BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Rec plans to kick off the Pavilion’s second ice season, Monday afternoon. Skating will be available from 4 to 9 p.m. for a special opening day price of $6, which includes skate rental.
The parks district logged more than 40,000 visits at the Pavilion in its first winter, after it opened in late December
2015. Weather permitting, this year's season will stretch into mid-April.
Redmond’s public ice rink, across from Centennial Park, is slated to open the week of Thanksgiving.
REDMOND, OR -- Halloween brings its share of safety warnings: Make sure kids can see clearly through masks; include reflective gear or glow sticks on dark costumes; and generally be careful around cars and bikes. But, a Redmond health clinic is taking candy safety high tech.
Your Care, in southwest Redmond, will X-Ray trick-or-treat bags for free, to check for sharp objects. Deb Wattenburg admits most candy is safe but says it's a fun community service. "Why not just be extra safe? We’ve got the ability to check it, we’ll check it; give everybody a little more confidence. I’ve been assured that the radiation that’s used with the X-ray passes straight through and doesn’t hurt the candy. It isn’t absorbed."
She came up with the idea as a way to bring "old school" back to Halloween. "While we’re at it, we can get some caramel apples and really be old school and bring something fun to the kids, as well."
Free candy X-raying will be available through about 8:30 Halloween night, then again Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the clinic located at SW 21st Place and Airport Way. Caramel apples will go to the first 20 kids. Click HERE for more information.
BEND, OR -- Pacific Power lowered the water level of the Deschutes River by about four feet, over the weekend, to allow for the repair of the dam at Mirror Pond. Tom Gaunt is with PacifiCorp, which owns the hydro facility and dam near downtown Bend. He tells KBND News, "Daily, our folks are going around and checking everything out. And, the person in charge of doing that Thursday morning said ‘that’s more water coming out of the bottom, there, then there ought to be.’"
He says it doesn’t pose a public safety issue. "Part of it is, it’s a leak; we want to fix it. It’s a good time of year to fix it, really: It’s not an extremely high water time, there’s not yet any ice anywhere. All those things argue in favor of doing things quickly, right now." He notes, " All dams leak to some minor degree. It’s just whether that’s something that’s easily fixed or should be fixed soon. And, all those elements came together to say ‘let’s do this as soon as we can.’"
The water level may remain noticeably low for up to two weeks.
SISTERS, OR -- The State Police bomb squad responded to a suspicious item at the Fir Street Park in Sisters, Friday morning. It turned out to be the remnants of the “bottle flipping” game, by three 12-year-olds.
A city employee discovered a bottle covered in black tape and called authorities. The bomb squad determined it was a sports drink bottle with a small amount of liquid.
Investigators say the boys were “bottle flipping” at the park and wrapped the bottle in black duct tape when it started to break down. Then, the boys left it behind when they were done.
The Sheriff's Office encourages the public to report suspicious items or packages that seem out of place.
BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County woman has been indicted for numerous theft charges, relating to alleged embezzlement. District Attorney John Hummel says 44-year-old Manal Bijan is accused of taking $50,000 worth of jewelry over the course of several months, while she was employed by Saxon’s Fine Jewelers in Bend. She then allegedly sold the stolen property at local pawnshops.
Hummel says employee theft and embezzlement are significant problems in Deschutes County.
Bijan was arrested earlier this month, and is due back in court November 16th.
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond campus of Central Oregon Community College is now generating 90% of its own electricity. COCC powered up a new 504-kilowatt solar array at the campus, Thursday. Planning began nearly two years ago. Dignitaries, including Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger, Redmond City Councilor Joe Centanni and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), were on hand for the dedication.
The crowd moved indoors for the first part of the ceremony, due to rain, and officials used the opportunity to reiterate that the system continues to generate power, even with clouds.
Before heading outside to help turn on the system, Senator Wyden told the small crowd, "This is really serious stuff. It’s about jobs; it’s obviously about environmental benefits, cutting carbon and local air pollutants. And, third, schools benefit, because it can reduce energy costs at schools and they can plow that money back into other campus endeavors." The array's more than 1500 solar panels were made by Hillsboro-based SolarWorld, and installed by Sunlight Solar Energy, in Bend. "We’re going to be building a cleaner energy future in the years ahead," said Wyden. "And, it’s so great to see the community college, right here in Central Oregon, helping us to pave the way. We’ve made progress in recent years, but there’s a lot of heavy lifting to do."
Through the energy created by the array and a 20-year power purchase agreement, COCC expects to save around $50,000 a year. Aside from the environmental and financial benefits, COCC President Dr. Shirley Matcalf says a Physics teacher is already using it as an educational tool. "He’s very excited about having the ability to show the students what the solar energy panels do, because they were here. The students were able to see it being built. So, for our Physics classes, we’re very excited; and for some of our other classes, too." She says a writing class is using it as inspiration for assignments, as well.
And, Dr. Metcalf says the project reaffirms the school’s commitment to green energy. "Students, many years, ago voted for a sustainability fee. We were the first collegiate student body in the country to increase our friends to pay for renewable energy."
The $2 million project is the second largest solar array at an educational institution in the state, and was partly funded through grants from Pacific Power and Energy Trust of Oregon.
SISTERS, OR -- Deschutes County officials are trying to reunite valuables found near Sisters, with their rightful owner. Employees at the Northwest Transfer Station and Recycling Center on Fryrear Road discovered cash and jewelry that may have been accidentally discarded.
Operations Supervisor Chad Centola says, "It's rare we find valuable items like these. But, when we do, our number one goal is to get them back to their owners." He adds, "I've been doing this a long time, and it's not too often that we'll turn up something like this."
To claim the items, call the county’s solid waste department at 541-330-4640, and be prepared to provide detailed descriptions of the pieces.
SISTERS, OR -- Sisters City Council candidate Richard Esterman is responding to questions about his residency. In a statement sent Thursday to the media, Esterman says Interim City Manager Rick Allen overstepped his position.
The Sisters City Attorney sent a letter to Esterman, this week, asking for proof of residency
, citing minimal water use at a home he rents in downtown Sisters. The property has also never had garbage service. Esterman also owns a home in Tollgate, although he has said that serves as his office.
In the statement, he cites his drivers license – which lists the Oak Street address, downtown – as proof he lives inside city limits. He admits he doesn't know who authorized the City Attorney to send the letter, but says City Manager Allen is helping another candidate because he doesn't like Esterman's "outspoken style."
Richard Esterman's complete statement, issued Thursday:
Richard Esterman is qualified to run for City of Sister’s council position because he is a resident of the city and denies the accusations leveled by City Manager Rick Allen—who overstepped his management position by interfering in politics to aid another candidate.
“I take this election seriously and I am running to make a difference, so each citizen receives equal treatment before the city and so others will become involved with city politics”, said Mr. Esterman. He believes Mr. Allen, wants another candidate to win because Allen dislikes Esterman’s outspoken style.
Richard Esterman resides on Oak Street in Sisters and maintains an office in Deschutes County. He has resided on Oak Street under a valid lease for over a year. Previously, he was a resident in Tollgate for about 26 years. His driver’s license reflects his Oak Street residency since October 25, 2015.
Concerns regarding Richard Esterman’s residency were raised in a letter by City Attorney Jeremy Green, but it remains unclear who authorized Mr. Green to write the letter and who provided a copy of Green’s letter to the press before Esterman had an opportunity to prove his residency.
City Manager Allen wrongly asserts that there was “zero” water consumption at Esterman’s home on Oak Street to support his residency attack. But City Manager Allen knows or should know that water consumption is measured by the City of Sisters in increments of 100 cubic feet (748 gallons). So, any use below that amount will appear on a water bill as “zero”. Not only was City Manager Allen wrong about water usage, he was wrong about Esterman’s residency. Of concern to all citizens, Allen unlawfully breached Esterman’s privacy by snooping in his personal information stored at the city.
“I do not feel that it’s right or legal that Allen can use his position to go into my private information without my permission and make it public”, said Esterman. There are reports of Allen driving past Esterman’s home on Oak Street. Mr. Allen’s involvement is troubling, because under the City of Sister’s Charter, the city manager may not direct the Council and is not authorized to act except by the council. There is no record that the City Council authorized Allen to act against Esterman.
Esterman is willing to look past Allen’s conduct. “I am running in this election to make a real difference and to inspire others to do the same. I will bring city transparency to the citizens of Sisters and will always be consistent, fair and objective. Sisters is my community and I will always put differences aside to serve the members of my community equally and effectively.”
PORTLAND, OR -- A federal court jury in Portland returned a not guilty verdict, Thursday afternoon, in the trial of seven people accused of taking over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January.
Neil Wampler was one of those defendants. He told a crowd gathered outside the courthouse, "The verdict came back a clean sweep for all of us." Co-defendant Shawna Cox proclaimed, "We were just set free."
On Wednesday, one of the jurors was dismissed for being biased. An alternate juror was chosen and deliberations started from the beginning, Thursday morning.
During the five-week trial, prosecutors tried to prove the seven threatened federal workers with their armed occupation, and prevented them from doing their jobs. Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward testified for the prosecution. He issued a statement Thursday night, saying he's disappointed with the outcome, but stands by the judicial system.
After the verdict was read, the attorney for Ammon Bundy asked the judge why his client wasn't being released. Marcus Mumford says, "I just turned to them and I said show me what papers you have. And the next thing I know, they surrounded me and they were talking about how I was resisting arrest." He was charged with resisting arrest and released. "All I was asking for was papers – just show me you have the authority to take Mr. Bundy into custody." The judge says Ammon and Ryan Bundy will remain in custody, because they have a federal hold for a trial in Nevada, in connection with the 2014 standoff on federal land involving their father.
BEND, OR -- Bend-based In Our Backyard is expanding, prompting the anti-trafficking nonprofit to host its first fundraiser, Friday. Executive Director Nita Belles tells KBND News until now, funding came mainly from her and her husband. "We’ve gotten some donations from people, but primarily we have supported it for all these years. And, we’re growing so fast, that we’ve got to have more staff. It’s just time to get more staff. We’re growing larger; we’re becoming more sustainable and doing more."
The event includes a silent auction and a special presentation. "We have a survivor, who actually grew up here in Bend, and she’s going to tell her courageous story of survival and how she’s getting on with life in a wonderful way." She also plans to launch a new Central Oregon survey on trafficking, Friday. "The victims of human trafficking can’t and wouldn’t raise their hand to be counted. We’re surveying the general public and those who would come in contact with victims of human trafficking. We’re also launching another program called Convenience Stores Against Human Trafficking." That new campaign is a nationwide effort to get convenience stores involved in spotting and combating human trafficking. Its launch will coincide with the Super Bowl.
For more information on Friday's fundraiser, click HERE.
REDMOND, OR -- A wanted man was arrested, this week, after a brief scuffle with detectives in a Redmond parking lot. Travis Gee had an outstanding warrant for a parole violation.
Read more about Gee's previous run-ins with police.
Detectives with the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team and the Sheriff’s Office Street Crimes Unit contacted the 30-year-old Tuesday evening in a vehicle parked at Fred Meyer. The driver immediately exited the car, while Gee tried to lock himself inside, pounding on the passenger window and yelling at officers. He allegedly punched and kicked detectives when they tried to remove him, causing minor injuries to himself and two detectives.
After he was taken into custody, a Redmond K-9 unit discovered heroin, scales and packaging inside the car. He faces a list of charges including 15 counts of assaulting an officer and delivery of heroin within a thousand feet of a school.
REDMOND, OR -- A 22-year-old Redmond man was arrested following an early morning pursuit, Wednesday. According to Redmond PD, an officer tried to pull over a Honda Accord downtown, just after 4:30 a.m., for expired tags. The driver failed to stop, leading police through residential neighborhoods.
He left his car near NW 7th and Jackpine Court and a K-9 unit and other law enforcement were brought in to help find the suspect. A deputy spotted a man running in the area and several people called 911 to report seeing a man on a residential roof.
Jalen Miller was taken into custody after a short foot chase. Before going to jail, he was taken to St. Charles Redmond for evaluation and treatment of minor injuries received from jumping from the roof.
Officers searched his car and found suspected stolen property and drugs. He's charged with eluding police, driving while suspended, reckless driving, possession of meth and heroin, criminal mischief, interfering with a police officer and criminal trespass.
BEND, OR -- Slightly elevated levels of lead were found in drinking water samples from two local schools, based on recently released test results. Bend-La Pine Schools officials began testing for lead and copper in district-owned properties after elevated levels were found in several Portland schools, earlier this year. In June, samples taken from one water source in each district facility showed safe levels.
Julianne Repman tells KBND News, "In September and into October, we went out to all of our school sites built before 1980 and we took a water sample from the drinking fountains and faucets where we prep food; that was 351 fixtures. And, we found that we had two fixtures - so, two drinking fountains that had slightly elevated levels of lead." She says, "Those were at La Pine Middle School in a classroom that’s not being used by students, currently; And, in Amity Creek Elementary that was in a classroom that students are being educated in, currently." Lead was found in the Amity Creek fountain at 28 parts per billion, and in the La Pine MS fountain at 31 parts per billion. The Environmental Protection Agency "action level" is 20 ppb.
"We’re actually going to test every drinking fountain and food prep site again in those two schools," says Repman. "We’turned off the drinking fountains and we are bringing in bottled water for students. We’re letting students use hand-washing locations in bathrooms. The lead, as what we’ve heard from the EPA, is not something you have to be concerned with hand washing; it’s the consumption. So, we’ll be doing that for probably two weeks, or until we get the results back from this last round of testing." She says additional samples will be taken at both schools on Thursday morning.
Click HERE for the full report on testing done at facilities built before 1980. Repman says more testing is underway. "We’ve just completed gathering all of our tests from all of our school sites and work sites built after 1980. We expect to have those results back from the lab in mid-November."
PORTLAND, OR -- A juror in the federal trial of the seven people accused of occupying the Malheur National Wildlife refuge has been dismissed, replaced by a Central Oregon woman. Another juror informed the judge that Juror #11 worked for the Bureau of Land Management. Juror 11 reportedly told other jurors he was biased.
Defense attorney Matt Schindler tells KATU News it's rare. "We’re here in federal court and the rules don’t generally favor us. But, I think this is a situation where Judge Brown, who is a very experienced jurist, doesn’t exactly know what to do." He adds, "From my perspective, it’s a positive that we would be able to remove someone who potentially has a bias against our clients."
The juror revealed his job history during initial jury selection, but initially said he could remain impartial. The judge took input from both prosecutors and defense attorneys and agreed he should be dismissed. Juror #18, an alternate from Central Oregon, will be seated and deliberations must start over.
Jurors are considering whether seven defendants conspired to keep federal workers at the refuge from doing their job.
REDMOND, OR -- Six Redmond residents face weapons and drug-related charges, following an investigation by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team and Sheriff’s Street Crimes Unit. Deputies served a search warrant on a home near SW 33rd and Indian Place, Tuesday.
Investigators say they found evidence of Possession, Delivery and Manufacturing of meth, along with several weapons. Detectives say a short-barreled shotgun was found in 41-year-old Clay Fraser's bedroom, as well as a collapsible baton. Laura Harlan, 35, is a convicted felon and was found with a restricted knife. Fraser (pictured: top left) is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and several methamphetamine-related charges. Harlan (top right) was arrested for possessing a Schedule I prescription medication and frequenting a place where controlled substances are used, as well as being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.
Redmond residents Eric Fletcher (21), Kenneth Sommerset (29), Brittnee Gould (26) were also arrested on a variety of charges. Joshua Cheney (26) was cited and released for Heroin Possession.
BEND, OR -- There weren't many surprises in Central Oregon's unemployment numbers for September. Regional Economist Damon Runberg says Crook and Jefferson Countys' rates remained relatively unchanged, while Deschutes County's rate dropped slightly. "The employment numbers were pretty much what we would expect. The rural counties- for Crook and Jefferson Counties- they really hit on almost the exact seasonal expectations for seasonal norms; having local education bringing teachers back for the beginning of the school year and some subtle drops in tourism and the construction industry."
But, he says Deschutes County saw gains. "Deschutes County was a little bit of an oddball in the bunch. We saw seasonal hiring a bit stronger than we would expect for September; a lot of that has to do with the school districts, themselves, had stronger hiring than in previous years. But, we also saw a handful of industries that usually see a start to the seasonal layoffs, they didn't hit as hard as we typically see." And, Runberg says that's boosting local stats over other areas. "Job growth accelerated again in that over-the-year growth rate; we're now at like 6.6%. And, we don't have the other metro counties yet for September to know where that puts us, but we're easily in the top five of fastest growing metro areas in the country, still. And, we've really maintained this growth for almost two years, straight."
Deschutes County added 620 jobs, last month; unemployment fell from 5.4% in August, to 5.1% in September. Crook County's rate remained 7.4% in September, while Jefferson County's rate held steady at 7.1%.
BEND, OR -- With Victor Chudowsky not seeking reelection, two candidates are vying for his Bend City Council seat, in November. Justin Livingston and Ron Boozell both attended a Bend Chamber of Commerce election "mixer" at Deschutes Brewery, Tuesday night.
Livingston is a real estate broker who is unapologetic about accepting campaign money from realtor and Chamber political action committees. "My approach is to donations - whether it's from a large PAC or from individuals - is that I have a core set of beliefs. If those align with you, feel free to support me. But, if they don't, look at my opponent." Livingston tells KBND News, "I have a core set of beliefs that I'm not going to vary from." This is Livingston's first run for public office; although, he has served on several city committees. "I just sort of felt I wasn't always being heard, and I think I have a good voice and am fairly in touch with the general population - especially being from the east side and having served on a neighborhood association on the east side - I think I've got an idea of what the people are looking for in their city government; and I wasn't seeing it."
Boozell, also known as "Rondo," has run for Council three times in the past six years. "I find myself now, running against a real estate Republican and in this particular time I'm nonpartisan. I think I represent a larger group of people; a larger amount of interests." He adds, "My biggest issues are prosperity for all. I like to tell people that I am working for real people not real estate. I think we need something more on City Council than somebody with a daily mindset that has real estate mogul dreams." Boozell feels another big issue is managing smart growth in Bend.
SISTERS, OR -- Sisters officials are reportedly questioning the residency of a City Council candidate. According to the Sisters Nugget, the city attorney sent a letter to Richard Esterman, this week, asking for verification that the candidate lives inside the city limits.
Esterman is one of three candidates appearing on the November ballot for three open seats on the Sisters City Council. A fourth candidate announced a write-in campaign, earlier this month.
County property records show Esterman owns a home in Tollgate, northwest of Sisters. But, in his election filing, he said he rents a home in downtown Sisters and uses the Tollgate property as his office. City officials determined, however, the downtown residence has had minimal water usage and has never had garbage service.
The city charter requires a Council candidate be a resident of the city for a year prior to the election. The newspaper reports Esterman has until October 31 to provide proof he has lived inside the city for the past year.
LA PINE, OR -- A South County man is accused of assaulting an Oregon State Trooper and other charges, stemming from a Saturday night incident in La Pine. The OSP Fish and Wildlife trooper observed an SUV driving along Burgess Road while crossing the center line and speeding. He tried to stop the vehicle for suspicion of impaired driving, at about 10:30 p.m., but the driver took off.
Captain Bill Fugate tells KBND News the man eventually pulled into a driveway on Day Road. "The driver exited the vehicle and started walking towards his house. He failed to obey commends to stop walking, to come back to the trooper. At that point, the trooper recognized the subject as somebody known to be violent; there’s been prior law enforcement contact with that subject. He started ordering the subject to the ground, that he was under arrest. The suspect ignored his commands and turned around and came back towards the trooper in an aggressive manner." He adds, "The trooper deployed his tazer twice, with no effect, he pepper sprayed him, with little effect; and, by this time, the suspect was on top of the trooper and began to assault the trooper, punching him in the face. At the time, the trooper was actually armed with his patrol rifle, and the suspect tried to disarm him – violently tried to rip it from his hands and punching him in the face. The trooper started to defend himself, trying to hold on to his rifle and punching the suspect back in the face, also." Eventually, Dirienzo ran into the house, allegedly taking off through the back. He was finally arrested Monday afternoon during a traffic stop at Burgess and Day Road.
Dirienzo is charged with Robbery in the First Degree, Assaulting a Public Safety Officer, Atempt to Elude (Vehicle and On Foot), Reckless Driving, DUII, Resisting Arrest, and others. He's scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.
Capt. Fugate says the situation could have ended much differently. "As the suspect came towards him, [the trooper] attempted to use less lethal options such as pepper spray and tazer, and it didn’t work. In a situation like that, when somebody is trying to grab your gun, it would be justified for the trooper to use deadly force on something like that; but he showed a great deal of restraint." According to Capt. Fugate, the trooper received minor injuries and will be fine. "Unfortunately, in a situation like this, the trooper could’ve been easily overcome and seriously injured or even killed. It’s a dangerous job and thankfully it ended the way it did and nobody got seriously hurt, so we’re very fortunate."
REDMOND, OR -- Central Oregon’s only no-cost health clinic is at risk of shutting down due to a shortage of donations. City Care Clinic Director Tamie Brown says the nonprofit lost its primary fundraiser organizer a year ago. "We are in dire need of funds to stay open past January one. It doesn’t take very much to run the clinic; we have all volunteer help, here, and our bills and everything altogether, it’s less than $15,000 a year. We do it on a shoestring and do very well helping our patients."
The City Care Clinic has served the uninsured for a decade. Brown tells KBND News the Affordable Care Act has reduced their number of patients, but many still can’t afford health insurance. "We still feel like even helping just 12 or 15 patients a month is really helping people. We’re only open for three-hour shifts, one day a week for each month, and that’s just four days a month, then. We used to have seven or eight doctors and we’ve cut it back down to two to three doctors, now."
She says without the clinic, those patients would be forced to seek routine care at the Emergency room. "That would be the only place they’d have to go, which costs the hospital a lot more money. The hospital really supports us by giving us free labs, and free X-rays and MRIs and ultrasounds and things like that, because, when people come in to our clinic instead, it saves them [the hospital] lots of money for the people that would come into the ER and never would pay."
The clinic leases space in a corner of City Center Church, near SW 8th and Forest, in Redmond. Brown says they will continue to accept patients until they are no longer able to afford to do so. Donations can be made through the church or through the City Care Clinic GoFundMe website.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County voters will have more options for submitting their ballot, this year. County Clerk Nancy Blankenship tells KBND News, "We added a new drop site in Bend, in May; and that is in the Old Mill District, above the cinemas, just next to the Hilton Garden Inn. We’re adding a new drop site on the other side of the river by the new Pavilion, the ice skating rink. And, the hours of operation are all listed in the voters’ pamphlet; we also have that information on our website, as well." She says those two sites will be open for 24-hour drive-by submissions, beginning November second.
Deschutes County now has 10 ballot drop sites: five in Bend, and one each in La Pine, Redmond, Sisters, Sunriver and Terrebonne. "In your voters’ pamphlet, in the county’s portion of the voters’ pamphlet, is a list of all the drop sites," says Blankenship. The information is also available on the county’s website, or click HERE.
For those mailing their ballot, Oregon's Secretary of State's Office says it only needs one first class (or "Forever") stamp. Stories have appeared on social media from other states that need two stamps, but that's not the case in Oregon. As of Monday, more than 11,500 Oregon ballots had been turned in, according to the state's elections division.
Voters who have not received a ballot by Tuesday, October 25, should contact their county election's office as soon as possible. Blankenship says ballots not in the mail by November first should be taken to an official drop site before 8 p.m. November 8.
BEND, OR -- With just two weeks left in this campaign season, candidates and those for and against ballot measures fight to get their message to voters.
Recent polling shows decreasing support for Measure 97, Oregon’s controversial corporate sales tax. According to KBND political analysts and former State Representatives Judy Stiegler and Jason Conger, though, polling can be deceiving. Stiegler tells KBND News, "I think one of the fallacies of polling is that you’re never keyed into everybody. My guess is this is a lot closer than one would think. Any tax measure in this state is a hard fought battle, quite frankly." Conger agrees, "Especially sales tax." That means the fight over Measure 97 is likely to continue all the way to Election Day. Ad spending on both sides has already broken records. Conger and Stiegler say support largely falls along party lines: Governor Kate Brown and a number of other Democrats are for 97; Republicans generally oppose it. Former Governor John Kitzhaber (D) recently says he won't vote for the measure, either.
In another hotly contested race, Republican Dennis Richardson and Democrat Brad Avakian continue to fight for the Secretary of State's Office. In the past, it has arguably been an under-appreciated position -- until Gov. Kitzhaber resigned amid scandal, elevating then Secretary of State Kate Brown into the Governor’s office. Conger says, "What I find interesting about it is that it’s so close, and that there are a large percentage of undecided voters out there who are waiting to get information about those two candidates that would cause them to go one way or the other." He and Stiegler say there is a gender divide, with more men supporting Richardson and more women choosing Avakian. "Similarly, age-wise there’s a break, with over 45 are falling toward Richardson and under that are going towards Avakian." Conger says the split could be due to party affiliation, but Stiegler says campaign comments by both candidates are probably also a factor.
For those local candidates without the benefit of polling or statewide exposure, this is an anxiety filled time. Stiegler says, "That goes with the territory. They’re getting their message to those last voters. We just got our ballots; people are starting to do that. It’s getting out the vote and making sure people have their message." Conger adds, "The ones who don’t have access to polling data are nervous. They’re looking out anecdotally for feedback on whether their campaign is being successful, whether their message is being well received and they’re going to be, probably, on pins and needles."
To hear our full conversation with Jason Conger and Judy Stiegler, visit our Podcast Page
or click HERE
UPDATE: Bend Police released the identity of the victim, Monday. They say 38-year-old Nathan Scott Bernhardt, of Bend, was pronounced dead at the hospital, Saturday night. The crash remains under investigation.
BEND, OR -- A pedestrian was killed Saturday night while trying to cross Southeast Third Street. Bend Police say the man was wearing dark clothing when he was struck by a car near Pinebrook Boulevard, just after 7:30 p.m.
The driver, 19-year-old Cesar Eligio, of Bend, was not injured and is cooperating with police.
Third Street was closed for six hours for the investigation, which is ongoing. The victim’s name has not yet been released.
SISTERS, OR -- With only three candidates filed to run for three open seats on the Sisters City Council, voters didn’t have much deciding to do, until Kathryn Lindbloom launched her write-in campaign. She says she’d been asked to run before, but only threw her hat in the ring now because the interim City Manager has reduced the number of what she considered frivolous Council meetings.
Lindbloom has lived in the Sisters area for the last 10 years, but moved inside the city limits three years ago. Her first priority is to increase communication at City Hall. When she lived in California, Lindbloom says she taught communication to heads of corporations. "I do know what it means to communicate and have open communications; that’s a big thing we need here. Number two, we need a new City Manager; that’s a very, very big thing. And, a City Manager who is in tune to a small town and what our values are, here." She tells KBND News she's pleased with the direction provided by interim City Manager Rick Allen.
She also wants to make sure Sisters maintains its small town values. "[The] Park ranger property is going to be put back on the market. And, this is a huge chunk of property for the city and the last really developable property in the city. So, I think we need to give that quite a bit of thought, and get a lot of input from people – not based upon what we said five or six years ago, but what we need now as the city moves forward."
Lindbloom volunteers for various organizations and serves on the Sisters Budget Committee. She canvassed Sisters neighborhoods over the weekend. Lindbloom acknowledges she faces an uphill battle with her write-in campaign, compared to the other three candidates whose names actually appear on the ballot. "So, my door hangers and my letter to the editor all said that you need to spell my name correctly – you need both first and last name."
BEND, OR -- Saving Grace is closing out Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a special event Monday evening at the Liberty Theater, in downtown Bend.
A panel of survivors and advocates will discuss the recent Count Her In report from the Women’s Foundation of Oregon. "More than half of Oregon women and girls will experience domestic or sexual violence. So, clearly, we all - whether we have experienced domestic violence ourselves or not - we certainly know someone who does," says Erin Rook, with Saving Grace. "But, the only way that we’re going to realize the extent to which it’s connected to our lives is if we talk about it." He says that number includes more than 40,000 women and girls in Deschutes County.
Rook tells KBND News, "We’re partnering with World Muse to host a special 'Muse Salon' on the State of Violence Against Women in Oregon. So, we’ll be talking about that report, but we’ll also be hearing from survivors and advocates to kind of put a face to those numbers."
World Muse will take photos and statements for a special #MuseOnThis
awareness campaign about the impacts of sexism, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The panel discussion begins at 5:30 p.m.
BEND, OR -- A southeast Bend home was nearly destroyed by fire, Sunday afternoon, and fire crews say their efforts to reach the blaze were initially hampered by traffic from onlookers.
The homeowner heard an explosion around 4:30 and found a motorcycle on fire in the garage, on Southeast Piper Drive. He evacuated his pets and called 911.
Flames quickly spread, claiming five motorcycles, a camper and three vehicles. It also severely damaged the rest of the home, leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation.
MADRAS, OR -- A 28-year-old New Mexico man was killed Sunday in a crash near Madras. According to Oregon State Police, the SUV was eastbound on Highway 26, at 9:30 a.m., when it drifted off the highway near Laurel Lane, veered across the road and rolled multiple times.
Front seat passenger Klayton Gibson was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected. He died at the scene. The driver, 27-year-old Breanna Conoway, of Vancouver, WA, was taken to St Charles Madras with her five-year-old daughter. Both suffered minor injuries.
Distracted driving is being investigated as a contributing factor.
SISTERS, OR -- A California couple remains hospitalized in Bend, following a Friday morning crash near Sisters.
Oregon State Police say a trooper was parked along Highway 20 and witnessed the vehicle hit a tree. An off-duty paramedic helped the officer free the 66-year-old driver and began CPR until fire crews arrived.
Investigators believe Dana Niehaus, of Santa Cruz, suffered a medical issue and lost consciousness while driving. He remains in serious condition at St. Charles Bend. His wife, Jeannine Niehaus, also 66, is listed in fair condition.
UPDATE: The Crook County Sheriff's Office released the identity of the Prineville driver killed Thursday night. They say neither 35-year-old William McCormick, Jr. nor his passenger were wearing seatbelts and both were thrown from the pickup when it rolled. The passenger, 32-year-old Jamie Rosas declined medical attention and walked from the scene.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- One person was killed in a crash on SE Davis Loop, in Crook County, Thursday night. When first responders arrived at about 10:45 p.m., they found a pickup off the road, with the driver pinned underneath. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators believe the pickup was eastbound when it crossed the road, hit a stump and rolled onto its side, near SE Manning Lane. Neither person in the truck was wearing a seatbelt; the passenger declined medical treatment.
The identities of those involved have not been released, pending next of kin notification. Alcohol is believed to be a factor.
BEND, OR -- One of the most controversial issues on Oregon's November ballot is Measure 97. It would impose a 2.5% sales tax on corporations that do more than $25 million in gross sales in the state. City Club of Central Oregon discussed the proposal at a Thursday forum in Bend.
Tonia Hunt, Executive Director of Children First, supports the measure. "It's time for the voters to do what has to be done. I would say that is your job as a voter to think about what's good for Oregon. And, I think it's good for Oregon to see a game-changing investment in our education system that has been disinvested in for 25 years, which all of our kids are paying the price for."
Oregon State Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Alison Hart advocated against M97. She told the crowd, "I really believe that this is a flawed measure for so many reasons. I want to see our state continue to grow economically. One of the sectors that would be hit very hard in this argument is the tech sector. Right now, the tech sector is the fastest growing employment sector in our economy."
While supporters say the additional state revenue is needed for education, seniors and healthcare, Hart says, "There is no plan for this $6 billion tax increase; that is acutely concerning to me. The Governor has even talked about ideas that she has for the revenues of 97 that did not include those three things." Hunt responded, "We know exactly where these dollars are going to go. And, voters have the opportunity to be very clear with the Legislature. This passes law that says these dollars must be spent on education, healthcare and senior services."
At a Thursday evening debate in Portland, Governor Kate Brown responded to questions about M97, saying, "I will spend Ballot Measure 97 dollars as the voters intended." Republican candidate Dr. Bud Pierce opposes the measure, and said if it passes, "I would look to mitigate the damage to Oregon families and Oregon businesses by trying to get the money back in the hands of Oregon families."
The Legislative Revenue Office estimates the measure will cost average Oregon families $600 more a year if it passes. A recent poll found 47% of respondents oppose M97, while 12% remain undecided.
BEND, OR -- With construction of the Southeast Interceptor sewer project moving forward, city officials are addressing how neighborhoods previously on septic get connected to the new system.
Bend Policy Analyst Susanna Julber says city code requires properties hook up if they’re within 300 feet of a sewer line. She tells KBND News, that will impact those in the Kings Forest neighborhood, first. "There’s about 800 homes there in that little subdivision; it’s in southeast Bend. And, they’re all on septic systems. So, with the Southeast Interceptor coming through their neighborhood, now a number of those homes will be within 300 feet of a sewer." She adds, "We’ve been thinking about this project for a number of years. In fact, we have some funds in our existing rate structure that will start being allocated to this project in July 2017."
Crews installed a sewer line in Kings Forest earlier this year, but it’s not yet connected to the main system. Julber says officials are still working through details of the transition. "For now, we’re thinking just as people’s systems fail they would hook up. The other thing is that we’re planning to sewer the entire Kings Forest area, so just beyond – all the streets within that area, so everybody in there can get on sewer." For now, the line only runs through the main through-street.
While the city pays for general work, the cost of connecting a home to the street is typically the owner’s responsibility.
BEND, OR -- A former employee of the Oregon Department of Justice and Deschutes County District Attorney's office has been sentenced to probation for stealing more than 56-thousand dollars in government funds. Bruce Endicott pleaded guilty in June.
Court documents reveal he received disability and unemployment benefits through the VA while working for the DOJ under a second Social Security number. Later, he worked for the D-A’s office, and claimed unemployment through his second Social Security number when he left that job in 2014.
Federal prosecutors say 34-year-old Endicott also failed to pay child support while receiving double benefits. He was ordered to serve three years probation, 250 hours of community service and pay full restitution.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County deputies arrested three people in connection with an investigation into stolen fuel, including diesel taken from unattended farm equipment.
The investigation led deputies to a home on NW Vista View Road, last week, where 23-year-old Daniel Seaton was arrested on a number of charges, including theft and an outstanding warrant.
A multi-agency team returned to the location with a warrant Thursday. They arrested 38-year-old Timothy Evans for theft, meth possession and an outstanding warrant, among other charges. At the same time, 37-year-old Judith Carter was taken into custody for heroin possession.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel is hoping to get the community’s input on crime on public safety. He launched a new community survey, this month, as part of his ongoing DeschutesSafe program.
Hummel says eventually the data will be used to better focus crime prevention efforts. "I don’t want a hear DA tell me that their job is just to prosecute. A DA’s job is to keep a community safe. And, one way you do it is to prosecute, but another way you do it is to prevent crime in the first place. So, DeschutesSafe is my effort to work to prevent crime. We’re prosecuting everyday; that’s not going to stop. DeschutesSafe is in addition to our prosecution work."
He says narrowing the focus of prevention efforts is important. "There’s limited resources in our community. Of course, we could say ‘let’s raise everyone’s taxes 200% and we could have the greatest crime prevention program in the world; that’s not possible. So, with our existing resources, if we’re going to focus on preventing certain crimes, we have more of a chance of being successful. If you try to prevent every single crime, you’re probably going to fail. But, if you target your efforts, you’re more likely to be successful."
The survey takes several minutes to complete. "We’re asking what the major crime concerns are for you," says Hummel. "Is it traffic, is it drugs, is it assault, is it car theft? And, also – this is important – what solutions do you think should be employed? Should we be tougher on crime? Should we be smarter on crime? Should there be more treatment? Should there be more treatment? Should we have longer jail sentences? Should we have more enforcement?"
to access the survey.
Hummel says the results will be revealed at a series of public meetings:
Tuesday, Nov. 8, at the La Pine Library (16425 1st St.) at 6 pm.
Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the Redmond Fire House (341 NW Dogwood Ave.) at 6 pm.
Saturday, Nov. 19, at East Bend Library (62080 Dean Swift Rd.) at 11:30 am.
Wednesday, Nov. 30, at the Downtown Bend Library (601 NW Wall St.) at 6 pm.
BEND, OR -- Ballots for the November election are in the mail. But, before local voters partake in the democratic process, Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship says there are a couple of important things to remember. "When it arrives, you’ll have your ballot, which has measures and races on both sides; you’ll have a flyer that gives you the whole text of the state measures; and then you’ll also have a secrecy sleeve and the return envelope." She tells KBND News, "The ballot and the return envelope are the two pieces that are required to be counted, and you have to sign it."
She says that signature is the most important part of the process; the part that actually makes your ballot valid. "Your signature is verified against your signature on your voting record. Each and every ballot signature is checked. Don’t be offended if we challenge it because that’s good for you and the process." And, according to Blankenship, there are a number of reasons your signature could be different. "Sometimes your signature matures, changes; you’ve broken your arm, different things will happen in people’s lives. So, please do not be offended." She says fixing it and making sure your ballot is counted is a fairly simple process.
If you don’t receive a ballot by early next week, Blankenship recommends contacting your local County Clerk’s office. Click HERE
to access the Secretary of State's voter verification site to see where your ballot was mailed. Ballots are due by 8 p.m. November eighth.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County's two Commissioners are competing for the top post as County Judge.
Seth Crawford says his campaign has been focused on the need for stronger leadership. "What I see is we need a leader to move us into the next step in Crook County's life. We need to work on professionalizing the way we manage our employees at the county. We've got great department heads and great employees there, but we need somebody at the top that's willing to step up and take a direction." He adds, "We haven't had long-term budget planning for as long as I've been there. I've been trying for four years to get that done, and I'm repeatedly turned down to get that done." Crawford was first elected to the court in 2010 and has two years left in his current term.
Ken Fahlgren has served on the court since 2008. Despite the hard fought campaign, he believes he and Crawford will still be able to work together, even after the election. "I think we'll be just fine. We've tried not to throw dirt on each other; we both have families with young kids. My grandkids and his kids are about the same age, and we go to the same church. We have interactions more than just this county job. So, we have to be able to understand that going forward, it's a team effort." He tells KBND News, "We've still got to work together; we still have to be civil to each other. And we, I hope, are still able to work together when I'm Judge and he's still a Commissioner for the next couple of years. I think there is good optimism in the community, right now. I feel that it is my time, and I feel like I've had a lot of support for so many things and so many people, that it just feel like it's going to work out fine."
If Fahlgren wins, Crawford would remain as a Commissioner. However, if Crawford wins, Fahlgren would be off the Commission when his term expires at the end of the year.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond officials dedicated the city's new “Flag City U.S.A.” monument, Wednesday. Congressman Greg Walden was on hand for the ribbon cutting and ceremonial flag raising at the corner of Highland and Highway 97.
He tells KBND News the patriotic effort started with a modest goal. "After the first Iraq War in 1991, the city of Redmond and some leaders there decided to recognize and honor those who had served in that war by flying flags. Their goal was to eventually get 1,000 flags. I recognized them way back when and said
‘they’re flag city U.S.A.’ Well, they liked that title. I think, by the way, they’re up to 1,400 flags; and six or seven times a year now, all these volunteers go out - Randy Povey and others - do an amazing job. It’s the most patriotic thing I think I see anywhere in America." According to the city, about 1,400 flags are placed along the city’s main streets on federal holidays.
The monument is designed to be seen by both north and southbound travelers on Highway 97. It features 11 flag poles with city, state and POW/MIA flags, and of course, the Stars and Stripes.
The monument is part of an ongoing beautification effort at Redmond’s gateway areas.
Photos: (upper left) Congressman Greg Walden, Redmond Mayor George Endicott and Randy Povey cut the ribbon at the Flag City, U.S.A. monument.
(right) Local vets help Walden raise the flag.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are searching for a man who reportedly exposed himself to a woman at TJ Maxx, earlier this week. The customer immediately went to the back of the store and told an employee, who then called police. The suspect left the store before police arrived.
He’s described as 5'-10" with a medium build; he had sandy blonde hair, a goatee and glasses.
It’s a similar description to that of a man who exposed himself at the Regroup Thrift Store near Fourth and Greenwood, September 23; although police say they cannot yet tie the two incidents together.
Anyone with information on either case, or who can identify the man or men in the photos, is asked to call Bend PD at 541-693-6911.
REDMOND, OR -- A Lincoln City man died following a motor home crash north of Redmond, Wednesday evening.
According to Oregon State Police, the 36-foot RV was southbound on Highway 97 at about 6:30, when it crossed through oncoming traffic and off the shoulder. It traveled more than 500 feet and crashed through several fences and trees before coming to a stop.
The driver, 68-year-old Samuel Burke, and his wife were taken to St. Charles Redmond where he later died.
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire and Rescue is preparing to receive a fleet of six new ambulances, in the next week. "They’re all going to show up at essentially the same time from Salt Lake City," Battalion Chief Dave Howe tells KBND News. "They’re getting their striping, their radios, their lights and all that stuff put in there right now. And, along with that, they’re getting a whole bunch of new equipment."
When those new units roll out, medics will begin carrying an antidote for cyanide poisoning. Howe says it’s a treatment that’s become more necessary because fires now involve more than just materials made from wood, metal and paper. "Now, everything’s made of plastic. And, it burns about 10 times hotter and more toxic than what we were used to in the old days. Although, we don’t have that many house fires, when we do have a house fire, if anyone is inside of it or near it, they’re much, much more likely to be exposed to Hydrogen Cyanide."
Firefighter/Paramedic Garret Caster says that while smoke in a structure fire can contain all kinds of toxic chemicals, Hydrogen Cyanide is one of the most dangerous. "It acts really fast; it acts through asphyxiation through the cellular level." Caster says it's just one more option in their life-saving toolbox. The antidote starts as a powder and is delivered through an IV by a paramedic on-scene when someone shows symptoms of cyanide inhalation.
Crews finish training on the antidote, this week.
BEND, OR -- Bend FC Timbers serves more than 2600 local soccer players, but it has to rely on school districts and Bend Parks and Rec for field space. The club is hoping to build its own facility at Pine Nursery, in the next 10 years.
Dr. Rod Buzzas is Bend FC Timber's fundraising campaign director. He led a kickoff rally at Pine Nursery Tuesday afternoon, telling enthusiastic soccer players, "Right out there, that open territory out there, that's where we want to build four full-sized soccer fields. Turf, not grass, turf; lit, with scoreboards and a clubhouse. All for our organization to use and to have."
Club Director Tara Bilanski says new fields are long overdue. "My dream, as a former soccer player who had their own soccer fields; not at my house, but my club had our own fields. Anytime I wanted to come out and scrimmage with my friends, anytime our teams wanted to scrimmage, we had our own soccer fields. Right now, we don't have our fields. Think about Summit [High School]; you know how many teams we cram out there for practice at any one time? Eight."
Dr. Buzzas told the kids raising the money isn't going to be easy. "We're doing this in conjunction - in partnership - with Bend Parks and Rec. We have to raise a whole bunch of money for this. Right now, though we've been working very, very hard, we have to raise, yet, $100,000 by the end of this year." The overall goal is to raise $4.7 million over the next 10 years to build four new fields and a clubhouse at Pine Nursery in northeast Bend. He's hopeful that first infusion of $100,000 will allow for construction of the first two fields within five years.
REDMOND, OR -- School officials, fire and police Chiefs, Sheriffs and other community leaders from across the tri-county area meet Wednesday to celebrate their continued commitment to the region’s Safe Schools Alliance and recognize America's Safe Schools Week.
John Rexford, Superintendent of the High Desert ESD, says the alliance was formed as a reaction to the 1998 Thurston High shooting, in Springfield. But, he tells KBND News the focus has evolved over the years. "The mission of this group is really much broader; it really focuses on all those kind of security and safety issues, including mental health, fire drills, evacuation drills, earthquake drills. It’s really about the whole child. This is about making sure that each student feels safe and secure." He adds, "Sometimes that’s literal, in making sure the school can be evacuated in a timely manner, in the event of a fire. Sometimes it’s making sure that there’s an adult that a student can reach out when they’re feeling like they’re in a bad spot or that they need some help in some manner."
Wednesday's celebration takes place at the High Desert ESD office in Redmond. Rexford compares the event to a renewing of marriage vows. "It’s symbolic, but it’s important to remind ourselves, frankly, of the wide range of partners that are involved in this alliance." Those partners include every school district, law enforcement and fire agency and District Attorney in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson County, along with mental health and juvenile justice leaders. "I can’t point you to many other examples of this sort of partnership across the state. But, this one has really stood the test of time and these folks really dig in and do some really meaty stuff on trying to make sure that every student is safe and secure."
Members meet monthly during the school year to discuss issues ranging from student attendance and pot legalization, to sex trafficking and protocols for responding to school violence.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon added 2400 new jobs in September, although statewide unemployment ticked up a tenth of a percent, last month, to 5.5%. State Economist Nick Beleiciks says year-over-year job gains were widespread, with no major industries showing declines. "Oregon stacks up really nicely when it comes to over-the-year job-growth rate. Right now, we’re looking at 3.5% job growth over the year; that’s much faster than the US rate of 1.7%."
September's job gains were mostly in three sectors. "Most of the gains were in the Government sector, which has to do with local government, education and the school year starting up. There were also large gains in professional and business services and wholesale trade," says Beleiciks. Construction and Leisure & Hospitality lost the most jobs.
September's 5.5% unemployment rate is slightly less than it was a year ago. Oregon has added 95,000 jobs over the last year, while the labor force participation rate rose to just over 63%, from 61% a year ago.
BEND, OR -- National statistics released Monday show an overall improvement in the country’s graduation rate; the 83.2% national rate is the highest on record. However, Oregon remains near the bottom of the ranking; 73.8% is the nation's third worst.
Measure 98 supporters point to the state’s abysmal showing as validation that more funding is needed for dropout prevention, career and college readiness programs. Former Redmond School Superintendent Vickie Fleming says Measure 98 is necessary. "This is a great way of getting at some of the strategies that are evidence-based, that can really get kids into context and learning with more of a hands-on approach through career and technical education, and then really focusing on dropout prevention strategies and helping kids increase their participation in dual college credit." She adds, "Data points to the fact that if you enroll students in career-technical courses that are hands-on and really learning in context, that the kids who are enrolled in those and concentrate in those courses actually have better performance and better graduation rates than those in the mainstream."
The measure aims to allocate more funding for career and technical education programs, college readiness and dropout prevention. Fleming says the money would come from anticipated growth in state revenue and wouldn't cost taxpayers any more. "We all know what the challenges are in terms of Oregon’s PERS liability and some of the healthcare costs that have risen. But, the projected growth in the economy would be earmarked for this particular purpose. So, it would not come out of the state school fund allocation; it would come directly from an appropriation as a result of this initiative."
According to the Yes on 98 campaign, the measure could bring more than $4 million to Bend-La Pine Schools for high school programs; Redmond Schools could get nearly $2 million, and Crook County Schools could see almost $950,000. "The simulation that the campaign ran with the Bend-La Pine School District shows that the graduation rate can be improved within the four-year period with this investment, it just kind of makes sense. It’s really a drop in the bucket when you look at the overall state school fund."
Click HERE to access the measure's text in Oregon's online voters pamphlet, provided by the Secretary of State. There is no organized opposition to the measure.
PORTLAND, OR -- A recent international crackdown on sex trafficking led to the arrest of 20 people in Oregon. The FBI called it "Operation Cross Country X." The sting resulted in the arrests of 239 pimps and their associates in the US, and they rescued 82 minors.
In Portland, one child was rescued and 10 adults were cited or arrested for prostitution. Ten more people were arrested or cited in Eugene.
This was the largest such operation ever conducted. Nationally and internationally, last week's investigations took place in hotels, truck stops, and a number of other locations. Officials say specific information on where Oregon stings took place won't be released to protect the integrity of future operations.
BEND, OR -- With just three weeks until the November election, Deputy Eric Kozowski hopes his message will resonate with voters. He is running for Sheriff of Deschutes County, despite a vote from the Employees' Association showing overwhelming support for current Sheriff Shane Nelson. Kozowski is confident that, if elected, he’ll eventually gain their support. "Are there going to be employees that don’t agree with my vision? Absolutely. That’s just - everybody has their own opinions on how things work. I think if you make that vision clear, you make that direction clear, and ask employees to participate in those decisions, you gain their trust and their input and their buy-off; and, that’s ultimately what makes things successful."
A representative of the Deschutes County Sheriff Employees' Association tells KBND News members are happy with the current direction of the agency. Deputy Kozowski contends the union should not have asked members to pick sides. He adds, "If I’m elected Sheriff is, the first thing I have to do is communicate my vision and my goals for the agency and then incorporate input from all the employees on ‘here we are now at Point A, we want to get to Point Z down the road. So, how do we get there in the most efficient manner and with the least disruption possible?’ And, that definitely requires the input of the employees."
At a recent debate, current Sheriff Nelson asked Kozowski how the Deputy would have handled recent scandals at the agency if he were Sheriff. Kozowski did not offer specifics at that time. He now tells KBND News, "Well, from day one, is communicate clearly with the employees. Again, back to ‘here’s the expectations I hold for all the employees, here’s the expectations the public holds for all the employees, and we’re going to hold you accountable to those.’ And, we’re not going to let any violations of those standards or the public trust slide under the carpet. We’re going to deal with them and set the environment so people know that they won’t get away with those things."
Kozowski's campaign promises a change in leadership; however, his statement is similar to Sheriff Nelson's approach to cleaning up the agency, according to his description at a recent debate. "If you want to shift a culture, the first thing you do is start by taking care of business," Nelson told the crowd. "By taking care of business, you establish what your expectations are; And, you establish the fact that, if you’re not in line with our mission and values, you won’t work with us."
To hear our full conversation with Dep. Eric Kozowski, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
Sheriff Nelson started with the agency more than 20 years ago. Kozowski worked as a deputy in Wallowa County for six years before coming to Deschutes County in 2010. This is the first contested Sheriff’s race in Deschutes County in more than a dozen years.
BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Chapter of Ronald McDonald House Charities is merging with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Southwest Washington. Officials with the nonprofit say the new organization will allow for stronger community awareness of programs, which will allow them to help more seriously ill children and families.
The six-room Ronald McDonald House near St. Charles in Bend will remain, and will gain access to statewide partners and programs. The organization also has two houses in Portland.
REDMOND, OR -- Crews blasted through solid rock in northeast Redmond, Friday, in the beginning stages of the East Side Sewer Interceptor project. City Engineer Mike Caccavano tells KBND News the work is necessary to install 8500-feet of sewer line. Although, he admits most of the work won't be done through blasting, due to the proximity to the railroad tracks and Highway 97. "They’ll start digging; they’re going to be working between Oak and Maple, is the first stretch, here. But, it goes all the way, eventually, down as far south as Evergreen."
That line will then connect directly with the treatment plant at the north end of the Dry Canyon. "We have a lot of vacant industrial land. And, if that develops, we’re going to overtax that interceptor down in the Dry Canyon. So, this is intercepting all those lines and bringing it straight to the treatment plant that has lots of capacity, and we’ll be well positioned for industrial development on the east side."
Caccavano says the area has hundreds of acres of available industrial land, "We weren’t pushing the capacity on the interceptor yet. That would probably be easily 10-20 years out, depending on what the development is. But, if someone comes in and they’re ready to go, we want to be ready to go, as well."
BEND, OR -- One of the biggest issues on Oregon's November ballot is Measure 97, which would tax large corporations with gross sales over $25 million. Supporters say the funds will be used for schools, healthcare and social services.
Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger and his Republican challenger Phil Henderson discussed the measure at a recent candidate forum, hosted by the Bend Chamber of Commerce. Henderson isn't convinced the state needs the revenue. "I'm very strongly against Measure 97. I think it is what the Bend Chamber has said it is, what most business people say it is, and what most families know it is, which is a tax on all of us. It's a way for the state of Oregon to collect $6 billion more out of our wallets and our paychecks so they can grow the state government."
Incumbent Commissioner Unger also opposes the measure. He told the crowd, "I don't think the referendum process is the way you raise taxes. I think you need to do it in the Legislature. I am frustrated with how this was done without business involvement, really; this will be bad for business, so I'm not supportive of Measure 97. I know the state needs more money to provide the services we have, especially with some of the bills that are coming due. But, I don't think Measure 97 and this value-added tax is the right way to do it."
Read more on how the Gubernatorial candidates stand on M97.
The measure would impose a 2.5% sales tax on those companies with gross sales over $25 million.
BEND, OR -- Police contacted six people during the execution of a search warrant at a home in Southwest Bend, late last week, arresting four of them for various drug-related charges.
Investigators say 32-year-old Ryan Vidal (left) had heroin and meth with other paraphernalia at the time of his arrest; and, they believe he has been delivering heroin. Vidal lives at the Merriewood Lane home with 23-year-old Autumn Admire (not pictured), who was also arrested for heroin possession and other allegations.
Police say 25-year-old Nathaniel Alvis (right) was in possession of meth, heroin and various prescription medications. And, 26-year-old Crystal Prestridge (center) was arrested for heroin possession and violating her probation.
Two others remain under investigation and may be charged later.
BEND, OR -- Oregon’s voters’ pamphlet hit local mailboxes in the last few days, in preparation for the November eighth election. Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship says ballots will be mailed Wednesday.
While most of the talk at her office is from people anxious to vote in this unusual election, Blankenship admits she’s heard about those so disenfranchised they’re threatening not to vote at all. "And, that’s the wrong choice," she tells KBND News, "because there are so much more on the ballot than just, say the President, or some other measure or race you have concerns about." Blankenship says, "There’s the Senate race and the Representative race. At the state level, you’ve the Governor, the Secretary of State and the Treasurer, as far as the top elected positions in the state of Oregon. You’ve got judges and you’ve got local races as well: county commissioners, city councils; you’ve got a number of state measures. And, if you’re in the city of Bend and La Pine, and a couple of road districts, you’ve got other measures to consider."
In the middle of the state-issued pamphlet is the local guide with details of city and county races. And, Blankenship says the Deschutes County guide includes a special centennial tribute. "This election, we’ve got a young man, Andrew Rojo from La Pine Middle School; he’s in the sixth grade. His art is covering the front, and it’s in celebration of the county’s 100th birthday. Andrew did a lot of research on his drawing; he’s got things from all over the county."
Voters pamphlets are sent to every household in the state, whether registered to vote, or not. The deadline to register is Tuesday.
REDMOND, OR -- Three teens were arrested Saturday following a string car break-ins in southwest Redmond. Witnesses first reported two people breaking into cars on SW 33rd St., just before 6 a.m., but police were unable to find any suspects.
About 30 minutes later, they responded to more reports near SW 31st St. and Obsidian Lane. Officers then arrested 18-year-old Jason McCain (left), of Eagle Point, 19-year-old Trevon Nakano (right), of Portland, and a Redmond 17-year-old.
They say the trio is responsible for stealing from more than 20 vehicles – most of them unlocked. Redmond PD asks area residents to check their vehicles and report if they've been a victim of theft. Investigators are working to reunite recovered property with their rightful owners.
BEND, OR -- The Oregon Army National Guard’s 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment officially restructured under the Washington Army National Guard’s 81st Brigade, at a ceremony in Bend, Sunday. The unit transfer is part of the transition to convert Washington’s 81st from an Armor Brigade to a Stryker Brigade.
The 1-82nd Cavalry Squadron consists of units from Bend, Redmond, Lebanon and The Dalles. It will remain in Oregon as part of the Oregon Army National Guard, with operational control under the 82nd Bridge Troop Command, headquartered in Clackamas.
The Stryker is a family of eight-wheel drive armored vehicles designed to maneuver more easily in close and urban terrain, while still providing protection in the open. The squadron will display new Stryker equipment in the Bend and Redmond Veterans Day Parades, November 11.
REDMOND, OR -- Two drills taking place in Central Oregon aim to get first responders ready for unusual emergencies.
Roberts Field holds a full-response disaster drill at the airport, Friday morning. The Federal Aviation Administration requires the airport to conduct realistic commercial aircraft trainings every three years. About 80 volunteers are expected to act as passengers, while multiple fire, police and public health agencies participate in the drill.
Monday morning, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office will conduct an active threat exercise at the old courthouse on ‘C’ Street, in Madras. That drill includes Madras and Warm Springs police, and will force road closures and detours in the area.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Sheriff John Gautney is optimistic voters will approve a $10-million jail bond in November, but he’s not taking anything for granted. Gautney was appointed Sheriff less than a year ago, and campaigning for the bond has overshadowed the race to keep his job; although, he’s running unopposed.
Sheriff Gautney says the current jail is in a building converted from a fire station in the 1960s, and it must be replaced. "When it rains really hard, the rain leaks through the roof and it’s running down our walls; sewer system is old and outdated; and because of the size of it, we only have 16 inmates that we can hold there. We have no place for female inmates; we have to ship those to Jefferson County, to their jail." Crook County spends nearly $700,000 a year renting 25 beds from Jefferson County.
But, he says even with that overflow option, they still regularly matrix out those awaiting trial on lesser crimes to make room for more serious offenders. And, Gautney says, "As of this week, we had 98 people on a waiting list. This waiting list is people who have been to court, have been convicted in court, and a judge has sentenced them to jail time. Those people show up at the jail and say ‘I’ve been convicted and I’m here to serve my time.’ We don’t have a bed for them so we put them on a waiting list, and they’re supposed to come back and check in with us. The problem is that some people don’t want to come back and check in with us."
Construction of a 76-bed facility would cost around $17-million. The bond would pay for $10-million. The rest, Gautney says, would be covered by other partnerships, grants and loans; operating funds would come through savings achieved by ending the rental agreement with Jefferson County. Gautney says the county would also save money by building the new jail adjacent to the Sheriff's Office, on property already owned by the county. CCSO rents the current jail from the city of Prineville.
He's optimistic about the feedback he's received at community meetings held over the past month. "We did have some that were a little skeptical coming in, were not quite sure that they thought that we needed to have a jail. Quite frankly, some people don’t even know we have a jail in Crook County. We offer these tours every Friday at 2 o’clock, and I’ve had some people tell me ‘I didn’t even know the jail was in this building.’"
Wednesday, October 19 at 7 a.m.: Meadow Lakes Golf Course
Thursday, October 20 at 6:30 p.m.: Meadow Lakes Golf Course (note change of venue)
If the bond passes November 8, Sheriff Gautney says plans would move forward immediately.
To hear our full conversation with Crook County Sheriff John Gautney visit our Podcast Page
, or click HERE
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County has been accepting applications for six weeks, from those interested in opening a marijuana-related business in rural areas. County Commissioners approved grow operations, processors and retail outlets, a few months ago, but they didn't know what to expect when applications started coming in September first.
County Community Development Director Nick Lelack tells KBND News, "It's been going very well. We've conducted 25-30 pre-application conferences with people interested in growing recreational marijuana. To date, we have eight applications that have been submitted for production - which is growing, we have one application for a retail shop and one application for processing."
Lelack anticipates 15 to 20 more applications will come in the coming months, based on meetings and inquiries. "Overall, we were anticipating 25-50 applications; we didn't know if it would be in the first couple of months or the first several, so it's pretty much on target. We didn't know if there would be a greater rush at the start of the application process; that hasn't been the case. People are taking more time preparing their applications, which I think is certainly resulting in better applications being submitted."
BEND, OR -- Much of Central Oregon remains under a wind advisory through 3 p.m., Friday, and the Bend animal shelter has received a number of calls regarding pets escaping through blown-down fences.
The Humane Society of Central Oregon
reminds pet owners wind gusts and flying objects can frighten or injure animals. Experts recommend bringing pets indoors during the storm, if possible, check fencing and lock gates, provide a wind break or shelter for horses and livestock; and,if your pet takes off, report it immediately to your local shelter.
A second storm front is expected to hit Central Oregon Saturday, bringing more wind and rain to the area.
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire and Rescue wraps up National Fire Prevention Week, Saturday, with an open house at the North Fire Station on Jamison Street.
Deputy Fire Marshal Susie Maniscalco says this year’s theme “Don’t Wait, Check the Date” is focused on life-saving smoke alarms. "I think a lot of folks don’t understand, or they don’t realize, that everything has a lifespan, including smoke alarms. When we explain that it’s important that smoke alarms be tested at least once a month, and if they’re at least 10 years of age, to install a new one – you know, they think they last forever." She adds, "Also know that we have a free smoke alarm program, and we offer free home assessments. So, we can come out and we can test your smoke alarms, replace batteries at no cost, and replace smoke alarms if they’re not working or if they’re missing."
Saturday's free event features live burning demonstrations and presentations from local health professionals. "We’re also offering free hands-only CPR classes for adults." Maniscalco tells KBND News, "This year, we’ve asked the Bend Police Department- they’re going to bring the K9 Horace to give a demonstration; we’ll have a live fire demonstration on the training ground; kids can build a fire truck with our friends from Home Depot; and, of course, the best part is that there will be free Eberhard’s ice cream."
Maniscalco says most activities will take place indoors, rain or shine. Festivities are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 63377 Jamison Street in Bend.
BEND, OR -- Oregon voters are being asked to approve a measure in November that would forbid the sale of animal products made from endangered species. A recent investigation found 30 stores throughout the state selling items made from things like ivory and shark skin, including an antique store in Bend.
Kristin Leppert, with Save Endangered Animals Oregon, was in Bend Wednesday to campaign for Measure 100. She tells KBND News, "35,000 elephants are killed every year for the ivory trade. These poachers are killing them in the most inhumane ways imaginable - I mean, rocket launchers and machine guns? And, they're doing this to kill these animals all at once, so they can run in, grab their ivory and sell off the ivory." She adds, "Measure 100 specifically prohibits the sale of the parts and products of 12 endangered species within Oregon. So, we're talking about elephant ivory, rhino horn, tiger pelts, lions, sea turtles and many other species that we're trying to protect with this measure."
If approved, the legislation would not go into effect until next July.
BEND, OR -- A significant storm is predicted for Central and South Central Oregon, over the next few days, and the Oregon Department of Transportation says it could cause problems for drivers.
While it's expected to be mainly a rain and wind event, ODOT's Peter Murphy says it’s the first sign that winter is coming. "It’s time for us to simply get ready. We need to prepare our cars, we need to prepare our heads, we need to kind of wrap around the season’s changing. There’s lots of stuff people can do; so, take a look at your car and see if there are things you can do fairly quickly." Those things include checking windshield wipers and keeping a full gas tank, in case you get stuck at a prolonged road closure. He tells KBND News, "What you can do as a motorist is simply take more time; leave earlier, because that’s what’s going to help you avoid getting into real trouble. If you’re going a little bit sooner than normal, you’re not quite as heavily on the gas pedal, you’re looking out a little more. It’s the time of year we need to put our winter hat on and take a good look around."
Forecasters say the worst weather will hit the coast and southern Oregon region, but the High Desert is under a high wind warning from 3 p.m. Thursday through 3 p.m. Friday, with gusts up to 5 MPH. And, the region could see it's first substantial rainfall of the season. And, Murphy says that oil and dirt that's had all summer to soak into local roadways could cause issues. "With a rainfall like this, it’s going to kick up some of that muck that’s on the roadbed. So, motorists need to be aware they won’t have quite the same traction they’re accustomed to; and, they need to drive accordingly. That means just being careful around curves, looking around for stuff they don’t expect, and in some cases we’re going to have trees down, it looks like."
BEND, OR -- Oregon's Court of Appeals has vacated the rape conviction of a former Central Oregon Community College instructor. Thomas Bray appealed his 2011 conviction, claiming the victim's refusal to grant access to her personal computer violated his civil rights. He claims there was information on her computer that could have aided in his defense.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel tells KBND News, "It's a clash of two fundamental Constitutional provisions. You have the right of privacy; a victim of sexual assault says 'one: I have to come into court and reveal all these intimate details about the sexual assault; that's hard enough. Now you want to see all my emails, you want to see all my Google searches. That's too much. I have a right to privacy and I'm not going to share that.' But, that's clashing with a defendant's right to confront and cross examine his accusers." He adds, "I respectfully disagree, but I'm not surprised because this is a novel case. We have no report of a case in Oregon with these facts - this fundamental clash of Constitutional provisions. So, it's a case of first impressions, and whenever you have those cases, reasonable judges and attorneys can and will disagree. That's what happened in this case."
He says the ball is now in the Attorney General's court, "The Oregon Attorney General has to decide if she's going to appeal the Court of Appeals decision to the Oregon Supreme Court. If she's going to do that, we'll have to wait for the Supreme Court to rule. But, if the Attorney General does not seek an appeal, then it comes back to the trial judge in Deschutes County. And the Court of Appeals told that judge, 'reconsider your decision regarding whether you're going to look at the victim's computer.'" Or, he says the case could be retried.
Bray was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the February 2011 rape of a 23-year-old Bend woman. The two met on a dating website.
BEND, OR -- A 35-year-old Redmond man was arrested in Bend, when he showed up to meet who he thought was a 15-year-old with whom he’d exchanged inappropriate text messages.
Redmond Police found out about the messages, last week. Officers posed as the teen and texted Matthew Smith, who reportedly tried to exchange nude photos with the victim.
Investigators say Smith wanted to meet up with the teen for the purposes of sexual contact. When he arrived at Sawyer park at the agreed upon time, Friday afternoon, he was arrested without incident.
Anyone with information about this case or similar incidents involving Smith is asked to call Redmond PD Investigations Unit at 541-504-3400. They remind parents to be aware of phone or text messages received on their child's phone from adults. Police urge parents who notice suspicious phone calls or text requests to contact local law enforcement.
REDMOND, OR -- Two people were hurt in a crash at SW 35th Street and Highway 126, during Tuesday morning's commute.
Redmond City Engineer Mike Caccavano tells KBND News improvements are already in the pipeline for the intersection, which is a known trouble spot. "This came about as a result of some traffic studies that were done for developments proposed around Obsidian and 35th. The results showed there would be added trips to that intersection and that the left turn movement was already failing – there was a safety issue."
He says there are some serious crashes in the area every year, but even more close calls. "You can tell that from the black tire marks on the roadway. What often happens: someone is stopping in traffic to make a left turn and people come up on them and don’t realize they’ve stopped. Or they’re farther back in the line as the cars stop. That’s been the most typical accident." Although, Redmond Police say a preliminary investigation into Tuesday's crash shows a vehicle northbound on 35th failed to yield to highway traffic.
The half-million dollar project will include widening Highway 126, also known as Highland Avenue, and adding left turn lanes. "We’ve been working on it since the summer; we have a consulting engineer working on it and consulting with ODOT, because it is an ODOT facility." The work will be paid for with city System Development Charges. Caccavano expects work to begin this winter.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police and City Councilors have agreed to a new Collective Bargaining agreement with a new clause. Chief Jim Porter says it includes performance-based bonuses. "One of the complaints we generally have in public service is ‘cops just get rewards for showing up and breathing.’ Well, this time, our Police Association, who was very forward-looking with us, who took a chance on this, has agreed to certain pay increments: 1.5% in the first six months, 2% in the second six months, if they hit certain goals."
Chief Porter says those goals are not related to enforcement action or “quotas.” He tells KBND News, "These goals are tied to livability; they’re tied to public interaction; they’re tied to interaction with our youth. They’re not tied to enforcement action; not tied to tickets; they’re not tied to arrests. They’re tied to such things as making sure we get into all the schools once a day and have lunch with kids; make sure get into senior centers."
Aside from creating a better city, Porter says it’s another way to attract new recruits during the ongoing nationwide officer shortage. "We needed a way to get ourselves into a better market position. We aren’t getting the police officers we need in Bend. We just aren’t. We just went through a hiring process, and out of the hundreds applied, we’ve narrowed it down to 13 who we believe have the right characteristics to be a successful police officer in the city of Bend; because Bend asks for different characteristics than a lot of cities."
The deal was approved by City Council, last week. While annual cost of living increases remain, Chief Porter says the bonuses do away with pay raises for simply being with the department for a certain length of time.
To hear more of our conversation with Chief Jim Porter, visit our Podcast Page
or click HERE
BEND, OR -- A Redmond man described by the Deschutes County District Attorney as a “Serial domestic abuser” and “a menace to our community” was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison for assaulting his wife. Jimmy Herrera has 17 convictions spanning 15 years. On his most recent charges, he pleaded guilty to attacking his wife on two separate occasions. Herrera changed his plea to guilty the day before his trial was set to begin.
D.A. John Hummel says one vicious assault last November was over money; another, in April, began when Herrera thought his wife made a face at him; both were witnessed by small children.
In a statement issued after the sentencing, Hummel said, "For the last 15 years Jimmy Herrera has been a menace to our community. These recent assaults on his wife were the final straw. When Mr. Herrera is released from prison, me and my deputies stand ready, willing and able to bring the full force of justice upon him if he yet again breaks the law. Enough is enough!"
Hummel notes the conviction comes during Domestic Violence awareness month. He encourages anyone experiencing domestic or sexual assault to call 911 or Saving Grace's 24-hour hotline at 541-389-7021.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger is seeking reelection, after eight years at the post. At Tuesday night's Bend Chamber of Commerce forum, Unger debated his Republican challenger on topics ranging from canal piping to Measure 97.
They also discussed the Board of County Commissioners' decision to allow recreational marijuana to be grown and processed in unincorporated areas. Unger says they needed to act. "We were having quite a division in the county between those people who were opposed and those people who were supportive. And, it was getting to be quite a fight, and I thought at that point it was important for us to be leaders as County Commissioners, and move forward and make decisions. So, we moved forward; we listened to the community, we made reasonable regulations that protected the rural lifestyle of the people who live in the county, and then we adopted those."
The state Legislature allowed communities to opt out of Measure 91, Oregon's recreational marijuana law, and send the issue back to the ballot. Challenger Phil Henderson feels the board should have let voters have the final say. "The conflict could've been resolved on the November ballot. I was very concerned about the fact that rural Deschutes County, which was going to be impacted the most by the commercial growing, processing of marijuana, had voted overwhelmingly against recreational marijuana - if you went precinct by precinct. But, if you're just trying to resolve the conflict, we have a Democratic system that allows us to resolve the conflict. The Legislature gave us that system and gave us that right, and I think it's wrong it was taken away from us."
BEND, OR -- A Redmond teen is on her way to Hawaii for a six-day family vacation, thanks to Make-A-Wish Oregon. Kacee Ware was first diagnosed with severe Crohn's Disease when she was just 10-years-old, and she's spent the last five years in and out of hospitals in Portland and Seattle. Her mom Rachel says the 15-year-old also struggled with a number of complications from her treatment and other secondary diagnoses.
Kacee was surprised at Tuesday's "Waffles and Wishes" Make-A-Wish Fundraiser in Bend.
Rachel Ware tells KBND News her daughter helped plan the trip with the nonprofit over the past couple of years, but says Kacee had no idea the family of seven was leaving immediately. "It’s just been amazing for us and given her something to be excited about and look forward to. It’s been super hard not to share with her the fun details of our trip, so we were really excited to be able to finally share all that with her."
Rachel says the trip is perfectly timed. Kacee underwent a trial treatment at Seattle Children's Hospital over the past year, and just recently learned she was in clinical remission. "If we would’ve went a year ago, or even six months ago, it would’ve been a different experience because she really wasn’t well enough to enjoy it. Yeah, it would’ve been pretty and she could’ve laid on a towel on the beach, but she really wasn’t physically able to do much."
The Redmond High sophomore tells KBND News she wanted to go to Hawaii so she, her parents and four siblings could spend time together after traveling so much for her treatments. "We are going to go on an all-day fishing trip, and doing a luau, and some scuba diving and just sitting on the beach and having fun. It’s crazy; it’s nothing that I’ve ever imagined being able to do."
In the past year, Make-A-Wish Oregon granted more than 200 wishes for kids battling life-threatening medical conditions. This year, the organization hopes to grant 250 wishes. They say these wishes aren't just "nice to have," but have a real impact on the healing process for each family, their friends and community.
BEND, OR -- A new multi-million dollar grant will help Central Oregon Community College develop new programs to help struggling students develop better math and writing skills. COCC's Ron Paradis tells KBND News, "One of the problems in higher education is taking students who aren’t quite ready for college level and getting them there. We’ve known that’s a problem for years, and unfortunately, with Oregon’s lack of funding for higher education it’s been difficult for us to institute some of these programs. So, this will allow us to do a lot of programs in the developmental writing and math area, and do other things to help transition students toward college level courses."
Paradis says nearly 85% of COCC students start classes below college level in writing or math, or both. The school’s wide age range within its student body magnifies the need. "It’s not only the 18-year-olds, but it’s also the 50-year-old that all of a sudden finds out that they’re out of work. And often, those are the ones who come in at the lowest level of skills," says Paradis. "We really noticed that during the recession, the number of students that came in their 40s and 50s who hadn’t taken a math class in 20 or 30 years and therefore tested in very low. It’s difficult for those students to take the year or two it takes just to get to college level."
The five-year, $2.25 million Title III grant is from the U.S. Department of Education. COCC also plans to use the funds to develop a first-year experience program to boost retention rates.
INDIAN BEACH, OR -- An Oregon surfer was seriously injured in the state’s first shark attack in three years. Oregon State Police say the attack occurred within Ecola State Park, north of Cannon Beach, Monday afternoon. Jeff Rose was there and says, "All the injuries were on his right leg - basically from the hip to the ankle. Fairly gruesome injuries."
The victim, 29-year-old Joseph Tanner, is a Portland trauma nurse. Rose says, "He directed his own first aid."
Tanner was stabilized at the scene and flown to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, with serious injuries.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Republican leaders continue to distance themselves from Donald Trump, following the release of a 2005 video that revealed demeaning comments toward women. That list now includes Oregon's only Republican Congressman.
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) says he will not defend the GOP Presidential nominee for his comments, nor will he campaign for Trump. Oregon's top Republican, Congressman Greg Walden, condemned Trump's comments about women. He says they were disrespectful, disgusting and not representative of the Republican Party.
Walden says that while some aren't surprised by Trump's behavior, it's clear that he, and he alone, is responsible for his actions and statements. In the statement issued this week, Walden continues that his focus is on serving Oregonians and maintaining a Republican majority in the U.S. House.
BEND, OR -- A crash landing, last month, of an unmanned aerial system is bringing drone safety to the attention of Bend Police. No one was injured when the small aircraft crashed into the driveway of an unsuspecting neighbor in southeast Bend, September 16.
While there are no specific city codes or state statutes for drone operations, there are guidelines from the FAA, including that aircraft be kept in eyesight of the “pilot” at all times, fly below 400 feet and stay at least 25 feet away from people.
to learn more about the rules for recreational operation of a drone.
to register a drone with the FAA. Registration is required for those crafts between .5 and 55 pounds.
BEND, OR -- Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) was in Bend, Monday, touring a section of the Pilot Butte Canal slated for piping, next year. "That greatly reduces the losses of the water percolating down through the ground and also reduces losses from evaporation," he said at the event. "The key is that the saved water can then be used to reduce water set aside for the next irrigation season, which means that more water can come down the stream during the winter."
He noted the importance of ensuring water is available for farmers and ranchers in the future, but also for fish and wildlife and the outdoor industry. "During irrigation season, we fill the Upper Deschutes River; water flows down to the agricultural purposes. But, when the irrigation season winds down, we reduce flows in the Upper Deschutes to store water for the next irrigation season, meaning you can have very low flows over the winter; and that can have a significant impact on local fish and wildlife populations. The good news is we can help address this through smart water conservation."
Merkley tells KBND News he has three proposals working through Congress that will help future similar projects. "Two of them are grant programs, one is a subsidized loan program. Each one is a little bit different, but enabling them to have more funding and a priority given to efforts where there’s a collaborative project and where you’re addressing either water efficiency or issues involving endangered species." He says priorities would be given to projects designed through a collaborative process between irrigation districts, conservation and agricultural stakeholders.
The Senator says projects would remain under local control. "My part in this, at the federal level, is to say when the irrigation district has a project, it’s worked it out and it’s going to have very positive water conservation and environmental impacts – of course, we have a very big issue of the dewatering of the Upper Deschutes – and I’m going to do everything I can to help resources get here."
Central Oregon Irrigation District officials say they've nearly secured the $3.9-million needed to pipe a section of canal near Brookswood Boulevard. Installation of the 4,000-foot pipe is expected to begin in a year.
Photo: Sen. Jeff Merkley speaks to media during a tour, with representatives from Central Oregon Irrigation District, Three Sisters Irrigation District, Trout Unlimited and other environmental groups.
REDMOND, OR -- A special workshop, Tuesday, in Redmond will focus on the behaviors of hoarding. Dr. Christiana Bratiotis, from the Portland State University School of Social Work, says hoarding impacts more than 16 million Americans. "It is the problem of accumulating too many possessions that, to other people, appear to be of useless value; and, clutter living environments so that it makes it hard for people to use rooms in their home for the purpose intended."
She tells KBND News hoarding behaviors can be seen in those as young as 11-years-old. "What we also know, however, is that hoarding has what we describe as a chronic and worsening course; meaning it does not get better on its own and will only get worse across a person’s lifetime. That’s why we sometimes think this is a problem of older adult years, because, by the time you get out to 50, 60 and 70 years old, you’ve had decades of time for the clutter to amass."
The one-day workshop at the Expo Center is designed to help medical and mental health professionals, elder-care workers and first responders better identify hoarding behavior and learn how to start the process of getting them help. "Sometimes a person with hoarding is able to say, ‘yes, I know this is a problem for me; yes, I want help.’" But, she says, "At other points, that same person might say, ‘no, it’s no problem at all. I can sleep on this one little corner of my bed; I don’t need the rest of my bed. Everybody else is bothered by this problem but I’m not.’"
BEND, OR -- A Bend man was convicted by a jury, Friday, for Driving while Suspended, Driving Under the Influence and Providing False information to Police, two years ago. In October 2014, David Allen Black was pulled over for speeding, lied about his name, bragged about how his fast car and was observed to be impaired.
The Deschutes County District Attorney says 32-year-old Black lost his license in 2004, when he was convicted of Manslaughter. His involvement in speed racing east of Bend resulted in the death of 16-year-old Stephanie Beeksma. In a statement issued after the verdict, D.A. John Hummel said, "It's unfortunate that David Black appears to have learned nothing from the tragedy that cost Stephanie Beeksma her life. Unless and until he grows up and appreciates the danger of impaired and reckless driving, me and my deputies stand ready to continue to hold him accountable for his dangerous actions."
Sentencing for this latest conviction is October 24.
BEND, OR -- Fire caused about $15,000 in damage to the outside of the Taco Bell restaurant on NE 3rd Street, in Bend. A customer first noticed smoke coming from the roof, just after 11 p.m., Sunday.
Arriving fire crews found smoke on the roof and front façade, and were forced to cut into the side of the building to find its source. They extinguished the fire and determined it originated in the bark at the base of the front entry, although the exact cause is unknown.
BROTHERS, OR -- One person was killed and another seriously injured when a semi truck and trailer rolled near Brothers, early Thursday morning. By Saturday, State Police were questioning the identity of the survivor.
Investigators say the driver, 47-year Angela Abernathy, of Florida, was killed when she was ejected in the Highway 20 crash. Her passenger was flown to St. Charles Bend with potentially life-threatening injuries.
That passenger was originally identified through his ID as Darren Walp, of Abilene, Texas. But, OSP received several calls Saturday and later determined he's really 31-year-old Billy Wade. They believe Wade stole his identity about eight months ago, unbeknownst to Walp.
BEND, OR -- A Sisters woman was sentenced, this week, to four years in prison for embezzling from her employer. Prosecutors say Cheryl Waldron took about $430,000 from Robinson and Owen Heavy Construction over several years. Waldron was the bookkeeper and office manager for the construction company for 17 years.
She was arrested in March
and pled guilty in August to Aggravated Identity Theft, Forgery and Theft. The Deschutes County District Attorney says she failed to comply with a restitution deal that could have cut her prison time in half. DA John Hummel says Waldron was given two months to pay $200,000 toward restitution and could sign the title of her property over to the victim to cover that amount. However, he says, liens on the property - including unpaid property taxes - reduced the value of the property to just over $100,000.
In addition to the four years in prison, the judge ordered Waldron to pay $258,000 in restitution and sign over the title of her property to her former employer.
BEND, OR -- As we approach Halloween, “scary clown” sightings are increasing across the country, and police say Bend is not immune. A Cascade Middle School athletic team spotted – then caught – a “scary clown” who appeared at their practice on Tuesday. The clown was later identified as a local high school student; the school is handling the situation internally.
On Sunday, a juvenile running near Mt. Washington Dr. and Skyliners Road reported seeing someone dressed in a clown suit carrying a hatchet or an axe. Officers searched the area but didn't find anything.
Bend PD says, "As people partake in dressing as clowns, and more dangerously, arming themselves, it is important to get this information out." Officers encourage residents to call local law enforcement if you see someone acting suspicious, regardless of how they’re dressed.
In southern Oregon, police arrested a 21-year-old man dressed as a clown after they say he stood outside several high schools holding a sign that said “We are here.” Jackson County authorities say Michael Richards held the sign at Crater, North Medford, South Medford and Eagle Point high schools. He’s being held on charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing.
BEND, OR -- Earlier this summer, GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed Oregon would be in play in November. But, the latest reports show that's unlikely. A poll conducted by Hoffman Research, last week, shows Democrat Hillary Clinton with a 12-point lead over Trump.
Laurie Gould, with Deschutes Democrats, says it appears the Trump campaign is pulling out of Oregon to concentrate on swing states rather than the Pacific Northwest. And, she says that could influence other state races. "It does depend on turnout. It means the people that usually get attracted to Presidential elections need to check the entire ballot and look for people to support from the top to the bottom."
The October poll showed Clinton with 45% support from Oregon voters, compared to Trump's 33%. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson received 8% support. Gould tells KBND News, "We've been a pretty strongly 'blue state.' I mean, all of our statewide elected officeholders are currently Democrats. So, we've had very strong turnout throughout the Willamette Valley and the Portland-metro area that favors Democrats. But, we've also seen some really strong Democratic turnouts in Deschutes County."
BEND, OR -- A candidate for Bend City Council admits to frequently disregarding Oregon’s recreational marijuana laws.
Ron Boozell, who is running for Position One, spoke at this week’s Council meeting. He complained about how he was recently kicked out of Drake Park for smoking marijuana. "We have a 'don’t ask, don’t tell' Oregon law. Basically, it says you can’t consume or grow marijuana in public view. I gotta tell you, I smoke marijuana at Drake Park almost every day; and I never do it in public view." Actually, Measure 91 states pot can only be used on private property. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates recreational pot, says consuming marijuana in public places, including parks, is prohibited.
He also told Councilors he doesn’t plan to change his habit, despite being excluded from Drake Park. "I’ve spoken in public about exclusion zones; I don’t respect them, I will not admit we have them, I will continue to disrespect every exclusion zone in this city until they don’t exist. Thank you."
Boozell is scheduled to debate his opponent, businessman Justin Livingston
, at a League of Women Voters
forum, Monday evening. That event begins at 5:15 at the Deschutes County Admin Building. Click HERE
BEND, OR -- A day after Republican candidate for Governor Bud Pierce apologized for comments he made about domestic violence, a Bend-based advocacy group is grateful the issue is being discussed. At last week's debate in Portland, Dr. Pierce said individuals could prevent becoming a victim by achieving a good economic status.
Erin Rook, with Saving Grace
, says Pierce's statement speaks to two common misconceptions, "One, is that we can prevent domestic violence by ensuring that women have certain protections; putting that impetus to prevent it on the victim, which is kind of a backwards way of thinking. In order to change and prevent domestic violence, we really have to look at perpetrators. The other is the idea that domestic violence only effects people of low income or low educational statuses. And, that’s absolutely not true." He says
the misconceptions aren't unique to Pierce. "If they don’t see the issue as touching their life directly, it seems irrelevant, maybe? There was recently a report released by the Women’s Foundation of Oregon – the Count Her In Report – that showed that more than half of Oregon women and girls will experience domestic or sexual violence. So, clearly we all, whether we have experienced domestic violence ourselves or not, we certainly know someone who does."
In his apology, Dr. Pierce says the issue will improve when there is more education. But, Rook tells KBND News there isn’t money to grow programs. "So, the state does mandate that there is a certain amount of violence prevention education in schools. Unfortunately, the mandate comes without any funding connected to it. It’s one of those things we want it to happen, and it needs to happen. But, sometimes there can be a struggle in communities to find the resources to make that happen."
PORTLAND, OR -- The Republican candidate for Oregon Governor is apologizing for a statement he made in last Friday's debate with Gov. Kate Brown.
In a video posted on the campaign's Facebook page, Dr. Bud Pierce said Wednesday, "I stated that individuals could prevent themselves from being victims of domestic violence by achieving a good economic status. This is wrong, as domestic violence occurs in all economic groups. I apologize for this ignorant and potentially dangerous statement."
He says since the debate he has researched domestic violence and now believes there needs to be formal education to change the belief that violence is acceptable. "This teaching is best done in our families, schools, community organizations, athletic clubs, religious institutions and places of work." He also says better health care and more access to drug and alcohol diversion programs are needed. “My eyes have been opened and I’m now joining the battle against domestic violence.”
Dr. Pierce and Kate Brown debate again Thursday evening in Eugene.
BEND, OR -- A number of local cab drivers are expressing concerns over the possibility of Uber coming to Central Oregon. Ordinance changes are being discussed in Bend and Redmond, which could pave the way for the ride-sharing service to expand here.
Taxi driver Aaron Schmidt spoke at Wednesday night's Bend City Council meeting. He’s worried about increased liability and decreased safety. "The insurance requirements that we taxi companies have to deal with, there are loopholes with Uber where, if they don’t have a passenger in their vehicle and they get in an accident, they are not being covered properly. This is a big liability because their private insurance for their vehicle won’t cover them because they are using their vehicles for profit."
Matt Cave has driven a cab for five years in Bend. He told Councilors those driving for a company like Uber may not be subject to the same rigorous safety standards. "We are certified through the Bend Police Department to be taxi driver. We do a national background check, finger printing, to make sure we are who we say we are."
Councilor Nathan Boddie says he has looked into the issue and agrees it needs to be approached carefully to balance public safety with competition, while supporting local businesses. "It’s not that they don’t want the competition; it’s that they want the competition to be fair. What seems to be the larger pattern is they tend to get the local communities to rewrite the rules in their favor, then sort of deteriorate that fairness and equity."
BEND, OR -- Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton meet for their next Presidential debate on Sunday in St. Louis. A grassroots effort is underway to get public input on what questions will be asked of the candidates.
Kyle Frick, with Bend-based Mid Oregon Credit Union, is advocating for one of the options available at PresidentialOpenQuestions.com
, "Where they’re allowing people to vote on the questions; they’re going to consider up to 30 questions. One of the questions that’s out there: 'Is there an alternative to big banks on Wall Street?'" Frick tells KBND News, "In real terms, over the last few years, big banks have gotten bigger, credit unions have remained about the same size and market share, community banks have really been compressed. They’ve been merged, acquired, and we have data to show there are a lot less community banks out there, these days. From our perspective, that’s not an ideal situation to have the big banks controlling most of the financial affairs in the United States."
The website has logged more than 10,000 submitted questions, with more than two-million votes. Frick compares the effort to a town hall, "This is a virtual way of doing that, and getting some public input on these debates. Hopefully, they’ll be able to get around to some of these things, and answer some of the questions. And, they might be enough different that it gives you some additional insight into how the Presidential candidates are thinking."
BEND, OR -- The Deputy challenging Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says he and his supporters have faced retaliation because of his campaign, and he’s threatened to sue the Sheriff's Office.
At a recent debate
, Deputy Eric Kozowski said he was encouraged to run by coworkers looking for a change of leadership. However, Detective Ron Brown tells KBND News he sees a very different situation at the agency. "From what I’m hearing, it’s fairly one-sided. Our Association has obviously spoken loudly that we endorse Sheriff Shane Nelson; we’re happy with the changes he’s making, with the progress he’s making and the direction our office is going. There’s a lot of discontent with the negative campaigning going on being used to trash the reputation of our Sheriff’s office, which isn’t accurate."
Det. Brown is a past President of the Deschutes County Sheriff Employees Association and a current member. Brown says Kozowski spoke at an association meeting several months ago and was told then members wanted to keep Sheriff Nelson. "It was overwhelming that day. The reaction that he got and the comments he got was that people are happy with Shane Nelson. They’re tired of him bashing our agency, saying things that aren’t true." He adds, "Sheriff Nelson came and spoke at the meeting and asked for our endorsement. So, a motion was put out to address that and make a vote on it. As a group, we decided that the only fair way to do it would be to put a written ballot to every member of the association." Detective Brown outlines the results of the secret ballot: "There were 94 in favor of endorsing Shane Nelson, two endorsing Eric Kozowski, and 28 people stated that they didn’t feel it was the association’s business to be endorsing anybody." The association is comprised of about 150 non-command and civilian support staff. Kozowski is a voting member of the association; Sheriff Nelson is not.
"They want a new direction, but they’re getting that. They’ve had that with Shane Nelson," says Det. Brown. "The words I’ve been hearing are that people are happy with the direction that Sheriff Nelson is going with his leadership." Brown says the vote against Kozowski was not personal, but an expression that members don't feel he's qualified to lead the agency.
TERREBONNE, OR -- A Terrebonne man and his son were convicted last week on poaching-related charges in Jefferson County. Oregon State Police first received an anonymous tip of illegal hunting activity in the Metolius Wildlife Management Unit, near Terrebonne, in November 2014.
Investigators executed several search warrants and issued multiple citations to 43-year-old Justin Aplin, of Central Point, and his father, 65-year-old Jerry Aplin, of Terrebonne. After last week's three-day trial, Justin was convicted of the Unlawful Take of a Trophy Buck and Borrowing a Big Game Tag. His dad Jerry was convicted of Loaning a Big Game Tag and Aiding in a Wildlife Violation.
They were ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution to ODFW, hunting privileges were suspended for three years, and they were both placed on one year probation.
Jerry Aplin, of Terrebonne Justin Aplin, of Central Point
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Firefighters are gaining ground on a wildfire southeast of Prineville that started as a controlled burn in the Ochoco National Forest. Kassidy Kern, with the Forest Service, says the East Maury unit was supposed to be a 333-acre prescribed burn.
She tells KBND News winds suddenly switched directions, last Thursday, pushing flames outside containment lines. "This is a pretty rare situation. It does happen, because anyone who has been in this for a while knows you can’t always control the weather, you can’t always control the conditions. So, as much science goes into prescribed burning, there is a bit of an art, too. You kind of have to herd it in the ways that you’re dealing with all these different variables."
As of Tuesday, the East Maury Fire was nearly 40% contained and had burned more than 1500 acres; about 90 acres is private land. Kern says once the response shifted to wildfire supression, the District Ranger immediately contacted the neighboring landowner. "They explained exactly what happened – that we had a change in wind direction that was something that necessitated then to turn into a wildfire situation. ‘There is some on your private lands,’ to the landowner. And he said, ‘we want to make sure you’re in on the conversations about what we’re doing.’" She adds, "The positive side of that, I would argue is that, we were able to, in converting it to a wildfire, get aerial resources that we need to get really in lock step with the private landowners and ODF and the rural fire protection agency. So, everybody was on the same page, they knew where we were going with this, and it became a full suppression fire, immediately."
Prescribed burns scheduled for near Bend, this week, have been shelved due to unfavorable weather conditions.
Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Kern, or visit our Podcast Page.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are expected to approve, Wednesday, an update to the city’s Emergency Operations Plan. Deputy Fire Chief Bill Boos, acting Bend Emergency Manager, is pleased with the final draft.
Boos tells KBND News, "We participated in the Cascadia Rising
event in June; I wanted to make sure our emergency operations plan aligned with Deschutes County’s emergency operations plan, which aligns with the state of Oregon. And, our plan did align, which I was thrilled about. But, it handles all sorts of different things: Anywhere from a major fire, to floods, to severe weather, earthquake, drought, terrorism, public health. It kind of gives you a checklist of things that you might want to be thinking about when you have a major event that impacts the community, or the city of Bend."
He says it’s a playbook for those catastrophic events. "The big thing is just making sure that we’re all on the same page and we’re working together, because it’s going to take everybody. Let’s say, for example, that we have the tsunami off the Oregon coast, it’s going to have a major impact on Central Oregon. And, just making sure that everybody works well together, from the Health Department, to Roads, to police, fire, Red Cross. And that’s the beauty of this; we have a great working relationship with every department in Central Oregon."
According to Boos, cities typically look over their emergency plan every two years. But, because of staffing and department changes, he says Bend’s plan was last revised eight years ago.
BEND, OR -- It was a packed Deschutes Brewery Tap Room for the latest debate between Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson and challenger Deputy Eric Kozowski.
Tuesday night's Bend Chamber forum was fiery at times; both candidates admitted the campaign has created tensions within the agency. Sheriff Nelson told the crowd, "Look, I have no doubt that internal Sheriffs races can cause some conflict. The one thing that gives me a little bit of hope is the fact that the people I visit with say morale has been increasing exponentially since we've been dealing with and addressing personnel issues; especially personnel issues at high levels."
Dep. Kozowski responded, "One of the reasons I ran for office was because I had coworkers encourage me to do so. I have considerable support within the office; many people are afraid to voice that support publicly, because of concerns of retaliation. In fact, there's a Department of Justice investigation active in that regard. And, as was mentioned earlier, there's been significant retaliation against me, personally." Kozowski has threatened, through his attorney, to sue the Sheriff's Office if harassment continues.
Sheriff Nelson says he takes all allegations seriously and is looking into the claims. "If that is going on, we want to get to the bottom of it. That's why I asked an outside agency - I called the Department of Justice - to come in and do this investigation, because it won't be tolerated. We'll find out what the truth is, and we'll handle it appropriately."
Read more about the candidates' last public debate.
Despite the nature of the race, Sheriff Nelson says his office will continue the ensure the public's safety and both men say they will move forward after the election. Deputy Kozowski said at the forum, "There's definitely tension inside the office. It's unfortunate these things have happened. I have tried to do everything I can to minimize that tension. I come to work, I do the job to the best of my ability. Unfortunately, people are people, and everybody has their own opinions."
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police, Public Works and the Redmond School District launched an effort Monday to get drivers to slow down, especially in school zones. Sgt. Curtis Chambers says grant money helped Redmond PD purchase three new lidars to help crack down on speeders. The units are similar to a radar gun, but uses light from a laser. And, he tells KBND News the department joined with Public Works to get a covert device that mounts on power or light poles to help identify trouble spots. "This is not a photo radar speed enforcement tool like some larger cities, like Portland and Salem, may have. This is simply data collection so we can better tailor our response to a problem with the limited resources we have."
According to Sgt. Chambers, a pedestrian hit by a vehicle going 20 MPH has a 90% chance of survival. "At 30 mph, so just 10 mph above the school zone speed limit, a pedestrian only has a 50/50 chance of surviving those injuries. And, if we’re talking 40 mph, a pedestrian only has a 10% chance of surviving those injuries. And, since we’re talking school zones, we’re talking kids." He adds, "That’s the focus of the 'Slow Down Redmond' campaign and our partnership with the Redmond School District: it only takes one inattentive driver, one driver going much faster than they should in a school zone, that may have some very unfortunate consequences for all involved if there were a vehicle vs. pedestrian crash in a school zone."
The campaign is in response to results from a recent community survey. "The majority of the open-ended responses that the city received dealt with speeding vehicles in school zones and neighborhoods," says Sgt. Chambers. “Slow Down Redmond” yard signs are available for free at Redmond elementary schools, City Hall and the police department.
BEND, OR -- A new report shows the questions many in Bend are asking about a potential review of the city’s charter. Bend 2030, the Bend Chamber and City Club of Central Oregon are looking at how the Mayor is chosen, how much Councilors are paid and whether they should be elected by region.
Erin Foote-Morgan, with Bend 2030, says many at a September 20 forum
discussed who has the most influence on city policy. "It’s absolutely overwhelming that folks who live on the west side are serving on these city committees and Council, and shaping the policy of the community. But, there’s actually more registered voters living on the east side of Third Street. There’s a lot of really important demographic changes from east to west, in Bend: different income levels, different ways that folks vote on policies."
According to the report, attendees were also surprised to learn Bend is the largest city in Oregon without an elected Mayor. And, some have questioned whether the $200 monthly stipend provided to City Councilors is enough, given the demands of the job. "But, it turns out our Councilors make an average amount of money, across the state. We were also surprised to hear that some of these other cities compensate Councilors with healthcare benefits instead of cash, as one solution for making the job a little bit more palatable."
Foote Morgan says last month’s forum was just the beginning of the discussion. "First one was about education and getting questions on the table. The second is about weighing in on the right way to answer these questions as a community. After that, we’ll be taking the results of both of these forums to City Council in January." That second forum is November first at Central Oregon Collective on NE 27th Street, from 5 - 7 p.m.
REDMOND, OR -- Vern Patrick Elementary is getting more than $130,000 in grants.
The Redmond School District announced Monday a nearly $119,884 award from the Central Oregon Health Council, as part of that organization’s Regional Health Improvement Plan; The Pacific Power foundation is giving a thousand dollars to support low-cost after-school programming for low-income families; and, an anonymous donor is providing $10,000 for Vern Patrick’s Community School Program, which provides after school academic and enrichment opportunities.
BEND, OR -- Gun control was a central issue discussed by current and potential state lawmakers at a debate hosted by the League of Women Voters. The Monday night forum brought together three current Legislators for House District 53 and 54, and State Senate, and their three challengers.
State Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) is a strong advocate for Second Amendment rights. But, he says lawmakers can do more. "We need to find common ground on this issue, while respecting the rights of law abiding citizens and gun owners, but also to reduce criminal and accidental gun deaths." His Democratic challenger, Gena Goodman-Campbell, feels Buehler hasn't done enough in the legislature to reduce gun violence. "I have personal experience with the issue of gun violence. I think there is common ground; I think the vast majority of Americans can agree on the simple step of background checks before moving forward with a gun sale. And, I think that the vast majority of Americans can probably also agree that there's no reason for somebody to have a magazine with a high capacity of bullets." She supports closing the so-called "Charleston loophole" in Oregon, which would extend the time allowed for a background check. Buehler says he's seen no evidence that would reduce gun violence.
Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) is running for his eighth term. On gun control, he says he had hoped the legislature would have done more after last year's shooting at Umpqua Community College. "I was disappointed that the Legislature did not come out in any way to really protect our schools; and this was right after the Rogue Valley Community College [sic]. And, we didn't really address or come up with any solutions or any actions to take to prevent what happened in our backyard, in Oregon." His challenger, Democrat Michael Graham, is a retired paralegal. He also feels lawmakers need to do more. "In terms of background checks, there must be a way to prevent guns from ending up in the hands of people who are deranged or people who just have bad intentions." Whisnant doesn't think those on the "no fly list" should be allowed to own a gun, while Graham feels that could be unconstitutional.
For Bend's Senate seat, Tim Knopp (R-Bend) faced challenger Democrat Greg Delgado. Knopp feels there's not a lot the legislature can do. "The truth is, those who want to do evil are going to find a way to get the device that they want, whether that's a gun, a bomb, or a knife, or what have you, to do harm to people. And so, it's really important that our public safety is ever alert." Delgado, a former community activist, feels lawmakers can do more. "One in five people in Central Oregon own a gun. So, this is something that - It's our neighborhood, it's our community, who we are. Legislation for background checks is very important. The larger solution is we're not going to get rid of guns, and we can't live in fear of guns. But, we have to be able to live in comfortable and safe communities; and that's where the work needs to be done." Knopp served three terms in the State House, from 1999-2005, prior to being elected to the State Senate four years ago.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Firefighters worked through the weekend to strengthen containment lines around a wildfire near Elkhorn campground in the Maury Mountains. The 1700-acre fire began as a prescribed burn to improve range and forest health within a 333-acre unit of the Ochoco National Forest. Unexpected wind pushed the fire across containment lines on Thursday, creating the wildfire. A temporary closure is in effect for hunters and other visitors in the area.
Deschutes National Forest crews expect to ignite three prescribed burns in the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District, south of Bend, Tuesday and Wednesday. This week's projects include 175-acres on the west side of Wake Butte and two smaller units near Fall River Campgrounds. Other burns are slated for West Bend, near La Pine State Park and near Sunriver. All burns are weather permitting.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilor, and candidate for Mayor, Anne Graham may have violated state ethics laws when she tried to stop construction of a house in her neighborhood. Graham contacted city staff, beginning in February 2015, complaining a partially-built home was too similar to her own.
Correspondence began just weeks after Graham was sworn into office. She says she wasn’t told during new councilor orientation that she wasn’t supposed to interact directly with staff. Graham tells KBND News, "It was not covered to the best of my knowledge. The training consisted of being given a book of documents that have been created to guide new Councilors. To the best of my knowledge – I haven’t gone back and relooked at the book – there was nothing in there that said you must proceed through the City Manager to contact staff." City Manager Keith Witcosky says Councilors are given a book, but then are verbally instructed to contact him first. "In all the orientation sessions, Council members know that I am their point of contact. That’s something that the Mayor and the city attorney, particularly, make very clear; as do I." He adds, "There is a very large volume of materials that we send with them, as well, and then we kind of walk them through that in the orientation sessions."
KBND News has obtained numerous emails Graham sent to city planners in 2015 regarding the home. Over several months, she sent pictures directly to the head of Community Development, showing her home compared to the one under construction. Graham says, "I would presume that’s the route any private citizen would take to register a complaint or send in additional information." In one email, dated February 25, 2015, Graham tells then-Community Development Director Heather Richards, "I have reached out to your staff twice now for an update but still have not received one." She goes on to say, "I believe this copy home will have a negative impact on the value of my home when I come to sell it some day."
According to Oregon ethics law, it's a conflict of interest for a public official to participate in "official action which could or would result in a financial benefit or detriment to the public official, a relative of the public official or a business with which either is associated." Witcosky says Councilors and the Mayor are instructed to go through the City Manager for various reasons, including to "avoid situations where Council members can get favors done" and to "protect staff from situations which effect the integrity of their work."
Recently, Graham asked staff to see plans for another home. Permits were later denied to the builder, although Graham says she did not talk with staff while she was there. Mayor George Endicott says anyone can look at building plans. But, he believes Councilors are “super citizens.” He tells KBND News, "We have influence that others don’t. If you walked in to look at the plans and no one knew who you were, they’d show them to you, etc., and you’d leave; no harm, no foul. If a Councilor goes in and looks, then suddenly they’re questioning why."