BEND, OR -- Bend Police says bike thefts are down, thanks to a number of prevention measures implemented over the past year.
After the number of bikes stolen from inside city limits jumped by nearly 50-percent from 2014 to 2015, the department formed the Central Oregon Bike Theft Task Force, with help from other area police agencies. They also used "Bait bike" sting operations to arrest more than a dozen suspected thieves.
Read more about last year's spike in bike thefts.
Bend PD says the number of bikes stolen so far in 2016 is now down 60%, compared to January through June of last year.
They say community awareness is paramount to their efforts - they suggest registering your bike with BikeIndex.org
, use a high-quality bike lock, and report bike theft immediately.
BEND, OR -- Crews will continue to work on a major highway construction project south of Bend, over Fourth of July weekend. The Oregon Department of Transportation shutdown one southbound lane from Romaine Village to Lava Butte, in order to install a new concrete median.
ODOT’s Peter Murphy tells KBND News they typically try not to do construction over a long holiday weekend. "We know that it causes problems with traffic. It’s just that, in a case like this, if we were to go ahead and stop it, it would mean reopening the lane that we’ve closed. Then, we’d have to re-close it again and then the contractor would be off the job. So, one thing leads to another, it kind of snowballs then it costs more."
Drivers could experience delays in the area up to 30 minutes, with the longest waits expected Friday afternoon. But, Murphy says the highway will be safer, in the long run. "Those are the kinds of trades you have to make when you decide whether to close a highway or a lane, or lift the construction. It’s really more complicated than just making it happen – there’s money involved, there’s schedules involved. We’re trying to make sure things work so we can get the median project put in."
This is peak travel season for Lava Butte. Nearly 33,000 vehicles drove on that stretch of Highway 97, last July. "In 2015, we noticed that traffic over Lava butte was up 10% from the year before, and this year, it’s up 5% over that. And, if you throw in the Fourth of July weekend, it’s a highway that gets real crowded real quick. And, then when we take away a lane for a construction project, it gets even more crowded on top of that." The $6 million median project is expected to be finished by the end of October.
BEND, OR -- The new Cascade Lakes Welcome Station is expanding its hours. Beginning Monday, July fourth, it'll be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Staff intend to maintain expanded hours through Labor Day.
The Welcome Station is located just past milepost seven on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. It offers parking and access to Phil's and Wanoga mountain bike trails. It also provides visitors with recreation passes, maps and guidebooks. For more information, visit the Deschutes National Forest website.
SISTERS, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a cluster of car break-ins discovered Tuesday morning in the residential area surrounding Sisters Elementary. "We’ve had about half a dozen calls of unauthorized entry to motor vehicles," Sgt. Dan Bilyeu tells KBND News. "So far, what we’ve found is the vehicles have been targets of opportunity; in other words, they’ve been left unlocked. There’s been no damage to the vehicles or smashed windows."
Sgt. Bilyeu says there may be more people who haven’t yet realized they are victims. Most of the reports were of missing small items, like loose change. He acknowledges it’s hard to solve these types of crimes without the public’s help. "At night, it’s hard for us to move around unnoticed, because we’ve got our lights on, so people see our lights on and duck into alleyways or between the houses. So, they’re really kind of difficult to investigate. So, what we need is someone who sees something or knows something that can get us pointed in the right direction." Anyone with information, or who think they might be a victim, is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.
Sgt. Bilyeu suggests you always lock your car. He says the Sheriff’s office is increasing patrols in Sisters, and throughout the county, in response to the influx of visitors over the long weekend.
MADRAS, OR -- A Madras woman started an online petition, last week, to recall Jefferson County's District Attorney. Jennifer Ihrig tells KBND News that D.A. Steve Leriche negotiates low sentences for too many criminals. "I just really think that the county deserves better. It seems like more and more crime is happening most of the high-profile cases here end up getting plea deals. It's almost like he wants to avoid going to court, or something. But, I think it's worth the risk when you can get justice for so many people just by trying a little harder."
She says she was prompted to launch the Change.org petition after 26-year-old Raine Austria Vineyard received a six-month sentence in connection with the death of her one-year-old daughter. "To me, six months is just not justice, because we're supposed to be protecting those kids," says Ihrig. "And, if we can't, somebody else is supposed to."
So far, more than 70 people have signed her online petition, which is not legally binding. "A lot of people think the same as I do. People are dying and nothing seems to be getting done." Ihrig says she's using the online petition to gauge public opinion and may file a formal recall effort with the County Clerk's office. It would take an estimated 1,000 signatures to force a recall vote.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County families will get a break on some school fees, starting in the fall. Since 2009, middle and high school students have paid fees to take electives like band or welding. School Board member Scott Cooper says the practice began during the recession, but it's coming to an end. "We're supposed to be there for kids, first and foremost. That's our job as a school district. So, making sure we don't put a burdensome cost on kids and families who are supposed to receive a free public education is a pretty core part of our mission. I mean, the word 'free' public education means free; not 'sort of free.'"
Cooper tells KBND News, "I think this board is helped out by the fact that everybody on that board has kids in the schools or grandkids in the schools. Board members themselves are pretty closely connected to what's going on. And, when we have to write those checks ourselves, we definitely understand when people are complaining."
He says athletes will still pay to play sports, but those fees have been reduced and capped for families. For middle school students, the fee is capped at $200 per family, and for high school, it's capped at $750 per family. "I would hope that this is how all public bodies work. I know that's a bit utopian. But, we're supposed to take a look at the constituents we serve and treat people as if they're our customers not our cash cows. And, that's basically what we've done."
BEND, OR -- With the Presidential election still on center-stage, local political experts say overall frustration and fatigue over the race for the White House is not likely to negatively impact local campaigns.
KBND political analyst and former state Representative Jason Conger (R-Bend) says there is one area that could be influenced. "Voter registrations: there are almost 4500 more Democrats registered in Deschutes County now than there were in February. There’s a huge upswing. And, there’s about a 2,000 increase in Republicans." He says that narrowing of the gap between the two parties could mean success for Democrats in countywide races, like Alan Unger, who is running for a third term as a Deschutes County Commissioner. He faces local businessman Phil Henderson, in November.
Conger adds, "What would be interesting is to figure out how many of those voters were motivated to vote in the primary for Bernie Sanders, who won Deschutes County, by the way. And if they don’t vote in the general election, that gives Phil Henderson a boost compared to just looking at the raw numbers."
But, former Democratic lawmaker Judy Stiegler says that theory cuts both ways. "I think there could be that tendency on the Republican side because there could be a lot of Republicans who just say ‘I’m staying home,’ because they’re not very enthusiastic about the choice at the top of the ticket, Mr. Trump."
Stiegler says the increasing negativity in national races shouldn't impact local ballots, too much. "I do tend to believe at the local level, like that, there’s less of an impact from national politics and the rhetoric. People tend to gear down to ‘what are the issues that we’re facing?’"
To hear our full conversation with Jason Conger and Judy Stiegler, visit our Podcast
BEND, OR -- Bend city officials are trying to give fair warning to those likely to be impacted by The two-year, two-mile sewer line project on SE 27th Street. The 30-foot trench between Reed Market and Medical Center Drive will be a major inconvenience for drivers. Construction begins in July.
At a public meeting Monday night at Barnes and Noble, City Councilor Nathan Boddie said the traffic interruption a necessary evil. “This particular section of pipe, although terribly disruptive to traffic and to the community and to businesses, it’s a thing that’s needed for Bend’s sewer system to work well and cheaply.” He added, “So it’s a big mess and its expensive, but it’s almost kind of one of those things that no matter your philosophy of growth or expansion or of status quo, it’s one those things that’s needed either way.”
The work is part of the Southeast Interceptor Project
designed to create more capacity in sewer lines and reduce sewer overflow risks in other parts of Bend. A second public meeting on the project is Thursday at 6 p.m., at the Desert Streams Church on 27th Street.
BEND, OR -- Visitors to downtown Bend again have a clean place to "go." The public restrooms in the lobby of the parking garage were closed about a year ago due to a lack of oversight. Downtown Bend Business Association Director Rod Porsche says there were problems with drug use, vandalism and transients camping inside the bathrooms. "The idea that these were closed really put a strain on our downtown businesses. A lot of our retailers are simply not set up – they don’t have ADA compliant restrooms. It wasn’t a big deal for the restaurants and bars; but, during the day, it really impacted our retailers."
In response, the restrooms reopened last month, as a test. "They really needed someone, and that someone turned out to be me and our organization, to be within eyesight of them," says Porsche, who now occupies a small office, nearby [pictured]. "That’s the beauty of this with this second office here in the lobby, I’m literally just steps away from the restroom doors." The DBBA still has its original second floor office on Oregon Ave.
He says it's a unique fix that's paying off. "It’s almost more like a closet, and surrounded by glass windows so we’ve actually taken to calling it ‘The Fishbowl.’ But, it does allow me an opportunity to see people walking by; there’s a directory right out front, so I can jump up and offer directions for folks who are lost. So, I’ve actually enjoyed it; it’s been a pleasant surprise, the kind of contact that I have, as Downtown Director, in terms of being able to offer assistance to folks." He says the restrooms are often the first stop for many of the 3 million tourists that visit downtown Bend each year.
The set-up is temporary, for now. The DBBA will re-evaluate in six months and decide whether to continue its oversight of the restrooms.
REDMOND, OR -- The number one movie in America is inspiring Central Oregonians to become fish owners. But, Gena George, owner of Oasis Tropical Fish in Redmond, suggests doing a little research before stocking that tank with a new “Nemo” and “Dory.”
She tells KBND News clownfish can be a good start to a saltwater tank but the blue hippo tang are not so simple. "The little ‘Nemo’ clowns, they get to be about 3”, some get a little bit larger. Then, the tangs, like Dory is, is quite large. You can get them as small as quarter size, and over a few years they’ll grow to 8” and beyond." And, she says they can easily get stressed and need a lot of space, "Ideally, at least a 125 – a 125-gallon [tank] – but, you can start them off in 50 gallons when they’re small. And then, as they grow, you’d want to graduate. You want to eventually have at least 6-foot of swimming room for them, if not more."
But, George says Nemo-like clownfish can be a little easier. "Especially if they have a little anemone, they just want to stay with it, they don’t venture out very far- just like they do in the movies. They come out and get food, then they’ll take their food back to their anemone and feed it, so they don’t need all that room like the tangs do." George says they can live well together, just like in the movie, but aquariums need to be properly prepared beforehand and she says it’s important to get good advice from a reputable dealer.
She suggests researching the right species for your space and budget. "I’ve started off a bunch of customers – couples, with toddlers - and they want a little saltwater set-up. It’s really easy to do a couple clownfish and an anemone in a small tank, like maybe a 29-gallon tank; it’s not too hard. The hippo tang is going to be the tougher one."
The two can live happily together, just like in “Finding Dory,” but George says it’s important to get good advice from a reputable dealer. She says the movie is bringing in new clients, some end up choosing an easier to care for fish to start a saltwater tank – like green chromis.
REDMOND, OR -- NeighborImpact's food bank recently received more than 4300 jars of peanut butter from Robberson Ford, Newport Avenue Market in Bend and Thriftway in Prineville.
Carly Sanders, Food Program Manager for the non-profit, tells KBND News peanut butter is a staple. "It's a great protein source, which we're always in in need of at the food bank. This is really important in the summer months because peanut butter is really kid-friendly, and so many of our kids in the Central Oregon area who are eligible for free and reduced [school lunch] can't always access the summer meal program. This is a way to supplement that." She says these types of donations are essential to their work. "For our size, we recover - of the food that we distribute - about 50% of that food that we get locally is coming from the grocery stores. And, that's very unique for our size of food bank. Typically, it's much smaller."
NeighborImpact also announced Monday that they've received a $10,000 grant for its food recovery program, from the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation. Sanders says despite an improving economy, many are still struggling. "We're still serving the same amount of people as we have for the last five years; it really has gone unchanged. We are seeing greater needs in our smaller, rural communities, as well. I think that's where we're seeing a change in the numbers, there's a greater need there."
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Crook County woman faces Attempted Murder and Animal Abuse charges after she allegedly shot at her live-in boyfriend, Saturday afternoon.
The Sheriff’s Office says 51-year-old Tina Hill and 49-year-old Dennis Stewart were having a verbal argument at their home on Southeast Myrtlewood, when she pulled a semi-automatic handgun and fired several rounds. One round struck a dog, which was treated by a Bend vet and is expected to survive; no one else was injured.
Hill was arrested after she called 911 to report the incident.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon fire crews were busy over the weekend. Bend Fire responded to a small brush fire near Rocking Horse Road, Friday afternoon. With help from state and federal forestry crews, they stopped the blaze at a quarter acre. Following an investigation, the causwe of the fire remains undetermined.
Saturday afternoon, crews attacked a fire near Dufur. The 31-acre Jewel Road Fire was contained by late Saturday night.
And, Sunday morning, a small blaze was spotted across the reservoir from Crane Prairie Resort (pictured). The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office believes it may have started with a stranded boater’s warming fire. Crews lined the two-acre fire, and mop up continued overnight.
FRIDAY UPDATE: According to Oregon State Police, Richard Clark was apprehended at about 1 p.m., Friday. He is now lodged in the Multnomah County Jail in Portland. No other information has been released.
SISTERS, OR -- An inmate from the Deer Ridge Correctional Institution, in Madras, walked away from a work crew near Sisters, Thursday afternoon. Officials say 29-year-old Richard Clark was last seen just before 2 p.m.
He is white, 6', 205-pounds; with brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a blue t-shirt with the word "Inmate" and the DOC logo stenciled in orange on the front.
Clark was in prison for attempted robbery out of Washington County, and has been in custody since March 31, 2016. His earliest release date was to be in June of 2019. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Oregon State Police at 800-452-7888.
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine schools received a clean bill of health, following water testing at local facilities. School district officials decided to test the water after high lead levels were discovered in some Portland schools.
Julianne Repman, with BLP Schools, tells KBND News, "We just received our water sample results. We went out and actually tested all of our facilities - there are 38 in all, including the facilities that we lease. And they all came back to be within the established Oregon Health Authority threshold for lead." She adds, "You want to have less than 20 parts-per-billion of lead in the water. And, what we found at most of our sites was actually 'non-detectable,' those are good readings. That's what you want to see when we have test like this." Water was tested the week of June sixth.
"We're happy with the results that we had, and we will continue to monitor the situation," says Repman. "We'll look to Governor Kate Brown; she says she's going to create a plan for testing of water sources and some of the environmental conditions in schools in Oregon. So, we'll be looking forward to that as we determine what our next steps will be from here."
PRINEVILLE, OR -- More than a million Americans are living with HIV and the CDC estimates one in eight don’t know they have it. Local health departments are offering free testing next week, in recognition of National HIV Testing day, on Monday.
Crook County STD coordinator Katie Simpson, RN says testing should be part of every adult’s routine healthcare. "A lot of adults have not ever been testing and haven’t known their HIV status, and there are a lot of risk factors out there that people don’t think about. So, we just want people to take pride in knowing their status." She tells KBND New, many mistakenly think that if they aren’t gay or bisexual, nor an IV drug user, they aren’t in danger. Risk factors also include congenital, "Having it passed from mom to baby. Especially 15 years ago or so, they weren’t testing very often for that, so people could have been exposed in uterus and didn’t even know. If they’ve had partners who used IV drugs, they may not have used it themselves, but they’re at high risk."
Nurse Simpson says after testing, they can have results back within a couple of days. "If somebody were to test positive that was unaware, the first thing we’d want to do is do partner contacts and test people they’ve been in contact with – mostly sexually, or with sharing needles. We would definitely want to know if there’s other people that have been affected by this individual. Then, after that, they would want to see an infectious disease provider. There are medications now that can greatly improve their quality of life and keep that virus suppressed." Free testing is available in Crook County at the public health office in Prineville from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday.
In Bend, free testing is offered Monday at the Family Kitchen (231 NW Idaho Ave), 10:30a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and at Deschutes County Health (1340 NW Wall St), 2 - 5 p.m.
Testing is also available at the Back Door Café in Bend (680 NW Bond St) on Wednesday, 8 - 10 a.m., and at Jericho Table in Redmond (205 NW 4th St) on Thursday, 4:30 - 5:45 p.m.
BEND, OR -- Amidst a slew of construction projects tying up various locations around Bend, city officials say three events will add to traffic woes on Saturday, including Slide the City and a duathlon.
Slide the City : 12-7 p.m. on College Way between Saginaw Ave and Newport Ave, with event parking available throughout the surrounding neighborhood and Westside Church.
Malheur rally : until 5 p.m. the road up Pilot Butte and the gate leading to the summit will be closed. The park will be open to visitors walking to the butte.
USAT Duathlon : 5 a.m.–5 p.m. starting and ending at Summit High School. Click HERE for course maps.
Bike Road Closures/Detours:
o Skyliners Road from Skyline Ranch Road to approximately one mile past NF 300 (note: there will be one queued vehicular lane throughout this stretch of road monitored by Certified Flaggers and Bend PD motorcycles – please allow additional time as delays are likely. Access to Tumalo Falls is permitted; however, all are encouraged to plan trips to Tumalo Falls for days other than Saturday)
o NW Crossing Drive from Skyline Ranch Road to NW Crosby Drive
o NW Crosby Drive from Skyliners Road to NW Discovery Park Drive
Run Road Closures/Detours:
o NW Clearwater Drive from NW York Drive/Entrance and Exit to Summit HS to NW Charbonneau Street
o Discovery Trail from NW Clearwater Drive to NW Lolo Drive
o NW Lolo Drive from NW Crossing to Discovery Trail (note: this stretch will still remain open to westbound and eastbound vehicular traffic. This stretch will also have two-way run traffic delineated by cones. This will allow vehicular traffic to flow as normal, businesses to stay open, and run traffic to operate safely)
o NW Crossing Drive from NW Lolo Drive to Skyliners Road
o Skyline Ranch Road from Skyliners Road to Broken Top Drive (note: Broken Top Drive/Hosmer Lake Drive will still be open for vehicle access from Skyline Ranch Road, and that residents of the Macalpine Loop will need to enter/exit through the southern access point and will be queued in/out by certified flaggers through a vehicular access lane).
BEND, OR -- Bend Police believe an early morning fire at Rico's Market was arson. Officers responded to a burglar alarm at 3 a.m., Thursday, and found smoke coming from the NE Third Street building.
Firefighters were able to quickly knock down the blaze, stopping it from spreading before it cause structural damage. However, there was damage to merchandise inside the store.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Bend Police at 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- Local school districts are making sure kids maintain good nutrition over the summer. "We have a variety of free lunch sites in Bend and in La Pine, and I know other districts in the region do the same thing," says Ensworth Elementary Principal Dana Arntson. "Free lunch sites are for anyone up to the age of 18, you don’t have to even be a student in our school district, so if you have family or friends visiting, you can go to any of these sites and get a free lunch."
Arntson tells KBND News, the district is also helping kids' brains stay engaged over summer break. "At some of our sites in Bend and one in La Pine we also, starting Monday, offer a recreational reading program for children, so that they can come and eat lunch and they can sit and read some books. We have a teacher and an educational assistant, and in some cases, other community partners that come and work with us for two hours in the middle of the day." Those reading sites include Ensworth and Elk Meadow Elementary schools, Pilot Butte Neighborhood Park and Orchard Park in Bend, and Finley Butte Park in La Pine.
It's about keeping learning fun, "We need it to not seem like school. We’ve got blankets, and the books are usually laid out in the grass and in all cases the program is outside, so kids can sit in the park and read a book. We work with Commute Options, so there are times the kids can also work on bike safety at some of these programs. We work with therapy dogs – Pet Partners – and in some locations, kids can actually read to a certified therapy dog." Click HERE
for a list of free lunch and "Lunch and Learn" sites in Bend, La Pine and Sisters.
A Similar "Eat. Read. Play" program is also available in Redmond at the library and Sam Johnson Park. Click HERE
to access Redmond's list of free lunch sites.
To hear our full conversation with Dana Arntson, including more tips on keeping kids' brains engaged over summer, visit our Podcast Page
BEND, OR -- School is out and visitors are pouring into Central Oregon. Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says with more people on the road, it’s even more important that drivers remain focused. "When we get tourist traffic coming in, there’s even more congestion. Our cars are out there doing proactive patrol; it is a little bit harder to move around but we will still be out there enforcing all of the traffic laws. And, of course, some of the busy times we have overtime shifts; during Sisters Rodeo, we had DUII cars that were out." He tells KBND News, "We have a lot of people coming to recreate here, and of course all of us that live here are also on the road going to recreate. The number one thing I can say is to please just focus on your driving. There’s any number of things inside your car, including your cell phone, that try and draw your attention away."
Search and Rescue volunteers are also preparing for more calls, "We have one of the busiest search and rescue units in the state and we are getting geared up for our summer season," says Sheriff Nelson. "They just had a great training over the last weekend. I stopped by Search and Rescue the other day – I’m so thankful to those volunteers that go and donate their time. They bring a lot of skills and use a lot of high-tech equipment when they’re out there doing those rescues." He adds, "We have technically skilled climbing teams, swift-water rescue, ATV, we have a K9 unit; and so all of these special skills they bring to the table, we are prepared for any type of activity on the High Desert and that’s really something that I’m very proud of. There are a lot of different climates throughout the year around here in Central Oregon and we can respond to all them with great volunteers."
To hear our full conversation with Sheriff Shane Nelson, visit our podcast page
TERREBONNE, OR -- Nearly a dozen search and rescue volunteers were training in the right place at the right time, this week, when a Smith Rock climber got stuck on Monkey Face.
According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's office, the two California men chose the wrong path down the rock formation, Wednesday afternoon, and one ran out of rope before reaching the bottom. Eleven SAR volunteers were training at the state park and responded at about 5 p.m.; they were joined by five other volunteers, three deputies and Redmond Fire personnel.
One volunteer was lowered to the 26-year-old climber's location, transferred him to the rescue rope and the two reached the bottom at about midnight. His climbing partner was assisted in rappelling off the proper side of Monkey Face.
The two were not injured. The Sheriff's Office reminds visitors, whether at Smith Rock or the backcountry, to research and pre-plan the location to minimize risks.
BEND, OR -- BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team arrested three people for trafficking methamphetamine at a business on Southeast 9th in Bend, following a two-month investigation.
Detectives say 44-year-old Christine Padgett lived with 45-year-old Dustin Hull at the commercial building. They believe Padgett was selling drugs throughout Deschutes County.
A search, last week, of the 9th Street location uncovered two ounces of meth, user amounts of heroin and cocaine, and other evidence of sales and distribution of meth. They also arrested 35-year-old Jesse Shen in connection with the drug operation.
MADRAS, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Corrections is hosting a unique recruiting event on Saturday, in an effort to hire at least five new correctional officers for Deer Ridge Prison in Madras. Steve Cox, with the DOC, tells KBND News, "The whole purpose of this is to bring prospective applicants in where they can sit down and do their NEOGOV application, take the proficiency testing, have an interview that day and, if selected, sit down with a background investigator by the end of the day. This is the first time we’ve ever done this as an agency."
"Nationwide, we’re dealing with a public safety hiring crisis, trying to get enough qualified applicants to fill the positions that we have," says Cox. "The concept here is taking what would normally be a three-month or four-month period of time and condensing it into one day."
Applicants must be U.S. citizens at least 21-years-old with a high school diploma or GED. They also must be able to pass a criminal background check and health screening. There is no experience necessary. "I think one of the biggest misperceptions we deal with in the public safety field is what’s put out on movies and TV shows. Our responsibility is to model to adults in custody, pro-social skills. So, that’s the ideal candidate we’re looking for is somebody that can come in, has great social skills themselves, is able to work well with others, is able to coach and mentor and teach."
Cox says it all begins at the Deer Ridge Correctional Institution, Saturday at 9 a.m., and could last as long as 12 hours; lunch and dinner are provided. Click HERE
BEND, OR -- Friends and coworkers of a Redmond man seriously injured in an off-road vehicle accident last weekend are helping with medical bills. Wildhorse Harley Davidson's Kelly Maurizio tells KBND News, "Ryan Rojas is a friend and coworker. He had a UTV accident on Father's Day and he does have a long road of recovery ahead of him." The 24-year-old is now in a medically induced coma following several surgeries, at St. Charles Medical Center.
Maurizio tells KBND News there are several fundraising efforts underway, including a GoFundMe page and a charity motorcycle ride. "A few guys in the shop are setting out on July third, they're going to a 1,000-mile ride in 24 hours. You can sponsor them per mile or do just a flat donation." There is also a Krispy Kreme fundraiser, with delivery planned for Thursday.
"He is a friend; we all love him here, and we wish him a speedy recovery," says Maurizio.
SISTERS, OR -- Central Oregon’s McKenzie Pass opened to traffic this week. Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, says given the popularity of the highway, visitors need to be ready to share the road. "Keeping in mind that there are maybe 300 cars a day, that’s the number that we tally, probably as many bicycles and pedestrians up there too, to try and get up and see stuff. We just need to be conscious that it’s a busy place, there’s a pent-up demand for people that want to visit; and we’re just right now in the peak of when people want to go up."
Murphy says it's important that everyone pay close attention to the conditions on the highway. "In fact, it’s one of our more narrow; and part of the reason for that is that it goes through a wilderness area. And, that’s the attraction and yet the constraint at the same time; it has both kinds of things going on." He adds, "You’ve got a lot of twists and winds and other stuff up there, so just be aware that there are other users up there on the highway. But, it’s one of the more of the most scenic – if not, as far as I’m concerned – the most scenic highway in the state of Oregon."
McKenzie Pass, also known as Highway 242, closes each fall and reopens in the spring, after the snow melts.
BEND, OR -- Firefighters were able to prevent the spread of a storage shed and dumpster fire behind Brother Jons Public House on Galveston, early Monday morning.
The fire started just before 5 a.m. When crews arrived, they quickly knocked down the blaze, stopping it from spreading to the nearby restaurant. The exterior of the building suffered minor heat damage. The storage shed and its contents were a total loss.
Investigators don't yet know the cause of the fire.
BEND, OR -- How the general public interacts with disabled people is the subject of Tuesday evening's OSU-Cascades Science Pub. It's called “Look Beyond Face Value; The Psychology of Disability and Communication.”
OSU professor Dr. Kathleen Bogart tells KBND News part of the discussion will focus on 'ableism.' She says, “Ableism is prejudice against disability. Prejudice against this largest minority group in the U.S.” She adds, “I will also talk about my own experience with facial paralysis and my research on other people with facial paralysis; The way that they compensate.”
Science Pub begins at 6:30 p.m. at McMenamins in downtown Bend.
MADRAS, OR -- Police have arrested an employee in connection with the June 10 armed robbery at the Madras Burger King. Investigators believe 27-year-old Kristopher Walker helped his brother. Police arrested 30-year-old Timothy Walker late last week.
The brothers allegedly planned to commit the robbery when Kristopher was scheduled for the closing shift with an unsuspecting coworker. Investigators believe Kristopher took the garbage out, making contact with Timothy, who followed him back inside with a gun. Timothy then confronted the other employee and demanded cash.
Kristopher Walker was arrested Monday, charged with Robbery I, Theft I, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery I; bail is set at $215,000. He's scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday afternoon.
Arrested June 17, 2016
REDMOND, OR -- Consumer Cellular wants to hire an additional 120 people to work at its Redmond call center. The company will hold several job fairs, this week. The first is from 9-11 a.m. Tuesday; then Wednesday from 3-5 p.m.; and finally on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Redmond call center. Applicants should bring a current resume.
Currently, the Redmond call center employs more than 500 people. Company wide, Consumer Cellular has more than 1400 employees at facilities in Portland, Redmond and Phoenix, Arizona.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Prineville–Crook County Airport was recently awarded a large grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation to help upgrade infrastructure. County Commissioner Ken Fahlgren says Crook County is lucky to receive such a large piece of the highly competitive Connect Oregon Grant. "In Central Oregon, probably $4.5 million was available for this region, which includes all the way from the Columbia River, The Dalles, south to the California border – all of Region Four. And, of that, Crook County has received in this one piece for the airport, $2 million. So, that’s a huge thing for us."
Fahlgren tells KBND News, "We’re going to be able to put in a new fueling station; we’ll be able to add to our taxi area, our tie-down area."
Work funded by the Connect Oregon grant should begin by fall. He says it's the first piece of a larger project, "It’ll help us with infrastructure toward what looks like will be a US Forest Service – it’s called a helibase, or an airbase, actually now, because it includes SEAT planes. And, that’s a much bigger project. So, this is one step in a piece of a $3.6 million total, that will then tie to about an $8 million project for the Forest Service." Fahlgren adds, "It’s an exciting time, and we’re very happy to get involved and be able to go forward with the partnership we’ve created with these dollars. I think we’re just very fortunate to be able to receive the moneys that are going to change our airport, and change jobs, in Crook County."
MONDAY EVENING UPDATE: Oregon State Police say 29-year-old Alan James Eutsler of Bend was the Lexus driver killed in Sunday's crash. Investigators believe Eutsler was speeding and passing in a No Passing Zone when he hit the Ford Fusion head on.
The other driver, 45-year-old Donald Adams and his wife, 30-year-old Barbara, remain in critical condition at St. Charles Bend. Their 10-year-old daughter was also killed; an 8-year-old son suffered minor injuries. The Adams family, of Rathdrum, Idaho, was southbound on Highway 97 at the time of the collision.
LA PINE, OR -- Two people were killed in a crash that shut down Highway 97 for four hours, Sunday night, just south of La Pine. According to Oregon State Police, a northbound Lexus crossed into oncoming traffic at about 8 p.m. and hit a Ford fusion head-on.
The 29-year-old Lexus male driver was pronounced dead at the scene, as was a 10-year-old girl in the Fusion. The 45-year-old driver of the Fusion and his passenger, a 30-year-old woman, were flown to St. Charles Bend with life-threatening injuries. An 8-year-old boy, also from the Fusion, was taken to the hospital by ground ambulance.
OSP will not release any more information until next of kin is notified.
SALEM, OR -- Health insurance rates for individuals and small employers under the Affordable Care Act will be going up significantly. Those insurance plans are reviewed by the state, similar to how utility rate increases are reviewed.
Lisa Morowski, with the Office of Consumer and Business Services, says, "The states have to review those rates and make sure that their reasonable and justified." Premiums could go up ten to 32%; that could equate to an extra $120 per month.
Morowski tells KBND News rising medical care costs are the main reason. But also, "A federal reinsurance program that was designed to help offset some risk of new enrollees, and that program is going away."
Public comment on the rate proposal will be accepted until rates are finalized on July first.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man was seriously injured Sunday afternoon, when his off-road vehicle rolled several times near East Antler Avenue.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, 24-year-old Ryan Rojas drove over a bump and lost control of the UTV, while on public land just east of Redmond. He was taken by air ambulance to St. Charles.
His passenger was not hurt.
BEND, OR -- Police are looking for two people seen on surveillance video stealing items from parked cars in northwest Bend. The two are wearing baseball hats and are seen entering vehicles on Northwest Wishing Well Lane at about midnight, Friday night.
Anyone who can help identify the suspects or with any other information is asked to call Bend PD at 541-693-6911.
Investigators also remind everyone to lock cars and remove valuables to help deter car prowls.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man faces additional child sex abuse charges after more alleged victims are found. The first time 42-year-old Joel Hoffman was arrested, June 8, he was accused with trying to lure a young Florida girl to Central Oregon for sex.
With help from Salem and Sandy Police, detectives learned of sexually explicit conversations between Hoffman and at least two other underage girls, as well as the exchange of explicit photos. He was arrested again on Thursday.
Investigators say Hoffman traveled to Salem on two occasions to meet one victim and have sex with her. He also made arrangements to go to Sandy in the near future to meet the other one. Bend Police say this is an ongoing investigation and more charges are possible.
DCSO booking photo 06/09/16 From Hoffman's Professional Facebook pg.
MADRAS, OR -- Police have identified a suspect in connection with last week's armed robbery at the Madras Burger King. Officers arrested 30-year-old Timothy Walker, after he became a person of interest during the investigation.
Detectives recovered cash taken during the robbery from Walker's residence, as well as a gun believed to have been used in the June 10 crime. Walker was lodged at the Jefferson County Jail on $140,000 bail.
Walker is charged with Robbery, Theft, Burglary, Unlawful Use of A Weapon and Menacing.
BEND, OR -- A local canine celebrity passed away this week at the age of 15. Maty, the beloved mascot of the Humane Society of Central Oregon, was the first three-legged dog to compete in the World Canine Disc Championships in 2006, then again in 2008.
She was the subject of a series of children’s books. and her story was featured in a number of national and international magazines and TV programs. Maty appeared in a 2008 episode of “Dogs 101” on Animal Planet, where one of her owners described her life after losing her leg to parvovirus: "Since the time she’s been eight-weeks of age, she’s only been a three-legged dog. That has not stopped her in the least: She’s part of the Humane Society’s educational program now; she goes to work everyday at the Humane Society and inspires children and adults alike to not let your limitations slow you down." Maty was found abandoned in a motel when she was three-weeks-old.
Maty had battled a number of health issues in the past couple of years, and many followed her adventures achieving every item on her "bucket list," on social media
. Maty's owners hope her life inspires people to learn about differently-abled animals, and to treat all animals with kindness and compassion.
REDMOND, OR -- Road crews have shut down the main access to Redmond’s most popular city park, for most of the summer. Mayor George Endicott says 15th Street, between Highland Avenue and the entrance to Sam Johnson Park, is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. "We’ve been waiting for years – that road’s been in terrible shape. We’re asking people to go around, and basically enter the park through the Spud Bowl. That means going down 12th to Cascade, down the hill and heading south by the skate park." Endicott says they’re going to open the gate and remove a curb that block vehicles from entering the park from the Spud Bowl.
He tells KBND News the work is necessary, but acknowledges the closure will impact visitors to the popular Hope Playground and the “Music on the Green” summer concert series. "We’ve been waiting for years for the construction to start. That’s on the schedule and we’ve got the money. You know, we lay these plans out years in advance - We just did our capital improvement plan review for five years, last week."
He expects construction on 15th will last through mid-August. Music on the Green opens the season at Sam Johnson Park, Wednesday, June 29.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors, Wednesday night, awarded the contract for the 27th Street Sewer Line Project to Bend-based Taylor Northwest, despite protests by a competing company. Bidding of the contract was based 60% on qualitative factors and 40% on cost.
Arin Atiyeh, of Emory and Sons Construction from Salem, told the Council the process was flawed since their bid was significantly less. “When the bids were read a few minutes later it was revealed that we were $3.107 million lower than that contractor. But based on the overall scoring we were not awarded the job. It’s time for you to reevaluate this process before awarding this project.”
Todd Taylor, of Taylor Northwest, praised the city on the bidding process, saying they have more experience. “I think it’s safe to say that if not bid correctly, that there is a probability for overruns. We put a lot of energy into this bid. We understand the cost of working in rock. That’s all we’ve done.” The sewer line on the 27th Street corridor will range from eight to 30-feet deep.
The council unanimously approved awarding the nearly $25 million contract to Taylor Northwest. City officials are hosting an informational meeting from 5-7 p.m. on June 30 at the Desert Streams Church on SE 27th. Click HERE
is slated to be completed by the end of 2017.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police were able to bring a peaceful end to an armed standoff at a motel on the south end of town, Wednesday afternoon. Staff at the Super 8 Motel called 911 just before 2 p.m., saying a guest claimed to be armed. He allegedly called staff from his room and threatened to kill them.
Bend Police, along with the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT), responded and negotiated with the suspect for several hours. The motel was evacuated during the standoff, and no injuries were reported.
Police took 50-year-old Todd Pirochta into custody at about 5:15 p.m. The area was searched and no weapon was found. Pirochta, a non-Bend resident, is charged with Disorderly Conduct, Menacing, Interfering with a Police Officer and Telephonic Harassment.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors discussed, Tuesday night, whether they should consider a permanent homeless shelter. Last winter, four churches provided temporary shelters on a rotating basis, from November through April, when temperatures dropped below 30-degrees.
John Lodise, with the Shepherd's House, helped coordinate that effort and says it's time to look into possibly finding something permanent. "I think there is a really need for it, and I think there are a lot of ways we could help people if we had a shelter to work from and a place that people knew they could come to and depend on. But, of course, there are going to be challenges to it that have to be looked at, realistically."
Lodise also admits the city and the shelter are just exploring all options, for now. "What we're going to want to hear about is what are the expectations that we'd have to meet. If we're to be involved in a permanent shelter, what would the city expect of us in terms of maintaining and operating it, that might be different from just doing it as a temporary shelter." He expects nothing will change in the next year, with rotating shelters returning next winter.
Redmond Mayor George Endicott tells KBND News City Councilors, the Shepherd's House, members of the faith community and the public will hold work sessions to discuss the possibilities, in the coming months.
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond School Board has yet another opening to fill. A.J. Lasoya announced last week he would resign, effective July 31. "He has taken a new position at Columbia Bank, and it’s a regional job where he travels out of the city for many, many trips during the week," Superintendent Mike McIntosh tells KBND News. "It’s just a conflict in his schedule and he has his priorities straight. We encourage folks to take care of their families and when he is home, he needs to spend time with his wife and kids."
But, McIntosh says Lasoya has committed to stay on to help select his own replacement. "He’s told us that he wouldn’t leave us in the lurch, so we have applications open until next Friday, the 24th. If you’re interested in becoming a board member, we’d love to have you throw your hat in the ring; contact Gina at the district office or look on the website."
He says the Board hopes to have a replacement found by July, "And A.J. is scheduled to have his term end by the end of July, but could go longer. And, that’s a good thing, we think; it just helps that consistency continue down the road. It’s a good thing." Lasoya is the longest continuous serving member on the current board. The appointed member would serve the remainder of Lasoya’s term, which expires June 2017.
Click HERE for more information, and to apply for the vacancy.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's Rural Enterprise Zone is expanding. Business Oregon recently approved the expanded zone for the Sunriver Business Park and Spring River Plaza. Enterprise Zones offer tax exemptions for certain companies for at least three years.
Janet Burton, south county representative for Economic Development for Central Oregon, tells KBND News the move benefits traded sector companies. “So all of these businesses would potentially be eligible for enterprise zone incentives to help them grow and expand their employment base.”
Traded sector companies produce goods and services that are sold outside the area, and often pay higher wages than tourism jobs. “We’re so dependent here on tourism and hospitality which is often seasonal, often part time. It is looking for those businesses to come in that will offer full time year-round jobs,” says Burton. “That’s who we’re really working to attract.” The unemployment rate in southern Deschutes County is around 10-percent, double that of Bend.
SALEM, OR -- Statewide unemployment remains low. "The unemployment remained at 4.5%, that’s the same rate it’s been for the last three months," says Employment Department Economist Nick Beleicicks.
He says, "Most of the people who are unemployed in Oregon right now are unemployed because they voluntarily quit their jobs; or, they’ve either entered the labor market for the first time, or reentered the labor market and haven’t been able to find a job yet." After 2008, 100,000 Oregonians were classified as long-term unemployed. "We noticed that the number of long-term unemployed has dropped significantly in Oregon. Right now, there are only about 10,000 Oregonians who have been six months or longer."
However, Beleicicks adds job growth is slowing, "Oregon still added 1200 jobs in May, which is slower than the average rate of about 5300 jobs added each month that we’ve seen over the last year."
SISTERS, OR -- Five local firefighters are wrapping up a two-week cultural exchange in the U.K. Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire Chief Roger Johnson says the time in Hampshire County provides unique opportunities for his crew. "They’ve been doing a lot of structural fire training. Hampshire Fire and Rescue serves a community of about a million and a half people, so they have some really advanced training opportunities, simulators, and also some of their community risk reduction programs. This agency is very progressive in how they prevent injury and in some of their community service programs, which is of interest to us."
Chief Johnson tells KBND News says the exchange has been in the planning stage for a while. "The groundwork started about 2-3 years ago when we were talking with some of the members of Hampshire at a joint conference. They had a real interest in learning about wildland fire protection and how their agency could learn from how the United States fights wildland fires." So, "They sent five of their members to the US and stayed with us in Sisters for two weeks, last year. They were able to deploy to the John Day Fire; they just had an incredible experience. And, this was sort of the reciprocal exchange."
Three firefighters from Sisters, and two from Redmond Fire and Rescue, are expected to return home this weekend. Chief Johnson says they’ll then evaluate what was learned and decide whether more will make the trip in the future. Another British crew is scheduled to train in Sisters, this summer.
BEND, OR -- The Bend-La Pine School Board will consider a one-year extension to the Superintendent's contract, at their Tuesday meeting. Shay Mikalson took over 11 months ago when Ron Wilkinson retired.
Board member Nori Juba says Mikalson approached the board, requesting the three-year contract and to be given the same 2.4% cost of living increase provided to teachers. "Shay wanted feedback from the board; he wanted to hear from the board that we're on board with his vision. He's been honest with us and said, 'look, what you want to do isn't going to happen overnight and I'm looking for a vote of confidence.' We felt it was more than deserved."
Juba tells KBND News the board is interested in keeping Mikalson on for a while. "The board felt that, one, given Shay's performance in the first year; he's done everything he said he would do. And then, being very pleased with his performance to date and our desire to have a Superintendent with us for the long-term, we felt it would be appropriate to extend him another year."
If approved at Tuesday night's meeting, Mikalson's base salary for the next year would be just under $172,000, and would take effect July first.
TERREBONNE, OR -- A small brush fire forced the closure of a Terrebonne road, Monday evening. Redmond fire crews responded to Lower Bridge Way at around 4:30 and found a one-to-two acre fire fed by windy conditions.
They spent several hours fighting the fire and mopping up before reopening the roadway just before 8 p.m. No word yet on the cause of the blaze. There was no lightning reported in the area at the time.
REDMOND, OR -- Downtown Redmond is about to be overrun with rock chucks - of the statuesque, variety.
Linda Gilmore-Hill is chair of the Redmond Committee for Arts in Public Places (RCAPP). She tells KBND News the colorful critters will be displayed inside various businesses, later this week. "They were made off of a wood carving, by one of our RCAPP members. And, from that, we had Anne Graham, our City Councilor, made a mold and cast 20 poly-styrene figures. We have 20 different artists, they each took one of these forms home and created what they wanted it to look like."
Each one is unique. "Every one is super different from each other: we have the Norwegian rock chuck, who is in her fanciest dress to go to a local party; We have one that is done in gold leaf; we have one done by a Native American gal, who has a lot of symbolism in hers from the Native American culture." Gilmore-Hill says the sculptures are a fun way to bring more art to downtown Redmond. "You know, everyone goes around shooting rock chucks, so we thought we ought to have a defender of them, also; so we have Chuck Norris, the defender – and he’s really cool. We have one that has gone fishing and he’s standing on rocks with a string of fish with him."
These larger-than-life sculptures will be unveiled at a special public event Wednesday at Wild Ride Brewing from 4 – 6 p.m. Then they’ll each take up residence in a sponsoring business. The “Chucks in Public Places” art display will run through August 19, when they will be auctioned off to benefit RCAPP.
MADRAS, OR -- Police are looking for the person who held up the Madras Burger King, Friday night. Two employees report they were confronted by a man with a gun at around 10 p.m., just after closing for the night.
They say he took an undisclosed amount of money, then forced the employees into a back office before he left the business.
The suspect is described as 6' tall and was wearing black clothing and a skeleton mask. Photos are from video surveillance footage. Anyone with information is asked to call Madras Police at 541-475-2424.
BEND, OR -- Many beautiful plants are blooming across the High Desert; unfortunately, so are the weeds. Deschutes County Forester Ed Keith says it’s important property owners take steps now to get rid of noxious weeds. "A lot of themhaven’t started blooming yet – especially our most common ones, including spotted knapweed, which is located across a good portion of the county. Now is the time to really get those things under control before they do bloom and go to seed and create all those new seedlings for the next growing season." Noxious weeds are typically non-native invasive plants that can choke out native species.
Keith tells KBND News, "We get a lot of calls from people when these things start to bloom, then your options are really limited as to how you can treat them because they’re so far along in their life cycle. So, we really try to get the word out earlier in the growing season that 'hey, now’s the time to get out and pull these things, or treat them with herbicide, or call somebody for help' if you have too many to deal with on your own."
There is financial assistance available for treatment, in some cases. "We also provide technical assistance, so I can come out to people’s property and help them identify exactly what they have," says Keith. "It’s hard to give general advice; some tactics might work with one particular species and not with another. So, we’re happy to provide that either over the phone or come out to people’s property."
for more information.
CULVER, OR -- Crews made major progress containing the fire burning near Lake Billy Chinook. The Akawana Fire has charred 2,094 acres, but cooler temperatures and calmer winds helped firefighters gain ground over the weekend. It's now 80% contained.
All evacuation notices were officially lifted late Sunday morning; no structures were lost. The fire was first detected June seventh, presumably started by lightning that moved across the area.
BEND, OR -- An Oregon State Police aerial unit was able to track a suspect for the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, leading to the arrest of an Albany man. The pursuit started when several people called 911, Saturday afternoon, to report a dangerous driver near the Sisters Rodeo grounds, then again on Highway 20 near Innes Market Road.
A deputy attempted to stop the car on the north end of Bend, but the driver sped down Third Street and the pursuit was discontinued due to the risk to the public. The OSP aircraft tracked the SUV to an apartment complex on Full Moon Drive.
Deputies arrested 27-year-old Justin Kraupa for Driving While Suspended and Attempting to Elude.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Oregon State Police and the Crook County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a suspicious motor home fire. Joggers first noticed smoke coming from the RV parked along a canal north of Grimes Road, late Sunday morning. Firefighters put out the blaze, preventing it from spreading; and determined nobody was inside.
Investigators say the motor home was likely stolen during the night from Culver. The OSP Arson unit is assisting in the ongoing case.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Crook County Sheriff’s Office.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is the subject of more internal investigations. Sheriff Shane Nelson tells KBND News he's limited in what he can say because some inquires are ongoing.
"On Friday, May 20, 2016, I received information from an employee regarding alleged rumors circulating about restrictions on political campaigning by public employees," Sheriff Nelson said Thursday. "I contacted the Oregon Department of Justice as soon as possible, and they accepted the request for an internal investigation." Oregon's Secretary of State's office is also looking into the matter.
Another investigation involves a Deschutes County Lieutenant. "On June 3, 2016, our office was notified by ATF that they wanted to conduct an inquiry into an employee regarding potential violations of whether the employee needed to obtain a federal firearms license to build a firearm for a coworker while off-duty." The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) visited his office Wednesday and Nelson says he was told it was "not a prosecutable violation." The ATF case was subsequently closed.
Sheriff Nelson says in yet another investigation, he is the focus. "Two employee-generated complaints have been filed against me within the last two weeks. The complaints were made by employees who were prior supervisors. These investigations are being handled by outside agencies and our office will fully cooperate with the investigators."
SISTERS, OR -- Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest officials have temporarily closed federal lands surrounding the Akawana Fire, burning southwest of Lake Billy Chinook. The 50-acre area closure includes the U.S. Forest Service Perry South and Monty Campgrounds.
As of Friday morning, the Akawana Fire had burned 2,065 acres; it remains 44% contained and is completely lined. Fire managers say suppression costs are now close to $950,000. Level Two evacuation notices were reduced to Level One for the Three Rivers subdivision, Thursday evening. However, about 262 homes in Forest Park, Air Park, Rim Park and outlying areas remain at Level Two, which means residents need to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.
The fire was first spotted Tuesday afternoon. Consistent cloud cover and a trace of rain calmed fire behavior allowing firefighters to make progress on Thursday.
BEND, OR -- Safety complaints about Bend's new whitewater park led to the closure of the Passageway Channel, Thursday. Thousands visited the Deschutes River last weekend, during the first hot weather of the season. Some felt the rapids were not as "family friendly" as promised.
Bend Parks and Rec Executive Director Don Horton tells KBND News, "One of the reasons why we did this is we feel the facilities that we have built and provided to the community are high quality recreation experiences for people; and what we have here hasn't lived up to our standards and hasn't lived up to what we've made a commitment to the community that we will provide for this facility. So, we need to go back to the drawing board and see what we can do to make this a better experience for people."
The Passageway Channel, described during the design phase of the project as "safe for floaters," has received a lot of attention in the past week. Horton says, "We only had one person at [this week's] board meeting that spoke about a concern of safety in the Passageway Channel. But, we've had a lot of people either through social media or contacting us directly about the concern for safety and the experience that they had."
He says it will likely remain closed through the summer. "People will still be able to float the river and use the portage path to get out and walk around, and enter on the beach at McKay Park, just like they have done in years past. The Whitewater Channel, which is the center channel, will continue to be open. We actually just had some repair work done to that channel that was successful, so we will continue to allow the experienced boaters and surfers to use that center channel because we don't see the same concern with that as we do with the Passageway Channel."
Parks and Rec plans to meet next week with engineers and whitewater experts to evaluate what can be done to improve safety on the Passageway Channel.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man is accused of attempting to lure an underaged girl from central Florida to Bend, for sex. Police arrested 42-year-old Joel Hoffman on Wednesday, after detectives were tipped off by Florida law enforcement.
They say Hoffman used the cell phone app "FriendLife" to contact the girl. Bend Police took Hoffman into custody during a traffic stop near 4th and
Norton. They later executed search warrants at his home, his car and his work. According to his professional Facebook page, Hoffman is a financial advisor in Bend.
Detectives say he knew she was under 18 and had multiple sexually explicit conversations with the girl, exchanging explicit photos, as well. He allegedly offered to buy her a bus ticket to bring her to Oregon.
Hoffman is charged with Luring a Minor for Sexual Conduct and Use of a Child in Display of Sexual Conduct.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Three people were hurt in a late-night crash in Crook County, Thursday. Investigators don’t yet know why 19-year-old Jacob Hardy lost control of his SUV, but they say he swerved from shoulder to shoulder on Davis Loop for about 450 feet before flipping the vehicle.
Hardy was ejected; his two passengers, ages 16- and 22-years-old, were also injured. Several people stopped to help Hardy before emergency crews arrived. The driver and his two passengers were all taken to the Prineville hospital.
Davis Loop was closed for about an hour, following the 11 p.m. incident. Deputies say alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.
REDMOND, OR -- An air tanker working the Akawana Fire in Jefferson County blew a tire, forcing a brief shutdown of the Redmond Airport, Thursday afternoon.
Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky was there. He tells KBND News the emergency call initially came in just before 12:30 p.m. that a plane’s landing gear wasn’t working. "It was coming from the fire near Camp Sherman. When it came into view the landing gear was down, and it stayed down. However, as it reached about halfway across the runway, the left rear tire blew; so it skidded and began to bank a little bit to the right, but the pilots did a great job at keeping it straight. There were no injuries, no fire, no smoke; but, just a totally destroyed tire."
Because of the ongoing paving project, the Redmond Airport only has one functioning runway, so the incident impacted all flights. "That means commercial flights," says Witcosky. "And, it means that if they need to deal with the fire near Sisters, they’re going to have to use a different airport for the tankers." No word on how many tankers were impacted by the 50-minute closure, but Witcosky says they are busy at the Redmond Airport, right now. "We were out here for a half an hour, waiting for that plane to come in and we saw three tankers go in and out, within about a half an hour to an hour. And then, this plane, this crew – I was just talking to them – are from Missoula, Montana, which is just interesting in terms of where tankers come from to fight fires in our region."
Witcosky says Butler Aircraft changed the tire so the tanker could be moved and the airport reopened at about 1:15 p.m.
CULVER, OR -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized federal funds to help with fighting the Akawana Fire in Jefferson County. The agency determined the fire threatened destruction that would constitute a major disaster. The money was approved Wednesday night, through a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant.
At the time of the request, the blaze was zero percent contained and threatened 1,000 homes in and around the Grandview, Forest Park and Three Rivers subdivisions, with an estimated population of 3,000 people. About 250 of them are primary residences; the other 750 are secondary, or vacation homes. The wildfire also threatened campsites, the Lake Billy Chinook State Airport, Native American archeological sites and two state parks.
The fire was first spotted Tuesday afternoon and by Wednesday night had grown to nearly 2,000 acres. Wednesday afternoon, Governor Kate Brown invoked the Conflagration Act, authorizing state resources to help in the effort. By Thursday morning fire crews had the Akawana Fire 30% contained.
BEND, OR -- After eight years, Bruce Abernethy says he’s ready for another run at Bend’s City Council. The Bend-La Pine School District Grant Writer served on the Council from 2000 to 2008, with those last two years as Mayor.
Abernethy plans to run for Position Four, currently held by Mayor Jim Clinton, who has not yet announced whether he’s running for re-election. "I have had some chances to talk with Jim, as I have with a number of other Council members," Abernethy tells KBND News, "My sense is that he is waiting to see who else is there, whether the people who do file in his seat are people he would want to run against or whether he feels comfortable that the things he supports, things that he works for, could be continued. My sense is I don’t think he’s going to run."
He says that over the past eight years, returning was always a possibility. "I really liked being on City Council. Even when I stepped down – I still had a couple of kids in the household before they went off to college – I knew at that point that I would certainly want to come back again; it was sort of 'when is the right time?'" He notes the city saw explosive growth during his previous stint and he says managing the current pace of expansion is a top priority for him, this time around … including increasing the city’s workforce housing options.
Abernethy believes he could be a voice of reason on a contentious Council. "To me, figuring out how you can listen to all sides of an issue; I firmly believe that to me 'compromise' is not a four-letter word. I think that right now, certainly at the national level and I even think at the local level, as well, the voices that are being heard, I characterize as the far left and the far right. And, I don’t think that they really speak for the bulk of the silent majority in the middle."
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney's office released video, Wednesday, of the recent attack on a woman at the High Desert Museum. A museum visitor captured the video on her cell phone.
The victim, now identified as 39-year-old museum employee Amanda Berry, can be heard saying, "You're hurting me ... please let me go. Don't do this." Also on the recording, patrons try to intervene, saying, "Hey! Slow down;" "He has her in a choke hold," and "He's going to hurt her." D.A. John Hummel says four bystanders approached the suspect at great personal risk to themselves. He says their actions resulted in Berry's release.
Oregon State Police Trooper Richard Brannin, from OSP's Bend office, arrived at the museum and saw 36-year-old Nicholas Berger with a knife. The encounter ended with Trooper Brannin shooting Berger, who died at the scene.
The D.A.'s office also released dispatch audio, Wednesday, from the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and OSP. Click HERE to access the D.A.'s YouTube channel. The Major Crimes Team continues to investigate whether the shooting was justified.
Berry and her husband thanked friends and family for the support they've received following the traumatic May 31 incident. They've asked the media to respect their privacy as they continue to heal.
MADRAS, OR -- Police are looking for two local teens they believe have runaway to Arizona. Authorities say 17-year-old Thomas Cross, of Madras, and his 16-year-old girlfriend Melissa Clendenen, of Prineville, were last seen the night of May 25.
Their parents say the two have less than $150, have had little to no cell phone use and are not accessing social media. They believe the pair hitchhiked to Lodi, California with intentions of traveling to Tucson, Arizona. There have been unconfirmed sightings in Phoenix.
Their families are very concerned about their safety. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Cross or Clendenen is encouraged to call local police or Detective Mel Brown at Madras PD (541-475-2424).
CULVER, OR -- The Akawana Fire, southwest of Lake Billy Chinook continues to threaten homes, forcing residents in the Three Rivers and nearby subdivisions to get prepared for possible evacuations. Adjusted estimates put the size of the blaze at 1,930 acres. Approximately 912 homes in the Three Rivers Grandview Area remain under a Level Two evacuation notice, indicating they need to be ready to leave at a moment's notice. Governor Brown invoked the Conflagration Act Wednesday afternoon, approving the use of state resources to help battle the blaze.
The fire was spotted Tuesday afternoon, after lightning was spotted across the region. Kassidy Kern, with the Deschutes National Forest, says conditions are perfect for fires to grow. "Across Central Oregon, actually in the past 72 hours, we’ve had about 2,000 lightning strikes; and that’s from about the southern edge of the Deschutes National Forest near Crescent, up north of the Ochoco Mountains, and north of that still, into the upper Columbia Basin." She tells KBND News, "The Northwest Coordination Center has predicted a normal fire year for us, but we have been seeing unseasonably warm temperatures around Central Oregon, which is why it’s dry enough to carry fire. Out of the 24 starts we’ve had in the last 72 hours, we’ve had two large fires. One is the Akawana Fire, near Lake Billy Chinook. But, we also have an about 400-acre fire one mile from the John Day River, up north near Grass Valley."
It's early in the season and Kern says they're bracing for a busy next few months. "I think that we’re going to have to put our boots on for this fire season, at least right now. This is a time where we’re seeing a lot of lightning activity. Last year, we were exceptionally dry, but we didn’t get the ignition source, you know, we didn’t have the lightning storms."
As of 8 a.m. Thursday, the fire is 30% contained and is burning on private forestland protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. Flames are being pushed by 15-20 MPH winds and is burning in heavy dead and downed fuels. About 400 firefighters and support staff are expected to work the fire, Thursday.
Wednesday 3:15 p.m. UPDATE: Governor Kate Brown has invoked the Conflagration Act for the Akawana Fire, authorizing the State Fire Marshal to mobilize firefighters and equipment to assist local resources. Two state task forces will begin work immediately, and two more are scheduled to start Thursday. The fire is threatening 1200 homes in the Three Rivers subdivision near Lake Billy Chinook. The conflagration was requested by Jefferson County Fire Defense Board Chief Brian Huff.
Wednesday 1 p.m. UPDATE: The Akawana has now forced the closure of Three Rivers Recreation Area Road 64, westbound from the Three Rivers Gate. This road travels to Perry South and Green Ridge. The fire has grown to 2,100 acres.
Wednesday 12 p.m. UPDATE: Officials have upgraded the evacuation notice to Level Two, which means residents of the Three Rivers Subdivision need to be ready to leave at a moment's notice. Winds are picking up as the day progresses.
GENEVA, OR -- The Akawana Fire, burning southwest of Cove Palisades State Park in Jefferson County, has triggered a Level One evacuation notice for residents in the Three Rivers Subdivision outside of Culver. With a Level One evacuation notice, area residents are asked to be aware of the danger, monitor emergency services websites and local media for information.
The Oregon Department of Forestry fire crews are working to line the blaze, which has grown to several hundred acres in size 13 miles north of Sisters, as of Wednesday morning. The lightning caused fire was reported at about 2 p.m. Tuesday and is now 5% contained. Heavy dead and downed fuel, along with 15-20 MPH winds are helping grow the blaze.
Two fire suppression handcrews, three fire engines and three bulldozers are aggressively working gin the area with the aid of a variety of aerial support helicopters and planes.
BEND, OR -- Oregon highway speeds increased to 65 MPH in many areas, just three months ago. But, the Oregon Department of Transportation is lowering them in some areas in Central Oregon.
ODOT's Peter Murphy tells KBND News the agency decided some trouble spots on Highway 97 and Highway 20 should return to 55 MPH, after further analysis. "We had to conform to the law, so we did that and raised the speed limits. And now, we're taking a step back and looking at what the impact of that was. Our decision was to make the speed limit change between Madras and Terrebonne." Also included on the list is a one-mile stretch of Highway 97 on the south end of La Pine, "Then U.S. 20 from Bend, east to Dodds Road, about six miles. And then, out on the far side of the state in Vale, we did the same thing on 11 miles of U.S. 20," says Murphy.
He says the change is due to continuing safety concerns on those four stretches of rural highway. "In many cases, there are access routes to the highway - driveways, usually - and these access points are points of congestion and people are trying to get through. What you have is a small space for people to try and move their car into the queue or into the ongoing traffic." Four members of one family were killed in a crash south of Madras last month, while waiting to make a left turn from Highway 97 onto a side road.
Speed reductions won't take effect until new 55 MPH signs are installed over the next two to three weeks. And, Murphy says, there's no guarantee the change will be permanent, "We enact that temporary change for a year. Then, during this year, we'll reaffirm the information that we had, or maybe find out something new; then either change it on our own or run it up the flagpole to the Speed Board panel and see what they have to say, which will likely reaffirm our decision."
BEND, OR -- The local Civil Air Patrol is participating in the four-day, multi-state Cascadia Rising earthquake drill. Medical, public safety and emergency management agencies along with the High Desert Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol are taking part in local exercises at the Bend Airport.
Squadron Commander Mike Wissing says his 50-member team will be an asset to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in determining damage from the massive earthquake and tsunami predicted to hit Oregon in the next 50 years. “Probably one of our primary functions is going to be to go and look for disaster areas. We’re going to go in and do photography. That’s something that’s high on our agenda. We’ll actually check the passes and make sure that there’s no rack falls and that kind of stuff. We have some very good camera equipment on the airplane.”
Wissing says they will also serve other functions, in a real disaster. “We’re probably going to be a communications link which
is another very big deal. We can set up at 10-thousand feet and we can hit Klamath Falls and we can hit Portland. And they just communicate through the airplane. We don’t actually talk.”
Police, fire, hospitals and governments across Oregon, Washington and Idaho are working through various scenarios during this week's Cascadia Rising exercise. The goal is to find out what goes wrong, what they didn't plan for and how to improve responses when "the big one" actually hits the region.
OR National Guard Briefs Gov. Kate Brown on the drill's first day
BEND, OR -- A former Bend Mayor announced Tuesday he wants back on the City Council.
Bruce Abernethy is a grant writer for the Bend La Pine School District, has served on a number of local boards, and was an outspoken supporter of the OSU-Cascades four-year campus. He served on the city council for eight years, and was Mayor from 2007 to 2008.
Abernethy is running for Position Four, currently held by Mayor Jim Clinton.
GENEVA, OR -- Just five days after the official start of wildfire season, the Oregon Department of Forestry is already battling a number of fires. The largest two are burning north of Klamath Falls and in the Owyhee Canyon in southeast Oregon.
Firefighters are also working to contain a small blaze in Jefferson County. As of Tuesday night, the Akawana Fire had charred about 70 acres of heavy brush and beetle-killed timber, southwest of Cove Palisades State Park. Crews are using bulldozers to establish a fire line around the blaze, four miles west of Geneva.
Local Forestry Officials say firefighters responded to multiple fire starts from yesterday's lightning.
Smoky haze of the Akawana Fire, as seen from Terrebonne.
Photo courtesy of Rian LaBlanc
MADRAS, OR -- A recent deadly crash on Highway 97, near Madras, has highlighted concerns over the dangers associated with that stretch of roadway. A Madras woman has been working to improve safety for years.
Lynette Gray says the stretch of highway south of Madras needs work. "I've heard horrific stories since I moved over here in 2001. I drove to Redmond and I was just appalled at the lack of signage saying there's even a crossing ahead across the highway. And, even where the accident was at Bear Drive, there's no sign saying there's a left turn coming up."
Gray set up a Friends of Highway 97 Facebook page, to get community support for a variety of safety measures. She tells KBND News, "We want to slow it back on between here and Terrebonne. The fact that there are 80+ places to turn onto a field or a street, road, a driveway; there's 80+ of those just, going both directions, between here and Terrebonne, where people literally stop in the highway to turn left."
She's calling on state highway officials to designate the highway between Madras and Terrebonne a Safety Corridor, where speeds are limited to 55 MPH. "This is just a huge Bermuda Triangle of things going on here that are not right. I have reports of people passing other people in unsafe zones, since the speed limit changed, in solid lane areas, going 80 MPH. 'This sign says I can go 65, so I'm going to just be a freeway driver and I'm going to pass all these idiots.' So dangerous."
Jefferson County Commissioners are scheduled to meet with the Oregon Department of Transportation to discuss safety issues, on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
BEND, OR -- It normally takes local Habitat for Humanity volunteers four months to build a home for a low-income family. But local professionals are lending a hand to get it done in seven days. Crews broke ground on a new two-bedroom house in northwest Bend, on Monday. It's part of the Home Builders Blitz, a nationwide effort to build 250 homes in one week.
Robin Cooper Engle, with Bend Area Habitat for Humanity
, says the NW Huettl Lane house is for a single mother and her son. “So far we’re doing great. We’ve got a lead builder; we’ve got some great framers out here today; and siders. We’re working with roofing companies. You name it; the whole gamut ,because we’re going to build a house this week for a family here in Bend.”
Professionals, instead of the usual non-construction volunteers, are building this home. Engle told KBND News at the job site on Monday, “We’re hoping to start getting these trusses spread out so that we can start doing a little bit of the roofing and we can get it dried in tonight, that would be awesome. Almost every aspect of what’s going on this week is being donated. It’s pretty amazing.” Those donations lowered the cost of construction by $50,000. Follow their progress at Bend Area Habitat's Facebook page
A community celebration is scheduled for Monday afternoon, June 13 for the Blitz Build Home Dedication.
BEND, OR -- During the region’s first summer-like weekend, many flocked to Bend’s new whitewater park. One local family is now urging others to learn from their experience and keep little ones away from the rapids.
Angie Neumaier and her husband went through the Passageway Channel on Sunday with their five kids, ages three through 12. Neumaier tells KBND News, "The three-year-old and I were in a double tube, my 10-year-old daughter was in a kayak and then the rest of them were in tubes. Our impression was that there were two passageways: one for people wanting more of an adventure and the other one was for everybody else to go down smoothly and easily- With some risks, obviously, but just something easy for everybody." But, she says they got more than they bargained for. "It ended up being a series of, I guess, around eight rapids. The first one threw my three-year old out, but I caught her by her leg, which obviously was really intense. Then, I was just holding on to her."
She says her kids are experienced at floating the river, and the family did not expect the class one and two rapids. Neumaier may have grabbed the toddler as she was tossed out of the tube, but her husband had to rescue their 10-year-old who took refuge on some rocks after she was thrown out of a kayak. "Once we got down and through the whole thing, he went back over to the rocks at the very end and walked up and got her. The boys both got tossed off a couple times. For them it was more a fun, exhilarating adventure. But, definitely scary for the little ones and for us, because we were totally caught off guard by it."
Neumaier says more signs should be posted warning of the intensity of the rapids, even on the channel described as safe for floaters. "There's signage for that middle passage that says 'for experts only;' there was signage that said 'passageway rapids' and there were signs that said, 'Get off for portage.' But, there was nothing that said what, in my opinion, should say, 'class one, class two rapids ahead, not intended for children.' Any of that kind of thing; a 'proceed at your own risk.'" Bend Parks and Rec tells KBND News they are listening to feedback and may increase signage if they determine it's necessary. Click HERE to read more about the organization's response to concerns.
After sharing her story on social media, she says she’s heard from a number of other parents who had similar experiences. She adds, "When I got home, I was looking at their website, and I think it’s totally misleading which, people who are used to floating the river don’t think that they need to go read instructions on the website, so I think that’s part of the issue right now. But, it says the passageway is class 1 and class 2 rapids, but it also talks about it being ok for floaters. And, I don’t think Bend floaters, in their little $10 tubes, are prepared for that."
Graphic from the Bend Parks and Recreation District's website.
BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Recreation manages the new Deschutes River whitewater park, and officials admit they've heard from concerned users. Julie Brown says the organization is trying to help educate river-users about the new routes now that the weather has warmed, "I know for many this past weekend may have been their first experience with the Bend whitewater park and we want to make sure people are doing that as safely as possibly; and understand it's really kind of ‘know before you go.’" She tells KBND News, "There is information that’s available at the primary locations for entering the river that does encourage parents and children to be aware of their own abilities and take necessary precautions.
We are very much recommending that parents and children make sure they’re properly equipped for traveling the river."
But, Brown admits, "We’re learning a lot about the Bend whitewater park, right along with other members of the community. And, this is still going to be a wild river; the Deschutes River is a community treasure for us but there are some safety precautions that are going to be necessary."
Photo from Bend Parks and Rec website
Click HERE to read about one local family's experience in the passageway channel, described as safe for floaters.
Brown says it's important users understand what is and isn’t appropriate. "We did see some instances of pool equipment going through the whitewater channel that are not going to be the best safety precautions to be able to be used through that area. So, that’s something we’re really encouraging people to have the proper equipment and also plan in advance so they know where they might want to get out of the river."
Brown describes the calls received over the weekend as those from floaters who had "less than positive" experiences. But, she says they are listening to feedback. "If it’s necessary and we need to add some additional information, in particular about children, to ensure that safety element is taken care of and people know what to expect, that’s certainly something we’re going to be looking at."
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are now carrying a life-saving medication that can reduce the effects of a narcotic overdose. Lt. Clint Burleigh says patrol officers were trained in the use of Naloxone, last week. "This is not to replace EMS or medical treatment. This is just to get them into a position to be safer sooner."
He tells KBND News one officer even used Naloxone to help a suspected overdose victim, within hours of completing his training, last week. "If we believe it’s an overdose of some kind of narcotic analgesic or opioid drug, we can give this Naloxone very quickly and we should see quick results with them recovering, breathing should be getting better, a little bit more stable so that when medics get there they can stabilize them and get them to the nearest medical facility."
It's administered as a nasal spray. Lt. Burleigh says patrol officers were trained by Bend Fire medics because the number of opioid overdoses is on the rise and police are often first on the scene. "I would suspect in the near future, you’re going to see a lot more police departments using it. We’re in the business of saving lives, protecting the citizens of Bend, doing the best to make to make them as safe as possible."
BEND, OR -- Bend Mayor Jim Clinton had harsh words about the Chamber of Commerce, last week. He convinced a majority of the Council to discontinue the city's membership in the Chamber over its increasing political activity. Clinton argued they shouldn't pay dues to a group that sometimes works against them. He insinuated the Chamber's political action committee (PAC) isn't separated enough from the main non-profit organization, even implying it could be breaking the law.
Chamber Board President Brian Fratzke refutes those claims. "We are a 501(c)(6), not a 501(c)(3). A 501(c)(6) is a non-profit mutual benefit corporation in Oregon, and it's a business league under IRS rules. It means the Chamber is organized for the benefit of its defined membership." He tells KBND News, "We are one of the few Chambers in the state of Oregon that receives no governmental funding and I do want to say we're very proud of that."
Fratzke acknowledges the Chamber's mission statement, and that of its political arm, recently changed. "The PAC's single objective is to make certain it supports intelligent thinkers that are focused on supporting business in Bend; that is their single mission statement. Where as the Chamber has a responsibility for providing the resources and the opportunities for its members' success, for quality of life, engagement and meaningful impact. And, the vision is really to gather, equip and mobilize our business community."
Some Councilors took issue with a scorecard recently published in the Bend Business Journal, rating each Councilor's vote on business-related issues. Fratzke says it was the first time for the scorecard and says the PAC plans to continue the rating system.
King Solomon Lane closed between Ferguson Road and King David. (7/25)
Jones Road closed between Butler Market Road and Bennington Lane. (8/18)
Murphy Road and Parrell Road closed with detours. (9/30)
Powell Butte Highway at Neff and Alfalfa Market Roads (8/31)