Shortly after midnight a car driven by 27-year-old Michael Kutschara sheared off a power pole on Highway 20 near Dayton Road. A sheriff's deputy had observed the black Dodge Challenger earlier, speeding down the highway at over 100 miles an hour. Although the deputy attempted to stop the vehicle the driver sped away. The deputy then came upon the car which had crashed into the power pole and had caught fire. The driver made it out under his own power and was taken to St. Charles where he was cited and released. No one else was in the car. Kutschara was arrested for DUII, Reckless Driving and other charges. Power was out in the Tumalo area for several hours before it was restored around 5 this morning.
(Bend, OR) -- Oregon State Police say an eleven-year-old boy was killed in a crash on a road leading from Bend to Mount Bachelor. Troopers tell "The Oregonian" the boy's father was driving near the ski resort's Sunrise Lodge yesterday morning when he lost control of his SUV and veered into oncoming traffic. The boy's 39-year-old father was seriously injured and the man's 16-year-old son suffered moderate injuries. Police say the driver who collided with the SUV suffered minor injuries.
MADRAS, OR -- A woman was killed in a Tuesday evening crash, in northeast Madras. Police were dispatched to Louks Road near Lakeside Drive, just before 8:45 p.m.
Investigators believe the 26-year-old Madras woman was westbound when she lost control and veered off the road. Melissa Wallace was pronounced dead at the scene.
Alcohol and speed are believed to have been contributing factors to the crash.
REDMOND, OR -- With the completion of Redmond’s new City Hall, officials have set their sights on developing the block between it and Centennial Park.
Project Manager Troy Rayburn says the public is already getting involved with the design process. He tells KBND News the goal is to get as much feedback as possible, to make sure the Centennial Park extension includes amenities citizens want. "Some of those amenities include a historical walking path. For example, maybe you walk out the doors of the new city hall, go across the street to the park extension and the first historical marker reads: City of Redmond founded 1910. Maybe you walk an additional 25’ and a historical marker indicates something that took place in the 1920s. And that would go all the way through Centennial Park." He adds, "A lot of people seem to be favoring more of an open space, as opposed to repeating amenities that you might find in a park that’s six or eight blocks down the road. For example, we would not want to replicate Hope Park, or the playground associated with the Hope Playground here at this site. We probably would not want to replicate another large water feature." Overall, he says the goal is to offer pedestrian connectivity between City Hall and the downtown core.
A task force is hosting a series of meetings and will soon mail out a survey to help gather more ideas. Rayburn says, "The task force will collect the information, filter through the information, make some recommendations to DURAC. DURAC is our Downtown Urban Renewal Advisory Committee. And then, DURAC will forward those recommendations to the Urban Renewal Board of Directors, which is City Council." Click HERE to read more about the project.
Several groups will present their suggestions at a public meeting Wednesday afternoon. It begins at 4:30 at City Hall. Other public open house-style meetings are scheduled for May and August. City Council could make a final decision on the design as early as fall. And, Rayburn says work could begin as soon as 2018.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s unemployment rate has hit its lowest point since records began 27 years ago. The jobless rate fell to 4% in February; the .6% drop from January is also tied with the largest monthly decline since 1990.
Regional economist Damon Runberg says the Deschutes County rate is now in line with the 4% statewide average. "We tend to see Central Oregon numbers quite a bit above the statewide the average. So, to see Deschutes County catch up to the state, and have one of the lowest rates in the state right now, is pretty impressive. It really says something about how fast our job growth has been sustained over the last couple of years." He tells KBND News, "The metropolitan areas in the state - so we’re talking places like Portland, Eugene, Salem, Bend, etc. - There’s been just exceptionally fast job growth and those big, populated areas are driving the statewide numbers. So, we’re not seeing nearly as positive of figures in rural Oregon, today. But, like I said – in the Portland metro area, right now, for instance, the unemployment rate is 3.5%."
While rural areas aren't growing as fast, Runberg says Crook and Jefferson counties also saw improvements, "Our rural communities also saw significant drops in our unemployment rate, too. Now, they’re not at historically low levels, like we are in Deschutes County, they’re well below their long-term average that we typically see for these rural communities but still really impressive drops. The rates are 6.2% in Crook County and 5.6% in Jefferson County."
Deschutes County added nearly 800 jobs in February; Jefferson County added 50 jobs. Crook County saw no significant hiring, which Runberg says means those residents likely found work in Deschutes County. He says it’s too early to know whether the rapid job growth in the region is a trend. "We are a very, very seasonally influenced economy in Central Oregon. So, some of the monthly figures can get a little sideways if one of those layoff events or hiring events that we typically see happens a little earlier or later in the year. I would try to shy away from leaning too heavy into the one-month data in saying ‘it’s a huge trend that we should pay attention to.’ I think if we continue to see this in the short run, and the next two to three months, then it will be particularly impressive if we maintain these levels." And he notes that a rate much lower than 4% can lead to higher costs of goods and services to compensate for higher wages paid in such a tight labor market.
PROVO, UT -- A 19-year-old Bend man faces charges in Utah, after he allegedly brought about $25,000 worth of drugs to festival near Provo. Sean Robert McDonald was arrested Sunday, at the Colors Festival in Spanish Fork. He was traveling with a 17-year-old male and two females ages 16 and 17.
A Utah County deputy saw a car parked on the sidewalk and suspected the group was smoking marijuana. A search of their vehicle turned up more than 700 ecstasy pills, eight vials of LSD, cocaine, pot, and other drugs. The Gephardt daily reports the parents of the girls thought their daughters were at a Colors Festival in Portland. One mother drove to Utah and brought all three younger teens back home.
McDonald was booked on suspicion of possession of LSD, cocaine, dabs, marijuana, Xanax and ecstasy, with intent to distribute; child endangerment, DUI, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on the sidewalk.
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire and Rescue put five rookies through their paces, Tuesday, with swift water rescue training at the First Street Rapids. Engineer Will Akins says the training provides opportunities to learn about key factors in river-related emergency calls. "We have certain access points for the river. So, being able to identify, once we have somebody in trouble in the water: what’s their location? Are they stuck on a rock, or are they in the river floating down. So, what’s going to be our best access; how many victims we have and what the problem is."
Akins tells KBND News the new recruits get hands-on experience, "Something as basic as having a throw-bag, where they have a rope inside of a bag and they simply throw that rope out at them as they float down the river and they can grab onto it and they can pull them to the shore; all the way up to more complex rope systems that allow us to attach our rafts to a rope system and we can send that raft to and from the shoreline."
He says water-related emergencies increase as the weather warms, "They can be somewhat frequent in the summertime. The warmer the days get, the more chance there is of us receiving a call." He adds, "We can get a couple in a day, and other times we’ll get one every week or so. And, even with those, sometimes they can self-resolve. They’re resolved while we’re responding to the incident."
On Monday, they worked on knott-tying, rappelling and high-angle rescues.
TERREBONNE, OR -- Bungee Jumping could soon return to Peter Skene Ogden State Park, north of Terrebonne. Chris Havel, with the State Parks and Rec Department, says a recent pilot project was so successful that the agency is looking to make a long-term deal to allow people to jump from a decommissioned highway bridge hundreds of feet above the Crooked River.
Havel tells KBND News the idea originally came from a local company. " They came to us saying ‘hey, this is a really popular spot. People want to bungee jump off of it. In fact, when you aren’t looking, they probably are bungee jumping off of it. Our chief concern was there’s a historic bridge here, there’s a park being used by other people. If we’re going to do it, if there’s demand for it, we want to make sure it’s done right." He adds, "They innovated a bit and brought back equipment that allowed people to experience bungee jumping there at the bridge without attaching anything to it. They developed a truck, specifically to allow people to jump off."
A pilot project took place at the park in 2015 and 2016, to evaluate the impact of such an operation. "We checked with visitors to the park, both when the bungee was operating and when it wasn’t, just to see if it was changing the park in some remarkable way. And, we found that it really wasn’t disruptive; and, in fact, people sort of liked seeing the bungee in operation." The impacts on area wildlife, including nearby nesting raptors, need more evaluation.
State Parks and Rec will start accepting bids for a long-term operation, this week. "Their proposal has to show us how they’re going to protect the park and work with us to change the operation, if it needs to, in order to protect wildlife. And, it includes a percentage of their gross back to the state. And, that’s usually in the area of 5%." The initial contract would likely be for two years, with renewal options to extend to 10 years.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson has made a friendly wager with North Carolina’s Secretary of State, ahead of Saturday’s NCAA Final Four game between the Ducks and Tar Heels.
"The Ducks are on a roll and have what it takes to go all the way," Richardson said in a statement. "The Tar Heels may be a tough team, but we've got Coach Altman, the skill, dedication and teamwork of our players, and our secret weapon - the Ducks uniform. I'm confident we will pull out another 'W' in Arizona. This Saturday, all of Oregon needs to channel the Ducks' mantra - 'Sometimes you, sometimes me. ALWAYS US' -- and cheer our Ducks on to victory."
If Oregon loses - which Richardson calls "unlikely" - he will send Secretary Elaine Marshall a case of Crater Lake Soda, a box of Saint Cupcake cupcakes, and assorted cheeses from Rogue and Tillamook creameries. Marshall has wagered a bottle of Covington Gourmet Vodka and a pot of North Carolina peanuts.
Loser also must wear the jersey of the winning team for a full workday.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney filed charges Monday against the man allegedly responsible for the Friday standoff that led to the evacuation of a Redmond school. Steven Arce was formally charged with assault, unlawful use of a weapon and menacing constituting domestic violence.
Redmond Standoff Leads To Middle School Evacuation, Arrest.
According to D.A. John Hummel, a woman called 911 and reported her boyfriend hit her in the head with a gun, near Obsidian Middle School. When police arrived, she was found bleeding with other visible injuries. Medics took her to the hospital.
Arce was taken into custody by the SWAT team after locking himself in his house across the street from the school, and a several-hours-long standoff with police. During a search of the home, police found a gun matching the description of the one used in the assault.
Hummel said issued a statement Monday, saying: "Domestic violence is a persistent problem in our community so we need to do more to help women feel and be safe. To break the cycle of violence we need to continue and enhance our coordinated work in the areas of prevention, intervention and support."
The case will be presented to the Grand Jury, later this week. Arce is due back in court Monday, April third.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Three Prineville teens suffered minor injuries in a Monday morning crash. According to the Crook County Sheriff’s Office, 19-year-old Tylar Trimnell was westbound on O’Neil Highway when he lost control on a curve, near Northwest Peacock Walk, at about 9 a.m.
The car slid off the road into the soft shoulder, causing it to rollover. Investigators say it rolled about 300' before coming to a rest along the highway. He and his two passengers were taken to St. Charles Prineville.
Witnesses say the car was traveling at high speeds prior to the crash. Trimnell was cited for reckless driving and recklessly endangering another.
SALEM, OR -- A demonstration in support of President Donald Trump at the Oregon Capitol had to be protected by State Police, Saturday, when opponents held a counter demonstration. Trump supporters say they don't understand the criticism lobbied by other groups, who claim they're "fascist" and "racist."
Some members of the counter-protest claimed to be anarchists. They burned an American flag near the WWII Memorial in Salem. When they began to threaten Trump supporters, OSP formed a protective line to keep them separated.
A 31-year-old Terrebonne man was arrested for spraying a State Trooper with pepper spray. Matthew Curtis Heagy was detained and found to be carrying a concealed gun. OSP says he never publicly displayed the weapon, however Heagy is a convicted felon. He's charged with carrying a concealed weapon and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
BEND, OR -- A former Sunriver Fire Department employee was convicted Friday for 23 counts of misdemeanor computer crime. According to the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office, Jason Arnold illegally hacked into the Fire Chief’s confidential email account to access documents related to labor relation matters. Arnold is the former President of the firefighters’ labor association.
Arnold was acquitted of a conspiracy charge and the jury was hung on the charge of official misconduct. "Criminal acts committed by public employees will not be tolerated in Deschutes County," D.A. John Hummel said in a statement, following the verdict. "We expect our public employees to work hard for taxpayers who pay their salary and to comport themselves with the highest ethical standards. If they fail to do so they will be held accountable." Hummel calls Arnold’s actions an anomaly within the public sector. "The officers involved in the top notch investigation led by the Sunriver Police Department, with the assistance of the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and the Bend Police Department, are an accurate example of the exemplary public sector employees that well serve Deschutes County residents."
Arnold is due to be sentenced on Tuesday.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon is one of the fastest growing regions in the country, and all those new people bring big-city problems. Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson is renewing efforts to clean up eyesores around the area. Last week, he announced plans to launch an online portal for reporting graffiti and dump sites.
Craig Fancher, General Manager for Oregon Wholesale Hardware, says his Bend building is a magnet for taggers. "Once the trains park behind the building, you can’t see that anymore; the street’s not visible, they can just go for it." He tells KBND News, "We get it quite often in this town, it seems like. And, it’s worse here, lately." Fancher says the wall along the railroad tracks is a chronic trouble spot. "Last spring/summer, we had it three times and so far this year, just this one time. You get calls from community people asking ‘what’s going on with your building?’"
A Deschutes County inmate work crew painted over graffiti on the back of his building, Friday. The business provides the paint and inmates provide the labor. Nathan Veltrie spent his last day as an inmate cleaning up the mess At Oregon Whole Sale Hardware. "I’ve been those kids that have actually done that; I’ve changed my life around. Honestly for me, it’s about paying my debt to society where it belongs instead of sitting behind bars and doing nothing." He tells KBND News he spent quite a bit of his sentence on a work crew, "We clean up the parks/rec, we’ve cleaned up at the graveyard, we’ve done graffiti removal, we actually help at the ranch for the abused and neglected animals. We do all kinds of work for the community, honestly."
Inmates volunteer for the program, which can result in a reduced sentence. Veltrie was arrested in January for Driving While Suspended. His sentence went from 90- to 60-days, due to his community service work. But he says it's about more than just reducing his time. "We clean up the parks/rec, we’ve cleaned up at the graveyard, we’ve done graffiti removal, we actually help at the ranch for the abused and neglected animals. We do all kinds of work for the community, honestly." He adds, "Last week we went to a place where I take my kids a lot that was actually tagged up by graffiti, so I got a sense of pride by cleaning up stuff that my kids go and play at. And, it’s a sad thing that these kids, that don’t realize that they’re actually affecting smaller kids, are going out and tagging this stuff." Veltrie was released Saturday.
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says they photograph the graffiti prior to painting over it, so it can be added to a database and investigated in an effort to track down the taggers.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man is accused of assault and other charges, following an incident that put Obsidian Middle School on alert and shut down roads in the area, Friday afternoon. Witnesses say the man hit a woman in the head with a gun and may have shot out the tires of a car, near 15th and Obsidian Avenue.
Redmond Police Lt. Curtis Chambers tells KBND News the suspect, identified as 29-year-old Steven Arce, locked himself in his house, across the street from the school. "Due to the potential of a firearm involved, Obsidian Middle School was placed on a 'lockout,' and then we made the decision with Redmond School District officials to evacuate Obsidian Middle School to MA Lynch Elementary as a precautionary measure, to insure the safe pickup and bus pickup of children, as this incident moved on towards school release time." Lynch Elementary did not have school, Friday.
Deschutes County Sheriff's Office personnel responded to the area to assist, as well as officers from Bend Police and Oregon State Police. Sheriff Shane Nelson says, "The suspect had barricaded himself inside a residence that was near the school. My son goes to Obsidian Middle School and says the School Resource Officer Paul did a wonderful job going around and locking the doors, and having an active presence inside the school." He adds, "Our deputies also responded to the call to assist, and aided parents in picking up their Obsidian Middle School students, as well as taking some of the students home that would normally walk home, due to the safety threat, there."
Streets were closed around the house for several hours while the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT) moved into place. Lt. Chambers says, "Negotiators were able to contact Mr. Arce and he agreed to come out and surrender himself to law enforcement where he was taken into custody without injury to himself or law enforcement. No shots were fired by law enforcement during this incident."
Arce is charged with Second Degree Assault, Coercion, Menacing and Unlawful Use of a Weapon. He's due in court, Monday afternoon.
BEND, OR -- While many kids will spend next week on the couch, a group of Summit High students plan to roll up their sleeves for a little Spring Break manual labor.
Robin Cooper Engle, with Bend Area Habitat for Humanity, says kids will help on two home construction projects. "We have a range of kids from freshmen to seniors, so 14 -18. We have to be careful what they can do, so we will have them painting, working on landscaping, some projects at the ReStore – which is a variety of things; and we can have younger kids at the ReStore. We try to look at the age of the kids and what kinds of projects we can have them do. We’ll keep them busy for about four hours each day."
Engle tells KBND News Bend Habitat has partnered with Summit for several years, "We were doing three days during their Spring Break and now we’ve cut them back to two days, so they do have some down time. But, heck yeah, we’re going to put them to work; we’ve got stuff to do!" She adds, "It’s definitely been meaningful to them; they get to interact with families sometimes, and our staff. I think kids need to know that they can make a difference, whatever age they are. They can make an impact that’s pretty large and really sends a message to the community." She says many of the kids request to come back each year.
To hear our full conversation with Robin Cooper Engle, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.
BEND, OR -- Law enforcement continue to search for a convicted Level III sex offender on post-prison supervision who went missing earlier this week. It’s the second time in the past year that Justin Lampke has disappeared. Tanner Wark, Deputy Director of Deschutes County Parole and Probation, says it's possible Lampke has been gone longer than a couple of days. They discovered his disappearance Wednesday night. "Officers do home visits unannounced, also we work with community partners who report. Based on notifying, we received information from a community member that it didn’t look like he came home, so we began investigating immediately."
He tells KBND News the agency is limited on what it can do to stop people from repeatedly ducking supervision. "They’ve already done their initial sentence, so they have a specified amount of time that they’re supervised in the community. And, with Mr. Lampke, based on his criminal history, he has a lifetime supervision. Every time he violates we put him in jail. He may do time in jail, and he’s always going to be getting out." Wark says “lifetime supervision” is rare.
Last April, Lampke was picked up in Seattle after cutting off an ankle monitor
and spending several days on the run. He spent about six months in jail for that violation, according to Wark. He says Lampke had been "doing better" and was no longer required to wear an ankle monitor. But, he says he's likely to face a similar punishment. "Essentially, when he gets picked up, we’ll take him to jail and he’ll get a hearing. Then, he’ll do a specified amount of time in jail – I can’t speak to that because I don’t know what that will be, based on the nature of the circumstances when he does get picked up." He adds, "I mean he’s on supervision for life, so this is going to be that cyclic type of behavior," Says Wark. "Hopefully, at one point he’ll change his ways."
Wark says it’s likely Lampke is again headed for a larger city where he can blend in. He is 43-years-old, 5'7", about 160 pounds, with "longish" brown hair, although he may have tried to alter his appearance. Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call 911.
SALEM, OR -- A bipartisan proposal to crackdown on illegal poaching in Oregon received its first public hearing, Thursday. The House Agriculture and natural resources committee discussed the bill drafted by House Republican Leader Mike Mclane (R-Powell Butte).
The bill would provide free hunting tags to those who report a violation of a wildlife law, if that information leads to successful prosecution. Under the bill, the free tag would be good for the year immediately following conviction of a poacher. Oregon's Department of Fish and Wildlife would run the program.
Photo Credit: Oregon State Police, 2015
BEND, OR -- Three people were arrested on drug-related charges, this week, following a month-long investigation by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team.
Police arrested 36-year-old Jason Rydell Johnson (pictured) during a traffic stop just after 5 p.m., Wednesday. About an hour later, they executed a search warrant at the northeast Bend home he had just left. At that NE Moonglow Court house, detectives arrested 56-year-old Judith Flanders, and seized meth, cash, drug records and other evidence. During the search, 52-year-old Preston McNeely showed up at the house, with more than two ounces of meth. He was also arrested without incident.
Flanders and McNeely are charged with Delivery, Possession and Manufacture of Meth; Johnson is charged with Meth Delivery and Possession.
MADRAS, OR -- The Jefferson County 509-J School Board is considering a big change to the calendar. While several area districts use early release on Wednesdays for teacher training, Jefferson County Superintendent Rick Molitor says the board is looking at “Late Start Mondays.” He tells KBND News, "This year, we have 6 professional development full days, that students don’t attend school but the teachers have. What we’re proposing is to turn those back to student learning days and when the students are in school on Mondays, that would be a late start day – a 90-minute late start." It would increase the number of days kids are in school from 162 to 168.
Molitor says starting later on most Mondays would allow for more consistent professional development time for teachers, and address some chronic absence and tardy issues. "Mondays typically are, like most people getting to work, it’s pretty rough. It almost gives students and families a little bit more time after the weekend to get prepped for the week. And then, instead of starting at like 8 a.m., students will be starting at 9:30 a.m." He's heard from a number of parents who say starting later one day a week is less disruptive than sending kids home early.
The district is talking with the Boys and Girls Club in Warm Springs and Jefferson County Kids Club to address concerns from working families. "If this calendar goes through, it’ll be we sit down and talk with those organizations," says Molitor. "Out at Warm Springs, the K-8 Academy, they’ve been doing early morning cultural and heritage opportunities, so that’s something that we might continue and be able to offer students and parents to be able to drop them off at a time that’s helpful for the working family."
The board will continue to accept comments on the proposal until its April 10 meeting, when they’re expected to make a final decision. Molitor adds, "We know it does impact families and we’re asking that parents acknowledge and understand the reason that we’re asking for it. It’s definitely not a free time. That 90 minutes, that time will be used to really impact the quality of instruction that is happening."
BEND, OR -- Two Bend teenagers are accused of scamming multiple people over the past year. According to Bend Police, the 17-year-old boys purchased artificial gold bars online, and then sold them as the real thing to at least six adults.
They allegedly found their victims through Craig's List and set up meetings, eventually receiving $50,000 in cash and other goods for the fake gold. Investigators say the suspects were sophisticated; using multiple ways to conceal their identity and scheme. They were arrested Tuesday and police recovered some of the money. The teens are charged with Theft by Deception, Felony Computer Crimes, Money Laundering and other crimes.
Anyone who purchased Royal Canadian Mint bars or Perth Mint bars from someone other than a reputable dealer between July 2016 and March 21, 2017 should contact Bend Police at 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man was arrested following a robbery at the Albertson's on NE Third Street, thanks in part to an observant witness. Police responded to the store at about 6:45 p.m., Wednesday, after the suspect allegedly threatened a cashier and demanded money. He left on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.
A citizen saw what happened and followed the man east on NE Revere, then south on Fifth Street. Officers searched the area and contacted 45-year-old Marcus Thornsberry at NE Fifth and Quimby. He matched the suspect description and they say seized cash thought to be related to the robbery. He’s charged with robbery and theft.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes and Crook counties rank among the fastest growing areas in the nation, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Crook County’s population grew by 4.26% - to 22,570 - between July 2015 and July 2016; it was the 8th fastest growing county
, by percent change, with a population of 10,000 or more. San Juan County, Utah is the fastest growing county in the country.
The population of the Bend-Redmond metro area (defined as all of Deschutes County) rose by 3.6% during that same time, growing from 174,942 to 181,307; ranking it third in the nation
. The fastest growing metro area was The Villages, Florida.
[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]
BEND, OR -- Local law enforcement agencies are on the lookout for a Level III sex offender on post-prison supervision who failed to return home, Wednesday night. Justin Lampke is on lifetime supervision for Sex Abuse convictions.
He’s 43-years-old, 5’7” and 160 pounds with “longish” brown hair. Lampke was last seen wearing dark sweat pants, a blue polo-type shirt and jacket. Anyone with information is encouraged to call 911.
UPDATE: Officials released updated photos that they say more accurately reflects what Lampke looks like, today:
BEND, OR -- A grand jury indicted A Bend daycare provider, Tuesday. January Neatherlin is charged with more than a hundred counts relating to her business. The 31-year-old woman is accused of leaving kids alone, on various occasions, so she could visit a gym and tanning salon; the children were between 6-months and 4-years-old.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said in a statement, "Nothing is more precious than the safety and security of our children. If the allegations against Ms. Neatherlin are proven in court, I will seek the maximum penalty authorized by law." He says this is an ongoing investigation and those with information about Neatherlin's business should contact Bend Police at 541-693-6911. She has also gone by the names January Livsey and January Brooks.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors will tackle the city's budget in May. They'll hold a strategy session Wednesday to help formulate priorities for those budget talks.
Councilors will hear from different department directors and Mayor Pro Tem Sally Russell says they face tough choices. "We're catching up with ourselves for all the work the city wasn't able to do during the recession, when it made significant cuts throughout the city of Bend. And, the overall income for the city of Bend, in terms of supporting those services and those needs, hasn't increased at a rate that has been able to keep up with either the expectations or the needs of the city. So, these are all really, really had decisions." She tells KBND News, "We will continue to look for ways to go in with a scalpel, find where we can move our discretionary funds from one area to another, without seriously upsetting or disturbing or diminishing critical services for the city of Bend. It's a balancing act."
Bend City Manager Eric King outlines budget goals.
Councilor Justin Livingston says they'll get a broad overview of their options, "We're going to be looking at more enterprise-type funds; so, we'll be looking at utilities, transportation CIPs, which are more SDCs but less discretionary-type funds; in addition to some growth plans and then also internal services, which is the overhead of the city." He says they'll also look at road projects that have been in the works for a while, like Murphy Road and Empire. He believes the city will have $15-$20 million to spend on some of those projects. Livingston says, "We might give some direction of things that we want to see. But, this is more setting the stage for the Budget Committee meetings that will occur in May."
Wednesday's strategy session takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bend Municipal Court on 15th Street.
SALEM, OR -- More Oregonians found work in February, dropping the number of unemployed to 82,000 and sinking the state jobless rate to a new historic low. "Oregon’s unemployment rate fell to 4% - that’s 4%, even. That’s down from 4.3% the month before," says state employment economist Nick Beleiciks. "February’s rate of 4% is the lowest on record, going back to 1976."
Of the 8,200 non-farm positions added, 4,400 were in Government. Healthcare and Social Assistance shot up by 2,400, while manufacturing and construction also continued strong gains.
Beleiciks says the state's current rate is significantly lower than the 4.7% national rate, "Oregon has been adding jobs at a faster rate than the nation since 2013." Governor Kate Brown issued a statement applauding the numbers, but said the Republican proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will erase those gains, costing 23,000 healthcare jobs.
BEND, OR -- While state and federal lawmakers continue to debate how to fund infrastructure improvements, the Oregon Department of Transportation is highlighting just how road maintenance impacts everyone. The agency recently released a report showing the need for increased investment in the state’s roads and bridges.
"ODOT manages 8,000 miles of road - over 1900 miles in Central Oregon, alone," says ODOT's Abbey Driscoll. She tells KBND News 88% of state highways are currently ranked in fair or better condition, "But, without sufficient funding, 35% of those will be in poor condition in the next 10 years." Driscoll says poor pavement conditions not only lead to greater wear and tear on vehicles, it impacts the economy because one in five jobs in the state is transportation-related. "Oregon is largely trade dependent; we rely on our farms and our forests and moving those goods and services efficiently. So, it’s really important to keep roads and bridges maintained. And obviously, rough road pavement leads to greater wear and tear on vehicles, which is money out of our pockets to maintain our cars." The report also shows more than half of the state’s bridges were built before 1970 and many should be replaced; current funding levels only cover rebuilding three each year.
Driscoll says there are a few improvement projects slated for the next year, throughout the Central Oregon region, "Highway 20, between Sisters and Tumalo, we have a large repaving project. That area of road is really badly rutted, as I’m sure most drivers know; also, near Madras. And then, next year, south of Sunriver on US 97, we have a really large paving project; then, additional work on 97 and US 20 east of Bend and west of Sisters." To keep pavement in good condition, statewide, ODOT estimates it would need to pave about 400 miles annually, at a cost of about $200 million a year. However, its paving budget is just $85 million a year.
To hear our full conversation with ODOT's Abbey Driscoll, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
BEND, OR -- As Congress debates changes to the Affordable Care Act. local nonprofit clinics continue to serve those who otherwise wouldn't have access to care. Kat Mastrangelo is the Executive Director of Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) Clinic of the Cascades, in Bend. She says the clinic has had to adjust in the years since the Affordable Care Act took effect, and some are concerned about what the future holds.
Mastrangelo tells KBND News VIM went from serving about 2,000 patients prior to passage of the ACA and expansion of the Oregon Health Plan, to about a thousand people, now, "Because there are still people in our community, especially since the economy is improving, that are not eligible for OHP. And, a lot of those are recent immigrants. Probably about 80% of our patients are Spanish speaking, so we have really been able to rework a lot of our volunteer positions and we've engaged a lot more bilingual volunteers." She says they serve a number of recent immigrants who aren't eligible for OHP. Other patients have insurance but deductibles are so high, they can't afford to seek care at a traditional medical facility.
Mastrangelo says there is a lot of uncertainty among patients and staff, given proposed changes to federal healthcare requirements. "So, we have the patients that aren't eligible for OHP anyway, so they're still going to be here, so that's going to be stable. But then, this other group that, now the insurance market - if it was bad before, it's going to be even crazier now. This hasn't even gone into effect yet, and we're already getting calls from people who are looking for care, who are just concerned and anxious about what's going to happen." She adds, "You just can't imagine that there's not going to be a lot of stories about people who are really hurting, if they can't figure out how to navigate this or if they're blocked financially from being able to receive services. What I've read is, the biggest group that's going to impact are low-income, elderly people. And, they are just going to be in a world of hurt."
WASHINGTON, DC -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) is confident the reconciliation process will help create a healthcare bill that can make it to the President’s desk. He was one of the key architects of the American Health Care Act, which continues to face criticism from the left – from those who say the bill will cause millions to lose coverage; and from those on the far right, who say it doesn’t do enough to repeal Obamacare.
The Oregon Republican says the GOP is still making adjustments to the AHCA, introduced earlier this month. He told MSNBC's Morning Joe on Monday, "We’ve been working with every element of the Republican conference, not just the Freedom Caucus, the Republican Study Committee, but also the Tuesday Group and everybody, to get a package that works for Americans. The insurance markets are collapsing on the individual side. States are begging us for more authority and flexibility on the Medicaid side." He added, "The President was all engaged on the weekend; there were people going down, he’s been working – he’s 'the closer.' He knows how to put this together; he’s got great negotiating skills and we’re coming together with it."
Walden is confident they can come up with a bill that will pass the Senate. "I’ve briefed the Republican Senators a couple of time, as has Kevin Brady who chairs the Ways and Means Committee. And, I think we’re getting their feedback and incorporating that in, as well. As you know, we had a couple of Senators down at Mar-a-Lago this weekend, meeting with the President. Everybody’s trying to get this done; I think we’re in a very good place."
Click HERE to watch the full "Morning Joe" interview.
He also contends the AHCA is just the first step in a long process. "Remember, Dr. Price – now head of HHS, Health and Human Services – has 1400 delegated authorities where he can also help lower costs, fix the market. And, we have the standard legislative process. We’re going to take on medical liability reform; we’re going to take on association health plans, buying insurance across state lines. All of these constitute a bigger, broader package than this one bill." Walden insists those currently on Medicaid would keep their coverage.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon’s Arts Commission announced, this week, the award of more than $200,000 in grants to 36 organizations – including three in Central Oregon. The “Arts Build Communities” grants target programs that provide access to arts and culture in underserved areas.
Locally, the Deschutes Public Library received $5,000 to support “A Novel Idea;” another $5,000 was awarded to The Museum at Warm Springs for its annual Tribal Youth Art Exhibit; and $7,000 went to The High Desert Museum to support “Kids Curate” (pictured above), a hands-on arts program for students in schools without art teachers.
The Oregon Arts Commission awarded a total of $210,400 to help "engage the arts as a means of addressing and alleviating community needs." Other recipients include Oregon Children's Theatre, Portland Opera, Oregon Symphony Association and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
SISTERS, OR -- Sisters City Councilors hope to have a new City Manager in place by summer. Rick Allen has served as Interim City Manager for nearly a year, and is now helping to find his own replacement.
Allen says Councilors are looking for someone with experience managing a much larger city, but who wants to live in a small town. "If you look at Sisters’ land use, planning, growth, heavy with tourism – it requires someone with kind of a knowledge base and deeper understanding of a broad set of issues that is not often found in towns of 2,500 people."
Former City Manager Andrew Gorayeb resigned last year amid criticism of an abrasive leadership style. Allen tells KBND News the Councilors are now looking for a very specific person. "We want to get someone that can work well with people, hear them out, kind of work together to bring the community together. As you know, Sisters has had some problems over the last few years, where folks all want to go on different paths. And, that’s really because people come to Sisters for different reasons. So, the new Manager is going to have to learn about all of those different sub groups and then try and mold them together and move the city forward."
They’ve already received more than 20 applications and Allen says that number could double by the end of the week, due to the region’s popularity. "Central Oregon is a desired location to live; and then, within Central Oregon, Sisters is a desired place to also live and obviously, if you can find a good job. We have that going for us – there are so many people that are looking for open space in the outdoors." According to the job posting, the Sisters City Manager makes $95,000 - $115,000 a year, with "excellent benefits."
A handful of finalists will meet later this spring with community groups who will then make recommendations to Councilors. Allen expects a final decision before Memorial Day, and hopes the new City Manager will start July first.
MADRAS -- A Madras man has died as a result of injuries suffered in a rollover crash near his home, Monday evening. Based on the preliminary investigation, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office believes 18-year-old Angel Arzate Rosales was northbound on North Adams Drive when he veered off the road and over-corrected, which caused the pickup to fishtail and flip multiple times. Rosales was the lone occupent of the pickup and no other vehicles were involved.
First responders were dispatched just after 6:15 p.m. and immediately provided first aid until fire crews could extricate him from the vehicle about ten minutes later. He was flown to St. Charles Bend at about 8:45 p.m. by fixed wing plane, and later passed away.
Rosales' use of a seatbelt is credited with keeping him from being ejected during the crash.
Updated with new information on the driver's full name and condition, and to more accurately reflect emergency crew response times.
BEND, OR -- After last year’s oil train derailment in the Columbia Gorge, causing a major fire and sending crude oil into Mosier, many questioned whether it could happen here. With miles of track running through Central Oregon, a local catastrophic train derailment is not outside the realm of possibility.
On Friday, BNSF brought its mobile classroom to Bend, to help local emergency crews know how to respond if an oil tanker goes off the rails. Bend Fire Engineer Will Akins says one oil car carries the equivalent of three semi trucks. "Looking at what kind of resources are going to be required. We’re here to build relationships with the hazmat contractors and Burlington Northern, and build those relationships so that if an incident happens we’re more prepared; we know who to call, when to call." He has studied train emergencies before and tells KBND News, "When we look at some of the case studies, some of the hazmat derailments – whether they’re crude oil or general freight trains and mixed freight – some of these incidents have involved upwards of 18 hazmat teams, 34 fire departments, 36 police departments. So, they require many, many resources that we don’t necessarily have in Central Oregon." He says one oil railcar can carry the equivalent of three semi trucks.
About 50 firefighters attended Friday’s training, including crews from Bend, Sunriver and Crescent Lake, in conjunction with Burlington Northern-Santa Fe (BNSF). When asked whether the region is ready if a Mosier-style emergency happened here, Akins replied, "That’s the million-dollar question. I don’t know that when we look at these case studies or these derailments that have happened, can you truly be prepared? We have to call in resources from out of the area; we have hazmat teams that come in both through fire departments and the railroad. We hope that it doesn’t happen. But, we’re negligent if we don’t try and think about it, and prepare." He says the first priority would be setting up a safety zone and evacuating nearby residents. Friday’s training allowed firefighters to study the thicker high-pressure tanker cars being phased in by BNSF, which are designed to better withstand a crash.
REDMOND, OR -- Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) held several town hall meetings in Central Oregon over the weekend. He hosted events in Prineville, Madras and Redmond on Saturday.
At the Deschutes County event, the crowd filled the Ridgeview High School gym in Redmond to talk with the Oregon Democrat about public lands, changes to the Affordable Care Act and proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. Pat Chalstrom, of Bend, wanted to hear Merkley's thoughts on the Trump Presidency. She tells KBND News she's concerned about healthcare. "I'm 54-years-old; we are self-employed. We are facing absolute devastation if this bill - RyanCare, TrumpCare, call it what you will - passes." She adds, "Free market insurance premiums will gobble up approximately 90% of our annual income. We've worked hard; we've always had insurance. I lose sleep every night over this topic."
Merkley also discussed confirmation hearings for Trump's Supreme Court pick, which get underway Monday. Neil Gorsuch, a Federal Appeals judge from Colorado, will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Merkley still bristles that Republicans blocked President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland, and refused to give him a hearing. Merkley also has problems with Gorsuch's stand on certain issues. "The situation of Neil Gorsuch is that he has a number of writings that really concern me, both things that he's written in the press and his opinions." He told the town hall, "But from what I've heard, so far, on the writings and court opinions, this is a man who believes in government by the powerful, not the people. The crowd cheered when he said, "And that's why I'm voting against him." He says he doesn't like Gorsuch's stand against class action lawsuits that aimed to take on predatory lending practices.
Many at the meeting expressed concerns about a possible transfer of federal lands. But, Merkley believes that's unlikely since the new Secretary of the Interior opposes such transfers.
BEND, OR -- A Bend-area man suffered non-life threatening injuries when he was shot by a friend. According to the Sheriff’s Office, 21-year-old Jullian Messner was trying to unload a semi-automatic handgun, Saturday evening, when it fired. The 9mm bullet struck 22-year-old Trevor Rogers in the upper torso.
Messner immediately called 911 and Rogers was flown to St. Charles Bend where is reportedly in stable condition. The men are life-long friends and their statements support it being an accident. Investigators say neither was impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time.
Photo: Sotck Image.
WHEELER COUNTY, OR -- A 31-year-old Prineville man was killed in a weekend crash just west of Mitchell. Oregon State Police say Scotty Ledford was eastbound on Highway 26 when his 2013 Dodge Ram veered off the road, at about 7:30 Saturday morning. His pickup struck a rock wall, then crossed into oncoming traffic where it was hit by a westbound 1995 Dodge pickup.
Ledford was pronounced dead at the scene. A woman and child in his pickup were flown to St. Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries. The driver and passenger in the other vehicle, two Sweet Home men, were not hurt.
Highway 26 was closed for about two hours while OSP conducted their investigation.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man is under arrest for assaulting his ex-girlfriend with bear spray.
Investigators say the woman entered her Tumalo home, at about noon Friday, to find 34-year-old Chad Marcus inside without permission. He allegedly sprayed her and made threatening statements before running from the house, leaving the spray and a collapsible police-style baton behind.
The victim’s roommate called 911 and she was decontaminated by medics. Bear Spray is a type of pepper spray that can affect humans by causing temporary blindness, facial swelling and burning eyes and lungs.
Police immediately set up a perimeter and searched for the suspect, but they determined he had already left the area. A Deschutes County Deputy later talked with Marcus by phone and he agreed to turn himself in. He was booked at the Deschutes County Jail at about 4:30 p.m., Friday, on Menacing, Assault and Unlawful Use of Pepper Spray charges.
SUNRIVER, OR -- Applying for that first job can be a daunting task for many teens. To help avoid some of the stress associated with the process, SHARC is hosting its first Summer Employment open house for teens, age 15-18, Tuesday night.
Shawn Cannon is the Recreation Director for the Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic & Recreation Center (SHARC). She tells KBND News, "We just recognize that they’re not coming to us with a lot of advanced skills and knowledge of how to be confident in an interview and presenting themselves in a good manner, so we though this would be a great way to kind of gain some of those skills in advance and help them out." And, she says hiring young teens involves parental support. Tuesday's event also includes tips for parents. "Especially when you’re hiring 15- or 16-year-olds who may or may not have a driver’s license or are even able to drive, it’s a partnership with the parents. The tips for parents are to help them to work with their teens, in general, on getting that resume ready and presenting themselves in a manner. But, also recognizing that it’s a commitment on both parts when they take a seasonal job."
Cannon says about 70% of SHARC's summer seasonal employees are under the age of 18. "We typically, between our attendant, lifeguard, staff, tennis and Adventure Camp – which is our kids program – we hire just about a hundred seasonal staff, annually." On the other end of the spectrum, she says about 5% of summer staff are retirees who want to stay involved in their community. "Our tennis program, in particular; some of our attendant positions, lifeguards even, front desk seasonal, those will get a little more mature applicants that are looking for that seasonal job."
Tuesday's teen employment open house begins at 6 p.m. at SHARC. The center will host its annual summer job fair the following week: March 29, from 9 to 11 a.m. To learn more, click HERE to visit SHARC's events calendar.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel launched a criminal investigation Friday into the breach of patient records at St. Charles Health System. Hummel says he learned through media reports that an employee accessed thousands of patient files without authorization over the course of several years.
He issued a statement saying in part, "An alleged breach of this magnitude should have been reported to local police so that a proper criminal investigation could be conducted - as far as I'm aware this did not happen." The D.A.'s office will work with local law enforcement to analyze whether any criminal laws were violated.
BEND, OR -- Two men face several drug-related charges, after police received tips that a Jeep Cherokee with California plates was selling cocaine in Bend. Bend Police identified the vehicle earlier in the week and began a short-term drug investigation. According to BPD, 28-year-old Lloyd Brice was selling cocaine at several locations around Bend.
Detectives executed a search warrant at the Bend Budget Inn, late Thursday night, and seized over three ounces of cocaine, cash, scales and other evidence from the room. They arrested Brice and 28-year-old Maxwell Spangner, both of California.
Two other people in the room at the time were questioned and released.
SALEM, OR -- Governor Kate Brown says if the Affordable Care Act is repealed and the current Republican plan is put in place, Oregon's economy would be hit hard. "The 23,000 jobs the ACA created would be lost, along with an additional 19,000 jobs that support the healthcare industry," Brown said at a Thursday press conference.
The Governor asked the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Consumer and Business Services to analyze the difference between the ACA, also known as "Obamacare," and the GOP's American Health Care Act (AHCA). Their report finds that 80,000 Oregonians won't be able to afford coverage next year; and that number could climb to as high as 465,000. Governor Brown adds, "The proposal to replace the ACA will punish Oregon for our success." Click HERE to read the full report from the OHA and DCBS.
Rural hospitals are bracing for the loss of the ACA. One in three rural Oregonians get insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Brown says, "This bill will pull the rug out from under Oregonians; from families, to doctors, to hospitals." In Harney County, 800 additional county residents got coverage from the ACA, and Dan Grigg, CEO of the Harney District Hospital in Burns, says they were able to add two doctors. "Well, not everything in the AHCA is bad. I hope that they can retain at least the coverage for members of our communities and our state, as well as the federal funding to help us keep the CCOs and the primary care focus that we have now."
Republican State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) calls the AHCA "a bad plan for Oregon." He's urging Congress and the President to develop patient-centered, bipartisan reforms. Read his full statement, isssued Thursday:
“Oregon's experience with the ACA is mixed. Cover Oregon was an undisputed fiasco and insurance premiums are rising for too many Oregonians. At the same time, Medicaid expansion is now is providing roughly 400,000 Oregonians with health security for the first time. The American Health Care Act is a bad plan for Oregon because it would eliminate the Medicaid safety net for tens of thousands, blow a bigger hole in our state budget and strip away coverage for essential opioid addiction treatment. I urge Congress and the President to step back from the partisan politics and develop patient-centered, bipartisan health care reforms that can stand the test time.”
BEND, OR -- After a number of goal-setting sessions in the past month, Bend City Councilors have identified their top priorities, which will help develop the next budget. City Manager Eric King says they’ve zeroed in on five main goals, including executing a growth plan, improving transportation options – both in road maintenance and relieving congestion – and increasing affordable housing. "And then, public safety: we want to make sure we spotlight some of the innovation that’s occurring – different service models, more cost effective service models. And then, lastly, governance: really modernizing, professionalizing our city government, including looking at our charter review. Is it time, as Bend has grown to 90,000 or so, to look at a different system where it’s a directly elected Mayor."
He tells KBND News Councilors will look at the best ways to achieve their goals and address the city’s needs with limited funding and without raising revenue. "The approach is really going to be move forward on some key projects and get them teed up and really get them ripe for public-private partnerships. Bend has a history of doing that on the west side. The Westside Consortium, which was developers got together and worked with the city to construct a lot of that infrastructure, back 15 years or so ago. We need to do that same approach. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the city needs to put in all the funding; there’s growth happening, and how do we leverage that growth to get the infrastructure that we need?" King adds, "It’s just about how we leverage the existing funding that we have. I think the transportation discussion – we’re going to get creative with public-private partnerships, but that’s still a big community conversation around a transportation vision for Bend and how do we pay for that? And, that’s a multi-year conversation."
A series of public meetings will be held in May to gather more feedback before the 2017-19 budget is finalized in June. To listen to our full conversation with Bend City Manager Eric King, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.
BEND, OR -- St. Charles Health System is working to notify nearly 2,500 patients whose electronic medical records were accessed by an employee without authorization. She was able to view personal information including names, dates of birth, addresses, insurance information and driver’s license numbers, along with diagnoses and treatment information. The woman reportedly told investigators she looked at the data because she "was curious."
Nicole Hough is the Compliance Officer for St. Charles and tells KBND News, "This caregiver, both in her interview and in a signed affidavit, indicated that she has not used or shared, nor does she intend to use or share any of the confidential patient information she viewed. She has not downloaded it; she has not printed it, saved it, anything of that nature."
The breach was discovered during a standard audit, which Hough says is done periodically to check for irregularities in records access. "In this case, this caregiver had a legitimate need to have access to the medical records as part of her job responsibilities; she provided direct patient care. So, when we ran an audit, we noticed that with one patient, we could not really understand or justify the access that we saw, and that started our investigation." They found that between October 2014 and mid-January of this year, the woman may have reviewed as many as 2,459 files.
Viewing the files violates company policy and federal HIPPA laws. "We did take swift and appropriate disciplinary action with this individual," says Hough. "I think we want to, above all else, make sure that the effected patients, their family and our communities, that they know how very seriously St. Charles takes this situation. And, that it is the policy of St. Charles to insure we protect the privacy and security of our patients." She says effected patients are being offered credit monitoring and identity theft restoration services.
BEND, OR -- The Forest Service is looking for public input on how to manage a growing number of visitors to local wilderness areas. They'll host two open house meetings, this weekend, "To look at visitor-use management strategies in our five wilderness areas. We share four of them: Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, Three Sisters (pictured) and Diamond Peak," says Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, "And then, Waldo Lake, which is managed completely by the Willamette National Forest."
Nelson Dean says a management plan is necessary because of their growing popularity, "We’ve had increasing visitation, actually, throughout most of these wilderness areas." And, more visitors typically means more damage. She tells KBND News, "We have a responsibility to manage these wildernesses differently than other parts of the National Forest, so we want to kind of begin the discussion with our communities around what type of strategies we should be looking at. And also, just some communication around the impact and trends we’re seeing in these wilderness areas."
Development of a new management plan is in the very early stages, but Nelson Dean says they've gone through it before. "About 20-25 years ago, the Willamette and the Deschutes did a joint planning effort. Out of that, the Willamette National Forest actually did create two limited-entry areas, where there’s a certain number of folks that can go into an area at a time. So, that is one action that we’d consider. We just need to address this now because we’re seeing resource impacts that really can’t recover if they continue."
The first open house will be held Friday at 5:30 p.m., at the National Forest office on Deschutes Market Road. A second is scheduled for Saturday at 9 a.m. Click HERE for details.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors discussed, this week, how to best prepare for a massive influx of visitors in August, for the solar eclipse. Redmond is inside the path of totality and home to the airport closest to what’s considered the prime viewing spot.
Mayor George Endicott says the city needs to be ready for a lot of people. "The low number we’re hearing now, is 60,000 hitting Central Oregon; the high number is half a million, depending on who you’re believing, and somewhere in between. The epicenter is actually Madras, and they’re expecting maybe ten times the population of the city. So, all of our police departments are coordinating trying to come up with a comprehensive approach: Traffic, where are people going to camp, park? It could end up being pretty chaotic." He acknowledges many of those visitors will fly in, whether they're staying in Redmond or heading to Madras. "We’re working right now, trying to get FEMA to come in and do an assessment of our airport to see if that also has an impact. We could have people flying in from all over the world."
Endicott recommends that all Central Oregonians get prepared prior to August 21st. "Just hunker down. We’re advising people to shop the week before. Because this is a Monday, Saturday and Sunday are going to be a lot of fun. So, fill your car with gas on Thursday, shop on Thursday – get your milk, bread, eggs – and just get ready til the following week when everybody clears out on Tuesday."
He looks at eclipse preparations as an opportunity to plan for future unexpected events. "It could be very similar to a dress rehearsal, in case that Cascadia [quake] happens when you have no time to plan. It could be that this is a study that is sitting on a shelf, Cascadia happens and we immediately blow the dust off and we have a plan, because we’ve already been through it for an inundation of a lot of people at once."
Learn more about the August 21 total solar eclipse at NationalEclipse.com or visit NASA's eclipse website. Listen to our full conversation with Redmond Mayor George Endicott at our Podcast Page or click HERE.
REDMOND, OR -- “Senioritis” isn’t new, but Redmond High took what some students are calling drastic steps to combat rampant absenteeism. Principal Paul Nolan announced this week the senior parking lot is now open to everyone, until the senior attendance rate improves.
According to Nolan, the senior attendance rate, last week, was just 73%. The other three grades averaged about 90%. He tells KBND News half of the seniors have missed over 10% of the school year, which puts them at risk of not getting a diploma on time. Although, he admits attendance isn’t specifically tied to graduation. "But what does happen is, as those students are not coming to school, it’s much harder for them to pass their classes and as seniors, you don’t have a lot of wiggle-room. What we will see in the spring, as seniors get closer to graduation, here, there are a number of them that are going to struggle in classes. We can help students that come to school. If they’re not here we can’t help them; and we want to help them."
He meets with class representatives Thursday to discuss the plan, which he hopes will encourage positive peer pressure – with students convincing each other to get to class. But, he says the biggest influence on students is still parents. "If we could just ask our parents to continue to remind their students that every class matters. Some students have told me that they didn’t come and so they just had it excused by their parent. Regardless if it’s excused or not, the student wasn’t here to learn and so we really need everybody here, every single period."
All students parking at Redmond High must purchase a permit; everyone pays the same amount. For about five years, the lot at the front of the school has been reserved for seniors and visitors, with lower-classmen parking on the side or back of the building. Nolan says there is still ample parking for everyone. He told the class they can earn back the privilege by bringing their rate into the upper 80% range. "I think that there’s a lot of power in they a class uniting around a purpose. This class does amazing things and if they decide they’d like their exclusive use of their parking lot back and they encourage their classmates to come, I think we’re going to see an increase in their attendance." And, he says it’s already working. The day after his announcement, senior attendance was up to 83%.
THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE: Seniors are reportedly protesting the move by parking "every which way" in the front parking lot, which - until this week - was reserved for seniors and visitors. They are still allowed to park in the lot, but so is everyone else, until seniors raise their attendance rate. Principal Nolan is scheduled to meet with class representatives after school.
SALEM, OR -- State lawmakers gave the okay, this week, to advance a bill for expansion of OSU-Cascades. The bill would secure nearly $70 million in state funds to help clean up a former pumice mine where the university hopes to construct a second academic building.
The House Committee on Higher Education voted to send the bill to Ways and Means. Higher Ed. Committee Chair Jeff Reardon (D-Happy Valley) supported the bill and says he was convinced after listening to supporting testimony. "They really talked about what this means to the economic growth in eastern Oregon and also for access to people over there. I'm still struck by the 41-year-old mom who is working, who had a chance to finish her college degree because of that campus. I'll also remind members, this isn't a new idea; this is something that has been in the works since about 2001."
Central Oregon Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) also serves on the committee and told the group the funding is essential. "I've been here since 2003; OSU Cascades started in 2001, and we've had a lot of uphill fights but we're getting close. With the passage of this bill we're going to build this university out in Central Oregon and for Eastern Oregon people. I appreciate the Chair's leadership on this and all the committee members' support of this bill. And, I'll be babysitting it through the Ways and Means Education and full committee."
The bill would allow Oregon State University to issue $70 million in bonds to expand the Bend campus. It's possible lawmakers won't approve the full amount, but the closer they get to $70 million, the more the university can do.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville’s new wetlands project will have its first student visitors, Thursday. The facility, which doubles as a wastewater treatment plant, was also designed to help erosion issues along the Crooked River and attract school groups. Along with data gathering stations, the site will eventually also include educational kiosks.
Redmond Proficiency Academy Environmental Science teacher Amy Herauf says the work being done in Prineville fits well with her curriculum. "We’ve talked about ideas: the importance of preserving bio diversity; why it’s important that habitats are diverse. And, ecosystems and what kinds of things ecosystems provide for us, and why it’s important to make sure that they’re maintained and thriving and healthy. And, this project was just a perfect example of that."
Aside from simply being a good excuse to get outside, Herauf tells KBND News, it provides a unique opportunity for her students. "They’ll get to see this project and the various aspects of it. And they’ll actually get to collect data from – they have these stations that are spread out around the property; they take measurements on the water level and water quality-type measurements – and so the students will be able to experience what that’s like. So, to kind of get the experience of a person in this field, what kinds of things would they be doing and seeing."
City leaders expect the 120-acre facility to attract more school groups in the future.
BEND, OR -- A Bend woman is accused of leaving seven children, between the ages of 6 months and four-years-old, alone. January Neatherlin, also known as January Livsey, ran a daycare out of her home on Blue Bush Court.
Police received tips that the 31-year-old woman was leaving young children alone. Officers observed her drive away from the house, but she had no kids with her when detectives contacted her at a local tanning salon. They knocked on the door of the house and, when no one answered after several minutes, officers entered and found the seven infants and toddlers.
Neatherlin is charged with 7 counts of child neglect, reckless endangering, theft and criminal mistreatment.
BEND, OR -- A driver reaching for his cell phone is blamed for a Bend crash that shut down a section of Wall Street, last night.
According to police, Cameron Cox hit a power pole near Northwest Wall and Portland, just before 8 p.m. The pole fell into Wall Street Storage, causing several thousand dollars in damage to the building.
Power was disrupted in the area for several hours and Wall was closed between Lafayette and Portland as Pacific Power crews replaced the pole.
Cox told police he veered off the road after taking both hands off the wheel to reach for his phone.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police arrested a 28-year-old transient early Wednesday morning, after responding to a reported domestic disturbance at a northwest Bend apartment. A neighbor called police after hearing what sounded like a physical altercation at the adjoining unit. Officers arrived at the River Run Condominiums on NW Riverside at about 5:30 a.m. and learned John Spriggs had allegedly assaulted two women and damaged another apartment.
According to police, Spriggs was an invited guest of the women who lived in apartment 6, but they asked him to leave after he acted inappropriately. He refused to leave, allegedly broke several items and assaulted the two residents. They locked themselves in their bathroom while Spriggs continued to break things. He eventually left, only to kick in the door of apartment 3, walk into the bedroom of the sleeping residents and yelling demands for them to hand over his hoodie.
After causing extensive damage in both units, Spriggs left. He was found by responding officers and arrested on Burglary and Assault charges. Bend Police believe alcohol was a factor in the incident.
REDMOND, OR -- Police arrested 10 people from Bend, Redmond and Prineville after a search warrant was executed at a home on SW 32nd Court in Redmond, Monday night. Four people were arrested at the house: Nicole Detroit, Jacob Hill and Samuel Hill, all of Redmond, and Elizabeth Peters of Prineville. Officers say they found meth and heroin, as well as packaging material and paraphernalia during the search, which was part of an ongoing drug investigation.
Six others were arrested in connection with the case: Johnny Walker, Marcus Thornsberry and Patrick Higgins of Bend, Shane Bei and Eric Durbin of Prineville, and Amanda Hammond of Redmond.
They all face various charges relating to drug possession, outstanding warrants and probation and parole violations.
Jacob Hill (31, Redmond) Samuel Hill (28, Redmond) Nicole Detroit (28, Redmond) Elizabeth Peters (31, Prineville)
Johnny Walker (34, Bend) Eric Durbin (36, Prineville) Amanda Hammond (28, Redmond)
Shane Bei (28, Prineville) Patrick Higgins (59, Bend)
BEND, OR -- A 24-year-old Bend man was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for shooting two people as they walked by his home at 15th and Newport, last April. Walker Owen Henneke was convicted on two counts of assault in the first degree and one count of unlawful use of a weapon.
He was sentenced this week to 100 months in prison and ordered to pay $35,000 in restitution.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville City Councilors voted again Tuesday on whether to tighten restrictions on recreational marijuana. Planning Director Phil Stenbeck says the Council was tied in a similar vote, last August. "The City Council met previously on this and voted - on that particular night there were only six of the Councilors in attendance. It was the Mayor and five Councilors, so there were a total of six votes; whereas, we have a seven-person Council." Last night's first reading of the ordinance passed 4-to-3.
Stenbeck says the new ordinance provides some clarity on how possible changes at the federal level could impact the city. Current rules would allow recreational marijuana businesses if the drug is legalized at the federal level, which he says led to more questions. "The whole idea of what that means: 'legal' or not - was it Schedule I? Was it Schedule II? And the DEA's way of looking at it wasn't clearly defined, so you had some staff thinking it meant one thing, and some staff thinking it's another. So, we asked the City Council 'what did you mean by that?' And, we found they kind of also had varied opinions on that particular subject." The new ordinance would mean recreational pot businesses would only be allowed in the city if marijuana is completely removed from all DEA drug listings, which is stricter than previous city rules.
Stenbeck tells KBND News feedback from public meetings and recent surveys is clear. "When the survey came back, it was about 70% in opposition. You have 4,000-4,100 homes, plus or minus, in Prineville, and you had about 550 surveys sent back in. And, of those 550, about 70% were in opposition of recreational marijuana."
There is currently one medical marijuana dispensary in Prineville. The owner of Plantae Health has expressed an interest in selling recreational pot. However, the city's restrictions make that difficult.
REDMOND, OR -- U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) will host a series of Central Oregon town hall meetings, this weekend. The Oregon Democrat says he’ll answer constituents’ questions and ask for suggestions about how to tackle the challenges facing the state and the nation.
Merkley will be at the Madras Performing Arts Center, Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Then at 12:30 p.m., he’s at Crook County High School in Prineville. He’ll wrap up his visit at Ridgeview High School in Redmond, Saturday at 3:30.
BEND, OR -- It’s been more than three years since voters in Alfalfa approved the creation of an independent fire district, but the fledgling fire department still has no permanent home. Bend Battalion Chief Dave Howe says his agency helps whenever possible, "We will respond out there to assist them, if they request our assistance in a mutual aid call. For example, a house well involved, they may ask us to come out with a water tender or an engine to help put the fire out. But, it’s a long way from here to Alfalfa." He says it can take 15-20 minutes to get a crew to Alfalfa from Bend. "And, in that time a house can be completely destroyed. It’s going to get bulldozed."
The Alfalfa Fire District began in 2014, following a county vote. Howe tells KBND News they now have a chief and 14 volunteer firefighters. "They have a water tender, which is a water tank truck. And, they respond with that. They only fight fires defensively, that is from the outside of the building. They’re not trained or certified to use Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, yet." Because of those limitations, Howe says Bend crews are still dispatched to life-threatening situations.
But, the district has yet to build a home, "They only have a piece of land; they don’t have an actual station, yet." Howe and others at Bend Fire are helping secure more resources for the rural community, by including Alfalfa in grant requests for things like radios. "It’s fascinating to watch a fire department being built from the ground up."
To hear our full conversation with Battalion Chief Dave Howe, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- Jefferson County deputies arrested a Crooked River Ranch man, early Monday morning, following an overnight surveillance operation. They say 40-year-old Marcus St. Clair was wanted for multiple outstanding warrants, and parole violations. He has a history of resisting arrest, assault, threatening to kill law enforcement and has been tied to gang activity.
Last week, deputies discovered he was living in Crooked River Ranch, off Sandridge Road. After confirming overnight that he and a 31-year-old woman were alone inside, the Sheriff's office brought in an armored vehicle to approach the house and hail the occupants at about 3 a.m. The couple exited and both were arrested without incident.
Emily Anne St. Clair is charged with hindering prosecution.
BEND, OR -- A former Bend Mayor has an idea to bring more affordable housing to the area. Allan Bruckner wants the City Council to consider allowing a developer to put manufactured homes in Juniper Ridge, on the northeast side of town.
Bruckner tells KBND News the idea could spur growth in the industrial par near NE 18th and Cooley Road. "This really addresses two issues: One, is low-cost housing, which is the community's biggest need. And, the other is we have that expensive fiasco at Juniper Ridge and try to put some life in it. Maybe you put some other sort of development in with the low-cost housing. I don't know what that would be, but something to stir the pot and get something debated, anyway." Currently, the industrial park is home to Les Schwab's Oregon headquarters and Suterra, a chemical manufacturer.
The city acquired the land now known as Juniper Ridge in 1990. "I was on the Council when the county gave us that land for a dollar," says Bruckner. "And, they've basically got this free land. So, if you have that, and you have manufactured homes - which are more cheaper than site-built homes in Bend - and you take the cost of the land out, I think you could impact a substantial number of affordable housing units."
Bruckner says he sent his idea to Bend City Councilors and hopes it will be discussed in the future.
BEND, OR -- This winter’s immense snowfall is starting to show dividends, preparing local reservoirs for the summer irrigation season. "For the Upper Deschutes and Crooked River basins, we’re 143% of normal for snowpack, and we’ve had 130% precipitation for the water year," says Scott Oviatt, with Oregon's Natural Resources Conservation Service. He says it's at 140% of normal, statewide. "That’s setting us up well. We’ve filled our soil profiles to saturated conditions, at this point in time."
Oviatt is optimistic; although, he says even after several feet of snow fell in the past few months, we’re not out of drought danger, yet. "If we recall, last year in April we were near normal for snowpack and we encountered extreme heat." He tells KBND News, "We’re in much better shape than we were last year, by about 40% statewide, as well as in your area. And, with that, in combination with the fact that we have been seeing cooler and wetter conditions throughout the winter, and most forecasters still calling for the wetter conditions at least through the end of the month, that sets us up really well."
He says things should remain positive, as long as things don’t warm up too quickly. "So, if we can have a slow melt-off with retained moisture and still receiving rainfall and snow at the higher elevations through April, that’ll continue and add to our stream flow probability." He adds, "We don’t want to see 70 degrees, down here in the valleys, at least until the end of April, if at all possible. Because, what that means is, we’re about 32 in the mountains in the nighttime hours, and that’s when we really start to lose our snowpack. If we start to lose at 2” of water content a day, then things are really starting to move and we have little time left for sustained stream flows." Oviatt says the long-term forecast, so far, looks promising.
KLAMATH FALLS, OR -- Winter storms caused severe damage to parts of the Klamath National Forest, in southern Oregon and northern California. Officials have temporarily closed several areas to address public safety concerns in campgrounds and forest service roads, including:
- Grider Creek Campground, due to extensive flooding, debris and fallen trees;
- China Point River Access, due to landslides;
- Clear Creek Road, from South Clear Creed Rd to the end, due to landslides;
- Numerous Forest Service roads in the Happy Camp/Oak Knoll area.
As snow levels recede, they expect to find more damage left by freezing weather and flooding. The Forest service says driving conditions in remote areas can be hazardous this time of year, due to slides, unstable road surfaces, fallen trees and holes hidden under snow.
They ask visitors to call the Forest Supervisor's Office at 530-842-6131 to report damaged roads and trail conditions. Updates are available on the Forest website, Facebook and Twitter.
TUMALO, OR -- A 37-year-old Bend man was arrested in his own driveway, early Sunday morning, after a brief pursuit by law enforcement. A Deschutes County Sheriff’s deputy tried to stop an SUV for failing to drive in its lane of Highway 20, near Tumalo, just after 3 a.m.
The car sped off. According to the Sheriff's office, the driver, Gentry Ceniga, was the only person inside the car. He was eventually found in his driveway off Dayton Road. Ceniga was taken into custody during a high-risk traffic stop and taken to the Deschutes County Jail.
Ceniga is charged with Driving Under the Influence, and Attempting to Elude.
BEND, OR -- Drug detectives arrested two men following a brief investigation into possession and delivery of cocaine in southeast Bend. The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) Team and Bend Police searched a home on Skylark Drive, Friday morning, and seized more than a quarter ounce of cocaine, cash, scales, packaging material and two firearms.
They arrested 38-year-old Shawnte Laray Harris (left) and 46-year-old Derone Patrick Harris at their home, without incident. Both men face a number of charges, including Possession and Delivery of Cocaine. Derone Harris is also charge with being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm.
SALEM, OR -- We’ll “spring forward” this weekend, in observance of Daylight Savings Time, and many blame agriculture for that lost hour of sleep. “Actually, it’s not true that Daylight Saving Time was created to benefit agriculture," says the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Kathryn Walker. "In fact, when it was first proposed in the 1900s, there were a lot of farm groups opposed to this idea.” Daylight Savings Time began in the U.S. in 1918 to conserve fuel needed to produce electricity, during the war effort.
Walker says most farmers and ranchers have learned to adjust to the time change. “Farmers and their families are not much different from folks in the city. A little extra daylight extending into the evening is usually welcome after a dark, dreary, and wet winter. But it probably doesn’t have any special benefit to the farming operation.” She adds, “In most agricultural operations, the job is focused on daylight, not the clock. Crops and livestock don’t really care what the clock says.”
Daylight Savings begins Sunday morning. Clocks move ahead one hour, at 2 a.m., March 12.
BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown was in Central Oregon, Thursday. In Prineville, she toured the Facebook data center and Iron Horse Lodge affordable housing apartment complex. And, she met in Crook County with community leaders from across the region, to discuss economic growth. She told the group, "We want to problem solve; we want to help people solve problems and we want to make sure that Oregonians thrive everywhere, not just in the Valley, not just in Central Oregon, but all throughout our state." Crook County employment remains about 20% lower than pre-recession levels, while Deschutes and Jefferson counties have seen much faster improvements.
Brown also visited the Oregon National Guard’s Youth Challenge program, just east of Bend. It's the state's only accredited statewide alternative high school. When asked by reporters about proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act, the governor was critical of the Republican plan. She says it would set us back. "The new proposal - I'll call it 'TrumpCare' - pulls the rug out from underneath these struggling families. We've created over 20,000 jobs in Oregon as a result of expanded access to the Affordable Care Act. And, we anticipate a huge loss in jobs throughout Oregon."
She says in three years, the state's uninsured rate dropped from 15 to 5%, helped half a million Oregonians gain coverage through Medicaid or financial subsidies for private coverage, and it has created 23,000 healthcare jobs in the state. "I've talked to medical providers, they have patients who were getting their care in the Emergency Room. It's much more cost-effective to have preventive primary care providers. It's also really important for people being successful to have access to healthcare. I talked to another provider whose client, now that she has access to healthcare, is able to get a job; that's what we want."
Earlier this week, Brown directed the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Consumer and business services to analyze how the GOP proposal will impact Oregon's economy.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As Congressional committees debated of the replacement for Obamacare, this week, Oregon Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) highlighted stories from several Oregonians in his Second District who say they can't afford insurance.
"This law is actually hurting people in my district," Walden told the House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which he is the Chairman. "[There were] 225 counties where you only had one choice. This year, it’s 1,022; I believe there are five states where there’s one choice."
He read letters from a rancher in Klamath Falls who couldn't afford insurance payments of $1800 a month: "We’re cattle ranchers. Our product has lost 30% of its value in the last two years; the government is forcing us out of business. Please continue to support repeal of Obamacare." Walden also read a letter from a Deschutes County business owner, who said, "In the last three years, my premiums have gone from $685 a month, up to $1500 a month - $18,000 a year."
The bill passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday.
BEND, OR -- A number of influential national doctor and hospital groups have come out in opposition to the Republican plan to reform the Affordable Care Act. Bend City Councilor Nathan Boddie is a doctor and tells KBND News, "Currently, what we're looking at is not in any way, shape or form a replacement. It's just sort of decreased coverage in a lousy, ineffective kind of bill. If we do away with subsidies, we reduce people's amount of coverage, and people do a couple different things: they get sicker, they go to the ER more, they cost more money to the system as a whole."
He says the GOP plan appears to pass many costs - like those associated with expanding Medicaid for low-income people - back to states. "It would effectively cap the reimbursement that comes from the federal government, putting more on Oregon and therefore putting more on an already constrained budget, which then results in what? Do we cut healthcare? Do we cut education? Do we just sort of take people off the rolls? It's really not a good solution for people who go to my clinic. This would be a decrease in healthcare coverage. People would be paying more and getting less."
Boddie adds Obmacare increased the number of insured Oregonians from 83% to 92%. "It's important not to underestimate the effect that the ACA has had. It has flattened off the healthcare cost curve. In other words, we were spending at an exponential rate, year after year, increasing those costs. And, it's really flattened out, which is what we wanted. So, it's actually had a beneficial effect. The question is, how do we bend that curve further." He believes that instead of cutting healthcare funding, government should work to make it more efficient by following Oregon's example, where Coordinated Care Organizations have helped lower costs for care.
SISTERS, OR -- After months of opposition from residents, Sisters Eagle Airport was approved this week for a state designation allowing skydiving operations to continue. Listing the airport on "Appendix M" protects all historical and current uses at the facility. The decision came shortly after a hearing with Oregon’s Department of Aviation in Salem, Tuesday.
One concerned citizen says she had hoped the board would delay its decision until the City Council or County Commissioners could act on noise complaints. "Once the designation was granted, all those uses become statutorily protected and that leaves the city and the county out of the picture." She spoke with KBND News on condition of anonymity.
She's a member of the grassroots group "Save Our Skies," and says the noise from air-tourism flights impact residents from Black Butte to Metolius, especially those who live closest to the airport. "It is a deafening roar, at which time all conversation has to stop inside and outside the house; the birds stop singing. We have some people who try to do business from home and they say they can’t conduct telephone meetings when a plane goes over. That’s just for starters, so we only get that maybe 16 times a day."
Those in the group hope airport managers will work with neighbors to address noise concerns, even with the state designation. "We would like very much for the airport to work with us toward some kind of noise abatement, some mitigation. According to the ODA and state law, the airport can provide some conditions – we’re thinking about varying the flight paths, restricting the number of hours a day, the times of day." She says both sides are participating in a mediation assessment to see whether there is enough support and trust to move forward in an official mediation process.
The airport's owner did not return KBND's request for comment.
WARM SPRINGS, OR -- Warm Springs Police say a missing 11-year-old girl and her father were found safe, Wednesday morning. An officer and an FBI agent saw Kaitlyn and Thomas Stofiel hitchhiking along Highway 26, about 25 miles west of Warm Springs.
The pair abandoned their truck a couple weeks ago
and told officers they had been camping in an isolated area. They last lived in Portland and had no known ties to Warm Springs. When officers picked up the father and daughter, they were wet, cold and hungry, but otherwise okay.
Kaitlyn is now in protective custody and the Oregon Department of Human Services is working to place her with family. No criminal charges are expected.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County will soon be home to what is expected to be the state’s largest operating solar power plant. "The Gala Project, which is being constructed by SunPower, is approximately a 320-acre solar farm with about 56 megawatts of generating capacity," says Crook County Community Development Director Bill Zelenka. "And, that can power, I want to say, about a little over 9,000 homes."
Zelenka crews are already working to clear juniper and sagebrush from the land on George Millican Road, about six miles south of Highway 126, to make room for hundreds of thousands of solar panels. "And then the entire perimeter will be fenced to keep animals out, and stuff like that. Because animals and solar panels don’t necessarily go together."
The project is expected to generate about 300 construction jobs, but Zelenka tells KBND News there are only expected to be four long-term employees. But, he notes there are other financial benefits to the project. "It’s on dry EFU [Exclusive Farm Use] land that’s producing no value, essentially, for even grazing or anything else. So, it’s going to take land that’s probably producing no revenue for either the property owner or the county, in the sense that there will be opportunities for the property owner to get a bunch of lease payments, as well as the county to end up getting revenues, as well as permit fees."
Zelenka says there were several reasons Sillicon Valley-based SunPower Corp chose the area, including the proximity to a Bonneville Power substation and transmission lines. "And, of course, the sun and the weather. But, you can have all the sun that you want but if you don’t have the ability to transmit it – and, you cannot build massive transmission lines for long distances, then it takes the economics out of it. Essentially, it’s the proximity to the power lines and the BPA lines, and the sun. And, the availability of land because we won’t put it on irrigated land, so we have a lot of the dry scrub, juniper, sagebrush land." And, he says other solar projects are in the pipeline for the county.
BEND, OR -- Part of the GOP healthcare proposal would make significant cuts to Planned Parenthood. President of Planned Parenthood Columbia-Willamette Stacy Cross says if approved, the cuts would be devastating. "We would not be able to get reimbursed for the care that we provide patients that come in using Medicaid. We don't get a blank check, we actually get reimbursed for the care that we provide. And, the care that they're talking about defunding - or not allowing us to get reimbursed for - is actually preventative care. So, it's life-saving cancer screenings, it's birth control, it's STD testing and treatment."
Conservatives have fought for years to de-fund the agency since they provide abortions; although, federal funds aren’t allowed to be used for those services due to the Hyde Amendment. "About 6% of our services here in Oregon are abortion services; 94% of the work that we do is preventative work. We do more than any other organization, not only here in the state of Oregon but across the country, to prevent unplanned pregnancy."
The Columbia-Willamette division manages Bend's Planned Parenthood clinic, which is the agency's only Oregon health clinic east of the Cascades. "Of the counties that we - Columbia-Willamette - provide services in, four of our counties, we serve more than 50% of the low-income women for reproductive healthcare needs. And, there's not going to be another place for these people to go." According to national statistics, about 54% of Planned Parenthood health centers are in areas with a shortage of healthcare professionals, rural or medically underserved areas.
BEND, OR -- Republicans released details, this week, of their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. But, it's not been met with wide support. Some conservatives say it doesn't go far enough, while Democrats say it's too much.
Redmond physician Dr. Eric Wattenburg tells KBND News, "I truly believe it's not going to make it through the Senate. There are enough conservatives in the Senate that will not sign on to this, and it's only going to take two people jumping ship and it won't make it through the Senate." He says there are several objections, "It's not conservative enough; that it's 'Obamacare light' and it did not go far enough in making reforms in the healthcare system as a whole." He adds, "They've put band-aids on it. They removed the individual mandate but they have included these big tax credits, which a lot of conservatives don't like. They have maintained the 'Cadillac tax' that I think is set to expire in 2025. So, there are a lot of pieces of Obamacare that have been salvaged and carried along in this plan, and the conservatives in Congress probably will not go for this."
The legislation places more of the expense of expanding Medicaid to cover low income people back on states. "We need to treat insurance companies like utilities; the government needs to get out of subsidizing any insurance. How nice would it be if everybody just had an insurance card that says 'I have healthcare insurance.' The doctor's office and the patient don't have to worry about where it came from - is it VA, Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance - that issue should not effect the patient or the office when they finally get to your office."
Republicans did not offer an estimate on how much their plan would cost and how many people could potentially lose coverage. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) says the plan would bring America back to the days when healthcare was reserved for the healthy and wealthy. Governor Kate Brown says the plan would move healthcare backward by decreasing access to care and increasing costs for women and seniors, as well as placing a bigger financial burden on states.
Dr. Eric Wattenburg can be heard on KBND every Sunday at 4 p.m., on Your Care, Your Health.
BEND, OR -- A Bend asphalt sealing company faces penalties for allegedly dumping contaminated wastewater into a drywell on Northeast Second Street. Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality issued a $2,375 fine, this week, to Toploc Asphalt Maintenance LLC, which does business as Central Oregon Asphalt Sealing.
According to the DEQ, the company disposed of industrial wastewater into a drain, last September. That drain leads to a drywell, which collects runoff and allows water to naturally drain into groundwater. Asphalt-based sealant contains hazardous substances and toxins, including petroleum products.
The company has appealed the penalty.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon jobless numbers showed little movement, in January. Deschutes County unemployment ticked up .2%, to 4.6%; Crook County bumped up .1% to 6.6% and Jefferson County dropped a tenth of a point to 6%.
Regional economist Damon Runberg tells KBND News the numbers are a little surprising, given recent weather. "I think there was an idea or thought that the winter weather we saw would really lead to increases in the unemployment rate or a slowdown in job growth compared to what we see seasonably, with the inability for construction workers to be out working on buildings, or folks not even able to get into job sites, etc. And really, we saw Central Oregon stay pat with what we’d expect." While there weren’t any big layoffs, Runberg says it’s likely the region followed the statewide trend, which showed a reduction in the number of hours worked in January.
He says the current trend could lead to higher wages for seasonal employees, this summer. "Last year, there was a lot of difficulty filling those lower-wage jobs for businesses. With unemployment rates at relatively historically low rates in Central Oregon, I think it’s going to be another year of challenges for businesses to fill those kind of seasonal jobs." He says companies will soon start hiring for tourism-related jobs. "We have a huge ramp-up that occurs, usually starting in March we’ll start seeing job postings start showing up. Then, there will be job fairs all the way up through May, maybe into June. People are trying to fill a lot of these Leisure & Hospitality jobs but also they’re going to see a lot of continued growth in Construction."
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Oregon Congressman Greg Walden helped craft the new healthcare plan that Republicans hope will replace Obamacare. He outlined the plan in a Tuesday press conference.
Walden (R-OR) calls the Affordable Care Act "a wreck" and says a growing number of insurance companies are pulling out. He wants the system to encourage young people to buy insurance. "Facts are: we’ve arrived at the scene of a pretty big wreck and we’re trying to clean up the mess and if we don’t intercede now, fewer people will have access to insurance; period." He adds, "We need to reform those markets so we can give options that are affordable and available to more people to actually come on to insurance coverage." The plan completely changes the way Medicaid is funded. States with a Medicaid extension, like Oregon, will be able to keep it - for now. "You’ve got to have a transition period, here, that works for the people that are on Medicaid."
The plan continues coverage for pre-existing conditions, as long as insurance doesn't lapse. And, children can be covered under their parents' policy through age 26. It also defunds Planned Parenthood, eliminates the requirement to buy health insurance and offers a monthly tax credit to help those without employer provided coverage.
Walden heads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which played a key role in developing the proposal. Walden says he knows it will be revised, "Let’s have a thoughtful legislative discussion. There’s a process before each of our committees; There’ll be a process in the budget committee; there’s a process in the rules committee, then it’ll come to the floor."
Democrats argue it will result in higher costs for people buying individual policies.
SALEM, OR -- Left lane "campers" drive in the fast lane, but stay at the same speed as the rest of traffic; and it's not illegal in Oregon. Yet. The practice that could soon earn those drivers a ticket, under a bill being considered in the Oregon Legislature.
State Senator Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) says it creates a safety issue when other drivers have to change lanes to get around those who don't move over. "For whatever reason, whether they’re on their cell phone, or just oblivious, or just plain rude, they don’t do it." She adds, "This gives the state police clear authority to ticket those drivers."
Senate Republican Leader Tedd Ferrioli (R-John Day) says, "Maybe this is old-school: I was told you use that lane to get around the car ahead of you, then you get out of that lane." He wants drivers to know the fast lane is for one thing, "That left driving lane should be clearly identified as a passing lane."
Similar bills have come up in the last several sessions. The latest version now provides exceptions for traffic and road conditions that may require a driver to remain in the left lane, which raised previous concerns. It appears to be gaining support in Salem.
BEND, OR -- Bend crews are trying to get a jump on spring road repairs, after thawing over the last couple months revealed thousands of potholes. Bend Streets Division Manager Chuck Swann says crews have already used more than 100 tons of material to patch about 2,300 potholes since January, compared to just under 2,600 holes filled in all of last year.
After residents complained about the condition of local roads, last year, City Council authorized funds to pay for a dedicated pothole crew. Swann says similar efforts will commence as the weather warms. "Last year, we took a proactive approach and took some of our preservation money and had a pothole-dedicated crew for about 2.5-3 months. We’re going to do the same thing as soon as the hot plants open up full time, and try to patch these potholes with a hot mix, which lasts – in some cases – a couple years." When it’s too cold for hot mix, Swann says they use a cold patch. But, that can last less than 24-hours, depending on traffic volume and the condition of the surrounding roadway.
He says the key to smooth driving is attacking the problem on several fronts. "Of course, have our service requests and our policy is to address potholes within 48 hours after we’re notified," Swann tells KBND News. "The other approach is to hit every street and try to be proactive and find them. We have one crew that’s going to be dedicated to it, but that doesn’t mean we won’t pull other crews off to address that 48-hour policy."
However, despite their best efforts, Swann says his crews can only do so much. "In some cases, some of our troubled roads are roads that are beyond a maintenance repair. They need capital improvement-type repairs, which are the big dollars. We don’t really want to dump a lot of our maintenance dollars, which we were trying to put into our pavement preservation. We’re trying to patch these together until a big capital project can be developed."
BEND, OR -- More than three months after state officials approved Bend’s Urban Growth Boundary expansion plan, developers are chomping at the bit. But, Pat Kesgard, with Compass Commercial Real Estate, says there is a lot of risk in getting involved this early in the process.
His advice to developers: Hold tight just a little longer. "It’s not annexed in at this time, so there’s a lot of ‘ifs’ and risks with these areas. We don’t know if the city is going to want to bring in all four areas at one time. Probably not; probably one or two at a time. That has yet to be determined." City Council and staff are developing an annexation process.
Kesgard tells KBND News, "We’re starting to get phone calls that say, ‘Gee; I want to buy land in the new UGB.’ And, our first question is, ‘Do you understand that you’ve got to get all your neighbors, if you buy in that area, together to agree? And, you have to invest money for these master plans; and you have to be patient." He adds, "When people call me and say, ‘I want to invest in the UGB.’ I say, ‘OK, what about investing now in the current UGB where there’s sewer in the streets, those kind of things?’ We don’t have to go through those ‘what ifs.’"
The approximately 2300 acres of new UGB land is stretched across several parcels on all corners of the city. Click HERE to read more about the plan. Kesgard believes it'll be another five or six years before those areas will be ready for infrastructure and eventual construction. Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Pat Kesgard, or visit our Podcast Page.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County residents are moving forward with a project aimed at creating a healthier community, despite missing out on a national designation. Holly Wenzel, with the Crook County Health Department, says more than a hundred people attended a meeting last fall, to learn more about becoming a Blue Zone site. "Everybody wants to live a longer and healthier life. And, one of Blue Zone’s phrases is to ‘make the healthy choice the easy choice’ – making it easier to move around a little bit more in the day, making it easier to choose a healthier option, so that we really are able to live a longer life and be able to do that more fully."
They recently learned Crook County would not become the next Blue Zone partner. But, Wenzel says the failed attempt piqued the interest of residents, prompting the creation of a steering committee to develop their own healthy living initiative. She tells KBND News they haven't yet decided a specific focus. "This is all about what the community wants. So, it’s really hard for me to put out examples because the whole goal is for the community members to be able to come out and say ‘this is my idea of how to make our community more healthy and these are some steps I would like to take to make that a reality.’" The committee plans to issue a survey in the next few weeks; community meetings will follow, to brainstorm ways to make it easier for everyone to make healthy choices.
St. Charles has committed $25,000 to the Crook County effort and Wenzel says the committee is looking for more grants to cover the salary of a coordinator who would spearhead the independent effort. "As much as we agree with where this project is going, we don’t want to be the ones in charge of it. We really want the community to be able to be the ones who are doing this. So, we want to be able to give that kind of separation and have a position or a person who’s really working on this project and making it about the community."
LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine duplex suffered significant damage in a Saturday fire. Crews arrived on Heath Drive, just after 3 p.m. and found heavy smoke pouring from one unit. No one was home at the time. Neighbors were able to let out the dogs; but a cat died, despite firefighter efforts at feline CPR.
The cause of the fire is under investigation; it’s believed to have started at or near the kitchen stove. The first floor was a total loss and the upstairs sustained heavy damage. The Red Cross is helping the four adults and pets displaced by the fire.
BEND, OR -- A Shady Cove man was critically injured when he was struck by a car in Bend, Friday night. According to Bend Police, 72-year-old Richard Fields tried to cross NW Galveston near 12th Street, just before 6:30. He was hit by a Honda CRV, driven by 47-year-old Andrew Zurovsky, of Bend.
The investigation is ongoing and police say Zurovsky is cooperating. Neither speed nor alcohol are believed to be factors in the crash.
WARM SPRINGS, OR -- The FBI and Warm Springs Police hope tips from the public will lead them to a missing 11-year-old girl. They believe Kaitlyn Stofiel is with her father, who may be distraught.
In late February, Thomas Stofiel’s pickup was found parked about a half mile down the Mt. Wilson turnoff of Highway 26, on the Warm Springs Reservation. He is her custodial father; they most recently lived in Portland and Kaitlyn was reportedly home-schooled. Neither Stofiel has a known connection to the warm Springs area.
Thomas Stofiel is 44-years-old, 5'05" and 125 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes. He is known to possess various weapons and reportedly has survival skills. Kaitlyn has long, dark hair and blue eyes.
Anyone with information on their immediate whereabouts is asked to call 911, or call the FBI in Bend at 541-389-1202 with other information on the case. Do not approach the pair. Officers say they simply want to locate the girl to ensure she is safe.
BEND, OR -- A Redmond man was indicted by a Grand Jury, this week, on several charges relating to a crash that sent him and four others to the hospital, last summer. According to the District Attorney, 24-year-old Shawn William Seagraves Hall had been drinking at a bonfire party east of town before he drove off with four passengers.
D.A. John Hummel said in a written statement, "We have a bonfire party culture in our local youth community that has to end. We need to impress upon our kids that driving 20 miles out of town to drink in the middle of nowhere puts them and their friends at risk of injury and death."
Seagraves Hall is charged with assault, reckless endangering, reckless driving and driving under the influence and is due back in court April 10.
SALEM, OR -- Local officials are urging state lawmakers to support a bill that aims to provide some local control over transit funding. Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) Transportation Manager Karen Friend testified before the House Transportation Committee, this week, advocating for HB 2745. She says its passage would allow voters in big and small cities to decide separately what they’re willing to pay for. "In some cases, it allows cities to clearly embrace the prospect of additional transit funding; in others, it allows them to clearly reject it; and yet others, it allows them to keep their options open for future consideration and to pursue funding if and when they feel the time is right."
The Mayors of Bend and La Pine also testified in Salem, this week, along with Bend City Manager Eric King. King says the management of Cascades East Transit should be a model for other regions. "It provides that kind of creative, innovative approach in leveraging an agency such as COIC, versus the traditional transit district model, where it’s a very single-focused entity with its own bureaucracy. We just feel that, why re-create something when we have a structure in place that’s been working for the city and really working for the region." He added, "The challenge for Bend is that we’re very fiscally constrained. We’ve got a tax rate of $2.80; per Measures 5 and 50 that rate is frozen. We struggle to provide police, fire and road maintenance services within our general fund. A solution, such as the one being proposed, allows us to take the transit dollars out of our general fund, have sustainable funding through a vote of the people in Bend, connect it to a regional system, and then our intent is to redirect those dollars to much needed road maintenance."
Bend Mayor Casey Roats told the committee, "One of the things I like about it [HB 2745] is that each community can match the level of service to the amount it wants to pay for that service. So, rather than having a transit district where people all around Central Oregon would be paying the same rate through their property taxes, it gives communities like Bend the option to enhance their level of service. Whereas, members of Crook County or Jefferson County can keep their rate at the levels they think they need."
La Pine Mayor Dennis Scott also testified in favor of the bill, which is sponsored by District 59 State Rep. John Huffman (R-The Dalles). Dozens of other Central Oregon cities and organizations submitted written testimony in support of the bill, including OSU-Cascades, Redmond Proficiency Academy, Housing Works, NeighborImpact and Bend 2030.
BEND, OR -- The teenage years are difficult - with all those physical, emotional and hormonal changes; it can also be depressing for some kids. Last year, a Sky View Middle School student killed himself, prompting the Bend school to invite a motivational speaker from South Carolina to talk about depression and suicide.
Jeff Yalden travels the country talking with students, teachers and parents about this growing epidemic. He spoke at an assembly at SVMS Thursday. "We need to teach our children coping skills, problem solving skills, we need to teach them that life is not perfect, that life will never be perfect. There's going to be mountains you're going to have to climb. And, when you get to the mountain you can't just stop, 'I can't do this.' But, our kids just think that somehow life gets easy."
He says research shows social media makes teens more depressed, as they compare themselves to others. "I really want to bring the family back together. I want them I want when we sit down at the dinner table, the cell phones are off the table. The average family communicates in meaningful conversation today, less than 30 seconds a day. Whose fault is this? This is our fault."
Oregon has one of the highest rates of suicide in the country. Nationwide, 100 teens take their own lives, each week.
BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County deputy involved in an off-duty incident has been fired for violating several Sheriff’s Office policies.
Sheriff Shane Nelson released a statement Thursday saying Bradley Wright’s employment was terminated after a review of the criminal and internal investigation into his actions on December 24. Wright was involved in a minor crash at the Bend Fred Meyer and allegedly grabbed the arm of a 67-year-old woman, leaving a bruise. He completed a diversion program and community service to resolve the criminal harassment case.
In a written statement, Sheriff Nelson said, "Those employees who do not subscribe to the mission and values of the Sheriff's Office will no longer be a member of this agency." Wright was placed on paid administrative leave December 28 until his termination.
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools expect to grow by another 3,000 students in the next 10 years. Many of the district's schools are already full and they'd like to build two more in the near future.
Superintendent Shay Mikalson spoke to a packed League of Women Voters luncheon, Thursday, about the district's request for a $268 million bond. "I think, one perspective we all have to understand is that just by saying 'no' perhaps to this doesn't mean they don't come and it doesn't mean we don't then have that issue of growth. It just really then limits us in lots of other ways, of providing what we all want for our kids, as well."
The district will ask voters to approve the bond in May. It would increase the tax rate by $.44 per $1,000 of assessed property value. For a $200,000 home, Mikalson says that would equal about $7 per month of additional taxes, or just over $80 a year. "If this passes, our communities of Bend, Sunriver and La Pine would still be the fifth least taxed of the school districts in our local area. Meaning, if you live in Redmond, you are paying more to schools, right now; and you'd still be paying more, even if this passed. If you live in Sisters, you're paying more and would continue to pay more. The only school district that is currently paying less is Crook County." He adds, "To give you some perspective, that tax rate - assuming we're successful in this in May - would bring the tax rate going back to schools to what it was in 1998, when we supported Summit High School. Pretty remarkably, since 1998, we've built 10 schools and actually had the tax rate go down."
The bond measure will appear on the May 16 ballot. Mikalson says it would pay for construction of a new elementary and high school, along with several upgrades at existing schools. Learn more at the district's website.
BEND, OR -- Bend 2030 has received a large grant to continue civic discussions about the future of the area. The group, along with the local business and development organization Opportunity Knocks, was just awarded $100,000 from the Meyer Memorial Trust. "We received this grant for a two-year program called the Civic Equity Project. It's about engaging organizations across the community in decision-making, in Bend," says Bend 2030 Director Erin Foote Morgan.
They plan to kick-off the project in April. Foote Morgan tells KBND News, "It's really about working one-on-one with organizations to develop their own internal strengths and helping them understand what their members need out of policy decisions in Bend, around housing and transportation; and offering platforms for those groups to become engaged in these civic dialogs."
Bend 2030 wants to work with diverse groups across the city to hold forums involving under-represented populations, like veterans and seniors. "We'll be out in the community recruiting organizations to become part of this two-year program. So, if your group represents people in Bend and you feel like you need to learn better how to be stronger internally so that you can advocate for your members externally, we want you in this program." Foote Morgan says future forums will address such issues as housing and transportation.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Credit Union representatives from across the country are in Washington, DC, this week, meeting with lawmakers as part of the National Credit Union Administration's annual Government Affairs Conference.
Kyle Frick, with Mid-Oregon Credit Union, has made the trip before. With a new administration now in charge, he says this one is different. "A lot of people are just happy to see things moving in a positive direction. And, there seems to be a lot of hope and positive feelings right now, and we’re feeling that as well. It does seem a little bit more friendly, right now, and there’s a lot of work to be done."
Frick and other Oregon credit union reps met with Congressman Greg Walden and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Wednesday. He says there’s a lot of optimism surrounding the proposed roll-back of the 2010 Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. "The original intent was for them to have those regulations apply to banks that are over $10 billion in assets and they weren’t really applied to credit unions but we’re getting caught in all of those things. For us, out in the rural areas where we have different economic situations, and we’re making loans to people because we know them, and we do good underwriting; they don’t necessarily apply to us." Frick says as the new Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Walden will oversee discussions on several banking-related issues, like cyber security and data breaches.
Frick and others from Oregon also met with Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to discuss lending for affordable housing projects. He tells KBND News, "There’s a ton of things happening in regulatory reform. Not deregulating, but tailoring the regulations to allow us to continue to grow and provide loans for our members. Particularly for mortgage loans and lending, there’s just a lot of red tape that we’re trying to clear out of the way." To listen to our full conversation with Kyle Frick, click HERE or visit our Podcast page.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville teen was injured when her car crashed into a canal along Highway 26, Tuesday night. Crook County deputies responded to the area just after 8 p.m. and found the Mitsubishi Outlander off the south side of the highway.
Investigators say the vehicle was eastbound on Highway 26 when it went off the road and landed in the canal. Based on the extensive damage to the car's roof, they believe it rolled at least once. Adriana Wood sustained moderate injuries and was taken to St. Charles hospital in Prineville. Alcohol is believed to be a factor and the investigation is ongoing.
REDMOND, OR -- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is hiring security screeners for Roberts Field in Redmond. The agency is hosting a career fair, Wednesday (March 1) for those interested in learning more about available part time positions. The following was issued Wednesday morning by the TSA:
We are looking for committed, professional individuals to join our team working 20 hours per week, which provides a great opportunity for area residents to begin or continue a career in Federal Service. Apply at www.usajobs.gov.
TSA is one of 22 agencies within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and our mission is to protect the nation’s transportation systems by ensuring the freedom of movement for people and commerce. The most visible piece of TSA’s responsibilities is the security screening of passengers and their carry-on/checked luggage at the nation’s airports. TSOs perform a variety of duties related to providing security and protection of air travelers, airports and aircraft. They are responsible for identifying dangerous objects in baggage, cargo and/or on passengers; and preventing those objects from being transported onto aircraft. Additional information about TSA and the Transportation Security Officer responsibilities can be found at www.tsa.gov. Apply at www.usajobs.gov
Part-time starting at $15.37 per hour Plus Benefits (Includes 15.06% Locality Pay)
Full-Time Medical Benefits Available. NO PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE REQUIRED
18 years of age at time of application on USAJobs
U.S. Citizenship or U.S. National
High school diploma, GED or equivalent
Pass a background/credit check/drug test
Those interested in learning more about this great opportunity are encouraged to join us for a Career Fair:
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Visit Anytime Between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
OSU-Cascades/COCC Career Fair
Wille Hall, Coats Campus Center, COCC Bend Campus
2600 N.W. College Way
Bend, Or 97703
BEND, OR -- A 16-year-old girl was seriously injured in a rollover crash near Knott Road on the south end of Bend, Tuesday night. Witnesses say the car was speeding before it crashed through a fence near Brosterhous Road at about 8:15 p.m.
The 19-year-old driver, Raven Bright, and a 14-year-old passenger ran to a nearby home for help. The 16-year-old was unconscious and pinned in the car. She was taken to St. Charles Bend, then later flown to Portland for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
Bright is charged with driving under the influence and reckless driving. She and the 14-year-old were treated at the hospital and released.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond School District officials know employees are frustrated by the data breach, discovered this week. Superintendent Mike McIntosh says to his knowledge, no one has experienced any fraud from the incident. But, he warns people to remain vigilant. "This one hit home; it's very close to home. And, it certainly has an immediate and personal impact on our employees. So, I would say the reaction has been that of alarm. We've tried to minimize the panic, while at the same time not underestimating its emotional impact on people."
Read more about the release of 2016 W2s to a scammer.
McIntosh says the best thing people can do now is check their credit to make sure more damage isn't done. "This should be a wake-up call for all of us, that we're maybe less prepared than we should have been for such an act. Also, reminding folks that no matter what you have in place, it won't prevent it; it will only help you recover from it. Those are big lessons, but I think they're valuable ones."
He says the district is considering providing credit monitoring services for employees.
REDMOND, OR -- Hundreds of Redmond School District employees spent Tuesday contacting credit bureaus and banks in an effort to stop potential fraud, following a massive breach of personal information. A scammer, posing as Superintendent Mike McIntosh in an e-mail, was able to request and receive copies of all 2016 W2s.
One contract employee tells KBND News she’s caught up in it, even though she only worked for the district three or four times, last year. She was notified by e-mail Monday. "The first one was sent at like 2:00, then the follow-up was sent at 6:30 p.m. The follow up, it was: ‘The breach was limited to 2016 W2s and no direct deposit or banking information was released.’ But, the problem is, everything is on the W2. Everything." After learning of the details, she says she was shocked it was so easy for a scammer to request and receive such detailed information. She says she thought, "'Seriously, holy cats. You have to be kidding me.' I mean, the stomach dropping, ‘Oh my gosh, you have got to be kidding me.’ This is a panic-worthy item, because the absolute worst possible document that can get out is the W2 because all information is on that thing."
She visited her financial institutions in person, Tuesday. "At the bank, she rolled her eyes. I said, ‘I was told I should change passwords.’ She said, ‘well, that’s fine. But, calling the bureaus is the biggest thing. And putting a block for any kind of credit applications,’ until they verify that I’m the person, or whatever." And, she says there's more work to do, "I’ll be obviously making all those calls to the credit bureaus, contacting any financial institution that I have my fingers in at all, and I think I will be putting a block on my account."
She says because the data released includes her Social Security number, address and tax withholding information, it also impacts her husband and kids. In a second e-mail from the district to employees, officials said they will provide access to a credit monitoring service; but few other details have been released.
SALEM, OR -- Statewide unemployment in Oregon hit an all-time low, last month. "January's unemployment rate was 4.3%; that's a drop from 4.5% in December," says Employment Department Economist Nick Beleicicks. He adds that it's a record low, "As far as comparable records go back, which is 1976."
Beleicicks says, "Over the year, Oregon’s job growth has been 2.4%. We’ve added 43,200 jobs over the past 12 months. That's good growth, but it's not as fast as the growth we were seeing early last year, when jobs were being added at 3% over the year."
Most new jobs were added in the construction and retail sectors. Health care, social services and the government lost the most jobs.
BEND, OR -- The Bend Parks and Recreation District is moving ahead with plans to realign the banks of iconic Mirror Pond. Jim Figurski is a landscape architect for the district. He tells KBND News the work will be done along what’s known as “river-right” as you’re looking downstream. "The banks have been collapsing for quite a while and we needed to do something about it. So, we’ll be laying banks back, creating habitat, directing people to proper access points, making some accessibility improvements and, again, finding a route for the Deschutes River Trail to move through that area."
Work will stretch from the Galveston Street Bridge to Pacific Park. Figurski says, "We’re looking at doing bank improvements to Drake Park, all the way along the river past or up to the PacificCorp power plant. We’re looking also to extending the Deschutes River trail. It’ll go around the power plant, then again back to the river and follow all the way to Pioneer Park." He says work won’t begin until sometime in 2018. The project shouldn't impact water flows of the Deschutes River, itself. "Now, there may be a possibility that we push the banks out in a couple of places to get better access for the public or for the trail system, or to just get better access for whatever sort of bank improvement is needed."
The district plans to hold a series of public meetings to provide information and gather feedback. The first is scheduled for Wednesday, March 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the district office. Click HERE for more information.