REDMOND, OR -- The expansion of Redmond’s Centennial Park could get underway sooner than expected. Project Manager Troy Rayburn says the last tenant of the lot between the existing park and City Hall is moving up his plans. "Good news: we’ve heard that the gentlemen who is in a lease agreement with the city, the Printing Post, will vacate by spring of 2018, if not before. So, if we’re able to keep the project’s momentum, we’ll probably be breaking ground by spring of 2018."
The design of the future park is starting to take shape and Rayburn says residents have taken a big interest in how it will eventually look, "We had a public forum where we had approximately 12-15 different park amenities/ideas submitted to the task force. We had an online survey that ran for a little over two weeks, where we received approximately 400 replies or submittals." He tells KBND News, "Those amenities, between the open house in March and the online public survey, range from 'keep it green, keep it an open space' – once you lose the green space, there’s no getting it back – to people who kind of want a little bit more of a mixture with an active use combined with a passive use, where people play everything from bocce ball to maybe a small summer concert series."
An open house scheduled for Wednesday afternoon aims to help the task force process all that feedback. Rayburn says, "Folks can come in, review information boards, review architectural renderings, submit comment cards, speak to the task force members one-on-one; so that we can start narrowing that down in a much more specific way." Wednesday's drop-in open house is 4:30-7 p.m. on the second floor of City Hall.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors will formalize the city’s budget next month, and the final proposal includes a last minute addition. City Manager Eric King says the adjustment takes millions away from the reconstruction of Galveston Avenue and applies the money to a roundabout at Purcell and Empire in northeast Bend.
King tells KBND News, "The mayor was looking at ways to compromise on the budget. So, it was really part of a larger package of addressing a variety of interests from both Council and citizen budget committee members. So, there was probably a half dozen or so changes, and that being one of them – some shifting of some dollars for transportation." It also includes funding for additional police officers.
The Galveston project isn’t dead. King says, "The compromise that Council and the Budget Committee worked out was move forward with design of Galveston; we’re about 30% of the way through the design. But then, it really becomes a shovel-ready project. It could be grants, it could be as that street develops – so, as private development investment comes in it provides a blueprint for how to make some of those changes to include sidewalks and storm drains. Or, it could be part of a larger general – an obligation bond that voters approve."
The proposal is part of a broader plan to use $35 million over the next six years for new road construction projects, "So these are either rebuilding deteriorating roads or new roads to help improve the system," says King. "So, that was another piece of the budget process of moving some of the priorities around. One of the decision points was to take our Capital Improvement Program - that’s a five year program – and reprioritize some of those projects, including Galveston; removing the construction of Galveston and redirecting that to a roundabout at Empire and Purcell."
Councilors are scheduled to vote on the budget June 21.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon fire chiefs are expected to close the outdoor debris burning season at sunset on May 31, due to the return of warm and dry weather.
With just one week left in the burning season, authorities remind everyone to follow regulations in your area, don’t burn on windy days, never leave a burn unattended and always keep water and tools available to keep the fire where you want it.
Bend Fire reminds Central Oregon residents that regulations may vary between fire protection jurisdictions, including the burn season closure date. They recommend contacting your local, state or federal fire agency for specific requirements and closures.
For more information on outdoor debris burning from Bend Fire, click HERE
BEND, OR -- Suicide continues to be one of the leading causes of death of Oregonians; teen suicide rates are equally troubling. The Bend area has already lost two people under the age of 24, this year. Local school districts, law enforcement and mental health professionals are now working together in an effort called "Youth Suicide Hope and Help." The collaboration was announced at a Monday press conference in Bend.
Susan Keyes is an Associate Professor at OSU Cascades who has researched suicide for the last 30 years. She believes the new joint effort will help. "The good news is that we have this excellent collaboration; we have excellent programs and excellent services and excellent support. But, the bad news is we're still losing people." She's pleased to see a shift in approach that gets kids involved in prevention. "We cannot make a dent in suicide prevention if we don't have young people as part of this collaborative. Young people are our eyes and ears in the spaces of social media. Young people are our eyes and ears with their peers; they see things we don't and they see things before we do."
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Oregonians between the ages of 15 and 24. Keyes says first and foremost, adults need to be open to the conversation, "Don't be afraid to ask someone, 'Are you suicidal? Are any of your friends suicidal?' Don't be afraid to ask. And, don't be afraid if the answer is something you don't want to hear."
Youth mental health specialist Cheryl Emerson agrees. She says parents need to better prepare kids for the challenges in life. "What can we do to build resiliency? What can we do to promote help-seeking behavior and normalize that as a really good thing to do? How can we do that as a community?"
In the coming weeks, the "Hope and Help" coalition will offer evening sessions around Central Oregon to help parents and teens get involved and learn more about suicide prevention. Each session is 6-7:30 p.m.:
May 31 at High Desert ESD in Redmond
June 12 at St. Charles Bend, Conference Rooms A & B
June 14 at Sisters Middle School
Click HERE for more information on the events and suicide prevention resources available in Deschutes County.
BEND, OR -- A controversial bill that would prevent the Bend Parks and Recreation District from building a bridge over the scenic Deschutes River passed the State House, last month. But, there has been little movement in the Senate. Supporters say the bridge is needed to connect the two sides of the Deschutes River Trail on the south side of Bend.
Bend Parks and Rec Executive Director Don Horton testified against the bill in Salem recently; and now he waits. "The Senate has already had their public hearing, so now it's in the committee's hands. The committee will consider the legislation, or amend the legislation, or they could not take it up at all. So, it's completely in the hands of the committee at this point."
Horton says the bridge is necessary to achieve goals identified by the community, which involve connecting existing trails around Bend. "There's been some who argue that we already have the Haul Road Trail, and people can get from the Deschutes River Trail to the Haul Road and eventually work your way back to the Deschutes River. But, that's about a 12-mile distance that we think is unnecessary. We really believe we ought to be able to connect southeast Bend to the Deschutes River Trail by way of this bridge."
Even if HB 2027 is defeated or amended, Horton says the proposed bridge still isn't a guarantee. "All that our board is asking for is allow the public process to work out. Even if this bill does not go through, it doesn't mean the public process is over with. We still have to go through State Parks; we still have to go through the federal process, which is called NEPA. And the NEPA analysis will really look at the environmental consequences of putting a bridge in. Through the NEPA process, we still may not be allowed to do the bridge. So, we're just asking for this process to be able to unfold." And, if the proposal is approved at all levels, Horton says construction will take a while. "I think the planning process will take at least five years. And then after that's over with, designing the bridge and installing it would take at least another year, so we're talking six or seven years, at the earliest."
Bend State Senator Tim Knopp has said he may introduce an amendment that would allow a bridge at Forest Service land, under several conditions. The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources will hold a work session on HB 2027 Thursday, May 25.
BEND, OR -- There are fewer local highway projects tying up traffic than in recent years. "It’s not a busy year for us," says Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, "The rest of the state is maybe a little different than here in Central Oregon." He tells KBND News, "We have projects coming up next year, but we don’t have the same number of big projects that we’ve had before this particular year. It’s a combination of factors, mostly having to do with budget."
Although, Murphy says just because contractors aren’t tearing up roads doesn’t mean the agency isn’t working. "Our planners and highway engineers are busy all the time looking at different possible projects that take place. The one at Tom McCall roundabout on Highway 126 is something that isn’t in construction right now, but we’re busy planning on it and making things happen. So, behind the scenes, a lot has to happen before those contractors get out on the job."
And, he says crews are still working major projects in the southern and western parts of Deschutes County. "We’ve got a pretty good sized project going on down by Wickiup Junction; and the Sisters project is $6 million when you look at it at the big picture of things, so that’s not a small project." The Sisters roundabout (pictured) is expected to wrap up before Memorial Day Weekend, so as not to interfere with the tourism season.
However, work at Wickiup Junction was temporarily suspended on Friday. Crews have been building a bridge to take Highway 97 traffic over the railroad tracks in La Pine. But, the $17 million project was halted after crews observed settlement within embankments adjacent to the new structure. ODOT officials hope to complete a preliminary investigation by June first, including reviewing geotechnical data and determining potential causes. They will then decide the next steps for the project. This is the second delay for the south county project. In August, a 173' beam fell from the structure as it was being put in place.
BEND, OR -- Scammers are again targeting Deschutes County residents by posing as law enforcement. Investigators say some people have lost money by falling victim of the phone scam where a man identifies himself as a member of the Sheriff’s Office and claims the person has a warrant for missing jury duty. The victim is then ordered to provide a pre-paid debit card to pay bail for the warrant and avoid going to jail.
In a similar scam, a person claims to be Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel. In one incident, a man said the victim needed to pay a fee for Oregon's "bad check diversion program."
The incidents are being investigated. Officials say people are not typically notified of an outstanding warrant by phone. Anyone who receives a call similar to these is asked to contact the Sheriff's Office.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man is accused of driving under the influence, following an early morning rollover crash on Old Bend Redmond Highway. Deschutes County deputies responded to the crash at about 3 a.m., Monday, and found 26-year-old John Lewis, Jr. standing on the shoulder next to his car.
Investigators say Lewis was heading home from downtown Bend, northbound, when he drove about 50 yards on the shoulder, sideswiped a juniper tree and crashed head-on into a rock embankment, flipping his car onto its roof. He was alone in the car and was able to climb out of the vehicle.
Lewis was arrested and taken to St. Charles Bend for evaluation. He was cited and released at the hospital for one count of DUII. The road was closed for about 40 minutes during the investigation.
REDMOND, OR -- The city of Redmond is asking for a special historic designation for its downtown core. Community Development Director Kate Porsche has been working through the process for several months. "That district will really be in that downtown commercial area and it will comprise 46 properties. So, to get this going, we’ve had public outreach; we had a public meeting a couple evenings at the library, to really make sure that owners of buildings and tenants understood what this was about."
Porsche tells KBND News, "It’s not imposing any new regulations or design review. But it does create benefit for the property owners." She says those benefits include tax breaks for renovations that meet certain historical guidelines. "If they want the tax benefit then they have to conform. Now, a building owner, though, could still come in, they could still do a renovation that they want to do and as long as they’re not seeking those financial benefits, they can do it the way that they want to do it. I think, though, many would find that the constraints really aren’t all that bad, and the financial benefit can really make a difference for their project."
A state hearing on the Historic District request is scheduled for June 12. "And after that, if we get a ‘yes’ at the state level, then the package will roll up to the National Park Service for their review," says Porsche. "That review, if everything goes smoothly, we should receive approval in the fall."
Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Redmond CDD Director Kate Porsche, or visit our Podcast Page.
BEND, OR -- After several days of high winds, fuels specialists plan to resume prescribed burning, Thursday, including 88 acres south of Bend, near the Woodside Ranch, Sundance and Lost Tracks subdivisions off China Hat Road.
Friday, they plan to ignite 200 acres, southwest of the Crossroads and Tollgate, near Sisters. Weather permitting, they’ll continue on Monday, with a project in the Metolius Basin. Burns are slated for the West Bend area, next week, as well.
Click HERE for more information on upcoming prescribed burns.
BEND, OR -- The Bend City Council authorized a $2.77 million dollar contract with Knife River, Wednesday night, for summer street preservation. Projects include night time repaving of Wall and Bond streets downtown, and represent a total of 23 lane miles of work. The city says arterial and collector streets are the highest priority.
An open house is scheduled for next month, to allow the public to learn more about project timelines. Officials will be available at City Hall from 4:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, June 8.
In a statement issued after the City Council meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Sally Russell said, "Keeping our streets drivable is on everybody's minds in Bend these days, especially after last winter. Once again, Council has pulled dollars from one-time funding sources to get close to our annual goal of $6 million for street maintenance funding. Whether you live on the east or west side of Bend, projects are scheduled that will affect you. Be ready for some better roads by this fall."
Photo: Stock Image
POWELL BUTTE, OR -- Two Central Oregon towns bookend a new list of the best and worst credit scores in the state. The survey was conducted by LendEDU, a financial tech company specializing in student loan refinancing.
Mike Brown, a research analyst with LendEDU, says Powell Butte ranked first in Oregon, with an average credit score of 753. "I think it just has
to do with the population – the age demographics that are living there." He says older residents have had more time to improve their credit. "Usually cities that have high average credit scores have been experiencing high incomes, low unemployment and a decreasing number of defaults on mortgages and loans," Brown tells KBND News. "And, those are three things that, when you’re trying to evaluate the economic stability of a place, or city or town, those are things that you really want to look at."
On the other end of the spectrum, Warm Springs came in dead last, with an average credit score of 581. LendEDU considered the 212 Oregon cities and towns with populations over 1,000 and Brown says, "It’s a pretty low population number. So, all it takes is one or two or three really good credit scores to bring the average way up; and contrarily, a couple bad credit scores to bring the average way down." Sisters came in fifth; it was the only other local city in the top 10. Most Oregon cities boast credit scores above the national average of 673. Click HERE
for the complete list.
Rankings for Central Oregon cities:
1. Powell Butte, with an average 753 score
5. Sisters, with an average 741 score
65. Bend, with an average 707 credit score
123. Redmond, with an average 686 score
138. Prineville, with an average 684 score
189. La Pine, with an average 674 score
200. Madras, with an average 672 score
212. Warm Springs, with an average 581 score
BEND, OR -- The man charged with murdering a Bend woman near Central Oregon Community College, last summer, will not stand trial until 2018. Edwin Lara’s murder trial had been scheduled to begin in October, but that has now been bumped a full year. The judge says it’s necessary to conduct a thorough investigation into Lara’s upbringing in Honduras.
The former COCC security guard is accused of killing 23-year-old Kaylee Sawyer in June, and hiding her body in a ravine outside of Redmond. He then allegedly kidnapped a woman in Salem and went on a crime spree in northern California before he was arrested.
The Deschutes County District Attorney says he plans to seek the death penalty.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Sheriff's Office is investigating a shooting that occurred near the Juniper Acres subdivision, Tuesday afternoon.
Few details have been released, but the agency says deputies responded to the area just after 2:30 p.m. First responders provided aid to a juvenile who received a non-life threatening gunshot wound. The victim was later air lifted to St. Charles Bend.
The investigation is ongoing and the Sheriff's Office says more details will be released as they become available.
UPDATE: The Crook County Sheriff’s Office now says a girl shot Tuesday near the Juniper Acres subdivision was not the victim of a crime. Initial reports indicated she was shot by an unknown assailant. But, investigators later learned the victim had taken a firearm from her home and accidentally shot herself while trying to manipulate the gun.
The Sheriff's Office has recovered the gun and shell casing involved in the incident, and say the case is closed.
BEND, OR -- Bend will get a new elementary and high school in the next few years, thanks to a $268 million bond approved in Tuesday's election. The bond measure passed 59% to 41%. The district has said new schools are necessary to accommodate anticipated growth.
Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson says he's glad voters saw the need and agreed to support the district. "Really thrilled for that. And, just really honored to be a part of a really broad effort. I'm really proud of the effort not only staff have put in, but a broad community base of volunteers who just did countless hours in terms of communicating the need and working really hard to make sure that we continue to provide what our students need, not only today but into the future."
There was no organized opposition to the measure. However, Mikalson tells KBND News, "At the end of the day, I never know what to expect. I know that our communities, on a daily basis, support our students - not only on election night, but we have over 94,000 hours of volunteerism in our schools. But in this process you just never know, so I'm just really humbled and grateful for the ongoing support."
Aside from construction of two new schools, the bond also funds maintenance and renovation projects, and safety and technology improvements at existing facilities throughout the district. Mikalson says, "Our work is to continue to make sure what we're providing today not only continues in the future but improves. And this is a huge step in that process."
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine School Board incumbents held on to their seats, in Tuesday's election.
Carrie Douglass was just appointed in March to the Zone 7 seat vacated by Nori Juba. She garnered 58% of the vote in her high-profile race. "I'm very honored to be elected to continue service on the board; definitely humbled by the support that I received from a really large and diverse cross-section of the community. And, I'm glad to see that our community values having steep education experience on the board. You know, the real hard work is ahead." Challenger Troy Reinhart took 30% and Ricardo Olegario received 12%.
Douglass tells KBND News, "I think the fact that I've been a teacher and have worked at all levels within schools and school systems, combined with my business experience; people just seemed really energized by my vision and ideas." She is a managing partner at Education Cities, a national nonprofit that tried to improve education opportunities for low-income students. "The current board really lacks deep education experience," says Douglass. "Although people are committed and smart, education issues are complex and challenging and so I think people were excited about having someone on the board who has done this work in cities across the country and can really bring ideas and real strategies that work in other places, to our community."
Incumbent Cheri Helt won re-election to her Zone 1 seat, with 53% of the vote, over challenger Angela Chisum. And, Stuart Young keeps his Zone 4 position, taking 87% over challenger Richard Asadoorian. Julie Craig ran unopposed for her Zone 2 seat.
BEND, OR -- The Bend Park and Recreation District is getting the Juniper Swim and Fitness Center ready for warmer days ahead. "The big thing that happens is the uncovering of the 50 meter pool," says the district's Director of Recreation Services, Matt Mercer. "People enjoy it year-round, but it’s an outdoor facility during the summer, so it’s always kind of a hallmark of the coming of summer to take down the pool cover. That’s occurring this week, so by the end of the week we’ll have a 50 meter outdoor pool."
Crews began Monday taking the cover off, and Mercer says it's no simple task. "That’s a 30,000 square-foot structure; essentially a really large tent. It’s under a tension membrane system, so it’s a week job with four or five guys out there working."
Weather permitting, the outdoor activity pool will open for weekends only, starting Memorial Day Weekend. Mercer says people are ready for summer activities. "Swimming is super popular, so people really can’t wait for that activity pool to open, and families to be able to enjoy long days of summer swimming. But, a lot of outdoor activities are very popular. Our summer camp programs, particularly for people who need all-day childcare; we have a variety of summer camp opportunities." The district's Summer "Playbook"
has a complete listing of offerings. Online registration is available
BEND, OR -- A legally blind Bend woman, perhaps best known for racing in the Iditarod as a teen, has announced plans to run against Congressman Greg Walden in 2018.
In a Facebook post to supporters, Rachael Scdoris-Salerno says she was prompted to run after "watching the outrageous press conference about the House of Representatives passing their so-called 'American Health Care Act.'" She goes on to say, "Our Representative, Greg Walden was prominent among the Congressmen who were celebrating this act. In fact, he is even a co-author of the bill himself."
Scdoris-Salerno says she never considered running for office before, but she’s grown increasingly frustrated with what’s happening in Washington, and she’s worried about how President Trump’s decisions and actions will impact children like her two-year-old son.
She and her husband, Nick Salerno, own the Oregon Trail of Dreams sled dog tour business on Mt. Bachelor.
BEND, OR -- There has been unusually high interest in this Bend-La Pine School Board election and Alex Pulaski, with the Oregon School Boards Association, says it mirrors what’s happening statewide. "We, as an association, worked over the last few months to try and encourage people to run for school board in Oregon; I think that’s had some effect. But, I think more to the point is what was going on nationally, since the Presidential election. It appears that a lot of people have just taken a really great interest in what’s happening at the local government level. And, an entry point to go into elected office is the school board."
There are 1,018 candidates running for school board seats in Oregon - the most since 2009 - vying for 802 open positions. In the last board elections, two years ago, there were just 817 candidates; the lowest number in a decade.
While running for the school board is considered a jumping off point for many politicians, Pulaski says it's not an "entry level position." He tells KBND News, "They make huge decisions and ones that really have lasting effects. I know that some people look at that and say, ‘Well, gosh, it’s only a school board race.’ Well, we look at it and say, ‘Yeah; it’s a school board race. That’s big stuff.' That is life-changing decisions taking place." He points out that boards make key decisions on budgets, curriculum and district leadership.
A large number, this year, are first time-candidates, which Pulaski says will lead to high turnover. "This year, we’ve seen a remarkable number in terms of incumbents who have filed to run again: 54%. So, what that means is no matter what happens in the election, nearly half – and potentially more – of the school board members, after this election, are going to be brand new." Nearly three-quarters of the races are uncontested and 6% have no candidate at all.
Pulaski is not surprised there’s been so much money spent on the campaigns for Bend-La Pine's School Board
. "You know, you start to draw some parallels with Portland, where these races get a lot of attention.They’re making decisions about tens and, in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars, so it’s like running a small to medium, and sometimes big, company. I gather it’s a new phenomenon there in Bend, the kind of spending that’s taking place, but at some point that’s going to become the norm."
for more information on Deschutes County races. Jefferson County election information is available on the County Clerk's website
. Crook County election information is HERE
. Ballots are due at county elections offices by 8 p.m.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office has launched a new mobile app, in an effort to help residents connect with the agency. Sheriff Shane Nelson tells KBND News, "It’s a wealth of information, but I do want to emphasize it is not a replacement for calling 911 in the event of an emergency. The purpose of the phone app is to put some information sources about your Sheriff’s Office at your fingertips."
The free app offers information on concealed handgun licenses, wildfires and information on inmates in the jail, along with the Most Wanted for Deschutes County. "So, it’s a way to have general information at your fingertips," says Sheriff Nelson. He adds, "Some other things that we have are the online registration of your bicycle through another website, as well as a way to report graffiti and trash dumps so that we can coordinate with Community Corrections and get those cleaned up."
The app is free and available by searching "Deschutes Sheriff" in the Apple App or Google Play stores.
SISTERS, OR -- A Sutherlin woman was killed in a crash on Santiam Pass, Monday morning. According to Oregon State Police, Willard and Dana Metzler were westbound in a Ford F250 pickup, just after 10 a.m., when 63-year-old Willard turned into the path of an eastbound Toyota Tacoma, driven by a Salem man. The two trucks collided nearly head-on, at Santiam Junction.
Investigators say 57-year-old Dana Metzler was pronounced dead at the scene. Other occupants received minor injuries and were taken by a third party for treatment. Highway 20 was closed for about an hour. The investigation into the crash is ongoing.
TERREBONNE, OR -- An off-duty Redmond firefighter discovered a fire at an out-building in Terrebonne, Saturday afternoon.
He noticed a large amount of black smoke at a neighboring property, and went to investigate. He called 911 when he realized a storage shed was fully engulfed in flames.
Arriving crews say the fire was caused by a burn pile left unattended. That blaze caused about $10,000 in damage.
TERREBONNE, OR -- The body of a Redmond woman has been found in the Crooked River Gorge. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office believes 60-year-old Joellen Trenhaile jumped from the footbridge, May first.
Read more about Trenhaile's disappearance.
Search and Rescue volunteers and deputies returned to the area early Friday morning to continue the search. They discovered Trenhaile in the water about 150 yards south of the bridge. During a more than five hour operation, the team used a high angle rope system to recover her body.
The death investigation continues, but no foul play is suspected.
BEND, OR -- A Sunday evening pursuit led to the arrest of a wanted Bend man. A deputy attempted to pull over a car for a registration violation on Deschutes Market Road at about 6 p.m. But, the suspect took off at speeds of 95 miles per hour, swerving around oncoming traffic. The deputy called off the chase due to the risk to the public.
A citizen later reported the vehicle sped through a stop sign at Butler Market and Hamehook, and Forest Service officers in an unmarked vehicle spotted him pull into a driveway. Deputies established a perimeter and a police K9 tracked the suspect, who was eventually found hiding on the roof of a house on Butler Market Road. They eventually took 31-year-old Andrew Johnston into custody without further incident.
BEND, OR -- Yards and gardens are coming back to life after the long winter. But, that means noxious weeds are also making a comeback.
Deschutes County Forester Ed Keith says noxious weeds can cause big problems, this summer, if they’re not taken care of now. "Things are just starting to grow; just starting to warm up. People aren’t thinking about things yet because they’re not flowering. But, that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Now’s the time to take action before those seeds are formed, they start to reproduce and really take over our neighborhoods, our pastures, our farms, our fields." He tells KBND News, "You’ve got that much more work in the future, if you let those things go to seed. These are plants that are not native to our area, they come from other parts of the world. They’re highly invasive and they produce lots of seeds. For a typical Spotted Knapweed (pictured), it can be anywhere between 1 and 5,000 seeds per plant."
Keith says noxious weeds are non-native and can be dangerous for wildlife and crops. "It will, not only just take over your yard, but it can get out to, say, the National Forest and take over areas out there that we rely on to provide wildlife habitat and recreation areas. We don’t want those escaping and taking over our actual native vegetation." There is financial help
for homeowners who find themselves overrun by noxious weeds.
Deschutes County’s annual “Let’s Pull Together
” events take place in Bend and La Pine, next month, when volunteers help eradicate invasive species at public areas like parks and schools.
BEND, OR -- Local, state and federal agencies are now working together in an effort to provide easy and quick access to information during emergencies. Coordination began during the 2014 Two Bulls Fire, and has now expanded into the new Central Oregon Emergency Information Network, which launched this month. Participating agencies are involved in public safety, health care, land management and education.
In the event of a multi-jurisdictional emergency, updates will be posted on the network’s website and on Twitter at @COEmergencyInfo.
Officials say the goal is to ensure residents and visitors have timely and accurate information. They also plan to coordinate messaging related to public safety and the governmental response to this summer’s solar eclipse.
BEND, OR -- A police pursuit by Bend Police officers and Deschutes County deputies led to the arrest of a 45-year-old DUII suspect, Thursday night. According to police, an officer tried to pull over a Chevrolet pickup for not having working taillights and other alleged violations, on the Bend Parkway, near Colorado.
After initially stopping, just after 10:30 p.m., the pickup took off at speeds over 80 mph when the officer started to walk toward the vehicle. Bend Police initiated, but quickly terminated a pursuit. They saw the pickup turn onto Nels Anderson Road, then Nels Anderson Place, which is a dead end. Officers found the vehicle in the Central Oregon Roofing parking lot and the driver, 46-year-old Jonathan Wallace, was taken into custody without incident.
Wallace is charged with DUII, Felony Driving While Suspended and Attempt to Elude.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man faces a list of charges after allegedly hitting multiple vehicles and getting into a physical altercation with officers who were trying to take him into custody.
According to Bend Police, an officer responding to a report of a minor hit and run at Reed Market and American Lane spotted the suspect vehicle on Savannah. While following the Acura Integra, the officer says it nearly hit an oncoming vehicle. The car spun his tires while pulling into a driveway and the driver quickly got out. Police say the officer repeatedly told the man to stop walking, but he ran from the officer.
During a physical struggle with the arresting officer, the suspect, later identified as 28-year-old Kevin Trapman, reportedly kept reaching for his waistband. Police later discovered a bayonet hidden in the front of his pants. Several other officers arrived and Trapman allegedly tried to head butt and kick police. Eventually, they used a "WRAP" to restrain the man, and he was taken to St. Charles for a DUII investigation. WRAP is a restraint device designed to keep a combative person safe from harming themselves or others.
Trapman was later booked for DUII, Hit and Run, Attempt to Elude, Reckless Driving, Interfering with a Public Safety Officer, Attempt to Assault a Public Safety Officer and Resisting Arrest, Driving While Suspended. Investigators later learned he's a suspect in an unrelated shoplifting case; he's also charged with Theft III.
The suspect vehicle sustained more damage than can be attributed to the initial hit and run. Bend Police are asking for the public's help in tracking down more potential victims or other information in the case. Trapman allegedly caused near collisions at Brosterhous and American Lane and Savannah near Linnea Drive. He was also seen driving from Reed Market north on 15th Street. Anyone who saw the car driving in a concerning manner on Thursday is asked to call 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- Bend has a thriving downtown, but parking is a challenge for visitors and those who work in the area. A city workgroup has met 11 times over the past year and a half to come up with ways to improve the situation. They presented their ideas at an open house at Deschutes Brewery, Thursday evening.
Portland parking consultant Rick Williams led the presentation. He tells KBND News, "I think there's a general sense that something should be done. I think there's always a sense of nervousness about 'status quo could change.' But, I think the overall sense is that parking could be better; it could be better managed, better communicated. And we need to find places for people to park because it does get constrained, particularly in summer."
Local business owner Jennifer Steigman thinks they're on the right path. "I really want my employees [and customers] to feel there's easily accessible parking that isn't - they're not penalized when they're downtown for three hours. They want to be able to shop, get their haircut and eat and not have to rush back and try to move their car, and stuff like that. So, I'm concerned about that because I hear a lot about that. At the same time, I don't want my own employees taking those customers' spots."
Williams agrees the solution needs to work for everyone. "We want visitors to be as close as possible to businesses, to turn over as much as we can, because they're a huge generator of business in downtown. We also realize that there are employees, now, who are 'hopping' - they'll park two hours, then they'll park two hours, and they'll park two hours. Can we give them a better place to park that's safe and convenient, where they can just park and they don't have to do that?"
The group's recommendations include hiring a parking demand manager, forming a downtown parking advisory committee and adjusting prices to spread out parking throughout the downtown corridor. The public can provide more input on the proposal through 5 p.m. Friday at the city's website.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregonians are encouraged to start preparing now for the upcoming wildfire season, despite our tough winter and wet spring. Deschutes County Forester Ed Keith says homeowners shouldn't get complacent, "Fire season’s a little hard to predict. But, I always tell people we always have a fire season in Central Oregon. It’s always hot and dry in July and August; and then it’s just a matter of how many lightning storms we get, how many human-caused fires we get. But, we’re always going to have that weather that brings us into fire season, here in Central Oregon, so we have to be prepared in advance."
Keith tells KBND News the most important thing to focus on in the spring is creating defensible space. "That’s that area from your back step to about 30’ from your house, where it really needs to be cleaned up every single year. You need to remove flammable brush, get the pine needles off of your roofs and gutters and thin any small trees, do your pruning, so that if a fire should happen your home will be much safer."
The Fire Free
program takes place over the next month, to help residents get rid of all that debris, "Each year, the county partners with Project Wildfire to offer Fire Free dates throughout the county, and really throughout the region. Fire Free, right now, in Bend is going on. That’s available for free drop off of all your yard debris at Knott Landfill, and that runs through this Sunday the 14th." Transfer stations in Redmond, Sisters and La Pine offer free yard debris disposal June second and third. Click HERE
To hear our full conversation with County Forester Ed Keith click HERE
or visit our Podcast Page
MADRAS, OR --The Oregon State Parks Foundation hopes to capitalize on excitement over this summer’s solar eclipse. Executive Director Seth Miller says the nonprofit will auction off 30 campsites inside the Crooked River Campground at Cove Palisades State Park in Jefferson County. "The reservations that we’re selling are for four nights, Friday through Monday of the Solar eclipse weekend. And, in order to help people kind of figure out what they wanted to bid, we decided to break it down into sections in the auction."
Click HERE to preview campsites available in the auction.
But, there is a catch: you must become a foundation member by 4 p.m. Friday, which requires a tax deductible donation of at least $25. "At 4:30 an email will go out to all members with a link for them to be able to participate in the auction, to register their name and put a credit card number in. Then that will show them all the different spaces that are available and they can decide which ones they want to bid on." The online auction then begins at 5 p.m. and will be conducted similar to E-Bay, although there is no "buy it now" option. Bidders can watch to see if they get outbid, "They will immediately receive both a text and an email message and they’ll have a chance to go in and increase their bid." Bidding will end on a rolling basis over five nights, with the first six sites closing at 8 p.m., Monday. Six more will close at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and the following Monday.
Miller says the organization secured the sites before they sold out, last month. "We’ve been holding on to them, knowing there was demand. We didn’t expect it to be quite as popular as this turned out to be, but we figured we would hold on to them for a little while and then auction them off to our members as we got closer; so that’s what we’re doing now." And, he tells KBND News, he's not sure what to expect, "I’d heard such wild stories about what’s happening with campground spaces and lodging spaces across the state, but in Central Oregon in particular. And these spaces are so close to the central line of the zone of totality and there’s so little capacity elsewhere in the state that I imagine these are going to be pretty popular."
BEND, OR -- A bill that would send bond money to OSU-Cascades to help with the Bend campus expansion continues to make its way through Salem. Vice President Becky Johnson says another group from the university will be in Salem Friday for the next subcommittee meeting on the bond request.
She says she knows lawmakers are already struggling with a budget shortfall, "We’re asking for capital bonds, so that’s different than the operating budget but it still has to be paid back over time. And so it’s going to be a heavy lift to try to get the $69.5 million that we’re asking for, but our Legislators here in Central Oregon have been fabulous. They’ve been completely supportive of this and doing what they can to move this through. But, obviously they’re in the minority party." She tells KBND News, "We’ve also gotten good response from the majority party that we’ve met with. So, if there’s additional money - and we know that the new budget projections are going to come out in a week, I think - Hopefully those will be positive and they’ll be able to free up a little bit more money."
Johnson contends failing to pass the bill will lead to problems down the road. "We need to have a building in place by 2021, or we will have to start turning students away; so that’s the crunch. When they allocate bonds, they don’t actually give you the bonds until the end of the biennium. So, even if they pass them this year, we don’t get there until 2019. So, then we have two years left to try and build a building. If we don’t get them this session and we get them in 2019, we’re really behind the 8 Ball on that."
SALEM, OR -- Despite this week's decision by Oregon's State Parks and Recreation Department to not change rules preventing a bridge over a section of the Deschutes River designated as a Scenic Waterway, a bill that would also prevent such a span continues to make its way through Salem. Bend Parks and Recreation wants to construct the pedestrian bridge to create a continuous Deschutes River Trail from Sunriver to Tumalo.
Dozens of Central Oregonians traveled to the State Capitol Wednesday to voice their opinions on HB 2027, sponsored by Rep. Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver), which has already passed Oregon's House. The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee held Wednesday's public hearing where Christine Phillips testified that Bend Parks and Rec is bullying her neighbors. "Bend Park and Rec's use of condemnation or eminent domain as a tactic to threaten and intimidate Oregon landowners should be unacceptable in this state. They're good at using innuendo and the press to insult 'rich people who live on the river.' How ironic that good land stewardship, ownership of property and fiscal responsibility, gets summed up as 'rich people being greedy."
Former Bend Mayor Jim Clinton also supports the bill, saying another bridge is unnecessary. "Just a mile downstream from this segment, there already is a trail bridge across the river. So, really what we're talking about here is convenience in this highly sensitive and protected area for people to use a bridge just to get across the river when they apparently are unable to go down just one mile to get on the existing bridge."
Bend Parks and Rec Executive Director Don Horton was the first to speak against the bill. He testified, "The project is a strongly held community desire. A tool in updating the district's comprehensive plan was a statistically valid survey conducted in March and April of this year by ETC Institute indicates that the citizens of Bend favor the bridge, five to one. 72% of the respondents favor or strongly favor the bridge; while only 14% oppose or strongly oppose the bridge." He also addressed the private/public land controversy, "The area that we're looking at locating the bridge is on the US Forest Service property, so we're not talking about it being on private property. We've always felt that a public facility ought to be on public property. And, one side of where the bridge will be located is an off-leash dog area that is 640 acres in size and has more people and off-leash dogs than any other dog park that we have in our community."
BEND, OR -- A Redmond teen was hurt in a crash that tied up traffic for several hours on Old Bend Redmond Highway, Wednesday. Alexandra Spencer’s SUV was struck by a semi at Tumalo Road, just after noon.
The California trucker told investigators he was eastbound on Tumalo Road when his brakes suddenly failed and he couldn't stop at a stop sign. After hitting the SUV, the tractor portion of the semi went through a fence, nearly striking a man working in a nearby field before coming to rest in a pasture. The trailer blocked the road for several hours.
Spencer was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Sheriff's deputies cited the trucker for reckless driving; he was unhurt. ODOT is assessing the semi, but a preliminary inspection determined the brakes were out of adjustment, which may have contributed to the crash.
EUGENE, OR -- A Redmond man faces federal charges stemming from a December explosion at a Butane Honey Oil (BHO) lab. William Wild was arraigned this week, following a Federal Grand Jury indictment on charges of Endangering Human Life and Manufacturing Hash Oil.
Wild and his adult daughter suffered burns in the explosion at his Southwest Redmond home on December 12, 2016 (pictured). They were flown to OHSU in Portland for treatment.
Redmond police say honey oil - or hash oil - is made with highly flammable materials, like Butane, to refine and concentrate the THC in marijuana. Oregon has seen a dramatic increase in the number of explosions of these labs in recent years.
BEND, OR -- Money is pouring into local campaigns for the May special election. Carrie Douglass and Troy Reinhart, both running for Bend-La Pine School Board Position 7, have raised significant funds. But, the third candidate for the seat is intentionally keeping a lower profile.
Rick Olegario tells KBND News, "I thought about self-funding up to a certain amount, but I just didn't want this to turn into any kind of 'arms race.' So, my thoughts on that is that the more money that's spent it's just hard to really focus on the important things, which is basically 'how this is all going to benefit the kids?'"
He is aware candidates are spending more on smaller races than in the past. "It's an order of magnitude higher - you know, from people that I've spoke with - than any election in the past; particularly for this position and for Zone 1. So, it may be a tidal change in how things are going to be working in Bend. I think it's a little unfortunate."
Olegario is a graduate of MIT and Stanford, and worked in the tech sector in California before moving to Bend a couple years ago. He has three children in Bend-La Pine schools, currently serves on the district's Budget Committee and Site Council, and received the endorsement of Nori Juba, the man who previously held the seat for which Olegario is running.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police Chief Jim Porter presented his budget request to City Council and the Budget Committee Tuesday night. He’s asking for about $250,000 more in the next budget cycle to pay for hiring two more Community Service Officers (CSOs), who cost less than traditional officers and can handle lower level calls. Porter says that would free up fully certified officers for high-priority emergencies. "We’re coming into a summer where we’re expecting record numbers of calls," Chief Porter tells KBND News. "In the first four months of this year, we’re already seeing our mental health calls go up by 36%; we’re already seeing our 911 emergency calls go up by 14% over last year, and last year was a record year; and we’re seeing our overall call rate go up."
Chief Porter says his department handles more calls with less money and fewer officers, compared to other similar agencies in Oregon, "Our budget is anywhere between $6-9 million lower than the comparative budgets for the police agencies that provide service for the city of Medford, the city of Gresham, the city of Hillsboro; those are pretty much our comparables. When we look at our call rates – that means how many calls for service we handle a day – we’re the second highest in the state. Gresham’s the only department with a higher call rate. But then again, Gresham has 13 more officers than I do, a significantly higher budget and a significantly higher crime rate."
In 2015, Bend PD’s response time was about 11 minutes, which is in line with the national average. Chief Porter told Councilors it will likely take close to 13 minutes to respond to calls by 2018. But, he says hiring more more CSOs will help, while keeping costs down. "We try to model ourselves after what is private business doing? What is being innovative? When we look at our product: Every one of our calls for service costs the city of Bend about $250 per call. And, when you go to our comparables, some of the other departments are up around $380-$400 per call. So, we actually deliver a per-call service – if you look at it from the private business sector – at a very, very reduced rate. But, yet, we are still maintaining the quality of calls because you’re seeing the low crime rates." City Council is expected to finalize the city's budget on June 21.
To hear our full conversation with Chief Jim Porter, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
Graphics Courtesy Bend Police Department
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is critical of President Donald Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. "Donald Trump’s decision to fire him now, in the midst of an investigation into Trump associates and their ties to Russia, is simply outrageous," says the Oregon Democrat.
Wyden is calling for an independent Counsel to take over the investigation into Russia and associates of the President, and he wants Comey to return to the Senate to explain what happened. "Director Comey should be immediately called to testify in an open hearing about the status of the investigation into Russia and Trump associates at the time he was fired." He says Trunp's chain of command can't be trusted to carry out an impartial investigation.
Fellow Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) released a statement late Tuesday, saying, “Trump’s explanation for firing Comey is as phony as a three-dollar bill. Trump’s pattern of firing people who are investigating him is downright Nixonian, and Members of Congress of both parties should treat it with the same gravity that our predecessors did during Watergate.”
BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County Jail supervisor was fired in April, despite being cleared of alleged weapons violations. Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says it was Lt. Robert Trono's actions during that investigation that led to his dismissal.
In 2016, a deputy filed an anonymous complaint claiming Lt. Trono was not licensed to build a firearm that he made and sold to a co-worker while off-duty. The ATF launched an inquiry in June and determined it was not a prosecutable offense. On August 31, that same deputy complained of job-related harassment, which led to an internal investigation into possible misconduct. Trono was placed on leave a few days later.
According to the personnel investigation, obtained by KBND News, Lt. Trono knew who filed the weapons complaint and spoke openly about the ATF inquiry with co-workers at the jail and subordinates, including the Deputy who made the initial report. On more than one occasion, the report says, Trono referred to the Deputy as a "narc" or "rat."
While the agency found his conduct didn't rise to the level of harassment, Sheriff Nelson says it did violate policy. "We want our teammates to be able to bring information forward and talk about it." He tells KBND News, "What was created here was the perception or the existence of an environment that could deter people wanting to report information; and that's unacceptable." Sheriff Nelson says he expects supervisors to lead by positive example. "We don't discuss active investigations; we don't discuss personnel investigations, especially with those that report the incident. So, it had nothing to do with the original criminal allegation. This was strictly a violation of personnel policy and procedure."
Trono was a 34-year veteran of law enforcement and had worked at the Deschutes County Jail since 2002. Sheriff Nelson says, "There's no winning in a situation like this. This is strictly taking care of business. The former Lieutenant had a lot of years of experience, was an excellent trainer and excellent instructor. But, we still have to lead by example as supervisors, and that's my expectation."
MADRAS, OR -- Madras Police are searching for a 67-year-old woman who hasn’t been heard from in more than a week. Marilyn Lancaster’s roommate initially reported her missing May first.
Lancaster does not own a cell phone and friends say it's unusual for her not to leave a note or tell someone where she's going. She doesn't appear to have taken anything that would indicate she planned to be gone for a prolonged amount of time.
Lancaster is 5'2", 140 pounds, and has some mild difficulty walking. She may be driving a blue 2006 Subaru Outback with Oregon plates 141CRZ. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call Officer JJ Wallace at the Madras Police Department, at 541-475-2424.
Submitted Photo: Marilyn Lancaster in 2013
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville City Councilors and the Crook County Court meet Tuesday to discuss the region's sanctuary status. Sanctuary jurisdictions don't detain illegal immigrants for the purpose of deportation. It's been a hot topic since the Trump Administration announced plans to crack down on such cities and counties by potentially withdrawing federal funding.
Mayor Betty Roppe says Tuesday's work session was called after a number of questions from the public. "'Are we a sanctuary city?' And, of course, there are some people who want us to be and some people who don't want us to be. So, no, we would not be a sanctuary city. We just don't make a point of - the only reason it would come to their [the federal government's] attention would be if they had broken the law and they were booked." She says she's been told by local law enforcement that state law prohibits police from holding illegal immigrants simply because of their status. They can hold a person for only as long as is warranted by the crime for which they were arrested. However, the agency can notify the feds of the arrest.
Mayor Roppe tells KBND News the joint meeting with Commissioners is only informational. No public comment will be taken, but the public is invited to attend. "Our population seems to be kind of 50/50 as to whether they think they should be protected, or whether they think that they should've never entered this country if they didn't have a legal route to take. So, it would be something that we'd give a significant amount of time to evaluating before we took a stance on that." She adds, "We have had people inquire - In fact, we have had people ask us to pass a resolution as to how 'the city of Prineville welcomes everybody, and blah blah, regardless of status.' But, we are not going to be doing that."
The meeting begins at 5:15 p.m. at Prineville City Hall. Click HERE for details.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man died after a weekend off-road crash. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, 36-year-old Christopher Heising was riding a motorcycle in the East Fort Rock OHV area, Saturday evening. He lost control and crashed into a forest service sign.
U.S. Forest Service Law enforcement and Bend Fire medics responded and Heising was flown to St. Charles where he later succumbed to his injuries.
Investigators say Heising was wearing a helmet, but was not an experienced off-road rider. Speed and alcohol may have also been factors in the crash.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are hoping to hire two more officers; although, Lt. Curtis Chambers says funding for the positions has not yet been secured. "It has not been signed off by City Council, yet. It has made its way through the Budget Committee and is awaiting Council review and approval."
Lt. Chambers tells KBND News the request is in response to the city's growing population. "City of Redmond Police Department’s funding by the general fund, which means property taxes. So, as revenue increases, revenue for the police department also increases and helps pay for additional positions." But, the increase in people in Redmond also brings an increase in calls for service. And, he says even with two more officers, "We’re still not at a level that we were at pre-recession when we had 50 total employees. We’re sitting at 46 total employees, now, so we’re getting close to where we once were. The population of Redmond has grown dramatically, and is forecasted to continue as long as the economy stays going strong. We are at a tipping point up there at Redmond, right now, where we cannot continue with what we are doing now without more bodies."
The agency is looking for “lateral” officers who can hit the streets faster than rookies. "Lateral hires are great because they come to us already certified. We don’t have to pay to send them to the academy over in Salem, and lose them for 16 weeks." Lt. Chambers says because Central Oregon has a reputation as a desirable place to live, the department has already received a number of applications for the two new openings. If funding isn't approved, he says those applications will remain on file for future openings.
To hear our full conversation with Redmond Lt. Curtis Chambers click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s Early Learning Center (RELC) is preparing to graduate its first class of kindergartners, next month, as it wraps up its first year. RELC houses classrooms for hundreds of five and six-year olds, and Superintendent Mike McIntosh says there has been a learning curve everyone. "What happens inside the four walls of the classroom looks a lot like it always has; just, there’s another one next door, and another one next door to that. What we found to be interesting were the extra things, and the little things behind the scenes. It took us a little while to figure out transportation; getting a whole lot of parents in and out of the parking lot, both before and after school, matching them up with the right kid. ‘No child left behind’ was our theme there for a little while."
The facility opened at the Hugh Hartman Campus, last fall, and is the first of its kind in the region. McIntosh tells KBND News it was necessary to accommodate the growth in enrollment without being forced to build a new school. "Right now, there’s 400 five-year-olds there finishing up their first year, and then they’re going to go on to an elementary school. All of the in-town schools, that’s their kindergarten space. It’s fun to have that all in one location when everyone gets the same treatment." Incoming kindergartners within the boundaries for John Tuck, Lynch, Sage, Tom McCall and Vern Patrick elementaries are invited to a registration event at RELC on Thursday, May 11, from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Another event is scheduled for August. Click HERE for details, and to download a registration form.
Superintendent McIntosh says the only schools in the district that still have their own kindergarten classes are Tumalo and Terrebonne, which are are K-8 community schools. "Those community schools have kind of a different focus from the beginning of time, but that combination has worked well. But, the in-town schools, their default school is the Early Learning Center, and I think that has also worked well." Registration for incoming Terrebonne and Tumalo kindergartners is ongoing and is done in-person at those schools. Click HERE for more information on both the RELC and Tumalo and Terrebonne registration events.
BEND, OR -- The two candidates vying for the Bend position on the Central Oregon Community College Board of Directors grew up in Bend, and both attended classes at COCC.
Erica Skatvold works at St. Charles Medical Center as a liaison between IT staff and caregivers. As a high school student at COCC, before attending the University of Denver. She tells KBND News the college can do a better job of preparing students for local opportunities. "Either on the board or running, nobody is under 50-years-old. So, I believe that on boards, the more diversity the better of differing opinions. But, I think that younger perspective of having my whole adult life in the recession or post-recession; so, I think that is actually the thing I bring most to the board." She says her opponent, Kyle Frick as also a good candidate, "He has experience; he's been involved in the community. But, right now, all of the board members have, that are sitting at COCC. So, it's really, bringing in a new perspective - a younger perspective - is probably what the board needs, right now. I think it does."
Frick is the Vice President of Marketing for Mid Oregon Credit Union. He tells KBND News, "I just think COCC is a great institution in our community; they do so many things, they're very broad-based. I guess I'm a product of COCC. After I got out of the Air Force, I was at COCC for two years before I transferred to U of O to get my degree. And, I just remember having the great teachers there." He feels he would bring a lot of experience to the board. "For years we've been involved with COCC and with the school districts and I have a lot of relationships with all those people. So, I think the relationships I have, not only there, but in the community with EDCO, with the Chambers of Commerce, with a lot of different people - not just in Bend, but across all the communities in Central Oregon; I think that's a benefit."
BEND, OR -- The Bend Fire Department has seen an uptick in the number of gas leaks, including last week’s incident that led to the evacuation of the Bend Fred Meyer. Battalion Chief Andy Hood says the increase in calls is due, in part, to the start of construction season - many of the leaks are caused by equipment striking natural gas lines or propane tanks.
Bend crews have responded to about a dozen leaks in the past month, and Hood says every one deserves an immediate response, although that wasn't always the case. "It was thought that these may not be quite as an emergent situation. However, if you go back and study these incidents over time, you can find incidents that were very, very devastating, with loss of human life and destruction of property; both with propane and natural gas."
He says natural gas is especially dangerous inside a structure because pipes provide an unending supply of gas. "Once it reaches an explosive limit, all it needs is an ignition source. So, that is why it is so critical that we intervene in those. And the primary order is obviously evacuation, followed by disconnect power to that building or area." Hood says those who don't evacuate a closed building also risk asphyxiation.
Bend has been lucky; it’s been a few years since a leak led to a major incident. However, Hood says no community is immune from a serious gas-related problem. "Specifically natural gas, when it gets confined in a structure and it continues to build, it becomes a major emergency. If you recall back in October, in Portland, they had an explosion in a three-story mixed residential/commercial building in downtown Portland."
If you smell gas, evacuate immediately, then call 911. The fire department works closely with the gas company and dispatchers will contact the utility at the same time firefighters are sent to a reported leak.
TERREBONNE, OR -- Redmond Fire crews responded to the report of an injured person below the high bridge at Ogden Wayside, just after 5 a.m., Monday. The person sustained non-life threatening injuries after attempting to base jump from the foot bridge.
Personnel from Jefferson County Fire, Crooked River Ranch Fire, the Jefferson County and Deschutes County Sheriffs' Offices, Deschutes County Search and Rescue and the Oregon State Parks Department all aided in the operation in the canyon.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Republican health care bill is on its way to the Senate after passing the U.S. House, Thursday. Oregon Congressman Greg Walden was a key player in getting the bill passed. He joined House Speaker Paul Ryan, other leading Republicans and the President in the White House Rose Garden to celebrate their victory.
Walden continues to say it's crucial to repeal ObamaCare because insurance companies are leaving the exchanges in some states and the Democrat plan is failing. "Last year, there were 225 counties in America, where you only had one choice on the ObamaCare exchange; this year, it's 1,022 and you’ve heard now, there are some counties where you’ll have no choice."
He says the GOP plan will keep Americans insured, and allow states to implement their own plans, "What this legislation does is open up the ability for states to to innovate." Walden says it is possible to create a system that will work, "To make insurance affordable to every American and available where they have choices and lower costs and competition in that market. It is collapsing around us, state by state; county by county." He adds, "We can get this right. It is our duty; our obligation."
The next step for the Republican plan is the U.S. Senate. However, despite the President's assertion that it will pass, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) says, "That act is deader than dead. It breaks the President's promise to have healthcare for all, it breaks his promise to have it at lower cost, it breaks his promise to have it at higher quality." He went on to say Thursday, "It is a terrible piece of legislation made worse by the two adjustments demanded by the Freedom Caucus, those were to gut the essential benefits and to break the promise to provide equal access to individuals with preexisting conditions."
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) says the bill turns back the clock to the days when health care was reserved for the healthy and wealthy. And Governor Kate Brown says if the Affordable Care Act goes away, it will hurt the state budget, the state's economy and the health care of vulnerable Oregonians.
BEND, OR -- Oregon wildlife biologists captured and radio-collared a rare sub-species of red fox in Deschutes County, this week. The Sierra Nevada red fox (SNRF) was an adult female. The species is generally smaller than other red foxes and average about eight pounds.
Oregon's Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Wildlife Ecology Institute continue a SNRF study that began in 2012 and are now in the phase to capture and collar the foxes in the Oregon Cascades. Officials hope to collar nine more SNRF by the end of June 2018. ODFW uses specialized cage traps originally designed for bobcats. Collars are active for one year and are monitored by ODFW technicians.
BEND, OR -- When the Homeless Leadership Coalition released numbers this week showing a more than 30% increase in the Central Oregon homeless population, those who work with the homeless weren’t surprised.
Chris Clouart, Managing Director of the Bethlehem Inn, says the one-day count is just a snapshot of a much larger regional problem. "People who are working, and working hard, and doing everything they’re supposed to do in order to move forward in the world, are not able to find housing that’s affordable." He tells KBND News, "Not only is it the people who are working, but it’s those people on fixed incomes who can no longer afford the housing market as it exists in Bend, right now because, of course, what we would consider ‘affordable housing’ is often thought of as subsidized housing. And, the waiting lists for some of these places that essentially charge 30% of your income in order for you to get an apartment, the waiting lists are 18-24 months." And, he says the problem now stretches to family that used to provide support. "Ten or 15 years ago, you might’ve been able to say, ‘well, I’m going to go live with her sister.’ Well, your sister now has her daughter living with her, with her three grandchildren, so you’re not able to live there."
Clouart expects the number of people needing shelter will continue to rise as Central Oregon's population ages. He says many Bethlehem Inn residents used to leave in the spring, opting to live outside. But, the shelter's numbers now hold steady, year-round. "It’s an idea somehow that, as the weather gets warm, that anybody that might be seeking shelter or who might be homeless can take advantage of the great outdoors. Well, of course, a lot of people pay good money to go camping, but as a lifestyle it’s not something that’s conducive to either maintaining your employment, or your health, for that matter. It’s not possible for somebody who has a C-PAP machine and needs oxygen to go out into the woods and camp. We have a lot of folks who are part of the baby boom generation whose health is beginning to fail, who suddenly find themselves priced out of the market."
The Bethlehem Inn used to see the number of daily residents drop to around 50 or 60 in the spring and summer, which would allow staff to focus on maintenance projects. This week, Clouart says they have almost 90 people staying at the shelter on North Highway 97. "What this means is that we’ve got people crammed into rooms; we’ve got people whose nerves are on edge. I got a gentlemen who exited this morning, and we have a form that people fill out and we say ‘what do you think would be an improvement for the Bethlehem Inn?’ And this guy said, ‘not so many people per rooms.’ That would be nice; the problem is that means there would be people who would be turned away." And, he says they try not to turn anyone away.
Crews begin construction next week on a major shelter expansion project.
BEND, OR -- Two Bend natives are vying for a seat on the Bend-La Pine School Board. Carrie Douglass was appointed to the board when Nori Juba stepped down in March. She's seeking her first full term, running against local financial advisor Troy Reinhart and investment manager Ricardo Olegario.
Douglass tells KBND News, "In this race, our community really has a chance to elect someone who is really uniquely qualified to be on the school board, and not just wanting to be a public servant." She adds, "I bring both deep education and business experience. And, my education experience is both at the school level, as a teacher and school administrator, and at the district level, as the head of HR."
Troy Reinhart was also born and raised in Bend. He believes his business experience is needed on the board. "They aren't asking the tough questions; and that really came to light with the Kenwood School gym collapse. I would submit to you that only by the grace of God did we not kill students and teachers. And if we had, God forbid, we would be having a much different discussion, right now." He says the district needs to take a hard look at spending. "The question is why does it cost $130 million to build a new high school, when the last one cost $65 million just 17 years ago. That's huge inflation, and somebody needs to look it. They want somebody running that's going to ask those kinds of questions."
The third candidate, Rick Olegario, moved to Bend from California a couple of years ago. He currently serves on the Bend-La Pine Schools Budget Committee.
Tuesday is the last day to mail ballots in time for the May 16 election.
MADRAS, OR --The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs is building a 13,000-square foot travel center in Madras. The Plateau Travel Plaza will eventually include a convenience store, restaurant, gas station, laundry, showers and room for 70 semi trucks.
Indian Head Casino General Manager Jeff Carstensen is overseeing construction and development of the multi-million dollar project. "We’re trying to get another source of revenue, instead of just all of the tribal members; and the land was available. We’re trying to expand our horizons." In fact, The land near the Madras Airport has been owned by the tribe for about 40 years. Carstensen tells KBND News, "That used to be where they housed – they would transport all the mill stuff out on the railroad tracks, in the ‘70s and ‘80s. There was a building on it before, a warehouse-type thing, but we tore that down last year."
He says the idea has been in the works for several years and was developed around the huge need for more places in Madras for big rigs to park. "That little Shell station is where a lot of truckers park. But, if you run through Madras, especially in the wintertime, it’s always full and they’re parking all over town. Hopefully, we can add some amenities and get more of them to stop up there." Carstensen adds, "The city was very thrilled that we’re trying to do this because of all the parking and everything that happens with all of the truckers that come through. It’s like 1,100-1,500 trucks come through Madras every day, between [Highways] 26 and 97."
According to Carstensen, it will – in a way – be an extension of Indian Head Casino. The Plateau Travel Plaza will also feature Class II slot machines and club members will be able to use their points at both locations.
LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine home suffered significant damage in a Thursday morning fire. The two renters were awakened by smoke detectors just before 6:45 a.m., and discovered flames coming from an unoccupied bedroom.
The couple evacuated with their pets and called 911. They told dispatchers they were trapped in the small back yard by smoke and flames. Firefighters arrived on Heath Drive within 6 minutes, and found the home about 50-percent involved, with fire venting from two windows. Crews quickly got the couple and their animals to safety.
There were no injuries, but the residents are not insured. The Red Cross is helping the couple. The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but fire officials believe it may have started with a lamp plugged into a power strip.
UPDATE: La Pine firefighters responded to the home again, just before 12:30 p.m., Thursday. They quickly extinguished a second fire in the garage. The residents had returned to collect some belongings, when a fire started in a wheel chair and some bedding. The couple immediately left the scene and neighbors who had observed the situation called 911. Oregon State Police, the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and state Fire Marshall are investigating the circumstances surrounding the second blaze. It occurred in a different part of the house and is considered physically unrelated to the first.
BEND, OR -- Oregon State University President Ed Ray continues to push state lawmakers for funding of the OSU-Cascades expansion. Ray was in Bend Wednesday as part of a series of rebranding events.
He told the crowd at the Riverhouse, "We remain undaunted in seeking $69.5 million in state bonding for the expansion of the OSU Cascades campus. Our Governor has proposed $20 million in bonding for OSU Cascades, this session." The House Higher Education Committee has approved legislation for expansion of the Bend campus, and the bill is now in the Ways and Means Committee. "Without approval of the $69.5 million we will be in the position of turning students away within the next three years," says Ray. "Not meeting the demand for higher education in the fastest growing region in the state is not good public policy, and it certainly makes no business sense."
He says Oregon's disinvestment in higher education has resulted in state support for colleges and universities declining by 21%, which he says means students and families shoulder the higher cost. President Ray says the state needs to increase access for students and reduce that burden.
Ray highlights the results of a recent economic impact study conducted by Eco Northwest as proof that the Bend campus is also good for the overall community, "By 2034, with the predicted full build-out of the 5,000 student campus, OSU Cascades continuing operations will contribute $121.9 million in total annual economic output in Deschutes County, and provide 1,925 jobs."
Photo courtesy Jamie Christman, Bend Chamber of Commerce.
SUNRIVER, OR -- A local lawmaker is taking heat for his bill that would halt plans to build a bridge across the Deschutes River. State Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) wants to prevent Bend's Park and Recreation Department from constructing a bridge to connect trails on the south side of Bend because the area is designated as a Scenic Waterway.
Whisnant has been accused of not listening to constituents who want the bridge. "I'm not against trails; I'm not against bridges. But, my bill just says 'you do not build a bridge in this Scenic Waterway part of the river.'" Whisnant tells KBND News, "I've had people call and say, 'Gene, I didn't know you were such a liberal!'" He adds, "In my office, we've probably had a hundred emails and phone calls, and it's probably 50/50 people hate me and people love me. But, I think it's something that needs to be discussed and that's why I introduced the bill."
He acknowledges it's a controversial idea, "I introduced the bill for people that were opposed to the bridge. Some of them, it's a 'not in your backyard' position, but they have a right to be heard, too. And, when I heard more and more about the Bend Park and Rec's plan to go around the Oregon Parks and Rec Department decision and build a bridge using possibly eminent domain, I said, 'I think we ought to have more venting of this bill and this action by the Bend Parks and Rec.'"
The bill has passed the House. The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee will hold a public hearing in Salem on Wednesday, May 10 at 3 p.m. Whisnant encourages Central Oregonians to speak to the committee or send written comments.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Crook County school principal has been cleared of criminal wrong-doing in an incident involving a first grader, last month. She had been accused of criminal physical harassment.
Witnesses told the District Attorney’s office a student was sent to Cheri Rasmussen’s office at Crooked River Elementary, on April 12, for a disciplinary issue. While waiting his turn outside her office, the boy began kicking the wall. Rasmussen told him to stop, possibly in a raised voice, lifted him out of his chair, and moved him across the office to the floor. She later talked with the boy and he was sent back to class.
D.A. Daina Vitolins says Rasmussen’s actions did not harm the child, nor was there any intent to do so.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s largest homeless shelter took a big step, in its effort to grow even bigger. The city of Bend approved the Bethlehem Inn’s plans, this week, for a new 18,600-square foot family residence and service hub.
Executive Director Gwenn Wysling says the project has been in the works for several years. "We were able to purchase the property a year ago, finally, and we’re looking to start moving in construction trailers, next week, so that we can begin the first phase, which is building a temporary office and kitchen and dining space on our pool area – our former recycling area. That’s coming up in the next month or so." She tells KBND News work at the N. Highway 97 facility shouldn’t interfere with residents or services. "We’re going to kind of condense our current campus down, but we’ll have the same number of single units and family units, which we’ve determined is not enough. And, we’ll continue doing that during the year of construction. When it’s all done, we’re going to then have a commercial kitchen and be able to serve twice as many families, so we’ll have 10 family units." The new service hub will also feature classrooms and space for programs that help transition people from homelessness to stability.
The multi-phase project is not yet fully funded. Wysling says, "We’re at about $4.9 million. We want $5.3 million to pay for it and the property 100%; so we’re on that final push for this phase of the capital campaign." She adds, "The need is growing, and so we continue to work with our community to work with us to find a way to help serve. And, we’re so appreciative of everyone’s community support." Click HERE to learn more about the project.
TERREBONNE, OR -- Deschutes and Jefferson County deputies are searching for a Redmond woman who may have jumped from the bridge at the Peter Skene Ogden State Park. Investigators say 60-year-old Joellen Trenhaile told a friend Monday morning that she was suicidal. They found her car parked at the Terrebonne viewpoint, and her cell phone was discovered near the footbridge. Aerial searches were conducted by plane and drone to assist in the ground search, Monday.
On Tuesday, searchers were lowered 300-feet from the bridge, to search the gorge. The used sounding poles and kayaks to check the water, while ground crews looked along the banks and surrounding area. Due to the potential risk to personnel, future efforts will be done by air and from the canyon edge.
Trenhaile is a white female, 5'6" tall, about 140 pounds. She was last seen wearing a grey zip-up sweatshirt, blue jeans and hiking boots. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- The August 21 total solar eclipse is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to Central Oregon at the height of wildfire season; and many won't be staying in a hotel or traditional campground, nor are they familiar with the High Desert's extreme fire risk.
Lisa Clark, with the Bureau of Land Management, says with hotels and traditional campgrounds booked, there’s no way to know how many campers will be out on public lands. "What we expect is that people will have looked at websites, they know where the designated campgrounds are; they’re going to try to arrive early to get a site at those, because they’re not reservable. They’re going to find those full and the next best thing is to find some nearby public land where they can camp." She says "Dispersed Camping" is allowed on state and federal public lands with no fee or permit required. Campers can stay on BLM land for up to 14 continuous nights, and they are required to adhere to regulations regarding sanitation and placement of campsites. There is no map of dispersed camp spots and Clark tells KBND News, "We have recognizance planes that normally fly that time of year, they kind of look for any lightning starts and wildfires. We’ll be actually having them document where they see people camping. That’s a really scary thing for us, that we’re going to have to evacuate and we don’t know where people will be."
Campers, whether at a campground or dispersed camping, are responsible for knowing fire restrictions that may be in place at the time. "We’re going to be positioning information centers around Central Oregon," says Clark. "So, as you travel through Prineville, or maybe as you travel through Redmond or Madras - we’ll partner with our local counties/chambers of commerce; we’ll staff these information booths. People can stop by and get information as they head out, and that’s another opportunity for us to provide the ‘no campfire’ message."
What if a wildfire breaks out with so many people spread across the region? The BLM was one of 40 agencies that participated in a recent simulation, to practice how to respond to a large-scale emergency. Clark says one concern is where to house a wildfire response team, "Fortunately, we’ve been able to reserve a middle school in Crook County, so that if we have to bring in a fire team – and we will be bringing in extra firefighters – but if we have to actually bring in a team because we do have a large wildfire, we have a place for them to stay. We’re bringing in extra law enforcement officers, and we’ll be looking at having our staff on extended hours; having them work through the weekend, for example." She says the main focus of all of the planning is to insure visitors have a safe and pleasent eclipse experience, while in Central Oregon.
BEND, OR -- The economy is improving for many Central Oregonians, but the results of the most recent Point-In-Time homeless count reveals that is not the case for everyone. The one-day count was conducted across the tri-county area in January, by the Homeless Leadership Coalition. The findings were released, Tuesday.
Co-chair Molly Taroli tells KBND News, "So, this year, we had 778 people who are literally homeless; that is a 31% increase compared to our last full count, which was done in 2015. Across the board, we saw increases in every population, so that includes children, that includes veterans and families." But, she says this year's count only included those who fit the Housing and Urban Development definition of "homeless," like those camping out, or sleeping in their car or on someone's couch. She says the number of homeless doubles if you include everyone without permanent housing. "The number that we're looking at there is over 1400 people. How that breaks down in regards to youth and adults, I'm not exactly sure."
Taroli notes there were clear reasons given by those experiencing homelessness, "What was primarily reported, they were sharing that it was an inability to pay rent, followed by unemployment; those were the top two reasons when we were surveying individuals, the reason that they were in this situation." The Coalition plans to hold a series of community town hall meetings, later this month, to discuss how to address the problem.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney says no charges will be filed against a driver who struck a woman in Bend, last month; she later died at the hospital. D.A. John Hummel says 39-year-old Cristalle Rose Hagen was wearing dark clothing when she darted into Third Street, near NE Burnside, at about 9:45 p.m. April 11. The driver was sober, not distracted and immediately stopped to help the woman.
According to Hummel, about a month before the crash, Hagen told a police officer she wanted to end her life be stepping in front of a moving vehicle. It’s unclear if her actions that night were intentional or accidental.
BEND, OR -- The Bend Fred Meyer and neighboring businesses were forced to evacuate Tuesday afternoon, following the discovery of a natural gas leak. The retail complex south of Reed Market Road closed just before 3:30 p.m., sending customers pouring onto nearby parking lots and streets.
Bend Fire Batallion Chief Dave Howe describes the scene shortly after the evacuation: "The gas leak has been isolated, the building is being ventilated, and the customers and everybody who works there is outside the building a safe distance away. The complex is shut down." The area was allowed to reopen about an hour later.
According to the Fire Department, the leak occurred after a forklift operator inadvertently struck an overhead gas line feeding a ceiling-mounted heater. He immediately reported the mishap and managers called 911.
Photo (right): customers eveacuated from the Bend Fred Meyer;
courtesy Bend Fire Dept.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville mini mart has been fined by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission for failing to verify the age of a minor before selling them alcohol. According to the OLCC, Cross Street Station on NE Third Street will pay $3,795 for the violation.
The OLCC also recently issued a $1,485 fine to the Desert Inn Bar & Grill (pictured), in Metolius, for allowing an employee to mix or serve alcohol without a valid server's permit.
REDMOND, OR -- A driver attempting to pass in a no passing zone is blamed for a crash just west of Redmond, Tuesday morning.
According to the Sheriff's Office, 40-year-old Lindsay Hiskey was southbound on Helmholtz Way, at about 7:20 a.m., when she tried to pass another vehicle. Hiskey was reportedly traveling at about 55 mph when she attempted to abort the pass and return to her lane. She lost control of the VW Jetta, near SW Coyote Ave, and slid off the road, hitting a barbed wire fence and two trees.
Hiskey and the three juveniles in her car were evaluated at the scene by medics but weren't hurt. The investigation into the crash is ongoing.
BEND, OR -- Six local police officers are traveling to the east coast to take part in the annual “Unity Tour." It’s a 250-mile bike ride honoring law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
Officer Adam Steele is one of five officers from Bend Police and one from Sunriver PD who have been training for months. He says, "Everybody has their own reason for riding in the Unity Tour, whether it’s a fallen friend or family member, or someone they know. But, this is our chance for everybody to show support for the family and the loved ones who are still surviving. Bend Detective Chris Morin adds, "I do this just to raise awareness of the fallen; everybody needs to know these guys’ – these men and women’s names. They serve our country in each of the cities and they need to be remembered. They paid the ultimate sacrifice and we owe it to them to remember their names."
The Unity Tour starts in Portsmouth, Virginia May 10. It ends at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, the next day. Officer Steele says, "The fundraising has gone on for the last six months, for this year’s Unity Tour. And, we’ve been so thankful for our families, friends and community support all across Central Oregon. Each of us have raised a total of $1,850, so we’re close to $10,000 that will go to the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC and support for their families."
Click HERE to watch a video about the local team's training and trip.
BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Recreation will conduct its first prescribed burn in a couple decades, later this month. "We’ll be conducting that 48-acre prescribed burn in Shevlin Park," says Jeff Amaral, the district's Natural Resources Manager. "The goals are to improve forest health, increase resistance to disturbance, and increase the chance of a severe wildfire."
Amaral says weather will determine exactly when they'll light the project. It'll either be May 15, 25 or 30. "We’re partnering with the Deschutes National Forest, and they have strict requirements on smoke management. So, we’ll be looking at specific weather requirements to proceed with the burn. They’ll look at temperature and humidity and wind direction to help minimize the smoke impact."
The burn area is south of Aspen Meadow and the parking lot and extends to near the Tumalo Creek Trail on the east, and the old railroad grade on the west. The southern boundary is near the covered bridge.
Bend Parks and Rec will host a community information session this Tuesday evening. Amaral tells KBND News, "Bend Parks hasn’t conducted a prescribed fire for a couple decades and we wanted to reintroduce fire as a management tool. We want to make sure the public had an opportunity to ask questions and get their concerns answered during an informational session." That community meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Shevlin Park’s Aspen Hall. Click HERE for more information.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Public Health is surveying the community to determine the impacts of the drought the area has experienced over the past several years. It’s called a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response, or “CASPER,” and is through a partnership with the Oregon Health Authority and CDC. It's only the third CASPER conducted in Oregon.
Tuesday and Wednesday, volunteers will conduct door to door surveys at pre-determined, randomly selected homes. They will not ask personal questions and addresses will remain anonymous. Headquarters for the project will be at the Crook County Library, and officials say anyone with questions, or who would like a better understanding for the project, is encouraged to stop by.
The data will be used by both the County Health Department Emergency Preparedness and County Emergency Manager to better understand the impacts of drought and to help serve the community more effectively in the future.
REDMOND, OR -- The Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center has announced the concert lineup for the 2017 fair and rodeo:
Wednesday, August 2: Montgomery Gentry
Thursday, August 3: Melissa Ethridge
Friday, August 4: The Marshall Tucker Band (pictured)
Saturday, August 5: Old Dominion.
Information on how to get tickets to the free concert series is available at the fair's website. This year's Deschutes County Fair theme is "Go Hog Wild!" It takes place at the fairgrounds and expo center in Redmond, August 2-6, 2017.
SISTERS, OR -- Sisters City Councilors are ready to narrow their pool of candidates for City Manager from more than 40 applicants down to three or four finalists. Mayor Chuck Ryan says the search process has gone very well. "What I found out was basically Sisters is a desired destination, for sure, for this type of position. Even though we’re a small town, we’re pretty diverse and we’ve got a lot of activity going on, and we’re growing. So, it’s a very desired position and we’ve got a really great slate of candidates."
Over the past month, a consultant narrowed the field to less than 20; then a committee, including Mayor Ryan and one other Councilor, interviewed eight, last week, which helped the group narrow it down to the top four. "Personally, I was looking a lot for intangibles," Mayor Ryan tells KBND News, "Communication skills, energy, ability to work with people, teamwork, their approach on communication with staff, their approach on communication with Council, community development approaches, and things like that; how they perceive getting the community engaged."
The full Council meets at 9 a.m. Monday to approve the finalists. Mayor Ryan says, "There’s no doubt in my mind that all four want the job a lot and are ready to take that next step. We’re going to get the community involved. The whole process will be: in a few weeks to have a community meet and greet, to have another committee, potentially of leaders in the community and other maybe city managers from nearby towns, and then obviously the rest of Council gets to interview these candidates because only two of the Council members have met these candidates; myself and one other Council member." He expects they’ll have the right person selected by the third week in May. The plan is to have the new City Manager in place by summer, replacing Rick Allen who has served in an interim capacity for about a year.
The four finalists are:
Brant Kucera, current Cannon Beach, OR City Manager
Martha Meeker, former McMinnville, OR City Manager
David Miller, Public Works and Community Development Director for the city of Folsom, CA
Bruce St. Denis, a District Manager for a private municipal service management group in Tampa, FL
A special community meet-and-greet is scheduled for May 22; final interviews will be conducted May 23, and Councilors expect to make their selection by May 24.
BEND, OR -- For years, tourism fueled the region's job growth. But the latest employment numbers show Leisure & Hospitality is the one sector in Deschutes County that has not seen year-over-year job growth.
In March, Deschutes County's jobless rate remained at a historic low 4%. Regional Economist Damon Runberg tells KBND News the tight labor market is likely contributing to the stagnant growth in tourism jobs. "As the unemployment rate gets so low, those are businesses that tend to have a lot of lower paying jobs, a lot of part-time, or shifts that aren't preferable," says Runberg. "So, as other job opportunities are available, it might just be that those businesses are having the hardest time trying to fill some of their vacancies."
The plateauing of tourism-related jobs may also mean growth in this previously robust industry has finally slowed. Runberg says, "If there's anything to look out for, it's what happens when we enter into the really prime hiring season in the midst of such historically low unemployment rates. So, like I said, that issue of the tourism industry perhaps struggling to fill those vacancies, that is a narrative and it's only going to become more exaggerated as we move into late spring and early summer."
Professional & Business Services, Healthcare and Retail have seen the largest local job gains, recently.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Madras woman was injured in a Saturday morning crash, in Prineville. When Crook County deputies responded to the NW Madras Highway (Highway 26) just after 5:30 a.m., they found a minivan off the road with significant damage.
Investigators believe 41-year-old Jacquelynn Briggs was southbound when she drifted off the highway, crashed through a fence and hit a juniper tree, uprooting it. The van rolled at least twice on its nose before landing right-side up. They found about 200-feet worth of fencing was damaged by the impact.
Briggs was wearing her seatbelt and all airbags deployed. She was taken to St. Charles Prineville with non-life threatening injuries. Alcohol and drugs do not appear to be factors; the crash remains under investigation.
BEND, OR -- A wanted man was caught by a Bend K9 officer, Sunday afternoon, after a citizen reported a suspected drug deal outside of Macy’s. The witness provided detailed descriptions of the suspects.
Police immediately detained 24-year-old Dakota Deters in the parking lot, but the second man had gone into the store. He started to come out but turned around when he saw the officers. Police caught up with 23-year-old Stephen Davies (pictured) leaving through the back; but he ran again, reaching into his waistband. The K9 was deployed and Davies stopped running and put his hands up. The dog was called off and the suspect took off again before he was finally apprehended by the K9.
Davies was treated at the hospital for a dog bite to the leg before going to jail. He's accused of having an outstanding warrant for a parole violation, interfering with police and resisting arrest. Deters was cited for meth possession and released.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners are considering revisiting its new code for marijuana businesses, after they denied a permit to an operation this week. An applicant wanted to build a grow operation on Alfalfa Market Road, east of Bend, but neighbors appealed with several concerns. Commissioners looked at six different criteria, including odor, water and power usage. By a vote of two to one, they said no.
Commissioner Tammy Baney voted against the permit due to a lack of specifics. "I think the challenge for me is I find myself needing to add into this application what I find to be missing. I really feel like it's not the burden of us to try to determine whether - you know, reading into assumptions. The applicant has a responsibility to offer clarity." Baney and Commissioner Phil Henderson agreed more information was needed, especially regarding how the power company would serve the property. "For the electric service, I'm going to say they do not meet that criteria. I would want more specificity on that they're matching up the operation and the usage. I mean, not necessarily, 'here's the wattage.' But, at least that something is stating more than just, 'we can serve this property."
They were also concerned about water usage at the facility, but decided the county's criteria was met. Commissioner Tony DeBone was the lone "yes" vote for the application. The decision can be appealed to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.
BEND, OR -- Ballots for the May special election start arriving in mailboxes, Thursday. Voters are being asked to decided on a $268 million bond for Bend-La Pine Schools, May 16. Development of the request began about a year ago, when the district identified 159 projects it needs to fund as “maintenance and preservation” work. Superintendent Shay Mikalson says that list does not include the Kenwood gym, which was demolished in January after the roof collapsed under the weight of heavy snow. "There were 13 roofs that were identified a year ago, for example; those are on the list. Kenwood Gym, you wouldn’t see that listed. We have insurance that will be covering that. And, in fact, we’re already in the process of design, in building that like-kind structure on-site, again."
The bond would also pay for construction of a new high school in southeast Bend and an elementary school. Mikalson says that location has yet to be determined. "We’ll be doing the hard work, if we’re supported by our community, to locate that where growth is the greatest. We’d use next year’s enrollment – October enrollment – to be that final decision point between west or northeast. Or, if we could ideally locate that in an area that could serve both, that would be the most ideal, obviously."
While Mikalson recognizes not every voter has a kid in school, he believes the entire community benefits from well-maintained facilities. "We have probably only 20% of our community have students in our schools. We think our schools are an asset, regardless. We are open to the community – last year, I think we had 56,000 hours of our schools being used by community groups; we had 94,000 hours of volunteerism in our schools. We think our schools are the heartbeat of our community." There is no organized opposition to the measure, although he admits many people may not realize it’s finally up for a vote, since the district has been discussing the request for more than a year.
To hear our full conversation with Superintendent Mikalson, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.
BEND, OR -- After a long, rough winter, it’s hard to believe irrigation season is already here. The city of Bend released a YouTube video, this week, encouraging residents and businesses to be aware that water conservation is still important, despite this spring’s healthy snow pack and seemingly unending water supply.
"This time of year, the city’s really getting ready for an uptick in water use and water demands for the growing season, primarily the result of landscape irrigation," says Mike Buettner, Bend’s Water Conservation Program Manager. "We’re working with contractors in a few different ways. One, we’re partnering with the Oregon Landscaping Contractors Association to really promote continuing education opportunities geared towards low water and native landscapes, and drip irrigation." In the video, Buettner highlights the landscaping project along Columbia Street, near Colorado and Simpson, "There, we have an older landscape and we’ve been working with the contractor, there, to track water use. They’re transforming that landscape into a low-water alternative, with drip irrigation and desert adaptive plant material. We’re really encouraged to see this sort of development happening out there."
Buettner also asks property owners to follow irrigation rules: even-numbered addresses water on even days, and odd-numbered addresses water on odd days. And, there’s no irrigating between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.