WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Both Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) spoke out in favor of the U.S. Senate’s approval of a bill to keep the government running through mid-December. The legislation also includes $700 million in emergency funding to refill wildfire accounts drained during this summer’s devastating fire season. But, Wyden says it’s not enough. "The short-term fix is an unfortunate necessity, as once again, the Congress has chosen to govern by crisis. Congress can and must do better. I will keep pushing for a bipartisan, long-term fix to provide funding for prevention as well as wildfire suppression."
Wyden went on to say, "Short-changing the forest service funds is not just a problem for western states. Forest work in other states gets short-changed when money has to be diverted to fight wildfires in Oregon and the west. It’s time to treat the major fires like the disasters they are."
Senator Merkley says that without the emergency funds, the Forest Service and other agencies would be forced to undergo massive cuts to operating costs. Both Merkley and Wyden called on Congress to pass a long-term funding fix that would treat major fires like other natural disasters.
BEND, OR -- Bend is well-known as a dog town, but is it a cat town as well? If the number of stray cats is any indication, apparently not. The local non-profit CRAFT (Cat Rescue, Adoption and Foster Team) has cared for more than a thousand cats and kittens a year since 2006, and they've seen an increase in calls, recently.
Janice Sershen is a CRAFT volunteer and says without her group, there are few other options. "I think more could have been done in past years. The shelters don't go out in the field and do trapping or go out there. They want cats brought to them and they'll deal with it. I'm probably one of the few that goes out and puts a hundred miles on my car a day picking up the cats or trapping them, checking the situation." She adds, "You can't expect people, everyone to know how to trap. A lot of people don't want to touch a cat. And, there's a fear, understandably, of rabies, you have to worry about being bit - that's a serious issue. I have enough experience that I feel comfortable doing it. For my love and passion for cats, I'll do it."
She says they've received 77 calls at CRAFT's Bend shelter, in just the last three weeks. "We get calls everyday. I cannot keep up with trapping. I get so many calls for strays or abandoned, people evicted leaving cats behind, feral colonies, people feeding or not feeding, breeding moms and babies. I just don't have enough foster homes to pick up the moms and kittens."
CRAFT's Bend shelter is currently home to 60 cats. The organization runs on donations and some grant money. They are now asking for more volunteers and foster families to help until new families can be found for the cats and kittens.
BEND, OR -- The FBI released its annual national crime statistics this week, and Central Oregon’s two largest cities showed big drops in property crimes in 2014. But Redmond Police Lt. Mike Kidwell says increases in rape and robbery in his city are not the full picture. "Our Part I crimes are significantly down. For instance, in 2001, we had 1,648 part one crimes reported to the Redmond Police Department. In 2014, we only had 1,128." Part I crimes are those considered more severe. The FBI measures eight categories of Part I offenses: Robbery, Rape, Aggravated Assault, Murder, Burglary, Larceny/Theft, Motor Vehicle Theft and Arson.
In Bend, Lt. Clint Burleigh agrees. He says the raw numbers are only part of the story. "You may have very good successes as an organization or a group and your numbers might be a little worse. And, it’s not because you didn’t do well, there are just a lot of other factors that are tough to measure – how many visitors did we have this summer? How long were they here? How many crashes on the road did we have?"
In Redmond, violent crimes increased by less than 1%, but Lt. Kidwell disputes some of the numbers, saying how the FBI calculates the stats can be subjective and lead to skewed results. "For instance, there is an increase in robbery, but sometimes that can be a shoplifting case where the shoplifter actually pushed away from and ran away from the security officer at the store. Since force is used, that all of a sudden becomes a robbery. So, we’ll look at is that what caused an increase or do we actually have an increase. So, we’ll try to address it that way with the stores and any other way we can address it."
Redmond Police Chief Dave Tarbet talks in-depth about the numbers, on our Podcast Page
In Bend, violent crimes dropped by 60%, but Lt. Burleigh says it's important to look at the big picture. "Looking at the top 10 cities in Oregon, we’re the sixth largest city by population and, out of those 10, we have the third lowest numbers in violent crime and fourth lowest in property crime. I think that speaks a lot to our department in trying to be proactive in preventing crime and I think it speaks a lot to our officers going out there and making contacts with everybody in the community." He adds, "We look at everything and try to measure ourselves that way, but I don’t think you can just completely rely on just a number itself. I think there are so many other factors that you have to pay attention to. I think the number one thing to look at is, we had 114 violent crimes reported in 2014 - that’s at least 114 people that were impacted tremendously that year. I’d love it to be zero. If we could have zeroes across the board, I think that would be awesome." In Prineville, violent crimes fell 9%.
According to the FBI report, property crimes dropped, last year, by 6% in Bend and 11% in Redmond. In Prineville, they rose by 20% in 2014.
BEND, OR -- The Bend Fire Department is replacing its most commonly used fire trucks, this fall. Deputy Chief of Fire Operations Bob Madden conducted their final inspection earlier this week at the factory in South Dakota. "We have six new fire engines coming. We’ll be getting two a week over a three-week period. And, we’ll be doing our in-service training and anticipate to have our first ones actually in service, responding to calls, probably by late November."
The city originally hoped to replace the units several years ago, but the plan was delayed due to the economy. Madden tells KBND, "We didn’t get a lot of new equipment; they’ll pull in next to our old ones, we’ll take all of the stuff off of those and put them onto those. But, our higher technology equipment, I think is in the EMS equipment – our 12-lead EKG machines and things like that – that’s where probably the largest dollar amount is going into, is in that medical equipment."
The current fleet of Structural engines is over 20 years old. "We did that replacement in 1994. They served us well, but they’re beyond their service age now and, of course, our maintenance costs are going up. So we’ve got this new fleet that we purchased with great help from the city and rural fire district to be able to fund this," Madden says. He expects two engines will come to Bend each week over a three-week period next month, and should also last about 20 years. He says other vehicles - ladder trucks, wildland fire units and quick response vehicles - are all still within their expected service life.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville is moving ahead with a new wastewater treatment system, thanks to new federal funds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture just awarded the city a $4 million loan and a $1 million grant to put in new sewer lines and upgrade the pump station, among other things. Vicki Walker with the USDA Rural Development Department tells KBND, "They're doing some really unique things. They're going to put their treated wastewater into a wetland instead of discharging it into the Crooked River. I think that's very environmentally sound and it will help the community be able to expand capacity."
The funding will cover more than half of the $9 million project. Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe tells KBND the new wetland area will be cheaper than a traditional mechanical system. "A mechanical plant would have cost $62 million and it was reduced to $6.6 million; and our wastewater System Development Charges were reduced from $9,147 to $3,875 per equipment dwelling unit, which will really stimulate economic development for us." She says it will also allow the wastewater rates to remain constant for quite a while. "And, riparian improvements will be made to over two miles of the Crooked River. And, our citizens will have access to over two miles of the Crooked River, as well as 160-acres of wetland park area," Roppe says.
Prineville's existing system began operations in 1960 and currently serves more than 9,000 residents. The city will start taking bids for the work in the next couple weeks and hope to break ground in October. The project is expected to take two to three years. Mayor Roppe hopes to have the new system up and running in 2017.
BEND, OR -- Medical Marijuana dispensaries in Bend are just two days away from being allowed to sell recreational pot. Hunter Neubauer serves on the OLCC advisory committee tasked with creating rules for future retail outlets. As the owner of OreGrown in Bend, he’s also navigating early rec. sales at his own dispensary, as regulated by the Oregon Health Authority. "There’s some things that came from the OHA, as far as requirements go. We need to make sure we check IDs, we need to input them into our system, keep track of what they purchased. Everybody can purchase up to a quarter ounce of buds or flowers, they can also get four clones or seeds. So, we have to keep track of all that information and make sure we don’t oversell that allotment per day, per person." Those rec sales are taxed by the state, while Medical marijuana sales are not.
Neubauer tells KBND he expects the clientele at his dispensary to shift in the coming year. "We have to really change the ebb and flow of how our dispensary works. We have two different point of sale systems, we have a brand new set of packaging and materials we think are going to be a great way for new customers to come in and figure out what they’re looking for, what this industry is about and help guide them to choose correctly." He adds, "Attaining your medical card is a long process and if you have a true medical condition, it’s very much needed. But, I think that you’ll see the same thing happen in Oregon as it did in Washington and Colorado. A lot of medical patients stopped getting their medical cards and have now just become full recreational adult users. It’s just easier."
Eventually, recreational retail outlets allowed in January, will be overseen by the OLCC.
To hear the full conversation with Hunter Neubauer, visit our Podcast Page.
BEND, OR -- A Silverton man arrested Saturday for allegedly stealing a car from a Bend coffee drive-thru was arrested again Sunday afternoon under very similar circumstances. Aaron Hodges was arrested at around 8:30 Saturday night after the incident at Dutch Bros on Third Street. Lt. Nick Parker with Bend Police says he was released from jail Sunday morning, just hours before his next run-in with police. "Officers were dispatched to the Looney Bean Coffee shop off of Brooks Street, where an individual – we didn’t know who it was at the time – was causing a disruption at the business and not letting customers get their drinks as they were being ordered. Officers contacted a male subject there, who turned out to be the same person – Aaron Hodges – from the day before."
Read more about Hodges' first arrest.
Lt. Parker tells KBND the downtown incident began at about 2:30 Sunday afternoon. "A white van entered down the alleyway, in front of the Looney Bean Coffee shop. He made a comment to officers that he was going to take the van, or steal the van. And so he got up and went over to the van that was occupied with two people, and tried opening the doors. The officer placed him under arrest at that time." He adds, "It’s definitely concerning to draw that much attention and then get arrested twice in a matter of hours. It’s pretty concerning."
Hodges now faces new charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and menacing, on top of the original allegations.
BEND, OR -- A Klamath Falls man was arrested early Monday morning, following an armed robbery at K Market on NW Albany in Bend. According to Bend Police, 32-year-old Brian Gifford threatened the store clerk with a knife and demanded money, just after 9 p.m., Sunday. The suspect left in a white Jeep Cherokee with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Just before 2 a.m. Monday, Redmond Police responded to an unrelated incident near SW 33rd and Newberry. They found Gifford with a white Jeep Cherokee registered to the state, and discovered it had been reported stolen. Redmond officers recovered property allegedly stolen from the K Market robbery and the weapon used.
The Klamath Falls man was taken to the Deschutes County Jail on several charges, including Robbery I and Menacing.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney will head up a committee that is expected to finish work on a 30-year transportation plan for the state. Baney was appointed to the Governor's transportation committee in 2014. She says their work came to a halt when Governor Kitzhaber resigned in February.
Commissioner Baney is happy they're getting back at it. "Transportation right now is a very political subject. But, this work too many people have put a lot of time and effort and energy into making up this particular draft that we have. It's great work and it needs to be completed."
The transportation panel is scheduled to come up with a plan by the end of March. "The Governor [Brown] really is wanting to complete the 30-year vision for the state of Oregon. It is unfortunate that it's being linked to the recent Legislative session, that was more aligned in a transporation funding package," Baney tells KBND.
BEND, OR -- A Silverton man was arrested Saturday for allegedly stealing a car from a customer at a Bend Dutch Bros coffee drive-thru.
Bend Police say 40-year-old Aaron Hodges had been yelling at a customer when he jumped into the passenger seat of a pickup at about 8:30 p.m. and demanded a ride. When the 18-year-old driver refused, Hodges reportedly used his hand to push the gas pedal.
The driver tried to press the brakes, but eventually jumped out of the vehicle, concerned for his own safety. Hodges then crashed into a parked car near Third and Lafayette.
He was arrested on a number of charges, including Robbery and Menacing. Hodges was released Sunday morning on his own recognizance. According to the Deschutes County Jail he was re-arrested on new charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, Sunday afternoon.
REDMOND, OR -- Recreational marijuana will be allowed to be sold at medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon, beginning Thursday. The Redmond Patriots are holding a forum on the dangers of the drug, Monday evening, especially for young people.
Mandi Pucket, certified Prevention Specialist and Executive Director of Clear Alliance, is on the panel. She tells KBND, "You know, parents need to be aware of things like vapor pens and e-cigarettes. These items can be disguised like pens, cell phones, Bluetooth and things they wouldn't necessarily think of. All the forms that marijuana is taking today, between edibles and joints, marijuana is morphing into new strains that parents really need to know how different it looks."
Also participating in the forum, retired Oregon Circuit Court Judge Gary Thompson and Emergency Room Tech Maggie Heising. Pucket says, "Our target audience is youth and parents and young adults; that's because they face significant risk with marijuana. With stores opening up on October first, that, to parents, means increased accessibility, increased availability." She adds, "Research shows when you increase access and availability, and you lower the perception of harm, that means youth use typically goes up. And, when you look at the stats from national surveys, that's what it shows. It shows perception of harm is going down and youth use is going up; and we want to prevent that from happening in communities throughout Oregon."
The Redmond Patriots forum begins at 6:30 p.m. at Highland Baptist Church.
NORTH SISTER, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue Mountain Rescue teams, along with two helicopters, worked in wind and darkness Friday to reach an injured Salem climber on North Sister. Sgt. Ronny Dozier says 45-year-old Gordon Kenyon fell while climbing the 10,085-foot peak.
He tells KBND Kenyon was able to stop his fall with an ax and held in place until rescuers arrived. "With the assistance of Air Link helicopters [rescuers] were taken up to a saddle between the Middle Sister and the North Sister and dropped off. They hiked up as close as they could to Mr. Kenyon's location."
Dozier says Kenyon stayed in contact with his rescuers by text message. He was taken to St. Charles Bend for further medical attention.
BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown announced Friday the formation of a workgroup to evaluate the Oregon State Police Crime Lab, following allegations of evidence tampering at the Bend facility.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel commended the Governor’s move, even as he continues to investigate the actions of Bend analyst Nika Larsen. "The investigation isn’t over yet, but we’re seeing evidence that drugs that she would analyze, that were sent to the crime lab, sometimes she would take them and drugs would be missing. Other times she would take drugs and ‘backfill’ to try and hide her tracks, it seems like. Like, if there were 50 pills that were supposed to be oxycodone, you go back and look and two are oxycodone and 48 are an antihistamine."
That investigation involves his office, OSP and the Attorney General. Hummel says more than 500 cases must be re-evaluated, including more than two-dozen pending prosecution. "There are some cases that are still pending; those are a little easier to address because we can still try and fix any wrongs before any improper convictions would occur. But, the convictions that have already occurred, those are more difficult, but we’re going to look at every one of those."
Larsen is one of seven analysts at the Bend lab; Hummel says there’s no indication any others are involved, but he praised the Governor's move to look deeper. "You can bet your bottom dollar that the Nika Larson case will be discussed by that work group. But, I think that it’s important for that work group to look overall at policies, procedures and controls at crime labs across the state, don’t just look at one person who had misdeeds at the Bend crime lab. So, it’s appropriate that they’re taking a broader look at the crime lab." The 7-member group is made up of lawmakers, the Keizer Police chief and current and former attorneys. They may also recommend changes for discussion during the February Legislative Session.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson announced Friday he has placed a supervisor on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into how department funds were used.
A county auditor recommended additional internal analysis into the money used for investigative purposes, during the transition between retiring Sheriff Larry Blanton and incoming Sheriff Nelson.
Nelson says the internal audit, which is ongoing, found issues relating to the funds. Preliminary findings prompted a broader look and the DCSO supervisor was placed on leave in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
The Sheriff's Office is working with Bend Police, Oregon State Police, the Deschutes County District Attorney, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI. Deschutes County D.A. John Hummel released a statement saying, "Deschutes County residents should be confident that when a misdeed occurs in local government, local officials will root it out and right the wrong."
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine School District officials are pleased with local student performance in the first year of Smarter Balanced testing. State numbers released last week showed 41% of Oregon students were proficient in math, 54% in English and Language Arts. Bend-La Pine Assistant Superintendent Lora Nordquist tells KBND local results were better, but also mixed. " As a district we outperform the state in both math and English/language arts, so that’s the good news. The bad news is that only about half (49%) our students were proficient or above in math and about 2/3 of our students (63%) in English/Language arts. So, we’ve got work to do."
Nordquist acknowledges the new standardized test isn't perfect. "We’re so supportive of the Common Core state standards, because we really believe they’re internationally benchmarked standards; they are really helping students to be college and career ready and that’s the intent behind them. We support the assessments, in terms of their challenge and difficulty and that they’re asking students to really perform at a high levels. But, we too are concerned about the amount of time it takes for the test," says Nordquist. "As a district, we have been using ACT for many, many years. All our 11th graders take the ACT; we think that’s another test that also has high benchmarks and really looks at college and career readiness, and is far shorter. We don’t have the power as a district to determine what our state assessment is, but I know we’re advocating at the state level for perhaps other options or changes to Smarter Balanced to make it shorter."
School-by-school results should be released in the next two weeks. To hear more of our conversation with Lora Nordquist, visit our Podcast Page
REDMOND, OR -- Oregon State Police are looking for witnesses who may have information on a reported sexual assault, Wednesday night. Two 17-year-old Prineville girls contacted the Lake County Sheriff's Office Thursday afternoon to report they had been kidnapped from the Redmond Walmart at about midnight, Wednesday night.
The girls were were at Walmart when their car wouldn't start. They told investigators two men pulled up in a silver SUV and offered to let them sit in their car to get out of the cold. When the teens sat down, the men pulled a handgun and drove off with them inside.
The victims believe they were drugged and fell unconscious. They recalled being on Highway 20 east of Bend, then at a residence in Christmas Valley. Sometime during the day, they say they managed to escape. The Lake County Sheriff, Oregon State Police and Redmond Police immediately launched an investigation.
Early Thursday evening, the Lake County Sheriff's Office took a report of a stolen Chevrolet Tahoe. Investigators believe the car was taken by the same men who allegedly kidnapped the girls from Redmond. At 9:15 Thursday night, OSP observed the vehicle on Highway 31 south of La Pine in Klamath County. The vehicle was stopped and two men were detained.
The suspects were identified as 50-year-old James Borchers of Portland and 32-year-old Joseph Cheek of Christmas Valley. Both were arrested for Kidnapping I and Rape I.
Anyone who may have seen the two men near the Redmond Walmart on Wednesday, September 23 or anywhere on Thursday, September 24 are asked to contact Detective Pat Irish at 541-883-5713. Investigators are also looking for a silver or gray Toyota 4-runner that the suspects were seen operating the night in question.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Pope Francis delivered an historic message to Congress Thursday, touching on issues like immigration, the Golden Rule and family. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) said shortly after the speech, "It was a real honor to be on the escort committee for the Pope's visit to the U.S. House to speak to a joint session of Congress. I'm here on the balcony where he came out after the speech and gave a blessing to the audience. I thought his remarks were challenging and uplifting." Rep. Walden added, "Clearly he's a man of the people who speaks his mind. I think he calls on all of us to be better citizens and better human beings and really look after those who are less fortunate. It was just an historic day in Washington and I think for all of America."
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) was there as well, and said in a statement, "Pope Francis powerfully reminded us all of our true purpose as public servants: that we are 'called to defend and preserve the dignity of our fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.' I especially thank the Pope for his unwavering belief that we can and we should do more to protect our communities from global warming and to take on the scourge of poverty here in the United States."
Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney was among the 50,000 people outside the Capitol to watch Pope Francis on a big screen television. She received tickets from Congressman Walden's office. She tells KBND News it was like nothing she's ever seen. "I've never been in a large crowd so passionate about seeing an individual in my life. There was just a lot of peace in the crowd. With that many people, you could certainly have issues come up, as people are kind of walking almost on top of each other. There was just a sense of community in the crowd."
She says his address was inspirational. "I thought his message was one of inclusivity. He really talked about, in essence, how we are one community and to care for one another as you would for your own child. It was very powerful. He certainly talked about political issues, as well; but I think if you put it in the frame of mind that he's thinking of the essence of people not the essence of politics, the message is a powerful one." Baney adds, "When I was a child, I was raised Catholic, and it was not as inclusive as I find myself today. This Pope is one that brings me back to the origin of my faith. Regardless of your faith or no faith at all, he spoke to everyone."
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond firefighters appeared to be at the right place at the right time, Thursday evening, when they discovered a house fire. Crews were cleaning up a car fire in the Desert Terrace Mobile Estates on South Highway 97 when they noticed a column of smoke from deeper in the park.
They headed to the scene at about 6:20 p.m., just as witnesses called 911 to report a structure fire. Heavy fire surrounded the home, and crews worked to prevent further spread to the inside.
A man and two children escaped unharmed, but the fire left about $20,000 in damage. Investigators determined the blaze was caused by the improper disposal of smoking materials into barkdust.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Redmond man is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Prineville, earlier this month.
The woman reported being raped September 12 in the area of South Main Street. Crook County Sheriff’s Deputies collected significant evidence the following day.
Deputies arrested 19-year-old Juan Manual Retano Hernandez Thursday after executing a search warrant at his home near NW 25th and Cedar Ave. in Redmond.
Hernandez is charged with first degree rape and sex abuse.
REDMOND, OR -- When the Oregon Department of Transportation bought the Redmond Greenhouse earlier this year, rumors swirled around what the state wanted with the property along South Highway 97.
ODOT’s Peter Murphy tells KBND there aren't plans to do much with it, for now. "What we’re trying to do is gain control over who can enter onto, or exit, the highway. With the volume of traffic growing faster, exponentially almost, we’re trying to get control over the left turns that force motorists to cross over, not just the median, but two other lanes of traffic to get in and out of places." And, he says that danger will only increase as speeds are raised to 65 MPH next year.
"What we try to do is identify situations in which there's an opportunity to take that access out of the picture, which is what happened with the Redmond Greenhouse. It was for sale; we purchased it in order to control the access going in and out. You know, you have a greenhouse that has 'X' number of cars going in and out. Maybe someone puts a restaurant in there, and now you have three times 'X' going in and out. Again, that's inherently dangerous," Murphy says. "We’re not in a position to go out and buy all these chunks of property. There was a reason we bought that one, the greenhouse, because there was a frontage road already. So, when it extends to the greenhouse then we’ll get rid of [the property] and sell it to someone who doesn’t need the access that used to be there."
ODOT bought The Brand restaurant back in 2003, also to control the number of cars turning onto and off of the highway. Both the old restaurant lot and the Redmond Greenhouse now sit vacant south of Redmond.
CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- A 16-year-old suffered life-threatening injuries at Crooked River Ranch Tuesday evening, when he fell 40 to 50 feet down a cliff.
Captain Sean Hartley, with Crooked River Ranch Fire and Rescue, says it took nearly two hours to bring the teen up.
We used a high-angle rope rescue system to remove him from the canyon safely. Then, he was flown by LifeFlight helicopter to St. Charles Bend. Later Tuesday evening, he was taken to Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland."
Capt. Hartley says the teen apparently fell while trying to retrieve a dropped cell phone.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners appear poised to approve a proposed housing development between NorthWest Crossing and Shevlin Park. The Miller Tree Farm would include five subdivisions, each consisting of ten residential lots and open space.
A county hearings officer denied the initial application over concerns not enough was being done to protect homes from potential wildfire or allow adequate access to wildlife. The developer has since beefed up wildfire and wildlife plans, including paying for experts in these fields through Homeowners Association fees. At yesterday's meeting, County Commissioner Tammy Baney was pleased with the change. "While it resonates with me in terms of the costs associated with a Homeowners Association, really that makes sure that as homeowners, you are collectively embracing the responsibility of living in that particular area. I see that as a cost associated with the ability to live in this particular community."
Commissioners Alan Unger and Toney DeBone agreed. "I think we're defining the envelope and setting the standard so, as people develop the area, they know what they're buying," Unger said at the meeting. "So, they're buying a two-acre property, but they can only build on an envelope," DeBone noted. "But, they're doing it on the west side of Bend where they have other amenities, and this is one of those things that they're agreeing to to have that opportunity." Unger continued, "A person doesn't have to buy into this if they don't want to. They have the choice to accept the conditions or not. I like the conditions. I think it will help keep this area in the type of condition that we have agreed to in the plan, into the future." The developer plans to build wildfire buffer zones around homes, and increase access to wildlife in the area.
County Commissioners are expected to formally approve the Miller Tree Farm development October 7.
BEND, OR -- An interim three-way stop at Brookswood Blvd and Baker Rd in Bend will now be permanent. The Road Department studied the idea on the request of drivers in the area.
The stop sign was installed to accommodate detour traffic during the construction of the Brookswood roundabout. After studying traffic volumes now that flows have normalized, officials decided the stop sign should remain.
BEND, OR -- More than 200 students will move into Central Oregon Community College's new residence hall Thursday. Stephanie Bilbrey with COCC says they learned a lot with last weekend's practice run, when 30 OSU-Cascades students moved in. "We're going to meet with campus Public Safety talk about the moving of cars and boxes and people all throughout. And, we'll convene with all our volunteers to fine-tune everything we saw; we had some lessons learned, so we'll kind of re-tool and make every tiny detail perfect," Bilbrey tells KBND.
And, she reminds students packing carefully will help things run smoothly. "Tip number one is to check out our 'what to bring' list that we provide. That's highly recommended. It's also 'what not bring.' You know, there are certain things like, you can't bring a toaster!"
Move-in starts at 9 a.m. and will continue through 5 p.m. COCC says about 70% of students are from Oregon, 20% are from western states including California, Washington and Idaho. Classes start Monday.
BEND, OR -- Full-time nurses have been on staff at the Deschutes County Jail since August, but there are plans to bring more on-board. Captain Deron McMaster became Jail Commander in July and says he didn’t expect the hiring process to take so long. "I can’t imagine when a nurse enters nursing school, that they’re like, ‘hey, I want to go work in a jail.’ I think most nurses think they’re going to work in a clinic somewhere or a hospital. I don’t think they dream of working in a jail. It’s been difficult to find good, qualified nurses, especially nurses that do have a corrections background."
But, Capt. McMaster tells KBND the program is moving forward. "We have five nurses on, and we’ve achieved our goal in the sense of we’ve put nurses on 24/7; we’ve assigned a nurse to each one of our jail teams, which works 4/12s, so we do have 24/7 coverage." And, he says the goal is to hire three more so that two are on duty each shift, and can cover vacations or sick time.
Corrections prospective nurses must be willing to undergo specialized training. "We can’t just bring someone in off the street and have them start working in the jail. They have to be aware of all of our protocols, which are completely different from a hospital, from a safety and security standpoint. Even just personal relationships with the inmates is different, in the sense that there are a number of people in the jail that are good at manipulation and they’ll try and manipulate staff to get their way. If you’re not aware of those things, you can be easily sucked into a situation that’s not good."
At the same time, he says they must remain compassionate. "I think there’s a time and a place where they need to be very direct, they need to realize when they’re potentially being manipulated and they need to be able to say ‘you need to stop that, or I’m not going to buy into what you’re trying to do.’ So, they have to walk that fine line because they still do need to be compassionate and caring, because that’s what nursing is all about. That’s what we think of nurses as being."
BEND, OR -- Buy a solar panel…get a break on your electric bill - That’s the essence of a new program from Central Electric Cooperative. Crews broke ground on the new solar project Wednesday, adjacent to CEC’s facility on SE 27th in Bend, next to Knott landfill. “We are going to be filling 1.5-acres of land with over 700 solar panels,” says Courtney Linville with Central Electric Co-Op.
Linville tells KBND a customer survey last year showed enthusiasm for the project. Members will be able to purchase a solar panel and Linville says, “Members will actually get the credit from the energy that is created from the panel onto their bills.” The company is awaiting word on grant applications before establishing pricing for the panels.
The solar project will be visible from 27th Street. Linville says they will plant vegetation to help obstruct that view. If successful, there is room for four additional solar “gardens” at the southeast Bend location.
BEND, OR -- The Shepherd’s House is moving forward with plans to expand its homeless services to women and children. Gloria Hall is the new Director of Women and Children’s Ministry for the nonprofit and tells KBND they are in talks to purchase a large house to help women struggling with abuse, addiction and homelessness. "We are hoping that it gets off in the next couple of months. We’ve essentially been talking with more than 2,000 women since I got here at Thanksgiving. I love talking with people about my vision and that is to have a safe, healing environment where women and children can go and they can be changed from the inside out."
If current plans are approved and funded, she says the first facility would house nine women. "No children at this point, the city says only nine women. But, we’re trying to get an acre and a half right across from it, and we would be able to build a large building – as large as the city will let us. We want to house up to 40 women, plus children." She hopes the purchase of that first building will come through in the next month or two.
Hall moved to Central Oregon after launching similar programs in Portland and Seattle. She says this project is growing from the ground up. "I’ve been doing this over 27 years and this is the first time I’ve come to a place that I didn’t already have at least some building to get started in and some staff that could team up with me to help get this going. I’m very excited. I’ve been able to raise a little bit of money for staff and we’re in the process of trying to raise the funds for getting these buildings."
BEND, OR -- Two companies, Cypress Creek Renewables and Oregon Solar Land Holdings, plan solar farms on 70-acres along Highway 20, just east of Bend. Nearby residents objected, saying the projects do not fit in the neighborhood. Under Oregon law, solar farms are allowed in agricultural zones, as long as they meet certain criteria.
A Deschutes County hearings officer ruled in favor of the development, with some conditions. Jason Carr, with with Cypress Creek Renewables, tells KBND, “We anticipated with a project of this kind, the first really in the county, that the hearings officer would likely add some conditions. While we have to look more into them internally as a company, I don’t really see anything that stands out that would prevent us from moving forward.”
Conditions include installing a 6-foot fence with tan screening and no barbed wire; solar panels within 100 feet of property line cannot exceed 8 feet in height; developers must plant new shrubs at least 6-feet tall, and they must preserve existing landscape and topography. Both companies must also post $1 million bonds to Deschutes County.
Neighbors have until next Wednesday to appeal. If no appeal is filed, construction could begin in early 2016.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon counties saw unemployment rates remain relatively flat in August. However, regional economist Damon Runberg tells KBND there was good news again on the hiring front. "Looking at it as an individual month, it was fairly uneventful. Hiring was, we’ll say, decently strong. I think Deschutes County was a bit surprising, we had a pretty significant jump in hiring in August compared to what we’d normally expect, seasonally. A lot of that looks like it was from a late-season push from both our tourism sector and construction."
Unemployment in Deschutes County remained essentially unchanged, going from 6.6% in July to 6.5% in August. Crook County's rate increased from 8.6 to 8.7% and Jefferson County rose .3 points to 7.5%. Runberg says, "It’s not really a statistically significant jump, it could be just white noise for all we know. But, to compare the two, Crook County in general is in a situation where they’re not seeing very much job growth, the labor force is declining, and the unemployment rate’s not really getting any better. On the other hand, Jefferson County has seen some more significant job growth and their labor force is growing; so people are either moving to Jefferson County, or more people are looking for work again. There’s kind of some more optimism coming out of Jefferson County."
Runberg says the growing labor force is a good thing because it means people are moving here looking for work, but it does cause a problem. "It actually puts a negative pressure on the unemployment rate, so it can make the unemployment rate rise, because when those people first move here or just graduate from school or whatever it is, they initially enter the workforce usually as unemployed. So, in the long-run, we may actually see the unemployment rate rise moving forward for a couple months. But, in the long-run, that’s a really good thing because it means we are getting those workers who are hopefully back filling the retirees who are leaving right now, which are significant numbers."
This month's flat numbers are in line with the statewide trend. "In general, it seems like our improvements - our expanding economy - are slowing a little bit. There are signs that, even though we have exceptional growth in employment right now – Deschutes County, for example is up 5.8% the number of jobs from this time last year – so, really strong growth. But, that rate of growth is really slowing down," Runberg says. "It definitely seems like we’ve got to the point where we’re in an expanding economy and maybe that expansion is slowing down just a little bit, right now."
MADRAS, OR -- Oregon State Police say fatigue was a contributing factor in a single-vehicle crash that tied up traffic in Madras during the Tuesday morning commute.
According to OSP, the 16-year-old driver from Antelope, Oregon was southbound on Highway 97 when she crossed into oncoming traffic near the intersection with Highway 26. She drove off the road and hit a power pole, sending live power lines onto the roadway.
Highway 97 was closed for about an hour while utility crews removed the power lines. The driver suffered only minor injuries.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville’s interim Police Chief has picked a date to retire and the new chief is ready to take the helm. Dale Cummins was hired as a Captain six months ago, after serving as assistant chief with Gresham Police for 27 years.
Current Chief Les Stiles tells KBND he's pleased with The selection of Cummins as his successor. “Dale has been here six months. He’s a really good addition to the team. He’s got everything in terms of all of the qualifications for a professional police chief in 2015. He’s there.” Cummins is out of the office with an illness and was unavailable to comment.
Stiles came on board in August 2014, replacing the fired Eric Bush
. He will finish updating the department’s accreditation and a study on the future of Crook County 911 before stepping down at the end of February.
Cummins will be sworn in as the new Police Chief March first.
Photo: Capt. Dale Cummins, courtesy Prineville PD.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond will host the first flight of a unique glider designed to reach the upper edges of our atmosphere, Wednesday morning. James Darcy with Airbus Group, says the Perlan II will make aviation history in Redmond. "Perlan is primarily a source of scientific knowledge. So, it will be able to collect data about the upper reaches of the atmosphere that no aircraft has been able to collect before. That’s really going to hopefully inform a more accurate picture of climate change, a more accurate understanding of what’s going on with the ozone layer. From Airbus’ perspective, we’re also interested in learning about aviation at extremely high altitudes."
Darcy says, "Wednesday’s flight will be historic because it’s the first flight of the world’s first pressurized glider and the only aircraft developed capable of doing what Perlan can do. It’s not going to set any records, but it’s going to allow Redmond to look back and say ‘this landmark moment in the history of aviation began in Redmond and we all supported it.’" Redmond was selected for the first flight, Darcy says in part, because a local aerospace contractor did the bulk of the construction on the glider.
He says the Perlan II is only expected to reach 5,000 feet during its Redmond test flight. "Eventually it will transition down to Minden, NV and that’s where it will start to work toward higher and higher altitudes. And then, finally, when they’re ready to go toward the record breaking flight they’ll move down to a region in Argentina where there’s the right combination of environmental factors to create what they call stratospheric mountain waves." In Argentina, it is hoped the Perlan glider will reach 90,000-feet, in an attempt to set a new world altitude record and collect scientific data.
The non-profit Perlan Project is funded by Airbus and other sponsors. Wednesday morning’s test flight is not open to the public, due to FAA regulations, although some might be able to catch a glimpse from a distance.
REDMOND, OR -- The Boys and Girls Clubs of Redmond-Terrebonne continues to look for ways to manage the explosive growth they’ve experienced over the past year. Executive Director Jenny O’Keefe tells KBND that in just the first week of fall operations, Redmond has averaged 77 kids a day; last year’s peak days saw no more than 65. However, in Terrebonne, it's a different story. "The numbers in Terrebonne have remained consistently low. There are about 30 kiddos that attend regularly, and those numbers have stayed consistent since January," says O'Keefe. Families were told Monday that the Terrebonne club would close at the end of October. "We value those families and we want to make sure we can continue to serve them at the Redmond site. We’re going to work out a way to be able to transport the Terrebonne kids and the Tom McCall kids. Tom McCall is another school that right now, we’re unable to provide transportation to, since we don’t have a large enough vehicle to do that."
But, O'Keefe says families in Terrebonne won't be left out in the cold. "So, we’ve partnered with both the school district and Parks and Recreation. Adventure Quest, through Parks and Rec, will be taking over the morning and after-school program immediately when we finish our program on October 30. Parks and Rec will take over immediately, on November second."
She says the decision to shutdown the Terrebonne site wasn't made lightly, but was the best option to manage the needs of the clubs as a whole. "One of the most important things for us is to make sure we have a low adult to child ratio. Our entire mission is built on relationships with kids and in order to be there for those kids in a really individual way, we need to make sure that we have the number of staff to meet that need. We do, right now have assistants in each of our program areas." O'Keefe says Terrebonne staff will be diverted to the Redmond location to help balance those staffing needs. The board has not decided what will happen to the club located at Terrebonne Community School; she says it's in need of about $50,000 in repairs and maintenance.
She adds, "We are looking at the option that we are going to have to add a second site. Unfortunately, the location of the Terrebonne site just does not meet the need of the whole community. It does meet the need of the Terrebonne community and we have been committed to helping them with that. Unfortunately, we have to look at the whole community because that’s our mission. And, in order to balance that, if we do add another site in the next year or two, we’re going to have to look at more of a central location to be able to do that."
Other changes are coming in November, as well. O'Keefe says weekday operations at the Redmond site will expand to 8 p.m. and they will soon provide a special evening program for teen athletes, both for an additional fee. She expects the clubs to be open weekends, starting in 2016. O'Keefe admits all this expansion costs money and she hopes business sponsors will continue to step up and support the non-profit, so full-day operations can remain free for registered families on the days there is no school.
LINN COUNTY, OR -- A young climber from Bend was killed in a fall from Three Fingered Jack in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness, over the weekend.
Linn County Sheriff Bruce Riley explains what they think happened on the mountain on Sunday. "The investigation reveals that two climbers: one named Corey Franklin, 23-years of age from Bend and his friend Tyler Jeffrey Heilman, 22-years of age from Bend, had been hiking Three Fingered Jack and were climbing the mountain up to the 7700' level. There's a lot of loose rock and scree up there and Heilman fell. They estimate he fell 500-600 feet."
Sheriff Riley says their Search and Rescue coordinated a search for Heilman with the Oregon Air National Guard. His body was recovered Monday.
MADRAS, OR -- Work on Highway 97 on the south end of Madras is nearing completion, and many in the area are concerned about the bottleneck created by the single-lane roadway. The Oregon Department of Transportation is re-aligning northbound 97 to better accommodate cross-traffic on “J” Street.
ODOT’s Peter Murphy tells KBND the single-lane portion of the highway is only temporary. "Before, there were two lanes going through tow, and there are going to be two lanes going through town. There’s construction that takes place continuously; we had to make available the lane so we could do work on the other sections. So, as we proceed with the project and get done with it, it’ll be back to two lanes." He adds, "There’s plenty of room, if you look at the roadway there, it’s just striped for one. Just wait a little bit, have a little patience, and it’s going to be two lanes."
Road work on the $4.5 million project is expected to be completed by the end of the month, with lighting and other aesthetics finished by the end of October.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville officially has a new hospital. Patients were moved to the new St. Charles Prineville facility overnight, with everyone arriving by 4 a.m. The Emergency Room received its first patient at 4:43 a.m.
Jeanne Gentry, CEO of the Prineville hospital, tells KBND the move was a big undertaking. "Over 65 years you gather a lot of stuff. So, we've been going through a lot of housecleaning and evaluating what supplies we need to keep on hand and trying to lean up how we do things. It was a lot of work, but it was good work."
She says patients will notice some differences from the old building. "They're much larger so that family members can stay over with the patient. They're modern in-patient rooms, so that will be a big difference. There will be 16 of those rooms, where in the old hospital we only had 11. There's much more space for taking care of in-patients."
The $30 million health care campus includes a primary care and specialty physician clinic, an emergency department, surgery suites and a lab. The new family care clinic, located inside the hospital, opened at 8 a.m.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man was killed in a rollover crash, Friday evening. Redmond Police say 45-year-old Steven Roth was not wearing his seatbelt when he rolled his SUV at about 5:45 p.m. in a gravel area on the east side of the Chaparral Apartments, near Redmond High School.
Roth was pinned under the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger was reportedly wearing a seatbelt and suffered minor injuries.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
SISTERS, OR -- Two Corvallis hikers were rescued from South Sister after they got lost Saturday night, and were not prepared for the conditions. Deschutes County Search and Rescue were dispatched just after 9 p.m. to southwest of the main climbers’ trail, based on the men's cell phone data.
The two had never hiked South Sister before and only one had warm clothing. Officials say 22-year-old Mohammed Alnemer and 19-year-old Ananiya Demessie had not planned to stay overnight and did not have shelter supplies nor means to make a warming fire.
Teams searched by air and ground in complete darkness, steep terrain and snow and ice, and they asked other hikers in the area to help. The Pair was located Sunday morning by a group of hikers - cold and tired but otherwise in good condition.
They refused medical attention, and were returned to their car just after 12:30, Sunday afternoon.
REDMOND, OR -- Emergency preparedness experts from across the region came together at Redmond's Centennial Park Saturday, to teach residents how to get ready for everything from an earthquake to an active shooter situation. Groups ranging from the Red Cross to the FBI to Pacific Power aimed to educate everyone to be prepared.
Andi Buerger, Executive Director of Beulah's Place
, plans to take what she learned at Prepare! Redmond
back to the homeless teens she works with. "We don’t have the water or food ready, we’re working on that, though. And, there’s a difference between dehydrated food and freeze-dried food, which is much tastier! And, things like sunscreen, because if you’re walking out or you have to run and you just have five minutes, everybody needs sunscreen. So, just the things you need in your go-bag and that everyone should have a go-bag! So, this weekend, everyone will have a go-bag."
Matt Phinestad of Redmond brought his family to Centennial Park. He tells KBND he already has a "go bag," but there's always more to learn. "Just in general, we tend to not be prepared. We go to the grocery store every week and we just expect anything and everything that we want to be there. If we lost that, I think we would be shocked. For us, we’ve done the freeze-dried food for a couple of days, lots of water and water purification. I just think anything you can pick up and learn beforehand, you’re better off than trying to catch up after the fact."
Andrea Valdez brought her grandkids. "It’s mainly just making sure everyone knows, don’t just get one set of rules, get them for the whole family. Everyone should have their own copy to know where to go and where we should meet. We live in a cul de sac and it’s good that all the families get together to know where all our kids are going to be."
Local Red Cross executive director Lisa Stroup says most families forget to make a plan and share it with their extended family. She tells KBND she was pleased to see so many families at the event, getting ready before disaster strikes.
September is National Preparedness month. State officials released an updated Cascadia Playbook earlier this month, identifying the Redmond Airport as a major staging area if a large scale quake hits western Oregon.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are considering a number of ways to create more affordable housing, as the housing crisis drags on. They’ve already agreed to waive city System Development Charges (SDCs) for qualifying projects. Now, City Manager Eric King says they are discussing other ways to encourage builders to develop affordable housing.
"This is a real big focus for council," King tells KBND. "One big advantage we have over any other city in the state is that we have an affordable housing fee. So, any time anyone takes out a building permit, a percentage of the fee they pay for that permit goes into a fund. And, it generates close to a million dollars per year." King adds, "That fund then gets redistributed to projects that build affordable housing. So we, probably two or three times a year, grant money. And, we just did that probably a month ago, where we enabled, I would say, upwards of 50 or 60 affordable housing units to be built."
This week, Councilors agreed to look at how they can increase that affordable housing fund. "There was no decision, but there was an interest amongst council members to look at generating more revenue to put into that affordable housing fund. To do that, it would mean raising that, it’s a percent that gets applied to that fee. It’s a balancing act, but it’s something that council was interested in looking at because, as they mentioned, it was reduced during the recession." But, King admits it’s a balancing act so they don’t stifle all development.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney is trying to raise awareness of the ongoing issue of human trafficking in Central Oregon. D.A. John Hummel says his interest in the problem goes beyond his work as the county’s top criminal prosecutor. "I’m confident that every resident of Deschutes County wants to be sure our kids are safe and secure. We can get into politics of certain crimes – drugs – there are lots of crimes that people are divided on, whether they’re right or wrong; but, not on sexual exploitation of children. Everyone wants to make sure that every child in Deschutes County is safe; and that’s a passion of mine."
He tells KBND he was aware of the global problem, but it wasn’t until he became D.A. that he says his eyes were opened to how widespread trafficking is, locally. "Well, when you dig deeper, it shouldn’t be that surprising. Particularly in tourist areas, people come to Bend and they like to recreate, have some cocktails, kick back. Unfortunately, some people, when they recreate and travel, they think that’s a great opportunity to try to find a partner for an evening, and they look for a young girl through an online ad, and they meet them at a local hotel."
Hummel will join the Central Oregon chapter of Oregonians Against Trafficking Humans (OATH) for a public discussion Monday. He will focus on the vast scope of the problem and local demand, and ways law enforcement and the community can get involved. "These pimps who traffic these kids, they’re masters of their trade and they know how to mask what they’re doing. It just looks like they’re just traveling with a cousin or a sister. And, it doesn’t look at first glance like the child is in distress. We need to develop awareness of the signs of a child who is being trafficked. We need to make sure hotel operators know that, all service providers, law enforcement and community members."
The event with Central Oregon OATH is Monday at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, beginning at 6 p.m.
BEND, OR -- It's another victory for OSU-Cascades: The Oregon Court of Appeals has upheld previous rulings, allowing the campus expansion on Bend's Westside to continue. OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson tells KBND she's relieved. "It feels great in the sense that we can be assured what we're doing there, construction-wise, is not at risk anymore. We're just trying to get things up and running as fast as we can."
Three previous attempts by Truth in Site to halt the project on Chandler Avenue also failed. A hearings officer, Bend's City Council, the state Land Use Board of Appeals and now Oregon's Court of Appeals have all upheld the location of the school's new Bend campus. "It's fantastic news for us. It's the fourth time that our site application has been affirmed, which gives us great confidence that we are conforming with the city of Bend's development codes, and we're really excited about moving full speed ahead on developing the campus," Johnson says.
But, the fight may not be over, quite yet. "[Truth in Site is] allowed to appeal to the State Supreme Court. The State Supreme Court does not have to hear any particular case, and they rarely hear land use cases. And, given the strength of the decision, this 'affirmed without opinion,' and how quickly it came down, I would be very surprised if the State Supreme Court decided to hear this case."
Tracy Pfiffner with Truth in Site says she's disappointed with this fourth loss. "We're surprised and we believe this ruling is very unfortunate for Bend. I think everyone knows there is not community-wide support for this campus on the west side. We have a lot of voices out there that aren't in support of this campus."
She says the group has not yet decided whether to file one final appeal, "We're absolutely keeping all of our options open. I think it's important to keep in mind that nobody really knows how OSU is going to build out this campus, including OSU. Will they build besides the ten acres or will they spread out all over the city?" She tells KBND, "I know the university is saying that they really want to engage with the public. But, really what role can the public play at this point in helping them to develop a pumice mine or helping them to remediate the landfill?"
OSU's Johnson says the school is still considering a 46-acre pumice mine and a 65-acre demolition landfill for further expansion, adjacent to the 10-acre parcel on Chandler Ave. already under development. OSU-Cascades welcomes its first freshman class this month. An academic center with classrooms, labs and office space is slated to open by fall 2016.
Oregon’s minimum wage will remain at $9.25 in 2016. State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian sets the minimum wage each year, based on the movement of the federal Consumer Price Index (CPI).
"Although the Consumer Price Index went up slightly, it wasn’t enough to trigger an increase in Oregon’s minimum wage. Because of that, it’ll be harder for Oregon’s lowest wage earners and their families to keep up with the rising cost of goods and services," Avakian tells KBND. "That’s just one reason why we need to look at increasing Oregon’s minimum wage above the poverty line for a family of four, right away."
For the last several years, Avakian has called for a boost in the minimum wage, saying the current rate translates to less than $20,000 a year for a full-time Oregon worker. According to national statistics, 80% of minimum wage workers are at least 20 years of age, and nearly two-thirds are women.
The Consumer Price Index tracks inflation but does not take into account in local factors, like rising housing costs in areas like Central Oregon.
REDMOND, OR -- A new online monitoring tool launched in Redmond this month allows residents to monitor the amount of water they use, down to the hour.
Mayor George Endicott says the new AquaHawk system is part of a city-wide effort to better manage resources, especially during drought conditions. "What this does is it gives you, as the consumer, direct access to your own information. So, you can go in there and look at your water usage summer to winter, day to night, and so forth. The other thing that this system – one of the real powerful pieces – is that it can notify you by email, by text, or even by voice, if you have a leak." It also tracks daily temperatures and rainfall
Redmond’s AquaHawk is the first of its kind in Central Oregon. "It can monitor your system in your normal usage. If it sees an anomaly, i.e. a dripping faucet – you know, that can be many gallons a day. And so, if all of a sudden your water usage goes up, you get a notification that says ‘your water usage has gone up’ and that prompts you then to go look and see what’s going on," Mayor Endicott tells KBND. "Plus, over and above that, you can monitor your own water usage as you see fit, so you can say ‘well, OK, I’m sprinkling 15 minutes a zone on my lawn; if I cut back to 10, what impact does that have?’"
Redmond installed an automated electronic metering system several years ago, doing away with the need for manual meter-readers. That allowed the city to rollout AquaHawk for just $10,000; $90,000 less than what was initially budgeted.
Redmond residents can sign up for the free service HERE
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Crook County man faces numerous charges, including kidnapping, assault, burglary and theft. Sheriff's deputies arrested 34-year-old Josef Taylor of Post, after a woman claimed she was kidnapped and held against her will at a cabin for several days. She says she was physically assaulted during that time.
The Crook County Sheriff's Office says they have responded to previous domestic assaults between the two and the alleged victim had a "no contact" order in place against Taylor.
When deputies searched Taylor's home during the investigation, they recovered stolen property connected to several nearby burglaries. Taylor was booked into the Crook County Jail. Bail is set at $172,000.
BEND, OR -- Claims of tampering with drug evidence could put hundreds of local criminal cases in doubt. A forensic analyst with the Oregon State Police lab in Bend was put on leave earlier this month, after she was accused of tampering with evidence.
The Oregonian reports officials are not saying exactly how many cases the woman worked on. However, the paper reports, a sampling of affected counties, brings the total to nearly 1,000 cases dating back several years.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said he now has to re-test the evidence in 502 cases dating back to 2012.
The Bend lab is one of five operated by OSP, statewide. Others are in Portland, Pendleton, Springfield and Central Point.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon joined six other states this month, in filing a legal motion in support of controversial new water regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, called the Waters of the United States rule. Kayli Hanley with the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association tells KBND, "The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association is disappointed to see the state of Oregon supporting a ruling that’s vagueness leaves doors open for ranchers, farmers and private landowners water access to be unjustly regulated. We currently have a lawsuit filed with the Pacific Legal Foundation against the WOTUS ruling; and we don’t believe Oregon’s stance will have any impact on that lawsuit."
Hanley explains why the OCA is concerned about the new regulations: "It’s broadness, and it’s potential for the EPA to overextend water management on private property. Due to the rule’s lack of clarity, a broad range of water sources could be considered to need federal management, and it could even include something as small as a rain puddle." She adds, "There’s potential to take away locally driven initiatives that are successful; and we believe WOTUS is an expansion of federal jurisdiction that threatens the rights of private property owners. We’re asking that the EPA listen to effected stakeholders, such as the ranching industry, and take into account with the effected people have to say about it."
Many ranchers are asking whether officials in Salem truly have the best interest of the state's number-one agricultural commodity at heart. Rancher and Former OCA president Sharon Livingston is frustrated with the state's continued support of increased water rules. she says the nearly 40 management areas statewide already ensure water quality and quantity for both agricultural and non-ag needs.
The EPA claims the rule clarifies which waterways fall under federal jurisdiction for the purposes of enforcing the Clean Water Act.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) released plans Tuesday for the state in the event of a disastrous earthquake. Governor Kate Brown praised the updated Cascadia Playbook at yesterday's rollout event. "While the Cascadia Playbook can't keep the worst natural disaster from happening, it will ensure that Oregon is as
prepared as possible."
The Cascadia Playbook supports various plans and efforts for the first 14 days following a catastrophic incident, including a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami.
REDMOND, OR -- The city of Redmond will host an emergency preparedness fair this weekend, to help the community get ready for any disaster - from an earthquake to a train derailment or wildfire. Lisa Stroup, Executive Director of our local Red Cross is one of the organizers of Prepare! Redmond. She tells KBND, "Prepare! Redmond is really a lot more than the fair; the fair is just one piece of what we do and it’s a chance for families to come and get some hands-on interaction on how to get informed, make a plan and build a kit. But, Prepare! Redmond kind of goes back to ‘what do we do ahead of time as a community?’ so these tough conversations aren’t happening during chaos."
Experts from the city and county will be there to answer questions, including the FBI which will discuss active shooter situations. Deschutes County Emergency Manager Nathan Garibay will also be on hand, and says it’s about more than just being ready for a potential catastrophic earthquake. "The fair, I think, is a great opportunity for people to come down and take that first step if they haven’t already. To talk to people who are passionate about preparedness and get excited about it. You know, you don’t have to be a nerd like me to enjoy being prepared and you don’t have to be a ‘prepper’ like you see on TV; there is a middle ground."
Stroup commends Redmond for taking a proactive approach to disaster prep. "Redmond, very impressively I would say, got ahead of the game and said ‘we’re all going to sit down at the table and figure this out now.’ And so, they’ll do a lot of things throughout the year, the fair is just one them, but Redmond is a full-preparedness mode to have those conversations now to talk about when the chaos occurs how are we going to handle certain situations that might happen? It could be the earthquake, it could be a train derailment, it could be a wildfire."
Prepare! Redmond is Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Centennial Park.
To hear more of our conversation with Stroup and Garibay, visit our Podcast Page
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire crews responded to Worthy Brewing on NE Bellevue, near NE 27th and Highway 20, Tuesday night, after a flue fire ignited in the ventilation system for the pizza oven.
Firefighters found flames coming from a vent on the roof, just before 11 p.m. No damage was found inside the restaurant or brewery; the fire was contained to oven ventilation and vent fan.
Total damages are estimated at around $1,000.
SISTERS, OR -- Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) arrested a Portland couple late Monday, during a high-risk traffic stop in Sisters. Detectives suspect 35-year-old Richard Mercer was a significant supplier of heroin to Deschutes County.
Officers took Mercer and his passenger, 30-year-old Kathryn Roberts, into custody as they drove into Sisters just before midnight, Monday night.
During a search of the vehicle, they found 2.5 ounces of heroin, a large amount of cash, a stolen firearm and other evidence of drug manufacturing and sales. Detectives also discovered the car Mercer was driving had been reported stolen.
BEND, OR -- Students at Bend's newest middle school are embracing alternative sources of transportation. More than 100 kids biked to Pacific Crest Middle School this week, but there's only room to accommodate a third of them.
It's a problem Brian Potwin with Commute Options likes to see. "The school itself is super excited about this. They are recognizing that they need more bike racks. They only have bike racks for 32 students, and yesterday [Monday] they had 105 students ride to the school. They are lacking a little bit in the parking situation, but Commute Options is helping them. We donated five bike racks to Pacific Crest Middle School to help them out." But, he says they still need more.
Potwin says PCMS kids seem to "get it." He tells KBND, "We have a lot of different encouragement programs that Commute Options uses to get kids to bike and walk to school. But, when you look at the community as a whole around Pacific Crest Middle School, you have neighborhoods that are quite close to the school, which actually have good connections through the transportation system that allows students to have not only an easy but safe and comfortable ride to school."
The principal has set the goal of getting more than 200 kids to bike and walk to school. Potwin is thrilled with the large turnout, already. "It's important to start the day with physical activity to get our brains engaged so we can be active learners. It's important because of the child obesity rate within the United States and how the 30 minutes-a-day of activity is essential and can be done while walking or biking to school. And, it's important for our environment."
BEND,OR -- Recent polling shows a majority of people in Bend believe our roads are in poor condition, but how to fund the needed repairs? That's the task of a newly formed streets maintenance funding committee that met for the first time Monday.
The 14-member group heard several presentations on the problem and how to potentially fund repairs. Andy High with the Central Oregon Builders Association is on the committee and is encouraged by their first get together. "I think we learned a lot about the overall impacts of the budget on our transportation system and look forward to a lot of continued debate. There are a lot of interesting opinions here and points of view and look forward to taking this to the community to see what their thoughts are."
Citizens Doug Williams is another member on the committee. He served as a city manager in Washington State and Illinois. "I'm still processing everything from the meeting. I'm anxious to see the budget. As you know., I'm a former city manager and I'm anxious to see those numbers. I'm interested in all the budget data we'll get at the next meeting."
The group is scheduled to meet every Monday through October 12. They hope to come up with a recommendation for the city council to consider to put before voters next March.
BEND, OR -- Cascades East Transit is adding more mass transit routes, beginning next week. The expansion includes the addition of three bus routes, weekday hours extended to 8 p.m. and increased bus frequency on weekdays and Saturdays. Expanded service begins Monday, September 21.
Read more on how expansion plans were funded.
The Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, which manages CET, has worked for more than a year to increase public transit options in Bend.
BEND, OR -- Bend housing leaders celebrated the completion of the city's newest affordable housing complex, opening 40 much-needed units. Parks At Eastlake, off NE 27th, was developed by Housing Works with the help of state funds.
Michael Hinton, Chair of the Housing Works Board, told the group this project has been years in the making. "We've owned this property for 14 years. Then we finally came up with the idea of what we were going to do with it; then it took another four years to get the funding and resources to get it to where it is today."
Monday's event was a celebration, but Hinton admits much work still needs to be done to alleviate the housing crisis. "I think we can all agree that housing in Central Oregon, and not just affordable housing, housing across the board is in a state of crisis in our community. Today we don't solve the problem, but we do take a chip away at it. And, most importantly, we do solve the problem for 40 individuals and families."
Bend City Councilor Casey Roats was at the Parks at Eastlake and agreed. "It tells me we have a lot more to do because there was a lottery just for the folks who are going to receive the benefit of living here. And as a community, we can do a lot more and we should be doing a lot more. I hope the City Council is taking what we heard from Mr. Kemper about the overwhelming need relative to the supply. And, as we address things like the Urban Growth Boundary discussions, that we're taking a harder look at trying to bring some real market forces to bare to help alleviate these problems." He adds, "By expanding the Urban Growth Boundary and bringing enough land in, we can make a significant difference in the amount of supply, in the hopes that people who live at or around the median income can make their rent or their house payment."
Read more on the nearly 300 who applied for the 40 units.
The Parks at Eastlake provides eight one-bedroom, 16 two-bedroom and 16 three-bedroom units. Half are for households living below 50% of the area's median income.
REDMOND, OR -- As reported last week, Bend High’s record-breaking freshman class has swelled to more than 500, largely due to a disproportionate of families requesting in-district transfers so their students can attend BSHS. In Redmond, it’s a different story.
Redmond Superintendent Mike McIntosh says requests are more evenly split between the district’s two high schools. "At Redmond High, we offer a CTE program that I think is among the best in the state, with respect to manufacturing, automotive technology. At Ridgeview High School, they’ve adopted a culinary program, video courses; a very different interest-set of kids. We see 25-30 kids want to go from Redmond to Ridgeview as freshmen, and we see 25-30 kids that want to go to Redmond from Ridgeview."
McIntosh tells KBND, "It’s been a very pleasant experience, as far as that transfer. We don’t see a lot of 10, 11 or 12th graders making the shift; it’s that ninth grade year, they choose that path and stick with it. We find that parents and kids who adopt a school, love it."
He says all requests were accommodated, unlike at Bend High.
RICHLAND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown invoked the emergency conflagration act in response to the Dry Gulch Fire burning in Baker County. At the time of the declaration, the fire had grown to more than 12,000 acres and threatened about 275 homes.
Cory Grogan with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management tells KBND, "The declaration authorizes the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal to mobilize firefighters and equipment to assist local resources battling the fire."
The fire was first spotted Saturday afternoon. As of late Monday, the Dry Gulch Fire was 20% contained at nearly 18,000 acres.
BEND, OR -- Veterans advocates hope a weekend golf event will raise awareness and money for a suicide prevention program. Matt Bassitt helped organize the two-day Scotch Golf Tournament as a fundraiser for local vets struggling with suicidal thoughts. He tells KBND, "There are 22 suicides each day, 8,000 suicides each year by veterans dealing with PTSD. It gets talked about, people thank their veterans often and Central Oregon has a great community for helping out with our veterans. But, the issue with PTSD sometimes get swept under the rug."
Money raised during this weekend's tournament will go toward sending local veterans to Malibu to attend a PTSD and suicide prevention program offered through Save A Warrior. "They’re doing some amazing things. They have a 100% success, every person that they’ve put through this program is alive today; and they’re thriving. It’s really powerful. The Scotch is raising the funds to allocate with local veterans in Central Oregon to put them through this course and obviously save their lives, which helps their families, their communities as a whole. We really just want to do what we can to help these guys that have given so much already." Bassitt adds, "So many are really dealing with some strong and powerful things with this PTSD. So, we really just want to send through as many as we can, obviously. Raise funds, raise awareness and really give them real help because that seems to be the hardest thing to find." He says it costs $2500 per veteran, plus airfare.
kicks off Friday at Tetherow, and Bassitt expects it will become an annual event. Bassitt hopes to turn it into an annual fundraiser for Save A Warrior.
To hear more of our conversation with Matt Bassitt, visit our Podcast Page
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Commissioner Seth Crawford is running for County Judge in 2016. He has served as a Commissioner for four years. Now he wants to step up to the top administrative position in Crook County, currently held by Mike McCabe, who is not seeking re-election. Crawford filed for the position last week.
“My priorities are jobs, long-term budget planning, transparency and maintaining our quality of life. I believe those are the priorities of the people of Crook County and I think serving as judge puts me in a better position to implement these plans," he tells KBND News.
“I would say Apple and Facebook have been great additions to your community, but locally-owned businesses are our lifeblood. What we need to focus on are programs that help our community that don’t cost a lot of money."
Crawford is currently a realtor in Prineville. County Judge and Commissioners are non-partisan positions.
BEND, OR -- An unoccupied home on Saddleback Lane suffered 15-thousand dollars in fire damage, late Sunday night. Fire crews responded to the northwest Bend house just after 11 p.m. and were able to stop the fire from spreading beyond the garage.
Investigators say the fire began when the main power supply to the house failed inside an exterior wall.
Fire officials credit a quick-thinking neighbor with saving the house from further damage.
RICHLAND, OR -- A new wildfire in eastern Oregon was spotted Saturday afternoon and has quickly grown to more than 13,000 acres. The Dry Gulch Fire is burning seven miles northwest of Richland, east of Baker City.
Evacuations have been ordered for a number of residents and campgrounds in the area. The cause of the wildfire is under investigation.
BEND, OR -- Two men are accused of attempted murder, in connection with Friday's early morning gunfire near southeast fourth and Reed Market Rd. According to Bend Police, 24-year-old Luis Campos and 26-year-old Peter Dupuis got into a fight with four others in the area.
Campos allegedly tried to use his SUV as a weapon, backing toward the group. No one was hurt, but he did hit a post. The two left the area but investigators say they returned a short time later and fired multiple rounds at a home and fence. A shotgun and 9 mm handgun were recovered during the investigation.
Campos and Dupuis face a long list of charges, including attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and hit and run.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man is accused of assaulting two women, Thursday night. The victims called 911 saying one had been sexually assaulted and both had been attacked with a baseball bat. According to Bend Police, Dispatchers could hear an altercation during the 911 call, and cell phone data allowed officers to obtain GPS coordinates and contacted the women near NE High Desert Ct. and High Desert Lane.
Within 10 minutes of the call, an officer located the suspect vehicle and 22-year-old Jose Escobedo-Preciado was taken into custody without incident.
Investigators say the suspect did not know the women prior to that day. They met through a mutual friend and had spent a portion of the day with a group of friends. After consuming alcohol, Escobedo-Preciado allegedly drove the two women to the area where the assault occurred. He is accused of sexually assaulting one victim while the other slept in the backseat. The sleeping woman awoke and an altercation ensued.
He is charged with Rape I, two counts of Assault 2, Strangulation, Sexual Abuse I, Menacing, two counts of Reckless Endangering, two counts of Unlawful Use/Carry of a Weapon, DUII and Assault IV.
SALEM, OR -- After a number of notable Republicans announced in recent weeks they won't run for Governor, Salem doctor Bud Pierce says he's throwing his hat in the ring.
Pierce tells KBND, "I'm aiming to get the agencies of government to work cooperatively with the private sector to allow the private sector to grow and expand, and create better job opportunities for workers."
Pierce is an Oncologist, and drew heavily on his medical experience when explaining his qualifications during Thursday's campaign announcement. He is the only Republican to officially announce a 2016 Gubernatorial run.
Governor Kate Brown has not yet said publicly whether she will run.
LA PINE, OR -- Madras and La Pine join the more than a dozen cities and counties imposing moratoriums on recreational pot sales. State Legislators allowed communities to decide whether to opt out of allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell the drug recreationally, when early sales become legal October first.
La Pine City Councilors voted unanimously this week to not allow early sales, but City Manager Rick Allen says they are leaving the door open to decide later whether to send a permanent ban to voters. "At least half of the Council does want to put that to a vote next November of '16; however, that decision has not been made. We have a new Councilor coming on, so let's not leap out to that yet."
Allen tells KBND, "We have two operating medical marijuana dispensaries that Council put rules in place to allow those; those continue. It is simply the early sales of recreational marijuana. The Council wants more time to think about and to figure out what our rules will be, 'time, place and manner.' And, once all of those things come together, we can vote on this again at some point." If the city decides to send the issue to voters, it would appear on the November 2016 ballot. He says a lot is expected to change over the next several months, with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, Legislature and Oregon Health Authority all still working on rules. "Believe me, this is a moving target. I think it's probably what happened with prohibition; I don't know that. But, I think it's just grappling with all of the moving parts for an issue that has lots of emotions and lots of feelings on all sides. Government tends to struggle with social issues that haven't yet been well-defined. And, that's kind of what's causing, I think, the rub on both sides."
In Madras, City Councilors took a slightly different track. Councilors voted to impose a temporary ban, prohibiting early recreational pot sales at dispensaries. With Councilors split over sending a ban to the ballot, Mayor Royce Embanks was the deciding vote. "Basically, we decided that we wanted to bring it to the voters. We didn't do anything to medical marijuana. But, we did decide that recreational marijuana should be brought to voters again." It will appear on the November 2016 ballot.
Like La Pine, Embanks says things are still changing. "Between now and when this vote takes place, there's a lot of things that can change. We may find ourselves six months to a year down the road, where this is a whole different scenario altogether. I think it leaves that option open. Plus, if you go to the voters, people will have a chance to mobilize people on their behalf, get people registered. And, it'll actually increase the vote, I'm thinking; and I'm all for everybody voting."
Mayor Embanks adds, "This is a moving target; we just really don't have any idea where we're going to end up. We certainly hope that OLCC and the Legislature really think this out and make some good decisions and not just slam stuff together out of expediency."
REDMOND, OR -- Flags are flying at half-staff today in remembrance of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. It was 14 years ago that more than 3,000 were killed when terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field.
Governor Kate Brown ordered flags lowered at all public institutions in the state, from sunrise to sunset. Brown asks all Oregonians to join her to honor those who lost their lives in the attacks and those who answered the call to serve in the days and years that followed.
The city of Redmond honored the day with flag-lined streets. More than 1400 flags are out along downtown's main corridors, thanks to efforts by the Redmond Fire Department, Police Department and a number of other volunteers.
Schools throughout the High Desert commemorated the day with numerous events, many observing a moment of silence, Friday morning.
BEND, OR -- Bend Senior High School is suddenly bursting at the seams, with a record number of incoming freshmen. Principal Christopher Reece tells KBND at 505, this year’s freshman class is about 20% larger than a typical year. "We knew this was going to be a large freshman class. Part of it was after they did the boundary changes for the new elementary and middle school, we saw that our freshman numbers were going to be large. And, we also have a large portion of our freshman on an area-change request from other high schools."
He believes the large number of in-district transfer requests is because families are attracted to the school's culture. "Students feel accepted, there’s a trust level there. It is a large class; our hallways are filled. But, we manage because we’re Bend High and that’s what we do, and we absolutely love this place. When kids come here, they feel that excitement." He says Career and Technical Education offerings – like Culinary, Engineering and Automotive – also attract students from area high schools. Officials have had to deny a number of transfer requests that came in after the March deadline due to the school’s current population.
Reece admits with total enrollment at about 1765, Bend Senior High is crowded, but the student body and staff take it in stride. "I have an absolutely phenomenal staff and we have just great upper classmen; our senior class, junior class, our sophomore class, they set the tone for the rest of the school. They’re really good role models. We pride ourselves on not only teaching academics, which we do, but also character. They help mold the culture of our school."
BEND, OR -- Fire season may be winding down but it’s certainly not over, yet. Deschutes County has so far avoided a catastrophic wildfire this year, but Emergency Manager Nathan Garibay was still heavily involved elsewhere. "We responded to both Baker and Grant counties to assist them with the emergency response capability coordination, and then help to try and transition those communities, with obviously the huge help of the Red Cross and other community partners into a recovery mode. My role is that of a coordination role to ensure that the emergency responders, the different agencies and organization that come to bare on a significant event; ensuring that they can communicate, that they can work together, that they understand each other’s missions and roles."
Lisa Stroup, Executive Director of our local Red Cross Chapter
, also spent the summer helping those impacted by fires across Central and Eastern Oregon. She tells KBND she saw first hand how preparedness efforts
pay off. "The folks that understood what 'ready, set go, Level 1, level 2, level 3' meant, those folks were ahead of the game. They had their pets planned for, they had their documents, they knew what they were leaving, they had their car full of gas. They knew when the Sheriff showed up and said 'level 1, level 2, level 3' what that meant for their family. The folks that didn’t know that, it puts them in danger"
And, she says although evacuation orders have been lifted, the work of the Red Cross is not yet finished. "So then, you’re looking at bulk distribution as people return to their homes, and start to look at things. What do they need? Gloves, shovels, ash-sifters, water, maybe someone on the scene in case they fall and cut themselves, or they need some emotional support. And then from there, we’ll move into casework and assistance."
To hear our full conversation with DCSO Emergency Mgr. Nathan Garibay and Red Cross Director Lisa Stroup, visit our Podcast page
Oregon’s largest wildfire of the season was in Grant County; the Canyon Creek Complex destroyed more than 40 homes. It has burned more than 110,000 acres and is now 87% contained. In Baker County, the Eagle Complex is 75% contained at 12,763 acres. And, Central Oregon’s largest fire – County Line 2 – burned over 67,000 acres near Warm Springs; it’s nearly 100% contained.
TUMALO FALLS, OR -- The vandalism case at Tumalo Falls that garnered a lot of social media attention, last spring, is reportedly settled.
Read more on the Tumalo Falls Vandals incident and media attention.
The U.S. Forest Service investigated the incident and issued a federal ticket. A fine was assessed and USFS officials say funds were received to repair the damaged railing.
Read more on the Vandalism Investigation.
The citation is now considered resolved and no other information will be released.
--- UPDATE ---
The U.S. Attorney's Office released the name of the man who was fined, after pressure from the media. Initially the office refused to release his name, how much he was fined or what he paid in restitution. The Oregonian pressed the Central Violations Bureau for records of the citation. Scott G. Duke was ticketed for aiding and abetting damaging any natural feature or property of the United States. The agency redacted Duke's age and state of residence.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Sheriff's Deputies and Bend fire responded to a reported explosion off of Brookswood Blvd, early Friday morning. When fire crews arrived at Lone Cow Drive, just before 3:30 a.m., they found a travel trailer engulfed in flames.
One man was reportedly critically injured and may have been inside the RV at the time of the explosion; he was taken to St. Charles Bend.
According to fire investigators, the cause of the blast was a propane leak. The occupants had just moved into the 1978 trailer and didn't realize a gas line was not properly capped when a fridge was removed. They started the cook top this morning, and propane filled the trailer until it reached an explosive level.
Bend Fire reminds RV owners to inspect fuel systems regularly. And, if the trailer is new to you, ensure all connections are tight and there are no open ends.
BEND, OR -- Families receiving assistance through the state’s WIC program will see big changes to how they receive their benefits in the coming months. "Historically, for the past 40+ years, clients have gotten vouchers – they’re giant checks that they use in the grocery store to purchase the foods that are allowed on WIC. In Linn and Benton counties in September, they’re piloting a program so clients can use an EBT card," says Laura Spalding, WIC Coordinator for Deschutes County.
She tells KBND the switch to a debit-style card will streamline the process for families receiving benefits, similar to how food stamps are distributed through the Oregon Trail Card. "The Oregon Trail card provides a dollar amount, so people have more flexibility in what they can buy. But, with the EBT card through WIC, the foods still remain the same; clients will still be getting milk, juice, cheese, eggs, peanut butter, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, all those things are still going to be what they can purchase. They can just purchase it a little more easily."
"They won’t have to separate their foods out anymore, they don’t have to buy everything all at once; they can go in for one gallon of milk and just swipe their card. And, the biggest thing is, clients feel bad when they’re standing in the store. Some of them go really late at night, like at 11:00, in order to not hold up the line. I don’t think anybody should ever have to feel bad about feeding their families," Spalding says.
The new WIC cards should roll-out locally by February and will reload automatically each month, as long as the client remains eligible for benefits. WIC provides certain foods and nutrition education for low-income women, infants and children who qualify.
BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) Team arrested five people in connection with illegal drug activity at a home off Brosterhous Rd in Bend. The arrests cap a two-month investigation into the trafficking of heroin and methamphetamine, allegedly by the occupants of the home.
A number of citizens notified law enforcement that suspicious activity was seen at the home. Evidence seized during a search of the property include user amounts of meth and heroin, drug paraphernalia and other evidence of sales, distribution and manufacturing of drugs.
Four of those arrested were from Bend: 32-year-old Zachary Dickson, 36-year-old Steven Breaux, 31-year-old Elicia Katz and 30-year-old Jenna Olmsted. Also arrested, 29-year-old Arturo Torres of Garden Grove, California.
Zachary Dickson Steve Breaux
Elicia Katz Jenna Zetsche (aka Jenna Olmsted)
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police have released more information on Wednesday's string of car break-ins. Officers first responded to the 2500 block of NW Cedar just after midnight, Wednesday morning, after a resident reported a suspicious person on the front porch of a house. About 10 minutes later, just a couple of blocks away, at least three kids were chased off after multiple car alarms sounded.
After multiple search efforts, one with a K-9 unit, five teens were arrested, ranging from 13- to 19-years-old. They face a variety of charges, including violating curfew, theft, unlawful possession of marijuana and unlawful entry into a motor vehicle.
The only adult, 19-year-old Ian Davies, is also charged with theft of a firearm.
Investigators discovered stolen property from dozens of victims, inside a tent on Cedar avenue. They credit tips from the public for helping track down and return property to some of the victims.
Over 100 items are still in police custody. Investigators hope victims will identify property so it can be returned.
PORTLAND, OR -- A Bend plumber pled guilty to tax evasion in federal court Tuesday, and faces possible prison time. Gary Ford, owner of Summit Plumbing, admitted that he failed to report more than $1.6 million of income on his federal tax returns from 2006 to 2009.
The 55-year-old Bend man also said he was solely responsible for his personal business financial records and prepared and filed the tax returns, himself.
Sentencing is set for January 5, 2016. Ford faces up to three years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
BEND, OR -- With kids back in school this week, local law enforcement is asking drivers to remember to slow down in School Zones. Bend Police Chief Jim Porter tells KBND increased traffic patrols are less about issuing tickets and more about changing behaviors. "We will be a much higher presence in School Zones. We ask that folks take just a few extra minutes and slow down as you go; try to avoid sending that last text message; avoid picking up that cell phone when it rings."
Chief Porter says it’s easy to get frustrated in school congestion, but it’s important to allow extra time to slow down. "We go through summer when we’re allowed to drive pretty much freely, except for the high traffic flow we’ve seen this summer. Then all of a sudden, we’re clamped down with restrictions, and it’s not unusual for us to get impatient. You know, we’re all human; we all get up late at least once a week." He adds, "If you’re traveling at 20 MPH, as the school zones are posted, it’s going to give you adequate stopping time, if you’re paying attention to what you’re doing. And, quite frankly, pedestrians who are hit at 20 MPH have a very high survival rate, almost up in the 90 percentile. As opposed to, once you go up to 30 MPH and you hit a pedestrian, they have about a 50/50 chance of surviving. Once you hit 40 and hit a pedestrian, they have less than a 10% chance of survival."
He also suggests teaching kids basic traffic rules so they stay safe when walking to and from school.
CULTUS LAKE, OR -- A Portland man hiking near Cultus Lake over the weekend suffered a medical emergency Tuesday morning and was rescued by Deschutes County Search and Rescue Teams.
According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, 34-year-old Christopher Ray contacted his wife Sunday saying he expected to finish his hike early and would be home by Monday. She called the Sheriff’s Office Tuesday after she didn’t hear from him.
Ray is an experienced hiker who was reportedly dressed appropriately and prepared for the conditions.
Lane County deputies were brought in to assist in the search, his cell phone was pinged and a DCSO SAR team on horseback found Ray south of Muskrat Lake on the Winopee Lake Trail. He was receiving help from other hikers but needed immediate medical attention.
Ray was taken to a waiting helicopter at Cultus Lake and was transported to St. Charles Bend.
BEND, OR -- The Brookswood Roundabout project in Southwest Bend led to the installation of two temporary stop signs at the intersection of Brookswood Blvd and Baker Rd, creating a three-way stop. Now that the roundabout is open, many drivers want the interim stop signs to remain.
Deschutes County Roads Supervisor Chris Doty tells KBND they are considering the idea. “We have had some positive feedback from drivers in the area. They’ve asked us to keep it in place. And so what we’ve promised back to them is that once the roundabout project was opened and traffic is normalized once again back to it’s original flow, we would go ahead and conduct an analysis of the intersection to determine if it is a good idea to keep it in place or return it back to it’s original configuration.”
Doty adds, “What we’ll do is count the traffic and use traffic engineering warrants to determine if it’s a good idea or a bad idea just based on the engineering conditions to keep it as an all-way stop or return it back to an existing single-leg stop configuration.”
Public comment is being accepted at the Deschutes County Road Department. The traffic analysis should be completed by September 18, at which time the county will announce its decision.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are asking for the public's help in tracking down potentially dozens of theft victims. Officers responded to SW 25th and Antler early Wednesday morning, where multiple car alarms were sounding and kids were seen running from the area.
One juvenile was arrested immediately, two others were taken into custody in the Remington Arms mobile home park, and two more were tracked by K-9 and arrested nearby.
Investigators believe as many as 50 vehicles were entered overnight. Police recovered property including a firearm, purses and money. They're asking anyone who lives in the area between Redmond High and NW Hemlock to report if a vehicle was broken into, so they can return property to its rightful owner.
SALEM, OR -- Governor Kate Brown began the release of some of former Governor John Kitzhaber’s emails on Tuesday.
Brown's Communications Director Kristin Grainger says the release was in response to a number of public records requests from media and the public, and, "Related to some of former Governor John Kitzhaber's interactions with state agency staff since 2011."
Grainger says 5,000 emails to and from Kitzhaber, totaling more than 18,000 pages, were released. "The prior Governor had a Gmail account that forwarded to a state server that served as his official, one of his accounts for official state business."
Kitzhaber resigned in February, during an investigation of the role his girlfriend, Cylvia Hayes, had in state government.
BEND, OR -- Four affordable housing projects are slated to get underway in Bend. The City Council last week gave the nod to $900,000 in loans to the projects.
Jim Long, the city's Affordable Housing Manager, told councilors the committee carefully considered a number of criteria before selecting which projects to help fund. "There are four very good projects in there. The committee really parsed through these [applications] this year pretty hard and they were basically looking for two things: those that could get on the ground fastest and those that could get the most units up."
Housing Works plans to build two homes; Habitat For Humanity expects to purchase one lot to build on; private developer Steven Rzonca is set to build seven units near downtown Bend; and, Pacific Crest is slated to build a 48-unit apartment complex on Bend's west side.
Councilor Victor Chudowsky is especially excited about the Pacific Crest Project. "I'm just happy to see the largest one is on the west side. I've been hearing more and more things from people that we expand only to the east side, in terms of the UGB because supposedly housing is cheaper over there. I'm glad to see this 48-unit project coming up on the west side. It shows that we can build affordable housing anywhere throughout the city."
The funds come from a fee the city levies through building permits. Loans are often no- or low-interest.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond firefighters responded to a brush fire on SW 61st St. Monday afternoon, and found the remnants of a building that burned in 2013, on fire again.
This time, the fire spread to about 100 feet of grass and brush, and was quickly extinguished by fire crews, just after 2 p.m.
Fire officials say crews had responded to the same location near Young Ave. on two prior reports of illegal burning. They remind everyone that outdoor burning is currently closed.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s 911 Board of Directors meets Tuesday, to discuss sending a new levy to voters, next year. 911 Director Steve Reinke says they still need to hammer out details, including which election to aim for, and exactly how much the service district needs. "The district has a permanent funding rate of only 16.18-cents per 1,000 that was established back when the district was created in 1988. Over the years, the district has had multiple operating levies every five years, in order to sustain our operations. What we’d like to do is basically, dissolve the old one and reconstitute the district as a new agency with a new higher permanent funding rate."
Reinke tells KBND a new state partnership should cover just over half of the $13 million needed for a new radio system. However, the district expects to ask for a levy to help fund the other $6 million. "It looks like about a third to half of the cost of the additional ask that we will be doing will be to cover our long-term operations, and the other half will be to operate and maintain this radio system in the long term. One of the best things about the partnership with the state is we aren’t on the hook for all of the maintenance costs. And, the other half would pay for building and maintaining a new radio system."
He says more money is needed to increase staffing, as well. "If you’re speaking with a dispatcher and you’re reporting a major event, he or she may be engaged in also trying to manage their field responders and what they’re doing and dispatching at the same time. So, we are going to, with this levy, be able to staff more dedicated call receivers so when people call, the person they’re talking to isn’t distracted or trying to two things at once; they can really focus on delivering that service level that we think people deserve."
The 911 Board will discuss levy details, including how much money to ask for and whether to send the request to voters in May or wait until November 2016. A final decision is expected by the end of October.
BEND, OR -- A string of burglaries in southeast Bend leads to the arrest of two men, over the weekend.
The first incident occurred late Thursday night, when officers discovered a broken door and missing money at Mutual Materials on Woodland Blvd. Early Friday morning, a similar incident was discovered at the Coffee and Snack Factory on SE 9th. Then there was Automotive Solutions on SE 9th, Vintage Rollers on SE Armour and Recording Studio on SE Armour.
Investigators identified 28-year-old Dan Hughes and 22-year-old Larry Clarke as suspects through surveillance footage. The two face burglary charges.
Hughes was cited in lieu of custody and the District Attorney is considering additional charges. Clarke is also accused of failing to register as a sex offender, violating probation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.
PAULINA, OR -- A Prineville bull rider was killed during the Paulina rodeo, Saturday afternoon. According to the Crook County Sheriff’s Office, 58-year-old Richard Wayne Perry was thrown from a bull and stepped on during competition.
Emergency responders were on-scene at the time of the incident and immediately began life-saving measures. However, after 45 minutes, Perry died of his injuries.
The rodeo was shut down for over an hour for what the sheriff’s office called a “tragic accident witnessed by family and friends.”
FRIDAY 4:30 P.M. UPDATE: City officials have lifted the boil water advisory. Water samples taken from various parts of La Pine show no signs of contamination.
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the crash off of Finley Butte Road, which caused the water main break and subsequent problems. Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call investigators through dispatch at 541-693-6911.
Thursday, 2 P.M.:
LA PINE, OR -- A suspected hit and run has shut off the water supply to the entire city of La Pine. City Manager Rick Allen says residents and businesses are urged to take immediate precautions. "We are under a boil water alert, so people need to boil water before they drink it or have bottled water. We’d like people to stop watering, basically conserve water all they can until we can get the full water system back up and operating."
Allen says, "There was a car accident, well basically, a hit and run at some point at our water supply a few miles east of La Pine. They hit a fire hydrant, which then broke our water main and they didn’t know it until someone went out there. La Pine only has one water main, one water source coming into the city. So, when that’s shut down, it impacts the entire city."
He says the boil order is likely to remain in effect for several days, while they test to make sure no contaminants made it into the system. "The greatest threat, of course, is when you have a break, dirt from around the water where the break is, things can get into the line so you can end up with a little color in your water. And, you just need people to be aware of that and make sure to boil water in case any contamination got in. We will, obviously, be doing a lot of testing on that over the next couple of days. And, we’ll notify people, when that threat is no longer out there."
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash, which occurred either Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
FRIDAY A.M. UPDATE: Water flow has been restored, however users are asked to continue boiling any drinking water - including for cooking, brushing teeth, cleaning food, etc.
BEND, OR -- A massive vinyl water slide will shutdown College Way in northwest Bend on Saturday, although the weather has many questioning how many will come out to participate in the much-anticipated Slide the City.
Initially, city officials denied the permit request by event organizers. City Manager Eric King says they were trying to be mindful of drought conditions. "Their use of water in their initial application was very excessive, how that water was going to be disposed of violated city code. We have very specific criteria we look at. It’s not necessarily ‘we like this, or we don’t like it.’ It was just being consistent with our code." King tells KBND slide organizers plan to recycle the water, which was not in its initial permit application.
The 1000' vinyl water slide will close one of Bend's most highly traveled hills, to allow participants to slide down College Way, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
With unseasonably fall-like weather this week, Saturday's forecast calls for sunshine with highs in the mid-60s.
REDMOND, OR -- Officials with the Redmond School District is warning families a new website, RedmondPanthers.com, does not belong to the district. Kelly Jenkins tells KBND, "This is not a website that we've contracted or a service that we have procured. It is a site that just came to our attention recently and was built by a third party. We can't even get ahold of them by mail, we have only email accounts and one phone number."
The creator of the site also purchased domains for the Bend Lava Bears and Sisters Outlaws. Jenkins says, "We encourage folks not to put any personal information on these websites or visit them or enter any personal information on the 'Contact Us' page, as well. We just want folks to be aware that this is not a school district or school sponsored site. It is a site that has been launched by someone claiming to be a representative of Redmond High School."
Redmond High's athletic department is included on the school's website and does not have a separate domain name. Click HERE to access the legitimate Redmond Panthers Athletics website.
SISTERS, OR -- A Wilsonville woman was killed in a crash that shut down Santiam Pass for several hours, Thursday afternoon.
According to Oregon State Police investigators, 32-year-old Camille Nelson was westbound on Highway 20 when she crossed the center line and crashed into a Eugene School bus. Nelson was pronounced dead at the scene.
The 43 people on-board the school bus, from the Sheldon High School soccer team, reported a couple of minor injuries. The Sisters School District transported the team to Sisters Middle School where counselors were made available.
OSP reports wet roads at the time of the crash, although the cause remains under investigation.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Sheriff's Office has arrested a Prineville man in connection with a fatal shooting, early Thursday morning.
Deputies discovered the body of 39-year-old James Scott of Christmas Valley, inside a vehicle on SE Davis Loop, at around 5 a.m., Thursday. He died from a gunshot wound.
They say 25-year-old Michael Donovan is responsible for the shooting. He's charged with murder, attempted murder and unlawful use of a weapon. He was booked into the jail just after 4 p.m. and denied bail.
The investigation is ongoing as law enforcement examine multiple crime scenes.
TERREBONNE, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue assisted an injured New Zealand climber at Smith Rock State Park, Thursday afternoon.
The Sheriff's Office says 61-year-old Peter Kettering fell about 15 feet and suffered ankle injuries. Two SAR teams and nine volunteers helped remove Kettering from the scene near Asterisk Pass.
He was taken to St. Charles Medical Center in Redmond.
SISTERS, OR -- A Sisters woman has been fined $140,000 by the state for violating securities law and duping 12 people out of $700,000. The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services also issued a cease and desist order against Rebecca Castle.
Jake Sunderland, with the Department, tells KBND Castle targeted close friends to invest in companies, promising big returns. "Basically, she was convincing investors, typically friends or other people close to her, to put money into a variety of businesses, including feature film projects, exercise equipment, suntan lotion businesses." Sunderland says the businesses either did not exist or were financially unsuccessful. "The money was just going to fund her lifestyle. She was spending investor money on personal expenses, international travel, jewelry, spa treatment, plastic surgery, used the money to purchase things for her two kids and their significant others. And, she even used the investor funds to pay the other investors."
"She went by Rebecca Castle and she was also known as Rebecca Goins. She had a number of businesses that she was soliciting investments in, including Blue Castle Films, LLC. There was also One For All, LLC; RebL, LLC; Castle Rock Ventures, which was a Nevada corporation. Basically what she was doing was, she was soliciting investment into these businesses, taking the investment money and using it to fund her lifestyle and to pay other investors," Sunderland says. And, there could be more victims. "Give the Division of Finance and Corporate Securities a call as soon as possible. Our number is 866-814-9710. If you've invested any money with Ms. Castle or have any information about her, we'd really like to hear from you."
Sunderland says, "This final order, by default, is the final order for the Division until she is taken into custody and she has the chance to go to trial." Castle was indicted in Deschutes County last year, on charges of theft by deception and first-degree aggravated theft.
Photo courtesy: Castlescams.com
BEND, OR -- They were dancing in the streets - almost literally - in southwest Bend Thursday afternoon, celebrating the opening of the new Brookswood Roundabout. The project blocked Brookswood Boulevard all summer long.
Peter Murphy of the Oregon Department of Transportation was at yesterday’s celebration and told KBND News ODOT had hoped the project would be done by the time school started. “So here we are, Thursday afternoon, four o-clock and it’s open. We said it would be open by the time schools starts, and by gosh, we’re even ahead of that schedule.”
He added, “Getting this roundabout open is just part of the bigger project, getting the Murphy Extension back across to the other side of town. Collectively, it’s all about trying to open up this part of town a little bit and making it better for people to get across town.”
The next phase, constructing the Murphy Road extension from Brookswood to Highway 97, should be completed by mid-October.
SISTERS, OR -- Oregon State Police, Black Butte Police and Fire, Sisters Fire and ODOT are on-scene of a fatal crash involving a school bus and a passenger vehicle on Highway 20, just east of the Santiam Junction and about two miles west of the summit.
First responders report the driver of the car is deceased. Both directions of Highway 20 are blocked and drivers should expect lengthy delays.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Sheriff's Office and Central Oregon Major Crimes Team are investigating an early morning fatal shooting.
Investigators are releasing very little information, but did confirm a man was found dead inside a vehicle on SE Davis Loop, south of Prineville. Initial reports of a shooting came into 911 just after 4:30, this morning.
The investigation is ongoing, and deputies have shut down Davis Loop from Tumbleweed to Cayuse and no traffic is allowed through the area until further notice.
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond School District has launched a sudden recruitment effort for school bus drivers. "This just happened last week, so it just hit me like a brick wall. This is a little unusual for this to happen right at the beginning of the school year," says Transportation Supervisor Michelle Rainville. She tells KBND the loss of five drivers in the past couple of weeks won't impact regular school routes. "But, being shorthanded limits what we can do for athletics and field trips and emergency circumstances. Right now, I have five regular driver positions open. We do need school bus monitors as well, for our special needs routes."
While it's not unusual for school districts to see high turnover within their driver pool, due to the nature of shifts, Rainville says this time was a perfect storm of resignations. "Someone’s moving and someone’s retiring, it all kind of just hit us. We were just looking for substitute drivers over the summer, but I didn’t have any applicants. So, we weren’t doing any training really over the summer that would’ve put us in a better position having these people resign so soon."
Superintendent Mike McIntosh says, "Our bus drivers are, if not the most critical, certainly one of the most critical positions we have. Besides maintaining the physical piece- between the lines, and going up and down the road and stopping at the right time without throwing kids out of their seat – but a bus drivers job is bigger than that. They’re the first person from our district they see and the last person they see in the afternoon. So, how they greet kids and how they interact with kids and families is paramount."
The district is offering salary advancement and a $500 bonus after 90-days, as an incentive for new regular employees. Click HERE
for more information.
MADRAS, OR -- Madras voters may get the final say in whether recreational marijuana businesses will be allowed to open in the city. Mayor Royce Embanks says about 60% of those who spoke at this week’s town hall favor a ban, but the Council hasn’t yet made a final decision. "Most of the councilors want to be better educated, so some have already gone to some of the medical dispensaries – one in Bend, and one here in Madras. And, I think they were even going to visit a grower’s site. So, we want to be better educated in this because it is a big decision."
Because 56% of Jefferson County voted against Measure 91 in November, HB 3400 allows the city to impose a ban on pot businesses. But, Madras Mayor Royce Embanks believes Councilors are leaning toward sending the issue back to voters. "I really think it’s because we want the voters to make this decision; it’s their city and they need to weigh in on it. There’s very seldom that cities have the option to decide what laws or what ordinances from the state- to decide if they want to keep them or not." He tells KBND, "This is almost like a once in a lifetime chance. The state has offered us this opportunity. And so, I think people are really leaning toward that to say ‘we’re not the same as the Willamette Valley.’ There really is an emotion and a feeling that Willamette Valley dictates what all of us in the rest of the state have to live with."
Councilors can choose to impose a ban, allow the businesses or send the question to voters. Public comment will be accepted at City Hall through Monday. They are expected to discuss the issue at their regular Council meeting on Tuesday, September 8. But, Embanks says a final decision could be pushed to their September 22 meeting.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man was arrested Wednesday night, after allegedly trying to avoid a traffic ticket. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy tried to stop a car after it ran a stop sign in northeast Bend, but the driver sped off.
The pursuit was discontinued when the vehicle entered the St. Charles hospital parking lot. About a minute later, the deputy spotted the car abandoned in the lot and witnesses reported seeing a man and woman running away.
Bend Police caught up with the two suspects north of Ensworth Elementary. Police arrested 20-year old Kenneth Eyle; the female passenger was questioned and released.
SISTERS, OR -- Two teens have been arrested in connection with an early Sunday morning burglary in Sisters. Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office investigators believe 18-year-old Jacob Glatz, of Sisters, and a 16-year-old accomplice broke into the home on Lasso Street, but fled when the homeowner woke up. They left behind a mountain bike.
Read more on the Lasso St. burglary.
Detectives say the pair are also responsible for a burglary on East Horse Back Trail in Sisters last Thursday.
Glatz was booked into the jail last night (Wed), the 16-year-old was taken to Juvenile Detention.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Pope Francis will address Congress on September 24, and Andrew Malcolm, with Congressman Greg Walden’s office, says it will be an historic event. "The visit of Pope Francis to the U.S. Capitol, which is the first time a Pope has ever visited the Capitol and addressed the Congress, will be historic for our nation."
Rep. Walden's office has been allocated a limited number of tickets so that Oregonians can participate in the event. "If you are a resident of the Second Congressional District, in Southern, Central or Eastern Oregon, and are interested in requesting tickets, you can visit Congressman Walden's website," Malcolm says.
Ticket-holders will watch the Pope’s address via a live broadcast in a location on West Front of the U.S. Capitol. You’ll be responsible for your own travel, lodging and other trip expenses.
BEND, OR -- The last World War II veterans from east of the Cascades will travel to the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC in a couple of weeks. Over the past five years, the Bend Heroes Foundation has sponsored 240 veterans on the trips.
Yvonne Drury, Vice President of the foundation, says WWII vets are now in their 90s. The group has offered all of them in eastern and Central Oregon the opportunity to go. "It's really important because I know all these guys, they changed the world, they saved the world from tyranny. 70 years has gone by, and they just came home, went to work and raised their families and didn't say another word about it. But now, it's really nice for them to see their memorial, which wasn't even built until 2005."
Drury took her first trip with her 96-year-old father in 2001. "It's life changing for them, it's life changing for their family members that go along with them, and it's life changing for all of us volunteers who have worked on it. I just am overwhelmed when I stop and think, even though I've been on two trips. I can still get tears in my eyes when I see things about honoring the veterans and remembering what they did."
The final Honor Flight for local vets will be September 16. Veterans visit different war memorials in the nation's capitol and meet with Oregon's Congressional delegation during the four-day trip.
BEND, OR -- As construction continues at Chandler Ave. and Mt. Washington Drive, the group opposing the OSU-Cascades west side expansion in Bend continues to call for a halt to the project.
The Bend City Council and state Land Use Board (LUBA) both have approved the west side location. Tracy Pfiffner with Truth in Site tells KBND, "It’s currently at the Court of Appeals. There was a hearing on August 26 and we’re waiting to hear back what the results will be."
She says most Central Oregonians don’t support the current plan and the group will continue their fight. "Even if the Court of Appeals does not rule in Truth in Site’s favor, it’s not an endorsement that this is a well thought out plan or that it has community-wide support. I can tell you that we have launched a petition and over a thousand people have signed it asking OSU to cease development and to push the pause button and to rethink other sites in and around Bend."
Jane Teater, with Now for Bend
, says any pause could be devastating to the region. "If we were to delay this, we could very likely lose funding from the Legislature; as well as, Oregon State University could decide that they’re just not going to invest in this community. So in a lot of ways, it’s a very, very real possibility; it’s not an empty threat." Now For Bend is a grassroots effort supporting the expansion of OSU-Cascades.
The Court of Appeals decision is not expected for at least several more weeks. To hear our full conversation with Tracy Pfiffner and Jane Teater, visit our Podcast page
BEND, OR -- With cooler temperatures and a holiday weekend ahead, some campers are anxious for fire restrictions to lift in area forests. Officials with the Willamette National Forest began allowing campfires in designated campgrounds, Tuesday. But, Jean Nelson Dean with the Deschutes National Forest tells KBND local conditions aren't changing anytime soon. "The west side got tremendous amounts of rain in certain areas, and apparently the Willamette got enough to pull back on their public use restrictions. That’s great for the people who want to go out Labor Day. But, unfortunately, here in Central Oregon, we still did not get much precipitation. We still have extremely dry fuels." She adds, "As we saw in the Cove Fire, things can really take off. We still have our full campfire ban. Essentially, what’s allowed is your traditional propane stove and that’s it."
Despite the possibility of precipitation this week, Nelson Dean says that won't be enough to lift bans for several more weeks, at least. "Essentially, we would need a fairly dramatic change, in terms of moisture, to make a change. I would not anticipate anything changing for Labor Day weekend. I know that not having campfires is a challenge for the kind of experience people want to have. But, if you really want to come back the forest and you really want to enjoy it in the future, it’s essential that people pay attention to this."
She suggests checking the website for the specific area where you plan to camp before heading out. Restrictions vary by jurisdictions and whether land is managed by the state or federal government.
LA PINE, OR -- The city of La Pine is considering a ban on recreational marijuana sales. City Councilors will decide whether to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational pot after October first. They will also decide whether to ask voters to ban recreational sales permanently.
La Pine Mayor Ken Mulenex called for the work session, which was held earlier this week. "Nothing at any time had been said or brought up about recreational marijuana and that's why I asked for a special council work session to gather information and start thinking about what our efforts needed to be to bring it to the public and have a clear understanding and then take a vote one way or the other."
Mulenex tells KBND he's still undecided on the issue. "I look at the several issues around it: public safety, substance abuse and what the voters spoke before. Those are some of the things I have to come to grips with as we approach making some decisions about this."
The City Council will meet again September 9 to discuss how to proceed. Mayor Mulenex says, "It may be that we hear enough testimony that we need to have another meeting, or another discussion about it. But, it's very likely it could be voted on at our next meeting."
He says he's heard from a lot of people who want a ban. Councilors must decide on a moratorium within the month.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- After working in the legislature to create a specific tax structure for high-tech firms in Oregon, House Republican Leader Mike McClane (R-Powell Butte) is happy with Facebook's announcement that it will soon begin construction on a third data center in Prineville. “I’m very pleased. You know Prineville is an exceptional place to locate and do business. And we have wonderful opportunities for Facebook and Apple and other technology companies to hire some very talented and hard working folks. And that’s exactly what they’ve done in the past.”
Read more on the tax deferral granted by the city of Prineville and Crook County.
Rep. McLane tells KBND the project means more jobs. “The construction phase, on what will be their largest data center, is going to employ hundreds of construction workers, including a lot people from IBEW the electrical workers union which is fantastic. Those are great jobs. And they’re going to add, when its all done, to a permanent employment in Prineville that will certainly exceed 200 employees.” Facebook currently employs 147 people.
The facility's own Facebook page
says it loud and clear: "We have jobs open".
SISTERS, OR -- A Sisters resident awoke to find an intruder in their bedroom, early Sunday morning. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, the man ran when he realized the person was awake. One homeowner called 911 at about 2 a.m., while the other chased the suspect.
The homeowner reported seeing a second man waiting outside, but lost sight of the two in the dark. The intruder is described wearing grey pants and a black sweatshirt. The witness described the second suspect simply as male.
Deputies searched the area with the help of a Redmond Police K-9 unit, but were not able to find the two men. However, they seized a Novara Bonanza red and black mountain bike (pictured) left behind at the scene.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the DCSO Detectives Division at 541-617-3327.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville residents are being asked to help maintain clean air this winter. Planning Director Phil Stenbeck tells KBND the city has been instructed by the EPA and DEQ to reduce particulates in the air.
Monitors record about 12 days of unhealthy air in Prineville, between November and February, often caused by smoke from wood stove and yard debris burning. "We’ve looked at adding a free yard debris day during the winter-months. We also had an ordinance which allowed burning from 7 a.m. - 12 p.m. from Wednesday through Saturday. So, what we’ve done also is we’ve expanded the days. 'Dilution is the solution to pollution,' as they say. So, instead of that burning going on over four days, it’ll go on over seven." Stenbeck adds, "And then what we did was, we increased the hours during the day and shifted them a little later because what happens is, earlier in the morning it still gets trapped in the inversion. But, about 9 o’clock or so, around 10 o’clock then when you burn it lifts up in the atmosphere and it dilutes and it goes out and doesn’t have the same negative effect."
The city began an effort to help educate residents last month. He says another big contributor to reduced winter air quality is wood stove burning - a common heat source in the region. "And so, we’ve done outreach to several organizations. The Governor’s, what is called Community Regional Solutions Team has gotten involved. So, they’ve helped us reach out to the USDA, NeighborImpact. And the Gas Company has come forward with programs that help provide upgraded heating systems which, in theory, will reduce the amount of particulates that are released during the winter months." Stenbeck says many are already signing up for a program that provides financial assistance to those willing to trade out wood stoves for more efficient heating. City officials hope some homeowners will be able to upgrade heating systems by October, prior to cooler air moving into the area.
BEND, OR -- When student head back to class next week, many in Bend will walk the halls of a brand new school. Superintendent Shay Mikalson tells KBND opening Pacific Crest Middle School and Silver Rail Elementary helps balance enrollment. He says 28 out of the last 29 years have seen enrollment increases. "We’re a growing district. In the last 10 years, we’ve grown over 3,000 students, actually almost 4,000 students and continue to grow. Thanks to the support of voters in the 2013 bond, we’re able to balance some of those enrollments, specifically at the elementary and middle school. So those to come on and obviously those have impacted schools across our district."
Mikalson says about 17,000 students will head back to class next week, along with 1800 employees. "We anticipate almost 300 [new] students this year. I think our projections start to say another 3,000 over the next 10 years – that’s 120 new classrooms. While we’re building, we’re constantly looking forward; and in fact this year, we start that sites and facility visioning process forward again."
The public is invited to tour the two new schools, starting Wednesday. "Pacific Crest Middle School is having their ribbon cutting and dedication. That’s on the Westside over by Miller Elementary School. That’s at 4:30, open to the public. We’d love folks to be there, it’s a way for them to see what their support has done for our schools. You can get tours, meet the staff, there’s even a Bar-B-Q." Thursday, Silver Rail Elementary will hold its public dedication, beginning at 4 p.m. That school is near Brosterhous and American Lane. For more information, click HERE.
MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County and Madras residents voted against legalized pot during last November's election approving Measure 91, statewide. Now, the city of Madras wants to hear from citizens, whether to allow recreational cannabis sales inside the city.
Madras Mayor Royce Embank tells KBND they're holding a town hall meeting Tuesday evening, “In order to better serve our public here, what we’re asking for is input from our citizens. We wanted to have a town hall meeting and invite all of our voters and even people outside of the city to weigh in on what is their preference? What do they want to see?” He adds, “The city and county all voted against Measure 91. We want to see if that’s still their feeling given the information that they’ve had over time."
Tonight's town hall meeting takes place at council chambers from 6 to 9 p.m.
Madras allows medical marijuana dispensaries; there is currently one, with two more requesting permits.
Bend, OR -- Bend Police are warning bike owners of a rise in thefts, this summer. Lt. Clint Burleigh tells KBND, "In 2014, we had 127 reported thefts and this year we've had 147, which is about a 16% increase."
Burleigh isn't sure exactly why there has been a spike in Bend, but says, "A lot of times they become crimes of opportunity. Sometimes, you have people that find some kind of value in, when they steal a bike, if they can sell it or trade it illegally. So, it doesn't matter who it is; if it's there and they need it, they're going to take it."
He recommends bike owners invest in a decent lock and use it. He suggests registering your bike with the police department so it can easily be returned if it is stolen, and take pictures as documentation. "Even when we have bikes that are found by citizens that are called in as found property, we are tying a lot more of bikes to criminal or thefts cases. But, we are also seeing more cases resolved, not only by recovering the bike, but arresting the person with the bike."