WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Oregon's Second Congressional District Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) opposes the President's plan to use an emergency declaration to fund construction of a wall at the southern U.S. border. Friday morning, President Trump announced he would sign the funding bill to keep the government in operation but is declaring an emergency because lawmakers failed to approve the necessary money for border wall construction.
Shortly after the President's speech, Congressman Walden tweeted, "Congress has granted the executive branch certain spending authorities. I strongly object to any president acting outside of those explicit authorities to spend money that Congress has not appropriated for specific initiatives." He followed up with two more posts explaining that he continues to support strengthened border security, including a wall, but says he's concerned about the precedent Trump's move sets. Walden, who represents Oregon's largest district, including Central Oregon, is the state's only Republican in Congress.
BEND, OR -- Speed limits are being reduced this month, on a portion of Penn Avenue and Neff Road. Bend officials say the changes are in response to community input and new engineering analysis, given changing traffic and development in the area.
Penn, which turns into Neff, goes from 35 to 25-miles an hour, between Northeast Eighth and Eastwood Drive. Then, from Eastwood to Eagle Road, the speed limit is reduced from 35 to 30 miles an hour.
New speed signs have orange flags to draw attention to the change.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes National Forest, along with Discover Your Forest, has restarted Interpretive Snow Tours at Mount Bachelor. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Forest Service, says they weren't sure they'd get to offer the educational tours this year. "During the government shutdown, because they are run by our volunteers, we were not able to carry those programs on." But, she tells KBND News, "Now that the Government is back up and running, those programs are up and running on the weekends, and our visitors and people here can still go and have a great experience up at Mt. Bachelor, with our Forest Service volunteers."
But, she says it will be an abbreviated season, due to the delay, "We just really want to encourage folks. We know things have been a little slow with having to stop and start again. And, we just want folks to get out there and enjoy these snow programs, the snowshoe tours, and skiing/snowboarding with a ranger, while they still can." Nelson Dean adds, "If people want to take advantage of the snowshoe tours, those snow tours happen on the weekends at 10 a.m. and 1:30. And, snowshoes are provided for everyone that comes. No prior experience needed, but people should dress appropriately for cold weather."
To sign up for a snowshoe, ski, or snowboard with a ranger tour, visit the Discover Your Forest website. The season stretches through March 31.
SISTERS, OR -- Many summer events in Sisters Country were canceled last year, but the Sisters Park and Recreation District plans to bring them all back for 2019. Event Coordinator Shannon Rackowski says excitement for the fun and popular gatherings is definitely growing, "People in the community really love the events. The last three weeks, we started getting phone calls asking, 'Is there going to be the Glory Daze (pictured) car show?', 'Is the luau back on?', 'Is the home brew [festival] going to happen?', 'What about the GNW Running camps?', and when can they register? So that's really exciting for me." She says the District's previous Executive Director opted out of the events, much to the disappointment of the community.
In addition to the annual favorites, Rackowski tells KBND News, there will be a new event this year, "The first Sisters Senior Fitness Games. It's kind of a takeoff of the international Senior Olympics. We will have four-man relays, we will have a pickleball tournament, tennis, three-on-three basketball, horseshoes, a jog, a wheelchair relay; and this will be for anyone 62 years old, and older."
Rackowski says these events can't happen without help, "[We] Can't do these events without volunteers. No one ever gets turned away from volunteering. In fact, they get to choose, and sometimes we have people that do more than one, which is always really appreciated." To learn more, go to the Sisters Park and Recreation website, or stop by the district office on McKinney Butte Road and ask for Shannon.
BEND, OR -- Bend City staff are narrowing down on the City Council’s priorities for the next two years, in advance of this spring’s budget discussions. Councilors took part in two days of goal setting, last week. Mayor Sally Russell says they focused several main themes, "Clearly, housing, transportation mobility, safety, economic vitality and, the underlying is always effective and efficient city operations. And, a lot of those goals were really informed by a statistically valid poll that the city did in early December."
Mayor Russell tells KBND News it's difficult to pick one top priority, "I look at this messy board that we created during goal-setting. I mean, there are so many different issues that we are paying attention to, right now, as a city. And, each one of them, in its own way, is absolutely vital to get right, as we move through these next two years, which is the short-term planning window." She adds, "We recognize that our biggest need in this community is the people who are 100% of the area median income and lower. We really have a need for lower cost housing and there are a lot of ways to get there, but we’ve got to bring partners in. I’m looking at a public-private partnership to really bring our next housing idea out and just accelerate this."
Bend's City Manager and staff are now refining the goals and will work with Council over the next month, with plans for a Council vote on their formal goals and a work plan, including measurable outcomes, by March 20. Those priorities will be used during budget planning discussions, which begin in May.
BEND, OR -- Oregon is 160 years old this Valentine's Day. Deschutes Historical Museum Executive Director Kelly Cannon-Miller says Oregon joined the union as a free state just before the Civil War, and the state's history is marked by adventure, innovation, and a clear sense of identity. "Oregon is actually, this incredibly diverse place in terms of its resources, and it's a part of the country - along the whole continent of North America - that's rewriting history."
From the westward expansion and the Oregon Trail, our state has a storied past that's richer than many may realize. Oregon claims the oldest American settlement west of the Mississippi and two archeological dig sites appear to prove people lived in the area even longer than originally thought, "Oregon has a tremendous amount of myth and legend around it in American history. There's this tremendous amount of romantic notion of how the west was settled," Cannon-Miller tells KBND News, "And it all happens under Oregon's name." She adds, "One of the other fantastic things about our state is how different it is from the eastern edge to the western edge. You've got a little bit of everything from the Alvord Desert on one side, to the beaches at Tillamook on the other side."
Cannon-Miller suggests learning a few fun facts about our state, on its birthday. OregonEncyclopedia.org has thousands of pieces of information, ranging from the obscure to the historical, the famous, and the infamous. For example, Bobbie the Wonder Dog hails from Silverton, one of the richest men in history - John Jacob Astor - lived on the coast, and one of the state's most popular Governors - Tom McCall - is from Central Oregon.
BEND, OR -- Local health officials continue to keep a close eye on the Measles outbreak traced to Clark County, Washington, just north of Portland. The number of confirmed cases is now up to 53.
One of those patients visited Bend while contagious but before testing positive. Deschutes County Immunization Coordinator Jill Johnson says exposures at Juniper Swim and Fitness and Mountain Air trampoline park did not result in any new cases. And, she says if someone was going to get sick, they would have shown symptoms by now, "We were monitoring people that were at those locations and unvaccinated. And then, on February 10th was the 21 days, so now we’re in the clear as far as those exposures." But, she tells KBND News the region shouldn't let down its guard, "We have a good-sized outbreak going on, not that far from us and we’re just a car-ride away. So, we need to make sure to remain vigilant that our vaccination rate is high enough in our community to keep Measles at bay."
She says some in Central Oregon wrongly claimed there were new cases of Measles here, and that isn't the only rumor the County Health Department is fighting, "There’s a lot of misinformation on social media and the internet around vaccines," says Johnson, "And it’s important that people be sure that they’re looking at reliable sources of information." A local mom says that misinformation is dangerous. Sally lives just east of Bend. Her son, now in his 50s, was born before the vaccine was available. "My son was just a little toddler, baby, when he had them; and he had fevers of 104, 105, 106. He suffered for two weeks, severely." She says he’s still dealing with the repercussions, "He’s lived his life with brain damage and when young people – young mommies – don’t get their children vaccinated, my heart hurts for those babies, because they too could be like my son."
The CDC declared Measles eradicated in the U.S. in 2000. The agency reports the vast majority of people who get the disease now, are unvaccinated. Of the 53 people linked to the Clark County outbreak, 47 were unvaccinated; the immunization status of five others could not be confirmed.
SALEM, OR -- A controversial rent control bill that passed the Oregon Senate this week would hurt rental tenants, according to one local lawmaker. State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) says SB 608 will not improve the affordable housing crisis, "This bill, I don't think actually solves the problem. I think, in several ways, I think it's going to make the problem worse for the very people that the proponents are trying to help."
The bill passed 17-11, with Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) joining Republicans in opposition. Knopp says it was rushed through with no discussion of possible changes. Housing Committee Vice Chair Fred Girod (R-Stayton) offered five amendments, one of which would have allowed property owners time to prepare before the legislation takes effect; but none was considered. Knopp tells KBND News, "This bill doesn't do anything to add supply of new units to the mix, and it was done by special interests on both sides who agreed on the bill before the hearing even happened, and they wouldn't allow any changes to the bill and I think that's a disturbing trend that every Oregonian should be concerned about."
Under SB 608 rent increases would be limited to 7%, plus the cost of living increase. And, no-cause evictions could would have to meet certain criteria if a tenant has lived there longer than a year. That criteria includes moving a close family into a unit, making major repairs, turning it into a primary residence or demolition. Senator Knopp believes rents could increase as much as 10% a year, if the bill passes. Also, "I expect many rentals will be sold, especially single family homes. I've already been contacted by multiple investors who've said that they're just getting out of the industry altogether, because they just don't like what's coming and they want to be able to manage their own property." He adds, "There will likely be dozens if not hundreds of people who will receive eviction notices."
The bill is now in the state House; Governor Kate Brown has said she supports it.
BEND, OR -- The third and final candidate for President of Central Oregon Community College is in town. Dr. Laurie Chesley met with students, faculty and staff at the Bend campus on Wednesday, "I’ve been very impressed by the number of questions and the quality of questions." She tells KBND News she was struck by one clear theme, "That people who come here want to stay here for a long time; and that always says a lot to me about an institution. People have expressed a great deal of affection, not only for this college but for the community." She says that makes the job at COCC even more appealing.
Dr. Chesley is currently the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan. "I bring a passion for higher education, lifelong commitment to higher education, an absolute passion for community colleges and a lot of years of experience, frankly."
She’ll visit the Prineville Campus Thursday, from 1:45-2:15, the Madras campus from 3:15-3:45, and the Redmond Campus from 4:30-5:30, in room 306 of Building Three. She says she has experience with multi-site schools; Grand Rapids Community College also has multiple locations, "The key difference is the geography. Those are not as far apart as the different sites are here. The geography is certainly much more extensive but the concept of multiple sites is not new to me."
The other two candidates, Dr. Tod Treat and Dr. Kimberlee Messina, visited separately over the last two weeks. Current President Dr. Shirley Metcalf retires in June. COCC's Board will discuss the search effort at a special meeting, Saturday morning.
BEND, OR -- It's been a deadly week on Central Oregon highways. An 84-year-old man was killed Tuesday morning when his SUV drove off Old Bend Redmond Highway. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says Frank Farey was northbound just before 10:30 a.m., when he failed to negotiate a curve, drove off the road through a fence and hit a large juniper tree.
He was taken to St. Charles Bend where he later died. Investigators don’t believe slick roads, speed, drugs or alcohol were factors in the crash.
A Redmond woman involved in a crash, last week, has died of her injuries. Oregon State Police say 75-year-old Anita Johnson was slowing for traffic on Highway 97, last Thursday, when her car was hit from behind by a semi loaded with gravel. Her vehicle was pushed off the road and into a tree. OSP learned she passed away over the weekend.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County prosecutors are currently working 10 open homicide cases, "It’s the highest number of pending homicide cases in Deschutes County’s history," says District Attorney John Hummel, "It’s too much; it’s far too much. We’re at a crisis point [and] my office is struggling to keep up." Even with last week’s conviction of Shantel Witt for DUII and Manslaughter, prosecutors are still working cases against 10 other defendants. including a husband and wife accused of starving their child in 2017 and a man who allegedly shot a woman at his Bend apartment on their first date, last month.
Hummel says the backlog can only partly be blamed on the region's growing population, "When you overlay that with too few judges and too few prosecutors, what happens is the cases take longer to resolve." Insufficient staffing at the D.A.'s office is his foremost concern, "We’re now at risk of not being able to well represent the state in serious cases of homicide, sexual assault, domestic violence cases. Something needs to change. I’ll be talking to the Board of County Commissioners about that during upcoming budget hearings, in May." Hummel tells KBND News if funding doesn't increase, he’ll have to cut services… that could include choosing not to prosecute some misdemeanors.
He’s also lobbying the Legislature to approve funding for an eighth Circuit Court Judge to create more room on the docket. The request has been made before, but was denied in favor of other counties. Hummel says it’s now Deschutes County's turn.
BEND, OR -- Phase one of Bend's transportation plan update was released Tuesday. It contains a list of citywide transportation projects and a preliminary look at ways to fund them. Senior Planner Karen Swirsky tells KBND News, "It's time to bring it up to speed and also to make it in step with the changes that we made a couple years ago to the Urban Growth Boundary." She says, "The transportation plan that we've been working off of is about 20 years old. It's been amended here and there over the years, but it's from a different time; Bend was a different place 20 years ago. So, there's a lot that's changed in terms of technology, the tools that we have for planning. So, it should be a much more modern and up-to-date report."
Swirsky says the Transportation Plan Advisory Committee, made up of citizens appointed by City Council, developed goals, determined the framework, and created a funding assessment for the plan update. Over the next year, as part of phase two, the Growth Management Department will compile all the data, prioritize projects, and match ideas with funding.
Over the next 20 years, Swirsky says, it's important that residents have easy, uninterrupted service, "We know, roughly, how many people, how many jobs, how many houses, so how do we make sure that all of our systems, transportation, water and sewer, support that." She adds, "There's a lot of change happening in Bend, and it's both challenging and exciting to figure out how best to accommodate it."
Click HERE to view the full Phase One report; you'll find other materials from Phase One HERE.
EUGENE, OR -- a Madras woman was convicted in federal court, Tuesday, of stealing from people she was supposed to be helping. Tayva Tucker pleaded guilty to one count of Theft of Government Funds, for stealing nearly $40,000 dollars in Social Security benefits from 10 mentally disabled adults.
Tucker began working for a Madras social services organization in March of 2014. Part of her job was to use her clients' Social Security benefits to pay for their current and future care. As the "representative payee" on their bank accounts, she had access to their funds because they were deemed unable to manage their own finances. A 2016 organizational audit revealed funds transfers from her clients' accounts to her own. When confronted, Tucker admitted to taking the money for her own personal use.
Her plea deal requires restitution of the $39.277 she stole. She also faces up to 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of post-prison supervision. Sentencing is scheduled in U.S. District Court in Eugene April 25.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College continues to work through a request by a group in northern Lake County to redraw the school’s boundaries. COCC's Board will get an update at Wednesday's 4:30 p.m. board meeting.
Matt McCoy, COCC’s Vice President for Administration, says the school is putting together a report for the state Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). "We’re inventorying what services we do currently provide to north Lake County and also working with Klamath Community College to identify the services they’re providing to north Lake County, and to much of Lake County; and we’re taking a look at whether or not it’s feasibly for us to provide additional services that might be of interest." He tells KBND News, "We’ll identify what we currently do and then consider the wants and needs of the community and how those might be met if they’re looking for additional services. Also, taking a look at what Klamath Community College is offering, what other community colleges might be offering." He says they're considering all options, "With a small community, like north Lake County, and with other services being provided by other community colleges, sometimes there’s a better way forward than just simply the same as what we’ve been doing."
Last summer, a group petitioned the state commission to remove northern Lake County from COCC’s district, saying there is little demand for the school’s services. In December HECC delayed their decision to allow COCC time to evaluate its presence in the region. The school will present findings to HECC in the next few months. The commission will then make a recommendation on whether the district's boundaries should exclude Lake County. That decision is expected in May or June. Any district boundary changes must be formally approved by the Legislature.
Graphic: COCC's current district boundaries include all of Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties, as well as portions of Wasco, Klamath and Lake counties.
LA PINE, OR -- The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) team raided a large illegal marijuana grow in La Pine, Tuesday morning; following an investigation into numerous complaints from neighbors. Detectives say owners were not licensed to grow hemp, medical marijuana or recreational pot.
They say the operation on Wayside Loop appears to have been around for a few years and included a converted four-car garage, two outbuildings and two metal transport containers. The house was retrofitted for the grow, with a self-contained watering system and climate control equipment.
CODE seized nearly 2,000 pot plants, along with 350 pounds of dried product and Butane Honey Oil. They also found evidence of a money laundering operation, including a substantial amount of currency and a money counting machine.
Detectives arrested 51-year-old Sam Onat (top, left) and 41-year-old Christopher Fleming (top, right). Both are charged with Delivery, Manufacture and Possession of Marijuana and Criminal Conspiracy; Onat also faces a charge of Monday Laundering.
REDMOND, OR -- Plans continue to move forward to develop of about 950 acres known as the South Redmond Tract. The parcel needs to be incorporated into Redmond's Urban Growth Boundary before infrastructure can be developed. Deputy City Manager John Roberts says the project has been in the works for about a decade, "Expanding the Urban Growth Boundary is one of the more prescriptive components of the statewide planning program and Goal 14. So, to comply with all those provisions, it’s not unusual for a UGB expansion of this size to take this much time to do it correctly." A land swap with the state, last year, gave the proposal a big boost. But, expanding the UGB still needs state approval.
Redmond's City Council and Deschutes County Commissioners will discuss code changes and revising the property's master plan in a joint meeting Tuesday evening. "The county needs to amend their comprehensive plan to acknowledge these changes. It’s actually the first part of the process," Roberts tells KBND News, "And, just to give you an idea of the complexity of this, the first staff report has 55 pages of findings and the second staff report has upwards of 65 pages of findings."
Roberts believes it'll still be two more years before work could begin at the property. But, once it's ready, he says the lot will be divided into three sections, "140 acres is place marked for expansion of the fairgrounds." Another 20 acres will be sold to the Oregon Military Department to relocate its readiness center, "And then the third is to rezone 789 acres of that for large lot industrial. And, large lot industrial means parcel size of 50 acres or greater."
Tuesday's joint meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Redmond's City Hall.
SALEM, OR -- Representatives from the cities of Bend and Redmond, as well as Deschutes County, were in Salem Monday to lobby lawmakers to expand an affordable housing pilot project. Redmond and Bend were the only two cities to apply for the program, which was initially approved by the 2016 Legislature. It streamlines and fast-tracks the Urban Growth Boundary expansion process to allow for development of more affordable housing projects. The initial program only allowed for one city in each of two population categories. Bend and Redmond competed for the same slot and Bend was awarded the position in November.
State Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend) testified in Monday's hearing (right) that Redmond should be allowed in, too, "You can't have mental health stability without housing and we have a housing crisis. We have a shortage, and we desperately need workforce housing." Helt says until there's more housing across Deschutes County, there is no way for people to live in the cities where they work. "The issue that we're facing is a supply issue. We've heard the number of 155,000 units we're short in our state, and this would move the needle." She has joined fellow local lawmakers State Rep. Jack Zika (R-Redmond) and State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) in supporting HB 2336, which would allow both Bend and Redmond to take part in the pilot project.
Redmond Mayor George Endicott (pictured, top) also testified at Monday's public hearing, in support of HB 2336. He told lawmakers affordable housing is much needed for smaller cities, "The price of housing far outpaces wages. Over the last few years, our housing prices have increased 52%, while we've watched wages go up an average of 2 to 3%." He says the average home price in Redmond is $289,000 dollars; whereas the average wage is about $40,000. The city already has a proposal ready to push forward, if HB 2336 is approved, "Our project has 50% affordable, 50% market rate, and it will be in a mixed income, mixed use setting." Endicott says the 485 unit development not only meets but exceeds requirements for the pilot program. Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Henderson addressed the committee and explained how increasing Redmond's affordable housing inventory benefits the entire area, "From a perspective of the growth and development of our region, we really are kind of housing-cost challenged throughout the county. It's not just a Bend problem, but Redmond and Sisters; it's everywhere. So, this will add another option."
Redmond's proposal is for a 40-acre parcel owned by Deschutes County, on the eastern edge of the city, near NE Kingwood. Bend's winning proposal will reportedly bring nearly 400 homes to 35 acres in the southeast corner of Bend, near Highway 20.
BEND, OR -- More changes may be coming to Bend's city charter. Some want it to include language forcing elections for all City Councilors, instead of appointing new members to mid-term vacancies.
The issue arose during the process of filling the Council seat vacated when Sally Russell was elected Mayor in 2018. Several applicants were considered. But, in the end, Chris Piper was appointed to Position Three; he was sworn in last month amid protests. Some who opposed the decision were upset over what they saw as back-room deals. Councilor Bill Moseley says some even claimed racism, "it's kind of a complex issue. The assertion was that during our evaluation process, that there was another candidate who was an opportunity to create more diversity within the Council. For myself, I just fundamentally reject that you should evaluate any person based on their race or gender as a qualification." He believes Piper was the only candidate whose centrist views more closely represented the community and, Moseley tells KBND News, he was willing to take a drastic step if Piper didn't get the job. "My intention was to resign from the Council. Really, the logic behind it: if we're going to go this direction, then I'm going to make sure that we have a full understanding of where we're going, and we can see that it's not in the community's best interests to go far, far left."
Moseley says Mayor Russell asked him to stay on, agreeing to vote for Piper instead of another more progressive candidate. He calls it a brave move, "They basically preserved a council that is going to be pretty focused and centrist on solving the community's problems."
Despite his support of Piper, Moseley supports a movement to see all Councilors elected by voters. One proposal would force a sitting Councilor to resign if they want to run for Mayor before the end of their term. Voters would then select that seat's replacement at the same time the Mayor is elected. But Moseley says that's not all that should be considered, "If we're going to open up the charter again, I think we need to have a fuller discussion about the kinds of City Councilors we have. Bend is really just growing and changing too fast to have basically very, very part-time volunteer Councilors."
UPDATE (02/13/19): Mayor Sally Russell says she and Councilor Moseley never spoke directly about who would better serve Council, prior to the public vote in Council Chambers. During Moseley's original interview with KBND News, he said he was concerned about the future of important city projects if a far-left candidate was selected, and shared those concerns with some in the community. He says other members of Council had to have known he was ready to resign over the issue. "And so, Bruce (Abernethy) and Sally (Russell) took it into consideration and said, 'no, as much as we are a little bit left of center, we don't really want - we can see that it's not in the community's best interest to go left, left of center'," Moseley said, speaking hypothetically. He says he didn't talk with Councilor Abernethy nor Mayor Russell about the appointment process, nor was there a "quid pro quo" agreement in place.
Mayor Russell tells KBND News, "The reason I turned to Councilor Bill Moseley just prior to the [January 16] vote and asked him whether he was going to vote, was because I was still unclear whether or not he was even going to participate." Moseley agrees, saying the final decision was not made until that vote. Russell adds, "I hope we can not only learn from this event but, as a community, we can focus on the important work we need to do, move on from this and tackle the important issues. In last week's goal setting, Council began to focus on important work for our community. We've made some really tough decisions; now, let's move on and start getting work done. We recognize diversity, equity and inclusion as an area that is important for our community."
Photo: 2019 Bend City Council (L-R) Justin Livingston, Barb Campbell, Bill Moseley, Mayor Sally Russell, Bruce Abernethy, Gena Goodman-Campbell, Chris Piper
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire says a residential sprinkler system saved an apartment from major damage, Monday. A unit responded to an alarm at the Outlook at Pilot Butte apartments, just before 2:30 p.m. They discovered a resident tried to put out a grease fire by putting a pan in the sink and turning on the faucet; that resulted in a ball of fire, which activated the sprinkler.
The fire was out before the investigator arrived and no fire engines were called to the scene. While the blaze caused about $2,700 in damage, Bend Fire says no one was hurt and it could’ve been much worse had the sprinklers not activated. They also remind you to never put water on a grease fire. Use a lid to cut off the supply of air to the flames.
BEND, OR -- A 28-year-old Bend man faces charges after allegedly throwing a knife toward officers. Bend Police responded to Butler Market and Wells Acres Monday morning after witnesses reported a man in a bathrobe was acting like he was throwing a knife at passing cars.
When officers contacted Gabriel Richards on Wells Acres, authorities say he was uncooperative and threw the knife. Officers negotiated Richards into custody without further incident and he was taken to the hospital for evaluation. He's charged with Menacing and Disorderly Conduct.
BEND, OR -- A Bend-area husband and wife announced Monday they are running for local offices.
Amy Tatom is vying for Bend-La Pine School Board zone five, currently held by Ron Gallinat, who does not plan to run for re-election. Tatom is a Family Nurse Practitioner who sits on the St. Charles Medical Group Board and is a member of the school district’s budget committee.
Her husband Oliver Tatom is running for the Central Oregon Community College Board, in Zone seven, which encompasses a large area south of Bend. The seat is now held by Vikki Ricks, who also is not seeking re-election. Tatom is a second-year nursing student at COCC. He's a paramedic currently employed by Jefferson County EMS.
The couple has two young children and live in rural Deschutes County, southeast of Bend. Both elections are May 21.
BEND, OR -- With several inches of new snow in recent days, it seems winter has finally hit the High Desert. Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, says plows and de-icing trucks are out in full force. In fact, he says, they’ve been ready for a while, "We did have January to kind of get ready for it because January was a little slow, from a weather perspective. We had our mag brought in, we had our cinders piled up and we had our crews on winter duty. Well, it finally hit and now we’re putting our crews to the maximum 24/7." He tells KBND News, "We’re ordering more magnesium chloride to help us with deicing the highway and our stockpile of cinders looked like Mt. St. Helens, there, for a while, and now it’s starting to get a little bit smaller. So, the resources that we were putting to work had been sort of kept aside because January was nice and now we’re putting them on the highway everywhere we can."
While our snow began melting off with warmer temperatures on Monday, Murphy says other parts of the state are still buried. ODOT sent heavy equipment from Bend to clear Highway 206, between Wasco and Condon, near the Gorge, "There are big drifts of six-foot high snow and we can’t really get a handle on it with the wind that’s blowing. So, we’ve got to pull out our big gun, which is a blower, and ship it up to basically Wasco." Several sections of Interstate 84 were closed Tuesday morning due to icy crashes between Mosier and Troutdale. For the latest closures and restrictions, visit Tripcheck.com.
The excellent conditions at Mt. Bachelor are attracting more visitors and impatient drivers. "We know there’s been a big dump up there; it’s great skiing conditions," Murphy tells KBND News, "So people turn out en masse to get up to Mt. Bachelor. What folks have to keep in mind is that 6,000 of their good friends are trying to share that same road and so it requires people to be patient and stay in line." He's heard reports of people driving the wrong way in the Mt. Washington roundabout in an effort to beat the crowd. "Please don’t do that. You know, that just makes things worse: you’re going to end up in a crash and in reality, you’re not going to get further up the hill because it’s still a line from the Mt. Washington circle all the way up to the mountain."
More snow is in the forecast through this week.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are asking for the public's help to find a 60-year-old man missing since last week. According to investigators, a cab dropped off John Love in front of his house on St. Cloud Court, near Boyd Acres Road, between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m., Wednesday. He hasn't seen or heard from since. A family member reported him missing Saturday morning. He was last seen wearing a green jacket, blue jeans and tennis shoes.
Love is a retired Bend Fire engineer who worked for the agency from 1996 to 2002; he also served as a volunteer coordinator, from 2014 to 2016. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call non-emergency police dispatch at 541-693-6911.
UPDATE: Bend Police say the body of John Love was discovered Monday afternoon. Deschutes County Search and Rescue deployed 27 searchers and Sheriff’s Office personnel to help Bend Police look for Love, at about 2 p.m. After about 2.5 hours of searching, two human-scent K9 teams found Love’s body near 18th and Cooley, inside a large hole in a construction site; his body was covered in snow.
Bend PD is working with the District Attorney’s Office and Medical Examiner to determine cause of death.
BEND, OR -- A national non-profit promoting veteran homeownership is coming to Central Oregon. Local chapter president John Harsh says the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP) works with agents, mortgage brokers, home inspectors and vets to understand the VA Loan process, "There is very little education, within the military or after the military, veterans receive in regards to the VA loan – how to qualify for the VA loan, how to become a homeowner, things like that. The transition from military life to civilian life, in most cases, is very inadequate and veterans just don’t have the resources they need to understand it."
Veterans are plagued by high rates of unemployment, homelessness, divorce and suicide. But, Harsh says VAREP has helped reduce those rates in other communities, "All we do is promote veteran homeownership. And, when a veteran becomes a homeowner, all those statistics go down. Veteran homeowners are less likely to become unemployed, they’re less likely to get divorced, they are less likely to become homeless at some point and they’re less likely to commit suicide." Since 2015, VAREP has helped over 6,000 veterans become homeowners in 29 states. The Bend chapter is its first in Oregon.
Harsh, who is also a vet, officially launches the Bend chapter on Tuesday at Liberty Gallery, 4-6 p.m. "We get to come alongside other veteran services organizations like Central Oregon Veterans Outreach –J.W. Terry is going to be one of the folks speaking at our launch, Tuesday – we get to come alongside organizations like that and really dig into the veteran community and help in tangible, real ways that have a ripple effect well beyond helping veterans buy a house." District Attorney John Hummel is also scheduled to speak at the Liberty Gallery, to help shed light on the needs of local veterans.
VAREP is open to anyone working in the real estate industry; membership is $99. Services are provided at no cost to veterans
BEND, OR -- According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Central Oregon hasn't had a month with normal levels of precipitation since October, and that has them concerned we won't have enough water for the approaching irrigation season.
January was generally warm and dry, and NRCS Hydrologist Julie Koeberle says the overall weather story is complicated. She says the west side of the state is considered very dry, while Eastern Oregon has a near normal snowpack. Central Oregon's snowpack was just 73% of normal, last month, but she says that's better than a year ago, when we were at just 40% of normal. "We are, at least, better, in terms of snowpack over the last year," Koeberle tells KBND News. "The one problem we've seen this year is it's just been drier, overall. And, that's really why the mountains have just not really received the normal amount of precipitation that we normally get for the season."
Central Oregon rivers and streams have some catching up to do before spring, but weekend snow is already helping. As of Monday, Central Oregon snowpack was up to 78% of normal. Koeberle says, "We've kind of got to cross our fingers. And, at least we have this forecast ahead of us for this next week; we're at least going to get some snow and that's going to make a difference and some improvement. It's better than a forecast of what we've been seeing, which is a lot of dry weather." She adds, "It looks very promising to pick up several possibly new feet of snow in the mountains. That would do wonders for the snowpack. We really need to make up for some lost time since we're lagging behind. So, hopefully this will at least see some improvement and make a little bit of difference."
BEND, OR -- A Tumalo property owner wants to open a retail marijuana shop on 8th Street in the Tumalo Commercial District, near Highway 20 and Cook Avenue. A hearings officer approved the initial application. County Commissioners were scheduled to make a final decision on the proposal during a special meeting, Friday. But, Community Development Director Nick Lelack, says they were forced to postpone, "We received an appeal from a neighboring property owner, so the Board of Commissioners first discussed the appeal and agreed to hear that appeal." He tells KBND News, "They reviewed the records from the hearings officer, and wanted to continue the public process regarding this application, recognizing there are a lot of interested parties, and complex issues, and a very prominent location in Deschutes County."
The appeal states that the store shouldn't be allowed on several grounds: marijuana is illegal on the federal level, there's both a school and a park inside the setback limits, and a conflict over access. Lelack says a public meeting will be held in early March, "Because the board agreed to hear this appeal, what's called 'de novo' - which means it's an open, public hearing - any issue can be raised on appeal, in this case."
BEND, OR -- The Alfalfa woman accused of killing a cyclist over a year ago, was found guilty of first degree manslaughter. Prosecutors say Shantel Witt was driving under the influence when she drove her truck into a group of bicyclists on Dodds Road, December 30, 2017. Marika Stone, a local dentist and mother of two, died at the scene.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says Witt chose a bench trial rather than have a jury hear her case, "This is a case where the defendant opted to have the judge make the decision on guilt or innocence." He tells KBND News, "We felt we delivered justice by presenting all the evidence, Once we rested, we felt justice was done, whatever the verdict would've been." On Friday, Judge Michael Adler found Witt guilty of all charges, "That was manslaughter in the first degree, one count of drugged driving, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, and two counts of recklessly endangering another person," says Hummel, "That was the verdict we asked for, and the Judge agreed with the legal arguments we made, and it's not going to bring back Dr. Marika Stone, but we feel that justice was done." Witt also plead guilty to possession of Oxycodone before her trial began.
Witt returns to court for sentencing February 19. Hummel says she faces more than a decade in prison, "On the manslaughter in the first degree, there's a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. So, we'll be asking for that. But, then, the other charges, we have to decide what we're going to ask for for those crimes."
Photo: Witt was re-booked in to the Deschutes County Jail Friday morning, following the guilty verdict.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police say a man who delivered an injured puppy to the Humane Society of Central Oregon is responsible for the animal's injuries. Dallas Urig turned the dog over to the Bend shelter last month, saying he’d found it near the Pavilion.
Investigators say the 29-year-old was, in fact, the owner of the puppy and failed to provide medical care after it was injured by another dog in his home. Urig was arrested last week for Animal Neglect.
The puppy continues to recover from multiple skull fractures and is not yet available for adoption. Bend Police expressed appreciation to local veterinary partners and the community for support in the case. They also remind pet owners there are certain responsibilities in providing "minimum necessary care" under Oregon law.
BEND, OR (02/07/19) -- State wildlife officials confirm a cougar is roaming southwest Bend. Tracks were discovered along the rim near River Canyon Estates and in one residential backyard. ODFW believes the cougar was in the area between Monday and Tuesday.
Authorities notified area schools and homeowner associations, and have posted warning signs in neighborhoods. Oregon Fish and Wildlife personnel will continue to monitor the area for signs of the cougar.
People with questions or concerns can visit ODFW’s website and search “Living with wildlife-Cougars” or click HERE.
UPDATE (02/09/19): Wildlife officials say the cougar that left tracks in a southwest Bend backyard has been killed. Oregon Fish and Wildlife and Bend Police tracked the animal into Deschutes River Woods, Saturday morning, and killed it at about 8:30 a.m. The male cougar’s paw prints match tracks found late last week in a residential area near the deschutes river canyon. It weighed 135 pounds and authorities say posed a threat to humans, due to the territorial nature of male cougars.
BEND, OR -- A 23-year-old man suspected in a string of car break-ins in northwest Bend, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday afternoon. Deschutes County deputies say they connected Thomas Watson to the car clouts after he rolled his car near the thefts.
Deputies first responded to a report of one car break-in, in a neighborhood off Skyliners Road at about 9:40 Thursday morning. While canvassing the area, they found half a dozen more victims, along with footprints in the snow leading to and from each car. During the investigation, a rollover accident was reported near Skyliners Road and Forest Service Road 4606. Responding deputies saw two men who appeared to be walking away from the crash scene; one was wearing shoes that left prints similar to what was found near the break-ins.
Deputies say, upon further investigation, they found stolen items like sunglasses and cologne inside the crashed vehicle. Watson was arrested on seven counts of Unauthorized Entry Into a Motor Vehicle, Theft, Heroin Possession and a probation violation.
BEND, OR -- With Dr. Shirley Metcalf's retirement at the end of the school year, Central Oregon Community College continues to search for its next President. Three finalists are visiting the area for on-campus interviews. Dr. Kimberlee Messina, of California's Foothill College, was in Central Oregon earlier this week. Now it's Dr. Tod Treat, from Wanatchee Valley College, in Washington.
Dr. Treat grew up in Illinois, but says the Pacific Northwest has been his home for the last 6 years. He's intrigued by the idea of moving to the High Desert, "It's a region of the country that we've really enjoyed; we've camped here before, and there are a lot of great programs going on. There's a storied history of service to this community that's really demonstrated by the depth of the community's investment in the college, and it would just be a really wonderful opportunity to be President." He tells KBND News, "There is a sense of reverence for the position that I really appreciate, and you feel that when you interview. The idea that there's the opportunity to be an individual who can influence the future of the college the way a President can is truly humbling. I appreciate the opportunity."
Treat toured the Bend campus Thursday and visits the other three campuses Friday. He'll be in Prineville from 11:30 to noon, the Madras campus from 1-1:30 p.m. and at the Redmond campus from 2:15 to 3 p.m., in Building 3, Room 306. Treat says he's no stranger to colleges spread out with multiple campuses, after serving as Vice President for instruction at Wenatchee Valley, "I'm familiar with the necessity of getting out in the community and being visible, and I'm also very familiar with this idea that each campus has to develop its own unique characteristics to serve the community in which it happens to reside."
Next week, the third and final candidate visits all four campuses. Dr. Laurie Chesley, of Michigan, will be here February 13 and 14.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Court plans to send a letter to pro-Second Amendment groups across the country, calling for action and assistance. Judge Seth Crawford says he and County Commissioners are concerned about the potential impacts of several bills proposed, or expected to be proposed, in Salem this session, which he says could severely limit the rights of gun owners. Crawford says one piece of legislation would prohibit ownership of any firearm that carries more than five bullets. Senate Bill 501 would also limit rights to buy and store ammunition.
Judge Crawford says they're now asking for reinforcements, "A letter that we plan to send, to ask them to come to the state of Oregon and help protect Crook County citizens' Second Amendment rights, as well as all the citizens in the state of Oregon." He tells KBND News, "First, I would like to have them work with the legislature, alongside us, to try and stop these laws from moving forward, but I think if they do pass, I would really hope they would come in and help us take these to the Oregon and then US supreme court to show that they're unconstitutional." The County Court approved the verbiage of the letter, this week. Read it in full, below. Crawford plans to also send it to government officials and every county's leadership.
"I agree with both sides of the legislature that it's never good with gun violence is used to kill innocent people," says Crawford, "But I think, when you add laws like this, all you're doing is hurting the law-abiding citizens, and putting them in a precarious situation." He's also calling on gun owners to write to elected leaders and get involved in the fight. Crawford is also working with leaders in neighboring counties, and he says he's gotten positive feedback regarding the letter. Crawford believes unless Oregon residents band together, they could lose their rights.
Full text of the letter approved Wednesday:
My name is Seth Crawford and I serve as the Crook County Judge. Jerry Brummer and Brian Barney are Commissioners and the three of us make up the elected body responsible for managing the County government. While we are a traditional rural county, we are also home to multiple large data centers. Many of our residents’ livelihoods require access to firearms. Caring for their livestock and crops, feeding their families, and protecting themselves and their families are just some of the reasons that firearms are important to our residents.
We agree with legislators of both parties that innocent people being killed or injured by gun violence is unacceptable. However, legislation being proposed will likely have unintended consequences for the County’s residents and their way of life. Many of our ranchers have gun racks in their trucks, just like other tools. To hold them liable if someone steals a gun out of their truck and uses it to commit a crime will have a devastating impact on their ranches and families. There are many differences between the needs of urban and rural areas, and these proposed laws are written from the urban point of view.
In this region of Oregon, firearms are not a luxury. For the people of Crook County they are considered a necessity. We are aware of multiple examples of legislation being proposed this legislative session that could have grave impacts on gun owner's rights. While we believe that these laws infringe on our citizens’ constitutional rights, we do not have the authority to decide if these laws are constitutional, or the expertise to make that judgment. That power rests in the hands of the Oregon and U.S. Supreme Courts.
As the highest elected officials in Crook County, it is critically important to safeguard our citizens’ constitutional rights. As a rural county, with a small population and many pressing issues, finding adequate resources is a constant challenge. California and Washington have recently enacted sweeping laws regulating firearms, and we fear that similar laws in Oregon could jeopardize our citizens’ constitutional rights and way of life. Many rural counties in Oregon with similar concerns, and have reached out to us for support.
We are willing to help lead on these issues, but we need the outside legal and advocacy expertise that your organization offers. Urban legislators have not taken the time to understand the need/use of firearms on rural ranches and farms. Crook County and the state of Oregon need your help. We seek your advice and resources to help us educate our community and the legislature regarding this important issue. Please let us know if we can count on your help?
We look forward to your response
CROOK COUNTY COURT
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Seven people were arrested this week, after a short investigation by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team. CODE detectives served a search warrant Wednesday morning, at a home on SE Sixth, in Prineville. They discovered two firearms; one, they say, had the serial number "obliterated." The guns were seized from 59-year-old Rudy Parras (above, left), who is a convicted felon. He faces several drug and weapons charges. Based on evidence found, investigators believe drugs were frequently being sold from the home, including Heroin and Meth.
While executing the warrant, detectives say 31-year-old Rhonda Parras (above, right) swallowed heroin and was taken to the Prineville hospital. She later tried to escape custody but was caught a short time later by Crook County deputies. She was evaluated at St. Charles Prineville before getting booked at the Crook County Jail. She is charged with Manufacture, Delivery and Possession of Heroin, and two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Minor.
Rhonda Parras, Rudy Parras and 33-year-old Devon Miles (right) live at the location. Miles was arrested for allegedly violating his probation. DHS assisted with the investigation to protect the welfare of children living with them.
Visitors at the house at the time of the warrant were also arrested: 29-year-old Ashley Luna and 21-year-old Austen Minor are charged with Possession of Heroin, 50-year-old Shannon Smith is accused of Frequenting a Place where Controlled Substances are Used, and 21-year-old Aleah Carter was arrested on a warrant for a Probation Violation.
BEND, OR -- Congress needs to approve a continuing resolution by the 15th, to avoid another government shutdown. Kevin Cole says Mid Oregon Credit Union is ready to help furloughed federal workers again; although, he hopes it doesn’t come to that.
Mid Oregon has offered assistance during past shutdowns but, Cole says last month was the first time employees accepted, "We were able to do 23 loans to people, to keep their income coming in. And then, we worked with about 36 others on adjusting their loan payments, so they didn’t have to have as much expense, during the time they didn’t have a paycheck." Cole tells KBND News Mid Oregon Credit Union was one of the first to offer no- or low-interest loans to federal employees, "This time, it seemed to – perhaps because it lasted so long – it seemed to kind of catch on with credit unions, nationwide, which was really great. Literally thousands of credit unions across the country offering interest free loans." He adds, "We started talking about our Furlough Assistance Programs on the first day after the shutdown started. We actually saw the most activity on the day when employees actually missed their first paycheck. So, they didn’t really take advantage of it until their direct deposit just didn’t show up."
The 35-day partial government shutdown that ended January 25 was the longest in U.S. history. It ended when President Trump signed a temporary spending bill that expires next Friday, if a new deal isn't made.
BEND, OR -- One person was seriously hurt in a crash that impacted traffic just north of Bend for several hours, Thursday.
According to Oregon State Police, a Ford SUV was southbound on Highway 97, at about 11:40 a.m., and slowed for another car. A semi truck loaded with gravel then rear-ended the SUV sending it off the right shoulder and into a tree.
The driver of the SUV sustained life-threatening injuries and was taken to St. Charles Bend. The semi driver received minor injuries.
Highway 97 was reduced to one lane in each direction for about four hours to allow for the investigation and clean-up.
SISTERS, OR -- The Deschutes National Forest is moving forward with plans to remove dead and dying trees from along Highway 20, west of Sisters. They were killed by an herbicide used by the Department of Transportation between 2013 an 2015.
Jean Nelson Dean, with the Forest Service, says the project is a top priority. "We want to get all of the NEPA, all of our planning wrapped up so we can complete that project this spring. And, I think we’re on track to do that. It’s critical that we get it done as soon as possible. We don’t want to risk anybody having a tree fall on them," she tells KBND News, "I don’t want to scare anybody; we’re on top of it. But, it is a real priority to get all that work completed this spring." ODOT brought down nearly 90 of the most dangerous trees last fall. Nelson Dean admits the Forest Service still needs to remove around 2,000 more from along the side of the scenic highway, "It is a lot. I think, as you see that spread out through the corridor, it will still be beautiful."
Oregon’s Department of Agriculture is considering a permanent ban on the use of the herbicide at fault, in rights of way. A public hearing on that proposal is scheduled for Bend on February 15 at 6 p.m., at the Deschutes County Road Department.
Photo of dead trees on Highway 20 west of Sisters, April 2018.
SALEM, OR -- State Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend) introduced a package of bills Wednesday she says would improve Oregon’s K-12 education system. One would fully fund Measure 98 programs; an issue she campaigned on in 2018. Oregon voters approved spending more on dropout prevention and career-technical education (CTE) programs in 2016, but lawmakers have, so far, failed to provide enough money. Helt has proposed HB 2905, which seeks to pay for and expand M98 programs and improve graduation rates. "I believe with career and technical education, we can also lower the cost of housing, if we can get a larger workforce to work in there," says Helt, "Our students need living wage jobs and it’s just a win-win on all fronts."
A second bill would extend Oregon’s open enrollment law, which allows kids to attend school outside their home district. The current law is set to expire this year. Helt tells KBND News her HB 2906 is important because, "The location of a child’s home should not determine the quality level of education that they get. And, options are super important to kids."
The Bend Republican is also the chief sponsor of a resolution to re-prioritize the state budget, "To fully fund education and fund it first before the rest of the budgets, so that it can align with the processes that we already do. And, I also think it’s the biggest investment that we make in our state and it’s the biggest return on investment that we have. So, we should make sure it’s fully funded and funded first." Helt, a former member of the Bend-La Pine School Board, says currently, districts are forced to create their budget before the Legislature decides how much state money will be allocated to K-12 public schools. "This bill would correct a huge problem with funding education after it’s been budgeted for," says Helt. Her resolution would send a constitutional amendment to voters requiring lawmakers to fund schools first in the budgeting process.
Helt says all three proposals have bipartisan support.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 49-year-old Prineville woman has been convicted of stabbing her boyfriend in November 2017. Larisa Rollins was sentenced this week to nearly six years in prison.
Crook County D.A. Wade Whiting says Rollins had been drinking much of the day, before accusing her roommate and boyfriend of having a romantic relationship. Over the course of several hours, she destroyed property, yelled at the two and locked them out. Shortly after the got back into the house, investigators say she ran at the victim with a steak knife, stabbing him in the back and striking him a total of eight times. He was hospitalized several days and required surgery, but survived.
Rollins claimed self-defense. But, after a two-day trial, she was found guilty on all counts. Rollins was convicted of Assault and Unlawful Use of a weapon; Whiting says both offenses constitute Domestic Violence. She was sentenced Tuesday to 70 months in prison without the possibility of early release. She was also ordered to serve three years post-prison supervision.
CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- An out-building was destroyed by an early morning fire, Thursday, but the pig that lived inside was spared. A passerby called 911, just before 2:30 a.m. to report the blaze on SW Sisters View Place. Fire crews arrived to find the building fully involved.
They began extinguishing the flames and contacted the property owner, who notified firefighters that the structure was used as a shelter for a pig. They located the pig in the pen just outside the shelter and it was moved to a safe location.
The fire was fully extinguished and overhaul completed by 3:45 a.m. CRR Fire says the blaze was likely caused by a heat lamp igniting combustible material.
MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County voters will again decide the future of jail funding. County Commissioners formally approved a request, Wednesday, to send a three-year local option tax levy to the May 21 ballot. It asks voters to decide on a property tax of $1.39 per thousand dollars of assessed value. The request is 15-cents more than the current levy, and about 30-cents less and for a shorter term than a bond measure defeated last November.
Sheriff Jim Adkins says the money is needed to continue operations at current service and staffing levels. For years, Jefferson County received additional money through a lease agreement with Crook County. But, that revenue source is drying up because that county is nearly ready to open its new, larger facility and will no longer need to send inmates to Madras.
BEND, OR -- A 39-year-old woman is accused of eluding Bend Police, crashing into a yard and assaulting officers as they tried to arrest her, Wednesday. An officer tried to pull Kristen Adams over, at about 10:45 a.m., knowing she was wanted in connection with a Redmond case. She sped off and wasn’t pursued due to safety concerns.
A few minutes later, a man reported a car had crashed into his yard on Eastview Drive, and was now stuck with a woman inside. Dispatchers ran the license plate and discovered the vehicle matched the description of Adams' car. Officers arrived and attempted to take Adams into custody. She became combative and fought with them, injuring two officers.
She was taken to the hospital for evaluation of minor injuries sustained in the crash. Adams faces several charges including Reckless Driving, Assault on a Public Safety Officer and Resisting Arrest.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man faces federal charges for allegedly threatening a police chief in Pennsylvania. According to the FBI, 43-year-old Gregory Truchanowicz said in a January email, "It IS my job to kill you and any/all of your subordinates as I swore an oath to defend America from you, domestic enemies of the constitution. I_must_stand by this oath."
Investigators say he submitted two tips to the FBI, last fall, saying Pennsylvania authorities arranged for skinheads to assault him, forcing him to flee that state. He wrote, "I've decided to declare civil war against police for their crimes."
Truchanowicz allegedly tried to buy a gun in Oregon but the sale was blocked by a protective order issued by Pennsylvania officials. He was arrested by the FBI Monday, without incident. On Tuesday, he appeared before a federal magistrate judge in Eugene, who ordered him detained pending future court proceedings.
SISTERS, OR -- Like many of their peers across the state, teens in Sisters are turning to vaping at an alarming rate. But one Sisters High School teacher is trying to curb the growing epidemic.
"We are noticing just a high number of students who are curious and trying vaping, and so what happens from that is, 'Uh-oh! Now I don't know how to get out of this, or off of this'," Heather Johnson tells KBND News. She says many don't realize an e-cigarette vaping cartridge has the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of traditional cigarettes. "This misnomer, even for the students, that this is safer than cigarettes. But, when you look at the actual ingredients of what is in these vaping pods, we're looking at an equally - if not more - damaging animal, here."
Among her students, Johnson says, the idea of vaping is considered an acceptable coping mechanism for the stress and anxiety the face, "'I'm attempting to try a substance that I know is harmful to my body and is highly addictive, but here I am at this crossroad. What tools do I have to empower myself to work through this?'" She's now working to help teens learn better strategies.
She says Sisters Country is banding together to help, too. They're working to educate parents on what nicotine addiction looks like and how to combat it with their kids. Johnson also suggests parents conduct random, at-home drug tests of their kids, "It allows students an opportunity to have an 'out' with their friends and that peer pressure. So it takes that pressure off of them, but it also holds them very accountable."
Nicotine is considered one of the top five most addictive substances, but e-cigarettes can also be used with marijuana or other substances, "We need to really wrap our arms around these kids," says Johnson, "So that we do our best to help to guide and empower them to make the best decisions possible."
BEND, OR -- A new study reveals deeply engrained negative attitudes surrounding the growth of Bend. Ward Hubbell, President of Hubbell Communications, says that wasn’t always the case. "There was a study done in 2013 where people were really excited about the growth of Bend. And, that was coming off the heels of a recession and it would be expected that that would be the case." But, he tells KBND News, now that's changed, "We found in our study that 58% of the people in Bend view growth negatively."
Hubbell says it’s the result of growth most people have a problem with. "Growth is an inevitability and people have accepted that. And, what they want Bend’s leaders to do is to really prepare for and manage growth, and that means addressing things like congestion and affordability." He unveiled his report “It’s Not About Growth: Shifting the Conversation in Bend” at Tuesday night’s Chamber of Commerce What’s Brewing? event. Click HERE to read his full report.
Hubbell Communications spent six months on the research project, in partnership with the Bend Chamber. Based on the results of focus groups and statistically valid surveys, Hubbell says, people's attitudes improve when presented with positive aspects of growth, "If you tell people that $640 million a year is dumped into the Bend economy from tourism, every year, 70+% of the people say, ‘oh, I feel a little bit better about growth.’ If you tell them that 38% of the new businesses that have been formed in Bend in the last 10 years or so were started by relative newcomers to Bend, 70+% feel better about it." He adds, "If you tell them that the population has doubled, but the crime rate has stayed the same, about 50% view growth more favorably."
The study is part of Hubbell's larger “Better Communities” initiative that aims to help city leaders find real solutions for community concerns. He says 80% of Bend's residents want officials to take action on addressing growth-related problems, "I think the expectation is there’s going to be an infrastructure to accommodate it. And, there’s going to be a way for people in the middle class to enjoy Bend as much as people at the upper reaches of the economic scale."
Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Ward Hubbell.
BEND, OR -- A Bend transient remains at large, after running from Police Tuesday morning. Officers responded to a home near Hollinshead Park, after a woman reported her estranged husband was there, in violation of his probation. Isaiah Marcy allegedly attempted to take her phone when she tried to call 911.
He left before police arrived but officers tracked him to Boyd Acres, where they tried to pull over his car. They say he quickly sped away, driving on the sidewalk at times and hitting a power box. He also damaged landscaping in front of an apartment complex on Empire Ave. Officers chose not to chase him, due to his erratic driving. His vehicle was last seen in the area of East View Lane.
They learned 31-year-old Marcy may be living in a camp near Juniper Ridge and searched the area on foot and with police drones, but he wasn't found.
Photo courtesy of Facebook
BEND, OR -- It was another busy day responding to gas leaks for Bend Firefighters, Tuesday. Crews were first called to a construction site at Northwest Wall and Portland (above) just before 9:30 a.m., after a backhoe severed a 2" plastic line. They say the line was difficult to locate and utility crews had been looking for it for several days. Cascade Natural Gas shut down the line within an hour. It was the second intermediate-pressure gas line strike in Bend, within a week.
About 90 minutes after that call, employees inside the Deschutes County warehouse on NW Kearney reported a broken overhead gas line supplying a heater suspended from the ceiling (pictured, right). staff evacuated and shut off the gas at the meter before crews arrived. Firefighters made sure there was no threat of explosion.
Photos courtesy Bend Fire.
BEND, OR -- A former anesthesiologist and part time anatomy instructor at Central Oregon Community College was sentenced again, this week, for a sexual assault that occurred eight years ago. Prosecutors believe 45-year-old Thomas Bray met the victim for drinks in downtown Bend, in 2011. They walked to his apartment where he mixed her another drink, which made her feel lightheaded. Authorities say she was assaulted over an extended period of time, leaving her with visible injuries to her jaw, eye, neck, shoulder and upper back.
The 45-year-old was convicted in 2012 of Rape in the First Degree, Sodomy in the First Degree, Strangulation and Assault; he was sentenced to 28 years in prison. Bray appealed, claiming he should’ve been provided information from the victim’s hard drive to aid in his defense. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says the state Supreme Court got involved last year. "They said, ‘alright; we’re going to put this conviction on hold, just temporarily, and we’re going to send it back to the judge to look at this one question of the hard drive'." Hummel tells KBND News, "We were litigating that issue and in the midst of that, it just came up, ‘maybe we can resolve the underlying case; maybe we can just take a bigger look at this.’ And, so we had a settlement conference, a full day of discussions that culminated with Mr. Bray accepting responsibility for his acts and agreeing that his convictions that were vacated by the Supreme Court, they could be reinstated."
The deal knocks 13 years off Bray's original sentence, but Hummel says it wouldn't have happened without approval from the victim, "She doesn’t live in Oregon anymore, but we flew her in for this settlement conference. We wanted her to be a part of this; we were not going to agree to anything that she was not comfortable with." He adds, "This is a good result. 15 years is a decent sentence. It’s Measure 11 time; he’s not going to get out early."
Hummel issued a statement Tuesday: “Eight years ago a woman was brutally assaulted in downtown Bend by a wealthy and powerful man. She had the courage to come forward to hold him accountable. I’m sure she never imagined it would take eight years for justice to prevail but unfortunately, the wheels of justice sometimes grind slowly. She impressed everyone she met with her laser like focus on one thing: telling the truth every step of the way to ensure that the defendant never again hurt someone like he hurt her. Yesterday, she achieved her goal. Our community owes her our gratitude.”
REDMOND, OR -- Central Electric Cooperative members will likely pay more next year, as the utility works to expand and update its system. CEC's Jeff Beaman says raising rates would accommodate wholesale rate increases expected by the Bonneville Power Administration. And, he tells KBND News, it would cover the cost of infrastructure improvements, "We need to increase the amount of funding we are investing in our electrical system in order to keep it robust, reliable, and expanded where necessary for growth; and to replace outmoded components where necessary in order to maintain the reliability of the system."
CEC plans about $113 million in capital expenditures between 2020 and 2030. That's a more than 80% increase compared to the previous 10 years. "As the system grows and more people join it, it adds up to the kind of funding necessary to make the major system improvements to not only maintain the reliability of it today, but also to ensure that we're expanding it, as well," says Beaman. "People are going to move here. If you don't expand the system appropriately, you'll have unreliable service for everybody here, regardless of when they arrived. So, decisions have to be made to expand infrastructure in order to accommodate that growth."
Members will also see changes to billing, this month, as CEC rolls out Phase Two of a rate redesign. Beaman says it's a separate but related issue. Service charges are going up, but Kilowatt Hour charges are going down, "What we're moving toward is the point where you will see more of an even split, so that we have clear separation between the cost of maintaining and operating the system, and the amount of energy you use." He says it's necessary because as people use less electricity, the cost of running the system remains. The rate redesign project began in 2016. Changes were approved by a committee made up of co-op members. There are five phases, which should be complete by 2025.
BEND, OR -- The first of three finalists for president of Central Oregon Community College is in town, taking part in interviews with students, staff and the community. Dr. Kimberlee Messina visited the Bend campus on Monday. She meets with the three other campuses Tuesday. In Bend, she heard a lot about the school's technological advances, "There’s been a lot of questions about online education, which I find really interesting and tells me there’s a lot happening in that area. There’s a lot of dialog, a lot of, perhaps, evaluating ‘where do we go from here with that?’ Sounds like kind of a hot topic."
Dr. Messina is the interim President of Foothill College, but says she’s ready to move out of California to a school that stands out in its community. "I would like to be somewhere that was more open to collaboration between the different colleges in the systems, and not so regimented and regulated like California has become. And, frankly, it’s just so congested that, being at a community college and trying to work with the community, there’s so many colleges that there’s not a clear definition of who your community is."
She'll visit the Prineville campus Tuesday, 1:45-2:15 p.m. Then the Madras campus, from 3:15 to 3:45; and the Redmond campus at 4:30. She'll be in Room 306 of Building Three from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Dr. Messina tells KBND News multi-campus schools aren’t new to her, "I started my career at Santa Rosa Junior College, which was a college very much like COCC that had a single college but we also had campuses extended outside. So, it’s something that I’m very familiar with. There are challenges with that, for sure. You want to make sure that you’re offering the most that you can in a very accessible way for students. But, I think it’s just evidence of the commitment of the college to the entire community."
Dr. Tod Treat, from Washington, will be here later this week, visiting Bend's Boyle Education Center from 5-6 p.m. Thursday, and the other three campuses on Friday. Dr. Laurie Chesley, from Michigan, is in town, next week. Current President Dr. Shirley Metcalf retires at the end of the school year.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man appeared in Deschutes County Court Monday on multiple charges relating to a weekend hit and run. Bend Police say 29-year-old Kevin Jackson crashed into seven parked cars before hitting a tree in front of Ensworth Elementary, late Saturday night.
Witnesses reported seeing the driver take off on foot. Responding officers found Jackson running through a nearby apartment complex parking lot. He was taken to the hospital with minor injuries and arrested for DUII, cocaine possession, hit and run, reckless driving and a parole violation.
SISTERS, OR -- Concerned neighbors will meet with staff from the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter, Monday evening, to discuss concerns and share information. Shelter Director Gary Eidsmoe says three churches in residential areas provide shelter for the homeless, but they're locations cause problems for nearby residents, "Some of the folks around the neighborhood are a little concerned about some of the homeless people that are around our community." He understands their fear. A recent incident in front of the cold weather shelter was frightening for some. But, he says, they don't have a lot of options, "Their proximity to the neighborhoods is what we cannot fix. Other than making a permanent shelter somewhere."
Eidsmoe tells KBND News they take in eight to 10 people each night; that number can grow to 20 or 25, during extreme cold. He hopes Monday's meeting will help settle down the controversy, "We'll try to let the neighbors know how we work, what we do, how some of the guests are. This is probably not going to remedy a lot of the stuff, but hopefully, it'll calm some of the folks down." The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Sisters Fire Hall Community Room. "Hopefully, each person in the audience will get at least 2-3 minutes to voice their opinion, or ask a question, or make a suggestion."
BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown outlined priorities for her last term in office during a speech at the City Club of Central Oregon, Friday. She says one thing she's focused on is making sure everyone has access to healthcare, "This last Legislative session, we were able to get bipartisan support to make sure that every single child in this state has access to healthcare; and that's really great." She told Central Oregon Daily it's very important that reasonable voices from across the state weigh in on important issues, "Rural and urban Oregon, Democrats and Republicans, and Independents at the table, helping us craft policy. Policy that's crafted with the diversity of voices is more respectful, it's more resilient, and more reflective of our communities."
During her City Club presentation, Brown outlined ideas she says will preserve Oregon's beauty and bounty by tackling climate change through transportation and renewable energy, "We're seeing the impacts of climate change every single day in this state. We have had the warmest year since 1895. Not 1985, but 1895. So, it is a moral, and frankly economic, imperative that we move forward on clean energy jobs legislation."
She also talked about successes, "Our economy is doing quite well in many parts of the state. We have the lowest unemployment rate on record in Oregon's history, which is very good news." Oregon has one of the fastest job growth rates in the country, but Brown says it hasn't been entirely equitable growth. She wants to work to increase opportunity in rural areas, as well as among under-served populations. Brown says Children can't learn in school if they don't know where they're going to sleep at night, "Every Oregonian should have access to a safe, warm, dry place to call home, and it should be affordable and accessible." She says she wants to focus on helping three groups find safe housing: children, the chronically homeless, and veterans. She says that starts with the Legislature agreeing to her plan to invest $400 Million dollars in housing.
BEND, OR -- After months of construction and anticipation, Central Oregon’s first Cracker Barrel opened Monday morning on the north end of Bend. Steve Rudd, General Manager of the Bend location, says Friday’s ribbon cutting and “soft opening” was a chance to highlight their home-style southern cuisine and unique atmosphere, "We executed as if we’re opened, and fed the general public, which was good. And, we’re ready to open on Monday. We’re open every day 6 in the morning to 10 at night, 11 o’clock on Friday and Saturday, and we serve breakfast all day."
Rudd says the new location is part of the Tennessee-based company's westward growth, "It’s just been in recent years that we’ve started expanding toward the western part of the country," he tells KBND News, "It just seemed like a natural match between our great company’s brand and this really cool, unique community that there is here in Bend. We feel like we’ve got a great location on 97; we expect to be pretty busy." Cracker Barrel will employ about 175 people at the local restaurant and country store, which is its fifth location in Oregon. "Cracker Barrel’s got a great niche in the family dining segment," says Rudd. "So, come into Cracker Barrel and you can expect a warm welcome, a great shopping experience, a great dining experience and then hang out on the front porch in our rocking chairs and play checkers or do whatever you want."
REDMOND, OR -- Despite help from multiple agencies, a driver that led law enforcement on a pursuit northwest of Redmond, Friday morning, was able to evade capture. According to the Sheriff’s Office, deputies caught up with a 2001 Lexus with Washington plates just before 9 a.m., near Helmholtz and Wickiup. They say it was the same vehicle involved in a pursuit with Redmond Police, a few minutes earlier, when an officer tried to conduct a traffic stop.
Deputies say during their pursuit, the suspect vehicle reached speeds of 90 miles per hour, going off-road at one point, near NW Easton Court. Near 62nd and Griffith, the driver ran from the car. Several Sheriff's units, as well as Redmond PD, Bend PD and State Police responded and set up a perimeter. But, after a three-hour search, the man wasn't found.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man remains in jail after a weekend spree that led to the temporary closure of Walmart. Police say late Saturday night, 33-year-old Jared Lake forced his way into a man’s car as he left Shari’s on the north end of town. The driver complied with his demands to be taken downtown, then called 911 after dropping him off.
A short time later, a cab driver reported he was robbed at knife-point by a man he picked up from a downtown motel, later identified as Lake. The driver texted his dispatcher that he needed help and when police finally reached him, he said the suspect took an undisclosed amount of cash and got out of the cab at Walmart.
Lake allegedly then went into Walmart, took an airsoft gun off the shelf and used it to strike a shopper. After midnight, as officers arrived at the store, Lake allegedly hid in a maintenance area and broke water lines, causing substantial flooding. The store was immediately closed but reopened Sunday afternoon.
The suspect was arrested and faces a long list of charges, including Assault, Theft, Robbery and Menacing. Drugs and alcohol are believed to be factors in his alleged actions.
BEND, OR -- Teams of adventurous people can plunge into icy water for charity, next weekend. Bend Police Officer Kecia Weaver organizes the annual Bend Polar Plunge and says similar events are held across the state, to benefit Oregon Special Olympics, "There's five total; but Bend is the original and the best."
Officer Tommy Charles says takes the plunge with his rugby team. Last year, they raised more than $1,200 for Special Olympics. Charles says he doesn't feel brave; he's glad to give back, "I gotta tell you, these kids - Being rugby players ourselves, we kind of pride ourselves on our toughness and everything. We jump at the chance to dive in some cold water. But, looking at these kids and these athletes that participate, they're way tougher than any of us. They're pretty incredible people, so we're very privileged to do it for them."
Officer Weaver says there's still time to get involved in the February ninth event, "We still have lots of room for more teams, and more plungers. It's always such a fun event. We just need it to get colder here in Bend! We just want more of our community members to come out and join in, and those that haven't done it before, come take the plunge." Register at the Oregon Polar Plunge website. "The morning of the plunge, show up around 10 a.m. at Riverbend Park," says Weaver, "Get with your groups, and then take the plunge; get some cool photos, and warm up, and have a great rest of the weekend."
TERREBONNE, OR -- A 21-year-old man was found dead at the base of "Monkey Face," inside Smith Rock State Park, Thursday afternoon. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says it appears to have been a suicide.
The man was discovered by a group of hikers, at about 2:30 p.m. They called 911 and reported that it appeared he'd fallen from a higher elevation. A Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteer responded to the area and confirmed the man was deceased.
REDMOND, OR -- A new state pilot program launching in Central Oregon aims to address the region’s lack of sufficient childcare. The Oregon Department of Education awarded grants for the Baby Promise program to three organizations in six counties, including NeighborImpact in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties. About a dozen agencies applied.
Rachel Haakenson, with NeighborImpact, says they'll work with a handful of local childcare providers. "We’ll be providing professional development, equipment, materials and curriculum," she explains, "As well as fully fund 109 childcare slots in Central Oregon through multiple childcare providers that have not yet been selected, but we’re guessing somewhere around 14." Haakenson tells KBND News, "The idea here is not just to increase childcare slots in the area, but also to make sure those are quality childcare providers."
Bend Childcare Task Force Seeks Solutions (07/13/2018)
The slots paid for by NeighborImpact will be reserved for infants or toddlers in families at or below 185% of the federal poverty level. The grant package, valued at around $2.3 million was just announced this week, and Haakenson says there's still a lot of planning that needs to happen, "It’s a lot, kind of, on the horizon. A lot of the details of the program are still being worked out. We’re anticipating – we hope to identify and fill these slots sometime between April and July, possibly."
Haakenson hopes to see Baby Promise eventually roll out statewide.
SALEM, OR -- A new bill introduced Thursday in Salem would mandate that every county in Oregon create a mental health action plan. The proposal, from Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend), lays out how various agencies should work together to reduce suicide rates, combat domestic violence and better address homelessness.
Helt tells KBND News addressing the state’s mental health crisis can only happen through collaboration, "We have our police departments, we have our school districts, we have our veterans outreach programs, we have our CCOs, we have our hospitals, we have our counties – and they all touch mental health. But, they touch it individually and I think if we bring them together, there’s much more power."
If passed, counties would need to submit a Community Mental Health Action Plan by 2021. Plans would be developed through working with local law enforcement, health care and tribal agencies, schools and other relevant agencies, and would need to include measurable goals to help all segments of the population. Helt says the idea draws on her school board experience, "We’ve had so many struggles with kids and mental health and, it’s been a topic that I’ve been passionate about. I don’t think our youth should have to struggle as much as they do. It’s really, really important that we work together and we get things done and move the needle for the people that need help in our state."
House Bill 2843 is the first created by the freshman lawmaker. It received a first reading on the House floor, Thursday, "That was really exciting to see the first read and it had, I think, the most collaboration on a bill that I’ve seen yet." She says it already has broad bi-partisan support with more than 30 co-sponsors, "I’m just really proud to introduce a bill with such bipartisan support in such polarized times."
BEND, OR -- A Tumalo-area shop was destroyed by an early morning fire, Friday. Bend Fire crews responded to Tweed Road at about 3:40 a.m. and found the detached garage fully involved, with flames threatening the nearby home. Firefighters knocked down the flames and prevented the blaze from spreading.
The residents told first responders they heard a noise at went to investigate. They discovered the fire, evacuated everyone from the home and called 911. The garage was used for woodworking and storage. Losses are estimated at around $40,000. The cause of the fire was undetermined, due to the extent fo the damage.
BEND, OR -- Construction resumes Monday on the new roundabout at Empire and Purcell, in northeast Bend. Road crews plan to maintain two-way travel on Purcell, but drivers should expect minor delays, at times, with flaggers in place.
The roundabout should be complete in June, and is part of a larger project to eventually connect Empire to Butler Market Road near 27th Street. The work was funded in the city's 2017 budget. Also part of the Empire Corridor Improvement Project, landscaping work continues between 18th and Purcell.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man will serve more than six years in prison, with no possibility of early release, for sexually abusing a young child he helped care for. The case against Randy Lang began December 7, with a report to DHS that a child made a troubling disclosure during a medical appointment. Police immediately notified the family to ensure Lang didn’t continue to have access to the victim; the 36-year-old was arrested a few days later.
He agreed to plead guilty to Sexual Abuse in the first degree. During Thursday's sentencing in Crook County, Lang admitted to touching the child in a sexual manner, and expressed remorse for the pain caused to both the victim and his own family.
After his release, Lang must register as a sex offender and serve 10 year’s post-prison supervision.
BEND, OR -- A suspicious device found northeast of Bend on Thursday, prompted a response by the Oregon State Police bomb squad.
Deschutes County dispatch received a report that a suspicious item was discovered along Deschutes Market Road near Pioneer Loop. OSP’s bomb disposal unit arrived from Salem and took the device.
Authorities have not released any other information, citing the ongoing investigation.