BEND, OR -- Bend's Cascades Theatrical Company continues with Alfred Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps," this weekend. But, Saturday's performance will be unique.
We have reserved 16 seats for the deaf and hard of hearing," Janice Sharpe, with CTC, tells KBND News. "We have signers coming. I didn't realize it, but they kind of have to tag team; it's a pretty taxing process. So, they're going to switch off and one of them will do 15 minutes or so, then switch off with the next one."
Sharpe adds, "It's amazing how much expression, I mean, what they're doing is almost a performance in and of itself! They are really putting a lot of effort into making what they're doing a performance, as well."
The sign language show of "The 39 Steps" is Saturday at 7 p.m. Sharpe says if there is continued interest, they're considering offering one show each season for the deaf and hearing impaired.
BEND, OR -- While OSU-Cascades officials celebrate the final purchase of a 46-acre pumice mine property, due diligence continues on the 76-acre County Demolition Landfill, also adjoining the existing 10-acre campus.
OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson tells KBND News they are in the fact finding phase to see if the landfill will work for expansion. “We’re going to bring over some faculty, experts in engineering from Corvallis who are going to take a look at that site with us with county representatives and others and see if there is some out-of-the-box thinking about how you can clean it up.” She admits, that won't be easy, “We know that you can scoop out a lot of bad material and truck it off to somewhere else. That’s like the most expensive way to remediate that site. But there might be some other ideas that have to do with capping, building on piers, you know, things like that that aren’t as expensive and then, where do you get the funds for whichever option we end up choosing.”
A non-binding letter of intent between Deschutes County and OSU-Cascades provides for a two-year framework for exploring the viability of reclaiming the former demolition landfill as part of the OSU-Cascades campus.
PORTLAND, OR -- The state of Oregon is closely monitoring Moda Health, which is in severe financial trouble. Lisa Morawski, with the Department of Consumer and Business Services, says they will keep the company in operation, "Reviewing any financial transactions they want to take and insuring claims are being paid." Current policy holders should continue to get medical care.
Morawski adds, "The order also prohibits Moda from issuing new policies or renewing current policies." Moda Health must submit a plan to the state by Friday that will detail how they plan to continue operations into the future.
BEND, OR -- A group of SkyView Middle School students only have a few more days to rally the popular vote in the Verizon App Challenge. The team already beat out 1200 other teams to win the state title with their outdoor safety app idea, and is now in the running for the $15,000 national prize.
Eighth grader Grant Hillis says his team is doing their best to recruit support before the Sunday night deadline. "If you were at SkyView on Tuesday in the cafeteria, and brought your phone with proof that you voted, you would’ve gotten a free sucker and a chance to win a pizza party."
Principal Scott Olszewski tells KBND News the contest isn't just about the monetary prize. "The money is, of course, nice. It’s great that they’re bringing in some grant money for the school, it’s nice that they’re all getting a tablet. More than anything, though, I think what’s great about it is they went through this engineering process, identified a problem, came together as a team, collaborated, and then took it all the way to the top."
The team of seventh and eighth graders has until midnight Sunday night to beat the other 49 teams through text voting. View their explanitory video HERE
. To submit your vote for SkyView Middle School, text “outdoorsafe1” to 22-333.
To hear our full conversation with two members of the App Challenge team, and Principal Olszewski, visit our Podcast Page
BURNS, OR -- The FBI has released video of the officer-involved shooting outside of Burns that left Robert "LaVoy" Finicum dead. He was shot by law enforcement during a traffic stop that also led to the arrest of Ammon Bundy, the leader of the group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
The video was shot from an FBI plane. Special Agent Greg Bretzing says officers had information that Finicum and others in his truck were armed. Finicum was outside of his pickup and in the snow when officers confronted him. "On at least two occasions, Finicum reaches his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket," Bretzing told reporters at a Thursday news conference. "He did have a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun in that pocket."
Officers shot and killed Finicum. Bretzing says they're releasing the video to end speculation about what led to the shooting. The FBI posted the unedited video on the agency's YouTube channel. Click HERE to view the raw footage. Finicum exits his truck at 9:20 into the video.
Four people remained at the refuge, as of Thursday night. Negotiators are working to get them to give themselves up peacefully, as Bundy renewed calls for occupiers to leave.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville City Councilors, like Crook County Commissioners, have voted to oppose a plan that would convert part of the Ochoco National Forest into a National Recreation Area. Oregon Wild is proposing the idea, but it has met large opposition in the region.
600 people showed up at Tuesday's City Council meeting to voice their opinion, and all but a few opposed it. Mayor Betty Roppe doesn't believe it's needed.
"I think it's working, right now. We're quite comfortable with how it's working with the Forest Service managing it. And, I don't know what any of the proposals would add to that. In fact, I think it may detract from it, because they're proposing to close more roads. And, I know the Forest Service has already done some of that." She adds, "They were going to create three new wilderness areas. When you have a wilderness areas, you cannot take any motorized vehicles into that, you cannot go in with chainsaws, etc. And, I didn't see that was an advantage. I think the Forest Service is doing a fine job with what they're doing."
Councilors listened to an hour and a half of comments from residents and Roppe says the feedback was pretty one-sided. "A significant number of our citizens were saying they didn't trust it to stop with what they were initially proposing. They thought once they proposed one thing that it could be increased to encompass other things."
Roppe says Councilors plans to send letters to Congressman Greg Walden and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, saying the city opposes the plan.
BURNS, OR -- Deschutes County’s Major Incident Team is leading the investigation into the officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of militant frontman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum. Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson spoke with KBND News from Harney County, Wednesday afternoon. He says Oregon State Police requested his team about 30 minutes after that deadly traffic stop, north of Burns.
He tells KBND News his agency has a very specific purpose, right now. "Our office is overseeing the officer-involved shooting aspect. We’re being helped with the Major Incident Team of Deschutes County and several people combined to assist in that – Bend Police Department, Redmond Police Department the State Police and other agencies that came over here to help us investigate this scene."
"They [OSP] reached out to our partners that are a part of our Major Incident Team from Deschutes County," Sheriff Nelson says. "And they have been wonderful in committing resources to come over here and continue this investigation in partnership with Oregon State Police and any other agencies."
Sheriff Nelson stood behind Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward during Wednesday's press conference
. He has continually supported Sheriff Ward, as has the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association. "OSSA stands together in supporting Sheriff Ward. I think he has shown tremendous strength. I admire his leadership abilities and his strong partnership with his community."
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools officials say high school graduation rates continue to outpace the statewide average.
According to new information released by the Oregon Department of Education, Bend-La Pine’s rate held steady last year, at 77.2%. That's more than three-percentage points ahead of the statewide average of 74%.
Summit High reported the highest rate in the district, at 91.6%. Bend High came in second, at 85.2%.
We'll have more on the statewide and local numbers, coming up on KBND News.
BEND, OR -- Pot holes seem worse this year in Bend because more moisture and extreme temperature swings are wreaking havoc on the roads. “This year has been a little bit wetter. 40-degrees during the day and freezing temperatures in the evening. But then with stormy weather and the moisture it’s been a tough year for the pot holes,” Bend Streets Director David Abbas tells KBND News.
He says, “Our crews have been out on 14th street, one of the bad areas for us. Colorado Roundabout and different areas in town. So we’re out there this week trying to do a more long term fix on those.” That long term fix means using a hot asphalt mix, rather than a temporary cold mix.
This temporary warm spell is allowing the hot to be used before mother nature once again gives us the cold shoulder.
BURNS, OR -- FBI, Special Agent in Charge, Greg Bretzing read from a prepared statement during Wednesday morning's press conference:
Good morning. My name is Greg Bretzing, and I am the Special Agent in Charge for the FBI in Oregon.
For the past month, the FBI -- along with our partners at the Harney County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police and the many other federal and local agencies -- have had a very deliberate and measured response. We worked diligently to bring the situation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to a peaceful end. Some of those actions were seen, some unseen. But, because this is an on-going investigation with some armed individuals illegally remaining in the refuge, we cannot get into details as to every action tried or taken.
I will say that the armed occupiers were given ample opportunities to leave peacefully. They were given the opportunity to negotiate. As outsiders to Oregon, they were given the opportunity to return to their homes and have their grievances heard through legal and appropriate means. They chose, instead, to threaten the very America they profess to love with violence, intimidation and criminal acts.
Yesterday, the FBI and our partners took the necessary actions to start bringing this situation to an end. We worked to ensure that we could do so in the safest way possible -- removing the threat of danger from innocent citizens. We continue to work to empty the refuge of the armed occupiers in the safest way possible.
Eight people were arrested, and one man died yesterday as we attempted to take him into custody. Because there is an on-going investigation by the Deschutes County Major Crimes Team on behalf of OSP related to this piece of the investigation, I will not be able to comment on the specifics.
I would, however, ask for your patience as the shooting investigation works its way through that outside process. At the appropriate time, the Medical Examiner's office will release the decedent's identity, and OSP will address the details of the event.
Let me be clear: It is fully and unequivocally the behavior and the choices made by the armed occupiers that have led us to where we are today. And, as the FBI and our partners have demonstrated, actions are not without consequences.
Containment road blocks are now in place around the Refuge. The disruption that the good people of Harney County have had to endure over the last few months will continue -- for now.
If the people at the refuge want to leave, they can do so through the checkpoints where they will be identified. If they have questions or concerns, they can call the negotiators at the number that has been provided to them.
As I conclude I want to share my promise to the people who live and work here -- who are raising their families here - that we will continue to look for safe, peaceful and productive ways to end this armed occupation. We recognize that the sooner we do that, the sooner the citizens of Harney County can start healing this community they cherish so much.
Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward and U.S. Attorney Bill Williams also spoke at Wednesday's press conference.
BURNS, OR -- Leaders of the group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were arrested during a traffic stop Tuesday afternoon. They were traveling on Highway 395 from Burns to a planned meeting in John Day. During the arrest, shots were fired and "Lavoy" Finicum was killed. Ryan Bundy was shot in the arm. Those arrested are now being held at the Multnomah County Jail, in Portland.
Ammon Bundy's sister-in-law Briana Bundy tells ABC News, "Ammon said that he doesn’t know why they shot him. It was completely unprovoked, there was no reason for it, it was uncalled for and they were complying. And, nobody had a weapon." Cliven Bundy, Ammon and Ryan's father, reacted after the shooting, "I feel like my sons are on good nations doing good things, helping people. They weren’t threatening nobody." Deschutes County's Major Incident team, Oregon State Police and the Harney County District Attorney's Office are investigating the officer-involved shooting.
Robert "Lavoy" Finicum was an outspoken member of the occupation, often appearing with Ammon Bundy at press conferences and granting interviews with reporters and bloggers sympathetic to their cause. He spoke with The Oregonian about Tuesday's planned meeting in Grant County. "They reached out to us, and they're fed up. They're sick and tired of what's been happening to them. So, they want us to come and have us explain to them - most of the time we spend is teaching. And, they're considering taking the same steps that have been taken in Utah, here and what looks like is going to happen this Friday in Malheur County. What you're seeing is the citizens themselves saying, 'We're done. We're through.'" Finicum was a rancher from Arizona and he and his wife cared for several foster children who were taken away after the standoff began.
Top: Brian Cavalier, Ammon Edward Bundy, Joseph O'Shaughnessy, Peter Santilli
Bottom: Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne, Shawna Cox, Jon Ritzheimer
The FBI has now set up checkpoints around the refuge to stop anyone from entering the property. Those coming out of the refuge will have their identity confirmed and vehicle searched. FBI, Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing, U.S. Attorney Bill Williams and Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward are scheduled to hold a press conference in Burns at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday.
** UPDATE ** Wednesday's press conference has been postponed to 11 a.m.
Despite previous reports to the contrary, St. Charles Medical Center officials say the Bend hospital did not receive any patients from Harney County, although it remained in lockdown until 5:30 Wednesday morning, as a security precaution.
Harney County Judge Steve Grasty issued a statement Tuesday evening: "I am relieved this situation is coming to an end, however, I am saddened by the loss of life. I hope and pray that those who remain at the Refuge will stand down peacefully."
Governor Kate Brown released the following statement shortly after news broke of the shootout. "The situation in Harney County continues to be the subject of a federal investigation that is in progress. My highest priority is the safety of all Oregonians and their communities. I ask for patience as officials continue pursuit of a swift and peaceful resolution."
Congressman Greg Walden (R-Hood River) released a statement Wednesday morning, saying, “I've been in close contact with local and federal officials throughout this long standoff, and we had all hoped for a peaceful conclusion to the situation in Harney County. Sadly, our hopes were shattered with the shooting that occurred during last night's arrest. While we wait to learn more details and next steps, we must keep the people of Harney County in our hearts as they are a strong community and have endured a great deal. Once again, I urge those who remain at the refuge to go home before anyone else gets hurt. And when this done and the cameras' glare turns away from rural Oregon, the healing process will be a long one. Widespread frustration will continue until people in rural American feel like they are being heard and meaningful changes are made to federal land management policy.”
BEND, OR -- Members of the opposition group "Truth in Site" say they're not surprised OSU-Cascades is buying a 46-acre former pumice mine. Jack Matthews tells KBND News he believes it was the school's intention all along. "In my honest opinion, they've been totally disingenuous. Not only with the public, but with Truth in Site; we've been calling them on that since day one. It's a shell game. They want to have it, but they don't want to have a master plan. Doesn't surprise me in the least." Matthews admits he is happy the campus won't be spread all around since the college will now have two adjacent parcels and potentially a third.
Marie Matthews with the group says she's also looking forward to seeing a master plan. "We're not really surprised. We do hope the master plan will be a good, logical, sound plan. I should suspend judgment. But, if it's anything like the plan that they put up for the 10 acres, it's going to be difficult for their students to find parking, to find housing."
The university is also looking at an adjacent 76-acre parcel that used to be the Deschutes County Demolition Landfill. They have two years to explore the viability of that property for future expansion.
BEND, OR -- A national leader on racial inclusiveness will visit Central Oregon Community College, as part of COCC’s Season of Non-Violence. Professor John A. Powell will give two different presentations Wednesday, both are open to the public.
Karen Roth, with the college, says he will focus on how to increase respect and care for all people, even between those who disagree. "He’s asking us to think about how do we practice respect and care for all people. Not that we have to agree with their ideas or their beliefs, but that we care about them as human beings," she tells KBND News. "How do we open up our circle of human compassion to include what we have often called ‘the other’ and how all of us have this need to belong – to belong to a larger society, to belong to other people, and to be cared about by other people. So, how do we do that from our conditioning of ‘othering.’"
Professor Powell will speak at COCC at noon
and 6:30 p.m.
, both presentations are open to the public. Click HERE
to learn more.
COCC is hosting a series of events through February 29 as part of its 8th annual Season of Non-Violence. It’s part of an international effort corresponding with the anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination and Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday. About the events, Roth says, "Where conflict is, I believe, normal and a part of the human condition. But, it’s how we resolve our conflict that I think we can draw on the legacies of King and Gandhi and others who have fought for social justice."
To hear our full conversation with Karen Roth, visit our Podcast Page
HARNEY CO, OR -- Federal authorities have arrested Ammon Bundy, the leader of a group that has occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge since January second.
The FBI and Oregon State Police stopped a car with Bundy and several others just before 4:30 p.m., traveling on Highway 395 on their way to a meeting in John Day. They were scheduled to meet with supporters sympathetic to their cause.
One militant was killed, but law enforcement will not be releasing any information pending identification by the medical examiner's office.
Arrested were 40-year-old Ammon Bundy, 43-year-old Ryan Bundy, 44-year-old Brian Cavalier, 59-year-old Shawna Cox and 32-year-old Ryan Payne.
Officers also arrested 45-year-old Joseph O'Shaughnessy and 50-year-old Peter Santilli at separate events in Burns.
The FBI in Phoenix, Arizona arrested 32-year-old Jon Ritzheimer at 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, in connection with the standoff. Officials say he turned himself into the Peoria Police Department.
All defendants face a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the U.S.
BEND, OR -- After two years of studying the old pumice mine on southwest Chandler Avenue, OSU-Cascades has reached an agreement to purchase the 46-acre property, adjacent to the 10-acre campus currently under construction.
The announcement came at yesterday’s meeting of the college board of advisors. Following due diligence, which included title, environmental, geotechnical and engineering reviews, the deal will close this Friday. OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson tells KBND News, “A lot of work with firms, geotechnical and environmental and architectural forms. We want to make sure the site will work. And so they’ve been looking at the walls there, and how do you need to reinforce those. How m much will you have to bring in to make it useable. Are we sure there’s no contamination from the landfill? There’s not. All those things have to be checked off.”
She adds, “I think the biggest significance is that it gives us more space to think about our campus expansion. Obviously we’ve been talking abut this 46 acres for a long time and closing on that and making it certain we now know that there will be enough room to expand out university to 3,000 to 5,000 students.”
Read reaction from the opposition group Truth in Site, HERE
The 46-acre pumice mine will be purchased for $7,963,000. The college expects it will cost another $7- to $8-million for remediation. The university will consider the option to purchase the adjoining 76-acre Deschutes County demolition landfill. The due diligence for that property is under way.
BEND, OR -- All three Central Oregon counties saw job gains, in December. But, regional economist Damon Runberg says 2015 as a whole was difficult for both Crook and Jefferson counties. "We saw all the counties go down in December, so we saw improvement there. But, those monthly changes - we wouldn’t call it a trend. But, needless to say, it’s good to see our rural community also see their unemployment rates drop a little bit." He tells KBND News, "Crook County is the one that actually job losses over the last year, so not a good year for them. In fact, employment numbers are down 2.1% over the last year, which was the largest employment drop of any county in Oregon, over the last year." He says it’s largely due to the massive layoffs from the shutdown of Woodgrain Millworks. "Although employment levels are down in the county, it’s not like this is a trend that’s affecting all industries in Crook County. It was really specific to one major layoff event."
Runberg adds, "If you just looked at the raw numbers of all of Central Oregon, it makes it look like an exceptional year for Central Oregon; the economy would be red hot. And, that’s true. But, it’s really only true for Deschutes County which, in the beginning of 2015, recovered completely from the recession all the jobs that were lost. And, since then, we’ve been in a period of economic expansion. So really, good times for Deschutes County, our only urban, metro community east of the Cascades."
Deschutes County’s rate dropped 0.2% last month, to 5.8%. Runberg says, "What’s even more impressive about the unemployment rate going down, is we’re actually seeing the labor force grow – which is partially from population growth; there’s a lot of people moving here – it also means there’s a lot of optimism in the local labor market, meaning folks who may have been discouraged a few years ago, and left the labor market, they’re back in it and looking for work because there are jobs out there."
Jefferson and Crook counties each dropped 0.3% in December, landing at 7.3% for Jefferson County and 8% in Crook County.
BEND, OR -- There’s a new grass-roots effort trying to organize formal opposition to the negative impacts they say will occur if recreational marijuana businesses are allowed in rural Deschutes County. Larry Fulkerson says he got involved with PreserveRuralDeschutes.Org after he discovered a medical marijuana grow operation opened next door. "And at the ripe old age of 69, I was not aware that a grow site produces an odor like a skunk. And, it took me a while to figure out what was going on next door. So, I became involved and went to the public meetings. There were a bunch of is that have been attending the meetings that didn’t particularly like the way the recommendations were going and decided to get involved, and think that people need to be educated."
Fulkerson says his group is not against marijuana use, but they are concerned about increased odor, lighting and traffic issues that could come with this new industry. He feels County Commissioners are doing their best to navigate this uncharted territory and blames state lawmakers for putting Commissioners in a no-win situation. "The marijuana industry, through the Oregon Legislature, has gotten rules and regulations in place that have determined that marijuana is a farm crop," He tells KBND News. "It is protected by all of the parts of the right to farm law." He feels the state legislature should have never passed HB 3400, designating pot as a crop. "Any rules and regulations that the Board of County Commissioners try to impose on the marijuana industry that it doesn’t impose on all other farm products will get voted out of office. How can you tell a marijuana farmer that he can only grow his marijuana on a 20-acre parcel or above, and let the alfalfa farmers grow their crop anywhere they want?"
He says rules imposed on local grow operations are likely to be challenged in court, if the same restrictions aren’t placed on all crops in the county. "They [County Commissioners] have been boxed in by the legislature and marijuana industry to the point that, if they propose rules and regulations that protect property values and standard of living, it stands a very good chance of getting voted down."
Fulkerson says they want to see regulations and enforcement work together. To hear our full conversation with Larry Fulkerson, visit our Podcast Page
BEND, OR -- Eastern Oregon State Representative Greg Smith (R-Heppner) is expected to pitch the idea of annexing several eastern Oregon counties to Idaho, in the upcoming legislative session. He cites a disconnect between Portland area legislators and rural counties.
Oregon Congressman Greg Walden (R-Hood River) tells KBND News the idea is not a far fetched as one might think. “People scoff at these ideas when they don't understand what underlies them. And the issue here is that people feel like your voice doesn’t matter when you're in eastern Oregon because the population is in Portland and they wag the whole dog. And people get tired of that, so they look for alternatives so their voice is heard and respected.” He adds, “I’ll tell you the sentiment out in much of eastern Oregon is that they’d rather be connected to Idaho than to Portland. I understand that. Yeah, when you feel like the fix is in against you with your own government [that] you’re paying for, and nobody understands or cares about what you’re going through, there’s a huge level of frustration that is just kind of ignored by those on the west side.”
Although, Walden admits the possibility of eastern Oregon and eastern Washington counties seceding to Idaho is remote. Fifteen years ago, Rep. Greg Smith’s idea of eastern Oregon counties forming a new state received no response in the legislature.
Rep. Smith originally spoke about his idea with the East Oregonian newspaper, in September. Read more HERE
. A La Grande farmer has started a Yahoo Group
to garner support for the plan.
SALEM, OR -- Tuesday is the 316th Anniversary of the last Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami. Earthquake experts from across the region will take to Twitter, beginning at 10 a.m., to answer questions and help Oregonians prepare for the next "big one."
Ali Ryan Hansen, with the Oregon Department of Geology, says it's an opportunity to learn how bad it could be. "What they know about the science of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, to find out from emergency management experts what the best ways are to prepare." But, she admits, Oregonians are getting ready, "People know about it and they are being proactive to get ready to face a Cascadia Subduction zone earthquake."
Over the last 3500 years, there have been seven of these massive earthquakes and geologists say we need to be prepared for a 9.0 quake that will hit in the future.
Join the conversation on Twitter using the #CascadiaEQ.
LA PINE, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue was dispatched to an injured snowmobile rider at Paulina Lake, Sunday morning. Initial calls to 911 reported 63-year-old Debbie Baldwin had struck a tree and was unconscious. La Pine medics were unable to reach the area due to deep snow.
A six-member SAR team snowmobiled into the site and transported Baldwin back to the 10 Mile Snow Park where medics picked her up and took her to St. Charles Medical Center. The woman suffered unspecified injuries, but officials say she was wearing appropriate safety gear.
Witnesses say Baldwin was trying to execute a side hill turn, accelerated and struck a group of trees on the downhill side.
REDMOND, OR -- Crews are pushing ahead on renovations that will eventually convert Evergreen school into Redmond’s new City Hall. Mayor George Endicott tells KBND News the work is part construction, part archeological dig at the nearly 100-year-old building. "We’ve been told that somewhere in that building, one of the classes put a time capsule. My dad graduated in ’38, he knows the rumor; my aunt graduated in about ’42, she knows the rumor; several other people we’ve talked to around town that graduated in later years have heard the rumor, but we have not found it. So, it’s one of those fun little treasure hunts that’s going on as they do the work inside the building."
Workers tore down an outbuilding a couple of weeks ago, unearthing just one artifact shedding light on just a piece of the building’s past. "They found the door with all the
signatures - People like Bob Eberhard and others," says Endicott. "So, it’s a lot of fun." The "door" is actually a brick wall signed by various classes. The school was built in 1920 as Redmond Union High School. About 50 years later it was turned into a junior high, then eventually into Evergreen Elementary.
Endicott says work is on track
for the new City Hall to open by the end of the year.
Above photo: Mike McIntosh, "class of '81," is now Redmond Schools Superintendent.
Right: Signatures of various classes grace the brick wall uncovered last week.
BEND, OR -- An advisory committee has found some middle ground on Bend's latest proposal to expand the Urban Growth Boundary. The group is looking at adding 2,000 acres around the city for future expansion. UGB Project Manager Brian Rankin tells KBND News, the group has done a good job finding some agreement. "So, we have a really diverse committee, first of all. It's folks from different parts of town, folks that are pro expansion, folks that typically haven't been pro expansion in the past, lots of different viewpoints. The great thing about the meeting, I thought was, the committee really clicked. They had one more meeting; the City Council said go ahead and figure this out, 'help us to get more consensus from the group, see what you can all agree to and bring it back to us.' And, the group really performed well."
In 2010, the state rejected Bend's UGB plan to expand by 8,000 acres, saying it was too large.
A meeting last week focused on the west side of Bend. "The west side kept presenting a number of difficulties, really around how much development, where that development should be on the west side," says Rankin. "We also talked about all the other parts of the city, as well, where the expansion is going to be located." He adds, "There was one committee member who didn't agree with the final result. But, it's really tough to get 100% of folks to approve anything this big and controversial. So, I think it was still a great success."
Public hearings on the UGB proposal will be held in the spring, and the city plans to formally apply to the state in June. Rankin expects to hear within a year if it is approved.
BURNS, OR -- Harney County officials have canceled Monday night's scheduled community meeting. The weekly meetings had been held at a local school, but continued concerns over firearms at a school facility - which violated district policy - pushed this week's meeting to the Burns Senior Center.
Officials also had announced this meeting would be open only to Harney County residents, with tickets issued after proof of residency was provided. Click HERE
to read about changes to the format, imposed by county officials.
County Judge Steve Grasty issued a statement Sunday, saying the meeting was canceled after community leaders learning of plans to protest the event and block the entrance to the Senior Center. Click HERE
to read Judge Grasty's full statement.
No word yet, on when these weekly meetings will resume.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man faces a list of charges after police say he broke into several businesses inside a Franklin avenue building, in downtown Bend, early Friday morning.
An officer found 20-year-old Christian Keller near the building, and say he was in possession of items linking him to the burglary.
During the investigation, police found substantial damage to outside windows and the inside of several business suites, including tipped over cabinets, holes in walls, broken computers, damaged furniture and damaged art.
Keller is charged with several counts of burglary and criminal mischief.
BEND, OR -- As we get closer to the February Legislative session, Bend City staff are identifying priority issues they’ll be watching. City Manager Eric King says Affordable Housing is a key state issue that could have big local impacts. He tells KBND News there is talk lawmakers could look at freeing up resources to build more housing. "But also, is there something that can be done on the land supply side of things so that we can make it easier to increase the land supply? We’ve got a very regulatory process with land use in Oregon. I think Bend is almost a poster child for having both of those issues of limited land supply and this affordable housing problem, so how can Bend position itself to be part of that compromise, or at least bring awareness to how that’s playing out on the ground?"
King says they're watching anything land use related. "There’s a technical fix on Urban Growth Boundaries that’s very important to us. As we’re getting close to having that complete we just want to make sure the rules of the game aren’t changing. There are also some issues around property tax reform – just tax reform in general that’s needed at the state; really some inequities in the system." He's also hoping for tax reform, specifically in regards to the transient room tax. "That’s the tax that folks pay when they stay in hotels. [The city is] Wanting more flexibility for how those resources can be used. It’s one thing to promote tourism, but we want to make sure that once visitors are here, we have the facilities to support tourism – good roads and good facilities. Right now, the state restricts a lot of that as a revenue option for the city."
Other priority issues for Bend include recreational marijuana regulations and public transit funding. Lawmakers open the short session on February first.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- With hundreds packed into a town hall at the Crook County Fairgrounds, County Commissioners officially took a stand against a proposal to turn part of the Ochocos into a national recreation area. Residents who spoke up at Thursday night's meeting reiterated concerns the Commissioners have heard for several months.
Following the public testimony, the court voted unanimously to write a letter to Oregon's Congressional delegation in opposition to the Oregon Wild proposal
Congressman Greg Walden has said
changing the Ochocos' designation would take Congressional approval, and he doesn't see that happening anytime soon.
BEND, OR -- The community engagement phase of OSU-Cascades' long range planning took a big leap forward Thursday. Four community advisory groups presented their recommendations for the new campus on Century Drive, at a joint sharing session.
Richard Ross co-chairs the community integration group. He tells KBND News, “Our thought was keep the campus focused toward the river, towards areas of higher activity and away from the residential areas north and west.” His committee also suggested the campus take the form of a ski village. “The ski village, I was talking about more architecturally, that it would work as a mixed use community, the campus itself. So you that you have housing, some commercial services and you have education all in the same area. It’s all convenient.”
There are three other advisory groups: health and wellness, sustainability, and arts, culture and enrichment. Dozens of recommendations were presented to create a vision for what OSU-Cascades will become. None of the ideas are yet set in stone.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Hundreds of Crook County residents are expected to turn out for Thursday night's town hall meeting on a proposal to turn part of the Ochoco Mountains into a National Recreation Area. Oregon Wild introduced the proposal. So far, it's been met with a lot of local opposition.
County Commissioners will hold a public meeting to give residents another chance to speak out on the idea. Sarah Cuddy, with Oregon Wild, tells KBND News if the last meeting was any indication, there will be more discourse. "We wanted to have a collaborative atmosphere and and we want to hear from the community, but that requires thoughtful dialog and it takes time. The last several weeks have really increased the level of hostility and the level of nonproductive conversations."
Cuddy, who grew up in Crook County, admits things changed after the start of the Harney County standoff. "It's just very polarizing time to talk about public lands. There's talk from the Bundys of privatization of public lands, so there is some opposition that is emboldened by that talk. And, it seems to have made the conversation regarding the Ochocos much more emotionally driven and some divisive rhetoric, versus kind of a collaborative conversation."
Click HERE to watch County Judge Mike McCabe's recent video on the proposal.
begins at 7 p.m. at Carey Foster Hall in the Crook County Fairgrounds. County Commissioners plan to have a public discussion on the proposal, then will make a recommendation at the end of the meeting.
BEND, OR -- While sympathetic to the philosophy behind the occupation of the wildlife refuge near Burns, Oregon Congressman Greg Walden (R-Hood River) says it is time for them to leave. On a swing through central Oregon this week, the Republican said the group has made it’s point, but now it’s time to go back where they came from.
"The message I would have for the folks at the refuge is, while you’ve highlighted and made national these issues on federal public lands, you’ve gone too far," he tells KBND News. "I’ve not supported the armed takeover of the refuge, for goodness sakes. And the community, for the most part, would appreciate it if they left. I think if they overstay they begin to hurt the cause of the people they want to help."
However, Walden agrees with the militants that rural Oregonian’s voices are often not heard by the federal government regarding how land is managed in their communities. "And they’re feeling that all too often the fix is in before the process starts and that they're voice is not heard and what they have to say about how things are managed in their communities is ignored. We’ve got to get back to where people have faith in their government because they’re government listens to them. And that’s not always been the case." But he says the militia has broken the law and he does not support their tactics.
Governor Kate Brown says she plans to ask state lawmakers to find money to help Harney County pay for the standoff. County costs are now running at about $100,000 a week. "I have asked us to scour the budget to make sure we can have the resources at the state level to subsidize the cost for Harney County, and we’ll be asking federal officials to reimburse the state for these costs." Governor Brown adds, "The situation is absolutely intolerable and it must be resolved immediately. The very fabric of this community is being ripped apart."
REDMOND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger spoke with Congressman Greg Walden (R-Hood River) earlier this week about the standoff near Burns. Unger told him about a recent conversation with his counterpart, Harney County Judge Steve Grasty. "Judge Grasty told us ‘be aware in your other counties, they might be looking around to expand their influence; so, be watching and be careful.’"
Unger added, "Judge Grasty looks at this as an opportunity to have a conversation with the federal government. He wants to get into an appointment with the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to start talking about some of the issues that really underlie a lot of the problems that are there." He noted that Deschutes County sent several deputies to help patrol in and around Burns during the occupation.
He also thanked Walden for supporting Harney County leaders, including Grasty and county Sheriff Dave Ward.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors wrangled again over a proposal to relax requirements for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) - also known as "Granny flats" - Wednesday night.
The Planning Commission and Affordable Housing Committee presented recommendations at the hearing, where public testimony was mixed. Planning Commissioner Karen Johnson presented parking recommendations for ADUs. “We decided that we should keep the parking requirement as it is, and that is at least one off street parking space per ADU.” The Council is recommending one off street parking space per ADU, and one per primary residence, in tandem - or one vehicle behind the other.
The council also recommends a maximum ADU size of 800 square feet, and second story ADUs larger than 600 square feet should have extra property line setbacks.
Councilor Victor Chudowsky says easing restrictions on ADUs makes sense to encourage more affordable rental options. “Opportunities to have either rentals or have their in-laws live next to them, I think these are all healthy things and we should accommodate people.”
City Councilors will accept written public testimony until their next meeting on February third.
COOS BAY, OR -- The Coast Guard has suspended the search for two fishermen who were lost when their boat crashed into a jetty on the southern Oregon coast. One of the missing is reportedly Josh Paulus, a 2002 graduate of Mountain View High School in Bend.
The captain of the Eagle III made it ashore after the accident and was picked up by a good Samaritan who dropped him off at USCG Air Station North Bend. His condition is unknown.
The search began at 8:30 Tuesday night when a distress beacon was picked up by the Coast Guard. Searchers later found debris from the crabbing vessel, and the body of a third crewman.
The cause of the accident is under investigation.
Photos of the vessel's debris field, courtesy of the USCG.
BEND, OR -- Preliminary numbers from the Oregon Department of Transportation show a rise in the number of traffic-related deaths, last year. ODOT’s Peter Murphy says full 2015 statistics are not yet available, but he suspects there is one big reason for the increase in fatal crashes. "It seems that volumes are up; we count that, we know how many people are traveling on the highways. There’s just a correlation between the number of people traveling and the number of crashes taking place." He adds, "And then, the other thing is, just as an anecdotal observation from my particular perspective – and I do travel the highways, and I do look out to see what’s going on – it seems like people are driving faster. I don’t know that, but it just seems to me that there’s a number of people that are traveling in excess of the speed limit."
Murphy tells KBND News it could get worse after the state raises speed limits
on a number of rural highways, including Highway 97, on March first. "And, it still all comes down – whether you’re speeding or not – driving for the conditions that you find yourself in, is really going to do the best you can to avoid those kinds of troubles."
Early numbers show 447 traffic-related deaths statewide in 2015, compared to 356 the year before; that’s a 25.6% year-over-year increase. Official numbers won’t be released until summer.
BEND, OR -- Oregon Congressman Greg Walden (R-Hood River) thinks the proposed minimum wage in Oregon goes too far.
Appearing before a Civics Class at Bend Senior High on Tuesday, the Republican was asked by a student how he feels about the proposed increase. Walden says although it is a popular move, it could have negative consequences. “What happened then is it’s not just that wage. What people don't understand is that there are taxes that are pushed against that. There’s unemployment taxes. There’s social security and Medicare. All of those costs go up too. Ultimately then prices have to go up to pay for that.”
He added, “Practically speaking employers than have to decide, 'how do I pay for that? Do I have a smaller workforce, do I automate, or just go out of business?'”
Governor Kate Brown has proposed increasing the minimum wage to $15.52 an hour in the Portland area and $13.52 elsewhere in the state.
BEND, OR -- Rain didn't stop a couple hundred people from showing support for public lands during a downtown Bend rally, Tuesday afternoon. The Riverfront Plaza event was the city's second rally in support of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the last five days, and took place at the same time as several others across the state.
Bend resident B.J. Thomas says she's frustrated with the ongoing occupation. "What the Bundy people are doing is wrong; it's anti-government. They have no clue what is going on at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. There's been a great collaboration there that's making everything work. And they're going to end up undoing it." She tells KBND News, "I wish it would end. The birds are going to start nesting, and they're not going to have a safe place to go."
Chris Gardner, with "Friends of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge," was also there. "This is one of the jewels of our refuge system. For them to be there and to spoil it is to dishonor a great American tradition of protecting our wildlife and the necessary habitat for it, in our most beautiful scenery." He adds, "These people are a direct assault on our democracy. Rosa Parks didn't sit on that bus with an assault rifle on her lap, yet she sparked a change in our whole culture. If they have that kind of support, then they can do it without their means. So, the means they're choosing are evidence of their weakness."
Speakers at the rally talked about the importance of these habitats, clean water and recreational opportunities. The event was organized by the Oregon Natural Desert Association and the Audubon Society.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Family Access Network (FAN) is expanding into Crook County. FAN advocates work with struggling families to connect them with local community resources.
FAN Executive Director Julie Lyche tells KBND News, "We've been working with Crook County on a plan to be able to support the FAN advocates in their area, and their school district has been really excited about doing this and has stepped up and put money into the initial project to get the FAN advocates going over there."
The program is already in all 50 public schools in Deschutes County. "I see this as a really similar development to how we started in Deschutes County, with some of the schools - the highest need schools - then adding more FAN advocates on. As we have gained support in Deschutes County, we're now in all public schools and early childhood centers. Our hope is, down the line, that's how it's going to look in Crook County, as well," says Lyche.
Barnes Butte and Crooked River Elementary schools will each have advocates working half time. "This is going to be an amazing resource for our families living in poverty in Prineville. Families that have children in those schools will be able to contact their FAN advocate at the school and get assistance with connections to basic needs like food, shelter, utilities and clothing."
BEND, OR -- Sometime during the night of December 4, 2015, someone cut down and removed a 300-year-old Juniper tree at the Oregon Badlands Wilderness trailhead, 16 miles east of Bend. Larry Pennington of the Juniper Group Sierra Club tells KBND News, “The stump is right in the middle of the Flatiron Rock Trailhead parking area with kind of a little island. And it had three trees in it, all about the same age, I guess; this is one of those three that’s no longer there. So it is quite visible to anyone who goes to hike at the trailhead.”
He's asking that anyone who knows anything about the vandalism contact the Bureau of Land Management. “The destruction of any government property is a crime so we’d like to find whoever did it and hold them accountable but also say that this kind of behavior on government lands especially government lands set aside for the use of the people as a natural area has consequences.”
A $1,000 reward has been offered by the Oregon Natural Desert Association, Friends of Oregon Badlands Wilderness and the Juniper Group of the Sierra Club for information leading to an arrest in the case.
REDMOND, OR -- Oregon Congressman Greg Walden (R-Hood River) met with Redmond city leaders this week to discuss how the region is preparing for the predicted Cascadia earthquake. Mayor George Endicott has been vocal in his efforts to prepare his city, especially given predictions that the Redmond airport could be the only functioning commercial air center if a massive quake hits the state.
Walden tells KBND news he hopes to get FEMA better involved in local emergency management plans. "The moment that the earth shakes at the level they think it could, people are going to be calling my office saying, ‘help!’ We need to be ahead of that. A lot of work has been done locally and at the sate and federal levels, but it sounds like there are still some questions out there involving the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its relationship with the state and the community."
During Monday's roundtable discussion, Walden was also briefed on on the upcoming closure of Central Oregon’s only commercial airport. Roberts Field officials say the three-week shutdown in May will cost about $400,000 in lost revenue. But, Walden says he’s pleased with the two-years of planning leading up to the major runway-paving project.
"We’ll find out how important the airport is when it’s closed; but they have to do it, just the way the layout of the runways are. I’m sure they’ll do it in the most efficient, effective way possible, knowing the way Redmond operates the airport and has always operated. I’m sure they’d rather not close it, but this seems like the most efficient way in the long-term to get the runway in the shape it needs to be to continue to expand air service, which is vital to Central Oregon."
Listen to our conversation with Mayor George Endicott, discussing his visit with Walden, at our Podcast Page
LA PINE, OR -- Two people escaped serious injuries in a head-on crash on Highway 97 at State Rec Road Monday morning. Deschutes County deputies responded to the crash just before 11 a.m., and say that 72-year-old William Bones, of La Pine, was northbound when he lost control of his SUV on icy roads.
Bones crossed into oncoming traffic and struck another SUV, driven by a 45-year-old Eugene man. Bones was treated by La Pine medics at the scene and released. The other driver, David Gonyea, was taken to St. Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries.
Highway 97 near La Pine was closed for about 25 minutes.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) met with Crook County residents Monday, to discuss a proposal by a conservation group that would change how a large part of the Ochoco National Forest is managed. Oregon Wild would like to see it designated a National Recreation Area.
Walden opposes the plan, as did the majority of those at the meeting. He tells KBND News, "It seems like these [conservation] groups are just trying to restrict access to public land, what we can do on that public land, so they get everyone off the public land. And there are people who, for generations have hunted there, worked there, hiked there, camped there, feel like they’re just being not listened to, shoved aside; and once again, a group and the government are going to take another piece of federal ground away from them."
He says nearly everyone he's heard from is worried the change could bring increased regulation and decreased access. "Now people feel we just don't manage these forests, we just let them burn. You see these enormous wildfires, and people can’t access their traditional areas that they used to access, and the threat just seems to build." But, he says, he doesn't think it'll make it past the idea stage. "The Oregon Wild proposal would have to pass congress, and I don't see that happening anytime soon."
He says the only people at the Prineville meeting in support of the plan were those representing Oregon Wild
. Afterwards, Walden drew parallels between the frustration in Crook County and the issues that lead to the refuge takeover outside of Burns. "It’s part of the same theme. There are these groups that make a lot of money by creating this next new thing they have to go preserve and save and it’s who they work for and it’s how they do it. And for some, it's their cause in life; that’s they’re view of how it should happen. I respect all that. But, for most people in these rural communities, they just feel like their way of life is being threatened."
Photo courtesy Greg Walden Instagram
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Proficiency Academy high school students are jumping on the Tiny House bandwagon, in a special one-month engineering class. Science and math teacher Amy Mitchell says her students are creating presentations, prototypes, and eventually, their own tiny house. "We talked about why people would want to live in tiny houses, so they’re including that in their presentation. And, they’re [writing] from the point of view of what kinds of problems does a tiny house help families solve: affordable housing, environmental issues, things like that. We talk a lot about drawbacks, and they have to include that in their presentations." Local tiny house builders have shared their creations with the class and are providing feedback on students' scale models.
Mitchell is designing her own tiny house alongside her students and says she’s learning a lot from them. "Their minds work a lot better than mine at organizing things – ‘How can I fit these things into this space in the most compact, economical way possible?’ Storage is probably one of the biggest challenges in a tiny house. They have all kinds of cool ideas that I have not thought of."
Mitchell says the class is part of the new Next Generation Science Standards that focuses on science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). "And they require all students, grades 9-12, to go through the engineering process. So, we have a problem that we’re trying to solve, we come up with multiple solutions for it, pick one solution and design a prototype – the prototype is their model tiny house. And, they make decisions on what parts do they want to keep and what parts can they improve. That process is the engineering design process."
The charter school offers students the opportunity to focus on a single course of study during the short January Term. They will share their creations at the January Showcase, on Wednesday, January 20.
BEND, OR -- The occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge say they want the federal lands given back to local communities. But about 200 who attended a recent rally in Bend say those public lands are important.
Great Old Broads for Wilderness hosted the event on Friday in downtown Bend. At the rally, Rinda Clark told KBND News, "I'm here because I care about our lands. I care about our forests, our wildlife refuges, our public parks, our recreation areas, and I want those areas preserved for my children and my grandchildren. I wan the bullies to go home. Enough is enough; we need to take back the refuge in Harney County."
Several Harney County ranchers came to Bend for the rally, to voice their opposition to the armed occupation of the refuge. Julie Weikel said, "I'm not a fearful person, I leave 30 miles from the nearest grocery store, I've never locked my doors in my entire life until last Monday night. I don't choose to live that way, but there's way too many guns just down the road from me, and I want them out of there." Weikel is involved in the group Friends of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
. She added, "I'm here because the Malheur Refuge absoulutely doesn't deserve this. It has worked so hard to be collaborative with the community, to serve the community. That community, and the employees of the refuge, are intertwined at a family level, at a school level, at a community level, and this is just so wrong."
Great Old Broads for Wilderness started 25 years ago to protect public lands for future generations.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge has raised the issue of the federal government's over-reach into private land, pushing it into the national spotlight. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) will talk with Crook County residents about plans to expand the Ochoco National Forest by 30,000 acres.
The Oregon Wild proposal would convert part of the forest into a National Recreation Area. Crook County Commissioner Seth Crawford is against the idea and plans to be at Monday's meeting. "I went to people throughout the community and asked what they thought about this. The resounding response I got was 'we don't want it, it's not right for Crook County.' I did a lot of research through the process to figure out what our community wanted and what this group was up to."
Crawford tells KBND News, "It's been just a constant beating of the drum of trying to add regulations to our forests, and I think people are tired of it. Every time you turn, you're getting a new regulations, you're getting a new rule, you're losing your rights. People aren't going to put up with it anymore." He and others believe the designation would make it hard to manage the land. Congressman Walden will meet with Crook County residents at 1:30 p.m. at Room 1868.
Prior to the Prineville meeting, Walden will meet with Crooked River Ranch residents to discuss wilderness and wildfire risks. Then, Monday afternoon, he'll hold a roundtable discussion in Redmond with Mayor George Endicott.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is celebrating its Centennial throughout 2016. Kelly Cannon-Miller, with the Des Chutes Historical Museum, says there is a list of events so that everyone can get involved. "We’re the youngest county in the state; we’re the last ones that get to celebrate our Centennial birthday. So, we just decided to put on a whole bunch of fun things. We have some art contests, we have our 1907 Holsman car from the museum on display, traveling around the county all this summer, and we’ll be at the county fair, and we’re going to do some theater."
The county is now accepting submissions from local artists to create an official Centennial poster. " We would really like to have a Centennial poster that grabs everyone’s attention to say ‘hey, Deschutes County history matters,’ and highlights kind of those important aspects of our community and what makes Deschutes County great." Designs should represent the past 100 years of Deschutes County history and will be accepted through February 16. Click HERE
for contest and entry information.
SISTERS, OR -- A Sisters man was killed when his car struck a tree, early Sunday morning. According to Oregon State Police, 54-year-old Rodney Stambaugh was eastbound on Highway 20, just east of Sisters, when the crash occurred at about 3:30 a.m.
Black ice was reported in the area at the time, but the cause of the crash is under investigation.
BURNS, OR -- The first arrest has been made in connection with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. A 62-year-old Crescent man was arrested shortly after noon Friday, at the Safeway in Burns. Kenneth Medenbach is charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle.
According to the Harney County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had reported two vehicles stolen from the refuge. Those vehicles were recovered at the time of Medenbach's arrest.
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is grateful for the quick actions from law enforcement," Megan Nagel said in a statement. "We will continue to work with law enforcement to recover vehicles bought and paid for by the American people to care for their national wildlife refuge."
Medenbach is seen on several videos on his Facebook page wearing "Oath Keepers" paraphernalia, discussing his disappointment with the amount of federally owned land in Oregon.
REDMOND, OR -- The city of Redmond has finally named a new Director for Roberts Field, six months after the last Airport Manager suddenly stepped down. Zachary Bass has been with Roberts Field for about a year. He tells KBND News he’s excited to continue the airport’s current success. "Last year, we saw record growth out here for commercial air service, of 9.5%. We’ve also got a lot of plans coming up this summer with $20 million in projects. We’re always increasing our commercial air service, and we look to do that again this upcoming summer. We’re focusing on our place as an economic driver for the region."
That $20 million dollars in projects include a runway repaving project that will shut down the airport for three weeks in May, and construction of the new COIC dispatch center. "Not to mention that, right now, we’re undergoing a restaurant remodel upstairs. So, a lot of stuff is going on. What I actually enjoy is leading and running processes. Not only does our staff handle that, but we also have quite a few consultants that are experts – engineers, architects – kind of that full team dynamic is what’s going to move those projects forward. As of right now, we’re not seeing any issues with any of them." He says those projects are, so far, on budget, as well.
The airport’s last manager quit in July after a little more than a year. Bass says it's time to move forward, "We have a great team out here; we’ve got over 100 years of airport operations history among everybody, we’ve got experts that spent 27 years working here and we’ve also got new talent that kind of brings that entrepreneurial spirit. The team is working well together and we’re ready to push forward into 2016."
Bass was initially hired about a year ago as the Project and Grant Manager. He was promoted to Business Manager last summer. Prior to moving to Redmond with his family, Bass spent nearly a decade with the U.S. Air Force.
REDMOND, OR -- A state transportation group has been working for a number of years to identify where government should prioritize its funding. The Governor’s Transportation Vision Panel - including Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney - brought its preliminary findings to Redmond, Thursday. It was the fourth of 11 scheduled on a statewide tour, aimed at learning the specific transportation needs of each region.
Bill Braly serves on Redmond’s Bike/Ped Advisory Committee. He tells KBND News he likes that the state seems more willing to listen. "I think it’s great that the Governor’s office is reaching out. I think ODOT is listening much more than they used to in the old days. There's not much money, and there's even less in our future. But, I think, it's a chance for people on the east side of the mountain, particularly, to have a voice that we don’t usually have." He told the panel he’d like to see more awareness and funding for better connectivity between cities. "It’s basically not safe to ride between the various cities; both in terms of tourism, transportation and all those kinds of things. We think that would be a good world to live in."
Crook County Commissioner Seth Crawford was there to observe the process. "I think it’s important to get outside of Salem end hear what the people are really thinking about and what they need. We have people from the county and city here to ask for specific things, so I'm more here to just kind of take it all in."
Nearly every Central Oregon city had a representative at the meeting. The majority said eliminating bottlenecks and investing in transit service improvements should be top priorities. The panel is working on identifying where the state should focus transportation efforts in the next four to 30 years. When the listening tour is complete, they will present their findings to the Governor.
SISTERS, OR -- There have been some contentious civic arguments in Sisters in recent years, but there appear to be a lot of people who want to improve the discourse. The newly formed group Citizens 4 Community brought in a national speaker, Thursday, from the Minnesota group Speak Your Peace.
Rob Karwath held three forums in Sisters, wrapping up the series at a packed fire station, Thursday evening. He told residents, "We don't for a minute tell folks that 'we should all get along and just be nice.' That's not how communities resolve issues, and that's not how people interact. We're going to have disagreements; we're going to have difficult issues. But, if we can approach each other and expect civility, I'm willing to recognize I'm not going to win every time."
He said, "It's amazing what people will do if they feel like they will be treated right in the process. I'll come back, and I'll come back again and, pretty soon we find some success together; and that's really rewarding. I have seen people in different sides express hope that they can get there."
Karwath advocates for people to listen, show respect, be agreeable and to give constructive criticism in civic discussions to keep the discourse from deteriorating.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man was arrested after a rollover crash, Thursday night, on George Millican Road. Crook County deputies responded at about 7 p.m. and found the pickup that had clearly been involved in a crash, but no one was around.
They later found 52-year-old Laurie Kilby and 54-year-old Robert Garrison walking about a half-mile away. Both men had minor injuries and were evaluated by paramedics.
Although he was allegedly the passenger in the crash, Kilby was arrested for an outstanding DUII warrant from Deschutes County. A Crook County deputy transported Kilby to Powell Butte, where they met with a Deschutes County deputy, who then transported the Prineville man to the Deschutes County Jail.
BURNS, OR -- Occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge claim some in Harney County are taking action to battle government corruption, now that the county fire chief has resigned over a lack of government trust. One supporter said Thursday, "We just had three different in the school district resign because of some of the corruption going on here. And we want you to know that we will be here to support you and help you, and provide security for you in any way we can." But, it's unclear whether these latest resignations are related to the standoff.
The Superintendent of schools submitted her resignation last Friday, effective at the end of the school year. She says she was asked by the school board Chair to do so now, so there would be time to search for her replacement. Days later, the principal of Hines Middle Schools submitted his resignation, effective in June. In his letter, Jerry Mayes wrote, "I regret that this letter will reach you and the board during a time of community distress and upheaval. But, I want to reiterate that the events that this district and community are currently experiencing have, in no discernible way, had any influence on my decision to tenure my resignation." He said he wants to spend more time with his grandchildren while he still has his health.
Then, on Tuesday, the principal of Burns High submitted his resignation, also effective at the end of this school year. Brandon Yates cited his desire to pursue a position in a larger school, and his need to be closer to his ailing mother.
Meanwhile, militia leader Ammon Bundy says Friday's scheduled community meeting is uncertain as the county is refusing to let the group use public buildings.
BEND, OR -- Attorneys for Deschutes County and the city of Bend struck a compromise on the wording of the explanatory statement in the March Voters' Pamphlet for the local gas tax measure. Opponents of the tax had filed a petition to change the verbiage, saying it was misleading. Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship was scheduled to hear the issue Thursday, but lawyers came to a solution prior to that hearing.
Attorney Jeff Eager represents the opponents of the tax. He tells KBND News, "At the end of the day that the explanatory statement would be modified so that it states the actual number of cities that have adopted a gas tax." He says, "The following sentence will be deleted: 'Over 20 cities in Oregon have adopted a motor vehicle fuel tax.' And, it will be replaced with the following sentence: 'Presently, 24 cities in Oregon have adopted a motor vehicle fuel tax.'"
Eager adds that he would have liked it to say "24 out of 242 Oregon cities," but says he agreed to the compromise to avoid the expense of a hearing.
BURNS, OR -- With law enforcement from all over the state continuing to patrol Harney County, the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association (OSSA) is trying to answer the question of when the standoff at the Wildlife Refuge will end. In a statement issued Thursday, the OSSA said it’s not up to them. Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward explains, "What’s going on down on the federal refuge is being handled by the FBI. On the other side of the coin, we have our community: our streets, our highways and our neighborhoods, which, we have brought in numerous agencies to assist us in maintaining order and peace within our community."
Watch the latest video from Sheriff Dave Ward.
Sheriff Ward says he appreciates the continued support from other agencies. "The number of law enforcement officers that we have in this town, be they deputies, troopers, police officers from around the state, are here to assist me in making sure that our schools are safe, our neighborhoods are safe, our streets are safe." He says they're key to maintaining order and safety, "Making sure that our citizens don’t feel bullied or intimidated, that people can lay their head down on their pillow at night and not feel threatened, that regardless of what your occupation is or who you work for, that you can have peace of mind. And, I assure you that every violation and crime that happens off that refuge is going to be dealt with, and it’s going to be dealt with swiftly."
OSSA President Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe praised Sheriff Ward, saying he has worked “tirelessly to peacefully defuse the situation.” Wolfe says the OSSA will continue to offer support in Harney County until the situation is resolved.
BEND, OR -- The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) wants to put a measure on Oregon’s November ballot the group says would protect animals close to extinction. Scott Beckstead is the Oregon State Director of the HSUS. He tells KBND News, "The measure addresses the trade in the parts of 12 types of animals that are the most heavily trafficked and the most critically endangered of the world’s species. These include elephants, rhinos, several species of big cats, as well as some marine species."
A similar measure passed in Washington state last year, with overwhelming support. "If you are caught trafficking in these types of products within Oregon you are going to face serious and significant financial penalties for doing so. We’re adding an additional layer of enforcement to existing federal regulations because the loophole is, once these products make it into the state, they’re not touched by federal law," says Beckstead. "We know that it’s happening, we also know that there’s a certain amount of these items that are bought and sold over the Internet, here in Oregon; so, it is a problem. And, the other value of a measure like this is it raises awareness."
The HSUS kicks off a signature gathering effort Thursday, Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m., at the Humane Society of Central Oregon in Bend. Beckstead says they hope to collect around 126,000 signatures before July, to qualify for the November ballot.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners appear poised to send a new 911 permanent funding levy to the May ballot. The 911 Service District is asking for a maximum rate of 42.5-cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Director Steve Reinke says part of the money would be combined with state funds to build and maintain a new radio system. "It has to be replaced, no matter what; it’s on the verge of failure. Our two technicians are often going to sites to replace equipment to try and keep everything patched together. It’s a 15-year-old Motorola SmartNet system." He tells KBND News, "It’s kind of like being on Windows 95 at this point. Nobody supports Windows 95 and it’s the same thing for old software and old hardware. So, the public safety leaders of the community said ‘we need to centralize this and be more efficient,’ and the 911 Service District is the logical place to do it."
Read more on the proposal HERE.
He says the request is only a little over 6-cents more than the current funding levy, and would also allow the agency to hire more 9-1-1 call-takers. He says the levy would stay at its current 36-cent rate for the first two years.
County Commissioners held a public hearing Wednesday; no one came forward to oppose the idea. Reinke says, "The order includes a second public hearing in mid-February. After that public hearing, if they [County Commissioners] don’t change their minds, which I think is unlikely, then it will be certified for the ballot and will be on the May election." That final public hearing is scheduled for February 17.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Commissioners will host another town hall meeting next week, on a proposal to turn part of the Ochoco National Forest into a recreational area. Commissioner Ken Fahlgren tells KBND News they've already held three public meetings to gather feedback. "It is a federal change, if it were to happen. It’s a proposal by an environmental group to, in my eyes, add another layer to the forest that’s already having a hard time trying to work through our needs with natural resources and the ability to continue keeping from having catastrophic wildfires."
The proposal is from the environmental group Oregon Wild. Fahlgren says, "The one in Crook County, Ochoco Mountains, has to do with about 300,000 acres in our timberland, Ochoco National Forest. It would, in their eyes, be important to become a national recreation area. And, that 300,000 acres would then also include about 24,000 acres of expanded wilderness."'
Read more about the Oregon Wild proposal HERE.
He says, so far, public feedback has been overwhelmingly against the idea. "In the best scenario, there would be dollars available in federal funds to help support trail systems, to talk about roadless areas, more for recreation than it would be for any type of harvest that then would, in our case, support roads and schools. There has to be a balance where we all are able to support what we truly need, which is to keep our forests healthy and safe, but also support the dollars that it takes to take care of our roads and our schools."
The next town hall is scheduled for 7 p.m. on January 21, at the Crook County Fairgrounds.
BURNS, OR -- Harney County's Fire Chief is now siding with occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Chris Briels told reporters, Wednesday, he turned in his resignation. "That might say that I just quit this county; I did not just quit this county. But, I will not work for a government, or a person, that I do not believe in." Briels says the Bureau of Land Management is trampling on the rights of land owners, and says he resigned because he doesn't believe he can trust anyone in county government.
Briels is affiliated with the "Harney County Committee of Safety," which has been sympathetic to the Bundy-lead militia but has denounced their takeover of the refuge. One resident tells KBND News Briels was upset the Committee was no longer allowed to meet in the county building. The "Committee of Safety" is not associated with county government.
BEND, OR -- The head of the Political Action Committee fighting a possible local gas tax is taking issue with the wording of the measure in the voters' pamphlet. Attorney Jeff Eager feels the verbiage is misleading and biased when it says "over 20 cities in Oregon have adopted a motor vehicle fuel tax."
Eager admits there are 24 cities that have adopted a local gas tax. But, he says there are 242 cities in the state and that means those 24 are less than 10% of Oregon.
Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship plans to hold a hearing on Thursday and expects to make a decision whether to change the wording in the voters pamphlet, within 24 hours.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Bend man discovered two people inside his Crook County vacation home, earlier this week. Nolan Whitehurst called the Sheriff’s Office Tuesday, when he saw a pickup parked in the driveway of his home near Prineville Reservoir.
Deputies responded and found a Portland woman and a Mt. Angel man inside. Mark Huesser (pictured) and Melissa Eisaman are suspected of breaking into the house by removing an air conditioning unit from a bedroom window.
Deputies say they recovered about $5,000 worth of stolen items from inside their pickup. The couple faces a number of charges including Burglary, theft and criminal trespassing. Eisaman has been released from the jail due to overcrowding.
BEND, OR -- A Bend Police K9 unit chased a wanted man through several southeast Bend yards before tracking him down in a wooden doghouse. An officer recognized 24-year-old Nathan Pogue walking along Reed Market Road near SE 5th Street, Monday afternoon. Pogue allegedly ran from police, trespassing in numerous yards and jumping over fences.
Officers set up a perimeter and deployed K9 officer Haras, who tracked Pogue to that wooden doghouse on SE Glencoe Place.
Pogue was wanted for allegedly violating a "No Contact Order" earlier this month. Investigators say he threatened and tried to bribe a victim from an August crime he's accused of committing at the Dunes Motel. Police say he tried to get the woman to give a false statement regarding that case, which is still pending trial.
Stemming from the January 2 violation, Pogue is charged with Tampering With a Witness, Bribing a Witness, Violation of Release Agreement, Menacing, Harassment and a Parole Violation. He's also charged with multiple counts of Second Degree Trespassing, from Monday's chase.
BROTHERS, OR -- The body of a missing Oregon truck driver was discovered inside his rig at the Brothers Oasis Rest Area, Tuesday afternoon. Police took a report of an overdue trucker from Sandy, a short time before a concerned driver called State Police to repot a semi truck and trailer had been parked at the Brothers Rest Area since Friday.
A trooper arrived at 4:45 p.m. and found 56-year-old Bret Anderson inside the sleeper berth of his semi. Medics pronounced him deceased at the scene.
Bend-area troopers are investigating, although they say evidence points to a death by natural causes and no foul play is suspected.
Stock Photo: Google Earth
BEND, OR -- Rental assistance for some low income Central Oregonians is becoming available, but those interested must sign up this week.
It’s called the Housing Choice Voucher Program, in which federal funds help low income folks pay their rent. Housing Works administers the program for Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook Counties. Patty Shouviller runs the program and tells KBND News, "So it’s very fierce competition and it really showcases the need for additional housing assistance in this area. It really shows how people are struggling."
The competition comes from an expected 5,000 people applying for 500 openings for rental assistance. It is NOT first-come-first-served; it will be a lottery. "The waiting list, being open a week, gives everybody the same opportunity to get to a computer, give us a call, get to one of the service providers in the area and get an application in on that list. ”
Applications will be held through Friday of this week. Phone applications can be submitted by calling Housing Works at 541-923-1018, or online
BEND, OR -- State hydrologists are cautiously optimistic about snowpack levels for 2016. The first winter water supply outlook by the Natural Resources Conservation Service shows levels at 123% of normal. Melissa Webb with the NRCS tells KBND News, "We had a big December, we had a lot of snow falling in the mountains and that puts us at above-average snowpack. Which, typically means that if it stays around that same normal condition, that we'll have normal stream flows for the summer."
Snowpacks have already surpassed last year's peak, at all locations, statewide. "This year in the Upper Deschutes Basin, we're at 109% of normal for snowpack. Last year at this time, we were only at 36% of normal. As you might recall, we had a lot of record low snowpack sites last year, so that really left the state at a pretty difficult spot," says Webb. Water managers are hopeful the trend will continue to bring us out of drought conditions.
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond School District is bracing for an influx of homeless students this month, as families settle into the second half of the school-year.
Homeless Liaison Brooke Clark says holiday breaks can often bring housing changes for families living on the financial edge. "So this year, I’ve counted about 274 students that qualify as homeless under the McKinney-Vento definition – the federal law that I work under. Last year, we saw numbers around 543, and that number tends to grow throughout the school year."
Clark explains, "We find that families, especially after the holidays, will come out and identify themselves because they’ve moved and they’ve found themselves in a new living situation. That’s really common after long weekends or holiday breaks. So, I expect that number to grow tremendously this month, then it’ll grow steadily again over the next few months as we approach the end of the school year."
Those considered homeless include students living with or without parents in cars, tents or doubled up with other families, as well as those living in area shelters. "We rely on paperwork that is inside our enrollment packets that asks families to fill it out if they’re in a transitional living situation. So, maybe if they’re doubled up living with another family, if they’re couch-surfing, staying in a shelter, out on the streets. And we also rely heavily on the FAN [Family Access Network] advocates that are in the schools and providing basic needs. They will, a lot of times, give me referrals and help me identify those families that I might have not known about."
Clark works with FAN to identify needy students and connect them with services, including transportation from area shelters to whichever Redmond school where they started the year.
To hear our full conversation with RSD Homeless Liaison Brooke Clark, visit our Podcast Page
BEND, OR -- a Deschutes County jury has convicted Alfredo Hernandez of sexually abusing a seven-year-old girl. The 61-year-old man's wife was babysitting the victim and her younger brother when he offered to take the kids on a walk to Kiwanis Park in southeast Bend.
The abuse occurred at the park and was seen by four people who intervened to stop it. One man grabbed the kids and removed them from danger until police arrived.
The jury returned a unanimous verdict on Friday, convicting Hernandez of three counts of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree. He will be sentenced on January 22.
REDMOND, OR -- When the agenda at Monday night’s Redmond Patriots meeting got to the armed militia takeover of the federal wildlife refuge near Burns, opinions were vocal and unanimous. Bob Berry, who heads up the Redmond Patriots group and also serves as the Deschutes County Republican party chair, compared the Burns situation with other recent politically motivated occupations. "If I’m going to be opposing what I saw with Occupy wall Street and Occupy Portland, then how can I be in favor of this, that’s going on in Harney County? Because it’s definitely not legal and I also think it’s probably not an effective way to change policy."
But, Perry tells KBND News many at the meeting agreed with the sentiment that lead to the standoff. "I’d like to see less government takeover of our lands and less government influence to begin with."
LA PINE, OR -- Two people were injured in a head-on crash near La Pine, yesterday (Mon) afternoon. It happened at 2:30 on Highway 97 near Drafter Road north of La Pine.
Both drivers were pinned in their vehicles and needed to be extricated and stabilized before being sent to area hospitals. One patient was flown to St Charles Bend and another was taken by ambulance.
The highway was closed for about an hour while police and medics were on-scene. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
BURNS, OR -- In a statement issued to Harney County residents, Monday evening, Sheriff Dave Ward confirmed reports of intimidation tactics used by those occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, 30 miles south of Burns. As KBND was first to report, some members of the community say they they have been targeted for harassment.
Statement from Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward:
“When those who are now occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge first came to town several months ago, we started to see an up-tick in the number of vandalism, harassment and intimidation reports. In recent days, they issued a “call to action,” which resulted in the arrival of numerous outside militia members. They claim to be here in peace, but we continue to see behavior by some that is concerning. There are continual reports of law enforcement officers and community members being followed home; of people sitting in cars outside their homes, observing their movements and those of their families; and of people following them and their families as they move around the community. While not direct physical threats, these activities are clearly designed to try to intimidate.
Specifically, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, which manages the refuge, has told me that while their employees are physically safe, this is clearly a distressful situation for all involved. As this issue has developed over the past week, employees and their loved ones have reported a number of uncomfortable incidences in which unknown individuals from outside our community have driven past slowly or idled in front of their homes, observing the residents and their activities. In addition, self-identified militia members have attempted to engage employees and family members in debates about their status as Federal employees. Many of these confrontations are taking place as their employees are grocery shopping, running errands with their families and trying to lead their day-to day lives.
Let me be clear: the law enforcement agencies – those that are local as well as the sheriff’s deputies from around the state, the Oregon State Police troopers and the FBI Agents – will not be intimidated from doing their jobs. Everyone on the law enforcement side is working together to bring a peaceful resolution to this situation, and the behavior of these folks from outside of our community only serves to escalate the situation unnecessarily.
The people on the refuge – and those who they have called to our community – obviously have no consideration for the wishes or needs of the people of Harney County. If they did, they, too, would work to bring this situation to a peaceful close.”
BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon chapter of Oregonians Against the Trafficking of Humans (OATH) will host a candlelight vigil Monday, as part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Regional Director Nita Belles says the only way to end the atrocities is to keep talking about the problem. "The first step is awareness. We have awareness meetings; we have people learning how to spot human trafficking; we’re networking with law enforcement and other nonprofits; we’re working together and linking arms to make a difference. It does make a difference. We have many victims that have been recovered from Central Oregon."
She adds, "We want people to know human trafficking is happening here, in our backyard. All the traffickers ask is that we be quiet and we believe that it’s not here. As long as I have breath, I will talk about this, and we need to be all talking about it."
Belles lead a successful legislative effort to distribute Freedom Stickers
with all state liquor license renewals. The stickers include the number to a national hotline and are designed to be placed inside bathroom stalls.
Tonight’s vigil is in partnership with Soroptimist International
it begins at 6 p.m. in front of Belatazza in downtown Bend. Belles says they’ll talk about warning signs and how everyone can help prevent human trafficking.
WARM SPRINGS, OR -- A Bend man was killed Sunday night in a head-on crash on Highway 26, west of Warm Springs.
According to Oregon State Police, 27-year-old Kion Pryce of Bend crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a westbound car, driven by 44-year-old Gregory Westley. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Pryce was transported to St. Charles Madras with non-life threatening injuries. The investigation is ongoing and the cause of the crash has not been released.
BEND, OR -- A five-year old was rescued from a Bend pond, Sunday afternoon. The girl had reportedly been sledding on a snow-covered hill at Discovery Park.
She wasn’t able to slow down and slid across the icy pond and into the middle where the ice had melted. She became fully submerged and her 18-year-old caretaker went in after her.
The girls struggled and yelled for help. Two others jumped in to help and were able to pull the pair out before emergency crews arrived.
Both were very cold; but Bend Police say the efforts of Eric Klump and Diane Allen likely prevented serious injuries.
BURNS, OR -- The militia standoff 30 miles south of Burns has had a definite impact on some businesses there. “It’s going to be our best January that we have or probably will ever have,” says Samantha Landon, owner/operator of Bella Java and Bistro in downtown Burns. She tells KBND her business is suddenly full of law enforcement and media in addition to locals. Simply keeping product and supplies is a challenge. “We had to call another place to help bake more goods for us because we can’t keep up with the baked goods.”
Meanwhile, down the road at America’s Best Value Inn, business is also booming. “I’d say it’s up about 80%,” says relief manager Vickie Allen. Her new clientele is similar to that of the coffee shop. “Oh, I’ve had police; I’ve had FBI; I’ve had ABC, NBC, CBS, New York Times, The Oregonian.”
Both Allen and Landon say the mood in Burns is one of cautious concern. But until the stalemate is over, business is booming at a time of year things are usually very quiet.
BEND, OR -- Two homes under construction in northwest Bend were destroyed by fire, early Sunday morning. When fire crews arrived at the Hayden Homes development on Brumby Lane, one was fully involved, and flames were spreading to a neighboring house.
Crews knocked down the blaze, but both homes are considered total losses.
Investigators say the fire was caused by a propane heater used to dry newly installed sheet rock.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilor Barb Campbell is looking to make some changes to the city charter. She brought up the idea during this week's City Council meeting. Fellow Councilors told her she needs to narrow her focus.
Campbell told them, "The two that I have heard that have come up repeatedly are elected mayor, and whether or not Councilors should be paid any more. Those are the two that I really do think, at least the seven of us have said over the course of time, this is something we should be thinking about as our city grows." Currently, Councilors are paid $200 a month.
"We're in this strange position - not strange; perfectly appropriate position - we can't make changes that effect ourselves; we can't vote a raise for ourselves; we can't make a change because 'I want.' I just think this is something where we've got to get out ahead of it. We have to act in order for it to take effect for the next Council."
Campbell says she will continue to think about specific changes she would like to consider and bring them up at a February goal-setting meeting.
BEND, OR -- Construction will soon begin on a new roundabout in southeast Bend. The new roundabout will be built at the intersection of Murphy and Parrell Roads. Project Manager Ryan Oster tells KBND News, “The intersection at Murphy-Parrell traditionally has been one of our highest crash rate intersections in town. And so the idea behind putting a roundabout there is it will reduce the speed of the traffic through the intersection and allow traffic to still efficiently flow just at a much safer speed.”
More than 70 local residents attended an open house at Jewell Elementary, Thursday night. They had “a lot of questions about the residents who live south of the intersection off
Parrell,” Oster says. “It is an inconvenience to them to try to get anywhere in town. Unfortunately we don't have the best connectivity road network, so there’s really only a few options for them.”
The city expects to break ground around January 25. Signs will be posted to notify area residents about the start date. The project includes sidewalks, curb ramps and a sewer line. It's expected to take seven or eight months to complete.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes National Forest officials suddenly find themselves with a big trash problem at Wanoga Sno-Park. "We had a very busy time with good snow over the holidays and I think that brought a lot of people out to enjoy themselves but it also brought a lot of people who, unfortunately, left their sleds behind and dumped them there," Jean Nelson-Dean tells KBND News. "I think, as people saw them being dumped, it kind of increased the problem."
She says they’ve recovered hundreds of broken sleds in just the past couple of weeks. "We have had problems in the past, but it is certainly a large problem now. We’ve looked into whether they can be recycled or if there was some way we could get rid of them, but there isn’t." Nelson-Dean says the material can’t be recycled and
disposing of all of them at the landfill will be costly but necessary.
The Forest Service tried to be polite about asking everyone to clean up after themselves, "We did put up some signs asking people not to dump their sleds but to take them with them and discard of them at home. Unfortunately, we just got more sleds. And I think it’s definitely one of those problems that somebody sees somebody doing something and they think they can do it too."
a picture of the problem Thursday, in an effort to ask all visitors to pack out broken sleds and other trash, so the sno-park is safe and clean for everyone.
MADRAS, OR -- After nearly six months, officials at St. Charles hospital in Madras say their Labor and Delivery department is finally ready to re-open to expectant mothers, later this month. CEO Jeanie Gentry tells KBND News the OB department now has its own full-time nurse manager, and its 11 labor and delivery nurses are more than the facility has ever had before. "What we’re doing now, is having two OB nurses staffed at all time, with the additional backup help still available. And, making sure that we have done additional training during this time, so that all of our nurses that do OB are very qualified."
She acknowledges that this closure is the longest the department has ever seen, but she says recent moved will help prevent it from happening again, "So that we have backups to our backups; and making sure that we’ve got fully trained OB nurses throughout Madras hospital that can jump in and help when needed."
Gentry says the nursing shortage is a problem smaller hospitals are experiencing across the country."And the fear was that we would not reopen. From the beginning, we’ve been very committed to maintaining OB services here in Madras. And, the department that we have reopening is going to be better than any other point in time that we’ve had OB services here."
The Family Birthing Center at St. Charles Madras will reopen January 25th, following the completion of training and orientation for new staff.
SISTERS, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue teams were dispatched to Upper Three Creek Snow Park, 11 miles south of Sisters, to find a Bend man who had gotten lost.
A woman called for help after her son, 23-year-old William Neason, failed to meet his friends for a snowmobile trip near Three Creek Lake, Thursday afternoon. Neason was able to text his friends and call 911 periodically, and told them he was walking in three-feet of snow, in tennis shoes.
He was able to start a fire to keep his feet warm while dispatchers “pinged” his cell phone. Neason also had food and water.
Rescue snowmobiles finally found Neason after 10 p.m. about four miles from where he was supposed to meet his friends 10 hours earlier.
BEND, OR -- A Bend plumber was sentenced this week for filing a false tax return. Gary Ford, owner of Summit Plumbing, admitted he failed to report more than $1.6 million of income on his federal tax returns, from 2007 to 2009. He plead guilty in September.
Ford's federal criminal defense attorney Jessica May, from Eugene, says the sentence is based on the actual tax loss. "His sentence is 18 months, to be followed by one-year of supervised release. And, he's also been ordered to pay back $580,454."
He admitted he prepared his own tax returns and May says he has advice for other business owners. "One of the lessons that he has learned through this, he greatly advises people to not try to cut corners and save money by trying to do their books themselves. He says it's better in the long-run to hire a competent bookkeeper."
But, prosecutors tell a very different story.
According to the Department of Justice, Ford stated on a 2007 loan application for a $1.2 million California vacation home that he earned $26,5000 per month and his spending habits support the claim. They say in 2009 alone, he spent more than $900,000 on personal expenses, $355,000 on real estate and $280,000 on other personal investments.
Between 2006 and 2009, however, they say Ford's personal income tax returns claimed he lived at or below the poverty line. They say he paid more in interest on his three properties than he claimed as income. IRS investigators say Ford only reported income received from customers who issued him a Form 1099.
In a statement released by the DOJ, Special Agent in Charge Teri Alexander of IRS Criminal Investigation said, "Mr. Ford's case is an example of what happens when someone selfishly puts their own unfettered wants above the common good and the law." Alexander added, "Mr. Ford accumulated properties and spent lavishly while utterly shirking his civic duty to pay an honest tax. Not only that, but he left many competitors in the lurch as he undercut their bids due to the simple fact that knowing he would not be paying his taxes allowed him to recklessly offer lower bids."
With good behavior, Ford's attorney says he could be released in nine to 15 months.
BEND, OR -- Two local lawmakers say the state legislature will likely tackle marijuana regulations in next month’s session in Salem. At a Bend Chamber event this week, House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) said the state “punted” to counties to create regulations for growing commercial marijuana. "The litigation that has been threatened in other counties will either work their way through the court or people will discover what the problem is and then how to practically correct it."
Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) said more legislative work is sure to come. "I know there’s going to be some changes in the marijuana law. I don't know how detailed they’re going to be because it is a short session. I suspect that the county ultimately does implement some regulatory framework that will probably give some people relief." Knopp was referring to Deschutes County's December decision
to impose a 90-day opt-out for growing marijuana in unincorporated areas. Commissioners cited fear of lawsuits and the desire to see how other counties handle land use issues between growers and neighbors before moving ahead.
BEND, OR -- An area of the Deschutes National Forest known as “Good Dog” will close for about two months, beginning Thursday.
Officials say the closure is necessary to protect visitors from large equipment used by contractors conducting a thinning a mowing operation on 131 acres off of Cascade Lakes Highway, west of Bend.
The "Good Dog" area will be closed from 4 a.m. Monday through 5 p.m. Fridays until the project is completed. It will be open to the public on weekends.
BEND, OR -- Several social justice and faith-based organizations will join together for a Peace rally Sunday, January 10, in front of the Deschutes County Courthouse. Greg Delgado, with the Central Oregon Social Justice Center, tells KBND News the “Stop the Hate” rally is an effort to put an end to the anti-Muslim rhetoric across the country, "Against that dialog that’s happening in our political campaigns right now, to say that we stand as a community united and respect with all people of color, with the Muslim community, with everybody. That’s a very strong message – a public message."
Delgado expects the District attorney and other county and city officials to participate. "We are a welcoming community. Muslim and Latinos, we’re basically doing a rally to say that peace and justice is for everybody in our community; that’s the message that we’re going to be laying that day."
Sunday's rally begins at 4:30 p.m., in front of the courthouse on Bond Street, in downtown Bend.
REDMOND, OR -- The man suspected of robbing a Redmond mini-mart at gunpoint on Sunday, turned himself into police, earlier this week. Through tips from the public, investigators identified 22-year-old Mitchell Yates as a person of interest.
Read more about Sunday's robbery.
Police say after the Redmond man learned they were looking for him, he contacted deputies at the Deschutes County Jail. He was arrested on a number of charges including Robbery I, Theft II and Interfering with Making a 911 Report.
Officers have recovered a shotgun they believe was used during the robbery at Moe's Food Mart.
BEND, OR -- The President used an Executive Order to increase gun control, because such legislation couldn't get through Congress. President Obama expanded background checks and says new rules will make them more efficient.
Tom Gresham, host of the weekly radio program Gun Talk, reacted to the action. "It's interesting that he made a lot of noise and didn't do very much. Unfortunately, a lot of the media seems to be confused - they're reporting that he's going to require gun dealers to have licenses. Well, that's been required since 1968; absolutely nothing gets changed. So, it's a lot of grand-standing and theater."
"He's just trying to make good on political promises. And then, when he found out he could not come through on those promises, he pretends to have done something. I mean, he keeps talking about the gun show loophole, which doesn't exist. Everybody should understand that all the laws outside a gun show are exactly the same as inside a gun show; there's no difference, whatsoever. So, anyone who is required to do a background check outside the show, is required to do one inside."
Tom Gresham's Gun Talk can be heard weekly on KBND, Sunday evenings 6 to 7 p.m.
BEND, OR -- Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward took to the internet Tuesday, to notify residents that he has asked for additional law enforcement assistance. "I want you to be aware that you’re going to see patrol cars from other counties patrolling the streets of Burns and Hines and the highways of Harney County. These folks aren’t here to harass the good citizens of Harney County; they’re here to help us maintain a safe and secure environment while we work through the issues at hand."
The FBI is the lead agency in charge of the situation at the wildlife refuge, but Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says his office will help bolster local patrols. "Our office is sending two patrol deputies over to assist in enhancing Harney County Sheriff’s office patrols. They’ll be there for a four-day shift, and their mission is to keep the citizens of Harney County safe." Sheriff Nelson says he may send Corrections officers next week, if needed for courthouse security. "Of course they’ve seen an influx of people in their population; and some of the people who have come into their community could be unpredictable individuals, so we’re over there enhancing their patrols." Crook County deputies are also in Burns.
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter tells KBND News his officers would only respond to the area if requested by the Oregon State Police. "If they were to ask for assistance, the Bend Police Department, being one of the larger departments east of the Cascades and the largest metro area closest to Harney County, we would respond with the necessary staffing and equipment for immediate threat to life of officers or citizens in Harney County." But, he says they wouldn't stay over an extended period. "Ideally, we’d respond until the immediate issue was resolved. We wouldn’t be able to sustain any kind of long-term commitment to them; that wouldn’t be appropriate, in light of the situation where Bend PD tax dollars would be spent in the long-term in Harney County."
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) spent nearly a half hour on the House Floor Tuesday talking about the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He says he doesn't support the actions of the group, but he understands their frustration. "I'm not condoning this takeover in any way; I want to make that clear." But, he adds, "I have seen what happens when over-zealous bureaucrats and agencies go beyond the law and clamp down on people."
The Oregon Republican says many ranchers feel the same way because of the government over-reach. "This is a government that has gone too far for too long." He called on Congress to change the way bureaucrats ignore laws and follow their own agenda.
He says the law that lead to a five-year prison sentence for Steve and Dwight Hammond must be changed. "We can change that law, and we should."
Watch Walden's complete speech, HERE.
BEND, OR -- Two local Legislators at Tuesday night’s Bend Chamber Legislative Outlook addressed a packed house. State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) and House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) previewed the February session.
McLane plans to introduce a bill to amend The state mandated sick leave policy which requires Oregon employers to provide sick time for virtually all workers. “What we had when that passed is a once size fits all without recognition of the unique needs of seasonal employees or agriculture especially crop growers who have perishable goods. That policy can really interfere with getting the crop through the door.”
Legislators are allowed two bills in the 35-day shorter session. McLane’s second bill extends disclosure requirements to limit conflict of interest for lawmakers. “At our sub director levels we have people working on decisions making the reports onto grant permits and stuff who have no requirement to disclose if their family members are actually the ones applying.”
Knopp’s bills address PERS reform and sustainable forest management. Bad weather and illness kept Senator Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) and Representative John Huffman (R-The Dalles) from attending
REDMOND, OR -- An elderly man was taken to the hospital after his car crashed into a building in northern Redmond.
Emergency crews responded to North Highway 97 and Maple Avenue just before 11:30, Tuesday morning after the car left the highway for an unknown reason and struck the Baker Equipment building.
The building was occupied at the time, but no injuries were reported. The name and condition of the driver have not been released.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon's May Primary will be packed with Presidential candidates. Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins has released a preliminary list of qualified candidates.
On the Republican side, voters will choose between (in alphabetical order) Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Donald Trump.
Democrats will choose between Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Mally and Bernie Sanders. The final list will be determined March 8. Any candidate not on the list can be added by getting a thousand signatures from party members in each of Oregon's five congressional districts.
BEND, OR -- More than a dozen marijuana retailers applied for local permits, Monday, to sell recreational pot. Rachel Ruppel is an Associate Planner with the city of Bend. She tells KBND News, "It was of greatest interest for the retailers, because retailers are subject to certain separation distances. They need to be away from schools, child cares, parks and 1,000' from any other retailer."
Because of those restrictions and that permitting is first come, first served, Ruppel expected a line. But, she says, "I was not expecting that people would start lining up on Friday. But, at least one person lined up Friday evening and over the course of the weekend, the line grew a little bit every few hours." She adds, "We have 13 people altogether. Out of that, I believe nine of them were there for a retail facility."
Recreational marijuana retailers must also get a license from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission along with the permit from the city of Bend. The OLCC is expected to start issuing licenses next fall.
BURNS, OR -- Despite claims of peaceful protests by those involved in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, some in Harney County say they are now scared to speak out against the militia because of intimidation tactics employed by the anti-government groups.
KBND News spoke with one Burns-area man who refused a recorded interview for fear of further retribution. He tells us he was targeted by extremists after he tried to organize a unified community effort. He says they slowly drove by his house and yelled at him and his family. Law enforcement officers and their families have reported similar drive-by "visits."
Several churches have joined together to host candlelight vigils in support of a peaceful resolution, and others are providing meals to law enforcement at the refuge.
BURNS, OR -- Two militants from Arizona took to social media to recruit supporters to join them, outside of Burns. In the one-minute video, Jon Ritzheimer says more people are needed. "We’re in my truck right now, parked right outside the refuge, here. Look, this place is swarmed with media, so pretty much all the way up to the gate is pretty packed; there’s still plenty of parking on the outside, so don’t feel like you can’t get in. There’s no roadblocks."
He went on to say, "We need you to get here and stand with us, that’s what we need more than anything; that’s what’s going to prevent any bloodshed, the more people that get here. Whether you’re armed or unarmed, you get up here. We don’t want bloodshed, we all want to make it home to our families, and I believe they want that on the other side, as well." Ritzheimer calls for armed and unarmed supporters to help them occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Militia leader Ammon Bundy calls this a peaceful protest in support of Dwight and Steve Hammond, who have been ordered to report back to prison today. The father and son were convicted in 2012 of setting fire to BLM land adjacent to their Harney County ranch.
BURNS, OR -- Militia members who have taken control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns want the land returned to the State of Oregon. The leader of the group, Ammon Bundy, says the Government can't talk its way out of this protest. "I wouldn’t say words would do it; I would say action would. And, that would be for the federal government to remove its unconstitutional presence here in the county."
The militia is also calling for justice for two ranchers convicted of burning federal land. Dwight and Steve Hammond already served their sentences for the charges, but a judge ruled the terms were too short under federal laws, and ordered them back to prison.
The militia is says this is unconstitutional.
Bundy told reporters at a Monday afternoon press conference, this about the constitutional rights of citizens against the federal government. "Our purpose, as we’ve shown, is to restore and defend the constitution; that each person in this country can be protected by it." Ammon Bundy is the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy
, who has had his own run-ins with the federal government. "Because we’ve allowed our federal government to step outside the bounds of our constitution, they’ve come down upon the people and are prosecuting them directly. They’re coming down into the states and taking over the land and the resources, putting people into duress and into poverty and putting entire counties and entire states into undue obedience."
Bundy claims the federal government doesn't have the constitutional right to take the land for a wildlife refuge. "They can only use it for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards and other needful buildings; and wildlife refuges do not fall within those enumerated, authorized lands." He says the group has a plan to remove federal control over the refuge, but he hasn't released any specifics.
BURNS, OR -- A militia is in a standoff with the federal government, outside of Burns. As part of the demonstration, they've taken control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. Militia leader Ammon Bundy of Nevada says the feds are out of control. "When government steps outside of its bounds that the people have given it, that it’s the duty of the people to put that government back in its place."
They're protesting the five-year sentence handed down to Dwight and Steve Hammond, two ranchers convicted of setting fire to BLM land in 2012. The Hammonds were released after about a year, but were later ordered to return to prison. The militia has armed guards around the refuge headquarters facility and on a watch tower. Bundy says they're prepared to defend themselves if law enforcement tries to remove them. "If they did, they would be putting lives at risk because we’re not putting anybody at risk right now; we’re not endangering anybody, we’re not harming anybody."
Harney County schools are closed for the week, and many residents are worried about violence. Pastor Brian Bowman says many support the Hammonds, but not the anti-government tactics. "Did they pay their price? In my opinion, and for many others, yes they did. And, for them to be given a more severe sentence, a lot of people think that doesn’t seem right. However, there are proper channels to go through."
Read more on the use of Bend as a rallying place for militia members.
The FBI is the lead agency for the situation, but officials say they will not release information on their response, citing safety concerns. The Harney County Sheriff issued a statement Sunday
, encouraging everyone to stay away from the area.
BEND, OR -- Several anti-government groups met in Bend over the weekend, before caravanning to Burns to participate in a Saturday march and protest in support of Dwight and Steven Hammond. Members of the Central Oregon Social Justice Center gathered in downtown Bend Saturday to oppose the groups. Rally organizer Greg Delgado says not speaking out could signal support. "As a community united, we’re just going to stand together and say we hold dignity and respect for all our community members. We’re not shooting to attack other people in the opposition or the other types of anti groups that are out there. We’re just trying to say our message loud and clear; that we’re a community united."
Delgado says those in the area don’t want the militia. "I’ve heard from the people in Harney County that they don’t want anything to do with this; and they guy actually burned some other property that didn’t belong to him. So, they’re pretty much in agreement that the guy did something and he should serve his time. But, these groups are trying to capitalize on it. And, the fact is, they’re coming to Bend and trying to capitalize on it saying it’s ok to organize and do those things here. And, we just wanted to let them know that this is not acceptable."
He says the militia groups are outsiders who came to Oregon to incite violence. "They’re basically saying that they’re going in there to defend the Constitution; that he [Steve Hammond] was tried as a terrorist and that he shouldn’t have; and that he shouldn’t be going to jail for burning grass. That’s what the opposition is saying. What we do know is that historically, these groups are linked to some pretty bad groups; we’re just trying to make sure people understand that. We’re not calling them hate groups; we’re saying we know they’re connected with some very radical things that could create some tension in our communities."
Lawyers for the Hammonds say the groups don’t represent the family, and the men plan to report to a federal facility as ordered.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are asking for the public's help in tracking down the man who robbed a mini mart, Sunday afternoon. Investigators say the robbery occurred at Moe's Food Mart, at SW 5th and Evergreen, just after 4 p.m.
The suspect is described as a white male in his 20s, 5' 7" or 5' 8", with a slender build. He was wearing black pants, a black hoodie, glasses and a mask. Surveillance video shows the man brandishing a shotgun; he got away with an undisclosed amount of money.
Police say he may be associated with a 1990s well-kept red pickup with duel exhaust. Anyone with information is asked to contact Redmond Police through Deschutes County Dispatch at 541-693-6911.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Crook County man was arrested late Friday, following a stand-off with police at his home on SE Southwood Drive. According to Sheriff John Gautney, a woman called police at about 3 p.m., to report she had been repeatedly assaulted by her husband, 50-year-old Todd Anthony Culver. The two had reportedly argued over an incident that occurred New Year's Eve. During the fight, Sheriff Gautney says Culver threw his wife to the floor, struck her numerous times and sexually and physically assaulted her.
The alleged attack took place over a two-hour period, during which time she says Culver threatened the victim with a shotgun and said he would shoot police when they arrived. She was later transported to the hospital with serious injuries.
First responders believed Culver had numerous weapons near the windows and was prepared to engage law enforcement. The Sheriff's Office called in the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the Oregon State Police Tactical Unit to assist. When he finally came out of the house after 11:30 p.m., the Sheriff says he was uncooperative and unwilling to comply with commands. He was eventually tazed and later evaluated at the hospital before he was taken to jail.
Culver faces numerous charges, including Kidnap I, Domestic Assault IV, Strangulation, Attempted Rape I and Sex Abuse I. Bail is set at $425,000.
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire officials credit the sprinkler system for saving a northeast Bend business. Firefighters responded to an alarm at Central Oregon Radiology Associates (1460 NE Medical Center Dr.) just after 3 a.m., Friday. When crews arrived, they found that a garbage can had caught fire under the overhang of the building and had activated an exterior sprinkler head.
Investigators say the sprinkler activation prevented what could have been a very expensive fire, given the imaging systems inside the business. The cause of the fire is believed to be an improperly disposed of cigarette.
Dep. Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki says sprinkler heads react to heat; units not exposed to heat don't activate, which allows minimal amounts of water to be applied to a small fire and keep it from growing. This minimal amount of water also prevents extensive water damage. When water started flowing, the alarm company notified 911.
He reminds business and building owners to keep sprinkler systems well maintained, especially during frigid temperatures. He says frozen systems render them inoperative and/or can result in broken pipes. Derlacki says most fire sprinkler systems that do freeze are the result of lack of maintenance.
*Photo courtesy Google Earth