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Local News Archives for 2014-03


Local Attorney Randy Miller Running for Deschutes County Circuit Judge


He is one of two candidates running for the post.

 

He was a marine in Operaiton Desert Sorm in Kuwait and worked as a police officer in Sunriver before going to law school.

 

His father, also named Randy Miller, was a state Senator and so he believes in public service.

 

"I served in combat as a Marine and in police before goin to college and that had a profound impact on my life.  I realized  we live in a pretty special county.  I became a lawyer and to be a judge I believe is the most honorable way I can continue to serve my community."

 

Defense Attorney T.J. Spear is also running for judge.

 

If either candidate gets 50 percent of the vote in May, they'll be elected -- otherwise the two candidates will face off again in November.

Sisters Man Faces More Possible Permit Violations for Conducting Church Services in His Home


John Shepherd of Sisters has tried to get a permit to conduct farm weddings on his 200 acres in Sisters for four years.

 

He's spent thousands of dollars in fees, but still has no permit.

 

Now the county is saying if he is conducting church services in his home, he has to get a permit for that too.

 

Deschutes Community Development Department Director Nick Lelack  spoke with Lars Larson, who questioned whether you need a permit to have services in your home.

 

"That's a good question.  Our legal counsel is researching that.  What caught our attention is he and a member o the public said he registered his church with the Oregon Secretary of State's Office.  We have not ordered him to stop his services.  We're not taking any code enforcement at this time."

 

Shepherd says he holds services for about a dozen people at his home.

 

He has contacted a christian civil liberties group and claims a notice from the county accusing him of possibly violating county code, is a violation of his first amendment rights.

Statewide Initiative is Underway to Allow Homeowners to Use Deadly Force Against Intruders


The initiative would allow homeowners to use any form of physical force against an intruder.

 

Currently Oregon homeowners can only use deadly force if they're threatened with deadly force.

 

Kevin Mannix with "Common Sense for Oregon" explains the measure.

 

"This empowers people to defend themselves and loved ones in their home.  It protects them from any predatory criminal who can't get you one way, and may try to get you another way."

 

The measure would protect homeowners from being liable for any injury, death or damage suffered by an adult trespasser.

 

The effort needs to  gather 86-thousand signatures to put  on the ballot.

Deschutes County Commissioners Give Initial Approval to Changes to the Weed Ordinance


They are changing who actually issues the citation to those people who don't comply with the ordinance.

 

Deschutes County Forester Ed Keith explains the change to county commissioners at their meeting this week,

 

"We originally had the weed inspector take the complaint all the way to enforcement.  That department still takes the initial complaint, but when the residents don't comply and don't look like they're going to comply, then it's turned over to the Sheriff's Office."

 

The maximum fine would be two thousand dollars for residents who refuse to remove harmful weeds from their property.

 

The commissioners are schedueld to make final approval of the weed ordinance in early April.  It would take effect in early July.

A Senior at Sisters High School is Suing the School District for a Shop Class Accident


Joshua Ward lost several fingers in a power saw accident in shop class in December of 2012. He can't use his left hand, but luckily he's right handed.

 

But he is limited in what he can do.

 

His attorney, Tom D'Amore of Lake Oswego says they hope to prevent such accidents in the future.

 

"Our objective hopefully is to prevent other schools who don't have appropriate saws get them too. Because these saws, even professionals using them, it's extremely dangerous.  One, should these saws  be in the school in the first place and two, if we're going to put them in there, you need proper supervision."

 

Ward claims his injury has cost more than 200-thousand dollars in medical expenses.

Governor Kitzhaber Extends the Time Oregonians Can Sign Up for Health Insurance


Governor Kitzhaber talked with Heath and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the extension.

 

It's being extended because of all the technology issues with the Cover Oregon website.

 

This extended application period is targeted to people purchasing private health insurance coverage either through Cover Oregon or directly from an insurance carrier.

 

Those who apply through Cover Oreogn before April 30th will not be subject to a federal tax penalty, but those who enroll outside Cover Oregon may have to pay a partial federal penalty.

New Report Finds 1 in 4 Children in Oregon is Living in Poverty


Children First for Oregon -- a child advocacy group, found that 1 in 4 children in the state is living in poverty.

 

That's defined as a family of four living on $23-thousand dollars a year or less.

 

Children First Executive Director Tonia Hunt says Oregon falls in the bottom half of all states for child poverty rates.

 

"I think we definitely lost ground during the recession.  Some are not making up that ground as the economy improves -- certain workers and certain regions.  We do see a stagnation among some demographics, low income wage earners and certain regions of the state that are troubling."

 

Growing up in poverty means these kids often face poor nutrition, delayed development, chronic stress and difficulty in school.

A Bend Nonprofit is Trying to Pair Service Dogs with Veterans Suffering with PTSD


Well, a Bend woman has started a non-profit that will help pair veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder with service dogs.

 

Kristina Olson formed "Battle Buddies" last August.

 

"We recruit, in other words, rescue dogs capable of being service dogs and we get them trained and paired up with veterans.  They go through training.  It's roughly six to nine months to get the service dog ready.  So you'll be seeing a lot of service dogs running around soon as this area has a lot of veterans -- and a lot of dogs!"

 

Battle Buddies just started training dogs this year and they have two dogs that are participating so far.

 

To be eligible to get a service dog, you must have a service related disability.

Supporters of the Proposed OSU Cascades Site Speak Out to Counter Those Criticizing It


The "Truth in Site" group has gained attention in the last week with their first meeting, but residents like Bruce Cummings want it known the site selection process has been a long one and they embrace the chosen location.

 

"I just find the position, as they say  they are on the wrong side of history.  I find myself when I read one of their points thinking about how many meetings I've attended -- and it shows the due diligence and transparency OSU Cascades has gone through."

 

Cummings feels the "not in my backyard" attitude is at work here. He thinks the addition of a four year unviersity will be an asset to our community -- especially economically.

 

Mike Hollern has been on several committees during the selection site process .. and feels their concerns have been addressed.

 

"I think it would be unfortunate to delay or stall this expansion.  This has been very well researched decision.  A lot of effort and study went into where it shoudl be.  I had the good fortune of serving on several committees and I'm totally convinced that this is the best available solution and I hope it mvoes forward rapidly as possible."

 

Hollern is concerned the efforts of a small group could derail all the work the community has done to expand the OSU campus here.

Flaherty-Hummel Debate at the Redmond Patriots


The two participated in their second public debate before the Redmond Patriots Monday night.

 

D.A. Flaherty told the audience he's had a successful run the last three and a half years.

 

"During my administration we've had unprecedented success.  We've tried one aggravated murder cases and four murder trial.  The number of cases in unprecedented.  We've moved cases through quickly.  And we have one conviction for aggravated murder and three convictions for murder.  You can't get any better than that."

 

Flaherty accused Hummel of using the D.A.'s office as a stepping stone to other political offices and Hummel charged Flaherty with running a dysfunctional office that has cost the community more than one million dollars in lost lawsuits.

 

The debate questions came from the Redmond Patriot members.  One criticized Hummel's work in Liberia, when he worked for former President Jimmy Carter.

 

"And you know I worked for President Carter and I think he's one of our most successful former Presidents.  I'm very proud of the peace, justice and help he's delivered around the world.  I also worked for George W. Bush in the executive office for the trade representative.  So that says a lot about me.  I look at the job, not the label."

 

The two will face off at another debate before the League of Women Voters on April 15th.

Medford Businessman is Running as a Republican for Governor


Gordon Challstrom is facing Representative Dennis Richardson for the Republican nomination.  The winner will face Governor Kitzhaber in November.

 

Challstrom ran a concrete company for twenty years in Medford.  He says he's running to shrink state government and create jobs.

 

"I just believe as a businessman I know what economic environment you need to be promoting job growth.  I would say if you elect a lawyer, you're going to get more laws, but if you elect a businessman, you'll get more jobs."

 

Challstrom says if elected, he will reduce the tax burden and unnecessary government regulations that are depressing Oregon's job market.

Bend Man dies in Crash


KBND story:  The Deschutes County Sheriff's office says A 69-year-old Bend man has died of injuries suffered Sunday afternoon when his dirt bike struck a downed tree near La Pine.  Ernest Gerloff died yesterday/Tuesday at St. Charles in Bend of injuries suffered in the crash.

 

He was riding on a forest road sunday afternoon and was thrown from his bike after he hit a tree in the road.  Several friends found Gerloff and began life-saving efforts, and he was taken by air ambulance to the hospital.  Gerloff was wearing a helmet and other protective gear.

 

3-26-14

**********************************************************************

News Release from Sheriff's Office:

Motorcycle Crash sends one to the hospital with critical injuries

 

FS 9725 between the 700 and 400 spur Roads, La Pine, Or.

 

Date and Time of Incident:  03/23/2014 at 4:31 p.m.

 

 

By:  Sergeant Don Manning

 

Driver: Gerloff, Ernest age: 69

                     Bend, Or.

 

                   

Vehicle: Husqvarna, dirt bike, blue and white in color.

 

 

            **********UPDATE 3/26/2014*********

 

 

              On 3/25/2014 Gerloff passed away due to the injuries he received from the crash.

 

 

 

 

 

         

On 03/23/14 at approximately 4:31 p.m., Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Deputies, assisted by Forrest Service Law Enforcement Officers, Bureau of Land Management Ranger, La Pine and Sunriver Fire Departments were dispatched to the area of Forrest Service Road 9725 between spur Roads 400 and 700 for a dirt bike crash with injuries.  Ernest Gerloff was transported by Air Link to St. Charles-Bend with critical injuries. 

 

The initial investigation determined Gerloff was riding dirt bikes in the listed area with several friends. For an unknown reason Gerloff struck a downed tree, crashed and was ejected from his dirt bike on Forrest Service Road 9725. Several friends located Gerloff and started life saving efforts. The friends were later assisted by Bureau of Land Management Ranger and Forrest Service Law Enforcement Officers. La Pine Fire Department arrived and took over life saving efforts. Gerloff was then transported to Saint Charles Medical Center where he is being treated for critical injuries. Gerloff was wearing a helmet and other protective equipment.

 

Witnesses to this crash are encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 541-693-6911.  The investigation is continuing.

 

 

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office was assisted in this investigation by Forrest Service Law Enforcement Officers, Bureau of Land Management Ranger, La Pine and Sunriver Fire and Air Link.

 

 

 

 

Job Growth Stalls in Central Oregon in February


Damon Runberg says job loss during this time of year, is typical.

 

"Februrary tends to be the bottom of our seasonal ebb and flow.  It tends to be one of the lower months besides our winter tourism, it's the lower end of the tourism season.  And retail backs off and obviously construction tends to be snowed in."

 

Year over year, all  three central Oregon counties are doing much better.

 

Deschutes County's unemployment rate in February was 8.4 percent, Jefferson County was 9.6 percent and Crook County's was 10.7 percent.

Two Are in the Jefferson County Jail for Eluding Authorities


The two -- 23 year old Brent Waldorf of Madras and 23 year old Challis Sharei Heath from Warm Springs abandoned their car Sunday moring and took off and hid out in a home in Metolius.

 

Waldorf was wanted on outstanding warrants and police feared he could be armed.  Oregon State Police activated SWAT personnel and entered the home and arrested the two.

 

Waldorf and Heath face attemping to elude and reckless driving charges, as well as arson charges for setting a fire in the kitchen, that was quickly put out.

Traffic Stop North of Madras Leads to Large Pot Bust


31 year old Dan Vagle from the state of Minnesota was arrested last week when an officer discovered 31 pounds of marijuana in his car.

 

Vagle was stopped last Wednesday for a traffic violation.  During the traffic stop, a drug detection dog discovered the marijuana in a large duffel bag in the car's trunk.  It has an estimated value of $75-thousand dollars.

 

Vagle was taken to the Jefferson County jail and charged with delivery and possession of marijuana.  He has since posted bail.

More Residents Speak Out Against the Proposed OSU Cascades Site on Bend's Westside


Last week "Truth in Site" met for the first time fighting the westside location.  Two hundred people came out for that meeting.

 

Small business owner, Ed Barbeau lives on the westside and he's against it too.

 

"First, they got out there and said there's no difference in the traffic patterns.  Well, you can't just put 5-thousand students in that area and say it's not going to be affected -- when there are 300 students in the elementary schools around there and there's gridlock on Mt. Washington and Century right now."

 

Barbeau says like many people on the westside, he's in favor of a four year university, he just doesn't want it on their side of town.  He feels Juniper Ridge would be a better site.

Governor Kitzhaber Declares a Drought Emergency for Crook County


The county commissioners requested the designation last month because of the county's low snow pack levels.

 

Crook County's Emergency Manager, Mike Ryan says it's been a tough year.

 

"Well, we haven't gone through a drought declaration for the better part of 10 to 15 years.  What I can tell you is what I know from people I've talked with on the drought council.  The Agriculture Department will be offering resources, not sure if they are monetary or other solutions to try and mitigate the problems."

 

The declaration allows the Governor's office flexibility in how the water is managed to ensure limited supplies are used efficiently.

Elderly Women Have Twice the Risk of Getting Alzheimer's as Men


Their latest findings show 1 in 6 women over the age of 60 will get the disease, while only 1 in 11 men will get it.

 

Kathleen Cody is the Director of Oregon's Alzheimer's Assocation.

 

"The initial research and we're going to be doing much more -- looks at the brains of women and for some reason we are more susceptible to plaque build up.  It seems to be inherent in the make up of women.  It's not an age related difference."

 

Women account for almost two thirds of Americans with the disease -- and also account for 60 percent of the caregivers for people with dementia.

LUBA Sides with Homeowners Along Bend Canal On COID'S Motivation for Piping Canals


COID has claimed it was to help fix leaky canals and allow them to put more water in the the river to help the environment.

 

But homeowners felt the motivation was to put hydroelectric power along the canals to make money.

 

A homeowner along the canal, appealed to the state Land Use Board of Appeals that the environmental claim really wasn't the reason for the piping and LUBA agreed.

 

Tom Hignell lives along the canal and is thrilled with the decision.

 

"They decided in our favor. They stated the COID application is a hydro power use permit, not a water and environmental use permit.  So it needs a conditional  use permit from the county. This tells the county COID can't go forward with its present applicaton, but they need to make another application for hydro power use."  

 

The Deschutes County Planning Commission is meeting next week on a request to allow them to pipe these canals without any public input.  But in light of the LUBA decision, it's likely they will ask COID to reapply as a hydropower project.

Governor Kitzhaber Releases Results of First Independent Report on Cover Oregon


The Governor says the website also lacked a system integrator that would have helped and the primary website developer, Oracle certainly had deficiencies.

 

Despite the technical challenges, more than 157-thousand Oregonians have enrolled through the exchange almost 50 thousand of them into a commercial plan.

 

Dr. Bruce Goldberg has resigned as the Director of the Oregon Health Authority.  He will continue as the Acting Director of Cover Oregon until a new executive director is hired.  Dr. George Brown, the President and CEO of Legacy Health is overseeing the search process for the new executive director.

 

Governor Kitzhaber says he spoke with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius earlier this week about other strategies to get more Oregonians enrolled in coverage.  All options are being explored, and the Governor expects to have an announcement as early as next week.

 

City Club Revisits the Future of Mirror Pond


The community seems to want to keep it in some form, but how much are they willing to pay for it?

 

The City Club of Central Oregon will be discussing this issue again at Thursday monthly meeting.

 

Ryan Houston with the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council will be part of the panel discussion and says cost will be a huge driver in this decision.

 

"And the truth is, it's all expensive.  As a community we've benefitted from it since the 1900's for free.  And now the question is, if we want to keep it, are we willing to pay for it.  And that really changes the conversation for people."

 

The community is deciding between three options -- from keeping it as is, to removing the dam to a combiantion of the two.

 

"You know there has to be a funding mechanism.  One of the elected bodies, either the park board or city council may take some action on that or it could go to the ballot box.  My guess is it could go to the ballot box, but the trick is -- this is all expensive.  So I don't know."

 

The City Club panel also included Bend City Councilor Victor Chudowsky and David Blair.

Latest on State-wide Effort to Put an ERA Measure on the November Ballot


They need 116-thousand valid signatures by early July to put the issue on the November ballot.

 

Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo of Portland is the President of Vote ERA.org and is the force behind the effort.

 

"It's going great.  We've collected over 35-thousand signatures, plus five thousand more.  And we were just approved by the Attorney General's Office ten to eleven weeks ago.  So people are excited."

 

The state legislature failed to pass an equal rights amendment last year, so that's why the initiative drive got underway.

 

"We believe it's important that women are expressly equal in the Oregon constitution and the federal constitution for that matter.  We say "Study the the past, protect the future. " The question is why wouldn't Oregon want to support equality of women in the Oregon constitution?"

 

This state wide effort coincides with a revived national campaign to pass a federal equal rights amendment.

Bend Police Say They Found the Body of Missing Woman Pivo Castro-Luna


The body found in the brush off of Hamby and Highway 20 on Sunday is that of 42 year old Pivo Castro-Luna.

 

She had been missing for a week when her body was found.

 

Polcie say her death is a criminal homicide and they continue to try to locate Honorio De Horta-Frias as  a "person of interest" in the case.

 

Castro Luna has been known to associate with De Horta Frias.  Police have been uanble to locate him, though they have found his 2003 white truck he was believed to have been driving.

 

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call police.

Oregon's Unemployment Rate Drops Below 7 Percent for the First Time in Five Years


The last time the state's rate was lower was in August of 2008, when the rate was 6.7 percent.

 

State Economist Nick Bielichiks.  

 

"Oregon added 2900 non farm jobs in February.  The strongest major industries were construction and manufacturing that both added over one thousand jobs."

 

February marked the eighth consecutive month of job gains for the state.

 

During the recession, Oregon lost 150-thousand jobs and so far we've added 3 of the 4 lost jobs back.

A Retired Hydrologist Says Piping Our Canals is Hurting Our Groundwater Supply


Jeff Perrault says COID wants to pipe some of the canals and line them to prevent leakage, but he says a recent U.S. Geological Survey says these leaky canals supply 12 percent of the water to our groundwater aquifer.

 

"So when you look at well levels that are dropping in our area -- they are dropping for two reasons, one we are pumping more because it is the only source of new water for us and two, stopping the recharge from the canal."

 

For fifteen years, the area has been piping and lining canals to cut down on leakage that has drastically decreased our ground water aquifer levels.

 

This is the only source of new water for the area.

An Update on St Charles Fundraising for Its New Cancer Center


Just earlier this monh they had raised 4 million toward its 5.7 million dollar goal.

 

But in a couple weeks, they've made significant progress.

 

Todd Taylor is one of the campaign's co-chairs.

 

"We're close to five million and our goal is 5.7 million.  Our hope is by June time frame, to complete fundraising.  We're optimsitic by June we'll have it completed."

 

The new cancer center at St. Charles will be done by this fall.

A Former Bend Personal Injury Lawyer Will Spend Five Years in Prison for Embezzling


55 year old Bryan Gruetter had law offices in Portland and Bend and primarily worked personal injury and wrongful death cases.

 

In 2012, investigators starting looking into allegations that Gruetter had used 1.1 million of his client's money to pay for personal and business expenses.

 

When confronted by law enforcement, Gruetter admitted he was "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and resigned his law license and decided not to challenge the allegations.

 

The Oregon State Bar has paid more than 900 thousand dollars to some of his clients to reduce the damage Gruetter has caused.  His claims exhausted the fund's reserves, so member dues will increase until the rserve is fully funded.

Alfalfa's New Fire District Gets Ready to Start Fighting Fires Next Year


They are still looking for a location for a future fire station.

 

Bob Kathman is the President of the Fire District's Board of Directors.

 

"We're currently trying to find some property on where to build a future station.  We need to figure out what type of facility we'll need and equipment we'll need along the way."

 

Net month the fire district board will start preparing their budget, which is expected to be around 100-thousand dollars.

 

They plan to have between 10 and 15 volunteer firefighers and to hire a fire chief at the end of this year.

 

They will start collecting tax money for the fire district this July.

Homeowners in Northeast Bend Fight Plans to Silence Them on Whether COID Can Pipe Their Canals


It was a packed Deschutes County Planning Commission meeting Thursday night.

 

Homeowner Tom Hignell, who lives along the canal was there and said "follow the money."

 

"Here's what COID really wants, they say public safety, saving the fish and keeping rates low for customers is why they're doing it.   These are the issues that they wrap thesmelves around.  They want to increase the head presure for their hydro electric plant.  They want to make more money.  The public that is buying this is being duped.  The COID move is not for health and safety. It's a smoke screen.  It's all about money."

 

COID officials say they only plan to pipe 25 miles of its 450 miles of canals.  They say piping them is very expensive and they had to borrow money to do it and hydro-electric power will help them pay for it.

 

The Planning Commission failed to make a recommendation after Thursday night's meeting.  They are giving the public another two weeks to make comments.  They plan to make a final decision at their next meeting March 27th.

Bend Police Are Still Looking for Missing Bend Woman and Person of Interest


They are looking for Pivoyne Castro-Luna.  She's 5'5", 170 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

 

She was last seen Sunday.  She has been known to associate with Honorio de Horta-Frias -- and it's'believed the two were together at the time of her disappearance.  He is considered a person of interest.

 

Police believe he is driving a 2003 white Toyota Tacoma pickup with Oregon license plates 9P2954.  

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

Sisters School District Gets Parent Feedback on Going to a Four Day School Week


Dr. Winter Lewis lives in Sisters and has two students who go to school there.

 

He was at Wednesday night's meeting and is still listening.

 

"My immediate response is really neutral.  Obviously I'm raising kids in the district and know the district's wonderful reputation and knowing the challenges of state funding of K-12 shcools. This is just another example of the hard decisions that have to be made."

 

No decisions will  be made until May on what to do.  The school board will consider going to a four day school week, or laying off more staff or cutting programs.

 

The school district has lost 200 students since 2006, but in recent years, enrollment has stabilized.

Central Oregon is Expected to Be a Leader in Job Growth Over the Next Decade


In central Oregon, the region's three counties are expected to add 12-thosuand jobs.

 

Regional economist Damon Runberg says the healthcare industry is expected to add the most jobs, but construction is next.

 

"If we're talking fastest growth, the industry that's actually expected to grow the fastest is construction.  Of coruse that is one that has had to dig out of the hole from the recession, so it's not too surprising to see fast growth in that indsutry."

 

Some of the other fastest growing occupations in central Oregon are software developers, home health aides and restaurant cooks.

Missing Bend Man Found in Coos Bay


79 year old Richard Brownrigg was last seen in the Old Mill District Monday morning around 8 A.M. and local authorities started an extensive search.

 

He was eventually found five hours away in Coos Bay Tuesday evening.

 

Brownrigg, who suffers from the early stages of dementia, was treated for mild dehydration and was grateful for the assistance of local authorities.

Authorities Looking for Missing Bend Man


The 79 year Brownrigg has been missing since Monday morning when he was last seen leaving a loca  busienss in the Old Mill District.

 

He does not have immediate medical concerns, but does suffer from early dementia and can become confused at times.

 

He was last seen wearing jeans and a button down shirt with blue and white stripes.    He was driving a black four door Ford F150, with a license plate that reads "Rigger."

 

The windows are tinted and there's a large silver tool box on the back.  He is 6 feet tall and weighs between 170 to 190 pounds.

 

Pick Up and Semi Crash Closes Highway 97 Near LaPine for Several Hours


It happened just before 9 A.M., eight miles north of LaPine.

 

Oregon State Polcie say a pickup driven by an adult male was northbound on Highway 97 when it crossed the center line and collided nearly head-on with a southbound commercial truck.

 

The pickup driver was taken to St. Charles in Bend with serious injuries.  The semi driver was not injured.

 

Southbound traffic was detoured onto Vandevert Road, while northbound traffic was diverted onto State Rec Road.

 

The highway is expected to be closed until around noon.

Senate All-Nighter on Climate Change


More than two dozen Democratic Senators took to the senate floor to show thier commitment to tackling climate change.

 

U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon were among them.

 

Merkley spoke about the costs of carbon pollution on Oregon's economy, particularly farming, fishing and forests.

 

There is no prospect of getting climate change legislation through this congress, but the session hopes to focus attention on the challenges of climate change and its impact on the environment.

 

Sevearl Democratic Senators who face tough re-eelction fights skipped the all night session, including Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

Democratic Candidate from Bend Announces She's Running Against Republican U.S. Congressman Greg Walden


Democratic Candidate Aela Chirstofferson is the President and Founder of ATL Communications.  She's also the former President of the Sunriver Chamber of Commerce.

 

She also was appointed by Governor Kitzhaber to serve on the Cover Oregon Board.

 

She says the rampant partisanship in Washington pushed her to run.

 

"First, like everybody else I recognized that congress was broken.  It's produced the least amount of legislation of any congress in recent memory.  The instiuttion is losing the respect of Americans.  And for my whole life, I've been raised by parents that believed, if you are not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

 

Democraitc candidate Aelea Chirstofferson wil lbe taking on Republican incumbent Greg Walden this November.

 

Walden is the only Republican Representative in the state of Oregon and has been in that office for fifteen years.

Republican Senate Candidate Jason Conger Defends Himself on the Lars Larson Show


State Representative Conger went on the Lars Larson show Monday to defend himself again over charges that he voted for Obamacare.

 

He told Lars he voted for Cover Oregon -- to give the state more control over its healthcare, but didn't vote for Obamacare.

 

Lars was having none of it -- and went on to accuse him of making money as a lawyer representing non profits setting up coordinated care organizations.

 

Conger:  "Its part of the Medicaid reform  not part of Obamacare. I'm really glad I went on your show again Lars, only to be hijacked again." 

 

Lars: "Jason, I'm just asking the questions, if you don't have answers,  that ain't my problem."

 

Conger says Wehby is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and pro-amnesty and supports government run healthcare.

 

She won the straw poll at the Dorchester Conference, but Conger says she did not attend the more conservative conference at Clackamas last weekend.

Local Health Officials React to Cover Oregon's Continuing Troubles


The website still is not able to sign people up for coverage from beginning to end without assistance.

 

Robin Henderson with St. Charles Helath System, says the continuing problems are disappointing.

 

"I don't think anyone thought it would be perfect, but I had no idea that it would be so convoluted and difficult.  I've heard so many heart breaking stories of people who think they have coverage, but don't have their cards.  We can do better and we should do better."

 

Henderson say the website's problems aren't just bad news for potential patients, but for the state's coop's like Health Republic Insurance -- that are trying to bring more competition to healthcare to lower costs.

 

"I sit on the board of Health Republic , one of the coops here in Oregon and this has had a huge impact on us business-wise.  Al   these difficulties are affecting us.  I really hope we can find a way to get this fixed and working."

 

Coops like Health Republic Insurance and Oregon's Health Coop are competing for customers in the individual and small group marketplaces.

Cascades East Transit Looks to Community Partners Like OSU Cascades to Help with Funding


Currently they are funded with cities, federal grants and community partnerships.

 

Long term, about three to five years out, they expect to propose a regional property tax, but until then, they are looking for additional funding.

 

One area they're already investigating is supplying bus service for our four year college campus.

 

Scott Aycock with Central Oreogn Intergovernmental Council says they are seeking several funding sources.

 

"And the last part is the focused partnerships with individual entitites like COCC and OSU and St. Charles and other business groups to find out what their needs are and how we could serve them.  We hope to get help with transit funding and in turn they get some enhanced services to meet their needs better."

 

About 60 thousand passengers use Cascades East Transit each month.

Candidates for Deschutes County D.A. Debate Legalizing Marijuana


Current Deschutes County District Attorney Patrick Flaherty and his challenger John Hummel were aksed in a recent debate their feelings on legalizing pot.

 

John Hummel says he'll enforce the law.

 

"The community tells you what the law is and the community trusts you to enforce it.  Whatever the marijuana law is is what we'll enforce. If it's legal, it will obviously be easier to enforce. What's my personal position?  I'm concerned."

 

Current D.A. Flaherty believes it will result in more deadly accidents.

 

"I believe as DA and also my personal belief that it would be baleful, not healthy for our community to legalize marijuana.  That's because I see all  the driving under the influence cases.  We can predict that there wil  be more DUII, more vehiclular assaults and more mangled bodies in cars."

 

Flaherty also has concerns about increasing the availability of marijuana to children and what they will mean in terms of addiction and brain development.

 

 

CSPAN in Bend to Bring National Spotlight


CSPAN was in Bend last week to do just that. Ashley Hill with CSPAN spoke with several local groups about what they have planned.

 

"So just as CSAN strives to give you accessability to Washington DC, this turns the spotlight on cities our audience wouldn't normally see.  We do that that by producing stories about the area's history and non fiction literary life and show them what's so special about these places and Bend is certainly a special place."

 

Some of the local authors to be highlighted include local professor Jim Foster, Tom DeWolfe and Jane Kirkpatrick.

 

The stories on Bend will air April 5th and 6th on CSPAN 2 and 3.

COCC Plans to Offer President's Job to Dr. Patrick Lanning


He currently serves as the campus President of the Yamhill Valley Campus at Chemeketa Community College in McMinnville.

 

He is a native of Prineville and a graduate of Crook County High School.

 

He will be replacing Dr. Jim MIddleton who is retiring.

 

There are a couple more steps, COCC needs to do to finalize Lanning's hiring.

 

They plan to make a site visit to his college and to negotiate his contract.  

 

The COCC Board is confident Dr. Lanning has the background, experience and ability to lead the college into the future.

Sisters School District Considers Moving to Four Day School Week


A 800-thousand dollar budget hole is prompting the discussion.  In the last three years, the district has lost more than one hundred students.

 

Sisters Superintendent of Schools Jim Golden brought up the discussion because he feels a shorter school week is less damaging than laying off more than a dozen staff.

 

With the Monday through Thursday schedule, students  would have longer school days. Teachers would still work a full five days.  Fridays teachers would prepare lesson plans, but hourly employees would go to four days a week.

 

A public meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday at Sisters High School for the community to come out and offer their opinions.

Immigration is the Subject of This Month's League of Women Voters Forum


Oregonians will vote this November on whether to allow illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses if they meet certain criteria.

 

Callie Killebrew is a immigration attorney for "Hect and Norman" in Bend and spoke at the League of Women Voters forum Thursday.

 

"Immigration is a federal thing, but the state issue is needed to address the safe roads issue.  Are we going to have licensed and insured drivers on our roads?  I know there's a consensus in the law enforcement community that this driver's card needs to happen."

 

The legislature passed a bill and the Governor signed it last session to allow driver's licenses be granted to illegal immigrants, but a petition drive delayed that law from being implemented until after Oregonians voted on it in November.

 

If the voters overturn the new bill, the law will be dropped, but if voters approve it, it will take effect 30 days after the election.

Latest on the Selection of a New President for COCC


The COCC Board of Directors met Wednesday morning to discuss the candidates.

 

The board still has to do additional reference checks, do a site visit and then contract negotiations with the selected candidate.

 

The final candidates are Patrick Lanning, Dana Young and Sheila Ortego.

 

Patrick Lanning is a Prineville native and currently is President for a community college in McMinnville; Dana Young grew up in eastern Oregon and is the President of a community college in Ontario; and Sheila Ortego is the interim President of a community college in Arizona.

GAO Agrees to Investigate What Went Wrong with Cover Oregon


U.S. Representative Greg Walden of Oregon requested the GAO investigate the state's troubled health exchange.

 

"Oregonians are rightfully concerned about what happened to Cover Oregon and what happened to healthcare.gov.   Hundreds of millions of dollars have be spent and little to show for it, especially at Cover Oregon.  That's why I'm happy GAO is going to investigate Cover Oregon.  This is important to have their independent look, non partisan look.  This is an organization with a great reputation for thoroughness so we can get to the truth about what happened to the 300 million taxpayer dollars.  We deserve better."

 

Oregon got 300 million in federal grants to build and operate its Cover Oregon website.

 

And still Oregonians cannot purchase health insruance through the Cover Oregon website on their own.

Deschutes County Commissioners Make Some Change to the Proposed Weed Ordinance


County Forester Ed Keith went before the commision Wednesday to tweak the ordinance being considered.

 

They are going to increase the time people have to comply.

 

"We also talked about the amount of time people have to come into compliance.  We were recommending ten days.  But the state statute we were looking at actually allowed 20 days, so our recommendation is to match it to what the state statute was."

 

The ordinance will also acknoweldge the herbicides aren't the only way to control weeds -- people can pull weeds or use biological enemies of weeds.

 

The commisioners are expected to approve the new ordinance in the coming weeks, but it would not be enforced until later this year.

Fiery Moments During First Public Debate Between D.A. Patrick Flaherty and Challenger John Hummel


During opening statements, D.A. Patrick Flaherty pointed out his strengths.

 

"Here are three truths about me.  I'm a prosecutor, not a politican. I'm honest.  What you see is what you get.  And I keep my commitment.  I keep my commitment to my community, to my office and to the constitutional functions of the D.A.'s office."

 

During Hummel's opening statement,  he criticized Flaherty's management style and says it has hurt morale at the D.A.'s office.

 

Hummel says he would bring healing to the office and be a more effective D.A.

 

At times the debate, sponsored by the Bend Chamber of Commerce, was contentious between the candidates.

 

One of the fiery comments occurred when Hummel took issue with Flaherty saying he had not tried any Measure 11 cases.

 

"Well, unfortunately I've joined the non exclusive club of being bullied by Patrick.  I'm disappointed that he didn't do his homework, which gives you some insight into him, and his nasty tone.  He says I haven't tried a Measure 11 case.  That's not ture.  I have.  You know who I feel sorry for, the people in the office and in this community who have had to put up with this for years."

 

Hummel went on to say people in his office are afraid to stand up to him for  fear of losing their jobs.

 

Flaherty defended himself by saying he is very collaborative with co-wokers at the D.A.'s office and with police chiefs and city managers.

Employment Rate in Oregon Continues to Improve


This January, the state's unemployment was 7 percent, but last January we had an unem[ployment rate of 8.3 percent.

 

State Economist Nick Bielichicks says 2014 is showing more job growth.

 

"Over the last twelve months Oregon added a lot of jobs.  Since January 2013, we added an impressive 43,800 jobs. The third fastest job growth since the late 1990's."

 

The major industries with the largest job gains were construction and hospitality and professional and business services.

 

The only industry to decline was financial activities.

St. Charles Closes in on Its Fundraising Goal for Its New Cancer Center


They have raised 4.1 million so far, toward their goal of 5.7 million.

 

Cancer survivor Anne Farry gave a quarter of a million dolllars to the campaign.

 

She was hospitalized for her chronic leukemia when she had to be taken to her doctor's office for chemotherapy.  That's when she realized all cancer services weren't under one roof.

 

"And because the cancer center is one and a half blocks from the hosptial, I had to be transported with an ambulance from the doctor's office to the hospital. That's how I had to get  there and that's why I'm so anxious for the cancer cancer to be up and running."

 

The new cancer center will have all cancer services under one roof.

 

The cancer center is expected to be completed this summer.

Redmond Man Arrested For Home Depot Theft


Matthew Romine was arrested Monday and charged with robbery and theft.

 

The theft at Home Depot occurred on February 20th.

 

Witnesses say the suspect left the store without paying for one thousand dollars worth of items and assaulted an employee when contacted outside the business.

 

The employee suffered minor injuries.

Could Bend Do What Washington County Did -- Go to the Legislature to Expand its UGB?


State leaders must signoff on these expansions and they like to see greater density than growth that is spread out.

 

Andy High with the Central Oregon Builders Association says Bend could consider doing what Washignton County did.

 

"And Washington County had such a hard time.  They went to the legislature saying our neighbors won't allow us to expand, so they wrote a bill. Bend might do that.  It took 16-thousand pages to submit that to the state. That's larger than the Affordable Care Act and just for five thousand acres of buildable land."

 

Bend has been working on expanding its UGB for the last decade and has chagned its UGB plan to accommodate what state leaders want.

 

High says during the downturn when buiding stopped,  the expansion wasn't as urgent.  But now that building has started up again -- we could run out of land to build on.

People Get a Chance to Ask Questions of a Project to Build a New Helicopter Landing at the Bend Airport


Some neighbors have concerns, mostly about noise -- and they had a chance to ask questions of city, county and Federal Aviation Administration officials about the project Monday night.

 

The first step is an environmental assessment.  Airport Manager Gary Judd says they are trying to better separate helicopter from airplane traffic.

 

"It'll basically lessen congestion.  Also the ground operation with separate the helicopters to land on a 100 by 100 concrete pad and the fixed wing aircraft will have their own area.  This should less traffic and given helicotpers more area to operate in."

 

The Environmental Assessment is expected to take about nine months and then if all goes smoothly and funding is secured, the landing area could be build between 2015 and 2016.

Bend Chamber to Host First Debate Between D.A. Patrick Flaherty and Challenger John Hummel


The event will be held at the Volcanic Theatre Pub from 5 to 6:30 P.M. T uesday.  Admission at the door is $20 for chamber members and $25 for non members.

 

Flaherty was elected D.A. in 2010 when he defeated long time D.A. Mike Dugan.

 

John Hummel used to be a Bend City Councilor and practiced criminal law in Deschutes County for ten years.

 

"He's qualified and I'm qualified.  We both have different qualifications.  We each have different strengths and weaknesses and what's important is going in front of voters and letting them decide."

 

The moderators for the debate are the Bend Chamber's Jamie Christman, the Source's Aaron Switzer and KBND's Kelly Bleyer.

Monica Wehby Agrees to Debate Jason Conger at Dorchester Conference Friday


Last week Wehby said she couldn't commit to the debate and felt the other two candidates should be included, Jo Rae Perkins and Mark Callahan.

 

Wehby's manager says Wehby also wanted to particiapte in the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference known as CPAC going on in Washington, DC this week.

 

She plans to travel to Washington to particpate on Thursday and then will be at the Dorchester Conference Friday through Sunday.

 

The debate with Conger will be Friday night.

Are Central Oregon's Emergency Room Visits Up or Down?


But now that more Oregonians have access to health insurance, are these E-R visits down?

 

There are conflicting results, but the most recent report shows a 13 percent decrease in E-R visits in the state.

 

Robin Henderson with ST. Cahrels Health System says we have to educate these new people to the system -- and how to use it.

 

"We have a lot of people put in the system that got insurance and it's a lot like the first time you get a bank accont, you don't automatically know how to use it.  We don't do a good job of teaching people how to access heathcare services and we don't do a good job of making it easy for them to do it."

 

Henderson says Medicaid has added 9-thousand people to the healthcare rolls in the area.

 

She says locally they try to be vigilant through their coordinated care organizations to help patients navigate the system.

Bend LaPine's Superintendent Wants to Raise Awareness About the Dangers of Missing a Lot of School


That's 100-thousand students who miss three and a half weeks of school a year.

 

Bend LaPine Superintendent of Schools, Ron Wilkinson says this issue is on his front burner.

 

"This community is the worst in terms of absences of all the communities I worked in. It's an attitude that we'll take our family vacation when its cheaper and convenient for us. But  it causes an issue with school attendance with kids."

 

Wilkinson says poor attendance is often linked to low income, but in the Bend LaPine School District, he says that's usually not the case.   Parents may pull the kids out for a week's vacation, but then that student gets sick and misses another week.

Cover Oregon Officials Go Before Lawmakers to Update the Progress at the Health Exchange


Leaders at the health exchange recently went before lawmakers to give them an update.

 

In the last week that the agent portal has been up and running for insurance agents to sign people up, the enrollment numbers have been steady.

 

The individual portal isn't there yet, but Cover Oregon officials told lawmakers they're getting there.

 

Aaron Karjala is the Chief Information Officer for Cover Oregon.

 

"We are focused on polishing the defects.  We are continuing to deal with issues that number between 8 to 20 and not hundreds of issues."

 

In the last week, the agent portal has signed up 17-hundred Oregonians for health insurance. There have been blips in the system since it launched, but Cover Oregon has been able to address them as they have come up.

 

So far, Cover Oregon has been able to sign up a quarter of a million people, including Oregon Health Plan and Medicaid members.

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