BEND, OR -- With so much of the eclipse talk focused on potential traffic problems and local gas shortages, scientists worry one health risk is getting overlooked by Central Oregonians. University of Richmond Astrophysicist Jack Singal says the proper eyewear is imperative.
Normally, we would automatically turn away from the sun or close our eyes to avoid harmful ultraviolet light. "Now, during an eclipse, the sun is going to get darker so you won’t have that automatic instinct to look away. And also, because it’s getting darker out, your eyes will dilate to let more light in. So, they’ll let in a lot of that harmful ultraviolet light," Singal tells KBND News. "So, what you need are special glasses that block the harmful ultraviolet light. And, you can buy these eclipse viewing glasses online at various websites, including NASA. Also, if you happen to have welding glass that’s rated #14, that also blocks out the harmful ultraviolet light."
A total eclipse is unusual, in and of itself. But, for an eclipse to stretch across the continental U.S. the way it will August 21, that’s even more rare. Totality stretches across more than half a dozen states, so is Central Oregon really that special? Singal says it’s not our imagination; Madras and Mitchell really are the center of the eclipse universe. "Out here on the east coast, and west of the Cascades out there, there’s a significant chance of it being cloudy. You’re in a pretty ideal area because there’s a good chance of having clear skies that time of year and that’s why so many people are converging on your area."
Singal says the sky will start to darken shortly after 9 a.m., with totality occurring in Madras at 10:19 a.m.; complete darkness will last about two minutes. Areas just outside the path of totality – like Bend – will see partial darkness, where people still need special glasses to view the sun. He says sunglasses are not enough. To hear our full conversation with Jack Singal, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
Eclipse Coverage on KBND is supported in part by Awnings Unlimited. Shade yourself from the sun with Awnings Unlimited at 5541-389-1619 and awningsunlimited.net.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) is making progress in his attempt to protect Crooked River Ranch from a wildfire. The community northwest of Terrebonne is home to about 5,500 people, and it's at high risk due to its location next to a protected wilderness area.
Congressman Walden says, "What we’re trying to do here is to move a government boundary back just a little bit, so the teams can get in and thin out excess fuels." The Crooked River Ranch Fire Protection Act would allow thinning in the area, especially of overstocked stands of juniper. He says that will "Allow active management and hopefully prevent fire from getting away should it strike in that area."
Local fire officials and first responders support the Act, which passed the House Natural Resources Committee and now moves to the full House.
SISTERS, OR -- A nearly 100-year-old fire lookout atop Black Butte is falling into disrepair, but a Sisters Ranger District Archaeologist is on a mission to save the small building. At one time, there were about 200 such structures in Oregon and Washington, but only three are left.
Matt Mawhirter says he’s not only trying to preserve the historic fire lookout, but also an important piece of Central Oregon history. "It represents the first formalized efforts for fire detection. And, it kind of is the last remaining building of a long history of lookouts on top of Black Butte." The 10'x10' D6 Cupola was built in 1922, "Black Butte has the first lookout on the Deschutes National Forest. It was built in 1910 and it was just a tree that they climbed up. Eventually that evolved into they built a platform in three trees. And then, eventually they built the D6 Cupola lookout."
Back then, fire spotters did it all, "The people who put out the fire were the same ones that found them. So, they would be up on the butte and they would see a fire; they would take a baring and they would run down the butte with their shovel and ax, maybe with one other person with them, put out the fire then have to run back up to the top of the butte to look for the next one."
Mawhirter spent a couple of years trying to get materials to the remote site; there are no roads to the building and supplies must be delivered by helicopter. He hopes to start work on the building’s base this fall, after the end of the current fire season. He's worried if the work doesn't begin soon, the building will just crumble. "It was never meant to last this long and it’s pretty abusive up there – the weather. So, right now the floor is pretty soft and pretty rotten, just from age and exposure to elements. We’re going to have to lift the building up, rebuild the entire floor frame and flooring and then put the building back down on top of that."
The work is slow and he says the Forest Service can only contribute a few thousand dollars. He's giving much of his own time and relying on skilled volunteers and the occasional donation to complete the work. But, for Mawhirter, it’s a labor of love. "We do have responsibility to maintain it and try to preserve it. But, given the difficulty, a lot of buildings like this would normally just kind of fall into disrepair and fall apart, but I like historic buildings and it’s the only one I have left on the district."
Top Photo: Black Butte Lookout in the 1980s, courtesy Matt Mawhirter
Lower Right: Black Butte Lookout July 2017, courtesy Kelly Cannon Miller, Deschutes Historical Museum
MADRAS, OR -- A Fire management team took over command of the Emerson Fire, Wednesday morning and continued pouring resources into the fire fight, including hot shot crews, water tenders, ground crews and several engines.
Madras resident Dennis Shaw says he saw others getting involved, as well. "The Hay Creek Ranch has some of the ranch hands out here with water trucks, and they’re doing a perimeter out here, also." Overall, Shaw is impressed with the response, especially along Highway 97, "There's good resources on the front line, right now. I don't think it's going to jump the road; all the fire has been put out along the road. But, the center of this fire is very hot and the junipers are now torching because it's finally gotten into the draws where the juniper thickets are." He adds, "It’s blazing real good."
When it was first spotted Tuesday afternoon, the blaze threatened several residential areas, but Shaw tells KBND News it’s now moving away from town. "It burned past the prison and it’s on its way east." As of Wednesday night, the Emerson Fire had burned 10,619 acres of private land and in the Crooked River National Grassland, and officials say investigators are looking into what caused the fire. It's 30% contained. Previous estimates placed containment at 40%
but the number was revised after an aerial assessment.
Crews also spent the afternoon chasing new starts ignited by lightning that moved through Central Oregon Wednesday afternoon and evening. Most of those were held at less than a half an acre.
MADRAS, OR -- Two fires spotted northeast of Madras Tuesday afternoon have merged into one incident, now called the Emerson Fire. As of late Wednesday morning, it's estimated at 10,600 acres and its cause is under investigation.
Fire managers say crews made good progress through the evening and now have the blaze 40% contained. A Type 3 Team took command of the incident Wednesday morning, utilizing engines, dozers, ground crews and Hot Shots, along with a water tender. Aerial units are available as needed.
The Emerson Fire is burning in a mix of grass and brush on private land and the Crooked River National Grassland. No homes are threatened at this time and Highway 97 remains open, although smoke may impact visibility.
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for "abundant lightning and gusty outflow winds," in effect through 11 p.m.
EUGENE, OR -- The family of a woman murdered a year ago is suing Central Oregon Community College. Edwin Lara is accused of killing Kaylee Sawyer in July 2016, while he worked as a security guard at the Bend campus.
The civil suit was filed Monday in federal court in Eugene by Tim Williams, a Bend attorney who specializes in personal injury and wrongful death cases. The family alleges the college fostered a culture that allowed the murder to occur.
In a written statement, COCC President Dr. Shirley Metcalf says, "This was a senseless and horrific crime. We share in our community's sense of loss over Kaylee Sawyer's death. As educators, we seek to create a better future for young people, and to see a life cut short this way is heartbreaking. We are reviewing the lawsuit details. In the meantime we offer our most sincere condolences to Kaylee's family and friends."
Lara is expected to stand trial in the criminal case in October 2018.
REDMOND, OR -- Plans are in the works for a new retail center on a three-acre parcel along North Highway 97 in Redmond. Portland Real Estate Broker Ralph Bigelow is purchasing the land along with a construction company.
Bigelow tells KBND News Oak Tree Ln will be extended to allow for the development. He wants to fill the property with shopping and dining options. Bigelow says he wants to attract businesses that aren't already in the area, "We are talking with fast food users; we are talking to a national medical-dental group that has 600 or 700 locations around the country, and then we can add a mini-strip center building of approximately 10,000 feet." He adds, "Bend has a lot of really top-notch brew pubs, and I think a really high quality brew pub would do really well up on that end of town."
The idea, he says is to create an area attractive and useful to current and future residents of nearby neighborhoods. "The same owner that we're buying the property from owns, I think, in total it's almost 10 acres; so we're buying a little over three acres and then there will be six plus acres that's zoned residential."
Construction is set to begin by the end of this year. Bigelow hopes to have the retail center open by next June.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County first responders will switch, this week, to a digital radio system, which allows law enforcement agencies to encrypt transmissions so they can’t be heard by those monitoring scanners. Deschutes County 911 Director Steve Reinke says the current analog radio system is failing and must be replaced. But, he says the decision to encrypt some transmissions came from the heads of local law enforcement agencies.
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter has been working on the transition for a couple years. He tells KBND News the upgrade will improve officer safety, "We have this new technology to be able to use the digital format for broadcasting our radios, which gives us much better penetration into buildings. A lot of people do not know this but, quite frankly, there are dead spots in Bend where police officers cannot transmit from; and this takes care of all those spots." But, tech improvements, Chief Porter says, is a double-edged sword. "When we discussed encrypting, one of the things we hear strongest from officers on the street is, there's an app, which allows anyone to turn their cell phone into an immediate scanner in real-time. Well, that adds a layer of complication to our job."
While that job can be complicated by a curious public and members of the media monitoring scanners, Porter says the biggest concern is public safety and the safety of officers responding to potentially volatile situations. "We pulled up some actual reports from this past year. One instance was we were looking for an individual who was wanted for a robbery; an individual who was a threat to the public. We'd been tipped off that he was potentially inside of a local tavern or pub. As we approached, of course the officers did what we always do: they parked two blocks away, got out, called dispatch from the radio and said, 'we're out at this location.' As they came in, the individual was gone but they heard the scanner running in the background."
Some officers changed radios Wednesday morning, but Porter says the full transition won't be complete for about a month. He says he understands there are people who like to monitor scanners, and they still can. "We're not totally cutting the public off from that. It's going to be 'live streamed' over the internet with a 30-minute delay. I've heard people say, '30 minutes is forever!' Well, those people have never shared a crime scene with me, or a search for an armed suspect. Thirty minutes is a very minimal time when you're trying to set up a perimeter; trying to figure out what the facts are; trying to figure out where the murder suspect is. It's not like we're hiding from the public."
Chief Porter says the digital transition fulfills state and federal requirements, and he points out that a number of other law enforcement agencies in Oregon already encrypt their transmissions. Most local fire and medical crews will also make the switch to digital radios in the coming months, but Porter says those will not be encrypted and therefore will be available to the public in real-time through various scanner apps.
BEND, OR -- A southwest Bend family was lucky to escape a fire that destroyed their home, early Wednesday morning. Fire crews say the house on Cedarwood Road had only one smoke alarm and it did not activate. The family of five, including a newborn, evacuated after waking to the smell of smoke just after midnight.
When firefighters arrived, the house was fully involved, and embers were spreading to trees and dry vegetation up to a quarter mile away. Forestry crews helped prevent a wildland fire while Bend firefighters extinguished the house fire. Its cause is under investigation.
The Red Cross is helping the family with a place to stay and clothing and food, since all their belongings in the house were destroyed.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s historic jobless rates may have finally hit bottom. "Unemployment went up in Deschutes County, which is the first time we’ve seen that in a very long time. It was a .4% jump, which to us is definitely a statistically significant increase so this is more than just noise in the data we’re seeing," Regional Economist Damon Runberg tells KBND News. It's the first significant jump for the county in more than eight years.
"The rate in June, seasonally adjusted, was 3.9%, and that is still very, very low. So, even though we saw a statistically significant increase, that doesn’t mean we’re back to the days of any sort of elevated unemployment rate, or anything like that. So, that’s the positive," says Runberg. "Why it jumped? We know that in June, the hiring that we saw – the seasonal hiring – was less than we would typically expect to see." Despite that, Deschutes County still added 750 jobs in June, and the county is growing at a faster pace than anywhere else in Oregon. Runberg says the lower hiring numbers could partly be because businesses are pulling help-wanted signs after finding it too difficult to fill an opening when fewer people are looking for work.
In Crook and Jefferson Counties, it’s a slightly different story. Rates remained unchanged, last month. Runberg says, "They’ve just been chugging along following the seasonal trends. Employment levels are up a little bit from this past year; unemployment rates are pretty low for them, relative to what they see historically. But, ultimately, they never saw the levels of growth Deschutes County did. And, they’re kind of on a different trajectory than Deschutes County as a whole and are kind of more representative of the average rural community in Oregon." He adds, "They’re actually seeing somewhat stronger growth compared to the average rural communities. It’s important to remember we shouldn’t be comparing Crook and Jefferson counties to Deschutes County or the Portland Metro area. We need to be comparing those rural communities to other rural communities across the state. And, if we do that, things are looking actually pretty good there." Crook Counties jobless rate remained at 5.5% in June; Jefferson County's rate held at 4.9%.
MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County Fire and Forestry crews are working two fires in the Grassland northeast of Madras. One is burning private land along Highway 97, near milepost 87. It's known as Incident 639 and was estimated at 450 acres, Tuesday afternoon. The second, known as Incident 638, quickly grew to 1,500 acres on the Crooked River National Grassland, just south of milepost 87.
Both fires were reported around 4 p.m. Tuesday and put up a lot of smoke. They are now being managed as one fire called the "Emerson Fire" and as of late Tuesday was estimated at about 5,000 acres.
Air and ground resources are battling the blazes; their causes are under investigation.
UPDATE: Dennis Whitney returned home safe Tuesday evening and the Sheriff's Office says the investigation is closed.
LA PINE, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is searching for a 74-year-old La Pine man missing since Monday. Dennis Whitney is known to frequent the Cascade Lakes area and Highway 31 east of La Pine.
He's described as a white male with grey hair, 5'11" and 175 pounds. Whitney was last seen wearing a denim shirt, black Levis, brown boots and a grey and white "boonie" type hat. He may be driving a white Toyota pickup similar to the one picture below, with Oregon license ZCQ 188. It has a white canopy and an orange ribbon sticker on the left side of the tailgate.
Anyone with information on Whitney's whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 541-693-6911.
MADRAS, OR -- The Eclipse is less than a month away, and Jefferson County is trying to think ahead. In case of serious medical emergencies, the region may need the help of extra ambulances, and St. Charles Health System has come up with a plan to provide them where they'll be needed most.
Jefferson County Administrative Officer Jeff Rasmussen says bringing in additional medics is a collaborative effort. "Our fire district and our ambulance district and St. Charles will be asking for funds to go out and get additional ambulances to be on-site mainly in Crook and Jefferson to do the transporting between hospitals." He tells KBND News the total cost of the additional resources is around $30,000. "Prineville and Crook County have already committed $5,000 each, St. Charles has committed $10,000." He believes Madras City Councilors will approve a portion at Tuesday evening's meeting, and Jefferson County Commissioners are expected to vote Wednesday morning to pitch in the remainder.
The additional ambulances will be deployed mostly throughout Jefferson and Crook counties in the days surrounding the eclipse, but Rasmussen says they'll also be available to Deschutes County. They're likely to be dispatched through the Multi-Agency Command Center set up in Redmond. "I Think they will get assigned to what they call the 'MACC,' that'll be the big EOC operation that's really getting staffed by Deschutes at the fairgrounds that will really be monitoring the tri-county area."
Eclipse Coverage on KBND is supported in part by Awnings Unlimited. Shade yourself from the sun with Awnings Unlimited at 5541-389-1619 and awningsunlimited.net.
SALEM, OR -- OSU-Cascades asked the Oregon Legislature for $69.5 million to complete the planned expansion at the Bend campus. But, during the recent Legislative session, lawmakers only agreed to send $9 million to the school, out of a $1.2 billion bond allocation for capitol improvement projects.
Senator Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) is Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. He says, despite the university's multiple visits to Salem to fight for the money, there wasn't much OSU could do to influence the outcome. "It had very little to do with OSU-Cascades. It had to do with the level of bonding for universities. From that $1.2 billion, we allocated approximately $266 million to universities; and by doing that, that precluded some of the projects from actually being funded." He tells KBND News, "People will look at the $1.2 billion in total and say, 'well, you should be able to spend more.' The 1.2 is to meet all the capitol needs the state has; it's for everything, not just for universities."
Devlin says the final allocation was based on feedback from several places. "Normally, we just get a recommendation from the Governor, which actually follows up the recommendation from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). This time, we have the recommendation from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, the Governor's recommended budget, then a separate, final recommendation from the Presidents' Council which is made up of the seven presidents of the public universities in the state." The Governor and HECC both recommended a disbursement for OSU-Cascades of $20 million.
But, he says the fight isn't over. Devlin is encouraging OSU-Cascades to try again in the next budget cycle. "OSU and OSU-Cascades can come back in '19. And, what I would recommend is that they come back for the remainder of the campus infrastructure, and come back for $10 million to complete the Student Success Center. I think you could be quite successful." He says just over $90 million of the capitol bond fund has yet to be disbursed.
BEND, OR -- A local group says Pacific Power is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act with the placement of a power transmission box. Brian Douglass is the Chief Advocate for Bend-based Advocates for Disabled Americans, Inc. He discovered the box during the group’s effort to clear sidewalks and curb ramps of winter gravel and landscaping. "There was this huge pine tree that was covering the sidewalk. So, I came over about a week ago and I started to trim this tree; and I got in to about two limbs off of it or three limbs off of it, and I suddenly looked and here was this Pacific Power and Light transmission box sitting on a concrete pad, right in the middle of the sidewalk."
He wants to know how it got there and immediately started questioning officials. Douglass tells KBND News, “The initial effort went to the City Manager to ask for the paperwork that was provided for installation of this and when was it installed? And then, to Pacific Power to ask them, ‘it’s your box, right?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Ok, well then, why is it where it is’?” He's hoping the utility will act quickly, "I’m hoping that they’ll do the right thing, which I believe – unless they can show me some other reason – is that they’re going to come out and take this box out and move it back to where it belongs and clear this sidewalk. I mean, I know it’s not going to be a lot of fun for them; they can’t have this, in my opinion. This is an obstruction." Douglass is asking Pacific Power to move the box back a few feet off the sidewalk, so it’s with other utility boxes, nearby.
Following KBND News' inquiries into the matter on Monday, Pacific Power sent a regional manager to the site. In an e-mailed statement, PacifiCorp's Tom Gauntt said they are looking into "the history of how the unit came to be where it is and what remedies are possible."
TUESDAY EVENING UPDATE: After KBND's original story aired, Bend city officials checked permitting paperwork to determine how the transmission box ended up in that location and discovered the sidewalk was built after the box was installed. Josh Romero, with the city of Bend, tells KBND News, the subdivision received permits in 2001 but sat dormant for a number of years due to the recession. "There appears to be a change on-site that strayed from the plans and there is no paper trail as to why that changed." Romero adds, "The inspector who was assigned the project has since retired, so unfortunately I cannot provide a reason for why this happened, but can tell you it was permitted correctly." He says the current practice of requiring plan modifications to be filed before work is completed has been in place since 2011. "It appears as though this incident took place before we changed our policies." Romero says he was told by Pacific Power the utility is planning to move the box to "ensure an accessible path."
TERREBONNE, OR -- An Aumsville, Oregon man was injured in a fall at Smith Rock State Park. Witnesses say the 18-year-old was hiking Misery Ridge with his family, Monday afternoon, when he lost consciousness and fell more than 100 feet.
Over a dozen members of the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue team responded to the park, just after 1 p.m. They hiked about a half mile from the trailhead and began treating the teen for non-life threatening injuries. He was wheeled down the steep trail and taken to the hospital.
The Sheriff's office says it's possible the victim experienced a form of heat exhaustion due to the warm weather, which caused him to pass out.
REDMOND, OR -- Three people were hurt in a crash that shut down a portion of Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond, Monday afternoon. According to State Police, 80-year old David Nixon of Redmond attempted to turn from Gift Road onto northbound 97, just after noon, when he pulled into the path of a southbound vehicle.
After the two cars collided, Nixon’s car crossed into the northbound lane and hit a dump truck pulling a trailer. Nixon and his passenger went to the hospital with minor injuries. The other driver, a 67-year-old Redmond woman, was taken by air ambulance with serious injuries. The Bend dump truck driver was not hurt.
BEND, OR -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold four public meetings in August to gain feedback on how to balance water availability with the needs of five aquatic species in the Deschutes Basin. Bridget Moran, USFWS Bend Field Supervisor, says there's been a lot of cooperation so far, "The eight local irrigation districts and the city of Prineville have been working with us to develop what's called a Habitat Conservation Plan so they can have reliable water availability and certainty into the future, and simultaneously be addressing the needs of our endangered species in the area."
She tells KBND News public input is important to the process to develop a plan for five threatened species, "The Oregon Spotted Frog is in the Upper Deschutes Basin between Wickiup Reservoir and essentially the whitewater park in Downtown Bend. And then the other species, the fish species and the other species, are either in the Crooked River, which drains into the Deschutes, or they're lower down in the Deschutes River." She says, "We're very excited to be moving ahead in this direction, we feel like we have a really collaborative relationship with the irrigation districts and we're working very hard to get this plan moving ahead. I feel like a lot of the Deschutes Basin stakeholders are eager to see this go forward, and we're eager to hear their input." Moran adds, "I feel the long term restoration of the Deschutes River is before us, and that's exciting."
Next month's meetings take place in Bend and Madras
Monday, August 14 in Madras at the Inn at Cross Keys Station
2:00 - 4:00 pm and 6:00 - 8:00 pm
And, Tuesday, August 15 at the Bend U.S. Forest Service office on Deschutes Market Road
2:00 - 4:00 pm and 6:00 - 8:00 pm
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville Police and the Central Oregon Major Crimes Team are investigating a Sunday evening shooting on Crestview Road that left one man injured. Police responded to the area at about 6:30 p.m., along with Crook County deputies and state troopers, following the report of a domestic altercation involving a firearm.
Officers found the man suffering from gunshot wounds. He was taken to St. Charles Prineville and later transported to the Bend hospital. Investigators have released few details but say they don’t believe there are any outstanding suspects.
MONDAY PM UPDATE: Investigators say 61-year-old Lonnie O’Daniel was shot multiple times by his 30-year-old son, William, during a domestic dispute on Crestview Road. The case remains under investigation and no one has been arrested, although authorities believe there is no outstanding danger or threat.
BEND, OR -- A 60-year-old man drowned near the First Street rapids, Sunday afternoon. Bend firefighters responded to the Deschutes River just before 4 p.m. after witnesses reported seeing a man jump from the footbridge.
Police, Fire and Search and Rescue crews unsuccessfully searched the banks of the river for half a mile. Bend Police launched a drone and eventually found the victim’s body in the water several hundred yards downstream from the bridge.
TUESDAY UPDATE: Bend Police say the victim in Sunday's drowning has been identified as 59-year-old Andrew Munster of Bend. His next of kin has been notified. In a press release officials say, "The Bend Police Department would like to thank the citizens who assisted in trying to locate and help Mr. Munster. We would also like to thank the volunteers of the Deschutes County Search & Rescue Team for their quick response."
TERREBONNE, OR -- A Terrebonne man is accused of drunk driving and hit and run after he allegedly struck a pedestrian with his car, Friday night. According to Deschutes County deputies, a teen was found lying in the road by a passing motorist near Northwest 31st and Sedgewick, at about 9:15 p.m. Investigators determined the suspect vehicle was a Subaru.
The victim was taken to the hospital with leg injuries and was later released. One witness tells KBND News the teen also appeared intoxicated and he initially refused medical treatment.
Later that night, 66-year-old Butler Gander called from his Terrebonne home to report he might have hit a pedestrian on Northwest 31st. He drives a Subaru. Gander was arrested for DUII and Failing to Perform the Duties of a Driver.
LA PINE, OR -- Oregon State police seized more than five pounds of cocaine during a traffic stop south of La Pine. A Trooper stopped a northbound Porsche on Highway 97, last week. During the stop, the trooper became suspicious the 58-year-old driver might be involved in criminal activity.
Sanchez Alcaraz, of Mattawa, WA, consented to a search of his vehicle, which revealed the drugs. The cocaine seized is valued at over $67,000. Alcaraz was taken to the Deschutes County Jail for possession and delivery of cocaine.
REDMOND, OR -- With exactly one month to go until the eclipse, Central Oregon cities are planning for every possibility. Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky expects an equal number of visitors will come into town Thursday, Friday and Saturday prior to the eclipse. "We’ve heard numbers as high as potentially 50,000 people in Redmond that weekend, particularly if they can’t get to Madras because of traffic. So, we’re trying to be as prepared as possible."
Witcosky tells KBND News part of that preparedness effort involves making sure the police department is fully staffed, "We know there’s going to be major demands on public safety; as well as traffic management, so Public Works will be working with more people and extra hours during that time period. We’re going to have extra fuel just for our police cars and our Public Works trucks; bring in an extra thousand gallons out at the public works yard to make sure that we’ve got the ability to respond to things."
The Redmond Patriots will host an eclipse preparedness discussion next week. Panelists include county emergency managers, Redmond’s Mayor, Madras’ eclipse coordinator and a scientist. That free event begins at 6:30 Monday evening at Highland Baptist Church.
Eclipse Coverage on KBND is supported in part by Awnings Unlimited. Shade yourself from the sun with Awnings Unlimited at 5541-389-1619 and awningsunlimited.net.
LA PINE, OR -- The Oregon Department of Transportation says work on the Highway 97 Wickiup Overcrossing north of La Pine will remain at a stand-still until more studies can be done on the land surrounding the structure. The project was suspended in May after crews noticed land was sinking under the weight of the new bridge.
ODOT is bringing in a geotechnical group, including the Federal Highway Administration, to gather subsurface data and perform additional testing. That analysis is expected to continue through September. The agency says work will not resume until the investigation is complete.
The $17 million project is designed to take highway traffic over the railroad tracks and improve safety on Highway 97 in South County.
BEND, OR -- With more people moving to Bend each day, the pressure is on to create more housing. But new developments typically lead to more traffic congestion. Bend City Manager Eric King says that’s taken into consideration before construction begins, "There’s traffic modeling that has to be completed before a new development is approved. And we look at intersections, and if they are failing, we then require mitigation. So, the developer might have to make improvements or add a right turn lane, those types of things."
The city collects System Development Charges from developers, as well, to pay for additional infrastructure, but King says there can be a lag in upgrading things like local roads. "The infrastructure doesn’t always come before, so there are some legitimate concerns around traffic pinch-points."
A large apartment complex currently under construction on Empire Avenue, just west of NE 18th Street (pictured above) is leading some to question what's being done to improve traffic flows in an already congested area. King says there are no plans to widen Empire between 18th and Boyd Acres, but they are working on changes just up the street, "To provide improvements to that area, both the intersection at Third and Empire [and] the ramps leading on to 97, so there’s a project in the works and the city is looking to partner with ODOT to get that done." According to the Oregon Department of Transportation Highway 97 and Empire is one of the busiest intersections in the city.
According to King, the city is only allowed to ask a developer to mitigate traffic problems in the immediate area surrounding a project. "That’s the challenge with transportation: there’s things you can extract out of that development. But, by law it only goes so far, and there’s sort of ‘background traffic’ that needs to be addressed and we have to get creative with our funding for that." However, he points out the city is trying to address concerns, "Namely extending Empire and improving the ramps along 97." And, he says more is coming, "We’ve just, as part of the Transportation Package, received $50 million earmarked towards Cooley and 97; we’re focused on extending Murphy up and over the railroad to provide another crossing on the south side of town, to ease some of the traffic that folks experience on Reed Market."
To hear our full conversation with City Manager Eric King, click HERE
or visit our Podcast Page
CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- the Prineville Bureau of Land Management plans to work with Deschutes County to create a new emergency access road for Crooked River Ranch. The one-mile paved road is expected to cross BLM land near Terrebonne, connecting NW Quail Road to Lower Bridge Road.
The decision will provide another public access route for the Crooked River Ranch residential area, as well as a second exit in case of emergency or wildfire. The new road is not expected to affect any existing recreational uses around Lower Bridge Road, but there will be changes in the types of travel allowed on some other routes in the area.
No official word yet on when construction will begin, but county officials hope to start the project later this year.
BEND, OR -- On Day three of the Cascade Cycling Classic, the bicycle race makes its way around Cascade Lakes Highway, Friday, and organizers now say the women’s prize purse will be the same as the men’s, following public outcry over the disparity.
In a statement released Thursday, race organizers say there was a limited amount of money set aside for winners and due to minimum payout regulations they were initially unable to split the money equally. "The men's and the women's minimum are two different numbers," says MBSEF Executive Director John Schiemer. "We had actually increased the women's over the minimum but only to what we could do at the time." According to organizers, they started working on the issue three weeks ago, but didn't finalize details until Thursday. Controversy hit social media, earlier this week, after tech guides
The women’s prize increased through help from title sponsor Regence BlueCross Blue Shield of Oregon, the Nicole Reinhart fund, MBSEF and private donations made through a GoFundMe page.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville Police are looking for a driver who reportedly hit a 17-year-old bicyclist then fled the scene, Tuesday night. The teen says he was biking through the intersection at Third and Main, on a green light, at about 7:30 p.m., when a car struck him from behind, knocking him to the pavement. No one stopped to help the rider, and he reported the crash as soon as he returned home.
The bike was damaged and the teen was treated at the hospital for a concussion and minor skin injuries. Officers are looking for a blue Geo Tracker-type vehicle with a black hard top, similar to the above photo. Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Rob Gray at Prineville Police, 541-447-4168.
SUNRIVER, OR -- Cultus Lake Campground reopens Friday after crews removed 500 dead and diseased trees from the area. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest acknowledges the decision to close the popular site early in the season was difficult, but says it was necessary. She tells KBND News, "They were hazard trees. A lot of them were very pulpy on the inside; they only had a little bit of bark around them and could easily fall on visitors or visitors' vehicles, and it created a real public safety risk. We were very happy that we were able to get those trees down and we can reopen the campground and it will be safe for everyone."
Congressman Greg Walden Criticizes Forest Service For Closing Popular Recreation Area.
The day-use and boat launch areas opened a week ago, "So this is kind of the final piece of being able to open up the campground and have the whole area be open to the public," says Nelson Dean. "People can be in there with their families and get back to enjoying a very popular campground at this time of year." She adds, "We know it was a difficult situation. We know it's hard for people to understand when they've made plans to go into an area. But, we really appreciate the public's patience with us and we're very pleased with the results, that we have a nice, safe campground for everyone to be in."
Reservations can be made at the Forest Service website; click HERE for details. However, campsites this weekend will only be available on a first come, first serve basis, beginning 8 a.m. Friday.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Crook County nonprofit hopes to open a homeless shelter on the outskirts of Prineville, but it's facing some opposition from neighbors. The city's previous men's shelter was forced to close to make room for construction of the new jail.
Former Crook County Commissioner Ken Fahlgren now works with the Crook County Public Safety Coordinating Council, which is helping in the effort. He tells KBND News, "The same group that runs the women’s shelter and did run the men’s shelter when it was open is the Redemption House Ministries. We’re working to locate this property on the Madras Highway, and it’s very close to town, and it’s in a commercial zone. I’ve found a modular unit that would be placed on that property and it would have showers and bathrooms enough to accommodate 16 men." The previous shelter could serve about 12 men.
Fahlgren says about half a dozen people testified against the project at this week's Planning Committee meeting. He believes many don’t understand the need in Prineville and don't realize the men would be required to follow a strict program. "There’s a curfew; the men would go into the facility, they would have a curfew where if they leave they don’t get to come back – a lot of rules around them. And it’s a safe place for them to get physically clean, with showers and food available for them; and for us to help them with other systems that we already are paying for, with all different community services [and] mental health programs. It helps them also possibly get a job," he says, "By being able to have our mental health program working with them, our alcohol and drug teams, to have just Mid-Oregon Personnel there, to be able to help them with job placement. Transportation is available in this location. There’s a lot of things or assets that we already pay for that we need to utilize that when we do, it makes a difference and it’s safety for the community." According to Fahlgren without a shelter, many of those struggling with homelessness, and those released from the jail without a place to stay, have nowhere to go. He says this facility provides transitional housing, not a long-term residence for those men.
Despite the opposition, the Planning Committee gave tentative approval to a conditional use permit and Fahlgren expects they will give final approval August first. Fahlgren is hopeful the shelter will be open by October, before cold weather returns.
REDMOND, OR -- Work is underway on a $450,000 project expected to improve safety at one of the Redmond's most dangerous intersections. Several deadly crashes have occurred on Highway 126 at SW 35th, at the western edge of Redmond, in recent years.
City Manager Keith Witcosky says many of those involve vehicles stopped on the highway, waiting to make a left turn. He says they've made some changes in recent months, "We’ve tried to do some interim measures, such as putting flashing lights, trying to determine where you put a speed sign so people aren’t just jetting off west toward Sisters when they see the mountains, and conversely not slowing down when they enter a residential area. So, we’ve got left turn lanes that’ll be at that intersection." Click HERE to read more about the work.
Witcosky acknowledges widening the road and adding turn lanes won't prevent every crash, but he believes they’re a step in the right direction. "A lot of the accidents are caused by people being either rear-ended or trying to cut around cars that are taking a left. So, the dedicated turn lanes will help a little bit. It doesn’t help the folks that are trying to cross 35th to the north or the south. So, we’re monitoring the growth in the neighborhoods – the Obsidian Trails and the Obsidian development." If those nearby housing developments substantially increase traffic volumes on the highway, Witcosky says the Oregon Department of Transportation could agree to putting in a signal at 35th. "We have to work in concert with ODOT on determining things like when a traffic signal is appropriate. And, unfortunately right now, the metrics in terms of traffic don’t justify it. But, we’re hoping that the left turn lanes that’ll be in place by October will make it a bit safer and then we’ll keep working towards a signalized intersection."
Work on the left turn lanes is expected to be completed by October. Click HERE
to listen to our full conversation with Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky, or visit our Podcast Page.
BEND, OR -- A gas leak in northwest Bend shut down several streets for three hours, Wednesday. Just before 10 a.m., Bend Fire responded to the alley between Elgin and Fresno, near Northwest 14th and found a 2" high-pressure natural gas line broken by construction equipment.
Crews closed two blocks, checked houses for gas build-up and told residents to shelter in place with the windows closed.
Power was cut to the area as a precaution. Streets reopened after Cascade Natural Gas performed repairs.
BEND, OR -- The bulk of Bend's workforce makes between $40,000 and $90,000 a year - people like nurses, firefighters, and teachers. But, high land costs make it difficult for them to find housing.
Bend 2030 Executive Director Erin Foote Morgan says the Bend Collaborative Housing Workgroup has spent about 500 hours over the past year trying to come up with tangible solutions for the city's mid-range housing problem. "This workgroup is a pretty innovation concept in Bend where we're putting together people who might not always talk to each other about their shared solutions. But, within this group, they're able to sort of take off any ideological hats and sort of get down to 'how do we move the needle and start actually solving the problem?'" In addition to Bend 2030, other members of the group are from the Central Oregon Builders Association, Central Oregon Association of Realtors, and the city of Bend.
They'll present their findings in detail to the Bend City Council Wednesday evening. Foote Morgan says sustainability, home ownership, livability and attainable housing were their main focus. "It's a pretty unique project that brings together folks from all across the political spectrum, and a bunch of different interest groups, to answer the question: 'What do we all agree on as policy solutions for spurring more middle market housing in Bend?' [and] 'What's the Sweet spot of where all of our interests align and we could actually make a difference?' This report is the 12 recommendations that the group put together." She tells KBND News, "It's actually pretty challenging for developers to meet the demand for middle-market housing because of the barriers for them to actually build it; because of the land cost, and there are a lot of things in the code that actually prevent people from being able to build small multi-family units on their property. So, how do we remove barriers in the code to allow for more middle-market housing development?" Foote Morgan says one idea the group came up with would be to redefine setbacks and change the current lot coverage of 40% to 60%, which would pave the way for more tri- and four-plexes in Bend.
SALEM, OR -- About 30 city, county, state and tribal agencies and organizations from across the state took part in a special training at the Oregon Office of Emergency Management in Salem on Tuesday, to learn how to best get necessary information out to the media and the public in the days surrounding the August 21 eclipse. Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Manager Nathan Garibay was one of the facilitators at the event, helping other Public Information Officers (PIOs) prepare for what's to come.
Sgt. Garibay tells KBND News, "We’re planning that there will be a statewide information center that will be working with several sub-geographical Joint Information Centers (JIC). So, those geographical regions in the state would be Central Coast, Central Willamette Valley, Central Oregon and then Eastern Oregon." The local JIC will be set up the week before the eclipse at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond, alongside a temporary multi-agency coordination center.
He admits that many of the communities within the path of totality are not used to the media attention they're now receiving, which adds to the need for disseminating information quickly and accurately. "I think the biggest challenge, particularly for rural areas, is just the depth and limited number of staff that can support all the different needs associated with managing a large incident. Fortunately, a lot of these communities are really experienced with wildland fires. A lot of those skills that these communities deal with every summer with wildland fire [are] transferable to the eclipse event," says Garibay. "Also, just the fact that an event like the eclipse could bring multiple small events that kind of cascade into very complex environments where you have a lot information needs that we need to get out to the community, and sometimes those could be conflicting messages - we want to make sure we get the right message out."
Tuesday's training was a chance for PIOs and others to practice various scenarios that might arise with hundreds of thousands of visitors. Garibay says they're ready. "I would put the Central and Eastern Oregon communities up against any community. I think they have a really good understanding of what their community needs and capabilities are. They’re really good at communicating with their local communities all the time. And, I think that if we just continue to do what we do well, we’ll fair just fine."
Eclipse Coverage on KBND is supported in part by Awnings Unlimited. Shade yourself from the sun with Awnings Unlimited at 5541-389-1619 and awningsunlimited.net.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County families have racked up about $27,000 in school lunch debt, and the district says something must be done to recoup those costs. District Finance Director Anna Logan says it's not the kids' fault, and those owing money will still be provided meals. "The federal rules are clear on this that if students are not eligible for free or reduced pricing, those meal charges are the responsibility of the families and not the school district."
Logan tells KBND News, "We have a process in which students, if they don't have a prepaid balance on their account, we don't take the meal away from them. We try not to shame them. So, what ends up happening, over the last three or so years, is the meal charges have just continued to increase dramatically." She adds, "Any organization that serves their customers regardless of their ability to pay is going to have this situation. So, you just have to figure out ways of doing the best you can within that situation and trying to determine what's the priority and not doing anything that's extreme on either side. There's nothing simple about this." Three-quarters of the students owe less than $100. But, Logan says accounts over $200 could be sent to collections if parents don't make payment arrangements.
She says the district is trying to make it easy for busy parents to take care of their child's meal account, "We also did implement an online system that makes it much easier for parents to see what's going on with their students' accounts. They can see individual meals that are charged, they can see the balances at any point, and they can even set up their own thresholds for e-mail reminders. So, if you want to know when your student's balance gets below $5, for example, you can set that at $5 and you'll get an e-mail. So, it's super easy." She's hopeful families will take care of their debt prior to the start of school in September.
BEND, OR -- Demolition at the Bethlehem Inn begins this week. The homeless shelter will tear down its original building that housed the dining room and service hub to allow for construction of the new 18-thousand square-foot family residence and service hub.
Read more about the expansion project.
An ongoing capital campaign has raised over $5 million of the $5.3 million needed for the project. Construction is expected to be completed by mid-2018 and will mean the Bend shelter can house up to 10 families at a time, instead of the current five.
BEND, OR -- Additional campfire restrictions will be imposed beginning Friday on public lands managed by the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest, Prineville BLM and the Crooked River National Grassland. The tighter restrictions are in response to continued hot and dry conditions and an increasing number of human-caused fires in Central Oregon.
Open fires, including charcoal briquette fires and portable campfires will be prohibited outside certain designated campgrounds. Click HERE
for more information and a complete list of campgrounds where fires are allowed in designated areas. Federal land managers are also raising the Industrial Fire Precaution Level
to level III.
CULVER, OR -- The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has updated the health advisory for Lake Billy Chinook, in Jefferson County. Blue-Green algae and high toxin levels prompted warnings on June 30. The OHA has lifted the advisory for the Deschutes and Crooked River arms of the lake. However, the advisory remains on the Metolius arm to Perry South Cove.
Authorities recommend people remain cautious when using the lake, particularly with pets. People and animals should avoid waterways that are foamy, scummy, thick like paint, pea-green, blue-green or brownish red, or if a thick mat of blue-green algae is visible on the water. Click HERE
to access the latest statewide algae bloom advisories.
REDMOND, OR -- The Oregon Government Ethics Commission has determined a Redmond City Councilor attempted to use her position as a public official to influence changes to a building permit the city had issued for a neighboring house similar to her own. Kevin Fitzpatrick, owner of Alder Creek Homes, was at Friday’s Commission meeting and says the group voted unanimously in his favor. "They accepted my complaint, investigated it and found there to be enough evidence that they ruled on the two: conflict of interest and using her office for financial gain."
Fitzpatrick’s complaint stems from a number of e-mails exchanged in 2015 between Graham and the head of the Community Development Department showing the Councilor was upset over Fitzpatrick’s plans for a neighboring lot. She believed its similarity to her home violated building codes and claimed the house would reduce the value of her own property. City policy dictates that Councilors address concerns with the City Manager instead of going directly to staff. Fitzpatrick tells KBND News, "She didn’t do what she was supposed to do, otherwise it probably would’ve been handled differently if the City Manager was involved at the meeting. She just went around it and basically the city made me do things that really I didn’t have to do." He claims her actions led to city staff reconsidering his building permit, forcing him to redesign the plan before construction could resume. He says that cost him an additional $3,000 in unnecessary work.
Fitzpatrick tells KBND News he feels vindicated by the Ethics Commission's decision, "They didn’t really find any holes in my complaint, and I just kept it to the facts that I had. So, I feel good that I followed through with it and that they investigated it and I was correct in what I thought." Fitzpatrick adds, "She has an appeal right or, from what I’ve read, they can negotiate a settlement and then at an upcoming Commission meeting, they’ll vote on a final order." That final order could include fines.
Councilor Anne Graham continues to deny the allegations. She says the investigation failed to prove she used her office to benefit her own finances. "It takes three things to be found: you need to be found that you used your office, which I disputed; you need to be found that your motive was money, which I dispute; and most significantly, the third thing is that the monetary motive needs to only be available to you as a Councilor. I tried to make that point in the meeting; it was not taken up." She contends she followed the same process available to any private citizen; a point disputed by the Commission's investigation:
"She attempted to avoid a personal financial detriment in a way that would not appear to be available to her if not for being a public official. Specifically, it is clear that Ms. Graham was attempting to avoid financial detriment by her own admission that she believed Mr. Fitzpatrick's 2015 construction would hurt the value of her home if permitted.
Furthermore, in 2015, although Ms. Graham used a private email address to communicate with City staff regarding the incident in question, she also mentioned her position as a City Councilor and pointed out that she was a former member of the Planning Commission in these emails. City staff were already well aware of Ms. Graham's position as a City Councilor."
Graham intends to appeal the decision. She tells KBND News, "I did not ever say anything like ‘I’m a Councilor, you have to do this for me.’ That’s not true. There were peripheral references to my office one place, where I concluded the private citizen complaint I was making, and then I said, ‘with my Councilor hat on,’ I said, ‘there’s a process problem, here.’" She also questions the timing of the original complaint, which came in the midst of her 2016 run for Mayor
. "I’ve never had any antagonistic viewing toward Kevin; he builds great houses. I don’t know why he thinks I’m the guilty party, here. The city did not apply code properly. I pointed it out once and all of a sudden I’m being punished."
Fitzpatrick says he didn't pursue the complaint until after a second permit was denied in the same neighborhood, "I was on track for a permit. August 11, I got a call; I had a meeting August 15, and then I went to the [City Council] meeting on 9/13. I had no knowledge that she was running for Mayor at that time." He says he only went to the Government Ethics Commission when he wasn't satisfied with Graham's response at that September 13 Council meeting. The Commission dismissed claims that Graham interfered with the second permit in 2016.
Redmond Mayor George Endicott says the decision by the Ethics Commission does not impact Graham's standing as a Councilor.
BEND, OR -- Bend's first Innovation Day takes place at OSU-Cascades, Tuesday. It's a chance for entrepreneurs with ideas for improving our lifestyle and culture to meet with business owners and mentors. The event is sponsored by Opportunity Knocks, the Bend Chamber, and Technology Association of Oregon, among others.
Preston Callicott, CEO of Five Talent Software, is also involved. He says advanced innovation will be even more necessary as the city grows, and he wants locals to be on the cutting edge of keeping the area current. "Bend's going to need a lot of this innovation around roads, and housing, and transportation. These are real-world issues, and so it's just trying to instill this idea that ideation, creativity, has a major part to play in our lives and in solving whatever issues are in front of us."
He tells KBND News, "The rest of the world sees us as highly innovative and entrepreneurial; we're on the top lists of virtually every report that seems to come out now. But, there's a feeling that a good part of our population doesn't know that aspect of Bend. This Central Oregon focused 'Innovation Day,' if it plays out the way everyone feels it's going to play out, this could be a defining moment for Bend to really own the landscape of group innovation, group dialog about innovation, on a big scale."
Callicott says the event will be set up in a speed-dating format, allowing attendees to approach any mentor's table and learn strategies for how to proceed with their own ideas. "Imagine a chance to have 15 focus groups that you attend around innovation, and you get to participate in this discussion - this dialog - about it, and have take-aways from it. And then, no one lecturing; just a chance to meet with a whole bunch of people that are going to talk about things that will have an impact. Out of the 15, someone walking away without an 'aha' moment would shock me." Mentoring with area business heads, lunch, and a cocktail hour are included in the $75 dollar registration fee.
BEND, OR -- Local anti-Human trafficking advocates worry next month’s eclipse will lead to a rise in trafficking cases in Central Oregon. "Any time there is a large gathering – first of all, the percentage of human trafficking is increased due to the increased population. But, in addition to that, large gatherings that have a party atmosphere tend to increase human trafficking," says Nita Belles, with the Bend-based nonprofit In Our Backyard. She's concerned the massive influx of people expected in the High Desert for the eclipse will drive up the demand for commercial sex and allow traffickers to blend in with the crowd.
Belles has seen similar issues at big events like the Superbowl, but this could be different. "Central Oregon has been kind of dubbed in the trafficking world as a ‘sweet spot’ for recruiting because we don’t believe it happens here, so victims are not on guard." And, unlike the Superbowl, which occurs in one city and attracts additional law enforcement and human trafficking task force workers, "This is an event that everyone in Oregon is dealing with, so we’re not getting extra personnel come in for this." That means it’s even more important for the general public to be watching for suspicious activity. "One of the things that happens after Superbowl every year, is that people become better at understanding human trafficking and reporting. And, we’re hoping that’s what will happen as a result of the eclipse."
In Our Backyard will host a panel discussion Monday evening with law enforcement and victims’ service providers to talk about the risk during eclipse week. The free forum starts at 6:30 p.m. at St. Charles Bend (2500 NE Neff Rd. Conference Room C). Click HERE
for more information.
Eclipse Coverage on KBND is supported in part by Awnings Unlimited. Shade yourself from the sun with Awnings Unlimited at 5541-389-1619 and awningsunlimited.net.
SISTERS, OR -- A 72-year-old Eugene man was seriously injured when he was thrown from a horse while riding on the Pacific Crest Trail, Sunday morning. Two members of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team were hiking in the area and helped Linn County’s SAR team.
They say Melvin Van Cleve was riding with a group when his horse was spooked on the trail, causing him to fall. While wheeling Van Cleve down the trail, Responding teams realized his injuries were potentially life threatening and a helicopter was dispatched to a landing zone set up across Highway 20. He was flown to St. Charles Bend for treatment.
SALEM, OR -- At least two Central Oregon hotels are among more than a dozen facing fines from Oregon’s Department of Justice, due to alleged violations of the state’s Unlawful Trade Practice Act. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sent letters to hotels that canceled reservations made for the August 21st eclipse. In some cases rates doubled or tripled after reservations were made.
Hotels - including the Madras Motel 6 and the Stafford Inn, in Prineville - must reinstate the originally booked room at the originally promised rate or provide $500 to each impacted customer. They were also fined $100 per violation. The Stafford Inn is accused of 24 consumer violations and the Madras Motel 6 had 13. In the letter, Rosenblum said failing to anticipate the demand associated with the eclipse was not a defense for violating the law.
She also urges those who have reservations within 90-miles of the eclipse path confirm those reservations, immediately.
Hotels were issued warnings similar to this version sent to the Madras Motel 6:
We have reviewed the documentation you provided to the Oregon Department of Justice. The Oregon Unlawful Trade Practice Act (UTPA) prohibits a business from making unlawful, false or misleading representations concerning the offering price of or a person’s cost for services. Booking a reservation for a consumer at a certain rate, followed by the hotel either cancelling or increasing that reservation rate may constitute a deceptive practice under the UTPA. Engaging in deceptive practices can result in court issued penalties up to $25,000 per transaction, plus attorney fees and investigative costs.
We understand that standard business practices for hotels involve setting rates in the fall for the next year. Failure to anticipate the 2017 Solar Eclipse (and the ensuing popularity of certain hotels during this time frame) before consumers started booking reservations is not be a defense to a violation of the UTPA. Moreover, your hotel is responsible for providing any third party (such as booking.com and hotels.com) with accurate rates. If your hotel did not anticipate the demand for this event before advertising its rates, the hotel must honor that advertised rate.
The UTPA authorizes the Attorney General to commence legal action to enjoin fraudulent, deceptive, or illegal business practices, and to obtain restitution, penalties and other relief. The Oregon Department of Justice reserves the right to proceed with an enforcement action against your hotel if you fail to correct these issues with consumers. Specifically, Motel 6 must commit to:
1. Relief for Consumers. Motel 6 has provided documentation that shows that 13 consumers reserved a room for a certain price and then were informed that that price would not be honored. Motel 6 must provide each consumer who reserved a room with your hotel for the 2017 Solar Eclipse with either (a) their originally booked room for the originally booked price; or (b) if that is not possible, Motel 6 must send each consumer a payment of $500 via certified funds sent directly to the consumer within 30 days of the date of this letter.
2. Payment to the State of Oregon. The UTPA provides for penalties up to $25,000 per a transaction, plus attorney fees and investigative costs. Notwithstanding, Motel 6 must make a payment to the state of $1,300 ($100 per a violation) via certified funds made out to the State of Oregon and sent to Karen Rounsville at the Oregon Department of Justice, Civil Enforcement, 1162 Court Street NE, Salem, Oregon 97301. This payment is due within 30 days.
3. Honor Future Reservations. Going forward, Motel 6 must obey Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act and all rules adopted pursuant to the UTPA. Effective immediately, Motel 6 must honor all advertised prices, whether advertised by Motel 6 directly or through a third party on behalf of Motel 6.
The expectations outlined herein are not unreasonable in the present circumstances, and we hope that Motel 6 will consider an approach that has the potential to benefit all concerned. Please contact me via email at Ariel.J.Dreher@doj.state.or.us by June 30, 2017 and inform me whether Motel 6 will commit to the expectations set out in this letter. Failure to agree to these terms informally may result in further enforcement actions.
Ariel J. Dreher
Assistant Attorney General
Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section
JOHN DAY, OR -- The Rainbow Family Gathering in Grant county ended more than a week ago, but some members - and problems - remain. Malheur National Forest Deputy Supervisor Ryan Nehl says there were more than 13,000 people at the event, during its peak. "I can say that 911 dispatch has been very active since the family has arrived. Grant County is about 7,200 citizens; add 13,000 to that and you’re going to have the problems that come with that influx of people."
The loosely organized group’s website
says they support “community-building, non-violence and alternative lifestyles.” But, Nehl says not all at the event lived up to that description. "Not every one of them is peaceful, peace loving. There is a lot of antagonism in the group, from the way they treat Forest Service personnel, specifically law enforcement officers. They were outright rude and harassing law enforcement during the event. As far as the trash, there is quite a bit of trash generated at the event; there are loose dogs still running around."
Nehl tells KBND News, "Damage that they’re doing in that small of a space; it really has a big impact. I’ve seen it from the air. From a helicopter you can see bare dirt in a lot of areas that were nice green meadows. They’ve worn paths through there. Just the amount of human waste on the site is a concern to us, and certainly the potential for groundwater contamination is of grave concern." Now, with just a few hundred people left, the clean-up effort is underway. "What we developed were criteria for rehabilitation and repairing the site to its original condition. Some volunteers from Rainbow Family started that, but they haven’t been very successful with achieving the guidelines for repair and rehabilitation."
The Rainbow Family holds its annual gathering in a different National Forest, each year. In 1997, they met in the Ochocos, outside of Prineville.
MEDFORD, OR -- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited Oregon over the weekend to gather information for his review of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. President Trump ordered the review of all National Monuments created since 1996. The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was created by President Clinton in 2000, and enlarged by President Obama last year. It now covers nearly 135,000 acres.
Secretary Zinke was given a hiking tour by BLM officials. He also met with Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou Monument, the timber industry, ranchers and snowmobilers. He said he wants to hear from all sides before making any recommendation. His meetings also included Governor Kate Brown, the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council, Klamath Tribes and Jackson County Commissioners.
Earlier in the week, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum threatened a lawsuit if the Trump Administration attempts to change the monument. She says the Antiquities Act gives the President the authority to declare a monument, but not change or revoke it. She says extensive public input was received before the monument was declared and concerns by opponents led to 14,000 acres being cut from the original plan. President Obama expanded the monument in his final days in office. Two timber companies sued to block that expansion. Those suits are on hold until the Trump Administration review is complete.
BEND, OR -- State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) is pleased with the outcome of a state ethics investigation into payments he received from medical device companies but failed to disclose on elections filings. Dr. Buehler failed to file paperwork for the $96,000 in payments his company received from the Stryker Corporation, which makes hip and knee replacement devices. The company also has a contract with the state Department of Corrections.
Rep. Buehler released a statement Friday saying he’s pleased with the Ethics Commission’s decision to issue a "letter of education" regarding the allegations:
"I am pleased that the ethics commission carefully reviewed these politically motivated claims and dismissed two and declined to issue fines or penalties for the third. This is the appropriate response to an inadvertent paperwork filing error on my part that I have now fixed. I might also point out that this is the same remedy recently issued by the commission to two senior members of the Governor's staff."
REDMOND, OR -- The Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center is still dealing with the repercussions from last winter's massive snowfall. Director Dan Despotopulos says nearly every building suffered roof damage, although the Bank of the Cascades Event Center was hardest hit. "When all of the heavy load of snow came from the top down to the bottom, it took some of the HVAC, the exhaust fans down with it and left a couple of big holes over the restroom areas. A lot of this happened just before one of the biggest events of the year that we have, which is the Oregon Wrestling Classic around Martin Luther King holiday weekend. Right about that same time, just a few days before, the roof in Bend at the Kenwood School gym collapsed, so there was a lot of concern so we had the building inspectors come out and, you know, everything was cleared." Holes have been temporarily patched.
The 2017 Deschutes County Fair is set to kick off in less than three weeks, but Despotopulos tells KBND News, "The building is in very good shape, structurally; it's more than sound. We've had building inspectors and structural engineers out. There's no problem, whatsoever. It's just esthetically - there's some ceiling tiles that, because of the dampness, that we have to replace - and some drywall; common sense would tell you if you pour a bucket of water over some drywall, it's going to create some problems."
He met with County Commissioners Thursday to discuss the needed repairs. "One day next week, we'll be able to make the decision how we're going to proceed forward, because we would like see that obviously fixed before next winter. Hopefully we don't have a winter like we just did, but you never know. But, it's not going to effect the fair. The general public won't even realize, you know, unless of course it rains; it could start dripping in there." He estimates damages to all of the buildings are in the half million dollar range. The county has insurance, but Despotopulos says it's still unclear how much they will cover.
BEND, OR -- Local sled dog racer Rachael Scdoris-Salerno has reportedly dropped her bid to run for Congress against Greg Walden. KGW-TV reports she sent a short e-mail saying she doesn’t have the energy or resources to pursue a campaign. However two other Democratic candidates have officially filed to run for the District Tow House seat in 2018.
Water systems expert Jamie McLeod-Skinner, of Terrebonne, says she launched her campaign last week to have as much time as possible to reach voters. "It’s arguably early, but it’s a very large district. And so I’ve been out and about all over the district, from north, south, east and west." And, she says she's hearing that Congressman Walden is vulnerable. "Walden has lost touch with his district. And also because the Democratic party will have a couple folks with different perspectives with different things to offer. I can tell you, my philosophy is: Government needs to know when to help out and when to get out of the way." She grew up in Southern Oregon and says her family has deep roots in District Two. McLeod-Skinner tells KBND News, "The three biggest things I’ve heard that people are concerned about are jobs, healthcare and the environment. And, what I really think we need to focus on is, of course, protecting healthcare, but also creating good paying jobs in renewable energy."
Her Democratic opponent, retired attorney Jim Crary, of Ashland, is also trying to take advantage of the lead-time. He ran unopposed in the 2016 Democratic Primary
but lost to Walden in November by a wide margin. He's trying to build on that name recognition, this time around. "I am getting out and talking to as many people, answering their questions, letting them see who I am, let them put a name and a face together; so, there is a huge advantage."
Walden hasn’t had a competitive Democratic opponent in a number of election cycles, but Crary says 2018 will be different. "Look at what the Republicans are trying to do to healthcare. It’s like the House and the Senate have a contest to see who can screw it up the most." He launched his campaign in January and says he's spent months traveling to all corners of the district. "I have had so many people come up to me and say ‘I have never been involved in politics but I am involved now.’ It is such a changed environment from when I ran in 2016."
Several other people are rumored to be considering a run, including Ashland doctor Julian Bell and Chris VanDyke, of Bend.
BEND, OR -- Oregon State Legislators are back in their home districts, this week. They managed to pass a budget before adjourning the session, but Bend Republican State Senator Tim Knopp believes most Oregonians don't like how it was done. "Unfortunately, it involved raising some taxes, which I think were not necessary. But generally, I think there were some key things that happened that I think were bipartisan in nature, and were ultimately, the highlights of the session."
Lawmakers approved an "Equal Pay for Equal Work" bill that gained bipartisan support, and Knopp says, "It's one of the most comprehensive in the country. And we want to make sure that we are, as a state, setting policies that provide equity." But, he believes more could've been done in the session. "I wish we'd been able to do PERS reform and structural spending reform, but the Democrats are not willing to take on the unions in any substantial way at this point. The unfortunate part of it is that we're running substantial deficits into the future. I think these were the lost opportunities of the session and I hope the public doesn't have to pay dearly for that mistake."
Knopp says this session proved that Democrats and Republicans can work together to accomplish things for Oregon. The next session gets underway in Salem in February.
LA PINE, OR -- The Cultus Lake boat ramp and day use area reopens at noon Friday. It was closed last month, along with the campground, because of several hundred hazardous trees.
The campground remains closed, but the boat ramp allows campers to access boat-in camp sites. Tree removal continues near the campground and visitors are warned to stay away from areas with heavy equipment. Cultus Lake Lodge remains open.
Following the closure, Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) called on Deschutes National Forest Supervisor John Allen to provide answers. Walden released a statement Thursday, after learning the boat ramp would reopen:
“After expressing my deep frustration with the initial closure of Cultus Lake, I was pleased to see the Forest Service went into high gear to find a better way forward. While no one disputed the need to protect campers from harm, shutting down the campground for the whole season didn’t make sense from a practical view. That is why as soon as I learned of the closure I put together a meeting and a tour of the campground with Forest Service and Cultus Lake officials to get a better sense of the situation on the ground. There’s more work to be done, but today’s announcement is an encouraging sign. I will continue to work alongside the Forest Service to help make sure this progress continues so the campground can open as soon as possible.”
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond-area man was arrested Wednesday for his part in a crash that left a motorcyclist seriously injured. Oregon State Police Troopers responded to Highway 97 near SW Young Avenue, north of Bend, at about 3:15 p.m.
Investigators say 20-year-old Justin Durr was upset that he was passed by another vehicle. While attempting to catch up to that vehicle, Durr was driving recklessly, which OSP says caused 40-year-old Jerome Worley to crash his motorcycle. Worley was seriously injured and flown to the hospital by Life Flight.
Durr was arrested for Reckless Driving and Assault III.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is set to gain millions of dollars for road projects, thanks to the $5.3 billion transportation package passed by state lawmakers, earlier this month. The 10-year plan raises the gas tax and vehicle registration fees, and Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney explains, "That increase in the gas tax will go directly to the roads. It is split 50% with the state of Oregon, 30% with the counties and 20% with cities. So, you’ll see it both in the city and the county. For us, we’ll be making improvements to places like out in La Pine, Redmond, Old Bend-Redmond Highway." The legislation also adds a tax on new cars and bicycles, and includes tolls on two Portland-area freeways.
County Road Department Director Chris Doty says Deschutes County’s allotment will go toward new construction projects. "Straight away, we’ll get anywhere from $3.1 million in the first year, upwards of $7 million annually towards, I think, year seven of the package. So, it’s going to be a huge impact to the county. We have a long capital list of projects that, for a while, we didn’t know if we’d ever get to." Doty tells KBND News, "We will direct most of that to the capital program to build capital projects: roundabouts in certain areas. Projects that we’re contemplating at the moment are anything that connects Bend to Redmond, from a county road facility, is getting hammered with growth. Existing safety problems that are being exacerbated by new growth and just the amount of traffic volume on those legs are creating traffic problems that need to be fixed."
Commissioner Baney says the package also includes, "The ability for us to take care of the Lower Bridge area, which is down near Terrebonne; Cooley/97 is on that short list. That’ll free up capital project dollars from the county to be able to address things like Tumalo. It’s an opportunity for us to make sure that that is not only safe but efficient." She expects work funded by the new state package won't begin until at least next year.
LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine man was sentenced this week, to two years in federal prison for money laundering. According to federal prosecutors, 44-year-old Erik Johnson defrauded 91 eBay customers during a three-week scheme in 2011.
Johnson admitted to receiving more than $180,000 in payments for high-end digital cameras, while only shipping about $5,200 in product to customers. eBay refunded nearly $104,000 to customers who didn't get their camera.
Johnson won’t report to prison until September 2018, to allow him to complete his studies at a community college. He was also ordered to pay restitution to eBay and perform 150 hours of community service.
REDMOND, OR -- A travel trailer was destroyed in a fire, yesterday, but Redmond firefighters were able to protect a nearby home.
A passerby called 911 at about 11:30 a.m. to report the blaze on Southwest Reindeer Avenue. No one was home at the time and fire crews were able to contain the damage to the trailer, a fence and some trees.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Builders Association Tour of Home starts Friday at noon. COBA's Tim Knopp says it's an exciting opportunity for everyone, "This is, really, the Central Oregon Builders Association's opportunity to let the community see, at no cost, what is happening in building today. And, the Central Oregon Builders Association has been a firm believer in 'Best Practices' and so we want the public to see what those 'Best Practices' are and what energy savings they can make in their own homes." He adds, "With 10,000 people who go through the Tour each year, they're not all buying homes - a lot of people just want to see what the latest and greatest is, in terms of what's in the Central Oregon market today; some people are looking for ideas, and then, of course, some people are seeking to buy a home, and are looking at homes on the tour for that purpose, or are looking for a builder to build a custom home, as well."
Knopp tells KBND News that throughout its 28-year history the tour has been a chance for the curious to see the newest building trends. And, this year, visitors can see something never before available in Central Oregon. "Sol-Aire Homes has the first Tesla Wall that has been installed in Central Oregon, and essentially, that is a very high-tech way to provide and store energy to your home through solar power and then even sell power back to the grid, and so it's going to be a very interesting feature for people to see."
The 48 homes on the Tour stretch from Terrebonne to La Pine, and from Sisters to Prineville. Click HERE for details, including a map. The Tour of Homes is free and is open Fridays noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., over the next two weekends.
Photo: Tour Home #7 built by Hayden Homes, located at 3521 SW Pumice Ave., Redmond ($284,990)
BEND, OR -- Two Bend men face several charges in connection with the Fourth of July assault of a Good Samaritan. The Deschutes County District Attorney says Stephen Davies (left) and Spencer Perez were in a car that nearly struck a disabled person on Northeast Kearney. The two got out and began insulting and harassing the person.
A group nearby watching fireworks saw the altercation, and The D.A. says one neighbor approached to help; he was violently assaulted by Davies and Perez. Brandon Deluca was punched repeatedly and shocked twice with a stun gun.
The two 24-year-old suspects were arrested Tuesday. They're charged with Assault in the Third Degree, Attempted Assault in the Second Degree and Unlawful Use of a Stun Gun.
D.A. John Hummel says Deluca was assaulted because he intervened to help a person with a disability. He plans to ask the court to impose a punishment "appropriate for such a heartless and cowardly act." Perez is due in court Thursday and Davies will appear July 19.
BEND, OR -- Two recent bicycle gatherings have some Bend residents questioning why the events were allowed to disrupt traffic and, in one case, display public nudity. Bend Police Chief Jim Porter says the department knew about both the Freedom Ride on the Fourth of July, and last Saturday's Naked Bike Ride in advance, but neither was sanctioned by the city. "We have no one coming forward and applying, ‘Can we have a permit to do this? We are an organized body; I’m the President of the organization, I’m the spokesman.’ We have no one [doing] that. This is a loosely organized group of individuals who decide to do something at the same time."
He doesn’t feel the lack of permit is enough to break up a relatively peaceful event. The Freedom Ride occurred on what Chief Porter says was his agency's busiest day of the year. Of the more than 400 calls for service Bend PD received on the Fourth, 90 came in during the Freedom Ride. Chief Porter tells KBND News, "Of those 90 calls, only 16 were related to the Freedom Ride; of those 16, three of them were duplicates. So, in actuality, we only had 13 and when you talk about having 3,000-5,000 people taking a ride through town or taking over certain areas, we’re not inclined to go in there and start making arrests. Now, do we? Yes. At times, we’ve had to go in and make arrests for altercations, for intoxicated driving." He adds, "We do not have enough staffing at Bend Police Department to wade into a crowd of 3,000 to 5,000 people and make arrests. And, what is the outcome of that? Are we causing more problems by making these minor arrests than we are by allowing it to run its route for 45 minutes to an hour and go away? I don’t think people want the Bend Police Department to cause more problems than exist."
About 50 people participated in Saturday’s Naked Bike Ride and Chief Porter says there were only a couple of complaints called in from bystanders. Because Oregon doesn't have a "public indecency" statute, there were no arrests made.
To hear our full conversation with Bend Police Chief Jim Porter, click HERE
or visit our Podcast Page
REDMOND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in tracking down the owner of two dogs that allegedly attacked another dog at Cline Falls State Park, last month.
A Redmond woman reports her yellow lab was lying on the riverbank on June 22, when a man parked his car nearby. He opened the door and let out two brown dogs, possibly pit bulls, which immediately attacked her lab. He pulled his dogs off, put them back in the car and drove off without talking to the woman. Her lab died the following day.
The man - described as being in his early 30s - was driving an older red Jeep Cherokee with California plates. Anyone with information on the man's identity is asked to call the Sheriff's office.
JULY 14 UPDATE: The owner of a dog accused of fatally attacking a yellow lab at Cline Falls State Park has come forward.
Seth Collins contacted the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office late last week after seeing the story in the media. He told deputies he didn’t realize his Mastiff/Husky mix had inflicted deadly wounds to the other dog, June 22. He left the scene to avoid a confrontation with the other dog’s owner. Collins was issued a citation for Animal at Large and Animal Nuisance.
BEND, OR -- A pre-trial hearing in the case against Edwin Lara continues today in Deschutes County Court. He's charged with four counts of aggravated murder in last summer's death of Kaylee Sawyer in Bend.
District Attorney John Hummel says this week's proceedings are centered on determining whether statements Lara made to law enforcement after his arrest in California are admissible at trial. "Mr. Lara made statements to the arresting officers and to other people and the court proceedings are to determine whether the jury in this trial is going to be able to hear what those statements were. The defense argues that many of those statements are inadmissible, and I'm arguing that all the statements are admissible. So, Judge Adler will have to make a ruling on that." He expects the judge won't rule on the defense motion until the fall. "Over Two days in September, we are going to present more witnesses and make our legal arguments at that point and then the judge will decide after that hearing in September. So there's still a few months until Judge Adler makes his decision."
REDMOND, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Veterans Affairs will bring its resource fair to Central Oregon, this weekend. Tyler Francke, with ODVA, says it’s similar to other local resource fairs for vets, but on a much larger scale. He tells KBND News the goal is, "To bring everyone under one roof. If you’re looking to just get connected or see what’s available, rather than trying to navigate 20 or 30 websites or calling a bunch of numbers, you can just come to this one event and see the full range of what you might be interested in and what you might qualify for."
The Veteran Benefit Expo features more than 75 state and federal service providers, nonprofit agencies, employers and other local partners. "There are resources and programs, and really the full range of benefits for veterans and their families; whether they are looking to take their next steps in higher education or looking for long term care, more toward the other end of their life. We have stuff for job seekers, folks that are maybe looking to start their own business."
This is the agency’s third resource fair, but the first in Central Oregon, "The first two were in Salem and Portland, respectively," says Francke. "We are adding things to this expo we haven’t done in the past. So, the first two years, it was really just the resource fair. This year, we’ve got some awesome live entertainment coming out; we have activities and a kids’ fair with inflatables. We’re going to have a food tent, this year; and it’s the first year we’re hosting it on a Saturday."
The resource fair takes place Saturday at the Deschutes County Expo Center in Redmond.
BEND, OR -- A Prineville woman faces criminal charges, after she allegedly viewed thousands of patient records without authorization. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says it's illegal to violate the privacy of medical patients, but 35-year-old Dawnielle Vaca did just that while working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at St. Charles Bend. She's charged with two counts of Computer Crime.
Hummel doesn't believe Vaca planned to sell any of the private information she accessed. He tells KBND News, "If she'd had a financial motive, the charges would've been felony charges. But, she did not have a financial motive; she was just looking at these records out of curiosity. That's still a crime, but the Oregon Legislature has classified it as a misdemeanor." Hummel is confident Vaca knew what she was doing was wrong, "I would not have filed if I thought there was confusion or a mistake here. I allege that this was done intentionally
, knowing that she did not have authorization to view these records."
The alleged crimes were uncovered during a routine hospital audit. Vaca's employment was terminated by St. Charles, and she's in danger of losing her certification.
Vaca is due in court on July 27. Hummel says, "If she pleads guilty, I'll work with the defense attorney and the judge will certainly be involved as well, and there will be a sentence that's fashioned to recognize that she committed a crime, and to recognize the seriousness of these allegations."
BEND, OR -- A Bend Police officer that shot and killed a driver during a December traffic stop will not face criminal charges. Oregon’s Department of Justice released its findings, this week, following a lengthy investigation. According to the report, Michael Jacques was seen driving erratically, December 23; at one point crashing into an overpass.
When officers Tisher and Schaier confronted the man near Bond and Franklin, he pulled Schaier into the van and punched him several times. During the altercation, officers deployed their tasers and one sprayed pepper gel, all with no apparent effect on Jacques.
The van lurched forward and officers reportedly feared for their lives and those of nearby pedestrians. Officer Schaier fired five shots, killing Jacques. The DOJ says there is insufficient evidence to find Schaier criminally liable for his use of deadly force.
Police Chief Jim Porter released the following statement after the findings were released:
I, and the members of the Bend Police Department welcome the conclusion of the investigation into Michael Jacques' death. The investigation of Officer Schaier and Tisher's actions was led by the Oregon State Police and independently reviewed by the Oregon Department of Justice.
The attempted apprehension and arrest of Michael Jacques was witnessed by numerous citizens, some of which provided video recordings of the incident. We thank all those who provided witness testimony and their video of the incident. This evidence and recorded witness statements provided on the night of the incident are consistent with the statements given by Officers Schaier and Tisher and support the findings of the Oregon Department of Justice.
The officers serving the citizens of Bend do so with pride and compassion, placing themselves in harm's way on a daily basis to save lives, to help those in distress to keep Bend a safe community. In 2016 officers responded to over 87,000 calls for service, arrested 3,100 offenders, and were only required to use force in 65 of these calls.
BEND, OR -- A 29-year-old California man was arrested Tuesday after he was found at a Bend motel with a 14-year-old girl. The girl’s mother called police when she discovered her daughter was at the Bend Value Inn with the suspect.
Officers spoke to the victim who said the man traveled to Bend from Long Beach on Monday to meet her for sex. Police say Patrick Green admitted to meeting the girl through social media apps. They exchanged multiple texts and photos over the past month. He told officers he knew she was under 18.
Green is charged with using a child in display of sexual conduct, possession of child pornography, encouraging child sex abuse, online sexual corruption of a child and Rape 3.
BEND, OR -- A local non-profit grocery store highlighting locally-sourced food is in danger of closing its doors without an influx of cash by the end of summer. Nicolle Timm, founder of Central Oregon Locavore, says buying local isn't just good for your health, it also promotes a relationship between farmers and communities. "What we provide both to farmers and shoppers is the ability to interface directly with each other. For the farmers, [it's] what we call an incubation marketplace, where we take products of all kinds. What we are is a place where they can take their product and know that it will get directly into the hands of the customer, cutting out any other middleman, so the price of the food can remain reasonable. For the customers, we are a six-day-a-week indoor farmer's market where they can go at their convenience to source local food."
Central Oregon Locavore opened in 2009, but Timm says there were unforeseen expenses associated with their move to Third Street in Bend, and the rough winter. She needs to raise $25,000 by the end of summer. She tells KBND News, "We have accomplished everything that we have done to-date without any funding from grants, large donations, or any significant influxes. We've accomplished a lot with very little and we're very confident that we can continue to thrive and grow with a little boost and take it to the next level." Timm, isn't looking for a handout; she hopes the opportunity for farmers and customers to connect will encourage the community to keep buying local. "Making that commitment to support local first is what's going to keep our local farmers [and] our local ranchers in business. It's so valuable and so worth it for generations to come."
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County has – for the most part – rebounded from the recession. Commissioner Tammy Baney says Tuesday's sold out State of the County presentation will highlight improvements made over the past year and the challenges expected in the future.
One of biggest themes of the event is likely to be the $356 million budget. Commissioner Baney tells KBND News, "What is significant about this budget is that we reduced the tax rate by three-cents. And, individual property owner: I know that doesn’t seem significant. But what we’re trying to do is to reconcile what we need with what we need to provide. And then, the remainder of that stays in your pocket." She says next year’s budget discussion could be very different, "The PERS [Public Employees Retirement System] liability for local government is real, and it is great. The Secure Rural Schools dollars are going away; those are the timber payments and that can be significant, so that’s an uncertainty. And, just the cost of growth and what that means in terms of being able to provide the right level of services: solid waste and roads, etc."
Tuesday's presentation will also address the region's need for more workforce housing. Baney says, "I think the biggest piece is helping the city of Bend now move into the second phase of the UGB expansion; assisting them in any way that we can in making sure the developable land is available for housing, in general. We need entry level housing; we need multi-family housing; we need housing for all individuals in our community: teachers, baristas; I mean, you pick it, law enforcement. It’s us. We need housing for us."
They'll also look at what the newly passed state transportation package could mean for the area, land issues surrounding legalized marijuana and how the county is preparing for the eclipse. The event is part of the Bend Chamber's "What's Brewing Series" at Deschutes Brewery. Click HERE
for more details.
To listen to our full conversation with Commissioner Tammy Baney, click HERE
or visit our Podcast Page
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The largest wildfires burning out of control in the state are in Central Oregon and crews are hitting them hard before hotter weather arrives.
The Ana Fire is burning 22 miles northwest of Paisley in south central Oregon; it's now 20% contained. Robin deMario, at the Northwest Coordination Center, says it's burned 6,200 acres and 25 houses have evacuation warnings. "That Level 2 means 'Get Set;' be ready to go if authorities advise folks to do so." Around 500 firefighters are working to build containment lines, "There are also helicopters and other aerial resources as needed," says deMario. She adds, they're working in "steep rugged terrain, from the lower elevation lands up into that, so they are having issues getting resources into that very steep, rocky terrain." A community meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Lodge at Summer Lake to update residents and business owners on the status of the Ana Fire.
The Lone Pine Fire, 10 miles north of Prineville, has burned about 900 acres and is now 15% contained. Lone Pine Road remains closed and 10 minor structures are threatened. It was human caused and remains under investigation.
SISTERS, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers responded to South Matthieu Lake to help a hiker during a medical emergency, Monday. The 41-year-old Los Angeles man called 911 just after 5 p.m. to report he had run out of food and couldn’t get out of his tent due to a medical condition. Jeremiah Kurasz's cell phone was not equipped with GPS and he was camping alone, west of Sisters.
An initial aerial search by a Lifeflight helicopter turned up nothing and search and rescue was deployed to hike in to the area. A subsequent fly-over located Kurasz and the SAR team was able to help him walk to the helicopter. At about 9 p.m. he was flown to the hospital for further evaluation.
The Sheriff's office urges back-country hikers and campers to go with a partner, and pack adequate food and water, along with GPS units and maps.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A crash on NE Third Street in Prineville cut power to a number of Pacific Power customers, Monday evening. Prineville Police say a 41-year-old man drove into a power pole near Stearns Road just before 6 p.m. The driver suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital.
Pacific Power responded to the scene to repair the damage and restore power to eastern Prineville residents. Investigators believe the crash was caused by a medical problem suffered by the driver.
BEND, OR -- A well-known pest is making a comeback in Central Oregon. Motorists may have noticed significant damage to area pine forests last year, caused by the Pandora Moth in it's larval form. This year, those larvae are full grown adults and the area is in the midst of what the U.S. Forest Service calls a 10-year outbreak.
Forest Entomologist Rob Flowers tells KBND News, "When they move into this outbreak cycle, they have a two-year life cycle. It's usually three to four generations, so about six to eight years of elevated population. What we typically see during that time is a year of defoliation, where they're in a larval form feeding on trees they like - they like lodgepole pine and ponderosa pine. Then they shift in the second year to mostly an adult phase." That adult phase is what we're seeing now.
These infestations have occurred before, but they're not common. "We've done some tree ring analysis; the way we are able to chart these outbreaks is looking at the tree rings. We can actually see when defoliation events occurred," says Flowers. "We can trace that back over about 600 years in Central Oregon and have found that there have been about 20 or so outbreaks of Pandora moths."
While unnerving due to their large size, Flower says the moths pose no danger. "There's no human health risk there, or to pets, or to anyone else. It's just a nuisance having all these large things flying around your house at night. Kind of the take-home message is that this is part of a natural lifecycle, so there's no cause for alarm. This is just sort of one of those natural processes that we see both in the forest and in also our urban and community forest environment."
The adult moths can be seen throughout Central Oregon in July and August.
LA PINE, OR -- Several buildings were significantly damaged by a Sunday night fire. According to La Pine Fire, 18 firefighters responded to the blaze on Leona Lane, just before 11 p.m. They found a 12x30' shed that had been converted into living space fully involved. A 40x30' residential structure about eight feet away from the shed was about 50% involved, and a detached garage converted to a living space and barn were also nearby.
Firefighters were able to stop the fire's progress in the home, contain the shed fire and protect the multiple other buildings, as well as prevent a wildland fire. During the effort, firefighters rescued a dog from inside the home and provided care and oxygen until it could be taken to an emergency vet. It later died of smoke inhalation.
The five people living at the property say the fire began with a candle in the shed. Four adults and a child are receiving help from the Red Cross.
LAKEVIEW, OR -- The Ana Fire was first reported late Saturday afternoon, near Summer Lake about 100 miles southeast of Bend. As of Sunday evening, it was reported at 2,000 acres. Ground crews worked Sunday along Highway 31, prompting the Oregon Department of Transportation to periodically close the roadway.
Fire managers say the blaze is largely on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, Lakeview District Bureau of Land Management and Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands, angling away from the agricultural and residential areas of Summer Lake. Hot Shot crews and air support worked the southern border, Sunday afternoon, to prevent winds from shifting the fire's direction back toward the community.
Three structures were lost Saturday night: one outbuilding, a barn and a hunting cabin. A Level One (be prepared) evacuation order is in place for the area between Silver Lake and Summer Lake.
8 A.M. MONDAY UPDATE: Fire managers now say the blaze has burned 3,200 acres. A Level 2 (get set) evacuation order is in place for the area two miles north and south of Summer Lake, along Highway 31, and along Carlon Lane. Winds carried the fire east across 31, Sunday afternoon, into a priority area of sage grouse habitat, officials say that adds another layer of complexity to the incident.
Top photo: courtesy South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership
Lower photos: courtesy Bruce Gee, Paisley, OR
REDMOND, OR -- Senators are back in Washington, following the Independence Day break; many spent the past week talking with constituents about the Republican healthcare plan. On Friday, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) held meetings in Bend and Redmond, and the GOP bill was the most talked about topic.
Some at Friday’s meeting at Bend Transitional Care were confused about what is and isn’t included in the plan and how it differs from the House version. One man asked Wyden, "Who do we trust to tell us the truth, as far as what is available? Last I heard was that Australia had a really good health plan. Whether it could work here or it’s something that we could consider, I don’t know." The Oregon Democrat answered, "You’re so right; this is very hard to follow. And, a lot of people just hear in the headlines ‘somebody attacking somebody else.’"
Friday afternoon, he held a Redmond Town Hall, where a number of questions centered around whether the two parties could work together. Senator Wyden told the crowd what he says he's told Republicans, "If we set this partisan process down, we will go to work with you and fix what needs to be fixed. And there are two things we ought to do right away. The first is: We need to stabilize the private insurance market. We got all of these plans and carriers; they Can't figure out from one day to the next what's coming. And, the private sector needs some certainty and predictability."
Former Redmond City Councilor Irv Nygren asked, "How could Congressional Democrats get involved in the current healthcare debate so that a bipartisan plan could go forward to benefit the American people?" Wyden reiterated, "I think that in at least three areas that I've mentioned: One, stabilizing the private insurance market; two, clamping down on prescription drugs; and three, chronic illness where we update the Medicare guarantee. Those would all be naturals." Wyden expressed optimism that a compromise might be possible, blaming past bipartisan failures on Republicans digging in their heels. "I do think, based on what I'm hearing right now, the Republicans are getting such a dust up at home, my hope is that they're going to come back and want to work together. When I was walking in, the staff just told me about a call from a very senior, influential Republican who wanted to work with me on an important tax bill, so I think the ice is starting to break here a little bit among some of the Senators." He expects it'll be at least another week before the GOP healthcare plan comes up for a vote in the full Senate; but, some speculated Monday that the plan is dead.
At Friday's meetings, Senator Wyden also answered questions about the President, the environment and a rumored sale of the Bonneville Power Administration.
TERREBONNE, OR -- Redmond fire crews stopped a car fire from spreading to a nearby field, Saturday. According to the department, firefighters responded to Juniper Ridge Road, southeast of Terrebonne, just after 3 p.m. and found the engine compartment of the Dodge pickup fully engulfed in flames and spreading to the rest of the truck.
They quickly knocked it down. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
MADRAS, OR -- A brush fire reported just before noon, between Madras and Prineville, quickly grew to an estimated 1,000 acres, Sunday. The Lone Pine Fire is burning in grass and brush on the Crooked River National Grassland. A portion of Lone Pine Road was closed and visitors to Skull Hollow Campground were notified, although not evacuated.
According to the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center, resources battling the fire include three single-engine air tankers with retardant, two helicopters dropping water, 10 engines and a water tender. By mid-afternoon, Sunday, the right flank of the blaze had a retardant line around it, helping with suppression efforts. The cause is under investigation.
The Lone Pine Fire was one of several stretching regional fire resources, this weekend. Crews responded to a small fire off Indian Ford Road west of Sisters, early Saturday morning. It was held to about five acres. And, the 2,000-acre Ana fire is burning near Summer Lake, in Lake County, impacting travel on Highway 31, southeast of La Pine.
MONDAY 11 A.M. UPDATE: Firefighters made good progress Sunday and the Lone Pine Fire is now mapped at about 900 acres. It continues to burn in grassh, brush and some timber. A portion of Lone Pine Road was closed for fire traffic and Skull Hollow Campground, near Gray Butte, is not available to campers.
Upper photo: courtesy Julie Swinehart
Lower right: courtesy Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center
BEND, OR -- A Bend bicyclist continues to recover from serious injuries she sustained in a crash on the Fourth of July. According to Bend Police, 20-year-old Brianna Kraft was riding against the flow of traffic on Northwest Newport when she drifted into the path of an oncoming pickup. Investigators say the driver was unable to avoid the collision and struck Kraft just before 5 p.m.
She was taken to the hospital where she later underwent surgery for her injuries. Investigators say Kraft had been at Columbia Park, where the Bend Freedom Ride
ended, earlier in the day.
Bend Police remind bicyclists to ride with the flow of traffic, if on the roadway.