SISTERS, OR -- Sisters City Councilors have narrowed their list of candidates for City Manager down to two, out of a pool of more than three dozen applicants. The city has been without a City Manager for about two months. Brant Kucera left in August to take a job in the Midwest. Mayor Chuck Ryan says both finalists to fill the position are incredibly qualified.
Tom Pessemier most recently worked as Assistant City Manager in Sherwood. Mayor Ryan tells KBND News, "He’s never been a City Manager but he has worked in every facet around being a City Manager, including Assistant City Manager and City Manager Pro Tem. He’s been a Community Development Director, he’s been a City Engineer and he’s been a Civil Engineer for the city."
The other candidate is Cory Misley, who has been La Pine’s City Manager since 2016. He was Assistant City Manager for a year before that. "Cory’s obviously a little bit younger in his career, but he’s certainly shown that he’s made a lot of progress and accomplishments in La Pine," says Mayor Ryan. "He knows Oregon, Oregon law, Oregon land use law, he knows all the players in the area and he’s clearly a career-minded individual. We think the fit is very good."
Ryan says everyone is anxious to finish the selection process. "Next week is pretty critical. We’ve got a staff meet and greet, we’ve got a community meet and greet. And then we’ve got, the next day, two interview sessions – one with the entire Council and one with a community panel. And the next day we’re going to make a decision." That community meet and greet is Monday, October 8, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Sisters City Hall. Ryan believes they'll have the new City Manager in place by the end of fall.
BEND, OR -- Temperatures are cooling, but fire season isn’t done with us yet, as dry conditions linger on. Lauren Durocher, with the Deschutes National Forest, says smoke that settled over Bend in the last 24 hours is likely drifting in from the south of us, "Fire activity has slightly picked up on some of the larger fire incidents that are happening around Oregon and northern California. So, most of what we’re seeing is likely from those fires."
We’re in for a slight shift in the weather pattern this weekend, but she says it won’t be enough to end the fire danger, "There’s some forecast of some slight precipitation and potential thunderstorms Saturday and possibly Sunday, so be watching that. But, after that, I think there’s a continued trend of some more warm and dry weather."
Deer rifle hunting season starts this weekend and Durocher urges everyone to be careful, "Public use restrictions, including those campfire restrictions, are still in place across the forest. So, that means there are no campfires allowed, other than in some particular designated campgrounds. Be prepared, as you head out for hunting season. Propane stoves are an option; pack more blankets, to make sure you’re warm enough at night and in the morning."
The 2018 fire season ranks as one of Oregon's worst. "We're on track to exceed our 10-year average, which is right around 947 fires," says Russ Lane, Deputy Chief of Operations for the Oregon Department of Forestry. This year, 904 fires burned more than 800,000 acres. Two-thirds of those fires were human caused, which Lane says is about average. In southwest Oregon, the Miles and Klondike fires are not yet contained.
Fighting Oregon's fires cost more than $100 million, most of which will be paid by the federal government. The state will shell out about $42 million.
Photo: A wildfire sparked by illegal fireworks scorched 10 acres of Bend's Pilot Butte, July 4, 2018.
BEND, OR -- Five candidates running for Mayor of Bend answered questions about growth, the septic to sewer issue, and the differences between each other at a public forum, Thursday afternoon.
City Councilor Bill Moseley says affordable housing is a major problem, but he doesn't believe micromanaging makes it better, "The city doesn't need to provide extra regulations, rules, all these kinds of things. The city needs to get out of the way. So, when we place inordinate burdens on particular properties, we actually just make it more and more expensive." He adds, "If we don't bring land supply on, Bend is going to continue to become a more and more expensive community and there won't be a place for our kids to live anymore. I just don't think that's the Bend of the future for us." Lawyer and hemp farmer Michael Hughes says the housing issue is more than simple supply and demand, "Part of the affordable housing crisis is attracting higher paying jobs to Bend. Bend is in the middle of an economic boom, but we can do better. We can bring more jobs, there are other sectors of the economy that we can draw from and bring in higher paying jobs."
Managing growth was a big focus of Thursday's forum. Photojournalist Joshua Langlais says growth is inevitable, but he thinks there's a way to slow it down, "I think that we need to suck it up and realize that growth is going to happen, and choose the best way forward. People are going to have to make sacrifices with growth. It's compromising, and being fair and ethical." He added, "This 'nimbyism,' this hating on tourism, 'these damn Californians;' I'm just so tired of hearing about it. The word is out on Bend. We did a great job. We told everybody about it, and we can also stop doing that. We don't have to continue telling the world about Bend, because everybody knows." But Councilor and Mayor Pro Tem Sally Russell says it's not that easy, "We need to understand that tourism is 20% of our economy. We need to understand that tourism creates resiliency in downturns. Right? It brings a lot of people, but it also contributes in many ways." She went on to explain that Visit Bend only advertises in markets within eight hours of Central Oregon, and room taxes go toward road maintenance and paying for law enforcement.
When asked about the septic to sewer conversion currently impacting 2,600 properties, which could cost individual homeowners up to $25,000, Russell says she wants to tell the DEQ to stand aside, "If I got to be Mayor for a day and got my way 100%, I would have the neighborhoods make the decision on whether or not they, as a group, wanted to save money and actually do it all together." Activist Brian Douglass says no one can claim the conversion comes as a surprise, "The city has take the funds from the tax revenue from that area and they have spent it in other places, and they did not set up any kind of a fund for the purposes of putting money aside to deal with a problem they knew was coming."
Missing from Thursday's event was candidate Charles Baer, founder of the self-proclaimed global internet government. He tells KBND News he would have liked to participate but was not invited. COAR says Baer was emailed with the same invitation as the other candidates, on August 28, and failed to respond to the request to appear. For more on the candidates, visit our Elections Page.
8:45 a.m. Updated to reflect new information received by COAR that Charles Baer was invited and failed to respond to the organization's request.
Photo: (L-R) Michael Hughes, Sally Russell, Brian Douglass, Joshua Longlais and Bill Moseley listen to the moderator at Thursday's debate.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College will hold a series of forums, next week, to get input on its search for a new President. Dr. Shirley Metcalf plans to retire at the end of the school year, and the Board of Directors would like to have a new leader in place by next fall.
COCC Develops Plan to Replace President (09/17/2018)
A national recruiting firm will meet with the public throughout the day Monday:
- 9-10 a.m. COCC Madras (1170 E Ashwood Rd)
- 11-12 p.m. COCC Crook County (510 SE Lynn Blvd, Prineville)
- 1:30-2:30 p.m. COCC Redmond, Tech Ed Center; Rm. 224 (2030 SE College Lp)
- 4-5 p.m. Deschutes Public Library; Brooks Rm. (601 NW Wall St., Bend)
Another forum is scheduled for La Pine, Tuesday morning:
- 10-11 a.m. La Pine City Hall (16345 Sixth St.)
Click HERE for more information.
BEND, OR -- A grass fire just north of Bend slowed traffic to a crawl on Highway 97 for more than an hour, Thursday afternoon. Firefighters responded just after 3 p.m. and found a slow-moving blaze burning about 200-yards along a narrow strip on the west side of the highway.
One southbound lane was closed while they worked to fight the blaze. With four engines on-scene, crews brought the fire under control within 17 minutes. An Oregon Department of Forestry engine was dispatched, but was canceled before it arrived.
Investigators were unable to determine a cause.
MITCHELL, OR -- A Redmond man was killed this week when his motorcycle collided with a semi-truck in eastern Wheeler County.
According to State Police, 26-year-old Gregory Vibbert was southbound on Highway 207 when he lost control and laid the motorcycle down on its side, Wednesday afternoon. It was then hit near the centerline on a curve by an oncoming truck driven by a Hermiston man.
Vibbert was pronounced dead at the scene.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office held a first-of-its-kind SWAT training last week in Crook County, unbeknownst to most residents. Captain Paul Garrison says it's important that officers learn the latest techniques in a controlled setting. "The Oregon State Sheriff’s Association identified that there were some needs for some additional training, wider spread. So, myself and Lt. Nick Hunter, from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, were tasked to design this, come up with a plan and implement it."
He says the OSSA plans to offer training in various regions, "The intent, from this point forward, will be to move that regionally around the state so that not any one agency is burdened with having to send their officers, their deputies, all the time out of their home area." He tells KBND News previous trainings were held in only one area and participation was limited.
Last week's training brought 22 students and 24 instructors from 13 law enforcement agencies to the National Guard facility outside Prineville. Sessions included time in the classroom and real-world drills (pictured).
Capt. Garrison says he'd like to see trainings eventually expanded to include non-SWAT members who would benefit from tactical knowledge, "The agencies that are farther to the east, that have less resources, that don’t have teams at their disposal, need to be able to handle situations. So, there will be an ‘advanced patrol tactic’ class at some point, that will be built from this class, as well."
To hear our full conversation with Captain Paul Garrison, visit our Podcast Page.
BEND, OR -- It’s animal migration season and Oregon's Department of Transportation (ODOT) has dubbed this “Watch Out for Wildlife Week” because of the risk posed to drivers by animals headed to their winter grounds.
Mule deer are a common site around Central Oregon. But Suzanne Linford, founder of the group Protect Animal Migration (PAM), says numbers are dwindling, "They are at less than 50% of their sustainability. We see so many of them because they’re stranded in our yards; they cannot migrate." Of those that try, many are killed by highway traffic. In the High Desert, deer must cross Highway 97 each fall to get to the Fort Rock area. Linford would like to see the creation of more wildlife crossings, "For connectivity, for them to be able to cross 97 and other feeder streets. We have approximately 5,000 animal-vehicle collisions a year, just here in Deschutes County." She says those crashes cost millions of dollars a year.
According to Linford, wildlife crossings are improving safety for drivers and animals. So far, there are three such crossings in Oregon, "Two are near Sunriver, and they have reduced animal-vehicle collisions by 85% and are being used by 40 species of animals." The third is west of the Cascades. North of Gilchrist, a bridge is being converted into the state's fourth animal crossing, "In many cases, bridges can be modified, culverts can be modified, as well as having under-crossings and over-crossings constructed."
PAM works with ODOT, the Oregon Hunters Association, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Forest Service, and Linford hopes her message will make it to lawmakers so the state will eventually fund construction of more crossings. In an effort to raise awareness, PAM will host a wildlife film festival at 10 Barrel East on Friday, from 6 - 8 p.m. For more information, click HERE.
BEND, OR -- Rural Americans don't have adequate internet access, and a new poll shows most think Congress is to blame. According to national statistics, 39% of rural areas - the equivalent of 23-million people - don't have access to the internet because broadband hasn't expanded to their area.
The group Connect Americans Now polled 800 registered voters through an online survey, and found 92% believe the internet is important to daily life. Zach Cikanek says, "There might've been a time when folks didn't really realize what they were missing. Today, everyone knows when they're missing out. They know when their friends who live in suburban and urban centers have access to tools and resources that are not available in their communities; they're aware of it, and they want to see solutions." He also says 85% think improving wireless service would reduce the divide between urban and rural residents.
Cikanek says 69% of voters agree that those without broadband access are at a disadvantage, "There are a lot of tools and resources available to help close this digital divide. Internet service providers, especially in rural communities, have to connect communities where there might be just two to 50 households per square mile."
Respondents also called out Congress for not doing enough. Cikanek tells KBND News 72% believe lawmakers could do more, and 66% think their Senators and Representative don't care at all. He's working with the CEOs for rural wireless companies to take the survey results to Washington, "It's important that lawmakers are aware that not everyone sees that they're making real progress on this issue, and they do want to see that happen. And they want to see it sooner, rather than later." He says Oregon's Congressional delegation steadfastly supports Connect Americans Now's efforts to eliminating the digital divide.
LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine Democrat hopes a grassroots campaign will propel her to Salem. Karen Rippberger is trying to unseat State Representative Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte). She hopes to focus on the state budget, working toward fiscal responsibility, while ensuring education and affordable housing are both adequately funded.
She says laws are being passed that don't work for everyone in District 55, "We need somebody who will explain and advocate and educate so people in Salem understand that sometimes they're putting a burden on us out here." Rippberger tells KBND News she has has a unique perspective, gained by living in both urban and rural areas. "This is such a wonderful district, and the people in it. There's wonderful individuals with these exciting ideas, they're so creative and they love their communities. They don't want a handout; they want a hand-up and they want to be able to work in their communities in ways that make sense for them."
Because of her experience as a special education teacher, Rippberger says she's uniquely qualified to work in situations some people find frustrating. "I'm used to advocating for students that are misunderstood and overlooked, and I can advocate here, and we can get some things done that make more sense for Central Oregon." She claims she won't accept donations from special interest groups, "I am not supported by Corporate interests. My money comes from individuals, and that's the way it will stay." She adds, "This is a grassroots campaign, and I'm a grassroots kind of person."
If elected, Rippberger promises to hold a town hall in every community in District 55 each year she's in office. For more on the candidates, visit KBND's Elections Page.
BEND, OR -- Bend fire says a carelessly discarded cigarette led to a fire at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes that caused about $20,000 in damage, Wednesday. Maintenance staff called 911 at about 6:45 p.m. They started evacuating the area and attacking the blaze with fire extinguishers.
When fire crews arrived, they found flames burning up an exterior wall. The hotel was at 100% occupancy, but firefighters were able to put out the flames before they spread inside, and guests were able to return to their rooms.
Investigators say smoking material tossed from a second-floor walkway ignited dryer lint that had accumulated on the ground outside the main laundry.
SISTERS, OR -- A domestic abuse call in Sisters, earlier this week, led to the arrest of a man suspected of committing multiple car break-ins. When Deschutes County Sheriff's Deputies responded to a home on East Jefferson, Tuesday afternoon, they say they determined 19-year-old Noah Kirshner had caused extensive damage inside and had been throwing rocks at vehicles.
During that investigation, they found evidence linking Kirshner to multiple car prowls, reported earlier that day. He faces multiple charges, including second degree theft and eight counts of unlawful entry into motor vehicles.
BEND, OR -- The tri-county area continues its trend of job growth, with the typical numbers of jobs added and lost in August. But, experts say things will slow, eventually.
Deschutes County's unemployment rate, last month, dipped to a new record low of 3.7%. Jefferson county fell slightly to 4.8% and Crook County held steady at 5.4%. Deschutes County's rate is about half a point lower than a year ago, while both Crook and Jefferson counties are about 1% lower. Regional employment economist Damon Runberg says there are drastic differences between the counties in how their jobless rates are achieved, but they're fairly typical for this time of year. "We're pretty much as low as we're going to get, I think. For the most part, hiring continues at sort of a steady pace, but if we look at sort of the job change over the last three or four months on a seasonally adjusted basis, we're starting to see that we're sort of just matching seasonal expectations." He adds, "Some of it has to do with how severe the recession was in each of those communities, and some of it has to do with opportunities for employment growth."
Runberg says Central Oregon will continue to enjoy a healthy economy, but by perhaps 2020, job growth could slow dramatically, "It definitely seems like we're going to continue to see the rate of growth slow down at the end of 2018 and early 2019, as well." He tells KBND News, "We try not to use the big 'R' Word, but sort of some policy things combined with where we're at in the business cycle; we think we'll probably be able to maintain this momentum through 2019. But after that, we might see a significant slowdown in the state of Oregon."
Deschutes County lost 150 jobs in August, which is slightly less than expected. The biggest losses were in retail trade while the largest gains were in the construction sector. Crook County added a total of 20 jobs, last month; fewer than expected. And, Jefferson County lost 70 jobs, which is in line with seasonal norms.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Schools Superintendent Mike McIntosh is worried about what he says is an exponential rise in the number of students caught vaping, "E-cigarettes: electronic devices that they’re using to consume a number of things, from plain old cigarette-type nicotine to marijuana, to rat poison. It’s absolutely scary what’s going on in our school system – probably in our society and world at large."
Instances of young people using these inhalant systems seems to be on the rise, and McIntosh says it can't be ignored, "Tobacco is not allowed in our school system, so the treatment for tobacco is we suspend the students that are in possession of it or certainly share it with others. So, we’re treating all vaping – whether it’s tobacco or something far worse – simply as tobacco. The first two weeks of school, we suspended 20 students for the possession of and/or distributing tobacco via a vape pen." And, he says it’s not just in the high schools. Two of those 20 suspended students were in the fifth grade.
McIntosh tells KBND News the use of vape pens and e-cigarettes in schools surged last spring, "As summer wore on, it has absolutely reached – I think not a climax; I think it’s still going in the wrong direction. But, parents are buying, often times the apparatus and the contents believing that it’s safer; if they’re going to pick a fight with their child, then let’s pick one they have some control over. I’m not convinced by any stretch that it is safer."
He’s sending a letter to families in the district this week explaining what he calls an epidemic, and how parents can be proactive and talk to kids about the dangers of all forms of tobacco, including these popular devices. McIntosh says vaping can be difficult to track because it doesn't smell like traditional cigarettes, and flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy help mask the scent. According to McIntosh, one cartridge has as much nicotine as a full pack of cigarettes.
Pictured: (top) Some devices look like a pen and emit no smoke. (upper right) Juul brand electronic cigarettes were released in late 2017 and often look like a USB drive.
BEND, OR -- A lawyer and industrial Hemp farmer wants to be Bend's next Mayor. Michael Hughes says he would govern in a kind, safe and smart manner, "I see myself as a nonpartisan, able to listen to and understand all sides, and I'm a problem solver, so I see myself as very well suited to this new position that's come up."
Hughes wants to preserve the feeling of community in Bend, "I think there's a lot of things regarding the land use and other things that the city is going to be dealing with in the future, that we have to do in a smart way." He tells KBND News, "Bend's a safe town, I think we all feel safe here, and we want to continue to feel safe here, and one of the things I really want to focus on is fire prevention and preparedness." Hughes believes with steady, people focused leadership, the great things about Bend will continue to flourish, "And I think, By and large, bend's a kind town. It's still a small town, it still has a small town feel, people are still friendly and wave and talk to each other, and I want to continue that."
His family began farming hemp in Nebraska in the 1930s and he started his own industrial venture in Bend four years ago. He thinks his experience as a farmer relates to cultivating a growing city, "Like anything, Farming has a plethora of difficulties involved in it, take out the weather and other factors, there's a lot of stuff that goes into farming." He attended law school as a farmer because, he says, he knew knowledge was power when it came to dealing with the government, "I've been very vigilant in paying attention to what goes on in the city and the county, of course, regarding land use issues in particular, and those that might also cross-sect with the cannabis industry."
In the November election, Hughes faces Bend City Councilors Bill Moseley and Sally Russell, activist Brian Douglass, photojournalist Joshua Langlais and Charles Baer. For more on the candidates, visit our Elections 2018 page.
BEND, OR -- A local partnership between emergency agencies is now an example of how collaboration can save lives. Bend Fire EMS Training Officer Petar Hossick says he started talking with Deschutes County 911 Training Coordinator Megan Craig in 2013, in an effort to improve the outcome of cardiac calls, "What we’ve learned from the science is that it’s so important that 911 is super aggressive with giving telephone CPR instructions."
Before that, he says he hadn’t been in Deschutes County’s dispatch center in 15 years. Now, he says he meets with dispatchers and trainers, regularly, "When I realized how important to the early links of survival: early identification of cardiac arrest, early CPR on the telephone, getting an AED if one was available – those are kind of the first three links in the chain of survival; and dispatch controls all of those."
Hossick says they improved cardiac arrest survival rates in Bend by training dispatchers to switch from asking a caller whether they’re willing to perform CPR, to saying, “I’m going to tell you how to do CPR." He tells KBND News, "The other thing was being really, really fast at this. So, asking just a couple of questions to determine are they conscious, are they breathing normally? If the answer to those two questions turns out to be ‘no,’ then we’re going to CPR instructions."
On Wednesday, Hossick and Craig will take part in a national webinar, "The feds are using us as a case study for how this can be done and the results you can get from it," says Hossick. "For us, it seems like, ‘wow; we’ve been doing this for a long time.’ But, across the nation, it’s still kind of new stuff. And, if our little piece of our story can help other agencies get good at this, that’s our goal."
SISTERS, OR -- Fire crews responded to a brush fire along Highway 126, between Redmond and Sisters, Tuesday afternoon. It was first spotted at milepost 101, east of Fryrear Road, just after 2:30 p.m.
Air and ground units responded quickly, getting a line around the 3/4-acre fire. The blaze forced the closure of one eastbound lane of 126 while crews attacked the flames. It was fully contained and the highway reopened just after 6 p.m.
In August, three wildfires burned about a dozen acres of brush and trees along Highway 126, near Tuesday's incident.
BEND, OR -- Just over half of America’s population is female; yet, only about a quarter of elected positions, nationwide, are currently held by women, according to a Rutgers University study. Chelsea Callicott says the idea for this week's "25%" forum in Bend came from learning of that low number, and seeing how women are often treated when they run for office, "I’ve heard it so many times, ‘smart and pretty!’ When is men’s appearance really commented on? But, for women, we’re just vicious. ‘Kankles;’ the kankle phrase came up. It’s – yeah; we’re mean."
Despite the national statistic, Callicott says Oregon is doing better, "It’s ranked number nine, so we actually have a larger percentage of women both serving and running." And, she's encouraged by the number of local woman running, this November, "Of all those running this fall, there are a lot running against incumbents, which is definitely an uphill battle. So, there’s still not necessarily a huge amount of them expected to win. But, you are seeing in droves, a lot of women running for politics; and that’s really the purpose of this event."
She says her public discussion, hosted by The World Muse, will also look at the double standards that often keep women off the campaign trail, "There’s a confidence level that often is lacking in women candidates and so it, I think, sometimes comes across as overzealousness or, perhaps, angry, or these qualities that just, we don’t allow or appreciate in women." And, she tells KBND News, "To be a successful woman running for office, you have to be more articulate – you just have to be on your ‘A’ game, there’s no room for sloppiness. And, because we judge women more harshly than men, women actually have to be likable as a candidate. Men can win and not be likable."
Wednesday's event starts at 6 p.m. at the Liberty Theater and will be moderated by humorist Shanan Kelley. Panelists include Cheri Helt, a Republican running for Bend's State House seat, Amy Lowes, a Democrat running for Deschutes County Commissioner, Sally Russell, running for Bend Mayor and Gena Goodman-Campbell, running for Bend City Council. Click HERE for tickets. To listen to our full conversation about women in politics with Chelsea Callicott, visit our Podcast Page.
REDMOND, OR -- The two candidates running for Mayor in Redmond took part in their first public forum, Monday night, at an event hosted by the Redmond Patriots. Earlier in the day, incumbent Mayor George Endicott and former mayor Ed Fitch met in their first face-to-face debate, on KBND's Morning News.
On housing, Fitch says there’s not enough variety in Redmond’s inventory and he’s worried about what he calls tract housing, "One thing I’ve talked to the staff about is they’ve recommended a number of items that would create neighborhoods – more of a feel of neighborhoods, such as Canyon Rim Village. That advice has gone unheeded at the City Council level." Endicott says the city supports the development of neighborhood amenities, citing Obsidian trails, in southwest Redmond, as an example, "They put in a huge trail, an expansive trail system; there’s a great housing mix in there: single family, multi family, cottages, townhouses. And all of the master plans that we’ve approved lately are like that."
Both agree the city must work with the Oregon Department of Transportation to fix traffic problems on South Highway 97. Endicott says he’s looking at short-term solutions; but eventually, phase two of the reroute will ease congestion, "There is a long-term solution, 30-50 years out, because it’s going to be so expensive; into the hundreds of millions." Fitch says preparations need to get underway now, for a South 97 Reroute, "I’m not looking at 30-50 years. What I think we need to do now is preserve the corridor on the east side of the tracks. Otherwise, that’s just going to be built up with new development. If we don’t do it, the south half of the reroute won’t happen."
On public safety, and the recent hiring of more police officers, Fitch says, "Obviously, public safety is the number one priority of any community, but it also has to be in balance with everything else the community has to provide. I agree with the hiring of more police officers, but I don’t think you should strip every other department to do it." He would like to see voters decide on either a tax measure or special levy to fund police operations. Mayor Endicott says City Council already ruled out that idea, "We have looked at a property tax measure. We determined not to do that; one: the numbers in the poll we did were not supporting it."
To listen to our full conversation with Endicott and Fitch, click HERE. And, for more coverage of the November mid-terms, visit our Election 2018 page. Both candidates are expected to take part in another public event Wednesday at 10 a.m., when Redmond Proficiency Academy students ask questions during a forum at the McClay Theatre, at 640 SW Evergreen, in downtown Redmond.
BEND, OR -- Swalley Irrigation District plans to pipe 16.6 miles of its main canals and laterals, and they're looking for public input on possible impacts to the watershed. Swalley Irrigation provides water to nearly 700 users across more than 4,300 acres.
State water conservationist Tom Makowski helped develop the two-year plan and says it encompasses more than half the district, "Roughly close to 30 miles of main canals and laterals in Swalley, and they're talking about converting 16.6 miles of the open canals and laterals." And, he says the massive project will need plenty of capital, "$11 million is what they're asking for in federal funds. Now that is matched with funds from state agencies, and then also from the district."
Makowski says a public meeting scheduled for next month is one of the final stages in getting the project approved and underway, "When we get to a final draft, and we respond to all the comments in writing, then we would go ahead and submit that to our national headquarters for funding authorization, and we hope to be able to do that before the end of the year." He believes, if everything goes as planned, construction would begin this winter, "One of the things that's difficult here is we that have just that limited time about six months of construction time to work on this." He tells KBND News, "I am pleased about that because it does reaffirm what we thought from the beginning that there's clearly more beneficial effects and impacts than there are any kind of detrimental ones."
The public meeting will be held October 10 at 6 p.m., at Cascades Academy. Click HERE for more information on the meeting, and to access Swalley's Draft Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment.
REDMOND, OR -- One new Redmond Police officer and one promoted from within were sworn in Monday, during a ceremony at City Hall. Officer Zach Moore was hired from a department in Arizona and Erik Beckwith was promoted to Lieutenant. During the ceremony, Chief Dave Tarbet offered them both a little advice, "As you progress through your career, help those that fall behind you, so that as you climb the ladder of success, those behind you on the ladder, you'll pull them with you up that ladder. I've always remembered that and it's helped me a lot in my career."
Chief Tarbet tells KBND News this is just the start of a hiring push at the department, "We had a vacancy come open as a Lieutenant, and in order to promote up the chain, we had to backfill it with a new hire off the street. So, you could say this new hire here, Zach Moore, is actually the backfill for Lt. Beckwith's position." And, he says, more are coming in the next several months, "All in all, it'll be four new hires and that will get us up to 42 sworn officers. We're still about four short, but this helps immensely. We're looking forward to beefing up our patrol teams and being able to handle the call load out there on the street." Because those offers were extended to officers working at other agencies, Tarbet says they don't need as long to get up to speed and get out on patrol.
City Council approved the hiring of four new officers in May, by allocating more money to the department. That increased law enforcement funding came from the city's general fund, which left the parks department without the increase it needed for maintenance and staffing. Officials say the police department's growth has not kept pace with the city's, which has just about doubled in population in the past 15 years.
Photos: (Top) Lt. Erik Beckwith is sworn in by Chief Dave Tarbet. (Upper Right) Officer Zach Moore's wife pins on his new Redmond PD badge.
REDMOND, OR -- Firefighters say an elderly man smoking on his bed caused a Saturday afternoon fire, in Southwest Redmond. The resident is wheelchair-bound and was unable to evacuate.
Fire crews sheltered the man in an unaffected bedroom while the mattress was removed through the back door and flames were extinguished. The blaze was contained to the mattress and caused about $1,000 dollars in damage.
BEND, OR -- Visit Bend and Hydro-Flask are partnering with local breweries to celebrate Designated Drivers on Bend’s Ale Trail. Kevney Dugan, CEO of Visit Bend, says they rolled out new perks, last week, to encourage responsible participation in the popular program.
The Designated Driver takes their group to each stop, where they get a free non-alcoholic beverage. "They will get a slightly different stamp than the person who is actually doing the Ale Trail," Dugan tells KBND News, "This person will receive a stamp that says, ‘Designated Champion.’ And then, when they come back to Visit Bend after completing 10 stops with their friends, they will receive a different product, which is going to be the HydroFlask True Pint." Dugan says that premium prize is designed to recognize and celebrate the person committed to making sure their friends have a fun and safe visit. Regular participants receive a Sillipint glass in exchange for their completed passport.
Last fiscal year, Dugan says about 3,500 turned in their filled passport. He says there have been no reports of drunk driving cases tied to the Ale Trail, and he'd like to keep it that way, "Let’s enjoy this wonderful community product of craft beer; but let’s add this responsible wrinkle to the program, to ensure that beyond Uber and Lyft, taxis and other ride-share programs, that there is this fun way for someone to be the responsible party and enjoy the Ale Trail as a designated driver." He says most people want to be safe, "They intend to be a connoisseur of beer, and so they’re doing it just to sample beer and see the breweries; and we don’t see a whole lot of people who are doing it for the pure, ‘let’s go hit it all 10 in one day’ or all 16 in a day. It’s become exactly what we want, which is a way to enjoy what is one of those unique facets of Bend that is a differentiator in our community than other communities."
BEND, OR -- a man accused of punching Bend's Police Chief, last month, is now wanted for failing to appear at a court hearing on assault charges. Chief Jim Porter says he was getting coffee at the Dutch Bros on NE Third Street, on his way to a meeting, when he encountered Nicholas Pearson, "At first he was on the sidewalk, very animated and yelling. He then started jumping out into traffic and people were having to leave their lane to go around him. As one vehicle passed, he threw a cup, a container at them, that had liquid in it; it hit the back of the vehicle and splattered all over."
Porter says he approached the man and tried to calm him down, saying, "‘It looks like you’re having a bad day. Just pick up your litter and we’ll move on.’ He said some disgruntled remarks towards me, went out and picked up his litter and said, ‘well, what if I don’t'." He tells KBND News, "At that point, he uttered that he was going to assault me, and came across the parking lot at me, and threw the cup at me. At that point, I had to push him back away from me twice. The third time he came at me, I picked my radio up to call for help and he managed to slip a punch in, from his right side [to] my left and strike me in the head." Porter says he was not in uniform, but was wearing a department issued polo shirt with an embroidered badge, along with his badge attached to his hip.
He says he wasn't able to call for backup sooner, because dispatchers had called for halt to non-emergency radio traffic while officers dealt with an emergency situation across town. "[I] Took him into an escort hold, took him into the ground and held him in place on the curb until I was able to call for assistance; and picked my sunglasses up that he’d knocked off my head." Porter believes the man was suffering from a mental problem, just like many people, he says his officers deal with everyday.
The incident is now under investigation by the Bend Police Department. Porter says that's standard procedure, "I fill out a use of force, just like any other officer does, because I did put hands on him and I did take him down and force him down to the ground and held him there. It’s reviewed by a Sergeant, then a Lieutenant and a Captain; it’ll come back to me. In this case I will not receive it; it’ll go to one of my administrative captains. I won’t approve my own use of force."
According to the District Attorney's Office, Pearson is charged with Assaulting a Public Safety Officer, Resisting Arrest, Disorderly Conduct 2 and Offensive Littering. A warrant was issued for his arrest after the suspect failed to appear at a hearing on those charges, August 30.
BEND, OR -- A Bend-based marijuana producer has lost its state license after the OLCC says it found 13 violations. Those allegations include failing to enter data into the state’s inventory tracking system, not tagging some plants at all, and blacking out entries into the visitors log-book.
According to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which overseas the state's recreational pot industry, High Cascade Farms reported two plants were destroyed due to pests. But pot plants tagged with the same numbers were recovered from a duplex in northeast Bend, last March, after an explosion caused by a Butane Honey Oil operation. The OLCC says David Paulsen, who was burned during that explosion, had an undisclosed ownership interest in the business.
Another plant was reportedly destroyed because of mildew, when it was actually in a drying room. The company is also accused of removing the suspension notice from the front door of the business. Click HERE to read the full report from the OLCC.
High Cascade Farms is owned by Byzantium Corp. It's President is listed as Charles Ringo, a Bend-based attorney.
BEND, OR -- A Portland man was hurt while hiking South Sister, Sunday afternoon, prompting a Search and Rescue operation. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, 64-year-old Keith Doherty fell while walking on the trail near Lewis Glacier, at about 1 p.m., and wasn’t able to continue.
Four volunteers were flown to the scene by Air Link, while others hiked in from the Devil’s Lake Trailhead. The man was wheeled to the helicopter and taken to St. Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries.
BEND, OR -- Bend firefighters responded to a duplex fire, Friday afternoon, impacting both units of a duplex on Elizabeth Lane. Arriving crews discovered flames extending up the side of the building and into the eaves adn attic space. No one was home at the time and two cats in a second-floor bedroom survived.
Investigators believe the fire was caused by heat from an in-wall electric heater, which ignited thermal insulation and sheet rock. The fire then burned through outdoor siding and up into the seconf floor, breaking a bedroom window. It caused about $100,000 in damage.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Airport was forced to close for a couple of hours Friday afternoon, after a small plane landed without functioning landing gear. Redmond Fire applied foam to the aircraft, after the successful “belly-landing” due to a small amount of smoke, but there were no injuries. The pilot was the only person aboard, and he walked away unscathed.
Flights were diverted or delayed following the incident because the alternate runway was closed by construction. The airport reopened after the twin-engine plane was towed from the scene.
BEND, OR -- The Independent Pary candidate for Governor says he's the only one talking about campaign finance reform. Yet, he believes it should be at the top of the priority list, "Because the big money is wagging the dog," says Patrick Starnes, "So first you have to get the big money out of politics, and then we can do a lot of these other reforms, like education and tax reform." He brought his campaign to Bend, this week, to talk about why he's the best person for the top job.
Starnes was elected twice to the Douglas Education Service District and once to the McKenzie School Board. He believes school board experience should be mandatory for anyone running for Governor, "I have a deep love for education. and not just k-12, job training also needs to be a big component of our education so, and we need to train folks, because only 12% of high school students go on to college, so that's a lot of people that need job training." He says his 30-year career as a cabinet-maker also give him a unique perspective, "I feel like my blue collar work experience and my school board experience is deeper than a lifetime politician or a rookie legislator." Starnes tells KBND News the state isn't doing enough with wood products, and should build more finished wood products in state, which will boost the economy and help small, local businesses.
As the Independent Party nominee, Starnes says he doesn't have the political machines of Governor Kate Brown and Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend), so he's taking his message to the streets, "I'm sure there are a lot of people who aren't happy with Brown, of course, and then there are a lot of folks who aren't happy with Buehler and his work here in Bend, so we're hoping for that largest third across the state, and we are traveling to every county, and all five districts, congressional districts, and we're not just focusing on Portland, and Eugene, and the Willamette Valley."
According to Starnes, 38% of Oregon voters don't consider themselves members of either of the two major parties, which leads him to conclude the Governor's race will be decided by the disillusioned.
For more coverage of the November mid-terms, visit our Elections 2018 page.
MADRAS, OR -- St. Charles Health System is conducting full-scale active weapons threat drills. The first was earlier this month at the Prineville hospital. And, the next is scheduled for Monday evening at the Madras campus. People may notice more emergency vehicles than normal at the hospital, during the training.
Andrea Kidder is the Emergency Management Coordinator for the health system. She says the drills were created after talking with staff at all four Central Oregon hospitals. "I guess I phrase it as ‘what keeps you up at night?’ And, it’s been [an] overwhelming response that it is a potential shooting event or an active weapons threat, as we call it, in the hospital setting." She tells KBND News, "In order for our caregivers to, as I say, so they can sleep at night and be more prepared, we’re going to drill with our community partners and test our response. And then, also see how we would integrate with law enforcement and EMS, coming in to the hospital setting if, knock on wood – hopefully it won’t happen – but, potentially, we do have that active weapons threat situation."
The hospital has partnered with Jefferson County law enforcement agencies and EMS for Monday's operation. Kidder says they’ll run two scenarios. The first will take place inside the main hospital, and will allow staff to practice their "run, hide, fight" training, "Because, if you’re running during an exercise, or even during an active weapons threat, yes, you might have to leave some of your patients so you can save yourself. And return afterwards so you can take care of them." She says they're bringing in additional staff to make sure patient care isn't impacted.
The second drill takes place in the health clinic, which is closed in the evening. She says organizers learned from the Prineville training that scenarios needed to be as realistic as possible, for first responders. So, staff will be dressed up as victims and, "They will smell gunfire, they will see shell casings, they will see, unfortunately, blood on the wall; and those are indicators as to where to find the shooters."
Kidder says the Madras training is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. to have minimal impact on hospital operations, "And then, we will do Redmond, as well; and Bend will be last. We’ll do all four of these by the end of the year."
BEND, OR -- Students got back to class Thursday at Central Oregon’s only four-year university. OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson says the the school continues to grow, "We’ll probably have our largest class – our largest enrollment that we’ve ever had at OSU-Cascades. We have the most students that will be living in our residence halls and that’s cool, because they’re there all the time and it just is a really different atmosphere than students who come and go."
Despite the growth, Johnson tells KBND News Bend is not at risk of becoming the stereotypical college town. The student body equals about 1% of the city's total population, "We’re 1,200 students, right now, and a couple hundred employees, in a town of 90,000. Unlike Corvallis, where there’s 25,000 students and 10,000 faculty and staff, in a town of 50 or 60,000." Official enrollment numbers won’t be available until next month.
This fall, OSU-Cascades also welcomed a younger group of students, with the opening of the Bend Science Station, which serves kids in grades K through 12.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- As the weather cools, forestry managers often conduct fire prevention operations, including prescribed burns. But, a large operation planned for the Ochoco National Forest has been postponed indefinitely, because the season has been so dry.
Stacy Lacey, with the Forest Service, says prescribed burns are designed to reduce the risk of wildfire. But, under the current conditions, it could lead to what it's trying to prevent, "The nights are colder, the days are cooler, but the fuel bed is still very dry." She tells KBND News crews are preparing, just in case, "It is still very dry, going into fall, and we have not had any moisture yet. We have firefighters out in the field getting all the lines constructed, getting some hoses in; that way, when we do get moisture, we can go out and still hit that burn window and accomplish some acres out in the forest."
Lacey acknowledges prescribed burns can be a nuisance, but "is very needed on our forests for forest health." She says, "We know it puts smoke up in the air, but the positive side of that is, burn smoke lasts a much shorter time frame, and it's controlled. Whereas, if a large wildfire went into that area, it would be very drastic. It wouldn't be healthy for our forest." But, she says it will be a while before it's safe to conduct local operations, including the 4,685-acre "canyon" burn. "If my crystal ball could be accurate, it's going to still be a couple weeks out before we're going to see any kind of precipitation."
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Facebook is growing again, in Prineville. The social media giant announced Thursday it will construct two more buildings, bringing its total footprint to 3.2 million square feet, in Crook County. Its last expansion was announced last December.
Facebook officials estimate the additions to its data center campus near the Prineville Airport will bring 100 additional jobs, taking the company's local workforce to 450. Crook County Judge Seth Crawford says it's a huge benefit to the economy, "With this increased construction and building new facilities here, we’re seeing those families move back." Crook County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson says Facebook is a major supporter, "The contributions that you’re making to our school district are giving the people who are serving kids the power to build this community." She adds, "I was able to count up 397,162 that Facebook has contributed to the School district."
Construction is expected to cost $750 million, and should be complete by mid-2020. In July, Facebook announced a major solar power initiative for its existing facilities, and increasing the amount of solar power in Oregon by more than 20%. They anticipate the new data centers will also be "hyper-efficient" and be supported by the new renewable energy resources under development in the area.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man is accused of pointing a gun at drivers during an alleged road rage incident, near Tumalo, Thursday afternoon. Witnesses reported a man was using hand gestures and driving erratically on Highway 20, trying to intimidate others; at one point he allegedly pointed a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol out the window of his Suburban towards other drivers. No shots were fired and no injuries were reported.
Law enforcement caught up with the suspect vehicle as he approached Bend. They briefly shut down Highway 20 to conduct a "high-risk traffic stop" near Old bend-Redmond Highway. Deschutes County Deputies arrested 22-year-old Hawkens Hazelton on charges of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Pointing a Firearm at Another, Recklessly Endangering and Reckless Driving.
BEND, OR -- Gena Goodman-Campbell is running for Bend City Council because she wants to preserve what makes Bend special for future generations. She isn't new to politics; she ran against Representative Knute Buehler for Bend's House Seat in 2016. That campaign taught her a lot, "I knocked on thousands of doors all over Bend, every neighborhood; had hundreds of conversations with people in every corner of Bend. So, I heard a lot about what concerns people have and the challenges that people are experiencing, and have had a lot of time to think about solutions to those challenges."
Goodman-Campbell is the public lands coordinator for the Oregon Natural Desert Association, starting her ONDA career by working to protect the 30,000-acre Badlands. "I'm passionate about the place where we live, our mountains and our deserts and our rivers. I love being outside and I really want to pass that along to my daughter and the next generation and make sure that they can enjoy those valuable resources in the same way that we do."
She tells KBND News she thinks of herself as an experienced collaborator, and says she wants to help find common ground when it comes to complex issues, "I think we need to be more creative in creating more solutions, more options for affordable housing, and also affordable childcare, making sure transportation and getting around is affordable for people." She adds, "I want our next generation to inherit a healthy community that they can actually afford to live in. So, I'm running for City Council to create a more promising future for everyone in Bend."
In 2010, Goodman-Campbell was named one of 1000 Friends of Oregon's 35 innovators under 35. She faces Victor Johnson and Andrew Davis in the race for City Council Position Five. The Bend Chamber will host a forum to meet Council candidates, October 9.
For more continuing coverage of the November Midterms, visit our Elections 2018 page.
BEND, OR -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) has accepted an invitation from a local television station to debate his Democratic opponent, October fifth. Walden issued a statement expressing appreciation for the chance to discuss the issues, "Whether it be getting our veterans the care they deserve at the VA, combating the opioid crisis, or fixing broken forest policy to prevent catastrophic wildfires." He went on to say, "This debate will provide the venue for a robust conversation on these important subjects." Although the terms of the debate have not been released, Walden says it "will solicit questions from the public, be broadcast to a wide audience in Oregon, live streamed on social media and available for anyone interested to view online."
McLeod Skinner, Walden Disagree on Debates (08/28/18)
McLeod Skinner says the 30-minute televised debate is not long enough for a robust debate, given the time needed for introductions, opening statements and wrap up. She says the format proposed by KTVZ would be closed to the public and notes the station is owned by News-Press & Gazette Company (NPG), whose Chairman and CEO contributed $1,000 to Walden's campaign, according to McLeod Skinner. She says the City Club of Central Oregon has offered to host an impartially moderated debate, open and free to the public, with the opportunity for a live broadcast, "I propose that we mutually agree to accept the City Club's invitation to debate, at the same time and location in the district when you have already said you are available: on Friday, October 5th, at 7 p.m. in Bend," She said in a letter to the Congressman. She's asking for 90 minutes, that day, and is proposing at least two more debates in other parts of the district.
FRUITLAND, ID -- A Prineville man was killed in an apparent accident at a mill northwest of Boise, Wednesday morning. The Idaho Statesman reports 60-year-old Richard Foss was making a delivery at Woodgrain Millwork in Fruitland when a piece of equipment he was unloading fell on top of him.
First responders immediately attempted life saving measures at the scene; they say Foss was unresponsive but breathing. He was taken to St. Luke's hospital in Fruitland, where he later died. An autopsy is expected Thursday.
BEND, OR -- The third party candidate who launched a late campaign for Bend’s House District 54, has dropped out of the race, Wednesday, following accusations she lied about her college education in information submitted for the voters' pamphlet.
The Working Families Party says they support Amanda La Bell’s decision, "A candidate must have the full trust of their community to lead effectively. We are supportive of Amanda in putting the needs of her community first by suspending her campaign." Just two days ago, La Bell issued a statement acknowledging the incorrect information but said she was committed to the people of Bend and her campaign.
La Bell, an admitted Democrat, entered the race on the third-party ticket after Nathan Boddie, the Democratic nominee, refused to step aside amid groping allegations. Party leadership issued a statement Wednesday, saying, "The Oregon Working Families Party stepped into this race at the request of Bend community members who were left without an opportunity to vote for a candidate they believed in. Before nominating Amanda, we subjected her to the full vetting process that all candidates receive before they are nominated. Unfortunately, she was not fully forthcoming in this process and neglected to share the information that was released to the public this week." La Bell refused KBND News' request for comment.
Because it's past the filing deadline, La Bell's name will still appear on the November ballot and in the voters guide, alongside Boddie and Republican Cherie Helt.
BEND, OR -- St. Charles Health System administrators say they are working with a recruiting firm to prepare for a potential work stoppage by nurses at the Bend hospital, as labor talks drag on nearly four months after the previous contract expired. Although, both sides say they don’t want the bargaining process to lead to a strike.
In a statement obtained by KBND News, Chief Nursing Officer Debbie Robinson told caregivers, "We have a responsibility to ensure our hospitals are ready to provide safe patient care to our community at all times. As such, we have engaged an outside recruiting firm to help us prepare for a number of possibilities including a potential work stoppage. While we hope we won’t need their services, this is not an unusual step during the bargaining process. We absolutely believe we can come to an agreement on a contract that is fair and equitable for all involved."
Nurses and supporters rallied in Bend, Wednesday evening, in an effort to draw attention to what they says is a failure by the hospital to address staffing problems that impact patient safety that were uncovered by a 2017 state investigation. The Oregon Nurses Association organized the event at Third and Revere, and says those who took part, did so outside of work hours.
SUNRIVER, OR -- Some drivers in southern Deschutes County are complaining about the state of Highway 97, between La Pine and Sunriver. Crews began repaving 17 miles of the highway in June, and Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation says, they’re not done yet, "We know there’s this issue of roughness on the highway; we have spoken to the contractor about it. The job isn’t done yet. Contracts are extended through the construction season, so the deadline on this hasn’t passed."
Despite some striping in the area that made it appear the project was done, Murphy says the finished highway surface will be smooth, "There is a process in place to go back and fix that. We have standards that people have to meet, so we brought this to their attention and we’re still on the same page to get it fixed." He tells KBND News, "The question I have heard about it is, come winter weather, with ice and stuff on the road, it could be a problem. And, that’s exactly the case we presented to the contractor."
The $9.8 million project is scheduled to be complete by November. For more details, visit ODOT's website.
BEND, OR -- Registered nurses at St. Charles Bend continue contract negotiations with the hospital. "The current three-year contract actually expired at the end of June," says Debbie Robinson, Chief Nursing Officer for St. Charles Bend, "But, we both agreed that we will continue under that contract, as we negotiate a new contract." She tells KBND News the hospital and union have met nearly a dozen times, "I think we’re right on track of where we would be after 11 sessions back and forth. We do have another four or five sessions – maybe six – between now and the end of November." She believes a new contract will be in place later this fall.
In 2015, it took both sides more than six months of talks to agree to the last three-year contract.
Wednesday evening, Registered Nurses are expected to take part in a rally amid this latest round of negotiations. Kevin Mealy, with the Oregon Nurses Association, disagrees with the hospital's assessment that things are "on track." He says union members had hoped an agreement would be in place before the previous contract expired, "It’s stretched beyond that. But, what we’re also doing is trying to raise awareness about problems that are happening in the hospital, and what we can do to fix it."
He says the nurses are worried about the typical labor issues, like wages and the rising cost of employee health insurance. But, according to Mealy, their biggest concern is the hospital’s failure to address what he calls patient safety issues, "A year ago, the state conducted an independent investigation that found hundreds of staffing violations and we’re still going through a process of trying to resolve some of these problems." Those violations include temporarily doubling the number of patients nurses care for, and incomplete staffing plans. "Adding appropriate staff is one of the best ways we can improve the quality of healthcare that patient get. More nurses means fewer injuries and infections, it means shorter, less expensive hospital stays for patients, and we know it can decrease the rate of bad outcomes."
Robinson says the hospital is committed to finding common ground, "Patient safety is our top priority; it’s the top priority for the hospital, and it’s the top priority for the nurses. So, we stay focused on that, we’ll come forward with an improved contract that serves our community."
The ONA represents nearly 900 RNs at St. Charles Bend. Mealy expects more than a hundred will take part in the rally at Third and Revere, Wednesday, from 5 to 7:45 p.m. He says only nurses not scheduled to work during that time will take part.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Crook County man is hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, following an apparent murder-suicide attempt, early Tuesday. A neighbor at the Lakeshore RV Park called 911, just after 6:30 a.m., to report an elderly woman was at her door with blood on her face. She called back a few minutes later to report smoke coming from the trailer next door.
When law enforcement arrived, they discovered 70-year-old Frank Young still inside the travel trailer, which was on fire. One Prineville Police Officer and a Sheriff's Deputy forced their way in, pulled the man out and put the flames out with fire extinguishers. Young was eventually flown to the Legacy Burn Center in Portland.
Investigators believe he intentionally set the fire with the woman inside, in an attempt to take both their lives. She was able to break free and get help. She suffered minor injuries and is receiving help from the Red Cross and the Crook County Victim’s Advocate.
UPDATE (09/20/18): According to the Crook County Sheriff's Office, Young died at a Portland hospital, Wednesday evening, as a result of his injuries. They say the case is now closed.
BEND, OR -- Temperatures are falling, but the rain isn't. Bend has not seen measurable precipitation in about three months, and that lack of water is leading to low levels at local reservoirs.
Kyle Gorman, with Oregon's Water Resources department, says after the dry summer and five years of below-average precipitation, Wickiup Reservoir is just 3% full. "It is very low and it’s storage that we haven’t seen in a very long time. It’s one that will go down in our records as one of the lowest years since at least 1970." Wickiup provides water for the North Unit Irrigation District, "The flow is actually meeting the demand right now, and we anticipate being able to meet those irrigation demands for the remainder of the summer," says Gorman. Irrigation season officially ends in Central Oregon on October 31.
In comparison, Crescent Lake is at 71%, "The demand on Wickiup was high, this year; the overall demand on Crescent was lower. The Tumalo Irrigation District has its supply from Crescent, and with their piping and conservation measures they’ve taken over the years, it’s allowed them to withdraw less than they have, historically."
For Wickiup Reservoir, Gorman says the best they can do is hope for a wet and snowy winter, although he admits it will be difficult to make up for five years of below average precipitation, "We don’t anticipate Wickiup being able to fill, despite the type of winter we have. That means the North Unit Irrigation District will have to plan and prepare for a much lower than average water supply for that district, next year."
As of Tuesday morning, Wickiup Reservoir measured at 5,355 acre-feet. According to Gorman, average for this date is about 65,000 acre-feet. Capacity is 200,000 acre-feet.
Photo: courtesy Scott Nelson HD Productions, Wickiup Reservoir on September 18, 2018
REDMOND, OR -- It took a team effort to rescue a dog caught in a Redmond canal, Monday afternoon. A Central Oregon irrigation district employee discovered the pup pinned against the debris gate by the force of the water. Officials don't know how long it had been in the water.
Redmond Police and Fire crews responded to the area behind Home Depot, on the north end of town, and got to work. A Community Services officer climbed out to the debris gate and -- while being held by firefighters, so he didn't fall in -- used a catch-pole to rescue the dog.
Other than being cold and wet, the dog was in good condition, and was taken to Brightside Animal Center.
Photos: (top) CSO Hamlin with the dog, courtesy Redmond PD.
(right) courtesy of Central Oregon Irrigation District.
POWELL BUTTE, OR -- State Representative Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) is running for a fifth term. He grew up in Condon and now lives in Powell Butte. He was first elected in 2010 and tells KBND News, "Small towns in District 55 need someone advocating in Salem. There's nothing wrong with that in my book, and I'm happy to do it." He says he knows what makes residents feel secure, "I'm going to focus on, of course, jobs. That will be my number one priority for my district. Good jobs, high paying jobs that fuel the economy and give everyone opportunity."
McLane says he's also looking at the budget, making sure the state's growth is sustainable, "Oregon has expanded under a one party rule. Its state budget spending is at historic rates." He says he works to unite lawmakers, but admits there's plenty of frustration, "The lack of acknowledgment that we can't just spend ourselves into success, we have got to manage the State on a budget, just like everyone else." He's served as House Republican Leader since 2012. "I hope the voters in District 55 send me back to Salem because we're in this together, and I am honored to be on the Central Oregon team."
Democrat Karen Rippberger is challenging McLane in the November election. Last week, the Democratic Party of Oregon filed an elections law complaint alleging McLane failed to disclose his control of the No Supermajorities PAC, which they call a shadowy political action committee financed by right-wing business interests. In a statement to KBND news, McLane said, "I can confirm that I don't control No Supermajorities PAC. I guess its [sic] true that the democrats in Salem are getting desperate."
BEND, OR -- More than 300 new businesses registered in Bend, in August; that's a 51% increase over the previous year and 34 more than in July. Bend business attorney Jeff Eager says it was the largest year-over-year jump for Bend, ever. Although, he admits last year’s stats may have been depressed by the eclipse and wildfire smoke.
So far this year, local entrepreneurs have registered 2,448 businesses, 309 of those in August. That's compared to 2,270, between January and August 2017.
Courtesy: Bend Entrepreneur Report, Eager Law P.C.
MADRAS, OR -- The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is warning about the return of a phone scam. The caller claims you are in legal trouble and law enforcement is coming to arrest you unless you pay up. They call from a number that appears to be local, but authorities believe they originate from outside the country.
If you receive the call, you’re asked to report it to the Federal Trade Commission
or call the Oregon Department of Justice at 877-877-9392. The Sheriff’s Office does not ask for money over the phone.
BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is hosting a forum in Bend, this week, designed to help marijuana-related businesses keep employees safe. Aaron Corvin, with OSHA, says the emerging industry faces unique safety challenges. "You have growing processes, extraction processes; you’re looking at electrical safety, you’re looking at systems that involve pressure, systems that involve gasses. Really, as folks are getting into this, the idea is we need to be focusing on safety first."
Oregon's Department of Agriculture will be there. Cory Stengel, with the Oregon Farm Bureau's Health and Safety Committee, says harvesting cannabis poses its own dangers, "After the plant is harvested, there's a lot of repetitive motion involved in processing the flower or the bud of the cannabis plant. And, there's some extreme explosion hazards associated with processing the oils out of these plants.
The forum called “Safety and health in the cannabis industry: from seed to shatter” starts Tuesday as part of OSHA’s regional conference, at the Riverhouse. OSHA's Corvin tells KBND News, "Our goal here is to bring a number of voices together and that includes, not only Oregon OSHA but we’re also talking about OLCC, building codes, fire safety; and that comes from both the public and private side. So, we’re going to have employers who have been in this business, speaking in Bend, and that’s really going to be about sharing information – best practices, if you will." But, he says, what makes the marijuana industry different is its history in the shadows, "We talk about people and their right to a safe and healthy workplace, and that cuts across industries; not just cannabis. But, when we’re talking about specifically cannabis, and this being an emerging industry, we’re emphasizing first, ‘you’ve got people to take care of.’ Also, quite frankly, it’s a sound business decision to make sure your worksite is safe."
Click HERE for more information on this week's conference, and to register.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College is on the hunt for a new leader. Dr. Shirley Metcalf, COCC’s current president, announced earlier this month she plans to retire at the end of this school year.
Dr. Metcalf tells KBND News the Board of Directors has a plan for finding her replacement, They have already hired a consultant who specializes in nationwide searches, and they approved the composition of the search committee." That committee will be made up of a diverse group, "Faculty, a student, classified staff and community members; so, we’re looking at quite a large committee. Then, we’ll also be having community forums to ask the communities, as well as our internal community, about the president." Those community forums will take place across COCC’s district over the next couple of months; a schedule is expected to be released soon.
She says they will move quickly, "It takes quite a long while; the board is hoping February or March that they will be naming the new president." The goal is to have the new president in place by the time school starts next fall.
SISTERS, OR -- The City of Sisters may soon allow the sale of medical and recreational marijuana inside its limits. Voters will decide in November on two pot-related measures. Measure 9-122 would allow both medical and recreational marijuana businesses in the city. Measure 9-123 would impose a 3% tax on the sale of marijuana products, but only if 9-122 passes.
Sisters Mayor, Chuck Ryan, says the City is preparing for both to pass, "We're working on time, place, and manner (TPM) regulations; those are still in process. There will be some public input on that, a public hearing I think sometime in early November, and we can get that input and make changes where necessary but we've already got a draft of TPMs." He adds, "We really don't think it's going to have any kind of negative effects. We wouldn't be taking this seriously if we thought that that was going to be a big problem, so We've talked to a lot of people and we've talked to Sheriff Nelson on this, and others, and we think it's the right thing to do right now."
Ryan says medical marijuana was voted down by Sisters residents, but Measure 91, legalizing recreational use, was narrowly approved, so he's not sure how the vote in November will go. But, he tells KBND News, he's glad residents will ge the final say, "I'm on record of being a big proponent of putting it to vote because we've had public meetings on this, and a lot of public input, and there's proponents and opponents, and the council voted, unanimously, the council voted to put it to public vote."
BEND, OR -- Candidates for House District 53 will face off in a debate Monday, continuing a series of forums hosted by the Central Oregon Association of Realtors (COAR). Questions are expected to be about Central Oregon's needs for housing, taxes, and better infrastructure.
Democrat businesswoman Eileen Kiely says local businesses need skilled workers, and workers need affordable housing. "Businesses need an educated workforce. It's what Government has to do for Business, and it's okay to ask business to pay their fair share for it because they are getting benefit and it's helping them grow their profit." She tells KBND News, "What's Government's responsibility? It's not to provide capital to businesses, it's to provide the infrastructure that corporations cannot do for themselves." She says her knowledge of corporate finance will be valuable in Salem, "One of the challenges that we're going to have to face is how do we incent the market toward affordable homes for Central Oregon families? Because you can't make the market do what it doesn't want to do, you can only nudge it in the right direction."
Republican Jack Zika says, "I'm a realtor and on the Planning Commission, so I've been advocating for affordable housing the whole time. I have a list of things I'd like to do in Salem, to get it started." He says it's a supply and demand issue, "Central Oregon is a popular area. Everybody loves to be here: the weather's great, the view's great, but we just can't build them fast enough because the land's not readily available, and so then, of course, housing becomes more expensive." He says part of the affordable housing crisis is due to state laws that should be changed, "That has to do with our land use system. The one size fits all land use laws that we have doesn't work for our area. What happens in Portland is not the same as what happens in Central Oregon."
Monday's COAR debate starts at 1 p.m. at the group's office (2112 NE 4th Street, Bend). Click HERE
to register for the free event.
TERREBONNE, OR -- A Terrebonne man died Friday afternoon, following a motorcycle crash on Highway 97. According to State Police, 68-year-old Robert Constant was riding northbound when the traffic in front of him slowed due to congestion.
Investigators say at about 4:30 p.m., he lost control of his bike, laid it down and crashed into the back of a car. Constant was taken to St. Charles Redmond then flown to the Bend hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the car suffered minor injuries.
Speed and following distance are believed to have been contributing factors in the crash.
BEND, OR -- Two teens face multiple charges after Bend Police say they were caught damaging construction equipment at a job site. Police have responded to the area in the past, for reports of people entering, stealing or attempting to steal equipment.
Thursday night, a witness reported seeing two people inside a skid steer and excavator at the Northeast Victor Place property; they appeared to be intentionally crashing the vehicles into each other. Arriving officers immediately set up a perimeter and attempted to contact the suspects. One ran, but was caught after a lengthy foot chase, with the help of a police drone and a K-9 unit.
A 15-year-old from Redmond and a Bend 16-year-old are accused of a number of crimes, including Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Minor in Possession of alcohol and Trespassing. They’re believed to have caused over $1,000 in damage.
BEND, OR -- A local transient is blamed for a fire at a Bend car dealership. Crews responded to Kendall Toyota, early Friday morning, and found a Polaris Ranger UTV fully engulfed in flames; two other cars were damaged by heat – one car was privately owned and just in for service.
Officers later found Michael Gaskill in another car parked at the lot. They believe he is responsible for that fire and a small warming fire in another part of the property. He’s charged with Arson and meth possession, among other crimes.
POWELL BUTTE, OR -- Students at Powell Butte Community Charter School (PBCCS) now have the ability to catch a bus to school. Principal Jenn Berry O'Shea says the arrangement with Crook County Schools was necessitated by increased traffic on Highway 126, in front of PBCCS, and concerns over student safety - especially in the morning. "We have a drop-off area that we encourage parents to use; depending on, I guess, which way parents are traveling or driving, it was easier for them to drop them off across the street," Berry O'Shea tells KBND News, "Which meant that kids were crossing the highway, sometimes unattended, which is really scary if you've seen the traffic along the highway, here."
When PBCCS converted to a charter school in 2010, it no longer had access to school busses. Although partial service was reinstated a year later, it didn't serve all students who requested transportation, and it was only available in the afternoons. Now, the school district's transportation department provides multiple busses, "So, we have two morning routes: one services students that live in Powell Butte, and one that services students that live in Prineville. And then we have three afternoon routes that are getting kids home," says Berry O'Shea.
She admits the new partnership with the school district is an experiment, but kinks are getting worked out. "We're hoping that it is a service that our parents and students are taking advantage of, and it is helping them meet their needs and also help our traffic situation in the Powell Butte area."
Powell Butte Community Charter School has 200 kindergarten through eighth grade students, and Berry O'Shea says 40% of them live in the Prineville area.
REDMOND, OR -- The Oregon Legislature’s Joint Committee on Student Success visited Central Oregon schools, this week, on its tour of districts across the state. The group of bipartisan lawmakers stopped at the Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge Program, in Bend, to learn about its academic structure and meet with cadets (pictured above).
They also toured Redmond Proficiency Academy, Thursday, before hearing from area families at an evening public forum at Ridgeview High School (right).
The committee hopes to learn what’s working in public schools to eventually improve state education policy.
Top photo credit: Christopher L. Ingersoll, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs
BEND, OR -- It may be late in the construction season, but the head of the Deschutes County Road Department says that’s not stopping them from squeezing in a few more projects before winter. "There’s enough of a construction window left that we have a couple of small turn-lane projects, here in the county, that we just started in the last several weeks," says Director Chris Doty, "So, we’re going to do it."
County crews are already working on a turn lane on Deschutes Market Road at Dale Road
, near the Boonesborough neighborhood. "We have sight distance issues there," says Doty, "There’s a lot of traffic on Deschutes Market Road, now. We’ve seen 5-10% increases in traffic volume for the last five years, or so. So, it’s a big safety issue." He tells KBND News
, "We’re going to add a turn lane to provide safe access into the subdivision." As part of that project, Dale Road has to shut down for three weeks, starting Monday, "Dale Road will be closed for a short period of time, while it’s realigned and addressed. There’s another entrance into the subdivision that will be signed with a detour." Doty says repaving work shouldn't impact drivers as much, "During the actual overlay work, that will happen towards the tail end of the project in mid-October, that paving work will be done at night; so hopefully we won’t have a big traffic impact to commuters on Deschutes Market."
They’re also working on a similar project in South County. Crews are trying to fix the intersection where Day and Pine Forest roads cross Burgess Road in La Pine
(pictured). Doty says Day and Pine Forest don't quite meet up right, "So, we’ll be correcting that offset and realigning those roads to line up, and also installing a turn lane on Burgess Road. There’s thousands of homes off Day Road, so as traffic volumes are increasing all over the system, down there, the amount of growth it’s had, eventually we warranted a turn lane for safety. And, certainly, the fact that the intersection is offset has created safety problems, as well."
Both projects are funded by House Bill 2017, the statewide transportation package passed by the Legislature in February. Doty expects both turn lane projects to be complete by the end of fall.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney plans to continue serving regional government after her term ends in December. January first, Baney will take over as Executive Director of the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council; her selection was unanimously approved by COIC’s board, earlier this week.
Baney tells KBND News she pursued the job after losing her re-election bid in the May Primary, "It matters to me to be a part of something that is giving back to the community and helping our government be more efficient and to meet the needs of the region. I am really excited about helping COIC get to the next iteration of what the region needs and to help the region identify how COIC can help them meet their goals." She says that means moving the council of governments forward, "I know that they are interested in re-branding; they’re interested in looking at the future and seeing what value they can add and [I’m] just excited that they see in me the ability to take them and guide them into the next iteration of the organization."
COIC manages the public transportation system Cascades East Transit
, as well as other regional services, "They play an important role in being able to address issues such as, transit, housing, water policy, workforce development, economic development," Baney says, "There are a lot of little pieces that COIC plays, and parts that they play, in our overall system that I think most don’t really recognize." COIC's board pointed to Baney's work as an elected official and position on numerous state committees
and commissions, as well as her knowledge of transportation, housing, natural resources, economic development and youth development as reasons for her appointment. Vice Chair Bartt Brick said in a statement, Thursday, "Ms. Baney's passion for Central Oregon and her commitment to both economic vitality and being an active voice for the underserved and the marginalized in our community make her a perfect choice to lead COIC forward."
Baney replaces Karen Friend, who announced plans to retire earlier this year.
BEND, OR -- A Prineville man faces numerous charges after the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) team executed a search warrant at a Bend storage facility, this week. The investigation started last month, when Crook County deputies responded to a report of squatting. They arrested 42-year-old Justin Kurz on an outstanding warrant.
During the arrest, deputies say they found a large amount of cocaine and prescription drugs on Kurz, and learned he had several storage units. They searched those three units this week and found more prescription medication, two firearms, one of which was reported stolen, 109 pounds of pot and 87 pounds of marijuana edibles.
REDMOND, OR -- Downtown Redmond could have a vibrant food truck scene, rivaling that of Bend, by next year. Urban Renewal Project Manager Chuck Arnold says the city is helping develop a food cart lot at the corner of Fourth and Forest, near Highway 97, "The opportunity that we provide, from the city of Redmond, are low interest loans to property owners to address deficiencies in commercial property. And this property has been long vacant and, working on doing improvements in this area will add value to downtown and potential businesses that contribute to the economic vitality."
Construction crews have poured foundations at the property, dubbed "General Duffy's" by the developer, "They’re doing site work right now and preparing the site for the pavilion that’s going in there, which will have this modern rustic feel with high ceilings and structural beams," Arnold tells KBND News, "And, there will be kind of a pub area, and then food trucks and a large lawn area for games and hanging out." he says there will be space for up to five food trucks.
Arnold hopes the site, which sits along the future Homestead Canal Trail, will encourage more people to visit and stay in downtown, "We’re really excited because we really wanted to create activity in that part of downtown and create an opportunity for people to have another option for lunch; and it’ll be great with the new jobs that will be brought. Overall, the project is expected to create 15 new jobs."
BEND, OR -- Continuing an upward trend, Bend-La Pine Schools again has more students this year than last. But, gains are smaller than in recent years. "Bend-La Pine Schools is continuing that trajectory of continued growth," says Julianne Repman, with the school district, "We're about three decades into continuous growth, year after year, at Bend-La Pine Schools. That said, this year, we saw an increase of 53 students; and in past years, as folks might remember, that number has been as high as maybe 500 students."
She says the biggest gains, this year, are at the middle and high school level. The biggest loss was in the youngest grade, "It's an interesting situation to be looking at smaller enrollments, we're starting to see that around the state, perhaps. The number of Kindergartners is actually beginning to reduce."
Bend-La Pine Schools Enrollment Surpasses 18k (09/26/2016)
Repman tells KBND News enrollment forecasting by a team of experts helps the district plan ahead, "They've been very accurate in the past and been able to let us know that we might be having huge jumps like we've seen in the past with say, 500 new students in just one school year." And, she says this year's smaller enrollment gains actually help the district take stock and plan for the future. "Bend-La Pine Schools is very fortunate to be a growing school district. We're watching some of our school districts around the state starting to lose enrollment, so seeing 53 new faces in our schools is a great thing."
There are 18,425 students enrolled in Bend-La Pine Schools, as of now. Official numbers will be released October first. It remains the state's fifth largest public school district.
REDMOND, OR -- REACH, which provides before- and after-school programs for Redmond-area students, is working toward becoming financially self-sufficient. The nonprofit was recently awarded two grants, and is in the running for a third. But, the organization is also trying to implement a unique funding model, using a for-profit buisness to pump money into the nonprofit.
Executive Director Jenny O’Keefe says the goal is to eventually become less dependent on community donations. "With the support of the Deschutes County Commissioners and their discretionary grant, we have purchased a small business that we will begin operating sometime in the next two to three months." The $2,500 grant from the county allowed REACH to purchase a local Stretch-N-Grow franchise, which focuses on fitness and wellness for kids, age 18-months to pre-K. O’Keefe tells KBND News proceeds from that business will go back into the nonprofit, while providing REACH employees an opportunity to work full time, "Our staff will be going in to preschools and daycares to teach fitness classes on site, for the little guys."
She says there's still a need for private donations and support, though. O'Keefe hopes the community will rally to help REACH win a $25,000 grant from Columbia Bank. The Redmond branch manager nominated REACH for a regional award, as part of the bank's 25th Anniversary celebration. O'Keefe says it's one of 12 finalists in the contest, "It will be an online voting competition, beginning October first. You can vote once a day; similar to the Trailblazers/Moda Health competition we were all so excited about several months ago, so I know we can do it. We have the community support." The money would go a long way to help close the $80,000 funding gap O'Keefe says they're facing this year, which is less than in recent years, but still a big hurdle. "In addition to that, St. Charles has chosen to award us with a $10,000 grant, through their 100 Year Anniversary celebration. And then, Dutch Bros has selected REACH as the recipient for their Buck For Kids, in Redmond, on the 29th of September. So, between all of these three things, that gap is basically going to get cut in half."
UPDATED Oct. 1 to include a link to the online voting site for Columbia Bank.
SALEM, OR -- The first ever nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alert System that includes cell phones will occur Thursday, September 20. The alert is coordinated by FEMA and will broadcast on radio, TV and cell phones.
Paula Negele, with Oregon's Office of Emergency Management, says they don't want people to be surprised by the alert, "This test is happening, that people’s cell phones – for the most part – will go off, and to be prepared for it; to realize that no action is required." She says it's supposed to override any phone settings and, as long as it's powered up, the alert should come through, "It will, even if you know about it, will come as a surprise, because of the loud warning alert sound. And so, we really want people to be aware that this is happening, that no action is required, it’s only a test."
If a cell phone doesn't receive the test alert, it could be because the cellular carrier is not part of the Emergency Alert System, which is designed to get information out in the event of an emergency or disaster.
MADRAS, OR -- The Madras Airport will receive a $2.5 million federal grant to reconstruct its taxiway. It’s the largest amount awarded to Oregon airports in a recent round of grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, totaling $5.8 million.
Madras Airport Manager Rob Berg says the runway was rebuilt three years ago, but it’s been 25 years since the same work was done on the taxiway. Airports in Baker City, Bandon, Roseburg and Hillsboro also received money for repairs and safety upgrades.
BEND, OR -- Fire crews continue mopping up the two wildfires that broke out Friday. As of Wednesday morning, the Teepee Fire, southeast of Bend, is 75% contained at 2,027 acres. Investigators believe the blazed started with an abandoned campfire. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office lifted all evacuation orders for the area around the Teepee Fire, Tuesday night.
The Willow Fire, near Madras, is now 428 acres and 100% contained. Crews are monitoring the site and will continue to do so for several weeks. Officials say residents could see smoke from the interior of the Willow Fire but ask that you don't report it.
For more on local fire activity, visit CentralOregonFire.org.
WARM SPRINGS, OR -- One person was killed and another seriously injured in a Tuesday evening crash near Warm Springs. According to Oregon State Police, 65-year-old Lanny Hawley, of Gresham, crossed into oncoming traffic at about 5:30 p.m., and collided with an oncoming vehicle, driven by a Medford man.
State Troopers say Hawley was eastbound on Highway 26 when the crash occurred. The other driver, 52-year-old Kyle Estes, was pronounced dead at the scene. Hawley was flown to St. Charles Bend with critical injuries.
Highway 26 was closed near milepost 74 for six hours for the investigation.
REDMOND, OR -- A group of state lawmakers is touring Oregon, visiting school districts to learn what’s good about the public education system and what’s not working. The Joint Committee on Student Success will stop in Redmond on Thursday for a public forum at Ridgeview High School.
But, before that evening event, they’ll tour Redmond Proficiency Academy. "They’re going to come spend a couple of hours at RPA and learn more about charter schools and the impact public charter schools can have on the public school system. And, also take a look at the success we’ve had," says RPA Director Dr. Jon Bullock, "We’re in our tenth year, and we’re one of the largest and most successful charter schools in Oregon. And, we’re excited to have the Legislature to come take a look at what we’re doing." Bullock hopes they’ll use that information to eventually make changes to state education policy, "They’re trying to get a sense, at the ground level, of what’s working and what’s not working in schools. What are the struggles that schools have?"
The bipartisan joint committee was formed during the last Legislative session, and includes Bend Republican State Senator Tim Knopp. "A similar group was formed around the transportation bill," Bullock tells KBND News, "And, the idea was ‘let’s get Senators and Representatives to tour around the state and talk to people in their hometowns about what’s going on.’ I think it’s important to hear from people locally about what works and what doesn’t work."
According to Dr. Bullock, there is a $2 billion gap between current education funding and what experts say is needed to achieve the state’s goals. He believes policy-makers could learn from charter schools like RPA, which he says does more for students with less funding than traditional public schools. "It’s incumbent upon educators and policy-makers to look at what are creative ways that we can do what we need to do without the funding that’s required to get there, and look at innovative ways that we educate students, and look at places where there’s a struggle."
Following the RPA tour, the committee will hear from Central Oregon families during a forum. That event is from 7 to 9 p.m. at Ridgeview High School in southwest Redmond, and is open to the public.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police increased downtown patrols, this summer, and the Police Chief says it paid off.
The foot patrols were part of an overall response by the city to complaints made public, last summer
. Business owners, visitors and residents complained about ongoing livability issues, like loitering, drug use and trash in the downtown core, especially over the summer. Chief Jim Porter says his officers made a concentrated effort to address those concerns, from June through August, "It went exceptionally well. We increased our contacts by about 14%; that means officers downtown talking to people, making contacts with people- positive contacts. They’re initiating the contact. Overall we decreased all calls, overall – people calling in for help – we decreased that by almost 12%." He tells KBND News
, "We focused on some very troubling areas, and some very troubling individuals, quite frankly. And so, with that, we were able to decrease the number of emergency 911 calls by 36%. We decreased calls for intoxicated issues downtown, by almost 50%; decreased the number of ‘unwanted’ calls – people who are concerned they are possibly committing a crime or that people are doing something that’s making people nervous, we decreased those by over 20%."
At the end of last summer, City Council approved a package of fixes to address complaints
, including installing security cameras and removing a troublesome garbage enclosure. Chief Porter says the downtown foot patrols will return next summer, as part of the department's strategic goals, "It’s not something we’re just talking about. We’ve actually put it on paper and said, ‘this is our goal, to continue to decrease crime in that area and increase livability throughout the city and the downtown area.' So, it’s not a flash in the pan; it’s not a – 'we’re just going to throw something at it and walk away.' We know we have to maintain a level of presence downtown to make sure everyone feels safe down there." The department also plans to open a downtown substation
, later this year.
REDMOND, OR -- Construction of Redmond’s new Homestead Canal Trail is nearly complete. Parks Division Manager Annie McVay says Knife River, the contractor for the South Canal Blvd. reconstruction project, is working on the southern portion of the off-street path. "Right now, we’re focusing on the section from Veterans to Odem Medo (pictured); and that’s part of the South Canal street project. If you’ve been out there, you can see they’ve constructed a lot of it, especially near Lowe’s and the new transit hub." She expects that southern section of the trail to be paved later this fall.
Portions of the trail, like a section behind Home Depot, on the north end of Redmond, are already paved but don't connect with each other. Eventually, the city will have a continual path from Quince Avenue to Odem Medo. "The northern section of the trail is out for bid right now," McVay tells KBND News, "It’s a different contractor that will be doing Dogwood to Maple. And that hopefully can get done this fall, but if not, we might be paving first thing next spring."
McVay says it will provide a safer route for bikes and pedestrians, "It’s the perfect linear path to dissect the city." And, she says it's part of a larger plan, "Also, we’ll be looking at making Deschutes Avenue what we call ‘a quiet street.’ So, that will connect the Homestead Canal Trail to the Dry Canyon Trail."
The new route gets its name from the Homestead Canal. But, McVay acknowledges the irrigation district plans to eventually pipe much of the scenic canal that parallels the trail, "The section that is by Homestead Park, which is kind of near the bike park, they were able to deem that section historic
. So, it’ll be really great because that section in our park will never be piped."
WELCHES, OR -- Authorities believe a woman hiking alone on a trail near Mount Hood was killed by a cougar. If it's confirmed, state officials say it would be the first fatal attack by a cougar in the wild, in Oregon.
Diana Bober had been missing since August 29; hikers found her backpack the next day and turned it in to the Zig Zag Ranger Station, but they didn't know it was Bober's. The 55-year-old Gresham woman's car was found near the ranger station over the weekend, but her body wasn't discovered until Monday. She was found 200-feet down a steep hillside, off the Hunchback Trail, near Welches. "Her injuries are indicative of what experts believe to be that of a cougar," Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said Tuesday. Investigators believe she was attacked prior to falling down the embankment.
DNA is being tested at a lab in Ashland to determine whether it was a cougar or another animal. Brian Wolfer, with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, says they believe it was a cougar and are now looking for the big cat, "We don’t know and can’t quantify the threat that this particular animal may pose to the public, and so we’re making every effort, along with our partner agencies, to locate this animal." He adds, "This is a very tragic event; this is an unprecedented event. We don’t have an indication that things have changed and there’s an increased public threat from the average cougar. This cougar is one that we do want to be able to locate for public safety."
The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office notified school officials in Welches, several miles from where the attack happened. They also advise everyone to take precautions, like hiking in pairs, keeping children close and dogs on a leash. And, they ask visitors to avoid the Hunchback Trail while authorities try to capture the cougar.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 10-year-old Prineville boy reported missing Tuesday after he didn’t return home from school, was found safe, that night.
Jayden Mirelez was last seen leaving Barnes Butte Elementary at about 3 p.m. Prineville Police issued an urgent plea just before 9 p.m., asking for the public’s help locating the boy. About an hour later, he was found by a Portland resident on Highway 26 and was taken into protective custody by law enforcement and DHS.
REDMOND, OR -- Opening of the highly anticipated rooftop bar at the New Redmond Hotel has been delayed. "We were hoping to get it opened this year, but there have been some historic reviews and that’s going to be pushed to next year," says Chuck Arnold, Redmond's Urban Renewal Program Manager. He tells KBND News, "You get into an old building like that and you get a lot of challenges that you find – some requirements that adding the rooftop bar added to the project that were initially not expected. There’s a lot of reconfiguring. We’re working on getting new bids and an analysis of what the project’s true final cost is going to be, and get everything organized and march forward from there."
The New Redmond Hotel was built 90 years ago. While some upgrades have taken place over the years, Arnold says more is needed, "We want to build the safest possible hotel in a safe building and, while the fire sprinklers are not that old, when you add the rooftop bar, the state building code says, ‘hey, we’ve got to really make sure we put in a modern fire sprinkler system in.’ So, a quick item like that adds a large amount of investment needed on the project."
Renovations began last spring. Arnold says much of the work halted after those historic reviews revealed issues, but he says, "They will start working again, as soon as they get through some more historic reviews. But, really, the work right now is on the configuration of what are items going to cost." He expects the bar will open with the rest of the hotel, next year.
Photos: (Top) The front of the New Redmond Hotel faces Sixth Street, in downtown Redmond.
(Upper Right) Construction of the rooftop bar is stalled, with progress covered by plastic, as seen September 11, 2018.
BEND, OR -- Another political newcomer seeks a seat on the Bend City Council. Andrew Davis was born and raised in Bend; he's not the Student & Campus Life Director for Central Oregon Community College.
He's focused on helping Bend overcome and avoid challenges while it's experiencing such rapid growth, "We've got to look for ways to be really strategic as we develop and I think planning farther into the future than the city has done is really critical. Bend was used to being able to react to problems and then fix them, and I think now, we have to make more conscious decisions." Davis says leadership can't manage today's level of growth as though it's similar to the pace of the 1980s, "We weren't growing as fast, we weren't as big to begin with, and that made it possible to say, 'Okay, what do we need to do in the next two years or five years?' Well, right now, we need to be figuring out, 'What do we need to be doing in the next 15 years?' and let's get those project aligned correctly so that we aren't doing work twice, so that we can have as close to zero waste in the scenario as possible." He tells KBND News, "We've changed so quickly from just a small town to a pretty moderately large sized city, and a lot of challenges came with that growth, and I just wanted to be able to jump in and see what we can do to make this a community that really works for everybody."
Davis says it's important to make sure the city uses tax dollars wisely, "First identifying operational inefficiencies and eliminating those, so that we can stretch the money that we already have farther." Davis earned his MBA with an emphasis on strategic planning. He says he wants to use that knowledge to help Bend, "I see an opportunity gap for a lot of people between the median household wages that are earned and the median household price in our community. I think there's just a big disparity there."
He faces Gena Goodman Campbell and Victor Johnson in the race for Bend City Council Position Five. They're all expected to take part in a Bend Chamber forum on October ninth. Click HERE
for more information about all of the candidates running for local office.
BEND, OR -- A northeast Bend family is out of their home after a fire, overnight. Firefighters responded to a reported explosion and fire on Larkview Road, just after 12:30 a.m., Tuesday. When they arrived, they found flames coming from the attached garage, spreading to the house. They knocked down the fire, limiting the damage to the garage.
Losses are estimated at about $150,000. The Red Cross is helping the one adult and one child affected and the cause of the blaze is under investigation.
UPDATE: According to investigators, the explosion and fire was caused by a gas leak. They say the vehicle in the garage was parked too close to the gas line supplying both the furnace and water heater. The bumper bent the gas line, causing it to crack. Natural gas then filled the garage until it ignited, likely from a pilot light in either the furnace or water heater. The subsequent explosion damaged the garage and destroyed the vehicle. Updated estimates put total damages at about $185,000.
BEND, OR -- A Redmond man was exonerated Monday when all charges against him in a child sex abuse case were dismissed. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says he won the case against Joshua Horner in March of 2017, but was approached a year later by Steve Wax of the Oregon Innocence Project (OIP) with what he called 'valid concerns.'
Hummel tells KBND News, "I took seriously the arguments made by Steve and the Oregon Innocence Project. We undertook an extensive investigation into the factual and legal concerns they raised." In the course of their joint investigation, a significant claim made by the alleged victim was proven untrue. She had testified Horner told her he'd kill her pets if she disclosed his abuse. "And, she said, that to prove his point, 'he shot my dog, Lucy, right in front of me.' However, Lucy the Dog was not shot," says Hummel, "Lucy the Dog is alive and well."
OIP's Steve Wax says Horner was convicted by a non-unanimous jury based on that last minute, untrue testimony, "I'm confident that if Mr. Hummel and his assistant who tried the case had known of this allegation, and been able to investigate it beforehand, the case would not have been prosecuted. But, they didn't know." He says if Horner's conviction had been allowed to stand, it would've been a serious miscarriage of justice, "And the likelihood is, he would've died in prison. A fifty-year sentence - the man is 42-years-old today, he would've died in prison."
Horner's conviction was overturned in July by the Oregon Court of Appeals. But, he would've been subject to a new trial, had the Deschutes County judge not dropped all charges, Monday. D.A. Hummel says, "Mr. Horner was convicted in Open Court, standing in the Courtroom for the public to see. When I made this decision to dismiss the case, the public deserved to hear that, in open, in front of the courthouse. You cannot convict somebody in the light of day and exonerated them in darkness." Horner walked out of court a free man, Monday morning, and greeted well-wishers, "This is a day I wasn't sure I'd see. But today, I walk out of here a free man, and I'd like to thank the Good Lord for that, number one, and my friends and family who are all here to support me today."
The Oregon Innocence Project was founded in 2014; this is their first exoneration.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with Central Oregon Community College to offer Community Emergency Response Team training. DCSO Emergency Services Manager Sgt. Nathan Garibay tells KBND News, "That training is designed to help develop neighborhood groups that, during a significant disaster, would allow neighbors to help neighbors before public safety would be able to respond."
He says “CERT” teams are also a good way for organizations and agencies to make sure their members are ready to respond during an emergency. "We want to be able to have that training in place to support them. Certainly, the Sheriff’s Office wants to encourage community members to take advantage of training and opportunities to meet with their neighbors and encourage each other to be more prepared." Several informational meetings are offered, starting Friday, for those interested in learning more.
As part of National Preparedness Month, the Sheriff’s Office is also offering disaster planning tips and virtual trainings on its social media platforms. Sgt. Garibay encourages everyone to get ready for any kind of emergency, like "Winter storms, obviously wildland fires, earthquakes. And so, it’s important for people to be aware of the risks and be able to develop a plan and have a kit available to help them weather that storm or whatever disaster might come."
Visit Deschutes County's Emergency Management website to download the county's preparedness handbook, and for information on how to build an emergency kit.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville's Facebook and Apple data centers bring millions of dollars to the community through electrical franchise fees. Estimates for 2019 show, for the first time, those fee revenues will actually surpass what will be collected in property taxes.
Steve Forrester, Prineville's City Administrator, says before the tech giants came to town, the average power consumption was 10 to 12 watts. "With the data centers coming on board, their power consumptive rate is higher than that, many times higher than that, so what we've seen over the last eight or so years is incremental growth in our franchise fee revenue for electricity increase rather dramatically." He tells KBND News, "Our incremental growth in franchise fees is around $2 million. So, we're getting $2 million dollars more than we would if the data centers were not here."
The expected $2.4 million in franchise fees the city will collect this year makes up about 6% of the city's total operating budget. "It just has put the city on very, very strong financial foundation," says Forrester. "We have money in our bank account for savings, for unexpected costs that may come up, so our financial condition is very, very strong as a result." He says the money is also used for public safety, street improvements and reducing debt.
BEND, OR -- Fire crews quickly attacked two new wildfires, over the weekend, making good progress by Sunday night and allowing officials to lift many of the previously issued evacuation notices.
The Teepee Fire (pictured), southeast of Bend, is estimated at 2,064 acres and is 40% contained. Investigators believe it started with an abandoned campfire. Late Sunday, evacuation warnings were reduced – areas at Level three are now Two; some have been lifted altogether. The blaze broke out Friday afternoon, near China Hat Road. Evacuations are now in place for the following areas:
Level Two (Get Set) for all areas south of Ford Road, west of FS Rd. 2016 outside the forest boundary.
Level One (Be Ready) for all areas south of Ford Road, west of Spencer Wells Road, east of FS Rd. 2016 and north of the forest boundary.
Click HERE for a map of the evacuation area.
Mop up also continues on the Willow Fire, northwest of Madras. It’s 60% contained at about 400 acres. Crews continue to patrol for hot spots and secure lines in the canyon. Evacuation warnings in Jefferson County were lifted Sunday morning.
SISTERS, OR -- Several Sisters businesses lost power, Friday evening, after a boom truck pulled down utility lines and a power pole. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the Oregon Truss Company truck made a delivery on North Pine Street, but the driver failed to lower the boom crane before leaving the job site.
That boom caught a small wire near Pine and Main and then a full set of power and cable wires near Highway 20. That pulled a power pole on to a parked car and sent wires into the street.
No one was injured but a section of South Pine was closed while crews repaired the damage. Investigators say the driver was not impaired and no citations were issued.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office ordered evacuations, Friday night, in the area around the Teepee Fire, southeast of Bend. The blaze broke out Friday afternoon, near China Hat Road, and had grown to 1592 acres, as of Saturday morning. Evacuations are in place for the following areas:
Level Three (Go Now) for all areas south of Ford Road, west of FS Rd. 2016 outside the forest boundary.
Level Two (Get Set) for all areas south of Ford Road, west of Spencer Wells Road, east of FS Rd. 2016 and north of the forest boundary.
Level One (Be Ready) for all areas of the north/south section of Fort Rock Road, south of Highway 20, west of Pine Mountain Road and north of the forest boundary.
Click HERE for a map of the evacuation area.
Aerial resources were diverted from the Teepee Fire, late Friday, to respond to the Willow Fire (pictured), in Jefferson County. As of Saturday morning, it's estimated at 80 acres, burning south of Pelton Dam and Willow Canyon, about six miles northwest of Madras. It's considered 20% contained. There is a Level One evacuation notice for residents on Elk Drive.
Both fires are human caused and are under investigation.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police arrested two men, last week, following an investigation into drug activity at an apartment complex. Investigators say 47-year-old Stacey Sibert (right) and 53-year-old Ronald Bergevin were distributing meth from Sibert’s apartment.
Police say the case became a priority because the apartments on Northeast Quimby are for people 62 and older. They face numerous charges, including delivery of meth within a thousand feet of a school and meth possession.
BEND, OR -- A 129-room extended-stay hotel is planned for northeast Bend, near St. Charles Medical Center, but a group of neighbors isn't happy about the idea. Hallmark Inn and Resorts proposed the project, citing a need for more lodging options near the hospital. Lisa Goodman, with St. Charles, says they didn't request the hotel be built and have not been involved in its planning, but they can see the benefit of having a hotel nearby.
Bend's City Council unanimously approved a request in December to allow extended stay hotels inside the Medical District Overlay zone.
Jim Connor, who lives near the proposed hotel site, says the 93 homeowners affected by the project expect there will be negative impacts to their quality of life and property values, "Our privacy is going to disappear with this hotel. Livability is one of our concerns: Our livability is being negatively affected by this hotel project." He tells KBND News, "The city government should not be in the position of destroying homeowner equity to create a profit-making enterprise on adjacent land. That's just got to stop."
Connor is the President of the Oak Tree Homeowners Association and says there's already too much traffic by the hospital, and only limited parking in the neighborhood. According to Connor, "27th street gets 20,000 vehicle trips a day, past that intersection." He admits he and his neighbors remained silent when the city discussed adjusting the zoning allowance, "We didn't oppose it in front of the Planning Commission because we didn't understand what an existential threat the hearing was to our neighborhood." He now hopes officials will reconsider, "We have filed opposition to the hotel plan as it currently stands, on safety and other issues, and we continue to believe the hotel is in the wrong place."
If the hotel is allowed to move forward, construction will begin in March of 2019, and take about a year to complete.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors continue to work on a plan for converting a group of homes from individual septic systems to the city’s sewer service. City Manager Eric King says a broad approach is needed to accommodate more than just the initial 600 homes in southeast Bend, "There’s close to 3,000 homes in Bend that are on septic systems. And, as those septic systems fail, there is a state rule – it’s the Department of Environmental Quality that requires folks to hook up to the city sewer, if it’s within 300’ of their home." And that can be very expensive. King says city leaders agree the top priority is making sure the cost of switching from septic to sewer system is fair for everyone, "Your neighbor’s septic system fails, you put the expensive line in - as required by state law – and then the neighbor that’s right next door just, ‘oh! There’s the line right there.’ It’s a lot cheaper for them. So, we’re trying to provide some equity by coming up with a systematic solution."
This week, City Councilors identified four key issues, "Flexibility from the state: so, looking to see what we can get from DEQ, in terms of additional flexibility for timing," King tells KBND News, "That affordability: What is the cost share between the rest of the ratepayers? There is no magic bag of money sitting out here. So, in terms of how do we pay for this, do we charge all of our ratepayers or what’s the split with those homeowners? - With tools like local improvement districts." They’ll also look at the ability of people to pay over time and the potential to help with work on private property. King says the biggest concern is making sure people don’t lose their homes because they can’t afford to make the switch. "Really, every Council meeting between now and almost the end of the calendar year, we’ll be talking about those big four topics and coming up with some decisions. I would like, as early as October, to at least have the cost share worked out."
City Council heard from dozens of residents during two recent listening sessions. King says Councilors are taking that feedback, along with recommendations from the Septic to Sewer Advisory Committee, into consideration.
BEND, OR -- A consortium of regional housing experts released the results of a survey of Central Oregon’s housing needs, and the overall findings aren’t surprising. "Everyone agrees that housing affordability, as well as just general availability, is a serious issue for the region," says Scott Aycock, Community and Economic Development Manager for Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC). "This survey asks folks that are familiar with everything from the Warm Springs market, to the La Pine market, to Prineville to Sisters, and everything in between."
The survey was conducted by "Housing for All," with support from COIC. Aycock says they found the housing crisis not only impacts low-income residents competing for subsidies. Middle-income families are also struggling to afford, or even just find, a place to rent or own. Aycock says developers are helping alleviate some of the problem, with new single and multi-family housing projects. "But, I also think that a lot of those are really being focused on Bend and Redmond. And, there are other communities that are having a harder time seeing development of that slice of the – what we might call ‘market provided’ affordable housing." And, he tells KBND News, the far reaching effects stretch into commerce, as business owners struggle to attract new workers to the area, "They are citing housing costs and lack of housing as a key problem for recruiting employees. And that, not only do they recognize it, they may be willing to get engaged and do something about it."
Aycock says the results of the study will be used to create future policy and look in to ways the public and private sector can work together to address the problem. "This need isn’t going to go away, but we’ve got to start somewhere and we’re not going to probably meet it immediately; it’s going to take years."
To listen to our full conversation with COIC's Scott Aycock, visit our Podcast Page
BEND, OR -- It's political debate season, and the Central Oregon Association of Realtors (COAR) is getting in on the action. The group is hosting a series of candidate forums, beginning next week. COAR's Tyler Neese says debates will focus on housing related topics, "We saw a need in the community for an open public forum for a debate where candidates could come together; especially for some key issues, like land use, growth, transportation, and infrastructure. All are big issues, really, across the spectrum, I think in Central Oregon races - but perhaps more broadly in the House races, as well."
The first event is Monday, "Virtually everyone has confirmed," says Neese, "The reception has been great from our local elected officials. Whether they're incumbents or candidates, they're all very willing to participate." Forums will bring together candidates for Mayor and City Council, for Bend and Redmond, as well as County Commissioner, and District 53 and 54 State Representative hopefuls. Neese hopes voters will get a chance to learn about every candidate, "With the exception of House District 54 - we haven't heard from Nathan Boddie yet - and there's a couple others, not just him, who haven't confirmed, so we'll see."
Monday's forum with the candidates for Deschutes County Commissioner Position One and Three begins at 1 p.m. at the COAR building at 2112 NE Fourth Street, in Bend. "It's going to be a really great way to expose voters to all the folks that are going to be on the ballot," says Neese, "Talk about what's important to them, have an opportunity to hear them talk about some of the really key issues." All the debates are free and to the public. However, due to limited space, attendees are asked to register in advance.
Depend on KBND News for complete coverage of Election 2018.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 47-year-old Prineville man was killed in a crash on Highway 126, Thursday. Investigators say John Whitehurst was riding a motorcycle westbound up the Prineville grade when he went on to the gravel shoulder and hit a group of boulders, at about 10 a.m.
Several witnesses stopped to help, but life-saving measures were unsuccessful and Whitehurst died at the scene. Police don’t believe speed or alcohol were factors in the crash, and he was wearing a helmet.
BEND, OR -- The city of Bend and St. Charles Health System are partnering with OSU-Cascades for a pilot project that could lead to more regional transportation options.
Casey Bergh, OSU-Cascades' Transportation Program Manager, says the new Mobility Lab will study microtransit to address transportation needs in underserved areas. It's a concept being studied in other areas, already, "In some cases, universities have contracted with Uber and Lyft. They set up boundaries so that rides originating in certain geographic areas qualify for a discounted fare." It could look different in Bend, but Bergh says it would still be app-driven and on-demand.
The pilot will start by looking for ways to fill the gap left by the cancellation of Cascades East Transit’s Route 12 in July, which served OSU-Cascades and COCC, "The beauty of this technology is it allows us to dynamically route, meaning that if another passenger wants to go to COCC at the same time, we may actually divert from the most direct path to pick them up and share the ride." Bergh says the school has already shown it can create successful new transit options; it's bike-sharing program has expanded across the city of Bend. He's optimistic the microtransit program will also show results, "Hopefully, demonstrate that there’s a cost-effective way to provide transit in this area of Bend and then inform the city’s Transportation System Plan, which is being updated right now, and the Cascades East Transit regional master plan, to determine if they want to include this kind of service in other areas of Bend or Central Oregon."
Bend City Councilors agreed to the partnership, Wednesday night, providing $50,000 to the program. St. Charles will contribute another $25,000. Bergh expects the Mobility Lab to create specifics for the program by the end of the year.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College President Dr. Shirley Metcalf will retire at the end of this school year. "This is the best window for the college to go through a transition. Our Board is stable, we have great leadership, this was a great opportunity," she tells KBND News, "And, this is my 47th year in higher education, so I think it's a good time for me to retire."
A native Hawaiian, Metcalf says she's proud to have brought the island ideal of Ohana, which means 'family,' to the school, "Our COCC family on our campus, as well as, we serve a 10,000 square mile district, they're all part of our Ohana. And, when our students come to us, I believe they become part of our family, too because, they come to a community college with their dreams, their aspirations, and we need to be there for them."
Metcalf came to COCC in 2011, after leadership positions at colleges in Hawaii and Washington. In 2014, she became the college's fifth president, and the first woman to assume the role. The Board of Directors has begun the search for their next President. Dr. Metcalf says, "COCC is an amazing college. Next year, we celebrate our 70th anniversary of being here in Central Oregon. I'm very proud of what I've been able to do and this year will be an exciting year for us, as we look to hiring our new President for 2020." She plans to pursue a leadership role with the Asian Pacific Islander Council.
Before stepping down July first, Metcalf plans to continue work on the COCC's Title Three grant, developmental math and writing programs, strategic plans for metrics and measuring, and finish the accreditation process of the self-study opportunity. Click HERE
to read the full statement from COCC.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- For the second time this calendar year, Crook County Fire and Rescue is answering to accusations of anti-union bias. The Crook County Firefighters Association filed a complaint in April against the department, with Oregon's Employment Relations Board.
Fire Chief Matt Smith is accused of stating his opposition to the formation and advancement of the union, retaliating against union members with stricter discipline and withholding promotions. In its response, the fire district addresses more than 40 complaints, denying wrongdoing. "The district, as part of the process, did the reply to that - 'the answer,' I believe it's called, which is part of the state process. And, from the district's perspective, we want to give the process all of its proper respect; and so there really isn't a lot more that I can say." Chief Smith tells KBND News, "There's more to the complaint than that 'I don't like the Union.' And obviously, there's more to the answer than whether or not I like the union."
Chief Smith says the department is working through the process and hopes for a quick resolution, "There is a hearing that's scheduled for October 15 through 17. From the District's perspective, we want to show the proper respect for the rules that are in place, and certainly, we support all of this process. This is just part of the process in Oregon."
The Crook County Firefighters Association was formed in September of 2016. Their first complaint against the fire district was resolved prior to a hearing.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors and members of city committees will now be required to take part in harassment training. Councilor Sally Russell proposed the idea after allegations surfaced, earlier this year, involving Councilor Nathan Boddie; he's accused of groping a woman at a bar several years ago, and making inappropriate comments.
At Wednesday night's Council meeting, Russell said she heard from a lot of people who were concerned about boundaries and what's right and wrong, "Out of that came this resolution, basically requiring participation in harassment training." After she formally introduced the resolution, "requiring participation in Council member and permanent advisory committee, commission and board harassment training." It was quickly seconded by Councilor Boddie, himself, without discussion. The resolution passed unanimously.
Through the end of the year, current Councilors will be asked to voluntarily take part in an online training module, offered by the city’s insurance provider. It will then be incorporated into the ongoing training provided to new Councilors.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man is accused of abusing his babies.
Prineville Police started investigating 26-year-old Justin Viescas in July, after the 43-day-old twins were treated at the hospital for multiple fractures. Doctors believe the injuries were caused by non-accidental trauma.
Viescas was indicted by a Grand Jury and arrested Wednesday on two counts of third-degree Assault, and two counts of Criminal Mistreatment in the first degree. He has since posted bail and was released. Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact Detective Kathryn Bottoms at 541-447-4168, or via email.
BEND, OR -- State Police are searching for a road rage suspect who reportedly assaulted a woman in Bend, earlier this week. The victim says it started with an incident at the Third Street and Murphy Road Roundabout, at about 4:20, Tuesday afternoon.
Afterwards, she drove her red sedan south on Highway 97, pulling to the side of the road, north of Baker. She says that's when the man - described as a white male, 6' tall, with a long beard - approached her car and tried to pull her out, while shouting profanities. Injured, the woman sped away. He followed until she exited at Baker.
The suspect vehicle is a lifted blue and gray GMC crew cab pickup, with black wheels and larger tires. Anyone with information is asked to call OSP at 503-375-3555, or dialing *OSP from a mobile device. Please reference Senior Trooper Justin Lane case #SP18-332666.
BEND, OR -- A local musician wants a seat on Bend's City Council because he doesn't believe the city does enough to support local artists. Victor Johnson tells KBND News, "If we're not satisfied or happy with the way things are going in our lives, we can get involved and be proactive."
Johnson moved to Bend in 2014 for a job. He says, as he's gotten immersed in the local art community, he's realized how inadequately represented it is, "During this time, I've really overcome a lot of adversity, and become a real part of the music and arts community here; and I want to support that, and I think it's something we have to nurture, and protect. I want to make a difference, not just in my own life, but in the lives of other local musicians and artists and make sure they have a voice." He points to First Friday art walks as an example of how the city doesn't do enough to support local artists and musicians. Johnson says the backings on street booths are too tall and block galleries, and musicians aren't showcased during the events.
He's also created a plan to reduce bullying in schools. Johnson says, "I decided this year I wanted to focus on building community, and creating unity, and connecting with people in genuine and authentic ways, beyond social media. I think that's really important." He adds, "I'd love to bring more musicians and artists into schools in Bend to connect with students there - and build community, and help provide a creative outlet -by allocating funding, connecting with committees that have already been set up in relation to bullying, and talk to school officials that could make things happen."
Johnson is running against Andrew Davis and Gena Goodman-Campbell
for Bend City Council Position Five, currently held by Nathan Boddie. The candidates are expected to take part in a forum hosted by the Bend Chamber, October ninth.
BEND, OR -- As we near the end of fire season, in Central Oregon, officials say the region fared well thanks to good training and planning - and maybe a little luck. Kassidy Kern, with the Deschutes National Forest, says the biggest lightning storm that moved through the area about a month ago, could have been disastrous if resources hadn't been available, "We responded to about 80 incidents in a matter of about four days. And, firefighters are just basically running: they’re putting lines around things, dropping single trees where they are, and then running to the next thing. So, that was not an accident; they were really going there for a while."
And, despite tell-tale signs that fall is right around the corner, the season isn't over. Kern told KBND News Tuesday that the extreme fire danger remains, "While all of us are really enjoying clear skies and some cooler temperatures – and that definitely does help with our humidity recoveries – we are still in fire season. We’ve had, historically, large fires happen in early September in the past recent memory." Last year’s Eagle Creek Fire started September second and eventually scorched more than 50,000 acres in the Columbia River Gorge. And, in the Ochoco National Forest, the Desolation Fire
(pictured) was spotted September eighth; it burned over 4,500 acres.
A small grass fire sparked by a mower east of Bend, over the weekend, highlights just how dry fuels are, locally, as well. Kern says it only takes one careless spark, even this late in the season, "Just as a reminder, that Milepost Six Fire that happened a few weeks ago was just from a lit cigarette that someone threw out. So, all of these little things that we have control over, that’s what we need to focus on, right now." Visit our Podcast Page
to listen to our complete conversation with Kassidy Kern.
BEND, OR -- City Club of Central Oregon plans to host a gubernatorial debate at the Riverhouse in Bend, October first. However, which candidates will attend is still up in the air. In a press release, the City Club of Central Oregon said, "Historically, Central Oregon debates have been a feature of Oregon's governor races. The last such debate was held 20 miles south of Bend in Sunriver in 2014. Sponsors of the One Oregon debate believe it is important for the candidates to visit and debate the issues on both sides of the Cascades Range and to address the many issues facing Oregonians who live beyond just the I-5 corridor."
City Club Executive Director Joey Drucker says the Bend forum is a partnership with the Technology Association of Oregon and all local Chambers of Commerce, "They all felt that City Club was the perfect place because we are nonpartisan, and most other organizations have some sort of leaning – whether it’s toward business, or something." She says they started planning the event in March, after realizing the only forums for the 2018 Governor's race are scheduled for Portland and Medford, "We were a little disappointed when we heard that there were only three debates agreed to, and they were all west of the Cascades; that just doesn’t seem to represent our entire state."
Drucker says they've tried to be flexible to accommodate the candidates, "We sent a letter to the Democratic and Republican candidates on August sixth, for October first. There are some other dates available – but also working with the Riverhouse because that’s the venue in town that would be able to hold such a large group. And so, we’ve been working with both of the campaigns since then to make sure this happens." She tells KBND News, "We have heard back from both candidates: one has accepted and one we’re hoping will accept. We’re still in negotiations with that." Bend State Representative and Republican nominee for Governor Knute Buehler has confirmed he'll be there. But, in an email Tuesday, the Democratic Governor's Communications Director told KBND News Brown has only agreed to the three debates in Portland and Medford on October second, fourth and ninth. He says, "Each debate will be available for all Oregonians to view on television and online."
The City Club forum will go on, says Drucker, "Hard to have a debate with one side. But, since Knute Buehler is from Central Oregon and a lot of people know him here, it seems that Kate Brown would also want to come here and talk about the issues." She says Independent Party nominee Patrick Starnes has not been invited. The Bend event is October first, 9 a.m. to noon, at the Riverhouse. It's open to the public with pre-registration.
WARM SPRINGS, OR -- After more than 50 years, Kah-Nee-Ta Resort and Spa closes for good, Wednesday. The resort on the Warm Springs Reservation is tearing down teepees and taking a final inventory of assets. The Board of Directors recommended closure, in early July; it was approved by the Tribal Council, last week.
Council members say they simply couldn’t find a way to make the operation profitable. The Board came up with several ideas for possible future uses for the property. However, none garnered the necessary support from the Council.
Once a popular destination for Oregonians, the resort struggled after Indian Head Casino moved
from Kah-Nee-Ta to Highway 26 in 2012.
Photo: (top) Kah-Nee-Ta's teepees, as seen on an "Oregon Original" vintage postcard.
(right) The resort thanked guests in a September fourth Facebook post.
BEND, OR -- A 50-year-old Bend man is accused of multiple sex crimes involving a child under the age of 16. According to Bend Police, Greg Thoma connected with the child online, committed multiple sex crimes at the victim’s house then continued to communicate with them afterwards.
According to the Secretary of State's business registry, Thoma is the owner of Bits & Pieces Picture Framing, in Bend. He was arrested Saturday at Sawyer Park while officers searched his car, office and home. He's charged with Rape III, three counts of Sodomy III, Sex Abuse II, Sex Abuse III, Online Sexual Corruption of a Child and Luring Minor for Sexual Conduct.
BEND, OR -- A letter recently signed by 17 Sheriffs, including in Jefferson and Deschutes counties, asks voters to overturn Oregon's sanctuary state status. Measure 105 would repeal the state statute which prohibits local law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal immigration law.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel disagrees with his own Sheriff, saying the enforcement of immigration law is a federal issue. "If we need more ICE agents, if we need more INS agents, if we need greater enforcement of people who are overstaying their visas, let's do that. Let's hire more Federal law enforcement officers," says Hummel, "It seems to me like my friends who are in favor of 105, what in essence they're saying, is the federal immigration system is broken. They're not doing their job." He believes local agencies are already underfunded and stretched thin, "I'm tired of the Feds not doing their job and then coming down to the locals and asking us to clean up their mess." He tells KBND News, "We have limited law enforcement resources in our community, like all communities do, and I want to use those limited dollars to focus on enforcing Oregon criminal law."
Hummel also worries that if the statute is overturned, fewer witnesses will come forward, "I don't want to impede criminal investigations by deterring undocumented immigrants from reporting crimes." Hummel adds, "What if my star witness is an undocumented immigrant? I want to be able to tell her, 'Come forward, I'm not going to report you'."
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s first convent in nearly 60 years opened over the weekend at St. Francis of Assisi, in Bend. The new building on Tucson Way will be home to the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, from Texas.
St. Francis Catholic School Principal Crystal Mooney says the women will teach religious education classes to pre-school through eighth grade, as well as organize religious activities for students, "They’re also, while they’re here, looking for vocations. That’s a huge part of their mission in Bend, is to create more nuns and more brothers and expand the religious experience in Central Oregon." Sister Ngan Do tells KBND News she is excited about their move to Oregon, "When we received the invitation from Bishop Liam [Cary] and Father Joe [Jose Thomas Mudakodiyil], the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, we are very excited to reach out to the unknown area that we’ve never been before."
Mooney says the project moved fast, thanks to Hayden Homes CEO Dennis Murphy, who reached out as soon as heard the church and school needed help, "[He] informed me he wanted to build it. I went to Father Joe and told him the great news, and Hayden Homes built that convent in under three months
." At Saturday's blessing and grand opening, Murphy said, "When we heard that St. Francis needed a house for their nuns, we were excited to build this convent."
The new facility features six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a chapel, two laundry rooms, kitchen, dining an living areas. For Mooney, it brings St. Francis School back to its humble beginnings, "An order of nuns started this school in 1936."
SALEM, OR -- An initiative petition aimed at protecting Oregonians' second amendment right has taken a big step toward the 2020 ballot. Supporters of IP-8 submitted 2,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office on Friday, for what they’re calling the Common Firearm’s Act.
IP-8 would protect the right to own firearms and accessories that were legal in Oregon as of July first. it was initially created in response to IP-43, which would have banned some weapons; that petition has since been withdrawn.
Once signatures are verified, Oregon’s Attorney General must write a ballot title and explanation before the "Don't Take Away My right to Defend My Family" committee can try to gather the 118,000 signatures required for the issue to be placed on the ballot in November 2020.
BEND, OR -- Bend's race for Mayor has a late entry. Joshua Langlais says he wants to make sure the average citizen is heard. He launched his campaign just before the filing deadline in part, he says, because of last month's first Mayoral candidate debate. Langlais didn't like that people had to pay to attend, "I guess my heart just sank a little bit because, I think, that historic moment is something that all of the community voted on, and all of the community is going to be impacted by."
He believes people aren't engaged in local politics because no one hears their concerns, "I don’t really feel like the average person in Bend really gets much of a weigh-in. We are at the point where the individual voice matters and we are getting to the point where we could all actually have a say on all the things." He likens the current system of government to a runaway train, "I guess, right now, it seems like it’s become easier to just link up another car, or add a little bit more fuel, or extend the length of the track, but really it’s like the train itself is the issue."
Langlais tells KBND News he wants to be engaged with the community, "The mayor is meant to be kissing babies, right, shaking hands, making connections, and essentially, being the face of a town. Well, then, let’s do it. Let’s get out there and hear the people. Let’s listen to what they have to say and let’s try very hard to find out ways that work for everyone, not just for the people that talk the loudest." He adds, "What I care about is the better way for everybody to co-habitate. There’s definitely steps that can be taken towards bringing people closer together or towards building, maybe, some tolerance. What do we have in common?"
Langlais is a photojournalist
. He created a project called "A Community Thread," which explores what it means to interact as a community, especially in regard to human rights and social injustice.
REDMOND, OR -- When freshman start at Redmond and Ridgeview High, Tuesday, they will be greeted by new High School Success Coordinators.
At Ridgeview, Heather Peterson is focused on helping ninth graders succeed because studies show the first year of high school is critical to eventual graduation, "Our goal would be that, as we place those supports and we get to know what we’re doing – we see those success markers, that those continue to be in place for students as they go. That doesn’t mean that we forget about all the other kids. But, we place our focus on ninth grade, and then we grow it from there. So, next year then we’re looking at those same things, ninth-tenth." She says, under the old model, help didn’t come until it was too late … after a student had already failed, "So, we might look at the end of a trimester; we look at the end of a year. And, what’s hard about that is that we realized that we could’ve been doing stuff along the way."
She says the approach will be individualized for each student, "Interacting with them, meeting with their teachers and families and being creative about how I get information with that – maybe doing home visits, or getting connected with kids as much as possible. Because, we all know it’s very individual; it’s each person’s story and who better to ask than them?"
Hear more from RVHS Coordinator Heather Peterson in our Podcast
. Bend-La Pine schools launched a similar program, with graduation coaches, last year. Both programs are funded by Measure 98, passed in 2016.
MADRAS, OR -- State Police are looking for witnesses to a Sunday evening crash in Jefferson County that led to a small fire. Troopers say at about 5:15 p.m., a late-model dark colored sedan was northbound on Highway 97, five miles north of Madras, when it passed a Subaru (similar to below) and cut in front of it.
The driver of the Subaru was forced to swerve and brake hard to avoid a crash; that caused car to leave the highway, sending it through a fence. It caught fire in a field and The driver was taken to the hospital.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Senior Trooper Jess Oliver via email
or phone, at 541-531-5876.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office continues to search for a man who jumped into a northeast Bend canal, Monday morning. They say they want to check on his well-being.
Mitchell Harpole (pictured) was one of three transients seen in a suspicious vehicle near high Desert Lane, just before 9 a.m. Detectives from the Sheriff's Office Street Crimes Unit say the trio initially took off in the car but were tracked to NE Brinson and Peerless Court, where they ditched the car and ran off. When they were ordered to stop, 27-year-old Harpole, another man and a woman jumped into the canal about 200 yards above a fast-moving waterfall.
The other two were contacted Monday night and told detectives they all got out of the water on the south side and hid in bushes for several hours before parting ways and getting rides from the area.
No one has been charged with a crime.
UPDATE: Mitchell Harpole was located at noon, Monday. He was not hurt in the incident and has not been charged with any crimes.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville Police are looking for a man involved in an alleged road rage incident, Saturday evening. The man was reportedly angry that he was cut off in traffic by a white Ford pickup, near Third and Combs Flat Road, around 6 p.m.
He allegedly pulled his cross-over style SUV alongside the pickup as it drove east on Third. Both vehicles then pulled over near Willowdale where the suspect got out of his SUV with a gun and put the weapon up against the other driver's face; he then struck the other person with the gun and left the scene. The other driver suffered a cut.
Anyone who may have witnessed the incident is asked to call Prineville Police at 5410-447-4168.