LA PINE, OR -- The vehicle belonging to a missing La Pine man was found near Davis Lake, over the weekend. But, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says there is still no sign of 61-year-old Gary Humbard.
Public's help needed in search for missing La Pine Man.
Hunters discovered Humbard’s Ford Explorer at a Davis Lake trailhead, near the Klamath County border on Saturday. One of the hunters reported seeing Humbard exit his car with a backpack on September second. He thought it was suspicious the vehicle was still there two weeks later.
Search efforts continue in the area, but so far there has been no sign of Humbard or his route. Anyone with information on any sightings or contacts with Gary Humbard on or after September 2, 2017 in the Davis Lake area is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes River Woods residents can expect a visit by county staffers, sometime over the next couple of months. Starting this week, the County Assessor’s office will conduct a regular reappraisal of homes in the area.
Appraisers drive county-issued vehicles and will verify property features like the number of rooms, square footage and overall condition of houses. They should have proper identification and business cards.
State law requires the Assessor’s Office to ensure property records are accurate.
BEND, OR -- Bend streets crews will soon change traffic flows at a northwest Bend intersection. "Stop signs at the intersection of Portland and 11th will be switched so that starting on the 28th of September, traffic on 11th Street, which kind of goes uphill/downhill, will be required to stop; and traffic on Portland Avenue will continue through the intersection without stopping. It’s the opposite of that right now," says Anne Aurand, with the with the city of Bend.
She tells KBND News the shift is in response to a number of citizen complaints. "There have been some accidents at that intersection." Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel was involved in a crash at that location, a year ago. "The stop signs were switched because Portland Avenue is a major collector, which means it has higher traffic volumes and it has a bicycle lane. Eleventh Street doesn’t get as much traffic; the volumes don’t meet the threshold for a stop sign or an all-ways stop." She admits, "We don’t really know why they were switched that way. It wasn’t the way it should be."
Aurand says the change will take some getting used to by local residents. "Where we used to be able to just keep going; now you have to stop on a hill, and in the wintertime that could be tricky. So, kind of as a result of this change, that block of 11th Street and Portland is going to be added to the winter sanding route."
The stop sign change will be implemented by September 28, with additional signage in place for about a month, to notify drivers.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Proficiency Academy has added new technology to help students learn about distant times and places, without leaving their desks.
Ryan McLaughlin, Humanities Teacher at RPA, believes every teacher and every class will benefit from 30 of the virtual reality headsets. "We actually got them on Monday and I used them in my class. They're put together by Google and they're called Google Expedition, and they let teachers take their kids all over the world."
It's innovative and exciting, according to McLaughlin, and he can see myriad applications. "For me, they're amazing. I teach classes like AP Art History, where it's awesome that I can take kids to ancient ruins all over the world, take them to art museums...I was totally on board, right from the beginning."
Both the high school and the middle school campuses of Redmond Proficiency Academy have access to the headsets, and McLaughlin says that when he and his fellow educators were training with the new tech, they seemed like a modern version of 'The Magic School Bus.' "The way they're set up right now is you're in an immersive, 360 degree image, and the teacher sets, where all the students are using them, are not interactive in the sense that there's somebody talking to you in a video. I like to think of it as an extremely immersive presentation of places."
McLaughlin says the Google expedition headsets are perfect for teaching things that are difficult to grasp from books, like history or biology, and teachers in different disciplines have scheduled times to use the tech in a variety of virtual applications. "I used the headsets on Monday to teach something that can feel a little stuffy - we were talking about the American Revolution and the road that led to it, and I saw students more engaged and thinking about it and why the United States declared its independence in ways that I've never seen before. So, it can really make history come alive and can make complicated ideas captivating."
The headsets are set in an immersive mode that allows students to visit places, historical periods, and even biological systems, allowing them to learn familiar subjects in a totally new way.
BEND, OR -- Bend city officials kicked off Welcoming Week, Friday. Brad Porterfield, with the Latino Community Association, says it’s about celebrating all types of people, regardless of where they’re from. "We think it’s really important to be proactive and send a message that our community is welcoming, and then do the work to educate and raise awareness about our immigrant and refugee neighbors and what they experience and how we can make our community thrive by embracing them and learning more about their cultures."
When City Councilors agreed to become a Welcoming City in June, some citizens worried it was a shift toward becoming a "Sanctuary City." But, Porterfield says the Welcoming City designation doesn’t have anything to do with immigration status. "I think that’s a common misconception, possibly. Sanctuary state and sanctuary city generally means that we’re just not going to use our resources, taken from our taxpayers and our residents, to enforce immigration law because it’s not our job." Oregon law already prohibits the use of state or local resources to enforce federal immigration law.
Porterfield says this week’s festivities are about celebrating diversity, not politics. "Welcoming City is emphasizing the fact that immigrants and refugees, in particular, face unique obstacles and barriers to thriving in our communities because of just cultural differences, language differences." He tells KBND News, "Welcoming America
, the national organization that the city of Bend is now an affiliate of and our organization is a member of, is nonpartisan. They’re trying to stay away from politics and just focus on the people and the stories; looking at communities, cities in particular, where they are embracing their immigrant and refugee neighbors and businesses, and how those communities are thriving."
Bend City Councilors will sign a Welcoming Week proclamation at Wednesday's City Council meeting, and the week wraps up with the Latino Community Association’s annual festival of cultures Saturday at Redmond’s Centennial Park.
BEND, OR -- For the twenty-second year running, the Eastern Cascades Model Railroad Club is holding their Annual Open House.
The Train Club's Bruce Blanford says the event is free to the public and a fun opportunity to be part of the railroading world. "We're inviting the public to come out and enjoy the hobby of model railroading with us. We have our HO layout and the rest of our Club will be working with the 1 1/2" layout where people can get the train rides. We'll have eight or ten trains running - can't tell for sure because we always have visitors coming who add to the number of trains."
Blanford, one of the Train Club's charter members, says the Club exists because trains will always spark the imagination and kids should have the opportunity to learn about them in a more manageable size. "There's a group of people that got together, not necessarily worked for the railroad, but they've always be fascinated with trains, and over the years we've grown to the point where we've gotten a group together that really enjoys working on and operating the trains, plus the infrastructure that goes along with it."
He says, "The Open House is free to the public, there's no charge, we have lots of parking, and it looks like the weather will be fairly cooperative this weekend, so we hope a number of people will come out and enjoy the hobby of model railroading with us."
Blanford says there will be food trucks, like Tennessee Grilled Cheese, and music, and there's always plenty of shade.
The event takes place between 10 a-m and 4 p-m at the Train Club property on Modoc Lane off Ward road in SE Bend.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Oregon Hunters Association, a non-profit group ten-thousand strong, has filed a lawsuit to challenge a decision by the US Forest Service to build 137 miles of Off Highway Vehicle trails in prime elk habitat.
The OHA's Conservation Director, Jim Akenson, believes the project would displace the elk from public land, driving them onto private property, causing issues for property owners. " The problem associated with that trail development is the fact that it compromises elk security. And any additional disturbances on that piece of landscape are just going to add to a problem of elk using private land for security and leaving public land, particularly during hunting season."
Akenson says the Hunter's Association filed the lawsuit as a last resort, and they hope they can reach a compromise with the Forest Service, but they filed because they're worried about elk security, and the rights of the people who live in the area. "Primarily, this is a seasonal distribution concern. So, basically, in the summertime when these trails are in use, elk have a tendency to avoid motorized vehicles, so they're going to tend to not use that landscape so much, and where they're going to find refuge is in neighboring private land, and that's not very fair to the private landowners."
Though they have nothing against the use of ATV's, Akenson says the chapters of the hunters group have opposed the Ochoco Summit Trail Project since it's proposal in 2009. "Frankly, I can see why there would be an interest in that, it's a beautiful piece of property, but our problem is one of cumulative effects. There's already a lot of recreational activity on that forest, that area is close to a big population center and that area is a playground for those communities, so there's already a lot of disturbance of elk, and as hunters, that's our primary concern."
Akenson says the Summit Trail is the first to be designed specifically for off-road vehicles, and despite much protest, and ten years of environmental impact studies that show the elk would be adversley affected, the Forest Service is still planning to go forward.
REDMOND, OR -- Oregon’s unemployment rate rose in August, for the first time in seven months; but “help wanted” signs abound in Central Oregon. Jobless claims typically rise in the summer, when students compete for openings alongside people moving into the region. But, this summer was different, and a number of local businesses report they’re still struggling to fill vacancies.
William Higgins has three openings at Gills Point S Tire in Redmond – two of the jobs have been posted for three months. He tells KBND News he's having trouble finding applicants who meet basic requirements. "One, they’re willing to work; two, that are willing to work for the wage that’s offered and then can go through passing the background and all the other requirements. The qualified applicants are just not coming through the door or online. You know, you have an applicant that has good experience, great qualifications and then they don’t have a driver’s license." He adds, "I think what it is, is we’re getting applicants that are being rejected everywhere else."
The hiring manager at Mike's Fence Center in Bend tells KBND News his company has nearly 10 openings. He's struggled to find workers for the past year, despite offering "good, competitive family wages with benefits."
At Gills Point S Tire, Higgins says, "This time last year, when we were trying to fill positions, which we did very easily, I had a surplus of applicants and I got to choose which ones were the best qualified. Going into spring, we decided to hold off [hiring] a little bit. Then, as we went into summer, we needed to start building up the crew and it was like hitting a wall trying to find people."
A short drive along South Highway 97 in Redmond reveals a cluster of businesses all looking to hire (pictured). Higgins believes that's compounding the problem, "Someone can go flip burgers for $13 an hour at Burger King, and it’s hard to compete with that." His jobs start at $12-$17 an hour, depending on the position and experience.
Central Oregon’s latest jobless numbers are due out early next week.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Evacuation levels have been lowered around the Nash Fire in the Three Sisters Wilderness. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office reduced notices from Level Two to Level One, for areas around Elk Lake and Hosmer Lake, and the Lava Lake area is no longer under any evacuation warnings. The Nash Fire has burned 6,680 acres and continues to impact travel on Highway 242.
In Crook County, the Desolation Fire
(pictured) remains 0% contained; it's burned 2,252 acres in the Ochoco National Forest and is still sending smoke into the Prineville area. The blaze stayed within planned containment lines, overnight, and most of the growth has occurred within the Mill Creek Wilderness. The Crook County Sheriff's Office lowered evacuation levels from Two to One, Friday morning. A temporary closure order remains in effect for all of the Mill Creek Wilderness and Forest Service land north of the wilderness up to and including Forest Roads 27, 2730 and 2745.
LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine man was hurt during an alleged altercation over a cell phone, Thursday morning, at his home on Dorrance Meadow Road. A 40-year-old Florence woman is accused of cutting the victim’s arm with a box knife during the argument. She left the house before law enforcement arrived.
Medics treated the 36-year-old man for a 3" cut on his right forearm.
A citizen familiar with the incident reported seeing the suspect Thursday afternoon, driving on 6th Street, southwest of La Pine. She walked away from her vehicle and was found after another citizen report placed her on Mitchell Road. Deputies arrested Lisa Dixon without incident. She faces several charges including assault and driving while suspended
BEND, OR -- OSU-Cascades received a $1 million gift, this month, pushing the university closer to its goal of building a second academic facility on the Bend campus.The new building would be focused on the STEAM studies of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (architectural rendering above). The donation came from the founder and President of Grace Bio Labs of Bend.
OSU-Cascades has now raised nearly $9 million of the $10 million match required for the state bonding proposed for the new building. The school received another $9.5 million from the Legislature and plans to ask for more to fund the new building in the February session.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Strong winds and warm temperatures in the Ochocos pushed the Desolation Fire south out of the wilderness, earlier this week, threatening infrastructure along Highway 26. "It kinda took a little run toward the southeast and toward the Mount Bachelor Academy area," says Lisa Clark, with Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch.
Clark says aerial efforts were no longer enough, and firefighters are now working to suppress the blaze. "This was actually a lightning fire, it was burning in heavy fuel, with a lot of downed wood and snags in the area, so fire officials just took the initial strategy of just using air tankers, but after a couple of days when it started to become more active, we brought in ground crews." She told KBND News Wednesday, "Right now, we have about 75 and we've ordered six additional ground crews, so we expect to have about 185 personnel on the line." Highway 26 is still open, but the Oregon Department of Transportation plans to have crews on-hand to help keep traffic flowing and ensure easy access for fire personnel.
Nearby residents are urged to be ready to evacuate. Level Two warnings remain in place for the Marks Creek area, and the Forest Service has expanded temporary road, trail and area closures.
An infrared flight mapped the fire at 1,568 acres, Wednesday night; it's still 0% contained. With more personnel and a shift in the weather predicted, Clark is optimistic. "We're seeing a cooling trend coming in the future. We're hoping by Friday temperatures drop, and we'll be even luckier if we get a little frost at night that will help decrease fire behavior significantly." Smoky conditions will continue Thursday in the vicinity of the fire, along Highway 26 in the Ochoco Divide area.
A community meeting will be held Thursday at 5 p.m. at Eastside Church in Prineville (3174 NE Third Street).
BEND, OR -- Bend's Oktoberfest kicks off Friday at 3 p.m. It’s the largest fundraiser of the year for the Downtown Bend Business Association. Executive Director Rod Porsche says the annual Wiener Dog races have become so popular, they’ve taken on a life of their own. "People literally have come from as far away as Seattle to have their wiener dogs compete in our races, which are on Saturday. It’s a love/hate thing with the wiener dog races. They bring so many people in. But, man, it’s a challenge to get all those folks into that small space."
Due to those anticipated crowds, the races are being moved to Irving and Oregon Ave. "The location just wasn’t working anymore," Porsche tells KBND News. "We had folks dangling off the top floor of the parking garage and it was like, we just can’t have it anymore for insurance and safety; we just didn’t want anyone to get hurt. So what we’ve done is we’ve moved it to Irving and we’ve quadrupled the amount of bleacher seating."
And, for the first time, the wiener dogs will be broadcast on a big screen for overflow crowds. "There will be added bonuses because, of course, we do the tricycle races earlier in the day; those are amazing and very entertaining. And, people who aren’t able to get a seat in the bleacher area will be able to see it on this big ‘Jumbotron.’ And then, of course, all the action – the oompah band and the hammerschlagen and all the things we do up at the main stage will be on this big screen, too."
The wiener dog races begin Saturday at 4 p.m.; the adult tricycle race is at the same location at 1:30 p.m. Entry fees for both events benefit the Humane Society of Central Oregon.
Oktoberfest takes place downtown from 3 to 10 p.m. Friday and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday. Click HERE
for more details. To hear our full conversation with DBBA's Rod Porsche, visit our Podcast Page
or click HERE
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners have given final approval for an indoor marijuana grow in the Tumalo area. The 42-acre property is zoned for Exclusive Farm Use and several neighbors had appealed the application over concerns the operation would increase traffic on Bill Martin Road.
Commissioner Tammy Baney says the applicant satisfied all of the county’s requirements for a marijuana production facility. "I think the challenges to this application by adjacent property owners were more related to issues that were outside of this application. So, while I very much appreciated their input and engagement, I felt that maybe their comments and concerns would be better directed toward a different subject and manner. This actually was not the right path."
While Commissioner Phil Henderson Henderson also questioned how safety would be impacted, he agreed it was outside of the applications purview. "I do still remain concerned with the road out there. I don’t know that it effects the decision but I guess that still is a pending problem, I guess, for anybody using the road very much, or for the heavy construction zone."
Neighbors filed an appeal in June, shortly after Commissioners granted preliminary approval. A public hearing was held in August. Wednesday's unanimous vote clears the way for marijuana to be grown inside a proposed 5,000 square foot greenhouse and second 3,000 square foot building.
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Airport will hold a special ceremony to unveil a hand-stitched American Flag quilt. Airport Director Zach Bass says the 100" x 60" quilt had quite a journey from concept to wall art. "Eighteen area women decided to put this quilt together and they donated it to the Central Oregon Veterans Ranch for an auction. All the proceeds for the auction went back to the Ranch, and then the individual that won it, donated it to the airport for display."
The highest bidder, Debbie Seibert, wanted the quilt to be seen by everyone. Bass tells KBND News, "She told us it had been on display in varying places around Central Oregon and she'd thought about the airport, a central hub for transportation." He adds, "We're just excited to have it and display it for everyone to see. We wanted to, from all of us and as a veteran myself, to thank those ladies and Central Oregon Veterans Ranch for donating it to us."
The quilt unveiling takes place at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the terminal building.
BEND, OR -- DACA, or the Dreamer's Act as it's often called, was one topic of the protest that took place in front of a Downtown Bend bank yesterday.
Kathy Roche, one of the protest participants, held a sign expressing her desire to see the new Dream Act that's currently before Congress passed, but she's worried. "It's kind of a silly idea to punish children for the acts of their parents, but it's unknown whether Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan will allow it to come to the floor."
Roche says that Immigration should be a topic important to all of us. "Immigration is the responsibility of Congress and DACA was an Executive Order signed by President Obama and Trump has undone that Executive Order, so it's time for Congress to take action and pass the Dream Act."
Roche says the Dream Act currently before Congress is available for review on 'Countable' the app designed to connect users directly with Congress to make their voices heard. Roche says the original program should be replaced by a law voted on by Congress, so it can actually help those it's supposed to help. "It will depend upon the language in the final law, if it's passed, and whether they structure it such that it will hold up against a Supreme Court challenge...I'd guess that's part of the Dream Act, I haven't read it all word-for-word."
DACA was penned by President Barack Obama in 2012 as an Executive Order, but it has had its own controversy, as it's only a policy and not a law voted on by Congress. In early September, President Donald Trump shut down the DACA Program and tasked the US Congress with drafting a suitable replacement.
MADRAS, OR -- the National Transportation Safety Board has released the details of a small airplane crash that occurred near the Madras Municipal Airport just prior to the eclipse.
Mark Rich of Menlo Park, CA
worked as an engineer for Google and Airbus. He died when his plane collided with a canyon wall on his final approach to the airport on the afternoon of August 19. Rich had planned to camp at the airport and participate at Solarfest.
The NTSB reports that a Madras airport controller working the tower during the time of the crash said Rich arrived on schedule and his final approach was modified. A plume of smoke was observed in the canyon shortly after Rich was cleared to land, approximately one nautical mile from the airport.
The NTSB report does not list a cause for the crash. To read the official National Transportation Safety Board report on the crash in its entirety, click HERE
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Level Two evacuation notice was issued Tuesday night for areas around Marks Creek and Mt. Bachelor Academy, in Crook County, due to the Desolation Fire. Level two means residents need to "be set" to leave.
The Ochoco National Forest also issued a temporary closure order for a hiking trail and campground in the Mill Creek Wilderness. It prohibits public use of Wildcat Trail #833 and Whistler Campground until the area is deemed safe. Click HERE for more details.
The Desolation Fire was first spotted Saturday
; as of Tuesday night it was estimated at about 300 acres. Over the last couple of days, air tankers dropped seven loads of retardant, in an effort to confine and contain the blaze. Those lines were also reinforced with water drops from aircraft.
BEND, OR -- Oregon State Police believe a Utah man is responsible for several wildfires in southern Deschutes County, late last month. Three were kept small, but the fourth – known as the McKay Fire – led to evacuations of Lava River
Cave and eventually burned more than 1,200 acres.
Oregon State Police Captain Bill Fugate says 37-year-old Christopher Wilson was arrested in Malheur County, last week. "We recovered evidence at the scene; then also, there was at least one witness that observed him and the vehicle leaving the area of the fire. Through investigation, we determined who he was and we knew that he had left the state. We conducted surveillance on him and as he entered Oregon on I-84, into Ontario from Idaho, our troopers stopped him and he was arrested for driving a stolen vehicle."
It's the same Hyundai Sonata with California plates that he allegedly was driving when the fires started, "The witness observed that blue car leaving the area very rapidly. And they were fortunately able to get a license plate and description of that vehicle and driver."
Wilson is expected to be brought back to Deschutes County, soon "He’s been indicted by a Deschutes County Grand Jury on several counts of arson and reckless endangerment," says Capt. Fugate. "And, he’ll be facing arraignment shortly in Deschutes County Circuit Court."
Investigators suspect Wilson may be connected to other fires, "We’re asking the public if they happened to see a 2016 blue Hyundai sedan with a ‘Go Army’ sticker in the back, or saw our suspect anywhere, to let us know. We’re trying to establish a timeline of kind of where he was at in Oregon." Capt. Fugate adds, "We know he may have been on the west side of Oregon, also. So, there’s potential he may have started other fires, or attempted to start other fires."
BEND, OR -- This is National Suicide Awareness week, the goal of which is to find new behaviors to work toward preventing suicide. David Visiko, Suicide Prevention Coordinator for Deschutes County, says early recognition of warning signs and intervention can save lives. "How do we create healthy systems for people at risk so, wherever they access in their system of care, that they're getting the appropriate care that's credible and with well-trained people who then can provide them the resources that they need to get help for themselves and then thrive in this lifetime?"
Central Oregon is holding events over the next few days to educate, and to support suicide survivors, and Visiko says people need to learn not to be afraid to discuss suicide with those they believe to be in need. "It's not a matter that if someone says the word 'suicide,' they're going to take this idea that's new to them and run. It's that they've already thought about, maybe even a plan, or had the thought come up, so when they're talking about it, they're maybe looking for someone to assist them further to get the resources that they want and need, or to be safe at that time."
In addition to prevention training and an education series, there will be a Candlelight Vigil on Wall street Thursday at 7 p.m. and the "Out of the Darkness" community walk is scheduled for 9:30 a.m Saturday, at Pilot Butte State Park. Click HERE
for more details on Deschutes County events.
Visiko says one of the goals of this week is to get the topic of suicide out of the taboo realm in order to have an impact on this issue. "We need to get this topic of suicide into the open more and break some of those barriers that keep these kinds of conversations hidden. So, the more openly we can talk about behavioral health, mental health, and suicide, the more we're going to get people the help they deserve within our community resource system."
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call to get help. The 24-hour local helpline is 541-322-7500 x9, or the national line with links to Central Oregon is 1-800-273-TALK. Approximately 29 people in Deschutes County die by suicide each year.
BEND, OR -- Secretary of State Dennis Richardson was willing to comply with the recent Presidential Advisory Commission On Election Integrity issued to all the States by the Trump Administration, but unwilling to share information that could compromise individual privacy.
Secretary Richardson told KBND News. "The Federal requirement for information on Oregon voters said, 'We would like to have whatever information you legally can disclose and that you give to anybody else,' and they've committed to us that personal information will not be disclosed, so we just complied with the law while protecting the privacy of Oregon voters."
Richardson says in this uncertain world, it's an imperative for him that he does his job right. "I can't deal with the things I can't control, but as Secretary of State, I can make sure that whatever's under my supervision, is handled in a way that protects the rights and privacy of the people."
Secretary Richardson says due to his research on privacy disclosures as he complied with this federal request, Oregon's legislature is taking a second look at what should be available to political parties and the public. He also says that our paper ballots actually keep our information more private than that of voters in many other states. "Voter fraud in Oregon is very difficult to accomplish because you can't hack paper ballots, it's all done without the Internet involved. The first time the Internet is used is when they're actually turning in the count on the various races on election night. So, we've got a tabulation system that's worthy of emulation by other states."
Richardson says he waited to comply with the order until he knew that there would be no privacy concerns. "The law says that as long as you don't use it for commercial uses, then you have a right to have it as part of public transparency. And so, I'm complying with the law, but also making sure that we don't disclose too much because of the ability computers have now to do digital analytics and so forth now, and so we have actually given out less than what was previously given out by other Secretaries of State."
The President's Advisory Commission is collecting information from each state in an attempt to compile statistics on alleged Voter Fraud.
SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters economy relies heavily on tourist dollars, but this summer has been tough for businesses in the small town.
City Manager Brant Kucera tells KBND News, "The eclipse and then the fires have definitely had a negative impact on business. And then, of course, with Labor Day weekend and the cancelation of the Folk Festival, it’s been a rough August/September." Kucera says last month's eclipse failed to bring the economic boost city leaders were hoping for, "We benefited from hotel stays. However, a lot of people really went to areas where the length of the totality was much longer, like Madras. It might’ve been good for one sector, but for others, it really wasn’t."
Poor air quality over the last month also appears to be keeping visitors away. "It’s not unusual to have smoky conditions. This differs, in that the fires were earlier." Kucera says in the past, large fires struck later in the season and didn’t interfere with large events like the Folk Festival, which was canceled last weekend due to the hazardous air. He calls it a perfect storm of smoke from local fires and others burning across the west, which compounded the problem, "A number of factors all coming together at the wrong time really made conditions unpredictable." City Councilors have tried to encourage people to visit, despite the conditions. "Number one, I think that Council obviously always wants to do whatever it can for the businesses and its citizens in Sisters. That being said, there are obviously a lot of things outside of our control. We do fund our Chamber and the Chamber has done a significant amount of additional advertising to make sure people know that we’re open."
As smoke clears out, he says it’s possible the area could recoup some of the lost revenue. "I think that if we have a more mild fall, there’s some chance of at least some more tourists coming. But, we’re going to have to do an assessment of how bad August and September really were." Kucera and Mayor Chuck Ryan plan to meet Tuesday with the representatives from the Sisters Chamber of Commerce to discuss this summer’s unique tourist season and whether any more can be done before the weather turns cold.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A new wildfire spotted Saturday in the Ochocos is sending smoke into Prineville. The Desolation Fire has burned over 150 acres about 20 miles northeast of Prineville.
The fire is burning in patches of dead and live timber on steep slopes just below Whistler Point. Planes are dumping water on the blaze near Desolation Canyon; no firefighters are on the ground yet, due to safety concerns. Fire managers plan to use containment lines prepared during last month's Belknap fire to protect nearby private property and infrastructure.
Cooler weather forecast for this week could bring wind gusts up to 20 miles per hour, and forestry officials worry existing fires will grow.
LA PINE, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a 61-year-old La Pine man reported missing Sunday. Gary Humbard’s family grew worried when he failed to return phone calls. Deputies searched his home and neighborhood, but found no sign of him or his SUV.
Humbard is 5'10", 180-pounds and could be driving a 1999 maroon Ford Explorer with Oregon plates WZX 682. He suffers from medical issues that may prevent him from walking or driving for long periods of time. Based on the investigation, the Sheriff's office believes he may be a danger to himself, They ask anyone with information in the case to call 911.
SALEM, OR -- The Oregon Farm Bureau is putting together its award-winning Farm Bounty calendar for next year, and the group is looking for photos that celebrate all aspects of the state’s ag industry. OFB’s Anne Marie Moss says the 2018 calendar will showcase the uniqueness of every corner of the state. “It’s really beautiful, from the rolling hills of wheat fields in Morrow and Umatilla counties. Or, in Central Oregon, you’ve got that kind of sage brush with the cattle ranches and the hay fields, and then of course in the Valley it’s usually diverse.”
Moss says they are also looking for pictures that cover each season, and show the progression of crops while celebrating all aspects of the ag industry. “I describe it as the beauty, culture, enjoyment, technology, or tradition of family farming and ranching in Oregon.”
Submissions will be accepted through Friday, September 15. Click HERE for details on the calendar and how to submit a photo.
BEND, OR -- Having waited nearly 40 years for the opportunity to sponsor Bend's Pole, Pedal, Paddle, SELCO Community Credit Union signs a multi-year contract with the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation.
Molly Cogswell-Kelley of MBSEF says, while it was difficult to see US bank go after such a long partnership, she couldn't be happier to be working with locally-based SELCO. "We're really excited and I think that just being associated with such a positive event, and such a community event, is going to be a really good thing for SELCO and for us and for the community."
Cogswell-Kelley says Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation wants to make sure people know the Pole, Pedal, Paddle isn't about the athletes, it's about the community, and SELCO understands and embraces that vision, as well, so she believes the new partnership is going to be beneficial for everyone involved, and she's looking forward to working together. "They have a lot of employees who can spread the good will of the PPP, and it's just, what's kind of exciting for us, is that it's nice to have a partner that understands the impact of the PPP to the community."
US Bank, in a surprise move, ended their nearly forty-year partnership with Mt Bachelor to sponsor the Pole, Pedal, Paddle last month, but Cogswell-Kelly says that while US Bank has been an excellent sponsor for the last 39 years, she's looking forward to working SELCO. "It's a really nice fit to have such a big commitment, but know that they truly understand the impact of the event for the community and for our non-profit organization. So, I don't think it could be any better."
The Pole, Pedal, Paddle takes place every year in May.
MADRAS, OR -- Even though the City of Madras saw as many visitors as expected during last month's eclipse, it didn't translate into high dollars, like they'd thought it would.
Joe Krenowicz, Executive Director of the Madras Chamber of Commerce says, the town still considers the entire experience a 'win.' "Not as large of an economic impact as we all anticipated, but for long term, we'll be seeing two and three and five years down the road, people came to Madras and they hope they'll be able to come back and enjoy our rivers and lakes and certainly our outdoor recreation from cycling and to hiking and we're looking forward to having them coming back. If I had an opportunity to do this again, I'd jump on it right away."
Even though the business owners didn't make as much as they'd expected, Krenowicz says nothing was spoiled or wasted, showing that their preparedness and planning really worked. He says the visitors enjoyed Madras, but isntead of shopping and eating out, they came prepared. "They didn't really go into town or drive about town until probably Sunday or Monday. They pretty well stayed in all the 20, 30 locations we had around the area. And they came in prepared with their food and water, and so we did not get the influx that we'd anticipated starting Thursday that we truly wanted to happen."
Krenowicz says the Eclipse didn't seem to be about shopping, but was instead a chance to make new friends. "Saw a lot of people, they were able to meet with people from all over the world and the United States, and they made a party where they stayed, at an RV Park, or a tent, or certainly in the hotels we have here in town."
Even though things didn't go exactly as planned, Krenowicz believes the city of Madras came out ahead, both financially, and in repeat tourism dollars over the next few years as eclipse viewers plan to return to the area.
BEND, OR -- The Boys and Girls Clubs of Bend has a new Executive Director. Amanda Gow says when the previous Boys and Girls Clubs Director, Derek Beauvais called her to consider the post, she jumped at the chance. "It's just something that's a perfect fit for me and my background at work, but also with my passion for young people in Central Oregon, and I just thought it was an opportunity I could not pass up and I was so fortunate to be considered for it."
Formerly, Gow was Director of Community Programs at J Bar J Youth Services in Bend and overseer of both Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Cascade Youth and Family Center.
As a child, Gow utilized the programs offered by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bend and finds it fitting to now be part of advocating on behalf of Central Oregon's children. "I grew up here in Central Oregon, I grew up needing the services the Boys and Girls Clubs provides, so to now be able to run that program and be able to offer that to other young people in our community who need these services, need that support and the programs we offer. It's a true honor to be able to do something like that. I have dedicated my life to helping young people, so really it was just a natural transition to continue to do work with young people here in Central Oregon."
Gow isn't planning any major changes and she is looking forward to working as a community liaison, educating Central Oregon about the programs Boys and Girls Clubs offers and ensuring they serve every child who needs them. "My goals are just to continue to support the programs that we have, to ensure that they are the highest of quality and that we are reaching every child that needs us, and then to really be the community liaison to let the community know what we're doing and how they can be involved, and opportunities to support the Club."
Gow's first day was September 6, 2017.
SISTERS, OR -- Local State Police Fish and Wildlife troopers are looking into a suspected poaching case, and a reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Earlier this month, a buck deer was found near a residential area off Brooks Camp Road in Sisters. The animal had been shot with an arrow, beheaded and left to waste. The report came in September second, but investigators believe it was dumped on or around the late evening, September first.
The Oregon Hunters Association Turn-In-Poacher (TIP) program
is offering a $500 reward for information in the case. Contact the TIP Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-452-7888 or email TIP@state.or.us.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police arrested a 34-year-old man, last week, for luring a girl through social media. According to investigators, Roger Vanwormer sent sexually explicit messages to the 15-year-old Bend victim.
The suspect initially tried to run from officers who showed up to search his Linnea Drive apartment, Wednesday afternoon. He was arrested after a police K9 found him hiding under a neighboring deck.
He’s charged with luring, escape, interfering with a police officer and a felony probation violation.
Bend Police reminds parents to monitor their children's social media accounts and have conversations regarding dangers "that are inherent with youth using social media." In this case, they say the girl was open with her parents and started the conversation early, after receiving the disturbing information.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man was hurt while trying to get out of Bessie Butte Cave, near China Hat Road, Saturday afternoon. Bend Firefighters and Deschutes County Sheriff’s deputies set up a technical rescue to bring the man out of the cave through a 30-foot vertical section.
Officials say Tyrell Bailey and his climbing partners had limited experience and lacked the proper gear for the cave. Bailey was taken by medics to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
BEND, OR -- Between the floods and fires sweeping America right now, there are plenty of people in need, but scammers feed on the naive in times of tragedy.
Steven Mayer of the Better Business Bureau and BBB Wise Giving Alliance, suggests that donors ensure they know where their money is going, not just fund any charity with a good story. "If you're looking to donate, we really want people to make sure they vet the groups, the charities, the foundations they're donating to. So, instead of pouring over tax documents and doing all this research on your own, we've done it for you, just go to Give.org and there you can type in the name of the group you want to give to, or find suggestions of ones if you don't have any picked out already. And we've already done all the work to make sure your money is actually going to those in need."
Mayer says there are so many easy ways to give - crowd funding and donation buttons on social media - but it can be difficult to properly vet a charitable organization and be sure it's not a scam. "Even some crowd-funding sites can be a bit unscrupulous at this point, so really give directly to those approved organizations. We're really encouraging people to give to groups that are already there, already set up, they have boots on the ground, they have volunteers out there, helping people get out of the affected areas, getting them the food, and water, and shelter that they need."
Give.org has a list of twenty reputable charities for your donations and has been designed to help you know which are the right charities to choose that will do the most good with your money. Mayer suggests that if a charity you've been approached by isn't on the Give.org list, they might be a scam. "Scammers, they've set up fake donation pages, so if you are going to be donating through crowd-funding, you want to know exactly what your money is going to be spent on. We still encourage people to stick to crowd-funding sites that they know the person directly who set that up, so you can trust that person, cuz it's so easy these days to set up a fake site and just scam people out of their money."
Mayer also suggests another way to foil scammers is by waiting a few months to donate when the furor dies down, but the need is still there.
BEND, OR -- The Bethlehem Inn, the largest homeless shelter in this region, broke ground yesterday on Phase One of their new construction, and thanked local supporters who have contributed more than $5 Million dollars to make the project a reality.
Gwenn Wysling, Executive Director of the Bethlehem Inn, says this was truly a momentous day and an amazing milestone for the Inn. "This is a building where thousands of lives will change from crisis and confusion to hope and promise. And this is something that is made possible through the collective efforts of our community to help transform lives through shelter, help, and hope."
The shelter has been working out of temporary trailers since the demo of the lobby and kitchen part of their old motor inn occurred last June, and will continue to do so during construction to ensure there is no interruption of services. The Bethlehem Inn has long been housed in the old motel on Third Street and needs replacement in order to better serve.
Special guest, Commissioner Tammy Baney, said that government is not the solution to the problem, it is community support that makes things better. "We all benefit from the love and support and the generosity of our community. We will not end homelessness overnight, but it is through each one of the dedicated steps forward, such as we're celebrating today, that we can make that change. And 'Transforming Lives' is the perfect name for this ... to be able to share that vision, and to be there for individuals and families who need us."
Phase One - the 18,600 square foot family residence and service hub - starts now, but Phase Two is in the design stage, and its goal is to increase the number of units to house single men and women.
Heather Tennant-Salveson, 'Transforming Lives' Capital Campaign Chair for the Inn, said the residents are what inspires her - their bravery in overcoming the crisis of homelessness is a beacon of hope to our community. "These old buildings can't last forever, in fact, they've lasted a lot longer than they were expected to, and the truth of the matter is that, if we do not replace these buildings, and soon, Bethlehem Inn, itself, will be homeless, and that's unacceptable, when the need is so great."
Construction of Phase One starts today and the entire project will hopefully be completed by 2020.
SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters Folk Festival, which was scheduled to begin tomorrow, has been canceled for the first time in the Festival's history.
Folk Festival Board member Jack McGowan says given the atmosphere, there was just no way to overcome the obstacles and keep the Festival on. "We really had to look at the safety concerns that really were ongoing day after day. Everyone in Central Oregon, in fact everyone in the Pacific Northwest, knows that this is unprecedented. We have never had this type of smoke, in such a broad area, in recent history."
In the next few days, the Festival Committee will meet again to determine what they can offer in lieu of the Festival or how to go about refunding ticket sales, but McGowan emphasizes that even though they had to cancel this year, they'll be back next September.
McGowan says, "The proximity of Sisters to the Milli Fire, and to other fires, really forced us to make this really tough decision. We had days of intensive conversation with fire managers, meterologists, even health professionals, and we just realized that we could not do this. We gave this thing our very best shot."
He continues, "This is a real blow to Sisters, there's no question about it. It's an economic blow, it's been a tough, tough year for our town. First with the major snows, and now with the fires that have plagued all of the Northwest, but we really felt that for the good of the community, it was really a decision that we came to, regretting it, but really understanding that it was the right decision to make."
There is a red flag warning in effect for Sisters right now, and due to the smoke, McGowan says the committee realized they couldn't in good conscience expose visitors to the hazardous air of the outdoor venue.
BEND, OR -- Two weekends from now, there are several events happening in Central Oregon - like the Bend Oktoberfest.
Rod Porsche of the Downtown Bend Business Association, says if the smoky conditions don't improve, he worries people will stay away. "We are monitoring it and no doubt, Labor Day numbers were lower in terms of visitor traffic, and we're so dependent on visitors in Downtown Bend with our restaurants and retail and we certainly hope it's cleared up by a week from Friday."
The Bend Oktoberfest is Downtown Bend Business Association's largest fundraiser where 100% of the proceeds goes to beautification efforts like daily sidewalk sweeping and the flower baskets.
Porsche says he's concerned, because during Labor Day weekend visitor events, the numbers seemed quite a lot lower. "I suspect that a lot of our visitor traffic was off. i think when the numbers come in through VIsit Bend, we'll see that there was a dip because of the smoke and will be for the foreseeable future."
Oktoberfest promises to be even more fun this year with their new location on Irving, and Porsche hopes the smoke clears so everyone can come out and have a great time.
BEND, OR -- With 33 large fires burning in Oregon right now, the cost of suppression keeps going up.
Northwest interagency Coordination Center's Robin DeMario says each fire is different, depending on the topography, severity, and suppression efforts, but the price tag, so far, is over twice as high as last year's. "To date, for the fires that are burning in the State of Oregon, and these are the large fires, not the little small ones, but the large fires that we estimate the cost of suppressing these fires is $214 Million and the total of acres that have been affected by fires in Oregon, it is 431,879."
Our 33 large fires, defined as affecting over 100 acres of timber or 300+ acres of grass, are burning right now, and DeMario says year-to-year can't really be compared, and it's impossible to determine what each of the over 431,000 acres currently ablaze has cost so far. "A fire, say in the wilderness area, where there are no threats to structures or other established resources or communities, we wouldn't be flying those resources on that, whereas we would if it was threatening a community and other infrastructure."
DeMario says that as these fires grow and the smoke thickens, visibility lessens, which means it's that much more difficult to engage in suppression efforts and that Oregon has burned over twice as many acres as last year, putting us on course to catch up with 2015. "Last year was a slow year, but if you go back to 2015, Oregon's total acres burned was 604,000." To put the differences in the years in perspective, DeMario clarified, "In Oregon, last year, there was approximately 190,000 acres burned. The ChetCo Bar fire is estimated at 176,000 acres."
DeMario says while the weather plays the biggest role in the number of fires set every year, with conditions as dry as we've seen this summer, humans need to be vigilant about caring for the forest.
BEND, OR - -These smoky conditions could lead to emergencies, but right now, Life-Flight can't rescue everyone who calls.
Life-Flight's Justin Dillingham says lack of visibility is making it unsafe for personnel to attend each cry for help. "The weather is impacting our operations, and we have had to decline a number of requests throughout the entire region, throughout the state due to the smoke, but when the requests come in, we evaluate each one individually, and fortunately, we have been able to help people during the smoky conditions."
Dillingham says Life-flight is working closely with ground EMS to make sure those who need transport to area hospitals are helped, and he also says helicopters aren't the only option for rescue operations. "We do use our fixed-wing, our airplane, when the helicopter's not able to fly, if we can get to an airport nearby or if it's from one hospital to another, so that does help us, but there are times that even the airplane can't be used because the smoke is so dense."
According to Dillingham, personnel are having to evaluate each help request that comes in against the atmospheric conditions before deciding if they can fly to the rescue. "We have to make sure that it's both safe and legal for us to accept a flight to be able to help someone, there are certain minimum requirements from the FAA for visibility, we have to be able to see where we're going, and in instances where it's not legal, we would rely on the ground responders to help."
LifeFlight is still actively rescuing as many as they safely can. In Central Oregon, they rescue, on average, one person per day.
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools plans to launch two new “small high school” options next fall, similar to a charter or magnet school model.
Assistant Superintendent Lora Nordquist tells KBND News the idea came from a desire to balance enrollment at existing schools and create new options for students looking for alternatives to traditional high schools. "When you talk about a charter school or a magnet school, we usually think about those as ‘schools of choice’ that have a particular programming model or focus, and they definitely fit in that category of a school with a very focused intent." She adds, "We envision a school that would probably grow no larger than about 400 or 500 students." The new options don’t take the place of a new high school, funded by last year’s bond measure. "There will still be a fourth large building designed to accommodate between 1500 and 1700 students."
She acknowledges the new programs won't be right for everyone, "We look at these small high school options as not having the complete range of programming that you’d see in neighborhood high school - So, all the sports and co-curricular activities. They would definitely have electives, but they’ll be very specialized in terms of what is the focus of the school." And, Nordquist says there are still details to work out before the new programs can begin in September 2018, but things are moving quickly. "I’ve met with almost 500 people in a series of focus groups, this spring, and people are very excited about this idea. They think it’ll be great for kids."
Community meetings are scheduled for next week, to discuss the three options. The first meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, September 11 at Bend Senior High. Click HERE
for more details on the plan and meeting schedule.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Court voted today to approve a contract to review the County's new Natural Resources Plan with a Wyoming law firm.
An opposition group was expected to attend this morning's meeting, not to oppose the plan itself, but the lawyer tapped to review the plan, because of her ties to Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy.
Karen Budd-Falen is an expert on federal land use statutes, and she admits she represented Bundy as part of a group - not personally. "25 or 26 years ago, the BLM issued a full force and effect decision telling all these ranchers they had to remove their cattle because the desert tortoise got listed as a threatened or endangered species, and that was when he was paying his grazing fees and he believed that the federal government had jurisdiction over the property."
Budd-Falen says it is her expertise in Federal Law that is behind Crook County's contract with her, and she also believes other counties across the state will draft similar Natural Resource Plans and contact her for her help.
She says it's incorrect to call her 'the Bundy family attorney' as she has been portrayed, as she has only had minor contact with them. "I represented him 26 years ago, he had one of the grazing allotments in Nevada, and so he was one of that group of ranchers that I represented and we went to court to keep the BLM from kicking the cattle off of the property. And then Cliven decided that he believed the County had jurisdiction over the land and all that other stuff and then I quit representing him."
Crook County Judge Seth Crawford declined our invitation to comment on the controversy.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Locavore, a Bend non-profit marketplace with only locally-grown or produced foods, raised the $25,000 they needed to keep their doors open.
Megan French of Locavore, says it wouldn't have been possible without tremendous community support. "We were really excited and overwhelmed by the [amount] of people who donated to our Go-Fund-Me, and small businesses around town stepped up and did donations days for us. The store was busier than ever, we had a flush of new memberships, so, it was kinda like every little bit added up to this great amount, so we're really happy and really grateful to our community."
French says they raised the funds in fewer than two months and she credits Central Oregonians who know how important eating local is, and how vital it is to support area food producers. "We just want everyone to know that we're extremely grateful for the outpour of support, whether it's financial or verbal, we had lots of people come to us with great ideas, and we're just extremely grateful and happy to be able to continue serving the community and the local food system."
Central Oregon Locavore has been integral in connecting local chefs with farmers in an effort to create a farm-to-table community. They plan to celebrate the meeting of their goal by throwing a Fall Harvest Feast on September 16th at DD Ranch in Terrebonne.
BEND, OR -- This year’s fire season has been devastating, and it’s not over yet. Jean Nelson-Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, says we’re only halfway through the season. "Throughout Oregon and Washington, we have 28 what we call large fires – those are primarily fires that are over 100 acres in timber. And, when you look at that, a lot of those fires that we’re categorizing are actually what we call complexes, so there are several small fires within each one of those 28."
While the total impact of the year’s devastating fires isn’t yet known, Nelson-Dean tells KBND News the Redmond Air Center has already used a massive amount of fire retardant. "We’re not even through the fire season, and we’ve exceeded our 10-year average by about 400,000 gallons, which is quite a bit of retardant; and we still have at least half the fire season left to go."
She says the season has been so tough because of the wet winter and spring, which led to a large crop of grass and other fuels. "It’s really the severe drying; that’s the real issue. We’ve gone without any kind of moisture for a long time, and these high temperature in August, they take all the moisture that we got built up in our large fuels; they’ve already sucked it out and we still have September. And, some of our largest fires have actually occurred in September, so it’s not over yet." Aside from a trace of moisture in mid-August, Central Oregon hasn’t seen any measurable precipitation in about three months. "Probably every firefighter out there is desperate for rain. Every person managing these fires, every evacuee, every person who has asthma, their kids have asthma, they’re praying for rain. I wish there was some way that we could really get some significant moisture. Certainly we’re going to get our arms around some of these fires, but to really end the season, we need some significant moisture." She admits it could be early October before the region gets enough rain to bring an end to this fire season.
for our full conversation with Jean Nelson Dean, or visit our Podcast Page
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville City Councilor Jack Seley stepped down, late last week, creating a vacancy remaining Councilors will need to fill. Mayor Betty Roppe says after a decade on Council, Seley felt he couldn’t complete his term. She tells KBND News, "He said that he was very conscientious about making sure he could provide all the needed attendance to everything that is going on. And, he’s finding that as he gets older, his health is not as good as it was, and he’s not fulfilling those needs; in his opinion."
Mayor Roppe is hopeful to have a new Councilor appointed by the end of the month. "The person who fills that position is somebody we want to have a really strong desire to work for the benefit of the city. This is a non-paid position. And, we want them to help make the decisions that run the city." Applications are available at City Hall
and are due by 5 p.m., September 15. "I and the remaining councilors will review all of those applications. We will probably ask those people to come and be interviewed. Then, the remaining six of us will each have a vote on who we would choose." That person would complete Seley's term, which ends in December 2018.
Back Row (L-R) Councilor Steve Uffelman, Councilor Teresa Rodriguez, Mayor Betty Roppe, Councilor Jack Seley
Front Row (L-R) Councilor Jason Beebe, Councilor Gail Merritt, Councilor Jeff Papke
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon LandWatch has launched an initiative aimed at improving Bend's Central District. The group believes the district - bordered by Revere Avenue, 4th Street and the railroad - has too few family-friendly opportunities.
Moey Newbold, with LandWatch, says the "BCD Initiative" will help achieve the City's goal to transition the area from industrial to a more urban neighborhood. "This was an opportunity area in Bend's Urban Growth Boundary that was actually rezoned to Mixed Employment and it has its own overlay district for code to have the opportunities that the City has on the Westside but definitely have their own flavor and be accessible to Mid-Town residents and East-siders."
The group is looking for opportunities to create a walkable, bikeable community that safely connects East and West Bend, and Newbold says, "It's focusing on this area that's just East of Downtown, and improving the ways that Eastside residents can access Downtown, whether they're walking or biking or driving. You know, local, and building on what's already there with the Maker's District, and just giving those opportunities for new different types of uses."
The BCD Initiative was crafted by a group of planners, transportation engineers, urban designers, and architects in an attempt to provide a community vision for the area and Newbold says that though this area of Bend isn't particularly family-friendly, it has a lot of promise. "Most of the land in this area is pretty underdeveloped, and so some of the ideas that we've had [is] to connect East and West Bend, so we feel like if the City could improve that atmosphere, there's a real potential for people to live super close to Downtown."
The Bend Central District has historically been a place for people with strong ties to the industries that built Bend, and the BCD initiative wants to celebrate that spirit in a new way.
BEND, OR -- A Southwest Bend home suffered about $5,000 in damage in a Tuesday morning fire. According to Bend Fire, someone placed a towel too close to a sauna heater.
Damage was largely confined to the sauna, with minor smoke and water damage to the house. The homeowners smelled smoke before alarms sounded. Investigators say the three-story home was built in 1995 and only had its two original smoke detectors. Officials say they typically have an effective life of 10 years and should be replaced every decade.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s largest homeless shelter will break ground this week on an expanded facility in Bend. Bethlehem Inn Executive Director Gwenn Wysling says they’ve raised over $5 million, which is enough to get started on Phase One. "The construction process began in June when we demolished our old lobby area and the 1960s administrative offices that we’ve been working out of for the last 10 years."
Wysling says services won't be interrupted during construction. "We installed some temporary trailers that we’re working out of now. They have been an amazing upgrade from what we were working out of before." She tells KBND News, "As our volunteers come in and experience the new dining facilities and kitchen prep area, they’re blown away. And so, this is just one step towards what we’re working towards in our new facility. Our residents are so much appreciative and grateful for this improvement."
She says the current facility in an old motor inn on North Highway 97 in Bend has long needed to be replaced. This first phase of development is expected to take about a year to build the 18,000 square foot service hub with room for 10 families. Currently, the shelter has five family units. And, a new commercial kitchen will allow volunteers to prepare hot meals on-site, something they’ve never been able to do. "The new facility is going to have a commercial kitchen in the middle, with family dining on one side and singles dining on the other, so it allows us to actually serve the full capacity. We only have the capacity to seat about 40 people right now, and the families dine in their own little dining room – a hotel room. That is going to expand and give us the full capacity to serve the 90-100 people we’re serving a night."
Phase two is still in the design and fundraising stage. It will eventually increase the number of housing units for single men and women.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Prineville Soroptimist Senior Center was over-flowing with food, last week, after the end of the Symbiosis eclipse event at Big Summit Prairie: "A lot of fresh vegetables: cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, green onions, limes, gingers; fresh eggs – about 9,000 eggs; several cases of milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, several cases of hamburger, fish and chicken, and frozen veggies." Myra Martin is the Kitchen Supervisor and head Cook at the Senior Center. She tells KBND News she got a call from an event catering company, asking if she would accept a donation so they didn’t have to take the leftovers to the dump. But, she says she had no idea how much they were bringing until the truck rolled up.
Martin estimates the total value of the donated food to be around $15,000. "We have a freezer and refrigerator that’s slammed full. The meat will last estimated 3-6 months. And the refrigerated stuff will have to be used in the next 2-3 weeks."
The senior center received so much food, Martin was concerned they wouldn't use it all before it spoiled, so they offered it to their clients. "[We] Let them pick through all of the veggies to get what they want to take home, because a lot of the older seniors actually can stuff. And then, we did Redemption House, they came in and took stuff. And, we also did several families here in town that were in need, and we just let them come in and get all the veggies that they wanted." The rest, she says, will be used over the next several months for the estimated 200 meals a day the senior center provides. "It helps us tremendously," Martin says. "On the food cost; because we’re a non-profit, what we make is what we buy groceries with, to feed the seniors and the home delivery meals."
BEND, OR -- Bend Police say a drunk driver eluded capture Monday night, before he ran up on a curb with a flat tire and was arrested. An officer observed an SUV commit several traffic violations, at about 8:30 p.m., near 9th and Newport. When the officer activated his overhead lights, the car ran over a curb and a portion of a yard. The officer didn't pursue the driver, out of safety concerns.
About five minutes later, a witness reported seeing an SUV speeding near NW Idaho and Wall Street. The car hit a curb and had a flat tire. Police believe it was the same car from the earlier call.
Just before 9:30 p.m., officers found the vehicle parked up on a curb near NW Sisemore and Delaware; 29-year-old Michael Street was with the car. He's charged with attempt to elude, DUII and Reckless Driving.
TERREBONNE, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue responded to Smith Rock State Park, Sunday afternoon, to help a climber injured in a 20-foot fall. The 31-year-old Portland woman was climbing with a belay, but when she lost her hold there was too much slack in the line. She hit the ground before the belay could stop her fall.
She was brought down the steep trail from Cocaine Gully in a wheeled litter and was later released to seek her own medical treatment.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 41-year-old Prineville man was killed in a crash early Saturday morning. According to Oregon State Police, William McCloughan had been seen riding his motorcycle recklessly at high speeds, at about 2:30 a.m.
Minutes later, he failed to obey a stop sign at Woodward Road and Highway 26, crossing the highway in front of a semi tractor-trailer. The truck was unable to avoid hitting the motorcycle. After the collision, the truck overturned, blocking the eastbound lane and injuring the truck driver.
Highway 26 was closed for five hours for the investigation.
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire & Rescue says combustibles placed too close to the oven started a Friday night fire that caused about $15,000 worth of damage. The Red Cross is helping the adult and two pets displaced by the blaze on Navajo Road.
According to the fire department, crews arrived just after 8 p.m. and fire in the kitchen and smoke throughout the home. They quickly controlled the fire to prevent further damage. Smoke detectors were not working at the time.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A San Francisco woman launched a campaign to get cigarette-makers to switch to biodegradable filters after attending the Symbiosis eclipse event at Big Summit Prairie, in Crook County.
Julie Mastrine has collected more than 12,000 signatures through an online Care2 petition and she's submitted her idea to Reynolds America, which sells 28% of cigarettes in the U.S. "The event was amazing and the people there were generally very conscious, wanting to protect the environment, and really respectful, but I did see cigarette butts littered, particularly around the campsites, so one of the other festival attendees noted this and she said, 'why don't cigarette companies make biodegradable filters?' and I thought that was a really good idea and started the petition because of that."
She said she was disheartened by the casualness of many smokers when it came to discarding their butts. "It's a very strange culture among not all but some cigarette smokers. 'Leave No Trace' is a mantra that's really a cornerstone in the festival culture, for festivals like Symbiosis or Burning Man or whatever, and people generally abide by that, I would say. But, among cigarette smokers there's this element of nonchalance about it that's really disturbing."
Because Mastrine believes that changing a product is much easier than trying to change the culture of smokers, she launched an online petition to request tobacco companies switch to biodegradable filters. "The companies themselves could just definitely be more mindful of the impact of their products - and that goes for any company, cigarettes or not cigarettes - if you could make your packaging more earth-friendly, then why wouldn't you do it?"
Globally, cigarette butts account for 1.7 million pounds of waste annually.
SISTERS, OR -- No new local fires were reported Thursday, and air quality was much improved by evening; however, fires burning across the region are expected to send more smoke into Central Oregon, this weekend.
Locally, the McKay Fire (pictured), east of Highway 97 in southern Deschutes County, remains just over 1,200 acres in size, and is 50% contained.
The Nash Fire, in the Three Sisters Wilderness, is about 2,250 acres. Level two evacuation warnings remain in place for Elk Lake Resort and surrounding areas, as well as Level one alerts for Lava Lake Resort and campgrounds.
And, the Milli Fire, near Sisters is 44% contained at 22,718 acres.
Meteorologists expect the relative humidity to drop Friday, and Saturday will be extremely warm and dry, increasing the fire danger for the holiday weekend.
SISTERS, OR -- Those driving between the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon will encounter delays, due to firefighting efforts. Along Highways 22 and 20, from Detroit Lake to Sisters, active wildfires are causing road closures and delays. Those driving Santiam Pass through the Labor Day holiday weekend are encouraged to check Tripcheck.com for the latest traveler information.
Just west of Santiam Pass, the Oregon Department of Transportation is using a pilot car to direct two-way traffic for 1.5 miles. Drivers should expect flagging with a pilot car, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. During the day, wildland crews are cutting burning snags, using helicopter water drops and moving equipment, which is impacting highway travel. Both lanes are open overnight, although the situation could change based on fire activity.
Delays are expected to continue over the weekend, as temperatures soar and the fire behavior and fire danger increases.
LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine home was destroyed by fire, Thursday afternoon. Investigators believe a blown circuit-breaker on an outside electrical panel ignited dry grass, just after 3:30 p.m.
The fire quickly spread to the house on White Buck Ave., detached garage and surrounding area, causing a quarter-acre grass fire. The one woman home at the time was able to safely evacuate.
Firefighters from La Pine, Sunriver, Oregon Department of Forestry and the US Forest Service worked for more than three hours to extinguish the blaze.
PORTLAND, OR -- For the first time ever, Cycle Oregon has canceled its annual ride. About 2,000 participants were scheduled to ride through areas like Tumalo, La Pine and Diamond Lake, starting next weekend. But, smoke from wildfires burning through the state forced event organizers to shut it down.
They say the route would be affected by smoke fiver out of seven days. They considered changing the route, but after discussions with the Oregon Department of Forestry, the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Oregon Department of Transportation, event managers decided it was safest to cancel.
Executive Director Steve Schultz posted a message on their website saying they're working on what to do next, and hope to have answers by next Wednesday. The ride was supposed to start September 9 and covers nearly 500 miles across Oregon.
BEND, OR -- Sisters Schools started back a day late, this week, due to the smoky conditions; the rest of the region’s districts are slated to begin next week, but pre-season sports are already underway and feeling the effects of the poor air conditions.
Bend-La Pine Schools Deputy Superintendent Jay Mathisen says Athletic Directors are making changes based on guidelines set by the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA). "We are able to access a local reading for air quality, and based on the measurements and guidance from OSAA, we make decisions on whether we have practice or not, perhaps what types of activities are OK during practice times. And, we’re able to check those conditions pretty fluidly, here, locally." He tells KBND News, "We’ve canceled some contests and we’ve adjusted some activities and practices, and canceled some of those in some of these worst hours that we’ve experienced in the last week. And then, we’re closely monitoring future contests and deciding what to do. We’re able to hold more indoor things than outdoor without adjustment, obviously." The district is tracking changes on its website
Mathisen admits it’s unusual for wildfire season to impact the beginning of the school year, but he says they’ll do what’s needed to keep kids safe. "We’ll take readings three hours apart, during the school day; and if there are air quality concerns, we’ll be notifying our elementary school principals around those concerns and asking them to move recess. And, we’ll also be allowing principals at their site to make some decisions, because sometimes in the northeast part of Bend it’s different than it might be in the southwest part of Bend."
Photo: Local high school cross country teams compete in Prineville, August 26, 2017.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Annex Building, which currently houses the Juvenile and Community Corrections Departments, needs updating. Crook County Attorney Jeff Wilson says this process has been much more difficult than originally expected, because no contractors bid on the project before the May deadline.
The County Court recently approved a special process to move the project forward. "The County Court approved the special procurement," Wilson tells KBND News. "So we've been authorized to proceed with contracting with an applicant, one of the three contractors who attended the pre-bid meeting before our last due date." He adds, "Jerry Milstead, the County Representative, is meeting with the three contractors who showed up for the pre-bid meeting, and talking with them to try and get written proposals from all three and then make a recommendation at County Court."
Repairs need to be made to the outside of the building. The interior also needs to be remodeled, to make it more usable for current employees. Until a contractor is chosen, no one knows how the departments housed in the Annex on Third Street will be affected during construction, nor how long the work could take. But, Wilson is hopeful things will begin moving forward, very soon. "The County Court meets again on September 6th, and I would hope that we would have a recommendation on or before that - hopefully before September 6th - so the Court can authorize the contract on September 6th and proceed with the work."
The selected contractor will determine the actual scope of the work, and once his bid is presented, the budget will be voted on by the Court.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon's air has been classified as hazardous, leading to further health concerns and warnings. St. Charles Medical Center Pulmonologist Dr. Jamie Conklin says current conditions can make anyone feel sick, especially those who already have a respiratory condition.
Dr. Conklin says he hasn't seen a higher number of patients due to the smoke, but those who are coming in report more severe symptoms, including "More short of breath, compared to this time usually, they're having more coughs, potentially more wheezing, needing to use their rescue medication more frequently." Conklin tells KBND News, "The problem they're experiencing is smoke." But, he discourages people from just assuming symptoms are smoke-related. "If they're really having a breathing difficulty, it's better to find out it is just the smoke than to have a serious medical problem missed."
For most people, the conditions aren't likely to cause permanent harm. "For healthy lungs, most people with a short-term exposure, it's unlikely to cause anything more than uncomfortable symptoms - sore throat, tightness of the chest, a little bit more short of breath," Says Dr. Conklin. "Now, if you went out and rode your bike, that's going to probably put more strain on the system and make you feel worse." He suggests taking a few steps to stay safe. "The number one thing is - no fires - but, unfortunately, that doesn't seem like it's going to occur in the short period of time. Second is avoidance. Unfortunately, not all of us can leave the area, so then staying out of the air as much as possible, and hopefully in an environment that has some kind of filtration system. The one thing I want to warn people, though, is that no air purifier purifies perfectly."
Dr. Conklin says the smoke can also lead to allergy-like symptoms, especially for people allergic to the natural materials burning in those wildfires.
BEND, OR -- The Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation is searching for a new title sponsor for its largest annual fundraiser. After 39 years, US Bank says it won’t renew its sponsorship of the Pole Pedal Paddle.
The PPP is the largest multi-sport event in Central Oregon. It began with about 60 athletes in 1977, and over 2,500 took part this last year. It includes a downhill ski run on Mt. Bachelor, 8 km cross-country ski course, 22-mile bike ride on Century Drive into Bend, then a 5-mile trail run and a 2-mile paddle on the Deschutes River in a kayak before the half-mile sprint to the finish at The Old Mill in Bend.
BEND, OR -- Thick smoke forced Bend Park and Recreation to cancel an event scheduled for Wednesday at the whitewater park. Julie Brown, with the district, says other programs will be impacted for several days. "For example, our youth sports programs are not going to be practicing the rest of this week. We felt confident, with the forecast, that we’re not anticipating significant improvement with the air quality, and so that’s a decision that we’ve already made. And, we’re going to continue monitoring it through the holiday weekend and we’ll be back in touch with coaches and parents early next week."
The Bend Paddle Trail Alliance event canceled Wednesday is just one of several casualties of the smoke. "It’s undetermined at this point if we’re going to be able to reschedule that. We certainly all hope that that is going to be possible before the season changes," says Brown. "In addition to that, the rental concessions for river tubes and paddle boards at Riverbend Park also closed. River recreation is impacted by the air quality, too." Other outdoor activities and programs were canceled, as well, including pickleball, tennis and softball. She tells KBND News, "We’re really following the guidance of so many of the health experts who are advising against rigorous outdoor activity for children, but also for people of all ages. Our air quality is just at a situation where we need to be spending more time indoors." Park and Rec plans to update its website with air quality impacts.
In Sunriver, the SHARC
aquatic center announced Thursday the outdoor pool would remain closed for another day, due to the poor air quality. The indoor pool is open 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. with admission reduced to $15 for the day.
PENDLETON, OR -- Wildfire smoke continues to permeate nearly every corner of the High Desert, but Meteorologist John Peck, with the National Weather Service in Pendleton, says don't blame new local fires reported this week. "They’re definitely contributing, but by far the large amount of smoke that’s up there right now is coming from the very large fires in northern California and southwestern Oregon."
Peck says the upper-level haze is typically from distant fires, "You can get a really big smoke plume and it’ll blot out the sun, but that generally doesn’t affect the surface visibility that much. When you get the more local smoke that doesn’t get into the upper-level winds, it just kind of drifts around, that’s really what’s substantially reducing the surface air quality and surface visibility." But, in Central Oregon, we're getting a combination of both. Peck adds, "Most of the smoke that’s really dropping the 'vis' down in Bend is actually from the fires in northwest California and southwest Oregon; the very large ones down there: The Chetco Bar, and the Eclipse Complex in northern California."
Peck tells KBND News cooler temperatures will help, temporarily. "As the winds switch around to the northwest, that should scour out some of that low-level smoke. But, of course, the Milli Fire is directly upwind of you with a northwest wind, so you’ll still have some." And after that, "We’ll have another high moving in for the weekend. We’re expecting very warm temperatures – near record temperatures – and the winds will be switching back around to basically light from the south/southeast. It might not be quite as bad for the weekend, but any smoke that forms is likely going to linger with that high pressure moving over us." He predicts Friday's high around 94, then, "Saturday 98 and Sunday 97. We’ll cool off a little bit for Labor Day, back to 93, and temperatures kind of look to hover around the same area, the low 90s, after that."
BEND, OR -- A number of local wildfires are contributing to Central Oregon's poor air quality, although larger fires elsewhere in the region are primarily to blame for continued smoke and haze.
The McKay Fire (pictured above), first reported Tuesday afternoon near McKay Butte northeast of La Pine, remains just over 1,200 acres and is now 50% contained. Containment lines held yesterday, allowing crews to mop up along the perimeter.
Growth of the Nash Fire, in the Three Sisters Wilderness, prompted Level 2 pre-evacuation orders for Elk Lake Resort and surrounding campgrounds. Level 1 notices were issued for Lava Lake Resort, as well. The Nash Fire is part of the Horse Creek Complex of five fires, which have burned over 8,300 acres.
Near Sisters, the Milli Fire grew to 22,190, as of Thursday morning. It's now 44% contained.
Crews battling the Chetco Bar Fire on the Southern Oregon Coast are worried the fire will continue to grow, as another week of hot weather approaches. It's burned more than 128,000 acres and it's generating so much smoke that aircraft dumping fire retardant have been limited in making runs. Carol Connelly, at the Northwest Coordination Center, says they're working to strengthen lines to protect homes. "The fire’s progress toward the southwest corner of the fire line is growing daily and they are strengthening those fire lines that are between the fire and the community of Brookings."
Connelly says, "Our firefighting resources are at critically low supply. We do have over 9,500 firefighters and support personnel in the region." There are currently more than a dozen large fires or fire complexes burning in Oregon.
BEND, OR -- A 70-year old Bend man was allegedly assaulted with a shovel at the Bend River Promenade by a man attempting to steal his pickup. Bystanders helped the victim get the suspect out of the truck; he then ran from the scene. Bend Police say the victim suffered a superficial head injury.
Officers arriving just before 7:30 a.m. Wednesday set up a perimeter and a K9 unit tracked the suspect, identified as 21-year-old John Silver of New York. A witness later spotted Silver and he was arrested without incident.
Investigators say he stole the shovel from the back of another vehicle parked at Hobby Lobby prior to the assault. Silver faces numerous charges, including Robbery I, Assault II and Theft III.
REDMOND, OR -- Left turn lanes are being constructed on Highway 126 near SW 35th Street
, on the west end of Redmond. Access to and from SW 35th north of Highway 126 is closed for several weeks. Detours are in place to divert traffic around the road construction via 27th Street.
The intersection has a history of collisions
, and according to Redmond City Engineer Mike Caccavano, traffic studies showed dedicated turn lanes would be the best short-term solution. "So, there are several developments that are going to be contributing additional traffic to that intersection and the traffic studies indicated that we were already having difficulties with left turns. There'd been a number of accidents over the years and most of them were rear-end collisions caused by people stopping to make a turn."
One of the chief complaints about the intersection is that there's no traffic light, but Caccavano says that's not going to happen, yet. "Both the State and the City go by certain requirements when a traffic signal is warranted and it depends on traffic volumes, the side street volumes. In this case, when there gets to be enough traffic crossing and trying to make left turns off of 35th, that's when we'll meet the requirements and start talking about adding a signal."
Caccavano says additional long-term safety measures in the City's Transportation System Plan include the widening of Highway 126 from SW Rimrock to SW 35th Street. "The very long term is to add more lanes to the Hwy 126, and then potentially a traffic signal at this intersection; that might be a more near-term solution. Whereas, the long-term would be widening the highway and adding more travel lanes from Rimrock to 35th Street."
Drivers should be able to use the intersection again by the end of September.
REDMOND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown was in Bend this week, promoting two big projects in Bend and Terrebonne funded by the recently passed 10-year statewide transportation package. But, Highway 97 isn’t the only north-south route in Central Oregon to benefit from the bill. "Local jurisdictions will have more capital improvement and maintenance dollars as part of this package, for many years to come. And, we’re already planning for the capital improvements for the dollars that will start to flow," Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone tells KBND News. "One of the big things is the Old Bend Redmond [Highway] corridor."
Commissioner DeBone says Old Bend Redmond Highway will see safety upgrades in the next three to five years. "It’s a parallel path [with Highway 97]. And, there’s a lot of residential in between Bend and Redmond at that point; a lot of people just know it’s there. So, as some people get on there and get where they want to go, the volumes will be growing. And, you know there’s quite a traffic flow between Bend and Redmond at all times, these days." He says that increase in traffic volume creates unsafe situations at some intersections. "A turn lane cane really add some safety and capacity because those three to five cars that want to take a left aren’t stopping traffic. So, adding just a turn lane in some strategic areas can really help the flow."
The $5.3 billion statewide package is also expected to help with other capital projects in Central Oregon, "That’s different than just maintenance. We have existing paved roads and we do aggressive maintenance, chip sealing and striping, annually," says DeBone. "But, this is that capital improvement plan that’s going to grow over the years, adding some capacity and making sure those high-volume intersections are safer for those volumes."
To hear our full conversation with Commissioner Tony DeBone, visit our Podcast Page
or click HERE
DeBone and his fellow County Commissioners will discuss the Old Bend Redmond Highway project, highlight successes from the past year, and look at future challenges during Thursday's State of the County Luncheon. That event, hosted by the Redmond Chamber, begins at noon at Juniper Golf Course.
MADRAS, OR -- The Three Rivers Humane Society, in Jefferson County, broke ground Tuesday on a new facility. Executive Director Stephen Drynan says the 5,300 square foot building will be nearly five-times the size of the existing animal shelter. He tells KBND News, "It’ll hold 41 indoor kennels, a brand new adoption office, an office for employees, break room, it’ll have a new laundry facility, as well as an intake room and lastly it’ll have a get-to-know-you room indoors."
Currently, there are only ten indoor kennels and most dogs are housed in foster homes or in outdoor kennels (right), even in the winter. The new facility is a big improvement, "It means that they’re not going to be out in the elements 24/7, when it’s cold. Even though we had heated dog beds and heated water bowls, it’s still cold out. So, they won’t have to be out in there unless they’re going out to go potty or going out to a play yard for a little bit."
So far, the no-kill shelter has raised about $350,000, which is enough to get the project started. "The biggest thing we’re looking at is getting that shell up with the heating and the cooling up and the kennels in. Hopefully that will take place within three months or so. And then, we’ll keep working on the interior offices as we go." Drynan says they still need about $50,000 to complete the work early next year, "But, the important part to us is getting the animals out of the weather."
to learn more about the Three Rivers Humane Society "Raise the Roof Campaign."
SISTERS, OR -- Several new fires were reported across Central Oregon, Tuesday. Two discovered south of Lava Butte triggered the evacuation and closure of the Lava River Cave and lava Lands Visitors Center, south of Bend, for the day. Both fires were kept small.
About a mile north of the Ogden Group Camp in the Newberry national Volcanic Monument, the McKay Fire (pictured) created the greatest threat; more than 100 fire personnel are working the blaze east of Highway 97 between La Pine and Sunriver. As of Wednesday morning, it was fully lined and estimated at 1,364 acres in size.
Local crews are also assisting on a small fire discovered about 10 miles south of La Pine, near Highway 97.
A wildfire forced the closure of Highway 20 at Santiam Pass for several hours, Tuesday night. One lane reopened early Wednesday morning, with a pilot car directing traffic. The fire began on the south side of the highway, but it crossed the road and – as of Tuesday night – had burned about five acres near Lost Lake. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Fire activity within the Horse Creek Complex
, northwest of Cascade Lakes Highway, prompted Level One pre-evacuation notices for Elk Lake Resort and surrounding campgrounds, Tuesday night, as well. The five fires that make up that complex now total 3,168 acres.
And west of Sisters, the Milli Fire
grew to 21,703 acres, as of Wednesday morning. It's 44% contained.
Sixteen large fires or fire complexes are burning across the state and forestry officials expect to see growth on many of them due to current and forecasted weather conditions, which will result in persistent smoke in the region
for several days. Click HERE
to access the Oregon DEQ's latest air quality conditions.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are investigating an early Wednesday morning house fire on the north end of town. Firefighters responded to NW Maple Avenue, just west of Business Highway 97, at about 3 a.m. after receiving a 911 call.
Arriving fire crews found smoke and flames extending through the roof of the one-story house, threatening another structure. A power line was down and arcing in the rear of the building, as well. The fire department left at about 5:30 a.m., but were called back to the scene after more smoke was seen coming from the building; they continued to mop up the scene.
Everyone inside the home safely evacuated prior to the arrival of emergency crews, although a dog died in the blaze.
Investigators say it's too early to know the cause or whether a crime was committed.
WEDNESDAY P.M. UPDATE: Investigators report the early morning fire was caused by "Catastrophic electrical failure."
Top- Smoke and flames could be see from Business 97, near Maple Ave.
Bottom- Redmond Police shut down Maple Ave. at Highway 97 while fire crews work the blaze.
BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County Grand Jury has indicted two people associated with the former High Desert Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, in Bend. Jeanette Bonomo and Dr. Jeffrey Cooney face 19 counts of Animal Neglect and three counts of Wildlife Law violations.
They’re accused of failing to provide minimum care for numerous animals, including hawks, eagles and owls, resulting in the animals getting injured. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife inspectors visited the site in August 2016 after receiving complaints from volunteers at the center. ODFW staff removed the animals based on their physical condition; some had to be euthanized.
In a statement, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said, "Oregon is committed to caring for wildlife at a high standard and we appreciate the level of care ODFW showed these animals and the thoroughness and professionalism of the Oregon State Police's investigation." Bonomo and Dr. Cooney are due in court September 12.
Photo: Dr. Cooney treats a raptor at the center in 2015
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes National Forest plans to provide recreation site maintenance, like restroom cleaning and trash pickup, later in the year at 61 fee sites. Jean Nelson-Dean, with the Forest Service, tells KBND News, "Normally, our fee season in our day-use sites ends at the end of September, and we're actually changing that. We are extending that." She says since snow falls in different areas at different times, the agency doesn't need to close access to all of them at once. They will continue to provide maintenance as long as sites are accessible.
Nelson-Dean says the fee amount isn't changing, only the time period for which users will be required to pay. "In the past, we had just kind of ended the season at the end of September. Now we're going to continue to maintain sites, and as along as we can continue to maintain, we will continue to charge a fee; that would be like the $5 Day Use Fee, or the Northwest Forest Pass, or one of the others."
Nelson-Dean clarifies that not everything will be affected, like campgrounds. The shift in policy only impacts locations that already require a fee or pass for access. "It's simply those sites that are Day Use sites where we provide restroom facilities, garbage, and some other maintenance in those areas."
Passes are available at the Sisters, Bend, Fort Rock, and Crescent Ranger stations, the Cascade Lakes Welcome Center and the Redmond Air Center.
SISTERS, OR -- The Milli Fire continues to send smoke and ash across Central Oregon, especially in Sisters and Black Butte Ranch. Due to the poor air quality, helicopters were not able to fly at low altitudes to conduct aerial ignitions; however, a high altitude aircraft was able to monitor fire activity and the perimeter.
As of Tuesday morning, the 11-day-old wildfire was estimated at just over 21,000 acres and 32% contained. Crews worked overnight to gain better access to a two to three-acre spot fire. Fire managers say air quality could decrease through tomorrow morning, "The communities of Sisters, Bend and Redmond should expect to see ash falling as the Milli Fire continues to burn near Black Crater." Residents are encouraged to avoid outdoor activity. Afternoon winds may move smoke out and increase air quality from "unhealthy" to "moderate."
All wilderness closures and Level one and Level two evacuation warnings remain in place.
BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown stopped in Bend Monday as part of a statewide tour celebrating the $5.3 billion, 10-year transportation package passed by the Legislature. She gathered with representatives from the Oregon Department Transportation and Commute Options, Crook and Deschutes County Commissioners, Bend City Councilors and other dignitaries for a ceremonial bill signing at Highway 97 and Cooley Road, an intersection slated for improvements thanks to the package.
It’s expected to help fund two major Highway 97 projects in Central Oregon. Governor Brown told the crowd, "We are able to make significant investments in the Terrebonne safety project, as well as, hopefully reduce congestion and create a better, safer corridor on Highway 97. Not only will the package improve the safety and condition of our roads and bridges, it’ll help support thousands of family-wage jobs and help local businesses get their goods to market more efficiently." Work on the $20 million Terrebonne project should get underway in 2021. The bill also includes $50 million in work at Highway 97 and Cooley Road, in Bend. That project is slated for construction in 2025.
At the event, House Republican Leader Representative Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) praised the bipartisan effort that led to the bill’s approval. But, he said, "I want to acknowledge that not every aspect of this bill, do I celebrate. It took compromise." Governor Brown tells KBND News, "We worked very hard to make sure we addressed the needs of communities throughout the state of Oregon. Is the package perfect? Absolutely not. But, I was pleased; it is the most comprehensive transportation package Oregon has ever seen."
The bill aims to ease congestion, provide dedicated funding for mass transit and the Safe Routes to Schools program, and help prepare transit infrastructure for a large earthquake. Gov. Brown calls the bill “historic,” saying the benefits would be felt by generations to come in both rural and urban areas. "We worked hard to make sure that spending in each of the regions was proportional. And, frankly, the congestion in the Portland metropolitan area is impacting businesses in Ontario, Oregon and Medford, Oregon because folks are really struggling to get their products to market or get the materials they need to continue construction. So, we are making significant investments here. It’s a win for Central Oregon; it’s a win for all of Oregon."
BEND, OR -- Three people were seriously injured in a Monday night crash on Old Bend Redmond Highway near Tumalo Road. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says a 30-year-old Wisconsin man was southbound when his Jeep struck the rear tire of a tractor also traveling south, just before 9:30 p.m.
The Jeep rolled and initial reports indicated the driver, Daniel Maegli was pinned under the vehicle, but it was moved prior to the arrival of law enforcement. Maegli and his two passengers - 40-year-old Mackenzie Kershaw and 31-year-old Casey Tracht, both of Bend - were taken to St. Charles Bend with serious injuries.
Investigators don't believe the three people in the Jeep were wearing seatbelts and alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. The incident remains under investigation and criminal charges are possible.
BEND, OR -- St. Charles Health System will make deeper cuts in the next few months, to trim rising expenses. Chief Financial Officer Jan Welander says that despite changes made earlier this year, things continued moving in the wrong direction in July. "We operated at a loss of approximately a million dollars for the month. We have a projection for our performance for the year and we’re needing to improve that by approximately $6 million."
Welander tells KBND News administrators are still looking at all of the options, including incentivizing employees to come up with solutions, increasing efficiencies, leaving open positions unfilled and, "A voluntary buy-out program for employees/caregivers that are willing to give up their position and then we would not backfill their position." She says, "All of these things put together, in addition to the positions that we’ve already eliminated, are helping towards our goal. But, these might not be enough and layoffs might be necessary." Welander says if lay-offs occur, they would first look at non-patient contact positions, "Always, the safety of patients and the quality of care, it comes first; period. So, as we make decisions around how to tackle this problem, we do look to non-clinic positions first. We also look at where we do everything and try to understand if we could do them in a more efficient or consolidated manner." Those non-clinical positions could include Technical Services, Human Resources or other administrative departments. A final decision on the next phase of cuts is expected by mid-September.
In the spring, the health system announced adjustments to a major building project and left some open positions unfilled
, in an effort to get back on good financial footing. "We are seeing improvements. The teams are doing excellent work around premium and overtime pay, and we have eliminated some open positions already. But, the rate of those improvements is not as fast as we need." Welander says the struggle isn't unique to Central Oregon and says it's "the new normal" for the healthcare industry, nationwide. "This is symptomatic of where healthcare is. It’s a combination of Legislative changes, ever-increasing supply costs and much more pressure from the insurance companies on our payments, or our reimbursements."
There are no plans to pass along rising costs to patients. "St. Charles does have some of the highest prices in the state for many procedures and we can’t continue to increase costs for our patients."
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes National Forest Service is closing Lava Lands Visitor Center on the Newberry National Volcanic Monument earlier than usual this year, on September 11, and it will reopen in May of 2018. Jean Nelson-Dean, of Deschutes National Forest, says the change in schedule is to make sure the Visitor Center roof can be replaced before the snow falls, and be updated to accommodate our weather better. "We're actually going to be building a pitched roof because the flat roof, essentially, you just get snow, and we've had some water damage, and so, it's been a project that's been in the works for quite a while, and so now, we are building the roof so we can protect our exhibits."
Nelson-Dean also says Lava Butte will stay open to motor vehicles and won't close until October first, like usual. "People can still go there and go up on the Butte, and experience the rest of the National Monument, it's just only the Visitors Center that's going to be closed." She also wants to reassure school groups that the Lava River Cave will stay open throughout the month of September.
Even though it's still hot outside, Nelson-Dean reminds us that the snow is coming soon, and Lava Lands needs the extra time in September in order to beat the weather. "Everything is open except for the Visitors Center, they'll still be able to go to Lava Butte, they'll still be able to enjoy the caldera, the cave, all those things that normally are open will continue to be open. We did plan this around what is traditionally our slowest part of the season as people have gone back to school."
In related news, the front office for Prineville BLM will also be closed temporarily for remodeling, starting Monday, August 28. The staff will move to the adjacent Ochoco National Forest building.