BEND, OR -- A painful detour for southeast Bend residents is over. The Murphy Road Roundabout opened for traffic Thursday. The ribbon cutting of Bend's 32nd roundabout was celebrated by city officials and happy neighbors, like Monica Standen. She told KBND News, it will “Definitely make it safer. No more skidding out here on this grade here, going on Parrell, so that will be good.”
The former intersection at Parrell and Murphy Road was a trouble spot, according the projec
t manager Ryan Oster. “In eight years or so we had about 16 reported accidents here. Some of those were pretty serious; vehicles flipping over. So this has definitely been one that’s been on our radar. So we’re very happy we’re getting this thing open and back up.”
The project came in on budget and a month early. There is now a direct east-west connection in the southern part of the city, with connectivity from Brookswood Boulevard to Brosterhous Road. It also ties Murphy Road with the new ODOT overpass on South Third Street.
REDMOND, OR -- For the first time, Redmond Mayor George Endicott will face opposition to his re-election bid. City Councilor Anne Graham tells KBND News, "I have no concerns about the direction the city’s going or the job George has done. But, I care about Redmond to the point that I would like to serve as her mayor. And I have seen that I have a personal, I call it, a ‘window of opportunity’ that I could be the mayor. Therefore, I need to start. I need to put the stake in the ground that says I’m interested in this." Graham is concerned that her age and potential health issues could prevent her from running in the future.
She admits running for Mayor while halfway through her first term on Council provides a safety net for her. "Because, if you run and are not successful for Mayor in the middle of your term as a Councilor, you’re still a Councilor. If I waited until 2018 to run and I was unsuccessful, I would be off Council because you can’t run for both at the same time." She moved to Redmond in 2010 and served on various committees and boards prior to getting elected to Council. She says her love of the city is driving her run.
Graham adds, "The burden of PERS on our city finances; the inequities in property tax that Measures 5 and 50 created; there’s something called ‘recreational immunity’ that’s being challenged, and will effect cities like Redmond’s ability to offer recreational resources for free. Those are three big things that all of us on Council agree that needs to be worked on.
She sites the financial burden of PERS and property tax inequities as two of the biggest issues facing the city."
George Endicott has served four terms as Mayor. In Redmond, the Mayor is elected to a two-year term and Councilors serve four-year terms.
BEND, OR -- After an alleged crime spree spanning at least four counties across two states, the Redmond man suspected of killing Kaylee Sawyer remains in a California jail. Edwin Lara was transferred from Tehama County to Siskiyou County, Wednesday night, where he’s accused of shooting a man at a Yreka motel, and carjacking a family at a gas station, following Sawyer’s Bend murder.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says it’ll be at least another week before Lara returns to Oregon. "He’ll be charged with offenses in Siskiyou County. He’s also charged in Deschutes County, so I’ve spoken to the DA in Siskiyou County. We’ve agreed that the prosecution in Deschutes County will occur first." Hummel spoke with KBND News shortly after that conversation. He says, "I told him this is an extremely important case in our community and I made my pitch for why I want to handle it here first. And, he agreed."
But, bringing Lara back to Deschutes County is not a quick process. "He has a right to go in front of a judge who will ask him ‘do you contest extradition or do you agree to go to Oregon?’" Hummel says, "That hasn’t happened yet because Governor Brown hasn’t yet issued a warrant. She hasn’t because I’ve not asked her to do that yet. I’m going to initiate that process post haste." He says once a judge orders his extradition, transporting him from northern California to Central Oregon could take two to three days.
According to court documents, Lara told his wife he hit Sawyer with his campus security vehicle early Sunday morning while on patrol near COCC. But, Hummel says there’s more to the story. "I’ve charged Mr. Lara with the crime of Murder, based on an allegation that he intentionally killed Kaylee Sawyer. I don’t initiate criminal prosecutions unless there’s evidence to support a charge." He plans to present evidence to a Grand Jury, next week. "I expect they’ll return charges or I wouldn’t be presenting the case to them, but that’s up to the Grand Jury. So, we’ll present the evidence to the Grand Jury, next week. Concurrently with that, the extradition process will be beginning, so it might take a few days for the Governor to process her paperwork. And, those papers will be presented to the Governor of California."
Lara also could eventually face additional charges in Marion County, relating to the alleged kidnapping of a Salem woman.
BEND, OR -- The Medical examiner has positively identified a body found west of Redmond earlier this week, as Kaylee Sawyer, the 23-year-old Bend woman who disappeared last weekend.
According to police, investigators developed information that led them to search for Sawyer along Highway 126, between Redmond and Sisters, Tuesday afternoon. She was discovered near MP 100 in a dry canyon.
An autopsy was conducted Wednesday. "Blunt force trauma" is listed as the cause of death.
SISTERS, OR -- Two Bend teens are suspected of trafficking large quantities of narcotics throughout the region. Cylyx Spaethe and Adrienne Haskett were arrested last week during a traffic stop near Sisters.
According to the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) team, Spaethe traveled frequently to the Willamette Valley to get drugs he planned to sell in Deschutes County. When the pair was stopped by State Police, investigators found cocaine, mushrooms, marijuana, LSD, ecstasy and butane honey oil extract in the car, along with a firearm and evidence of the sale and manufacturing of drugs.
More drugs were found during a search of the Bend apartment where the two 18-year-olds live.
SISTERS, OR -- The Mayor of Sisters is stepping down. Chris Frye tells KBND News, "I’m moving out of the city limits and that’s the rules – if you no longer reside in the city that you have to step down. We’re moving into a house at the end of August, so my last meeting will be at the end of August." He adds, "It wasn’t our plan, but we found a house that was absolutely perfect for our family and we had to move on it."
Frye says he’d already decided not to run for re-election, this fall. "It’s a major time commitment and it takes a lot of energy. I’m a busy individual; I own my own business, I have three kids, three dogs, two cats and a wife. So, I did it for about three years and I absolutely love doing it, love serving Sisters. But, I was going to ride off into the sunset, anyway, in four months and be able to spend more time with my family." As of Wednesday, no one had officially filed to run for the three Council seats that will appear on the November ballot.
Mayor Frye says Councilors still need to decide how to deal with the sudden vacancy prior to the election. "I think we’ll talk this Thursday whether we’re going to fill that position, or let it ride with four until election time, or what the plan is. I think we’ll find out more on Thursday."
RED BLUFF, CA -- The Redmond man suspected of killing 23-year-old Kaylee Sawyer in Bend is awaiting arraignment for a number of felonies in California, stemming from crimes allegedly committed while on the run from Central Oregon. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel has filed a Murder charge against Edwin Lara, in connection with Sawyer's disappearance.
According to the Tehama County Jail, Lara is being held without bail on pending charges including Assault with a Firearm, Carjacking, Kidnapping and Attempted Murder. Police believe he went on a crime spree early Tuesday after he was identified as a person of interest in Sawyer's disappearance.
He was arrested Tuesday morning in Red Bluff, California with 19-year-old Aundreah Maes, of Salem. Maes' great uncle told a Portland TV station that Lara jumped into her car at a Salem parking lot. According to the relative, Lara had a gun and abducted Maes and took her car. She was with the suspect when he allegedly shot a man at a Yreka, California motel and carjacked another woman.
Maes was initially booked with Lara at the Tehama County Jail, but her great uncle says all charges have been dropped. She is no longer listed as an inmate.
Photo: Courtesy of the Tehama Co. Jail
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville is gaining national attention, thanks to a recent article in U.S. News & World Report, highlighting the city's shift from timber town to tech hub. In A Town Called Prineville Makes a Comeback, the author chronicles the downturn of Crook County's timber industry, and the rise of data centers for Facebook and Apple.
Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe says the community has learned to diversify. “We put all our eggs in one or two baskets, and that was timber and tires. And so we set out to be open to multiple, diverse type of jobs.”
She tells KBND News the national exposure is a great thing. “People who are interested in starting a new business or any type of business will see that online. They’ll say, 'Hey, this sounds like a pretty progressive little town. Let’s give the city a call and find out what’s happening.'” What’s happening is a thriving local airport, multiple data centers and increased capacity for wastewater treatment.
The article’s author notes that, unlike Portland’s silicon forest where high tech workers wear beanies and Birkenstocks, cowboy hats and boots are more the norm in Prineville.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Veterans Outreach has a new way to provide services to the homeless and others in need. COVO Outreach Manager Tory Flory says the new 14-foot cargo trailer is essentially a smaller, mobile version of their Bend outreach center, allowing them to help veterans and non-vets. "We have pretty much all of the same items in there, that we would have for someone who would walk into our offices. Everything from food to clothing and blankets and the sustenance items to keep people warm and dry and alive when they’re living outside."
Flory tells KBND News, "We spend three days in the field, currently, with the trailer; two of those are in Bend. On Tuesdays, we’re operating on the north and east side in Bend; on Thursdays, we’re in Bend on the south and west side. Then, Wednesdays, we spend in the outlying communities – Redmond, Madras, Prineville, La Pine and Sisters." It will be parked at the Sheriff’s substation in Sisters from 10 until noon, Wednesday (July 27). Click HERE for a schedule.
"Folks who are living outside, one of the biggest things that they run into is not being able to get to resources," says Flory. "So, for us to be able to meet them halfway is a big, big thing."
The mobile unit was purchased with money donated by Pacific-Source.
Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Tory Flory and COVO Executive Director JW Terry, or visit our Podcast Page.
BEND, OR -- Family and friends of Kaylee Sawyer are understandably heartbroken over the news of her death. But, they say they're touched by the outpouring of community support over the last few days. The 23-year-old Bend woman was reported missing Sunday and investigators say she is likely the victim of homicide. Edwin Lara was arrested in Northern California after a string of alleged crimes, and is expected to be charged with Sawyer's murder.
Kevin Sawyer is Kaylee's great uncle. He tells KBND News the kindness of the more than 250 volunteers who helped search for her on Tuesday did not go unnoticed. "We're very grateful for the community that's come out. There's been many, many people who don't know the family - don't know any of us - and they have come out. And, it shows what Bend is about; what this community is about. That we do support each other."
Kaylee's mother Julie Vanclieve spoke with KBND News before news broke of her death. "We have had so many people from this community reach out to us and we've been able to respond to quite a few. But, to the ones we haven't been able to respond to: We have seen every single message, and we appreciate everyone's time and how much people care," said Vanclieve. "I'm just so thankful that I live in the city of Bend."
George Livesay knows the family and helped in Tuesday's search effort. "She was a beautiful young lady who had everything in life to live for. It's such a travesty by somebody who just did something that was totally unconscionable and he will pay the price."
A Tuesday evening vigil at NorthWest Crossing's Discovery Park brought out nearly 200 people in support of Kaylee's family. Kevin Sawyer says she was a beautiful young lady who will be missed very much.
Photo: Released by Kaylee's family at Tuesday's press conference.
BEND, OR -- Police say a body found in Deschutes County is believed to be that of 23-year-old Kaylee Sawyer. She went missing early Sunday morning after she walked away from her boyfriend's car near Central Oregon Community College.
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter said, "Presently, we're processing a scene in Deschutes County with what we believe contains Kaylee's body. We're not going to discuss any further where that location is, but we have reason to believe that is in fact her we recovered. Her family has been made aware of this, but we will have to have the Coroner confirm who she is." Few details of Sawyer's death were released due to a gag order imposed by a Deschutes County Judge.
Authorities in California arrested 31-year-old Edwin Lara, of Redmond, Tuesday morning, following a string of alleged crimes along I-5. Lara is a part-time campus security officer at COCC and is married to a rookie Bend Police officer. His wife tipped off authorities Monday that her husband could be involved in Sawyer's disappearance.
Read more about events that led to Lara's arrest in California.
"I want to remind you how we're 36-hours into this, so we still have a great deal of information to go through; we have a great deal of interviews to conduct," Chief Porter said Tuesday. "It's moved along very rapidly. We were very lucky this woman came forward and pointed us in the right direction, immediately. And then, we're very lucky that we have officers willing to go 36 hours without sleep to honor the victim and move through this." Investigators say Lara's wife is now on leave from the department and is fully cooperating, while the suspect is expected to be charged with murder.
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond School board has chosen a local insurance agent as its newest Board member. Travis Bennett beat out two other candidates to complete the term of A.J. Lasoya, who is stepping down due to a change in his job situation.
Board Chair Rick Bailey says Bennett is a father and business owner who is truly invested in the community.
Bennett will be sworn in August 10th and is expected to serve through June of next year.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- As election season heats up, two local opposing candidates are forced to work with each other. Current Crook County Commissioners Ken Fahlgren and Seth Crawford are both vying for the Judge position, in November. But, KBND political analyst Judy Stiegler says, they still have to manage the county’s business, in the meantime. "It’s probably – there are moments of awkwardness. I think both of them, during the primary process, indicated there were times it was uncomfortable. What I know of both of these gentlemen, and I don’t know either of them well, they are very determined, both of them are. Both of them want this job very badly, so I think it’s going to be, pretty much, no holds barred."
Read more about the Crook County candidates.
After 24 years on the Commission, and the last eight as Judge, Mike McCabe is not running for re-election. And, with both Commissioners fighting for the job, Crook County leadership is certain to look different, come January. Analyst Jason Conger says the choice between Fahlgren and Crawford could come down to fundraising. "They’re both, I think, pretty well known in the community. They are different. Seth, at least overtly, appears to be more conservative than Ken. And, Ken is more of a, kind of a negotiator. I think it may come down to, maybe a little bit, money."
Fahlgren was first elected to the Crook County Commission in 2008; he forfeited his right to run for re-election, this year, when he filed for the Judge position. Stiegler says Prineville City Councilor Jason Carr and Retired Public Works Director Jerry Brummer are both viable options to fill Fahlgren’s seat. "They’re very, very different candidates. I think one of the things, Jason has established a really healthy reputation in that community for on the ground work. He’s been very, very involved since moving back over there."
Commissioner Crawford was elected in 2010 and has two years left on his current term. If voters elect Crawford Judge, he and the newly elected Position One Commissioner would appoint his replacement in Position Two.
To hear our full conversation with Stiegler and Conger, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council will upgrade 56 Bend bus stops, to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Judy Watts, with COIC, tells KBND News the ADA pads complete the final phase of last year's transit expansion. “It particularly helps our riders who are using any type of mobility device, which includes walkers, wheelchairs, other devices of that nature.” She adds, “This is a very stable, flat surface for transit riders to be able to use to enter and exit the bus safely.”
Funds for the project come from the state department of transportation via local counties.
Ten benches and two shelters will also be added to the Bend system. And, Crook and Jefferson counties will get two new Dial-a-Ride buses to replace outdated vehicles.
The entire project will be done by the end of September.
1:30 p.m. UPDATE: Bend Police say it was a rookie officer who tipped off investigators that Edwin Lara might've been involved in Kaylee Sawyer's disappearance. Lara's wife is a newly hired Bend Police officer currently in training. Investigators say she called Redmond Police late Monday morning, immediately after learning of her husband's potential connection to the case. They say she is cooperating with the investigation and police do not believe she is involved in Sawyer's disappearance.
11:30 a.m. UPDATE: Family and friends, along with volunteers from Destiny Search Project, continue searching for Kaylee Sawyer, throughout the day. They've scheduled a public candlelight vigil for 8 p.m. Tuesday at Discovery Park (1315 NW Discovery Drive). The Destiny Search Project says this remains a rapidly changing situation and the family appreciates the support they've received over the last two days.
10:30 a.m. UPDATE: We're learning more about the incidents that led to the arrest of 31-year-old Edwin Lara, Tuesday morning. According to information released by police in Yreka, California, Lara and a 19-year-old woman were taken into custody after an alleged series of crimes spanning two hours and several cities.
At 5 a.m., police responded to a Yreka motel after a person was shot in the stomach. That male victim was taken to the hospital in unstable and critical condition. Five minutes later, a man called 911 saying his car had been taken from a gas station, with three members of his family still inside. At about 5:41 a.m., those three victims called police to report the carjackers had dropped them off at a rest area on I-5, north of Weed, CA. Shortly after 7 a.m., California Highway Patrol in Red Bluff advised they had two suspects in custody, along with the carjacking victim's vehicle.
Lara and the woman were booked into the Tehama County Jail on charges of Attempted Murder, Kidnapping, Carjacking, Burglary and other charges. Yreka Police and other agencies are working multiple crime scenes and are sharing information related to Sawyer's disappearance in Bend. [Edit: Charges were later dropped against the woman as investigators learned she was also a victim.]
8:30 a.m. UPDATE: Bend Police say Edwin Lara has been taken into custody in Northern California in connection with Kaylee Sawyer's disappearance. The investigation is "fluid" and more information is coming to light as they go.
BEND, OR -- The search for a missing 23-year-old Bend woman has shifted to a homicide investigation, police said overnight. Kaylee Sawyer was last seen early Sunday morning in the parking lot of her apartment, near Central Oregon Community College. Her mother, Julie Vanclieve, Kaylee's boyfriend had gone inside after an argument. Kaylee told him via text, that she was leaving on foot. The boyfriend is fully cooperating with authorities.
Late Monday night, Police announced 31-year-old Edwin Lara (pictured above) is a person of interest. The Redmond man is a part-time campus public safety officer at COCC and is 5'7", 180-pounds. The Central Oregon Major Crimes Team is now leading the investigation and say he should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees Lara should not approach him, but call 911, immediately. Investigators were led to multiple addresses in the Redmond area, prompting police to shift the focus of the case to a homicide.
Sawyer's mother, Julie Vanclieve, tells KBND News, "This is not common behavior for my daughter. For her to be out of contact - phone, Facebook, Instagram, all that kind of stuff - for her not to have anything is completely not normal. So, I feel that someone may have picked her up and she may not be able to contact us." She adds, "I don't think that she would take off, either me or - she's very close with her 16-year-old brother - that she wouldn't text him and let him know where she's at."
Vanclieve says, "She's a happy, outgoing, bubbly person. That's my biggest concern - I don't know if somebody stopped and said 'do you need a ride?' I don't know if my daughter would say 'no thanks.' I think that she might think that if the person looks nice, she might get in the car. That's my biggest concern is that she just got in the car with the wrong person."
Family and friends are working with the Destiny Search Project
and plan to gather Tuesday morning to search for Sawyer. A vigil in her honor is also in the planning stages.
BEND, OR -- Police are looking for leads in the disappearance of a 23-year-old Bend woman. Kaylee Sawyer's family reported her missing Sunday evening, saying she hadn't been seen since just before 1 a.m. that morning near her west Bend apartment, by Central Oregon Community College.
She is 5'2", 120-pounds, with blonde hair and blue-green eyes. She was wearing a black dress and brown boots at the time of her disappearance, and was carrying a green purse. Sawyer has her cell phone, but is believed to be turned off. Her vehicle was left behind.
Anyone with information on her disappearance or current whereabouts is asked to call Detective Todd Guthrie at 541-322-2984. Bend PD says any information "could be very helpful in locating Kaylee."
BEND, OR -- An armed robber got away with an undisclosed amount of cash from the Dutch Bros at SE Third and Wilson, Saturday night. Bend Police say he entered the coffee hut just after 11 p.m. and displayed a handgun to a 19-year-old female employee.
Officers, including a K9 unit, searched the area after the man took off on foot, but he remains at large. The suspect is described as a white male, wearing a gray pullover hoodie and dark pants. Anyone who may have seen suspicious activity in the area at the time, is asked to call Bend Police at 541-322-2960.
BEND, OR -- A somewhat shocking demonstration took place in downtown Bend, Friday afternoon. A group called Bloodstained Men attracted a lot of attention on the corner of Greenwood and Wall, as they held signs calling for a ban on circumcision of baby boys in America.
Jason Fairfield, with the group, says it is medically unnecessary and potentially harmful to infants. “We think everyone should have the inherent human and civil right to make decisions about their own body and which parts they get to keep. Our bodies are not designed wrong. There’s nothing extra or expendable.” He tells KBND News the group speaks for infants who cannot speak for themselves. “Something like circumcision really is a violation of somebody’s individual rights and it’s not a medical decision because the medical evidence is really quite questionable. We are focused on boys who are yet to be born that can be spared this surgery.”
The group of a dozen protesters were dressed all in white with a stain of fake blood near their groin. The Bend demonstration was one of several held throughout the northwest.
WARM SPRINGS, OR -- A new fire on the Warm Springs Reservation continues to send smoke into Deschutes County. The Rattlesnake Fire began Sunday along the Warm Springs River, about six miles southeast of the Kah-Nee-Ta Resort. It has quickly grown to several thousand acres.
It continues to burn on the west side of the Warm Springs River and has reached the Lower Deschutes, according to fire managers.
BEND, OR -- Bend’s WaterWise Program offers homeowners a chance to learn more about their residential irrigation system at a free public workshop, Tuesday evening. Water Conservation Program Manager Mike Buettner says it’s an opportunity for the average resident to take an active roll in saving water and money. "We’ll cover everything from an irrigation overview to some of the common problems and easy fixes that we find homeowners are always running into. Then, we’ll spend the last part of the workshop focusing on smart irrigation controllers and some of the technological advancements that have come at the irrigation controller."
Buettner tells KBND News those common problems are typically human error, "We find a lot of tilted, or misaligned, or broken sprinklers and sprinkler nozzles. The one that causes the most financial stress, anyway, is really poor programming at the controller. A lot of times, we’ll find irrigation controller programs that are watering every single day, or two times a day - really excessive amounts." He adds, "If you look at a typical residential household, over half the water that they use over the course of a year goes outside; goes through an irrigation system. That fact alone should tell homeowners that focusing on outdoor water use is really the best way to conserve water, and it’s also the way to save a few dollars on your water bill."
Tuesday's workshop begins at 5:30 p.m. at the city’s utility department admin building on Boyd Acres Road. Registration is required. Click HERE for more information.
BEND, OR -- A 45-year old Boise, Idaho woman was injured in a mountain bike crash near the Phil’s Trailhead west of Bend, Thursday. Jeff Frechette called 911 just before noon to report his wife’s crash, saying they could not proceed on their own.
Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers and deputies rescued Hailey Frechette from near the intersection of Kents Trail and the KGB Trail. The woman was wheeled down to an ATV ambu-sled then transported to Skyliners Road.
She was flown to St. Charles Bend, where she’s listed in fair condition.
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- National political conventions are a chance to coalesce party unity going into the home stretch of the Presidential race. The Republicans wrapped up their convention on Thursday, and Democrats kick things off in Philadelphia on Monday.
Matthew Rock, of Redmond is already on the east coast. He says that although Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee, he's still for Bernie Sanders. "I've been sort of a political enthusiast before, but up until now, I've never been a political activist; I've never been so involved. Now, I'm willing and able to be at the convention and vote on the platform changes that need to be implemented - and vote Bernie!"
He tells KBND News, "My hopes are that we are going to the convention and, as pledged delegates, the first two rounds, we're pledged to vote for the candidate that we support. As it opens in the third round, I'm really hoping that Hillary delegates and super delegates all see what we've been talking about this entire time - that she's not viable against Trump; that a vote for Hillary is a vote for Trump."
Clinton is expected to name her Vice Presidential pick Friday or Saturday.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors held a special meeting Thursday night on proposed Climate Action Policy. The proposal would require city government to reduce its fossil fuel use by 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050. That’s 5% of the community. The same fossil fuel reductions would be recommended, but not required for the public.
More than 40 people testified, the majority in favor including businesses and individuals in the Climate Action Ordinance.Jeffery Richardson is on the Climate Ordinance working group. He told the crowded Council Chambers, “We just don’t feel that a policy framework that only takes in city operations is sufficient to what we’re looking at as a community.” Other supporters urged the city to act on the ordinance immediately.
The Central Oregon Builders Association
does not support the Climate Action resolution. Caitlin Pay, with COBA, told the crowd, “As of yet no work has been done to determine the cost of this type of a program for Bend. There is, as of yet, no expectation for startup funding, operating expenses or long term costs.” Opponents expressed their concern about the city’s current budget woes with regard to street maintenance and public safety. Supporters pointed to the social and environmental value of climate action.
The Council will take last night’s testimony into consideration before taking action.
An overflowing crowd gathers outside Council Chambers
BEND, OR -- Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) met Wednesday with local Forestry officials, along with those from the BLM and regional fire managers, to get an update on this year’s fire season.
Deschutes National Forest Supervisor John Allen told the Senator we could be in for a high-risk August. "While we had a good snowpack above 6,000’, we didn’t really have much of a snowpack below 5,000’ and so our lower elevation forests are very dry. In my mind, we have this dichotomy going on, where the lower elevations are really exemplifying the drought that we’ve had the last handful of years." With fewer than 130 fires so far this year, he says Central Oregon's fire season has been quieter than average.
Wyden was encouraged by continued collaboration between county, state and federal agencies and says Central Oregon should serve as a model for how to make the most out of limited federal funds. "What is striking about this community is, on practically every issue relating to natural resources, the first thing they do is try to look at ways at which they can make resources stretch and build partnerships. In other words, these collaborations, in addition to focusing on prevention, also, at a time of scarce government resources, help you get more value for the dollar."
But, he tells KBND News, the current wildfire funding system is broken. "The fact that you have this system that has been stacked, funding-wise, against prevention causes chaos all the way through the system." Wyden says Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has signed on to support his Wildfire Disaster Funding Act because large fires in the west impact prevention efforts everywhere else. "Fire borrowing, to the extent that this has been so pervasive when you have these fires and you can’t afford to fund them, really causes a whole lot of dominoes to fall in a very destructive fashion." Wyden’s bill is scheduled for a Conference Committee between the Senate and the House in September.
Forestry officials told the Senator if his bill passes they would use any extra money for additional prescribed burns.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are considering asking voters to approve a tax on local marijuana sales. Officials estimate annual pot sales will total $11.5 million. The most a city can tax those sales is 3%, which translates to nearly $350,000 a year for Bend.
City manager Eric King told Councilors Wednesday night, the state already imposes a 25% tax. “Money that goes to the state is specifically earmarked for law enforcement. Then there is this question of the 3% which would only go to the city.” The city can use that money however it wants.
Councilors are leaning toward directing it to general fund, with an emphasis on public safety. Councilor Sally Russell said, “It’s a significant amount but it’s not millions of dollars and I would like to retain, at least long term, retain some flexibility in that use.”
Collections would likely begin next summer. The 25% state tax drops to 17% next year. That means, if Bend voters approve the pot sales tax in the fall, the total tax for the 17 dispensaries in Bend would be an even 20%. That’s significantly lower than Washington State’s 37% marijuana tax and Colorado’s 29% tax.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post is helping out another local group of vets with a little extra recognition. George Endicott is Redmond’s Mayor, but he’s also the former Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart – chapter 551. "We don’t have a lot of money, because we’re a very small organization – there’s not many of us. So, the VFW has been gracious enough to loan us their facility to hold our meetings. They volunteered to buy some signs. The big VFW sign, and right below it ‘the Military Order of the Purple Heart meets here.’"
There are about 50 members of the local chapter, they are all Purple Heart recipients from across Central Oregon. Endicott was on hand when the new sign went up at the Redmond VFW Hall, Wednesday afternoon. He tells KBND News, "For us, it’s a big deal. Of course, remember the VFW is combat vets, so they have a great affinity for those who were wounded in combat. We have a very good synergism there."
The MOPH Chapter 551 meets at the VFW Hall on Veterans Way on the second Thursday of each month.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon's jobless rate increased slightly in June, to 4.8%. It's now in line with the national average of 4.9%. Employment Department Economist Nick Beleiciks says it's reaction to a pattern of unusually low unemployment. "We had three months of Oregon’s unemployment rate being the lowest on record, going back at least 40 years. And, the increase to 4.8% in June is probably a sign of people responding to the tight labor market." He adds, "There are more people entering the labor force this summer, than we’d typically expect." That increase in the number of people looking for work causes the unemployment rate to rise.
Despite the uptick, "Oregon’s unemployment rate is still really low historically," says Beleiciks. The state added 3,000 in June, "The sector that added the most jobs was professional and business services, which added 1400 jobs." Health care, financial services and manufacturing all lost jobs. In the past year, Oregon has added nearly 60,000 jobs.
BEND, OR -- For the first time, Bend Area Habitat for Humanity will build a townhouse in northeast Bend. Robin Cooper-Engle says the switch to multi-family housing is directly related to the cost of land inside the city. "Because of the families we’re serving – they’re lower income – if we’re buying land at top dollar, it doesn’t make it affordable for us to then build on it and sell it to a family, if it’s a single family lot. When we were looking at land and how quickly prices were going up, last year, we decided we needed make a change. We started looking at land that allowed us to build townhomes or duplexes."
She expect the nonprofit will continue to build traditional homes in Redmond, La Pine and other areas with lower land prices. But, she tells KBND News, "We will not be doing single-family homes, in the near future, anyway. So, this is our plan for the next few years. Now, if things change, like they do, in Bend then maybe there’s an opportunity. But, there’s not a lot of land left, even if it’s a single-family home, that would be right for what we build."
There is a positive side to the shift. Cooper-Engle says it will allow Habitat to serve more families, faster. "They’ll be built all at once, to a certain point. Probably the finish work, we’ll finish one and get a family in; get to the next one, finish one. So, they’ll be spaced out a little bit, maybe a month or so in between at the final stages. But, for the start of it, the foundation, and getting the house all dried in, we’ll definitely be working all at once to do that. It will definitely get us three families served quicker than we’ve been able to do."
The public is invited to celebrate the groundbreaking and meet the three families who will eventually purchase the attached units. The ceremony is scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m. at the 12th and Greenwood site.
BEND, OR -- A hands-on summer youth camp focused on police work takes place this week at Central Oregon Community College. COCC and the Bend Police Department put on the summer camp called “Junior Police Academy.”
Fourteen youngsters between the ages of 10 and 14 learn about traffic and criminal law, forensics and crime scene processing, fingerprinting, firearm safety, self-defense and they’re running a police agility course.
Bend Police Lt. Clint Burleigh tells KBND News it wasn’t planned this way, but the timing of the camp is helpful given the current national atmosphere of tension regarding law enforcement. “Trying to get the kids in our area that see our police officers and interact with us, just to try and get that understanding and relationship built.” He says spending time with police in a non-threatening setting is good for both parties. “They’re seeing a police officer and they’re learning. People are laughing and the environment is positive. And they’re seeing that we are mothers, fathers, uncles. We’re just the same. We’re just like the mom and dad. We just have a different job.”
The summer camp attendees will also spend time with the K9 police and tactical teams.
Photos Courtesy @BendCityPolice on Twitter.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes National Forest crews are carefully watching for new wildfires, following two days of storm activity across the region. Jean Nelson Dean tells KBND News they logged close to 350 lightning strikes between Sunday night and Monday morning, which resulted in 15-20 fire starts. "We still are actively looking at some of those and most of them have been very small. We do have two that were a little larger: One was a half-acre, three miles northeast of Pine Mountain. And, the other was .7-acres with a few small spots, 12 miles north of Prineville."
Although the storm has passed, she says the wildfire risk remains. "With the lightning, we’re always on the lookout for holdover fires that start after the lightning has passed through the area. A fire starts smoldering and then picks up; so we will be looking for smoke over the next several days."
Crews were strategically placed around the region in advance of the weather pattern to watch for and quickly respond to reports of fire. So far, this fire season has been relatively quiet. But, Nelson Dean says that could change. "We are still seeing a lot of human caused fires, which are challenging because with lightning we do have some prediction for it – we know where they hit, we know where the fires might be. When somebody just lets a campfire go, it can get out of hand fairly quickly. We do still have dry fuels, despite the moisture. We still want to encourage people to put out their campfires." She says the fire season is certain to intensify in early August and into September.
BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Recreation's Board of Directors will vote Tuesday whether to reopen the Passageway Channel at its Whitewater Park. That portion of the park was closed in early June after many users complained it was too rough for floaters.
Julie Brown, with the parks and rec district, tells KBND News water flows have been reduced. "We've been operating the passageway channel at those recommended water flow conditions since early June. Some people can even visually see it's a different amount of water flowing through there. And then, we took the next step of having some user testing take place in the Passageway Channel, and we got a lot of really positive feedback from folks who felt it was a different experience and it was an improved experience."
She says the district also installed signs warning people about what to expect. "We know that river users need to have a better understanding of what that experience is going to be like. So, we've worked quickly to improve signage that people can see at the beach locations. We're also working on additional website information, video."
But, Brown says they are still considering more improvements, which could make the surface smoother for floaters. "With the additional educational aspects that we have in place and the operations, we're comfortable recommending a reopening of it, while we are still considering design and engineering recommendations that we've received from the engineers that would, at the soonest, take place when we get into low-water conditions in the fall and winter."
BEND, OR -- An Idaho woman visited Bend's Tower Theatre, this weekend, hoping to get tips on how to renovate an old movie theater into a performing arts facility. Janis Johnson heads up a theater preservation group in Lewiston, Idaho. She tells KBND News, “You really need success models to understand what your abstract ideas are, or what your intangible ideas are; what does it actually look like in reality? So it was very confirming that it can be done.”
Johnson is also visiting other northwest cities with performing arts facilities renovated from former movie theaters. “Being able to come to the Tower, which I knew a little bit about - how it had almost been completely lost and now is very successful - was really important for me to understand and have a concrete example.” She hopes to emulate the success of the Tower Theatre in her north-central Idaho town.
BEND, OR -- Two men face burglary charges after they were found hiding in a shed by a Deschutes County Sheriff’s K-9. The burglary victim returned to Gentry Loop, northeast of Bend, and reported hearing people inside the home.
Investigators say the suspects left prior to the deputies’ arrival, but witnesses saw two men in the area and a K-9 unit tracked them to a nearby shed. They say 49-year-old Daniel Webb (pictured) of Bend, and 27-year-old Charles Mansfield of La Pine initially refused to come out, but after pepper spray was deployed, the two men were taken into custody without incident.
REDMOND, OR -- As construction crews finish up remodeling work at Redmond’s new Early Learning Center (RELC), Superintendent Mike McIntosh says the district finds itself amid an unforeseen controversy over the new playground. He tells KBND News, "No swing sets! There are a lot of issues with swings: one of them is the liability to them. But, for me it was pure economics. Will a kid miss the swing set? Probably not. Because there’s always the fight of ‘you swung 10 times instead of eight times.’"
"If you drive by there, you see what I think is a wonderful play structure going up," says McIntosh. "The fall protection under it is composition rubber – it’s spongy, you can crash and burn on it. As opposed to the old pea gravel or bark chips that were never in the right spot. So, swing sets have to have the exact same thing. And, swing sets have to have the exact same thing. And, swing sets serve about four students for the exact same cost as what we can serve 50 students on a real play structure."
He anticipates 400 kindergarten students will start school at the new RELC in the fall. But first, crews need to finish remodeling the former middle school. "We’re aiming for the middle of August, that we would have from August 15 to the end of the month to move in, get settled, teachers unpack; do all those things."
CLEVELAND, OH -- The Republican National Convention is now underway in Cleveland and Patti Adair, from Sisters, is there. This is her second GOP convention; four years ago, she was in Tampa, Florida. But, she tells KBND News, this time, her family is nervous for her safety. "I don't want anything to happen - my mom is worried about me. The only thing I was worried about in Tampa was a hurricane. There was a hurricane that came in the week before; it didn't amount to much and didn't really hit Tampa. But, that's one thing, to worry about a hurricane. But, the other thing is to worry about protesters and who's going to have a gun and what is going to happen."
On Friday, Donald Trump announced he has chosen Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate. Adair is a Trump delegate and is looking forward to hearing all of the primetime speeches. "I think it should be a fascinating week. I really love the media center. Last time I went, I met Marsha Blackburn, she's a Congresswoman from Tennessee. She came and spoke to my Republican group. I mean, the opportunities to network at this are phenomenal."
The theme of the first day of the convention is "Make America Safe Again" and Donald Trump's wife Melania is scheduled to speak. On Tuesday, it's "Make America Work Again," with Donald Trump, Jr and former GOP Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson expected to speak. It's "Make America First Again," on Wednesday, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and VP presumptive nominee Mike Pence speaking. Finally, on Thursday, the theme is "Make America One Again," with Ivanka and Donald Trump both scheduled to speak.
BEND, OR -- With hundreds of people floating the Deschutes through Bend each day, in the summer, more garbage and personal items fall into the river. The Upper Deschutes Watershed Council hosts the annual Deschutes River Cleanup, next month.
In addition to beer bottles and other garbage, Kolleen Miller says they find more and more wallets, bicycles, cell phones and Go Pro video cameras. “The use has increased dramatically, so we’re finding dramatically more garbage in the river itself.” About 160,000 people float the river through Bend each year.
Miller tells KBND News they try to encourage everyone to prevent items from falling into the river, in the first place. “Prepare a little bit more if they are going to float the river, and sort of assess what they’re bringing with them. And either use a dry bag and clip their belongings to their boat or leave their belongings in their car and not take them on the river at all.”
This year’s cleanup is August 6. Volunteers are needed to clean up along river banks. They’re also seeking volunteers with canoes or boats to help scuba divers haul items out of the river.
CULVER, OR -- a Madras woman was killed, and three children were injured when she drove her pickup into the path of a train near Culver, Thursday night. Witnesses told the Jefferson County Sheriff's office, the woman initially stopped at the tracks at Gem Lane and Highway 361, but may have been distracted by a minor crash, nearby.
Investigators believe 52-year-old Lourdes Perez was looking at the police activity and failed to notice the approaching train when she pulled onto the tracks at about 5:30 p.m. The train almost immediately struck the truck's passenger side, causing it to flip and land in a ditch.
Two 10-year-old girls were treated and released from area hospitals. Perez and a 7-year-old boy were flown to St. Charles Bend where she later died. The boy is listed in fair condition.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes Brewery has unveiled a unique film experience, highlighting where its most popular beers come from. The first virtual reality movie showcases Black Butte, after which the popular Black Butte Porter beer is named.
Scott Oliphant of Impossible Engine creative agency, produced the film. He says once a user straps on the goggles, “The image tracks with your head. So if you turn around you’re going to see something. If you look up, you see something. If you look down, you see something.”
So< why release a film on Black Butte, instead of Black Butte Porter? Jason Randles, the brewery's Digital Marketing Manager, tells KBND News, “We all live in Bend, Oregon. It's near and dear to us. But we sell beer in 28 states and several countries and most people have never heard of Bend, Oregon let alone been here. So we wanted to share that experience with the rest of the world.”
Oliphant puts it another way: “Imagine one of your consumers is in Houston or something. They can watch this film and be on Black Butte in the place that, they might not even know is a real place. They might think it is a beer bottle label or whatever.”
A second film on Mirror Pond was released Wednesday. You can experience the 360-degree feature on your smart phone by moving it side to side, or your computer screen by swiping it. The films are on the Deschutes Brewery Facebook page
, YouTube channel
and the company's website
BEND, OR -- Bend firefighters received new life-saving equipment worth more than $14,000, thanks to a grant from an out-of-town sandwich franchise. In its most recent grant disbursement, the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation will provide equipment to four Oregon fire departments; Bend received the largest award, in the form of three new thermal imaging cameras.
Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe traveled to Tualatin on Wednesday to formally accept the grant award. He tells KBND News these cameras are used on every fire call. "For example, in a burning building, if somebody’s trapped, they’re going to have a different heat signature than the surrounding area and we can actually see them in the dark and be able to locate victims and get them out of the building. It also can sense the difference in the wall, where a hot spot is." He adds, "It has the ability to record, so we can use that for documentation. They’re very, very accurate. You can actually put your hand on a wall, take your hand away, aim the thermal imaging camera at the wall and you can see your hand print."
Howe says the grant allows Bend Fire to begin replacing its current fleet of aging cameras. "We have six of them that are first generation, that are like 12-years-old that are very, very expensive to repair – we’ve had them in the repair shop multiple times; they’re on their last legs. To get these three is a real boon to us. These are state of the art, really nice units; very, very sturdy. They’ve made a lot of improvements in the last dozen years."
The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation typically disperses grants and equipment only to agencies within 60 miles of a restaurant franchise. But, with the closest restaurant in Eugene, Howe says Bend Fire is very grateful they made an exception.
REDMOND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown traveled to Central Oregon, Wednesday, to draw attention to disaster preparedness. She visited the Redmond Airport to learn about its position in the state’s plan to respond to a large-scale disaster. Roberts Field is predicted to be the only working airfield large enough to handle a large jet, following a devastating earthquake.
Governor Brown asked Deschutes County Emergency Manager Nathan Garibay about the lessons learned during the recent statewide Cascadia Rising Earthquake drill. He told the Governor, "I think, the lesson learned is we need more practice." She agreed, "On the ground, we need to make sure that our state employees are prepared, that our families are prepared, that they have the supplies and are ready in such an event."
She toured the airport with Garibay and Redmond Mayor George Endicott, getting an update on the recent runway repaving project and a briefing on the city's plans to build a new 7,000 square-foot facility that will eventually house the new Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch (COID) center. She says the state learns from how the region responds to wildfires. "How do we make sure Oregon is prepared and ready for natural disasters? And, I think this facility is truly amazing, the level of collaboration between federal agencies, county emergency services, and state to insure that we have a key spot in Oregon to meet and greet in the event of a disaster."
Officials expect to break ground on the new COID center on August 15, with completion slated for April, just in time for the 2017 fire season. Governor Brown tells KBND News, "As you know, Oregon’s wildfire season has grown longer and more severe. And, to have a facility to coordinate our attack and prevention, is really key."
After the airport visit, Governor Brown toured the neighboring Deschutes County Fairgrounds - designated as a staging area for FEMA's response to a Cascadia quake.
(Upper Left) Redmond Mayor George Endicott and Gov. Kate Brown tour the airport.
(Right) The current USFS air center, near where the new COID facility will be built.
BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown is in Central Oregon, Wednesday, to focus on preparing for natural disasters like wildfires and earthquakes. She'll be at Discovery Park in NorthWest Crossing at 11 a.m., to help the Heart of Oregon Corps remove excess brush that could fuel a wildfire. She is also expected to film a public service announcement for the group Keep Oregon Green.
At 1 p.m., Governor Brown will visit Roberts Field in Redmond, to learn about plans to build an interagency wildfire dispatch center. Then, she'll head to the Deschutes County Fairgrounds, which would be a designated staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Area (FEMA) in response to a Cascadia earthquake.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes River Woods residents are celebrating the cancelation of the sale of a lava flow in their neighborhood. Kevin Peterman, the owner of the rock quarry Able Supply, withdrew his $185,000 offer to purchase the lava field from Arnold Irrigation.
Julie Kisic, with the group "Save the Lava," tells KBND News, "Our primary goal has always been to acquire the land and to protect this land from any type of development. And see it incorporated into the Newberry Volcanic National Monument." The group hopes to combine private donations and public fundraising to purchase the land with the conservation group Trust for Public Lands and turn it over to the forest service.
Read more about Save the Lava.
Peterman says he planned to build a home on the property and had no intention of mining for gravel. The group said either activity would have a negative impact on their neighborhood and property values. "It’s almost as if somebody drew an imaginary line through the lava field and said, 'on this side it is a national treasure and on this side of the line it’s just useless rock,'" says Kisic. She says the group feared building a home on the property could lead to further development of the 86-acres.
BEND, OR -- The city of Dallas, Texas is working through the healing process. President Obama spoke at an interfaith memorial service, Tuesday, honoring the five officers killed last week by a lone gunman at a “black lives matter” rally.
Funerals for three of the slain officers are scheduled for Wednesday, and Bend Police Chief Jim Porter says his department will pay its respects. "We take a stake in that mourning, and for closure we often send officers to these. In this case, we’re sending one officer from our Honor Guard to participate and help with the funerals, as a representative of Bend Police Department."
Chief Porter told KBND News the officer flew out Tuesday morning. "We had to put it together really fast. He’s going to be down there the rest of the week."
To hear our full confersation with BPD Chief Jim Porter, click HERE
or visit our Podcast Page
BEND, OR -- A panel of Bend city officials discussed the power of local elections and how the City Council operates, at a Chamber event, Tuesday night. “Why local elections matter” was the theme of the latest What's Brewing event.
Former City Councilor and panelist Scott Ramsay said it is crucial for voters to do their research on Council candidates before casting a ballot. “That Council can make a decision on any given Wednesday that will affect all of your lives on Thursday. And it takes a lot of work to reverse it if you’re unhappy about it,” Ramsay told the crowd. “So, I think it is the responsibility of the voters to pay attention to who is running for office; how much knowledge do they have already of how the city operates? How much knowledge do they have about projects that are in the pipeline now?” Ramsay believes frequent turnover on the Council drags out some city projects. He notes city projects that were in process when he first joined the Council are still being worked on, two years after he left.
Former Councilor and fellow panelist Mark Capell had sharp criticism of current members. He said, “There are a couple of councilors who I think are leaders and work to move things forward. And I think the rest of it is fragmented and sad. And so I think this next election is critically important.”
Also on the panel were outgoing Councilor Victor Chudowsky, City Manager Eric King and Chamber Political Action Committee Chair Troy Reinhart.
BEND, OR -- The Home Instead Senior Care Foundation is hosting a 65-hour online fundraiser for nonprofits this week, and one local group hopes for a big boost. The Central Oregon Council on Aging (COCOA) would like to raise $5,000 during the Give 65 campaign, for its Meals On Wheels program.
Jean McPherson of COCOA says the money would help fund the 75,000 meals it provides to local seniors each year. “What we’re hoping is to raise money through this Give 65 event, to not only defray that cost but possibly provide additional meals, as well.” She tells KBND News, “The benefit of Meals On Wheels is not only does it provide the needed nutrition, but it’s also wellness checks, so the Meals On Wheels volunteer drivers can check on those seniors every day.” COCOA provides meals and daily wellness checks to 675 seniors in the tri county area.
Give 65 kicks off at 10 a.m., Tuesday and runs for 65 hours. Home Instead Senior Care will provide an additional $10,000 to nonprofits that raise the most money or receive the most donations during the campaign.
REDMOND, OR -- While larger cities experience anti-police rallies in the wake of several officer-involved shootings, Central Oregon law enforcement agencies have seen an outpouring of support.
Redmond Police Captain Brian McNaughton tells KBND News dozens of citizens have stopped by the police station with treats and hugs. "We’ve had cards and gifts and numerous dozens of donuts and cakes and flowers dropped off here at the Police Department; and, many notes of thanks and appreciation for what we do, and just a large show of support. It means so much to us here at the Police Department. We’re a little overwhelmed by the support we’ve received."
In the days following Thursday's shooting in Dallas, Texas that left five cops dead, Capt. McNaughton says officers have been contacted by locals numerous times while out on patrol. "They get stopped wherever they’re going, and thanked and told that they’re appreciated. I’m getting it wherever I go. If I stop at a store or a bank or something in uniform, almost every time I do, somebody’s stopping and saying something appreciative." He adds, "They just want to tell us they appreciate the job that we do and that not everybody feels like some of the people did in Dallas, and they just want to make sure that we know they support us and are there for us; and it means a lot to us."
Similar incidents have been reported by other agencies in Central Oregon and across the country. Cleck HERE to read more about how local law enforcement agencies responded to the Dallas shooting.
CRATER LAKE, OR -- Crater Lake National Park rangers seized more than 230 pounds of morel mushrooms, over Fourth of July weekend. "They were collecting the mushrooms in the National Park which is a prohibited activity," says Chief Ranger Kean Mihata.
The 234 pounds of seized mushrooms have a market value of nearly $8,000. Mihata says, "A lot of these people do have Forest Service permits to collect on Forest Service land. But, it's pretty clear in the Forest Service's papers that they hand out that collecting in Crater Lake is prohibited."
Last summer, the National Creek complex of fires burned 21,000 acres in the park. "Because of that, all these mushrooms in this area are really popping, up this year," says Mihata. Fines can run as high as $5,000, with a maximum of six months in jail. Oregon State Police, the Forest Service and Douglas County Sheriff's Office worked to track down the mushroom hunters.
BEND, OR -- For over a decade, Volunteer Connect has matched local volunteers with nonprofits in need of help. But, that is coming to an end. It’s not because nonprofits no longer need people. It’s because Volunteer Connect founder and unpaid Executive Director Betsy Wariner is stepping down next year.
Board chair Dana Perry says the organization tried to find a way to continue operations with a paid executive director. “It just became increasingly clear that the organization would just not be able to support the cost of a paid E.D., just because of the lack of sustainable funds.”
In its 12-year run, Volunteer Connect matched hundreds of local volunteers with more than 150 nonprofits. Perry tells KBND News, “The staff was very good at working with volunteers to better understand what they were looking for. And then working with the organizations to understand what they were offering as volunteer opportunities.”
Volunteer Connect is exploring the idea of passing its programming and infrastructure on to another organization, agency or educational institution. A celebration of the group, Warriner and staff is slated for this fall.
BEND, OR -- St. Charles Medical Center announced Monday plans for a new facility that will allow the Bend hospital to serve more critically ill patients. The $66 million project will double the number of ICU beds and add more parking.
Bob Gomes, President of St. Charles Bend, tells KBND News the project has been in the works for years. "The project is going to be a five-story patient tower. Basically, Bend is growing, the services we provide are growing and we've just reached our capacity; so it's time to add more beds to take care of the patients here in Central Oregon." He adds, "Our permanent critical care capabilities are undersized. What we're going to be doing initially is adding 18 more critical care beds, so we'll have a total of 36 ICU beds for Central Oregon. The parking, as most people know in Bend, at the hospital here is an issue. So, we're going to add 500 parking spaces, hopefully by this fall." The project also includes a second waterline for the hospital.
Work on the waterline and construction of the larger parking lot will start this summer, and are expected to wrap up by fall. Construction on the new tower is slated to begin in the spring of 2017 and should take about a year to complete. Gomes says, "It will increase our staffing, as we continue to keep patients here. We've already shipped 200 patients over the mountains, this year alone, just because of capacity. And, we'll be keeping those patients here, so that'll increase the number of people we have taking care of patients, not only for nurses but also for physicians."
CULVER, OR -- The health advisory issued for the Metolius arm of Lake Billy Chinook has been extended to include the Crooked River arm. The Deschutes arm is not affected.
Oregon Public Health officials say impacted areas have toxin concentrations that can be harmful to humans and animals. Swallowing water while swimming, or inhaling water droplets while water skiing or boating, should be avoided. Drinking water directly from these river arms is especially dangerous.
BEND, OR -- Local law enforcement agencies reacted to Thursday night’s shooting death of five officers in Dallas, and the wounding of seven others, with shock and sadness. KBND News spoke with Bend Police Chief Jim Porter shortly after Friday's morning briefing. He says just 12 hours after the Texas shooting, cops were frustrated with being lumped in with suspected bad officers. "Our officers are really confused and angry. I mean, we have an excellent police force – the Sheriff’s office and police department, our state police partners work very hard for this community to insure that things don’t happen. We do the right things, we have our officers in schools, we’ve been training in de-escalation for five years, we do biased-based trainings. We do all these things and we do them right." He added, "When this happens, we grieve as a profession."
Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says it’s difficult for patrol deputies not to internalize these types of national events. "You can’t help but overlap it with your personal life. And, you can’t help but put a mirror image on what your family would feel if you had lost your life, or how it effects your office and how they move forward with their mission. You just feel a tremendous sense of loss." Sheriff Nelson told KBND News Friday, "I guarantee that they have a heightened sense of awareness and I’m sure many of them had conversations with their families before they came. It always reminds you of what you have and it always reminds you of your blessings."
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter agrees – it is difficult to process. "That level of anxiety doesn’t leave when they take their uniform off and park their patrol car; it also follows them when they’re grocery shopping, when they’re with their family camping, when they’re hiking."
Sheriff Nelson says, despite the loss of five officers in Texas, his patrol deputies still have a job to do. "We are always trained to be alert and always trained to be aware of what’s going on around us. I work with excellent people who have great training and great equipment, but it is good to have reminders during briefing training ‘hey, be on the lookout for this, or just be aware of your surroundings.’" Both Chief Porter and Sheriff Nelson agree that their officers deal with a heightened sense of awareness following national events involving law enforcement.
The Dallas shooting was the deadliest attack on law enforcement since 9/11. To hear more of our conversation with Bend PD Chief Jim Porter, visit our Podcast Page
or click HERE
BEND, OR -- A Bend man was arrested Sunday on accusations he repeatedly abused his six-month-old dog.
Witnesses reported seeing 20-year-old Tyler Speas punch and kick his dog, Friday morning. Bend Police responded but say there were no visible injuries on the dog, “Diesel.” An hour later, witnesses again reported seeing Speas punch and kick the dog; and, again, no injuries were seen by responding officers.
Early Sunday morning, law enforcement executed a search warrant and seized Diesel. During a medical examination, A veterinarian found the dog had sustained multiple injuries and Speas was arrested for Aggravated Animal Abuse.
BEND, OR -- If you're like many older drivers, it's probably been a while since you've looked through a driver’s manual. Local classes, offered this summer, are designed to help refresh your skills behind the wheel.
Jim Botwinis heads up the AARP courses for drivers over the age of 50
. “If it’s been a while since you you’ve maybe read the driver’s manual. Or maybe you’ve been involved in a crash. Or maybe you’ve gotten a couple of citations, it might not hurt to get a little refresher.”
He KBND News his class covers The effects of aging on driving abilities, as well as the delicate decision of when to stop driving due to age or injury. “You need to have some mental ability and you need to have some physical ability because both of those are required to drive a car down the road. If you lose one of those pieces, you really need to consider whether you should continue driving.”
These courses are held throughout the summer at senior centers in Bend, Redmond and Madras, as well as St. Charles hospital in Prineville. Click HERE
for a complete schedule.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A group of residents is again trying to bring an indoor pool to Prineville. The area has an outdoor pool (pictured) that's more than 60-years-old.
Zack Ackley, with Citizens for a New Prineville Pool, says despite two failed attempts in the past, his group is mounting another serious effort. "There's a lot of interest for a year-round facility. We have a high senior contingent and they like to swim year-round for wellness opportunities. And, they have to travel to Redmond and Bend and Madras. Also, we're one of the only Central Oregon communities that does not have a swim team for the high school and middle schools. We find a lot of benefit in having a pool year-round."
He tells KBND News the last attempt for an indoor facility was in 2007. "We looked at the 2007 feasibility study and tried to pursue information from that. We went out in the community to find out whether the community wanted a pool or not, and we're still working on that. What kind of pool do they want and how much do they want to spend?" According to Ackley, Crook County Parks and Rec started gathering feedback this month, and could ask voters for the funding by November 2017. "There will be a bond to build the pool, and that will be contingent on an operating bond passing. Now, we're trying to minimize that through the grant process and corporate partnerships: The grant process for the building of the pool to minimize that cost. And then, potential corporate partnerships to address the operating expenses."
Prineville residents have rejected two other bond requests to fund an indoor community pool, but Ackley is optimistic this third time, the measure will pass.
BEND, OR -- The latest local residential real estate stats are out, showing a big increase in activity in Redmond. "What we’re seeing is that the Redmond market is really quite hot," says KBND News real estate expert Fred Johnson. "What is happening there is, not only have their number of sales, but also the number of building permits going forward have really skyrocketed just in the last month."
According to the latest report from Beacon Appraisal, the number of building permits for new housing in Redmond jumped from 29 in May, to 41 in June - that's a 41% spike. In Bend, last month, there was a 21% jump in new building permits.
Johnson says lower housing prices in Redmond, compared to Bend, are also a big part of the equation. "Primarily in that under $300,000 price-point, that really accounts for a fair amount of the market in the Redmond area. So, when you kind of compare the two markets, you’ll see that under $250,000 dollars in Bend, there’s currently 10 houses listed; that’s all that we have."
There is some good news for Bend home-buyers from the Beacon Appraisal report: The median price for a single-family home in Bend fell slightly last month, to $368,000. in Redmond it held relatively steady, at $243,000.
LA PINE, OR -- Two La Pine men face a long list of charges after Deschutes County deputies searched two properties and discovered numerous stolen items.
Investigators believe 34-year-old Adrian Whitley (left) and 43-year-old Jakey Stamps (right) are responsible for several residential burglaries in Sunriver and La Pine, that occurred between late last year through last month. Those burglaries included homes, shops and outbuildings, and stolen items range from electronics and tools, to outdoor equipment and firearms.
In addition to the recovered stolen property, deputies say both men had meth they believe Whitely intended to sell in the La Pine area.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon marijuana businesses are carefully watching national events that could impact their ability to use local financial institutions. Mike Testerman, Mid Oregon Credit Union’s Commercial Services Director, says two major decisions are expected in the next several months. "California is going to have it on the ballot, so if recreational marijuana becomes available there – they’re, of course, the largest economic impact in the US – that could have an impact. Plus, the DEA is looking to reclassify marijuana, this month; we’ll see if that has an impact."
Currently, marijuana is a "Schedule 1" drug, alongside heroin and LSD. Testerman tells KBND News that puts legal pot businesses in a unique position. "They are in a ‘catch 22.’ They have to deal with a lot of cash; there’s a lot of security risk there, it exposes them to additional expenses – how do you secure the cash? What do you do with it? They have to pay their taxes in cash, so what’s the government going to do with that cash? It just creates all sorts of issues." In Oregon, he says, "The Department of Revenue had to build a new vault in Salem, to be able to accommodate all the cash from paying the taxes." That new vault features upgraded air flow and air purification systems to deal with the odor that often accompanies cash from marijuana businesses.
He says if California voters legalize recreational pot, and the feds lower its classification, there's still no guarantee businesses would be allowed to open bank accounts. But, he's optimistic federally insured financial institutions will eventually be allowed to welcome in this new sector of business clientele.
BEND, OR -- Residents of Deschutes River Woods, worried that a lava flow in their neighborhood might become a rock quarry, took their concerns to Deschutes County Commissioners. The 86-acre lava flow is owned by the Arnold Irrigation District. Able Supply, a rock quarry operator, has offered to buy the property, which is zoned Rural residential.
Julie Kisic addressed Commissioners on Wednesday, saying, “Our major concerns are exactly how much rock can be hauled out, permanently damaging and ruining this natural wonder that’s part of all of our communities.” She added, “The noise of crushing rock, right next to the place that we live, work, sleep, eat, and commune with our neighbors…I can’t even imagine.”
Read more about neighbors' concerns.
There has been no declaration made by Able Supply that it plans to mine the lava for gravel. County officials were clear that since there is no application for a zone change, or land use permit that would allow removal of rock from the lava flow, they could not comment on residents' concerns.
The owner of Able Supply did not return KBND's request for comment.
BEND, OR -- The deadline has come and gone for the developer who wanted to purchase Troy Field from the Bend-La Pine School District. A Portland firm offered to buy the downtown bend green-space for $1.9 million, but the City rejected the request to change the master plan status that would allow the lot to be developed.
School Board Chair Nori Juba tells KBND News, “Brownstone Development, who is the buyer of record, informed me last week that they would not be going forward with the transaction. So they had until today to pull out of the deal. And I believe that they have done so.” However, he admits the district still needs to sell the lot. “We need to maintain, upgrade and preserve our assets. The school board is still looking at how to do that and obviously selling an asset, a piece of property we don’t have a need for, is obviously a way to get there. I think our first choice is to sell it to somebody that’s going to preserve green open space in this neighborhood.”
Nearby residents vocally opposed the proposed sale
and development of Troy Field, which many consider a neighborhood park. Troy Field was the site of a neighborhood party, Wednesday evening. Picnic organizer Ron Boozel tells KBND News, “Can we have just one piece of property, just one, that’s near the core of our downtown in the middle of this old Bend neighborhood that is undeveloped? It works the way it is. It’s not broken.” He adds, “This particular event is not about saving it, but it does remind us that it is being used just the way it is without any development at all.” The picnic featured games and music.
BEND,OR -- Deschutes County's District Attorney will not file charges against the Oregon State Police Trooper who shot and killed a man at the High Desert Museum. Trooper Richard Brannin shot 36-year-old Nicolas Berger on May 31, after Berger grabbed a museum employee in the gift shop, held her at knife point and threatened to kill her.
At a press conference on Wednesday, D.A. Hummel said Trooper Brannin was the first on scene and rushed in. "Brannin says when Berger continued to advance toward him, despite being hit twice by taser rounds, he feared Berger was going to stab him. Brannin said that even if Berger did not have a knife, he feared that Berger could have killed him because of his massive size. Based on all the available evidence, Brannin's belief that Berger was about to use deadly physical force against him is objectively reasonable. Because of this, Brannin's decision to use deadly physical force against Berger is authorized by Oregon law."
Hummel says at the time of his death, Berger had six different drugs in his system. "The autopsy revealed that at the time of this incident, Berger had in his system methamphetamine, amphetamine, hydrocodone, codeine, Zoloft and Paxil. I concluded Berger was suffering from a mental health disorder that caused delusions. He was also struggling with addictions to multiple drugs like meth and pain medications. At the same time, he was experiencing - at a minimum - situational depression caused by the break-up of his marriage and his bleak housing, employment and financial situations. The confluence of those realities caused Berger to decide to end his life. And, for unknown reasons, he chose suicide by cop as his method."
Hummel says Trooper Brannin's actions were brave not criminal. "Senior Trooper Brannin's decision to enter that museum alone, with spotty radio coverage, to protect the life of the museum employee and everyone else in that museum, was heroic. His decision to initially forego shooting Berger, when he would've been legally justified in immediately shooting, showed he has the empathy and respect for human life that all law enforcement officers should aspire to."
Hummel says the museum employee who was held at knife point continues to struggle with her recovery, not as much as physical as emotional.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man faces new charges in connection with his February arrest on multiple sex crimes. Douglas County Sheriff's Deputies arrested 36-year-old Warren Doescher on a Crook County warrant, earlier this week.
He was arrested Tuesday in Azalea, Oregon. Doescher is currently awaiting extradition back to Crook County, with his new bail set at $300,000.
Original March 2016 mug shot
BEND, OR -- Oregon Governor Kate Brown and her Republican challenger, Dr. Bud Pierce, will hold their first debate on September 24. It's expected to be held in Bend and will focus on rural issues.
The one-hour debate will include questions from rural-area journalists, including reporters from the East Oregonian and Jefferson Public Radio.
Governor Brown declined and invitation to a July debate, saying she was focused on governing and her campaign would not debate until the fall.
BEND, OR -- The City of Bend is hiring a three-person seasonal crew to fix potholes across town, this summer. They’re looking for potholes that are less than 5' in diameter and not too deep, according to Bend Streets Division manager Chuck Swann. “The object of this is to keep moving, get around the city, get things documented, get the smaller nuisance pot holes repaired. And dangerous pot holes repaired.”
Swann tells KBND News the fixes are semi-permanent, meaning they could last a year or two. “It’s going to be kind of a judgment call depending on if it’s a hazardous pot hole, of course we’re going to fill it while we are there. If it’s a shallow depression, we’ll probably leave it for the more extensive crew.”
The three-person crew will make its way from northeast Bend to the south, and around the city. They'll fix as many pothole as they can in a two-month period. Funding for this crew comes from the street maintenance budget.
BEND, OR -- About 100 homes near Buckingham Elementary in Bend lost power Tuesday night, following a crash involving an alleged drunk driver. Deschutes County deputies responded to the accident on Hamby Road just before 11 p.m.
The say a 57-year-old New Jersey man lost control of his Mercedes E320 and drove into a field just north of the school, shearing of a power pole. Hamby was closed between Neff and Paloma Drive, for Central Electric Co-op to make repairs.
Edward Stauder's blood alcohol level was reportedly .16, twice the legal limit. He suffered only minor injuries and was arrested for DUII, criminal mischief and reckless driving.
FOREST GROVE, OR -- a Treasure trove for history buffs, Pacific University's archives now offers a look back at the Rajneesh crisis of the early 1980s. The unique new online exhibit of artifacts were donated by the late Vic Atiyeh, who was Oregon's Governor at the time. The Rajneeshpuram display is the first time these documents have been made public.
"So far, I think we’ve digitized around 150 documents," says University Archivest Eva Guggemos. She says the display chronicles the relocation of the cult from India to Central Oregon. Followers of the Baghwan Shree Rajneesh clashed with neighbors and the government, and poisoned salad bars in The Dalles.
While Governor Atiyeh kept a low profile, he closely monitored the situation in Wasco County. "One thing that’s pretty surprising is that the Governor was ready to declare martial law if things started to go south." Guggemos says, "Even when he was traveling out of the country, he kept an unsigned order that would’ve declared martial law."
The Rajneesh compound in Antelope was converted into the Washington Family Ranch in the late 1990s.
REDMOND, OR -- Drug abuse is an increasing problem across the country, especially involving marijuana and opioids. A local nonprofit hosts the first statewide drug education conference, this week. "Clear Alliance has spent the last almost two years traveling the state of Oregon. Everywhere we go, the one thing we continually hear from teens and adults, both, is 'I didn't know that.' So we thought we need to make an opportunity where people can come and can learn, because that was the one pattern we continue to see." Clear Alliance Executive Director Mandy Puckett tells KBND News her group's mission is to prevent and reduce youth substance abuse.
About 40 presenters will offer panel discussions on opioids, marijuana, traffic and roadway safety, and the increasing number of emergency room visits due to drugs. Puckett says, "The focus of our conference is going to be on opioid abuse - which is like prescription drugs - and marijuana. Those are the two drugs, right now, that seem to be where the most information is missing. So, for example, when we travel the state, is often that people don't know about butane hash oil, they don't know about marijuana oils, they don't know about tinctures, they don't know about dabbing and they don't know about marijuana edibles."
"We felt the need to bring people together. Basically, the tagline of the conference is 'where communities and public service come together.' It's a way for citizens, teenagers, parents, business people and public service professionals to come together; and it's a way for the the community to see what public service sees." She expects about 200 participants at the event that runs Tuesday through Thursday at the Eagle Crest Resort.
BEND, OR -- Oregon lost several motorcyclists last month, including another over the weekend, adding to the growing number of statewide traffic fatalities this year. A motorcycle rider is six times more likely to be killed in a crash than someone in a car.
Bill Rodgers, a safety instructor with Team Oregon, says it’s important that drivers are vigilant and look for motorcycles when changing lanes. "Motorcycles are harder to see; we’re smaller, it’s difficult to judge our approach speed. So, as a motorcyclist, it’s part of our mission to be seen, to be as visible as possible." He adds, "But, 75% of motorcycle accidents are caused by the motorcyclist."
Many of those crashes are the result of a rider failing to "negotiate a curve,” often due to speed. Rodgers tells KBND News, "Cornering skills are almost always built through training; you can’t get any better than what you know. Just because you have been riding a long time and you bring your bicycling experience to the motorcycle world, doesn’t mean you’re proficient at it. We can say ‘look through the turn’ and we can say it over and over again, but until you’ve done it, had someone watch you do it and give you that constructive criticism, it’s really difficult to make it part of your riding experience."
Rodgers says more motorcycles hit the road during summer because of nice weather, which will likely bring more crashes. "At this time, we’re about even with our fatality and accident history from last year; it’s just that it’s more apparent, right now. One thing I would like to point out is that Oregon has one of the lowest fatality rates per capita in the nation." Oregon is also one of only a handful of states to require riders to take safety training before receiving their endorsement. Team Oregon
is a joint effort between Oregon State University and ODOT, offering that mandatory safety training. They also provide refresher courses for experienced riders.
TUMALO, OR -- Fire destroyed a Tumalo house and temporarily shut down Swalley Road, Saturday evening.
Bend Fire crews responded to the two-story home at about 6:30 p.m. and found it fully involved. Firefighters protected nearby structures, despite windy conditions.
The house and all its contents, valued at more than $700,000, were a total loss; two dogs died in the blaze. Nobody else was home at the time.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville shop and trailer were destroyed by a fire that also caused significant damage to a nearby home.
Crook County Fire and Rescue responded to the blaze on Southeast Lincoln Road at about 6:30 Sunday evening.
The Red Cross is helping the two affected adults with temporary housing and clothing. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
SISTERS, OR -- After an extensive search, the body of a missing Hillsboro man was found on Mt. Washington, Saturday. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Big Lake Youth Camp, early Friday morning, reporting one of their contractors was overdue from a solo hiking trip. They say 28-year-old Brian Robak sent photos from the summit to friends and family Thursday afternoon, but did not return as expected that evening.
Several agencies assisted in the search effort, including Corvallis Mountain Rescue and the Linn County Sheriff's Office. Robak’s body was found during an aerial search by a National Guard helicopter.
Investigators believe he fell a significant distance from near the top of the mountain.
CULVER, OR -- A health advisory remains in affect for the Metolius arm of Lake Billy Chinook, from Perry South Campground to, and including, the area around Three Rivers Marina.
State health officials confirm the presence of blue-green algae, which can produce toxin concentrations harmful to humans and animals. They recommend not drinking water from the Metolius arm, and avoid inhaling water droplets during activities like water skiing.
The area around Cove Palisades State Park is not impacted by the algae bloom. For more information on this and other algae bloom advisories, visit the Oregon Health Authority's website
. Click HERE
for a map of all current algae advisories.
BEND, OR -- In an effort to limit the number of human-caused fires in the region, the Oregon Department of Forestry is imposing a Regulated Use closure, beginning Friday.
Christie Shaw, with the ODF, says there have already been 34 human-caused fires since January, which is more than in an average year. "We’re seeing almost a human-caused fire a day anymore, it seems like, for the last couple weeks. And, that puts a strain on our resources, we start talking about fatigue for firefighters. We’re starting earlier now, then actually constantly responding to a fire." She tells KBND News, "We’re seeing definitely some escaped debris burns, illegal debris burns – burning without a permit and then it’s escaping beyond control. And, either burning larger than they can control and they call for help, or it’s burning onto a neighbor’s land, things like that. Some of them are still under investigation, so I can’t really speak as to the nature of those."
The Regulated Use closure applies to the 2.2-million acres of state, county and private land across the 12 counties in the Central Oregon district, including Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties. It imposes restrictions on things like smoking, chainsaw use, campfires and mowing. For a complete list, click HERE. Fireworks and blasting are strictly prohibited.
Shaw tells KBND News, "Last year, everyone was hyper-aware that we were in drought and people were more cautious. I think this year, people have seen that ‘oh, we had a pretty good winter, we’re coming out of the drought.’ But really, plants and vegetation have seen that stress for several years, so we’re still seeing that they’re dry and they burn fairly readily for this time of year." She says additional restrictions could be imposed later in the summer, if conditions worsen.
PORTLAND, OR -- A former employee of the Deschutes County District Attorney's office and the Oregon Department of Justice has admitted to stealing more than $55,000 from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Bruce Endicott pled guilty to theft of government funds in federal court this week. According to court records, the 34-year-old received disability benefits through the VA in 2005. In 2012, he filed an additional unemployment claim, saying he was unable to work due to physical and mental impairments. In fact, Endicott was working for the DOJ under a second Social Security number.
He left the DOJ at the end of 2013 and briefly worked for the Deschutes County DA's office. When he was let go in 2014, he applied for welfare using that second Social Security number, while he was also receiving VA benefits under the first. He also filed a lawsuit against former DA Patrick Flaherty
, claiming he was fired for failing to provide political connections during Flaherty's reelection campaign.
The government is seeking a 30-day prison term. Endicott will be sentenced in October.