REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Proficiency Academy will hold a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for its new middle school facility just two blocks from its existing building. The ceremony is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. at 150 SW 25th Street, at the corner of 25th and Antler. The public is invited.
RPA has tapped BBT Architects, of Bend, and Griffin Construction, of Prineville, to design the new 24,045 square foot facility.
The charter school's middle school is currently located at the former Hugh Hartman campus, owned by the Redmond School District. Redmond Schools Superintendent Mike McIntosh plans to convert the building into an early learning facility that would house all Redmond kindergarten classes, beginning fall of 2016.
In a media release, officials say this will be the first facility built and owned by RPA. It's expected to open August 2016.
LA PINE, OR -- La Pine firefighters quickly extinguished a blaze inside a large shop on Plainview Drive, Monday morning. Investigators say the owner had been working in the shop and was using a wood stove to keep warm in the zero-degree weather.
The fire began in the ceiling near the chimney and was spotted at about 8:45 a.m. by the resident of an attached apartment.
Fire officials say a separation wall helped confine the blaze to one portion of the building.
There were no injuries.
BEND, OR -- Bend residents have a chance to voice their opinions on a possible local gas tax, during a public hearing with the City Council, Monday evening. Councilors are considering putting the issue on the March ballot.
Councilor Sally Russell says the City Council and a citizens group have spent a lot of time studying the possibility. "We're not making that decision by ourselves. We're actually sending this decision to the voters. This decision is whether or not to take a fuel tax and put it on the ballot and ask the community 'is street funding enough of a priority that you would be willing to pay 5-cents a gallon, 7-cents a gallon or 10-cents a gallon or whatever it ends up?' We still have to work through that."
She says the one thing they all can agree on: Something must be done to fund $80 million in needed street repairs. "Everyone came to the conclusion that something had to happen; that this city really truly couldn't, within it's existing income structure and streams, put enough money aside to address this problem that's accelerating and increasing every year." She adds, "I think that everyone thinks that this is a really good first step and that it's something that we absolutely have to do, and we all recognize that it's all part of the larger puzzle. There are some other strategies that I think we'll pursue to hopefully identify additional income streams that don't add on to utility bills or property tax bills; or, we may have to go there."
Tonight's public hearing begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
REDMOND, OR -- A convicted sex offender, wanted for more than four years, was arrested over the weekend in Redmond. Michael McDonald allegedly tried to allude police on icy roads Saturday, but eventually crashed near the north Redmond Dutch Bros coffee stand.
McDonald failed to register as a sex offender over four years ago, and investigators believed he had fled the state.
The 60-year-old was arrested Saturday for reckless driving, resisting arrest and a number of other new charges, as well as outstanding warrants from Oregon and Arizona.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville police are looking for the man who robbed the Chevron on NW Third Street, early Sunday morning. Investigators say a white male entered the gas station at about 3 a.m., displayed a weapon and demanded cash. He walked out with an undisclosed amount of money and may have had a vehicle nearby.
He’s described as 5'9" to 6' tall with a large build. He had a dark beard and was wearing a heavy winter coat with a fur-lined hood.
Anyone with information is asked to call Prineville PD at 541-447-4168.
BEND, OR -- Gunfire broke out during a southeast Bend traffic stop, Friday night. Police continue to investigate the incident, which occurred at about 8:15 p.m., near Third and Badger Road.
Two men were in the car at the time, and one was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound.
Limited information has been released, but Bend Police officials say the officer on scene witnessed the incident and was not involved in the shooting.
BEND, OR -- Marijuana advocates are looking forward to a final decision by Deschutes County Commissioners on the fate of the pot industry in unincorporated areas. Business owner Hunter Neubauer was at Monday night’s contentious Planning Commission meeting. He’s happy with their recommendation to allow grow operations on land zoned for Exclusive Farm Use. "EFU is a very unique zone for Oregon, it’s made to farm on. I think we’re very fortunate in Oregon to have that; it protects farmland to make sure that it’s being used for the correct thing. We respect that, and we figured that that would be the most appropriate place to grow cannabis, which is now – as the Legislature states – an agricultural commodity."
Read more about Monday's heated meeting.
Some rural Deschutes County residents were upset over a perceived rise in water use. "At the end of the meeting, a couple of the Deschutes County Planning Commissioners finally spoke up and said that that may not be true, and if we really want to address water usage in Central Oregon, we need to look at alfalfa and horse hay and things like that, that do use quite a bit of water, much more than anything else," says Neubauer. He says marijuana grows typically use less water than other crops. "It’s a very conservative approach to farming. We’ve actually been designing a water conservation method to growing, where we use very little water and there is essentially no waste."
"There’s a lot of questions about ‘do cannabis owners and their farmers have water rights?’ I would say yes, and they need to be used appropriately. That’s a big part of the licensing process; so there’s a little bit of misinformation there," says Neubauer. "I think a lot of people don’t understand that you’ll have to show a water right to get a recreational commercial growing license."
Hear our full conversation with Hunter Neubauer at our Podcast Page
Deschutes County Commissioners will hold public hearings Wednesday, December 2 at 1:30 and 6 p.m. before making a final decision on regulations.
BEND, OR -- Thousands will flock to area stores over the next several days in search of the best Black Friday deals and Small Business Saturday specials. But, Bend Police Chief Jim Porter says it’s important to slow down and take a few simple precautions to protect your purchases. "People who want to commit thefts are no different than fishermen or hunters; they go where the game is. And the game is in our malls or our shopping blocks where people park; where people hurry. We walk off and leave our car unlocked, full of thousands of dollars worth of presents."
Chief Porter encourages, "People to be alert when you’re in parking areas. Look for things that don’t quite look right amongst the cars, when you get out. Look around your car, and make sure you lock it behind you. If you can, stow your presents in the trunk - 'out of sight is out of mind' for a thief."
And, precautions don't end in the parking lot. "Be vigilant and be accountable for your own purse, your own wallet, your own cards. How often do we get into a hurry because there’s a line behind us? We pack up our purse or wallet and we move on; we get to the car, the next place to go shopping – where the heck is my debit card?"
BEND, OR -- With temperatures dipping into the teens and single digits overnight, Bend homeless shelters are gearing up to be able to take in more people. Chris Clouart, with the Bethlehem Inn, tells KBND News they're already seeing more people. "What we're seeing is many of the people who are out in the camps or sleeping rough around town are coming in because they know it's not safe. The interesting part is, it's not so difficult to stay warm if temperatures are cold enough to prevent snow from melting. When the snow starts melting - when temperatures get to be 40 or 45-degrees - everything gets wet and it can get extremely dangerous."
The Bethlehem Inn and the Shepherd's House should be able to handle everyone who needs shelter, without pressing area churches into service. "We'll have as many as 22 additional spaces, that's above and beyond our bed space, for anybody to come in just to stay warm overnight. We refer to that as an emergency one-night intake," says Clouart. "That means somebody's not interested in becoming a part of the Bethlehem Inn, they're not willing to do a full residency here. All they're interested in is getting off the street and staying warm."
Clourat says the Inn is in need of sleeping bags, tarps and ice melt to keep the parking lot clear. Overnight lows are expected to remain in the single digits through early next week.
BEND, OR -- It’s an annual holiday tradition; the Oregon Student’s Public Interest Research Group’s (OSPIRG) list of dangerous toys.
OSPIRG's Brittany Cronin tells KBND News the "Trouble in Toyland" report addresses hazards found on toy shelves. “Some of the hazards that we found on store shelves in the past few months were toxic hazards, chokeable hazards, magnetic toys and excessively noisy toys.”
She says it's simple to check whether a toy poses a choking hazard. “Our advice for parents and toy shoppers actually is to use just a toilet paper roll. It’s bigger than the test, so you know you’re being extra safe. And then if the toy or a piece of a toy fits inside of a toilet paper roll that toy is unsuitable for children under the age of three.”
Toys on the "Trouble" list include Slinky Jr (possible toxins), Singing Magnets (ingestion hazard) and Leap Frog Fridge Phonics (noise hazard). For OSPIRG's complete list of toy hazards, visit U.S. PIRG's website
BEND, OR -- With winter driving conditions and a holiday weekend ahead, the Oregon Department of Transportation is urging drivers to take it easy. ODOT's Rex Holloway tells KBND News, "We’ve got crews that are on 24/7, so they’re out monitoring the road conditions. And we’ve got sensors that they can take a look at, so they can go out and pre-treat the highways. Or, if we find out that we have some places that are slick, we’ll go out and sand those sections of the highway."
But, Holloway says it's important for drivers to take proper precautions, "Plan ahead, look at the road conditions, go to Tripcheck and check out the cameras, take extra food, water and clothing, make sure you have a full tank of gas before you take off. Just take a little bit more time taking care of yourselves and we’ll take care of the highways."
Drivers should be especially careful around construction projects, like new roundabouts. "For the first year, we really don’t want to be putting de-icer on concrete, basically. And so, that Murphy Road extension too, we’re not going to be putting – or, I should say the city won’t be putting de-icer on that because of the concerns on the first year. So, they’ll have to use some other sort of way, whether it’s cinders or gravel or something to keep those roads from being too slick."
Central Oregon's Winter Storm Warning has been extended to 7 a.m., Wednesday.
REDMOND, OR -- A 65-year-old Redmond man was killed when he was struck by a car, Monday evening. According to investigators, Spencer White was wearing dark clothing and crossed against the light, near Southwest Canal and Odem Medo Rd. He was hit by a car driven by 57-year-old Patricia Rursch of Bend, just after 5 p.m.
White was taken by ambulance to St. Charles bend, where he later died. Redmond Police say alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the accident, and they're looking for potential witnesses to come forward.
BEND, OR -- They had to clear the room during the Planning Commissions final deliberations on proposed regulations for marijuana businesses in unincorporated Deschutes County. The nearly five-hour meeting attracted an audience of almost 200.
Hugh Palcic, Planning Commission Chair, tried to maintain control of the meeting, "I’m comfortable with what we’re putting forward to the County Commissioners. I would support it fully, even though there are parts of it I would support stronger than others. But, that’s part of the process and I understand that." But, shortly after making that statement, several members of the audience interrupted the meeting and things escalated. Several neighbors tried to argue with the panel over potential water usage on marijuana farms. Palcic banged his gavel saying, "Excuse me; excuse me. You know what? We’re going to clear the room. Let’s go, we’re done."
After the room was cleared, the Planning Commission voted 5-to-2 to recommend to the county to NOT opt out and instead adopt their proposed regulations. Among those regulations are: allowing marijuana grow operations only on Exclusive Farm Use land 20-acres or larger; 200-foot setbacks from property lines; added odor control and screening of nighttime lights.
The Deschutes County Board of Commissioners will hold two public hearings on the matter Wednesday, December 2 at 1:30 and 6 p.m. Even then, they could choose to opt out entirely and not allow marijuana related business in unincorporated Deschutes County.
BEND, OR -- Local high school athletes will benefit from a $10,000 donation, following a month-long fundraising effort. All Season's RV & Marine raised money throughout the month of October to be split among area high school athletic programs.
Redmond Schools Superintendent Mike McIntosh tells KBND News donations like this are a vital part of providing extra curricular programs. "We try hard to maintain our general fund dollars going to classroom instruction. And, we have things like athletics and field trips and improvements and equipment that we need scholarships for. And so, typically PTOs [Parent/Teacher Organizations], businesses like All Seasons who have a ‘drive’ if you will, and individuals, those dollars go to support kids." He adds, "We have a high rate of poverty in our community. So, if a kid wants to play basketball and can’t afford the pay to play fee or the uniforms and shoes and clothes, then these businesses and organizations help sponsor those kids that need a little extra support."
All Seasons RV & Marine gave $200 for each unit sold in October, and collected donations during weekly pancake feeds. The Redmond School District received just over $3,300 for its two high schools and The Education Foundation for Bend-La Pine schools received just over $6,600.
BEND, OR -- Only one lift is open at Mt. Bachelor, but they hope to open more soon. Stirling Cobb, with the resort, says they're waiting to see just how much snow Mother Nature brings in over the next 24 hours. "We haven't reached a decisive conclusion about what the next operating plans will be, but we're optimistic, given the next storm that's supposed to come through, that we'll be able to open more of the mountain on Wednesday before Thanksgiving; or, by the latest, hopefully on Friday."
Saturday, the mountain opened one lift to allow visitors to use the terrain park. Cobb says more than 500 came out on Sunday. He tells KBND News they're looking forward to a better season than last winter. "Last year we faired better than most and we were able to operate all season, and well into May, actually. All of us are winter enthusiasts, here at the mountain, as well as our guests, so we're all optimistic that this winter will be better than last year. Ideally, it'll bring a near average snowfall, which is between 350"-400"; and with that, it'll be more than enough to carry us into May." As of Monday evening, the mountain registered about 15 inches.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon remains under a Winter Weather Advisory through early Wednesday morning. The system is expected to produce several inches of snow over the next 18 hours, or so.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Rob Cramp tells KBND, "The Bend area, Deschutes County, will probably see a fairly significant snow event Tuesday into Tuesday night, probably ending early Wednesday morning. Accumulations from Redmond into Bend, we're thinking 2"-4", maybe 3"-6". But, as you get just a little bit farther south and west, as you get up into the Cascades and the higher terrain there, certainly you could see 4"-8", possibly 5"-10" of snow." He adds, accumulations will vary depending on where in Central Oregon you live. "Typically, as you head a little farther north, say Madras down to Redmond, it's a little less."
Once the storm moves through Wednesday, the area shouldn't see any more precipitation for a while. However, temperatures will remain cold, with the highs only in the 20's and 30's through the end of the week.
BEND, OR -- When Bend Area Habitat for Humanity switched on solar panels at its ReStore late last week, it turned up the volume on new-home construction. Sophie Paez tells KBND News when the ReStore opened on Northeast Third just a year ago, they were encouraged to apply for grants to supplement a new solar power system. "We were successful in obtaining three [grants], which allowed us to expand the system from 15 kw to, I believe it’s 55 kw. So, it got dramatically bigger. And the projections are that we will save about 90% of our power in the coming year."
And, Paez says the ReStore just hit a million dollars in gross sales – months ahead of expectations. "What that means is that we have basically stabilized the cash flow of our organization in the success we’ve had in the past year. And, we’ve already ramped up this year – we’re on track to build seven homes. We’re hoping in the next few years to get to ten." The ReStore funds Habitat's mission to provide affordable home ownership for low income families in Central Oregon.
Paez credits the new location, which provides higher visibility, for the ReStore's success. "It’s working so well we’re going to power on, and we’re talking about expanding the store next year, and consolidating our administrative offices onto this property so we can become even more efficient." She expects that construction project to begin in about a year.
BEND, OR -- Mt. Bachelor opened for its 58th winter season on Saturday. There is not yet enough deep snow for traditional skiing and snowboarding on Bachelor’s primary runs, but snow enthusiasts enjoyed the terrain park beneath the Sunshine Accelerator lift and the tubing park, over the weekend.
Resort management is looking forward to this week’s anticipated snowfall and hope to prepare additional lifts, terrain and services in time for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
SUNRIVER, OR -- Two Sunriver firefighters are accused of a number of computer crimes relating to labor negotiations with the department. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel filed criminal charges Friday against Jason Arnold and Jeff Ruthardt.
Arnold no longer works for the agency. He was a firefighter/paramedic and is the former President of the firefighters' labor association. Arnold faces 69 counts of Computer Crime, Obtaining Contents of Communication, Criminal Conspiracy and Official Misconduct.
Ruthardt is a former Captain and current firefighter/paramedic. He faces four counts of Criminal Conspiracy, Interception of Communication and Official Misconduct.
Hummel says the charges are based on a several months-long investigation by the Sunriver Police Department, which uncovered evidence the men accessed confidential emails of Sunriver Fire Department employees, including Fire Chief Art Hatch. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and Bend Police assisted in the investigation.
According to investigators, the confidential emails concerned employee matters, including labor negotiations, dating back to January 2015. Hummel says the investigation is ongoing, and more charges may result.
In a release, DA Hummel said, "Labor negotiations can be intense so it's understandable if parties lose their cool. Not all of the emails in question involved the pending labor negotiations but some did. Crossing the line by accessing computers and email is a crime and won't be tolerated in Deschutes County."
Arnold and Ruthardt are scheduled to be arraigned December 8.
BEND, OR -- Hundreds of utility customers will receive automated messages this week, warning they could have a water leak. Bend City Manager Eric King tells KBND, "If your usage appears to be constant – There are typical peaks in the day of that water use – so, if that account shows just constant flow, most likely a leak is occurring. We’ll be notifying over 500 customers over the next few days to let them know about this leak."
The city changed how it bills water customers this summer, charging for actual usage instead of a flat fee. With those changes, any leaks could result in a higher bill. King says the automated messages are the next step in updating the overall system. "It’s a measure to be more proactive, and really to get folks more attuned to their water use. It was not until 2004 that the city was fully metered. Prior to that, you just purchased however much water you wanted. So, we’re really taking a more conservation-based approach to water use in the city." He says customers will eventually be able to track their own usage online.
BEND, OR -- The public engagement phase of the planned expansion of OSU-Cascades in Bend has begun. Four community advisory groups consisting of members from a wide variety of experience met this week to discuss their 60-day plan. The areas of focus are arts, culture and enrichment; community integration; sustainability; and health & wellness.
Christine Coffin, with the university, tells KBND News public meeting will begin soon. "From here they’re going to divide into those subgroups and have a series of meetings and then the groups will come together again towards the end of January and they’ll report out what they learned and what the recommendations were that came out of those subgroup meetings."
She says they have a number of things to consider. "They’ll address questions like 'How can the campus, the physical campus, advance the arts, culture and enrichment already available in central Oregon? How can we add to that without duplicating?' And, 'How can we advance the wellness, not only of the student community but of the broader community?' And, 'Is it possible to create one of the first-ever net-zero energy campuses in the country?'"
The four task forces will hold the public meetings over the next two months and then present their findings to school officials, who will then pass the recommendations to a design team for integration into the plan for the expanded campus.
BEND, OR -- Oregon State Police troopers from the Fish and Wildlife Division will help protect the mule deer population in Central Oregon, this winter. Officers from Bend, La Pine and Klamath Falls will watch for suspicious activity on deer ranges near Fort Rock and Silver Lake.
Lt. Bill Fugate with OSP says poaching has been a problem for a while. "There have been several major investigations involving these trophy bucks, with obviously the best DNA and genetics that have been passed down, they're getting just killed and left to waste for their antlers." He tells KBND News, "There is a black market out there for deer antlers, whether it be for decorations or art, or whatever the case may be. And, there could be quite a value depending on how many pounds of antlers somebody has; or people get them just as trophies to hang in their house and show off. It's just a selfish act."
Lt. Fugate says surveillance cameras and aircraft will be used to patrol for poachers.
REDMOND, OR -- The Boys and Girls Clubs of Redmond/Terrebonne is expanding, with plans to open an extension at Lynch Elementary right across the street from the main club.
"We are averaging now about 100 kids a day after school, if you include the teens. And, what we do know is that about half those kids come from Lynch. Lynch was looking to provide some after-school tutoring help through their Title I program, two days a week. We sat down to discuss how we might be able to serve kids five days a week, instead of just the two days a week that they can provide; that they have the funding for," Executive Director Jenny O'Keefe tells KBND News. "And that opens up 50 additional spots in our existing building, to get all those kids off the waiting list. And, here’s the kicker: we bought a school bus. So now we can include the Tom McCall kids and even the Terrebonne kids. We can head up there and pick up the kids and fill up our building by partnering with the school district."
O'Keefe says the 78-passenger bus purchased from the school district is a great step in restoring service to Terrebonne. The Terrebonne School site shut down October 30 due to rising facility repair costs, and she says families have been asking how kids can stay involved.
"So, there are a lot of pieces we still need to put together," says O'Keefe. "We need to get our staff CDL trained with their passenger endorsements; we need to train them to drive a school bus, so we know everybody is safe; and, we need to do the hiring piece. And, of course, we still need to do the fundraising because adding more kids to the building doesn’t add profit, it adds more liability."
O'Keefe expects the Lynch site and bus service to begin in January, once training and licensing is complete.
BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Recreation pitched its idea to build a bridge over the Deschutes River to River Rim homeowners, Thursday night. The proposed footbridge would link the Deschutes River Trail with Forest Service trails south of Bend. Neighbors are split over the idea, which would reroute the River Trail through their subdivision.
Steve Jorgensen, with Bend Parks and Rec outlined the district's plan to ask the State Parks Department to allow a bridge on a stretch of the river designated as Wild and Scenic. “We’re trying to amend state law to allow bridges in the first place. So, that is our focus. We have met with Oregon State Parks; they are the controller of the Scenic Waterway program in this state. So everything that revolves around state scenic waterways goes through the Oregon Parks Commission.” But, it the process is just beginning. “So even though it could be allowed by law, we could still wind up with a denial. It happens. It’s happened around the state at some other rivers.”
Many homeowners at Thursday night's meeting objected to the potential for increased traffic and parking. Others felt those would be a small price to pay for getting a new bridge over the river.
The Oregon Parks Commission will accept e-mail testimony
on the proposed law change through 5 p.m., Friday.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond family credits recently replacing the batteries in their smoke detectors with helping them safely escape a house fire, early Friday morning.
Firefighters responded to the home on SW Quartz Ave. at about 3 a.m. and found the residents evacuated and the garage on fire. They quickly extinguished the blaze, which caused about 10-thousand dollars in damage.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Redmond Fire & Rexcue reminds everyone to check smoke detector batteries. They say this incident perfectly illustrates how they can save lives.
BEND, OR -- One of the largest grocery chains in the country is finally participating in an Oregon Food Bank program that provides fresh meat and produce to families in need. Fresh Alliance has worked with a number of stores for the past 15 years, but Safeway’s previous corporate leaders believed it wasn’t good for business. "With the merger [with Albertsons] and a lot of different changes in the corporate world, it allowed us to take advantage of it and get Safeway on board," Jay Feeney tells KBND News.
Feeney with Albertsons/Safeway says, "We have 111 Safeways in our Portland division – southwest Washington and all of Oregon – and we have about 18 left that we have to roll it out to." Feeney is training employees at the six stores in Madras, Redmond, Bend and Burns, this week. "The food stays in their community, so it helps the community around the store. Aside from being the right thing to do, we can get some better tax credits for it, and we also can get a reduction in waste from composting to trash." And, he says the program attracts new customers. "What we’re finding too, is a family that has jobs that has just run out of money, and they come to the food bank to get food to take care of themselves at the end of the month, they see the Safeway label on it and they come back and start shopping with us because we helped them out in their time of need."
With the addition of the local Safeway stores, Feeney expects an extra 60,000 pounds of food to go to NeighborImpact
, each year. "In Central Oregon, 270,000 meals will be served from Safeway, from the poundage we donate." The Oregon Food Bank reports all major Central Oregon grocery stores now participate in the Fresh Alliance program.
Perishable foods like milk, meat and vegetables are donated as they reach their "use by" date and can no longer be sold in stores. Store employees are trained on safe food standards to transport items to food banks, which quickly distribute food to needy families.
BEND, OR -- Summit High School in Bend is operating on a normal schedule today, despite a threat discovered Wednesday. Parents and students were notified by email late Wednesday night that graffiti was found in a bathroom containing a threat directed toward the school.
Julianne Repman, with the Bend-La Pine School District, tells KBND News, "We will not tolerate threats against our students, staff or schools. So, even though we have no evidence that this is a credible threat today, we’re not going to take the situation lightly. We’ve let our students, staff and parents know that we want them to report anything that they see today, or any day, that doesn’t look right to law enforcement or another adult." Students are encouraged to contact the main office at 541-355-4000 with any information on the vandalism, or they can text an anonymous tip to 541-241-8704.
"We absolutely will not tolerate copy cats of this situation. Anyone found making any type of a threat to any of our schools will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," adds Repman. Bend Police and the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office have stepped up patrols around Summit and all schools in Bend, La Pine and Sunriver today. But, Repman says students are taking it in stride. "We actually have had students saying, 'We’re showing our strength and we’re happy to be here.' So, everyone has really come together and they’re showing that the Storm family is a strong family."
The school district is working with law enforcement to track the source of the threat.
BEND, OR -- Call it an unintended consequence of increased development and recreation: A herd of 75 to 90 elk that used to winter in Elk Meadow in southwest Bend has been displaced. Cory Heath, with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife tells KBND News, “Around Brookswood, Elk Meadow School, River Rim, all the subdivisions all along that corridor where the elk used to winter; that’s all been a direct loss of habitat.”
As a result, the elk have moved north and are now wreaking havoc at Awbrey Glen Golf Course and ranches on Johnson Road in northwest Bend. “They’re eating the grass on the golf course; you know, they’re urinating and defecating on it, causing burn spots. They’re putting pock marks on the greens and the fairways with their hooves; tearing down fences up off of Johnson Road for the private farmers up there. They’re getting into hay stacks in the hay fields,” says Heath.
ODFW is working with the golf course and ranchers, installing elk-proof fences, electric fences and more, in an effort to reduce the damage to property. They also moved the antler-less elk hunt boundary to the west for the month of December, to reduce the number of elk moving into developed areas.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors voted Wednesday night to allocate more money from the general fund to street maintenance and preservation.
City Manager Eric King tells KBND News the $4.7 million will come from a number of sources, in an effort to keep public safety budget - which is the biggest portion of the general fund - in tact. "We have a land sale that’s going to be providing some additional resources into the general fund. It’s one-time revenue, but that’s going to go to streets. We also had a light winter year again last year, so we had reserves in our street fund; that’ll go back into street maintenance. We also had an increase in transient room tax revenues; that is part of that roughly $4.7 million over two years."
King adds, "By law, property taxes can only go up 3% per year, but new growth adds to that. Bend was the fastest growing city in the state this year, so again, that revenue – which translated into a couple hundred thousand dollars – we’ve really prioritized street maintenance. So, any additional revenue makes up that $4.7 million."
The infusion of funds is only a small portion of the $80 million needed to get Bend’s streets back up to par, and King points out it’s not a long-term fix. Councilors will discuss the possibility of imposing a local gas tax at a public hearing at Council Chambers, November 30 at 6 p.m.
To hear more of our conversation with City Manager Eric King, visit our Podcast Page.
BEND, OR -- A county K-9 deputy found a missing toddler, Wednesday night. Ryan Duffey called 911 when he discovered his three-year-old son had gone missing while his family was cutting wood off China Hat Road.
A dozen Deschutes County deputies and 20 Search and Rescue volunteers, along with
Forest Service Law Enforcement and Oregon State Police troopers were deployed to the area, shortly after 4:30 p.m.
The K-9 “Ezel” and two deputies tracked the boy after discovering his shoes about 200 yards away. Just before 6 p.m., they found him two miles away from the woodcutting site. He was cold, but otherwise OK, and was reunited with his parents.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County deputies say a Prineville driver was involved in a Wednesday night rollover crash. The driver, 42-year-old Richard Harlan, was southbound on Juniper Canyon Road at at 7:20 p.m. when he lost control while negotiating a curve.
Harlan's Chevy Monte Carlo came to rest on its top in the gravel shoulder of the southbound lane. He was not injured.
Just 40 minutes later, deputies responded to a crash on Highway 126. Investigators say
34-year-old Amy Buntjer, of Redmond, swerved when a small animal ran in front of her vehicle. She ran off the road and crashed through a barb wire fence, coming to rest in a field.
Medics evaluated Buntjer and her two small children, but all were unhurt.
LA PINE, OR -- UPDATE: We're learning the identity of the three people killed in Tuesday night's crash near La Pine. Investigators say a Deschutes County deputy began pursuing a Dodge pickup driven by 47-year-old Brett Young, of La Pine. According to Oregon State Police, the chase was called off minutes before the 9 p.m. crash, due to Young's erratic driving.
Witnesses told OSP the pickup was southbound near State Rec Road, passing in a no passing zone, when it hit a northbound car driven by 33-year-old Steven Clink.
Clink and his passenger, 50-year-old Pamela James, were pronounced dead at the scene. Young was also killed.
According to OSP, Young was a fugitive from Nevada, wanted for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
*Story updated to reflect corrected drivers' names, due to incorrect information provided to KBND News.
Three people were killed in a head-on collision that shut down Highway 97 north of La Pine for several hours, Tuesday night. The crash occurred at about 8:50 p.m., near State Rec Road.
Oregon State Police say a southbound vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic. That vehicle may have been involved in a pursuit, which had been called off by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office minutes before the collision.
BEND, OR -- After hearing impassioned public testimony on both sides of the issue, the Deschutes County Planning Commission held its first deliberation session regarding regulations for marijuana-related businesses in unincorporated areas.
They addressed a wide variety of issues and concerns, according to county planner Matt Martin. “The deliberation was rather free-form so they bounced from topic to topic. But setbacks, minimum lot sizes, odor, light pollution, among other things were all discussed and are cornerstones in the proposed regulation."
Martin tells KBND News the Planning Commission could recommend that County Commissioners not allow the businesses at all. “So it could include opt out of one or all marijuana-related businesses or allow them subject to standards; so that is still an option. That option is available to the board of County Commissioners to make that decision up until December 27th of this year.”
The Planning Commission is scheduled to hold one more deliberation session Monday, November 23. They will then make a final recommendation to County Commissioners.
BEND, OR -- The number of new real estate brokers in the High Desert has steadily rebounded since the recession, signaling an improving housing market. Glenda Lantis, Director of Continuing Education at Central Oregon Community College, says the school’s real estate classes are also growing. "In fact, we’ve added sections to this real estate broker license exam prep class. We started with one section this fall and we’ve added at least one more. We have a couple sections for winter, and we’re expanding into the property management license as well."
COCC stopped offering real estate classes during the recession, but has served 158 students since restarting the program just over a year ago. "We’re teaching classes for people to learn the skills and learn about the examination that they have to take to become a real estate broker or certified property manager. What they do is they take the class with us and prepare for the examination, then they can actually take the exam locally."
The Central Oregon Association of Realtors (COAR) reports nearly 250 new realtors so far this year, more than double the number of new agents registered with the organization in 2011.
BEND, OR -- The city of Bend will remove all four downtown drinking fountains. Economic Development Director Carolyn Eagan tells KBND News the city made the decision after the Downtown Bend Business Association asked them to look at making repairs. "When we checked, we found out the fountains are not all working, and really would be too expensive to repair them. But, the deeper issue was that all of the fountains were not connected to the city's water system in the way we want them to be connected."
The fountains are located at the corners of Wall and Oregon, Bond and Oregon, Minnesota and Bond and Minnesota and Oregon.
The city is not in a position to bring them up to modern plumbing standards. "This wasn't a planned expense to continue to maintain these fountains. Let's take them out, let's repair the sidewalk. And let's continue to work with the Downtowners to figure out what are the best amenities that we should be offering to downtown shoppers, downtown employees and downtown businesses." Eagan says there are a number of ideas being tossed around, "One of them that has been identified by a number of people - not necessarily through any significant study - but, we need some more bike parking downtown. So, that could be an opportunity on those corners. I think there may still be some interest in having some sort of drinking fountain amenity, if that could be provided. And then there are other things that we can be looking at on those corners, maybe to use them more effectively."
Crews will begin taking out the fountains during the early morning hours of Monday, November 30 through Wednesday, December 2.
BEND, OR -- Detectives with the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) Team arrested five people following the search of a southeast Bend home. The team executed a search warrant at the SE 27th Street residence on November 11, after a month-long investigation.
According to detectives, 30-year-old Jenna Olmsted of Bend was supplying a number of people with heroin and methamphetamine on a regular basis.
Read more on Olmsted's September CODE Team arrest.
Officers stopped 21-year-old Felicia Williams, of Salem, and 25-year-old Joshua Chaney, of Bend, as they left the house just before 12:30 p.m. on November 11. A subsequent search of their vehicle led to the discovery of user amounts of meth, heroin, drug paraphernalia, mushrooms, prescription pills and drug records.
Just before 3 p.m., detectives contacted Olmsted and 32-year-old Bobby Brittle, of Bend. A search of their vehicle led to the discovery of user amounts of meth and heroin, drug paraphernalia, scales and cash.
They then searched the home, at about 6 p.m. and arrested 23-year-old Christopher Farrar. Investigators seized user amounts of heroin, drug paraphernalia, scales, packaging material and other evidence from inside the residence. All five are accused of drug possession and a number of other charges.
Jenna Zetszche (aka Olmsted) Bobby Brittle Joshua Chaney (aka Cheney)
PORTLAND, OR -- Oregon’s population is expected to grow by 1.3% in 2015, surpassing more than 4-million. According to preliminary estimates by Portland State University’s Population Research Center, Deschutes County will add more than 3,000 people, this year. That 2.6% increase represents the largest percentage change in the state.
Researchers found the majority of the increase is due to more people moving into the state, with new babies accounting for a shrinking portion of the growth. They say in most areas, the number of annual deaths is rising faster than the birthrate.
REDMOND, OR -- Six people were arrested, following a Monday evening traffic stop in northwest Redmond. Police say a K-9 unit alerted to the presence of controlled substances, leading officers to seize just under a gram of methamphetamine, marijuana extract, a firearm with serial number ground off, a knife and a stolen laptop.
They then searched a room at the Hub Motel in Redmond and found over 18 grams of meth and $1,800 in cash.
Police arrested 38-year-old Robert Laird, 44-year-old Cynthia Laird and 26-year-old Misty Cade, all of Bend; along with 32-year-old Ashley Yarber, 36-year-old Steven Stout and 53-year-old Edward Benavides, all of Redmond.
Robert Laird Cynthia Laird Misty Cade
Ashley Yarber Steven Stout Edward Benavides
MADRAS, OR -- Central Electric Co-Op is offering a $2500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for shooting out a power line Sunday afternoon in the Madras area.
The outage, which left 1200 people without power, began just after 2:30 p.m. and lasted 11 hours. Crews discovered a 400-foot span of overhead wire severed by a gunshot, west of Highway 26 and north of Holly Lane, southeast of Madras.
The cost of crew time, equipment and materials will add up to several thousand dollars. Anyone with information is asked to call the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.
SALEM, OR -- So far, 27 U.S. Governors say they don't want Syrian refugees coming to their states. One of the Paris bombers reportedly slipped into Europe posing as a Syrian refugee.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has yet to make a decision, but State Representative Bill Post (R-Keizer) told KATU in Portland that she needs to act. "I'd like Governor Brown to at least say 'yes, they're coming; this is how many we've been told are coming and this is our plan to make sure Oregonians are safe.'"
Click HERE to read Gov. Brown's response, released Tuesday afternoon.
The Obama Administration has agreed to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees.
BEND, OR -- The city of Bend has struggled to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. But, a local advocate is pushing the City Council to fund the work needed.
Brian Douglass submitted his plan Monday, which outlines how the city can bring the remaining 5,300 sidewalks, curbs and ramps into compliance. "We put together a list of eight or ten items that we thought could be used to generate enough income over a 20-year period to be able to repay the bonds."
Potential funding sources include revenue bonds, a 3% tax on cannabis, a 10% real estate transfer tax, a 7.5% food & beverage tax and a $15 arrival and departure fee at the Redmond airport, which would be split between Bend and Redmond to fund accessibility projects. "At least three of the Councilors have responded to the proposal, even to this third and final draft. They've been very positive. They needed a solution to the problem. And, instead of a 12-person committee, they got a proposal from a single advocate, basically." Douglass adds, "I'm very encouraged by it. It's the best working relationship and the most positive working relationship that I've seen in all the 25 years that I've been working on this. City staff, the City Manager, City Attorney, the folks in the Public Works Department, when we asked a questions, we got a prompt answer."
Douglass hopes to put the issue to voters next May.
BEND, OR -- After threatening to pull out of street maintenance funding talks if a citizen committee didn’t consider alternatives to a gas tax, Bend 2030 now says it strongly supports a local tax. In advance of Monday night’s special City Council meeting, the group presented a letter to Councilors, expressing support of a tax and the work done by the Street Maintenance Funding Committee. Erin Foote Marlowe tells KBND News, "Bend 2030’s Board of Directors has, after reviewing all this information, going through the Streets Funding Committee process, found that if we are going to come up with the $6-7 million a year that we need to fund street preservation, we need something – a consistent revenue source like a fuel tax. And Bend 2030’s board of directors is saying we support a fuel tax."
Read more about Bend 2030's studies on how to fund road maitenance.
Foote Marlowe says the group was never opposed to a tax, they simply wanted to make sure every possibility was considered. "The committee came up with a variety of ways to fund road improvements and multi-modal projects. And, that was our goal. Bend 2030 wanted the council to see there are lots of options, and it needs to be a package of funding sources."
She says there is still a lot of work to be done, before any roadwork can start. "The council has an awful lot to consider and we felt it was important for us to share with them and highlight that the thousands of people Bend 2030 has engaged this year on this question, the fuel tax is really the highest valued option for funding improvements to the road system. Politically, it is a challenge to ask voters to pass a tax."
Councilors must decide by December second whether to put the issue to voters in March. "By putting it on the ballot in March, it allows us to find funding for construction projects within the 2016 season. If we were to wait until later in the year, it would make it more difficult to fund some of the projects the city would like to get started on right away to stop the bleeding of the roads system," says Foote Marlowe. At Monday's special meeting
, City Councilors chose to schedule a public hearing prior to that December deadline. That public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. on November 30.
BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council has received a $200,000 grant to help increase market opportunities for local food producers. COIC Program Director Katrina Van Dis tells KBND they’ll use the funds to educate consumers about local food options and to help local farmers get their products to market. “If farmers say they need to be able to talk to chefs or want help getting their product into a business we would help to make those connections with a restaurant.” Van Dis says COIC will also hold events with local chefs with growers to help them get to know each other’s needs.
She adds, “And the end result is that consumers will hopefully, in two year’s time, notice a difference in maybe the way food is labeled at a restaurant or at a grocery store and feeling lie there is more accessibility to local food.” The Oregon Department of Agriculture and USDA grant money will also be used to help connect low-income and food bank programs with local food producers.
BEND, OR -- The Bend City Council will hold a special meeting Monday evening, to discuss the findings of the Street Maintenance Funding Committee. The 12-member citizen panel concluded that an income stream, like a gas tax or transportation utility fee, is needed to improve roads.
Bend City Councilor Sally Russell says the committee agrees a gas tax will inevitably be part of the solution. "We look at those stats, what it would cost per household, is much less than other solutions where we wouldn't have to go to voters and it would land on the same backs of the same individuals who are paying either their property tax bills or their utility bills. I'm a fan of this particular tool simply because I think it spreads it so much more equitably across the people who are actually using our roads on a daily basis."
She tells KBND News the longer we wait to fund the needed work, the more expensive it will be. "It's not a matter of choice; it's a matter of how you do it. I think this really bright, very philosophically diverse group came to that conclusion. And, it's going to come to Council and we're going to have some tough conversations. But, the good news is we have a lot of information that has truly been vetted by a very critical group of citizens."
The City Council meets at City Hall, beginning at 6 p.m.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County firefighters responded to two outbuilding fires north of Prineville, Sunday night. The blaze also caused damage to a nearby mobile home, a motor home and a service truck.
The outbuildings contained firewood and personal items and damage is estimated at about $10,000. The tenant living on the NW Grizzly Rd property used a garden hose to keep his mobile home from catching fire.
Investigators say the fire was caused by an electrical overload by extension cords supplying power to a motor home and nearby camp trailer.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon Governor Kate Brown ordered flags at public institutions be lowered to half-staff until sunset Thursday, November 19, in honor of the victims of the attacks in Paris.
"I'm sickened and profoundly saddened by the violence inflicted on the people of Paris, France," Governor Brown said in a news release. "Those responsible must be brought to justice, and we must stand together as a nation and as a member of a global community united against terrorism."
BEND, OR -- A Prineville man was arrested Friday afternoon, after witnesses say he drove into a utility box in northeast Bend, pulling it completely out of the ground.
Police say 22-year-old Steven Faith was intoxicated and nearly caused a number of other accidents when he left the scene at Highway 20 and 27th. Faith was taken into custody near Murphy Road and Benham, a short time later.
He's charged with Hit and run, DUII and reckless driving.
BEND, OR -- A convicted felon, wanted for violating his parole, was arrested Saturday, following a short police chase in Bend. An officer attempted to pull over a car near Northeast Lynda Land and Purcell, just after 9:30 p.m. The 30-year-old driver, later identified as Andrew Johnston, took off at speeds of up to 60 miles an hour, according to police.
Eventually, the car crashed into an occupied car near Aspen Ridge Retirement Living and Johnston ran from the scene. He was detained shortly after.
There were no injuries and only minor vehicle damage. Johnston faces a list of charges.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond firefighters responded to a house fire late Friday night which some neighbors are calling "suspicious."
According to the fire department, the unoccupied two story home near NE 9th and Negus was fully engulfed when crews arrived, just before 10 p.m. Witnesses tell KBND News the structure burned very quickly, in a matter of minutes. Fire crews say their priority was to take defensive measures to protect a nearby home under construction, and equipment.
So far, the cause of the fire has not been determined. One neighbor tells KBND News construction workers were seen clearing debris away from the home earlier in the day, and a burn barrel used at the site may have been moved closer to the structure, built in 1929.
The homeowner is listed as Miguel Segoviano, owner of Sego Insulation and Sego Construction. Sego Construction has built a number of new homes in the area in recent years and is in the process of building a new house adjacent to the one that burned Friday night. That new construction was not damaged in the blaze.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County 911 Services District could ask voters next May to support permanent funding. Local agencies and County Commissioners must sign off on the ballot measure, but 911 Director Steve Reinke says they've finally settled on a levy amount.
The request would be a maximum rate of 42.5-cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. It would be adjusted yearly, based on need. Part of the funds will be used for a new countywide radio system. 911 Director Steve Reinke tells KBND News using part of the state's new system will cut start-up costs. "What we don't have though, are the long-term operational money to maintain it. The maintenance costs are going to be a little bit higher because of this partnership, we have to help maintain our part of the state system we're going to be using. That cost, we estimate, is about 4.5-cents, when it translates into a levy amount. And, we're also going to ask for another penny and a half to be able to replace the system in 15 years."
The cost of creating the new system could still run $6.5 million, despite the help from the state. But, Director Reinke says it will provide better service to the public. "Our call receivers, right now, most of them have to answer a radio channel at the same time they're taking 911 calls. One of the things the levy will help us with is the ability to have more dedicated call receivers so they're not trying to fly a radio console and talk to police officers or firefighters in the field at the same time they're fielding 911 calls, which will provide a better and higher level of service."
A levy request cannot go to voters without approval from a number of public safety agencies. Reinke says, "Once we have those resolutions in place, then the County Commissioners will do their own resolution to put it on the ballot for May of 2016. There's a couple of public hearings as part of that process as the Commissioners act. But, the key to success is to have all of our public safety boards and councils agree that this is the right thing to do, 'we're with you.'" Reinke expects that ballot decision by the end of the year.
BEND, OR -- It was a packed house as Deschutes County hosted the second of two public hearings, Thursday night, on proposed regulations for businesses that sell, grow and process marijuana in unincorporated areas.
The Planning Commission is trying to adopt what the state calls "reasonable" regulations for marijuana-related businesses. Their initial proposal calls for adopting similar rules as the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Many testified against the county’s plan, citing a number of issues. "We never received actual notice as to what was going on." Another commented, "Our property values will immediately and irreversibly decline the moment this is enacted." A woman gave a laundry list of problems she worried about, "Light pollution, increased traffic, security concerns, noise and plant odor." And many asked the county to opt out of allowing the businesses altogether.
There were some supporters of the proposed regulations. "We are not growing cannabis, we are growing and we’re setting off a ripple effect of job creation," said one woman. Another added, "We do need a place where we can grow our crop and provide this product for our patients." One man said he was happy with the Commission's proposal, "They are certainly regulation I can work under."
The Planning Commission ended verbal testimony but extended written testimony of the proposed regulation until noon Monday. They will then deliberate in two meetings before making a recommendation to County Commissioners.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Two people were injured in a single-vehicle rollover crash, Thursday night. According to the Crook County Sheriff’s Office, crews responded to O’Neil Highway just before 9 p.m. and found a Chevy Tahoe about 25 yards off the roadway, through a barb wire fence.
Investigators say 36-year-old Bobby Moody of Prineville drifted into gravel, over corrected and lost control, causing the car to roll.
He was taken to St. Charles Prineville. His 19-year-old passenger suffered minor injuries. Moody was cited for Careless Driving and Failure to maintain his lane.
BEND, OR -- Colder weather typically ushers in flu season. But, Heather Kaisner with Deschutes County Health Services tells KBND News your stuffy nose is probably not the flu. "We haven’t really seen many cases yet – we’ve seen a handful. We do kind of a little local surveillance with labs and there has been lots of testing. So, there are lots of people with other things going on, but not flu. I tell people, before you travel for the holidays, get on plane with lots of other potentially sick people, to get your flu shot before that."
And, Kaisner says it's not too early, "Really it’s recommended for anyone six months and older. If you have any type of severe egg allergies or something like that, you’ll want to talk to your doctor. There are what they call contraindications, but there are very few. So, really most people can go out and get a flu shot."
This year’s flu shot appears promising. "Last year, unfortunately, the flu shot wasn’t a very good match – the strains that were in the vaccine and the strains that were circulating. The CDC is saying this year, it’s looking like the flu shot is a much better protection because it has that H3N2 virus that was spreading a lot last year, and it didn’t have it last year," Kaisner says. She admits, though, nothing is 100% effective and the best prevention is still good old-fashioned hand washing.
BURNS, OR -- Oregon veterans groups are again using a state highway to recognize those who have served in the armed forces. Dick Tobiason, with the Bend Heroes Foundation, helped install the first signs on Oregon’s World War I Veterans Memorial Highway, earlier this week. "We installed two WWI signs near Burns, on US 395. Eventually we’ll have 11 signs on that highway. It was done to honor the 44,000 Oregonians who served in World War I, the 1,066 who died and the 1,800 who were wounded."
But, Tobiason tells KBND News, they're not quitting there. "Now we’re doing the Korean War on I-5, and the Purple Heart Trail on I-5. And, why would we wait decades and decades to honor our youngest veterans from the Persian Gulf/Afghanistan/Iraq wars? So, we’re putting up 11 signs on U.S. 101, probably our prettiest highway in Oregon. And, we’re going to put signs up next week."
Highway 97 is already designated as World War II Veterans Memorial Highway and I-84 is recognized for Vietnam vets. Tobiason says, "Our legacy to Oregon is six border-to-border highways, totaling 2,037 miles, honoring every combat war veteran to ever serve from Oregon."
SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire Department lost $17,000 worth of life saving and firefighting equipment in a burglary from a volunteer station, Tuesday night.
Fire Chief Tim Craig tells KBND News the break-in occurred at Station 703 inside the Squaw Creek Canyon Estates subdivision. "Somebody made entry and ransacked our apparatus, went through a lot of our personal protective equipment, some of the personal gear that belonged to some of the firefighters. They ended up taking chainsaws, Automated External Defibrillators units - which are units that we use to help revive people who are in cardiac arrest. They also took a thermal imaging camera some GPS units."
Chief Craig says they are able to shift some equipment from lesser-used units, but the small department will still take a financial hit. "We have insurance, that will help us with this. But, like anyone, we're going to have to pay a deductible and there's going to be a hit to the organization for that. Thankfully, we're out of wildfire season, and we have some apparatus that's specialized for wildfire. We were able to move some equipment from those wildfire apparatus onto our primary response apparatus for structure fire and EMS response."
He acknowledges other departments across the state are dealing with crimes like this. "It really is pretty brazen. It's not something I've deal with, but I've certainly heard about it. There was a recent break in at a fire station outside of Florence. It was a similar type of situation, where it's not a staffed station, but primarily a volunteer call-back response station. They lost some equipment this week too."
Anyone with information on the break-in is asked to call the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office at 541-693-6911.
LA PINE, OR -- An 18-year-old Bend man faces Careless Driving and Driving Uninsured charges after driving his truck through the front of the Ray's Food Place in La Pine. The crash occurred just after 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Deschutes County Sheriff's deputies say Nathaniel Stevens was trying to park in front of the store when his brakes failed, causing him to drive into the building. Investigators say Stevens attempted to leave, but deputies arrived moments later and issued the citations.
The accident caused about $8500 in damage to the store; there were no injuries.
SALEM, OR -- Human Trafficking activists will kick off the Freedom Sticker campaign in Salem on Monday. The stickers, which offer help to victims of human trafficking, are designed to go in public bathroom stalls.
Nita Belles with In Our Backyard tells KBND News, "Many times the only time a victim of human trafficking is alone and not being watched is inside a restroom stall. And so they an send a text message and within two minutes have help on the way."
Human trafficking can take the form of forced sex or labor. The Oregon Legislature approved a bill in the last session to allow Freedom Stickers to be included in all OLCC license renewals for bars and restaurants. Belles says they will include "a strong request to place these inside their restroom stalls so that people can find help that they need."
Approximately 25,000 Freedom Stickers will be handed out beginning Monday.
BEND, OR -- The Colorado Avenue bridge closure will continue on the west side of Bend for a couple days more than expected. It was originally slated to reopen Tuesday, November 17, but it's now scheduled to open Friday, November 20.
Project Engineer George Franklet tells KBND, "Just due to the fact so much work to be done in a tight space, with two different contractors on two big projects, it just turns out that we need a couple extra days to wrap things up in the area."
Both lanes of the bridge will be open the week of Thanksgiving. Franklet says it's possible one-lane closures may be necessary the week of November 30, but he doesn't anticipate any new detours. And, in the end, he says it will be worth it. "The project is very essential for future development on the west side. The contractors have done a great job coordinating with these two very large projects. It's unfortunate that we have a few extra days of closure, but I think it's like ripping the band-aid off. It's going to pay off."
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Recreational marijuana has been legal in Oregon for a little more than four months and some law enforcement agencies are still concerned there could be a rise in impaired drivers.
Unlike alcohol, there isn't a breathalyzer for those who may be high on marijuana. One of the best tools police have is a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). Training is fairly extensive for officers, but Interim Prineville Police Chief Les Stiles says they play a valuable role. "The Field Sobriety Testing (FST) protocol remains the same whether you're under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, anything. Generally, an officer, because an individual doesn't do well on the FST, they'll take them into custody and bring them down and give them a breath test and they blow under the legal limit; but all of the FSTs indicate that they're substantially impaired. And, that's when the DRE gets the phone call to come in."
These Drug Recognition Experts know the signs to help figure out what is causing a driver's impairment. They evaluate a driver's mental and physical condition and can use tests that analyze breath, blood or urine.
Chief Stiles say his department only has one such officer right now, "Who is also the only officer for all of Crook County. The Sheriff's Office used to have one DRE, but they don't any longer, so that's all we've got. The problem is, this is another one of those unintended consequences of passing measures that the state's not ready to fully support or implement." And, he says he'd like to grow the program. "One of our goals next year, at the Prineville Police Department, that I'm dialing into our budget right now, is a DRE on every patrol team. So, I need three more.
PORTLAND, OR -- Chipotle restaurants will reopen Wednesday in Oregon and Washington, after an E.Coli outbreak that sickened over 40 people.
Dr. Paul Cieslak with the Oregon Health Authority tells KBND News the chain has been more than cooperative in following health officials' recommendations and there is no ongoing risk. "We recommended that they go in and clean and sanitize all the stores, that they interview all their employees for illness and exclude any employees who might be ill, that they do some retraining and they’ve taken all these steps." They've also tested food for restocking and adopted new safety procedures.
Dr. Cieslak says despite the investigation, they were not able to nail down the source of the E.Coli contamination because there were too many ingredients in too many different entrees. "Almost all of the people, for example, had eaten jalapeno peppers in some form, or red onions in some form; and we couldn't tease apart all of the different items and say 'this is the one that did it.'" Voluntary tests conducted by the restaurant and approved by the OHA also came back negative.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond could eventually be home to a large, multi-million dollar sports complex. City officials presented the idea to Deschutes County Commissioners in a joint meeting Tuesday night.
The idea has been tossed around in the past, but Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky tells KBND News it may finally be the right time to move forward. "Right now, when tournaments come to Central Oregon; Bend’s Pine Nursery has fields, Redmond has fields. But, many times parents have to go from one complex to another, and there could be 18 miles in between. We want this facility to be that all-in-one use for tournaments, but also be of benefit to Parks and Rec and local users when tournaments aren’t going on."
Witcosky says a multi-million dollar regional complex could attract both outdoor and indoor events. "There’s existing facilities across the country and it’s proven to be a successful model – sports tourism, sports-related complexes – as a driver for economic development." He says they’ve already found space for such a complex adjacent to the Deschutes County Fairgrounds. "The reason we’re looking at the fairgrounds for a location is because it’s got a ton of existing infrastructure. There’s parking, it’s near the airport, they’ve got convention facilities and kitchen facilities. So, there’s a lot of synergy between this kind of use and the existing fairgrounds development."
But, he admits it's still very early in the process, "What we need to do first and foremost is find out what the market demand is and what the user groups are, and those kinds of things. We’re going to be working with the University of Oregon through the Sustainable Cities Initiative
." That study is expected to be completed by March. If they find there is a need, Witcosky says the next step would be to discuss financing and management.
BEND, OR -- A few weeks behind schedule, Bend’s new ice rink will open before the holidays, and that’s none too soon for curlers, hockey players and ice skating enthusiasts.
Matt Mercer of Bend Parks and Recreation tells KBND News work on The Pavilion is going well, but they are experiencing typical construction delays. "We always knew that our date was a target date and if everything went perfect we could open a little bit earlier and it could be substantially later if things didn't go well. Fortunately things are going reasonably well and we’re able to stay close to our anticipated schedule." Mercer expects the facility to be open for drop-in skating by the week of December 19. Winter ice programs will begin the first week of January.
Aside from ice activities, The Pavilion will also feature something new to a Bend parks and Rec facility: beer. "It is something that is fairly common in a lot of the ice sports culture; something we’re still considering and kind of proceeding cautiously on. And if we do something this year, it will be done through a contractor and done on an experimental basis to see if there are any issues that arise out of it," Mercer says curlers and hockey players asked the district to consider offering beer. It will be served only during adult ice sports events.
BEND, OR -- Heart and lung surgeries at St Charles Bend have resumed. The hospital was forced to suspend the program for 12 days because there weren't enough cardothoracic doctors to cover.
St Charles officials say four patients needed surgery during the closure and they were sent to Portland area hospitals for care. Other operations were rescheduled or handled by the vascular surgery team in Bend.
Administrators say they are taking steps to ensure disruption of surgeries in Bend will not happen again.
BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County non-profit will lose out on tens of thousands in state grant money due to a disagreement over the definition of "crime victim." Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) represent state foster children in court proceedings. But the Criminal Justice Commission says CASA failed to show how the organization helps victims.
Jenna App, Executive Director of CASA for Central Oregon, brought the issue to Deschutes County Commissioners Monday, "I just want to express my concern that now CASA of Central Oregon will miss out on this funding opportunity; it was $56,000 over the next two years. In Deschutes County, our numbers of children entering care this year are up 150% from last year. [Director of Deschutes County Community Justice] Ken Hales had said 'we can't hold up our $1.7 grant on just $56,000. That doesn't make any sense for us; that's a small amount of money.' And, I tried to explain to him, from our perspective, that's a huge amount of money."
The county is seeking $1.7 million in state money originally set aside to build a new prison, but will instead go to victim and offender services through the state Justice Reinvestment Program (JRP). Deschutes County Administrator Tom Anderson says the Local Public Safety Coordinating Committee (LPSCC) didn't want to risk the majority of the funding package over a disagreement over CASA. "There was some differing opinions on the definition of the appropriate clientele and the way that the program serves that clientele locally. It was acknowledged that there were probably some state discussions, some state politics, frankly, that were going on," he told Commissioners, Monday.
Anderson also noted that others tried to help, "John Hummel, our District Attorney, made an impassioned case for CASA, that he disagreed with the proposal to amend our JRP application. But, all things considered, the LPSCC as a whole voted to file the amended application removing CASA."
BEND, OR -- State public health officials have launched an awareness campaign due to the jump in cases of one particular sexually transmitted disease. "We thought syphilis was going to be eradicated some time ago and so we weren’t really expecting this rise," Holly Nyquist, Clinic Coordinator for Deschutes County Health Services, tells KBND News. "There are physicians who have never seen a case of syphilis because it’s just been very uncommon. It needs to get back on the radar of the provider community so that when they see someone that comes in with a suspicious lesion or syndrome that they think about syphilis."
The CDC recorded only 30 cases of syphilis in Oregon in 2007, compared to an expected 500 this year. Nyquist says local numbers are much lower than statewide stats – Deschutes County has seen seven cases so far this year; but, that's compared to just one in 2007. "The reason for that, we don’t really know, but we know we can reduce the transmission of syphilis through condom use and through testing of people who are at higher risk," she says. But, screenings don't stop with high-risk groups. "It’s important that pregnant women get tested for syphilis. Historically, we’ve only gotten tested at early prenatal care and then they don’t test again. Now, what they’re saying is women who are pregnant should be tested in the third trimester, then again at delivery because our congenital syphilis cases – meaning babies who are born with syphilis – have risen alarmingly in the state; not locally, but in the state." Syphilis is highly curable with antibiotics, if caught early.
Nyquist is also worried about Gonorrhea, which has tripled in Deschutes county in the last two years. Confidential screenings for syphilis and gonorrhea are available at County health Services.
REDMOND, OR -- The city of Redmond hopes plans to spruce up the medical district around St. Charles Medical Center, near NW Canal and Kingwood, will lead to more economic growth. Redmond's Urban Renewal District agency board will vote Tuesday on a $1.8 million beautification project.
Chuck Arnold, head of Redmond's Economic Development and Urban Renewal Department says it would be money well spent. "This district has the potential to add a new dimension to the economic life of the city. It works to promote professional job development, increase tax base and improve quality of life under a match-plan effort. This is up where St. Charles is, as a main anchor tenant to this area." He adds, "In order to set the table for further private investment, as the public sector, we're investing in creating a sense of place through streetscape improvements, signage and improving gateway access to the district."
The idea has been under development for a while. "There are plans that have been vetted through a multi-year and many-meeting process between the community and property owners and the city of doing streetscape improvements, improve sidewalks, street trees, benches, there's even a planned park, connectivity for walking and biking through the area, as well as monument signage so you really understand that you've entered into a special place," Arnold tells KBND News. "This is really the way Urban Renewal is supposed to work, really setting the table for these partnerships to leverage money, public hours to really encourage private development; and the process that has gone on to this point has been exactly the way it should go. The public and stakeholders that own property in the area and the tenants have all been involved thoroughly in this conversation."
SALEM, OR -- Oregon's Fish and Wildlife Commission voted Monday to remove wolves from the state's Endangered Species list. However, the move doesn't remove all protections for the wolf.
Oregon's Wolf Plan will continue to keep non-lethal measures on top of the list to prevent attacks on livestock. And, it remains against the law to kill a wolf, with a penalty of $6,250 and a year in jail.
The Commission heard nearly 11 hours of testimony before voting four to two in favor of delisting the wolf.
BEND, OR -- The committee tasked with recommending regulations for marijuana businesses in Bend updated the Planning Commission, Monday night. City Planner Pauline Hardie outlined the group’s proposed separation regulations for marijuana retailers: "Marijuana dispensaries may not operate or conduct business within a thousand feet of a school, a thousand feet of another medical dispensary, or 150-feet of a licensed child care facility. We also have spacing standards proposed for recreational facilities; a thousand feet from a school, and 150-feet from a licensed child care facility."
During the public hearing, Bend Parks and Rec Vice Chair Ted Schoenborn asked for separation from local parks, as well. "The board is recommending a 250-foot buffer between marijuana dispensaries, both medical and recreational retail, and all public parks within the city of Bend. We believe that locating adult businesses adjacent to our most valued parks, trails, schools and like facilities that serve families, children and visitors, would have a negative impact on our children." His request, however, failed to gain traction with the Commission.
Several others shared concerns and support for the businesses. "I just ask that in our decisions, that we really, really think strongly about the potential implications. And for me, it’s really all about kids," said one woman. "We came to the city and said, listen, let’s regulate us. Let’s just be sensible about those regulations," pointed out another speaker. "We see this as a ticket to a middle class lifestyle. It is less peace and love and more business and commerce," said another. "It’s legal. Now let’s be rational. It’s going to benefit our economy. We don't want it to harm our kids."
The Planning Commission will make recommendations for marijuana business regulations to the City Council for approval.
BEND, OR -- OSU-Cascades is looking for people interested in helping the new four-year university be a good neighbor. A new Community Integration Advisory Group will look at creating connections between the campus on the west side of Bend, and surrounding neighborhoods.
Kelly Sparks, with OSU Cascades, says the school also plans to implement changes within the student body to encourage a positive community interactions. "OSU Cascades is also working on a first year experience program. We’re starting to think about ‘how do you transition students from living on campus’ – which is their first away-from home living experience, which is an important step. But, the next step is how do they live off campus? How do they integrate into the community in a healthy and productive way. And we take that very seriously," Sparks tells KBND News.
She says community cooperation is not just the job of administrators. "Our student code of conduct applies to students whether they live on campus or adjacent to campus; and we take that responsibility very seriously, in enforcing that and working with our students."
Applications for the new Community Integration Advisory Group will be accepted through Thursday, November 12 and meetings will continue into January as part of the long range planning process for OSU-Cascades. Click HERE
for the online application.
BEND, OR -- State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) considers the escalating cost of the state's Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) one of the biggest challenges facing the state. And, so do his constituents. In a recent online poll, voters told Knopp they want more legislation dealing with PERS in the February session.
Knopp tells KBND News some of his ideas could face court challenges. "Basically, using a market rate for money-match annuities; we currently have a way above market rate. And then, redirecting individual account program member contributions back into PERS. I think both of those are constitutional. And, what's clearly constitutional is creating a new 401k style program that's competitive with the private sector."
He adds, "And then, I think capping benefits so taxpayers aren't on the hook for millionaire PERS retirees. That one, I think, is something we should do. I'm a little less confident on the constitutionality of it, but I think it's worth testing with the court." Knopp's previous legislative efforts to control the escalating cost of the PERS and what he calls a drain on the state's education budget, have failed.
During the short session in February, lawmakers can only each introduce two bills. Knopp hopes to also make headway on striking a balance between keeping forests healthy and produce badly needed timber jobs in Rural Oregon. He says, "If you truly care about environmental issues, you have to put as your number one priority eliminating all the fires and smoke that relates to that. Because, the carbon dioxide output of these major forest fires dwarfs almost any other output that's out there; certainly in Central Oregon."
BEND, OR -- Less than two months after breaking ground, Central Electric Cooperative is hosting a ceremonial “panel hanging” on Thursday. The solar project is adjacent to the utility's service center on SE 27th in Bend, next to the Knott landfill.
The community solar project allows members to voluntarily share the costs and benefits of the 200,000-watt installation on approximately 1.7 acres of land. Central Electric's Courtney Linville says customers who purchase a solar panel or a share in a panel will receive benefits. “Members will actually get the credit from the energy that is created from the panel onto their bills. We have enough space to grow up to five phases. Right now we’re just starting with the first phase and seeing what the community response is.” Phase one will house 704 solar panels.
The project is visible from 27th street. “We will have plantings going around the facility itself so while we’re doing construction you’ll be able to se it. By early next spring we’ll have some plantings to kind of block the view just a little bit,” Linville tells KBND News.
Thursday’s panel hanging starts at 1:30 PM, at the 27th street location.
BEND, OR -- A pedestrian was struck by a van, Sunday evening. When Bend Police arrived at Third and Division just after 6 PM, they found Danny Lee Williams in the road unconscious and not breathing.
Officers immediately began life-saving efforts and the 51-year-old transient was taken to the hospital. Officials confirm he later died.
Investigators identified 18-year-old Taylor Eric Smith as the driver.
The roadway remained closed for several hours last night, while officers investigated the cause crash.
BEND, OR -- A car crash Friday afternoon caused significant damage to a southeast Bend building and officials are now questioning the integrity of the structure. Luckily, no one was hurt, but the business owner at 50 SE Scott tells KBND News the crash will likely be devastating to her photography business and the other artists who lease space there.
The driver appears to have spun around as the car hit the front of the building backwards, just after 1 p.m. Friday. The building's lobby is completely destroyed, but those working inside were in the back and only heard the crash as it happened. Bend Police and Fire are now working to secure and assess the structure.
This is a developing story and we will update with more information as it becomes available.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police now say the report of an armed subject that sent Mountain View high school into lock-out mode Thursday afternoon was related to a kidnapping and assault.
An 18-year-old Bend man says he was forced into a vehicle at gunpoint by 19-year-old Travis Seaton. The suspect allegedly took the victim to his home and forced him to set up a meeting with two other acquaintances.
When the group met at the baseball field near Trinity Lutheran Church at 27th and Butler Market, Seaton and a Utah man assaulted the other two. Bend PD was notified shortly after the assault.
The two suspects abandoned their vehicle on NE Jackson St, where it was later recovered by patrol officers. Police arrested both Seaton and 19-year-old Miguel Moreno-Valles just after midnight, Friday at an undisclosed residence.
Detectives later executed a search warrant at Seaton's home on NE Sonya Court and recovered a shotgun and other evidence linking the suspects to the incident.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are considering increasing the affordable housing fee back to pre-recession levels. Currently, developers pay 1/5 of 1% of the total value of their building permit. At this week's meeting, City Councilors discussed raising it to 1/3 of 1%. Some councilors believe that would help increase the affordable housing options in Bend.
Read more about the Affordable Housing Fund.
City Councilor Barb Campbell said at this week's meeting that she thinks it's time to revisit the issue. "I think we would be making the right decision at this point in time to respond to the current change in the economy. I think this is perfectly appropriate, you examine it every few years. It went down because of the bad economy; we should bring it back up now that the economy is coming up."
Councilor Nathan Boddie agreed. "I'm comfortable with those numbers, particularly when we think about that those were the numbers years ago, before the recession. We're not really talking about jacking things up; we're actually talking about restoring them to where they were pre-recession. So, no heartburn here."
But, Councilor Casey Roats said he would rather see more housing development. "I would prefer to see us, as a council, focus on how do we get more units built? - Which would generate more revenue. Versus raising the fee and have fewer. If we were to couple really good annexation policies that brought more in and brought more houses, then we would have more money coming into the affordable housing program."
The City Council agreed to revisit the issue in early December.
SISTERS, OR -- A Bend man was injured when he ran in front of a car on Highway 20 in Sisters, early Friday morning. Deschutes County deputies were dispatched to milepost 6, just before 5 a.m.
Investigators say 28-year-old Tharon Crofoot had been hitchhiking along the westbound shoulder of the highway. But, due to the cold weather, he decided to head back to Bend. Upon seeing eastbound cars, he ran across the highway to get the driver's attention and get a ride. As he ran across the road, a Honda Accord struck Crofoot.
The driver immediately turned around and helped get the man out of the roadway. Sisters Fire medics transported Crofoot to St. Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries.
DCSO says Crofoot may have been under the influence at the time of the accident. No citations have been issued.
BEND, OR -- The first of two public hearings on proposed regulations for businesses that sell, grow and process marijuana in unincorporated Deschutes County, took place Thursday. The Planning Commission is trying to adopt what the state calls “reasonable” regulations for marijuana-related businesses. But that isn’t sitting well with some neighbors of growing operations.
KBND News was at the Thursday evening meeting and heard comments like, “The sites and sounds and smells just extend much farther than a hundred feet;" "Horrible smells. Intolerable noise and lighting that looks like Manhattan;" "Taking a deliberate and considered approach and allow this marijuana gold rush frenzy to just cool down and let things get sorted out.”
There were some supporters of the proposed regulations. One grower told the Planning Commission, “There is no smell from my indoor building." Another supporter said, "I would strongly urge the county to adopt regulations that are in line and communicate well with the adopted OLCC regulations.”
The issue brought passionate comments from one neighbor in Alfalfa, who said he was threatened on the telephone, and declared at last night’s meeting, ”We’re armed out there.”
A second public hearing is scheduled for next Thursday. The planning commission will then send its recommendations to County Commissioners.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police rescued two goats Thursday from the front of Pine Ridge Elementary, but weren't sure where they belonged. The one male and one female were reunited with their family by Friday morning.
BEND, OR -- Drowsy driving is blamed for a late-night crash that brought down a power pole on the Old Bend-Redmond Highway.
Deschutes County deputies responded to the area near Tumalo Road just after 11, Thursday night. They say 25-year old Camden Bohannan of Bend fell asleep at the wheel. His pickup left the road, rolled at least once and slid down a 15-foot embankment.
The crash damaged about 300-feet of fencing and a power pole was sheared off, leaving it hanging by its lines. The driver wasn’t hurt, but was ticketed.
BEND, OR -- Bend City officials say crews made extensive improvements to accessibility during this year’s construction season, with work on 215 curb ramps. It’s part of an ongoing effort to comply with federal handicap accessibility guidelines.
But, Brian Douglass with the Make Bend Accessible Coalition, says there are still more than 5,00 that still need to be done. "The city does not know, and neither do we, how many other curbs and ramps that have been built since 1992 need to be renovated, repaired or rehabbed. So, that 5,843 number is pretty fluid." And, Douglass tells KBND News, "At the rate of a couple of hundred or 215 or so a year, it’s going to take about 27 years, by my calculation, to catch up."
Last week, Douglass gave Bend City Councilors a list of funding options to speed up the work. "We’ve given them a buffet table of half a dozen ideas. From there, they’re going to be working on the amount that would come from each one of those possibilities. And, that’s how we would propose to take care of this particular issue of accessibility," Douglass tells KBND News. His options include potential taxes on food and beverages, cannabis or E-cigarette sales. "What we’ve proposed is a series of potential funding sources, which we believe any combination of would probably provide the revenue stream. And, those taxes and fees on those items do need to be approved by the public."
Douglass acknowledges, even under the best circumstances, it would take five to ten years to construct or repair all of the necessary curbs and sidewalks.
BEND, OR -- Four people were arrested following a drug investigation in northeast Bend. Police had received complaints of drug activity at a Kearney Avenue residence.
Officers from Bend Police and the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team (CODE) served a search warrant at the home Wednesday morning, and found user amounts of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, LSD and mushrooms. They also seized packaging materials and scales.
The four taken into custody, 20-year-old Paul Dilorenzo and 21-year-old Skyla Kistler, both of Bend, 32-year-old Daniel LaCroix of La Pine and 34-year-old Esaui Mutchler of Madras, all face numerous drug related charges, including Possession and Manufacturing.
REDMOND, OR -- American Airlines will start offering year-round daily flights from Redmond's Roberts Field to Los Angeles in December. The company stopped daily flights to LAX in September, but Nicole Jurgensen with Roberts Field tells KBND News they had a change of heart. "Currently, we don't have service to Los Angeles on America Airlines. And, it is slated to pick back up on December 17 for daily service, again."
American will also increase flight capacity. Previously, the airline used planes with 50 coach seats. When flights are reinstated, they will offer 70 coach seats and six in First Class. Jurgensen is pleased, "They're happy with how they're performing out of Redmond. and so we're happy they announced the reinstatement of that daily service. And, bringing on a newer aircraft with more capacity is another great sign of how happy they are with the service out of Redmond." She adds, "As long as they're satisfied with the load factors and people using the service out of Redmond is really the key. If people keep using the service, they will stay. We want to encourage everyone to keep flying out of Redmond!"
BEND, OR -- Firefighters responded to a blaze at a Deschutes River Woods property, just after 9:20 Wednesday morning. Investigators say woodstove ashes were dumped onto a pile of pine needles against a shared wood fence. Within an hour, the pile was on fire and spread to the fence.
Bend fire crews quickly knocked down the blaze on Navajo Road, and prevented the flames from spreading to nearby firewood sheds. Although, the fire melted a car bumper and burned away several sections of fence.
Fire officials remind everyone to properly dispose of ashes from woodstoves, fireplaces and campfires to prevent unwanted fires. They should be discarded in metal containers with tight-fitting lids until fully cooled.
Wednesday morning's fire resulted in $1,000 in damage.
REDMOND, OR -- Tom McCall Elementary School received a sizable donation from Best Buy and Intel's Retail Edge Program. According to the Redmond School District, Best Buy store associates from across the country competed against other stores for the chance to recognize a local school with a donation. Employees were tested over the summer through quizzes and knowledge checks.
Due to the success of the Best Buy store at Cascade Village in Bend, and a partnership with Intel, Tom McCall was awarded a $5,000 prize, October 29. "Tom McCall Elementary is honored to receive this generous donation from Best Buy and Intel," Principal Drew Frank said in a release. "This gift will allow our school to provide meaningful classroom resources to help students succeed."
BEND, OR -- The Forest Service declared the end of wildfire season last week, allowing officials to reflect on what was predicted to be a record year. Kassidy Kern, with the Deschutes National Forest, tells KBND News other parts of the state and country saw devastating fires that scorched hundreds of thousands of acres.
But, she says locally, fewer lightning strikes meant our region was spared. "Here in Central Oregon, we just didn’t see it as much, but that was only because we didn’t have the ignition sources. Everywhere around us – in the Willamette National Forest to the west, all of the eastern forests – the Malheur had the big fire near John Day, and it’s because they all had lightning; and we just didn’t get it this year, so we really dodged a bullet."
Kern says, "Last year, in contrast, we had days where we would have between 700-1,000 lightning strikes. This year, we would have 150 lightning strikes. And so, it really ended up being we didn’t have the ignition sources that overwhelmed our resources." Despite drought conditions, that lack of lightning allowed crews to quickly respond to starts before they got out of control. She points out, locally, the majority of the large fires were human caused.
Other communities around the state and country weren't so lucky. "We were at a preparedness level 5 for an almost record amount of time. And, what that means is that across the nation we were completely stretched thin with resources. We had every available firefighter out. We know that, partially because we saw the numbers, but also because we were calling in firefighters from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It was a really, I hate to use the buzzword, but an epic fire year for us," Says Kern.
BEND, OR -- Tuesday night’s Bend Chamber “What’s Brewing” event focused on “What’s Next for OSU-Cascades?” Three college representatives gave updates on key issues under consideration as they plan for the 4-year institution’s growth. Vice President of Finance Kelly Sparks tells KBND News it's important that everyone has input in the process. “Our associated students are very involved with the administration, with the faculty, in driving what the needs are for the campus. And our faculty are incredibly involved in visioning for what the future campus is.”
Sparks says in the coming months, the university will focus on academic research and student life, arts and culture, community integration, sustainability, and health & wellness. “This is where we’re going to be with the community for the next 17 months. It’s not just today but were going to have to work very closely to meet everybody’s needs together.”
A recurring message at Tuesday's meeting was the need to include and respond to input in each area and to be a good neighbor and community member.
BEND, OR -- Staff at Bend's Trinity Lutheran School arrived at work Tuesday morning and discovered their $30,000 solar car missing. But, social media helped police track it down just hours later.
Turning to Facebook, the school asked people to be on the lookout for the bright red trailer with the car inside. Tom Stueve teaches science at the school and is the solar car coach. His wife Heather was driving near Highway 20 and 27th Street when she saw the familiar trailer. She tells KBND, "I followed it all the way down Knott, almost all the way to China Hat while police were moving to catch up with me. I didn't confront them, I just followed them so that if they stopped somewhere, I could tell police where they stopped. The police finally showed up, and I went back home!"
Police arrested 38-year-old Christina Bencini and 42-year-old Hishkama Bencini, both of Bend. Investigators believe they were headed to California. The women now face aggravated theft charges.
Looking back at the ordeal, Stueve says, "I just feel like it was definitely God's timing. He was in complete control. The fact that I just saw the Facebook post, and that I happened to be in the intersection where it was sitting, and that I could recognize it so easily because I've seen it so many times was a great blessing. God was watching out today."
Christina Bencini Hishkama Bencini
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A group of Senate Democrats is working to provide regulatory relief for smaller financial institutions operating in rural America. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is the ranking member of the Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection. "Banks and credit unions in Oregon almost exclusively fall into the community and small financial institution categories. It’s especially true of financial institutions that serve our rural communities, which have deep roots in small communities. From the Bank of Eastern Oregon, headquartered in Heppner, population of 1,300. It has 13 branches and $325 million in assets. And, Mid Oregon Credit Union headquartered in Bend, serving rural Central Oregon as well as the Warm Springs Tribe. Mid Oregon has six branches and $213 million in assets," Senator Merkley said during last week's subcommittee hearing.
He also called out big banks for their role in the Great Recession, "There remains strong bipartisan support for reforming the activities of Wall Street. That said, we all know that community banks and small credit unions did not cause the financial crisis. As legislators then, we need to strike a balance to provide appropriate consumer protection from predatory products while ensuring that community banks and credit unions can do their job providing credit in rural America." Merkley added, "The caution I would have is against trying to use the challenges of banks in rural America as a wedge to restore the New York ‘Wall Street casino operations’ that brought down America. That has been a choice strategy that we’ve been witnessing here on Capitol Hill. And, that would be a mistake."
Several credit union representatives testified at that hearing, saying regulations like Dodd-Frank, which were passed to prohibit another crash, are causing big burdens for small financial institutions.
BEND, OR -- Commercial vacancy rates in Bend don’t quite rival that of the tight housing market, but available office space is getting hard to come by. Pat Kesgard with Compass Commercial says Industrial vacancies dropped from 7.8 to 6.3% in the third quarter and office availability fell dramatically, from 9.2 to 7.4%. "When you get close to that 6% vacancy rate, that’s a pretty firm market. When you think about a real estate cycle, it’s a bell curve concept. In 2010-2011 we were at the bottom of the bell curve. Now we’re going up the left side, but what we don’t know is when we’re going to hit the top."
While Retail availability remained statically unchanged at 6.4%, Kesgard tells KBND News that’s likely to move in the fourth quarter. "In that third quarter, we still had the former Outback Steakhouse. As of this month, fourth quarter, we have leased that. It’ll be a Benihana-type restaurant; it’s a chain out of San Diego, and they’ll also have a large menu in sushi, I understand." He adds, "There’s the health food store in Wagner Mall, they’ve just announced they’re going to close and I believe that’s about 6,000-square foot, not a huge space. We have several regional and national restaurants and chains that are looking in Bend to open; so, a lot of activity from the regional and national firms to come to Bend."
Kesgard says industrial space in Redmond is also getting tighter – vacancies fell from 8.1 to 7.9% in third quarter.
To hear our full conversation with Pat Kesgard, visit our Podcast Page
BEND, OR -- It's time to shop for 2016 health insurance coverage. The federal marketplace is now open for enrollment. But, Jesse O'Brien, with the consumer group OSPIRG, says you must shop around to get the best plan. "Plan designs and benefits, and especially rates, can change from year to year, and the rates are changing quite a bit for next year. I would advise everybody, if you're buying a plan for yourself and your family, even if you like your current plan, I would strongly recommend shopping around before renewing."
Many insurance companies have raised premiums this year, but O'Brien tells KBND News that's not the only thing to consider. "Don't just look at the premium. Out of pocket charges for healthcare services, and prescription drugs especially, can quickly break the bank if you aren't careful, especially if you have health conditions that need regular medical attention. Plans that have lower premiums often have higher out of pocket costs, so you should be sure to check what the co-pays and deductibles and co-insurance rates are. "
O'Brien adds, "The online marketplace at healthcare.gov has a new tool that's new this year that helps provide a fairly rough but still a real estimate of yearly out of pocket expenses for each plan. So, that can be helpful. I also recommend people look at the details of costs and coverage for different services, which are available in the plans' Summary of Benefits and Coverage document."
In Oregon, 240,000 buy their own health coverage. Consumers have until January 31 to sign up for a 2016 health plan. But, if you want coverage to begin on January first, you must enroll by December 15.
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -- The man who police say randomly shot and killed three people near downtown Colorado Springs over the weekend grew up in Central Oregon. Investigators say 33-year-old Noah Harpham was killed in a shootout with police, Saturday morning. Harpham graduated from Sisters High School in 2000.
The motive for the shootings remains unknown. Police say he walked out of his home and shot and killed a nearby bicyclist and two women sitting on a nearby porch. Harpham's mother, Heather Kopp is an author and wrote about her son's alcoholism as well as her own.
Police say Harpham worked in insurance in Colorado Springs and appeared to have little trouble with the law except for a speeding ticket more than ten years ago. His younger brother is an attorney at a Bend law firm.
His family released a statement through a Colorado minister saying, "Our family is shocked and deeply saddened by the devastating events that took place in Colorado Springs Saturday morning. Words cannot express our heartfelt sympathies that go out to the families and friends of the victims. We ask for privacy as our family tries to deal with this tragedy."
BEND, OR -- When President Obama signed the new federal budget Monday, it included a big hit to the Victims of Crime Act – or “VOCA” – fund. Janet Huerta, Executive Director of Bend-based Saving Grace, is frustrated with how Congress negotiated 1.5 billion dollars out of the fund that she says wasn’t theirs to take. "Last week what they did in this budget, they said ‘look, we’ve got this money sitting there, we don’t care that it’s not taxpayer money. We’re the Congress; we can do whatever we want. We’re just going to rescind and permanently cancel $1.5 billion so that we can allocate that to whatever we need.’ I mean, essentially, they’re breaking their own law because the statute reads, ‘the funds deposited should remain in the fund.’"
The VOCA account was created by Congress in 1984 and is funded by fines paid by perpetrators of crimes. Huerta explains: "They’ve said ‘look, we need an appropriate form of justice here.’ It’s an appropriate form of justice, if you’ve committed a crime against another person, that we fine you, and we’re going to put that in the bank. So, it’s not taxpayer money. I mean, it’s interest, but basically it’s an appropriate form of justice for you to pay in this way for your crime."
Saving Grace isn't the only local agency relying on the VOCA fund. Huerta tells KBND News, "A District Attorney’s office and their victims assistance program they use this funding; KIDS Center uses this funding; parents of murdered children use this funding; and there are other domestic violence programs around the state of Oregon that use this funding as well as other places. So, for organizations that are really dependent on it, those victims in those areas that get served by those organizations, they’re really going to be hurt."
She says the federal team
that manages how the fund is allocated just began to loosen the purse strings in the last year, allowing Saving Grace to bring on more victims' advocates. But now, those positions are at risk. "One of the things for us is, to put it in very real terms, imagine a situation that, this year it’s wonderful because we have three more people who are dedicated to being able to help victims of sexual assault, human trafficking, stalking, child abuse, etc. Then we, all of a sudden, have to not provide those services or reduce the numbers of those services and go back to where we were in 2014." Huerta is hopeful they will be able to find other funding sources to keep those positions. Although, she worries smaller organizations may not have other options.
BEND, OR -- After more than a decade of planning, lawsuits and construction, the Bridge Creek Pipeline Replacement Project is nearly done. The project is part of the city of Bend’s effort to comply with drinking water filtration rules originally imposed in 2012. But, that was extended as the city fought lawsuits filed by Central Oregon Landwatch.
Engineering Director Tom Hickman says aside from the lawsuits things have gone smoothly. "As it stands today, the treatment plant, we are doing testing operations. On the pipeline, the pipeline is complete all the way to the intake. And, all that needs to be done is to connect it to the intake; and the intake is currently under construction."
Hickman tells KBND News, "We’ve tested the pipeline to make sure it could handle the flows and pressures; we were able to do that before we demolished the old intake structure. We’ve now drained the pipe so we could take down the old intake structure and reconstruct the new one. While we’re doing that, we’re actually running well water through the treatment plant to test all of the operations of the treatment plant."
Trails near Tumalo Falls reopened to hikers on Saturday, but the trailhead parking lot remains closed to allow for the heavy machinery needed to build that new intake structure. "We have until April first, under the state rules who is enforcing the federal rules, to have our treatment plant fully functional. We actually believe we’ll be able to hit that milestone by the end of December," Hickman says.
PORTLAND, OR -- An E. Coli outbreak in Oregon and Washington has led Chipotle to shut down restaurants in the Portland and Seattle areas. Jonathan Modie, with the Oregon Public Health Division, says they're still tracking down the source of the outbreak. "We want people who have eaten at a Chipotle anytime between October 14 and October 23 and have become ill with vomiting or bloody diarrhea to see their healthcare provider."
Modie says they expect the number of people sickened by E. Coli to increase, since not everyone gets sick enough to report the disease. The restaurant chain is waiting for approval from the health department before reopening.
Chipotle's first Bend location opened last month, but so far it has not been tied to the illness.
BEND, OR -- A local University of Oregon Duck Club is re-launching in Bend. Oregon has four alumni groups across the state - in Eugene, Portland, Bend and eastern Oregon, but the Bend chapter has been quiet over the last couple of years.
Kim Gammond is the new President of the Bend Chapter. She tells KBND News, "We focus a lot on getting Ducks connected after college, when they're in Central Oregon, with other Ducks. That's with careers, networking and recruitment. We work with the Advancement Office at U of O to get into the schools and talk with perspective students about going to the University of Oregon and providing support to their families once they go." In the future, the group hopes to offer scholarships to local students who go to U of O.
Gammond says, "It's an opportunity for all of us. Most of us who went there, U of O gave us a lot. It was a great experience, at least for me personally. And, it's an opportunity to give back to the school and also help create opportunities in Central Oregon for high school kids interested in going there and helping bridge that connection for them."
The Bend Duck Club will start meeting monthly at the Broken Top Bottle Shop; the first meeting is Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
BEND, OR -- City Councilors will meet with members of the Street Maintenance Funding Committee Monday to discuss their conclusions. The group was formed to help guide Councilors on how to fund $80 million in needed road repairs.
Committee member Justin Livingston says he still isn't sure what they concluded. "I still don't know what exactly we're presenting, other than the fact that we're just giving the Council a lot of data in order to make their decisions. I really don't feel that the committee has created very solid recommendations to Council."
Livingston tells KBND News the committee agreed to improve the city's Pavement Condition Index (PCI) to prevent skyrocketing road costs in the future. But how to reach that goal is still up in the air. "I don't feel that we're even giving the council a recommendation on the funding level that they should try to achieve. When you don't specifically define what your funding needs are, it's hard to come up with a funding mechanism for that."
There was consensus on the only two avenues that could raise the necessary funds - a local gas tax or a transportation utility fee. Livingston says, "We might have gave them, the people who favor a gas tax, I think the committee provides a little political cover for that. But, I don't see that we actually gave them [Councilors] a whole lot to make decisions on."
City Councilors and the committee will meet at City Hall, beginning at 5 p.m. Monday.
REDMOND, OR -- Two vehicles were significantly damaged in a Sunday evening crash that resulted in only minor injuries. Deschutes County deputies responded to S. Canal Blvd and SW 61st just after 6 p.m. Investigators believe 67-year-old Linda Lucero of Redmond attempted to cross S. Canal and pulled into the path of an oncoming pickup driven by 33-year-old Francis Erhart, also of Redmond.
Erhart received minor injuries and was transported to St. Charles Redmond for evaluation. The roadway was partially blocked for about an hour while law enforcement investigated the crash. They say speed and/or alcohol were not contributing factors.
SISTERS, OR -- At least four people were seriously injured in a two-car crash just west of Hoodoo, Sunday afternoon. According to Oregon State Police, 31-year-old Kara Smith of Redmond was eastbound on Highway 20 at about 2:30 p.m. when she lost control on a curve, crossed the center line and hit a car driven by 73-year-old Gail Hayes of Salem.
Two children in Smith’s car were flown to St. Charles Bend and two adults were taken by ground ambulance. The highway was closed in both directions for a short time while emergency crews responded to the scene.
Troopers say the highway was wet, although the cause of the crash is under investigation.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Three people were injured in a Sunday morning crash near Juniper Canyon Road and Davis Loop.
When Crook County deputies arrived just after 9:30 a.m., a passing motorist was treating 19-year-old Riley Floyd of Prineville; his passenger was trapped in the vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle, a 33-year-old Prineville man, was out and walking around. Deputies say Floyd crossed into oncoming traffic and hit another vehicle head on.
Floyd, his female passenger and the other driver were all taken to St. Charles Prineville. Alcohol and speed do not appear to be factors in the crash.