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REDMOND, OR -- Redmond area residents have been receiving phone calls from a man who identifies himself as 'Sergeant Cook' from either the Redmond Police Department or the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office.

 

The imposter advises whoever answered the phone they have an existing warrant and will suggest payment in lieu of arrest.

 

Redmond Police and the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office want to assure the public they don't make phone calls to individuals, nor do they request money over the phone.

 

If you receive a call like this, it is a scam.

 

Don't provide any personal information to the caller and hang up.



BEND, OR -- Central Oregon's three Emergency Services Managers were honored at the Oregon State Sheriff's Associations Annual Conference held last week in Bend.

 

Sgt. Nathan Garibay, of Deschutes County, Crook County's Michael Ryan, and Mark Carman, of Jefferson County were each presented with the Distinguished Service Award. Garibay says it's to recognize their work before and during the August Eclipse. "It's representative of our Central Oregon community and the agencies and the organizations that we get to work with that we could make that happen. So, really, the three of us received the award, however, really we received it on behalf of the many, many people and organizations that made it happen and made it work."
 
Garibay, Ryan, and Carman were responsible for running the Tri-County Multi-Agency Coordination Center for Incident Response during last August's Eclipse, and Garibay says the event went well because they planned ahead and worked well across all the agencies involved. "It was really, truly an honor to be part of that tremendous learning opportunity, and the support that we receive from our partner organizations and our own agencies really is what makes our Emergency Management programs in all three counties successful. I'm honored to work with Mike and Mark and they are phenomenal peers as well as examples for me, and it was great to be recognized."
 
Garibay says he couldn't have managed the massive event alone. "At the end of the day, we do this because it's what we love to do, and it's what our community expects of us to do. And, I think that our community's support that we receive on a daily basis is what makes us successful."
 
Garibay, Ryan, and Carman were also tasked with the Level One evacuation procedures during the Eclipse that resulted due to the Millie Fire's threatening Sisters and those attending the Symbiosis event. 

 



BEND, OR -- According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Central Oregon lost some real estate value last quarter, but Fred Johnson of Duke Warner Realty says those results are only a small part of the big picture. "The market continues to be fairly strong. Throughout the country, property prices are going up and the West is really far outpacing the rest of the country."

 

Johnson says Oregon is still in the top ten states with the greatest home price appreciation in the nation. "In the Bend market, for the median price point, it rose between the third quarter of 2015 to 2016, it rose almost $40,000. Between 2016 and 2017, it rose $30,000."
 
The FHFA report says the Bend-Redmond Metro area, which ranked number 9 in the second quarter on the list of Top 20 Home Price Climbers, dropped to a number 52 ranking in the third quarter. 
 
Johnson says, "The one thing that everybody would like to see when they're purchasing magazines and newspapers is they'd like to see some good news, and the hint there is that maybe things aren't moving as briskly in Bend and Redmond as they have, but the reality is we look forward. Housing prices probably aren't going down any time in the near future, and for that, there are a number of different reasons."
 
He also says seeing a report with a statistic like that can be confusing, and it actually helps to view the real estate market as a whole. "I got the most recent Beacon Report and tried to isolate the third quarter sales information in both the Bend and Redmond market[s], and the appreciation has continued to move, the number of sales has continued to move, and there's not really a huge differential, year over year, from the previous year."
 
Johnson says that while materials pricing and labor costs can affect home price appreciation, in Bend and Redmond, some of that fluctuation is offset by the area's high land value.

 



BEND, OR -- State and local health officials are working to make tobacco retailers aware of Oregon’s new “Tobacco 21” law and a January first compliance deadline.

 

Deschutes County Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Penny Pritchard says stores should have already stopped selling tobacco products to customers under 21. "The law actually really did go into effect August ninth; that’s when Governor Brown signed the law into effect and there was an emergency clause that put that into place. January first is really the enforcement, so that’s when the Oregon Health Authority is going to be going out and actually citing retailers if they’re not complying with the law." She says that enforcement effort is prompting local officials to get the word out now, "To really help educate retailers and the public, especially those who are 18, 19 or 20." She tells KBND News, "The Oregon Health Authority has also sent out letters to retailers and other entities that serve young adults, such as the colleges, to make sure that people are aware of the new law and when enforcement is going to be taking place."

 

Aside from the new age restrictions, stores must also move tobacco products and inhalant delivery systems to a location where customers can’t access them without employee assistance, and post new signs. Pritchard says, "We’re really just trying to prepare retailers, to make sure they’ve got all the information they need. They need to post a sign that says they will not sell to minors under 21. And so that sign needs to be posted because that could also be a violation of the law." Pritchard says after January first, violators face fines of up to a thousand dollars. 

 
Click HERE for more information on state law. 


SISTERS, OR -- Two weekend fires damaged Sisters-area homes. Crews responded to a duplex on Cedar Street, Saturday afternoon, and found a smoldering fire in an exterior wall. They used a chainsaw to get to the blaze and put it out before it could spread. Officials say a fire wall stopped the blaze, and bystanders alerted residents so they could evacuate prior to the arrival of firefighters. Investigators determined improperly stored ashes on a wood deck were to blame for the fire, which caused about $2500 in damage.

 

Early Sunday morning, a renter in the Tollgate area smelled smoke and noticed the roof was glowing inside the home. The residents evacuated and called 911. Responding units discovered a chimney fire at the Lariat home (pictured), which had spread to the roof surrounding the chimney. Crews quickly knocked down the blaze and stayed on-scene to extinguish the fire smoldering in the rafters. The cause of that fire is under investigation, but it likely related to the woodstove. According to Capt. Ast, "The renters had only been living in the house for a couple months, but their landlord advised the chimney had just been cleaned prior to moving in." That fire resulted in about $26,000 in damage. 

 



BEND, OR -- Nearly a year after taking office, Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Henderson says he's making progress on his campaign promises. Although, admits transitioning from the private to public sector has been a challenge, "The level of contacts with people in the community, with other organizations we’re involved with, with the county, and the variety of issues is quite a bit."

 

Henderson campaigned on three key issues: affordable housing, reducing the budget, and rolling back marijuana regulations. "We were successful in the budget," Henderson tells KBND News. "When we set the budget it actually lowered the rate $.03 per $1,000. Unfortunately, people didn’t really see it on their bills because other new bonds went in. But, if you look at your county rate, it’s less. It almost countered the automatic 3% increase."
 
But, he says his quest for more affordable housing in the region has not been as successful. "I’m frustrated with the amount of control at the state level – the Department of Land Conservation & Development. Our whole structure in Oregon is 44 years old, now. There’s problems throughout the state, really, with housing because of our restriction of growth.
 
Henderson spent much of his campaign focused on recreation marijuana regulations and, in the past year, has frequently opposed new pot facilities; However, he’s often outvoted. "Although I voted against several applications, many applications go through without appeal. The ones that have come to us, we really apply the county regulations that were put in place. And, I’ve been pretty clear that there are certain regulations that I think there’s a certain standard, particularly with regard to proof of what they’re going to do with odor control, noise control and then, we’re starting to ask more questions about the water. So, what I’ve actually voted down is the applicants’ proof of whether it met the requirements of the regulations." He’s heard from citizens on both sides of the pot issue,  "A lot of people are still concerned about the illegality on the federal level. And it effects things like property values; I mean, there are definite cases of that." He says he will continue to evaluate how the county can best serve neighbors and the industry.
 
To hear our full conversation with Commissioner Henderson, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.

 



SUNRIVER, OR -- The search continues for those responsible for the death of a famous local swan. Members of the Sunriver Citizen Patrol Hasty Response Team and two Sunriver officers spent about four hours looking for evidence of the shooting that killed “Chuck” the trumpeter swan on Thanksgiving. 

 

The Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory is offering a reward for information that leads to an arrest of the person or persons responsible for the swan's death. The East Cascades Audubon Society has donated an additional $500, taking the total reward to $1,500. 

 
Swans are protected in Oregon because they're not considered game birds, and killing one intentionally can lead to both a fine and jail time. Anyone with information is asked to call Sunriver PD or the Oregon State Police Fish and game Tipline.


REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man is accused of driving a pickup stolen from Gresham, then trying to hide from law enforcement. A Deschutes County deputy tried to stop 46-year-old Dean Morkert (left) for a traffic violation, Sunday afternoon. Morkert avoided the stop and allegedly tried to hide the vehicle in an alley near 4th and Birch in Redmond. He ran when spotted by the deputy. 

 

His passenger, 48-year-old Amber Higbee, was cited at the scene. Morkert was later seen near Higbee's home on North Canal Blvd. After numerous attempts to get him to come out, a K9 unit barked to announce his presence, and deputies threatened to send the dog in to search the house.
 
Garrett Leeper (right) - wanted for a probation violation for car theft - exited the home first; Morkert followed.  Both were arrested without incident. 


REDMOND, OR -- Former Redmond Proficiency Academy Director Michael Bremont faces new sex abuse charges, following a five-month investigation by Redmond Police. Bremont was first arrested in 2012 for engaging in a sexual relationship with a student at the charter school. He was fired and later convicted of sexual abuse in the second degree. Investigators suspected there were more victims, but did not have probable cause for additional charges at the time.

 

In July, another victim came forward to report she’d had a sexual relationship with Bremont while he was RPA director. She was under 18 and a student at the school when the alleged relationship began, and says it continued after she turned 18. 
 
He was re-arrested Friday when he checked in with his probation officer. He faces 10 counts of second degree sexual abuse. Bremont is due in court Monday afternoon. 


BEND, OR -- Christmas is in a few short weeks, and a local congregation is teaching their kids' classes that giving is better than receiving this holiday season.

 

Chris Santaguida, who is on the pastoral staff of Eastmont Church in Bend, says some elderly people are especially lonely this time of year, and the chance to go sing and celebrate with them is a special experience for all involved. He says giving is what the season should be all about. "Christmas, it is a time to give and receive, and I think it's great for the children to give love and attention to people who maybe don't receive a lot of it at this time of year, and they can maybe be forgotten, and of course the kids receive the blessing of realizing they've been used by Jesus to spread and share some joy."
 
Santaguida says the chance for the kids to go visit the elderly during this time of year and share Christmas with them makes everybody happy. "It's really a blessing to be present when the kids come in and they start singing, you can literally see the spirits of the people who are present, you can see their sprits being lifted, and the smiles come across their faces, because they're so overjoyed and the joy of the kids is pretty contagious."
 
Eastmont's kids, their parents, and the pastoral staff will make the rounds to several elder care facilities this Saturday, singing carols, sharing the Nativity story, and celebrating the joy of the season.

 



BEND, OR -- December 10th marks 5 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary and Clackamas Town Center tragedies, and the Oregon Chapter of 'Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America' will be holding a candlelight vigil to honor those impacted by gun violence.

 

The vigil will take place this Sunday from 5:30 to 6:30 PM at the Crow's Feet Commons on Brooks Street in Downtown Bend.
 
Interfaith spiritual leaders, gun violence survivors, and gun sense advocates will be on hand and free gun locks will be available to participants,  provided to secure any guns at their homes.


BEND, OR -- Protesters gathered along North Hwy 97 in Bend yesterday to rally in favor of Internet regulations commonly referred to as 'Net Neutrality.'

 

Kathy Roche of Bend says the issue is really about free speech and fairness. "'Net Neutrality' is guaranteeing that everybody who is on the Internet has approximately the same speed and that people who have paid content don't get a faster speed, and that small businesses don't suffer because they're not supported by 'Big Bucks'."
 
Roche says they demonstrated between the Verizon Wireless and US Cellular stores on purpose, because they believe communications companies donate to the campaigns of lawmakers opposed to the regulations so they, in turn, can charge customers more for faster speeds. "Greg Walden is in the Top 10 for getting funds from these types of communications companies. They would like to be able to get more money out of the Internet, they would like to be able to charge you extra and/or control what traffic is on there so they can put the traffic on there, on the Internet, that would pay them the most dollars."
 
'Net Neutrality' was penned during the Obama administration and was recently repealed by the FCC, and Roche says the regulations create equality in Internet usage and access and should be reinstated. 

 



PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville Police continue to investigate a number of recent thefts and burglaries, taking two more suspects into custody, this week. Officers seized suspected stolen property during the execution of a search warrant at a home on Lynn Blvd on Thursday.

 

Following the search, they arrested 28-year-old Ashley Luna (left) and 36-year-old Sheila Morrissette. Luna faces several drug-related charges; she's also accused of Theft by Receiving. Morrissette is charged with frequenting a place where controlled substances are used. 

 

On November 30, police arrested 21-year-old Alysa Bennight and 27-year-old Dustin Chapman during a traffic stop. Bennight is suspected in at least 10 burglaries; Chapman has several outstanding warrants. A search of Bennight’s property uncovered both reported and unreported stolen goods and investigators are working to connect victims with their items.

 



BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors failed to agree this week on what changes to the city’s charter should go to voters, although they acknowledged the timeline to get something on the May ballot is tight. 

 

Some Councilors worry a proposed ward system would mean future Councilors could be elected by a small group of voters. Charter Review Committee co-chair Brent Landels says nearly all of Oregon’s largest cities use some version of wards and a lot of time was spent developing the proposed map. He agrees it’s not perfect nor was the committee unanimous; but he feels it’s the best option. "The Oregon Secretary of State has, for years, has had in place rules for establishing wards or voting districts, or that type of thing." He tells KBND News, "You have to use existing political boundaries. So, in the city, you’re typically going to end up with the voter districts – which is what we used – and then each of the wards has to be +/- 5% for population. So, we couldn’t just do a straight north/south line and a straight east/west line." While most of the sitting Council lives in what would become Ward Two or Ward Four, based on the proposed map, Landers says the Committee didn't discuss their residency. "One of the rules is we absolutely cannot look at how it would impact anybody who is currently an active politician, an active City Councilor or Mayor, or how it would impact anybody who has announced they would be running." The committee proposes a mixed system where four Councilors are elected from a "ward" or region of the city, while the other two are elected at large, as they are now. 

 

The committee presented recommendations to Council this week, including the removal from the charter of any reference to how much elected officials are paid. Although, Landels says they did not discuss the actual amount of pay, "An independent advisory committee would then recommend to City Council what they should do what the Councilors are being paid and what the Mayor would be being paid. One of the interesting things about the ethics laws of Oregon: anybody who is currently on the Council cannot vote themselves a raise. So, anything that they did decide to do upon advice from the advisory committee would not impact that particular Councilor that was voting on it."
 
Councilors did agree the city needs a directly elected Mayor, but failed to reach a consensus on when that first election should occur or for how long that Mayor would serve. Landels would like to see the transition begin as soon as possible, "If everything passes, the November election would have the Mayor and two at-large Councilors, so they would be elected exactly the same way they are today. The 2020 election, the four Councilor positions that would be open at that time, those four would be geographically – or more geographically – assigned." Current Mayor Casey Roats suggested the committee’s recommendations could be phased in over several election cycles, if approved by voters.

 

Councilors plan to start their next meeting - December 20 - earlier than normal, to allow public feedback on the committee's recommendations before deciding what to put on the May ballot. 


BEND, OR -- A second Republican says he will run for Oregon House District 53, following State Representative Gene Whisnant’s announcement he plans to retire at the end of this term. Ben Schimmoller describes himself as a “lifelong conservative political activist” and says he was compelled to run after seeing Central Oregon values pushed aside by Portland and Salem politicians. 

 

Redmond Realtor Launches Dist. 53 Campaign

 

Schimmoller says he's already secured the endorsement of well-known local Republicans, including Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Henderson and former Deschutes Republicans Chair Bob Perry


BEND, OR -- Bend State Representative and Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler continues to call on Governor Kate Brown to launch an independent investigation into overpayments made to Coordinated Care Organizations.

 

Leaders of the Oregon Health Authority have admitted the agency incorrectly paid out health benefits totaling tens of millions of dollars over the last several years. Buehler blames Brown for not catching the mistake sooner, "She has been responsible for this, I would say, more than any other single Salem politician because she was Secretary of State who had that audit authority," he told KBND host Lars Larson, this week, "And now it took Secretary of State Richardson getting into office to actually use it; and that’s a problem."

 

Buehler Asks Brown To Investigate OHA

 

OHA officials recently admitted the agency incorrectly paid Medicaid benefits for over 47,000 people. "OK, $74 million to $100 million was overpaid," said Buehler. "Some of it was already given back to the federal government; who made that decision and why wasn’t the rest of it paid back to the federal government? So, there are a lot of open questions here. But the bottom line is, there’s been negligence in overpaying and clearly concealing, from the Brown Administration, the fact that the overpayments occurred." He added, "Who made the call? Who covered it up, if there was a cover up? And where was the wrongdoing? And, when you get through that, if there is money that rightfully was overpaid, it needs to come back to the taxpayer of Oregon and be used for other causes."


SUNRIVER, OR -- The Sunriver Service District placed its police chief on paid administrative leave this week, although authorities have not released details as to why. KBND News confirms Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum's office is investigating allegations against Chief Marc Mills.

 

Bend Police Captain Cory Darling has been appointed interim Chief during the Investigation, with approval from Bend PD Chief Jim Porter.
 
Mills became Sunriver's chief in 2012 after nearly four decades with the Deschutes county Sheriff's Office where he worked his way up to the rank of Captain.
 
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel issued the following statement, Thursday: “Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is heading the fact gathering phase of the investigation into the allegation against Sunriver Police Chief Marc Mills. Once she completes her work she will provide me with the facts as determined by her investigation and I will decide whether to initiate criminal charges. I will comment further when the Attorney General completes her investigation.” 

 



POWELL BUTTE, OR -- Icy conditions and low visibility likely contributed to a multi-vehicle pile-up in Powell Butte during Thursday's morning commute, which closed Highway 126 for about eight hours.

 

The first crash was reported just before 7 a.m. According to the Crook County Sheriff’s Office, several other collisions occurred as vehicles slowed for the back-up and emergency vehicles. A van transporting liquid oxygen was heavily damaged, initiating a hazmat response.



BEND, OR -- More than 200 Oregon middle and high schools will split $10 million from the state to create programs that will prepare students for college and careers. Bend-La Pine Schools received more than $660,000 for Career and Technical Education (CTE).

 

La Pine High School plans to develop a new manufacturing and construction technology program. And Bend Senior High will use the money to modernize the school’s 1970s-era kitchen and create courses including Restaurant Business Management. Click HERE to read more about the district's plans for the grant money.
 
Last year, Bend-La Pine Schools offered 148 CTE classes designed to introduce students to skills and experience they need in the workplace. 


BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors heard final recommendations from the Charter Review Committee, Wednesday. Committee Co-Chair Brent Landels says after several months of research, interviews and negotiations, the committee suggests three major changes to city government. 

 

Two of the revisions involve how Councilors and the Mayor are elected, "To go to a directly elected mayor in a four-year term; also adoption of a ward system. So, it’s actually a mixed version: four Councilors would be elected from essentially a geographic ward – northeast, southeast, southwest and northwest – everybody would still represent the entire city, but they would also concurrently represent their district. And then two of the remaining councilors would be elected at large, the same way they are today." Landels says they studied Oregon's other major cities and found, "Of all of the 10 largest cities, city of Gresham is the only other city that has not gone to wards. Everybody else votes either directly by wards or a mixed system, which is what we’re proposing to go to. So, it’s kind of as cities grow up, they move into a ward system." Bend is also the largest city in the state without a directly elected Mayor.

 

The third recommendation would remove from the charter any reference to how much Councilors and the Mayor are paid. Landels tells KBND News, "The charter is essentially the constitution for the city of Bend, and it just isn’t a place where you typically would ever see somebody’s payroll. It’d be like having the President of the United States’ actual dollar amount that he’s being paid in the Constitution of the country; it’s just not where it belongs."

 

Bend 2030 Pushes Charter Review

 

Councilors did not make any decisions on Wednesday, but they discussed hosting a public listening session on the options at their next Council meeting. They will then decide whether to send any or all issues to the ballot and what those measures would look like. Landels wants to see them appear as separate issues in May, "Our recommendation is to do it as three different things, so folks can decide if they want an elected mayor independently of if they want to have four geographic wards and independently, if they want to have pay stay in the charter, so that the citizens have the ability to really pick and choose what form of government they want."



BEND, OR -- Several local agencies will share a portion of grants issued by the Department of Environmental Quality. The DEQ says the money will promote the prevention, recovery or reuse of solid waste. 

 

In Bend, The Environmental Center is getting $37,253 for its “Food Too Good To Waste” project, which aims to reduce household food waste. Another $50,000 is going to NeighborImpact's “Edible Food Recovery” program; it diverts 50,000 tons of food from landfills and feeds thousands of people each month. And, the Sisters Habitat ReStore will receive nearly $42,871 to purchase a new box truck and equipment to increase donations and keep hundreds of thousands of pounds of materials out of landfills.


SUNRIVER, OR -- A Bend man was killed in a crash that occurred near Sunriver, at about 10:15 Wednesday morning. According to State Police, 55-year-old Shannon Ray Rogers of Goldendale Washington was northbound on Highway 97 and struck the back of a pickup. That driver – 56-year-old Brian Harris, of Bend – veered off the road and hit a tree.  Harris was pronounced dead at the scene. 


Rogers also ran off the road and struck a tree, and was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The highway was shut down for about 30 minutes until one alternating lane was opened. 
 
Alcohol and speed are being investigated as possible contributing factors. 

 



BEND, OR -- Local fire agencies are sending help to southern California, to help with the massive wildfire burning in Ventura County. Bend Battalion Chief Dave Howe says Cal-Fire requested additional help from the Oregon Fire Marshal’s office. "They requested 10 task forces from Oregon last night and those were filled by departments in the Valley. Early this morning [Wednesday] they had another request from California so they found that Deschutes County had some availability. Bend is sending a Task Force for a Type-Three engine, which is like a four-wheel-drive brush rig." Howe says five Bend firefighters left Wednesday, including one driving a Sisters engine; Redmond is also sending a unit.

 

High winds have pushed the blaze to over 65,000 acres, as of Wednesday morning. Howe tells KBND News, "We know that the Santa Ana winds are going to be kicking up again, and I’ve heard reports of gusting to 70 mph. They’re going to be in some extreme, extreme weather conditions." Rich Hoover, in the Oregon Fire Marshal's Office, says 15 Oregon crews are on the way to help and they're prepared to work as wildland or structural firefighters. "They’re going to stage in Chino, California and from there they’ll be split up and divided to the areas that they need to go to," says Hoover. This is the first time Oregon crews have helped California twice in one year.

 

According to Howe, local crews could be gone through Christmas, "We do know they could be there 14-21 days, which is a tremendously long period of time around Christmas." He adds, "We have plenty of people who are willing to step up, at least if not going to California, then covering these guys when they’re gone. We really do rely on their support and we really rely on the support of the community."

 

 

Photo: Courtesy Bend Fire. Crews prepare to leave Bend for southern California. 



BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is changing fishing regulation at Wickiup Reservoir in 2018. The “bonus” bag limit for Kokanee will change from 25 to five. "It has to do with the Spotted Frog and the water levels that they’re going to have to hold there different times of the year, so they’re expecting to have less habitat for Kokanee," says KBND outdoor expert Gary Lewis. "So, that means Kokanee numbers will probably drop."

 

Lewis says, "Wickiup is a huge destination for Kokanee anglers and they go there because of the productivity and the size of the fish. So, this will be a concern for some people but there’s other places to catch Kokanee so it’ll probably move the anglers around a little bit." He adds, "This decision was made this year, in 2017, then they rescinded it and now they’re going to this for 2018."
 
ODFW hosts a public meeting to discuss the change, Wednesday at 6 p.m. at COCC's Health Career Center Building in Bend.
 


BEND, OR -- Bend city officials announced Tuesday they have secured the matching funds needed to move forward with its Climate Action Plan, in conjunction with the Environmental Center. The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) has awarded a $50,000 grant to support the city’s effort to increase energy efficiency and reduce fossil fuel consumption. 

 

In 2016, Bend City Councilors approved a resolution to reduce community-wide fossil fuel use by 40% by 2030 and by 70% by 2050. The next step in the plan is for the city to hire a Sustainability Coordinator to manage a volunteer advisory committee. The goal is a community-endorsed energy action plan by fall 2019.
 
Bend Senior Policy Analyst Gillian Ockner said in a statement, "We are so grateful to the OCF donor families who have matched the Partners for Places grant award we received this fall. It is further indication of the shared value in Oregon of protecting our environment while supporting our communities. We are excited to begin the process of identifying the appropriate course of action for Bend to meet its fossil fuel reduction goals while providing economic, social and environmental benefits to the Bend community." 


BEND, OR -- As Bend continues to struggle with a lack of affordable housing and historically low retail vacancy rates, a couple of projects now in development could bring some relief to both markets.

 

Russell Huntamer, with Compass Commercial Real Estate, says one is in the works at the former site of Ray’s Food Place on Century Drive. After sitting vacant for several years and a major roof collapse in January, the grocery store was torn down in March. Huntamer tells KBND News, "The most likely plan, right now, that’s being considered is about 25,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor, with up to 180 apartments above that – four to five stories. And then the same thing goes for the five acres east of the Box Factory." The Box Factory is on NW Arizona Ave. Huntamer adds, "Where Atlas Cider, Immersion Brewing and Strictly Organic with the drive-through, that location there – five acres to the east of there, about 25,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor, and about 180 apartments above it, as well." 
 
He says both projects are in the early planning stages and won’t be ready for tenants for more than a year. "Probably not until 2019; it takes that long for approvals and construction. And, the demand that we have in the meantime, it’s going to be very difficult to meet; at least from a retail perspective."
 
 
Photo: Five acres east of The Box Factory on NW Arizona Ave. could soon feature a large retail and multi-family housing development. 

 



BEND, OR -- The second early morning fire in Bend in as many days left about $40,000 in damage to a southwest Bend house. The first firefighters on scene discovered flames and smoke coming from attic of the Deer Valley Drive home at about 2 a.m. Wednesday. Residents safely evacuated prior to the arrival of fire crews and no injuries were reported.

 

The blaze was held to the attic and roof and officials say much of the home was saved. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The Red Cross is helping the four adults their pets affected. 


REDMOND, OR -- A day after State Representative Gene Whisnant announced he would retire at the end of this term, a Redmond realtor says he’s running for the District 53 seat. Jack Zika is seeking the Republican nomination in May, saying education, affordable housing and the need for fiscal responsibility are his top priorities. 

 

Zika is a 40-year-old Redmond resident currently serving on the city’s Planning Commission and Neighborhood Revitalization Committee. He’s also on the Oregon Association of Realtors Government Affairs Committee. In a statement, Zika said Tuesday, "Central Oregon is a great place to put down roots and raise a family. However, I've grown increasingly frustrated with a state government that seems oblivious to our needs in Central Oregon." He adds, "I'm running for state representative to be an advocate for fully funding our schools, reining in runaway government spending and finally restoring some common sense to our state's land use laws."
 


 

MADRAS, OR -- Multiple people were taken to the hospital after a crash north of Madras that shut down Highway 97 for several hours, last night. Few details have been released, but witnesses say the crash occurred just after 4:30 p.m. near Cora Drive, and involved a minivan and truck. Two air ambulances transported injured patients to the hospital. 



MADRAS, OR -- Madras officials hope the city will be the next big beer destination in Oregon. Community Development Director Nick Snead says a new incentive package and marketing materials are now being used to attract a brewery or brew pub to downtown Madras. "It’s one of the last communities in Oregon to not have a brewery; we have a lot of farm to table or farm to tap opportunities here that are unique to Madras, even in Central Oregon. And, the Madras Redevelopment Commission (MRC) would like to provide some assistance to whoever is selected to open the brewery or brewpub in Madras." He says providing an incentive to prospective businesses is fairly unique, "In fact, one of our consultants told me he’s not aware of any city in the United States that’s recruited a brewery like this." Snead says the actual dollar amount of the incentive package hasn't been determined, since it isn't yet known whether an existing facility will be used, or new construction is needed. 

 

The MRC is working this week to solidify a strategy for the selection process. Snead tells KBND News they are "Making sure that we select a really good brewery or brewpub that has the ability to pull off a project and operate that brewery or brewpub sustainably, that’s going to open up a business in our downtown that’ll be family-friendly, welcoming, serve great food and beer and really create a memorable experience."
 
Snead says consultants are working with the city to market the region to prospective businesses, including creation of the new Brew It Madras website, which promotes things like the area’s good drinking water. "What Earth2O bottles and sells in stores and supermarkets across the state and region and otherwise comes out of our tap here. It’s already used in the distilling industry with great success." He believes it's time Madras made a name for itself in the industry, "Quite honestly, Bend and Redmond are getting a lot of interest from the brewing industry. If not there, then it tends to be in the Portland-metro [area] or along I-5 and I-84." He hopes to have a brewery chosen and working with the city by July.
 


BEND, OR -- A contract employee who worked at the Deschutes County Jail is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on two counts of custodial sexual misconduct and supplying contraband charges. 

 

Prosecutors allege 44-year-old April Hoisington-Kite had sex with an inmate at least twice in October, and snuck tobacco into the jail. She was employed by Aramark, which provides food service to the jail; Hoisington-Kite reportedly worked in the jail’s kitchen. 


BEND, OR -- A Bend-based horse rescue nonprofit has been saved from closure. Equine Outreach Board President Bill Inman says a group of other organizations offered to help after word got out last month that an investigation by the Department of Justice had left coffers depleted. "Thankfully, someone stepped forward and said, ‘I’ve got lots of property and you can use a nice big chunk of it – about 30 acres. But, you’ll need to be responsible for setting it up.’ And, these other nonprofits said, ‘We’ll help you get it set up.’ So that’s what we’ve been doing."

 

Following a lengthy investigation into the co-founders of Equine Outreach and their management of the nonprofit's funds, the DOJ required all ties be severed with Joan Steelhammer and Gary Everett, which included moving dozens of rescued horses off property owned by the couple. Inman says Steelhammer and Everett are now refusing to allow Equine Outreach access to anything other than the horses. "Things that were either purchased by Equine Outreach using donor funds or that were donated as in-kind donations that belong to the nonprofit and because of the challenges with the landlord they’re tied up in a lien. The horses cannot be liened, so technically the horses we can take, but we can’t take the stuff." He tells KBND News, "We have about 50 tons of hay that have been donated since cuttings this summer from the local community that we need to get through winter feeding. So, if we’re unable to take the hay that’s been donated then we need to replace it." He's hopeful more donations will come in to help get the animals through winter at the new location.  

 

Inman says many of the rescued horses have found new homes, but about 35 remain. He hopes to start moving them to the new property just outside Bend, this weekend. "It will be a big logistical challenge to get all the horses moved, and then obviously all of the infrastructure set up."

 


BEND, OR -- Bend’s newest elementary school may not have a building yet – or even a name – but, it now has a principal. Kevin Gehrig (pictured) is currently in his 12th year as principal of Pine Ridge Elementary in Bend. At the end of this school year, he will assume leadership of the new 600-seat school scheduled to open in the fall of 2019 near O.B. Riley and Cooley roads.

 

The appointment sets in motion a shuffle of administrators, with the principal of Rosland Elementary, Rochelle Williams, moving to Pine Ridge; Julie Linhares, principal of Marshall High move will take over at Rosland; and Bend-La Pine Schools Director of Secondary Programs Sal Cassaro will become principal of Marshall. 
 
In other Bend-La Pine Schools principal news, Superintendent Shay Mikalson also announced Monday that Mike Franklin, vice principal at Mountain View High School, has been selected to lead the new small high school that will open next fall on the north end of Bend. 


SUNRIVER, OR -- State Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) says he will not run for re-election. "It’s time," Whisnant tells KBND News. "I’m sure that there’s other people in the House District 53 area that can come in and replace me. I always liked the story that all of us are replaceable, just put your arm in a bucket of water and you’ll see."  Whisnant says he will complete his current term, but after more than 14 years in Salem, he's ready to retire and travel with his wife.

 

He’s the latest in a string of Republicans to announce plans to leave Salem, including fellow Central Oregonians Rep. John Huffman (R-The Dalles), who recently vacated his District 59 seat for a job with the USDA, and Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day), who is vying for a spot on a prestigious state council. Whisnant says, "I’m not leaving for more money – and we do make minimum wage, presently – I’m not leaving for a position with Trump or for a state job where I can get more PERS. It’s just time to go. I enjoy it; I really do still love it. I feel that I’m very effective and I still have a year to go. I’m going to pass the bills that I’ve written about that I’ve introduced for 2018." While he says he's not seeking another government position, he expects to remain involved in politics, "I want to stay active and keep the brain working, be active in the community and address issues that are important to Central Oregon and to the state of Oregon. I’m not sure how I’ll do that yet."

 

Whisnant says he’s working with the House Caucus to find potential candidates to run for his District 53 seat in 2018. "We try to have a farm team available and they’re talking to people and they have asked me to talk and explain the job to some of the people and I’ve done that. I think there will be plenty of people to step forward." But, he doesn't expect to select an heir apparent, "I never endorsed anyone unless incumbents in the primaries. You know, I had to win elections, unlike what’s happening now as far as the appointment process."
 

He was appointed in 2003 to serve District 53, which includes much of Deschutes County outside Bend. He says he initially thought he would only serve a couple of terms; Whisnant is currently in his eighth term in office. 



 

BEND, OR -- A northeast Bend home was heavily damaged by an early morning fire. Crews responded to Liberty Lane at 2:30 Tuesday morning and found a double-car garage fully involved and fire spreading into the home.

 

Bend Fire officials say no one was home at the time. The garage was a total loss and the interior of the house sustained heavy smoke and heat damage. The blaze is under investigation and caused over $100,000 in damage. 



GOVERNMENT CAMP, OR -- State Police have released more information on Sunday’s fatal crash near Government Camp. Based on the preliminary investigation, OSP says 53-year-old Kenneth Schmidt, of Crooked River Ranch, lost control of his Ford Excursion on snow-covered Highway 26 just before 4 p.m.

 

The SUV crossed into oncoming traffic and hit a Subaru driven by 48-year-old Debbie Hahn, of Redmond. Her 9-year-old son was killed in the crash. A second passenger, 68-year-old Linda Todd was flown to a Portland hospital with critical injuries. The three people in the SUV were treated at the scene for minor injuries.


OSP continues to look for witnesses to the crash as part of the ongoing investigation.

 

The family is collecting donations through a GoFundMe page, to help the boy's parents deal with the loss of their son. 



REDMOND, OR -- The Pet Evacuation Team (PET) has received a $750 donation from the Deschutes County Commissioner's Discretionary Grant Program to purchase a secondary trailer. PET's Regional Coordinator Jamie Kanski says the new unit will help get assistance to emergency incidents more quickly, "Deschutes County Assisted us  with a grant to buy our big equipment trailer that is housed in Redmond, but it's not always conducive when we have something happening all the way down in La Pine. It takes a little while to bring the equipment down there. We thought it would make more sense if we got a small cargo trailer and outfit it with the necessary setup supplies and keep that down there."

 

The organization also received $250 from the La Pine chapter of the Band of Brothers to help purchase the trailer. But, Kanski tells KBND News more help is needed before the unit can be put into service, "We would appreciate some additional donations, financially if possible. to help us go ahead and get the logo, and of course, we're going to need to buy a few supplies to outfit that trailer. Or, if people have the large crates, those are fantastic for us to have during wildfires because we take care of people's animals until they can return home."

 

PET boasts 124 volunteers across Central Oregon.



PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Sheriff’s Office arrested a woman Saturday, in connection with a homicide. Investigators say 53-year-old Tina Marie Hill was in a relationship with 51-year-old Dennis Stewart, who was found dead on Thanksgiving in the rural Juniper Acres Subdivision.

 

According to the Sheriff's Office, the two lived together in a small cabin on Myrtlewood Lane at the time of the altercation that led to Stewart’s death. Hill faces several charges, including Murder in the First Degree, Manslaughter and Felon in Possession of a Firearm.


In June 2016, Hill was arrested for Attempted Murder and Animal Abuse after an argument with Stewart. In that domestic dispute, Hill was accused of firing a handgun several times. One round struck a dog.



GOVERNMENT CAMP, OR -- Sunday was a deadly day on Central Oregon highways. A Bend man was killed in a head-on crash near Chemult, just before 2 a.m. (pictured). State Police say 64-year-old Roy Smith was southbound on Highway 97 when he lost control on the icy road and hit a northbound semi. Smith was pronounced dead following life-saving efforts at the scene. The Washington truck driver and her passenger sustained non-life threatening injuries.  


Sunday evening, Highway 26 was closed for several hours, following a fatal crash, east of Government Camp. State Police believe the driver of a westbound Ford Excursion lost control on the snow-covered highway and hit an eastbound Subaru. The passenger in the Subaru died at the scene. That investigation is ongoing.



REDMOND, OR -- Two teens were assaulted at Hope Playground in southwest Redmond, Saturday night. According to Police, two men wearing bandanas on their faces attacked the 15- and 16-year old boys with brass knuckles and a box cutter at about 7:25 p.m.


The victims ran to a nearby McDonalds and called for help and one was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening stab wounds. Police conducted an extensive search of the area and reviewed video surveillance of the park. They say information gathered during that investigation led them to Redmond 18-year-olds Isiah Laack (Pictured, right) and Noah Huber (left), as well as a 15-year-old boy from Bend.

 

All three suspects were found and questioned at a Redmond home prior to their arrest. Laack is accused of using the brass knuckles and charged with Assault, Unlawful Use of a Weapon and a Parole/Probation Violation, among others. Huber is believed to have had the box cutter; he also faces a list of charges, including Assault, Tampering with Evidence, Disorderly Conduct and a Parole/Probation Violation. The younger suspect was arrested for Assault III, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon and Disorderly Conduct.

 

Investigators say the suspects did not know the victims and believe it was an unprovoked attack.



SUNRIVER, OR -- Sunriver Police are warning of a cougar in the area, that may be responsible for the death of a deer near the north golf course. Officers were called to the area at about 11:15 a.m., Friday. Despite a search of the area behind Cedar Lane, the cat has not been found.

 

Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife advise that people avoid direct contact with the cougar, including attempts to chase it off. If you see the animal, walk away slowly and call police.



BEND, OR -- 20 students at OSU Cascades are taking part in a photo gallery project designed to show what they imagine the sustainable natural spaces will look like in the new college expansion.

 

Ryan Reece, an assistant professor at OSU Cascades, led the project as part of PhotoVoice, a community based initiative, which is designed to give those who don't have a voice, an opportunity to express their feelings on events in their communities through photographs.
 
Reece says the overwhelming feeling of the finished gallery of photos is one of 'Strength' and 'Positive Empowerment.' "This project really aimed to capture the student perspective as it relates to our University's current natural landscapes and how those might be integrated into the campus expansion moving forward. So, the purpose was then to create a student vision for how different natural spaces at Cascades Campus might continue to be sustained and integrated in the coming years during the campus expansion."
 
Reece led the project as part of PhotoVoice and says the students produced 31 photographs that expressed how they imagine the natural spaces of the new campus expansion will look. "The overall feeling was really positive. It was empowering. Multiple students were like, 'You know, I didn't really know what this project was, and this ended up being a really cool experience because I got to know the space where the campus is going to be and I felt like I was able to have a voice,' and to me, that was a real, strong positive."
 
The gallery is open for public viewing from 9am to 8pm in the Dining and Academic Building's second floor main hallway until December 8th.


MADRAS, OR -- Omar Benitez, 37 and Ruby Pacheco, 25 were arrested in Madras Wednesday by the US Marshals Service and the Oregon State Police.

 

Benitez has four outstanding warrants and is a convicted felon.

 

The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team, in a subsequent search of the motorhome and garage where Benitez was found, uncovered commercial quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine, along with 14 firearms.

 

Pacheco was arrested because she was aware that Benitez was wanted and hindered his apprehension.

 

Both were held at the Jefferson County Jail.



REDMOND, OR -- 5,355 Central Electric Cooperative members lost power yesterday when a goose flew into an overhead power line that crosses the Deschutes River near Eagle Crest. 

 

CEC says the line the goose hit fed off Bonneville Power Administrations' major substation in Redmond, which in turn, cut power to four substations. 
 
The areas affected were around Redmond, south to the north side of Bend, the Tumalo area, and west toward Sisters.
 
Once the source of the outage was ascertained, crews were able to restore power in just over an hour. 


BEND, OR -- Downtown Bend officially kicks off the Christmas season Friday night, with the lighting of the community tree at the Mirror Pond South parking lot, near Drake Park. "Santa’s going to be coming down from the North Pole at exactly 6:55. The event starts at 6:30; we’ll have some caroling, the Bend High School Dynamics will be there and another choral group, we’ll have hot cocoa," says Rod Porsche, with the Downtown Bend Business Association, "So, it’s a great, fun event."

 

Porsche tells KBND News, "[Santa] helps lead the countdown to light the community tree. And then afterwards, he leads the parade of kiddos to what we’re calling ‘Santa’s Village,’ which is right next door to Starbucks, there on Wall. And he’ll greet every kiddo for free, take as many pictures as you want, that evening and the next day after the parade." The Bend Christmas Parade starts at noon on Saturday, "A great, great way to create another memorable moment for Bendites and Central Oregonians with their families. If you haven’t been down to a Christmas parade, it’s just a quintessential way to ring the holiday season. It starts promptly at noon and it’s just a lot of fun." The parade route begins at Newport and Harmon and winds over the Newport Avenue Bridge, down Wall and around Drake Park on Riverside to Tumalo Avenue.

 

Santa will also be available for free photos every Saturday until Christmas at Santa’s Village on Wall Street. 

 


BEND, OR -- Cascades East Transit unveiled their new fleet of low-floor buses, at Hawthorne Station, Thursday. For rider Jordan Ohlde, it means the bus driver doesn’t have to help him and his wheelchair board, speeding up the process for all passengers. "It just takes a lot of time just for a wheelchair to get on and off because they have to deploy the lift and then they have to tie down the wheelchair, which takes about two to three minutes by itself because they have to put all the straps on." He rides the bus everyday to work and says it slows everyone down when drivers have to load a wheelchair on to the lift, "They had to actually get out of their seat and put me on the bus. Now, I can get on by myself and all they have to do is just tie the wheelchair down. It’ll take about two minutes, and you’re done."

 
The new buses also feature a front and back door, which CET Executive Director Karen Friend says will keep passengers moving and buses running on time, "They will provide better dignity for those with mobility limitations: The bus will come to the curb, kneel, deploy a ramp and people with mobility limitations will be able to just wheel right on or walk right on." She adds, "And it will allow for alleviation of congestion in that we won’t be tying up traffic as we try to load. So, it’s a really exciting evolution for the system. It makes us look like many other transit systems across the nation, now." At $400,000 each, she tells KBND News the agency couldn’t afford them until now. "These were the first grant opportunities where we actually felt like we could start to evolve."
 
CET put three low-floor buses into service Thursday on routes Seven, 10 and 11; a fourth is on the way for routes One and Four. 


LAPINE, OR -- LaPine is set to receive more than $8 million as part of the new Federal Rural Development Fund in order to upgrade the City's wastewater management system.

 
Public Works Manager Jake Obrist says the system will be expanded into the Cagle and Glenwood Acres subdivisions. "We're doing water and sewer improvements. On the water side, we're going to be doing a new well site and 500,000 gallon reservoir, new transmission lines, the whole works. Some of the sewer improvements are, we're doing all new main lines into those areas, doing an expansion of our wastewater treatment plant, and several new lift stations."
 
The US Agriculture Department has granted LaPine $3.7 million dollars to complete the project, and loaned them another $5 million, to be paid back over the next 40 years. Other grants have come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the town of LaPine, with more grants anticipated.
 
Obrist says this will be a significant infrastructure project, helping hundreds of LaPine residents. "We're going to expand our services into two areas in town, what they refer to as Cagle and Glenwood subdivisions, which takes in another 275 customers. I know DEQ and Deschutes County have done quite a lot of testing up there because the groundwater is so shallow up there and being on City infrastructure would solve a lot of those issues."
 
Wells in the Cagle and Glenwood Acres Subdivisions have shown elevated levels of nitrates due to residential septic seepage, and this upgrade should eliminate that contamination issue. 
 
Obrist says the overall project will cost about $25 million and is at the very beginning stages. "We've got an RFP open for design and engineer for the project, so we anticipate hiring somebody in the next month or so for that, and then it's going to be for the next nine months to a year, we're going to be designing the projects, getting it ready so we can go out for construction for the bidding process on that. So, ideally, construction could start in 2019. That would be optimistic."
 
The plan calls for the wastewater project to be completed at the same time as the town's water system improvements, which were funded by a previous USDA loan and grant.

 



PRINEVILLE, OR -- With a string of thefts in the Prineville area, local police are working with other law enforcement officers in the area to identify the culprits.

 

Sergeant Troy Wiles of the Prineville Police Department says it's easy for criminals to travel to all the local communities, so it's important for all the agencies to work together. In the meantime, Wiles suggests citizens change their habits. "We're encouraging people, although this is a small community, and everybody, for the most part, knows everyone, however, in today's day and age, things are growing, and obviously, the result of that is some unwanted crimes are occurring, so we're encouraging everybody to lock their doors and leave lights on, keep shrubberies down. This time of year, especially, there's a lot of packages being delivered, and being left out, so do what you can to be vigilant."
 
Wiles says until they catch the culprits, it's hard to know the motive. "I think it's probably an opportunity thing that's occurring. Someone or somebodies have found out that this method is working for them and they're continuing to do it, the problem is, it's not going to last for very long, they will get caught. What's fueling it? Are drugs related? Based on my training experience, that's usually a common factor, but you can't say for sure until you get those people into custody."
 
Two Crook County businesses have had their ATMs stolen in the last few weeks, and there have been several cases of daytime housebreaking, but Wiles says they're following leads and hoping to make an arrest soon. He says the benefit to living in a small town is that neighbors know each other and part of Prineville's community spirit comes in helping each other protect their homes and businesses. He suggests paying extra attention to what's happening in your neighborhood. "The biggest tool we have at the Prineville Police Department is the community. There's hundreds of thousands of eyeballs out there that may see something that seems insignificant, but a lot of times it helps out quite a bit."
 
Wiles says Prineville PD is following some leads and working with law enforcement agencies all over Central Oregon to track down those responsible for the recent crime spree. 
 
UPDATE11/30/2017: Prineville Police Department is listing Alysa Bennight, 21, as connected to more than a dozen of the home burglaries. She allegedly has stolen a Ford truck and is on the run. Anyone with information is asked to call the Prineville Police Department.

 



BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners approved a permit for a Cloverdale property, Wednesday, to allow a marijuana production facility on Goodrich Road. The area east of Sisters is currently zoned as Exclusive Farm Use. 

 

After a number of recent applications from out-of-town business owners and people who moved to the area to open pot grows, Commissioner Tammy Baney is pleased a local property owner is requesting necessary zoning changes and permits. "The fact that a property owner who’s been in the area since 1974 and a member of the community, I think it poses a different face for this particular issue in terms of regulations and what it means. So, I’m pleased to see that someone who’s been in the community is going through this process and sees it as a path that they can use." Commissioner Phil Henderson agreed, but remains concerned about long-term community impacts, "It’s the business they plan to do, are different than many we’ve had that are just newer to the area that are just looking at this as an opportune area to do marijuana grows. These are people that have had this property, I recognize that. I still think they’re judged all the same – it doesn’t change the regulations, to me, because you don’t know if they’ll be the ones to keep it or if someone else becomes an investor; so you don’t really know how it all goes in the long run."
 
Henderson also expressed continued concern about water usage during the irrigation off-season, and whether the proposed odor control system will protect neighbors from the smell of pot. "I think there needs to be more proof given by applicants, as to the odor control system and proof that it works. And, the same somewhat with sound, so we can actually test the statutes." Baney says the applicant met all current requirements but admits adjustments may be needed to protect both the legal businesses and neighbors. "I think we have some changes that we would like to see, in terms of the regulations going forward. And, we’re actively engaging the community in that, but I think they’ve met the criteria as we’ve laid out. In terms of odor, I think there are a lot of community members in this particular area who will be keenly aware if it’s not working."
 
The permit allows for a 3,600-square foot structure with a maximum mature canopy of 2,500 square feet. 

 



BEND, OR -- A local transient is accused of making and passing counterfeit money in Bend. Police say at least six businesses received fake $50 bills in the past month.

 

Officers discovered a pattern and identified 24-year-old Travis Nelson as a suspect. Nelson was arrested earlier this month, and was allegedly in possession of a gun stolen in a Deschutes County burglary, as well as a suspected meth pipe. 

 

Bend Police and Sheriff’s Deputies later searched a Dobbin Court property, east of Bend, where they found computer and other equipment used to make counterfeit cash. Nelson faces seven counts of Forgery, as well as drug and weapons charges; more could be added. 



REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond motorhome was destroyed by a late-night fire that also damaged nearby buildings.

 

Firefighters responded to the blaze near Antler and Jackson Street, just before 11:30 Wednesday night. Arriving crews found the RV fully involved with flames extending to a large shed, as well as a neighbor’s garage. They quickly knocked down the fire and were able to protect the other structures.

 

The fire caused about $25,000 in damage and its cause is under investigation. The Red Cross is helping provide basic needs to the one adult impacted by the blaze. 



LA PINE, OR -- La Pine schools were locked down for 15 minutes, at about 4:40 Wednesday afternoon, after Deschutes County 911 received a report of an armed subject on Coach Road.

 

A woman reported that a man with a gun tried to grab her and she ran to the La Pine Community Health Center for help. Due to the proximity to La Pine Elementary, Middle and High schools, all three were put in lockdown as a precaution.

 

After witnesses were interviewed, Deputies determined the third-hand report of an armed man was unfounded. 



BEND, OR -- A girl in the Woodside Ranch neighborhood, southeast of Bend, says a suspicious man ran toward her while she was walking to a friend’s house, Wednesday afternoon at about 2:30. The Sheriff’s Office says the 10-year-old’s mother reported the incident last night, and says her daughter was able to safely run away. 

 

Deputies investigating the circumstances are looking for anyone who may have seen the man around Woodside Road and Pine Vista Drive. He's described by the girl as a 40-year-old white male with black hair. He was wearing a red jacket, grey pants and black shoes. Anyong with information is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911. They don't yet know why he ran at the girl. 


BEND, OR -- Morning Star Christian School won the Firebusters award this year.

 

Bend Deputy Fire Marshall Cindy Kettering says 25 schools plus some homeschool families took part in the contest, which aims to help kids learn about fire and life safety. "So, we take all of the schools, region-wide, that have at least 50% participation in the program, and we draw for a grand prize winning school. We chose Morning Star Christian School as our winner this year."
 
The grand prize earned Morning Star a visit from AirLife yesterday, which landed a helicopter in the schoolyard with Ronald McDonald aboard. 
 
Brothers, Christian and Riker Dorman, who are in third and first grade, were pretty excited. "It was cool seeing the helicopter...It was awesome."
 
Kettering says the Firebusters school program teaches life skills. "They learn important fire and life safety concepts such as home fire escape planning, they learn cooking safety, pedestrian safety, bicycle safety, we teach a lot of different things."
 
Ryan Cartmill, the Airlife Pilot, calls days like today great opportunities to interact with the Central Oregon Community. "I'm glad we were able to beat the snow to get in here. It's always fun to see the kids' faces light up and it's a great award ... give everybody some credit."
 
McDonald's restaurants sponsors the program, so Ronald Mcdonald was an honored guest at the event.

 



REDMOND, OR -- As the Redmond area continues to grow, more infrastructure is needed to accommodate stormwater runoff and create safer streets as traffic increases.

 

Mike Caccavano, Redmond City Engineer, says there are different needs across the area that require different solutions. "We've got, as far as City projects, we've got a couple of large infrastructure projects underway ... one water project, one waste water project, we just recently finished up a transportation project and a stormwater project."
 
Caccavano says it's important to increase safety and accessibility for residents. "We're hitting all our main areas, those are the areas we focus on, transportation, stormwater, water, wastewater, and we've got decent sized projects on all of them."
 
The Reservoir 6 and Eastside Sewer Interceptor projects are under construction, and Caccavano says the goal is to have them complete before irrigation season starts in April of next year.
 
The turn lane at Highway 126 and 35th street has been open for under a month, along with the stormwater project at SW 34th and Xero. 

 



 

BEND, OR -- Bend Police arrested a West Linn man, yesterday (Wed), after a woman said he took her cell phone while she was in Food 4 Less.

 

The suspect, later identified as 23-year-old Blakely Hickman, allegedly took the Molalla woman’s phone just after 6:30 a.m. He left the store and took off in a car. When police tried to stop him in the parking lot, he ran from the car and was later tracked down by a K-9 unit.

 

Hickman was taken into custody without incident and faces several charges, including theft, attempting to elude and an outstanding warrant. 


REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Schools officials are finalizing details for a $70 million property tax levy expected to go to voters next year. But its success could be jeopardized by a proposed public safety fee. Superintendent Mike McIntosh says the school bond would add 50-cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value and is needed to fund safety and security improvements, maintenance, and efficiency upgrades at several schools, as well as reconstruction of Lynch Elementary. "We did the same exact thing with Terrebonne School a few years ago. We looked at that structure and said, ‘how do we make this modern; how do we make this efficient and appropriate?’ And so, we literally tore down Terrebonne and built a new school around the gym. Same kind of thinking with Lynch. It’s probably going to be more cost effective to tear it down and start over, so that’s about a $20 million portion of the $70 million we’re asking for."

 

McIntosh is concerned about how receptive voters will be to a new property tax in 2018, if the City Council approves a $6 monthly fee on utility bills to fund the hiring of more police officers. But, he he doesn't believe the school district has a choice. "Oregon does not have a mechanism that allows me to do it any differently. There’s no way for a school district to get $70 million to do these urgent and necessary things. So, our way to do that is to go to our voters and ask them to increase their own taxes and, in essence, support their schools." He adds, "What I know is there are people on a fixed income; whether you’re retired, elderly or just out of work, that it’s an incredible inconvenience – not just inconvenience, but imposition. I want to be very, very sensitive to that. And so, having that $6 every month tacked on to your city power bill is going to be a significant issue for those people, as well." McIntosh tells KBND News, "I don’t want to ever say ‘it’s just a small amount.’ I get it; It’s a big amount. But, it’s also important."

 

The Redmond City Council is expected to decide in the spring whether to approve the public safety fee. Another public meeting to discuss the fee will be held December 5 at 5:30 p.m., at City Hall. McIntosh says the school district hasn’t decided whether to send the bond measure to the ballot in May or November. He plans to meet with a group next week to discuss the formation of a Political Action Committee.  

 

Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Superintendent Mike McIntosh, or visit our Podcast Page

 

Photo: Lynch Elementary was forced to close when last winter's immense snowfall caused the roof to sag. It reopened after snow was removed. 



BEND, OR -- A Bend man wanted in connection with a prior domestic assault was arrested Tuesday without incident. Friday afternoon, Bend Police responded to a report of an assault at a home on Northeast 12th. Ryan Atkins allegedly tried to keep a woman from calling 911 to report that he’d previously assaulted her. The victim is described as a 43-year-old Redmond woman. The CERT team activated and closed streets in the area for a short time, but Atkins escaped.

 

Law enforcement contacted 45-year-old Atkins at the Mt. Bachelor Motel Tuesday morning, where he was taken into custody. He's charged with Assault IV, Coercion, Interfering with a 911 Call, Criminal Mischief II and Tampering with a Witness. 



SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters Planning Commission is working with the Sisters City Council to determine if vacation rentals in the area should be further regulated.

 

Roger Detweiler, Sisters Planning Commissioner, says putting a cap on the number of short-term rentals makes sense. "There are concerns about how vacation rentals affect the neighborhood nature of where they are placed, and they also diminish the amount of long-term properties that are so badly needed. We have a lower income work force that we need to support the tourist industry and no place for them to live."
 
The Planning Commission is recommending a maximum of 8% of total housing units as the cap.
 
45 short-term vacation rentals that are located within the City limits of Sisters are currently under review, and Detweiler says they're working with the City Council to determine what regulations would help the residents of the community, without hurting the tourist industry.
 
Detweiler's main concerns are that the short-term rentals don't provide long-term housing and that they're businesses operating in neighborhoods. "These really are commercial ventures. These vacation homes are licensed, and they are taxed, just like any other business, and yet they are allowed in areas that are zoned residential. I think there's an argument to be made to prohibit them altogether."
 
A vacation rental in Sisters is described as a unit that is occupied for rent for more than ten days, but fewer than 30.

 



SUNRIVER, OR -- The beloved Sunriver trumpeter swan 'Chuck' was killed Thanksgiving Day. 

 

Sunriver Police Chief Marc Mills says shooting swans is illegal because they are not considered game birds in Oregon. He also says the incident took place in an area where hunting is not allowed. "We do not believe that it was an accident. It does appear to be a very direct and specific shot, to and or at 'Chuck,' that caused his injury. I think it was just cruel, and intentional, and we're certainly hoping that we can come to some kind of conclusion in the near future."
 
'Chuck' and his mate, 'Gracie,' had been placed at Lake Aspen in an attempt to reintroduce trumpeter swans to the area after the bird was hunted nearly to extinction in the 1990s. Four cygnets were hatched to the pair in early July.
 
Chief Mills believes whomever shot 'Chuck' did so deliberately and could face criminal charges for killing a non-game bird, with a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail. "We're working the investigation alongside the Oregon State Police, Fish and Game, with assistance, of course, from the Sunriver Nature Center, and we're doing our best to try and run down leads or any information that may lead us to the identity and potential arrest of the individual or individuals that shot 'Chuck'."
 
A reward is also being offered by the Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory. Anyone with information is asked to call the OSP Fish and Game tipline or Sunriver Police.
 
UPDATE 11/29/2017: The Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory is offering a reward for $1,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of tghe person or persons who shot and killed Chuck on Thanksgiving Day. To contribute to the reward, call 541-593-4442. If you have any information, please contact the Sunriver Police Department or the Oregon State Police Fish and Game tipline.
 

 



SISTERS, OR -- The Small Business Administration is offering low-interest loans for small businesses impacted by the Milli and Nash Fires that burned tens of thousands of acres in the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests between August 10 and September 25. A number of Sisters businesses reported big declines in summer revenue due to intermittent road closures and the heavy smoke that blanketed the area. 

 

The SBA is making $2 million in loans available to help businesses cover financial obligations and operating expenses. The SBA declared a disaster, freeing up the funds, following a request from Governor Kate Brown on November 13. Tanya Garfield, with the SBA's Disaster Field Operations Center, says, "These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can't be paid because of the disaster's impact." Applications will be accepted online through August 16, 2018. Click HERE for more information. 

 

Photo: Milli Fire 8/17/17



REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Airport officially unveils its new Flybrary on Wednesday. Airport Director Zach Bass says the joint partnership with the Deschutes Public Library provides travelers with reading material for their flight, "We’re going to keep it stocked as well as we can, and people can grab a book if they like it and hopefully leave a book if they’re done with theirs." And, it also features information on how to download books and magazines on to a mobile device. "I think it supports about 50,000 books that are available so, even if you don’t want to have a hardcopy of a book in your hand when you’re flying, if you have a Kindle or something along those lines, you can download a free book, too."

 

Two mini libraries are situated on either side of security. "We did a soft opening right before Thanksgiving; we wanted to have that option out there for our holiday travelers." Bass tells KBND News the idea is already catching on with flyers, "Hundreds of books, probably, already, truthfully. It’s very successful as it is, and I think as more people realize it’s there it’ll become more successful and it’s going to be that challenge of making sure there’s good books out on the shelf for them."
 
Wednesday's ribbon cutting at Roberts Field is at 11 a.m. and is open to the public. 


BEND, OR -- Smoke alarms woke a sleeping family early Tuesday, prompting them to evacuate their two-story home on NE Decatur and call 911. Bend Fire crews responded at about 2:40 a.m. and arrived to find heavy smoke in the garage, extending to the second story of the house. Two cars in the driveway were also on fire.

 

Fire officials say the blaze was primarily contained to the garage but smoke damaged part of the house, as well. A fire-rated door stopped the flames from entering the first floor of the home. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. 



BEND, OR -- Central Oregon unemployment rates stabilized in October, but as the largest private employer in the area begins to dismiss staff, those numbers could climb.

 

Regional Economist Damon Runburg doesn't think layoffs at St. Charles Health system will have too much of a negative effect on the overall economy. "The healthcare industry has seen some pretty strong growth over the last year, it's up over 400 jobs from this time last year, and so, I don't think those layoffs are going to completely negate the gains that they've seen over the last year."
 
According to a recent report by EDCO, St. Charles employs over 4,000 people.
 
The company announced last month it would lay off at least 30 workers, and another 70 had accepted buy-outs, in an attempt to close a 35-million dollar budget gap.
 
Runburg says St. Charles' layoffs could lead to more skilled workers on the market. "It could definitely help to slow down the job growth that we've seen in general. We've already seen that happen. A couple of years ago or even close to a year ago, we were seeing levels of job growth over the year around 7%, and we're down to 3.5% now, so really a slowing down of the expansion that we were seeing. It's becoming a more mature expansion."
 
The layoff process should be complete by the end of 2017.

 



BEND, OR -- Christmas time is here, but a Christmas tree may be hard to come by.

 

Five to seven years ago, due to the recession and other factors, fewer tree growers planted fewer seedlings, which means this year, there's more demand than supply.
 
Tom Coburn, owner of Tom's Trees for the last thirty years, says there's a Christmas tree shortage, and that's making some folks worry. "There are people that can't even get trees. I am fortunate because I've dealt with these growers as long as I have, and they both told me they had numerous people contact them mid to late summer, inquiring about trying to buy trees and they just don't have any more. They're just servicing their regular customers."
 
Tom says he'll have plenty of trees, but depending on the specie, buyers should expect to pay $5 to $10 more per tree.
 
Coburn says the Christmas tree market is surprisingly cyclical, and though the recession hit tree growers hard, there were other problems, too. "There was a shortage of good seedlings. All of them are hybrids, Christmas trees, that's how they grow them, and so they had some problems with some of the seedlings, how they grow them, and that equated to a shortage. It takes approximately five to seven years for them to get a size tree to where they can harvest it and sell it."
 
Tom's planning to bring weekly loads of trees into Central Oregon, and his Christmas wish is that everyone who wants a tree, can get one.

 



SISTERS, OR -- “Bubbles” the camel has become quite the internet sensation since escaping his tether while visiting Sisters, just over a week ago. Deschutes County Sheriff's Sgt. William Bailey tells KBND News, "One of the deputies was dispatched to a found camel call in a pasture and the deputy was able to get a quick video clip; him and his partner. I put it out on social media and I didn’t expect how big it would get." He adds, "I’ve talked to a lot of the major news stations; it was featured on FOX News. So, it’s been quite a topic of conversation around the office, when it comes to this little brief camel video."

 

Click HERE to view the video. 

 

Bailey says the camel lives in Bend and was tied up in a Sisters front yard when it somehow managed to walk away. A neighbor later called to report a camel was in her pasture scaring horses. Another person in the area happened to have experiencing tethering a camel and Deputies quickly reunited “Bubbles” with its owner. 


 

BEND, OR -- Firefighters responded to a blaze in the Cimarron City subdivision, northeast of the Bend Airport, Saturday afternoon, and discovered a detached garage fully involved.

 

The two-car garage on Lariat was a total loss, as were numerous restored antique motorcycles and other rarities that had been stored inside. The cause of the fire is under investigation. No other structures were damaged and no injuries were reported. 

 

UPDATE: Following an investigation by the Bend Fire Department, officials say the exact cause of the blaze could not be determined. Investigators say the fire started near a workspace and quickly spread throughout the garage, causing extensive damage. The amount of plastics, foam, paper, auto and bike parts, solvents, equipment and vehicles, as well as numerous combustibles stored in the rafters contributed to the rapid spread fo the fire and heat throughout the enclosed space. 



PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Central Oregon Major Crime Team is investigating a homicide in Crook County. Thursday morning, Crook County Deputies responded to a request to check on a man who lives on Myrtlewood Lane, in the rural Juniper Acres subdivision. 

 

At about 11:30 a.m., they discovered 51-year-old Dennis Stewart deceased on his property, with what were described as suspicious injuries. Investigators are talking with a person of interest, but no arrests have been made; they don’t believe there is any current threat to the public. 
 
The Crook County Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office are also involved in the ongoing investigation, along with the Oregon State Police Crime Lab.


BEND, OR -- A 69-year-old Tumalo-area man was killed Friday evening, when he was struck by a pickup on Cline Falls Highway. Michael Porter crossed the street to get his mail, just after 5 p.m.  One witness told the Sheriff’s office he’d nearly hit Porter, who was bent over in the middle of the highway, possible retrieving dropped mail. Another driver then struck the man. 

 

A passing nurse provided immediate medical attention, but Porter died at the scene. The driver, 59-year-old Lance Hitson of Bend, is cooperating with investigators. Neither alcohol nor distracted driving are thought to have been factors. 
 
The Sheriff’s Office believes Porter’s dark clothing and position in the roadway contributed to the incident. 


LA PINE, OR -- A Boise man was arrested Friday after allegedly leading Sheriff's deputies on a pursuit near La Pine. A witness reported a man was “going crazy” in the parking lot of Ed Staub and Sons, then stole a pickup and took off. 

 

A Deschutes County deputy caught up to the truck on Highway 97 but called off the chase due to public safety concerns. A short time later, a resident on West Drive reported a pickup had crashed into his gate; other witnesses said they saw a man run off. Following a brief K-9 search, 33-year-old Shawn Wood was found in a crawl space of a nearby home and arrested without incident.   
 
Investigators say it appears Wood ran out of gas and left his vehicle on Highway 31, south of La Pine, prior to stealing the truck. 


MADRAS, OR -- A new residential subdivision may be built near Madras' water tank.

 

A public hearing is scheduled for December 13th, to determine whether to approve the application. City of Madras Assistant Planner Morgan Greenwood says the application in question proposes a 10 lot subdivision and land set aside for a city park. "As you come into town, you can see a large water tank on the east side of the highway. So, it is the approximately 40 acre parcel that surrounds the water tank. So, it's that 40 acre parcel and then it is also the 40 acre parcel that's immediately to the east of it."
 
Greenwood says the City of Madras is named on the application because a portion of the land required for the subdivision is the site of the water tower, which the homes and park would be built around, while leaving the tower intact. Greenwood says the proposal is in its very earliest stages. "It is kind of a pre-subdivision subdivision. A 40 acre parcel is being divided into phases, basically, so within each of these phases, that will be further subdivided into residential lots. So, whomever purchases them, or whomever ends up ultimately developing them, wouldn't, necessarily, develop them all at the same time."
 
The public hearing is scheduled for mid-December and written public comment will be accepted through Sunday. 

 



BEND, OR -- For some, Thanksgiving signals the start of the holiday shopping season. But, Rod Porsche, with The Downtown Bend Business Association, hopes Central Oregonians won’t spend too much on Black Friday and save some for Shop Small Saturday. "We get that Black Friday, there’s a role to play. But, let’s remember that Saturday is the place to get items oftentimes locally produced; you can’t find them online. Shopping small really helps your community. I mean, keeping your money in your community is really important on that day and throughout the year." 

 
Bend is getting decked out for the holidays, and the city’s historic lamp posts feature something new. "Because we had such a successful Bend Oktoberfest, we got funding for 100 lit snowflakes in downtown Bend." Porsche tells KBND News they've been a long-time coming. "They’re up now and they just bring such holiday joy. It’s a game-changer for our downtown." Porsche says the snowflakes cost around $8,000, including the 10 more put on standby. Also new this year, twinkle lights in the tree canopies. Porsche hopes those will stay up year-round.

 

For those on your list who are tough to shop for, Porsche recommends Downtown Dollars. "If you buy Downtown Dollars, they are redeemable at any one of 125 downtown businesses; virtually every retail and restaurant, bar, they all accept them. It’s a great way to keep your money local." On Saturday, shoppers can enter to win a gift basket valued at over a thousand dollars, with downtown Bend’s Passport Event.
 
Also this weekend:
  • Sisters' annual tree lighting takes place Friday at Fir Street Park at 5:30 p.m.
  • The Sisters Christmas Parade is Saturday at 2 p.m.
  • In Redmond, the Starlight Parade begins Saturday at 5 p.m., immediately followed by the tree lighting at Centennial Park.
  • Prineville’s Lighted Christmas Parade starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday, as well.
  • Bend and Madras Christmas parades are slated for Saturday, December second.


SISTERS, OR -- The first chance to hit the slopes often happens over Thanksgiving, but skiers and snowboarders will have limited options this weekend. Hoodoo Ski Area had planned to open Friday, but must postpone due to the warm, rainy forecast for the weekend.

 

Hoodoo General Manager Matthew McFarland had initially hoped to open earlier than normal, this year, but they now don't have quite enough snowpack to make it worthwhile. Hoodoo is offering its pre-season pass sale through Friday and discounted season passes and AnyCards are available at their website.
 
Mt. Bachelor closed Tuesday and will remain closed through Thanksgiving, due to the poor conditions. But the ski hill hopes to reopen Friday. 


PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man is recovering from stab wounds, suffered during an alleged altercation with his girlfriend at their Barnes Road home, Monday.

 

According to Deputies, 48-year-old Larisa Rollins was arguing with her roommate when her boyfriend intervened. After breaking up the fight, 51-year-old Michael Cross went into the kitchen and got into another disagreement with his girlfriend. Deputies say she grabbed a knife and stabbed Cross seven times.

 

He’s being treated for non-life threatening injuries. Rollins is charged with Domestic Assault. 



BEND, OR -- Central Oregon unemployment rates stabilized in October after a volatile September. Regional Economist Damon Runburg says he didn’t expect those previous job losses to continue, "That big drop we saw in September, which was largely effected by the wildfire smoke, was really just some of these seasonal jobs lost sooner than typically would be lost. But they were going to be shed at some point anyway, so we’re kind of back on track." 

 

Runberg tells KBND News, "We had some pretty significant seasonally adjusted losses; the unemployment rate ticked up significantly in September. And then, we roll around to these October numbers and it turned out that we had actually slight seasonally adjusted gains in the month of October." Deschutes County’s jobless rate held relatively steady at 4.2% in October; Jefferson County’s rate was unchanged at 5.6%; and, in Crook County, the unemployment rate ticked up 2-tenths of a point, to 6.5%.

 

While unemployment rates are leveling off, more people are looking for work, which is expanding the labor force. And, they're finding jobs. "In general, Central Oregon has this tendency where, if jobs are available, people are going to move here for those jobs," says Runberg. "We have such high quality of life that we don’t have that much of an issue attracting folks. So, the market’s responding; the labor force is growing. With the expanding labor force and the strong population numbers that we just got from Portland State University, the question’s obviously, ‘how are we going to deal with this continuing challenge of housing affordability and availability?’"


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