BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners are considering revisiting its new code for marijuana businesses, after they denied a permit to an operation this week. An applicant wanted to build a grow operation on Alfalfa Market Road, east of Bend, but neighbors appealed with several concerns. Commissioners looked at six different criteria, including odor, water and power usage. By a vote of two to one, they said no.
Commissioner Tammy Baney voted against the permit due to a lack of specifics. "I think the challenge for me is I find myself needing to add into this application what I find to be missing. I really feel like it's not the burden of us to try to determine whether - you know, reading into assumptions. The applicant has a responsibility to offer clarity." Baney and Commissioner Phil Henderson agreed more information was needed, especially regarding how the power company would serve the property. "For the electric service, I'm going to say they do not meet that criteria. I would want more specificity on that they're matching up the operation and the usage. I mean, not necessarily, 'here's the wattage.' But, at least that something is stating more than just, 'we can serve this property."
They were also concerned about water usage at the facility, but decided the county's criteria was met. Commissioner Tony DeBone was the lone "yes" vote for the application. The decision can be appealed to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.
BEND, OR -- Ballots for the May special election start arriving in mailboxes, Thursday. Voters are being asked to decided on a $268 million bond for Bend-La Pine Schools, May 16. Development of the request began about a year ago, when the district identified 159 projects it needs to fund as “maintenance and preservation” work. Superintendent Shay Mikalson says that list does not include the Kenwood gym, which was demolished in January after the roof collapsed under the weight of heavy snow. "There were 13 roofs that were identified a year ago, for example; those are on the list. Kenwood Gym, you wouldn’t see that listed. We have insurance that will be covering that. And, in fact, we’re already in the process of design, in building that like-kind structure on-site, again."
The bond would also pay for construction of a new high school in southeast Bend and an elementary school. Mikalson says that location has yet to be determined. "We’ll be doing the hard work, if we’re supported by our community, to locate that where growth is the greatest. We’d use next year’s enrollment – October enrollment – to be that final decision point between west or northeast. Or, if we could ideally locate that in an area that could serve both, that would be the most ideal, obviously."
While Mikalson recognizes not every voter has a kid in school, he believes the entire community benefits from well-maintained facilities. "We have probably only 20% of our community have students in our schools. We think our schools are an asset, regardless. We are open to the community – last year, I think we had 56,000 hours of our schools being used by community groups; we had 94,000 hours of volunteerism in our schools. We think our schools are the heartbeat of our community." There is no organized opposition to the measure, although he admits many people may not realize it’s finally up for a vote, since the district has been discussing the request for more than a year.
To hear our full conversation with Superintendent Mikalson, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.
BEND, OR -- After a long, rough winter, it’s hard to believe irrigation season is already here. The city of Bend released a YouTube video, this week, encouraging residents and businesses to be aware that water conservation is still important, despite this spring’s healthy snow pack and seemingly unending water supply.
"This time of year, the city’s really getting ready for an uptick in water use and water demands for the growing season, primarily the result of landscape irrigation," says Mike Buettner, Bend’s Water Conservation Program Manager. "We’re working with contractors in a few different ways. One, we’re partnering with the Oregon Landscaping Contractors Association to really promote continuing education opportunities geared towards low water and native landscapes, and drip irrigation." In the video, Buettner highlights the landscaping project along Columbia Street, near Colorado and Simpson, "There, we have an older landscape and we’ve been working with the contractor, there, to track water use. They’re transforming that landscape into a low-water alternative, with drip irrigation and desert adaptive plant material. We’re really encouraged to see this sort of development happening out there."
Buettner also asks property owners to follow irrigation rules: even-numbered addresses water on even days, and odd-numbered addresses water on odd days. And, there’s no irrigating between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
SISTERS, OR -- A Sisters couple is trying to make the best of their bad timing. Tierra Bunker and her fiancé James decided a year ago to get married in Bend August 19, 2017, not realizing that's just two days before a total solar eclipse expected to attract around 350,000 people to the region. Bunker tells KBND News she checked event calendars before setting the date, "For me, there wasn’t a rodeo, there wasn’t a quilt show and there wasn’t a folk festival, because that is the main thing out here in Sisters. It was a weekend my parents could close the store so that my dad could walk me down the aisle. Then," she says, "It turns into this, there’s a huge eclipse."
Now many guests are having trouble finding lodging, "We just have family staying on property at my parents’ house, camping out. We’re trying to – people have made reservations, but now they’re told they have to pay more, and it’s just quite hectic." Bunker's grandfather made reservations long ago, planning to stay at the Bend Shilo Inn. She says, "They received a call that said the amount is going to be, like, double what they originally thought it was going to be. He’s going to – I believe he is paying like $300 a night."
"I’ve had people go, ‘why don’t you just change your wedding?’ I’m like, ‘I already ordered my invitations!’ I ordered my invitations before I even knew the eclipse was happening." And, she and her fiancé are pushing forward, despite the chaos, "He could care less; it’s me, you know? I’m more worried about it. His family is coming from Texas; they’re going to stay with us and we’re just going to make it work. And, if people don’t come it’s totally understandable due to the fact that I didn’t realize there was an eclipse."
BEND, OR -- A candidate for the Bend Parks and Recreation’s Board of Directors is currently serving a 90-day sentence for Contempt of Court, for failing to pay child support. Ron Boozell was originally booked March third, but a judge ordered his temporary release in mid-March because Boozell mounted a hunger strike and refused to eat for more than 10 days.
Sheriff Shane Nelson tells KBND News the move was due to an over-abundance of caution. "In this day and age, it’s a very litigious society, so what you get is government agencies that are always trying to balance some of that liability. But, the other thing is, government agencies want to do the right thing. Now, we, of course, had an inmate death a few years back and that can cause some sensitivities."
He says the case shouldn't be considered a precedent, "People can refuse medical treatment in jail; people can refuse food in jail. Now, we will still bring a tray full of food to that individual. It’s their right whether they want to eat or not. No, I’m not in the business of requesting people be released from jail because they’re not eating." Jail staff carefully monitored Boozell's health and Sheriff Nelson says he was never in any danger. "In the case of a hunger strike, we called the Department of Corrections because they’ve seen some things a lot more than our jail has. And, what they mentioned is, when an individual gets to the point it’s obvious that they need medical attention – as long as they’re drinking water – then, you get that medical attention." Nelson says other inmates have undergone hunger strikes, but this was the longest in recent memory.
Boozell reported back to the jail April third to continue serving his sentence, although he claims he's a political prisoner. He's not due to be released until several weeks after the May election.
Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Sheriff Shane Nelson, or visit our Podcast Page.
BEND, OR -- Many Central Oregonians are still dealing with damage caused by last winter's severe winter. Heavy snowfall, ice, and overall harsh conditions cause a lot of problems for homeowners. Tammy Boldosser, with Farmers Insurance in Bend, says her industry is just one of several staying busy, this spring. "It is slowing down, but the contractors, the roofing companies, the restoration companies, they're overwhelmed."
She tells KBND News, "Unfortunately, we are still getting claims that are coming in. Many didn't realize they had damage until snow was gone and the rain started, and then they started to see water in the home." She says, "A lot of roof damage from ice dams, unfortunately. People waited too long to have the snow removed from roofs."
Boldosser's office has handled more than 100 claims from this winter, "This is the largest amount of claims we've ever seen." She says they're also processing claims for car accidents caused by ice or snow, and other weather-related injuries. Boldosser has lived in the Bend area for decades and says this winter was, by far, the most severe she remembers.
BEND, OR -- President Trump has signed an Executive Order that calls for a review of National Monument designations, dating back to 1996. The Cascades-Siskiyou National Monument (pictured) falls within the review; it was designated by President Clinton in 2000 and expanded by President Obama in January. Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Governor Kate Brown, are calling on the Administration to protect the full monument for future generations. They say it helps the state's economy by drawing tourists to the region.
Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) applauds the decision, saying the monuments lock up land without public input. He's the sponsor of a bill that would require the designations to go through the same process the National Environmental Policy Act requires.
Gena Goodman-Campbell is the Public Lands Coordinator for the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA). She tells KBND News most people don't support a reduction in federal lands. "It is not true that it's a 'land grab.' The Antiquities Act is a law that's been used by Presidents from both parties since it was passed in 1906 to protect these critical resources. And, 90% of Americans actually support the President's ability to protect national monuments." She adds, "The American people already own millions of acres of land. Our public lands are a huge asset for local communities and the vast majority of Americans support keeping our public lands in public hands. This is really a distraction."
The Executive Order asks Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to look at all monuments larger than 100,000 acres and offer recommendations by mid-June. Goodman-Campbell says, "The wonderful thing about public lands is that this is a bipartisan issue. The majority of Americans believe that public lands should stay public because, whether we agree or not on exactly how public lands should be managed, we can agree that we want to have access to our public lands. We want future generations to be able to enjoy public lands in the way we do today."
MADRAS, OR -- A Portland man died Wednesday, at the Jefferson County Jail, following an apparent illness. It’s the first inmate death at the facility.
Warm Springs Police arrested 59-year-old James Wippel on Monday, on several drug-related charges. According to Sheriff Jim Adkins, Wippel reported not feeling well Wednesday morning, and jail nursing staff prepared to take him to the hospital.
He began showing signs of distress and staff called for an ambulance. Paramedics arrived and, while preparing him for transport, they had to perform CPR, but their efforts to save the man were unsuccessful.
Sheriff Adkins has requested an autopsy and an investigation by the Central Oregon Major Incident Team.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man attempted from run from Deschutes County deputies, but ended up cold, wet and in custody, following a Tuesday evening pursuit.
Deputies went to the Reed Lane home of Robert Robirts to serve an arrest warrant, just after 5 p.m. But, the 26-year-old took off, running towards a nearby irrigation canal and diving into the water. Deputies followed Robirts along the bank for about five minutes until he swam to shore.
Robirts had a Felony Warrant for "Failure to Appear," with original charges of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Resisting Arrest, Harassment and Strangulation. He now faces new charges of Escape and Criminal Trespass.
He was evaluated by medics at the scene and checked at the hospital before getting booked into the jail.
MADRAS, OR -- The Madras Airport is creating a temporary city, of sorts, in preparation for this summer’s eclipse; and Airport Manager Rob Berg says they’ll make another 1500 campsites available for reservation, this week. The airport is located just northwest of downtown Madras, along Highway 26 and some consider it the best of the best for viewing the eclipse, which is expected to last about two minutes.
Airport Manager Rob Berg says they've spent several years planning for August 21, 2017. "Our first contact was back about four or five years ago with NASA and OMSI, when they brought it to our attention that this was happening and Madras was going to be a ground zero point, that they were going to recommend people come and see because of the great weather and the chances of us being as clear as possible," Berg tells KBND News. "We started quite a while ago, arranging for the infrastructure that we were going to need for fencing to protect the airport, port-a-potties, garbage services, setting up the campground and the planning for parking this many airplanes."
He expects between 300 and 500 planes will fly in that weekend for the event. "We’ve got people coming from as far away as Hong Kong, Japan and China; Australia, New Zealand, and then we’ve got from all over the United States – Several coming in from the Los Angeles area that we don’t know their names; they’re not going to tell us yet. So, who knows who that could be." But, he's cautious about that many aircraft in the municipal airfield. "The other part that we want to remind people if they’re flying into Madras, to please get ahold of us ahead of time, because as this fills up on the air-side, we can only handle so many airplanes." He adds, "There are no plans, at this time, to have any closed airspace. But, what we might have to do is close the airport, itself, if it gets unsafe; if we have too many trying to arrive at the same time."
The airport initially made more than 1500 temporary RV and tent sites available for overnight camping, from Thursday through Tuesday. The eclipse takes place Monday morning. Berg says those are nearly all reserved and he’s getting ready to open up another 1500, this week. They may be some of the only lodging options left for those who don't yet have a reservation. Berg says, "It’s amazing the interest and how fast the Forest Service and State Parks have filled up. And, that’s part of this, there’s such a demand for it. There are a lot of private areas that are opening up around Madras as things are getting filled up. But, here at the airport, we’re just expanding as we need to, to make sure we can accommodate the people who want to come to Central Oregon and have a great time." He’s bringing in food vendors, live music and even movies for those staying overnight.
Dry camping is available at $125 a night for RVs, $50 for a tent spot; discounts are available for those staying the full weekend. To make a reservation, call the airport at 541-475-4899, reservations can also be made by emailing Tracy@BergAir.com or Airport@ci.Madras.or.us.
Just four days after the eclipse, the Madras Airport will host the annual Airshow of the Cascades.
SUNRIVER, OR -- Participation in after school activities has skyrocketed at Three Rivers School, this year. The K-8 school in Sunriver expanded the options for free clubs in an effort to keep kids busy. But, Principal Tim Broadbent says that wasn't the only reason, "One was wanting to provide something for our community for these kids, since they don't have a whole lot of options available after school, that was one. And then, just trying to tie our kids in and try to make it feel more like a community. We're pretty fortunate, being a K-8 school, that we can have these clubs where our middle schoolers are interacting with our upper-elementary kids, and kids are getting to know each other across grade levels."
A recent survey of Three Rivers School parents revealed they are quite happy with the options. Broadbent tells KBND News, "What we wanted to do was take our teachers' and staff's and parents' passions and then turn those into something kids can get excited about. So, we have everything from fly fishing to yoga, to birding and biking, to Lego robotics, running club, board games and chess club. We tried to really just scam the gamut so we would have something that would appeal to every kid."
This year, about 85% of the Three Rivers student body, or about 360 kids, participate in the clubs, compared to just 20%, last year. "The credit really shouldn't go to the administration of the school, but more to the staff that have just poured countless hours and their talents and their energy into making it happen," says Broadbent. "If it wasn't for all of them running all of the clubs, it would still just be a grand idea in the sky and they took the ball and ran with it. Really, all the credit goes to the teaching staff, parents and volunteers that have made it a reality."
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon unemployment rates remained low in March. Regional Economist Damon Runberg tells KBND News, "Seasonal hiring that we saw in March was fairly consistent with what we'd expect. In fact, in Deschutes County - and to a lesser extent, Crook County - both saw actually stronger hiring than we'd expect. But, still, little change to the unemployment rate. In fact, we'd say no statistically significant change to the unemployment rate."
Deschutes County's jobless rate is still historically low at 4%; statistically unchanged from the month before. Jefferson and Crook counties' rates both dipped .02%; Jefferson County hit 5.5% in March, while Crook County landed at 6%.
The largest employment gains came in Healthcare, Professional & Business Services, Financial Activities and Construction. And, Runberg says one sector is doing surprisingly well, "Manufacturing, although it's not the largest as far as raw jobs or a percent in growth, we've seen some really sustained and strong growth in Manufacturing. It's notable just because it's an industry that's been in the decline for a long time. These aren't all brewery jobs. A lot of the growth - at least half the growth is in durable goods, so those are things that we don't consume to eat or drink. It's good to see some growth in manufacturing."
In Central Oregon, Leisure & Hospitality has plateaued. Runberg says, "These are restaurants, hotels; as well as the recreation stuff, so Mt. Bachelor, other sorts of recreation - golf courses, etc. It hasn't been a huge loss in the number of jobs. Our employment in that industry is down about 250 jobs. In fact, it's the only private sector industry that's down in the past year."
REDMOND, OR -- Two months after scammers received the W-2 information for more than a thousand Redmond School District employees, the Superintendent says issues are still being worked out. "It’ll never go completely away," says Mike McIntosh. "But, I have to say right now it’s died down. Tax season is over and we believe that was the purpose of this scam in the first place, was to get ahold of information that would allow folks to tap into the IRS."
Superintendent McIntosh tells KBND News, "People are still getting letters; not very many as there were, initially. I don’t know what the total number is; maybe less than 50 have told us that they’ve received letters. There are five or six different versions. One asks them to report to the local field office, which is here in Bend, with their tax return and ID, just to confirm your identity and say ‘yep, you’re the one who filed.’ Others say call the IRS." He says the letters are legitimately from the IRS and are a sign that precautionary measures are working. After an employee at the district office inadvertently e-mailed the tax data to a scammer, the district contacted the IRS and had everyone’s information flagged, in case there was suspicious activity. The district has paid for credit monitoring for each impacted employee and is working with a lawyer who specializes in online scams.
He says to his knowledge, no one has lost money, as a result of the scheme. "The worst case, that we know of, is that somebody had filed a tax return before you actually did. But, those are flagged. I don’t think anybody, to my knowledge, has lost money. Time, headache and heartache? Yeah; we’ve lost a little of that."
To hear our full conversation with Mike McIntosh, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.
REDMOND, OR -- People with disabilities, their families, teachers and service providers gather at the Expo Center in Redmond, Tuesday, for the third annual Breaking Barriers Conference: Live Beyond Labels. Central Oregon Disability Support Network Executive Director Dianna Hansen says the goal is to work toward a “life without labels," although she admits a label – or diagnosis – can be helpful for families, at first. "It gives us a ticket to services within the education system, the medical system, those kinds of things. But, what we really like to focus families on are – the kids, and everyone, we all have strengths and weaknesses. So, really setting that diagnoses aside, once you have those services, and focusing on all of the assets and strengths and abilities that our kids have."
One of the keynote speakers is Sue Swenson, the Assistant Secretary for Special Education under President Obama and the mother of a disabled adult. "She’s going to be here to just share with families, both from a parent perspective as well as an educational, professional type perspective. Everything from advocacy and how and why that matters, especially right now, with changing tides," Hansen tells KBND News. She says she's has heard from local families concerned about talk of doing away with - or changing - the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which provides protections for special needs students.
The goal of the conference is to help families, teachers and caregivers work toward a community where labels aren’t necessary. Hansen says the other speaker, Cristina Sanz, is the perfect example of that concept. "Cristina is a young woman who is on the A&E show “Born This Way.” It’s a show about individuals with disabilities, specifically Downs Syndrome, who live independently. Cristina’s amazing. She’s engaged to be married, this coming summer; she’s a ballroom dancer, an actress. She works, in addition to being the actress. She’s really an amazing young woman; so she and her mother are both going to be here." Hansen says the overall goal is to create a fully inclusive community.
CORVALLIS, OR -- Oregon State University unveiled a new logo at a special event in Corvallis, Monday. School officials say it pays homage to OSU’s 150-year history.
On the new logo, a beaver sits atop an academic crest, which features a tree, open book, sun and mountains. Three stars above the mountains represent the three campuses in Corvallis, Bend and Newport. The athletic logo has not changed.
Officials say the new logo and academic crest "tell a unique story about the university's mission as a land, sea, space and sun grant institution." A Portland celebration of the new branding is slated for Wednesday, and in Bend on May third.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney continues to look for victims of a local scam. Two Bend teens are accused of selling fake gold bars and Rolex watches. Most of the transactions were conducted online, through sites like eBay and Craigs List.
Teens Accused of Gold Bar Sales Scam
Anyone who purchased fraudulent items or who think they may be a victim of the scheme, even if the items have since been sold, is asked to call Bend Police at 541-322-2960.
SISTERS, OR -- A Sisters-Camp Sherman fire Captain continues to recover at home, after falling while rappelling in one of the most inhospitable areas of Death Valley. Captain Thornton Brown was vacationing with another Captain and a Fire Medic when he was injured about a week and a half ago. He spent a night on the side of a cliff before he could be rescued by helicopter. Click HERE to read more about the rescue operation.
Sisters-Camp Sherman Rural Fire Protection District spokesperson Julie Spor tells KBND News, "He has a surgery scheduled in the upcoming week; and, his spirits are good and he’s just anxious to start the recovery." She says help is pouring in from around the area. "He needed some ramps built at the house, so firefighters who were off-duty, and some that used to work here that are retired now, kind of rallied together to get that done. So, just kind of accommodating what he needs prior to surgery and then what he’ll need after surgery." She adds, "That’s going to be helpful with him, just getting back and forth to appointments that he’ll have, obviously, in the coming weeks after surgery for physical therapy or anything that he might need after that."
According to Spor, dozens of other firefighters from surrounding agencies, including Black Butte Ranch, Cloverdale and even the U.S. Forest Services, have also stepped up to help Capt. Brown and his family. "We have an awesome fire family here, and even in the surrounding districts. We have our mutual aid agencies that help out, as well: they’re always ready to do meals. We started a ‘Meal Train,’ so everybody’s been working on that. And, obviously covering shifts while he’s out."
Spor says his recovery is expected to take several months, but he plans to eventually return to work.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The state will dole out more than $153 million in grants to 100 schools and 47 emergency services buildings for seismic upgrades. Prineville’s Police Department was awarded $1.2 million to make improvements to the police station. It’s the only Central Oregon agency to receive funds.
Oregon’s Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program helps pay for construction to better prepare structures to withstand a major quake. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is overdue for a quake that, in the past, has exceeded a magnitude of nine. The state created the grant fund to help prevent buildings from pancaking; they'll be necessary for emergency services following the quake. This is part of a long term project to prepare schools and emergency services facilities for "the big one;" it started funding projects in 2009.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police continue to investigate a hit and run that left a man seriously injured, early Saturday. Officers responded to a report of a man lying in the middle of the northbound lane of the Parkway, near Reed Market Road, just before 1 a.m. Based on debris recovered at the scene, investigators believe the man was struck by a vehicle, although they have very few details.
The victim was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call non-emergency dispatch 541-693-6911.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon gun stores would post anti-suicide material on counters under a bill in the Legislature. State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) says 83% of gun deaths in Oregon are the result of suicide. "If we’re really serious about stopping gun-related violence and healing our wounds, we really need to focus on our mental health system in preventing suicides."
Under the bill, the Oregon Health Authority would write the anti-suicide message, "And provide it to gun dealers to display at the point of sale," says Buehler.
State Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward (D-Beaverton) says, "This is not a gun bill, this is a mental health bill." But Kevin Starrett, with the Oregon Firearms Federation says, "This bill is very much about guns." He claims the bill singles out gun owners, ignoring other causes of suicide, like drug overdoses. "We do not ask pharmacists or doctors to give out suicide prevention material." Starrett questions whether the OHA could write the material in a way that isn't biased against gun ownership.
The bill remains in committee.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man stabbed during an alleged burglary in February was arrested again, over the weekend, on new charges. Bend Police say Blaise Butcher and another suspect assaulted a man in the Fred Meyer parking lot, Saturday evening, over a perceived road rage incident. During the fight, the victim grabbed a knife and Butcher reportedly continued the assault, saying he’d been stabbed before. The knife was not used, and the assault victim received minor injuries in the incident.
The two suspects left the area before police arrived, but witnesses were able to provide license plate information. Officers tracked down the vehicle registration and responded to Butcher’s home to take him into custody. He was arrested after a one-hour stand-off.
Officers continue to search for the second suspect, known at this time only as “Justin.”
Deschutes County mug shot from arrest earlier this month, following burglary indictment.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is searching for a 60-year-old Bend woman who may be suffering from a mental illness. Susan Lewis' vehicle was found near Sizemore Road and Couch Market Road, northwest of Bend. A citizen reported Thursday that it was parked there for about a week, with no one seen around it.
Investigators have determined Lewis returned to Central Oregon Saturday, April 15 after spending an extended amount of time out of state for medical treatment. She left a voice mail asking a friend where she could find her own house keys. The Sheriff's Office says her car was found about two miles from her home. She has a cell phone but it's turned off.
They're asking for the public's help to find Lewis. She's 5'2" tall, about 115 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. There is no clothing description. Anyone who has seen her or remembers seeing her white 2007 Volkswagen Passat is asked to call non emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.
UPDATE: Deschutes County Search and Rescue found Lewis' body on Saturday, while combing 500 acres near where her car was discovered. The investigation is ongoing, but preliminary information indicates she died of a self-inflicted injury.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Crook County storage facility suffered substantial damage in a Friday morning fire. Crook County Fire and Rescue was dispatched to the business on NW Lamonta Road in Prineville just before 7 a.m.
When crews arrived, they discovered all 20 storage units involved. It took three engines and 20 firefighters several hours to extinguish the blaze and salvage what property they could.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon's housing market is booming, once again. Ten years after the recession deflated the region's real estate market, home prices are now back to pre-recession levels. Improvements were celebrated at the Bend Chamber's 20th annual Real Estate Forecast Breakfast, which took place Thursday at the Riverhouse Convention Center. The panel also addressed the need for more workforce and "affordable" housing.
Deschutes County Community Development Director Nick Lelack was on the panel. He tells KBND News, "We really need to talk about what it means in our community to provide it or not provide it. For example, if it's provided either within our existing neighborhoods or in close proximity, in some cases it can mean greater congestion. If we put it on the periphery, it can mean greater transportation costs for those living in those units and/or greater traffic on our streets." But, he says the community needs to reconcile public opinion with reality, and decide how to address the issue. "We do support private property rights; we do support the market economy; we do support workforce housing. But when the private property owner or the developer is proposing to meet that market demand with workforce housing in our neighborhood, suddenly there's a lack of support. I think we need to come to grips with that. As a community, we need to support those taking the risks to propose those projects."
Bigger cities like Portland and Seattle have imposed rent control and mandatory zoning to address the need, but Lelack says there are other tools available, like providing incentives and removing barriers. "There will be consequences to those decisions. If people can't live here, and we're paying them more to travel from outer lying communities or rural subdivisions, the businesses are going to have to pay more to attract that labor. And we're going to have to recognize our cost of services - our cost of a cup of coffee, or whatever service we're purchasing in Bend or Central Oregon - they're going to go up."
BEND, OR -- The Bend Fire Department will raise money for its Community Assistance Program, this weekend, with a unique, hairy competition. Firefighter-paramedic Garret Caster took over as the non-profit’s Program Coordinator last year. He tells KBND News, "When I got involved in it, we did a handful of fundraisers and so we’ve had some people reach out and partner with us. The Central Oregon Mustache and Beard Society – which is a thing – reached out to us and said ‘hey, we want to do a charity event with you because we dig your program.’"
Saturday, the two groups will host the first Mustache Bash, at Good Life Brewing. Caster the event has something for everyone, "There’s three different categories to compete in: There is a groomed, a natural and a fake category – so, if you don’t have a mustache or you can’t grow one, you’re welcome to fashion your best attempt at one." A ticket is required to compete; spectators are free but donations are welcome. It's a family-friendly event and features live music from Trailer 31.
Bend Fire's Community Assistance Program allows firefighters to address critical needs. "All the money we raise goes to community members that we identify as having some type of crisis. We, as firefighters and first responders, are really good at problem solving and it’s kind of our role in the community; so, we like having the flexibility to exercise some creativity and good judgment to solve problems for people and help kind of bridge the gap in resources." He adds, "We see people in incredibly vulnerable times in their life. Sometimes we also see different types of crisis that might fall outside of a fire, medical or rescue-type emergency: someone who can’t afford groceries, someone who can’t get their kids jackets for the colder months, people who can’t afford a mattress to sleep on, people who can’t afford their medications."
Saturday’s Mustache Bash is 4 - 10 p.m. at Good Life Brewing, in Bend.
BEND, OR -- A local high school student is under investigation for threats he allegedly made to a school 3,000 miles away. Norwich Free Academy (NFA) in Connecticut issued a safety alert, Wednesday night (see below), saying they had received a social media post warning students not go to school. Investigators tracked the Instagram post to Bend.
Bend Police Lt. Clint Burleigh tells KBND News, "The call came in first to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, and when it was determined that the person that had made some threats – or some statements – to a high school in Connecticut, they found out that he lived in Bend and goes to a high school here in the city of Bend proper, the information was passed on to our Patrol Division. We’ve been working to make sure our schools are safe and that there’s no risk to anybody else."
Lt. Burleigh says it’s an ongoing investigation, "We don’t see that there’s a threat to our community or the community in Connecticut, right now; there’s nothing we can verify or corroborate. Again, being an ongoing investigation, it’s tough for me to release a lot of information. But, we are going to do everything we can, working with Bend-La Pine Schools and working with our partners here in Bend to handle these situations." He declined to comment whether the boy would face charges, saying, "At this point, I can’t really go into any detail, other than, when we got the information, we wrapped in our school district and our School Resource Officer and we made sure to take care of this situation as immediate and as efficiently as we could." While the suspect is a high school student in Bend, Burleigh says no local schools were involved in the incident.
According to The Bulletin, an eastern Connecticut newspaper, the incident comes two weeks after an NFA student was arrested for allegedly sharing threatening content on social media.
SISTERS, OR -- The dog suspected of knocking down and injuring a Sisters woman, last week, has been found. Read more about the April 12 incident. Information provided by a witness to the incident led investigators to the dog’s owner.
The Sheriff’s Office says Joyce Rayburn, of Sisters, was visiting a home on Tyee Drive with her brown and white Labrador/Boxer mix. They believe The homeowner opened the garage door, unaware the dog was unleashed. It ran into the road where the victim was walking her dogs and attacked the woman. She later required surgery for a leg injury.
After discussing the incident with the victim, it was determined Rayburn would not be issued a citation; she was given a written warning for animal nuisance.
BROTHERS, OR -- A Burns woman was killed in a crash near Brothers, Thursday afternoon. Deschutes County deputies say 78-year-old Dorothy Elwood was westbound on Highway 20, just before 1:30 p.m., when her Jeep Cherokee veered right, driving over over dirt, sagebrush and rock. When it crossed a raised dirt road, the Jeep went airborne; after landing, it rolled over and came to a stop.
Despite life-saving measures attempted by citizens who stopped to help and first responders, Elwood was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash remains under investigation; alcohol and drugs do not appear to be factors.
The highway was closed intermittently during the investigation. Deputies were assisted at the scene by Bend Fire, Airlink and ODOT.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson fired two more supervisors, Thursday. Robert Trono, a Lieutenant in the Corrections Division, was placed on paid leave September second. Patrol Sgt. Dan Bilyeu was put on leave February 21.
Sheriff Nelson tells KBND News, "The termination was a result of internal investigations that concluded policy violations had occurred. The policy violations were regarding on-duty conduct that was not criminal in nature." Sheriff Nelson would not elaborate, other than to say the two were involved in separate investigations. "I’m going to release more specific information at a later date, once the separation process is concluded," says Nelson. "There’s one more step that’s offered to the employee after a consequence has been determined."
Lt. Trono was the focus of an ATF investigation last year, following complaints he built a firearm for a co-worker while off-duty, without a license; although it was determined not to be a prosecutable offense. He’s also named in a civil suit filed by the family of an inmate who died of a drug overdose while in custody. The lawsuit claims as jail commander, Trono failed to schedule adequate medical staff.
A deputy was fired last month. And, In the past 14 months, the Sheriff's Office has lost three captains - one fired, one resigned amid an investigation and one retired.
SALEM, OR -- Additional temporary State Park campsites for this summer's total solar eclipse are all taken. Oregon Parks and Recreation spokesman Chris Havel says the spaces at 16 parks inside the path of totality, including Lake Billy Chinook and Smith Rock, and 13 more in the partial path went online for reservations Wednesday at 8 a.m. By 9:30, they were gone, "We kind of expected that they were going to go fast."
More than a thousand spaces - 1,018, to be exact - were opened up by converting "first come, first serve" campsites, parking areas and other open spaces into reservable individual campsites just for August 18-20. The eclipse is Monday, August 21.
The demand isn't surprising, since the first batch of State Parks campsites went just as fast. Havel says, "Those went in about the same amount of time; it took about an hour. And that was at midnight, when we opened up those other ones back in November." And, he says there's no waiting list for cancllations. "What you can do through the reservation system is sign up to receive a notification if there is a cancellation." That will give campers a chance to call or go online to tray and snag a site.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors approved an exemption to the low-bid contracting process, Wednesday, in an effort to finish construction on the Water Reclamation Facility (WRF). The original contract was awarded to the lowest bidder in 2013. But officials say Apollo Inc's work was fraught with “delays and defective and deficient work." The expansion of the sewage treatment facility isn't done and that contract is currently in litigation.
Jeff England, the city’s Assistant Director of Engineering, told Councilors that bypassing the low-bid process would allow the city to bring on contractor MA Mortenson. "Requesting a one-time exemption to allow direct appoint to complete the work that was removed by the prior contract. It’s important to note that the request is one-time, and it’s only applicable to this project and this request. This will allow direct negotiation with MA Mortensen, who has specialized knowledge of the existing condition, out there." He says the contractor worked on the project early on and requesting proposals from other companies not already familiar wit the work could cost the city several hundred thousand dollars and time. "By doing the direct appointment and a direct negotiation with Mortenson, we can save about 5 months of time for completion on the project, which is becoming more and more critical all the time with the growth that we are seeing in the community, now."
The facility is operational, but is not yet able to meet the city’s needs.
BEND, OR -- One of the area’s largest recreational marijuana dispensary is celebrating its first harvest from a Tumalo farm, with a party Thursday, in conjunction with "4/20," internationally recognized as cannabis day.
Oregrown co-founder Aviv Hadar says the crop was harvested about two weeks ago from the indoor part of the 84-acre operation. "This is the farm that was part of the Deschutes County opt out, and something we fought extremely hard to protect and preserve. And, what you see now is fruits of our labor; you’re seeing an extremely rare harvest of a very exclusive genetics that sold out within minutes. Basically, before it was even harvested, this stuff is sold and spoken for." He tells KBND News, "The first harvest happened about two weeks ago, literally just in time for 4/20. So, a little bit of marketing luck, a little bit of magic. It was the first crop in the new OLCC system, so it was tracked from seed to sale, all the way through, and it took us about three months to grow and harvest."
Hadar insists April 20 is no longer about smoking weed and getting stoned. "This is a day for the entire community to come out and share in this event with us; to celebrate the end of failed cannabis prohibition and the beginning of a legal, regulated industry. It’s those failed policies that have gotten so many different people into trouble." This is the third year Oregrown has hosted a 4/20 celebration and Hadar hopes it continues to get bigger.
At its downtown Bend dispensary on NW Wall Street, Oregrown will host food and product vendors at a 21 and older informational fair, Thursday morning. Then, the company will host a free, all-ages evening concert at Crow’s Feet Commons. No public pot use is allowed at either event.
BEND, OR -- The Construction Contractors Board has levied more than $80,000 in fines against a Bend man who the agency says performed home inspections without a license. According to the CCB, Gregory Mason Miller used a license number belonging to a legitimate construction contractor with the same first and last name, along with the name of an unrelated business. He then advertised that he was licensed, bonded and insured.
Miller has performed dozens of inspections in recent months, in Central and Eastern Oregon. Consumer complaints triggered the CCB investigation, which is ongoing. He has been added to the board’s “Buyer Beware” list that warns the public of chronic offenders.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville business has been fined for allegedly performing unlicensed asbestos abatement work at its own facility. Oregon’s DEQ issued the $6,600 penalty because Contact Industries employees allegedly removed flooring from the building on North Main Street.
The company notified the DEQ after testing showed the vinyl flooring contained asbestos. A licensed abatement contractor was then hired to decontaminate the affected area. The DEQ says the company violated state law by mishandling asbestos-containing material.
Asbestos fibers are a respiratory hazard proven to cause lung cancer and other health problems.
BEND, OR -- Joining city and county officials, Oregon's Department of Transportation is planning for this summer’s solar eclipse, which is expected to bring an estimated 100,000 people to the High Desert. The path of totality stretches from Fossil to Redmond, with Madras considered one of the best viewing spots in the state - some say, in the country.
ODOT’s Peter Murphy says his agency is focused on keeping traffic moving, and that means preventing drivers from stopping on the highway to watch the eclipse. "We’re going to have people stationed every four to five miles to just kind of keep track of what’s going on; to monitor. And then, we’re talking with tow companies to help us, in the event something does happen. But really the key to all of this is advanced planning."
He can't stress enough the importance of planning, "There are people who are contacting the city of Madras – I was at a meeting up there the other day – that’s their game plan is to come up the day of. Well, you’re not going to be able to get here the day of. And, here’s the worst case scenario: People who are in The Valley, who are planning to go to the coast because it also crosses over there, and it’s cloudy, they’re all coming this way. And, they’re all going to come up Highway 20 and 22 through Sisters to get here." He tells KBND News, "This is going to be the bigger statewide message: Don’t try and come up the day of and find out where you’re going to look at the eclipse from, because that’s going to mean that the traffic on the highway stops; period, done, over."
Murphy encourages locals to scope out a viewing spot in advance and then arrive early, or stock up on supplies and stay home August 21st. To hear more of our conversation with ODOT's Peter Murphy, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon's unemployment rate his a new record low of 3.8% in March; that's the lowest since 1976 when comparable record-keeping began.
Employment Department Economist Nick Beleicicks says the low numbers are good for salaries. "Well, in a tight labor market like this, it’s a good thing for the workers who will likely see wage gains." He adds, "We've seen the average hourly wage increase faster than the rate of inflation in Oregon, since 2015."
But, he says that tight labor market isn't good for businesses with openings, "Employers are struggling to find enough workers; we hear that all the time. They tell us that two out of three of the vacancies they have are difficult to fill."
The state has added nearly 40,000 jobs over the last year, including 2,400 last month. In March, the three sectors adding the most jobs were Professional & Business Services, Government and Manufacturing.
BEND, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) was in Bend Monday evening. It was his second Deschutes County town hall in two months. It was a more subdued crowd than what Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) saw at his Bend town hall, last week, but the audience raised many of the same concerns, including healthcare and foreign policy.
Wyden addressed several hundred people at Summit High School, discussing recent aggressive action taken by President Trump against North Korea and Syria. "If your foreign policy is mostly reactive in nature and you're trying to figure out what's going to sound good for the 'press story of the day,' that then plays into your opponents hands. That makes it easier for the Kim Jong Uns and the Assads to try to figure out how to take advantage." He's also concerned about the economic ties between China and North Korea. "The numbers are really stark; the trade has expanded dramatically, dramatically between China and North Korea. It's what's really keeping the North Korean economy going. So, there are objective measures that make sense for the long term; and that's what I'm hoping we'll see in American foreign policy."
There were also questions asked about public lands. Senator Wyden said he would not support a transfer of Oregon's federal lands to the state or counties. He says the public would be the big loser in such a deal.
And, Wyden talked about his efforts to push for a speedy investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. "This goes right to the core of whether people feel that their government is legitimate; that their government represents them and not the powerful and the special interest. As your guy on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I will not let this get swept under the rug."
DEATH VALLEY, CA -- A Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire Captain was rescued after he was injured in a fall while rock climbing in one of the most inhospitable areas of Death Valley. The story is recounted below, in its entirety, as issued in a statement by fire district officials:
Three members of the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District (Captain Thornton Brown, Captain Jeff Liming and Fire Medic Matt Millar) embarked on a technical canyoneering descent last week in Hades Canyon in Death Valley. This is said to be perhaps the toughest adventure hike in Death Valley and one which is only for the most experienced and fit canyoneer.The trip was the second adventure the three firefighters had taken to the area. Last year they successfully descended Bad Canyon.
This area in Death Valley is an arid, desert environment with extreme temperature changes ranging from highs in the upper 80’s this time of year to lows in the 40’s and winds gusting up to 50 mph. In preparation for this trip, the group spent time reviewing and practicing rappel, rope and anchor techniques, studied topographical maps and journals of previous group trips on this descent, which included pictorials of the types of anchors you might expect to see. Typical anchors in Hades Canyon are created using streambed boulders. Having been to the area last year, the group had some experience in planning and had more than enough rope to rappel, retrieval rope plus extra, enough food and water and appropriate clothing to spend a night in the canyon if needed. The group had also left a note on the dash of the truck at their end point noting that their intent was to be out of the canyon on Thursday night or Friday morning as well as informing friends and family when they should expect phone contact indicating they were out of the canyon.
The hike starts at approximately 5,475 feet in elevation at the parking lot, includes 14 rappels and ends near Bad Water at around 200 feet below sea level. The group started their day in the parking lot around 7:15 a.m. on Thursday, April 13. They had covered approximately 3,500 feet in elevation and 4 ½ miles of linear distance when around 3:30 p.m. during the fourth rappel; Captain Thornton Brown lost control of a rappel and suffered an approximate 40 foot fall. He was the first of the three to rappel down. Fire Medic Millar and Captain Liming were able to communicate with Captain Brown asking him what he thought his injuries were and the other two began their descent down to help him.
After Fire Medic Millar and Captain Liming reached Captain Brown, they did a complete assessment and found that the injuries he sustained would prevent him from hiking out on his own. The group spent time working together to make a decision on whether or not Fire Medic Millar would go out alone to get help or for both Captain Liming and Fire Medic Millar to go out together. Because Captain Brown’s injuries did not appear life threatening and the group had sufficient water, food and clothing they determined it wasn’t critical for Captain Brown to get out that night. They decided the biggest potential for something more to go wrong would be for Fire Medic Millar to go out alone in case something happened to him. The group spent time stabilizing Captain Brown’s injuries and repositioning him below an overhang to protect him from rock fall. Captain Brown was left with a down jacket, a gallon plus of water and food and the other two members of his team proceeded out of the canyon to get help around 5 p.m.
After another four rappels, at approximately 8:30 p.m., Fire Medic Millar and Captain Liming set up a bivy and spent the night in the canyon for safety reasons. The duo proceeded out of the canyon at first light on Friday, April 14 and contact was made with local emergency services at approximately 11:30 a.m. The Inyo County Search and Rescue and National Park Service emergency services personnel contacted California Highway Patrol Inland Division Air Operations (H-80) for a hoist rescue immediately after speaking with Fire Medic Millar. Fire Medic Millar said “a traditional high-angle rope rescue with a ground crew would have been an extraordinarily difficult extrication involving a great deal of trained personnel and multiple days.”
CHP H-80 located Captain Brown in what they said was “some of the most inhospitable terrain” their area has to offer. H-80 worked their way up the canyon to where Captain Brown was positioned and lowered a rescuer from 100 feet to evaluate and package him for a hoist. The crew of H-80 had Captain Brown on the ground in Furnace Creek in just over four hours of being notified. Captain Brown was assessed by an ambulance crew and evaluated at the local hospital is Pahrump, Nevada and was able to fly home commercially the next day.
Fire Medic Millar said that during the trip, “many lessons were reaffirmed including: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, be prepared to stay out at night, carry extra water, food and have appropriate clothing and think through and take your time in making critical decisions.”
Fire Medic Millar said as an emergency response professional, he “understands how incredibly efficient the response was and has the utmost appreciation for assumed risk that rescue personnel take on with such work.” The group offered their sincerest thanks and respect to all of the responders for a job well done.
Photos Courtesy Sisters-Camp Sherman Rural Fire Protection District
REDMOND, OR -- The 19th annual Central Oregon Business Expo takes place in Redmond Wednesday.
Karen Sande, with the Redmond Chamber, says hundreds of regional business owners will be there to network with each other. She tells KBND News, "We’re going to have also different workshops happening throughout the day: Cale Peterson is going to be talking ‘result driven communications,’ we’re going to have a panel discussing ‘creating an attractive work culture,’ then John Meyer with Edward Jones is going to be helping people with retirement."
Vendors will also be there to showcase their local products and services. And, Sande says, "This year, we’re really excited that we’re adding a job fair to it. There’s going to be seven or eight companies now; Mosaic Medical will be out there, the US Post office will be out there because they’re hiring also. So, there’s a whole bunch of different combinations, if you’re looking for a certain type of job." The job fair, business expo and various workshops are free and begin at 1 p.m.
Redmond Mayor George Endicott will deliver his Annual “State of the City Address” during a luncheon just prior to the event at the Deschutes County Expo Center. That luncheon begins at 11:45 a.m. and is $17; RSVP is required.
Click HERE for more information.
KLAMATH COUNTY, OR -- A Salem man was killed in a crash near Crescent Lake, Monday morning. Oregon State Police say he was westbound on Highway 58 and lost control on the icy road, at about 7:15 a.m. His Subaru slid into the eastbound lane and struck an SUV.
The Subaru driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The SUV’s driver and two passengers were taken to St. Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries; one was taken by Air Link, the others were transported by ambulance. The names of those involved have not yet been released.
** TUESDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE **
Oregon State Police have identified the man killed in Monday's crash as 26-year-old Alex Sergio Serrano, from the Albany area. Investigators say the SUV involved was driven by 51-year-old Duane Sieg, from the La Pine area. His passengers were 51-year-old Kaelynn Sieg and 19-year-old Dylan Sieg, also of La Pine.
SISTERS, OR -- Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the U.S. The Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District has awarded grants to six area businesses and a church to purchase devices that could save the life of a heart attack victim.
Fire Chief Roger Johnson says the agency's program helps the businesses buy an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). "The fire district provided about 25% of the cost; we’ll also provide the training and if they use the device then we’ll replace any of the materials used." He tells KBND News the grants were awarded to large employers and companies with lots of foot-traffic, "The devices cost about a thousand dollars, and the fire department contributed $250 to the purchase, so it’s still a significant contribution from the business community to the program. We’re pretty excited that we had this many of them actually want to participate and partner in the program with us."
Chief Johnson says the new AEDs are part of a multi-pronged approach in Sisters, which also includes use of the PulsePoint mobile app to notify those trained in CPR of a nearby cardiac emergency. "If we have a community that’s trained, we have AEDs spread throughout the community, we have people on PulsePoint, we’ve got advanced life support ambulances; you know, the total picture starts to become pretty clear that the chance of surviving cardiac arrest is very good in a community that’s equipped like that and trained like that."
The new AED units should be in place within the next 30 days.
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools is planning for a surge of new students, next fall, including an anticipated 1,100 new kindergartners. District-wide Kindergarten Round-Up takes place Wednesday at neighborhood schools when parents can meet teachers and administrators, ask questions and register students.
Events vary: Juniper Elementary is hosting an Early Learning Fair from 2:30 to 6 p.m., Wednesday, which includes crafts and free books. At Pine Ridge Elementary, parents can meet staff and tour classrooms from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Parents are encouraged to check with their local school for details.
"The round-ups April 19 are a great way for students to begin to feel connected to their neighborhood schools," says Gary Timms, Executive Director of Elementary Programs for Bend-La Pine Schools. "They also help us understand enrollment needs to make plans for teachers, classroom space and materials."
After April 19, parents can register students 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. any school day. Kids must be five-years-old prior to September first to start kindergarten.
BEND, OR -- President Trump’s federal budget proposal includes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). During last week’s town hall in Bend, Congressman Greg Walden was asked why he hadn’t joined over 150 other members of Congress on a letter supporting the agencies. Deschutes Historical Museum Director Kelly Cannon-Miller listened carefully to his answer. She tells KBND News, "Little things like IMLS get lost in the shuffle of the really big topics, but they make a really big impact. And, they especially have impact in small and rural areas like the Second District that Walden represents. And the great news is that Walden said, ‘I haven’t seen it and I’ll look into it.’ This isn’t a partisan issue; this is libraries and museums and what they do for our communities on a daily basis."
Cannon-Miller acknowledges cuts have occurred in the past but says, "The president is calling for the elimination of these agencies altogether, not just reducing the budget. So, it’s more critical this time around." And, she's worried about what it would mean to her organization if the President gets his way. "Just between 2014 and 2016, the combination of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and IMLS poured millions into just Oregon. Just IMLS in those two years provided $1.5 million to 12 different Oregon museums."
According to the IMLS, it contributes more than $214 million to museums and libraries, nationwide. But, Cannon-Miller says it’s difficult to know just what the financial impact would be on her museum if the NEA, NEH and IMLS were to be eliminated, "It would have a trickle-down effect. There’s probably dozens and dozens of different grants that each of these agencies offer. So, all of those would go away, for one." Aside from those direct grants, she says they also contribute to money distributed by statewide programs, which would also probably end, like the state library grant that funds the Oregon Battle of the Books.
Cannon-Miller says, "It’s not just about saving the budget line-item. It’s about saying these things are important." She says, "We want to know what matters and to be able to say ‘this matters to our community; this matters to us as a country to have these institutions.’ It says something when it’s eliminated at the national level. What do we value as a country?" She says funding the NEA, NEH and IMLS costs the average American a couple dollars a year in taxes.
PORTLAND, OR -- As Central Oregon's economy continues to expand, so does the need for electricity. A new report by the Bonneville Power Administration reveals there are steps the agency needs to take to accommodate anticipated growth in Central Oregon.
The BPA's Kevin Wingert tells KBND News the study was in response to large load additions requested last year in Crook County. "We’re not talking about a shortage of power, but more of an issue of transmission capacity. And, BPA is addressing that capacity issue moving forward by a series of steps that we’re committing to. Some are in the near term and then some that are a little bit further out and dependent upon what occurs in the future in terms of load in Central Oregon." He adds, "We’re beginning to address the capacity issue, moving forward, by installing a series of capacitors at our Slatt substation that will help to increase the interconnection capability in the area by 315 megawatts and we’re estimating that we’ll be able to do that by June 2019." More research is needed before a large grid infrastructure project could move forward to add another 270 MW. Click HERE to read the study summary.
Wingert acknowledges the study was conducted in response to Prineville city officials asking whether the region could handle another large development, like a new data center. The agency conducts regular studies, but Wingert says a 2012 report that showed sufficient capacity didn’t take into account equipment that has since been retired and changes to power generation in southern Oregon. "There are things that change over time, whether it’s load, or generation, or age of the equipment. And, I think in this particular area, we’re working on some better communication with us and our partners and customers to make sure, going forward, there are no surprises."
REDMOND, OR -- Fire destroyed a motorhome at a northeast Redmond transient camp, Friday evening. Firefighters responded to the camp, located near NE 9th Street and Highway 126, just before 5 p.m. and found the RV fully engulfed in flames, spreading to several nearby juniper trees. The land is owned by Central Oregon Irrigation District.
The motorhome was being used as a residence. There were no injuries reported and the total loss is estimated at about $4,000.
BEND, OR -- A Redmond woman was injured in an early morning crash, Saturday, after she reportedly fell asleep at the wheel. The Sheriff’s Office says just before 6 a.m., 24-year-old Mariah Smith drove off Deschutes Market Road, near View Lane, crashing through several fences. Her car had to be removed from a yard by a tow truck.
Smith was evaluated at the scene and released by medics. Investigators don’t believe speed or alcohol were factors, but they are looking for anyone who saw the crash. Potential witnesses are asked to call 541-693-6911 and reference case number 17-114652.
SISTERS, OR -- An aggressive dog remains at large in the Sisters area, after knocking down a woman, last week. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says a 62-year-old victim was walking her dogs Wednesday evening, when a pit bull knocked her to the ground then stood over her, growling.
A passerby scared the animal off, and the woman was driven to the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire Department; she was later transported to the hospital with a leg injury that required surgery.
The Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public's help in locating the dog and any witnesses to the incident. The dog is described as a brown and white pit bull or pit bull-mix.
REDMOND, OR -- A chemical spill led to the evacuation of several classrooms at Redmond High, Friday. Just before noon, firefighters responded to the school after potassium hydroxide spilled in a science lab chemical storage room.
After sealing off the effected classroom, they contained the chemical in a protective container until it could be removed by a hazmat clean-up response company. Two teachers went to the hospital for evaluation.
SALEM, OR -- State laws currently limit the number of "sober stations" allowed in Oregon; a new set of bills would do away with the cap and provide funding for the facilities. Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson testified in Salem, this week, in support of the proposal. He's been working to open a crisis stabilization center in Central Oregon for the past year.
At the public hearing, Sheriff Nelson told the House Committee, "I'm no mental health expert; I'm no substance abuse expert. I am a Sheriff that oversees a jail, and I'll tell you right now that's where we take care of those folks - is in our jail, and we do the best we can. We're fortunate in Deschutes County, where we are three-quarters of the way to having our crisis stabilization center/sober station become a reality." He added, "The whole point of a facility like this is to get those who want help, get them some help and have them be productive citizens of this community. We can't always save someone from themselves, but we're going to do the best job that we can. If you vote to support that immunity, that facility will become a reality and we'll see great things."
He told the committee about an inmate that used to spend time at the jail every month: "This particular inmate has not darkened our doorway of our Deschutes County Jail for 160 days. The inmate was afflicted with mental health issues and substance abuse issues. And, through this jail diversion program, this inmate sought services through his peers and we're able to keep him out of our facility. It's not only the right thing to do, but if you look at it strictly from dollars and cents, it's a savings to the taxpayer."
The House Committee on the Judiciary plans to hold a work session on the proposal, next week.
BEND, OR -- Republican Congressman Greg Walden (OR-Dist. 2) faced a hostile, largely anti-Trump crowd Thursday, at his first Bend town hall in four years. "Thank you for coming, Greg," said one audience member, early on. Walden responded, "It's good to be here," which garnered laughter and cheers until he interrupted, "Let me finish. Let me just say, if I could, as I said, I would rather have this any day of the week, than people who sit on their butts at home and never vote."
It was standing room only at Mountain View High School, which was filled with people holding signs like "Healthcare for all." Walden faced critical questions about his support of the GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. An Emergency Room doctor told Walden, "I've got a good centrist perspective, because America wants healthcare; but it's got to be better. And, you've got to have it for everybody."
He also faced questions about his reluctance to support background checks for gun sales, the attack on the First Amendment and the President's immigration policies - specifically, his desire to build a southern border wall. One woman expressed concern about Walden's general support of President Trump. "A foreign country interfered with out nation's presidential election. When are you going to stand up for our country? Not for your party - but for our country?" Her question was met with cheers from the crowd.
Other topics discussed include public lands and global warming. The town hall was scheduled for just an hour, but it lasted nearly twice that as the Congressman talked with constituents. One man told Walden, "We the people thank you for taking the time to listen to those individuals in our community who truly understand what a great country we already have. The audience here this evening provides further evidence that we do care about what happens or what does not occur in Washington."
Thursday morning, Congressman Walden hosted a town hall at Crook County High School that drew a less rowdy crowd of a few hundred.
BEND, OR -- The Grand Jury indicted a Bend man, this week, on Burglary, Robbery and Theft charges, in connection with a February incident that sent the suspect to the hospital.
On February fourth, 31-year-old Blaise Butcher allegedly entered a Doanna Way home, in southwest Bend, assuming it was empty. Instead he ran in to two people. During the confrontation, Butcher was stabbed with a knife; he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Following the indictment, Bend police arrested the suspect Wednesday evening, during a traffic stop near Third and Division.
BEND, OR -- In an effort to revise traffic estimates for Central Oregon highways, the Department of Transportation is conducting a region-wide count of vehicles, this month. Cords stretch across lanes of Highway 97 in and around Bend and Redmond; those counting strips are shifted around the region to measure volumes and trends.
ODOT's Peter Murphy says the cords are just one way the agency calculates stats. "Motorists are being counted all the time at our automatic counting stations – there’s one at Empire on the Parkway, for example. What we’re looking at when the counting strips go out is a significantly more enhanced view of what’s taking place. It does measure, certainly, the volume on the highway. But, you’ll notice that they’re also at the onramps and offramps; that gives us an idea of where people are coming from and where they’re going to."
Central Oregon traffic volumes over the last few years are well above the statewide average. At the Empire counting station, Murphy says, "We’re 6% above last year and last year was 6% above the year before that. So, we’re way ahead of whatever growth curve people might expect for traffic volumes on the highway. You know, a 6% growth in traffic is phenomenal. If you add six to six, that’s just way beyond anyone’s expectations."
The data gathered from this month's operation will be analyzed and compared to previous years. Murphy says getting accurate information is important to determining future projects and needs. "We have a forecast of how many years a highway may endure with all the traffic that goes over it. And, if you suddenly find yourself with a significant number, either higher or lower, it affects the lifespan of the asphalt. So, by knowing the time it takes for the highway to wear out, then you’re able to plan for when you need to repair the highway."
BEND, OR -- State Senators held a hearing in Salem, this week, on changes to a proposed bill designed to clarify rules for legal marijuana operations. Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone is concerned one amendment could wipe out "time, place and manner" restrictions imposed last year on grow operations. "Deschutes County, we went through and put some time, place and manner regulations: Dark skies; so you can't have a well-lit greenhouse glowing at night in the dark EFU lands, sight and sound and smells," DeBone tells KBND News. "So, those are the things we regulated. And now there's a bill with these amendments that say the 'Right to Farm' means you can grow a crop on EFU - which we all support, I support that. But, with this new crop, we've put some regulations in place."
Amendment 11 for SB 1057 would prohibit a county from placing restrictions on the production or processing of pot at a licensed operation on land designed as Exclusive Farm Use (EFU). DeBone says that doesn't account for communities where agriculture neighbors residential neighborhoods. "One of the things in Deschutes County, we've got large EFU parcels - exclusive Farm Use is the zoning - they're usually surrounded with Multiple Use Agricultural, which is smaller parcels, and rural residential parcels. So, we've got families and a residential feel in some of these farming areas; and, how do we deal with that balance?"
Commissioner DeBone says, "We're being used as the poster child. Deschutes county's regulations have been mentioned as too onerous. But, they're the right things for us - Deschutes County - with the rural residential properties." If the bill passes with Amendment 11, DeBone says it would not only negate noise and odor mitigation guidelines in the current county code, it would also do away with a requirement to notify neighbors. "We've got a large EFU parcel in South County: It's all residential around it. And the people are very upset they got notified that there's an application for this. Which is a robust community discussion, so we're in the right spot, right now."
Click HERE or visit our Podcast Page to listen to our full conversation with Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone. The bill remains in committee.
THE DALLES, OR -- Republican members of Congress are running into argumentative crowds at town halls, Wednesday's meeting in The Dalles with Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) was no different. About a thousand people showed up to talk with Oregon's only Republican member of Congress, asking about immigration, Obamacare adn issues surrounding President Trump.
Walden says he expected the crowd. The town hall at the same middle school Walden attended as a child lasted more than an hour longer than planned.
He'll be in Central Oregon, Thursday. A town hall at Crook County High School begins at 8:30 a.m. His Bend meeting begins at 5 p.m. at Mountain View High School. Critics have complained that Walden hasn't held a town hall in Bend since 2013.
BEND, OR -- Law enforcement converged on the Bend Walmart, early this morning, following a report of shots fired in the electronics department. Bend Police say at about 4 a.m., the man fired two rounds from a handgun at a case of higher-end electronics. They believe he was trying to disable the locks. He then took off through the emergency exit towards Badger Road.
Police locked down the store and nearby Shari’s restaurant and searched the area for the suspect. There were no injuries reported and the lockdowns were lifted about an hour later.
Police continue to search for the suspect. He's described as a skinny black male, 20- to 30-years-old, 6' tall; at the time of the incident he was wearing a multi-colored hoodie, beanie hat, jeans and black shoes.
MADRAS, OR -- The Jefferson County School Board named its next Superintendent, this week. Warm Springs K8 Academy Principal Ken Parshall will take over the top job when Rick Molitor retires at the end of June.
Parshall was hired as Principal two years ago, and says he will stay on in Warm Springs for two more years. "Yes, I'm going to do double duty and it's really important to me that I'm able to continue the work here in Warm Springs with my teachers and support staff, and administrators and counselors that we're doing with children in Warm Springs. We're making great progress and I want to serve in a larger role and help students throughout our district. But, it's also important that I stay involved at Warm Springs K8 Academy." He tells KBND News, "I have tremendous support in this school, where I'm at now, and I really believe in the district team that I'll have around me and the school team I'll have here at the K8. We're really dedicated to making sure the school continues to improve, but also as an entire district we can continue improving learning outcomes for kids." After two years, Parshall expects to transition to a full-time Superintendent.
He's worked in education for nearly 30 years. Parshall was the Crook County High School Principal from 2000 to 2003. "I just have always been motivated to help children as much as possible. Education is the most rewarding and important work in our society, I believe. It's also tremendously difficult at times. And, it's so important that we stay focused on helping every kid learn and grow in better ways today than they did yesterday."
Parshall was one of two finalists for the post, but the other dropped out at the last minute for personal reasons. The school board says Parshall was chosen because he was the best candidate for the job.
SISTERS, OR -- Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire officials say quick-thinking homeowners helped prevent extensive damage when a fire broke out, Wednesday morning. The couple noticed smoke and flames in the wall near a pellet stove and called 911, just after 8 a.m.
They used a garden hose to slow its progress, and responding crews used a chainsaw to access the fire. Damage was limited to a 3-by-3-foot area where the stove’s flue passed through the exterior wall of the home on Bitterbrush Lane.
BEND, OR -- A Bend transient died, Tuesday night, after she was hit by a vehicle near NE Third and Burnside. Police say the 39-year-old woman was hit by a 2010 Ford Explorer after 9:45 p.m., in the southbound lanes of NE Third.
Investigators have released very few details and say names involved will be released later Wednesday.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors met with Deschutes County Commissioners Tuesday to talk growth management. It's estimated that seven people move to the area each day, and government leaders say it's hard for the city and county to keep up.
Deschutes County Commissioner and local developer Phil Henderson warned Councilors it's important to offer a range of housing options. "What I hear a lot from the city is this emphasis on 'density here' and 'rural here.' Well, there's a lot of us - and I'm one of them - that like a little bigger lot, so I can have a front yard and a backyard, and I can have gardens or my kids can play at home. And, that's kind of been lost, yet I think it's still pretty popular. I don't think we should necessarily discard that."
City Councilor Nathan Boddie says everyone recognizes the housing need, but a plan is necessary. He tells KBND News, "I think no one has yet connected the dots to how cheap land gets you cheap housing; It just doesn't really make sense from a market-based perspective. It's kind of an attractive 'Econ 101' statement but it doesn't really make any sens on the ground. Housing policy is much more complicated and home prices have a lot more to do with local policies, incentives, loan programs; there are many things that factor in."
Officials expect it will take five to 10 years to add housing in the recently extended Urban Growth Boundary. Councilor Boddie says Council has discussed where to start, "Those will probably begin in the southeast corner of Bend and in the central area; those are the two main areas that we'll probably start focusing on first. They kind of have the easiest lift to get where we need."
County Commissioner Henderson, though, would like to see things move more quickly. "I was concerned that the timelines they're having to project seem a lot longer than I was thinking they'd be. And, they don't really seem to be able to solve the kind of immediate problem, which I thought some of this would do. Now, they are turning inside and redeveloping portions of equal opportunity areas. But, I would like to encourage them to get there faster, if possible.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney is frustrated over a recent decision by the U.S. Attorney General to dissolve the National Commission on Forensic Science. The bipartisan, independent commission was made up of judges, attorneys and scientists appointed by President Obama to advise on the use of science in criminal cases. They were scheduled to release a report on their progress, later this month.
D.A. John Hummel tells KBND News, "As a District Attorney, if you’re doing it right, you know your job is not to obtain convictions. Your job is to find the truth and seek justice. Sometimes science sets people free and sometimes it locks them up. And, we rely on that science to be accurate. The US Attorney seems to be less enthused about that principle than me but I want people to know that we’re going to continue to seek the truth in Deschutes County."
Hummel says this is the first time he’s spoken out against federal policy. "This commission was going to give guidance to law enforcement, to judges, to defense attorneys all across the country. So that decision impacts the prosecution of every case in the country. When a decision like this is made that impacts me, and impacts the residents of Deschutes County, I think it is appropriate that I state my opinion." He says his criticism isn’t against President Trump or Attorney General Jeff Sessions, "I respect the President and the Attorney General, but this is about the policy. I think this policy decision is wrong; it’s disheartening." He adds, "I was looking forward to the report that that Commission on Science was going to release soon, that would have given judges and attorneys guidance on what is good science and what is science that shouldn’t be relied upon. But, now that Commission is no more."
Attorney General Sessions say the Justice Department will instead appoint an in-house advisor and create an internal committee to study improvements to forensic analysis.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville Police arrested the passenger involved in a Tuesday morning pursuit, but say the driver got away. An officer tried to pull over 23-year-old Jeremy Hartman-Steele (left), at about 9:45 a.m., after recognizing he and the 20-year-old passenger as persons of interest in ongoing cases. Both also have outstanding warrants.
After a brief pursuit, the car stopped on SE Juniper Canyon Road and both suspects ran toward a wooded area. The passenger, Ashley Greene-Hurt (right) was
apprehended and arrested. A Redmond PD K9 unit assisted in the search for Hartman-Steele but he wasn't found.
Police later determined the vehicle had been reported stolen out of Warm Springs. Hartman-Steele has several outstanding local charges as well as four state-wide felony arrest warrants. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call Prineville Police.
TERREBONNE, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue (SAR) was called in to help a hiker injured at Smith Rock State Park, Tuesday morning. The 27-year-old Bend woman fell while hiking at Misery Ridge and was not able to walk out under her own power.
Ten SAR volunteers and one deputy responded to Cassie Mendoza’s location at the base of Monkey Face, just before noon. They brought her down the trail in a wheeled litter, then across the river via inflatable raft. Mendoza refused any further medical help and was taken to her car.
The Sheriff's office says she was hiking alone and fortunate others came upon her quickly to help until units arrived.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Drug Enforcement detectives arrested two people, this week, following a short narcotics investigation. During a northeast Bend traffic stop, Monday afternoon, police contacted 33-year-old Chris Schneibel and seized less than an ounce of heroin, user amounts of Ecstasy, a digital scale and $2,000 in cash.
Detectives then executed a search warrant at the NE Thurston Avenue home he shares with 32-year-old Carly Ann Rodewald and her two children. The CODE team found more heroin, meth and packaging material, including in the bedroom Rodewald shares with her two-year-old son.
She is charged with Methamphetamine Possession, Delivery and Manufacture, as well as two counts of Child Neglect. Schneibel faces a long list of drug-related charges, along with two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Minor and a Parole Violation.
MADRAS, OR -- A unique partnership between the Jefferson County School District and George Fox University is allowing student teachers to work and train in classrooms they could eventually be leading.
It's called the "Grow Your Own" program, and Superintendent Rick Molitor says it’s an effort to reverse a trend in rural school districts that often struggle to recruit and retain good teachers. He tells KBND News, "We traditionally have about 12-16% rollover in our teaching staff. So, of approximately 250 teachers, we traditionally will see anywhere from 20-30 new staff members join us each year."
Four teacher candidates, now in their second year of the program, are working in third and fourth grade classrooms at Warm Springs K8 Academy as educational assistants. A fifth is working in Crook County. George Fox Assistant Professor Katy Turpen says it allows participants to remain employed while they complete their Bachelor’s Degree and teacher certification. "The co-teaching model we’re using is not new; the student teaching requirement is not new. The novel part of this is the fact that Jefferson County has employed these people while they’re doing their student teaching. Which is amazing, because they would be required to leave their job per Oregon law, for 15 weeks, to be embedded in a classroom. And for many folks that’s just not feasible. They can’t give up benefits and a salary for 15 weeks."
Molitor says the program also addresses other reasons young teachers don't stay with rural districts like 509J, "One of the struggles out there is ensuring that they know what kind of lifestyle and community they’re moving to." Of the current participants, he says, "They’re already a part of Madras; a lot of them have families and have their roots here." He feels there's a pretty good chance they'll stay with the district once they complete their training, but he admits there's no guarantee. "We’re not like binding them to a contract that makes them stay here."
To hear our full conversation with Molitor and Turpen, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE. Other rural districts have expressed an interest in the program, and Turpen says George Fox is considering expanding it to benefit other parts of the state.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors will consider a request to purchase a new airport snowplow, at Tuesday's Council meeting. Airport Director Zach Bass says it would replace a 1959 plow that couldn't keep up with this winter's weather. "A great piece of equipment; it’s been rebuilt twice. The last time it was rebuilt was 1984, so it’s been in its current state for 32 years, which is a long time for a piece of equipment. It performed really well but we did find a lot of limitations because of its age and maintenance during this last storm."
The new $550,000 plow features a 4x4 chassis and Bass says would be more versatile than the old vehicle. "Snow equipment for an airport, because of its size, are expensive. To put it in perspective, a city plow that you might see runs an 8’ plow on the front and ours runs a 22’ plow. So, we could do both lanes of Highway 97 with one plow." He tells KBND News the new vehicle would also include a 20' broom that would be more efficient at removing contaminants from the runway year round, and and an air blast system for blowing snow.
Bass says the contract request comes ahead of a plan to upgrade the fleet. "In 2020, we’re actually going to be receiving some FAA entitlement grant money to purchase $2 million worth of snow removal equipment. So, it’s about a 5-7 year process to replace these older vehicles. We’re always stewards of our money, though, and it’s worked for years - it’s a workhorse and it’s done well. But, there are a lot of things that during this last storm proved to us it’s probably time to retire this piece of equipment."
The new plow wouldn't be built until the purchase contract is approved. Bass is hopeful it would be ready for next winter.
BEND, OR -- A Redmond man is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday morning to agree to a plea deal in connection with allegations he tried to lure a teen to a Bend park, last fall. Matthew Taylor Smith was arrested in October after he reportedly exchanged text messages with an officer he thought was a 15-year-old girl.
He's charged with luring a minor and online sexual corruption of a child. The girl's mother is upset over the deal for probation. She tells KBND News Smith first contacted her daughter at a fast food restaurant, with a note requesting sex. They turned the information over to police who then posed as the teen in text messages.
She and her daughter plan to testify at the hearing, to push for Smith to serve jail time.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 26-year-old Prineville man was injured in a rollover crash on Juniper Canyon Road, Monday evening. Crook County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene southeast of Prineville just after 5:30 and found an SUV on its top.
They say Jeffrey Shannon lost control on a curve; alcohol is believed to be a factor, although the investigation is ongoing. Shannon was found unconscious at the scene; he was flown to St. Charles Bend, where he was treated and released.
BEND, OR -- A Bend RV park employee was arrested for DUII and Reckless Driving, following a crash inside the park on South Highway 97.
Investigators say 56-year-old Frankie Fennessy was driving a maintenance truck and utility trailer at the Scandia RV Park when he hit a fifth wheel, at about 8:45 Monday night. A man inside the fifth wheel sustained minor injuries and was evaluated by medics at the scene.
Police say Fennessy was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. He was arrested and lodged at the Deschutes County Jail.
BEND, OR -- Nearly 200 people packed a Friday evening town hall meeting with State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend). St. Charles Bend staff had to open additional conference rooms to accommodate the crowd.
Buehler first talked for about a half hour about his priorities for this session, including improving education, healthcare, affordable housing, poverty and the political system. A number of teachers attending the forum complained about growing class sizes. They told Buehler the state should increase the corporate tax rate to pay for education. "The fact of the matter is our schools are suffering right now; you haven't answered the question, yet, about the corporate taxes," said one attendee. Another insisted, "It's a yes or no question." Buehler eventually answered, "No."
He told the group, "I'm for making sure we have good paying job for Oregonians, that we have a lot more revenue, that we prioritize the way we spend our dollars to make sure K-12 education is our first priority, and we should make our government more efficient and capable. If we do all that, then we can talk about increasing taxes." Buehler added, "I share your concerns about cutting schools. I think we've cut schools quite enough. In fact, I think just the opposite; we should fund schools first in the budget process. Unfortunately not enough of those dollars that are coming into the state are getting into our schools. I think we've had a lot of misplaced priorities."
Attendees also asked Buehler about Planned Parenthood, keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people, foster care, green jobs and the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).
BEND, OR -- A man was critically wounded when he was pinned under a pickup loaded with firewood, Friday morning. Police say mechanical failure caused the unoccupied truck to move forward in the parking lot, at the Shepherd’s House. The victim lives at the northeast Bend homeless shelter.
Other residents and staff, along with several police officers, quickly unloaded the wood and lifted the truck off the man.
He was taken to St. Charles Bend. One officer was hurt during the rescue operation. The investigation into the incident is ongoing.
LA PINE, OR -- Reports of an armed intoxicated man “tearing up” a La Pine business led to the evacuation of a nearby business and a brief stand-off with Deschutes County Sheriff’s deputies, Friday evening. The suspect’s mother was able to safely leave the Highway 97 location after reporting 34-year-old Joseph Cleveland was causing problems inside.
Assisted by Sunriver PD and Oregon State Police, deputies surrounded the business and began calling inside to convince Cleveland to come out. About 90-minutes after the initial call, he walked out on his own and was arrested. They later found an A/R-type firearm at the scene.
Cleveland is charged with Criminal Mischief and Unlawful Possession of a Short Barreled Rifle.
BEND, OR -- Registration opens Monday for summer youth camps offered by Central Oregon Community College. With more than a dozen different themes to choose from, camp coordinator Kirdy Molan says they’re designed to pique kids’ interest in potential future careers. "The cool thing about our camps is they’re not babysitting camps. These kids usually really want to be there; they’re half-day camps. We try to find majors within COCC that want to host camps."
She tells KBND News, "We have culinary camps; we’ve always had aviation camps, but this year we’re bringing in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle [drone] camps; virtual reality design, so kids will make a virtual reality video game." And, she says computer-related offerings are getting even more high-tech, " We are offering a lot more advanced coding camps, as well, which has been in high demand, so that’s going to be awesome – and program design."
Camps are from mid-June through August. "They all have different instructors; they all have different times. We offer them on every campus of COCC," says Molan. "We have one in Madras, we have a technology camp and a culinary camp in Prineville, and then we’re having at least two technology camps in Redmond, including 3-D printing and a Lego video games design."
The four-day camps are for 10- to 14-year-olds and pre-registration is required. Molan says the culinary camps are especially popular and fill up quickly.
BEND, OR -- A 27-year-old Bend man was arrested last week for allegedly initiating a relationship with an underage girl.
According to police, Keegan Palmer knew the victim and her family. Investigators say he used messaging sites and online forums, as well as in-person meetings to perpetuate the sexual abuse.
The inappropriate relationship allegedly began last year when the victim was 14. He was taken into custody Thursday without incident . Palmer faces a number of charges, including Encouraging Child Sex Abuse, Luring a Minor and Rape.
Bend Police reminds parents to be vigilant in checking their children's computers, cell phones, social media and messaging apps to help prevent kids from becoming victims.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon remains under a high wind warning until 8 p.m. Friday. The strongest gusts, up to 60 mph, are predicted through 2 p.m.
Gusts pushed over a number of trees across the region, Friday morning; some knocking out power. Bend Fire has responded to multiple wind-related incidents, including blown transformers and roads blocked by trees. Officials ask that those venturing outside watch for falling branches and flying debris. Better yet, stay inside until the wind dies down.
Bend Parks and Rec is urging everyone to avoid parks and trails where debris could be hazardous. Trees are down in Drake Park and others. The district will assess damage and clean up affected parks and trails as soon as possible following the storm.
And, the Humane Society of Central Oregon has received calls of fences blown over and pets escaping yards. Lost dogs should be reported to your local shelter immediately. Experts say flying objects and wind gusts can frighten or injure animals; they should be kept inside, if possible.
(above) Photo courtesy: Cricket Daniel, Bend
(below) Photo courtesy: Rod Porsche, Downtown Bend Business Association
PRINEVILLE, OR -- As we get closer to the August 21st solar eclipse, local officials are getting a better idea of just how many people are expected to converge on the region. Organizers of a rural Crook County festival have asked to revise their permit to allow up to 30,000 people; that's more than the county’s current population.
County Judge Seth Crawford says the original permit for Symbiosis: Oregon Eclipse was approved some time ago, allowing 15,000 people at Big Summit Prairie, about an hour east of Prineville. The court will take up the issue again at their April 19th meeting. "We’re gathering information and we need to make sure that things are going to be done right, and they’re taking care of the waste, and they don’t leave a bunch of garbage, and that they have the right infrastructure and medical, and everything that makes sure that they have a great time and that people are safe." He tells KBND News there are a lot of things to consider, "One of the positive things I see about this is having all of these people in one location, where we know where they are and we can work with somebody that’s running the operation to be able to have a conversation, have a point person and have somebody to set up these services. When they’re more dispersed, there’s less ability to control the decisions they’re making, good or bad." He also likes that it's a ticketed event, allowing some control over the crowd, "It’s a no re-entry event. So, you need to go there and stay there for the entire event; when you leave, you leave for good. So, we don’t have a bunch of traffic going on all over the roads, so I think that will help a lot."
The request has drawn criticism from some, who say that’s too many people in the Ochocos at one time. Crawford says much of the opposition is from outside Crook County. "I haven’t heard a lot of local people be really worried about it. I’ve heard of people, maybe in the region. I’m not saying there’s nobody inside [Crook County], I just haven’t heard anybody very vocal, locally." He adds, "We’re not talking about the public lands where the general public gets to decide what goes on there. And, I think it’s really important that we realize that when people own property, they have certain things that they’re allowed to do on their property."
Regional community leaders estimate the solar eclipse could draw up to half a million people to the High Desert.