials are working to prevent some rural homeowners from paying thousands of dollars in extra fees when they try to sell or renovate their property. A land use court case between neighbors has forced the county to upgrade how it determines formal lot lines and proves a property's development rights.
County Commissioner Phil Henderson recently told KBND host Lars Larson, "One of the ironies of this, the reason we got into this, LUBA - the Land Use Board of Appeals - is saying we've been less restrictive than state law and that's why they've required us to change this. We actually have a history, in Deschutes County, of trying to accommodate land use and not make it difficult. And that's one of the reasons, I guess it could be argued, that we got into this." He explains, "For instance, if you bought a parcel from your neighbor and you went in and got a septic permit, that would make it a 'lot of record,' under the way we had done it. We're being told that's not sufficient under state law, so that's the kind fo thing we're reacting to."
The new state requirement forces property owners to prove they have the right to develop their land prior to getting a building permit, which can cost thousands in city fees and surveyor expenses.
The Board of County Commisioners has heard from a number of concerned citizens, and Henderson says there are likely more who are impacted, "It could be hundreds. We have a lot of rural properties that were kind of created prior to our land use system, here." He says officials are devloping a workaround they hope to release in the next couple of weeks.
BEND, OR -- St. Charles Health System officials are carefully watching discussions in Salem and Washington, D.C. that could dramatically impact the healthcare industry. Last week, the parent company that owns all of Central Oregon’s hospitals announced it is looking for ways to reduce expenses.
Chief Financial Officer Jan Welander says the health system is barely making more than it’s spending, partly because of changes at the federal level. "Under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals have been receiving incentive reimbursement over the period of the last two to three years. And, those moneys and programs are starting to decline, or sunset."
Welander also tells KBND News talk of cutting Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements is creating even more uncertainty, "Really, legislative changes at the state and federal level are going to impact how much we’re paid for Medicaid and Medicare. We don’t know the magnitude of those impacts yet, but Medicaid and Medicare account for 75% of our business. So, any changes in the federal and state level can have significant impacts for us." She adds, "Everything that happens on the federal level and the state level are of the utmost importance. All of those things point to this is a new normal; that there is not an end in sight to the challenges that healthcare faces."
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners and Budget Committee members have proposed a $358 million budget for next year, which is a 4% increase over this year. It includes a million dollars for a Bend Crisis Stabilization and Sober Center, which the Sheriff has said will deal those in crisis better than the jail.
The proposal also includes a number of capital projects, like $650,000 to improve Old Bend-Redmond Highway, and money to finish several road projects near La Pine, along with completion of a new 911 Dispatch project.
County officials are asking to add staff to the Community Development Department as demand for applications increases. And, both the Department of Solid Waste and the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center continue to plan for future expansion and development.
The budget proposal will be debated this week, with final deliberations scheduled for June 26.
LA PINE, OR -- One person was killed in a fiery crash north of La Pine that shut down Highway 97 for six hours, Monday afternoon. State Police investigators say a Silverton man was northbound at 1:30 p.m. when, for an unknown reason, his pickup crossed into oncoming traffic, near Wickiup Junction.
He collided head-on with a semi-truck pulling a load of apple juice, causing the tractor-trailer to roll into the ditch. The pickup caught fire and the driver was pronounced dead at the scene. His identity has not yet been released
The driver of the semi, a 29-year-old Arizona man, was evaluated at St. Charles Bend for minor injuries.
UPDATE: Oregon State Police say the driver killed was 69-year-old Frederick Holmes Winkler, of Silverton.
SISTERS, OR -- Fuels specialists are burning 200 acres, about four miles southwest of Sisters, Monday. The prescribed burn is aimed at decreasing hazardous fuel accumulations adjacent to the city and surrounding communities. While smoke will impact Highway 242 and Highway 20, no road closures are expected.
BEND, OR -- Oregon's Liquor Control Commission hopes to expand the number of distilled spirits retailers in Central and Eastern Oregon. Christy Scott, with the OLCC's Bend office, says, "One of the things that we've been hearing over the last several years, is that customers are really looking for added convenience for distilled spirits. There's a lot of popularity around distilled spirits; you know, whiskey is a huge booming category. And, as the popularity increases, people are looking for better access to it."
She says it's really a question of supply and demand in rural areas, "This is a very large area, a 14-county area." And, supply has not kept up here or across Oregon. "If you look at the number of beer and wine retailers that we have compared to distilled spirits retailers, we have less than 300 distilled spirits retailers across the state; and we have thousands of beer and wine retailers across the state."
The OLCC is asking people to apply, and Scott tells KBND News applicants should be innovative, "You want to do a full-service liquor store, then send a proposal in for a full-service liquor store. If you're a grocery store and you want to add a distilled spirits section - or, let's say you have another retail business like shoes or records or whatever it may be and you want to add a distilled spirits section to that, send your proposal in for that, as well."
The agency will host a town hall June 14, 2-4 p.m. at the downtown Bend Library, to answer questions about the process. Applications will be accepted through July 31. They're expected to approve 10 new retailers in October. The state is on pace to add 43 locations over the next two years.
SISTERS, OR -- Three kids were arrested over the weekend, in connection with last week’s fire at the baseball field between Sisters Middle School and Sisters Christian Academy. On May 30, firefighters extinguished a small blaze at the snack shack. A concerned citizen tipped off the Sheriff’s office that three 13-year-olds might be involved.
The teens were interviewed and admitted to starting the fire with gasoline and a lighter. Investigators say it was apparent there was no intent to harm anyone and charges of criminal mischief and arson stem from the property damage. One suspect is also charged with minor in possession of alcohol.
TERREBONNE, OR -- A 14-year-old from Terrebonne was rescued after a 20' fall at Smith Rock State Park, Saturday evening. Just before 8 p.m., the victim’s friend called 911 to report he had fallen into a canyon while climbing on rocks in the northeast area of the park. His injuries were non-life threatening, but Search and Rescue responded to pull him out.
Just after dark, a team of more than a dozen, using head lamps and flashlights, set up a rope rescue system. At about 10:45, he was hoisted out of the canyon and turned over to his waiting father.
The Sheriff’s Office says the fall was likely the result of carelessness. The two boys had been scrambling on rocks in an area of vertical rock faces without any climbing equipment, training or experience.
MYRTLE CREEK, OR -- A Myrtle Creek man is accused of killing a 26-year-old, and kidnapping his girlfriend and 10 month old baby. The couple had recently moved to Douglas County from La Pine.
According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Brandon Michael was shot several times on May 30. His girlfriend, 23-year-old Kayla Viol, told investigators she and her baby were kidnapped and taken to a home in Myrtle Creek, but was able to escape to a neighbor’s and call for help.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office arrested 34-year-old Troy Phelps was Friday on charges including Murder and Kidnapping. Michael's body was recovered from near the Lawson Bar area; an autopsy confirms he was killed by a small caliber handgun.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond's City Hall now features bronze statues celebrating the various stages of the building's history. "When we decided to make this city hall, one of the themes was to maintain some linkage to the building's past," says Redmond Mayor George Endicott. "We've done that in a few ways. If you walk around, you see all the pictures of former students, placards outside of doors that say what the office used to be. And, one of the other things that we decided to do was to capture the mascots that used to be here."
To do that, the city commissioned Redmond artist Kim Chavez to create sculptures of each mascot. "Redmond Union High had the Panthers; Redmond Junior High had the Wolf, and Evergreen Elementary had the Eagle," says Mayor Endicott.
Jackie Abslag, with the city, says, "They're 3/4 sized, life-like." Endicott says they are, in fact, quite realistic. "I literally went over and got in front of that Panther, and I squatted down and looked in his eyes, and I thought it was going to jump off that pedestal and eat me!"
Endicott says the statues' $27,500-dollar price tag was factored into the overall budget for the building's renovation. They were just installed this week, and City Councilors are expected to dedicate the sculptures later this month.
A panther, wolf and eagle can also be found in a stained glass mosaic above city hall's north staircase.
BEND, OR -- Last week's Cougar Butte Fire, west of Bend, provided an early season test of the new Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch center. The paint was barely dry when the Cougar Butte fire broke out last Friday. Investigators are now looking into the blaze, which burned 170 acres before it was contained Monday.
Kassidy Kern, with the Deschutes National Forest, says they've determined a point of origin. "This is a human-caused fire; there was no lightning in the area. You have two causes for a fire: it's either natural, meaning a lightning cause, or you have a human cause. And in this case, you have a human-caused fire." But she tells KBND News it'll likely be a while before more is released. "Even though sometimes we can determine the point of origin very quickly, and determine what that is, now it's a matter of seeing if there was malicious intent and perhaps going after an individual or individuals and pursuing it that way."
Kern says the new dispatch center performed just as expected, "Really, the benefit of this, there are very large windows in the front, so our dispatchers can actually see out on the Deschutes National Forest. And, they actually spotted the smoke from here in Redmond. It was just a very easy tie for them to have a very real time look at what was happening. We were dispatching aircraft out of here; we were dispatching engines." Kern says the blaze spread quickly because the Manzanita trees in the area were still dormant from winter and hadn't yet soaked in moisture from the wet spring.
SALEM, OR -- The full Oregon Senate will vote on whether to allow construction of a pedestrian bridge over the Deschutes River in Bend. A Senate Committee voted three-to-two to advance the bill with an amendment proposed earlier this week by the Bend Parks and Recreation District.
Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) chairs the committee and supported the move. "This is a complicated issue that will be with the citizens of Bend, I think, for a while. But, the -4 amendments seem to have the benefit of dealing with the Urban Growth Boundary part, decisively, and open the door for the other." The amendment would only allow a bridge to be built on a narrow piece of US Forest Service land, and would require an environmental impact study before construction could be approved.
A number of area homeowners oppose any bridge over the river, and didn't want any exceptions that could allow it. Senator Alan Olson (R-Canby) voted against the bill. He says, "The process has taken a long, long time, and it's come to us to be the arbiters. I sincerely believe that since Bend went through the process with [State] Parks and Parks said 'no,' that bothers me tremendously." But Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) says this isn't the end of the process. "We're not giving them a pass on anything. They actually have to go through the same process and procedure. But, it does, in fact, give everybody on either side of this the perspective of where this bridge would be and will be, if it is successfully sited."
BEND, OR -- OSU Cascades is hundreds of thousands of dollars closer to its fundraising goal, for construction of a new academic building at the Bend campus. The university received a $500,000 gift from The Bend Foundation, this week, and another $75,000 from the Brooks Resources Corporation.
The contributions bring the total raised for the campus capital expansion to $6.9 million. The Oregon State Legislature requires a $10 million match for the $69.5 million requested of the state.
Campus officials say the future academic building will include classrooms and labs, and will focus on "STEAM" subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.
REDMOND, OR -- State and federal forestry officials cut the ribbon on the new Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch (COID) center, Thursday morning. Speakers at the ceremony noted how the new facility next to the Redmond Airport is dramatically larger and more efficient than the previous COID center in Prineville.
Mike Shaw is the Central Oregon District Forester for Oregon's Department of Forestry. He tells KBND News it also provides a way for the multiple agencies that respond to wildfires to work better together. He says the multi-agency project has been in the works for about 20 years, "I think this really kind of shows the value of those relationships and how we come together in emergency situations and the things we encounter in our individual agencies. As a group, we just do a really good job together and this just kind of exemplifies that effort."
The new facility puts dispatchers on-site with the crews they're sending out to fight wildfires. Shaw says, "This is state of the art, it gives us a little more space and the ability to grow and expand as necessary. But really, the key is the technology and the space and the ability to allow our dispatchers to do their job more efficiently and effectively."
Beyond Central Oregon's fire season, the new COID center is expected to help mobilize units responding elsewhere in the region and across the country. "When we support other regions in their fire season, we use these facilities to filter resources through and help mobilize them to help out in other areas. So this will now be able to be utilized as a hub in that arena, so that resources from the northwest can be sent other places and they can come through here and mobilize and be dispatched out of here," says Shaw. And, there are plans for the site, in the event of a catastrophic Cascadia Quake. "This now has the technology, if something occurs on the west side and there's challenges with certain infrastructure, we have some abilities here that we didn't have before. So, it really opens up a lot of doors, is really what it boils down to."
The new COID center has already been put to the test ... It was used during last week's Cougar Butte fire southwest of Bend. Shaw said aside from a few minor hiccups - which they expected - everything performed well.
Top: The heads of the Deschutes National Forest, Prineville BLM and Crooked River National Grassland join the Redmond Mayor, Oregon Dept. of Forestry Central Oregon Forester and the USFS Director of Fire Aviation to cut the ribbon outside COID's new facility in Redmond.
Upper Right: Dispatchers now utilize more efficient workstations and "exponentially larger" wall maps at the new facility, compared to what they had in Prineville.
Left: The new dispatch center is at the Redmond Air Center, putting dispatchers on site with the aerial fire crews they send out to fight wildfires.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville Police arrested a 21-year-old man and a juvenile on charges of illegally producing butane honey oil (BHO) at their home. Police received a tip that William Ray Lockman, Jr. and his underage roommate were producing and selling marijuana extracts at their Larry Ct residence.
After a search of the property, officers found items used in the manufacture of marijuana. The two are charged with Manufacture of Cannabinoid Extract, Delivery of Marijuana Extract and Unlawful Possession of Cannabinoid Extract.
BEND, OR -- St. Charles Health System is taking a hard look at plans to build a new patient tower at the Bend hospital due to shrinking profits. Chief Financial Officer Jan Welander says there are two big steps St. Charles is taking to try and rein in expenses. "We are taking a second look, or a fresh look, at some of our larger capital projects – the investment in the building that we’re doing. That does include the north, or the 'ICU Tower,' as it’s often called. Our design team is reviewing the scope of the building and we’re trying to determine if there are some modifications that are warranted, given our economic condition."
She says funding the $66-million project has been secured and the budget isn't changing. The original plan was for two- to three-dozen Intensive Care beds, replacing the 18 currently available at the Bend hospital; and shelled-out space for future use, including more medical beds. Welander says the team is now looking at increasing efficiencies to lower operating costs, "Is there a different way to think about how, if we scale the shelled out space differently, how many beds can we make operational within the $66 million so that community has faster access to those? Our dialog, though, remains a complete commitment to the ICU beds, so that’s not a component of the project that we’re asking the team to look at."
The company is also evaluating every new and replacement job opening. Welander says both moves are a response to deteriorating financial performance. "The trend started last fall and is like what many other health systems in the state and the country are experiencing. Compared to last year, so far, year-to-date through April, we have a very tight operating margin at .3%; so we’re barely making more money than we’re spending."
She believes the industry is seeing shrinking profits partly because rising deductibles force people to think twice before seeking treatment and, a number of hospital reimbursements provided under the Affordable Care Act are starting to sunset. Welander tells KBND News, "Our focus is on the best care for the best value. We understand that we have to make healthcare more affordable to make it sustainable and this is simply the new normal. I think it’s good for us to recognize St. Charles and other healthcare providers are going to be having ongoing conversations in this vein, and focusing on quality and eliminating waste from healthcare."
BEND, OR -- Cascades East Transit, Central Oregon's regional bus service, has developed a mobile app to help riders know when and where they can catch the next bus. "It will also display its departure time at the closest bus stop. And, it can also be a trip planning app," says CET's Judy Watts.
She tells KBND News development of the app has been in the works for about a year, "We have asked our riders through on-board surveys and through the planning process, ‘What are some things that can make riding transit better and easier for you?’ And, an app has always bubbled up to the top of those priorities and needs." Watts admits transit companies in large cities already offer the technology, "It was a lot of hard work by our operations staff and equipping each and every one of our businesses with the right equipment so software could actually read where that bus physically was in real time. It took a lot of work; it wasn’t just like flipping a switch."
The free Transit App officially launches Thursday, coinciding with a new relationship between CET and the ride-sharing service Uber. "We just thought it would be a great win/win partnership and complimentary of transit service. We think of Uber as a friend and as another transportation option," says Watts.
On Friday, June 2, those who download the CET app can ride the bus for free by showing the app on their mobile device to the bus driver. Uber users can then get up to a $15 discount to get home from downtown Bend’s First Friday
events. Watts says, "Our service ends around 7:30 p.m. So, we know that if people are taking advantage of all the fun activities in Bend, that we would probably not be able to offer them a ride home because most people are hanging out past 7:30 p.m." Uber will provide discounts on each First Friday this summer, for rides originating in downtown Bend.
MADRAS, OR -- Anyone who’s tried to make a cell phone call at a large sporting event or concert knows service can be spotty with so many users in one place. At least one carrier is temporarily increasing capacity in Madras and Mitchell to try and accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people expected for this summer’s eclipse.
AT&T Network Engineer Tara Jansen says the company will deploy a Cell On Wheels, known as a “COW,” at the Oregon SolarFest in Madras and in Mitchell, "To have additional coverage and capacity for a specific area where there’s going to be a large concentration of our customers. So, it’s a way that we can deploy something temporary to help alleviate network congestion and allow our customers to stay connected during these large events." She tells KBND News, “The SolarFest event is planned with an expected attendance of upwards of 40k throughout the five-day event, so we’re planning for that. Our COW at the SolarFest event is going to increase capacity by 200% in the area.”
A "COW" is already operating in Mitchell, providing service in that well-known dead-zone. Jansen says AT&T plans to leave the system out there as long as possible and is working on a permanent solution for the 115-mile stretch of Highway 26 between Prineville and John Day that has no cell service.
AT&T's upgrades only benefit their customers and Jansen admits the plan isn't fool-proof. "Hopefully [customers] will notice no difference and it’ll be like they’re using their phone any other day. But, if there is a large amount of users in one area, most likely they can experience slower speeds than they would at, let’s say, their house or on a regular day."
U.S. Cellular’s Director of Network Operations, Tim Brown, tells KBND News in a written statement, "We’re aware of the major public interest in visiting central Oregon to view the solar eclipse on August 21. This will certainly bring an influx of visitors to the areas around Madras, Bend and Redmond. Our team is already reviewing our network to ensure we have adequate capacity to handle additional traffic in the area around the time of the eclipse." He went on to say, "We will be implementing upgrades as needed to help ensure an excellent customer experience in the Madras area. At large events such as this, we usually see a spike in text and data usage more than voice, so we are also looking at how we can prioritize services that are most important to our customers."
Local emergency managers say because of the potential for cell networks to overload, standard land-lines are still the most reliable in an emergency.
Eclipse Coverage on KBND is supported in part by Awnings Unlimited. Shade yourself from the sun with Awnings Unlimited at 5541-389-1619 and awningsunlimited.net.
BEND, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) heard stories of hardship by Central Oregonians during a roundtable discussion in Bend, Tuesday morning. President Trump's proposed budget calls for $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid - the federal agency that helps low-income people. Local social service agencies and people helped through them urged the Senator to fight the cuts.
Leif Bamburg, with the group Protect Our Progress, has Cystic Fibrosis and has been on disability since the age of 12. He told Wyden these social services are a lifeline. "These healthcare benefits and these disability benefits are keeping me alive; and these kind of cuts would definitely have a very real impact on my survival. I know that because I've lived it before." Bamburg was kicked off Medicaid when he lived in Texas, years ago. He says he wasn't able to get health insurance or afford medication and his lung capacity during that year went from 100% capability to 40%.
Wyden says two-thirds of the people helped by Medicaid have jobs. "It really tells you something about how, in a country as rich and good and strong as ours, people with Cyctic Fibrosis have got to think about setting up some sort of reserve for the day they won't have healthcare. It just really shows you how the notion that somehow 'nobody's going to get hurt; this is just a bunch of efficiencies' is just not connected to reality." He also told the group a majority of beneficiaries only stay on the program for, at most, a couple of years.
One in four Central Oregonians rely on services that receive funding from Medicaid. Scott Copper, with NeighborImpact
, told the Senator they see different people, each year. "We're already moving people within these programs from needing some help, because of medical situations, loss of a job, loss of a spouse, whatever, into a new chapter in their life. Taking away the support will actually probably reverse the problem, making things worse for longer."
The proposed cuts are part of a move to significantly downsize the federal program.
REDMOND, OR -- Two Redmond businesses were evacuated Tuesday afternoon, after a car struck a gas line at The Bottle Drop on SW Lake Road.
Fire crews responded just before 12:30 p.m., and found a large amount of natural gas leaking from the building. Police evacuated The Bottle Drop and the adjacent building until firefighters could close the valve and stop the leak.
There were no injuries.