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SALEM, OR -- Republicans in the Oregon Senate fought to stop a minimum wage bill, but failed because they were outnumbered by Democrats. Senator Fred Girod (R-Stayton) says it's another example of Portland Democrats cramming legislation down the rest of the state. "There’s going to be a price to pay and I think Harney County is the tip of the iceberg. People are really, really getting angry, and you need to be aware of that."


The bill passed the Senate on a party line vote, despite seven motions by Republicans to stop it. Senator Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg) says it will hurt small businesses and their employees. "Wouldn’t it be reasonable that we put some accommodation in the tax code so we wouldn’t see small businesses having to lay off employees because of the increased cost that this minimum wage is going to create."


Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) issued a statement following Thursday's vote, expressing his disappointment that an amendment was excluded that would have prevented Legislators from benefiting from the increase. "Senate Democrats voted to condemn countless small businesses across the state, raise daycare costs for all Oregon families, force employers to lay off workers, and increase costs for senior programs," Senator Knopp said. "At the same time, Senate Democrats voted to raise their own wage."


If approved, the bill would create three separate minimum wage regions in the state: The bottom tier for rural Oregon would be $12.50 an hour. The second tier would be $13.50, and the top tier, in the Portland area, would be $14.75. All regions would see rates increase over the next six years.  The bill now moves to the House. 

BEND, OR -- The Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) helped organize a number of rallies calling for the end of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Dan Morse with ONDA in Bend is happy to see it finally happen. "We're thankful that the takeover of the refuge has come to an end. We're certainly very grateful to law enforcement and elected officials who called for peace and justice, and a resolution of the situation."


His attention is now turning to returning the refuge to its pre-occupation condition. But, Morse tells KBND News, it will be a while before they can get in and assess things. "It's just too early to speculate on what kinds of tasks might be required. ONDA runs different volunteer efforts across Eastern Oregon's deserts, each year. Often times, there's things like repairing fences or making fences wildlife friendly, restoring vegetation or monitoring different conditions on the ground. Any of those could be possibilities at the refuge in the future." The FBI has said the facility and surrounding property must be swept for explosives then process any criminal evidence before clean-up can begin.
ONDA is asking for volunteers to sign up online. "We put a call out to folks to pledge to volunteer to help restore the refuge, when the time is right. I think that's important to note," Morse says. "I think, no one knows yet how long it will be before law enforcement investigations come to an end, or before the Fish and Wildlife Service has had the ability to assess conditions at the refuge." So far 800 people have registered to volunteer.


PRINEVILLE, OR -- The two-year Crook County Strategic Plan has been released. Included in the report are the results of a detailed survey of residents revealing what people like, and don't like about living in Crook County.


County Commissioner Ken Fahlgren says the survey helped leaders understand they need to be more transparent. “This is a 2-year strategic plan. We based it on, again, the survey told us many things. One of which of course concern for the public which is jobs. And we’ve had a high unemployment rate in this county and we’re doing much better. And we also have a housing issue.”


He tells KBND News the number one goal of the strategic plan is to keep the trust of the public through transparency. “It shows where we have some issues around outreach, where we need to be more involved with our community. And also, through this plan we will be having quarterly meetings with the public. We’ll have evening meetings. We’ll have coffees. We’ve just gone through our first this last month.”
Positive aspects the survey found include affordable housing, public services and quality of schools. On the negative side, Crook County residents addressed high crime, drug use and lack of an adequate jail.
The 2016-18 Crook County Strategic Plan is available for review online. Click HERE to access the full report.

BEND, OR -- The Bend Fire Department is finally ready to put six new fire trucks into service, months after the new rigs arrived in town. Deputy Chief of Operations Bob Madden says they’ve been training on the new engines for the past couple of months. "What we’re dealing with, primarily, is the newer technology in the fire truck. These have a computer screen, basically, that work all the systems; the lighting systems are all LED lights so their more efficient, so we don’t burn out alternators like we did on our old fire trucks; the cab is safer, it has airbags so it’s safer for the crews." They also feature a fancy new two-tone paint job.


He admits that training period lasted longer than originally expected. "Like any new program, we’ve had some issues and some things that had to be corrected by the manufacturer. That, and the ongoing training – ya know, it takes a while. We’re getting all of our people to drive them, to pass a driving test on them; and then to get oriented with how the pump works and all of the equipment on these fire trucks. It’s taken a while. You’ve seen them driving around town for the last month to month and a half, but now they’re physically going into service."


Madden tells KBND News they’ll gradually be rolled out to area fire stations over the next two to three weeks. "We’re finishing up our in-service training, so we’re training all of our crews in pump operation and driving. And, that’s ongoing. As we get enough depth of people trained on them, we’ll start putting the rigs into service. We’re hoping we can have our first one in service by the first of next week."


The six new trucks replace the department’s current fleet of front-line structure response engines. 

BURNS, OR -- FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing held a press conference Thursday afternoon, just a few hours after the final occupier at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. He issued the following statement:

This morning the FBI took into custody the four remaining occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge without incident and without shots fired. Rev. Franklin Graham and Michele Fiore were at the checkpoint to meet the occupiers as they left their encampment.

As we have said since day one, our goal has been to end this illegal occupation peacefully, and we are grateful that we were able to do so today. I want to make it very clear that we will continue to enforce the law with respect to the refuge and other federal properties. Anyone who chooses to travel to Oregon with the intent of engaging in illegal activity will be arrested. Saying that, I want to reassure those Harney County residents who simply visited the refuge or provided food to the occupiers -- we are not looking into those events. We are concerned about those who have criminal, violent intent.

While the occupation is over, there is still quite a bit of work that needs to happen before the refuge can re-open to the public. I want to run through some of that with you now.

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge remains closed, and it will remain closed for some number of weeks. During this time, law enforcement will continue to man checkpoints at the edge of the refuge to maintain the security of this crime scene.

Most immediately, FBI agents are inspecting and securing the buildings and any other areas of concern on the refuge to ensure that no one else is hiding. This process will take some number of hours.

Following that tactical clearing of the refuge, a team of FBI Special Agent Bomb Technicians, detectives with the Oregon State Police Arson/Explosives Unit, and bomb technicians from the Portland Police Bureau and Oregon Air National Guard will methodically work their way through the property to locate and mitigate any explosive-related hazards. This process could take several days.

Once the refuge is cleared of any hazards, the FBI's Evidence Response Teams (ERT) will enter to document and collect evidence related to potential crimes committed during the occupation. In addition, FBI forensic examiners from the Northwest Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory will work to recover and process computers and electronic devices. It will likely be several weeks before the evidence teams complete their work on the refuge, and it will likely be a number of months before the forensic examiners complete their analysis.

At the same time, the FBI is deploying experts with its Art Crime Team to work on the refuge. These agents are specially-trained in cultural property investigations. They will be responsible for working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Burns Paiute Tribe to identify and document damage to the tribe's artifacts and sacred burial grounds.

They will start with an archeological field assessment to determine any potential violations of the Native American Graves and Repatriation Protection Act (NAGPRA) and the Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA). This work will likely take a number of weeks to complete.

As the FBI works through each of these investigative processes, we will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as to how and when we will be able to return control of the refuge to that agency.

Over the course of the last month, the people of Harney County have lived through an experience that is both highly emotional and physically exhausting. We have seen the occupiers and their outside supporters try to drive deep divisions between those who live and work here. We have seen some residents leave their homes, fearing violence against their families. We have seen the confusion, concern and trouble that the occupiers' actions have caused for this community.

This series of events has been beyond difficult for Harney County families. But, in the time I have been here, I have also seen the deep love that you have for this place you call home... love for the people, the land, and the way of life that makes Harney County so special. This passion for everything good about Harney County is what will help heal the community after this incident.

This is your community, and the FBI, along with our other law enforcement partners from across the state, are honored that we could be of service to you. We still have work we need to do -- and we continue to ask for your patience as we complete these necessary last tasks. We will do everything we can to return the refuge to its normal operations as soon as possible.

In particular, we know that the people of the Burns Paiute Tribe have specific concerns about the potential desecration of their ancestral lands and artifacts dating back thousands of years. As we complete the necessary safety checks and process the crime scene, we will work with the tribal members to ensure that our work remains sensitive to their historical and cultural concerns.

In closing, I want to thank Sheriff Ward for all of his hard work. I have never met a man who cares more about the people he serves... who cares more for the community in which he lives. No matter how you feel about the Hammonds or the situation at the refuge or the role that we have played here, Sheriff Ward has done exactly what he has promised to do since this all started back in November. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that the people he serves are safe, that they are heard, and that they can find a path back to normalcy.

Thank you.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) was the first lawmaker to react to the events leading up to the end of the refuge occupation. He released the following statement: 


“Oregonians across our state are grateful to the Harney County Sheriff’s Department, federal law enforcement, and local and state officials for ending this standoff without additional loss of life. The steady resolve of the Burns community and Harney County leaders like County Judge Steve Grasty and Sheriff Dave Ward have kept this sad episode from sparking something much worse.

Now that the shadow of violence is lifting from Harney County, Oregonians can return to what we do best -- building common ground for real success on the challenges facing our state.”  


Second District Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) also released a statement: 


“We can all be grateful that today has ended peacefully, and that this situation is finally over. Now, life in Harney County can begin to return to normal and the community can begin the long process of healing. I will continue working to solve the underlying issues that have caused so much frustration in rural communities. We need meaningful changes to federal forest and land management policies, and we need to foster a more cooperative spirit between the federal agencies and the people who call areas like Harney County home.”


U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley said in a statement, “I am relieved that this unlawful standoff has finally come to an end. This situation has put incredible emotional and financial strain on the Harney County community, and now we all must come together to support them as they heal. I thank the law enforcement officers who worked to ensure that the rest of the occupiers left peacefully, and I stand ready to partner with Senator Wyden, Governor Brown and others to provide whatever support we can to the Harney community as they recover and move forward.”


The FBI is scheduled to hold a press conference at 2 p.m., Thursday, in Harney County. 

BURNS, OR -- The final holdout at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge surrendered to law enforcement just before 11 a.m., Thursday, the 41st day of the occupation. Following the arrest of David Fry, the FBI released the following statement: 


At approximately 9:40 am on Thursday, February 11, 2016, the FBI brought three of the remaining Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers into custody without incident. At approximately 11:00 am, agents brought the fourth into custody without incident.

* Sean Larry Anderson, age 47, of Riggins, Idaho
* Sandra Lynn Anderson, age 48, of Riggins, Idaho
* Jeff Wayne Banta, age 46, of Yerington, Nevada
* David Lee Fry, age 27, of Blanchester, Ohio

No one was injured, and no shots were fired. Thursday marks day 41 of the occupation of the refuge.

Agents arrested the remaining four occupiers as they walked out of the refuge to the FBI checkpoint. Those arrested will face arraignment before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Portland on Friday, February 12, 2016.

At times, there were dozens of highly armed militants occupying, visiting and supplying the refuge. On Wednesday, February 3, 2016, a federal grand jury indicted 16 people:

* Dylan Wade Anderson, age 34, of Provo, Utah
* Sandra Lynn Anderson, age 48, of Riggins, Idaho
* Sean Larry Anderson, age 47, of Riggins, Idaho
* Jeff Wayne Banta, age 46, of Yerington, Nevada
* Ammon Edward Bundy, age 40, of Emmett, Idaho
* Ryan C. Bundy, age 43, of Bunkerville, Nevada
* Brian Cavalier, age 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada
* Shawna Cox, age 59, Kanab, Utah
* Duane Leo Ehmer, age 45, of Irrigon, Oregon
* David Lee Fry, age 27, of Blanchester, Ohio
* Kenneth Medenbach, age 62, of Crescent, Oregon
* Joseph Donald O'Shaughnessy, age 45, of Cottonwood, Arizona
* Jason S. Patrick, age 43, of Bonaire, Georgia
* Ryan Waylen Payne, age 32, of Anaconda, Montana
* Jon Eric Ritzheimer, age 32, Peoria, Arizona
* Peter Santilli, age 50, of Cincinnati, Ohio

Each subject faces one federal felony count of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 372.
All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

"The occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge has been a long and traumatic episode for the citizens of Harney County and the members of the Burns Paiute tribe. It is a time for healing, reconciliation amongst neighbors and friends, and allowing for life to get back to normal. I want to thank our neighbors in eastern Oregon for their patience, resolve, and their kind and welcoming spirit to the many members of federal, county, state, local, and tribal law enforcement who have worked tirelessly to bring this illegal occupation to a conclusion. The fine work of so many dedicated public servants in a difficult endeavor cannot be understated. I am very proud of them all," said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney, District of Oregon.

"Much work is left to assess the crime scene and damage to the refuge and tribal artifacts. We are committed to seeing the job done and to pursue justice for the crimes committed during the illegal occupation."

The FBI will release more information about the law enforcement work that still remains to be done at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge later in the day. 

BEND, OR -- Over the past two years, the Bend Fire Department has improved response times with increased staffing, and has raised the rate of survivability for cardiac patients. But, a new smart phone app aims to incorporate the general public into the equation.


Paramedic Engineer Petar Hossick is excited about the new Pulse Point app. He tells KBND News, "We know that the most important thing is time, in cardiac arrest. And, having any of the public step in and do CPR as quick as possible, improves that person’s chance of survival. They are the ‘tip of the spear,’ we really need them out there helping us. If we want to raise our survival [rate] in our city more than where it’s at, we can’t do it without the public." Bend Fire's rate of cardiac survivability is now at about 50%, compared to a national average in the single digits.


Hossick adds, "We’re going to start pushing this in all CPR classes to people, and encourage them, if they’ve taken CPR, to download the app. Also, [we're] reaching out to all the medical providers at St. Charles and BMC and locally, to encourage them to download the app."

Those who download and use the PulsePoint app are alerted when a nearby cardiac emergency is dispatched to medics. Users are provided on-screen instruction for "hands-only" CPR, and told if there is a public AED unit available. "There are a lot of them out there in sports clubs, government buildings, personal businesses. In fact, in Oregon, there’s a law- over 50,000-square feet, you have to have one. Our next point is really trying to identify where a lot of those are, because we know people have invested in them, but we’re still not totally sure where all of them are in Central Oregon. So, our next big project is to start identifying the locations and getting them into PulsePoint."
Click HERE to view a video explaining how the app works. The local service is available through a partnership between Deschutes County 911 and seven area fire departments.

BURNS, OR -- It's tense at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Thursday morning. Wednesday, one of the occupiers rode an ATV outside of a barricade and that led the FBI to surround their camp. FBI negotiators talked with them over a loud speaker and occupiers yelled back. Much of the interaction was broadcast by the four holdouts over a live internet stream. They told the FBI, "We haven't threatened anybody; you guys are the ones that murdered." They also repeated threats that they wouldn't be taken alive if the FBI started firing first. 


Sean and Sandy Anderson, David Fry and Jeff Banta remain at the refuge. They spoke with Nevada lawmaker Michelle Fiori and Rev. Franklin Graham by phone. The calls were also live streamed online. They told Fiori, “They want us dead, so that nobody else will ever stand up for their rights.”

Fiori and Rev. Graham are reportedly on their way to the refuge to help bring an end to the standoff. Occupiers say they'll walk out with Fiori and give up, but they still don't want to be charged. Fiori says she talked with the FBI and was assured they wouldn't take action until morning. 


Cliven Bundy, father of occupation leader Ammon Bundy, was taken into FBI custody when he arrived at the Portland Airport, Wednesday night. The FBI says his charges will be released Thursday. Cliven was at the center of a Nevada ranching standoff in 2014, over use of public lands. He was reportedly headed to the refuge at the time of his arrest. 


BEND, OR -- A new piece of equipment at St. Charles is designed to help transport the region's sickest babies to the Bend hospital for care. The St. Charles Foundation recently purchased the new neonatal isolette for the hospital.


Lisa Dobey, with the foundation, tells KBND News, "It's a baby bassinet that is basically on a stretcher, where it pops up and down. It's easy to move a baby and put it into the helicopter. It also has oxygen and it clicks in like a carseat would, so once it's in the helicopter it's safe; it doesn't move around."

She says it was important to replace an aging isolette. "We have one that is so old that the company no longer provides replacement parts for it. And, the Life Flight people have bought a new helicopter, and it won't even work in their new helicopter system." The old unit also could only carry one baby at a time.


The new isolette will be able to transport two babies at once, and cost about $150,000. But, Dobey says it was money well spent. "Our board took a look at this; they heard a presentation by Dr. Fister and knew that this was something the Health System desperately needed, that it helped our very sickest and our very youngest of patients, and it's something that everyone in the community would feel good about their charitable dollars supporting. "


The new neonatal isolette should arrive in Bend, soon. 


BEND, OR -- A portion of the Pilot Butte Canal in northeast Bend is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The segment between Cooley Road and Yeoman Road recently received the designation from the National Park Service.


Residents in the nearby neighborhood hired attorneys to apply for the designation, in part, to make it more difficult for the local irrigation district to pipe the canal that runs through their properties.


Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger tells KBND News the announcement took him by surprise. "[I was] actually shocked. I thought that, when the Governor came out with the letter saying she did not support this action, and then the County Commission and the Historical Society basically requested that they look at the big picture review of the whole system before they made a decision, that they would've sort of honored those requests and gone down a different path," Unger says. "But, obviously, it's a win for the neighborhood."


He adds, "These are decisions being made at a federal level that effect us locally, that are sort of  another indication of are we all on the same page? Are we all listening to each other? So, at sometime, I'm going to bring that up to our federal delegation and ask that question."


The canal was built in the early 1900s to irrigate area farms and helped spur rapid growth and development of Central Oregon. 


BEND, OR --  Small, local non-profit organizations are invited to compete for a cash prize and help from non-profit experts. The Bend Chamber of Commerce’s “Leadership Bend” program will soon kick off its second annual Central Oregon Impact Summit


Rachel Rees Vanden Burg of the Bend Chamber tells KBND News, “Small to medium sized non profits that don’t have the resources that the bigger non profits do maybe don’t have the strongest strategic business plan so our goal through the Impact Summit is to help educate and assist these non profits through a series of workshops.” Those workshops include business planning, board management, marketing, fundraising and coaching.


“After going through the workshops, we narrow it down,” says Rees Vanden Burg. “The selection of non-profits will take the stage for a community event and they get to pitch their strategic business plan that they’ve created, to the public.” Those five non-profits will compete for a $10,000 cash prize in May.


Applications are available at HERE, and will be accepted though February 26.

SALEM, OR -- Oregon's Court of Appeals has ruled Kip Kinkel's 112-year sentence will stand. Kinkel's attorney argued his sentence was cruel and unusual punishment.


In 1998, Kinkel shot and killed his parents before driving to Thurston High School and killing two others. He was 16 at the time of the shooting; Kinkel is now 33.


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that juveniles can't receive mandatory life sentences. However, Kinkel's sentence wasn't a "mandatory life sentence." He was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the four murders, and 40 months for each of the 26 wounded. 


The Appeals Court ruled the Supreme Court decision doesn't apply in this case. 



Photo Left: Kip Kinkel in 1998; Right: 2016

Courtesy Oregon Dept. of Corrections

BEND, OR -- Two nearly-simultaneous death investigations have Bend Police resources stretched thin, and have raised questions as to why it took so long for the public to be notified. 


In one case, a Bend woman is accused of killing her elderly grandmother back on New Year’s Eve. Chief Jim Porter tells KBND News not every death has an obvious cause. "With any death, it takes time to determine what the cause was, what the manner was, if there was a motivation, who was there to profit, who wasn’t to profit. And, quite often that means bringing in specialists. And, in this case it wasn’t until recently we were aware of some circumstances surrounding the death that would lead us to believe we needed to launch an investigation."  
Angela Judd was arraigned Monday on murder and theft charges, in connection with the death of her 92-year-old grandmother. "These investigation nowadays, with the advent of social media, have become much more complicated and diverse and wide, requiring us to respond in different ways and have specialized detectives who know how to do those things," says Chief Porter. 


Also last week, police pulled a body from the Deschutes River near downtown Bend. His identity has not been released, but Chief Porter says investigators believe he hadn't been seen since mid-December. "There are times when we will not know whether we’re dealing with a natural death, a suicide, an accidental death or a homicide, until maybe two to three weeks into the investigation, depending on the surrounding situation." He says state law requires an investigation into any death that occurs outside of the direct supervision of a medical professional. Police do not believe the man's death was a result of foul play.


Alongside those two local investigations, Chief Porter says about a dozen of his officers participated in the Harney County investigation into the officer-involved shooting that led to the death of Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, as part of the Deschutes County Major Incident Team.

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond businesswoman Angela Boothroyd (left) was appointed to the City Council, Tuesday night. She replaces Heather Carlin who resigned her position for health reasons. 


The appointment is effective immediately and ends when Carlin's term would have expired at the end of 2016. Carlin was appointed to her post in August 2015, replacing Ginny McPherson.


Boothroyd is a native Central Oregonian who has served on the Redmond Development Commission, the Board of the Redmond Chamber and was named Redmond Citizen of the Year in 2006.

BURNS, OR -- A third person has died from injuries sustained in last week's head-on collision on Highway 20 in Harney County. Oregon State Police were notified by family that 69-year-old Darlene McGown of Redmond passed away Friday. She was the passenger in a car driven by 71-year-old Milton Kowalski, also of Redmond.


McGown passed away at a Boise hospital where she had been receiving treatment since the February first crash. Both drivers died at the scene.

BEND, OR -- Moda Health will continue to operate in the state. Oregon officials have accepted the health insurer's business plan to overcome financial troubles. Currently Moda serves 60,000 Oregonians through the individual market, and more than 130,000 in the large group market.


Local agent Don Klippenes, with Health Insurance Strategies, applauds the decision. "I think it's a smart move on the state's part," says Klippenes. "It doesn't really surprise me, because Moda has been a very significant player in state insurance in Oregon for the last numerous years. And, to take and change that, or to pull one of those carriers out, would not have been in the 60-some thousand people's best interest, in my opinion."


He's telling his clients to keep up with payments, so they don't get dropped. "The biggest thing that we're doing is making sure people pay their premium on time and that they watch their bank account for the automatic draft, those types of things. Then it's virtually business as usual. Everything should be good to go until the next open enrollment, which is the fall of 2016."


Klippenes tells KBND News those who are currently insured by Moda must remain with the company, for now. "Unless the state had shut down Moda, there's not a special election, and so the news that the state is not shutting down Moda, Moda is continuing to operate as business as usual with some very tight state oversight."


State officials say Moda's business plan should generate more than $170 million for the company, providing sufficient capital to continue operations. All aspects of Moda plans will continue as usual, from premiums to benefits. If Moda does not complete all requirements mapped out in the plan, the state retains the right to shut them down in the future. 

BEND, OR -- The granddaughter of a 92-year-old Bend woman killed on New Year’s Eve was arraigned Monday for the elderly woman's murder. Angela Judd is also charged with theft and criminal mistreatment. The 45-year-old woman was arrested last Friday.   


District Attorney John Hummel has requested a preliminary hearing to see if there’s enough evidence to continue the case. There appears to be a legal issue concerning statements made by the defendant and the state wants to make sure these statements will be admissible.

BEND, OR -- A segment of the Pilot Butte Canal in Bend is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The section between Cooley and Yeoman roads, was built in the early 1900s, and provided an economic boost to the region’s growing agriculture and timber industries. 


The Central Oregon Irrigation District wants to pipe the canal to conserve water, but homeowners have fought that plan for several years. The National Park Service notes its decision is based only on National Register criteria, which considers the degree to which the property retains its historic appearance and importance. 

LA PINE, OR -- Each year the La Pine Rural Fire Protection District offers a dozen full academic scholarships to students enrolled in Central Oregon Community College Fire Science and Emergency Medical Services programs.


Chief Mike Supkis says it is as win-win relationship. “We said, 'okay, here are students going to this program. Can we capture them and give them the real world experience that they’re learning in the classroom?' And then as an incentive, we offer a full ride scholarship. And then that student, they get three years of living in a career fire station, working with career folks.”
Supkis says the real world experience helps students find their first jobs in the competitive fire fighting industry. “These guys and gals are going on calls, riding the fire truck, driving the fire truck, are in charge of the fire truck, running the medic unit, working with our paramedics, all the way up until they complete their paramedic intern and actually then they’re in charge of the call.”
Applications for these highly coveted scholarship are accepted until March 11, for the next school year. More information can be found at the La Pine Rural Fire Protection District website, and at COCC. 

BROTHERS, OR -- A Utah driver was killed in a single vehicle rollover on Highway 20, Monday morning. Anthony Vanoudheusen’s van veered off the highway about 55 miles east of Bend, just before 8 a.m.


The vehicle rolled and the 27-year-old Ogden man was ejected. He later died from his injuries. He was not wearing a seat belt and troopers report icy conditions at the time of the crash.  


The passengers in the car, a woman and three children, were taken to St. Charles in Bend.

SALEM, OR -- Oregon Legislators are considering a ban on sky lanterns. They're similar to paper hot air balloons.


"I describe them quite simply as an untethered flying sterno can," says State Rep. David Gomberg (D-Central Coast). "These are pretty; there’s no argument at all that these are beautiful things. They are pretty. I would argue also that they can be pretty dangerous," he told fellow lawmakers, this week. "They take these flaming devices and they loft them into our trees, onto our shake roofs and into our forests."


Rep. Gomberg says sky lanterns can easily start fires, and they're already banned in Oregon state forests. The new bill would ban them statewide; the maximum fine would be $2,000. There are similar bans in 29 other states. 



REDMOND, OR -- It’s the first year for Oregon high school seniors to participate in a  new Community College tuition assistance program. Redmond Schools’ Director of Secondary Education David Burke tells KBND News students only have a few more weeks to get applications submitted for next fall. "The deadline to apply for the 'Oregon Promise' is March first. So the process really is for students who would earn a diploma in the spring of 2016, a GED or complete 12th grade in the spring of 2016, to go to their high schools, work with their counselors to fill out the FAFSA." The “FAFSA” is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.


The “Oregon Promise” program was established by state lawmakers in 2015, and  says many families aren’t aware of the process. "In Redmond, we just sent out a letter to all of our parents of seniors. But, we’d like to get more questions. We’d like to get kids, even if they’re not sure they qualify, we need them to step forward and begin to ask questions, and contact their counselors at the schools and sign up and apply. It’s always a good idea to fill out their FAFSA early anyway, so our goal is to get every senior to complete their FAFSA this spring so they know what their best options are moving forward."


Burke says the FAFSA form helps determine how much money a student is eligible to receive through "Oregon Promise," since all federal financial aid options are utilized first. "Then the Oregon Promise kicks in as a backfill," says Burke. "So, students qualify for Pell Grants and federal dollars, and then the Oregon Promise is a backfill that fills in to cover the rest of students’ needs." 
To qualify, students need to complete the 12th grade this spring with at least a 2.5 GPA, and attend a qualifying in-state community college. For more information visit the Oregon Promise website

(02/08/16) UPDATE: An autopsy has been completed on the body of a man found in the Deschutes River last week. Bend Police say there is no evidence of foul play and toxicology results are pending.


Authorities were able to tentatively identify the man and his family has been notified. No name will be released until fingerprint confirmation is done. A police official tells KBND News they believe the man was last seen in mid-December, but no missing person report had been made by friends or family.




(02/05/16) UPDATE: Bend Police confirm the remains pulled from the river Thursday afternoon, is that of a white male adult. An autopsy is scheduled over the weekend at the State Medical Examiner's Office. No further information will be released until after that is complete.




(02/04/16) BEND, OR -- Bend Police responded to a report of human remains in the Deschutes River near the Newport Avenue bridge, Thursday afternoon. The report came in at about 3:30 p.m.


Bend Fire and Deschutes County Search and Rescue assisted in the effort to remove the suspected body from the water. 
The investigation is ongoing and officials have not released any other information.

BEND, OR -- A Bend man has pleaded guilty to a number of domestic violence-related charges stemming from crimes committed between January and April of last year. Brett Vanscoy changed his plea two weeks into his trial.

Bend Police Lt. Nick Parker told KBND News shortly after Vanscoy's arrest, "Officers investigating the case determined that Brett Vanscoy had held the female victim in a residence against her will, at one point. Over that time he had assaulted her, ad strangled her, had forcibly raped her, and then had committed additional sexual-related offenses."
The Deschutes County District Attorney says investigators disproved Vanscoy's claims that he suffered from PTSD caused by his deployment as a sniper. Prosecutors discovered he was never a sniper, nor was he deployed. 
Vanscoy was sentenced to 100 months in prison, must register as a sex offender and complete mental health treatment.

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are expected to decide in a couple of weeks whether to change the zoning of Troy Field. The Bend-La Pine School District wants to sell the downtown property to raise money for several school projects.

Some residents have been vocal about keeping one of the city's few downtown green spaces. But, School Board member Nori Juba says the district needs the $2 million that could come from the land sale. "We understand the community's desire. We understand the neighbors - they've had the green space for a long time and most of us like green space. I think one of the great things about Bend is that it does have quite a bit of green space. We have Drake Park and other parks that are in our neighborhoods. And so, I think we have to weigh our priorities, and as a school district, we have to think what's best for our students."


The property is left over from when Bend High was located downtown; Troy Field was an athletic field. Recently, a Hearings Officer ruled the City Council could legally change its zoning to allow a developer to build a hotel on Troy Field, but he recommended against it since it is one of downtown's few green spaces. "I think we've heard from a lot of people in the community and I know it's a controversial topic," Juba tells KBND News. "I think we've looked for every way that we can to come up with the money to finish these projects. We're going out and asking the City Council to approve this so we can do right by our kids."

City Councilors are scheduled to vote on the zoning change at their February 24 meeting. 


SISTERS, OR -- A Prineville man was arrested early Saturday morning, accused of stealing a car as it was warming up in a Sisters driveway. The car’s owner reported it stolen just before 6 a.m. About 20 minutes later, a passerby happened upon a crash on Wilt Road, near Camp Polk Road involving the stolen vehicle.


The suspect, 22-year-old Miguel Pacheco, was quickly found at a nearby property. He was treated for minor injuries then taken to jail. 
Pacheco faces several charges, including DUII.

UPDATE: Burns Police arrested Whitney Grosso, Sunday afternoon. 

She was transported to the Deschutes County Jail on heroin, methamphetamine, burglary and theft-related charges.




REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are looking for two women in connection with an ongoing drug investigation.


Officers executed a search warrant at space #17 of the Aspen Court Mobile Home Park in Northwest Redmond, early on January 31. The manufactured home was empty at the time, and officers say they found methamphetamine and heroin, as well as scales and packaging equipment. They also recovered stolen property from recent burglaries and thefts from cars in Redmond and Bend.

Officers are asking for the public's help in tracking down Whitney Grosso (left) and Ashley Manahan, both 25-years-old. 
Six people were arrested following the search of another residence in that same mobile home park, this past Friday. Mary Tittle (40), Tanner Hilgers (19), Makayla Kozlowski (20), Abrahan Sandoval (19), Omar Pacheco (22), Miguel Diaz (18) and a 17-year-old girl all face a variety of drug and theft charges.
           Tanner Hilgers                 Makayla Kozlowski              Abrahan Sandoval Ruiz    


BEND, OR -- A Bend woman was arrested Friday for the murder of a 92-year-old. Bend Police say 45-year-old Angela Judd killed Nada Bodholdt at about 9:30 p.m. on December 31, 2015. 


Investigators says Judd and the victim were related to each other and have determined there is no further threat to the public. The investigation is ongoing and Lt. Clint Burleigh says no further information will be released at this time. 


Police did not say whether this case is related to the remains pulled from the Deschutes River on Thursday, however the two incidents have different Bend PD case numbers. Lt. Burleigh told KBND News Friday the body had not been identified and an autopsy was scheduled at the State Medical Examiner's Office, this weekend. 

BEND, OR -- Crews will spend the next couple of weeks working to reduce wildfire fuels on 37 acres of Shevlin Park. Click image (left) to enlarge work area.


Bend Park and Recreation officials say no closures are anticipated during the effort on the park's east side and south of Shevlin Park Road. Work begins Tuesday, and includes brush and shrub mowing and small tree removal. 

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors approved changes this week to regulations around Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), but not everyone is pleased with the easing of restrictions. Local real estate agent Fred Johnson says getting rid of the conditional use permitting process will anger neighbors, who now don’t have a say in whether an ADU is built next door. "This allows apartments in a single-family neighborhood, basically. And, it’s interesting, because it flies in the face of exactly what we were talking about with short-term vacation rentals and the main concerns were: they didn’t want rentals in residential neighborhoods, they didn’t want traffic and they didn’t want noise. And then, this comes along less than a year later and completely flies in the face of all of those main objections of the short-term rentals."


Johnson disagrees with the changes likely to be made to to the permitting process, ADU size allowances and parking. "There’s a requirement to have one off-street parking, then there’s a credit provision for an interesting thing called tandem parking – which is where you park end to end, in other words, you have a little longer driveway. The reality is, it sort of works for a vehicle that isn’t used frequently. The way that would work is, you go to your wife and say, ‘hey, honey, I want to go to the store, can you move your car?’ Well, that’s only going to go on for so long before somebody finally just parks the other car out in the street."


City Councilors voted 5-to-2 to ease restrictions on permitting, parking and unit size, during the first reading of the ordinance. The second reading is scheduled for February 17. Johnson says if it passes, the new ordinance will remove resident control of their own neighborhoods. "There’s been a number of regulatory entities that are allowed to protect the neighborhood and protect our land rights. Basically, what this does it flies into that and says nope. They removed the conditional use process, which means there’s no need for a public hearing and there’s no way that the adjacent property owner can state their objection or appeal the application process." Click HERE to read more about proposed changes.
Supporters say the move will create more much-needed affordable housing in Bend.

BURNS, OR -- The people of Harney County continue to deal with the strife caused by the ongoing occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Pastor Matthew Littau, of St. Andrew's Episcopal/Peace Lutheran church in Burns, tells KBND News the last month has been difficult. "Our lives have been disrupted with deliberate intimidation tactics against ordinary common citizens out there on the street." Littau is also pastor of the Living Waters Mission on the Burns-Paiute Reservation, "I know that a week ago Wednesday, the tribal offices on the Reservation were closed because there was a threat against the tribe. I don't know the exact nature of that threat or what it was, but it was enough that they closed their offices on Wednesday."


Pastor Littau says he's seen first-hand how relationships are suffering. "The dueling rally, I think, was a good example of what it's doing to our people here in our community; it's splitting them. One person takes that point of view, the other takes that point of view, and they get very passionate about it. Pretty soon, they're yelling and screaming at each other. And pretty soon, friendships that have been solid for a couple of decades are broken. It's weird."


Four people remain at the refuge, refusing to leave. Pastor Littau says the continuing standoff has many people scared to attend church. "We have several people, probably half a dozen, who aren't coming to church right now because they just don't feel safe. So, our attendance at our church in town is down, as a result. We've also had some personal animosity between some of the members and one visitor in particular, that has not exactly been pleasant. But, on the other side, the church on the Reservation - the Church of Living Waters - the Paiute church, during this last month, our attendance has actually increased."


As of Friday, the refuge occupation hit its 35th day. 


BEND, OR -- Several firms are vying for the contract to design the new expanded campus for OSU-Cascades on Bend’s west side. Three firms presented their ideas for how the school should look and feel, during public presentations, Thursday.


They took information from community advisory committees and college officials to create their vision for how the campus might look and feel. Each group took 90 minutes to outline relevant experience and community engagement plans.
"These are teams of architects and engineers and they each presented their approach to developing the long range development plan," Christine Coffin tells KBND News. "So. of course, it included possible approaches to where the buildings are put on the expanded campus, and aspects of sustainability and net-zero energy on the campus."
Read more HERE about plans by OSU-Cascades to purchase more land and expand beyond its current 10-acre parcel.
A selection committee of college officials will make their selection of the campus design team within a few weeks. Coffin says, "The selection team has the hard job of taking the all of the community input that we heard during these presentations and campus community input and selecting the final design team."


PORTLAND, OR -- A federal Grand Jury handed down indictments against Ammon Bundy and 15 others (click photo for complete list) connected with the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Bundy's attorney, Mike Arnold, told the judge it was wrong that his client wasn't in court for a Wednesday hearing. "Mr. Bundy put on the record today, through me, that he expects and requests to be at every single federal court appearance."


The judge said it wasn't necessary, because the indictments suspend previous court actions. Arnold said, "We find it terribly ironic that a judge ruled that he was a risk, on pre-trial release, to not attend court appearances. Then, while in custody of the government, he was prevented from attending today’s court appearance."


Indictments were unsealed Thursday morning and reveal the 16 defendants each face one count of Conspiracy to Impede Officers of the United States. According to the document, the group "knowingly and willfully conspired and agreed together ... to prevent by force, intimidation and threats, officers and employees of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ... from discharging the duties of their office at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge."


The indictment outlines accusations that the conspiracy began "on or about October 5, 2015" when "two conspirators traveled to Harney County, Oregon to warn the Harney County Sheriff of 'extreme civil unrest' if certain demands were not met." It notes that defendants "recruited and encouraged other individuals ... through social media and other means of communication, to participate and assist" in the conspiracy, beginning in November.


A group of armed militants took over the refuge on January 2, 2016. The indictment says the defendants' actions prevented federal officials from performing their official duties at the refuge "by force, threats and intimidation." The four people who remain at the refuge are among the 16 defendants named in the indictment. 

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man was arrested Wednesday evening, following a slow-speed pursuit through a residential neighborhood.


According to the Crook County Sheriff's Office, a deputy tried to pull over Case Adams for expired tags and failing to stop at a stop sign. Deputies followed his car for several blocks, while they say Adams appeared to be trying to hide something inside his car.
The 24-year-old eventually pulled into a driveway at 5th and Deer Street, where deputies performed a high-risk traffic stop. During his arrest, investigators say they discovered methamphetamine concealed on his person, and a meth pipe hidden in his car. 

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors held a final public hearing on proposed code changes regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as "granny flats" or "in-law suites."


Much of Wednesday night's discussion focused on neighbor notification if a resident plans an ADU, although there was not enough support to add a rule to notify neighbors. 
Mayor Jim Clinton explained at the meeting, “The way this proposed ordinance reads is that an ADU on property that is 6,000-square feet or less shall not exceed 600 [square feet]. And so if the lot is bigger than 6,000 [square feet], then they can jump up to 800 [square feet].”
The council also stuck with Planning Commission recommendations for parking, and the elimination of a conditional use permit to a Type-1 permit process. The driving force behind the ADU code change is the desire for more affordable housing in Bend. This was the first reading of the new ordinance.


BEND, OR -- Two runaways from the J Bar J Youth Ranch are accused of breaking into a convenience store on the south end of Bend and stealing several items.


Law enforcement responded to a burglary alarm at the Butler Market Store South, just before 3 a.m., Wednesday. Two teens seen running from the store were arrested.
Police say the 16- and 17-year-old boys stole several hundred dollars’ worth of merchandise, including beer and cigarettes, and caused about a thousand dollars in damage to the store. 
Photo courtesy Google Earth

KLAMATH FALLS, OR -- A crash that closed Highway 97 north of Klamath Falls, Wednesday afternoon, may have been the result of a driver's medical emergency.


Oregon State Police investigators say a 65-year-old Oakridge man drove off the road and rolled his semi at about 3 p.m., partially blocking the highway 27 miles north of Klamath Falls. The driver, Kennth Wagnon, was pronounced dead at the scene.
One of the responding OSP troopers also serves as a Deputy State Medical Examiner and is looking into the possibility that Wagnon suffered a medical emergency before the crash.
The highway was closed for about an hour for the investigation.

UPDATE:  Oregon State Police released the names of the two people killed in a Highway 20 crash near Burns, earlier this week. Witnesses say 65-year-old Robert Heath of Christmas Valley attempted to pass a semi when he hit a car driven by 71-year-old Milton Kowalski of Redmond. Both men were killed.


According to OSP, Kowalski's passenger, 69-year-old Darlene McGown from Redmond, was airlifted to a Boise hospital with critical injuries. 




BURNS, OR -- (02/02/16) Two people are dead following a head-on crash on Highway 20 near Burns, Monday.


Oregon State Police say a pickup truck was eastbound at about 12:30 p.m., when it attempted to pass a commercial truck. Investigators say that pickup then struck a Cadillac.


The driver of the Cadillac was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger was taken to a Boise hospital with critical injuries. The driver of the pickup later died at the hospital.


OSP has not released the identities of those involved, pending family notification. The highway was closed for two hours during the investigation. 

BEND, OR -- The Family Kitchen in Bend has the mission of serving anyone who needs a nutritious meal in a safe and caring environment. They serve 60,000 meals a year, and they just received their largest donation ever.


Newport Avenue Market's Lauren Johnson presented a $56,000 check to the Family Kitchen on Tuesday, thanks to the store's “Food In February” campaign. Customers donated $26,000, Newport Ave. Market contributed the rest. 
Donna Burklo, with the Family Kitchen, tells KBND News, “It takes care of a huge percentage of our food costs for the year. But, in addition, it just represents so much of the community coming together. The Oregon Country Beef folks and the Newport Avenue folks, all of that together. It means that each of the people eating here has that team behind them.”
She says this will help them continue their mission, “We hear often from our diners that it’s the ability to have some respect and dignity. When they come here they are served their meals when it’s dinner time. Meals are brought to them with eye contact and a smile and they’re asked if they’d like more.”
A ceremonial check was presented to Family Kitchen at its location inside the downtown Bend Episcopal Church, one of the Family Kitchen’s supporting sponsors.

BURNS, OR -- It will be at least another month before more information is released on the Harney County officer-involved shooting that left militant Robert "LaVoy" Finicum dead. The 54-year-old was killed January 26, when officers stopped him and other leaders of the refuge occupation on their way to John Day.


The FBI released aerial footage of the altercation; officials say Finicum was shot when he reached inside of his coat. The Deschutes County Major Incident Team is leading that investigation, and Sheriff Shane Nelson says he won't release further information until it's completed. He says that could be at least four to six weeks.  


Ammon Bundy is again asking the four holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to give up. Although, his father, Cliven Bundy, says he's sent letters to the Harney County Sheriff (pictured), Governor Kate Brown and President Obama telling them the occupation will continue. 


Through his attorney, Ammon said Tuesday, "Because of the restrictions of solitary confinement for 23 hours per day, I have not been able to speak to my father. I’m requesting that the four remaining protesters go home now, so their lives are not taken." He added, "This will allow the FBI and OSP to also go home and end their armed occupation of Burns and Harney County."


Bundy remains in the Multnomah County Jail in Portland while his attorney collects more evidence to use in a detention hearing. He hopes to be released on home confinement. The judge allowed Joe O'Shaughnessy, who was arrested in a separate event on January 26, to go free. However the judge ruled Pete Santilli must remain in jail, because he's considered a potential threat.


BURNS, OR -- The latest demands from the remaining militants occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge involve a conservative Christian preacher. During a phone call with the anti-government group "Oath Keepers," they said they've asked the FBI for a third-party negotiator, "A man named Franklin Graham. They tell us they're working on it."


Occupiers went on to say, "He's a Christian man; he's a spiritual leader. He's actually traveling around the country, right now. He's holding prayer meetings on the state capitol of every state so that we can get some good elections, ya know, get rid of some of this corruption."


The phone call occurred on Sunday, just before phone service was cut to the refuge. They are able to access one phone line, which is now controlled by law enforcement. The entire conversation was posted to YouTube


BURNS, OR -- There are no local radio or TV stations in Burns, but one Harney County teen is filling that gap during the ongoing wildlife refuge occupation. Eighth grader Dustin Beers live streams nearly all of the occupation-related meetings and events on his DBTV YouTube channel.


His mom, Kelli Beers, tells KBND News he got the idea after watching other people’s coverage that he felt included too much commentary. "When he first started with the live feeds, it was because there was nobody here that would show the whole truth. There were other You-Tubers who would get on there and say their two-cents worth, but never just let people talk. So, he decided he was going to let people see the truth about the meetings that were happening."


Dustin says the community seems to appreciate his efforts. "They like to watch it when they can’t make it to whatever is going on. People have donated lots of money to help me get equipment. Me and my family have been overwhelmed with the support." His parents set up an online giving page to collect donations, after friends started asking how they could contribute to his efforts.


Kelli says those donations have already topped $1,200, "We had one big huge donor that donated to him, that wanted to remain anonymous. They interviewed him to see what his plans were with all of this." And, those plans don't include quitting. "After the standoff is over, I’m going to try film the football games and the sports games," Dustin says, "So the parents that can’t make it to their kids’ games can still watch it."


He hopes to eventually turn his YouTube channel into a revenue generating business. But, he says for now, he’s happy providing a community service.

BEND, OR -- Commercial vacancy rates continue to fall in Bend. Pat Kesgard, with Compass Commercial, says office, retail and industrial markets tightened in the fourth quarter, following a year of recovery.


And, he tells KBND News he expects that trend to continue in 2016. "We’re going to see new buildings; we’re going to see redevelopment. We have some companies that have survived this downturn, that now are growing, and some of these companies are traded sector, where we ship their product outside of Central Oregon. And, they’re stepping up in the size of production or warehouse facilities. So, consequently we see this continuing at this point." He adds, "If you own a business and you want to look at buying, again, that’s starting to get very tight. On the other side, if you’re a landlord, your rates can be higher. If you’re a landlord and you want to sell, or you want to sell your business, now would be a very good time." That growth is resulting in less available space and higher lease rates, which he says is good for landlords not locked into recession-era rates.


According to the latest statistics gathered by Compass Commercial, Office vacancies fell from 7.4% in the Third Quarter to 6.8% in the Fourth; industrial vacancies fell from 6.3% to 5.9% in Q4 and Retail saw the biggest decline, from 6.4% to 5.2%.


Kesgard says things could change if the national economic climate changes, but he doesn't see that happening anytime soon. "But, if you look at long-term interest rates, if they tick up appreciably in any short period of time, that’ll put downward pressure on everything. But, at this point, we’re rather bullish on 2016. So, what that means is, if you’re a tenant and you need more space, you need to be talking to a commercial broker sooner rather than later."


Eventually, Bend's Urban Growth Boundary expansion could help ease the market, with an influx of buildable land. But, Kesgard says that fix could be at least four years out.  


To hear our full conversation with Pat Kesgard, visit our Podcast page.

SALEM, OR -- Lawmakers arrived in Salem Monday, for the first day of the Legislative session. Democratic leaders have an aggressive agenda for the 35-day session. House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) spoke about it on the House floor:


"It appears the majority party in this session wants to move significant policy changes to the state of Oregon, with notices going out as short as one hour before a hearing is posted." McLane referred to public hearings on several bills during the 2015 session when discussion was either cut short or little notice was given beforehand. In the case of a gun background check bill, Central and Eastern Oregonians arrived to testify in Salem, only to be turned away when hearings went too long.


McLane said, "And, I ask you Madam Speaker, if you do this, I hope you understand what that does to the people east of the mountains who won't have the opportunity to participate. I urge you, restrain yourself and give all Oregonians a chance to participate."


The first day of the session was spent introducing a number of bills, but McLane called the list too ambitious. 

BURNS, OR -- A Burns businesswoman, who is benefiting from the influx of people there, has a message for the visitors: Go home.


It's an odd message from a motel operator with a constant full house. But, Vickie Allen, of America’s Best Value Motor Inn, is tired of the constant inundation of militia supporters. “It’s just building up again. It’s just gotten worse because we’ve got more people from out of state coming in. Enough’s enough. Go home and let us go back to our nice quiet little town.”


Allen tells KBND News she believes the majority of locals want the outsiders to leave, even those who might support the occupiers' original message of government overreach. It was a sentiment shared by many at a Monday rally at the Harney County Courthouse n Burns. One woman said, "I don’t think there’s a person here that’s in disagreement that the government has overreached. But, we have to make changes, and it needs to happen in a way different than the way the militia is wanting it to happen."


But, nearby, another demonstration called for the arrest of law enforcement responsible for the death of Robert "LaVoy" Finicum. Ron Wharton drove from Roseburg to participate "This is not going to stop unless we stop it. And, we don’t need the federal government killing our protesters. We have the right to free speech, to protest and to carry a firearm."


Both sides faced off for more than two hours. Despite a lot of shouting, there were not reports of violence between the groups. 


LA PINE, OR -- A trucker from Boise was arrested Sunday evening, after Oregon State Police say he fled from the scene of a crash, south of La Pine. Two tow truck drivers were on scene of a wreck on Highway 97, near milepost 172 at around 7:45 p.m., when a semi-tractor/trailer struck and damaged one of the tow trucks. The tow truck driver suffered a leg injury. 


According to OSP investigators, 40-year-old Stewart Maze fled the scene in his semi after the collision. He was located about eight miles away and arrested. Maze is charged with DUII, Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering, Criminal Mischief, Assault IV and Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver. 

BEND, OR -- The state stepped in last week, in an effort to keep Moda Health from going under. The health insurer is in financial trouble and is not allowed to accept new policies, although current policies will be honored.


Read more about the state's action


Jason Epple, with Century Insurance in Bend, has spent a lot of time lately on the phone with worried clients. "The sky is not falling, we don't need to panic. Moda is going to pay their claims, we're all going to have continuous coverage; it'll be ok. Yeah, realistically we're all going to have to move our health plan to somebody else, most likely. That's the way it's looking right now. But, we're going to have time to do that. We're going to have time to sort it all out, we don't need to knee-jerk it."


He tells KBND News, "At some point, the state may determine that the individual market - they may determine that all of the markets go away for Moda - or maybe just the sectors of individual, maybe Medicare, maybe small group. We don't know the answers yet. But, if they do indeed go away, there will be a timeframe."


Epple expects the state will announce its plans for Moda within the next week.


SALEM, OR -- The state's short Legislative session kicks off Monday in Salem. Lawmakers have 35 days to introduce and pass bills.

Democrats want to increase the minimum wage and affordable housing. House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte)  says Democrats are just trying to throw more money at the state's problems. "They're going to talk about how the most vulnerable amongst us, 'seniors who need assistance, the disabled and the like, will also be negatively impacted if you don't give them your money.' A 27% increase in state revenues is what they're demanding that Oregonians give them."


He thinks it's going to be a tough month. "It comes down to how they're positioning a 27% growth in state government, which of course, over the last 20 years, it had had record growth already. But, they're doing it by marketing that it's about the kids. They're going to say 'hey, if you don't give us your money, the kids are going to have a bad education system, etc.'"


Last Friday, Governor Kate Brown announced she has changed her proposal to increase the minimum wage. She's calling for a higher minimum of $9.75 an hour starting in July, six month earlier than originally slated. It would then rise to $13.25 by 2022. That proposal still must be approved by the Legislature. 




BEND, OR -- Irrigation districts are carefully watching river flows in the Deschutes, as they schedule stock runs for ranchers to refill ponds. Kyle Gorman, Regional Manager of Oregon’s Water Resources Department, tells KBND News current flows are right were they should be, although the Deschutes is lower than it was a year ago. "The lingering drought conditions that we had, stream flows were low and it hasn’t picked up yet, because it hasn’t really received the moisture and recharge yet. And then, the outflow from Wickiup Reservoir is held to the minimum for this year, for the storage in Wickiup Reservoir to try and maximize storage before this irrigation season."


Gorman says last year's flows were higher last year because most winter precipitation came in the form of rain, which became immediate runoff. "The level that it’s at right now, is very common to see after a very dry year, or consecutive dry years. The outflow now is around 23 cfs (cubic feet per second), that’s what it was last year. The big difference is the outflow out of Wickiup is about the same but the Little Deschutes was seeing that immediate runoff, where this year it’s yet to come." This year’s snowpack is much stronger, which he says is the best way to plan for the coming irrigation season, but keeps the river lower in the winter months. 

WARM SPRINGS, OR -- A Vancouver, Washington man was killed in a crash outside of Warm Springs, Friday night. Witnesses reported heavy snowfall at the time of the crash, on Highway 26. 


According to Oregon State Police, 42-year-old Juan Guerrero Gomez of Gresham was westbound when he crossed into oncoming traffic at about 9 p.m. He hit an SUV driven by 42-year-old Matthew Hiller.  Hiller was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife and an 

infant were taken to the Madras hospital with minor injuries. A 12-year old passenger was flown to St. Charles Bend with serious injuries. 
Gomez, driving an F-250 pickup, suffered minor injuries.

REDMOND, OR -- A group of high school students from Redmond Proficiency Academy will spend their spring break in Mexico - but not on vacation. Spanish teacher Troy Longstroth and 14 of his students will spend five days building a house for a needy family. "We are working in conjunction with, basically, the social services department in Mexico. So, they’ve set us up with a family who needs a house, has applied and has gone through their process. We kind of have a Habitat For Humanity style program, where we have partnered with some locals in San Luis Del Rio Colorado, which is in northern Mexico, near Yuma, Arizona."


Longstroth tells KBND News, "When we arrive, the guys that we’re partnering with down

  there will already have the concrete floor and the first-floor walls built out of bricks. So, we will install doors and windows on the first floor, and a staircase, and then add a whole second floor, we’ll frame that and put a roof on – a metal roof – and finish up the inside with electrical. So, we’ll have them a house built in five days."


They’re driving down to save money. Longstroth says it’s the first time he’s been able to organize a trip like this. "I’ve been the Spanish teacher here for a while, and taught in the Redmond School district before as a Spanish teacher, and I’ve wanted to take kids overseas but money seems to always be a big obstacle. So, one of the reasons for this trip is that it gives kids a cross-cultural experience with a low dollar amount. So, the $500 is quite a bit for a 9-day trip. But, on the other hand, most programs are $2,000 or $3,000 to go for a week." Longstroth says they still need to raise about $17,000 to cover travel expenses and building materials.
Click HERE to give to the "Raise the Roof" fundraising campaign.
Above left: The family to be helped by RPA students.
Above right: RPA students will build a house similar to this previous one built by another student group.


BEND, OR -- Bend's Cascades Theatrical Company continues with Alfred Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps," this weekend. But, Saturday's performance will be unique.


We have reserved 16 seats for the deaf and hard of hearing," Janice Sharpe, with CTC, tells KBND News. "We have signers coming. I didn't realize it, but they kind of have to tag team; it's a pretty taxing process. So, they're going to switch off and one of them will do 15 minutes or so, then switch off with the next one."


Sharpe adds, "It's amazing how much expression, I mean, what they're doing is almost a performance in and of itself! They are really putting a lot of effort into making what they're doing a performance, as well."


The sign language show of "The 39 Steps" is Saturday at 7 p.m. Sharpe says if there is continued interest, they're considering offering one show each season for the deaf and hearing impaired. 

BEND, OR -- While OSU-Cascades officials celebrate the final purchase of a 46-acre pumice mine property, due diligence continues on the 76-acre County Demolition Landfill, also adjoining the existing 10-acre campus.


OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson tells KBND News they are in the fact finding phase to see if the landfill will work for expansion. “We’re going to bring over some faculty, experts in engineering from Corvallis who are going to take a look at that site with us with county representatives and others and see if there is some out-of-the-box thinking about how you can clean it up.” She admits, that won't be easy, “We know that you can scoop out a lot of bad material and truck it off to somewhere else. That’s like the most expensive way to remediate that site. But there might be some other ideas that have to do with capping, building on piers, you know, things like that that aren’t as expensive and then, where do you get the funds for whichever option we end up choosing.”
A non-binding letter of intent between Deschutes County and OSU-Cascades provides for a two-year framework for exploring the viability of reclaiming the former demolition landfill as part of the OSU-Cascades campus.

PORTLAND, OR -- The state of Oregon is closely monitoring Moda Health, which is in severe financial trouble. Lisa Morawski, with the Department of Consumer and Business Services, says they will keep the company in operation, "Reviewing any financial transactions they want to take and insuring claims are being paid." Current policy holders should continue to get medical care. 


Morawski adds, "The order also prohibits Moda from issuing new policies or renewing current policies." Moda Health must submit a plan to the state by Friday that will detail how they plan to continue operations into the future. 


BEND, OR -- A group of SkyView Middle School students only have a few more days to rally the popular vote in the Verizon App Challenge. The team already beat out 1200 other teams to win the state title with their outdoor safety app idea, and is now in the running for the $15,000 national prize.


Eighth grader Grant Hillis says his team is doing their best to recruit support before the Sunday night deadline. "If you were at SkyView on Tuesday in the cafeteria, and brought your phone with proof that you voted, you would’ve gotten a free sucker and a chance to win a pizza party."


Principal Scott Olszewski tells KBND News the contest isn't just about the monetary prize. "The money is, of course, nice. It’s great that they’re bringing in some grant money for the school, it’s nice that they’re all getting a tablet. More than anything, though, I think what’s great about it is they went through this engineering process, identified a problem, came together as a team, collaborated, and then took it all the way to the top."


The team of seventh and eighth graders has until midnight Sunday night to beat the other 49 teams through text voting. View their explanitory video HERE. To submit your vote for SkyView Middle School, text “outdoorsafe1” to 22-333.
To hear our full conversation with two members of the App Challenge team, and Principal Olszewski, visit our Podcast Page

BURNS, OR -- The FBI has released video of the officer-involved shooting outside of Burns that left Robert "LaVoy" Finicum dead. He was shot by law enforcement during a traffic stop that also led to the arrest of Ammon Bundy, the leader of the group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.


The video was shot from an FBI plane. Special Agent Greg Bretzing says officers had information that Finicum and others in his truck were armed. Finicum was outside of his pickup and in the snow when officers confronted him. "On at least two occasions, Finicum reaches his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket," Bretzing told reporters at a Thursday news conference. "He did have a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun in that pocket."


Officers shot and killed Finicum. Bretzing says they're releasing the video to end speculation about what led to the shooting. The FBI posted the unedited video on the agency's YouTube channel. Click HERE to view the raw footage. Finicum exits his truck at 9:20 into the video.


Four people remained at the refuge, as of Thursday night. Negotiators are working to get them to give themselves up peacefully, as Bundy renewed calls for occupiers to leave.

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville City Councilors, like Crook County Commissioners, have voted to oppose a plan that would convert part of the Ochoco National Forest into a National Recreation Area. Oregon Wild is proposing the idea, but it has met large opposition in the region.


600 people showed up at Tuesday's City Council meeting to voice their opinion, and all but a few opposed it. Mayor Betty Roppe doesn't believe it's needed. 


"I think it's working, right now. We're quite comfortable with how it's working with the Forest Service managing it. And, I don't know what any of the proposals would add to that. In fact, I think it may detract from it, because they're proposing to close more roads. And, I know the Forest Service has already done some of that." She adds, "They were going to create three new wilderness areas. When you have a wilderness areas, you cannot take any motorized vehicles into that, you cannot go in with chainsaws, etc. And, I didn't see that was an advantage. I think the Forest Service is doing a fine job with what they're doing."


Councilors listened to an hour and a half of comments from residents and Roppe says the feedback was pretty one-sided. "A significant number of our citizens were saying they didn't trust it to stop with what they were initially proposing. They thought once they proposed one thing that it could be increased to encompass other things." 


Roppe says Councilors plans to send letters to Congressman Greg Walden and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, saying the city opposes the plan.

BURNS, OR -- Deschutes County’s Major Incident Team is leading the investigation into the officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of militant frontman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum. Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson spoke with KBND News from Harney County, Wednesday afternoon. He says Oregon State Police requested his team about 30 minutes after that deadly traffic stop, north of Burns.


He tells KBND News his agency has a very specific purpose, right now. "Our office is overseeing the officer-involved shooting aspect. We’re being helped with the Major Incident Team of Deschutes County and several people combined to assist in that – Bend Police Department, Redmond Police Department the State Police and other agencies that came over here to help us investigate this scene."
"They [OSP] reached out to our partners that are a part of our Major Incident Team from Deschutes County," Sheriff Nelson says. "And they have been wonderful in committing resources to come over here and continue this investigation in partnership with Oregon State Police and any other agencies."
Sheriff Nelson stood behind Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward during Wednesday's press conference. He has continually supported Sheriff Ward, as has the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association. "OSSA stands together in supporting Sheriff Ward. I think he has shown tremendous strength. I admire his leadership abilities and his strong partnership with his community."


BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools officials say high school graduation rates continue to outpace the statewide average.


According to new information released by the Oregon Department of Education, Bend-La Pine’s rate held steady last year, at 77.2%. That's more than three-percentage points ahead of the statewide average of 74%.


Summit High reported the highest rate in the district, at 91.6%. Bend High came in second, at 85.2%.
We'll have more on the statewide and local numbers, coming up on KBND News.

BEND, OR -- Pot holes seem worse this year in Bend because more moisture and extreme temperature swings are wreaking havoc on the roads. “This year has been a little bit wetter. 40-degrees during the day and freezing temperatures in the evening. But then with stormy weather and the moisture it’s been a tough year for the pot holes,” Bend Streets Director David Abbas tells KBND News.


He says, “Our crews have been out on 14th street, one of the bad areas for us. Colorado Roundabout and different areas in town. So we’re out there this week trying to do a more long term fix on those.” That long term fix means using a hot asphalt mix, rather than a temporary cold mix. 


This temporary warm spell is allowing the hot to be used before mother nature once again gives us the cold shoulder.

BURNS, OR -- FBI, Special Agent in Charge, Greg Bretzing read from a prepared statement during Wednesday morning's press conference:


Good morning. My name is Greg Bretzing, and I am the Special Agent in Charge for the FBI in Oregon.

For the past month, the FBI -- along with our partners at the Harney County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police and the many other federal and local agencies -- have had a very deliberate and measured response. We worked diligently to bring the situation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to a peaceful end. Some of those actions were seen, some unseen. But, because this is an on-going investigation with some armed individuals illegally remaining in the refuge, we cannot get into details as to every action tried or taken.

I will say that the armed occupiers were given ample opportunities to leave peacefully. They were given the opportunity to negotiate. As outsiders to Oregon, they were given the opportunity to return to their homes and have their grievances heard through legal and appropriate means. They chose, instead, to threaten the very America they profess to love with violence, intimidation and criminal acts.

Yesterday, the FBI and our partners took the necessary actions to start bringing this situation to an end. We worked to ensure that we could do so in the safest way possible -- removing the threat of danger from innocent citizens. We continue to work to empty the refuge of the armed occupiers in the safest way possible.

Eight people were arrested, and one man died yesterday as we attempted to take him into custody. Because there is an on-going investigation by the Deschutes County Major Crimes Team on behalf of OSP related to this piece of the investigation, I will not be able to comment on the specifics.

I would, however, ask for your patience as the shooting investigation works its way through that outside process. At the appropriate time, the Medical Examiner's office will release the decedent's identity, and OSP will address the details of the event.

Let me be clear: It is fully and unequivocally the behavior and the choices made by the armed occupiers that have led us to where we are today. And, as the FBI and our partners have demonstrated, actions are not without consequences.
Containment road blocks are now in place around the Refuge. The disruption that the good people of Harney County have had to endure over the last few months will continue -- for now.

If the people at the refuge want to leave, they can do so through the checkpoints where they will be identified. If they have questions or concerns, they can call the negotiators at the number that has been provided to them.

As I conclude I want to share my promise to the people who live and work here -- who are raising their families here - that we will continue to look for safe, peaceful and productive ways to end this armed occupation. We recognize that the sooner we do that, the sooner the citizens of Harney County can start healing this community they cherish so much.


Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward and U.S. Attorney Bill Williams also spoke at Wednesday's press conference. 

BURNS, OR -- Leaders of the group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were arrested during a traffic stop Tuesday afternoon. They were traveling on Highway 395 from Burns to a planned meeting in John Day. During the arrest, shots were fired and "Lavoy" Finicum was killed. Ryan Bundy was shot in the arm. Those arrested are now being held at the Multnomah County Jail, in Portland.


Ammon Bundy's sister-in-law Briana Bundy tells ABC News, "Ammon said that he doesn’t know why they shot him. It was completely unprovoked, there was no reason for it, it was uncalled for and they were complying. And, nobody had a weapon." Cliven Bundy, Ammon and Ryan's father, reacted after the shooting, "I feel like my sons are on good nations doing good things, helping people. They weren’t threatening nobody." Deschutes County's Major Incident team, Oregon State Police and the Harney County District Attorney's Office are investigating the officer-involved shooting.


Robert "Lavoy" Finicum was an outspoken member of the occupation, often appearing with Ammon Bundy at press conferences and granting interviews with reporters and bloggers sympathetic to their cause. He spoke with The Oregonian about Tuesday's planned meeting in Grant County. "They reached out to us, and they're fed up. They're sick and tired of what's been happening to them. So, they want us to come and have us explain to them - most of the time we spend is teaching. And, they're considering taking the same steps that have been taken in Utah, here and what looks like is going to happen this Friday in Malheur County. What you're seeing is the citizens themselves saying, 'We're done. We're through.'" Finicum was a rancher from Arizona and he and his wife cared for several foster children who were taken away after the standoff began. 


Top: Brian Cavalier, Ammon Edward Bundy, Joseph O'Shaughnessy, Peter Santilli

Bottom: Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne, Shawna Cox, Jon Ritzheimer


The FBI has now set up checkpoints around the refuge to stop anyone from entering the property. Those coming out of the refuge will have their identity confirmed and vehicle searched. FBI, Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing, U.S. Attorney Bill Williams and Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward are scheduled to hold a press conference in Burns at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday.


** UPDATE ** Wednesday's press conference has been postponed to 11 a.m.


Despite previous reports to the contrary, St. Charles Medical Center officials say the Bend hospital did not receive any patients from Harney County, although it remained in lockdown until 5:30 Wednesday morning, as a security precaution.


Harney County Judge Steve Grasty issued a statement Tuesday evening: "I am relieved this situation is coming to an end, however, I am saddened by the loss of life. I hope and pray that those who remain at the Refuge will stand down peacefully."


Governor Kate Brown released the following statement shortly after news broke of the shootout. "The situation in Harney County continues to be the subject of a federal investigation that is in progress. My highest priority is the safety of all Oregonians and their communities. I ask for patience as officials continue pursuit of a swift and peaceful resolution."


Congressman Greg Walden (R-Hood River) released a statement Wednesday morning, saying, “I've been in close contact with local and federal officials throughout this long standoff, and we had all hoped for a peaceful conclusion to the situation in Harney County. Sadly, our hopes were shattered with the shooting that occurred during last night's arrest.   While we wait to learn more details and next steps, we must keep the people of Harney County in our hearts as they are a strong community and have endured a great deal. Once again, I urge those who remain at the refuge to go home before anyone else gets hurt. And when this done and the cameras' glare turns away from rural Oregon, the healing process will be a long one. Widespread frustration will continue until people in rural American feel like they are being heard and meaningful changes are made to federal land management policy.”    


BEND, OR -- Members of the opposition group "Truth in Site" say they're not surprised OSU-Cascades is buying a 46-acre former pumice mine. Jack Matthews tells KBND News he believes it was the school's intention all along. "In my honest opinion, they've been totally disingenuous. Not only with the public, but with Truth in Site; we've been calling them on that since day one. It's a shell game. They want to have it, but they don't want to have a master plan. Doesn't surprise me in the least." Matthews admits he is happy the campus won't be spread all around since the college will now have two adjacent parcels and potentially a third.

Marie Matthews with the group says she's also looking forward to seeing a master plan. "We're not really surprised. We do hope the master plan will be a good, logical, sound plan. I should suspend judgment. But, if it's anything like the plan that they put up for the 10 acres, it's going to be difficult for their students to find parking, to find housing."


The university is also looking at an adjacent 76-acre parcel that used to be the Deschutes County Demolition Landfill. They have two years to explore the viability of that property for future expansion.

BEND, OR -- A national leader on racial inclusiveness will visit Central Oregon Community College, as part of COCC’s Season of Non-Violence. Professor John A. Powell will give two different presentations Wednesday, both are open to the public.

Karen Roth, with the college, says he will focus on how to increase respect and care for all people, even between those who disagree. "He’s asking us to think about how do we practice respect and care for all people. Not that we have to agree with their ideas or their beliefs, but that we care about them as human beings," she tells KBND News.  "How do we open up our circle of human compassion to include what we have often called ‘the other’ and how all of us have this need to belong – to belong to a larger society, to belong to other people, and to be cared about by other people. So, how do we do that from our conditioning of ‘othering.’"
Professor Powell will speak at COCC at noon and 6:30 p.m., both presentations are open to the public. Click HERE to learn more. 
COCC is hosting a series of events through February 29 as part of its 8th annual Season of Non-Violence. It’s part of an international effort corresponding with the anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination and Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday. About the events, Roth says, "Where conflict is, I believe, normal and a part of the human condition. But, it’s how we resolve our conflict that I think we can draw on the legacies of King and Gandhi and others who have fought for social justice."
To hear our full conversation with Karen Roth, visit our Podcast Page.

HARNEY CO, OR -- Federal authorities have arrested Ammon Bundy, the leader of a group that has occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge since January second.


The FBI and Oregon State Police stopped a car with Bundy and several others just before 4:30 p.m., traveling on Highway 395 on their way to a meeting in John Day. They were scheduled to meet with supporters sympathetic to their cause.


One militant was killed, but law enforcement will not be releasing any information pending identification by the medical examiner's office.


Arrested were 40-year-old Ammon Bundy, 43-year-old Ryan Bundy, 44-year-old Brian Cavalier, 59-year-old Shawna Cox and 32-year-old Ryan Payne.


Officers also arrested 45-year-old Joseph O'Shaughnessy and 50-year-old Peter Santilli at separate events in Burns.


The FBI in Phoenix, Arizona arrested 32-year-old Jon Ritzheimer at 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, in connection with the standoff. Officials say he turned himself into the Peoria Police Department.


All defendants face a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the U.S.

BEND, OR --   After two years of studying the old pumice mine on southwest Chandler Avenue, OSU-Cascades has reached an agreement to purchase the 46-acre property, adjacent to the 10-acre campus currently under construction.


The announcement came at yesterday’s meeting of the college board of advisors. Following due diligence, which included title, environmental, geotechnical and engineering reviews, the deal will close this Friday. OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson tells KBND News, “A lot of work with firms, geotechnical and environmental and architectural forms. We want to make sure the site will work. And so they’ve been looking at the walls there, and how do you need to reinforce those. How m much will you have to bring in to make it useable. Are we sure there’s no contamination from the landfill? There’s not. All those things have to be checked off.”
She adds, “I think the biggest significance is that it gives us more space to think about our campus expansion. Obviously we’ve been talking abut this 46 acres for a long time and closing on that and making it certain we now know that there will be enough room to expand out university to 3,000 to 5,000 students.”
Read reaction from the opposition group Truth in Site, HERE.
The 46-acre pumice mine will be purchased for $7,963,000. The college expects it will cost another $7- to $8-million for remediation. The university will consider the option to purchase the adjoining 76-acre Deschutes County demolition landfill. The due diligence for that property is under way.

BEND, OR -- All three Central Oregon counties saw job gains, in December. But, regional economist Damon Runberg says 2015 as a whole was difficult for both Crook and Jefferson counties. "We saw all the counties go down in December, so we saw improvement there. But, those monthly changes - we wouldn’t call it a trend. But, needless to say, it’s good to see our rural community also see their unemployment rates drop a little bit." He tells KBND News, "Crook County is the one that actually job losses over the last year, so not a good year for them. In fact, employment numbers are down 2.1% over the last year, which was the largest employment drop of any county in Oregon, over the last year." He says it’s largely due to the massive layoffs from the shutdown of Woodgrain Millworks. "Although employment levels are down in the county, it’s not like this is a trend that’s affecting all industries in Crook County. It was really specific to one major layoff event."


Runberg adds, "If you just looked at the raw numbers of all of Central Oregon, it makes it look like an exceptional year for Central Oregon; the economy would be red hot. And, that’s true. But, it’s really only true for Deschutes County which, in the beginning of 2015, recovered completely from the recession all the jobs that were lost. And, since then, we’ve been in a period of economic expansion. So really, good times for Deschutes County, our only urban, metro community east of the Cascades."


Deschutes County’s rate dropped 0.2% last month, to 5.8%. Runberg says, "What’s even more impressive about the unemployment rate going down, is we’re actually seeing the labor force grow – which is partially from population growth; there’s a lot of people moving here – it also means there’s a lot of optimism in the local labor market, meaning folks who may have been discouraged a few years ago, and left the labor market, they’re back in it and looking for work because there are jobs out there."
Jefferson and Crook counties each dropped 0.3% in December, landing at 7.3% for Jefferson County and 8% in Crook County. 

BEND, OR -- There’s a new grass-roots effort trying to organize formal opposition to the negative impacts they say will occur if recreational marijuana businesses are allowed in rural Deschutes County. Larry Fulkerson says he got involved with PreserveRuralDeschutes.Org after he discovered a medical marijuana grow operation opened next door. "And at the ripe old age of 69, I was not aware that a grow site produces an odor like a skunk. And, it took me a while to figure out what was going on next door. So, I became involved and went to the public meetings. There were a bunch of is that have been attending the meetings that didn’t particularly like the way the recommendations were going and decided to get involved, and think that people need to be educated."


Fulkerson says his group is not against marijuana use, but they are concerned about increased odor, lighting and traffic issues that could come with this new industry. He feels County Commissioners are doing their best to navigate this uncharted territory and blames state lawmakers for putting Commissioners in a no-win situation. "The marijuana industry, through the Oregon Legislature, has gotten rules and regulations in place that have determined that marijuana is a farm crop," He tells KBND News. "It is protected by all of the parts of the right to farm law." He feels the state legislature should have never passed HB 3400, designating pot as a crop. "Any rules and regulations that the Board of County Commissioners try to impose on the marijuana industry that it doesn’t impose on all other farm products will get voted out of office. How can you tell a marijuana farmer that he can only grow his marijuana on a 20-acre parcel or above, and let the alfalfa farmers grow their crop anywhere they want?"
He says rules imposed on local grow operations are likely to be challenged in court, if the same restrictions aren’t placed on all crops in the county. "They [County Commissioners] have been boxed in by the legislature and marijuana industry to the point that, if they propose rules and regulations that protect property values and standard of living, it stands a very good chance of getting voted down."
Fulkerson says they want to see regulations and enforcement work together. To hear our full conversation with Larry Fulkerson, visit our Podcast Page

BEND, OR -- Eastern Oregon State Representative Greg Smith (R-Heppner) is expected to pitch the idea of annexing several eastern Oregon counties to Idaho, in the upcoming legislative session. He cites a disconnect between Portland area legislators and rural counties. 


Oregon Congressman Greg Walden (R-Hood River) tells KBND News the idea is not a far fetched as one might think. “People scoff at these ideas when they don't understand what underlies them. And the issue here is that people feel like your voice doesn’t matter when you're in eastern Oregon because the population is in Portland and they wag the whole dog. And people get tired of that, so they look for alternatives so their voice is heard and respected.” He adds, “I’ll tell you the sentiment out in much of eastern Oregon is that they’d rather be connected to Idaho than to Portland. I understand that. Yeah, when you feel like the fix is in against you with your own government [that] you’re paying for, and nobody understands or cares about what you’re going through, there’s a huge level of frustration that is just kind of ignored by those on the west side.”
Although, Walden admits the possibility of eastern Oregon and eastern Washington counties seceding to Idaho is remote. Fifteen years ago, Rep. Greg Smith’s idea of eastern Oregon counties forming a new state received no response in the legislature.
Rep. Smith originally spoke about his idea with the East Oregonian newspaper, in September. Read more HERE.  A La Grande farmer has started a Yahoo Group to garner support for the plan. 

SALEM, OR -- Tuesday is the 316th Anniversary of the last Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami. Earthquake experts from across the region will take to Twitter, beginning at 10 a.m., to answer questions and help Oregonians prepare for the next "big one."


Ali Ryan Hansen, with the Oregon Department of Geology, says it's an opportunity to learn how bad it could be. "What they know about the science of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, to find out from emergency management experts what the best ways are to prepare." But, she admits, Oregonians are getting ready, "People know about it and they are being proactive to get ready to face a Cascadia Subduction zone earthquake."


Over the last 3500 years, there have been seven of these massive earthquakes and geologists say we need to be prepared for a 9.0 quake that will hit in the future. 


Join the conversation on Twitter using the #CascadiaEQ. 


LA PINE, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue was dispatched to an injured snowmobile rider at Paulina Lake, Sunday morning. Initial calls to 911 reported 63-year-old Debbie Baldwin had struck a tree and was unconscious. La Pine medics were unable to reach the area due to deep snow.


A six-member SAR team snowmobiled into the site and transported Baldwin back to the 10 Mile Snow Park where medics picked her up and took her to St. Charles Medical Center. The woman suffered unspecified injuries, but officials say she was wearing appropriate safety gear.


Witnesses say Baldwin was trying to execute a side hill turn, accelerated and struck a group of trees on the downhill side.

REDMOND, OR -- Crews are pushing ahead on renovations that will eventually convert Evergreen school into Redmond’s new City Hall. Mayor George Endicott tells KBND News the work is part construction, part archeological dig at the nearly 100-year-old building. "We’ve been told that somewhere in that building, one of the classes put a time capsule. My dad graduated in ’38, he knows the rumor; my aunt graduated in about ’42, she knows the rumor; several other people we’ve talked to around town that graduated in later years have heard the rumor, but we have not found it. So, it’s one of those fun little treasure hunts that’s going on as they do the work inside the building."

Workers tore down an outbuilding a couple of weeks ago, unearthing just one artifact shedding light on just a piece of the building’s past. "They found the door with all the 
signatures - People like Bob Eberhard and others," says Endicott. "So, it’s a lot of fun." The "door" is actually a brick wall signed by various classes. The school was built in 1920 as Redmond Union High School. About 50 years later it was turned into a junior high, then eventually into Evergreen Elementary.  
Endicott says work is on track for the new City Hall to open by the end of the year. 
Above photo: Mike McIntosh, "class of '81," is now Redmond Schools Superintendent.
Right: Signatures of various classes grace the brick wall uncovered last week.

BEND, OR -- An advisory committee has found some middle ground on Bend's latest proposal to expand the Urban Growth Boundary. The group is looking at adding 2,000 acres around the city for future expansion. UGB Project Manager Brian Rankin tells KBND News, the group has done a good job finding some agreement. "So, we have a really diverse committee, first of all. It's folks from different parts of town, folks that are pro expansion, folks that typically haven't been pro expansion in the past, lots of different viewpoints. The great thing about the meeting, I thought was, the committee really clicked. They had one more meeting; the City Council said go ahead and figure this out, 'help us to get more consensus from the group, see what you can all agree to and bring it back to us.' And, the group really performed well."


In 2010, the state rejected Bend's UGB plan to expand by 8,000 acres, saying it was too large. 


A meeting last week focused on the west side of Bend. "The west side kept presenting a number of difficulties, really around how much development, where that development should be on the west side," says Rankin. "We also talked about all the other parts of the city, as well, where the expansion is going to be located." He adds, "There was one committee member who didn't agree with the final result. But, it's really tough to get 100% of folks to approve anything this big and controversial. So, I think it was still a great success."


Public hearings on the UGB proposal will be held in the spring, and the city plans to formally apply to the state in June. Rankin expects to hear within a year if it is approved. 

BURNS, OR -- Harney County officials have canceled Monday night's scheduled community meeting. The weekly meetings had been held at a local school, but continued concerns over firearms at a school facility - which violated district policy - pushed this week's meeting to the Burns Senior Center.


Officials also had announced this meeting would be open only to Harney County residents, with tickets issued after proof of residency was provided. Click HERE to read about changes to the format, imposed by county officials.
County Judge Steve Grasty issued a statement Sunday, saying the meeting was canceled after community leaders learning of plans to protest the event and block the entrance to the Senior Center. Click HERE to read Judge Grasty's full statement.
No word yet, on when these weekly meetings will resume.


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