REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors reviewed the results of the first community survey, at Tuesday night’s meeting. Nearly 1500 citizens answered the 40-question survey in May and June, and Mayor George Endicott says he hopes to make it an annual study. "We want to do this over time to see if there are trends, as well. It’s too early to tell that, but right now we’re doing snapshots of just how people feel living and working and playing in Redmond."
The survey looked at everything from parks and airport usage to downtown cleanliness. Mayor Endicott tells KBND News, "People feel safe, people love our parks, people do not engage – or don’t know how to engage very well with the government – which kind of surprises me; and then, they think the town is pretty clean, overall." He says that while most respondents said roads are clean, smooth and not congested, non-vehicle traffic could be improved. "We have some work to do on things like how to handle bike and ped safety; and that’s probably the biggie I see in here, in terms of an area where we need to do some work."
He also points out that overall livability ranked high; however, affordable housing remains a concern. "We are doing our best to attract developers. We have the new Housing Works development going in that’s going to offer one and two-bedroom apartments to seniors and others, right new Lowes. We are a capitalist society; we have to rely on developers that want to do some of those things. The best we can do is encourage them and try and offer some incentives."
City Manager Keith Witcosky presented the full results to City Councilors. He says various departments are already making changes based on the feedback.
BEND, OR -- A Bend faces multiple weapons and drug charges, following a dispute at a Deschutes River Woods home. William Hill is accused of shooting from a vehicle as he drove away from the house on Cheyenne Road. No one was hurt and no damage was reported.
Bend Police stopped the car at Third and Reed Market and found a small amount of heroin along with evidence that a gun was fired, but did not find the weapon. The 27-year-old Hill was taken to jail and the two people in the car with him were released.
Deschutes County Search and Rescue teams were deployed to find the gun, Wednesday morning, out of concern for community safety. Within an hour, they recovered the handgun believed to be involved along Brookswood Boulevard.
Any witnesses to the incident are asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- All elective surgeries were canceled Wednesday at St. Charles Bend, after a fire at the hospital's central processing unit.
Bend firefighters responded to the lower level of the hospital just before 6 a.m. where a machine that performs initial decontamination of surgical materials had caught fire. Sprinklers immediately activated and kept the fire suppressed until crews arrived.
Investigators say the cause was overheating and subsequent failure of a heating element within that washer unit. No one was injured, although there is some smoke and water damage.
Elective surgeries are expected to resume, Friday, on a limited basis.
BEND, OR -- Investigators blame an improperly discarded cigarette for a small fire at at northeast Bend business, Wednesday morning. Firefighters responded to News and Smokes at Third and Vail, just after 7 a.m., and quickly extinguished the small fire at the rear of the building.
Bend Fire says a cigarette was likely tossed into bark dust near the wall; smoldering bark ignited wood siding on fire and the fire traveled into the wall, causing about $5,000 in damage.
officials remind everyone to leave 6"-12" between landscaping bark and combustible materials like siding.
BEND, OR -- The man accused of killing a Bend woman on the COCC campus last month is scheduled to be arraigned in Deschutes County Circuit Court at 4 p.m. Thursday. Edwin Lara was booked at the jail in Bend early Wednesday morning on four counts of Aggravated Murder.
Photo: Deschutes County Booking Photo, August 24, 2016.
BEND, OR -- Deputy Eric Kozowski, candidate for Deschutes County Sheriff, released specifics Tuesday on reforms he plans to implement if he wins in November. "We can do much better and I believe we can be the best law enforcement agency in the state; and I will take measures to reform the current situation," Kozowski tells KBND News. "The three big areas I want to address are the issues of service delivery and the effect on community safety, fiscal issues that waste tax money and improving our communication with the public."
He says current staffing of one supervisor for every three employees is not a responsible use of resources, and he claims it’s impacting response times. "I know earlier in the year, a woman sat in the lobby of the Sheriff’s office in Bend, during business hours, for an hour, waiting to talk to a deputy. And, that’s because the one patrol deputy that was working the Bend district was out on another call in Alfalfa. Meanwhile, while she’s sitting in the lobby for an hour, there are numerous deputies, sergeants, lieutenants, captains in and around the office that could’ve helped her. But, they didn’t view it as their job to respond to calls for service."
To free up more staff to respond to calls and save money, Dep. Kozowski wants to reduce the number of supervisors. "I think we can realign some positions to move them from supervisory or management into service delivery. Certainly I want to take advantage of things like pending retirements to minimize the impacts to employees. But, it may ultimately come down to doing what I believe is best for the community, which may result in non-punitive demotions for a few people." Those given "non-punitive" demotions would maintain supervisory pay while serving at a lower rank.
He also wants to revive the Citizens Academy and create a citizen advisory committee to improve communication and accountability. "Policing, in general, has done a poor job communicating with the public; and I believe the public has the right to know what their Sheriff’s Office is doing. Historically, I think we’ve done a poor job of keeping them informed. We can certainly improve that, significantly. I want to engage with the community, not just on the surface, but have an ongoing, two-way dialog so we can have this open, honest communication with the community we protect and serve." Kozowski claims the agency could better utilize social media and other forms of online communication that would allow community input on issues facing the agency.
Click HERE to view his presentation on ideas for the agency.
Deputy Kozowski has been with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office since 2010 and was a deputy for Wallowa County for six years before that. He's running against current Sheriff Shane Nelson
, who has worked for DCSO in a variety of roles since 1994.
BEND, OR -- Due to the increase in the number of human-caused wildfires across Central Oregon and continued dry weather, federally managed lands will implement tougher fire restrictions, beginning Friday.
Open fires, including charcoal fires and portable campfires will be prohibited on all BLM and national forestland in the tri-county area – including Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests.
for current fire restrictions.
LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine man escaped a fiery crash on Huntington Road, and was arrested at the scene for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII) and Reckless Driving.
Deschutes County deputies say 37-year-old Mathew Wirth failed to negotiate a curve near Century Drive, just before 6 a.m., Tuesday. His car went through a fence, struck a tree and caught fire.
The vehicle was destroyed and towed from the scene. Wirth was uninjured and was taken to jail.
BEND, OR -- Oregon State Police, along with US Forest Service law enforcement are investigating the cause of a number of recent wildfires in Central Oregon. OSP Captain Bill Fugate tells KBND News, "We’re calling this arson, just due to the nature of the fire starts and the locations and how they’re getting started. That’s evidence we can’t talk about right now, but we will call it arson."
"We know that many of those fires were human caused and we have reason to believe that those were intentional fire starts," says Captain Fugate. "There are fires ranging from the Sisters area to Century Drive and other areas in and around Central Oregon."
Read more about recent small fires near Sisters.
He says it's not yet clear whether the suspicious fires are the work of one or more arsonists. "This person or persons who are starting these are traveling around and intentionally starting these fires and our concern is for the safety of our firefighters. And, not only that, just losing a home or losing a life, in general, is our fear."
Authorities hope tips from the public will help lead investigators to those responsible. "If anybody is out and about and sees something that doesn’t look right, doesn’t feel right, we’re asking them just to give us a call and let us know of the suspicious behavior. Get a good description of the vehicle or the person, and help us keep our natural resources in tact."
REDMOND, OR -- Of the 39 projects just approved by Oregon's Transportation Commission to receive new grant funding, four are in Bend and Redmond, totaling nearly $3 million.
Kim Curley, with Commute Options, serves on the state's Public Transportation Advisory Committee, which helped determine which projects would receive money through ODOT's Connect Oregon
program. "We won big in Central Oregon with the transit center in Redmond which is funded and approved and going to be happening, kind of behind Fred Meyer. It’s going to be really an amazing hub for Central Oregon. Right now, our transit system is sort of based in Bend, and Redmond is much more central to the other communities that CET serves."
That project, called “Central Station,” will be built between Fred Meyer and Lowes on SW Kalama Ave. It received more than a million dollars from Connect Oregon; Curley believes it’ll be completed by 2018. She says the project is a key piece to expanding bus service in the region. "The next fixed-route for Central Oregon will be Redmond. There’s a lot of really focused effort on talking to the community – ‘what do you guys want, what do you need, what times do you need to go, how can we make this happen?’"
"The other really cool project connecting directly to that transit center is the Homestead Trail," Curley tells KBND News. "There, you get off the bus in Redmond and you wander up the nice off-road trail to downtown and hey, there you are. It’s a huge boost to mobility options here in Central Oregon."
BEND, OR -- A Bend woman is accused of embezzling nearly a million dollars from her former employer. Sherrie Lynn Burge has been indicted on 32 felony counts of Money Laundering, Aggravated Theft, Aggravated ID Theft, Forgery and Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards.
According to the Deschutes County District Attorney's office, Burge stole from Bend-based DENT Instruments
over the last four years, while she was employed as the comptroller and office bookkeeper.
The 48-year-old woman was arrested Monday morning, following Friday's grand jury indictment. Her first court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 16-year-old driver was rescued from her car after she crashed into a canal west of Prineville, Monday morning. When emergency crews responded to the crash on Highway 370, just before 8 a.m., good Samaritans were already freeing the driver ... they had to cut her from her seat belt.
Investigators say the Redmond teen was eastbound when she drifted off the road, lost control and crossed the highway; the car rolled and landed in the canal on its top. The driver was later taken by private vehicle to the hospital with minor injuries.
Her father credits the quick measures taken by passing motorists for saving his daughter from drowning.
BEND, OR -- A La Pine man was killed Monday morning, in a crash south of Bend. According to Oregon State Police, 25-year-old Joshua Matthes was northbound on Highway 97, near the High Desert Museum, when he rear-ended a pickup. Investigators believe Matthes lost control, crossed the center line and was struck by a southbound vehicle.
Matthes was pronounced dead at the scene. The southbound vehicle was driven by a 24-year-old California woman who was taken to St. Charles Bend with serious injuries. The Bend man driving the pickup was not hurt.
Highway 97 was closed for about an hour during the investigation.
SALEM, OR -- The Oregon Transportation Commission recently approved spending nearly $50 million on 39 projects around the state. The money comes from a program called Connect Oregon. Each year, the Legislature approves a certain amount of money to be dedicated toward transportation projects. "They’re not going to be, you know, your roads and your bridges," says Shelley Snow, with the Oregon Department of Transportation.
"Whether it’s building a new transit facility, where the busses are going to be where and people can have the one location to make all their connections; or an improvement to a railroad that allows a company to start using that rail again," says Snow, "You’re putting money into a community with local contractors doing local jobs." Funded projects include the Redmond canal trail, a Portland pedestrian bridge, improvements to an Astoria pier and an airport rappel base in La Grande to support firefighting operations.
Connect Oregon was first approved by the Legislature in 2005. It has funded more than 180 projects totaling $380 million.
BEND, OR -- Following last week’s human trafficking and prostitution sting in Bend, a local nonprofit says it’s just a sample of what happens here regularly. The multi-agency operation led by Bend Police involved multiple hotels. Nita Belles, Executive Director of In Our Backyard, tells KBND News traffickers bring victims through Central Oregon because they know there are vulnerable potential victims, and our tourist population is commonly associated with high demand. "They will bring victims through Bend as part of the circuit. They’re moved around to keep the victim off guard and out of control because the idea is to make as much money off of her as they can on a minute-by-minute basis, so they want her to be completely under their control."
Due to that transient nature, Belles is not surprised three of the suspects are from Portland nor that they were found with a victim in a Bend hotel. "Sex buyers are looking for variety so they bring them through, they may stay a few days or a few weeks, and then they move them on. The circuit here in the west coast is generally Seattle, Portland, Eugene, Bend, Oakland and Vegas and any cities in between. But, Bend is absolutely a part of that circuit." She adds, "Kudos to Central Oregon law enforcement for going out and doing this. I believe we can eradicate sex trafficking almost entirely here in Central Oregon if we do these things regularly, because we’re small town area. The grapevine for traffickers is strong; if they know they’re going to get arrested every time they bring a victim here, they won’t come here."
In last week's sting, police rescued a 19-year-old victim believed to have been trafficked for six years. Belles says she has a long road ahead because victims often become traumatically bonded to their trafficker, especially when they start so young. "Hopefully she’s willing to take the resources that are available, because that isn’t always the case. And, that’s not her fault, that’s the very nature of being enslaved for that long. It’s very hard for them to psychologically remove themselves from that situation."
To hear our full conversation with Nita Belles, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s only arts education and advocacy nonprofit announced Friday it’s closing for good after nearly 40 years; effective immediately. Bert Kronmiller, Board President for Arts Central, tells KBND News there were four main reasons for the closure. "We had a major donor whose financial support termed out; we didn’t meet our fundraising goals at the 2015 Black & White, although it was very well attended; of course, our Executive Director resigned this spring; and then, the lease at Art Station expires at the end of 2017. And, I probably don’t need to tell you what the real estate market is like here."
He says finding new funding to replace that lost revenue has been a struggle. "It doesn’t fit the mold of a social service organization so sometimes funding for organizations, especially arts organizations, is very difficult. Over the last 18 months, I think I’ve written nearly 30 grants, with limited success."
Kronmiller says the closure is a big loss for the community. "Arts Central and, specifically, Art Station was the only facility of its kind in Central Oregon, providing arts education to children through adults. And, our services spanned a four-county area. The loss of arts education programming, especially to children, is huge." The Arts Central Board will meet this week to discuss liquidating assets.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville Police credit social media and an alert citizen for the capture of fugitive wanted on sex abuse charges.
Stanley Parrish was featured on the "most wanted" section of the new Prineville Police Facebook page and mobile app. Within a week, his information was shared across the internet, and someone spotted him at a Walmart in Redding, California.
Investigators say Parrish had been on the run for nearly three years, but is now back in custody.
BEND, OR -- The Shepherds House is nearly finished with a major remodel. Georgiann Watson, with the northeast Bend homeless shelter, says a $32,300 grant awarded in May by the Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund helped pay for the dorm upgrade. "We have 30 men in the program, plus people that come in that are considered an emergency. And, it’s going to give them a fresh, clean place to live and an environment that has changed from the old carpeting and wooden beds to something that’s fresh and clean. We put new paint, new flooring, new mattresses are coming in with them."
She tells KBND News recent duct cleaning will provide a healthier environment for the men, "We have put new paint on the walls; they tore out the old carpeting, and there’s a new floor beautiful floor in there that’s amazing. New lighting is going in, additional electrical for the guys to have, personally; the new bunks, new mattresses, new bedding to go with that." She adds, the new metal bunk beds are less prone to bugs. Men have been sleeping on the floor in other parts of the shelter until work is complete. Watson expects they’ll be able to move in by the end of next week, with the final work wrapping up by the end of the month.
The Shepherds House has also issued an urgent plea for extra large men’s clothing and toiletry items, due to fewer donations, this summer.
SUNRIVER, OR -- Firefighters continue to make progress on the Sheridan fire, burning southwest of Sunriver. After initial reports that it had grown to more than 300 acres, fire managers later downgraded that estimate to about 170 acres. By Thursday night, it had grown slightly to 200 acres and was 25% contained. The wildfire was first spotted Wednesday afternoon. Its cause is under investigation.
Thursday morning, a wind gust carried burning embers across containment lines, creating a two-acre spot fire in unburned fuel near the Sheridan Fire. A quick response by fire crews, including helicopter and air tanker support, kept the new fire from growing.
A Level I evacuation notice remains in effect for homes in the Fall River Estates subdivision and properties near the Fall River Fish Hatchery. The Deschutes River remains closed between Harper's Bridge and the Sunriver Resort Marina as a safety precaution, to allow helicopters to dip water out of the river for fire suppression.
BEND, OR -- Four people face charges following a multi-agency operation targeting suspected sex traffickers in Bend. Police arrested 23-year-old Rennell Buen (pictured), of Portland, for promoting prostitution and methamphetamine possession.
A woman was also taken into custody for prostitution and an outstanding warrant. The two others were cited and released.
During the investigation, police contacted a 19-year-old victim who they believe has been trafficked as a prostitute since she was 13. Bend Police are working with the Deschutes County Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Response Team to get resources for the woman and help get her out of human trafficking.
BEND, OR -- Two hikers were rescued from the Summit of South Sister after running out of water and realizing they were unprepared for the conditions.
A team of Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers responded after 22-year-old Dominique Tanton of Bend, and 21-year-old Caroline Chenoweth of Texas reported they were exhausted and physically unable to descend on their own, Wednesday afternoon. They said they felt physically ill from the heat and altitude and ran out of water halfway through their day hike.
The SAR team reached the women by 11 p.m. and guided them down the mountain; Returning to the Devil’s Trailhead at 6 a.m. Thursday.
The Sheriff's office reminds outdoor recreators to prepare accordingly for weather conditions, and include adequate food and water.
SUNRIVER, OR -- Firefighters completed a dozer line around the Sheridan Fire by 2:30 Thursday morning. The wildfire was reported 1.5 miles west of Sunriver, Wednesday afternoon. Initial reports indicated the blaze quickly grew to more than 300 acres by Wednesday night. But, Thursday morning, officials said new mapping showed the fire was 169 acres.
As of 9:30 a.m. Thursday, the fire is estimated to be 10% contained. A Level I evacuation notice remains in effect for homes in the Fall River Estates subdivision and properties near the Fall River Fish Hatchery. A number of roads are closed to public traffic:
Forest Road 42/4220 junction
Forest Road 42/4230 junction
Forest Road 46/45 junction
Forest Road 40/4230 junction
Forest Road 40/41 junction
Forest Road 42/4240 junction
Forest Road 40/4270 junction
Six small fires were also reported near Sisters, Wednesday evening. Five were spotted near Forest Road 16, about four miles south of Sisters. One was reported northeast of Black Butte, near Forest Road 11.
The cause of the Sheridan Fire and the six near Sisters all remain under investigation.
REDMOND, OR -- A new medication disposal kiosk is now available year-round in Central Oregon. Walgreens unveiled its new Drug Take Back program Wednesday at a handful of locations, including at its Redmond pharmacy on South Highway 97. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office collects unwanted medications, but only during Drug Take Back Events.
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) spoke at a Portland launch event, praising the retail chain’s efforts to reduce the growing number of prescription drug overdoses in the state. "This is tremendously important because it helps people now. But, it is also something communities across Oregon can replicate." Wyden added, "It’s something that we can build on and use, really, as kind of a community-oriented focus, particularly for turning around some of these important prevention and addiction issues."
New Medication Disposal Kiosks are now available at select Oregon Walgreens locations in Beaverton, Grants Pass, Gresham, Portland and Salem, along with the Redmond store. The chain also launched the program in 22 other states and the District of Columbia.
According to national statistics, 44 Americans die of a prescription opioid overdose every day; of those, three a week are in Oregon. "Opioids have hit Oregon like a wrecking ball," Wyden said Wednesday. "And, what we’re going to have to do is mobilize our public health leaders, concerned companies like Walgreens, community volunteers, if we’re going to turn this around."
Locally, the Drug Take Back kiosk at the Walgreens on South Highway 97 in Redmond is available during regular pharmacy hours. The program allows anyone to drop off unused, unwanted or expired medications, including controlled substances, during regular pharmacy hours. Wyden called it an important step in keeping medications out of the hands of those fighting addiction.
BEND, OR -- A Terrebonne woman was rescued from the Three Sisters Wilderness west of Bend, after she was injured while hiking, Tuesday evening.
Suzanne Smither called 9-1-1 just before 7 p.m. to report she'd fallen a short distance off a log bridge and was not able to walk the two and a half miles back to the trailhead. The 67-year-old told dispatchers she had been hiking the Green Lakes Trail with her husband and had food, water and a tarp for warmth.
A dozen Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers responded to the area, stabilized Smither and wheeled her back to the couple's car parked at the trailhead by 11 p.m. She declined any further medical attention.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County voters will decide in November whether Sheriff Shane Nelson remains at his post. His challenger, Deputy Eric Kozowski, was hired in 2010 by then-Sheriff Larry Blanton; although, Blanton admits he never worked closely with Kozowski. "He’s a nice young man. I’m sure he means well. But, it’s very important that the decision made by the citizens of Deschutes County take all the factors in hand, in terms of the experience of the candidates. It’s easy to be a Monday Morning Quarterback. The difficult complexities relating to personnel issues, law issues, lawsuits and trying to evaluate the needs and issues as they present themselves, is not an easy task."
Blanton doesn't believe Kozowski yet has the experience necessary to lead Central Oregon's largest law enforcement agency. "You’ve got to be well versed in policy, well versed in procedure, well educated. It’s important that you come through the ranks so you can get different ideas and ideals about what makes the world go round – ‘that’s why we do that,’ and ‘ that’s why we have that policy.’ It’s a huge, difficult task."
When Blanton retired last year, he advocated for then-Captain Shane Nelson to complete his term. But, he tells KBND News the final decision was up to County Commissioners who unanimously approved the appointment. He is now supporting Nelson's run. "I was Shane’s Field Training Officer when he was hired on with the Sheriff’s Office. We both came through the ranks together, as it were. I was a Patrol Sergeant when he was hired on, and I’ve watched him grow into the business. I know how serious he takes the task at hand; he’s supported by his family. He’s just one that certainly I would trust with the quality of life issues and the decisions and the challenges that go on with the Sheriff’s Office."
Blanton says this isn’t the first time a low-ranking employee has fought for the top job. "It happens. I’ve heard of Sheriff’s Offices where four or five different people are running for Sheriff, including those that are in the office or out of the office at another agency. So, not unusual." According to the state's Department of Public Safety and Standards, there are a small handful of cases in Oregon over the last several decades who were not in command positions prior to their election as Sheriff.
Kozowski was a deputy in Wallowa County for six years before moving to Deschutes County and has said he managed several programs there. Despite multiple attempts for comment, the Wallowa County Sheriff refused to discuss Kozowski’s work with his department and Deputy Kozowski declined to sign a liability release that could have cleared the way for that conversation.
BEND, OR -- While the Deschutes County District Attorney continues to review cases involving a crime lab analyst who plead guilty this week to stealing drugs from the OSP lab in Bend, a state organization wants to make sure incidents like the Nika Larsen case don't happen again.
Bobbin Singh is the Executive Director for the Oregon Justice Resource Center, which runs the state's Innocence Project. He tells KBND News, "What we want to see is just greater transparency and accountability from the crime lab. So, we've been recommending that we create a commission, an independent oversight body that oversees the practice of forensics of the crime lab here in Oregon. That way, there's some outside entity sort of keeping an eye on the crime lab."
Singh says the Larsen case in Bend isn't the only misconduct discovered at labs across the state. "It's already cost the state and counties - I'm not sure how much - but it's cost them a lot in both manpower and resources, money. The better checks and balances we can put in place from the outset, from the very beginning, and create greater transparency so we know when these things happen and can address them quickly will just save the justice system much more money in the long run."
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney's office continues to go through cases analyzed at the Oregon State Police crime lab in Bend during Nika Larsen's tenure. This week, Larsen agreed to plead guilty to stealing controlled substances from the lab. She'll be sentenced in December.
D.A. John Hummel says Larsen's crime means his office has to re-examine more than a thousand case files. "Me and my deputies are reviewing all of the 1,019 cases out of Deschutes County that were reviewed by the crime lab in Bend during Nika Larsen's employment. I want to make sure her involvement in that lab did not taint the integrity of any of those convictions. We're plowing our way through, we have a ways to go," Hummel tells KBND News. "We're about halfway through and, to date, there are 15 convictions that I've asked to be overturned."
Hummel admits the work is taking longer than expected. "I hoped that we would be done by the end of August, but the volume just caught up to us. So, it's now looking more like the end of September or early October we'll complete our review."
SALEM, OR -- More Oregonians are looking for work. "Oregon's unemployment rate rose to 5.2% in July, that's up from 4.8% in June," says Employment Department Economist David Cooke. The national jobless rate is now slightly lower at 4.9%
Cooke says the state added 3,800 jobs, last month. "That's indicating that the labor market isn't quite as tight as we thought it was back then. We're seeing a little bit of a slowdown in the rate of job growth." Health care, professional & business services and leisure & hospitality all saw gains. Manufacturing and construction lost jobs in July.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man faces dozens of charges relating to alleged sexual abuse of an underage girl. Investigators say the victim, who is now 17-years-old, was abused at various Crook County locations over the last eight years.
Police arrested 42-year-old Robert Yentzer during a traffic stop, August 11. He was booked on 24 counts each of Sex Abuse in the first degree, sex abuse in the second degree and Rape in the first degree.
According to Prineville Police, no other victims have come forward.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilor Sally Russell now has a challenger in November. Local businessman Wade Fagen ran back in 2012 and has decided to throw his hat into the ring again, this year.
"I just feel like we need a little more diversity on City Council, and people with passion about Bend, the livability and what Bend used to be like," Fagen tells KBND News. "And, being a Bend native, born and raised here, I've got a good baseline to grade the direction the Bend has been going; and to try and preserve the tranquility and livability of Bend."
Fagen believes managing growth is the biggest issue facing City Council. "We will always have too much growth for Bend. So, what I want to see us do is use that growth more efficiently and accommodate the tourists through each individual private business that deals with the tourists. We don't need to use public funds to go sell at the World Series 'Move to Central Oregon.' I think that's a complete waste of tax dollars."
He believes he would bring a common sense voice to the Council. "My strengths are in actually doing things, seeing efficiencies, running a business, kind of on-the-ground blue collar, I'm in the traffic doing deliveries everyday, I build things and maintain things, with my business, I do the marketing as well as the production." Fagen runs Fagen Tree Service and Wood Chips in Bend.
BOISE, ID -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is again pushing to change how the federal government pays to fight catastrophic wildfires. The Oregon Democrat joined Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Jim Risch (R-ID), Monday, to present new research showing how treatment and restoration projects get shorted when funding is diverted for firefighting efforts.
The Oregon Democrat told reporters, "Again and again, the three of us have pointed out the cost to the rural west and to America for this broken, dysfunctional mess of a budget, which is how we fight fire in America, today." He added, "As a result of shorting prevention, when it gets hot and dry and lightning strikes in our part of the world, all of a sudden we have an inferno on our hands. You borrow the money to put the fire out and the problem just gets worse and worse. We have a solution to that and it doesn’t cost any extra money." He says using FEMA money to fight the country's biggest wildfires instead of pulling from the U.S. Forest Service budget would cost the federal government the same amount of money, but would keep money available for critical forestry projects.
Wyden is optimistic a Conference Committee scheduled to begin in September will help advance his bipartisan bill designed to change the current funding model. "We will have a chance to finally address this issue. We will have all the principals at the table; the issue is in play in both the House and the Senate. Suffice it to say, some of our colleagues have different kinds of approaches, but there is wide support."
In 2015, the Forest Service spent $1.7 billion to fight wildfires; 10 times the amount spent in 1985.
BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County Grand Jury has indicted Edwin Lara for the murder of Kaylee Sawyer. The 23-year-old Bend woman disappeared July 24; her body was found two days later in a dry canyon along Highway 126, between Redmond and Sisters.
Lara's wife told investigators he told her he hit Sawyer with his COCC patrol car. District Attorney John Hummel says part of the gag order has been lifted, and he can now reveal more about the case. "She was killed at the hands of Mr. Lara; she was not killed by Mr. Lara’s vehicle, in spite of what he may have said early on in this investigation," Hummel tells KBND News. "Mr. Lara kidnapped Kaylee, he then attempted to sexually assault her and he then killed her – not with his vehicle."
Hummel adds, "All these acts that I just described occurred on the COCC campus. After Kaylee was murdered on campus, Mr. Lara took her body to Redmond where he disposed of her body. The next day, he changed his mind about where he wanted Kaylee to be. He then moved her body to the final spot where she was ultimately discovered."
The 31-year-old Redmond man was indicted on four counts of aggravated murder. "Aggravated murder is as it sounds, it’s a more serious form of murder," says Hummel. "Aggravated murder carries the possibility of the death penalty; regular murder does not." Although, Hummel says no decision has been made whether to seek the death penalty in this case.
Lara remains in a California jail, where he also faces charges for crimes committed after Sawyer's murder while he was on the run. Hummel expects Lara will be extradited back to Oregon in the next couple of weeks.
BEND, OR -- A former Oregon State Police crime lab analyst has pleaded guilty to stealing controlled substances she was supposed to be processing as evidence.
Officials say 36-year-old Nika Larsen worked as a forensic scientist at the Bend lab. She was accused of stealing items from evidence that had been submitted by various law enforcement agencies.
Larsen agreed to a plea deal and could face three years in federal prison when she's sentenced in December.
SALEM, OR -- A Crook County Deputy District Attorney has been arrested after allegedly leading police on a chase.
A Marion County Sheriff’s deputy tried to pull over a car for going 80 miles per hour on Highway 22 near Lyons, Sunday night. The driver refused to pull over, speeding down a gravel road. Due to the dust, the deputy backed off and eventually found the car abandoned near Stayton.
Monday morning, 29-year-old Matthew Reiner was arrested when he returned to the area looking for the car. The Bend man was described as wet, scraped up and in possession of the car’s keys. Reiner is the registered owner and works for the Crook County D.A.'s office.
Investigators say it’s unclear why he didn’t stop for police.
BEND, OR -- Many soccer players in town for last weekend's Bend Premier Cup tournament had trouble finding hotel rooms in Bend because everything was booked. It doesn't surprise Alana Hughson, with the Central Oregon Visitors Association. "We have had an extraordinarily busy summer, to date. We have the transient room tax revenue numbers from Deschutes County and the city of Bend for stays that occurred through the end of June, and the county is reporting up 20.8% over the prior year, for the fiscal year ending June 30. So, it is a record-setting summer out of the gate."
Hughson tells KBND News, "And, we know with projections looking forward for July and August, those have maintained a fairly robust projection and booking pace. We anticipate July and August are going to be up from the prior year. We won’t know until we see the final numbers if they’re record setting of any kind but certainly June was." Those July and August reports won't be available until fall.
But, even with those increases, there are indications some segments are slowing. "We’re seeing a slight softening in group and corporate business, and that is sometimes a leading indicator of what’s going to happen in leisure," says Hughson. "So, as we look ahead, we’re starting to look at that more closely and with a little more caution. We do expect this significant growth that we’ve been fortunate to have for the last five years is going to start slowing and tapering off, and will likely keep us at a more manageable level, going forward."
BEND, OR -- A California woman was injured while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Sunday afternoon, prompting a five-hour Deschutes County Search and Rescue operation.
The 64-year-old San Diego woman called for help after she realized she couldn’t continue on the trail. Three SAR teams responded to the Elk Lake Trail Head, hiked in about two miles and brought her out on a wheeled litter. She later sought her own medical attention.
BEND, OR -- Five people were hurt in a rollover crash east of Bend, over the weekend.
According to Oregon State Police, 23-year-old Shawn Seagraves-Hall, of Redmond, was driving southbound on Powell Butte Highway, when his vehicle rolled multiple times, early Saturday morning.
Emergency crews had to pull the occupants out of the SUV and all five were taken to the hospital with injuries ranging from minor to serious. Seagraves-Hall was later cited at the hospital for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants and several other charges.
BEND, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) pitched his bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act in Bend, last week. The Oregon Democrat says his “Families First Bill” would help vulnerable children and reduce unnecessary foster care placements.
Currently, federal funds are available to help children in crisis only after they have suffered abuse. Wyden's bill would make federal money available before problems arise. Speaking to two dozen local child crisis care professionals at the Mountain Star Relief Nursery on Friday, Senator Wyden called it, “Arguable, one of the biggest child welfare reform bills in decades. The first to ever say the federal policy is to get there before problems get out of hand.” He pointed to Mountain Star Relief Nursery as a model of early intervention for foster kids in crisis.
He co-sponsored the bill, which passed the House in June. “So what we’re going to try and do is see if we can get it through the Senate this fall, either in September or in what is called the 'Lame Duck Session,' which starts after the election.” Wyden is confident the President will sign the bill.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man faces a list of charges after a Friday afternoon police chase.
An officer tried to pull over a car for an expired registration when it took off through the downtown corridor.
After police deployed spike strips, the driver ran from the scene. That driver was identified as 42-year-old Glen Carroll; he was arrested after a short foot pursuit.
During the traffic stop, officers found over 10 grams of suspected methamphetamine.
BEND, OR -- Commute Options is exploring the possibility of bringing vanpooling back to Central Oregon. It was a popular ride-sharing option until the recession when a lack of users forced the local program to end.
Commute Options Executive Director Jeff Monson tells KBND News, "I think there’s a need, we know there’s a lot of traffic congestion; one car, one person coming from Redmond to Bend and reverse in the afternoon, usually. That’s the typical commute pattern. And so, if we can help arrange some vanpools then we could help some people get a ride and get rid of some of that traffic." Commute Options is talking with companies like Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s ride-share branch about bringing vans to Central Oregon. "They designate a driver or two. That vanpool driver would then pickup five, seven or eight people and take them to downtown Bend, or St. Charles, or OSU, G-5 or some of the companies and areas that are thinking about vanpooling."
Monson says they’d like to start with routes between Bend and Redmond, which could serve more people than the current bus system. "This is a compliment to Cascades East Transit. So, they can’t serve every single need. We work with CET a lot; we promote bus ridership, too, of course. The bus system may not work for everyone, but could a vanpool sneak in there and help eight people get to work right on time, right to where they work, no parking worries?"
Commute Options wants to hear from commuters interested in participating so they can determine if there's enough demand. To get on the list, email Kim Curley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541-408-6111. Monson says each rider would pay around $100 a month for a 40-mile round trip, five days a week.
BEND, OR -- Bend's Mayor announced this week he will not seek re-election. Jim Clinton is the most senior member of the current City Council, having served for more than a decade; the last four as Mayor. He tells KBND News, "I decided that, even though I've maintained my dedication to the position for 12 years, I didn't think I could maintain it for another four years." Clinton adds, "I don't think anybody has ever been on the City Council for a whole bunch of consecutive terms. It's just a time in our system where people go on for a while, like a relay race, and then somebody else picks up the baton and goes forward. So, I think it's natural that I would step aside at this point."
Clinton says it's been an honor to serve the city, but admits he won't miss some of the trappings of the office because he doesn't consider himself a natural politician. "A lot of times we get into debates at the City Council and debates in the community that really are more aimed at scoring political points and winning over the opponent than actually advancing towards solutions for our city. That part of it is not so productive." He feels the city has made great progress in facilitating affordable housing projects and transportation and land use planning. But, he says it still falls short on public transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and road maintenance.
Former City Councilor Bruce Abernethy has already filed to run for Clinton's Position Four seat. Clinton says, "I actually talked to Bruce, quite a few months ago before he announced, and said things were looking really problematic for me for seeking another term, being as honest as I could. And, I certainly didn't discourage him from filing; it's not like we would be in opposition. So, that was not a factor at all."
CLACKAMAS, OR -- A Madras woman was killed in a crash outside of Portland, Wednesday night.
According to Oregon State Police, Vernita Adams was crossing Highway 213, also known as SE 82nd Ave, when she was struck by an SUV at about 11 p.m. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the Chevrolet Tahoe, a 52-year-old Portland man, was not injured and is cooperating with the investigation, which is ongoing.
SUNRIVER, OR -- Stargazers are rejoicing at the perfect combination of increased meteor activity and decreased moonlight during this year’s Perseid Meteor Shower. Bob Grossfeld, Manager of the Oregon Observatory in Sunriver, tells KBND News the best viewing will be between midnight and 1 a.m., Friday and Saturday morning. "The Perseid is really good because there are a lot of bright meteors, so even in town, you can sit in your hot tub and look up and see a few. If you really want to enjoy it, you want to go east or west of Bend, the darker the better. But, we’ve seen quite a few bright ones." He says the most activity will be in the northern sky, but Central Oregonians simply looking up will likely see a few.
Although the astronomical event happens every year, Grossman says, "This year is a little bit better because the predictions of the amount of meteors we’ll see is greater. Normally, Perseid is 50-100 an hour. This year, they’re jumping that up to 200 per hour; I’ve even seen some reports it could potentially be 300 per hour."
While the best viewing is Thursday and Friday night, shooting-star activity will be seen for another week, until the moon gets too bright. "What we’re experiencing is debris left over from a comet called Swift-Tuttle, and that comet leaves behind parts of ice pebbles- if you want to think of it that way- they’re basically the size of grains of sand. We run into it at high speed and we see a falling star, or meteor. It really isn’t a star, it’s just debris burning up on the atmosphere."
BEND, OR -- An upcoming event aims to help families get rid of unwanted items while helping others prepare for the new school year. Marika Yuma says the annual Central Oregon Great Giveaway began in Bend 14 years ago. "It started out as a smaller clothing swap between some local congregations, here, and it has just ballooned from there. Now, we have these four different areas: Bend, La Pine, Prineville and Redmond; and we also have other community organizations and churches involved."
Yuma tells KBND News they are still accepting donations in good condition for Saturday's events. "People can come to these three different locations and donate their items, then on Saturday at each of these locations, anyone can come and take what they need and make some great finds for their family – clothing or bedding or books or toys. Really, it’s just a wonderful exchange of goods and items that we don’t need anymore and someone else might be able to use that." This Saturday’s giveaways are in Bend, La Pine and Prineville. Another giveaway will take place in Redmond on August 27. She says they still need more volunteers to help sort and organize donations.
Everyone is welcome to look for clothing, school supplies or household items at the Saturday giveaways. "Our theme is ‘give what you can, take what you need.’" Yuma says, "We don’t screen anyone based on their income or status of their need. Anyone is welcome to come and take what they need for their individual use."
For more information on where and when to donate, and the times and locations of the Saturday Great Giveaways, visit COGGA.net
REDMOND, OR -- The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team recently arrested a Redmond pair for drug trafficking. Following a several week investigation into tips the two were trafficking commercial quantities of methamphetamine from a Redmond motel room, 44-year-old Cindy Byrd and 39-year-old Jeremiah Wright were taken into custody, last week.
Detectives executed a search warrant at the Village Squire Motel on SW 5th Street in Redmond, and found 3.5 ounces of meth, scales, packaging material and other evidence.
Byrd is charged with trafficking meth within one thousand feet of a school and Wright faces a probation violation.
BEND, OR -- The roundabout at the intersection of 8th and 9th Street and Franklin Avenue is 15-years-old the due for repairs. Bend Street Director David Abbas says, like other aging roundabouts, traffic has taken its toll. “It’s distressed and a number of potholes and alligator cracking. And so it’s one we’ve identified to fix with some of our maintenance dollars.”
Abbas tells KBND News the $312,000 project and subsequent road closures will last about three weeks. “It will be fixed up before school starts. Bend High is right there, and Bear Creek Elementary is nearby.” There will be detours at the intersection and elsewhere, directing traffic to use other arterial streets during the repair work.
YREKA, CA -- A former campus security guard accused of killing 23-year-old Kaylee Sawyer while on patrol near Central Oregon Community College, remains in a California jail. Edwin Lara appeared before a Siskiyou County judge Tuesday, but refused to sign extradition papers, which would have cleared the way for him to return to Deschutes County to face murder charges.
The 31-year-old Redmond man is being held without bail in Yreka, California, where he entered not guilty pleas on various charges stemming from his alleged actions while on the run after Sawyer’s July 24 murder
. He's due back in court next week.
SISTERS, OR -- A Texas woman suffered a medical emergency while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, prompting a Deschutes County Search and Rescue operation, Tuesday afternoon.
A fellow hiker called for help after the 49-year-old woman could no longer continue on the trail, near the Dee Wright Observatory, west of Sisters. It took several hours for rescue teams to reach and assess the patient and wheel her down the narrow trail.
She was then taken to a Life Flight helicopter waiting on Highway 242 and flown to St. Charles Medical Center.
BEND, OR -- Bend's pothole problem certainly has the attention of drivers and the city street department. City Councilors recently received an update on pothole repairs after approving the pulling of funds from next year’s budget to fix potholes, now. “From August to August, this last year, so counting the winter, we’ve tackled over 3,000 potholes,” Streets Director David Abbas told Councilors. And, he says the number is growing.
Crews are patrolling, looking for the worst spots, and citizens can call the city to report potholes that need to be repaired. “And then there’s also the ability on our website to fill out a pothole request, citizen service request,” Abbas says. Click HERE to visit the city's reporting website.
Councilors recently approved moving $200,000 into this year's budget to make repairs.
BEND, OR -- Bend’s largest homeless shelter has issued an urgent plea for food donations.
Chris Clouart, with the Bethlehem Inn, says they are in desperate need of basic lunch items with a longer shelf-life. "We’re looking for lunch meat, we’re looking for sliced cheeses, we’re looking for tuna, we’re looking for salad dressing, instant potatoes, coffee and creamer. Coffee is an incredible amount for us; we make something like a couple of hundred cups per day of coffee. Things like cream soups, broth for chicken or beef, egg noodles, canned fruit, individual fruit cups, if that’s possible, lunch snacks." He tells KBND News, "Every single day we make roughly 50-60 lunches that are available for our residents to use to take to jobs or take when they leave the facility. So, having to build those lunches requires all the blocks that go into building a lunch. So, those are the kinds of things that we need, desperately. In a non-food-related way, we also need things like sleeping bags, right now." Clouart says there are many who are not able to stay at a shelter, and the give sleeping bags to anyone who needs to camp outside.
This time of year, the homeless shelter finds it difficult to keep the pantry stocked. "We are getting donations. But, the kinds of things we normally see come in on a large basis at Thanksgiving time, when a lot of people are stocking up on lots of different kinds of foods, that’s when we see a lot of that stuff," says Clouart. "The middle of summer, not so much."
Donations can be made at the Bethlehem Inn on North Highway 97 in Bend, just south of DMV.
LA PINE, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney has decided not to charge a La Pine woman in the death of her sister. Medics found the body of 63-year-old Christine Freise when they were called to her home in April.
It was determined she died in November of natural causes, and her sister Elizabeth left her in her body, doing nothing to dispose of her body. DA John Hummel determined no crime was committed. Though shocking and appalling, Hummel says Elizabeth Freise did not have a legal duty in regard to her sister's corpse. She was not her sister's legal caregiver or guardian.
SISTERS, OR -- A Salem man was killed in a crash on Highway 126, near Belknap Hot Springs, Monday afternoon. Oregon State Police say an eastbound vehicle crossed the centerline into the path of a pickup towing a travel trailer.
The car moved back into its own lane, but the pickup lost control while trying to avoid a collision. It hit an embankment and several trees before rolling over. The 64-year-old pickup driver, Kermit Lisle Jr., was pronounced dead at the scene.
The other driver, an Idaho man, continued eastbound but was located a short time later and is cooperating with the investigation.
BEND, OR -- Oregon State Football is making Central Oregon home this week. While football facilities in Corvallis are being worked on, the team is practicing in Bend. Saturday’s workout was open to the public and hundreds of fans showed up donning their orange and black.
“We live it, we breathe it, we bleed it,” Rick Montez told KBND News. The festivities included a booth showing a virtual reality film of the work begin done on the OSU football facility.
Jerry Gerke and his wife drove down from Madras to watch the practice. He’s a former Beaver football player from 1954. “We didn’t have face masks. We did have the shell helmet but we didn’t have face masks.”
Beaver fans from High Desert Middle School took advantage of the crowds to hold a fundraiser. Seventh grader Garett Morton and his pals sold goodies to raise funds for a trip to Washington D.C. “We’re selling donuts and water and tea right now.”
This week’s practices at Summit High are closed to the public, but Beaver Believers took full advantage Saturday to see their team up close and personal.
BEND, OR -- Federally managed lands in Central Oregon are now under increased industrial restrictions, due to the extreme fire danger across the region. Effective Monday, the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests, Crooked River National Grassland and the Prineville BLM raised the Industrial Fire Precaution Level to Three.
Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, says the increased level does not impact recreational activities. "This primarily affects most industrial uses. So, people who are out doing timber harvests or in some way doing commercial activities on forest land using saws, cable yarding equipment, tractors, skidders, those kinds of things. There’s a time restriction when those people can operate."
She tells KBND News, "It doesn’t affect people who are out having campfires, or anything like that. The only kind of use it effects for most of the public is woodcutting. So, if people want to cut wood for personal or commercial use; that is not allowed." While campfires are still allowed in federal campgrounds, Nelson Dean urges, "If you don’t need a fire, don’t have a fire. Or, if you do, be very careful with it. We want people to still have an abundance of caution around it, but at this time we haven’t put those restrictions. The state has; and that would apply to state lands, like La Pine State Park and Tumalo State Park, and those areas."
Campfires are still allowed in designated federal campgrounds, although the Oregon Department of Forestry is prohibiting fires on state-managed lands, like state parks. August is traditionally the worst month of the year for wildfire in Central Oregon.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon voters will decide seven statewide measures, in November. The Oregon Secretary of State's office has assigned numbers to the measures that will be on the ballot.
Three are referred by the Legislature: Measures 94-96 would eliminate the retirement age for state judges, allow public universities to invest in equities and dedicate 1.5% of lottery money to veterans.
Measure 97 increases the tax on large corporations - also known as IP 28; Measure 98 would increase spending on schools; Measure 99 creates the outdoor school education fund; and, Measure 100 makes it illegal to buy or sell parts from endangered species.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are looking for a man who reportedly tried to take a boy from the Deschutes County Fair, late Saturday night.
The suspect, described as a 20-year-old white male dressed in dark clothing and a black hat, was seen escorting the five-year-old away from the south gate entrance of the fairgrounds, just after midnight. He ran from the area after he was confronted.
Anyone with information on the attempted abduction, the suspect or his whereabouts is asked to call Redmond PD at 541-504-3400 or through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- A Bend woman was rescued from the spillway near the Newport Bridge, Sunday afternoon, after she lost her float. Bend Police say the 58-year-old woman was holding on to a buoyed cable stretched across the river but was quickly getting exhausted.
A Bend man, 30-year-old Tanner Boslau, paddled over and was able to help the woman until police could get a rope out. He secured the rope around her and police pulled her to safety.
Police say Boslau acted heroically, putting himself in danger to save a woman in trouble.
JOHN DAY, OR -- Despite a slow start to Central Oregon’s wildfire season, local crews are helping with several fires burning elsewhere in the state. The Prineville Hotshots are working the Rail Fire (pictured), east of John Day. The blaze was first reported July 31, and has now grown to more than 7,000 acres; it’s just 5% contained.
The Bybee Creek Fire has burned more than a thousand acres near Crater Lake, since it began July 28. It’s 12% contained. And, the 15-acre Neal Creek Fire, eight miles south of Hood River is now 50% contained.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Book-lovers in some parts of rural Crook County no longer have to travel into Prineville to visit the library. The first two “Little Free Libraries” will open Friday at the Powell Butte Store and Juniper Canyon Fire station. And, Jane Scheppke, with the Crook County Library, says using them is simple - no library card required. "Find a little free library – and you can’t miss them because they look like tiny birdhouses. And, you can take a book, you can leave a book. It’s basically a really simple one to one exchange where you take something and the expectation is that you’ll leave something behind."
Scheppke admits they got the idea from social media; similar programs have launched around the country in recent months. "These are books that were selected specially by the Friends of the Library to go out into the little free libraries. So, if those get lost, nobody is going to be charged any fines or fees. We are expecting there to be a little bit of loss, but we’re also expecting people to contribute some of their own materials to the project."
The Crook County project is completely volunteer-run. "We are seeking some volunteers to help us manage our little free libraries, to make sure they’re remaining stocked, that they’re remaining clean and nice," Scheppke tells KBND News. "When we have more volunteers on board, we’re going to get a third site started at the Paulina Store."
BEND, OR -- The Bend Airport is expanding its helicopter operations to accommodate anticipated growth. Airport Manager Gary Judd says the concept has been in the works since development of the 2013 Master Plan. "In order to enhance the safety and have the capacity that we need for our current traffic, we’re actually going to build a heliport bigger than we originally planned on doing. So, that’s how it got started. We did the environmentals and the FAA agreed to fund it, and they also recognized the need for it as the airport’s growing and the flight schools are growing in size, that we needed some place to move the helicopters to."
He says it’s no longer safe to have helicopters and fixed-wing planes operating so close together. "What it addresses is on the ground operations. So, you could cause control issues for the helicopter. And, on the other side, helicopters create a huge column of downward moving air that can actually flip aircraft over, they blow dirt, just generally can cause a lot of disruption on the ground. So, the two types of machines don’t mix well in close proximity on the ground." The new heliport will be built on the east side of the facility. More hangar space is also proposed.
Judd tells KBND News the airport has been growing in recent years, and this project would get the facility ready for what's to come. "The helicopter school has grown, they’re up to about 130 students. And the other thing is, the fixed-wing is starting to grow. The airlines are starting to have a shortage of pilots and that’s creating an interest in young people looking for new careers. We’re getting to where we just have to increase efficiencies of the airport and make sure we have the capacity to handle what we have and what’s expected to be had in the next few years."
The heliport is expected to be ready by next August. City Councilors this week awarded the construction contract to Jack Robinson and Sons. Judd says nearly all of the $9.5 million project will be covered by FAA and ODOT grants.
BEND, OR -- Fire investigators say a faulty catalytic converter from a passing car is responsible for a string of small fires in northeast Bend, Thursday morning. Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe says crews arrived just before 8:30 a.m., within seven minutes of getting dispatched. "One crew arrived first and said it was a single fire. Then, he was told by police officers that there were plenty of other fires down the street. So, he called for more resources and we ended up with 10 small fires that extended for 2 to 300 yards up Neff Road, right in the front of Pilot Butte Middle School."
Howe tells KBND News the driver is likely unaware they were starting fires as they drove along. He says police are looking for the person, to make sure they know they need to get the car serviced before it causes any more fires. "Every now and again a catalytic converter, especially in an older vehicle that’s over 15-years-old, will break up and they will come out and work their way out of the exhaust system. They’re about 1600 degrees Fahrenheit, so when they land on dry grass it’s going to burn, if we have the extreme conditions that we happen to have right now."
Neighbors reported the fires immediately, and used their own garden hoses to douse the flames until firefighters arrived. Damage was limited to grass and nearby fences. Howe says it could've been much worse, had the incident occurred later in the day. "Because it’s much dryer in the afternoon, it’s a lot hotter, maybe a little bit of a breeze. So, we lucked out on this one. We actually had 10 fires – 10 ignitions – but we were actually able to get on top of them really quickly."
REDMOND, OR --Redmond’s newest middle school is on track to be completed by the end of the month. Redmond Proficiency Academy Director Jon Bullock says the 24,000-square foot facility will open for sixth-through-eighth grade students on September sixth. "Typically we start the week before that. But, we knew – construction being what it is – we wanted to give ourselves a little bit of extra time to make sure everything was ready for our students on the first day. This year we decided to push that start time back a little bit. But, we’re on target to have the ribbon cutting and grand opening on September first; we’re excited about that and excited to have our students come see the school."
Dr. Bullock tells KBND News, "Finishing touches are going on in the building. You know, all the cabinetry’s been put in place; windows are being finished. We’re probably about a week and a half out from being able to get the building in its final stages of clean and do a punch list. And then, we’ve got some time to move in the new furniture that will go in the building." The charter school was forced to move out of the Hugh Hartman building to accommodate the new Redmond Early Learning Center.
He says the new facility at 25th and West Antler begins a new chapter for the charter school. "This building really is a testament to the contribution that RPA is making to the educational environment of our community and our state. I think when people walk in and see that it’s designed with our students in mind, I think they’re going to be blown away and excited about it. I’m incredibly excited; I get to see it everyday. I tell you, there are times I walk through there and it’s hard to hold back tears thinking about how far RPA has come in the past eight years."
LA PINE, OR -- Fire crews made good progress Wednesday on the Paulina Fire burning northeast of La Pine. Cool air and colder overnight temperatures allowed firefighters to hold containment lines.
Fire management will transition back to local units, Thursday, Level I evacuations at area campgrounds are being lifted and Forest Road 9735 is now open. Some localized closures along the fire line will remain until all fire operations subside.
BEND, OR -- Things got heated last night when the Bend City Council discussed the proposed Climate Change Policy. The issue of whether the goals to lower fossil fuel use and greenhouse gases ought to be real or aspirational sparked the debate during the council’s work session.
Councilor Victor Chudowsky offered a Powerpoint presentation to support his opinion that specific projects, rather than goals that are out of our control, would offer more measurable results: "I would rather have that group of people spend the next year or two - " Councilor Barb Campbell interrupted, "Coming up with a plan." Chudowsky responded, "No, no, no. I want them to - " Campbell interrupted again, "Victor, I sincerely do not understand the words you’re saying. They have no meaning. You’re saying you want the committee to come up with a plan; you don’t want to have a plan." Chudowsky reacted with, "You’re putting words in my mouth." Campbell said, "I’m not! You’re putting words on the screen, Victor. I don’t need to put any words in your mouth. You put them on the screen."
Following several more exchanges between Chudowsky and Campbell, Mayor Jim Clinton and Councilor Sally Russell tried to intervene, "Could we have some protocol at this dais please?"
The Council is considering the proposal that would require the city operations to produce net-zero Greenhouse Gases by 2030; reduce fossil fuel use by 40% by 2030 and by 70% by 2050. A major point of difference is if, and how, to produce the same goals for the larger community. The discussion will continue at the council’s regular meeting September seventh.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilor Sally Russell has announced her bid for re-election. Speaking on the banks of the Deschutes River, Tuesday, the four-year City Council veteran told supporters one of her key issues is the current proposed Climate Change Policy. “We have to do something that is right for Bend. That’s grounded in science and that doesn’t commit the city to funds that we don’t have.”
Russell currently serves as Mayor Pro Tem but hopes to move into the Mayor’s seat upon re-election, saying it is about time Bend had another female mayor. “It’s not only about being a woman as Mayor. It’s that I have what Bend needs right now. We need to pull our council together in different kinds of ways than we’ve seen in the last two to four years.” She was elected to Position Three in 2012.
At this time she is running unopposed.
REDMOND, OR -- When the Deschutes County Fair opens Wednesday, along with the animals, baked goods and crafts, ham radio operators will also be on display. Don Shurtleff, with the High Desert Amateur Radio Group (HIDARG), says it’s a chance "To meet some of the hams that provide critical services to public safety agencies and to the public. The hams will be on the air demonstrating how their various systems work." He adds, "The hams will be able to talk to you about disaster preparedness, and provide handouts that describe how you can obtain a ham radio license."
The HIDARG booth is directly across from the Sheep Barn, near the Bank of the Cascades Center.
LA PINE, OR -- Fire crews responded to a small brush fire on National Forest-land northeast of La Pine, Tuesday afternoon. The Paulina Fire was reported east of Highway 97, across from State Rec Road, just after 3:30.
Air and ground units quickly attacked the fire, and as of Wednesday morning, it was reportedly 53-acres in size and 30% contained.
Several campgrounds in the area were issued pre-evacuation notices. Forest Service Road 9735 is closed to accommodate firefighting activities.
BEND, OR -- An upcoming event in Bend is designed to teach Central Oregonians how to get the most out of Medicare. It’s a free workshop offered by Pacific Source Community Health Plans, aimed to people who are six to eight months from joining the Medicare system.
“It’s primarily aimed at those soon to become Medicare eligible, to help them navigate the Medicare system to help them make wise choices on Medicare coverage,” says Pacific Source's Brad Westphal. He tells KBND News the workshop will cover a number of topics, “What Medicare covers; what it Medicare doesn’t cover; what Medicare costs; options for adding extra options to your Medicare; timelines on when you need to make decisions and choices; how you sign up for Medicare.”
Other topics include what Medicare costs, options for adding extra coverage and timelines on when you need to make decisions. It takes place at the Bend Senior Center August fourth. You can RSVP at Pacific Source or the senior center.
SISTERS, OR -- Monday evening’s brush fire southeast of Sisters serves as a reminder that conditions are ripe for wildfire. "We are at a level of extreme fire danger right now, because of our fuel moistures that we’re constantly checking. To put it bluntly, we’re in the heart of fire season in Central Oregon. This is what we’ve come to expect in August and early September," says Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest.
The Fryrear Fire was spotted shortly after 5 p.m., on BLM land on the west side of Fryrear Road. High winds and dry conditions quickly pushed it to 8.4 acres, as of Tuesday morning. Crews expect it to be fully contained by Tuesday evening. Nelson Dean tells KBND News a joint effort between crews on the ground and in the air protected homes in the Cascade Estates area. "The beauty for Deschutes County is that we have great connections between all of the structural firefighting resources from all the different communities, as well as the Federal, Oregon Department of Forestry and the Sheriff’s Department. We all work pretty close together, so the response is pretty quick mostly because we’re in constant communication. Throughout the year, we regularly work together."
Nelson Dean says that – while the cause of the Fryrear Fire is not yet known – most of the recent fires have been human caused. "It’s August. We have really dry fuels, we just need people to really take care. I want to use an example of a group of folks a week or two ago – they put water on it, they thought they’d done the right thing, they left and came back and it had burned up. It could’ve burned up their dog and their camper and a couple of other things, but we did have resources on it. They really had the best intentions. But, the thing is, when you put a fire out, it needs to be cold to the touch."
To hear our full conversation with Jean Nelson Dean visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County is moving ahead with plans to construct its first roundabout. A joint meeting between the Prineville City Council, County Court and the Oregon Department of Transportation takes place Tuesday, to help local officials better understand why a roundabout is needed at Tom McCall and Highway 126.
Prineville's City Engineer Eric Klann tells KBND News, "That intersection is currently failing, and this is the intersection the data centers use. If you want to get to Facebook or Apple, this is the intersection you need to go through. So, for economic development, we need to do what we can to fix that intersection so those companies and other companies in our airport industrial park can continue to grow." He adds, "Without a slated improvement, ODOT can put a moratorium on that intersection and we wouldn’t be able to allow any more growth in that area. Which isn’t what we want, we want to grow existing businesses and any other businesses that would like to come to town."
Klann acknowledges some residents have been resistant to the idea, but he says, "There’s been a rash of accidents there. In the last five years, unfortunately, we’ve had eight people leave that intersection in an ambulance so we want to do everything we can to improve it as quickly as possible. And, all the studies we’ve done show a roundabout would be a very safe and cost-effective solution at that spot."
Klann says ODOT has committed to $3.5 million of the $4.5 million project. The roundabout is currently in the design phase and construction is slated to begin in the summer of 2018.
Tuesday's informational meeting begins at 5:15 at Prineville City Hall and is open to the public, although no public testimony will be heard.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners officially lifted the ban on marijuana-related businesses in rural areas, Monday. Prior to their vote, County Community Development Director Nick Lelack explained the types of businesses impacted by the new ordinance: "Addressing marijuana processing sites, medical marijuana dispensaries, marijuana producers, marijuana possessors, marijuana wholesalers and marijuana retailers. And, this would rescind ordinance 2015-009."
After thanking staff for months of work, public hearings and meetings, Commissioners voted unanimously to reverse the previous “opt out” and declare an emergency -- which means new rules take effect in 30 days. Commissioner Alan Unger recognizes the decision isn’t going to please everyone. "I feel that Deschutes County is ready to address the problems, and bring what in the past has created problems into compliance, and to look as we move forward to create an atmosphere where we are protecting our rural life but are still allowing for opportunity. I think we have a good set of regulations and now the challenge is how do we put those into effect." Commissioner Tammy Baney agreed, "I’ve often said that I think this is probably something very similar to what my grandmother experienced through prohibition. We won’t be able to take care of the black market through these regulations; we won’t be able to solve all the issues. But, the fact remains that we are living with a new industry, and that industry has been allowed. I think we’ve done a great job in seeking balance to try and bring two sides together."
Commissioner Tony DeBone says there is still more work to do. "What does enforcement look like, I think is really our next step, also. Let’s work together with the industry, let’s make sure people are thriving in a regulated legal industry. But, also we have some controls and some enforcement around what’s allowed, neighborhood livability, neighbor relationships, enforcement by our public safety officers. So, there are a lot of pieces that still need to be implemented, also."
The county will begin accepting license applications for marijuana businesses wanting to operate outside of incorporated cities, beginning September first.
BEND, OR -- Police arrested a Bend man early Friday morning believed to be responsible for at least a dozen car prowls in northeast Bend. Investigators searched the home of 23-year-old Taylor Connelly and say they found jewelry, knives, cell phones and other personal items connected to thefts committed over the past three months. The victim vehicles were all believed to be unlocked.
Connelly is also charged with meth possession and possessing a restricted weapon, along with violating his parole. Officers continue to locate victims and suspect they may connect him with additional thefts from vehicles.
SISTERS, OR -- A Portland man was rescued from South Sister, after he lost the trail while hiking down from the summit. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says 36-year-old James Esposito had little food and water, low-battery life on his phone and was dressed in only running shoes, shorts, t-shirt and a vest when he called 911 for help, Saturday afternoon.
Deschutes County Search and Rescue was deployed to the area, and a Redmond man hiking in the area was able to relay more specific location information to deputies. However, due to the precarious nature of Esposito’s location on the west side of the mountain, rescuers couldn’t reach him until Sunday morning.
AirLink assisted in getting the hiker and rescuers off the mountain. Esposito was shivering and battling hypothermia when he was rescued, but was otherwise uninjured. He was flown to St. Charles Bend for evaluation.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners are expected to approve Monday lifting the ban on marijuana-related businesses in unincorporated areas. Community Development Director Nick Lelack says they will likely vote to rescind the “opt out” by emergency. "The emergency clause would make the ordinance they’re adopting effective September first."
Lelack tells KBND News, "The Board of County Commissioners thought that 30 days would be an appropriate amount of time for the ordinance to be rescinded prior to its being in effect so that at the staff level we are able to conduct a couple of public workshops to provide information: what is going to be required in the submittal requirements for the applications, what they can expect for the review process, as the process unfolds." Public workshops are tentatively scheduled for August 23, to help business owners and neighbors learn more about requirements and the application process.
He expects applications will start coming into his office almost immediately. "We have inquiries everyday from potential businesses looking forward to the opt out being rescinded so they can move forward with their business plans. With that said, it’s uncertain how many applications will actually come in the first day, the first week or even the first month, because there are a number of requirements per the county’s adopted regulations that will need to be satisfied in their application."
BEND, OR -- A painful detour for southeast Bend residents is over. The Murphy Road Roundabout opened for traffic Thursday. The ribbon cutting of Bend's 32nd roundabout was celebrated by city officials and happy neighbors, like Monica Standen. She told KBND News, it will “Definitely make it safer. No more skidding out here on this grade here, going on Parrell, so that will be good.”
The former intersection at Parrell and Murphy Road was a trouble spot, according the projec
t manager Ryan Oster. “In eight years or so we had about 16 reported accidents here. Some of those were pretty serious; vehicles flipping over. So this has definitely been one that’s been on our radar. So we’re very happy we’re getting this thing open and back up.”
The project came in on budget and a month early. There is now a direct east-west connection in the southern part of the city, with connectivity from Brookswood Boulevard to Brosterhous Road. It also ties Murphy Road with the new ODOT overpass on South Third Street.
Jones Road, full road closure between Bennington Lane and NE Butler Market Road. May 18 – August 18, local access only.
Orion Drive closed in two locations for sewer work; at the intersection with Avery Lane and between Desert Woods Drive and King Hezekiah Way. From July 11 to Sept. 6. Detours marked.
Valhalla Sewer Relocation Project, Mt. Washington Drive at Shevlin Park Road intersection and North to Regency Street. Nighttime closures with detours marked during roundabout construction. Daytime closures for construction towards Regency Street. 7 p.m. – 7 a.m., July 11 – November.