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SALEM, OR -- Driving in rural parts of Oregon can be a test, especially if you’re low on gas. A bill now in the Senate would allow gas stations in counties with fewer than 40,000 residents to offer self-pay and self-pump facilities when no employees are around. The law could impact Central Oregon drivers, as Jefferson and Crook Counties both have fewer than 25,000 people. 

 

Representative Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) says the bill just make sense. "The idea here, is that we would have fuel pumps that could be operated with a credit card when no one is around. This would allow folks to get away from their job and leave fuel for those who might happen by these remote areas."  
 
Oregon, of course, is one of two states that don’t allow people to pump their own gas. HB 3011 passed unanimously in the House and is now in the Senate.


SALEM, OR -- Central Oregonians could be in for steep rate hikes, if health insurance companies get their way. Jesse O’Brien, OSPIRG’s Healthcare advocate, says the requests by insurance providers still need to be approved by state regulators. "These are some of the largest rate increase proposals we’ve seen in years. Many Central Oregonians get their coverage through Pacific Source, which is requesting an especially large rate increase. This is going to be a period of real concern for Central Oregonians who are going to have to potentially be on the hook for a more than 40% rate increase."

 

Other companies have requested increases for individual plans, ranging from 5% with Trillium Community Health, to 38% with LifeWise. O’Brien, says it’s difficult to determine exactly how much premiums will go up next year. "One thing that complicates this is it’ll vary depending on the person’s plan, their age, and a number of other factors. But, for many people, it could be as much as $100 extra dollars a month, or more in some cases. In some cases probably significantly more."
 
Oregon’s Insurance Division will accept public input on the requests prior to making a final decision July first. O’Brien says OSPIRG will continue to research the proposals and plans to submit its input to regulators, as well. The state can accept or deny a rate hike request, or could approve a smaller increase. Learn more about the rate changes health insurance companies are requesting for 2016, and submit public input HERE
 

 

 


REDMOND, OR -- City officials are looking to revitalize Redmond's mid-town area, and they're hoping for more public input on the idea. The mid-town area runs from NW 4th Street to NW 7th Street and from NW Kingwood Avenue to W Antler Avenue.

 

Community Development Director Heather Richards tells KBND that a meeting tomorrow will build on a previous public workshop. "It's not a corridor," Richards says. "It's a whole area, and what can we do for that area as a whole? There's been a lot of dialog about housing. We're also looking for a site for a community recreation center. This area has been identified as a great place for that, so we'll be investigating that further."

 

Richards says most of the funding for the revitalization project will come from grants. "The beauty of this is there is funding because it's in our Urban Renewal District, so we have money set aside."

 

Thursday's public meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at Redmond's City Hall. 

 



SALEM, OR -- A man that police say was involved in a dispute in Redmond -- where shots were allegedly fired last Saturday -- has be arrested near Salem. The incident occured near SW 11th Street and SW Indian Avenue at around 9:30 p.m. Saturday night. Investigators believe shots were fired, but there were no injuries.

 

The suspect was identified as 36-year-old David Alan Mills. Marion County Sheriff deputies arrested Mills Monday on drug charges that allegedly occured in the Salem area. He's expected to also face charges in connection with Saturday's incident in Deschutes County. 

 



BEND, OR -- The Nordic leg of the upcoming Pole Pedal Paddle will be replaced by a one-mile trail run. Race organizers announced Tuesday evening that unseasonably warm temperatures made the Nordic ski portion unsafe for athletes. The alpine leg will remain unchanged, along the Leeway run.

 

The relay race will be held May 16. It begins with the alpine, or downhill skiing leg at the top of the Red Chair at Mt. Bachelor. Then the one-mile trail run will take place around the Mt. Bachelor parking lot. The 22-mile bike ride will still take off from the West Village parking lot. The five-mile run, .8-kilometer canoe/kayak leg and .5-mile sprint will also all remain the same. 

 

Mt. Bachelor Resort announced earlier this week that it will close for the season following its BrewSki festival on Sunday, May 10. This is the first time since the relay began in 1977 that it won't include a Nordic leg. 
 
 


BEND, OR -- A local man’s attempt to shame vandals near Tumalo Falls has gone viral, and could soon result in criminal charges for those responsible. Brett Nelson posted a photo to Facebook over the weekend of a man and his teenage children, describing how they carved their names into a handrail. Nelson said the man continued to allow his children to deface the railing even after a verbal confrontation. The man, reportedly from California, also let Nelson take their picture. 

 

Kassidy Kern with the Deschutes National Forest tells KBND this incident highlights a bigger problem. "There’s a lot of vandalism that happens in the National Forest, and the Deschutes National Forest is not exempt from this. From our perspective, we also see it as a broader issue, and this particular issue kind of drills down to Brett’s story. We’re very glad that he shared it, and we’re happy he’s able to work with our law enforcement officers to see if we can get a good resolution."
 
While vandalism is common, Kern says they don't often get to take advantage of worldwide exposure. "The power of social media is at work here. Individuals have shared this more than 50,000 times now, and there are some leads on some potential individuals. Brett is working with our law enforcement officers and giving them information so they can contact whomever they need to contact. "
 
According to Kern, the damage will cost several hundred dollars to repair. If identified, the vandals could be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor, and could face up to a $5,000 fine and six months in jail. 


BEND, OR -- Bend 2030 is hoping for more community ideas on how the city can expand transit options. The group is moving into the next phase of talks on how to further develop transportation as the city grows.

 

Erin Foote Marlowe tells KBND that the group collected input from nearly 200 people during last month's forum. "What they told us is that they want more and safer bike routes, they want a more complete sidewalk grid, and they want a more robust transit system," Marlowe says. "They're willing to pay for it."

 

Marlowe says the city needs to plan ahead for an anticipated population boom. "By 2030, we're going to have about 35,000 more people here. That's a 40 percent increase in our population. But we don't have hardly any new roads planned. That means congestion, which we already feel, will be much worse."
 
She adds, "This transportation issue is actually an economic development issue. We can't have people stuck in traffic or trying to get around our community. Transportation is a really key element of getting people to work on time, to move things across the city, to get jobs done."
 
Bend 2030 will soon distribute a survey to residents to get feedback on several ideas. Foote-Marlowe recognizes some of the potential solutions are controversial, but she says they're necessary. One option would be to implement a tourist tax or fee to expand local public transit.
 
If the majority of survey respondents indicate they would be willing to pay for transportation development, Bend 2030 plans to support a local gas tax ballot measure in November. Another option would create a "tourist tax" to raise money for community development. 


SUNRIVER, OR -- More prescribed burns are scheduled for the Sunriver area this Tuesday. Fuels specialists expect to burn a 61-acre section along County Road 40, and another 40 acres near Sugar Pine Butte.

 

Crews will also attempt to burn an additional 12 acres southeast of the High Desert Museum. No road closures are expected, and they should conclude by the end of the day. 



BEND, OR -- Police arrested two men after a shoplifting incident at Walmart and a car chase in southeast Bend, Monday morning. Officers responded to Walmart following the report of a theft. Police say 29-year-old Casey Finnell and 31-year-old Nicholas Butler led officers on a pursuit that, at times, varied between 40 and 70 miles per hour near American Lane and Reed Market Road.

 

Finnell and Butler were arrested following that chase and face a list of charges including DUII, theft and attempting to elude police. 



BEND, OR -- Mt. Bachelor officials say below-average snowfall and a diminishing snowpack will force them to close for the season this weekend. The resort had planned to remain open through May 24, but now says it will shut down this Sunday, following its annual BrewSki Beer Festival. 

 

The start of Bend's iconic Pole Pedal Paddle relay is slated for Mt. Bachelor on May 16. Race organizers say that will still happen; however, the Nordic portion of the race is at risk. An announcement on the fate of the skiing legs of this year's PPP is expected late Tuesday.
 
Photo: Mt. Bachelor Pine Marten Lift 05/05/2015


BEND, OR -- As Bend struggles through a housing crisis with residential rental vacancy rates hovering barely above zero percent, commercial rates are not far behind.

 

Erich Schultz with Compass Commercial Real Estate says the drop in vacancies over the past year is directly tied to the city’s inability to expand the UGB. "The problem is, we don’t have a lot of land to develop any of these product types, whether it’s apartments, industrial, office, retail. It’s just not there." Schultz tells KBND. "We’re supposed to have a 20-year supply within the Urban Growth Boundary and we’re well below that. Just finding land to build any of these things is challenging. Then when you find it, finding something that’s affordable, makes it even more challenging."

 

Schultz says retail vacancies fell in the first quarter to 6.1 percent, industrial rates dropped to 6.6 percent, and office vacancies fell to 8.9 percent, compared to the 20 percent range Bend saw during the depths of the recession.
 
However, he's concerned business growth could soon stall, given that affordable housing availability remains barely above zero. "It means that some of the companies are going to expand elsewhere. The ones that have been looking at Bend, may look outside of the area. So we’re losing opportunities as a result of not having enough housing. It’s a matter of affordability. We may have some housing, but the jobs may not support that housing. So, they may look to Redmond, they may look to Prineville or La Pine, and some may choose not to move here because of that commute."

 

However, Schultz says it isn't all bad news for the economy. "Rental rates are up and the cost of buying new buildings is up – so what’s good about that? Well, what’s good about that is that businesses are making money again, and landlords are part of the business world, and now it’s their turn."
 
To hear more of our conversation with Schultz, visit our Podcast page. 


SUNRIVER, OR -- A victim of gun violence who lives in Sunriver was happy to hear that the State House approved Senate Bill 941, expanding gun background checks in Oregon. Saundra Hopkins, her husband and her young daughter were shot at while teaching in a village in Indonesia in 2002. Two other Americans were killed in the attack. She tells KBND News, "I understand the differences between our situation and what's going on in Oregon, but the point was it was a third world country, and that kind of thing should not be happening here. ... We deserved to have laws to protect us from people who are not great. This won't stop all of them, but this is a deterrent and I think that's great."

 

Similar background check measures failed to pass in the State Senate in past years, but passed this year with an increased Democratic majority in both chambers. Hopkins applauds lawmakers for finally closing this loophole. "We got exactly what the voters wanted: Background checks in the state of Oregon," she says. "It made no sense for the voters to say they want then, and for us to have a law with huge gaping holes in it."  

 

She adds, "We were the only state of the three west coast states that didn't have a pretty strong background law covering all those areas -- we already had gun shows, and now we have online sales and private sales taken care of. Those criminals might be thinking about going to Idaho, Nevada and wherever else, and I say 'Great. Enjoy your time there.'"

 

During yesterday's vote, House Minority Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) gave an impassioned 30-minute plea for lawmakers to vote against the measure. "The right to bear arms is as fundamental to people as the right to vote," he says. "What's being erected here is a barrier. If, colleagues, it were a barrier to voting -- say the cost of postage was too great compared to the $15 transfer fee -- does the agenda change your answer?"

 

All Republicans voted against SB 941, as did three Democrats. With the 32 to 28 vote, the bill now heads to Governor Kate Brown, who is expected to sign it.



REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond woman got quite a surprise when she spotted a cougar in her front yard, on Saturday afternoon. Deschutes County Sheriff's Office deputies were dispatched to NE Yucca Avenue, near Northeast 17th, at about 2:30 p.m.

 

But by the time they arrived, the big cat had moved into nearby trees and bushes nad deputies were unable to locate it.

 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was notified. The Sheriff's office is urging neighbors to be careful, and remember to remain calm if a cougar is spotted.



BEND, OR -- Pole Pedal Paddle has experienced a more than 20% drop in registrations for this year's event, due to the possibility there won't be any "poles" in the iconic relay. The event typically draws over 3,000 participants.  Molly Cogswell-Kelly tells KBND, "We've had a few challenges with Mother Nature. We were really on track with registration early on; and then when we made the announcement that we weren't really sure if we'd have enough snow to do the nordic portion, registration slowed down quite a bit."

 

Pole Pedal Paddle is set for May 16th, and Cogswell-Kelly says Mt. Bachelor still hasn't decided if there will be enough snow for the downhill and cross-country skiing portions. But, she's hopeful the resort's efforts to create snow will be enough. "Mt. Bachelor is an amazing partner with us. They know how important this event is to the community and to our nonproft. All of our MBSEF programs are run at Mt. Bachelor. They have an amazing team that I think can work a little bit of magic."

 

Race organizers are evaluating the situation and are expected to announce tomorrow whether the nordic events will take place. 



REDMOND, OR -- A group of Deschutes County Search and Rescue members training at Smith Rock State Park were deployed to help an injured hiker at Misery Ridge, Sunday. The 71-year old Bend woman reportedly slipped on loose rock above Monkey Face, just before 10:30 a.m., and wasn't able to continue down the trail. 

 

Six Search and rescue team members joined the 7 already at the park for training, and located the woman. They packaged her onto a wheeled litter and brought her down the rugged trail to awaiting medics. She was taken to St. Charles Redmond with minor injuries. 


CROOK COUNTY, OR -- A Crook County landowner is offering a reward for the arrest and conviction of those responsible for damage done to Peterson Creek Reservoir. According to the Crook County Sheriff's office, someone trespassed on private property east of Big Summit Prairie, and manipulated a valve. The damage resulted in the reservoir draining nearly 75% of its water before it was discovered. 

 

Governor Kate Brown has declared a drought emergency in Crook county, and water will be a valuable commodity this summer. The private landowner is offering a $5,000 reward. Anyone with information is asked to call Sgt. James C. Savage at the Crook County Sheriff's office: 541-447-6398. 


BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Ron Wilkinson announced that Scott Olszewski has been selected to become the next principal at Sky View Middle School. Olszewski is currently a vice principal at Mountain View High School, a position he has served in for three years.
 
“I just love the middle school environment. I love the energy of middle school students and this stage of development, where they are in between being kids and being young adults,” said Olszewski.
 
Prior to working at Mountain View, Olszewski served as the dean of students at Pilot Butte Middle School for four years. He also has six years of classroom teaching experience at the middle school level. Olszewski said he is also looking forward to working with Sky View staff. “They have a passion and energy for young people that just shines through.” 
 
Olszewski will begin his position July 1. Current Sky View principal Scott Edmondson is becoming the principal at R.E. Jewell Elementary School in Bend.
 
Several other administrative changes will take place July 1:
 
• Erich Brocker, the current student services coordinator at Highland Elementary School, will become the new vice principal at William E. Miller Elementary School.
• Frank Hanson, the student services coordinator at Marshall High School, will become the vice principal at Elk Meadow Elementary School.
• David Robinson, the current principal at Ochoco Elementary School in Crook County School District, will become the vice principal at Bear Creek Elementary School.
• Vanessa Tobolski, the current student services coordinator at Buckingham Elementary School, will become the school's vice principal.


BEND, OR -- Fewer Oregon parents sought non-medical exceptions to required kindergarten immunizations, this year. A report by the Oregon Health Authority shows 5.8% of all kindergartens claimed a non-medical exemption, compared to 7% in 2014. Stacy de Assis Matthews with the Oregon Immunization Program tells KBND News the statewide trend is reflected in local numbers, as well. "Deschutes County last year at kindergarten was at 10.1%. This year, Deschutes County is at 8.3%." She adds, "Up until this year, we saw a slow and steady increase every year for over a decade, and this is the first time we've seen a drop in the rate in Deschutes County and in nearly every county in Oregon."

 

Heather Kaisner with Deschutes County Public Health says, while she's pleased with the progress, there's still more work to be done. "These percentages are still too high when it comes to something like, if we had a Measles case in a school, you need a very high coverage - higher than 95% - to be protected." Crook and Jefferson county rates were nearly cut in half, as well.

 

De Assis Matthews believes the decline is due to new rules that went into effect this past year. "The new process required parents to get a little bit of education about the benefits and risks of immunizations prior to claiming an exemption. They could get that education by one of two sources: by watching an online module on the Oregon Health Authority website, or by talking to a healthcare practitioner."

 

An Oregon State Senate bill that would provide parents with more specific information as to the number of students vaccinated against certain diseases at each school is still working its way through the legislature. Supporters say it could increase awareness and help more parents get their kids immunized. Overall exemption rates by individual school will be available in early June. 



SALEM, OR -- The Oregon House approved a bill Thursday designed to streamline the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) approval process for local cities. The legislation was introduced by State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend).

 

"State land use plicy has not kept pace with the rapid growth of Bend and other Oregon cities. As a result, we have an extreme shortage of housing options and available industrial land which affects our livability," Rep. Buehler said in a statement, Thursday. "Bend is a special place to live with a unique quality of life. HB 3282 will help Bend grow responsibly through streamlining the process and smarter planning."

 

According to Buehler, the Land Conservation and Development Commission improved methods of approving UGB expansion applications in 2013. One of the methods, called periodic review, reportedly allows cities to receive incremental approval of an application. Buehler's bill aims to ensure that cities that have been directed to amend portions of applications can still take advantage of that periodic review. Bend is currently amending its application and periodic review could potentially streamline that approval process. Representative Buehler says his bill "will allow for timelier and less expensive approvals, and will create more housing options. An improved UGB process is a change Bend and other growing cities desperately need now."

 

The bill is expected to have its first reading in the Senate on Monday. 



BEND, OR -- A mild winter has resulted in low snowpack across Oregon, and officials are worried about the upcoming wildfire season. Carol Connolly with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center tells KBND they are bracing for a tough summer. "It could prove to be a challenging year for Central Oregon and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Several counties have already declared drought emergencies by the Governor and there are other drought conditions out there."

 

Despite the current data, Connolly admits it's difficult to know what's ahead. "There's no way to predict how big the fire year will be, no way to predict the largest fires in Central Oregon," she says. "But, indications from the past look at trends and it looks like it will be a similar fire season as last year." She says in 2014, "We had 19 fire management teams and 1.3 million acres burned. We had 12,000 firefighters in Oregon and California. One of the things that can happen- we may be in competition for these resources ina big fire year."

 

Connolly says Oregon's wildfire season typically gets underway in June. Right now, the southeast portion of the state is consideredthe driest. 

 

Photo: Two Bulls Fire, Bend 2014

 

Oregon's Department of Forestry will take part in National Fire Community Preparedness Day, in advance of the coming wildfire season. Jenna Nelson says 65 projects will take place across the state, Saturday. "There are two main things we're focusing on: creating defensible space around the home and making access and availability for firefighters to come in and help protect your home if a wildfire were to come through." She says homeowners should focus on removing brush under trees.
 
To learn more about the FireWise program and local projects happening this weekend, click HERE


BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Supreme Court struck down some of the cuts made to the Public Employees Retirement System Thursday, creating holes in the budgets of every public agency in the state. The reforms were approved as part of the 2013 “Grand Bargain” when lawmakers tried to funnel more money to school budgets during the recession.

 

Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Ron Wilkinson tells KBND News he was anxiously awaiting the court's decision, but hoped it would go the other way. "We’re disappointed with their decision, but we’ve always known there was a possibility they would rule to reject part of the reform. We knew we couldn’t anticipate what that would mean, so we’ve been progressing with our budget formulation using the rates given to us by PERS, realizing that there’s a time in the future we’ll have to make some adjustments to deal with that."
 
 
Wilkinson says it’s too early to tell just how much – and when – it will impact the district’s budget. "The actual rates we pay for PERS are set by the PERS board, and they’ve already set the rates for the 2015-17 biennium," he says. "Unless they chose to come back together and change those rates, we expect those rates to remain the same for this biennium and the adjustments would be made at the beginning of the 2017-19 biennium." Although, Wilkinson says there is precedent to change the contribution rate mid-biennium.
 
With the budget turmoil, Wilkinson isn't blaming public employees. "I get upset when I hear people blaming the PERS employees, as somehow they’re responsible for this mess. They’re not the ones who set the system up. They came to work; they were told ‘here’s the system you’re part of.’ And they’ve done their part and they’ve performed well over the years. So I work hard to make sure it isn’t pitting one against the other, in that regard." Wilkinson adds, "The bottom line is that we have a system that’s out of balance and the real effort of the legislature is to bring it back in balance so it, by itself, doesn’t become the cost-breaking that makes it so that class sizes have to go up and we’re not able to do the same job in educating kids as we’d like to do." On Friday, the state Legislative Fical Office released an estimation of the impact on public schools. Its report shows the ruling could cost K-12 schools as much as $358 million in the 2017-19 biennium. 
 
In Redmond, Superintendent Mike McIntosh issued the following statement: 
"The Redmond School District is disappointed that the Supreme Court did not uphold the constitutionality of the 2013 legislature’s reforms to PERS. This decision will have no impact on the proposed 2015-16 budget that we presented to our Budget Committee last evening, April 29, 2015. The employer rates have been set for the 2015-2017 biennium and, as we understand, are not subject to change until July 1, 2017.  At this point in time, we do not know what the impact of the Court’s decision will be on future rates. What we do know is that those future rates will be higher than they otherwise would have been if all, and not just some, of the reforms were upheld. The District’s proposed 2015-16 budget includes a $1.4 million reserve for PERS increases which we intend to maintain for the next two fiscal years. When we understand more clearly the future PERS rate increases, we will propose how to utilize that reserve to mitigate any negative impact rate increases may have on our educational staffing and programming."


BEND, OR -- The President of Oregon State University delivered his State of the University Address Thursday evening in Bend. More than 350 attended the presentation at Bend's Riverhouse Convention Center. President Ed Ray says Bend is on the brink of having a four-year university, but it's not a done deal. He toured the 10-acre parcel on Bend's west side where they hope to locate the new campus. The state Land Use Board of Appeals will decide within the next month whether that project goes forward. "I got to see the 10 and a half acre site going through the state approval process to begin construction on," Ray told KBND News. "It's really is a beautiful piece of land. I can see how we could put an academic building, dining hall, a couple residence halls - I can see how that can be built out to meet our needs for the next four, five, six years."

 

President Ray says the former pumice mine land under consideration needs to be repurposed. "That place is now a perpetual monument to our total disregard and degradation of the environment. Is that really the best use we could make of that land? Maybe more of it could be used for a university campus than the 10.5 acres we have. We haven't secured anything. We haven't made any such decision. But I would hope to God we could com to the agreement that all of that has to be transformed into something that can be a point of pride for Bend, not a point of embarrassment."

 

LUBA is expected to release its decision in early June on an appeal by neighbors who oppose the site. Opponents of the expansion believe it will make traffic too congested and the parcel lacks adequate room for future growth. Ray believes the opposition is a vocal minority. "There are always 'NIMBY' people - Not In My Back Yard - I get it. I talked with a couple today who live in the area adjacent to the site, who are very positive. We want to engage people in the near-campus area, hear their complaints and concerns, and hopefully come up with a better plan than we would otherwise."



BEND, OR -- A Bend man was killed at Mt Bachelor, Thursday afternoon. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's office, 29-year old Peter Sky was skiing with a friend on the Leeway Run when he lost control and hit a tree, at about 1 p.m.

 

Mt Bachelor Ski Patrol and private citizens began life-saving efforts. He was taken down the mountain to Bend Fire medics, but further attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.  

 

Investigators say Sky was an avid and accomplished skier and was wearing appropriate protective gear, including a helmet. He is survived by his wife and daughter.



SALEM, OR -- A new report shows key areas of critical concern for Oregon’s Secretary of State. When Jeanne Atkins took office in March, she hoped auditors could provide fresh perspective on several years’ worth of studies. The resulting collection of data created a list of three key themes: Education, state finances and infrastructure. "Oregon faces critical infrastructure needs, including the need to upgrade state information technology systems and to develop stable mechanisms for funding and managing future transportation projects," Secretary Atkins said. According to the report, Oregon has borrowed 2-billion dollars to pay for bridge and road construction over the past 10 years. 

Atkins says that debt reduces the money available to pay for future transportation needs. 
 
On education, Atkins said, "Oregon must have an education system organized for student success and ensuring that young Oregonians are prepared to enter the workforce." 
According to the report, 11% of adult Oregonians don’t have a high school diploma or equivalent. Auditors made multiple recommendations on how the state could better prepare its workforce, including targeted support for teachers and students and better funding.
 
She says she hopes the audits will help lawmakers prioritize efforts as they head into the end of the legislative session. Click HERE to view the full report. 


BEND, OR -- Local assistance agencies are closely watching Congressional budget talks, as lawmakers consider cuts to federal nutrition programs. Republicans have proposed slashing funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the modern-day version of Food Stamps. Jason Carr tells KBND cuts to the program would impact more than just those who receive benefits. "When you look at the numbers in Central Oregon, for example, there are 23,000 households in the tri-county area currently receiving SNAP benefits. That equates to $5.3 million each month coming into the local economy. On the one hand, yes it would impact families who require or need benefits. But, there’s also an economic impact in that grocery stores and other providers that offer food resources would see that impact as well."

 

He says the program is a lifeline for a growing number of Central Oregonians who have yet to recover from the recession. "Seniors and veterans, for example, have been hit really hard because as they try to find affordable housing, if those housing costs continue to rise, they have to make a decision between ‘gee, do I make my payment this month for housing or food?’ So, we’re seeing more seniors and veterans accessing or needing food assistance."

 

Congress is looking at several options to help balance the budget, including a decrease in SNAP funding, and making it more difficult to qualify for benefits.


BLACK BUTTE RANCH, OR -- A prescribed burn could begin in the Black Butte Ranch area as early as Thursday.  Officials with the Deschutes National Forest say up to 212 acres could be burned adjacent to the ranch, and 1/4 mile south of Highway 20.

 

The area will likely be impacted by smoke and drivers are encouraged to use caution. Burns could continue through Friday. 



SALEM, OR -- The Oregon Supreme Court struck down cuts made to the state's public retirement system, Thursday morning. As part of what was called the 2013 "Great Bargain," legislators cut benefits by $5.3 billion to help fund schools, when so much of state funding was going to the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). Public employees challenged the changes, claiming they violated contracts signed with the state. 
 
State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) says there is no way to appeal the decision, since it was based on the state Constitution. However, he hopes lawmakers will consider other changes. "I would encourage Legislative leaders to go back to the only option that hasn't been adjudicated as it relates to PERS, and one of those is the redirect the 6% individual account program that we set up in 2003 as part of the PERS reforms. What we did, we took the employee money and put it in a separate account. Essentially what that did was break the back of money-match and bend that cost curve back down." He says the only solution to eliminate the crippling PERS liability is to establish a market-based fair retirement plan for new public employees, like those found in the private sector. 
 
House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) and Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) issued the following joint statement regarding Thursday's decision: "Today's Supreme Court decision represents a step backward for our state and reverses much of the bipartisan work done to address Oregon's skyrocketing PERS liabilities. The 2013 Great Bargain compromise was negotiated in good faith and allowed us to streamline state government, reduce taxes on small businesses and put millions back into Oregon classrooms. Once again, Oregon faces billions in unfunded PERS costs that will hurt schools, police departments and other local critical services. It is clear that we will need to work together again to streamline government and create jobs in order to protect Oregon from a looming fiscal crisis."
 
Governor Kate Brown released a statement on the decision, as well. "I will be reviewing the ruling and assessing next steps, including the short and long term fiscal needs of PERS, and I will be working with the PERS Board to determine what next steps they will take."
 
In a statement issued shortly after the ruling was made public, Jim Green, Deputy Executive Director of the Oregon School Boards Association, said:  "This is a very disappointing decision. If the Legislature does not take additional action, the decision wipes out the bulk of the savings contained in the [2013] PERS legislation, which means that schools across the state are going to face significantly higher PERS costs going forward. That translates to teacher layoffs and higher class sizes. It also creates an actuarial nightmare in calculating retiree benefits for those individuals who have not yet retired. Our attorneys are still analyzing the decision and weighing our legal options."
 
In the High Court's 83-page decision, the justices ruled that changes to how Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) are calculated would not apply to those receiving PERS prior to the 2013 legislation. 


SISTERS, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners approved a drought emergency declaration for the Three Sisters Irrigation District. Irrigation district managers made the request after seeing low snow pack in the Three Sisters Mountain area which feeds Whychus Creek. Currently, the mountains have 1/3" of snow-water content; typically, it has 17 to 19 inches. 

 

Nathan Garibay, Deschutes County Emergency Services Manager, tells KBND News, "We will send that request up to the state for declaration. If approved by the state, it recognizes that at least a portion of the area is going to be adversely affected by low snow pack, and that there will be some economic damages as well to crops and livestock."

 

He says everyone is in for a dry summer, but the declaration is necessary for Three Sisters. "I think clearly Three Sisters Irrigation District is doing everything they can to manage their water resources. I think this will assist them in meeting some obligations, as well as ensuring that they'll become eligible to apply for any programs that become available through the state or potentially through the federal government."

 

A state decision is expected following the next drought council meeting on May 14th. If approved, it would go on to the Governor for her signature. 



SALEM, OR -- Governor Kate Brown signed into law Wednesday, a bill declaring March 22nd as Tom McCall Day in Oregon. McCall served two terms as Oregon's Governor, 1967-1975. He was born in Massachusetts on March 22, 1913 and grew up in Redmond and Prineville, graduating from Redmond High School. Tom McCall Elementary in Redmond is named after the 30th Governor. 

 

His son Tad, who is an environmental consultant in Virginia, traveled to Salem to attend the ceremony. "On a personal level, it's a great honor for my father that he will be remembered this way; and, as a son of Oregon, I have a different reflection, that he is what Oregon stands for," Tad McCall told KBND News. "It's a celebration of what Oregonians think is important and will champion and will sustain."
 
The bill was introduced at the request of the Tom McCall Legacy Project, a non profit citizens group.  Their goal is to educate newcomers and young people about Tom McCall and his influence on Oregon. Tad McCall said, "He really cared about people.  He cared about women's rights, equal rights, and prosperity shared among all people.  He believed as a society you take care of each other and be a steward of resources so they can take care of us and we can share and enjoy them."
 
McCall is perhaps best known for starting the country's first "Bottle Bill."  He also passed legislation ensuring public ownership of the state's beaches and also started the state's land use planning system. He died of cancer in 1983. Tad is Tom McCall's closest living relative. 


BEND, OR -- Parents of students at Miller, Highland and High Lakes Elementary schools called for the school district to address a myriad of concerns at this week's school board meeting, after the district announced the end of a popular before- and after-school program in the fall. 

 

The school board claims the change is due to the cost of running the Open Gym program. However, a number of parents spoke out at Tuesday's meeting, saying they'd been told the program was self-sustaining. Families pay $75 to $200 per year for kids to participate, but the new program could cost $1,200 to $1,500 annually. Parents received the announcement via email.

 

Peter Grube was one of the concerned parents. He has put two of his children through the program at Highland Elementary, and thinks the district's claims that it's too expensive don't make sense.

 

"I find that extremely hard to believe," Grube says. "We tried presenting numbers, we put numbers together. Frankly it felt apparent on our side of the conversation last night that they weren't listing and they didn't care."

 

The district has not disclosed a breakdown of costs for the program, although parents estimate the 32-hour-a-month program costs significantly less than what the district took in.

 

The new program, Kids Inc., is provided through the Bend Parks and Recreation Department. It will only provide services for after school; and, unlike Open Gym, will provide structured activities like arts and crafts. The Open Gym allows kids free time and sports equipment. 

 

"We are not asking to be subsidized, we are not asking to be a drain," Grube says. "[The current program] isn't a free program. ... Where is the money going? What really is the financial drain?"



BEND, OR -– The road to Newberry National Volcanic Monument’s Newberry Caldera will open to motorized vehicles Friday. Officials will open the gate that blocks access to the caldera area of Paulina and East Lakes as well as area campgrounds. Lava Lands Visitor Center and Lava River Cave also will open to visitors that day.

 

The opening is begins an exciting year of events and activities highlighting the 25th Anniversary of the designation of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. More information on anniversary events can be found at the Forest Service's website. In addition, visitors will have access to a renovated Lava River Cave, which has additional safety and increased access.

 

Other Monument Sites and Services Anticipated Opening Dates:

LOCATION

Opening Information

Forest Service Rd. 9720 to Lava Cast Forest

Open and snow free

Paulina Lake Lodge

Friday, May 8

East Lake Resort

Friday, May 22

Paulina Visitor Center

Weekends starting May 9

Caldera Campgrounds

Check Hoodoorecreation.com for status

Caldera Boat Docks Installed

Planned to be ready for May 1

Paulina Falls and Big Obsidian Flow

Open with snow patches on the trails

Forest Service Road 500 to Paulina Peak

TBD based on snowmelt


List of 25th Anniversary Celebration Activities

 

Newberry National Volcanic Monument BIO-BLITZ,  May 23, 9:00am – 5:00pm

Lava Lands Visitor Center

An event to count and name animal and plant species sited within Newberry National Volcanic Monument on the Deschutes National Forest.

 

MONUMENT KICK-OFF CELEBRATION WEEKEND

June 19, SHARC in Sunriver, 6:30pm – 9pm

·         Newberry National Volcanic Monument Promotional Film Debut

·         Speakers, USFS, Stu Garrett, Congressman Peter DeFazio – Oregon, 4th District

·         Key Note Speaker: In Search of Ancient Oregon and Living with Thunder Author Ellen Morris Bishop

·         Newberry National Volcanic Monument Local Photographer’s Exhibit

 

June 20 Newberry National Volanic Monument – Monument-wide        9:00am – 5:00pm

·         Earth Cache for both kids and adults

·         Newberry National Volcanic Monument Local Photographer’s Exhibit

·         Jr. Ranger Activities

·         Specialized Interpretive Programs at each Volcanic Wonder

·         Presentations by USGS research geologist Dr. Julie Donnelly-Nolan, OSU volcanologist Daniele McKay, and USFS geologist Bart Wills

·         Monument Guided Recreation Fair

·         Woodsy the Owl

·         Flint knapping demonstrations

·         Stewardhip project at Pauline Lakeshore Loop Trail

·         All-day shuttles to Benham East

·         Book Signing by Author, Ellen Morris Bishop

·         Conoe or Kayak with a Forest Service Ranger

·         Bike with a Forest Service Ranger

·         Birds of Prey Exhibit

·          

Father’s Day Brunch at Newberry Caldera, June 21, Paulina Lake Lodge/ East Lake Resort

 

History Pub at McMenamin’s in Bend, June 30, 6:30pm – 8:00pm

The Making of a Monument, Dr. Stu Garrett

 

Stars over Newberry, September 12, 4:00pm – 10:00pm, Monument Wide – Lava Butte

Activities will focus on the darker side of Newberry, sensory awareness, the arts and the night sky. Certain events will require tickets.

 

Newberry Caldera Stewardship Project, September 12, 9:00am – 2:00pm, Trail Maintenance and more.

 



LA PINE, OR -- One person was arrested early Wednesday morning, following an alleged assault in La Pine. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, a man arrived at the La Pine Fire Station just before 11:00 p.m. Tuesday, saying he'd been assaulted by someone he knew. The 44-year-old victim was taken to St. Charles Bend with serious injuries.

 

Deputies responded to a house on Wyatt Drive, where the suspect was determined to be inside. Oregon State Police and the Sheriff's Special Operations Team (SOT) assisted at the location. SOT members worked through the night to establish contact with 45-year-old Jesse Jones of La Pine, who later exited the house without incident. He was arrested just before 5:00 a.m., Wednesday. Jones faces one charge of first degree assault, as well as unlawful use of a weapon and a probation violation. 

This is a developing story; KBND News will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available. 
 


BEND, OR -- Real estate experts from across the region are gathering at the Riverhouse Convention Center in Bend Wednesday morning, to discuss how the city’s Urban Growth Boundary will impact future growth. Brian Fratzke of Fratzke Commercial Real Estate is one of the panelists at today’s Real Estate Forecast Breakfast. He tells KBND News that today’s event is a unique opportunity for everyday citizens to get involved in the conversation. "The question is, do you want to protect urban sprawl?" Fratzke says. "At the same time you need to grow the boundary enough so you keep the community affordable."

 

The Bend area currently has a limited supply of land available in the community, which means land prices are going up even for affordable housing. "For the homeowners, we now are getting those values we wish we had in 2010, 2011 and 2012, when the market was down," Fratzke says. "But we also want to keep our community somewhat affordable, to keep it growing a bit."

 

Fratzke expects growth to be a hot topic at today's breakfast and in the next several years, as city officials work with the state to manage Bend's growth. "For example, we put a gate around Bend -- we’re not going to grow it anymore," Fratzke says. "We’re not going to attract new businesses. It’s the new businesses that pay property taxes; they pay fees to the city that help pay for our roads. You need a little bit of growth."

 

But Fratzke says managing growth isn't so simple. Responsible growth involves a tangled web of unemployment, affordable housing and the UGB, which hasn't been expanded since 1981. "A lot of people equate affordable housing with what we used to call 'low-income housing,' but that’s not always the case," Fratzke says. "Workforce housing is ‘hey, I make $36k a year and I’d like to be able to afford a home.'" Fratzke says.
 
The rental market also factors into managing growth, as Bend continues to see tight vacancy rates. Members on the UGB task force are focused on finding ways to bring in apartments, rental properties and other rental options through expanding the UGB. 
 
Today's Real Estate Forecast Breakfast, presented by the Bend Chamber of Commerce, begins at 8:00 a.m. at the Riverhouse Convention Center. Attendees are encouraged to participate in the discussion with panelists from the City of Bend and the commercial and residential real estate industry. 


BEND, OR -- Police dogs from all over the Pacific Northwest wrapped up a three-day training in Central Oregon, on Tuesday. Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Joye is a master trainer who worked with the 140 teams from Oregon, Washington and Idaho as part of the Oregon Police K-9 Association event. "We go through both classroom and field work to get in front of people outside of our own departments and to get with state-recognized trainers," Joye told KBND News. "It's basically to better our teams to perform better on the streets. Plus, we learn from each other."

 

K-9s and their human partners participated in various field exercises in Bend and Redmond as part of their annual certification. "We’re broken in two groups: Patrol division works on tracking, as far as wanted people and they have updates on use of force. Then detection comes out and we are searching everything from cars to rooms and we have a refrigerated semi truck. So they get to work in a variety of settings." said Deputy Joye.
 
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office currently has three patrol dogs for tracking wanted subjects, and one drug dog trained in finding controlled substances. Deputy Joye said those dogs are invaluable in the local law enforcement effort. "It’s immeasurable as far as savings of man hours. For example, we have a semi out here - it would take two deputies up to an hour or hour and a half to search that entire truck. You can imagine taking a little piece of drug and hiding it somewhere on a semi trailer, how long it would take to find it. We are clearing this entire trailer within a 5 to 10 minute timeframe."
 
Training events are held across the Northwest twice a year, coming to Bend every two or three years. 


SALEM, OR -- The State Senate committee held a public hearing Tuesday on a bill that will ban conversion therapy for people under the age of 18. The bill has already passed the State House.

 

Paul Southwick of Portland was the first person to testify before the Senate committee on Human Services. He underwent conversion therapy three times to fight his same sex attractions.  He says it didn't work.

 

"It takes some time to forgive the therapists.  I'm in a better place, but I've not forgotten the pain and I support House Bill 2307 because I don't want other LGBT people feeling they have a sickness without a cure." Conversion therapy attempts to provide professional services to change a person's sexual orientation.

 

A sex addiction therapist from Colorado Springs testified before the committee saying he's seen conversion therapy work.  Jayson Graves told them it worked for him. 

"When it comes to research based studies on same sex attractions -- there are no studies.  There's no evidence that these therapies are harmful.  If there were, you'd hear about them today.  You're not.  You can say that something has been discredited, but based on what?" 

 

The commitee heard from several people who testified that conversion therapy did not help them and only lead to depression and confusion when it came to their sexual orientation.



SUNRIVER, OR -- A small brush fire in the Sunriver area Tuesday afternoon serves as a reminder that we're entering into wildfire season.

 

The small fire was held to just under an acre. It started at the north end of Savage Drive near Upland Road in Sunriver. It was burning in brush and came within 30 feet of one home, but no structures were damaged.

 

The La Pine Fire Department, the U.S. Forest Service and Deschutes County Sheriff's Office responded to the fire. Its cause is under investigation by the Oregon Deaprtment of Forestry.



BEND, OR -- The Cascade Lakes Highway will open at 10:00 a.m. Friday, but drivers are warned spots of ice may still exist on the road. Road crews say some trailhead and camground accesses may still be blocked with snow.

 

Paulina Lake Road will also be opening this Friday at 8:00 a.m.



SALEM, OR -- Oregon's winter economic report is out, and it has good news for employees in the labor market. This winter, Oregon businesses reported 39,400 job openings. The average wage is also up about a dollar and a half to just over $17.50 an hour.

 

Employment economist Jessica Nelson says a recent trend is the shift of average job wages. "Sixty-one percent of the job vacancies paid below $15 an hour, and now in the winter of 2015 that's down to 34 percent," Nelson says. A year ago, 4,200 job vacancies paid at least $25 an hour. Now more than 5,000 pay that much.

 

Health care and social assistance had the most job openings, followed by leisure and hospitality.



Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad will be replacing the railroad crossing at Baker Road and will close the road for three days, from May 11 through May 13.

 

Chris Doty with the Deschutes County Road Department says it will be an inconvenience for a couple days.

 

"There are thousands of residents in Deschutes River Woods who will need to use alternate routes for a few days, and that's a pretty substantial closure," Doty says. "BNSF [Railway] approached the county to assist with this, and we hope it stays within three days so we'll be in and out during a short period of time."

 

All traffic in and out of Deschutes River Woods, west of Baker Road, will be detoured onto Brookswood Boulevard. The U.S. 97 interchange with Baker Road will not be affected.



REDMOND, OR -- The man who wrote the iconic song "Louie Louie" died at his Redmond home earlier this week, at the age of 71. Jack Ely's son confirmed his death on Tuesday.

 

Ely recorded the song with his band The Kingsmen in Portland in 1963. Ely's son says his dad got a kick out of the controversy spawned by the song's release -- the FBI launched an investigation into the lyrics after some claimed they could hear lewd words. As a result, radio stations began to ban "Louie Louie." Eventually the Feds determined the song was "Unintelligible at any speed."

 

Ely left the Kingsmen shortly after recording the song and later trained horses in Central Oregon.


BEND, OR -- Bend has struggled to reach consensus on how to maintain Mirror Pond without spending a lot of money. The pond needs to be dredged because of significant silt build up, and Tumalo Irrigation District is now stepping forward to be a key player going forward.

 

The district is interested in operating the dam and its hydroelectric facility to generate power and revenue. Irrigation officials say they are looking at making the necessary repairs to the dam that will maintain water levels and improve the overall health of the river.

 

Ken Rieck with the irrigation district tells KBND the district is meeting with officials from the city and Bend Parks and Rec about their plans. "The main environmental groups, their benefit is the restoration of flows, the removal of Steidl Dam and fish passage," Rieck says. The irrigation district also hopes to facilitate kayak passage and the addition of a hydro plant. 

 

If they can reach an agreement, it would allow the district to run the hydropower facility near Newport Avenue to generate revenue and improve the health of the river.
 
"Right now there is no fish passage," Rieck says. "Fish haven't gone through the area in 100 years."
 
Officials from all three groups are scheduled be meeting Thursday to discuss the proposal. If it's approved, the project could be completed in two to three years.


CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- A Crooked River Ranch man was arrested after a report of shots fired in the 12000 block of Peninsula Ave. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office responded to the area, along with Oregon State Police and CRR Fire and Rescue, at about 1:30 p.m. Monday afternoon.

 

Deputies determined a weapon was fired, but no one was injured as a result of the shooting. Twenty-four-year-old Tyrel Ross was arrested and charged with the unlawful use of a weapon, menacing, pointing a firearm at another and disorderly conduct in the first degree. He was booked at the Jefferson County Jail. 

 



BEND, OR -- The local Bend FC Timbers soccer club has been trying for years to buy land for fields, but it's expensive. Last year the club entered a partnership with Bend Parks and Rec. to build several more sports fields at Pine Nursery. They are trying to raise a million dollars by the end of the year to show good faith on the first phase of the project.  

 

Ryan Shore is the Chairman of the Bend FC Timber's Board. "I think the biggest question is why is Park and Rec. not building these fields?" Shore told KBND News. "We think it's a great opportunity to construct our own project. We've been searching for land for five years to build fields. We think it's a positive way, a creative way, to make the tax dollars go further."

 

Shore says many sports are growing in popularity locally, and need fields too. "Of course we're growing," Shore says. "We're a soccer organization that has recreational and competitive programs and I think we've got 2,600 kids, athletes in our club. We've grown exponentially."

 

In the last few years additional sports like La Crosse, rugby and Ultimate Frisbee have also been growing. If the funds can be raised, the Bend FC Timbers soccer club hopes to see construction start in 2017.



BEND, OR --  An investigation is underway into the weekend death of a Deschutes County Jail inmate. Thirty-five-year-old Eben Kaneshiro was discovered unresponsive in his cell, early Sunday morning.

 

According to District Attorney John Hummel, an autopsy will be conducted later today. Hummel suspects the man died of asphyxiation.

 

Kaneshiro was found sitting in his cell just after 3:00 a.m. with a sheet tied around his neck. "I need to say that corrections deputies and the crew from Bend Fire and EMS made heroic efforts to save Mr. Kaneshiro’s life," Hummel said at a press conference Monday morning. "I watched the video tape. I saw a rapid, focused response from the on-duty team, and I also saw a look on their faces that revealed the pain they were experiencing. This was difficult for them. [It's] not a good day when that happens."

 

Kaneshiro had been charged with multiple sexual offenses, involving at least one Central Oregon child victim. According to jail staff, Kaneshiro left multiple letters behind, some discussing suicide and one revealing where investigators could find additional evidence relating to sex crimes committed in Portland.

 

Those letters have been forwarded to the Portland Police Bureau. It is unclear how many alleged victims are in the Portland area. 

 

Hummel says the Central Oregon Major Crime Team, lead by Sergeant Jesse Petersen of Redmond Police, will continue to investigate the death. "This morning, I spoke with Sgt. Petersen and I told him to continue with his investigation and to leave no stone unturned," Hummel says. "I have full confidence in Sgt. Petersen and the team he is leading. When the investigation is complete, I will review their findings and make a final decision as to the cause of death."

 

This is the second inmate death in Deschutes County in less than six months. In December, 31-year-old Edwin Mays died of an apparent drug overdose. Oregon's Department of Justice is currently investigating the Mays death and the response by deputies. 



PRINEVILLE, OR -- A historical recreator of Teddy Roosevelt will be in Prineville Thursday evening, giving a live performance of "Teddy Roosevelt's Oregon Roadshow." Joe Wiegand will be at the Community Room of the Bowman Museum at 6:30 p.m., as part of a week-long tour of schools and museums.

 

This is Wiegand's fourth annual visit to Oregon. He'll also be stopping in Bend. 

 

To see one of his past performances, click here.

 



NEPAL -- A Bend man, reportedly one of thousands missing in Nepal following Saturday's 7.8-magnitude earthquake, has now contacted family. The sister of 19-year-old Josh Edwards took to Twitter to contact the State Department, asking for help. Jennifer Edwards said Josh was last seen Monday, and could be near the Kagbeni village.  Earlier this morning, his aunt tweeted he was safe and had contacted family.

 

According to his Facebook page, Josh Edwards attended Summit High School and works for Mount Bachelor. 
 
 
 


MOUNT BACHELOR, OR -- A snow boarder was rescued after a nearly 6-hour search on Mount Bachelor. The 35-year old California man reportedly saw boundary signs yesterday afternoon, but chose to go around them in search of fresh powder. 

 

About 20 Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers and several U.S. Forest Service workers responded to the area after Andrew Wong's friends reported he had separated from the group. Eventually, Wongrealized he was not where he thought he was and decided to board down the mountain. He was found in good condition near Lava Lake, just before 10 p.m.


BEND, OR -- Deputies at the Deschutes County Jail discovered a 35-year-old inmate dead Sunday morning. At approximately 3:08 a.m., deputies realized that Eben Eli Keiji Kaneshiro of Portland was unresponsive in his cell. Deputies began life-saving efforts, continuing until medics arrived. Kaneshiro was pronounced dead of an apparent suicide. 

 

The Multi-Agency Major Crime Team investigating, with help from the Deschutes County Medical Examiner's Office. Kaneshiro had been held on charges of first-degree sex abuse, sodomy and coercion of a child under 12 years old.

 

The District Attorney's Office is expected to release more details later today.

 

 



WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Cable powerhouse Comcast withdrew its offer to merge with Time Warner Cable, after the companies failed to receive federal regulatory approval. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) had actively opposed the deal.

 

"For the second time this year, Oregonians and consumers across America stood up to Big Cable and won, refusing to make their monopoly any bigger," Wyden says. "The decision will lead to more choices, better services and lower prices, especially for consumers and small businesses."

 

Comcast has more than 600,000 subscribers in Oregon and Southwest Washington, primarily in the Willamette Valley. The Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice both planned to block the deal over monopoly concerns, given that the two companies share a third of cable customers nationwide.


SALEM, OR -- The Oregon House unanimously passed legislation on Thursday that would urge the U.S. Department of Energy to build a new geothermal research lab in Deschutes County. The DOE's Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy, known as "FORGE," is looking for a new location.

 

Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) was the key sponsor of the bill. "The purpose of FORGE is to do enhanced research on enhanced geothermal systems, to develop large-scale heat exchange systems," Whisnant says. "We're competing with several other states, and that's why we're doing the resolution."

 

Whisnant believes Oregon has an advantage over other states due to the proximity to the private Altarock Newberry Geothermal Project, which is already working with the DOE and Oregon State University. 

 

He says the lab would provide an economic boost to the area."They estimate the DOE will fund the national lab at $30 million a year, in addition to 310 construction jobs for the lab," Whisnant says. "And they expect 100 permanent jobs in the operational phase."

 


BEND, OR -- Those trying to block the westside expansion of Oregon State University’s Bend campus will have to wait even longer for a decision from the Land Use Board of Appeals. The opposition group Truth in Site appealed to LUBA, saying the location is too congested and not the best fit for a four-year university.

 

Former Bend City Councilor Bruce Abernethy tells KBND that the city made the right call. "When I look at it, what are the eligible uses for that property?" Abernethy says. "There are a lot of uses that are way more impactful than OSU-Cascades."

 

And although Abernethy agrees there will be an impact in the surrounding area, he is less concerned about negative results. "When I was on the city council, people said ‘Oh, no, no, no, the sky is falling – the Bend parkway, the Bill Healy Bridge!’" But Abernethy says, "The city can make it work. There’s going to be change, no question about that. But I actually think OSU-Cascades is a good example of smart infill, smart growth, that takes advantage of the infrastructure that’s already in place. "

 

Originally, LUBA was expected to rule next week; however, attorneys for Truth in Site requested a delay, citing a family emergency. LUBA will now hear oral arguments, which are scheduled in Salem next Thursday. Testimony will be provided from the City of Bend -- as the city approved the school’s new westside campus –- and Truth in Site. The timeline for a ruling is now pushed back to early June. Depending on how LUBA rules, the case could go to the state courts. 
 
To hear more from Abernethy, visit our Podcast page. 


SALEM, OR -- The Oregon House Rules Committee passed the gun control bill this Thursday. The bill will expand background checks for private gun sales in the state. Thursday's vote was 5 to 4, along party lines.

 

Representative Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) voted against the bill. "I think when you say that the goal is to make Oregon safer for women and children, that is an oversimplified answer," McLane says. "Everyone here wants to make the state safer to women and children. But that begs the question, does this bill produce that result? I conclude it does not."

 

SB 941 has already passed the Senate and could come up for a vote in the full Oregon House next week.



LA PINE, OR --  A La Pine driver was seriously injured in a single-vehicle crash on Thursday morning. According to La Pine Fire, emergency crews responded to Highway 31 south of La Pine just before 9:00 a.m. Investigators say a pickup crossed the center line and left the road, crashing into a tree and pinning the man. 

 

The driver was flown to St. Charles in Bend with serious injuries. Highway 31 was closed for about an hour during the rescue and investigation. The Deschutes County Sheriff's office is looking into why the man left the roadway. 


BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office continues to wait for the results of a federal investigation into the death of an inmate, last year. Sheriff Larry Blanton tells KBND his agency is cooperating fully with the Department of Justice.

 

"We’ve delivered some documents after being asked to do so from DOJ, and have talked with an investigator about some of the issues there," Blanton says. "But as far as a timeline, I’m not really sure when we’ll receive a report from that -- hopefully soon."

 

Edwin Mays died of a methamphetamine overdose at the Deschutes County Jail in December. Sheriff Blanton says that while his death is tragic, it’s a symptom of a greater problem.
 
"Our corrections staff talked with inmates that we brought in and asked them things we ask everybody: ‘Is there something we need to know?' 'Have you ingested something, or is there something in your body we need to help you with?’" Blanton says. "In 2014 alone, we had 13 people say, ‘Yeah, I have ingested something,’ or ‘I need help with something.’ We transported those people to the hospital. All of those people received medical attention, up to and including surgery."
 
Blanton says when Mays was asked during booking, he denied taking any drugs. The sheriff says Mays likely utilized a practice commonly known as “packing” or “stuffing," when inmates hide drugs inside the body to try and retrieve later.

 

The Mays family has maintained that the 31-year-old did not receive timely medical care, contributing to his death. Jail surveillance footage from December 14, 2014, shows deputies watching a football game and mocking the inmate’s behavior prior to his death.
 
Sheriff Blanton says, while it’s not unusual for a TV to be on to provide “white noise” for inmates, deputies are not supposed to be distracted by it. "First of all, there’s no excuse for that, it’s unacceptable," Blanton says. "I’ve taken care of discipline issues relating to that. I accept full responsibility for that, that’s not acceptable. I have dealt with that issue. That will not happen again."
 
Blanton would not elaborate on what disciplinary actions were taken, citing the ongoing DOJ investigation. Blanton contends, however, that deputies made every effort to provide life-saving efforts to Mays. 


BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet in Bend on Friday to discuss the possibility of removing gray wolves from the state’s endangered species list. Michelle Dennehy with ODFW tells KBND News the move likely won't impact Central Oregon, since most wolf activity in the state occurs in the Northeast corner.

 

"One thing to note, that west of Highways 395, 78 and 95 wolves remain listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act, so the federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is kind of in charge of management," Dennehy says. "We work collaboratively with them. Right now, if a delisting were to occur, it would frankly have little impact because our wolf plan has protections for wolves into the future."

 

She says that plan calls for initiating the removal of gray wolves from the state Endangered Species List, once there is confirmation of four breeding pairs in three consecutive years. That objective was met in February, with the addition of OR-7’s pups.
 
"At this point, our known wolf activity is in northeast Oregon, and we also have a known wolf pack – the Rogue wolf pack, which is OR-7’s pack – in the southwest Cascades," Dennehy says. "We’re also aware of another pair of wolves in the southwest Cascades. We don’t have any known wolf activity at this time in Central Oregon."
 
The wolf known as OR-7 rose to fame three years ago during his trek from the northeast corner of the state through Central Oregon, and eventually to the southwest Cascades, where he started his own pack.
 
Dennehy adds, "Wolves really are a success story for Oregon; they’ve done well, they’re increasing in Oregon, and they’re expanding their range. Regardless of what happens with the delisting, we have a wolf plan that protects wolves in place in Oregon." 
 
The commission meets Friday at the Deschutes National Forest Office in Bend. The meeting begins at 8:00 a.m. The full agenda is available HERE
 
Photo credit: Wenaha pack pups, 2012
Courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon is trying to get the government to buy American. He introduced legislation Wednesdsay called the "Invest in American Jobs Act." It expands the potential to buy American provisions, so that all major projects overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation would strive to buy from the U.S. 

 

"This supports the concept when we build things in America, we create more good-paying jobs and grow the middle class and improve the economy," Merkley says. "This is an important component on that."

 

The goal of the bill is to require federally funded transportation projects to use American steel, iron and other products whenever possible.



BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners are going to revisit the issue of whether the Central Oregon Irrigation District can pipe a canal in northeast Bend. Last month Commissioner Alan Unger was pressured to recuse himself from making the decision since he has served on some water boards in the past. That meant the two remaining commissioners split the vote, and the request was denied.

 

But the commissioners decided earlier this week to take another look at the issue. "We brought it up for discussion whether we left that issue in a good place, and in my opinion we didn't," Unger told KBND. "So I think we should make a decision and move on and we plan to bring it back up in May or June."  

 

Unger added, "I think it's unfortunate the parties put commissioners in a place where we have to choose values between neighbors and districts, but that's what we need to do. The challenge is water planning, and water management is really important as I look at the big picture. I think we have some work to do."

 

Likely contributing to the commissioners' decision to reconsider, COID had planned to appeal the county's decision to the State Land Use Board of Appeals.



Local state lawmakers are optimistic about legislation to help fund the Mirror Pond project. The House Land Use Committee unanimously approved the bill this week, which would allow the state to raise $5 million through lottery bonds for the project.

 

The bill's sponsor, State Representative Knute Buehler, says now a local utility has expressed interest in buying the Newport dam. "We're very happy the Tumalo Irrigation District, a key component, is also considering removing one of its dams and taking over ownership of the Newport Dam," Buehler says. "That is quite a development that lends enormous momentum to the whole vision."

 

The irrigation district is looking at redesigning the dam and continuing to use it to generate electricity.

 

The public hearing in Salem brought out many public officials who are supporters of the legislation, including City Councilor Victor Chudowsky.

 

"The idea behind the project is to reconnect people to the river and create economic catalyst for downtown development," Chudowsky says. "It would create a pedestrian walkway to enjoy the river in a more natural state, and we're looking for some seed money and to help the public-private partnerships to have this move in the right direction for our city."

 

 



SALEM, OR -- State lawmakers held a marathon public hearing on a bill that would expand background checks for private gun sales in Oregon. The Senate passed SB 941, and the House is now considering it. The House Rules Committee held a seven-hour public hearing, which followed two hours of testimony, Wednesday.

 

Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) serves on the committee and was pleased the public had an opportunity to share. "I want to thank you for allowing the lengthy public hearing to allow people to testify," he said. "I know the Senate public hearing was only two hours, and a lot of people came to Salem and weren't able to testify -- some clear from Eastern Oregon. I don't know if they were able to make the trek [today] because it was only posted a couple days ago."

 

Rules Committee Chair Val Hoyle (D-Eugene) says she decided to hold the public hearing so everyone got a chance to testify -– unlike the Senate, which only held two hours of hearings before passing the bill.
 
"I want to say thank you to my Republican colleagues, Democratic colleagues, the committee staff and other people who have come here who have said ‘yes, we believe in the public process and we will stay until 10:00 at night because it is really, really important,’” she said.
 
David Terry of McMinnville spoke Wednesday afternoon, saying the state had no business passing the bill. "Our fundamental right to protect ourselves with a gun is absolutely inalienable," he argued. "And this body has absolutely no right, no constitutional right or moral right, to interfere."
 
Sam McCallister of Mapleton agreed, saying gun laws like this are unconstitutional. "This law will essentially cause the system to be overloaded with a bunch of legitimate purchasers, and it will not help the system," he said. "At the same time, those people that are illegitimate purchasers will still get their guns however they get their guns."
 
Currently, background checks are needed to buy guns from licensed dealers, but not for private, person-to-person transactions. SB 941, passed by the Senate last week, would change that.

 



BEND, OR -- A 36-year-old Eugene man was arrested early Wednesday morning after leading Bend Police on a high-speed chase. Just after midnight, a green Subaru Legacy was observed committing multiple traffic violations near NE 3rd St and NE Mt. Washington Dr. Officers say they observed increasingly erratic driving and suspected the driver might be under the influence of intoxicants. 

As officers tried to stop the vehicle, they learned that it was listed as stolen out of Eugene. The driver took off down NE 3rd at speeds exceeding 90 miles per hour. Officers soon called off the pursuit out of concern for people in the vicinity. 

Just before 2:30 a.m., a Bend Officer located the stolen vehicle near NW Newport Ave.  As the vehicle continued on NE Olney Ave towards NE 3rd St. The driver fled for a second time on NE 3rd St. Officers set up spike strips on Highway 20 near the Sheriff's office. The driver continued towards Tumalo and eventually lost control, colliding with a guardrail near the Deschutes River. The driver continued in the vehicle back toward Bend, and an officer deployed spike strips a second time. 


Eventually the Subaru spun out and came to rest near the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office. Osman ran from the vehicle through Cascades Village parking lot, and was taken into custody in front of Food 4 Less. Ervin Osman faces a long list of charges, including DUI and meth possession.  


This incident is still under investigation and additional charges may be added.  If anyone has additional information, they are encouraged to call the Bend Police Department at 541-693-6911. No injuries were reported during either pursuit. 



BEND, OR -- A private developer is moving ahead with plans to harness the gas emitted at the Knott Landfill in Bend. Timm Schimke, Deschutes County’s solid waste director says, "Originally Waste To Energy Group came forth with an unsolicited proposal to install a landfill gas to energy project here at the landfill. They had a very unique approach, which seemed to fit well with our landfill being relatively small and very dry – which is usually not good for landfill gas production – but they proposed to enhance gas production. It was a very favorable contract for the county; there was no financial risk for us."

 

But Schimke says after the contract was signed last year, delays occured when the California-based company failed to secure necessary funding. "Just recently, within the last 60 days or so, I got word they were successful with funding," Schimke says. "So, they are starting the process to schedule the initial stages of work, which is some engineering work and scientific evaluations of the landfill. And we gave them information on what they would need to complete a site plan review needed for the Community Development Department. Once that’s done, they’ll go through a DEQ permitting process."

 

The idea is to inject steam into the piles of trash to maximize gas production; eventually Waste To Energy Group hopes to convert that methane gas into a liquid fuel. Schimke says the contract could eventually net the county at least a quarter of a million dollars a year. "If they’re more lucrative, we’ll earn more," Schimke says. "If they’re less lucrative, we’ll earn less, although not below that base dollar amount. This is a moneymaker for us." Although, he adds, "That’s not our primary driving motivation. Landfill gas is where you get your odor from the landfill, and we struggle with that. Obviously, we would rather not be putting landfill gas into the atmosphere." 
 
Schimke estimates the initial engineering and permitting phase will be completed in the next six to nine months.


BEND, OR -- A Portland man’s Central Oregon vacation a year ago led to the creation of the Bend Marathon, premiering this weekend. Kerry Loehr tells KBND News he was shocked to learn there was no marathon in a region with such an active running community. "We happened to be shopping at Foot Zone, and my wife and I were talking, we couldn’t believe Bend didn’t have a marathon. And, my partner and I had just started race directing, so we started doing our due diligence to see what it would take to do so. Really the idea was born by visiting Foot Zone and realizing there was a gap in the market."

 

Loehr admits others have attempted the idea before, but says this time is different -– in part in how he and partner Blair Hook marketed the race over the past year. "We sold Bend as a destination race. When we designed the course, we wanted to highlight everything Bend has to offer. It starts downtown, runs along the Deschutes River, skirts the Old Mill District, runs through Farewell Bend Park –- actually the half and the full split at Farewell Bend. Then the half goes over to Riverbend Park, then back to the finish downtown."
 
Runners in the full marathon will continue down the Cascade Lakes Highway and turn around near the Seventh Mountain Resort. For more details on the race course, click HERE. Loehr says the looped road course is another reason this effort will be more successful than past attempts which were "point-to-point" and not favored by most avid runners. 
 
More than 1,200 runners are already registered for Sunday's events, with 70% coming from outside of Central Oregon. "Bend is a community of 80,000 people and that’s not a big enough community to sustain a nice-sized road marathon," Loehr says. "So, what we needed to do was to market it nationally, which we’ve done. We’re bringing in people from 31 states all over the country, including Canada."
 
Both the half and full marathon start in downtown Bend Sunday at 7:30 a.m. Loehr says he expects the half to take about three hours, and the full 26.3-mile marathon to take about twice that. Runners will finish at the Mirror Pond parking lot.
 
Drivers may experience some traffic delays along the race course, although Loehr says the start time and route were developed to try and avoid full road closures. The City of Bend issued a traffic notice on Tuesday, encouraging runners and spectators to park for free in the Centennial Parking Garage downtown. 


BEND, OR -- Unemployment levels continued to drop in Central Oregon last month. All three counties saw significant drops in their unemployment rates in March.

 

Regional Economist Damon Runberg tells KBND warm weather is affecting numbers across the state. "Here in Deschutes County we saw a microcosm of that," Runberg says. "We saw continuation early in the winter of adding jobs and never saw the significant layoffs. When the first spring report came along, the numbers seemed lackluster, but really there was no hiring boom in the spring because there were no hiring layoffs to back into."

 

Deschutes County's unemployment rate in March was 6% -- it's lowest level since December 2007. Jefferson County's rate is 7.4% and Crook County's is 8.9%.



BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is seeing a concerning number of whooping cough cases -- a highly contagious respiratory disease. This year, Deschutes County has confirmed 20 cases, vusus the 60 cases in all of 2014.

 

Heather Kaisner with the Deschutes County Health Department tells KBND News, "It's just continuing on from last year. We saw 60 cases and that's the highest number we've seen in decades, and we thought it would subside, but the numbers continue to increase. The concern is the more prevalent it is, the more likely it can spread to an infant."

 

She says the best defense against whopping cough or pertussis is a well-immunized community. Vaccines against the diseaes are recommended for all ages, but infants must take a series of shots to be fully immunized, and it takes a couple of years for them to be protected.



SALEM, OR -- The State House will hold a public hearing on the gun control bill just passed by the Senate and now in front of the House. The public hearing on Senate Bill 941 will be held Wednesday from 3:00 to 10:00 p.m.

 

Republican Leader Mike McLane of Powell Butte was very critical of the two-hour public hearing recently held on the bill, in the Senate. Due to his concerns, he made sure the House would hold a much longer hearing occuring in the evening, in order to draw more people. 

 

This bill being considered would require all private gun sales in Oregon to include a background check conducted by a gun dealer.



BEND, OR -- A new study by the Centers for Disease Control has found that e-cigarette use has tripled among middle and high school students. In 2013, 4 percent of teens admitted to using e-cigarettes. Now 13 percent of the students use them.

 

Penny Pritchard, the Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for Deschutes County, tells KBND News, "It's not surprising given what we're seeing. In 2011-2013, we've seen use in Oregon double, so it's not surprisng due to our lack of regulations across the state. With the current lack of regulation, places that sell them to kids are getting access to these."

 

Deschutes County Commissioners are looking at possibly banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, but they are trying to reach consensus with nearby cities before going forward.



SISTERS, OR -- Following unusually warm weather and only 10 days of skiing on the books, Hoodoo Ski Area has officially closed for the season. But with the bad comes the good: The Deschutes National Forest, through a partnership with Hoodoo, has already opened a number of campgrounds.

 

"This is a relatively early opening for several campgrounds. We do try to have several campgrounds open by May, but here by April with this incredibly warm weather, we’ve opened several campgrounds, working with our concessionaire, Hoodoo," Jean Nelson Dean with the Forest Service tells KBND News.

 

Ten Deschutes National Forest campgrounds opened over the weekend, including North Twin, Big River, Pringle Falls, South Twin and Crane Prairie. Nelson Dean says campers should check Hoodoo Recreation's website to see what's open before making plans. "Visitors can actually expect some of the facilities in the locations that are actually fully open, restrooms will be available to them. There are still some campsites that don’t have facilities open yet." Hoodoo Recreation manages more than 150 campgrounds in both Oregon and Washington, many in conjunction with the Forest Service.
 
After two consecutive less-than-ideal ski seasons, the ski area announced yesterday it would offer refunds to season ticket holders or allow them to roll unused passes over into next season.
 

 



BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine School District officials have named five finalists for principal at Sky View Middle School. They include three current assistant principals from within the district, the current principal at Madras High and a middle school principal in the Three Rivers School District in Southern Oregon. 

 

Brian Uballez is currently the assistant principal at Sky View, a position he's held for eight years. Prior to that, he was the assistant principal at High Desert Middle School in Bend. 
 
Brian Cook has been an assistant principal at Bend Senior High for seven years. He's also worked as a teacher in Bend, Redmond and Portland.
 
Scott Olszewski has served as an assistant principal at Mountain View High School for three years. He was also the dean of students at Pilot Butte Middle School in Bend for four years.
 
Damian Crowson has been principal of Lincoln Savage Middle School in Three Rivers School District in Grants Pass for four years. He is also the administrator for the district's alternative programs. 
 
Sarah Braman-Smith is currently the principal of Madras High, where she has led the school for four years. Prior to that, she was assistant principal at MHS for five years. Most recently, Jefferson County 509J officials announced Braman-Smith would be transferred to the Warm Springs K-8 Academy when that school's principal retires this summer. However, that decision has led to a backlash by some MHS teachers, including protests at recent school board meetings. 
 
The new Sky View principal will begin July 1, when current principal Scott Edmondson will become principal of RE Jewell Elementary. 

 

Bend-La Pine School officials will host a "meet the principal candidates" forum tonight at Sky View Middle School, beginning at 5:00 p.m. 

 



TUMALO, OR -- Bend Fire and Rescue responded to an agricultural burn north of Tumalo that escaped its containment line, Sunday afternoon. Fire investigators say the homeowner and a friend were working a controlled ditch-bank burn when the wind shifted, moving the blaze into trees, a vehicle and a five-acre field.

 

Officials want this fire to serve as a reminder of how important it is to have a burn permit on-hand. They want to make sure locals know weather conditions before starting an outdoor burn.


BEND, OR -- The City of Bend honored its heroes this weekend, at a ceremony celebrating its Purple Heart City designation. Dick Tobiason organized Saturday's event at the Bend Hero's Memorial and was the driving force behind the proclomation. "We're about the fifth city in Oregon to be declared a Purple Heart City, and about the 900th in the U.S.," Tobiason says. "It was something I did after seeing other cities do it."

 
City Councilor Casey Roats read the proclomation declaring the designation, and told KBND News he was honored to be involved. "When we were asked for a volunteer among [the council], I just raised my hand very quickly," Roats says. "I had members of my family growing up -- grandparents and my dad were in the service -- so it seemed like taking a little bit of time out of my day to honor those who have given so much for us was the very least we could do."
 
Tobiason says Saturday's ceremony meant a lot to more than just the 20 Purple Heart recipients in attendence. "There were people who came by afterwards and saw what we were doing. One couple came by and said, 'My dad was in Korea and won a Purple Heart, what's going on here?' And so we told him, and he said, 'Isn't it wonderful that our community respects our veterans and even our wounded and killed veterans?'"
 
The Purple Heart Monument at Brooks Park honors 450 Bend veterans eligible for the award, which is the nation's oldest military medal. ODOT will install 5 signs at Bend's city limits during the next couple of weeks. The project was sponsored by the Bend Heroes Foundation. Tobiason says no taxpayer dollars were used. 
 


REDMOND, OR -- The internet and social media can be vehicles for negative behaviors, especially when it comes to children. Bend Broadband and The KIDS Center are again offering a forum called "Public & Permanent: preventing sexting, cyber bullying and beyond."  The two-hour program aims to teach kids and parents how to stay safe online.  

 

Robin Antonson with The KIDS Center tells KBND News it's a brave new world. "It's very serious. 88% of young teens report being bullied, or have witnessed people being harmed on the internet, smart phone and social networking sites. It's very serious." 
 
This is the second year for the trainings, and Sonja Donahue with Bend Broadband says they hope this year will be more successful. "Last year's event, when we were a little bit surprised that we didn't get more of a turnout, we were commenting if the community heard that there were sexual offenders moving into the area, everyone would be in an uproar. This is really just as important, or a very similar analogy. These predators are in every single room of our house, wherever there's technology." She says those who have been bullied are more likely to inflict self-harm.  
 
The first session will be at Redmond High School tonight from 6 - 8 p.m. The second event is Tuesday at Bend High from 6 - 8 p.m.  The event is free for kids and $5 for adults.  All proceeds benefit The KIDS Center. Click HERE for more information. 

 



PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Redmond man was arrested Saturday night, following a pursuit and brief stand-off. Oregon State Police tried to pull over a Dodge pickup on Highway 97 near Redmond, following complaints the driver wasn't staying in his lane. But the driver sped east on Highway 126, into Prineville.

 

Troopers finally got the truck stopped near the Highway 26 junction in Prineville. After a brief standoff, the driver exited the truck. OSP says he still refused to follow commands and was hit with a non-lethal beanbag round. Thirty-three-year-old Shane Shantie was arrested and faces a number of charges including DUII and reckless driving. He was treated for his injuries at the Prineville hospital, then was booked into the Crook County Jail. 


MADRAS, OR -- Oregon State Police are investigating a weekend tanker truck crash on Highway 197, north of Madras. Investigators believe a 61-year old Washington man may have suffered a medical emergency, causing his milk tanker to roll onto its side, blocking the highway. 

 

A Prineville haz-mat crew responded to help clean up the crash site and contain leaks. The driver, Brent Braun of Selah, WA, was transported to the hospital in Madras. The highway has reopened, but the investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.


BEND, OR -- The City of Bend is poised to sell the former site of the Bend Bulletin -- again. City councilors have approved an offer from Cascade Empire Lodging. The nearly $2.3 million deal is substantially less than the $4.8 million the city paid for the property back in 2005.

 

City Manager Eric King tells KBND the deal has not been finalized. "Well, they have about 60 days of due diligence, then another 60 days to close on the property, " King says. "So, I wouldn’t imagine any construction activity would begin for at least 6 months."

 

A year ago, councilors approved a $1.9 million sale to a different developer. King says that company couldn’t make the deal pencil, following the due diligence period.

 

"The intent is to have a mix of uses, hotel being primary," King says. "But also retail and a housing component and a community plaza as a centerpiece of that development."

 

The city bought the property eight years ago, with visions of converting it into a mixed-use city hall complex. Wednesday's approval of the deal includes a stipulation that allows councilors to review a conceptual design prior to development of the land. 



BEND, OR -- Deschutes National Forest crews are expected to conduct a number of prescribed burns over the next several days. Beginning Friday, crews will spend several days burning nearly 430 acres near Highway 31, south of La Pine, in the vicinity of Hole in the Ground.

 

On Saturday, fuels specialists will begin burning two areas totaling about 260 acres near the intersection of Highway 97 and Highway 58, as well as another 380 acres 20 miles southeast of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, near Fox Butte. 
 
No road closures are anticipated; however, smoke may be visible in these areas and could drift onto nearby roads.

 

Traffic & Weather

 
  • Pilot Butte closed to vehicles. Pedestrians will be routed around the work areas. (5/4-18)
  • Burgess Road CLOSED at the junction with Hwy 97.  Flaggers.   (5/4-7)
  • Cinco deMayo race. Closures and Traffic Controls. Minnesota in downtown Bend. (5/5)
  • Skyline Ranch Road CLOSED behind Summit High School (4/22 - 7/22)
  • Brosterhous Road CLOSED between Windsor Drive and Knott Road  (4/27 - 5/25)
 
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