WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Oregon's Second Congressional District Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) opposes the President's plan to use an emergency declaration to fund construction of a wall at the southern U.S. border. Friday morning, President Trump announced he would sign the funding bill to keep the government in operation but is declaring an emergency because lawmakers failed to approve the necessary money for border wall construction.
Shortly after the President's speech, Congressman Walden tweeted, "Congress has granted the executive branch certain spending authorities. I strongly object to any president acting outside of those explicit authorities to spend money that Congress has not appropriated for specific initiatives." He followed up with two more posts explaining that he continues to support strengthened border security, including a wall, but says he's concerned about the precedent Trump's move sets. Walden, who represents Oregon's largest district, including Central Oregon, is the state's only Republican in Congress.
BEND, OR -- Speed limits are being reduced this month, on a portion of Penn Avenue and Neff Road. Bend officials say the changes are in response to community input and new engineering analysis, given changing traffic and development in the area.
Penn, which turns into Neff, goes from 35 to 25-miles an hour, between Northeast Eighth and Eastwood Drive. Then, from Eastwood to Eagle Road, the speed limit is reduced from 35 to 30 miles an hour.
New speed signs have orange flags to draw attention to the change.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes National Forest, along with Discover Your Forest, has restarted Interpretive Snow Tours at Mount Bachelor. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Forest Service, says they weren't sure they'd get to offer the educational tours this year. "During the government shutdown, because they are run by our volunteers, we were not able to carry those programs on." But, she tells KBND News, "Now that the Government is back up and running, those programs are up and running on the weekends, and our visitors and people here can still go and have a great experience up at Mt. Bachelor, with our Forest Service volunteers."
But, she says it will be an abbreviated season, due to the delay, "We just really want to encourage folks. We know things have been a little slow with having to stop and start again. And, we just want folks to get out there and enjoy these snow programs, the snowshoe tours, and skiing/snowboarding with a ranger, while they still can." Nelson Dean adds, "If people want to take advantage of the snowshoe tours, those snow tours happen on the weekends at 10 a.m. and 1:30. And, snowshoes are provided for everyone that comes. No prior experience needed, but people should dress appropriately for cold weather."
To sign up for a snowshoe, ski, or snowboard with a ranger tour, visit the Discover Your Forest website. The season stretches through March 31.
SISTERS, OR -- Many summer events in Sisters Country were canceled last year, but the Sisters Park and Recreation District plans to bring them all back for 2019. Event Coordinator Shannon Rackowski says excitement for the fun and popular gatherings is definitely growing, "People in the community really love the events. The last three weeks, we started getting phone calls asking, 'Is there going to be the Glory Daze (pictured) car show?', 'Is the luau back on?', 'Is the home brew [festival] going to happen?', 'What about the GNW Running camps?', and when can they register? So that's really exciting for me." She says the District's previous Executive Director opted out of the events, much to the disappointment of the community.
In addition to the annual favorites, Rackowski tells KBND News, there will be a new event this year, "The first Sisters Senior Fitness Games. It's kind of a takeoff of the international Senior Olympics. We will have four-man relays, we will have a pickleball tournament, tennis, three-on-three basketball, horseshoes, a jog, a wheelchair relay; and this will be for anyone 62 years old, and older."
Rackowski says these events can't happen without help, "[We] Can't do these events without volunteers. No one ever gets turned away from volunteering. In fact, they get to choose, and sometimes we have people that do more than one, which is always really appreciated." To learn more, go to the Sisters Park and Recreation website, or stop by the district office on McKinney Butte Road and ask for Shannon.
BEND, OR -- Bend City staff are narrowing down on the City Council’s priorities for the next two years, in advance of this spring’s budget discussions. Councilors took part in two days of goal setting, last week. Mayor Sally Russell says they focused several main themes, "Clearly, housing, transportation mobility, safety, economic vitality and, the underlying is always effective and efficient city operations. And, a lot of those goals were really informed by a statistically valid poll that the city did in early December."
Mayor Russell tells KBND News it's difficult to pick one top priority, "I look at this messy board that we created during goal-setting. I mean, there are so many different issues that we are paying attention to, right now, as a city. And, each one of them, in its own way, is absolutely vital to get right, as we move through these next two years, which is the short-term planning window." She adds, "We recognize that our biggest need in this community is the people who are 100% of the area median income and lower. We really have a need for lower cost housing and there are a lot of ways to get there, but we’ve got to bring partners in. I’m looking at a public-private partnership to really bring our next housing idea out and just accelerate this."
Bend's City Manager and staff are now refining the goals and will work with Council over the next month, with plans for a Council vote on their formal goals and a work plan, including measurable outcomes, by March 20. Those priorities will be used during budget planning discussions, which begin in May.
BEND, OR -- Oregon is 160 years old this Valentine's Day. Deschutes Historical Museum Executive Director Kelly Cannon-Miller says Oregon joined the union as a free state just before the Civil War, and the state's history is marked by adventure, innovation, and a clear sense of identity. "Oregon is actually, this incredibly diverse place in terms of its resources, and it's a part of the country - along the whole continent of North America - that's rewriting history."
From the westward expansion and the Oregon Trail, our state has a storied past that's richer than many may realize. Oregon claims the oldest American settlement west of the Mississippi and two archeological dig sites appear to prove people lived in the area even longer than originally thought, "Oregon has a tremendous amount of myth and legend around it in American history. There's this tremendous amount of romantic notion of how the west was settled," Cannon-Miller tells KBND News, "And it all happens under Oregon's name." She adds, "One of the other fantastic things about our state is how different it is from the eastern edge to the western edge. You've got a little bit of everything from the Alvord Desert on one side, to the beaches at Tillamook on the other side."
Cannon-Miller suggests learning a few fun facts about our state, on its birthday. OregonEncyclopedia.org has thousands of pieces of information, ranging from the obscure to the historical, the famous, and the infamous. For example, Bobbie the Wonder Dog hails from Silverton, one of the richest men in history - John Jacob Astor - lived on the coast, and one of the state's most popular Governors - Tom McCall - is from Central Oregon.
BEND, OR -- Local health officials continue to keep a close eye on the Measles outbreak traced to Clark County, Washington, just north of Portland. The number of confirmed cases is now up to 53.
One of those patients visited Bend while contagious but before testing positive. Deschutes County Immunization Coordinator Jill Johnson says exposures at Juniper Swim and Fitness and Mountain Air trampoline park did not result in any new cases. And, she says if someone was going to get sick, they would have shown symptoms by now, "We were monitoring people that were at those locations and unvaccinated. And then, on February 10th was the 21 days, so now we’re in the clear as far as those exposures." But, she tells KBND News the region shouldn't let down its guard, "We have a good-sized outbreak going on, not that far from us and we’re just a car-ride away. So, we need to make sure to remain vigilant that our vaccination rate is high enough in our community to keep Measles at bay."
She says some in Central Oregon wrongly claimed there were new cases of Measles here, and that isn't the only rumor the County Health Department is fighting, "There’s a lot of misinformation on social media and the internet around vaccines," says Johnson, "And it’s important that people be sure that they’re looking at reliable sources of information." A local mom says that misinformation is dangerous. Sally lives just east of Bend. Her son, now in his 50s, was born before the vaccine was available. "My son was just a little toddler, baby, when he had them; and he had fevers of 104, 105, 106. He suffered for two weeks, severely." She says he’s still dealing with the repercussions, "He’s lived his life with brain damage and when young people – young mommies – don’t get their children vaccinated, my heart hurts for those babies, because they too could be like my son."
The CDC declared Measles eradicated in the U.S. in 2000. The agency reports the vast majority of people who get the disease now, are unvaccinated. Of the 53 people linked to the Clark County outbreak, 47 were unvaccinated; the immunization status of five others could not be confirmed.
SALEM, OR -- A controversial rent control bill that passed the Oregon Senate this week would hurt rental tenants, according to one local lawmaker. State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) says SB 608 will not improve the affordable housing crisis, "This bill, I don't think actually solves the problem. I think, in several ways, I think it's going to make the problem worse for the very people that the proponents are trying to help."
The bill passed 17-11, with Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) joining Republicans in opposition. Knopp says it was rushed through with no discussion of possible changes. Housing Committee Vice Chair Fred Girod (R-Stayton) offered five amendments, one of which would have allowed property owners time to prepare before the legislation takes effect; but none was considered. Knopp tells KBND News, "This bill doesn't do anything to add supply of new units to the mix, and it was done by special interests on both sides who agreed on the bill before the hearing even happened, and they wouldn't allow any changes to the bill and I think that's a disturbing trend that every Oregonian should be concerned about."
Under SB 608 rent increases would be limited to 7%, plus the cost of living increase. And, no-cause evictions could would have to meet certain criteria if a tenant has lived there longer than a year. That criteria includes moving a close family into a unit, making major repairs, turning it into a primary residence or demolition. Senator Knopp believes rents could increase as much as 10% a year, if the bill passes. Also, "I expect many rentals will be sold, especially single family homes. I've already been contacted by multiple investors who've said that they're just getting out of the industry altogether, because they just don't like what's coming and they want to be able to manage their own property." He adds, "There will likely be dozens if not hundreds of people who will receive eviction notices."
The bill is now in the state House; Governor Kate Brown has said she supports it.
BEND, OR -- The third and final candidate for President of Central Oregon Community College is in town. Dr. Laurie Chesley met with students, faculty and staff at the Bend campus on Wednesday, "I’ve been very impressed by the number of questions and the quality of questions." She tells KBND News she was struck by one clear theme, "That people who come here want to stay here for a long time; and that always says a lot to me about an institution. People have expressed a great deal of affection, not only for this college but for the community." She says that makes the job at COCC even more appealing.
Dr. Chesley is currently the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan. "I bring a passion for higher education, lifelong commitment to higher education, an absolute passion for community colleges and a lot of years of experience, frankly."
She’ll visit the Prineville Campus Thursday, from 1:45-2:15, the Madras campus from 3:15-3:45, and the Redmond Campus from 4:30-5:30, in room 306 of Building Three. She says she has experience with multi-site schools; Grand Rapids Community College also has multiple locations, "The key difference is the geography. Those are not as far apart as the different sites are here. The geography is certainly much more extensive but the concept of multiple sites is not new to me."
The other two candidates, Dr. Tod Treat and Dr. Kimberlee Messina, visited separately over the last two weeks. Current President Dr. Shirley Metcalf retires in June. COCC's Board will discuss the search effort at a special meeting, Saturday morning.
BEND, OR -- It's been a deadly week on Central Oregon highways. An 84-year-old man was killed Tuesday morning when his SUV drove off Old Bend Redmond Highway. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says Frank Farey was northbound just before 10:30 a.m., when he failed to negotiate a curve, drove off the road through a fence and hit a large juniper tree.
He was taken to St. Charles Bend where he later died. Investigators don’t believe slick roads, speed, drugs or alcohol were factors in the crash.
A Redmond woman involved in a crash, last week, has died of her injuries. Oregon State Police say 75-year-old Anita Johnson was slowing for traffic on Highway 97, last Thursday, when her car was hit from behind by a semi loaded with gravel. Her vehicle was pushed off the road and into a tree. OSP learned she passed away over the weekend.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County prosecutors are currently working 10 open homicide cases, "It’s the highest number of pending homicide cases in Deschutes County’s history," says District Attorney John Hummel, "It’s too much; it’s far too much. We’re at a crisis point [and] my office is struggling to keep up." Even with last week’s conviction of Shantel Witt for DUII and Manslaughter, prosecutors are still working cases against 10 other defendants. including a husband and wife accused of starving their child in 2017 and a man who allegedly shot a woman at his Bend apartment on their first date, last month.
Hummel says the backlog can only partly be blamed on the region's growing population, "When you overlay that with too few judges and too few prosecutors, what happens is the cases take longer to resolve." Insufficient staffing at the D.A.'s office is his foremost concern, "We’re now at risk of not being able to well represent the state in serious cases of homicide, sexual assault, domestic violence cases. Something needs to change. I’ll be talking to the Board of County Commissioners about that during upcoming budget hearings, in May." Hummel tells KBND News if funding doesn't increase, he’ll have to cut services… that could include choosing not to prosecute some misdemeanors.
He’s also lobbying the Legislature to approve funding for an eighth Circuit Court Judge to create more room on the docket. The request has been made before, but was denied in favor of other counties. Hummel says it’s now Deschutes County's turn.
BEND, OR -- Phase one of Bend's transportation plan update was released Tuesday. It contains a list of citywide transportation projects and a preliminary look at ways to fund them. Senior Planner Karen Swirsky tells KBND News, "It's time to bring it up to speed and also to make it in step with the changes that we made a couple years ago to the Urban Growth Boundary." She says, "The transportation plan that we've been working off of is about 20 years old. It's been amended here and there over the years, but it's from a different time; Bend was a different place 20 years ago. So, there's a lot that's changed in terms of technology, the tools that we have for planning. So, it should be a much more modern and up-to-date report."
Swirsky says the Transportation Plan Advisory Committee, made up of citizens appointed by City Council, developed goals, determined the framework, and created a funding assessment for the plan update. Over the next year, as part of phase two, the Growth Management Department will compile all the data, prioritize projects, and match ideas with funding.
Over the next 20 years, Swirsky says, it's important that residents have easy, uninterrupted service, "We know, roughly, how many people, how many jobs, how many houses, so how do we make sure that all of our systems, transportation, water and sewer, support that." She adds, "There's a lot of change happening in Bend, and it's both challenging and exciting to figure out how best to accommodate it."
Click HERE to view the full Phase One report; you'll find other materials from Phase One HERE.
EUGENE, OR -- a Madras woman was convicted in federal court, Tuesday, of stealing from people she was supposed to be helping. Tayva Tucker pleaded guilty to one count of Theft of Government Funds, for stealing nearly $40,000 dollars in Social Security benefits from 10 mentally disabled adults.
Tucker began working for a Madras social services organization in March of 2014. Part of her job was to use her clients' Social Security benefits to pay for their current and future care. As the "representative payee" on their bank accounts, she had access to their funds because they were deemed unable to manage their own finances. A 2016 organizational audit revealed funds transfers from her clients' accounts to her own. When confronted, Tucker admitted to taking the money for her own personal use.
Her plea deal requires restitution of the $39.277 she stole. She also faces up to 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of post-prison supervision. Sentencing is scheduled in U.S. District Court in Eugene April 25.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College continues to work through a request by a group in northern Lake County to redraw the school’s boundaries. COCC's Board will get an update at Wednesday's 4:30 p.m. board meeting.
Matt McCoy, COCC’s Vice President for Administration, says the school is putting together a report for the state Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). "We’re inventorying what services we do currently provide to north Lake County and also working with Klamath Community College to identify the services they’re providing to north Lake County, and to much of Lake County; and we’re taking a look at whether or not it’s feasibly for us to provide additional services that might be of interest." He tells KBND News, "We’ll identify what we currently do and then consider the wants and needs of the community and how those might be met if they’re looking for additional services. Also, taking a look at what Klamath Community College is offering, what other community colleges might be offering." He says they're considering all options, "With a small community, like north Lake County, and with other services being provided by other community colleges, sometimes there’s a better way forward than just simply the same as what we’ve been doing."
Last summer, a group petitioned the state commission to remove northern Lake County from COCC’s district, saying there is little demand for the school’s services. In December HECC delayed their decision to allow COCC time to evaluate its presence in the region. The school will present findings to HECC in the next few months. The commission will then make a recommendation on whether the district's boundaries should exclude Lake County. That decision is expected in May or June. Any district boundary changes must be formally approved by the Legislature.
Graphic: COCC's current district boundaries include all of Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties, as well as portions of Wasco, Klamath and Lake counties.
LA PINE, OR -- The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) team raided a large illegal marijuana grow in La Pine, Tuesday morning; following an investigation into numerous complaints from neighbors. Detectives say owners were not licensed to grow hemp, medical marijuana or recreational pot.
They say the operation on Wayside Loop appears to have been around for a few years and included a converted four-car garage, two outbuildings and two metal transport containers. The house was retrofitted for the grow, with a self-contained watering system and climate control equipment.
CODE seized nearly 2,000 pot plants, along with 350 pounds of dried product and Butane Honey Oil. They also found evidence of a money laundering operation, including a substantial amount of currency and a money counting machine.
Detectives arrested 51-year-old Sam Onat (top, left) and 41-year-old Christopher Fleming (top, right). Both are charged with Delivery, Manufacture and Possession of Marijuana and Criminal Conspiracy; Onat also faces a charge of Monday Laundering.
REDMOND, OR -- Plans continue to move forward to develop of about 950 acres known as the South Redmond Tract. The parcel needs to be incorporated into Redmond's Urban Growth Boundary before infrastructure can be developed. Deputy City Manager John Roberts says the project has been in the works for about a decade, "Expanding the Urban Growth Boundary is one of the more prescriptive components of the statewide planning program and Goal 14. So, to comply with all those provisions, it’s not unusual for a UGB expansion of this size to take this much time to do it correctly." A land swap with the state, last year, gave the proposal a big boost. But, expanding the UGB still needs state approval.
Redmond's City Council and Deschutes County Commissioners will discuss code changes and revising the property's master plan in a joint meeting Tuesday evening. "The county needs to amend their comprehensive plan to acknowledge these changes. It’s actually the first part of the process," Roberts tells KBND News, "And, just to give you an idea of the complexity of this, the first staff report has 55 pages of findings and the second staff report has upwards of 65 pages of findings."
Roberts believes it'll still be two more years before work could begin at the property. But, once it's ready, he says the lot will be divided into three sections, "140 acres is place marked for expansion of the fairgrounds." Another 20 acres will be sold to the Oregon Military Department to relocate its readiness center, "And then the third is to rezone 789 acres of that for large lot industrial. And, large lot industrial means parcel size of 50 acres or greater."
Tuesday's joint meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Redmond's City Hall.
SALEM, OR -- Representatives from the cities of Bend and Redmond, as well as Deschutes County, were in Salem Monday to lobby lawmakers to expand an affordable housing pilot project. Redmond and Bend were the only two cities to apply for the program, which was initially approved by the 2016 Legislature. It streamlines and fast-tracks the Urban Growth Boundary expansion process to allow for development of more affordable housing projects. The initial program only allowed for one city in each of two population categories. Bend and Redmond competed for the same slot and Bend was awarded the position in November.
State Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend) testified in Monday's hearing (right) that Redmond should be allowed in, too, "You can't have mental health stability without housing and we have a housing crisis. We have a shortage, and we desperately need workforce housing." Helt says until there's more housing across Deschutes County, there is no way for people to live in the cities where they work. "The issue that we're facing is a supply issue. We've heard the number of 155,000 units we're short in our state, and this would move the needle." She has joined fellow local lawmakers State Rep. Jack Zika (R-Redmond) and State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) in supporting HB 2336, which would allow both Bend and Redmond to take part in the pilot project.
Redmond Mayor George Endicott (pictured, top) also testified at Monday's public hearing, in support of HB 2336. He told lawmakers affordable housing is much needed for smaller cities, "The price of housing far outpaces wages. Over the last few years, our housing prices have increased 52%, while we've watched wages go up an average of 2 to 3%." He says the average home price in Redmond is $289,000 dollars; whereas the average wage is about $40,000. The city already has a proposal ready to push forward, if HB 2336 is approved, "Our project has 50% affordable, 50% market rate, and it will be in a mixed income, mixed use setting." Endicott says the 485 unit development not only meets but exceeds requirements for the pilot program. Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Henderson addressed the committee and explained how increasing Redmond's affordable housing inventory benefits the entire area, "From a perspective of the growth and development of our region, we really are kind of housing-cost challenged throughout the county. It's not just a Bend problem, but Redmond and Sisters; it's everywhere. So, this will add another option."
Redmond's proposal is for a 40-acre parcel owned by Deschutes County, on the eastern edge of the city, near NE Kingwood. Bend's winning proposal will reportedly bring nearly 400 homes to 35 acres in the southeast corner of Bend, near Highway 20.
BEND, OR -- More changes may be coming to Bend's city charter. Some want it to include language forcing elections for all City Councilors, instead of appointing new members to mid-term vacancies.
The issue arose during the process of filling the Council seat vacated when Sally Russell was elected Mayor in 2018. Several applicants were considered. But, in the end, Chris Piper was appointed to Position Three; he was sworn in last month amid protests. Some who opposed the decision were upset over what they saw as back-room deals. Councilor Bill Moseley says some even claimed racism, "it's kind of a complex issue. The assertion was that during our evaluation process, that there was another candidate who was an opportunity to create more diversity within the Council. For myself, I just fundamentally reject that you should evaluate any person based on their race or gender as a qualification." He believes Piper was the only candidate whose centrist views more closely represented the community and, Moseley tells KBND News, he was willing to take a drastic step if Piper didn't get the job. "My intention was to resign from the Council. Really, the logic behind it: if we're going to go this direction, then I'm going to make sure that we have a full understanding of where we're going, and we can see that it's not in the community's best interests to go far, far left."
Moseley says Mayor Russell asked him to stay on, agreeing to vote for Piper instead of another more progressive candidate. He calls it a brave move, "They basically preserved a council that is going to be pretty focused and centrist on solving the community's problems."
Despite his support of Piper, Moseley supports a movement to see all Councilors elected by voters. One proposal would force a sitting Councilor to resign if they want to run for Mayor before the end of their term. Voters would then select that seat's replacement at the same time the Mayor is elected. But Moseley says that's not all that should be considered, "If we're going to open up the charter again, I think we need to have a fuller discussion about the kinds of City Councilors we have. Bend is really just growing and changing too fast to have basically very, very part-time volunteer Councilors."
UPDATE (02/13/19): Mayor Sally Russell says she and Councilor Moseley never spoke directly about who would better serve Council, prior to the public vote in Council Chambers. During Moseley's original interview with KBND News, he said he was concerned about the future of important city projects if a far-left candidate was selected, and shared those concerns with some in the community. He says other members of Council had to have known he was ready to resign over the issue. "And so, Bruce (Abernethy) and Sally (Russell) took it into consideration and said, 'no, as much as we are a little bit left of center, we don't really want - we can see that it's not in the community's best interest to go left, left of center'," Moseley said, speaking hypothetically. He says he didn't talk with Councilor Abernethy nor Mayor Russell about the appointment process, nor was there a "quid pro quo" agreement in place.
Mayor Russell tells KBND News, "The reason I turned to Councilor Bill Moseley just prior to the [January 16] vote and asked him whether he was going to vote, was because I was still unclear whether or not he was even going to participate." Moseley agrees, saying the final decision was not made until that vote. Russell adds, "I hope we can not only learn from this event but, as a community, we can focus on the important work we need to do, move on from this and tackle the important issues. In last week's goal setting, Council began to focus on important work for our community. We've made some really tough decisions; now, let's move on and start getting work done. We recognize diversity, equity and inclusion as an area that is important for our community."
Photo: 2019 Bend City Council (L-R) Justin Livingston, Barb Campbell, Bill Moseley, Mayor Sally Russell, Bruce Abernethy, Gena Goodman-Campbell, Chris Piper
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire says a residential sprinkler system saved an apartment from major damage, Monday. A unit responded to an alarm at the Outlook at Pilot Butte apartments, just before 2:30 p.m. They discovered a resident tried to put out a grease fire by putting a pan in the sink and turning on the faucet; that resulted in a ball of fire, which activated the sprinkler.
The fire was out before the investigator arrived and no fire engines were called to the scene. While the blaze caused about $2,700 in damage, Bend Fire says no one was hurt and it could’ve been much worse had the sprinklers not activated. They also remind you to never put water on a grease fire. Use a lid to cut off the supply of air to the flames.
BEND, OR -- A 28-year-old Bend man faces charges after allegedly throwing a knife toward officers. Bend Police responded to Butler Market and Wells Acres Monday morning after witnesses reported a man in a bathrobe was acting like he was throwing a knife at passing cars.
When officers contacted Gabriel Richards on Wells Acres, authorities say he was uncooperative and threw the knife. Officers negotiated Richards into custody without further incident and he was taken to the hospital for evaluation. He's charged with Menacing and Disorderly Conduct.
BEND, OR -- A Bend-area husband and wife announced Monday they are running for local offices.
Amy Tatom is vying for Bend-La Pine School Board zone five, currently held by Ron Gallinat, who does not plan to run for re-election. Tatom is a Family Nurse Practitioner who sits on the St. Charles Medical Group Board and is a member of the school district’s budget committee.
Her husband Oliver Tatom is running for the Central Oregon Community College Board, in Zone seven, which encompasses a large area south of Bend. The seat is now held by Vikki Ricks, who also is not seeking re-election. Tatom is a second-year nursing student at COCC. He's a paramedic currently employed by Jefferson County EMS.
The couple has two young children and live in rural Deschutes County, southeast of Bend. Both elections are May 21.
BEND, OR -- With several inches of new snow in recent days, it seems winter has finally hit the High Desert. Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, says plows and de-icing trucks are out in full force. In fact, he says, they’ve been ready for a while, "We did have January to kind of get ready for it because January was a little slow, from a weather perspective. We had our mag brought in, we had our cinders piled up and we had our crews on winter duty. Well, it finally hit and now we’re putting our crews to the maximum 24/7." He tells KBND News, "We’re ordering more magnesium chloride to help us with deicing the highway and our stockpile of cinders looked like Mt. St. Helens, there, for a while, and now it’s starting to get a little bit smaller. So, the resources that we were putting to work had been sort of kept aside because January was nice and now we’re putting them on the highway everywhere we can."
While our snow began melting off with warmer temperatures on Monday, Murphy says other parts of the state are still buried. ODOT sent heavy equipment from Bend to clear Highway 206, between Wasco and Condon, near the Gorge, "There are big drifts of six-foot high snow and we can’t really get a handle on it with the wind that’s blowing. So, we’ve got to pull out our big gun, which is a blower, and ship it up to basically Wasco." Several sections of Interstate 84 were closed Tuesday morning due to icy crashes between Mosier and Troutdale. For the latest closures and restrictions, visit Tripcheck.com.
The excellent conditions at Mt. Bachelor are attracting more visitors and impatient drivers. "We know there’s been a big dump up there; it’s great skiing conditions," Murphy tells KBND News, "So people turn out en masse to get up to Mt. Bachelor. What folks have to keep in mind is that 6,000 of their good friends are trying to share that same road and so it requires people to be patient and stay in line." He's heard reports of people driving the wrong way in the Mt. Washington roundabout in an effort to beat the crowd. "Please don’t do that. You know, that just makes things worse: you’re going to end up in a crash and in reality, you’re not going to get further up the hill because it’s still a line from the Mt. Washington circle all the way up to the mountain."
More snow is in the forecast through this week.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are asking for the public's help to find a 60-year-old man missing since last week. According to investigators, a cab dropped off John Love in front of his house on St. Cloud Court, near Boyd Acres Road, between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m., Wednesday. He hasn't seen or heard from since. A family member reported him missing Saturday morning. He was last seen wearing a green jacket, blue jeans and tennis shoes.
Love is a retired Bend Fire engineer who worked for the agency from 1996 to 2002; he also served as a volunteer coordinator, from 2014 to 2016. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call non-emergency police dispatch at 541-693-6911.
UPDATE: Bend Police say the body of John Love was discovered Monday afternoon. Deschutes County Search and Rescue deployed 27 searchers and Sheriff’s Office personnel to help Bend Police look for Love, at about 2 p.m. After about 2.5 hours of searching, two human-scent K9 teams found Love’s body near 18th and Cooley, inside a large hole in a construction site; his body was covered in snow.
Bend PD is working with the District Attorney’s Office and Medical Examiner to determine cause of death.
BEND, OR -- A national non-profit promoting veteran homeownership is coming to Central Oregon. Local chapter president John Harsh says the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP) works with agents, mortgage brokers, home inspectors and vets to understand the VA Loan process, "There is very little education, within the military or after the military, veterans receive in regards to the VA loan – how to qualify for the VA loan, how to become a homeowner, things like that. The transition from military life to civilian life, in most cases, is very inadequate and veterans just don’t have the resources they need to understand it."
Veterans are plagued by high rates of unemployment, homelessness, divorce and suicide. But, Harsh says VAREP has helped reduce those rates in other communities, "All we do is promote veteran homeownership. And, when a veteran becomes a homeowner, all those statistics go down. Veteran homeowners are less likely to become unemployed, they’re less likely to get divorced, they are less likely to become homeless at some point and they’re less likely to commit suicide." Since 2015, VAREP has helped over 6,000 veterans become homeowners in 29 states. The Bend chapter is its first in Oregon.
Harsh, who is also a vet, officially launches the Bend chapter on Tuesday at Liberty Gallery, 4-6 p.m. "We get to come alongside other veteran services organizations like Central Oregon Veterans Outreach –J.W. Terry is going to be one of the folks speaking at our launch, Tuesday – we get to come alongside organizations like that and really dig into the veteran community and help in tangible, real ways that have a ripple effect well beyond helping veterans buy a house." District Attorney John Hummel is also scheduled to speak at the Liberty Gallery, to help shed light on the needs of local veterans.
VAREP is open to anyone working in the real estate industry; membership is $99. Services are provided at no cost to veterans
BEND, OR -- According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Central Oregon hasn't had a month with normal levels of precipitation since October, and that has them concerned we won't have enough water for the approaching irrigation season.
January was generally warm and dry, and NRCS Hydrologist Julie Koeberle says the overall weather story is complicated. She says the west side of the state is considered very dry, while Eastern Oregon has a near normal snowpack. Central Oregon's snowpack was just 73% of normal, last month, but she says that's better than a year ago, when we were at just 40% of normal. "We are, at least, better, in terms of snowpack over the last year," Koeberle tells KBND News. "The one problem we've seen this year is it's just been drier, overall. And, that's really why the mountains have just not really received the normal amount of precipitation that we normally get for the season."
Central Oregon rivers and streams have some catching up to do before spring, but weekend snow is already helping. As of Monday, Central Oregon snowpack was up to 78% of normal. Koeberle says, "We've kind of got to cross our fingers. And, at least we have this forecast ahead of us for this next week; we're at least going to get some snow and that's going to make a difference and some improvement. It's better than a forecast of what we've been seeing, which is a lot of dry weather." She adds, "It looks very promising to pick up several possibly new feet of snow in the mountains. That would do wonders for the snowpack. We really need to make up for some lost time since we're lagging behind. So, hopefully this will at least see some improvement and make a little bit of difference."