A bill that would prevent picketing and other disruptive activities near a funeral service is cleared by the Oregon House. The measure would allow people to "reserve" space on public property at least 400 feet away from funeral or memorial services; and at least 1000 feet away under certain circumstances. Supporters of the bill say it would protect families of fallen veterans from a group that pickets military funerals and would provide a zone of privacy for all funerals. Local Representative Jason Conger of bend says he voted for the bill because he believes it respects the mourning family and free speech rights. The Legislation now goes to the Senate.
You may be given a "heads up" soon if your health care costs are going to increase by at least seven percent. Oregon Senators just approved a bill that would require health insurers in Oregon to warn policyholders of impending rate increases. Under the measure, an insurer that files for a rate increase of 7% or more that affects at least 1000 people must alert those customers. The bill would apply to insurance companies selling coverage to individuals and small businesses. The measure now goes to the House for debate.
Central Oregon has made some headway on jobs, but not enough. Our unemployment is down, but more work needs to be done. Governor Kitzhaber just appointed Annette Liebe as the Regional Solutions Coordinator for Central Oregon. Her job will be to assist Central Oregon in job creation. “I think Central Oregon is a different community size and so my focus will be on getting out in the community and building partnerships with local officials and private sector. The vision is to bring in partners from the academic community as well.” Liebe has spent the last 17 years working for the Department of Environmental Quality.
She plans to move to Bend next month.
As many as 1,000 police and fire vehicles are expected to form a procession through the Eugene- Springfield area on the way to Friday’s memorial service for slain Eugene Officer Chris Kilcullen. The service is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the University of Oregon’s Matthew Knight arena, which has room for more than 12,000 people to attend. KBND talked with a friend who will be speaking at the memorial. Eugene radio talk show host Rob Holloway is speaking at the service. He says officer Chris Kilcullen was a friend who made a big difference in their local community. “He was in traffic enforcement and hostage negotiations, and was extremely involved in with Relay for Life with the American Cancer Society. He never said 'no' and was so involved with causes. If you had a good cause and a cup of coffee, he was there and he'd give you 3 times what you'd ask for." He was shot and killed a week ago. Cheryl Kidd, 57, a Springfield woman is charged with aggravated murder. Kilcullen is the first Eugene Officer killed in the line of duty since 1934.
If you're in the Crooked River Ranch area this weekend, you'll see a lot of motorcycles. That's because the Steel Stampede is coming into town. For five years, these vintage motorcycles have been coming to the area for trails and races. Hope Johnson is with the Crooked River Ranch Chamber: “But they are vintage motorcycles pre-1974. The riders range in age from 30 to their 70's. It's really fun. It's really a unique event. The Steel Stampede costs $10 per person per day.” It will run Saturday and Sunday and the proceeds go to several organizations within the Crooked River Ranch community.
Money is tight for the State of Oregon and the group that decides where to cut is in Bend today. They are at the OSU Cascades Campus from 4 p.m. to 6 p. m. to hear from the public. In the past, meetings like this have had a big impact to local programs. The powerful "Ways and Means Committee" has been traveling around Oregon to hear from the public in this difficult budgeting time for the State. State Senator Chris Telfer will be at today's meeting and encourages people to come out. She says you can make a difference: “We were there two years ago and OSU-Cascades was on the chopping block. And a lot of people turned out and so we saved OSU-Cascades from being cut from the budget." She says they'll be talking about issues like public safety and potentially dramatic cuts to human services. The meeting is from 4 to 6 p.m. at the OSU-Cascades Campus in Bend.
The State Senate passed a bill Thursday that forces a revision to a rule some say has blocked local job creation. The bill, sponsored by Senator Chris Telfer of Bend, requires a review and revision of the Transportation Planning Rule and places a priority on economic development. All Senators voted in favor of it and it now moves to the House. “I'm happy; we watered it down a little from the original TPR Moratorium and it's good stuff. It's great; it's a good bite out of the apple." Telfer says in the past, the Transportation Planning Rule has created a complex web of demands and requirements that must be met before land can be made available for new business. She calls the rule heavy handed with unnecessary hurdles to local job creation.
For the second year in a row, Oregon’s Principal of the Year comes from the Bend La Pine School District. This year, La Pine's High School Principal Jay Mathisen won the honor. The announcement was made at an assembly on Thursday. Mathison: “The District had worked to set up an all school assembly. The students were so proud about being at La Pine High. They were pretty fired up and that's was really cool.” Mathisen has been the Principal at La Pine High for four years, and under his leadership, students test scores have risen dramatically. Last year, Jewell Elementary Principal Bruce Reynolds was the State's Elementary School Principal of the Year.
Today in Eugene, thousands of people are expected at a memorial service honoring fallen police officer Chris Kilcullen. The Eugene Police Officer was shot and killed last Friday in the line of duty. Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton says some local law enforcement people will also be there. " We have an honor guard at the Sheriff's Office and we try to participate in everything that we can like that. And so about four or five people from the Sheriff's Office to pay tribute to that slain officer; so not a good situation, seems like there's been way too much of that lately." The University of Oregon volunteered Matthew Knight Arena for the memorial, and other agencies have stepped forward to help Eugene with the details.
A Bend math teacher is being honored by the President. Today President Obama announced the prestigious National Math and Science Awards. Sky View Middle School Math teacher Melinda Knapp is one of only 85 teachers throughout the country who were given this honor. Winners of the Presidential honor receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion. They also receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events. The educators will receive their awards in Washington, D.C. later this year. Knapp is the only Oregon teacher to win the award.
Police will be out in force today on Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond this afternoon looking for those not following traffic laws. Officers will be looking for speeders, those using cell phones and other violations. They may also expand their crackdown to include Tumalo Road to Highway 20 West in the Tumalo area.
It will last from 1 to 5 p.m. this afternoon.
The cost and access to healthcare is a challenge millions of Americans continue to struggle with. A forum tonight of Oregon doctors will look at the benefits of a single payer system. The healthcare approved last year is not a single payer, but doctors like Mike Huntington are traveling around the state informing people about what that means. “The fact is the system is collapsing unless we do something that equitable. Primary and specialists won't have any patients. Insurance rates raises 25% are going to run out of customers in the near future.” The Oregon Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Plan will be holding a meeting tonight at First United Methodist Church in downtown Bend. It runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
The Oregon House approved a measure that hopes to light a fire under the federal government's permit process in the testing of drones in Central Oregon. Jason Conger of Bend introduced it, saying that the testing of unmanned aircraft here could pump millions of dollars into the local economy: “Some projections I’ve seen, obtained by EDCO, by the way, said that it cold amount to $75 million positive financial impact to Central Oregon.” Conger says drone testing would attract aerospace, aviation and manufacturing to the area, and would create 1000's of well paying jobs in the process. “The measure, House Joint Memorial 20; urges Congress to enact legislation requiring the FAA to expedite the approval process for drones in rural counties with an unemployment rate of 10% or higher.” Though private pilots and hang-gliders have questioned the idea, the memorial passed unanimously yesterday without debate. It now moves to the Senate.
Stocks have been mixed throughout the day today, after the government said the U.S. economy slowed in the first three months of this year. The economy grew at a 1.8% annual rate in the January-March period. That’s the weakest showing since last spring when the European debt crisis reduced growth to 1.7%. Higher prices for oil and gas have constrained consumer spending. Bend financial advisor Troy Reinhart with Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management says high gasoline prices are having an impact: "One of the things we found in the GDP number is that consumers are still spending but instead of buying a new mattress for the home or a new armchair, instead they had to spend it on gas and that is disconcerting. But again oil is being driven more by speculators than it is by actual demand out there. There is still lots of oil out there; demand is not what's pushing it up there’s still uncertainty in the Middle East and speculators.” Reinhart says our economy is getting better, but it doesn't happen overnight. He's also not that concerned about a weekly job claims report that came in at 429,000 new claims. It's the highest since January, but Reinhart believes it’s to be expected as part of our bumpy road to economic recovery.
Charges may be filed against the driver of a Ford Expedition involved in a serious accident on Highway 97 earlier this week. Morgan McCurdy, 21, was driving the SUV southbound on Highway 97 on Monday, April 25th just before 10 a.m., when it crossed into the northbound lanes hitting two vehicles. Lt. Kevin Dizney is looking into the accident: “So our investigation is ongoing to determine why the driver into the northbound lanes of travel. That part of the investigation is still ongoing.” Investigators are looking into if drugs or alcohol were involved. Some witnesses say the SUV was veering erratically before the crash. Four people were taken to the hospital, a couple with serious injuries. All have since been released. When the investigation is complete, the D.A.'s Office will determine if charges will be filed.
Spring weather is likely to get here sooner or later. In anticipation of that, many people are trying to get their bathing suit bodies ready for the swimsuit season. A current trend is the “HCG” diet. It uses Human Chroniatic Gonadotropin Hormone, also known as the pregnancy hormone, to help people lose body fat. Patricia Grady with Agewise MD explains how it works: "So the way it works is that when used in a particular concentration it stimulates the hypothalamus to tell the body to release body fat. In conjunction with a very low calorie diet which causes the body to lose weight, not the HCG, it releases between 1500 and 2500 calories, and lose body fat in the abdomen hips and the thighs." Grady warns that offers for "Homeopathic HCG" online are not a good idea, because they aren't regulated and often there are no discernible amounts of the hormone in those products. She also says it's important to get advice and follow that advice on how use the HCG as a tool or just part of the overall weight loss plan. For more information, you can log onto the Agewise MD website: www.agewisemd.com.
The Deschutes County Sheriff has changed the investigation on Mondays' Highway 97 crash that injured four to a criminal investigation. A Sheriffs Office news report says that witnesses had reported that driver Morgan McCurdy's, 21, driving to be erratic. Charges against McCurdy submitted to the Deschutes County District Attorney's Office for consideration include reckless driving, assault and recklessly endangering another person. Also the use of alcohol or drugs is being investigated. The Monday morning crash on Highway 97 south of Deschutes Junction involved three vehicles and shut down the highway in both directions for about an hour.
McCurdy and two others injured; Lacey Satterfield, 22, and Shelly Creswell, 36, have all been released from the hospital.
The 69 year old La Pine man who was shot last week in a standoff with police has been arraigned on several charges. The Deschutes County District Attorney's Office says Curtis Berger was arraigned Wednesday afternoon on attempted assault, robbery, weapons charges, and other alleged crimes. District Attorney Patrick Flaherty asked the court set bail at 250,000 and that at request was granted. His next court appearance is set for May 2nd at 1:30 pm. The D.A. also says Berger is currently on probation for resisting arrest and stalking and he'll be arraigned shortly on a motion to revoke his probation.
Bend La Pine Schools Superintendent Ron Wilkinson is proposing to lay off 35 school teachers next year, to close the District's $15 million budget gap. The District also plans to cut eight administrator positions and three more school days. District spokesperson Julianne Repman says a majority of the layoffs will come at the high school level: “But what we do know is in the past, elementary and middle schools had most of the cuts. This year we're looking at the high school level to bring it more into balance.” It's expected 22 teachers at the high school level could be laid off, five at the elementary and 8 at the middle school levels. District officials are scheduled to start union negotiations on these budget cuts. The District is scheduled to approve the final budget on June 28th.
Keeping our water supply safe requires a lot of testing. The City of Bend monitors and tests our drinking water at the meters to make sure we don't have any backflow problems that could contaminate the supply. But homeowners with sprinkler systems are responsible for their own backflow testing. “There's protection at the meter and test. So the city protects the water supply. But customers with irrigation systems. That’s their responsibility to test.” Bob Phillips of "Bob's Jobs" does backflow testing: “What the backflow assembly does is prevent any contaminated water from flowing back into the domestic supply and contaminating either the residence or the neighborhood.” The City of Bend is sending out letters reminding homeowners to get the irrigation backflow testing done. It is required by federal law.
An encouraging but tenuous economic forecast for the State of Oregon during the first quarter of 2011. Oregon has had some good job gains, but such industries as banking and real estate remain weak. Economist Bill Watkins is with the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at Cal Lutheran University: “Our forecast right now is for more slow growth, slow job growth. Worried about the sustainability. We’re in a very risky time right now; particularly oil prices could push us back into a recession pretty easily.” Watkins predicts if oil prices reach $150 a barrel, we'll slip back into a recession.
Washington, D.C. – Two of the world’s biggest oil companies announced billions in profits today and the rest of the industry is expected to post similarly high numbers later this week. BP recorded a first-quarter profit of $7.1 billion and ConocoPhillips recorded a $3.03 billion profit – and yet gas prices in the U.S. have jumped a dollar per gallon in the last year while oil companies continue to receive billions in subsidies. Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement in response to the profit postings:
“Oregon families are looking under sofa cushions to scrape together enough money to fill up their tanks, and now we see where those hard-earned dollars are going. Families may be spending late nights around their kitchen tables worrying about their finances, but oil company executives are around their boardroom tables celebrating.
“So why are some in Congress still fighting to protect Big Oil’s massive multi-billion dollar subsidies?
“Every time Oregonians fill up, they’re reminded how vulnerable we are – to unrest in the Middle East, to Wall Street speculators chasing a quick buck, to Big Oil lobbyists piling taxpayer subsidies on top of the billions they already get from us at the pump.
“We need to break our dependence on oil. And a great way to start is by repealing these wasteful subsidies and instead investing in developing clean, renewable, homegrown sources of energy so Americans are in control of our own economic future.”
Last year, Senator Merkley put forward an oil independence plan to eliminate all foreign imports from non-North American nations by 2030. It includes steps to ramp up production and use of electric vehicles, increase efficiency of freight transportation, improve mass transit, develop alternative transportation fuels, and reduce the use of oil to heat buildings.
Read Senator Merkley’s oil independence plan online: click here.
There was announcement today following an officer involved shooting in La Pine last week. The two deputies involved in the six hour standoff are being cleared of wrong-doing. The incident continues to be investigated by the Tri-County Major Incident Team directed by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, the Oregon State Police and the Deschutes County District Attorney.
Following the release of Curtis Jack Berger, 69, from St. Charles Medical Center, he will be arraigned on charges to be determined by District Attorney Patrick Flaherty. The District Attorney has determined from evidence collected at the scene, deputy’s statements and reports from the Tri-County Major Incident Team that the use of deadly physical force was justified by the deputies involved.
Despite efforts from organizations statewide and throughout the northwest, it seems some who have suicidal thoughts are not reaching out in time. In Vancouver, Washington, police believe a man set his own home on fire with his family inside just days ago. A 20-year-old man in Bend stabbed himself in front of 14 people within the last few weeks, and still other Central Oregon suicides continue to invade news headlines. Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton says everyone, including his staff, needs to constantly be on the look out for signs of suicidal tendencies. “You know I think it's important that people as much as they can be vigilant in giving people help that are asking for help and you have to be listening very closely for people that are asking for help ‘cuz they don't necessarily come right out and say that. Our corrections deputies our patrol deputies are trained on how to deal with those people suffering from mental illness and or are going through a phase in their life where they want to be self-destructive.” Sheriff Blanton says they also use that training in the midst of responding to domestic disputes. They also ask if the person has had self-destructive thoughts such as suicide and further assess their mental state when putting them in jail. He says if you need help for yourself or someone else, you can call a suicide hotline or just dial 911.
The City of Sisters is having an Arbor Day celebration Thursday. David Hewitt's fourth grade class at Sisters Elementary School is joining in the festivities by planting 10 trees to honor the day. "We thought it would be nice to have the fourth graders come out and, for me, it's a nice outreach for the kids to feel like they have contributed something to the community at large and they have an investment out there and it's something they that they'll be able to look back at in several years and say, 'I helped plant that tree over there.' " Hewitt says they will plant 10 trees: five spruce trees and five aspen trees at Sisters Overnight Park, right after a proclamation is read by Mayor Lon Kellstrom. The City received a “Tree City USA” award for the fifth time this year as well as a “Growth Award” from the State of Oregon.
Outdoor enthusiasts in Central Oregon may get a new snow park soon. The Deschutes National Forest is taking comment on the Kapka Butte Sno Park proposal near the Mount Bachelor ski area. Spokesperson Jean Nelson Dean says the park would allow for skiers to recreate with their dogs and meet other popular recreational needs. "There's some great things about this we got a federal enhancement grant of about $450,000. It’s a very unique opportunity. The State has limited new Sno Parks and this will allow this into their system and so they would do all the snow plowing in the snow park and thru the snow park fees. The park also addresses the key issues of relieving parking congestion at Dutchman Flats Sno Park, and allowing both motorized and non-motorized users at the site during the winter.
35 teaching positions could be cut; plus cost of living and other pay increases reduced as well as eliminating three more days to the school year. This is the plan that Bend La Pine Schools are proposing to try and make up for a $15-million shortfall for next year. The Bend Bulletin reports that Superintendent Ron Wilkinson says that: "This is tough times, and it will either bring out the best or the worst." District officials say they plan to eliminate programs and positions created through almost $2-million in stimulus funding, that has now expired.
They will also cut technology and textbook allowances and eliminate eight administrator positions. Wilkinson says they must now have talks with the teachers and classified unions and hopefully come to agreements before the budget approval date of June 28th.
There's a simple explanation for a low graduation rate in Redmond of just 46% getting their diploma in four years. District spokesman Jon Bullock says many students are taking advantage of a new advanced diploma program that skews the report. "Our four year graduation rate appears lower than the state average and our regional peers because we have over 100 students each year pursue our advanced diploma, although they would be eligible for a regular diploma if they chose to pursue that. So in the 4 year graduation rate they don't look like they're graduates, even though they're qualified to be that." To get a more accurate picture; the five year rate accounts for those students and puts Redmond at 75%, higher than the state five year average of 69%.
A large northwest fraud and possible racketeering ring extends to Central Oregon. Police arrested a prominent Washington County realtor and contractor on suspicion of many counts of fraud, aggravated theft and money laundering. Washington County Sheriff's Office Sergeant David Thompson says two of several search warrants in the case were also served in Central Oregon; one in Sisters and one in Bend. Michael Francis, 61, Dimeo of MJT Custom Homes is accused in this case. “Basically Mr. Dimeo is fraudulently obtaining loans of cash and bank loans so we have bank victims and personal victims who he borrowed money from in the 100's of thousands of dollars that he was supposed to invest in his mortgage company and into his property. But he was using that money for personal use. " Police also believe this could be part of a larger crime ring and arrested another man; Robert Baylor on drug charges. Agents sized 45 marijuana plants, five pit bulls and even a four foot alligator they found inside his home.
Today, the Deschutes County Public Health Advisory Board is presenting its annual Public Health Heroes Awards. The awards are given to an individual and a group that has demonstrated excellence in promoting and protecting public health. This year's individual category winner is Linda Burgel, who has been a woman's health care nurse practitioner for 23 years and has worked at the Deschutes County Health Services Department since 1998. The group award goes to "Commute Options" a non-profit organization that celebrated 20 years of service last year. Commute Options works hard to promote transportation alternatives to the residents of Deschutes County. The organization greatly impacts the health of residents while preserving the environment and resources.
A heated Prineville City Council meeting Tuesday on how to make sure the City Hall can have a Christmas or holiday display in December. The City Attorney drew up a resolution that would change some of the words from "Christmas" to "Holiday", but the Council was evenly split. Bette Roppe is Prineville's Mayor: “I feel we need to be really responsible about what we commit our City to pay for. I would like to reach a conclusion that would not require a court case.” Three Councilors voted to change the wording to holiday, including Mayor Roppe, and three others voted not to. There was a seventh Councilor missing at Tuesday's meeting that will probably be the tiebreaker. They plan to discuss the issue at their next meeting May 10th.
Crook County Fair officials are shining brightly; or they will be real soon. Facebook has granted almost $16,000 to the fairgrounds to complete the Indoor Arena Lighting Project. Crook County Fair Board Chair Larry Smith says they were thrilled to get the notice that they will receive part of the Facebook Local Grant Program, and the lighting planned will be very energy-efficient: "One of the major impacts on our budget at the Fairgrounds is the utilities and hopefully with the new technology and the lighting, the energy savings should save us somewhere in the neighborhood in excess of $9000 a year in that particular facility." Smith says as part of the project, they are also accepting $300 contributions from the community to purchase individual indoor lights. There are 70 available. When you donate, you name will be placed on a plaque that will be on permanent display inside the arena. The arena gets over 125,000 visitors each year.
Bend Police have completed their investigation into the deaths of a mother and her 5 year old daughter and have ruled it a murder-suicide. Last December, Julie Still was found dead shot to death in her home along with her daughter. Her two year old son, Grant, was shot as well, but survived. Investigators believe Julie killed her daughter, attempted to kill her son and then shot herself. Her husband, Chuck, works at Pepsi here in Bend. Co-workers rushed in to offer financial help. They raised $8500 through different events. Betsy Skovorg with Pepsi says he's been a great employee: “He's doing quite well. He's at work every day and his son Grant is thriving in his new childcare situation. He's really doing very well.” Skovborg says the Stills are using the money to help pay medical expenses and for child care.
The four people involved in Monday's three vehicle accident on Highway 97 are all doing well. Three of them are in fair condition at St. Charles and one was treated and released. The accident on Highway 97 near Deschutes Market Road closed the highway for a while Monday morning. Officers believe a Bend woman's SUV traveling south on the highway veered into the northbound lanes, hitting two vehicles. The two women in the SUV were listed in serious condition Monday night, but their conditions improved to fair today.
Bailing out big banks had a major impact on the economic crisis, with mixed reviews about whether or not it was the right way to handle things. Local Bank Manager Sean Watts of Home Federal says he's not sure it sent the right message to the bigger banks. "And what we're seeing is some of the big banks go after deals aggressively in both price and in structure. And starting to see some deals structured the way they were back in 2007 and 2008 when the financial crisis began and uh, it concerns me. And, uh, it appears to me and probably the people on the street that the big banks didn't learn their lesson." Watts says he hopes the government has also learned a lesson through that process as well and would consider handling a financial crisis differently in the future. Watts was a guest on KBND's “Your Town” segment today.
Things are gearing up for the 2011 Central Oregon Business Expo at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds. Karen Sande with the Redmond Chamber of Commerce says the emphasis will be on how Oregon is open for business - in a big way. "It kicks off with a keynote luncheon speaker; and it's going to be Scott Nelson, who is the advisor to Governor John Kitzhaber. And his topic is" Oregon is open for business.” And he will provide an overview of the economic development legislation that that has been put before the 2011 legislature and how that impact Central Oregon." Sande says there also will be workshops during the day, some targeting promoting your business on the Internet. The Central Oregon Business Expo is Thursday, with the luncheon beginning at 11:45 and exhibit booths open at 1:00 p-m. The event is free.
Today the Oregon School Superintendent announced that one-third of last year's high school seniors did not graduate within four years. The report tracks students who first entered high school in 2006. It doesn't necessarily mean they dropped out; it just means they weren't able to graduate in four years. Bend La Pine School District spokesperson Julianne Repman says many schools in Central Oregon faired better than the statewide average. "Statewide about 66% of students are graduating in 4 years. Here at Bend La Pine Schools the average is higher its 73%. So we have students who are in situations where they might be working part time. They might have a medical emergency that's preventing them from graduating in four years, and we believe it’s important to get students to graduation no matter what situations they're faced with in life. Sometimes it does take more than 4 years.” The lowest four year graduation rate in Central Oregon was in Redmond; the rate was just 46% for Redmond High School. In Madras, the rate was 57% and in Prineville, the best Central Oregon tally was at Crook County High School, where almost 89% of the students graduated in four years.
Several people from Central Oregon are recovering today from a dramatic crash on Highway 97 that involved several vehicles. Witnesses say an SUV careened over the median barrier on Highway 97 near Deschutes Junction Monday morning, striking two other vehicles and causing closures in both directions as an Airlink helicopter was called to the scene. The crash on northbound Highway 97 near Deschutes Market Road occurred shortly before 10 a.m. Lt. Kevin Dizney understands why drivers in the area may have been shocked by the crash: “Any kind of accident like that where you have multiple cars, can be very traumatic especially for cars passing by and seeing something like that. It's also kind of unusual to see a car on the wrong side of the center barrier like that but that may also have been the result of the location and where those jersey barriers ended, if you will.” Those taken to the hospital as a result of the three car crash were: Morgan McCurdy, 21, of Bend; Lacey Satterfield, 22, of Bend; Mary Rosenbalm, 43, of Redmond and Shelley Creswell, 36, of Redmond. (Thanks to Newschannel 21 for the photo)
Today the Madras City Council is hearing about a new operating levy request for the County Jail. Last November voters rejected a levy asking for $1.19 per $1000 of assessed value. In the new request, voters are being asked to approve 99 cents per $1000, the same amount they are currently paying. Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins say if this levy fails they'll have to start releasing inmates: “If it fails this time around we're going to have to make some drastic changes in the staffing of the jail and also in the number of inmates that we currently house. In the last couple of months, we've been averaging around 70 - 75 inmates and if the levy fails we're going to have to reduce that number to 32.” He says half of those 32 inmates are from Crook County. He says a strong jail acts as a good deterrent for those on parole and probation.
Prom season is coming up in the next couple weeks. For the last several years, Bend La Pine High Schools have made sure students haven't been drinking. For the last eight years, Summit High School has made all students take a Breathalyzer before they enter any of their dances. Principal Dr. Lynn Baker: “Well, we wanted to make sure students know that is they are coming to the dance, they were going to be clean and sober and we weren't going to have any issues inside the dance.” Dr. Baker says students know they have to take the Breathalyzer and they’ve never had a student fail the test.
Jefferson County Commissioners will be hearing from the local public Wednesday night on the pros and cons of attracting destination resorts to the area. Jefferson County Administrator Jeff Rasmussen says this marks the second public hearing on the issue: "They're discussing east county, mainly up in the Ashwood area. It’s funding we got from the state after the Metolius Resort issue failed. We asked them if they would provide a grant for us to review other parts of the county that were still eligible.” He says so far they haven't seen too much opposition, and that Commissioners could move forward soon and give the go ahead and designate land that's eligible to receive an application for a destination resort. Any proposals that come forward after that would have a severe and strict citing requirement. The public hearing starts at 7 p.m. at the Commission meeting room on "D" Street in Madras.
Fire officials in la pine say a woman and her three children are lucky to be alive following an early morning fire on Easter Sunday. The fire destroyed part of their fifth wheel trailer and much of their belongings. The American Red Cross provided some temporary help. Spokesperson Bobbie Bourne: "They were displaced by the fire, so they had no place to stay and American Red Cross helped them with 3 nights in a hotel and gave them a debit card that has funds on it to help them get meals and buy some clothes and coats.” The La Pine Fire Chief, Mike Supkis says Lisa Choate is a full time college student with a full time job. She awoke first and got her three kids out of the RV. The fifth wheel had no working smoke detector and the family has no fire insurance.
The Bend Police Department has finished its’ investigation into the murder-suicide involving a mother and her children in Bend. The investigation concluded that Julie Still used a 22-caliber pistol to take the life of her 5 year old daughter and attempted to take the life of her two year old son, before taking her own life. The son survived and has recovered from his injuries. Investigators say journal entries written by Julie gave supportive insight into her state of mind. The case will now be sent to the District Attorney's officials for review.
We had a mixed bag of weather on Monday. Many parts of Central Oregon saw rain, snow, sun and strong winds during the day. Meteorologist Scott Larimore with the Weather Channel says conditions will be nicer today. “It does look improved. We will get a reprieve with sunshine. It will continue on Wednesday, but Thursday and Friday; that will be our next bout of rain. But shouldn't be as windy.” On Monday, parts of Central Oregon saw wind gusts up to 45 miles per hour.
A friend of the slain Eugene police officer calls him a one of a kind person who was very popular in the community. Radio talk show host Rob Holloway is going to speak at Friday's memorial in Eugene that could draw as many as 15,000. He knew Officer Chris Kilcullen for several years as a friend and a professionally on the radio. The 43 year old officer was shot and killed during a traffic pursuit on Friday. The suspect, Cheryl Kidd of Springfield was arrested a short time later and arrested on aggravated murder. Holloway says officer Kilcullen was heavily involved in several different important local causes. “The ironic thing about it is he was extremely involved in helping people with mental health issues.” Officer Kilcullen was a highly decorated and popular officer, and leaves behind a wife and two children. Governor John Kitzhaber today is ordered that all flags at public facilities in Lane County be flown at half-staff and on Friday. The day of the memorial, flags throughout Oregon will be flown at half-mast.
We’ve been having some wild weather today. Depending on your elevation, you could be seeing rain or snow. and strong wind gusts. “What we're looking at is a fresh storm system that is bringing a variety of weather. In the higher elevation its snow, in the lower elevations its rain or even thunderstorms. and it gets more unstable as we do through the day and into the night.” Scott Larimore with the Weather Channel says we're under a high wind advisory until later tonight. Tune into KBND’s “Take Five” Tuesday for insight into our wild weather!
Oregon has one of the highest rates of suicide in the country. So Deschutes County periodically holds free suicide prevention training to help teach people the signs that people may be in trouble. Cheryl Emerson teaches the class that focuses on the QPR model. It stands for question, persuade and refer. “So the question part is ask the person: are you thinking of suicide? Once you understand that issue, than persuade them to get the help available and then refer them to that help.” This session is free. It will be at the Bend Park and Recreation District Office Tuesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
95% of child abuse cases at Kids Center in Bend, show the victim was familiar with the abuser. That's according to Development Director Robin Atonson. She adds that, often, the abuse happens in their home and with a family member. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Kid’s Center in Bend would like you to join the Blue Ribbon Campaign to raise awareness of abuse. Hope Storey, a lead forensic interviewer in child abuse cases, says there are ways that you can help stop abuse before it happens, and also help child victims recover from traumatic experiences. "Another thing is really they need to be around supportive care givers so whether it's grandparents community members aunts uncles they need to have these positive role models and so having advocates and people out there that support them through counseling, art therapy, play therapy any kind of group work and just letting them know that it's ok and they can get through this." For more information on things like signs of abuse or how to get a child to open up about it, go to: www.kidscenter.org. You can also find out how to get an "It's My Body Workbook" or classes "Let's Talk About It" classes at that same site.
State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo says all day kindergarten is a great investment in our children. She recently came to Bend to talk with educators and others about stricter testing standards in the younger grades. She also stopped by our KBND studios and talked about the current legislative session. She believes one of the best ideas so far is a bill that switches Oregon to all day kindergarten starting in 2015. "It really helps children be better prepared for the 1st grade. And as we raise the bar of what we expect from our children in terms of their achievement. We need to start early and we know the payoff for doing that is just enormous." Those who oppose the bill say that it may be a good idea; but the Oregon School Board Association and Confederation of Oregon School Administrators called it an 'unfunded mandate. Senator Ted Ferrioli of John Day says it’s a feed good bill that lacks substance. It now moves to the House. We'll feature more of Castillo in-depth interview with us next Monday on Take Five.
A reminder for parents from the Bend Police Department; springtime means more kids playing outside and that presents an opportunity for child predators. Community Policing spokesman Steve Esselstyn says they do receive reports about people trying to lure children : “The main thing to remember is with the warmer days, there's going to be more activity more people out in the streets as well as the little ones. It's a good time to reinforce: ‘You don't talk to strangers; if its someone you don't know just walk away from them. Don't get too close.’ there's more bicycles in the road more kids in the road and so this is a good time to remind the children that stranger danger is a real thing; you don't want to play with that." If you see anyone who is acting suspicious in your neighborhood, call police. That can be something like a person taking pictures of kids or hanging out near a bus-stop. Tell your kids to watch out for strangers who ask them to find their puppy or, even these days, have a question about a popular technical gadget like a DS or cell phone. He says kids naturally want to help people so they are often tricked by these kinds of things.
A local Prineville woman wrote a parody to Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" about 12 years ago, and now she's ready for it's debut. Beyonna Queen says she wrote it out of desperation. "When my son was 4, I was unemployed. And that's where the idea of the song came about. Always wanted Willie to record it. And could never get to him. A decade goes by and with the jobless situation, I just though: let's break it out. Lets go and record this." Queen says she was able to get the song recorded in Nashville by Ethan Allen and produced in Los Angeles. She wanted to get Willie Nelsons' permission for the parody, but ran into roadblocks with his record label. But, Queen recently got the go ahead from her attorney to release the song on the Internet, and she wants Central Oregon to be the first to hear it. Click here.
A Portland woman was rescued from the top of Misery Ridge Trail in Smith Rock State Park. Cynthia Wise, 63, called 911 early Friday afternoon saying she had injured her ankle and could not get down the trail. Redmond Fire Paramedics made the steep climb to her location and treated her injury. Then, three Sheriff’s Deputies and eight Search & Rescue members used a wheeled litter to get her to safety. She was taken to St. Charles-Redmond for minor injuries.
The investigation continues into a fire that left a barn and its contents completely destroyed. Bend Fire & Rescue responded to the Gerking Market Road address north of Innes Market in the Tumalo area around 8:00 Saturday night. Tthe barn was completely engulfed when firefighters arrived, but they were able to keep the fire from spreading to the primary residence. There were no injuries to humans or animals. Total loss is estimated at $190,000.
If you're one of the many people who's behind in preparing for retirement you may want to get some extra help in a free seminar in Bend on Tuesday. Mid Oregon Credit Union is hosting a workshop that will go over strategies that can help you: “How much can I take out? How long do I plan to be in retirement? And that can help you out with some decisions on whether you retire at 62. Or you keep working and what kind of health insurance do you have, the whole gamut, of pieces to the financial picture that will help you be in a good position for retirement." A new study shows the recession has been especially hard on people in their 50's who were laid off at a time when its very important to aggressively put money towards retirement. The free workshop is Tuesday, at 6:00p.m. at the east Bend branch on Cushing Drive.
Neighbor Impact is re-examining its mission. It was founded more than 25 years ago to help break the cycle of poverty. But leaders from Neighbor Impact told the Deschutes County Commissioners last week, they want to make sure they're not duplicating services with other agencies. Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger: “We heard from Neighbor Impact, that they would like to revisit their strategic plan, to make sure we are headed in the direction to provide services that are supported by funding and that are needed.” For example, Neighbor Impact wants to make sure some its services, are not being duplicated by such agencies are Housing Works.
The State Schools Superintendent was in Bend Friday with a message for students and parents: to stay competitive worldwide- the State is raising the math test standards. Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo says the U.S. currently ranks 17th out of 65 industrialized countries; and Oregon's student achievement is consistently in the middle of the pack compared to other states. She says they are trying to address that issue by asking students earlier to improve their math skills more: “So when we see the test scores for this school year we may see the test scores take a dip. So we want your listeners to know that when we see the math scores for this year. It’s not that kids aren't doing as well in math; we're raising the bar we're asking them to aim for a higher target.” Friday she met with local community and education leaders to explain the higher standards. Castillo says while times are very tough, and budgets are tight, we can't afford long term to stay in the same spot or lower the standards because money is tight.
A Redmond-area man was seriously injured Friday evening when his motorcycle traveled off Kline Falls Highway about one mile south of Eagle Crest Resort and struck a mailbox. An Oregon State Police report says around 7:30 Friday night, Trooper Scott Sogge, responded to a call that a 2006 Harley Davidson motorcycle driven by Michael Lee Dyer, 48, from Redmond, was northbound on Kline Falls Highway when it went out of control on a curve. He traveled off the side of the highway for about 150 feet in the ditch before hitting a mailbox. Dyer was transported by Airlink to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend by with serious injuries. The report says speed does not appear to have been a factor in the crash. OSP is continuing the investigation.
The autopsy of Sandra Meyer shows the Bend woman was shot to death. The Medical Examiner's office says she died of a single gunshot wound to the head. The autopsy was performed Thursday in Portland and confirmed the body found buried in the backyard of the Meyer home, was that of missing Bend woman Sandra Meyer. Her husband John Meyer claimed she never returned home after a book club meeting, but killed himself a week later. Bend Police Capt. Jim Porter says the case has been tough on the family and the detectives involved. "It’s hard to quantify stories that end like this; I'm not sure, and a family suffers such a loss, I’m not sure if you ever find true closure. When you're dealing with a family; I mean this is a very, very nice family, you take on some of that feeling. These folks have suffered so much and its hard not to take on some of that, and then you have the responsibility of closing out the case of bringing closure to them and quite frankly our officers carry some of that with them." Police believe he had been planning her murder for a while and found extensive evidence in the Meyer home that Sandra had been killed there. Authorities discovered her remains on Wednesday.
Meanwhile friends of Sandra react to the latest developments. By Kelly Bleyer / Newschannel 21
Friends of Sandra Meyer are glad they finally found her. But they are angry that their friend's husband could do something so horrible to their friend. Neighbor Ginger Mugar is still stunned, John’s letters he left behind after he shot himself, that he didn't admit his guilt. “The fact that he would deny that in the very end was just unbelievable. He must have thought, well he was a very intelligent man, and he must have thought that he could get away with this. Maybe when he found out he couldn't he couldn't cope with that.” Meyer's family hopes to have a memorial service in Bend in the coming days.
An alleged con artist wanted in Deschutes County and in several places around the northwest has been arrested. The Coos County Sheriff's Office says he's now in jail in Coos Bay and they are looking for other possible victims. They say Shanadoa Johnson, 33, is facing charges of criminal mistreatment and theft. Deputies say a man started working on the roof of a Coos Bay home without permission. The man asked the 98 year old homeowner for $1800. Deputies say another man, identified as Johnson, came back late to collect the cash. Johnson is wanted in Deschutes County and has a track record of similar arrest in Washington and Montana.
A popular Central Oregon highway is now partially open. The Deschutes County Road Department says Cascade Lakes Highway is now open from the Crescent cut-off road in Klamath County, to the 40 Road; also know as Spring River Road. There are no lake access point yet along the highway and Paulina Lake Road is still closed. Two resorts that are now open are Crane Prairie Resorts and Twin Lakes Resort. The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway is a National Scenic Route in Central Oregon that runs 66 miles in the rugged part of Deschutes and Klamath counties on the east side of the Cascade Range. It offers good views of Mount Bachelor and during the summer months provides access to many recreational facilities in Central Oregon.
Governor Kitzhaber will be in Central Oregon today to promote his education agenda including the funding and governance changes necessary to create a more accountable, integrated and innovative public education system. Governor Kitzhaber will be joined by Senator Chris Telfer and Representative Jason Conger.
He’s meeting with Bend teachers, students and school administrators at the high school library.
The families of Patience Larm, 16, and Joshua Hamilton, 17, are feeing relief today as the missing teens are found safe and healthy Thursday night. Police say some citizens saw the pair walking in the area of SW 61st Street and SW Young Avenue near Redmond around six o-clock last night. They were contacted by Deschutes County Deputies and were later transported back to their respective parents.
The Redmond Police Department would like to thank the public and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in their safe return.
The Bend-La Pine Schools Administrators and Supervisors Team approved a series of reductions to their 2011-12 employment agreements at a meeting Thursday night. In all, the concessions, and reduction of eight positions, will reduce administrator and supervisor salaries by approximately 6% and save the District more than $900,000 next year.
“In addition to continuation of the 8-10 day shortened contracts in place during the current year and the possibility of up to three days of additional reductions for next year, the concessions provide for no cost of living increases, no increases in insurance contributions from the district, and a continuation of a number of other benefit cutbacks,” said Superintendent Ron Wilkinson in a written statement.
Wilkinson said the elimination of eight administrative positions, including seven elementary school Assistant Principal positions and one Chief Academic Officer position is a loss for schools. The District is also making moves to reorganize several administrative positions to further temper the effects of the budget gap and stretch available dollars. “I really appreciate that our administrators and supervisors continue to make decisions with the best interest of students and families top of mind,” said Wilkinson. “Their collegial commitment to work together to help mitigate our unfortunate budget situation is applaudable.”
Wilkinson said that the District is continuing to work diligently to ensure a fiscally and socially responsible solution to the budget crisis that has the least impact to our local community, staff, parents, and students.
“As with the funding challenges of the past three years, we will continue to work as methodically as possible to find strategies to use available resources in the best manner possible to serve our current and future students,” said Wilkinson. “Our commitment to providing a World-Class education for our students will not waiver – we will continue to forward our goal of becoming the best school district in Oregon.”
Even after dipping into reserves, the district faces a $15 million deficit next fall. Statewide, education funding is down more than $1 Billion, year-over-year.
"Sadly, Oregon sets high standards for education, but often fails to fund education in a way that helps to meet those goals," he adds.
The District will begin negotiations with Classified and Certified (Teachers) in the weeks to come.
An autopsy has confirmed police have found the body of missing Bend woman Sandra Meyer. Bend Police say the remains found Wednesday were discovered in the Meyer's backyard by family members and police officers. Captain Jim Porter has been in close contact with the family: “There reaction is what we'd expect; they've lost a loved one they've been thru a great deal of torment. The resilience of this family and the dedication of this family to bring Sandra home, and that is their words, they just absolutely were not going to give up until they brought their mother, Sandra, home. It’s really been amazing to see people who are able to come thru this and still come thru this and reach the conclusion that they have." Sandra's husband, John, reported her missing in early March, saying she never returned home after a book club meeting. But police believe he murdered her. John committed suicide a week after her disappearance.
A House bill that hopes to put the kybosh on backroom hiring by job hunting legislators is on its way to becoming law. Thursday, the Oregon House passed the bill with a unanimous vote; the measure would ban lawmakers from taking most state government jobs until a year after leaving the Legislature. Representative Jason Conger of Bend thinks the bill is a good idea: “It’s primarily aimed at revolving door time situations where Legislators may have at least a real or perceived conflict of interest in passing legislation that ends up getting them a job after." The legislation was sparked in part by two appointments in 2009 of Democratic lawmakers in the Portland area. Margaret Carter, who co-chaired the Legislatures’ Budget Committee, was appointed to a state job that paid about $122,000. And Larry Galizio received a state job that paid $95,000. Both jobs were newly created positions.
The lone PERs Reform Bill is still alive in the Oregon Legislature. If passed, the bill would cut a PERs tax benefit for future public retirees who move out of the state. Jason Conger of Bend is on the House Business and Labor Committee. He and the rest of the group all voted to move it to the Ways and Means Committee with a recommendation to pass. "If you were a retiree living on a fixed income and you had the opportunity to move 20-50, 100 or even a couple hundred miles into Washington, and you could save 10% or basically increase your check by 10%, you might consider doing that. And so a very significant number of retirees do exactly that; PERs retirees.” Public employees who retire under PERs currently receive extra money each year to cover the cost of Oregon State Income Taxes on their pension benefits, and currently they still receive that money even if they've moved out of state and no longer pay Oregon taxes. The bill cuts the benefit only for workers who retire after January 1st, 2012, and then move out of state.
Deschutes County Commissioners are trying to move forward with a plan to allow area farms to rent out their land for weddings. Commissioners have been discussing this controversial issue for years, with strong opinions on either side. Commissioner Alan Unger says they're currently trying to formulate a policy: “What we are trying to do is to start the conversation. I know there's an impact on neighbors, but these farms need the additional income and we're trying to find a balance.” Some of the criteria the commission is looking at is allowing farm weddings from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., they must be set one hundred feet back from property lines, and no permanent structures will be allowed.” Public hearings will be held on a final policy in the next couple months.
Redmond Police and a local family are asking for the publics help in finding two runaways who may be hitch hiking and trying to get to Florida. Wednesday, the parents reported that Patience Larm, 16, and Joshua Hamilton, 17, were missing. They were last seen around 3 p.m. walking on SW Canal Boulevard just south of Redmond. They stated they were going to hitchhike to Florida and parents are concerned because both children have medical conditions that could compromise their safety. Patience Larm is 5’4”,120 pounds with long auburn hair and Joshua Hamilton is 5’5”, 130 pounds with medium length brown hair. The public is asked to contact police if they have any information that can help.
The motorcyclist involved in Wednesday's crash on Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond is improving. Henry Charles Glowacki, 60, is now in serious condition in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Charles Medical Center. Initially after the accident he was listed in critical condition. Glowacki was thrown from his motorcycle early Wednesday morning on Highway 97 when a semi hit his motorcycle.
Redmond Mayor George Endicott was in Salem for a House vote Wednesday; he says it drew a lot of testimony. Back in 1994, Oregon voters approved a cougar hunting ban and many rural residents have complained loudly since then that the large cats pose a serious threat to humans and pets and livestock. "Yeah, there was one of the Eastern Oregon districts the loss of calves, newborn elk calves has doubled in the last five years because of it, so I mean humans intervene right; I mean we have been managing wild life for a long time now so this is an example of one of those times when we have to put it back into balance a little bit." The Bill passed 45 to 14. It needs a two thirds majority vote in each House to override the 1994 statewide measure that banned dogs being used to hunt cougar.
State funding for public schools the next two years is now set. The Governor signed into bills into law providing $5.7 billion for K through 12 schools. The bills will be taking $100 million out of the State's rainy day fund. “I think this is an important step in the discussion on public education, not simplistic K through 12, but the entire education continuum. And the changes we need to make it make it better for teachers and a better value for taxpayers.” Governor Kitzhaber received assurances from lawyers, if he signed the education bills, they would fund his proposals on early childhood education and higher education.
The last day to register to vote in the May 17th election is April 26th. Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship says there are plenty of candidates for various districts around the county "There will be a variety of district positions on the ballot, ranging from COCC, the various school districts, the fire districts, water and sewer districts and the library. And then the City of Bend will have a bond measure on for transportation. And the City of La Pine has their first charter on the ballot. So a number of things on the ballot of interest to everyone." Blankenship says when there are no real "hot button" issues on the ballot, voting percentages tend to go down. If you have a valid Oregon drivers' license or ID card, you can register to vote at: www.oregonvotes.org or you can go to the County Clerk's Office. Once again, the deadline to register to vote is Tuesday, April 26th. You can find a sample ballot and voter's pamphlet at the County Clerk's website- click here.
The man who allegedly raped a woman at the Denver airport is expected to be in court today in Portland. New surveillance video is providing more information about an alleged sexual assault involving a man and woman from Oregon. The alleged crime drew a lot of attention because he's accused of raping her in the concourse while other people watched. In the video, Noel Bertrand and a Pendleton woman are seen walking between the A-gates at Denver International Airport around midnight. After they move out of the picture, people can be seen walking by and looking at the gate. Finally, someone waves over a police officer and security workers arrive.
It’s a unique opportunity for veterans to sign up for helpful new online benefits without having to travel all the way to Portland first. Representative Greg Walden is teaming up with the Portland VA Regional Office to make it happen. Because of the Benefits Website, veterans can apply for VA benefits online, track their claim status, view payment history and even have near-instant access to their service records. Ordinarily though, they would have to travel to Portland's Regional Office first to sign up for access the online benefits website. Instead, the campaign allows for office hours at various locations in Central Oregon including, Prineville, Madras, Burns, Ontario the Dalles and more. For a list of locations and times as well as a list of what documentation you'll need to bring just look for the link on our website.
Nearly half of the population believes that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, according to a new survey commissioned in Wales Theos, the public theology think tank. The findings challenge the widespread view that Easter is seen as little more than an opportunity to indulge a taste for chocolate. Randy Meyers, pastor of a local church says even though he feels the holidays are over-commercialized, the widespread awareness of the event does bring more people through the church doors. "Yeah, at New Hope we call them the CEO's Christmas Easter Only attenders. It is interesting because our attendance can almost double, ah, during these holidays". According the survey:
•60% of the people questioned believed that the resurrection. At the heart of the Easter story is true with 35% believing Jesus rose physically from the dead; and 24% said they believed it was in fact a "spiritual resurrection"
•44% said that Jesus died for the sins of the world.
•26% the Easter story had no meaning today.
Bend Police say Sandra Meyer’s family discovered a body inside an underground utility box located in the backyard of the Meyers’ residence. Positive identification has not been made, but police believe it is the body of Sandra Meyer, the woman who was reported missing by her husband, John Meyer on March 10th. Over the course of the investigation, police found evidence; including a large amount of Sandra Meyers’ blood inside the home, and believed that her husband John was responsible for her disappearance. John Meyer was found dead of a gunshot would in the home on March 16th. The State Medical Examiner will be conducting an autopsy within the next 24 hours to confirm identity and determine the cause of death.
A Bend man is in critical condition following a motorcycle-semi accident on Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond early Wednesday morning. Henry Glowacki suffered the serious injuries. Sergeant Deke Demars with the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office explains what happened: “The motorcycle crossed in front of the semi and the semi ended up rear ending the motorcycle and the driver ended up on the northbound shoulder and the motorcycle spun out and came to rent in the middle of the southbound Highway 97.” Stephanie Bennett, 33, was driving in the southbound lane when she hit the motorcycle. She suffered minor injuries when her car rolled over. The accident closed the highway for a couple hours and affected Wednesday morning's commute.
It’s the final chapter in an emotional local debate over middle school boundaries. The Bend - La Pine Schools Superintendent is accepting the recommendation from the Boundary Advisory Committee with minor modifications. That means Pine Ridge Elementary School students are now destined for Pilot Butte instead of Cascade Middle School. Hours of meetings, public testimony, emails and feedbacks are now over, and the overall decision of the boundary committee stands: students from Pine Ridge will now feed into Pilot Butte instead of Cascade Middle School. The Committee also recommend that student currenlty enrolled at a middle school be grandfathered in; allowed to stay until they complete middle school. Superintendent Ron Wilkinson modified this idea by agreeing ot provide transportation for those student for two years. Typically the District doesn't provide busing for student living outside their attendance area. Wilkinson says every boundary process is difficult and emotional because parents, student and the community feel very strongly about their neighborhood schools. He says he's read every email and comment and believes this is the right choice for the district. Bend La Pine Superintendent has given the OK to the middle school boundaries recommended by the Committee. Students living in the Ensworth Elementary attendance area have the choice of Pilot Butte or Sky View Middle School, but transportation is only provided to Sky View.
This week Oregon Congressman Greg Walden is hearing some tough stories from truckers in Oregon. On a trip through his District, Walden spoke with the owner of a trucking company in southern Oregon who is forced to close because of the cost of fuel and mounting state and federal regulations. "Its was pretty depressing meeting if you want to know the truth in terms of federal regulations and the price of fuel are doing as we try to get this economy going again." About a dozen trucking firm owners and executives met with Greg Walden in southern Oregon earlier this week to express the big challenges they're facing, especially with government regulations. Walden: “There's California regulations coming in that will cost $10,000 to $20,000 per truck to modify the trucks, and very complex rules coming out of Washington. That quite frankly, the people at ODOT don't understand.” Walden says he will fight for bills that will try and soften the trucking industry's pain.
There’s a warning today from a local credit union about understanding your rights with joint accounts. This is on the heals of a story in Stayton, Oregon, where an 84-year-old woman is concerned about losing her home and paying her bills. In this case, the credit union emptied her entire savings account because her son owed them money for his home loan. To help her manage her finances, Doris Miley added her son to her savings account. Kyle Frick with Mid Oregon Credit Union in Bend says people can also run into problems with joint accounts when there's a divorce or other hostile split between people: “We see this on a fairly regular basis, where someone who has a joint account and its not an amicable split; and somebody comes in and withdraws the money. And people come in and say how come you let take the money out of the account? But we really don't control that.". Frick explains that the banking industry is highly regulated and they can't police joint accounts so its up to you to make sure you're not pooling your money with someone who might take it , or who owes the bank or credit union money.
Oregon Congressman Greg Walden is in Central Oregon today as part of quick 526 mile tour that started in Medford yesterday and is ending in Bend and Madras today. He stopped by our stations this morning and we asked him about Standard and Poors’ big announcement earlier this week about a possible future downgrade of U.S. debt. Walden calls it historic: "And unfortunately bad history; that should be the wake up call. I hope it’s not ignored by the President, but he's got to do more than give a political speech and a lecture. And say he's not going to cut anything in effect. We've got to have an adult conversation; nobody’s going to like the medicine, none of us ever does like taking medicine. But its medicine we'd better take now, or we face not only a debt that's going to pull us under, but we'll loose these programs that people are expecting to have in their retirement years.” Walden says when it comes to cutting spending he wants everything on the table; from defense cuts to entitlements and other popular government programs.
44 musicians from Summit High School are on their way to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall this weekend. The Wind Ensemble will be performing at the Heritage Festival in New York City. Band Director Dan Judd says everyone is very excited: “I'm expecting they will bring home a fantastic performance in a performance venue. It's a once in a lifetime. I don't think any students expecting any less, expecting it to a be a terrific performance experience.” The Wind Ensemble will perform at Carnegie Hall this Saturday, April 23rd.
The U.S. Army is taking steps to improve the treatment of National Guard and reserve troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Concerns over their treatment have been raised over the last year by Oregon lawmakers, Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Kurt Schrader. Some of the changes include ensuring each solider receive proper medical care, and improving communication about the benefits they're eligible for. Senator Wyden says he's been concerned that National Guard and reserve troops were being treated differently, either sending them home too quickly following demobilization and making sure they get the proper medical care following deployment.
A multiple vehicle accident on Highway 97 early this morning critically injured a motorcyclist. Tthe accident happened around 5:30 Wednesday morning on Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond, near Gift Road. It's believed the motorcyclist was hit by an SUV and possibly also a semi-truck. He was airlifted to St. Charles and another person was taken by ambulance. Peter Murphy with ODOT says the accident really affected the morning commute: “For awhile things were pretty tied up out there. Unfortunately we had to close the road. It was a multiple vehicle crash. Right now we're still investigating the cause.” The highway was reopened just before 9 a.m.
Greg Walden is taking a closer look at federal fines at rock quarries and mines in the State. That's because the Oregon Concrete and Aggregate and Producers Association or OCAPA says there's been an unfair surge in citations from the federal mine regulators. "From what I've heard if they have a cracked window or have a rock chip. like what we get around here all winter, they get fined a couple hundred bucks and apparently very uneven enforcement. Things they are told are fine one week and then someone else comes in the next week and they whacked the next week; it’s that unpredictable government enforcement with a heavy hand and fine that causes small businesses to get very frustrated and not want to grow.” Walden adds he has no intention of downplaying the need for safety regulations in mining. But some rock quarry owners say the regulations often have nothing to do with safety. Some were fined for having cardboard boxes in the wrong place in the office, even though the boxes were being delivered during the inspection and they weren't given time to put them away. Besides being in Bend today, Walden is also talking with restaurant owners in Madras at Great Earth Natural Foods at 2 p.m.
When the Liberty Rally was postponed to a later date last weekend there was talk of a conspiracy theory regarding the inability to receive a permit. Rally organizer Ken Taylor says that didn't come from leadership. "There were a convergence of what seemed to be coincidences that people were putting together and believing that perhaps the County had not treated us fairly. The leadership of the organization that's not where we stand we take full responsibility of the event not happening because we probably could have done a few other things to ensure that it happened sooner." Taylor says the permit was held up because they were waiting for clearance from the insurance company, and that they just didn't start the application process quite early enough. He adds the County did work with them to try and push it through but there were guidelines they had to follow. The new date for the Liberty Rally has not yet been set.
The Bend City Council will be discussing possibly changing the way the City's Mayor is elected during its work session today. There seems to be interest in having voters elect Bend's Mayor instead of having the Councilors themselves decide who should be Mayor. City Manger Eric King says it would involve changing the City's Charter. “I think the pros are citizens are more involved in leadership and the investment in that and the cons, the Mayor can have a different agenda, so it’s not as collegial.” If the Council decides to go forward, the City Charter would have to be changed and voters would have to approve it.
Deschutes County says Bank of the Cascades in Bend and T-Mobile are two of the best places to work in the County if you have children. The Deschutes County Children and Families Commission are honoring these two businesses as a result of a recent childcare survey. Employees from Bank of the Cascades repeatedly praised their employers on several fronts. “Bank of the Cascades provides generous benefits, vacation time and sick leave. There's great flexible spending and they give workers child care subsidy up to a hundred dollars per month.” Stephanie Sundborg with the Children and Families Commission says Redmond T-Mobile workers were equally appreciative of their employer's childcare subsidies.
The Crook County Schools Budget Committee is submitting a balanced budget to the School Board that includes keeping all district schools open, but with 8 teacher layoffs. Superintendent Ivan Hernandez says they are hoping that those teaching position cuts are just "penciled in" and that it won't come to that: “Now when I say we moved forward a balanced budget; realize that in the balance of the budget we show a reduction of 8 teachers. However we are hopeful that thru negotiations we can see some concessions. In either reduction in days for the school year, or something to do with freezing salaries.” Earlier talk about closing Ochoco Elementary School was quickly off the table. But under the plan, Paulina Elementary would be changed from K thru 8 to K through 5th grade. The School Board will start looking at the budget in its next meeting set for May 9th.
According to the Associated Press, Deschutes County District Attorney Patrick Flaherty has asked the State Department of Justice to defend him in a lawsuit by three former deputy district attorneys he fired when he took office in January. Tuesday we talked with Department of Justice spokesperson Tony Green. He confirmed that defending state officials and agencies is one of their roles, but they usually don't comment on any of these cases. Three former prosecutors are alleging wrongful discharge, discrimination and unfair labor practices. The case is ongoing and Flaherty's Office has not yet returned our calls to respond to the allegations.
A new report by an Oregon free market organization says there is a substantial economic impact of Oregon’s renewable energy mandates. Today, the Cascade Policy Institute is holding its April Policy Picnic to highlight a report that shows big increases in power rates may be driven in part by the State's mandates. In 2007, the State passed a mandate forcing big power companies to get 25% of their energy portfolio from renewable sources like wind and solar by the year 2025. Cascade Policy Institute Vice President Todd Wynn: “So what we did at Cascade Policy Institute was to see how much this would cost Oregonians and the Oregon Economy as a whole and what we found is that the mandates are going to cost Oregonians an addition $6.8 billion over conventional power between the years of 2015 and 2025.” He says that translates to job losses and high power costs. Those critical of this report say it wasn't done scientifically and that most people in the U.S. support moving to more renewable energy sources.
McDonalds all across the country are hiring 50,000 new employees Tuesday. It's part of McDonalds National Hiring Day. Here in Central Oregon people lined up out the doors in Bend, Sisters and La Pine to apply for jobs on Tuesday. McDonalds owner Nanette Bittler says totally in Central Oregon, they're looking at hiring 40 new workers: “Well, we're looking to hire 15 new workers for the McDonalds on NE 3rd [Street] for when we reopen in May. We are going to be open 24 hours so we're adding another shift. And some of the other restaurants need workers, as well as Sisters’ plans to pick up 10 and 7 in La Pine.” You can apply for a job at McDonalds anytime online at: www.McOregon.com.
Oregon ranks 9th in the nation for suicide. Our average is 35% above the national average and so Deschutes County is offering a free suicide prevention training session next week. Counselor Cheryl Emerson will be leading the session: “I have a sense that there's an increasing number of people feeling very hopeless and often times that can create situations where people feel desperate.” The free suicide prevention session will be next Tuesday, April 26th from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Parks and Recreation District Office.
Everyone knows a police officer's work can be very dangerous. Personal disturbances, whether they are domestic or other volatile situations, can get out of control very quickly. Lieutenant Darren McMaster with the Deschutes County Sheriff's Department says they are trained to try and diffuse the situations. “You know there's a lot of emotion involved particularly with family members or sometimes neighborhood problem. To the outside, it may seem like a small thing. But these things tend to get very volatile because of the motion involved in the situation.” Police say handling these disturbances make up a big part of their job. Monday night, sheriff’s deputies were involved in a standoff in La Pine, but luckily no officers were injured.
With the possibility of a downgrade of the nation's debt and potentially higher interest rates looming, politicians and other government officials are forced to take notice. Bill Valentine is a local financial advisor. He says the wake up call isn't just for government officials who make decisions on government programs. "Some of the financial lessons that were instilled in the depression generation through their experience through experiencing the depression have been lost in translation as they go from generation to generation. So we have a current population of adults who have never really experienced financial strife. And who's parents didn't instill in them at 25 at your first job to start saving in your own accounts and I’m not passing judgment on them; I’m simply saying that by and large we've deferred our saving plans and have really lived a largess lifestyle." Valentine says another piece of the puzzle to be looked at is how the Social Security System was originally set up, with a ratio of about 16 workers to each one person collecting benefits. He says that has changed to a ratio of about 2 to one nowadays and that it needs to be reformed in order to accommodate today's circumstance.
A Forest Grove woman is hoping she can help prevent other women from being scammed on Facebook. Police say they think a con man saw the obituary of Kathleen Wortman's husband, then “friended” her on the social networking site. She wired up to $30,000 to him to pay his medical bills. When she cut him off, he stopped talking to her. Wortman's son has set up a Facebook page warning of the scam.
An 84-year-old woman in Stayton is concerned about losing her home and paying her bills after her credit union took her entire savings of $5000. Doris Miley added her son to her account to help manage finances. Her son ended up owing the credit union money because of mortgage trouble. The credit union took Miley's savings because her son's name is on the account. The Board of Directors meets Wednesday and could decide whether to give Miley her money back.
Deschutes County Sheriff’S Deputies were called to a domestic dispute at a residence on Dawn Road in La PIne around 9:30 Monday night. Sheriff Larry Blanton says a man came out and fired at least two shots at the deputies. The deputies then fired several shots at the man before taking cover. For several hours, they attempted to establish communication with the man. “We called out our special operations team from the Sheriffs Office who took over negotiations and attempts to get the suspect to come out of the residence. At about 3 a.m we introduced gas into the residence, which caused the suspect to come out of the house. He was taken into custody, withut further incident and transported to St. Charles Hospital with a chest wound.” Blanton says they don't know if the wound came from a deputies gun or other means. The Sheriff has not released the name of the suspect that is now in custody, but Blanton says the investigation is continuing.
It was a drug bust with more action that most. According to the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team, the arrest happened at the J.C. Penney parking lot in Bend on Friday. Police say as they tried to arrest the Bend woman she tried to flee the area in her car and struck a detective's car before driving into a light pole in the parking lot. Suzette Delancey, 46, was arrested and charged with several drug related crimes, plus resisting arrest, recklessly endangering another person and reckless driving. There were no injuries to the detective who was struck or to the suspect. The Drug Enforcement Team says she had been under investigation for nine months for allegedly trafficking meth in Central Oregon.
A local financial advisor has an interesting take on Monday's big announcement from Standard and Poor's, the powerful financial services agency said its downgrading its outlook on U.S. debt. Bill Valentine says this could be a wake up call for politicians to cut entitlements and other big government programs. Bill Valentine with Valentine Ventures in Bend says this is not the tipping point for the U.S. Economy, but it's definitely a good wake up call: “Exactly, there’s no way out of our problem that doesn’t involve politicians upsetting large numbers of people. There’s no group that can be spared. There’s no way, uh, we’ve kicked this can down the road as far as it’s going to go; give or take 3-5 more years. At some point, our political representatives will say- ‘You know what, at this point, the risk of upsetting people, by not doing anything, is greater than upsetting people by making the changes.” An actual debt downgrade would raise the cost of interest payments for the U.S. government, as well as raise borrowing costs for U.S. consumers and corporations. Higher rates would have a crushing effect on the debt-laden U.S. economy.
It was a busy tax year for Bend preparer Marge Hotz. This year she did about 500 returns and 50 extensions, and some were a little more complicated because of the economy. Licensed Tax Preparer Marge Hotz of Bend has a warning for people thinking that filing an extension will solve a tax bill problem; it can cost you more money in the long run. Marge Hotz spoke with 1110 KBND’s Loir Raab: “We've done a few this year because people are afraid that they are owing money, and they think that's going to stop it, thru extensions, sorry that's not going to solve the problem. You still have to pay the taxes due.” LR: “Are there extra charges?” MH: “Yes there is; a late filing fee and penalty if you do not have a refund coming back and you owe tax, then you will have a penalty on that. Yes." The average federal individual tax refund for 2010 was $2,940.
State Senator Chris Telfer of Bend says lawmakers are choosing to leave a massive deficit in the Public Employees Retirement System unaddressed for another year; and she's frustrated. It was a discussion that never happened. This session, State Senator Chris Telfer says many PERs reform bills died in committee without even a public hearing being scheduled. She's frustrated with the lack of action this session on a couple of big issues: "We aren't doing a whole lot to create jobs or to fix PERs." An important deadline for scheduling bills came and went on Friday. Telfer says ignoring the problem is irresponsible and pretending that it doesn't exist is not going to make things any better. Meantime, on the other side, the Director of the Oregon State Firefighters Council, Bob Livingston says people who are criticizing the system have painted a lopsided and exaggerated picture of the problem.
The jobless numbers are out for Central Oregon, and for a change, things are looking a little better. The good news is that all three counties, Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson all saw double digit job gains in March. The bright spot is Deschutes County. The County added 950 jobs, which is 360 above seasonal expectations. Crook added 30 jobs, that's about 60 less than the seasonal norm, and Jefferson County added ten jobs; that's about half of the historical average for March. A bright spot in Deschutes is that the private industry grew by 830 jobs. Largest gains occurred in trade, transportation, and utilities, followed by education and health. All of the public sector job gains in Deschutes were in local government. Another bright spot was that in Crook County, 20 of the 30 new jobs in March were also in the private sector. As we look at where we where last year. Deschutes County is up 140 jobs from March of last year, Crook down 290 jobs from last March, and Jefferson down 100 jobs compared to March of 2010.
Things are moving faster than anticipated. Nanette Bittler, owner of the McDonalds franchise on northeast Third Street says they are thrilled with the progress that's been made: "Well, we're very excited with our progress. And right now, our scheduled opening date is May 24th, however, I’m having a meeting with the project manager and we may be moving that date up because we're running slightly ahead of schedule. So we're very excited about how the way things have progressed on that site." Bittler says the new building will be a lot larger and will be able to accommodate twice as many drive-throughs, so they are going to hire more people. In fact, Bittler says they are hiring at least 12 more positions for the north Third Street location and even more for all their stores for the summer months. They are having a job fair at the south Third Street McDonalds today from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
A popular Chinese restaurant that had a major fire eight months ago had a grand re-opening Monday. Lap Chan, the owner of Chan's Chinese Restaurant said when they opened the doors at 11:30, a happy crowd rushed in. The building has been closed for the past eight months, after a fire gutted most of the building. Chan says it cost almost $1.4-million to fix the building. Chan says they now have a whole new kitchen and dining room. And, he is overwhelmed with the public's support and their happiness that the restaurant is now re-opened.
The “Liberty Rally” in Bend was cancelled this last weekend because of problems with the permitting process. Eric Kropp with Deschutes County's Permitting Department says the group only applied for a permit a week before the event, when they normally like a couple months lead time to work through any problems. Kropp says the group was notified there was a problem early last week: “I certainly look forward to have more time to work with them on how to meet the permit requirement. It has absolutely nothing to do with the nature of their event.” Some organizers claimed the County denied the permit because of political reasons, but Kropp says that's absolutely not true. The group hopes to reschedule the rally.
As part of the pile burning program, fuels specialists from the Prineville BLM will continue burning several areas located on public land south of Prineville. Burning will begin April 19th, and will continue for approximately two days, depending on weather conditions. Fuels specialists attempted to burn this project area in February; however, weather conditions made most of the area to wet to burn. The project areas are located adjacent to Prineville Lake Acres subdivisions I and II, and smoke will be visible to local residents and motorists traveling on Juniper Canyon, Klamath, Custer and Davis Loop roads. No roads are expected to be closed.
The stock market is taking a big hit today on the announcement that Standard and Poors downgraded its outlook for its credit rating on U.S. debt. Bend financial advisor Bill Valentine with Valentine Ventures, believes the warning is a good thing because it elevates the dialogue and makes it more likely that politicians will make large policy changes to head off a problem: “It will help people who don't have the slightest background in economics or fiscal policy to appreciate that there's a growing problem. When you see the stock market react negatively, that's the emotional response. To the average Oregonian this is just another warning call, a shot across the bow of the federal government that something must be done. This is not your father's recession; we can't make cyclical fixes and accounting changes to solve our deficit problems; this is a structural problem.” Valentine says this problem is arguably 70 years in the making. Standard and Poors says there's about a 33% chance it will actually downgrade the country's AAA rating sometime during the next two years.
Low income home owners in Oregon who want to take advantage of an appliance rebate program better act fast as funds for the program could be gone by summer. Ann Grim with the Oregon Department of Energy says the program is a one time funding source. "This is stimulus money. And it's an Energy Star Rebate Program. So it's a different program and it’s a limited time. We have $3.6 million for energy efficient appliances. The Oregonians that are eligible are low-income homeowners." Grim says there's been a residential tax credit program that's been managed by the Department of Energy for a long time, but this program is about to end. To be eligible, you must earn less than 60% of the States' medium income level and purchase an Energy Star appliance. You could get up to 70% of the purchase price rebated back to you. See more details are at Oregon Department of Energy website; we have a link on our “Links” page.
Governor Kitzhaber has said he will sign the $5.7 billion dollar education budget approved by lawmakers, but he hasn't yet. Bend La Pine School Board Member Nori Juba is on the Governor's Investment Team. The group is charged with trying to come up with a more efficient way to fund education Pre-K through college.
Juba says the group has met once. “We do have education that is underfunded. We need some drastic change. We need to fund education at a higher level. We need to make structural changes. Class schedules and class sizes are not the ultimate end, the ultimate end is to make sure our kids have skills to function in the real world.” The investment team will meet again at the end of the month. They are looking at funding models that aren't based on population, but on outcome.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is in Hong Kong today as part of a bipartisan Congressional delegation. Senate majority leader Harry Reid is leading the trip. The group will do site visits of American Investments and Clean Energy Projects. China is one of Oregon's largest trading partners. Merkley says as a partner and competitor, China presents opportunity and challenges for the U.S. He hopes to use the knowledge garnered from this trip to help build relationships to benefit Oregon's workers and businesses. Merkley was recently appointed by Senator Reid to the Congressional Executive Commission on China.
A recent public suicide has police perplexed. A 20 year old transient stabbed himself in front of an audience after singing a song at “Open Mic” night at a local business. Record high numbers of depression and suicides are infiltrating headlines in the local news. News managers find it difficult to determine how much to report suicides and attempts, for fear it might perpetuate the problem. But at some point you have to tell it like it is and not ignore statistics or sweep things under the carpet. Oregon is 35% higher than the rest of the nation for suicides. Knowing that numbers are higher than in the past means there's a strong chance you may know someone who has or is contemplating taking their own life. Randy Myers, a pastor at a local church has about three decades experience in counseling people with all kinds of depression problems he says you can help. "Encouragement is a huge thing obviously encourage those around us and to take those comments about suicide and depression very seriously. And people do need hope they do need the tools to cope with those feelings. Because they are feelings and they can pass but it needs to be addressed very seriously." And here's a reminder regarding what to say or do. Experts say it's actually OK to ask someone who seems depressed just how bad they're feeling and if they've ever considered suicide. It gives you the opportunity to assess the risk factor and to direct them to help. For help for yourself or someone else, you can call toll free: 1 1-800-875-7364.
A 30-year-old female from Jefferson, Oregon reports she was raped here in Bend around 4:30 Saturday morning. She was visiting a friend on NE Carson Way and had passed out on a couch after drinking alcohol. Police say Clemente Bonilla, 25, of Slayton, Oregon, had unwanted sexual intercourse with her while she was incapacitated. He then left the residence, but was later arrested for rape in the 1st degree and 1st degree sexual assault.
The National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week ended Saturday. It is an event that has occurred during the second week of April after a Congressional proclamation in 2001 was passed to honor dispatchers in public safety centers around the county. Anyone who has ever had to call 911 in an emergency can understand the importance of their job, usually a thankless job. Combined Communications and KBND salute our public safety communicators here in Deschutes County for the professional job they do.
Never mind what the calendar says; winter weather is definitely dragging on and on this year and it’s affecting those who like to fish and camp in the mountains. Before you head up to the mountains to go fishing or camping, you may want to check to see if you favorite fishing hole or campsite is open. "We are expecting that there will be some impacts from all the snow we've received this year. Snowpack levels are higher than normal and we are getting some snowfall at campgrounds, particularly with fishing season starting soon. We've got still some frozen lakes, so we are expecting some limitations on access to and opening of boat launches and campgrounds.” Deschutes National Forest spokesperson Jean Nelson-Dean says several popular places will have 60% of their sites open for fishing season; but due to the weather they will not have water available. Those sites are: Gull Point, West South Twin, Link Creek and East Davis campgrounds.
Tough economic times means non-profits need to be creative in their fundraising. Bend’s Community Center has designed a very easy way for you to help the homeless, hungry and less fortunate. BCC Executive Director Taffy Gleeson says they have a new brochure that gives you options: "We developed a sponsorship program where people can read what $25 a month will actually do. And then they can pick and choose where they want their money to go. We have a number of programs that help the homeless and the needy. But some people are drawn to buying food for the homeless; others want to buy diapers for the kids or clothing or showers or something like that." Gleeson say a donation of $25 really can do a lot for someone in need. And, if you want to donate on a regular basis, there is a way to do that, plus you will have a record of your donations at the end of the year. You can go to the Bend Community Center website to download the brochure, or stop by the facility on northeast Fifth Street.
An avalanche near Santaim Pass late Saturday afternoon briefly closed all lanes of Highway 20 at Mile Post 86, just east of Hoodoo. ODOT dispatchers say the slide just before 5 o'clock and consisted primarily of snow. They had no reports of injuries. A snowplow was able to remove the snow and get traffic moving again in less than an hour.
The lawyer for Stephen Trono says the D.A.'s Office has told him no charges will be filed in the home shooting case. Last July, Trono's wife, Angelique says she accidentally shot her husband multiple times when she thought he was a prowler in their home. Detectives investigated the case and sent their findings to the D.A.'s office last fall. Attorney Jon Springer says Traci Anderson from the D.A.'s Office told him last week, no charges would be filed in the case. “This case has been concluded since last October. There’s been no new information and that's been confirmed for me by police investigators and I have no idea why the prior administration could not have made this decision.” We spoke with Traci Anderson with the D.A.’s Office who confirmed right now there isn't enough evidence to file charges, but is leaving the door open they could down the road, if more evidence is discovered.
Postage rates went up on Sunday, but it probably won't affect your regular mail. The basic 44-cent stamp will remain the same, but if your envelope is heavier than one ounce, you will pay an additional 20 cents, up from 17 cents. For magazines or promotional flyers, that rate is increasing, says an AP report. Post card rates are also rising to 29 cents. According to the report - the Post Office lost about $8.5 billion last year and the rate increases, estimated to bring in about $340-million this fiscal year, won't make much of a dent in that. But the agency is restricted to increases lower than the rate of inflation.
People going to the Liberty Rally today were met with closed gates at Tony’s Hay Barn. Organizers decided to cancel the event early Saturday morning, due to incomplete procedures with Deschutes County. And rather than put the landowner in jeopardy, they decided to cancel the event. Spokesman Bill Schertzinger : "We did everything right. I mean we did the insurance, we put together all the aspects of handling our parking; and organizing this thing. We did everything right, we filed for the permit." Schertzinger says there was maybe one loose end that they didn't tie up and were afraid the County would shut them down, so they took the proactive step and canceled the rally. He adds that they poured a lot of money and resources into the rally and briefly considered holding it, but wanted to be good patriots and citizens and canceled the rally. There will be another rally in the future.
Prineville residents knew there would be lots of people at Friday night’s grand opening celebration of the new Facebook Data Center. They didn’t know about a surprise visitor would be there. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg showed up at the party and mingled with the crowd. He told the audience this new facility is a massive step forward from the leased space the company they had been using.
A traffic stop on Highway 97 between Bend and Madras Friday netted an arrest of a 30 year old Bend man on drug charges. According to the police report, James Nathan Block was arrested for unlawful possession of heroin after police find heroin, scales, packaging materials, drug records and some methamphetamine. In a news release, the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team (CODE) indicated detectives had been investigating Block for five months.
A Friday-afternoon crash critically injured one person and slowed rush hour traffic on Highway 97 north of Bend. Police say Travis Bellamy, 27, of Lexington, Oregon made an improper left turn onto Highway 97 at Grandview drive just before 5:00 p.m. He ended up northbound in the southbound lane, and collided with a southbound vehicle. Bellamy was trapped in his vehicle and had to be extricated. He was taken to St. Charles Bend. The other driver was not hurt.
A group of people attending "Open Night Mic” at Strictly Organic Coffee (in the Old Mill) were shocked after a 20 year old man sang a song, then proceeded to stab himself in the chest several times. Kipp Rusty Walker, a transient, had just finished singing and without another word, began stabbing himself. Bend Police Lieutenant Chris Carney says someone taking such a public venue to harm themselves is very unusual: "You know, 19 years with the Police Department, I can't think of any event similar to this where somebody's done something in such a public forum and for one, not said anything in that process, so at this point, we still don't know the reason why he chose to do this, why he chose this location or anything and we probably never will would be my guess." Witnesses tried to help him until Bend Fire arrived and took him to St. Charles Medical Center where he died a short time later. Lt. Carney says Walkers’ family lives in Alaska and has been notified of the incident. He adds that the Department does provide counseling services for the wittnesses and anyone involved.
Crook County’s School District anticipates it will be facing a $2.2 million budget shortfall next year. So School Board members are considering several options, including closing schools, reducing school days or negotiating concessions from workers. School Board Member Scott Cooper reminds people, this is very early in the budget process: “Toward the end of the budget meeting on Monday night, we took a straw poll after we heard the presentations of closing Paulina or Ochocho. There was no support for closing Paulina. So there's only one option still on the table and that depends on what the short actually is.” Cooper says it's still not clear actually how much State funds the District will receive next year, and until those numbers are firmed up they can't know what their budget shortfall will be.
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Department plans to move forward with renovations at the Department in a couple weeks. Captain Ruth Jenkin says the expansion and renovations were expected to cost nearly a million dollars, but bids came in lower: “We thought it would come in around $900,000, but it came in around $637,000- $638,000. The price came in cheaper than we thought and that's a good thing for us.” The project will expand the personnel dining room, and the kitchen and evidence storage areas. Work is scheduled to get underway on May 1st and will be done by the end of the summer. It is being paid for through Sheriff's Department savings and a loan from the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners.
Deschutes County District Attorney Patrick Flaherty says former Sheriff Les Stiles will be leaving his Department by May first. Stiles joined the Department after the election on a part time basis to help develop policies and procedures for the investigative staff and to evaluate information technologies in the office.
Stiles has finished these projects. D.A. Flaherty had hoped to offer stiles a half time D.A. investigators’ position, but budgetary constrains prevent that.
It’s your chance to get rid of all those un-wanted documents for absolutely free. Mid-Oregon Credit Union is offering a free shred day in Bend, Madras, Redmond and Prineville. The Credit Union's Vice President Karl Krick says you shouldn't underestimate the need to destroy certain documents: “It's really important because it's usually done by someone you know, so you definitely have to keep your eye out and protect yourself, so." Frick says you should shred such documents as credit card offers and tax returns more that five years old.
You can bring your items to shred to the Mid Oregon Credit Union in Bend from 9 to 11 a.m., and in Redmond and Prineville from noon to 2 pm.
It’s your chance to get a closer look at the local patriotic political movement. Saturday, there's a Liberty Rally at Tony's Hay Barn at Deschutes Market Road Junction. Organizer Bill Schertzinger says the event is a combination of the Central Oregon Patriots, Americans for Prosperity and the Madras Tea Party. He has several reasons why he thinks people should come out to the Liberty Rally: “A couple of things: first off it's going to be fun, just have a good time; enjoyable a lot of conservative like minded folks, kids, a bounce house a lot of patriotic sights and sounds." The event runs from noon to 3 p.m. and it's free. Last year several hundred people turned out for the Liberty Rally.
Postage rates are going up on Sunday, but it probably won't affect your regular mail. The basic 44-cent stamp will remain the same, but if your envelope is heavier than one ounce, you will pay an additional 20 cents, up from 17 cents. For magazines or promotional flyers, that rate is increasing, says an AP report.
post card rates are also rising to 29 cents. According to the report, the Post Office lost about $8.5 billion last year and the rate increases, estimated to bring in about $340-million this fiscal year, won't make much of a dent in that. But the agency is restricted to increases lower than the rate of inflation.
State Representative Jason Conger of Bend would like a more honest debate on school funding. He voted 'no' on the $5.7 billion Education Budget passed Wednesday in the House. He describes this package as flat, or a slight increase to the current level is misleading because mandated costs are increasing for local schools and lawmakers haven't anything to fix that issue: “We give them a flat budget with no spending increases and we say we did a good job for you. It's the same as last time, and I feel it’s a little disingenuous and it's not fair to the schools.” Conger also made his point on the House floor and said he was especially disappointed that lawmakers haven't tackled PERs reform. He says the silver lining is that the budget for schools was passed early so at least the local districts know that they have to work with.
Students going to COCC will soon pay about $3600 for a full load of classes. That represents a tuition hike of about 8.5%. Central Oregon Community College spokesman Ron Paradis says the Board just approved the increase: “The board voted to increase tuition from $70 to $76 per credit for in-district students. It’s about an 8.6% increase, obviously with the enrollment growth that we've seen and knowing that the state tax money and local property taxes aren't keeping up with that growth the only way to increase the amount of revenue is to increase tuition. At $3600 a year for a full load, COCC is still below the statewide average of about $4000.
The Facebook Data Center facility is up and running in Prineville and the media will get a first hand look today. For the last 15 months they've built the new 300,000 square foot facility. Bob Applegate with Facebook says they're close to their target workforce. “I think there's upwards of 40 at this time and that will continue to grow. Facebook said they'd have 35 workers within three years and we're close to that now.” Construction of the Data Center employed about 250 workers a day the last 15 months. Construction is expected to continue for another 7 to 8 months.
Ever since visit Bend launched the "Bend Ale Trail," its' success is unparalleled. They have received some great recognition for their idea. Travel Oregon has recognized the program with the Oregon Tourism and Hospitality Tourism Development Award. "Well, this particular award recognized a new product, service or program that cultivates the tourism industry and drives more tourism to the destination and makes more money for a segment of our tourism industry. And in this case, that's the breweries of Central Oregon." Doug La Placa with Visit Bend says since the Ale Trail started, over 1000 individuals have completed the trail, spending an average of $162 each. He says most visitors come to Bend and enjoy "gameifying" their visit, meaning playing with tourism sites. La Placa says by next summer, there will be even more breweries added to the Ale Trail, bringing the total to 10.
‘Tis the season that many people dread. It's tax time. Tax preparers throughout Central Oregon are swamped right now as local residents have joined with many others across the nation in waiting till the last minute to have their tax returns prepared. E-Filing your tax return has been the preferred method to file. “It pretty much is, it will be in the future where everyone will be mandated to E-File. I E-File everyone that I can.” One of the big benefits is your refund will arrive much faster. Cliff Harris of Bend Tax Service admits it does create a time crunch for tax preparers when many people wait until the last minute and bring in a shoebox full of tax receipts. He says a little organization could go a long way towards saving money for taxpayers. The Filing date has been pushed back to Monday, April 18th, because today is a holiday in Washington D.C.
Nala, the Redmond shelter dog finally has a new home! Janet Roberts of Powell Butte had been thinking about adopting her the last couple of months after hearing about her story in the media. What stopped her, was her 14 year old lab mix "Grizzly." She had to make sure the two would get along before she could adopt Nala. “We were happy with Grizzly and the cats. We were missing the labs we used to have. But I thought it probably would work and if it did work, we needed to do it for Nala. Of course, it’s easy to fall in love with her, because she’s being as perfect a dog as she can manage. She’s really, really incredibly sweet.” Janet says Grizzly is big at over 100 pounds, but not aggressive, and the two get along just fine. Nala got media attention back in December when she helped find a missing dog near the shelter.
There will be more options for campers this summer in Central Oregon at the Prineville Reservoir. Chris Havel of the Oregon Parks Department says cabins will rent for $65 a night and each cabin is costing $174,00 to build. Recreationalists say they want the cabins because they want more all weather camping and don't own R-V's. Construction cost is being split between the Bureau of Reclamation and Oregon Lottery dollars. The two new cabins will be added to the five that already exist.
Many people in Sunriver today are mourning the death of a prominent community member. Authorities say George Mendenhall, 72, died yesterday after being stabbed by his handyman at his 2nd home near Palm Springs. 1110 KBND's Lori Raab talked to a close family friend about the difference he made to the Sunriver community. “I was shocked; it’s inconceivable how anyone could be angry at George” says Sunriver piano teacher Jodie Bischof . She worked with George Mendenhall in starting the Sunriver Prep School in the 1980’s. He was also a big supporter of the Sunriver Music Festival. He was well known and well-liked by many in the community where he and his wife, Kate lived for about 30 years. “He’s the nicest guy in the world and he’s very low-key; non confrontative. I’ve never, ever seen him angry or raise his voice. He’s just the nicest, most mellow person. And generous, and loving and there’s just no way that anyone could be mad at him. It just makes no sense at all.” Police say the crime happened in Mendenhall's Southern California home and was able to identify his attacker shortly before he died. After a six hour search, police ended up shooting and killing the suspect at a California rest stop.
The City of Bend will soon have a business advocate. John Skidmore starts Monday. City Manager Eric King says the purpose of the position is to implement the Strategic Plan for Economic Development in Bend, which includes advocacy in City Hall, and recruitment of small businesses. “We actually have some incentives we've got a tenant relocation system where we will provide a 50% discount on planning permit building fees we have an opportunity fund if you're creating jobs we'll give you a forgivable loan to create those jobs. We're streamlining our processes to make it quick and easy to do business here in Bend and we just want to send the message that we're open for business. " King says the former developer John Skidmore has struggled in the past with the challenges of opening a business in Bend. That's why the City Manager believes Skidmore is the perfect person to take on the task of advocating for up and coming business in the Bend City Hall.
A Bend man was formally charged today with hitting and killing a man on a bike last January. Bret Biedscheid, 38, faces negligent homicide and hit and run charges. Prosecutors say Biedscheid hit Anthony Martin, 48, on January 26th as he walked his bike across Third Street. Martin's sister, Teresa Gibbs of Madras is happy the case is moving forward: “The last four months have been very heavy on my family, heavy hearts. The stress of not knowing who killed him and whether they were going to be arrested or not was heavy on our hearts, also. I’m just happy this wasn't swept under the rug.” Prosecutors say Biedscheid hit Martin with his pick up truck and did not stop to help him. Martin died at the scene.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley joined a bi-partisan effort to introduce legislation to end workplace discrimination against gays. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2011 would prohibit employers from firing, refusing to hire or discriminating against on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation. Protections are already in place to prohibit discrimination based on race, religion, gender age or disability. Merkley joined fellow Democratic Senator Tom Harkin and Republican Senators Mark Kirk and Susan Collins to introduce the bill. The legislation is similar to Oregon's Workplace Protection Law that went into effect in 2008.
Nala has a new home! The Redmond Humane Society Shelter dog that help find another missing dog last December, has finally been adopted. Over the last several months, several people had expressed interest in adopting the pit bull mix, but the Shelter says they just weren't good fits. But a Powell Butte woman adopted Nala Wednesday and Nala is now with her new family. Last week Nala underwent a beauty make-over to help her get a new home. It apparently worked!
Representative Greg Walden announces that the 2011 Congressional art competition, "An Artistic Discovery", is now open to high school students throughout Oregon’s Second Congressional District. The contest is a nationwide endeavor for students to showcase their artistic abilities while competing for the chance to have their work displayed in the United States Capitol. “This competition is a tremendous opportunity for young people interested in art, and it gives students the chance to have their work showcased for a national audience,” said Walden in a written release. To enter, students must submit no more than two photographs of their work to Walden’s office by Monday, May 2, 2011. The overall winner will have his or her artwork sent to Washington, D.C. to be displayed as part of the National Student Art Exhibition in the U.S. capitol. For more information, click here.
Four recent cases in Central Oregon of meningococcal, but health experts assure us they are not connected. Yesterday in Deschutes County officials confirmed a 2nd case. And in Crook County there were also two cases recently. Health officials say in this latest case its an entirely different strain; so that means there is no connection to the previous three cases. "Now we've had 3 different strains in the four cases and so much is not known with meningococcal cases. Why is one a Sertype Y and one a Serotype B and the others were C's there is just so much we don't know at this time." Tom Kuhn with the Deschutes County Health Department says in this recent case the person is a female in her 30's and she's doing well. Kuhn says its unusual to have four cases around the same time, but again this isn't considered an outbreak because they are not connected.
Crook County has to release some inmates early because of lack of beds. Currently Crook has 16 beds and rents another 16 beds from Jefferson County. Sheriff Jim Hensley says the increase in forced early releases started in 2009: “There were 179 people released because of that. Then when you go to 2010, forced releases because no beds. In 2010, it went up to 738 just for 2010.” The increase in early release comes from fewer beds available to the jail. From 2001 to 2009 the county had 50 beds available, now it’s around 30. Currently Crook County pays Jefferson County $60 dollars a day per inmate to rent 16 beds from their facility.
More than 50 parents and students showed up at Tuesday night's Bend La Pine School Board meeting to tell members they have concerns about changing the high school schedule. The District is looking at going to a seven period day, that will allow them to shorten class times, but not increase class sizes. School Board member Nori Juba sees the pros and cons: “As a Board member, there are good arguments for it. Research shows 7 period scheduled lead to better academic results. Anytime you can use assets better it's good. But I'm a parent. I have a junior at Summit and he's had three changes in the last four years, and I have an issue with constantly changing the game for our students.” Superintendent Ron Wilkinson will ultimately make the final decision on whether to switch to a 7 period schedule. He's expected to decide in the next couple weeks.
The big growth of a Bend company prompts them to move into the Old Mill District for its corporate headquarters. Silipint sells the world's only silicone pint glass. It's unbreakable and dishwasher and microwave safe. President Robert Berman says the new company has found a niche: “It's the world's first and only silicone pint glass. Its primary purpose is it’s made out of 100 percent silicone, FDA approved. The cup is virtually indestructible. So it's built primary to prevent the problem of broken glass.” Silipint has hired 15 workers, mainly sales people and plans to hire another 5 to 10 over the next month and a half.
Excitement is building for the second annual Earth Day extravaganza at Pine Ridge Elementary School. Anissa Wiseman, organizer of the event says all the kids in the Earth Day Club are very excited about sharing information about sustainable living with the community. "We have been working since December, in this Earth Day Club, and the kids picked the focus. And they really wanted to work on recycling. Because at our school right now we aren't recycling much in our cafeteria and that's where the kids see it every day. So we're going to kick off a new recycling in collaboration with Cascade Garbage and Recycling." Wiseman says they are having music, community organizations with kid friendly booths to share recycling and other information. There will be events surrounding Earth Day all next week, but the big extravaganza is Wednesday night at the school from 6:00 to 7:30.
It’s an effort to make the dangerous pedestrian crossings on the Bend Parkway safer. Crews are installing big warning lights that pedestrians activate when they want to cross the busy roadway. Transportation crews started installing a flashing light at two crosswalks; one at Reed Lane and the other at Badger Road. ODOT's Peter Murphy says the big warning light will only go into action when someone is in the crosswalk: "The rectangular rapid flashing beacon is something that's activated by pedestrians, so in that way it’s not just flashing all the time. When it is flashing it does tell motorists that somebody is there, as opposed to, we drive north, say through Terrebonne and there's a light that flashes all the time. Over times we've determined that that fades into our background." When the project is done there will be a total of 16 such beacons on either side of the highway at both places and they will be positioned to give drivers adequate stopping distance.
Last October a Bend man died at Reed Market Lane, as he attempted to cross there on his bicycle.
The Redmond City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to expand the Downtown Urban Renewal District from 599 to 700 acres. “It truly is a new phase because what we are doing is changing from spending money on infrastructure, or a predominant amount on infrastructure to more of a private, public partnership.” Redmond Mayor George Endicott says the expansion could bring in another $400-million in investments to the City. The Urban Renewal District does not create any new taxes, but rather allows tax revenue from new investments to help pay for infrastructure improvements. The District has already funded the Centennial Park and major improvements on Fifth and Sixth Streets.
The efforts of many volunteers were realized Wednesday when a specially equipped medical van made two stops to treat homeless veterans and others. Doctor Randy Jacobs treated several patients at the Shepherd's House and a Bend area homeless camp. “What we are trying to do is triage in the field. Address typical outpatient things that we can treat out in the field, wound care, frostbite, respiratory infections, skin problems. Get people into Deschutes County Mental Health who need a mental health evaluation.” Jacobs says the care is not limited to veterans. He says many of the people he treated yesterday simply would not seek out medical care because of the cost. Jacobs says Wednesday’s outreach was successful and the plan is also to take the van to Drake Park to help treat homeless teenagers who also need medical care.
An Oregon man is accused of raping a woman at the Denver Airport. A woman who missed a connecting flight at Denver International Airport said she was raped in a deserted concourse by a man she met at an airport bistro while two janitors passed by and did nothing. Officers arrested Noel Alexander Bertrand, 26, of Portland Oregon early Tuesday. Two Denver TV stations are reporting that two airline employees on the tarmac saw the attack through a window and called for help. Bertrand was being held on suspicion of assault and felony sexual assault with bail set at $10,000. The 22-year-old woman said she was flying from Oregon to Illinois on Monday to interview at a convent and decided to spend the night at the airport when she struck up a conversation with the man.
Building brains is the name of the event that kicked off a weeklong event which celebrates young children and those who teach them. Lolly Nelson, the Coordinator for the Deschutes County Week of the Young Child explains the purpose of the event: “Well, the Week of the Young Child is a nationally recognized week that honors children and really looks at the needs of young children in our community and then honors the parents and care providers that help children make the most of their early learning opportunities." Over 200 people attended the Building Brains event Tuesday night. The next opportunity to join in the activities is this Friday. “Eat, Play, Love” is a celebration for families with young children at the High Desert Museum in Bend. It runs from 4:30 to 7 pm. It includes a healthy dinner, playing and learning activites and live music by musician Victor Johnson.
More than 50 parents and students came out to express concern over schedule changes at the high schools at Tuesday night's Bend La Pine School Board meeting. The Board is considering a seven period schedule, where students will meet in classes every day for a shorter period of time. School Board Member Nori Juba says he sees why they're considering it: “The argument for a seven period schedule it will allow high schools to keep class sizes virtually the same as this year. Because we're going to have staff reductions and if we do nothing classes will be larger than they currently do.” Superintendent Ron Wilkinson will make the final decision on whether to approve the seven-class schedule. He's expected to make a decision in the next couple weeks.
A Grand Jury has indicted a Bend man for hitting and killing a bicyclist in Bend back in January. The Jury indicted Brett Biedscheid for killing Anthony Martin on charges of criminal negligent homicide. Police say Martin was killed while crossing Third Street when a truck hit him and left the scene. The District Attorney's Office says Biedscheid, who is the Director of Accounting at Les Schwab, has not been arrested, but will voluntarily show up for his arraignment this Thursday morning on the charges.
The number of homes selling in Central Oregon is on the rise to pre-recession levels, but prices unfortunately aren't keeping up. Nearly 400 homes sold in Central Oregon during the first quarter of 2011, but the median price was about half of what it was back in 2007. Lester Friedman, the President of the Central Oregon Association of Realtors says things are looking up: “We are seeing more activity. We're getting more calls, more emails from the website, more people interested in looking at property. Prices are as low as they've been. Interest rates remain at historic lows. So we're seeing activity and I'm always fond of saying, everything starts with activity.” Friedman admits short sales and foreclosures, known as distressed properties make up the majority of the sales.
It may be a record for the schools budget coming out of Salem. Tuesday the Senate passed a $5.7 billion School Aid Bill; and the plan is expected to sail through the House today. State Senator Chris Telfer says the schools portion of the budget often isn't out until the end of June when school is already out: "Every year Senator Atkinson stands up and says why can't we get the schools K thru 12 budget out within 81 days. He's had that as a proposed law and no one has ever paid that much attention; but today we did it. If you start from Feb. 1st, which is when we really started getting going here, it's within the 81 days, so.” While local school administrators may not like the size of the budget, they at least know early what they have to work with. The $5.7 billion Bill is $56 million below the current two year cycle and fails to replace federal stimulus dollars. Schools get about 70% of their operating costs from the state and 30% from local property taxes.
The Bend La Pine School District is looking at stuff cuts as they deal with a projected $16-million budget shortfall. That's about 12% of their budget. Superintendent Ron Wilkinson: “It has to include people, it will include probably some concessions from employee groups in terms of raises they were entitled but maybe we will not be able to honor. But we will work with our groups through collective bargaining to get to that point.” Wilkinson says the first budget meeting will be April 26th. They will work in the ensuing month and a half to finalize that budget. The Oregon House passed a $5.7 billion K through 12 funding package Tuesday, the Senate passed it last week. The Governor wants only $5.5 billion and has threatened a veto. Wilkinson says $5.6 million of the $16-million deficit is increased contribution to the PERs fund.
The Bend La Pine School Boardroom is sure to be a busy place over the next couple of months. First, it was disagreement over re-drawing the middle school boundaries, now it's over class periods. More that 70 people and more than half of those were students, packed the boardroom last night. Jackson Ward is from Summit High School: “Ultimately, we are the ones being affected. If we are not being looked at as the chief concern regarding this, what are we really accomplishing in creating a better school system.” Ward says right now classes have an hour and 17-minutes for PE and labs in a "block" schedule, the new seven period schedule will mean shortened instruction time. He is concerned students will have to do more work at home. Ward says the Board should listen to students before they decide on adopting a new schedule. Parent Ranae McGain had several questions for the Board: “Why is it okay to make sweeping changes without input from the parents, the teachers, the students, and the community.” Superintendent Ron Wilkinson says the District is facing a $16-million budget shortfall and a seven period schedule will stretch teacher's schedules and keep class sizes at 35 students.
Sisters School District is bracing as many Districts are, for more cuts. Superintendent Jim Golden says they don't have a lot of choices with a $2 to $3 million budget shortfall. There are really only two scenarios, you pay people less or you pay less people. We’ll probably end up riffing some folks and then negotiating with the union negotiators that we hope will serve the best interest of children. The District anticipates they'll have to tell 15 workers by the end of the month, they'll be laid off next year.
Soon, there could be a happy ending for a four legged friend. Ever since we brought you the story about Nala, the shelter dog who helped rescue a lost spaniel last December, interest in her has not died down. Now, Humane Society of Redmond spokesman Monica Rendon says there could be some good news very soon. A local lady is close to adoption: "She has just been thinking about Nala nonstop. And she came out and brought her dog. Nala and him got along great. Then sheasked if Alan could take Nala over to her property. She lives in Powell Butte, and she has 80 fenced acres." Alan is Nalas' favorite walker. After the doggie makeover and photo shoot she had last week, Rendon says they have been contacted by interested people from all over the nation. Once Nala visits her new prospective home, a decision will be made about her adoption.
Central Oregonians got a look at their new 911 Dispatch Center Tuesday afternoon. Dispatch Supervisor Chris Perry: “The new facility gives us the needed space to grow and expand, including the space to appropriately train new employees. And the technology so we can become a more efficient and continue to do a better job.” Voters approved a five-year levy in May 2008 to pay for part of the new facility. The new building provides 20 dispatching consoles as compared to eleven in the old building.
Lawmakers are midway through this year's session and there's still a lot of work to do. Lawmakers want to make State Government more efficient, while raising taxes are unlikely. Sx bills have been signed by the Governor after being approved by the House and Senate. Yet, almost 3000 bills have been proposed since earlier this year.
Conger Reviews the Past Few Months…
Now that he has a few months of legislative work under his belt, 1110 KBND asked Representative Jason Conger is being a Congressman is all he thought it would be. Although Conger says he didn't realize the breadth of bills that the house needs to consider each session, “I knew it was going to be hectic. I knew it was going to be very fast paced and a lot of work. I didn't realize quite how many bills would be introduced." Conger says which bills get heard first is a very political process: “The bill is introduced, and then it gets assigned by the Speakers' Office. And we have, because it’s a 30-30 split in the Legislature; there's two Speakers; 2 Co-Speakers. So that whole process, of the assignment, what committee, obviously there' a lot of forum shopping going on. You know, if you want a bill to pass you might put it in one committee, if you want it to die, you might put it in another." In all, Conger says he is very honored to be our Congressman.
Will the roads leading to popular fishing locations be accessible in time for the official season opening weekend? That's the plan according to Deschutes County and the Oregon Department of Transportation. Peter Murphy is the Public Information Officer for ODOT. He says the County asked for help after one of their snow blowers broke down: "With fishing season coming open and I saw some resorts up there getting ready to open up as well and they need to have Century Drive, the Cascade Lakes Highway cleared off and apparently Deschutes County asked us for help this year and we were happy to provide it. And up there with road graders, bull dozers, and plows getting those roads ready for people to get up there and enjoy it this spring." Murphy says both the County and ODOT will work together in an effort to reach Elk Lake and Lava Lake both by the fishing season's opening weekend, which is April 23rd.
An efficient 911 agency is a vital part of any community and today in Bend you can see our local 911 Center up close. Deschutes County 911 is opening up its doors to the public from 4 to 6 p.m. Director Rob Piorier says Sheriff Larry Blanton and County Commissioner Tammy Baney will speak at the event: “We just hope to see lots of people show up and as part of the open house we are celebrating “National Telecommunicators Week” this week. A special visitor will also stop by during the open house; baby Prescott Simpson was born on November 11th and one of the 911 call takers helped with the delivery by phone. The 911 Service District dispatches for more than 10 Regional Emergency Response Agencies. Last year 911 dispatchers coordinated an average of 705 calls per day.
A Portland rape case should serve as a warning for parents in Central Oregon about the dangers of Facebook. A 20 year old Wilsonville man is accused of rape and held on half a million dollars bail after allegedly posing as a teenager and luring two young girls. Deschutes County Detective Zach Needham isn't surprised about this case; he works hard to track down predators who abuse social media and other online tools.
It may be some closure for a Bend family; the body of Dustin Weber, 25, was found south of the Columbia River, near Astoria, Oregon. A person walking on the beach came across the remains and authorities announced the positive I.D. today. Weber had been swept out to sea by a tsunami on March 11th, near the mouth of the Klamath River in California. Weber had lived in Bend most of his life and had just moved to that area to get a fresh start in life and fix up a house he had inherited from his grandmother.
The Burns area managed to head off possible flooding this last weekend, but they're keeping an eye on the weather. Rain is in the forecast, but so far the sandbagging is holding the levy. Burns City Manager, Don Munkers says more than 100 volunteers showed up on Friday to prevent the flooding. “It was absolutely great. The community really stepped up. It's been absolutely phenomenal. They worked real hard and deserve a great big atta boy!” The Red Cross set up a shelter for possible evacuees, but evacuations weren't necessary. So far, the sandbagging is holding, but volunteers are poised to jump in and help if more rain falls or more snow melts.
A 19 year old Bend man remains in critical condition at St. Charles following a rollover accident in east Bend early Sunday morning. Nikkolas Cross is in critical condition and one of his passengers, Breanna Hogue is in fair condition. The accident happened at 4:15 a.m. Sunday morning at the intersection of Billadeau and Ward Road. Police say Cross failed to negotiate a curve and left the roadway, hit a large boulder and juniper tree and then rolled over. Detectives say alcohol and speed appear to be factors in this crash.
For ten years, Warm Springs has been trying to bring more internet access to their area and today they'll take a big step toward that goal. The Tribes of Warm Springs will break ground on the new Warm Springs Telecommunication Company. $5.6 million in federal stimulus dollars are helping to build this new company that will bring basic telephone and Internet service to the reservation. Marcia Spellman is the Regulatory Director of Warm Springs Telecommunications: “People are so excited. Can you image; the kids that go to Madras. The kids in Madras go home and have Internet, but our kids go home and don't have anything. Kids want it for the homework, but they also want it to play games and they can be like everyone else.” Warm Springs Telecommunication plans to start offering service in the fall of 2011. Currently only one quarter of those on the reservation have Internet access.
Big changes are on their way for high school students in Bend and La Pine. As part of an effort to stretch teacher's schedules; while keeping class size at around 35 students per class, the school district will shift away from block classes to 7 periods a day. Tough times often mean tough decisions: "It's a significant change."
Bend La Pine Schools Superintendent Ron Wilkinson says the District is facing a $16 million budget shortfall, and this idea would squeeze a little bit more classroom time out of teachers, so class size would stay at around 35 students. It would still mean some teacher layoffs at the local high schools: "We are agonizing. Probably about 20-22 teachers." Wilkinson says it doesn't appear that state lawmakers will tackle PERs changes that would alleviate some of the District's obligations to PERs, so they have to make some deep cuts. Madras schools recently moved to 7 periods a day, and Redmond is set to start that schedule next school year.
Crook County deputies continue to find more dead wild horses in the Ochoco National Forest. In early March, they discovered three horses that were shot to death. And recently they found three more. Deputy Brian Bottoms says the public has been very helpful in their investigation: “I don't think we're close to an arrest, but with some of the evidence and some information from the public and we're directed in the right direction of who we should be looking at.” The Crook County Sheriff's Office is working with the Forest Service Law Enforcement to follow up on leads. The public is encouraged to call them with any information.
It looks like high school students in Bend and La Pine will soon join students in Redmond and Madras in moving away from block classes to a seven period a day schedule. Bend La Pine Schools Superintendent Ron Wilkinson says the change allows teachers to oversee more classes as the district tries to adjust to dramatic budget cuts: "We're dealing with a $15 million budget gap for next year, and we are anguishing over how to do that. And its without any way that I look at it, I have to reduce teachers; and we're looking about reducing about 20 to 22 teachers at the high schools.” He says the change to 7 classes a day holds class size to around 35 students per class. The District had used a block schedule for about 15 to 20 years. Wilkinson also says its become clear during the past few weeks that the Legislature doesn't plan to make changes to PERs Rules that would free up some of the District funding mandates, so now they are forced to cut teaching positions.
Crook County deputies continue to investigate the shooting of several wild horses in the Ochoco National Forest. In early March, officers found three horses shot to death. And recently Deputy Brian Bottoms found more: “We actually found an additional three horses from the original three. We know one was shot and the other two were so decomposed we couldn't tell exactly how they died.” Deputy Bottoms says the public has been very helpful in their investigation so far, and feel they are closer to finding the person or persons responsible for the slaughter of these horses. If you have any information about these cases, contact the Crook County Sheriffs Office.
Burns continues to keep a watchful eye on potential flooding in their area. Burns City Manager Don Munkers says so far the weather is cooperating: “Right now we're in really good shape. We’ve sandbagged the levy and the water level is dropping, the river is dropping. We’re fairly comfortable with an eye on the weather.” Friday, ODOT closed Highway 20 in the Burns area because of flooding on the roadway and created a detour and that remains in effect. The Red Ccross and more than 100 volunteers filled sandbags and those measures continue to hold.
A 19 year old Bend man remains in critical condition at St. Charles following a rollover in east Bend early Sunday morning. Nikkolas Cross is in critical condition and two of his passengers, Breanna Hogue and Jessica Lancaster are in fair condition. The accident happened at 4:15 a.m. Sunday morning at the intersection of Billadeau and Ward Road. Police say Cross failed to negotiate a curve and left the roadway, hit a larger boulder and juniper tree and then rolled over. Detectives say alcohol and speed appear to be factors in this crash.
Despite disappointment from some parents of Pine Ridge Elementary students; Superintendent Ron Wilkinson says it's time to move forward with the Committee's recommendation to change the boundaries. Many parents spoke up about convenience and transportation while others are upset by the socio-economic indications. Wilkinson says they have to consider all factors and they can't allow people's personal biases to influence the decision: “I think that that's an element of this conversation; I think that boundary debates bring out the ugly side of Bend and the ugly side of people in terms of their biases come through real strongly and that's been the case with any of the options the committee has looked at so that's not labeling one particular group of people in any way. It's just one of the times that the biases come out pretty strongly." Ron Wilkinson adds that while the free and reduced lunch percentage of Pilot Butte Middle School does in fact drop from 72 to 64 percent, that was not a heavily weighing factor in the decision. He also says the School Board made a decision to start an International Baccalaureate Program to add more challenging curriculum for students at Pilot Butte.
An audit shows the Deschutes County 911 Center has spent $300,000 in overtime in last year’s budget. Officials are trying to fix that. Rob Poirer is the Director of the Deschutes County 911 Center. 1110 KBND asked him why all the overtime? “Part of it was illness, part of it was short staffed. Right now we are trying to recruit for four openings that we have. So, when you have people in training, but they are not released yet to actually cover positions, it makes it problematic.” Poirer says he wants his staff to be involved in the solution to cut overtime expense. The 911 Center employs a little over 40 people with an annual payroll including benefits of a little over $4-million. He is hoping come up with a solution by the middle of next month. Note: The 911 Center will have a public open house Tuesday from four to 6pm in the Public Safety Complex on Poe Sholes Drive. A short presentation and question and answer session will be conducted at 5pm.
To celebrate sexual assault awareness month, Tuesday night, Saving Grace along with Central Oregon Community College and BendFilm are presenting a free film, called "Sissy." This film, written/directed by Bonnie Root, tells the story of Sissy’s mother, Bernie, who dumps Sissy off with “Uncle” Charlie, a family friend and struggling magician, and heads for a small time tour across rural parts of Nevada. Charlie’s mood darkens when he just can’t seem to catch a break. Sissy, with nowhere else to turn, bears the brunt as best she can. Lauren Bisken with Saving Grace says it's an important film that adults need to see: “Our goal is to get out the awareness, educate the community as to what is happening all over the country, but especially here in Central Oregon. And this will help do that. Help kind of branch out and lead that conversation, not only watch this film and learn a little bit more what this young woman goes through, but then take it back and be able to tie it to our community." Biskin says after the 20-minute film, they will open up discussion with the writer and executive producer of the film on Skype. "Sissy" will be shown Tuesday night from six to 7:30 in Hitchcock Auditorium.
The film may not be suitable for all audiences.
Burns-area residents won a battle Saturday against rising floodwaters they have been fighting since Thursday night. Melting snow and a water-slogged ground table have been putting pressure on a dike that protects the north edge of Burns and surrounding farm homes. Resident volunteers, assisted by National Guard Troops from Bend made and piled sandbags along the dike. At the same time, the water level in the Silvies River dropped. That is the good news. But; Burns City Manager Don Munkers tells our news partner Newschannel 21 that more rain is expected today and tomorrow, and that may cause problems.
An early morning crash sent four Bend residents to the hospital. Around 4:15 Sunday morning, a pickup truck lost control on a curve on ward road near Billadeau Road, left the roadway and struck a large boulder. Jacob Bernhardt, 15, pulled himself out of the wreckage and went to a nearby residence to call for help. The driver, Lee Nikkolas, 19, was trapped in the wreckage. Bend Fire and Rescue responded with three ambulances, three engine companies, a heavy rescue truck, and a Battalion Chief. Two other passengers, Breanna Hogue, 18, and Jessica Lancaster, 21, managed to get out of the truck. It took firefighters over half an hour to get Nikkolas out of the vehicle. Hogue, Lancaster, and Nikkolas are being treated for serious injuries at St. Charles Bend. Alcohol and speed appear to be factors in the crash.
A private plane slid off the runway at Sunriver Airport late Sunday morning after developing mechanical problems during a landing. The pilot was the only one on-board. "There were no injuries. There was a minor fuel leak once the plane came to rest. Firefighters responded and were able to contain the fuel leak very shortly. There appeared to be damage to the landing gear portion of the aircraft when it came to rest." Sunriver Fire spokesman Jim Bennett says the single-engine Cesena Centurion 210 is not based in Bend. He says the runway was closed for several hours before the plane could be removed from the area.
What began as a hit and run at Third and Reed Market turned into a domestic dispute and grocery store lock down Sunday afternoon. According to a police report, it was about 2:30 p.m. when Richard Sander, 40, of Bend crashed his Jeep into the car driven by Charles Rowles, 56, also of Bend. Sander fled the scene before police arrived. Then, about 15 minutes later, police received another call about a man brandishing a gun at another man, then fleeing in the same vehicle. A few minutes later, police locate the Jeep on the parkway and followed it into the Albertson's parking lot on south Third Street, where it parked in front of the store. Police put the store in lock down while they made the high risk traffic stop. Sander attempted to resist arrest, but was eventually handcuffed. H was arrested for DUII, Resisting Arrest and other charges. During the search of the vehicle, police found a handgun and BB gun.
Those who work with our youngest victims in Central Oregon are reminding the public of everyone's role in helping kids. You may have noticed the "Raise Me Up" flags around Central Oregon. It's part of an awareness campaign in April. Pam Fortier works with children through the 'Court Appointed Special Advocate' Program” or CASA, and says they are facing a 20% budget cut; yet the need is greater than ever: “The cases are going up. Families that were already at risk and then you put the stressors on them with unemployment or homelessness, there's a crossing point and then we have more families coming in to care." Last year, Central Oregon saw more than 2200 reports of child abuse. CASA of Central Oregon has a fundraiser this coming weekend: it's a run and walk called "Light of Hope" at Riverbend Park in Bend. The 4th annual "Light of Hope" run/walk is on Sunday, April 17th at 9 a.m.
Crews have started repairing all the potholes on Bend roads this spring, but they have their work cut out for them. Hardy Hanson with the Bend Streets Department says crews started the repairs last week. To many drivers, the roads seem in bad shape this year: “It's pretty difficult to compare overall, but we're going to get more and more potholes as the streets deteriorate. We’re not able to keep up with the treatment on all the streets.” Crews will be out Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. through the fall, repairing potholes.
For three years, Central Oregon garbage haulers have joined together to "Can Cancer." The idea is to raise funds to help cancer patients pay for non-medical expenses. Gil and Corinne Martinez started "Can Cancer" when their son was battling throat cancer several years ago. As owners of Wilderness Garbage, they wanted to give back to the community after their son's successful cancer battle. They approached other garbage collectors and got a positive reaction: “So the community has been overwhelmingly support. In 2010 we raised $30,000.” Corinne Martinez says 100% of your donation goes to Central Oregon families to pay day-to-day expenses while receiving cancer treatments. Special envelopes to donate were mailed in this month’s garbage bills.
Once the weather starts getting warmer and people are drinking more soda and beer, you may also notice more people rummaging through the garbage in your neighborhood. Steve Esselstyn with Bend Police says this isn't illegal, it's actually pretty common for people to dig around for cans that they can recycle for money -
"Its perfectly legal for people to go through trash bins. They are not on private property if they're out on the street for collection. They are mostly looking for cans; the cans are a nickel a piece, and you can sometimes see at the recycling stations, quite a few of them, there's nothing illegal about it, but you do want to be careful." Esselstyn says you need to make sure you don't have any personal information left in your trash because it could make it easier for people willing to look through your trash to steal your identity.
The body of a Gresham man reported missing over two weeks ago has been found near Sunriver. An Oregon State Police Game Trooper found the man’s car parked in the middle of the 810 Road north of Cottonwood Drive Thursday afternoon, and determined it belonged to the victim. The Deschutes County Search and Rescue Team searched Thursday until dark and then again on Friday, finding the body around 3 pm. Gabriel Ionescu, 43, was found dead a short distance off of the road. There are no signs of foul play.
Officials in Crook County say they have now found a total of six wild horses shot and killed in remote areas east of Prineville. Deputy Sheriffs found three dead horses in mid-March. About a week later, deputies found a fourth wild horse that had been shot and killed in the same general area. That investigation lead to the discovery of two other carcasses of horses that had been dead for some time. The Crook County Sheriff’s Office is working with U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement officers following up on leads from the public. If you know anything about this case, contact the Crook County Sheriff’s Office.
With the clock ticking to a partial government shutdown at midnight, what happens if politicians don't reach an 11th hour agreement? First off; most of those government checks will continue, like Social Security, SSDI, unemployment checks, and money for food stamps. Some people who could be affected in a big way are some military personal who could have their paychecks delayed and the millions of people who paper filed their taxes and are waiting for a return. That paperwork at the IRS may get stalled. People needing a mortgage thru the FHA would have to wait; those new applications would not be processed. Small businesses needing a loans from the SBA would be affected. People needing a passport will have to wait. And if you want to visit a National Park, they will be closed in a shutdown. Marsha McCabe with Crater Lake National Park says they usually see about 9000 visitors in April. “Crater Lake National Park and all user facilities and services managed by the Parks Service will be closed. All government and permitted events will be canceled or postponed. For the duration of the shutdown, all National Park Service employees will be furloughed with the exception of a limited number of employees needed to secure the park, provide law enforcement and emergency services.” She says in April about 9000 visitors come to Crater Lake. And finally, in case you're wondering, the Post Office will remain open.
Deschutes County employees are fighting the County over a proposed increase in health care premiums. County Administrator Dave Kanner: “Healthcare inflation is running 9% or 10 % a year. And as a result, as our claims costs go up, 9%, 10%, 11%; one year it went up 14%, we’re simply not on a sustainable path.” Kanner says the County is asking employees to pay $65 instead of $50. Union spokesman Yaju Dharmarajah says employees are concerned about future years: “But due to the life of the contract; they’re asking for a five year contract, they are proposing that after next year, they be allowed to move to a percentage-based cost containment for health care.” Employees have want to find out exactly how much the County has spent on health care and say they want to work with the County, but that employees over the years have sacrificed pay for reduced health care. Under the County proposal, employee contribution could increase to $200 a month. The County will meet with the union again April 28th.
A Bend businessman faces up to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud in the misuse of $44-million of his customer's money. Brian Stevens, 55, owned Summit Accommodations. “What Mr. Stevens and others at Summit did was take the customers money and make personal investments for themselves in real estate in the Bend area and elsewhere. More than 100 separate property investments.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Uram says customers may be able to get most of their money back. He says Summit's customers were repeatedly told their money was safe in a bank account when it was not. Alleged coconspirator, Mark Neuman, 56, pleaded not guilty in April to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
All those ruts and potholes around town are hitting your car very hard, especially this year with the longer winter driving season. The owner of a local auto shop has some advice. Most manufacturers recommend an alignment every two years; but Suzette Teagarden with Reed Market Auto Service in Bend says for those of us who drive a lot in Central Oregon and hit potholes and road ruts, once a year is more like it. "With the snow like we have this morning, everybody’s got their snow tires off; you take the roundabout a little too fast. You hit your wheel on the right front. That definitely causes some damage there, usually to the suspension components.” Teagarden says if you nail a pothole or fall into one of those big ruts, if you don't get a flat tire, it’s still good to take your car in to your mechanic to make sure you don't need realignment.
Imagine going months and months without the comforts of home including your favorite food or treats. That’s one of the many things our troops endure. But a local non-profit group tries to change all that. Diane Brock, who co-founded the non-profit organization along with Dan Hulbert, sends care packages to local men and women who have been deployed. "When we first went into Iraq, “Operation Enduring Freedom;” the troops were moving so fast that the logistics couldn't keep up with them. So there was a definite need. Now, sometimes it's about need if they're in a remote area and sometimes it's about the importance of the message and we know that nothing goes to waste!" The packages include all kinds of moral boosters and treats, like jerkey, cookies and hard candy. If you'd like to either help with donations or sign up someone you know, just go to the website: www.caringfortroops.com. Brock says the soldier doesn't have to be from the area; just a have a local tie like family or friends in Central Oregon.
The Bend La Pine Middle School Boundary Committee has made its decision on where to move students to alleviate overcrowding at Cascade Middle School. But some parents aren't happy about the way they voted. Some parents are concerned, not necessarily about the new plan, but how the committee voted on it. Jay Kolar feels the language in the ballot was skewed: “My beef isn't so much what kids are going where, but the ballot itself and having emotional words and will sabotage as a choice for committee members. To me, it's really disappointing.” Assistant Superintendent John Rexford told parents during Wednesday night's meeting that language was deliberately chosen to get an accurate reflection on the emotion of the committee's choices.
Just before noon, Crook County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a report of a burglary in progress at a home south of Prineville. The person calling in said three men were loading several items from a residence into a small utility trailer being towed by a Chevy S-10 pickup truck, red with a blue hood. Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputies spotted, and then pulled over the pickup off Alfalfa Market Road. The driver fled, but two passengers were taken into custody; identified as Scott Simpson, 45, of Redmond and Shane Musgrave, 22, of Prineville. Crook County Deputies found and recovered stolen items in the pickup. Police continued to search for the driver of the car, but the search was called off due to weather and time restraints. The driver has been identified, but his name is being held pending further investigation.
A guilty verdict for a La Pine man accused of killing his wife. Thursday, a Deschutes County judge convicted a La Pine man on two counts of aggravated murder; one count of murder and numerous abuse and drug charges in the killing of his wife. Brenda Middlekauff vanished in 2002 and was found three years later. Circuit Court Judge Stephen Tiktin heard the nearly two-month trial after Darrell Middlekauff, 48, waived the right to a jury trial. Eight years after Brenda Middlekauff's violent death, the verdicts brought some resolution for her family.
Central Oregon lawmakers are pushing for almost two million dollars in Lottery bonding authority to finance a growth project at OSU-Cascades. House Bill 36-27 would pave the way for a new graduate level facility at the school. “Bend and Central Oregon have been especially hard hit by the recession;” and Representative Jason Conger says this bill will help build a public-private partnership that could spur job creation and help attract new businesses to our area. The bill would authorize $1.95 million in bonding authority backed by State Lottery revenues dedicated to economic development. Conger says Central Oregon needs the jobs and the university really needs the classroom space. Under the plan, Bend Research would lease part of the building for a research and development facility. A private donor is coming to the table with $800,000. OSU-Cascades has set aside $1-million for the project.
There are plenty of sore arms today, as several volunteers gathered at Hollinshead Barn to scratch Lottery tickets for schools. 11-10 KBND's Julia Gray was one of the volunteers. Seven teams of four people had five minutes to scratch as many Lottery tickets as we could to find some big bucks for the schools. "You get this excitement when everyone starts and they've got their head down and they're scratching away and then we announce that there's four minutes left and then there's kind of a little bit of a 'really?'; and then they keep on scratching, but it's a lot of fun, people are very excited. We’ve got the lottery folks here helping and cheering on their teams, 'cuz the whole goal is to scratch off as many tickets as possible." Chuck Baumann with the Oregon Lottery says over $4000 was raised for our area schools. Julia was on the team for our sister station Classic Rock 98.3, The Twins, and they were scratching for Seven Peaks School. Our total came to $731. Other schools chosen to receive winnings are Culver High, Powell Butte Community Charter School, Cecil Sly Elementary in Redmond, Redmond Proficiency Academy, Henley Middle School in Klamath Falls and Cascade Middle School.
Oregon may join nine other states in banning a plastic hardener commonly known as BPA. Thursday, the Senate passed a bill that would ban the potentially harmful plastic additive from baby bottles, Sippy cups and reusable water bottles, beginning January of 2012. The bill passed by 20 votes to 9. State Senator Chris Telfer of Bend was one of the "no" votes; mostly because the science and data is inconclusive: “A lot of products now are BPA free, and it’s right on the label. I think everything in Wal-Mart is like BPA free, so its a choice now: people can buy it or not." KBND’s Lori Raab: “So you don't think the government needs to be involved in this debate?” CT: “I don't. At least the state, the federal government is still having the debate, having the studies. So I think we've kind of jumped the gun on this.” The bill now moves to the House. The Governor also backs the ban and if passed, Oregon would become the 10th state, including Washington, with some form of a ban on BPA.
A former Redmond man is involved in a murder suicide in Washington State. Police say David Stewart, 38, who was a combat medic, shot and killed his wife and himself in a police chase Tuesday. Deputies found the couples’ 5 year old son Jordan, dead of suffocation in their home. Pierce County Detective Ed Troyer says at this point they aren't sure who killed the little boy: “We're going to have to rely on the evidence and some science and some forensics tests to hopefully tell us more of what happened there, because anybody who was around is deceased. We may not have all the answers; we may never will. We do know that we have a male who we believe shot the female and then shot himself. Both of them were at the residence before that time and they both knew there was a dead child at the house. What caused that to happen is what we're waiting for the science to help us answer, if it'll even be able to." Stewart has twice deployed to Iraq. He was based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and then transferred to Joint Base Lewis McChord, south of Seattle in 2010. Deputies say Stewart shot and killed himself following a high-speed car chase on Interstate 5 near Olympia. His wife Kristy was found shot to death in the car.
Bend City Councilors got an earful Wednesday night about changes to a cell tower ordination. City staff is proposing to allow companies to locate broadcast or cell towers in residential areas, but only through a conditional use process: “We try to really provide an incentive of making it an easier process to site these types of facilities in areas such as industrial areas.” Bend City Manager Eric King says several members of Awbrey Butte told Council about past experiences with the Awbrey Butte Tower Farm. They are concerned about proliferation of towers in residential areas. King says staff does not want to totally forbid towers in residential areas, but companies would have to make a case through a conditional use proceeding.
The definition of how a room tax is charged in Bend is in question. The topic generated a lot of discussion at Wednesday night's Bend City Council meeting. Bend City Manager Eric King: “Trying to provide some clarity for our code for the transient room tax. We are not proposing anything new. We are just trying to be a little bit more clear when the transient room tax applies and to what types of charges.” On a four to three vote, the City Council narrowly accepted the staff proposed changes. The City contends that if all guests are charged some kind of fee, then than should be taxed. Attorney Neil Bryant representing the Riverhouse Convention Center argued for further clarification. The Riverhouse's contention is that if a customer can opt out of paying a facility use fee at registration, then that should not be taxed. A majority of the Councilors seem to feel that fine print on a registration card is not enough notice to allow customers to opt out. Thus most people will automatically pay it, and so it should be taxed. The issue will come up again during the first Council meeting in May. Jeff Eager, Jim Clinton, Mark Capell, Jodie Barram voted to accept the staff's proposal.
A warning today from the Deschutes County Health Department. Spokesperson Heather Kaisner says they just confirmed a case of salmonella linked to a Deschutes County resident handling baby chicks. " I think we just want to put out a warning to people that with the Easter holiday and spring coming, that baby chicks can carry the salmonella bacteria and we have just confirmed one case of salmonella that has been linked to baby chicks. So its just really important that people do take preventative measures if they do decide to purchase baby chicks.“ While it could make a cute picture to have babies and little kids playing with baby chicks; health officials don't recommend it. They say anyone five or younger should not handle the chicks because of salmonella risk. Always wash your hands with hot soapy water after handling chicks and cleaning their cages. Most salmonella cases are mild, but in some rare and extreme instances can even lead to death in people with compromised immune systems.
In a couple weeks, Summit High School's Wind Ensemble will be performing on the stage of Carnegie Hall. But you can hear their program here in Bend tonight before they go. “The band that will wrap up the concert on April 7th is the Summit winds. They'll be presenting their performance that they will give at Carnegie Hall.” Band Director Dan Judd says the wind ensemble will be traveling to New York next week for the Heritage Festival. They are one of only 17 high school bands to be invited to perform. The free concert is tonight at 7 p.m. at Summit High School. Cascade Middle School will also be performing as well.
After months of work, the Bend La Pine Middle School Boundary Committee has decided on a plan to alleviate overcrowding at Cascade Middle School. The Committee voted Wednesday for the plan that moves Pine Ridge students to Pilot Butte Middle School. Pine Ridge parent Lynn Broderick is not happy: “I think parents expect to have children go to school in their neighborhood that they purchased their home in. I think parents are already very pulled in many directions with after school activities and this is going to throw another wrench into that as well.” Fellow parent Julie Armstrong feels parents aren't giving Pilot Butte a chance: “Hopefully, some good will come about and some parents will appreciate what's going to happen and their kids will have a new experience.” Superintendent of Bend La Pine Schools Ron Wilkinson still needs to approve the plan.
A new earthquake in Japan is not expected to trigger an ocean wide tsunami. That's according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Japan was just rattled by a strong 7.4 magnitude aftershock and tsunami warning nearly a month after a devastating earthquake and tsunami flattened the northeastern coast. The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for a wave of up to 6 feet. The warning was issued for a coastal area already torn apart by last month's tsunami, which is believed to have killed some 25,000 people and has sparked an ongoing crisis at a nuclear power plant.
The U.S. Forest Service has awarded the Deschutes National Forest $70,000 to support the development of a Deschutes "Children's Forest". Spokesperson for the Deschutes National Forest, Jean Nelson-Dean says they were one on nine national forests to receive the funds: "We've got great partners here in Central Oregon that are already doing conservation education; great schools that we have. Our hope is to bring all of these folks together and develop a coalition and using this money to leverage resources and start strategic planning." Nelson-Dean says the Children’s Forest will be a network of sites within the Deschutes; so all areas of Central Oregon can be a part of getting more kids out into the woods. She adds that their partner, Discover Northwest will take the lead in getting the coordinator hired.
As Congress battles budget issues, a Friday deadline looms over the proceedings. Congressman Greg Walden is front and center in the budget battle alongside House Speaker John Boehner, fighting for less spending and more government accountability. Walden's spokesman, Andrew Whelan says in a written statement "Representative Walden is working to prevent a government shutdown while making real cuts in spending to improve the economy and job creation in the private sector. He is participating in meetings, as he has all week, aimed at helping prevent a shutdown and reaching an agreement with the Democratic controlled Senate. His focus right now is on keeping the government open, funding our troops, and cutting the deficit.” If there is no deal by midnight Friday, when the current spending authorization measure expires, parts of the government will close down.
The reauthorization of County Timber Payments for the next fiscal year remains in the proposed budget proposed by House Republicans. Congressman Greg Walden says Budget Committee members do recognize the importance this money is to rural communities at this time. “The budget Committees’ acknowledged in these very difficult and lean economic times, County Timber Payments are an important lifeline for our rural forested communities. Now this is a small, but very important first step toward keeping the Federal Governments’ commitment to rural Oregonians. We’ve got a lot of work before us in the House and the Senate; and I look forward to our delegation continuation our bipartisan outreach across Capital Hill; to maintain support for forested communities throughout the Federal Budget process.” County Timber Payments are intended to offset a portion of timber harvest taxes lost by restrictions on logging in federal forests. President Obama's budget does include $328-million to fund a multi-year extension of the program, a result of efforts by the entire Oregon House delegations' efforts.
A boundary recommendation has finally come from the Bend La Pine School District Boundary Committee. After considerable discussion the committee voted to forward a middle school boundary proposal to the Superintendent: “The committee moved towards what we are calling a minimal consensus to take forward a recommendation to move the Pine Ridge attendance area to Pilot Butte from the Cascade attendance area. The Committee struggled over that decision.” Deputy Superintendent John Rexford says about three quarters of the Committee voted to move forward with Option 1-B. However, two members on the Committee said they are strongly opposed and would attempt to stop the acceptance of the proposed boundary change. One of the biggest concerns is the belief this will make the percentage of low-income kids at Pilot Butte higher than at any other Bend middle school. Several Committee members said they struggled with not coming up with a better socio-economic mix. Rexford will draft a recommendation to Superintendent Ron Wilkinson and Committee members will have a chance to review it before it is sent.
The City of Bend is making plans to repair some of their heavily traveled roundabouts this summer. Kevin Ramsey with the Streets Division says they are looking at putting more concrete on the surface to increase their life span. “They all seem to be failing at the same rate about 6 to 7 year life span. We’re looking for a more sustainable product about 30 to 40 year life span.” The first roundabout slated for repair is the Reed Market and Mt. Washington roundabout. When construction gets underway this summer, it will be closed for about a month. Detours will be in place.
A 41 year old La Pine man is very lucky to be alive today, after suffering hypothermia when he crashed his atv a couple miles west of La Pine. Clayton Lichtenhahn crashed his ATV four miles from his home, when his vehicle hit a tree that fell across a forest road. He then walked another 12 miles disoriented, when an employee of the Twin Lakes Resort, Joie Frazee found him: “Just good circumstances. He probably wouldn't have made it another night. Definitely suffering from hypothermia.” Lichtenhahn was wet from swimming in the wickiup reservoir and was wandering in the woods in his underwear. He also broke his ankle and some ribs. Frazee called the Sheriff's Department and learned they were looking for Lichtenhahn. His wife had reported him missing when he hadn't returned from his ATV ride Monday evening. He spent Monday night in the forest.
It’s one of the most controversial issues in Oregon; a push to make changes to the Public Employee Retirement System. And the debate on PERs reform is expected to start soon in the Oregon House Business and Labor Committee. Jason Conger of Bend says a serious debate on PERs reform is starting in Salem. "PERs reform is absolutely necessary and the reason is because our current system ties too much future obligation and unfunded liability that has to be paid in the future and because of the recession and because of the Market crash we are now having to fund that to a great extent. “ Conger says PERs has become too rich and too generous. Meantime; on the other side, the Director of the Oregon State Firefighters Council says people who are criticizing the system have painted a lopsided picture. Bob Livingston says they've failed to acknowledge the big PERs reforms done in 2003, and the problems with PERs have been exaggerated.
Even though people are trying to stretch out the value of their cars by driving them until they drop; there was an increased demand for auto loans in March. Kyle Frick of the Mid Oregon Credit Union says the impact is partly due to so many cars taken out of the market during the “Cash for Clunkers” campaign two years ago. Still, the number of new cars available has been affected by the tsunami in Japan back in March. "Volvos their engines and transmissions are built in Japan so they've had some hits there. I think there's a plant in Louisiana, a Chevrolet plant that is on hold right now because a lot of parts that go into those cars there come from Japan. Toyota is definitely challenged and Honda. We're starting to see prices across the board go up and I’ve heard numbers like 1.5% those increases are coming because of supply and demand and not being able to get the parts they need or even the cars shipped over here." Kyle says that loans are available at a lower rate right now to offset the pricing caused by supply and demand. He adds once you lock in on that lower rate, you'll reap the benefits over the next few years.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is scheduled to testify today on a bill that would change the State's Kicker Law. Corporations and taxpayers get checks from the government when the State collects more in taxes than anticipated. The bill before lawmakers would scale back kicker payments and instead save the money for higher education. Some lawmakers say the current kicker law makes it difficult for the State to save money and weather economic downturns.
It was a strange twist to a pot bust north of Klamath Falls: when the man tried to light himself and the car on fire. Oregon State Police say a Maryland man was arrested last night north of Klamath Falls on multiple charges when during a traffic stop he dowsed himself and the vehicle's interior with lighter fluid and ignited it.
OSP Troopers removed the man before he was injured and extinguished the fire before it caused major damage to the vehicle. Troopers found about 30 lbs of marijuana with an estimated value of $75,000.
It’s a way to network and get some information that can help strengthen businesses in Central Oregon. Today, business leaders in Redmond announced the key note speaker for the 13th Annual Central Oregon Business Expo. The Governor's Economic Advisor, Scott Nelson, will be presenting "Oregon Is Open for Business." Redmond Chamber Director Eric Sande says the Expo comes at a time when businesses need the help: “I think everyone's is definitely struggling and buckling down for the long haul. There are some signs of some positive movement. I've talked to some realtors; homes are selling, mortgages are being re-financed. Some businesses are feeling a little more positive cash flow coming in, and so people are starting to feel a little more secure about the future perhaps and maybe we're seeing a little more spending from reserve dollars that people might have." Sande says in the past as many as 1000 people have attended the Expo. It's at the Deschutes County Expo Center on Thursday, April 28th.
Updating you on missing La Pine man, Clayton Roy Lichtenhahn who was located early Tuesday afternoon, about 12 miles from his home. Apparently, Lichtenhahn crashed his ATV into a tree about four miles from his home Monday evening, and suffered serious injuries. An employee of the Twin Lakes Resort found Lichtenhahn walking near the area and contacted the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office who came to the area and confirmed it was the missing man. Despite his injuries, Lichtenhahn has walked several miles to the resort area where he was found. He was a bit disoriented, a police report says. Searchers found his crashed ATV a short time later. Lichtenhahn was taken to St. Charles with serious injuries, but this morning he has been upgraded to fair.
Now that the "Redistricting Road Trip" is over- there seems to be a consensus: people in Oregon are calling for the Governor to sign a bi-partisan District Map. When it comes to drawing political lines on a map, things can get controversial. State Senator Chris Telfer of Bend says that's why the State of Oregon has had a District Map approved of and signed by the Governor in forty years. In a recent tour across Oregon, Telfer heard the people say that 40 years was long enough, and they are urging the governor to put his "John Kitzhaber" on the document. The Committee held hearings in La Grande, Burns, Medford, Coos Bay and Bend. They also held video conferences to gather input.
Deschutes County Commissioner, Tammy Baney is one of only 22 county leaders selected to attend the Annual County Leadership Institute, a concentrated four day study program in Washington D.C. The institute is known for enhancing the capacity of county officials to identify and implement innovative solutions to the complex challenges facing county government. "I'm very exited. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity. I know that we haven't had someone from our area that's actually attended this. And to I’m excited about the opportunity. The costs are covered, expect for my just getting there. And so I think it will be very inexpensive for us as a County, but the wonderful experience that I think I will able to bring back will really be wonderful." Baney says she only knows of four other Oregonians who have attended the Institute. She will meet at IBM’s Institute for Electronic Government in Washington D.C. from June fifth though the ninth.
Dr. Michael Newman has been a doctor in Washington D.C. for decades and has seen a lot of changes in medical care. Living in the nation's capitol he has participated in many discussions on healthcare reform. He brought his knowledge to Central Oregon this week. Dr. Newman spoke to the Central Oregon Medical Society Monday night about what the upcoming changes in healthcare may mean for them: “It's a step in the right direction. It's an evolution like social security and Medicare and expanded benefits. This is just the beginning and it's going to result in better care of our country and it’s going to help out with the economy challenges we're facing.” Dr. Newman says one of the challenges facing doctors is educating patients about procedures that are necessary and effective and have the best outcomes. He says 20% of our current healthcare is unnecessary, ineffective or unsafe.
Oregon Department of Transportation officials want to alert you to the high water hazard on Highway 20 near Riley. ODOT's Peter Murphy says due to snow melt off, the high water in encroaching on the Highway, causing a hazard. He says to expect the water to continue to be a hazard for the next week or so.
Today Deschutes County Search and Rescue crews are out looking for a 41 year old La Pine man. The Sheriff's Office says Clayton Lichtenhahn was last seen Monday afternoon around 4:30 and was reported missing by his wife earlier this morning; around 1:30. Sandy Lichtenhahn says her husband had left yesterday on his four wheel ATV and has not returned home. His wife says he took off without his cell phone, wallet or house keys and didn't say where he was going. He's been reported as a missing person. Deputies have been looking in several places in the southern portion of Deschutes County. Neither Lichtenhahn nor his vehicle have been located.
The pressure is on for the Bend-La Pine Middle School Boundary Committee. They meet this afternoon after delaying a vote on a final decision last week. The Committee is trying to solve an overcrowding problem at Cascade Middle School, and an idea to re-route Pine Ridge Elementary students away from Cascade and toward Pilot Butte Middle School ignited a controversy. Julianne Repman with Bend-La Pine Schools says middle school students will get a good education in Bend no matter which school they attend. "If you take our middle schools here, and we have 5 middle schools, and you compare them against middle schools in the State that have significantly similar demographics, they are actually outscoring their peers in the comparison schools statewide." Parents have also mentioned transportation issues and the fact that 70% of the population at Pilot Butte is on free or reduced lunches. The Committee wanted to take in more public feedback and then hopefully present their final proposal today.
Deschutes County officials are concerned about possible State budget cuts. Concern is over community programs aimed at keeping people out of jail. Prevention is more cost effective than incarceration, and breaks the cycle. The concern is that some of the funding for these preventative programs could fall to the budget axe. Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Michael Sullivan is a bit worried about several projects, including Family Court and the Mental Health Diversion Programs. “Andif those folks do certain things, and they take their medication, and take their treatment, they don't go to jail. What that means is the community saves a lot less money because it's about $90 a day for that bed.” Sullivan says the Family Court Program is designed to keep families together. The national success rate is 15%, in Deschutes County it's 50%. Sullivan says that's due to agency cooperation and caring staff. The Governor's proposed budget calls for a 20% cut.
High Risk Youth Also in Jeopardy
Oregon judicial advocates are nervously watching the budget cutting in salem. The first budget proposal was to close almost half of the 887 secure beds for the highest risk youth in oregon. “If we are closing this many beds, we most likely would be stepping some youth down from the correctional facility to residential, and then moving some youth from residential to the community. The bottom line is we may have higher risk youth in the community.” Oregon Youth Authority's Donna McLung says the Governor has since reconsidered and added 200 beds back in the budget. She says Deschutes County is among a consortium that shares 79 with 17 counties. McClung doesn't know what the final number will be but says counties will have to sharpen their pencils and consider cost effective alternatives for the less violent offenders.
It was one year ago that healthcare reform legislation was signed into law. Dr. Michael Newman, a Washington D.C. doctor has had a front seat in some of the discussions in the nation's capitol. He spoke to the Central Oregon Medical Society Monday night about some of the anxiety doctors may be feeling. “And I think physicians are understandably concerned about the impact on practices, regulation and about impact on incomes. But at the same time, also see opportunities for innovative ways of delivering care.” Dr. Newman says Oregon has always been on the cutting edge of progressive medical care with our Medicare expansion and our dignity with death provision. He believes the Healthcare Reform Bill is a good first step in innovative care; that will eventually bring down costs and have better medical outcomes.
American actress and singer Linda Purl tour with Lee Lesseck is will be right here in Bend. Not only are they performing a review of Oscar winner Johnny Mercer songs, they'll also offer a seminar tonight on how to present your song to the audience. Both Linda and Lee shared these tips on overcoming stage fright. "Breath and I always have to remind myself that the audience or the director., they want you to be good; but it's the human instinct to think that they are judging you or....and it's a force it's an energy that sort of those nerves or that fear and I think if you can, through breath literally transform and use that nervous energy to my benefit as opposed to something that's fearful." The seminar is at Sisters High School tonight. You can buy tickets at the door. The Broadway and television star Linda Purl and her musical partner Lee Lesseck will be at the Tower Theater Wednesday night at 7:30. Tickets are still available at the Tower Theatre Box Office.
Jefferson County officials are excited about the construction of COCC's new campus in Madras. Construction is underway and Wayne Pearson with Jefferson County Economic Development says its going to be a huge boon to the area: “And this gives us an advanced education opportunity for people in this area and we hope to tie it into businesses and their needs. We want to maybe sure we know the needs of businesses.” Currently, students must travel to Redmond and Bend to take college courses. The 9,000 square foot building will be done by this fall for classes.
If you are a Bend Police officer, chances are you are very busy these days. Police Chief Sandy Baxter says the Department is down about three officers but their workload has sky rocketed. “But then we are dealing with the increased number of calls. We are over about 4000 calls above what we were last year. Besides just those numbers, the types of calls that we are responding to take much more time.” Baxter is talking about the homocide calls of the last year. She says those calls are particularly taxing on the detectives. Baxter is putting together a Department budget for the coming year and will have the numbers for the City Council by the end of May. She realizes the City is under budget constraints but the Department is being asked to do a tremendous amount of work with a limited staff.
Law enforcement agencies and a domestic violence support program have high hopes that a new program will save lives. It's called The Lethality Assessment Program. It essentially is an agreement between police agencies and Saving Grace that has officers evaluate the risks to victims when they arrive on a scene, and often the officer will make the first call to the help line and give the phone to the victim. They thought they would receive about 160 calls a year, but they are actually getting two calls a day. If that trend continues, that will be more than 700 a year. “We absolutely believe that this will save lives because we are already seeing so many more victims receiving domestic violence services and we know that is what saves lives based on the research.” Trish Meyer is the Assistant Executive Director of Saving Grace. Nationally, 96% of people killed in domestic violence crimes had not reached out for help. Meyer says local officials believe this program will save lives.
The Redmond School District is putting together a new way to evaluate its teachers. The School Board approved new standards for judging teachers. They will be rated as one of four options: unsatisfactory, basic, proficient or distinguished. Lynn Evans is Redmond School's Human Resources Director. “They are the standards that the teachers are going to be held accountable to meet. So hopefully our teachers will all be proficient in standards for teacher effectiveness.” It's hoped these standards will help teachers improve the way the current system does not.
Business space in downtown Bend is highly sought after. There is good news for the downtown. Downtown Bend Business Association (DBBA) Executive Director, Chuck Arnold says it seems like as soon as a business leaves, another fills in the space quickly: "And what we're announcing is: 7 new businesses coming into downtown. In retail restaurant spaces, the spaces that you see when you walk around. and the occupancy as well, for the end of the first quarter, holding at 93%, which is really, really strong, so we're very about that." Arnold says it's a testament to the staying power of the downtown area. He adds that there are several more new businesses waiting to move in over the next few months. Recently, three new businesses moved on to Bond Street, two businesses on Brooks Street, one business on Franklin an one on Minnesota. He said that last Fridays’ Art Hop was a huge success and one of the most well attended, partly thanks to the weather.
A popular Bend retailer on Newport Avenue is expanding and moving to the Old Mill District. Ginger's Kitchenware will be opening soon in the store that previously housed Allyson's Kitchen. Old Mill District spokesperson Noelle Fredland says this is a growth story for Ginger's: “In some capacity 'yes'; they need to expand, they've had some beautiful cooking classes, but they've had to do them off-site until now. So being able to have that beautiful cast kitchen on the 2nd floor mezzanine will allow them to actually have their cooking classes right there in the store." They expect to move into the new space in June and Fredland says their co-tenant will most likely be a restaurant. Allyson's Kitchen closed recently so that the business owner could focus on the main store in Ashland, Oregon.
These days its hard enough to get a job and then keeping that job is especially tough if you have to leave work a lot to care for sick kids. That's one finding of a comprehensive study of 30 Central Oregon employers and 1000 workers. Monday, community leaders took an in-depth look at the results. John McLughlin with the "Children and Family Commission of Deschutes County" says they've heard from workers who've lost their jobs because of sick kids. "Biggest problem from our employees is sick children, infants and cost. A lot of people end up leaving their kids with neighbors or relatives and the challenge is that early childhood the first five years of life; as far as brain research, are the most important in terms of stimulation and a lot of important things as far as getting kids ready for school." He says business owners can help by being flexible and in some cases will qualify for tax breaks and incentives when they help workers solve the child care challenge.
It’s a fundraiser that may sound easier than it actually is; scratching off lottery tickets to raise money for schools. That's what is happening this Thursday in Bend. “It's funny because after having done this for 15 years, you're able to step back and watch things happen.” Lottery spokesman Chuck Bauman has watched a lot of scratching over the years, and the five minute fundraiser where a team from each school scratches tickets is tougher than it sounds: “We give them really good ice scrapers. People do get sore: “Oh! how much longer?” Several schools in Central Oregon were picked in the drawing. They are Culver High, Cecil Sly Elementary in Prineville, Powell Butte Community Charter School, the Redmond Proficiency Academy and Seven Peaks and Cascade Middle School in Bend. Bauman says tight school budgets make this lottery scratch it event definitely worth a few sore arms.
A big question among investors in Central Oregon: is it time to dip your toe in the water yet? Erich Shultz, Co Founder of a locally based commercial real estate company, Compass Commercial, says there's one great indicator that it's time. A group of investors who were somehow able to avoid loss during the market crash seemed to have a crystal ball. “They've been sitting there since 2005 and we're seeing those folks come back into the market and to me that's sort of a signal. These people are patient; they're smart, they kept their money through the recession, they are investing while others are fearful. And while others were investing they were fearful." Schultz says this group of investors are on the leading edge of economic recovery here in Central Oregon.
It’s been suggested to the City of Redmond as a way to prime the City's economy. Developers are asking the City to consider reducing their System Development Charges. Developers say right now, every little bit helps. “It can be significant, what we are talking about now is the profit margins for developers. They have gotten to the point where the market is so low, so what they recoup in terms of what they sell or lease is so low they are not having any profit margins on their projects.” City of Redmond Community Development Director Heather Richards says the SDC charges for a single family home are $12,300. Tuesday morning, staff will ask the City Council for direction if they should cut that in half. Redmond is already the City in the region for lowest System Development Fees. These fees pay for infrastructure development, which is sewer, water and roads.
This weekend's search of the north Santiam River turned up nothing from 100 searchers who scoured the waterways. Don Thomson with the Marion County Sheriff's Office says more than 1600 work hours were devoted to the weekend search. Departments from multiple agencies participated. At this point, no new searches in that area are planned. Police believe Lori Blaylock's body was dumped in the river by her husband Stephen last October. He has been charged with her murder, but her body has never been found.
The Madras Aquatic Center (MAC) in Madras will be closed for the next month to save money. It will reopen on May 2nd. The move is an attempt to save $30,000. The Director of the Aquatics Center, Bobby Deroest says currently the facility is facing a $70,000 budget shortfall: “By turning off the heat and pumps, we're hoping it's going to have a big impact on our bills, gas bills and electricity. We're hoping to save about $15,000.” The other $30,000 savings will come from the month long layoff of worker salaries. Long term, the pool board is looking at a tax to bring in more revenue to pay for the pool. Currently, about 27% of the Center's budget is paid for by a property tax levy and the rest, comes from memberships, swim lessons and other programs. The Board is considering whether to put such a tax questions on possibly this November or next May's ballot.
The middle of this month, businesses will have another voice speaking for them at City Hall. John Skidmore will be on the job April 18th. “First goal is to advocate for businesses and to help improve processes. The second is to help facilitate connections for businesses.” Bend City Manager Eric King says John Skidmore will be the business advocate. “That can help improve the City's reputation and the perception that we are not business friendly. We defininitely working really heard to change that. I think John's a big part of that.” King says Skidmore will also help tie together efforts to jointly promote tourism and business recruitment. He says the City has joined with Visit Bend in this effort. There have been a couple of dozen inquiries in the last couple of months. King says at time he expects Skidmore to challenge the City over specific issues to ensure the climate is business friendly. Skidmore has seven years of experience as a developer in Bend. In the last two years he was the Community Development Director in Jefferson County. Skidmore will also report to the Bend Economic Development Advisory Board.
A Bend man is recovering today after being struck by a taxi cab on SE 3rd Street near SE Willow Lane, in front of the Sonoma Lodge early Saturday evening. Troy Adkins, 47, ran into the roadway chasing his dog, and was struck by a northbound cab. Adkins was not in a crosswalk or intersection. Speed and alcohol do not appear to be involved. Adkins was taken to St. Charles Medical Center where he remains in serious condition.
Good news for landlords, maybe not so good for renters. Rents in Bend are going up because: “Our vacancy factors are way down. For example in Bend, for all types of residential rental properties. The number of units that would be vacat per hundred is 3.69%. That is down from about 10% last year.” Central Oregon Rental Owners Association President Lawnae Hunter says that is good news because it means that property owners will be able to increase their return on investment. She says that's important for owners to be able to afford to provide rentals. Her forecast is that landlords will probably raise rents about 5%. The average rent for a Bend duplex at $615 could go up to $630 or $640. She says many homeowners who were foreclosed on or had to short sell their homes are now in the rental market.
A Bend day care operator is facing charges for allegedly assaulting a four year old girl in her care last month. Deanna McDowell, 50, operator of Gramma Dee's Daycare was indicted on charges of first degree criminal mistreatment and third degree assault. Apparently, on March 15th, when Kaylynn Fortier picked up her two children from the day care, she found them unhappy. When she got home, her six year old son told her that McDowell was angry with the four year old girl and took her into a bathroom and struck her numerous times. Fortier found bruises and welts on her daughters’ buttocks and legs. She reported the abuse to police who arrested McDowell later that night. She is due to be arraigned in Deschutes County Circuit Court on April 13th.
A bad economy with fewer high paying jobs can attract some people into the drug trade. The head of the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team says the war on drugs is as fierce as ever. Fewer jobs and a loss of hope are by-products of a weak economy and may play into a thriving drug trade right now, that definitely contributes to it. Head of the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team, Ken Mannix says meth continues to be the biggest challenge in Central Oregon and throughout the state: “And probably the biggest thing is that meth is such a highly addictive drug; that once people are on it it's extremely difficult to free yourself of that. It’s a craving; it’s an addiction and once people get on it it’s hard to get off and as things go, it seems like the more they use the more they want and with that is the fallout of other crimes.” Besides meth, the other big hard drugs authorities are fighting are heroin and cocaine.
Two Bend people were injured in an early morning fire at the Pinewood Apartments on NE Purcell. When police and fire units arrived, they found heavy smoke coming form the first and second stories. The entire building was evacuated into the cold night air. The actual fire was confined to a single apartment and was apparently caused by a smoker falling asleep with a cigarette in hand, setting a mattress on fire. One apartment dweller was transported to St. Charles for treatment of minor burns and smoke inhalation. Another victim was treated at the scene. Once the smoke was ejected, most occupants were allowed to return to the building.
Crook County is considering whether to start sharing library materials with Deschutes and Jefferson counties. Currently Deschutes and Jefferson County share catalogues, but Crook County doesn't. Deschutes Library Director Todd Dunkelberg says that may be changing: “Basically what that would do is, give anyone in Central Oregon, they could go to any library, not worrying about whether its their county or not and be able to check out materials or use services.” The Library provided a cost analysis of what it would cost to hook them into the system, and the Crook County Library Board and County Commissioners will decide whether to go forward with sharing materials.
A Saturday afternoon fire did an estimated $10,000 damage to Steve’s Barber Shop on NE 3rd Street in Prineville. Crook County Fire Officials say the call came in around 3:30p.m. they found the business full of smoke and a small fire in an attached garage. The business was closed at the time. No cause has been determined.
Redmond Schools are moving forward with plans to renovate some of their elementary schools and the high school. The money for the improvements comes from bond savings from new school construction costs that came in under budget. School Board President Jim Erickson says the nearly $2 million in work will prolong the life of the schools: “But that's all bond money, no extra money to the taxpayer. What it will do is it will revitalize the schools and cut yearly costs in terms of the General Fund.” The elementary schools to be renovated in the next year include Lynch, Tuck and Tumalo.
This State budget cycle could be very tough on some Central Oregon families who want to keep their loved ones out of a nursing home. “The problem is; in-home care programs are in danger. “ Of all the state agencies, the Department of Human Services is facing one of the largest budget shortfalls; a reduction of about 35% according to State Senator Chris Telfer of Bend. She says part of the reason is because a one-time burst of stimulus funds is no longer there, combined with other challenges facing the State. Telfer says this jeopardizes important programs like in-home care that keeps seniors in their homes, rather than nursing homes: “I'm working very, very diligently right now to try to save these in-home care programs as well as other DHS programs, because my feeling is: they turn the spigot off of the money going into the communities. That is the wrong approach. What they need to do is shrink the bureaucracy, keep the cash flying to the communities and to the individuals in those individual communities needed the services. So, we’re still working at it.” Lawmakers are looking at two streamlining bills right now: one would reduce middle management jobs, the other would get rid of positions left vacant for more than 6 months.
Culver High School, Cecil Sly Elementary and Cascade Middle School are some local schools are a few of several getting money from the Oregon Lottery. It’s part of a popular fundraising event that happens on Thursday in Bend. "Official Scratchers" from seven schools in Central Oregon will scratch fast and furiously for five minutes...and then keep the money from the tickets. Lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann says last year public schools across the state won more than $82,000. “Schools in the past have used it for buying equipment; whether it is computer software or hardware, field trips, artists in residents. We’ve had a middle school up in Hood River used it to help fund a climbing wall in their school, playground equipment. What ever it is that the school may have on a wish list for, they can use that money." The State draws the names of the school eligible for the scratch it and 75 Oregon schools won this year. Other Central Oregon schools that will participate in the scratch this Thursday are: Powell Butte Community Charter School, Seven Peaks School in Bend and the Redmond Proficiency Academy.
Oregon’s current prison population of 14,000 prisoners will grow significantly over the next five years. The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis issued its bi-annual report which says much of the growth is due to the passage of laws over the past several years that extend prison sentences for certain crimes. In late 2011 to 2016, a new period of growth will likely add 2,000 inmates to the population. The population will reach 15,000 in mid-2013; 15,500 in mid-2014; and exceed 16,000 inmates in 2016, when growth rates will likely level off.
A drop in the unemployment rate to a two-year low sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a new 2011 high today. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate fell to 8.8%, the lowest since March 2009, as companies added workers at the fastest two-month pace since before the recession began. Troy Reinhart with Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, in Bend: "People continue to feel better about the economy. It’s the jobs sector, we added 230,000 private sector jobs and lost 14,000 government jobs so things are moving in the right direction so investors feel good about it today.” Reinhart said if we didn't have unrest in the Middle East and Japan right now the market would probably be even higher.
If you drive along the Santiam Pass area this weekend, you'll probably see hundreds of deputies searching the river in the Detroit area. The officers from six different agencies are searching for missing Bend woman, Lori Blaylock. It's believed her husband dumped her body in the river near Idana last October. Don Thompson with the Marion County Sheriff's Office says officers have been searching the area for months: “Our deputies that work the area, assigned up there, I mean they’re honestly out there virtually daily, checking as they can, but the area is wet, it’s muddy, it has steep inclines, the waters’ high, the waters’ murky; the conditions are very poor. If they were to find her under those conditions, it probably would be because she washed up somewhere, not because she was spotted in the water.” This weekend's search is actually a training exercise, but the agencies decided to combine forces to train and potentially find Lori Blaylock.
The City of Bend is facing up to a $27 million budget shortfall over the next five years. Tough decisions need to be made. The City 's Budget Committee meets again today to look at options. The Committee will meet all afternoon today. “There’s a couple of items on the agenda. One we’re going to talk about: real fundamental change to how we put a budget together. Which includes moving from a fund by fund accounting to a program based budgeting, to better communicate effectiveness of programs and services to Council.” Bend City Manager Eric King says instead of simply funding a department, the City needs to look at specific services that the City needs and prioritize those within a department. The Committee will also look at the Capital Improvement projects over the next five years including water, sewer and streets. Third, personnel costs and the big picture look of what the City is doing to reduce personnel costs as the City deals with tight budget constraints. King says when the recovery does kick in; it will take a while for that to be felt on tax receipts, so the City is looking at tight budgets for the next two to five years.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley wants to reduce the wait times for small businesses to benefit from a federal program. Merkley introduced legislation this week that would accelerate the time after a census, that metro areas can be designated "Hub Zones," so they can compete for federal contracts. The current wait time is two years. Merkley is trying to cut down on bureaucracy and expedite Hub Zone designations, to get critical assistance to small businesses in hard hit areas.
It’s been three weeks since the huge earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and people in Central Oregon seem to be more tuned in to preparing for a disaster. That's according to a political group: the Central Oregon Patriots, that just held a free seminar on emergency preparedness. Co-Chair of the Redmond Patriots, Bob Perry, says they hold public meetings on a regular basis and this recent seminar was one of their best attended one. "With everything that's going on in Japan, we have great interest in this. And we can't just close our eyes and think that Central Oregon wouldn't be impacted if we do have a major earthquake on the Cascadia Fault. It would mean the dislocation of a lot of people. There's even emergency plans that as many as 100,000 would be lodged at the Deschutes Fairgrounds." Perry says this was so popular they plan to have follow up meetings on disaster preparedness.
Tickets are now on sale for the 71st Annual Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Sisters Rodeo. Noted as the "Biggest Little Show in the World", the rodeo is scheduled for June 10th through the 12th. Emily Clark, Sisters PRCA Rodeo Queen will reign over the rodeo. Each performance will feature the grand entry, team bronc riding, tie-down roping, bareback riding, steer wrestling , and a whole lot more. New on the scene will be SureShotActs, a group of three women from Canada. They are a group of trick riders and Roman riders to entertain you with heart-stopping action. Tickets can be purchased through the ticket hotline: 541-549-0121 or at their ticket office in Sisters.
There’s been a lot of talk in Salem on two bills that would streamline state government. One would eliminate some vacant positions; the other would get rid of some middle management positions. There was a lot of testimony in favor of House Bill 2020 Thursday in Salem. One House Bill getting a lot of support would eliminate some middle management positions by setting a new supervisor to employee ratio. Jason Conger of Bend says the current ratio of managers to workers is 5.7%; the benchmark is 11 workers to one manager. "Generally there appears to be a lot of support to put a process in place, basically, where we can look at ways to make agencies less top heavy during each budget cycle, and force them to come and report to the legislature and then work together to get this ratio of managers to workers a little flatter and a little more efficient.” Conger says it would save an estimated $50 million. Conger says in the private sector the average ratio is a range of 8 to 12 workers per one manager.
Your diesel is changing as of today. Officials say it will make a cleaner burning fuel that is also healthier for oregon's economy: “The renewable fuel standards mandates that when Oregon's biodisiesel production capacity in state reach more than five million gallons the 2% requirement kicks in. When the in-state production capacity reaches 15-million gallons per year, the 15% requirement kicks in.” Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Stephanie Page says the State is working with dealers to ensure they are selling a 5% blend starting today. She adds that engines should run well with the higher biodisiesel and in fact should run cleaner.
They’re breathing new life into an old building. There’s a welcome addition to Third Street in Bend. It's been shuttered for almost three years, but now the building that formerly housed Ernesto’s Italian Restaurant is soon to open as the brew shop. Co-owner Tom Gilles says they are hoping to open sometime this summer: “We've been looking for a place to expand our business for the next several months. We decided to look at that building, something that I always thought would be a great location. Love the building; it's just a classic Bend monument. So we're hoping to move in sometime in the early to mid summer." Gilles says their business is doing so well, that they needed to expand, and now they can have an actual pub in the basement with food service as well as the retail shop on the upper level. Gilles says they will be looking to hire more people in a few months.
Advocates trying to stop sex trafficking in Oregon have a new battle on their hands. Right now, the Oregon Center for Christian Values says Oregon is the only state in the nation that has made it unconstitutional for municipalities to prohibit porn shops from locating near schools and churches. That has created a feeding ground for sex traffickers. “The sex trafficking issue has really exploded in Oregon. Part of the reason is that Oregon has some of the weakest laws in the country in dealing with sex trafficking and under age prostitution.” Shoshone Tomas-Sweet of the Oregon Center for Christian Values says the Department of Human Services receives more than 250 calls per month on sexual abuse complaints. Tomas-Sweet says Senate Joint Resolution 28 would allow Oregonians to vote on changing the constitution to allow cities and counties to restrict the location of porn shops. Another law would allow the courts to confiscate cell phones and computers of men convicted of trafficking humans. Another bill would impose a minimum prison term of ten years for people convicted of trafficking.
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