POWELL BUTTE, OR -- Two brothers were killed in an early morning crash, Friday, in Crook County. The Sheriff’s Office says 19-year-old Joshua Eckstein, of Bend, was driving eastbound on Powell Butte Highway when he lost control, just before 6 a.m., near Alfalfa Road.
Evidence at the scene and a witness account indicate he veered into the oncoming lane, over-corrected and slid sideways. His pickup went onto the soft shoulder where it rolled onto its side and crashed into a tree, crushing the cab. Eckstein and his 21-year-old brother Jacob, also of Bend, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators believe icy conditions may have been a contributing factor.
Photos courtesy Crook County Sheriff's Office.
BEND, OR -- It’s been over three years since the last occupier left the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, after dozens took over the Harney County facility in January 2016. But it’s getting renewed attention in two local TED Talks. TedX Bend takes place Saturday at Bend Senior High, with 12 people in the line-up. TED Talks focus on technology, entertainment and design, and are limited to 18 minutes each. Click HERE for tickets.
Local composer Chris Thomas will open the evening block of speakers with a presentation on his latest work, commissioned by the Central Oregon Symphony. "People around the country were hearing about Malheur for the first time in the context of occupiers terrorizing a small town. And they thought Malheur is a magical and wonderful place, all by itself, and it would be wonderful if the public could get back to knowing this." Thomas tells KBND News he drew inspiration from animals at the refuge, "I started transcribing songs from many of Malheur’s more famous birds and began to notice they had little bits and pieces that were very useful bits of musical information, I guess. And, they became small motifs, which I began to stretch out into much larger motifs and suddenly I realized within the birds was the foundation of the whole symphony."
TedX Bend organizer Moe Carrick says talking about the takeover in an artistic context, promotes healing. "One of the pieces of the symphony that I think is going to be so powerful is that it is a really different view and some healing, and the communities there remain disrupted. It’s not fully over; it’s never over, right? Something like that has a long shelf-life and a long impact. But, hopefully some restoration and some continuing healing through bringing more visibility into those places."
Historian Betsy Gaines Quammen will also discuss the takeover, as she digs into the spirituality of the land in the West, and the Bundy family, who was at the center of the occupation.
REDMOND, OR -- The City of Redmond is working with Oregon’s Department of Transportation to update Highway 97 between Highland (Highway 126) and the Yew Avenue exit. "Twenty years ago, there were about 25,000 trips a day, call it at Veterans Way, in Redmond," says ODOT's Peter Murphy, "Today, there’s 40,000."
That increase and the potential for future growth necessitate a fix, according to Murphy. He says the South Redmond Corridor Project will address safety issues in the area, "People trying to take left turns, for example, across the median and into a business and, when you put the number of vehicles at 15,000 more than it used to be with that many more turning movements, it cries out for some kind of solution." The proposed design currently under consideration includes several new traffic signals, medians and U-turn opportunities on the highway, as well as roundabouts on Canal Blvd., which is expected to see increased traffic, as well.
Murphy says a South 97 "reroute," like what opened more than a decade ago north of Highland, isn’t a realistic option, "We’re talking about making due with the situation that we have and how to make it move more smoothly. So, it’s within this corridor that’s well established; you know, a lot of businesses along the way that have invested there. We’re focused on this corridor and what to do to make it safer over the long haul."
Several public meetings are scheduled over the next two weeks to get public feedback on the proposed concept, but Murphy says there is not yet money for the project, "Since this is really a combined operation with the city of Redmond and ODOT, we want to spend some time out in the community and hear what people have to say and have the city of Redmond weigh in as well and eventually have what we believe to be the best plan for the area that serves the greatest good; then move forward with trying to find the funding for it."
For more on the project, visit the new website SouthRedmond97.org or attend one of the following upcoming meetings:
April 10, 2:30 p.m. at Mazatlan Mexican Restaurant; 1302 S Highway 97
April 11, 7:00 a.m. at BasX Solutions; 3500 SW 21st Place
April 11, 12:30 p.m. at Madaline’s Grill & Steak House; 2414 S Highway 97
A Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting will also be held April 10 from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at Redmond City Hall.
BEND, OR -- Opposition is growing louder to a bill that would ban non-medical vaccine exemptions for Oregon schoolchildren. Its chief sponsor is Republican Bend State Rep. Cheri Helt. Central Oregonians opposed to HB 3063 plan to rally at Bend's Drake Park on Saturday.
Event organizer Meghan Bristow says it's not a "pro-" or "anti-vax" issue. She believes it's about parents being free to make choices for their children's health, "They're taking medical exemptions away from our doctors and putting it in the hands of OHA [Oregon Health Authority]. That's scary to me as a parent. I had a child injured from vaccines and she doesn't qualify for a medical exemption under these circumstances. How do you mandate a liability-free product?" Bristow tells KBND News, "I want everybody to fight for the freedom of their children. I mean, this taking away the parent's right to choose for their own child. Regardless of what your vaccination status is, to me, it's not okay."
Saturday's rally begins at noon with a march through downtown Bend. They'll return to Drake Park for speeches, information and conversation. "I want free thinkers," says Bristow, "I'm not saying, 'you need to think this way,' or 'you need to think that way.' I want people to read the bill and think for themself and it's information on the bill, it's not just information opposing the bill. It's 'these are the things that could happen' if this passes." Simultaneous rallies are planned for Salem, Portland, Eugene, and Medford. Participants are asked to wear yellow to the event. Search "Oregon Protests for Medical Freedom" on Facebook for more information.
Bristow says if the bill passes, it would negatively affect thousands of Oregon kids, "The bill excludes over 30,000 children from school. That's huge. That's detrimental. That's going to change a community."
HB 3063 remains in the Joint Ways and Means Committee after clearing the House Healthcare Committee with a "do pass" recommendation.
BEND, OR -- Two teens face criminal charges in connection with nearly a dozen cases of vandalism. The Bend Police Intelligence-Led Policing Team investigated complaints of broken car windows that occurred over the past two months in the early morning or late afternoon. Specifically, the incidents occurred around NE Purcell, Neff, Full Moon Drive and surrounding streets. "It was actually an airsoft BB gun and pellet guns that were used," says Lt. Jason Maniscalco.
He tells KBND News the ILP team was led to a home near NE Neff and Lotus, and identified the two suspects. But, the investigation isn't over, "They caused damage to over 10 vehicles, but we're assuming there are more, so we're asking for the public's help, or if someone had damage and they hadn't reported it, they could report it to the non-emergency line." Non-emergency dispatch can be reached at 541-693-6911; reports can also be filed online. Maniscalco believes the number of victims will climb as more come forward.
The 15- and 16-year old boys were found with several air soft and pellet guns. The information has been forwarded to the Deschutes County Juvenile Department.
BEND, OR -- A Prineville man is accused of stabbing an acquaintance at a home on NE Greenwood in Bend, Thursday morning. The 24-year-old victim suffered non-life threatening injuries and was contacted by Bend police at the hospital; he told them he was stabbed by 28-year-old Travis Root.
Lt. Jason Maniscalco tells KBND News officers found Root still at the house and took him into custody. "It's a business, and it's got an adjoining residence in the back. We figured out that this incident actually happened in the residence portion of that building. And then our officers and detective processed the scene, looked for evidence, collected evidence, and then we obviously interviewed and talked with everybody involved." Police aren't yet commenting on a motive, "What we know right now is that they're acquaintances; they do know each other. We talked to Travis Root and another male who was just a witness to this incident."
Root is charged with Assault in the second degree and Unlawful Use of a Weapon. He's due in court Friday afternoon.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond woman faces charges after crashing her SUV through a fence, Thursday afternoon. Investigators say 55-year-old Sharon Brayton was southbound on South Canal Boulevard when she drove off the road near Helmholtz, just before 4 p.m. Brayton went down a four-foot embankment and through a wooden fence. She then drove in a pasture, along the fence-line, until the car crashed into the fence.
Witnesses told the Sheriff's Office they saw her car swerving into and driving in the oncoming lane of travel just prior to the crash. She's accused of driving under the influence of prescription drugs and reckless driving.
When deputies arrived, Brayton was already out of the car. She was later taken to St. Charles Redmond with non-life threatening injuries.
SISTERS, OR -- A 25-year-old was killed in a crash that shut down Highway 20 near Sisters for five hours, Thursday night.
According to State Police, Tyler Wright, of Bend, was eastbound at about 8 p.m. when, for an unknown reason, he crossed the center line near Fryrear Road. His SUV hit a power pole west of the highway, and came to rest on its top.
Wright was pronounced dead at the scene. Utility crews worked into the early hours to restore services. The highway fully reopened at about 4:45 a.m. Friday.
Photos courtesy Oregon State Police.
BEND, OR -- Drones are an increasingly popular tool for law enforcement. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office recently purchased six unmanned aircraft, with plans to deploy them in patrol vehicles over the next month.
Sgt. William Bailey is overseeing the program and says drones allow deputies to search for suspects without putting their own life at risk, "Being a sheriff’s office, we’re spread out; we have a lot of area to cover. So having these spread out in different patrol cars in different situations, we can utilize them for a number of scenarios." He adds, "We can utilize it to help us pinpoint where the person, more likely than not, is. So, if we have a large field or forest area and we knew the subject had fled and we’re chasing this person and we’re able to get a good perimeter set up to contain the person, then we could put the drone up in the air, locate where the person is hiding and then we can direct resources in so we’re not just blindly walking into a field." They will also be used to search for missing persons and reconstruct crash scenes, which Bailey says drones can do in about a quarter of the time it currently takes for manual reconstruction.
Bailey says Search and Rescue has, for several years, used a larger drone that cost between $25,000 and $30,000. These new patrol drones are about $3,000 each, including necessary accessories, "The technology and the cost has come down so much that we can have a number of these platforms available."
Deputies are now getting trained and licensed to fly the new drones, which are controlled by a small handheld remote with two joysticks attached to an iPad Mini. "Technology’s come a long way when it comes to drones, being able to have a very small platform – lightweight, easily transportable; but have the technology," Sgt. Bailey tells KBND News, "In this case, [it] has a dual camera (pictured). So, there’s a thermal-imaging capability that our patrol fleet could utilize." Deputies must follow the same rules and licensing regulations as the general public and the drones are registered with the FAA.
MADRAS, OR -- Madras continues to rebound from the recession: New businesses are coming in, unemployment is down and the economy shows overall improvement. But, Mayor Richard Ladeby believes the recovery has been stifled by a lack of adequate housing. A plan could help, "So, the hope, with reducing the System Development Charges (SDCs), we can get developers interested, coming and building for us." SDCs for residential development will temporarily be discounted based on a sliding scale for single and multi-family housing. Ladeby says decreasing the city's revenue per unit should be offset by a higher number of units constructed, "It’s a five-year plan to encourage more development. And, if we get more development, we’re going to get more taxes, more revenue. Right now, we’re staying flat and it’s hard for us to maintain what we’re doing. So, if we get some going, it’ll hopefully stimulate the economy."
The Mayor tells KBND News the ongoing housing shortage is holding the city back, "We’ve got a double-edged sword: we need more businesses in there but we don’t have the housing to house the employees. So, we’ve got to get both of them going so we can get more business up there in the industrial parks and more housing for all of our residents." And, Ladeby says, the good publicity the city gained from the 2017 eclipse is waning, "People who came for the eclipse, loved the city but, the problem is, we don’t have housing. I mean, we are short probably, roughly around 800 houses that we could build and fill. But, unfortunately, without the homes, people aren’t going to come to live. My previous job, people were commuting from Prineville and Redmond because they couldn’t find suitable housing in Madras; and it would be nice to keep those people local."
BEND, OR -- The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and U.S. Forest Service are investing more than $2 million to reduce the size of wildfires and restore forest ecosystems in Oregon. Klamath District Conservationist David Komorowski says $1.7 million of the funding will make it possible to engage in fire prevention work on public and private lands in northern Klamath County. "Things cost money, so private landowners aren't always going to be able to fund any type of project that's going to help reduce these wildfire risks. And the same goes across with the Forest Service, as far as, they have a limited budget, so there's only so much work they can do to tackle these wildfire risks and do some wildfire fuel reductions."
Komorowski tells KBND News the Chiloquin area is rated as high risk for wildland fire, "Wildfire hazard is the big push for this one. We're trying to reduce the forest fuels out there to mitigate any kind of potential wildfires that might be coming through that area." And, he says, work is already underway, "There's a lot of people involved that are doing really good work. "We already have started doing work up there with other funding sources, so this is another pool of money that we can utilize to do this work out there." Nearly $600,000 will go to the Elk Creek Watershed Restoration Partnership Project in the Umpqua National Forest.
The "Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership" calls for thinning, prescribed burns, and creating fire breaks to reduce fuels; and eventually will include programs to protect water quality while improving wildlife habitat.
MADRAS, OR -- It’s not yet wildfire season, but smoke has already appeared in the skies above the Crooked River National Grassland. On Wednesday, firefighters started burning piles of downed junipers in the Ramms Road area, roughly nine miles southeast of Madras. The Juniper Jackpot operation follows the thinning of 5,000 acres in the Willow Creek Watershed by several agencies, "We've thinned lots and lots of juniper, and then we opened it up to personal firewood collection the last couple of years," Patrick Lair, with the Forest Service, tells KBND News, "So a lot of people have been in there, cutting it as firewood. Now it's time to just go in and burn what's left of those downed juniper trees."
Work on the "Juniper Jackpot" project will continue over the next four to five weeks, weather permitting. "I think we were hoping maybe that we wouldn't get quite as much rain or snow, but we can still burn piles, even if there's moisture. It's not like a prescribed burn where you need the grasses and the fine fuels to be dry enough to carry fire. That said, if there's a lot of rain, then we're not going to be able to burn." Rain and even snow remain in the forecast but Lair is optimistic, "We're not talking about a prescribed burn where we're trying to get the grass to carry fire down through the drainage, we're just going pile to pile, lighting the slash that's left on the ground, and getting it out of there, so that it's not a fire hazard, come July and August."
In addition to reducing the wildfire risk, the operation aims to improve winter range for big game and provide better summer grazing.
Photo: courtesy @CentralORFireInfo on Twitter
BEND, OR -- In about two months, Deschutes County voters will cast ballots for a number of public boards. But, it'll be more difficult, this time around, for several water and sewer districts. With the candidate filing deadline now past, Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship says 10 out of the 67 open positions on the May ballot don't have a candidate. While it's not an ideal situation for those races, Blankenship says, there is protocol to follow, "People can run for that position as a write-in candidate, and when that occurs, then we have to go back and document every write-in that occurred for each of those positions. So, it's kind of a manual process." The person with the most write-in votes then must be certified as eligible to serve, based on their residency and other factors. And, Blankenship says they'll then be asked if they're willing to take on the job, "If they do not want the position - they could refuse it - and then that position would be vacant and the District would have to appoint."
Just because no one has applied to be a candidate for a position, Blankenship tells KBND News, doesn't mean it's okay to turn the process into a joke, "If it's a fictitious name, then it would not be counted as a legitimate write-in. Sometimes, you'll get a whole ballot where they don't vote anything except fictitious, in poor taste language and other things, on their ballots. [Voting] has always been something that's been a right, and a privilege, and an opportunity to be a U.S. citizen and participate in the process; and it's quite surprising."
She also asks voters to use only black or blue ballpoint pens. Felt pens bleed through paper and make it difficult for machines to process those ballots. For the May election, ballots will be mailed to voters on May first; they're due back to county elections offices by 8 p.m. on May 21.
SALEM, OR -- A bill to allow Redmond in to a state affordable housing pilot project is scheduled for a legislative hearing, next week. House Bill 2336 would allow the city to take part in the program designed to streamline the land use approval process. Under the original rules, only one city over 25,000 and one under 25,000 are allowed in the program. Last year, only Bend and Redmond applied in the larger division and Bend was accepted; no smaller cities entered.
State Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond) says his bill would do away with the population restriction and allow his city to develop nearly 500 units. "We had a letter from Redmond that stated that we have seven letters of intent from builders, already, that want to build this. And it’s just north of COCC Redmond campus; so this could be student housing. I think there’s a real demand and need for this housing." He says it's a mistake to leave Redmond out because he believes two cities could better determine if the pilot works and should expand. He tells KBND News, "Once it’s done and if it’s successful and we did a great job, then the goal is to move it forward. There are other cities that are very interested in it but they didn’t have the resources, so that’s [another] bill that we’re looking at now in Housing Committee, is a technical assistance bill to help smaller cities so they’ll be able to apply."
HB 2336 passed the House with a unanimous vote and is scheduled for a Senate committee hearing on Monday. Zika is encouraged by how quickly it's moving through Salem, "I talked to the chairwoman of the Housing Committee on the Senate side, and she said that she would like to get this into a public hearing and work session in the same day, to just get it out and get it passed." Zika expects it will be quickly approved and sent to the Governor.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon jobless rates in February were fairly typical for this time of year. Regional Economist Damon Runberg, with Oregon's Employment Department, says January’s small spike appears to have leveled out. "We did see a noticeable impact from the federal government shutdown in January. And, basically, that impact was reversed, as you’d expect, once the shutdown ended. So, this sort of put us back in line with where we thought we should be."
According to Runberg, January and February are usually uneventful months, economically speaking. But the shutdown led to more activity in early 2019, most notably in Deschutes County, which added 550 jobs last month, and Jefferson County, where 100 jobs were added, "Where we saw sort of stronger hiring in Jefferson and Deschutes than we typically expect, is largely a reflection of the federal jobs. So, there were more federal jobs affected in those two counties than there was in Crook." He says Crook County added an expected 50 jobs in February, "So, it sort of lined up perfectly with what we normally see in Crook County. But, with Deschutes and Jefferson, it got a bigger boost from the end of the federal shutdown." And, Runberg tells KBND News, Jefferson County’s economy continues to show overall improvement, "It has seen really sustained, strong job growth now going on 3.5, almost four years. They’re recovered from the recession; they’re in expansion mode and to still be sitting with rates of job growth of 4.2%, year over year, [is] a really phenomenal narrative for a rural community in Oregon, today."
Deschutes County’s jobless rate dropped .3% from January, to 4.5%. The largest gains in the past year were in professional & business services. In Jefferson County, unemployment went from 5.9 to 6%, with big gains in manufacturing. And, Crook County's rate was unchanged at 6.3% in February.
SUNRIVER, OR -- A former Sunriver police officer is charged with two counts of First Degree Official Misconduct and is due in court next month.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says, on November 11, Kasey Hughes received a call from his girlfriend in Bend, telling him she suspected she'd been sexually assaulted. Hughes is married to another Sunriver officer and both were on duty at the time of the call. However, rather than report the crime to Bend Police, Hummel says Hughes waited until his wife went off duty, then drove his patrol car to Bend to meet his girlfriend. The D.A. says that action left Sunriver without police protection for several hours.
According to Hummel, once Hughes connected with his girlfriend, he did not investigate the alleged assault, gather evidence, nor interview potential witnesses. Sunriver's Police Chief was made aware of the incident and referred the matter to outside authorities. Hughes is scheduled to appear in court on April 11.
The D.A. issued a statement after filing with the court, saying, "Adultery is not a crime and is not why Kasey Hughes is facing criminal charges." Hummel went on to say, "The actions he took to conceal his affair put the residents of Sunriver at risk by leaving them without police protection for many hours. He's also charged because his failure to investigate a sexual assault put all Deschutes County at risk by potentially allowing a violent person to walk the streets instead of being held accountable." He also commends Chief Cory Darling for quickly referring the issue to the Sheriff for investigation.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Three Oregon cities competed to win funding for a new all-abilities playground from the Portland Trail Blazers-Moda Assist program. While Baker City eeked out the win, Crook County Parks and Recreation isn't giving up on Prineville's Old Stryker Field. Independence came in third in the online vote.
Prineville Park Competes for Blazers Grant (01/24/2019)
Elijah Tomlinson, with the parks district, says Stryker Park garnered more than 40,000 votes, which shows the community's support for the project. "That would've been great to win it; we're thinking it would've been to the tune of $40,000, and that's a great starting point for creation of a new park." He tells KBND News, "If anything, it's proven to us and it's shown us this is something that Prineville needs and something Prineville wants. So, it's not, by any means, the end."
Tomlinson says, "We want to continue to work towards raising money, getting materials donated, and hopefully, our goal is to still have this park built in the next year and an half to two years." He adds, "We have a great group of people on our foundation that's working toward meeting with business owners and continuing to push that financial need in our community and the surrounding area." He says they don't just need money to make it happen. Volunteers willing to lend a hand in the building of the park are also in high demand.
The project is part of a larger overhaul for the old park. The Kiwanis Club is also funding a splash pad.
BEND, OR -- The city of Bend is moving forward on plans to lower speeds and add features to portions of two residential streets. Project Engineer Rory Rowan says designating portions of NE Sixth and NW 15th as “Neighborhood Greenways” is an effort to increase safety, "So, what neighborhood greenways help to do is they provide safer connections, they reduce cut-through traffic and speeds when designed and implemented properly, they help people to get across the busier streets in our town and they also use different elements, like pavement markings [and] signs, to kind of guide people and help them get where they’re going." Money for the project was approved in the 2017 budget, but Rowan says it's taken the last two years to design and engineer the work.
He told Councilors at a recent City Council meeting that Phase One of the greenways program will take place in April and May, with construction of new additions to the two streets, "Things like speed humps, landscape traffic circles, some wayfinding and signage to come. These are pretty common elements of neighborhood greenways to help with getting around safely, connecting, finding out where you’re going, kind of help reduce some of that cut-through traffic and speeds that we hear about all the time." As part of the project, Councilors approved the first reading of an ordinance lowering speeds from 25 to 20 miles per hour on NE Sixth, between Butler Market and Greenwood, and NW 15th, from Simpson to Galveston. Rowan says, "One of the top concerns we hear about all the time at the city is neighborhood speeding [and] the effects on livability in neighborhoods; and that’s wide and far. It’s typically the residential streets where we’re hearing from citizens about that."
Click HERE to learn more about the city of Bend's neighborhood greenways program.
SISTERS, OR -- As snow melts across Oregon’s highways, the Oregon Department of Transportation is moving snow blowing equipment to Old McKenzie Highway so crews can get into the area and repair damage done by the 2017 Milli Fire.
Plows began working Monday, clearing the highway from the gate near Sisters to about Windy Point. Once the lower portion is clear, they’ll move to the upper area, to the Dee Wright Observatory.
The Federal Highway Administration provided about $800,000 to repair guardrails and culverts, and repave segments. Some work was done last summer, but winter weather forced crews to suspend their efforts. "No entry" signs will be posted when crews are in the area, Mondays through Thursdays, Bicyclists and pedestrians are advised to use Highway 242 at their own risk until it's formally opened by ODOT later in the season.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners plan to hold a public hearing on changes to county regulations for marijuana businesses, despite withdrawing them from state consideration. Commissioner Tony DeBone says, "After we did an update to [regulations], they were appealed at the Land Use Board of Appeals - LUBA. And the concept now is, we are the elected body with local connections, and we would like to review this locally instead of having the Land Use Board of Appeals do it." He tells KBND News, "A law firm, representing marijuana interests, appealed it and they were trying to get LUBA to change our rules and regulations." He adds, "The response to that is to bring it back locally, now that there's an appeal. This usually doesn't happen; I've never seen it in my time in office."
DeBone says Commissioners had always planned to revisit the county's regulations after a year. They worked on text amendments for several months, in 2018.
He says the crux of the matter is that various agencies across the state have different definitions of what it means for pot to be a "right to farm" crop, in light of regulations controlling odor, location, lighting, and noise. Because it affects local marijuana farmers, DeBone believes any opposition should be heard at the local level first, "The appeal in front of LUBA, principally, should've been done in front of us, your local governing body which has land use authority. So, that's really what we're responding to. A group shouldn't be able to appeal at a state level if they haven't brought the topics up locally; and they didn't bring them up locally."
SALEM, OR -- State Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond) is working with Deschutes County’s District Attorney to create legislation aimed at making it easier for law enforcement to crack down on illegal marijuana grows. He says the Oregon Health Authority needs to make it easier for the Sheriff and District Attorney to determine whether a marijuana grow is legally licensed, "Our Sheriff Shane Nelson and [D.A] John Hummel had requested the information from the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Health Authority denied them, and said they could find them one by one on their website." But, Zika says, that's a time-consuming and arduous process, "We have 60,000 addresses that were in question." He tells KBND News, "There isn’t a law that states that they have to share the information. They’ve made the public information available on their website, but it’s one address at a time."
In consultation with D.A. Hummel, Zika is drafting a bill he says would lead to the creation of a statewide database, "Require the Oregon Health Authority to disclose the addresses of licensed marijuana grows. In Deschutes County, we have a problem with who’s licensed, who’s not licensed; we’re having an issue with the legality of who’s an actual grower or not." And, he says, "To make them be required to update our local authorities and District Attorneys every three months." But, Zika says he's working on a tight timeline; new bills must get a hearing by Friday to be considered this session.
SALEM, OR -- A controversial bill that would ban non-medical exemptions for childhood vaccines in Oregon is advancing in Salem. State Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend) is a chief sponsor. She says she’s listening to critics – many from her own party – who say it infringes on parental rights, "Everyone’s heart is in the right place. So, it’s really important to me that I hear from other people, I listen to their opinions and I’m able to work through and try and find a solution that fits as best as possible."
She tells KBND News she wants to make sure no vaccines can be added to the list of what's currently required to attend school or daycare, "In the amendment that I put forward, we made sure that nothing was added. And, flu vaccines are not in there, and HPV is not in there. These [in the bill] are the vaccinations that have been required. Nothing has changed for the last 10 years for requirements for school-aged children in Oregon." She adds, "This bill is to the current list that’s been in place for the last 10 years, and nothing can be added to the bill; nothing. I want to be clear on that. You’d have to introduce a new bill."
HB 3063 still has a long way to go. It was approved March 14 by the House Health Care Committee, in a seven to four vote, with a "do pass" recommendation. Thursday, March 21, the bill and its latest amendments moved to the Joint Ways and Means Committee, which would need to clear it for a full House vote. If passed, it would then go to the Senate.
SISTERS, OR -- Authorities are searching for a dog believed to be responsible for at least two attacks in the Sisters area, this month.
On Tuesday, a family in the Crossroads subdivision reported their small dog "Lexi" escaped her yard and was attacked by a black medium-sized dog wearing a multi-colored collar, near Bluegrass Loop and Crater Way. They were able to scare it off, but Lexi had to be euthanized due to her injuries.
The Sheriff’s Office is also investigating a report earlier this month of another dog attack. They say a dog being walked by its owner, near the same intersection, was attacked by a black dog on March fourth. In that incident, the dog received non-life threatening injuries. A deputy responded but wasn't able to find the suspect animal.
DCSO is asking for the public's help in locating the black dog and its owner. Anyone with information is asked to call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilor Krisanna Clark-Endicott now serves on a Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, tasked with advocating for federal funding to meet needs for cities across the country. She was recently appointed as part of her work with the National League of Cities.
Clark-Endicott believes Redmond plays a unique role in determining the state's transportation and infrastructure needs, "Because the city of Redmond has our regional airport, we have a major impact on our region and even the state, because of airport services." In case of catastrophic emergency, Clark-Endicott says it's important to create and maintain usable infrastructure, "All the geologists say it's when, not an if, the Cascadia hits; the major congregating area will be the Redmond airport." She tells KBND News, "We have got to be prepared in that eventuality and invest in our infrastructure, and not just on the ground, because we definitely advocated for that as well, but also for our aircraft."
During her previous service on the Region One Transportation Committee, Clark-Endicott says she learned the needs far outnumber available funds. She says it takes proactive leadership to make sure infrastructure maintenance continues uninterrupted, "You have to be involved: You have to be involved at the county level, you have to be involved at the state level, and you have to be involved at the federal level."
Click HERE to read more about what the National League of Cities' Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hopes to accomplish this year. Clark-Endicott is one of only three Oregon members.
BEND, OR -- A massive fire destroyed the Sonic fast food restaurant on the south end of Bend, early Sunday morning. "The Manager showed up and found the building on fire and called 911," Deputy Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki told Central Oregon Daily at the scene, "Our crews are still working to put it out, as this got into the attic and [is] very difficult, operations-wise." Crews responded just after 6:30 a.m. and found heavy smoke pouring from under the roof.
More than 20 Bend Fire personnel worked the blaze for several hours, at S. Highway 97 and Pinebrook, forcing the agency to bring in crews from Redmond and Sunriver to cover other emergencies in the city.
There were no injuries but the restaurant appears to be a total loss, with more than $800,000 dollars in damages to the building and its contents. Derlacki said Sunday, "We’re just starting the investigation; we have no information of exactly what caused it. We’re working on interviews and securing the building, structurally, so we can enter it."
Photos courtesy Curtis Vogel, Central Oregon Daily
SALEM, OR -- A bill to more strictly regulate college campus public safety agencies could go to a full Senate vote by mid-April. State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) says the bill, known as Kaylee's Law, has bipartisan support both in the Legislature and the broader community, "The chiefs of police and the Sheriffs' Association, and many others, believe that this bill is the right way to address making it safer on our college campuses for our students, going forward. We want to honor Kaylee and her life by making sure that this never happens to anyone else."
The bill is named for Kaylee Sawyer, a Bend woman killed in 2016 by a Central Oregon Community College Public safety officer who trapped her in the back seat of his patrol car. If passed, it would require campus security guards to distinguish themselves from sworn law enforcement and prohibit them from driving vehicles outfitted with cages and designed to look like a police patrol car.
Proposed Bill Aims to Clarify Campus Security Role (12/13/2018)
Kaylee's Law Gets Another Hearing in Salem (03/13/2019)
Knopp is the chief sponsor of the bill. He tells KBND News, "It's my job to make sure that we are addressing public safety, especially as it relates to students, in an appropriate fashion. And, it's clear that COCC failed in their duty to protect one of their students, and that clearly relates to the campus security operation that was there." He believes new legislation is the only way to prevent another tragedy, "Bend Police Department has worked- Chief Porter has tried to work with COCC and make sure the campus is safer for students and protocols are being followed, things like that. And it just hasn't happened, unfortunately. And so, we think that this legislation is the only option, at this point, to make students safer."
He's optomistic the State Senate will pass Kaylee's Law, next month, and send it to the House.
SALEM, OR -- Redmond State Representative Jack Zika is pushing for a bill he says creates accountability for a 20-year-old wildfire prevention law, "It's the Fire Protection Act of 1997. At first, it gave the counties two years to identify areas around our forestland-urban interface - so the area right around the cities - to incentivize property owners to create fuel breaks of 30-feet." But, he says, since it was signed into law, Oregon's Department of Forestry has failed to execute its mandates. Zika aims to change that. "This was started from my predecessor, Gene Whisnant, and now I've kind of taken it on as a project. It would require ODF to go and implement this. This bill will actually make them report to the Legislature, now, and update us on their progress."
Zika tells KBND News the act also encourages land owners to remove ladder fuels, which can help a wildfire grow. He believes the fire that destroyed Paradise, California proves more needs to be done to protect communities near forestland. He says Central Oregon towns like Sisters and Sunriver are at highest risk.
House Bill 2222 passed out of the Natural Resources Committee on a unanimous vote Thursday and is headed to a full House vote.
UPDATE (03/28/19): House Bill 222 unanimously passed the House Thursday and is headed to the Senate for consideration.
UPDATE (05/15/19): A wildfire protection bill is headed to the Governor after a unanimous vote in the Senate, Tuesday. Its Chief Sponsor, Redmond State Representative Jack Zika, says the bill imposes accountability for the 1997 Oregon Forestland-Urban Interface Act. It provides property owners with incentives to remove ladder fuels to protect against a catastrophic wildfire. But, Zika says it wasn’t fully implemented by the Department of Forestry. His bill requires ODF to report directly to the Legislature on the program’s progress.
File Photo: Wildfire is stopped by a fuel break, a line of bare ground where fuels have been cleared away.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man is accused of threatening customers at a local coffee shop and assaulting a police officer who tried to take him into custody. The incident started Thursday morning, just after 9 a.m., when witnesses called 911 to report a man yelling at patrons inside Proust Coffee on SW 6th Street, and vehicles outside.
Redmond Police Officer Allen Speck responded and learned the man had threatened to assault customers, but left prior to his arrival. Officer Speck located the suspect walking back toward Proust Coffee and says the man ignored his commands to stop. When the man continued to walk toward the business where he'd already threatened to hurt patrons, Speck grabbed the suspect and ordered him to stop. The man, later identified as Trenton Yates, then swung a fist at the officer and both went to the ground. Investigators say Yates then punched the officer several times in the head.
A passing driver stopped to help restrain the 22-year-old suspect, allowing Speck to access his radio and call for backup. Additional officers arrived and Yates was restrained using the WRAP device. He was taken to St. Charles Redmond for undisclosed reasons and has not yet been cleared by medical personnel.
Officer Speck sustained minor injuries to his head, face, arms and legs and was treated and released from the Redmond hospital. He's a 16 year veteran of the department.
The driver who helped restrain Yates was later identified as 38-year-old Travis Wilson, of the Sweet Home area. RPD extends its appreciation for his actions, saying his "quick action in helping Officer Speck resulted in Officer Speck sustaining only minor injuries, and Yates being taken into custody without injury."
BEND, OR -- A 25-year-old Bend man is accused of sexually abusing a minor over the last several months. Bend Police learned of the alleged abuse in the past week, and began investigating Keaneu Evert Riley. Investigators say there is evidence that, on at least one occasion, Riley gave the alleged victim Meth prior to the sexual abuse.
Detectives say they were able to corroborate details and arrested Riley at the Deschutes County Parole and Probation Office, Thursday morning. They executed a search warrant at his southeast Bend apartment and say they found additional evidence.
He's charged with Rape I and Rape III, Sex Abuse I and Sex Abuse III, Sodomy III and Unlawful Delivery of Methamphetamine to a Minor. Bend Police believe there could be at least two more minor victims and are actively working to identify them through the ongoing investigation.
Edited to reflect the suspect was arrested Thursday, not Wednesday, as was initially reported to KBND News.
VANCOUVER, WA -- The American Red Cross Cascades Region recognizes a number of heroes from Oregon and Southwest Washington, Friday morning, handing out six "Heroes" awards during a special ceremony. Tim Wilson, of Bend, will be recognized as this year’s Military Hero, for his work with the Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association (OVMA). "We give to local veterans in need and then we also give to organizations that support veterans," the local vet tells KBND News, "We support the Central Oregon Veterans Ranch, here, Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, Deschutes County Search and Rescue; we support the Red Cross with their veterans programs."
Wilson says the Central Oregon chapter, known as the "High Desert Eagles," is the organization’s largest in the state. They raise money through rallies, poker runs and other events. He's humbled by the recognition, "It’s a huge honor that I can’t take without pointing back to all the people that work in the OVMA. I just happen to be lucky enough to get involved with the OVMA and find an organization that’s so full of sweet, tender-hearted people who love the other vets in their community." He tells KBND News, "I am just a cog in the wheel. I just happened to be the guy that got noticed. But I am just a part of the many people in this organization that reach out and help people."
Friday's 22nd Annual Heroes Breakfast in Vancouver, Washington honors ordinary people and their extraordinary and lifesaving actions. Other recipients include a high school student who decided against her own Christmas celebration, in favor of delivering toys to families impacted by the devastating Camp Fire in California, and three Deputies who performed CPR on a baby, keeping her alive until medics could respond to the call.
BEND, OR -- A Bend woman accused of driving the wrong way on the Parkway, was arrested for Driving under the influence, early Friday. The Sheriff's Office caught up with the SUV driving northbound in the southbound lands, at Reed Market Road, at about 3 a.m.
Deputies say 39-year-old Bethany Barndollar failed to yield to emergency lights and sirens ... Getting as far as Hawthorne, before she was stopped. Other law enforcement stopped southbound traffic to prevent a collision, and the Parkway was closed for a short time to allow crews to turn the car around and remove it from the scene.
Investigators believe Barndollar was impaired by a combination of alcohol and marijuana. They also say she had several other drugs with her at the time of her arrest. She's charged with DUII, Reckless Driving, Possession of Oxycodone and Possessing a Controlled Substance.
BEND, OR -- A tourist from Otis, Oregon was arrested Thursday night for allegedly threatening another guest at the Seventh Mountain Resort. A child called 911, just after 8 p.m., to report his father was fighting with a man with a gun. Their location was determined by dispatchers, based on the phone's GPS.
Deputies say 36-year-old Dustin Shippee was upset about the noise coming from the vacation apartment above his room. He allegedly confronted Michael Spencer, of Portland; verbally, at first. They say he then grabbed a pistol from his room and returned to confront the man a second time. The two struggled on the balcony, causing the gun to fall to the ground. No shots were fired, although Spencer sustained minor injuries in the scuffle.
When Deputies arrived, Shippee was retreating to his own vacation apartment. He complied with law enforcement commands to come out, and was arrested without incident. He's charged with Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Menacing, Reckless Endangerment, Assault IV and Disorderly Conduct.
Alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the incident.
REDMOND, OR -- A 19-year-old Redmond woman was killed in a head-on collision that shut down Highway 97 for several hours, during Thursday's morning commute. According to State Police, Sara Edwards was southbound just before 7 a.m. She appears to have tried to avoid hitting a car that was getting on to the highway from the Desert Terrace Mobile Estates, just south of Redmond, but reportedly lost control of her vehicle and slid into oncoming traffic, colliding with a concrete pumping truck. Edwards died at the scene; the truck driver suffered minor injuries.
Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to call OSP at 800-442-0776 or *OSP on a cell phone. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, Redmond Police, Bend Police, Redmond Fire, Bend Fire and ODOT assisted at the scene. The highway didn't fully reopen until after 3 p.m.
REDMOND, OR -- An 18-year-old is believed to be responsible for around two-dozen graffiti incidents in downtown Redmond. Police first contacted Devin Knight, late Monday. The officer noted the Redmond man had silver paint on his hands but couldn’t tie him to any crimes at that time.
Tuesday morning, officers in the downtown core found significant amounts of fresh graffiti, applied with silver paint, with more reports coming in. Through surveillance video, they identified Knight as the primary suspect and he was arrested on multiple criminal mischief charges.
Photo: A local resident taped a sign over graffiti allegedly applied by Knight (Courtesy Redmond PD)
SALEM, OR -- Bend Mayor Sally Russell has been tapped by Governor Kate Brown to serve on the newly formed Wildfire Response Council, which met for the first time this week. Mayor Russell says living in Central Oregon provides her with a unique perspective about wildland fire.
She says she's committed to contributing to a new type of discussion, "How do we, as a state, really look at it squarely in the face and begin to look at how we're going to manage wildfire differently, and put some strategies in place that help protect our communities?" She says they need to examine how past decisions are now impacting the state, "We've allowed this fuel load to increase in our forests for 100 years; now what?" Russell says another factor is climate change; a lack of rain or snow, and hotter summers have changed the forests, "These are all things we need to be more aware of because our lifestyles and our communities are so at one with the landscape that we're in."
Governor Brown has asked the council to report back by September 30, with recommendations for minimizing fires before they happen, best practices for fighting them, and forest recovery ideas. Russell tells KBND News, "I suggested that we look for short-term, mid-term, and long-term strategies and solutions. Because clearly, we're not going to get it all done by three or four or five months, but we can at least lay the ground work."
The council plans to meet at least once a month in Salem. There more than 40 members, Russell says each bring their own insight and ideas.
Photo: Illegal fireworks started a massive blaze on Bend's Pilot Butte, July 4, 2018.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Visitors to the Lookout Ranger District near Prineville are asked to stop feeding the wild horses. Patrick Lair, with the Ochoco National Forest, says people are interacting more with the animals, "What we suspect is that with this last round of snowfall that we had, folks were worried about them having food, and it's a completely reasonable thing for people to want to do because they don't want the horses to suffer. But, part of being wild, and living in the wild, is that you survive in the wild."
Lair tells KBND News, "Someone's been putting hay out along Forest Road 22, which is a pretty busy road; and a number of horses have been congregating right along the road and feeding (pictured above). So, that's problematic." One concern is that horses could dart in front of cars, causing accidents. But, Lair says, the other issue is that it teaches wild horses to become dependent on humans, "It changes their nature, and could make it more difficult for them to survive in the wild when they've become acclimated to humans." He encourages visitors to look at the horses and take pictures, but asks that people maintain a healthy distance from the animals.
The horses are part of the congressionally designated Big Summit Wild Horse Territory, comprised of nearly 25,000 acres in the Lookout Mountain area. "We know that a lot of people really like those horses, and that's great," says Lair, "But sometimes your good intentions, feeding and befriending the horses, can have some bad consequences for those horses."
SISTERS, OR -- Two local irrigation districts are celebrating big steps in water conservation. U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) was in Sisters Tuesday, to cut the ribbon on large construction projects for Tumalo Irrigation and the Three Sister Irrigation District (TSID). A portion of the funding for construction came from appropriations secured by Oregon’s Congressional delegation. Senator Merkley says the $30 million projects benefit the districts, farmers and the ecosystem, "This gets water to our farms more efficiently, in some cases, saving those farms a ton of money in pumping costs. It also saves a lot of water, which can be shared with the river; which is critical to habitat that has suffered under the rhythms of the modern world."
Tumalo Irrigation District Manager Ken Rieck says his agency's piping project changes everything, "I used to start off all my presentations with, ‘for every 100 cubic foot per second (cfs) that we divert, 50 if it gets on farm and the other 50% is lost in the stream.’ I can’t say that anymore because we laid 8400’ of pipe this year, and we’re still laying pipe right now." Over the next 11 years, he believes piping 69 miles of canals will conserve 48 cubic feet of water per second and save farmers more than four million kw hours of energy, because water will be delivered by pressurized pipe. Currently, farmers use pumps to get water from canals. Tumalo Irrigation is also one of the first in the country to develop a watershed plan, with help from the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Three Sisters Irrigation also cut the ribbon Tuesday on the new Watson Micro Hydro Demonstration Project, where they’re developing on-farm systems for renewable energy production. Currently, the facility geneartes enough electricty annually to power 275 homes. "When we’re completely piped, next year, we will be completely carbon neutral," says TSID Manager Marc Thalacker, "No one ever thought that you could fight climate change with modernizing irrigation districts." He tells KBND News the work benefits farmers and fish, "We have taken Whychus Creek, a stream that we dried up for 100 years, and we now have over 30 cfs of protected flow in there; and my farmers are receiving 25% more water on-farm. So, it’s a win-win for the whole community. And, ultimately, we’ll have steelhead and salmon swimming through Sisters; the last time that steelhead and salmon swam through Sisters was 1885."
The projects were undertaken with additional help from Energy Trust of Oregon, which is working with all eight districts in the Deschutes Basin, and Farmers Conservation Alliance.
Photos: (top) L-R Betsy Kauffman, Renewable Energy Sector Lead for Energy Trust of Oregon, Matt Lohr, Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Three Sisters Irrigation District Manager Marc Thalacker and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley cut the ribbon on the new Watson Micro Hydro Demonstration Project, March 19, 2019.
(above) Sen. Merkley celebrates Tumalo Irrigation District's major piping project.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man faces half a dozen charges after a standoff with police, this week. Authorities say a woman reported her husband would not allow her to take their two young children and leave their house, Monday morning. Officers responded to Dakota Drive and talked with 47-year-old John Malouf by phone, piecing together a history of alleged domestic violence. His wife was able to leave with the kids, during the negotiations.
Malouf finally came out after more than eight hours, and was arrested. He’s charged with two counts of second degree Kidnapping, Coercion, Assault IV, Harassment and Strangulation.
SUNRIVER, OR -- Trumpeter swan "Gracie" is looking for love. She lost her mate in 2017; "Chuck" was shot and killed on Thanksgiving.
Sunriver Nature Center Manager Amanda Accamando says previous attempts to find Gracie a new companion have not yet worked, "We've been looking for some time and had some hopeful moments, and now we're sort of back at square one, hoping to find a mate out there that would be a good fit for her." She tells KBND News not just any swan will do, "It's a matter of finding a male that is available; and by available, I mean, they're not paired up, because trumpeter swans mate for life. So, we're looking for a male that's not attached right now, or we're looking for a young male - so a male that might be two or three years old."
Because Gracie is endangered, it's important that she be allowed to mate and have more cygnets, "We're looking nationwide, really, and we're looking at wildlife rehabers that may have a swan that's been injured that might be a good fit for Grace," says Accamando, "I'm also concentrating on the swans that are in captive breeding programs."
Gracie lives at Lake Aspen and is part of an effort to reintroduce trumpeter swans to the area after the bird was hunted nearly to extinction in the 1900s.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s City Council will discuss ordinances surrounding recreational vehicles on city streets, at Tuesday night's work session. Deputy City Manager John Roberts says it’s in response to reports of people living in motor homes and trailers parked on city streets, "The city continues to receive an uptick in complaints, specifically about the residency and occupancy of RVs. So, we’re taking this to the Council to merely begin the conversation about our existing RV policies and how we might possibly be able to better address the storage and occupancy of RVs."
Roberts tells KBND News, "In light of the Great Recession, around 2009, this issue came to Council as a discussion item, particularly occupancy of RVs. And, because of the acknowledgement of the economic hardships with housing affordability, the Council – at that time – made a conscientious decision to be a little more relaxed with enforcement. And that position has carried forward to today." But, he says, it may be time to revisit that policy.
He'll present options to Council at the work session, including creating new rules or simply enforcing what's already on the books, "The current regulations define an RV as something that should not be permanently occupied. And, I’ll say too, in our code, we have abandoned vehicle regulations of no more than seven days in a six-month period. So, there’s a regulatory framework in place that we could be more judicious in enforcing." Roberts says most of Redmond’s residential neighborhoods have CC&Rs enforced by a homeowners association, and Council could decide to allow those to address the issue directly. No decisions are expected immediately.
SISTERS, OR -- "America First," as a foreign and domestic policy, gained popularity during President Donald Trump's campaign. But, he's not the first American to embrace the concept. OSU Cascades History Professor Christopher McKnight Nichols says the idea has long been held by American loyalists, "The 'America First' concept has been wrapped in the flag and patriotism since it's origins in the late 19th century, but it's invoked in very different ways." He'll discuss and explore the concept Tuesday evening, at an OSU Science Pub event, "It's a really fascinating and complicated history; and I think it helps inform why the concept was so popular in 2016 in helping elect Donald Trump, and why it remains really popular and appealing even though some of the ideas that were there in the past, aren't really there in the present."
Nichols tells KBND News, "I think patriotism is the crucial component, because it means that those who oppose a certain position can be cast as unpatriotic, and therefore, their ideas are disregarded more easily." But, he says understanding its origin could lead to healing, "Tracking through this history, helps us see the fractures in the present moment, and also gives us a little bit of hope for the future."
The slogan began with the America First Committee that tried to keep the nation out of World War II. But, the idea was also adopted by the Ku Klux Klan and others campaigning for workers' rights during the industrial revolution. Nichols says progressives embraced the concept in the early 1900s, but many now view it as an isolationist, or even racist, policy. "What I try to do is show the longer history of the concept of 'America First,' and how it operated to help inform debates over the U.S.'s role in the world. And then, also, how it's changed in terms of domestic and foreign policy."
Nichols says he's not promoting a political view, only delving into the history of the movement as a way to better understand its appeal, "This talk is down the middle, conversation, analysis of the history that informs the present moment. I just want to get people thinking about what this means, what it could mean, to combat the hate part of it, and also consider the longer questions of global engagement." Science Pub travels to Sisters for "America First. Isolationism and U.S. Global Engagement in Historical perspective," Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., at the Belfry. It's free to the public but registration is required at OSU Cascades' website.
BEND, OR -- At least one Deschutes County Commissioner is troubled by the District Attorney’s request for a million dollar funding increase to hire a dozen more employees. Commissioner Phil Henderson tells KBND News he was caught off guard by information the D.A. released at a press conference, earlier this month, "What’s, I guess, surprising from all three commissioners is this was the first we’d heard of it. Rather than coming to us – I mean, what he’s talking about now is being ‘in crisis.’ We didn’t learn until the Monday that this came out that they’d had high turnover, we didn’t know they had low morale, we didn’t know that they were in kind of a ‘crisis,’ is what he described, that he wanted to do a major reform in the agency; none of that came to us." He adds, "I wish we would’ve known. I’m wondering if something needs to be done more quickly, for immediate need. You know, the budget hearings are two and a half months away."
D.A. John Hummel has said if he can’t bring on more staff, he’ll be forced to stop prosecuting less serious crimes. Henderson says he's aware the office has a record number of open homicide cases, which is stretching resources right now, but doesn't believe that should be used as justification for a budget increase since that could change in a year. He wants more feedback from local law enforcement. Bend Police Chief Jim Porter tells KBND News the job of a District Attorney’s office has changed, "Right now, our District Attorney does things 10 years ago they didn’t do. They’re part of victims’ assistance, they have a veterans court we’re trying to put together for veterans who need help, diversions of people to drug courts, the child abuse group that forms together to look at these things." He says that extra work is more expensive, "Restorative justice takes longer and takes more people because you have to get farther along in the details and examine these things individually, to treat people individually. So, he has to staff-up to meet what I believe society is asking us to do."
Commissioner Henderson acknowledges Hummel's office faces challenges not seen in other counties. He says using a simple staffing equation, based on population, may not work here, "We do have a massive influx of tourism that probably ups – We’re a bigger county, maybe, by 10% or more, if you’re figuring permanent residents, than we think we are." He says it's too soon to know whether the District Attorney's request will be approved. Formal budget hearings begin in May.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond city crews will remove several old buildings from Sam Johnson Park, this week, because they are no longer considered structurally sound. Parks Division officials say they are taking steps to preserve nearby shade trees, and the area will eventually be converted into usable open space.
The buildings were owned and donated to the city by State Senator Betsy Johnson, the daughter of Sam Johnson who was a seven term State Representative and Redmond’s Mayor in the early 1980s. She says her parents would've been honored to see the park become an iconic feature, including an all-abilities playground, concert space and walking trails, "Although it's named for my family, it is truly the community's park."
MADRAS, OR -- Madras Police continue to investigate a homicide they believe occurred Friday night at a home on Southeast 8th Street. They say 29-year-old Cody Wallulatum was suffering from a gunshot wound when he arrived at the Madras hospital by private car. He died before officers arrived.
The investigation led police to the home on 8th, where they later executed several search warrants. They also believe a person of interest in the case fled to the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. The FBI is now assisting the regional Major Crime Team and Madras Police in searching for that person of interest and anyone else with information in the case.
PORTLAND, OR -- A Madras man was convicted in federal court, Friday, of charges related to a 2017 road rage incident on the Warm Springs reservation. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, 28-year-old Dat Quoc Do was riding in the front passenger seat of a vehicle driven by his girlfriend, Thao Bich Tran, in September 2017, when they came upon another eastbound car, driven by a tribal member. Tran was tailgating the vehicle on Highway 26 when the other driver motioned for her to pass. At some point, the tribal member's passenger threw a water bottle toward Tran's car. Do then fired several shots out of the passenger window, but did not hit the other car.
Tran was eventually able to change lanes and pass the other car, at which time, according to court records, Do pointed the gun out his window; the other driver slammed on the brakes, and Do fired several more shots as Tran drove away. The other driver called tribal police and an officer later stopped Tran's car, ordering both people out of the car at gunpoint. Officers recovered a .45 caliber handgun in the passenger door and a magazine partially loaded with five rounds.
"There is simply no excuse for this sort of violence in our community. Mr. Do's actions are very serious and could have critically injured or killed an innocent motorist," U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy J. Williams said in a statement. "The jury clearly saw this case for what it is: an egregious and preventable overreaction to an otherwise ordinary event on the highway." Renn Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon said, "By shooting towards another car, Mr. Do put lives in danger and traumatized the occupants including a child inside the vehicle."
Do faces a maximum of five years in prison and will be sentenced June 10.
BEND, OR -- Emergency managers from across the state are in Bend this week, for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management’s annual workshop, in partnership with the Oregon Health Authority. OEM Deputy Director Matt Marheine says more than 530 people are registered, including county emergency coordinators, public health officials, first responders and private organizations. "This year, our theme is ‘redefining the emergency management community.’ We know that there’s never any one organization that can handle the impacts from a disaster. And, the focus of this event is to really describe and bring in partnerships from the private nonprofits, the public sector."
Marheine tells KBND News it's an important opportunity to meet and collaborate before an emergency strikes, "The coolest thing about this workshop is it brings all of those partners together. So, all of the relationships, and the evolution of emergency management, the enhancement of programs to do more with less, in most cases; or find creative ways for these problems to be addressed and hazards to be thought about, prepared for, trained for."
The threat of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake remains very real, and Marheine says it's used as a “worst case scenario” during trainings, "It is a major component of the workshop. We use the Cascadia hazard, the scope and concept of potential impacts, to really have the community in training sessions and exercise environments, to really think about how would they handle the impacts from such a large event?" But, they also plan for more predictable emergencies, like wildfires or winter storms.
The sixth annual emergency preparedness workshop runs through Friday, at the Riverhouse. Marheine says OEM likes holding its annual workshops in Bend or Sunriver, because of the convenience for emergency managers and other officials who travel from all over the state.
Photo (courtesy Oregon's Office of Emergency Management): OEM and OHA employees welcome guests to the 2018 Oregon Prepared Emergency Preparedness Workshop in Bend.
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools named Chris Boyd as Principal for the new high school, to be built near the corner of Knott road and 15th in southeast Bend. This isn't the first time he's develop a school from the ground up. He's currently Principal of Pacific Crest Middle School, which he helped open in 2015. Boyd tells KBND News, "The big part of opening a new school is being really intentional about developing culture and identity, getting students involved to be a part of the process of gaining independence and being ready to go out in the world."
Boyd was selected from among four finalists who met with the community during a public interview process, last week. He says success starts with making the right connections, "'How do we bring a diverse set of people, of students, of organizations together?' So, in the end, the outcome is that we're opening a school that our community has rallied behind and come together to say, 'hey, this is what our next new high school is going to look like in bend, Oregon.'" Boyd believes school should be about setting a student up for success in later life, "Things that I really care about in education are developing strong relationships with kids and helping to think about ways in which we can meet students both academically and emotionally. This is about students eventually gaining their independence and being ready to go out into the world." He tells KBND News, "I've been in education for more than 20 years, and ultimately, the greatest prize of education is seeing students graduate."
Bend-La Pine Schools officials are finalizing the design of the school, scheduled to open in the fall of 2021. Over the next two years, Boyd will work with students, families, staff and the community to make decisions regarding its name, motto, colors, mascot, and even furniture.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond couple was arrested Friday night, following a standoff with police. An officer took 37-year-old Krystaal Bulkley into custody outside her home on Southwest Canyon Drive. She’s accused of I-D theft and forgery, as part of an ongoing investigation.
During her arrest, 29-year-old Charles Mansfield ran into the house; officers quickly learned he had outstanding warrants, was known to be violent toward law enforcement and had access to a loaded shotgun. When he refused to come out, SWAT responded and Redmond Police deployed a drone and two K9 units. Mansfield surrendered a short time later.
A subsequent search of the home uncovered evidence of heroin and meth manufacturing and sales, along with the loaded shotgun. Bulkley is charged with Identity theft, Forgery, Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card, Hindering Prosecution and Possession, Manufacture and Delivery of meth and heroin. Mansfield also faces various drug charges, as well as a parole violation.
Police report that as they were preparing to leave the scene, several citizens clapped, cheered and expressed appreciation for resolving "an ongoing problem in their neighborhood." The investigation was aided by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) Team.
SUNRIVER, OR -- A local school bus driver is accused of encouraging child sex abuse, following an investigation into child pornography. Police traced the downloading of images depicting child porn to the Sunriver home of 62-year-old Karl Trinrud.
Officers from Sunriver and Bend Police executed a search warrant Friday, and Detectives notified Bend-La Pine Schools of Trinrud’s arrest. He faces three counts but authorities say additional charges could follow.
Bend Police were assisted in the investigation by Sunriver PD, Bend-La Pine Schools and the Department of Justice Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
SISTERS, OR -- A Bend driver is accused of shooting at another vehicle during an alleged road rage incident, Sunday evening. A woman called 911, just before 7 p.m., and reported she was eastbound on Highway 20 from Sisters, being followed by a large Suburban. She then said it passed her, with someone firing shots as they went by. After a few miles, the Suburban turned off the highway.
A deputy responded and found the Suburban parked in the middle of Fryrear Road, near Cascade Estates Drive. After additional law enforcement arrived, 31-year-old Joseph Tafte was arrested during a high-risk traffic stop.
He was evaluated at the hospital before being taken to jail. Tafte faces charges of DUII, Reckless Driving, three counts of Reckless Endangerment, Criminal Mischief, Hit and Run with property damage, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, two counts of Menacing, Resisting Arrest and Interfering with a Police Officer. His first court appearance is scheduled for Monday afternoon.
MADRAS, OR -- A small plane crashed at the Madras Airport, Friday afternoon, while attempting to land. Jefferson County officials say no one was injured.
Emergency crews responded to the airfield just before 1 p.m. and found the Cessna 150 single-engine aircraft on its top. They say it appears the plane suffered a complication while attempting to land, and rolled over its nose, coming to rest on a snowbank about 2/3 of the way down the runway.
The pilot and lone occupant was able to climb out and was not seriously hurt. The FAA will investigate the cause of the crash.
File Photo: Madras Airport
BEND, OR -- Bend City Council continues to work through development of its next two-year budget. They set goals last month, and this week approved a preliminary draft of strategies to achieve those budget goals. City Manager Eric King says Council has agreed to some lofty transportation projects, "About $32 million worth of projects over the next couple of years, with focus on intersection improvements like Neff and Purcell, Reed Market and Third Street, Reed Market and Bond Street, Wells Acres and Butler Market, 27th and Conners; a number of them to tackle in the next couple of years." He says the money for those projects will come from increasing revenue, "They chose a fairly aggressive option, with includes increasing franchise fees; those are the fees that get paid to utility companies that use the city’s right of way. It also involves increasing transportation System Development Charges to get more transportation projects."
King says Council has also asked that affordable housing be a big focus, "One of the things they would like to be is to be more aggressive with the number of housing units that we’re trying to come online over the next two years; so we’re going to provide them with an option of what that would look like. We’re moving towards more ‘smart goals.’ So, those are goals that are more specific, measurable, attainable and can really demonstrate success to community."
City staff will present a revised work plan, on Wednesday, based on feedback received this week, "We’re going to give them some options for next week’s Council meeting, and then a couple of other word-smithing changes and making sure that we’re aligned with what their intent is," King tells KBND News, "So, we’re cleaning up the document and then we’ll be presenting that to them at their regular business meeting on March 20th and asking for a vote." If approved, it will provide the framework for budget deliberations in May, before the final budget is adopted in June. The budget then goes into effect July first.
SALEM, OR -- Governor Kate Brown confirmed members of the newly formed Wildfire Council, this week, including two local officials. The council is charged with evaluation national and global best practices in fire prevention and management, and will make recommendations for future state changes.
Bend Mayor Sally Russell and Bend Fire Captain Tricia Connolly will join other members at the Council’s first meeting on Monday, in Salem. The Governor's office says the Council brings together experts "whose work has environmental, health and economic intersections with wildfire." It was created by a January executive order. Click HERE to view a full list of members.
BEND, OR -- The next President of Central Oregon Community College is preparing for her 2,400-mile journey west. COCC’s Board unanimously approved the hiring of Dr. Laurie Chesley, earlier this week. She's spent most of her career in Michigan and tells KBND News she’s ready for the challenges that lie ahead, "I think it’s very important for me, as a person who hasn’t grown up in Bend, to understand the community as well as I can, get to know the priorities and concerns of the community. My first weeks and months are going to be really focused on relationship building." She adds, "My top priority will be to meet as many members of the college community and the local community as possible."
She begins her transition amid controversy over COCC’s public safety policies, as a bill moves through Salem regulating college security forces. Dr. Chesley says she’s been briefed on Kaylee’s Law, "But I have not had an opportunity to look at that and study it in-depth and have conversations about it." She tells KBND News, "Any campus president has got to be concerned about the safety of students; that will be a top priority for me, to ensure the safety of our campus of and the community, and to continue the work that I know COCC has done." The state bill is named for Kaylee Sawyer, killed in 2016 by a COCC campus security guard. It would set regulations to distinguish campus officers from sworn law enforcement. Dr. Chesley currently works at Grand Rapids Community College; she says Michigan law allows them to have their own police force. Oregon law does not.
Dr. Chesley takes over for retiring President Dr. Shirley Metcalf July first.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners went through an "After Action Review," this week, relating to the rocky transition of the county's emergency services radio system. The county contracted with Harris Radio to switch from analog to a digital system, in July 2017. But, the conversion was plagued with transmission problems.
Commissioner Tony DeBone says the report was commissioned to answer key questions, like "Did we receive the system we purchased?", "Did we pay too much for the wrong thing?" and even, "Did someone do something illegal?" He tells KBND News, "There was some weak points, the contract, with the technical horsepower we had at 911 at the time to be able to answer the questions or support the end user, but it was just a bigger transition than we expected. it wasn't really, malicious." He adds, "It was just some choices made. The transition happened, people lost confidence; so, that is to say, we've answered the question of, did somebody do something illegal."
DeBone says, "The System is working well now. We do have a functional system that public safety is pleased with, at this point." He says both Sheriff Shane Nelson and Bend Police Chief Jim Porter have told him they are happy with how it's working. But, he says, he learned one of the biggest issues was a lack of communication and teamwork, "This radio system, the backbone is the 911; and the user equipment is the police and fire agencies. If a police or fire person says, 'Hey, my radio doesn't work,' the agency points at the district, and the district points at the agency and says, 'It's your fault, or your problem.' And we need to be more professional about how we deal with that. This is a function of a growing community."
In roughly three weeks, DeBone says, Bend Fire will switch over to the Harris system, too, doing away with their analog system. He doesn't anticipate any difficulties.
BEND, OR -- An apartment at the Greenwood Manor retirement complex was damaged by fire, Thursday morning. Bend Fire responded to the building on Northeast Fourth, at about 10:30 a.m., and found smoke coming from the second floor. Staff helped residents evacuate to the first floor while firefighters located and extinguished the blaze in a kitchen; no injuries were reported.
The fire caused about $6,000 in damage to the stove and the wall behind it. Investigators say it started with unattended food left cooking.
DALLESPORT, WA -- Ancestral remains from the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation are coming home, after more than a century overseas.
Three sets of remains were taken from the Columbia River Gorge in the 1880s, and taken to New Zealand. As part of a combined international effort, representatives from Warm Springs Cultural Resources traveled to the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, NZ this week, to collect the remains.
A repatriation and reburial ceremony will take place Saturday at the Wishxam Cemetery in Dallesport, Washington. It starts at 10 a.m., followed by a tribal meal at the Celilo Longhouse.
REDMOND, OR -- State lawmakers will get feedback on the budget from Central Oregonians, at a weekend public hearing. The Joint Committee on Ways and Means will hold a community hearing Saturday, at the Deschutes County Expo Center.
The Hearing will be held in the South Sister building, from 2-4 p.m. A sign-up sheet for those who want to testify on various budget topics, will be available at the venue, prior to the start of the meeting. Click HERE for more information.
The Oregon School Board Association urges families to attend and share with lawmakers the importance of funding schools, amid competing priorities.
SALEM, OR -- A bill banning non-medical exemptions for childhood vaccinations in Oregon passed out of the House Healthcare Committee and moves to Joint Committee on Ways and Means. Chief sponsor, Bend Republican State Representative Cheri Helt, says it would help protect the health of school children. She cites the recent Measles outbreak as evidence of the bill’s importance. She says, "It's time to replace the discredited idea that these vaccines are dangerous and ineffective with scientifically grounded, fact-based public policy."
But the bill faces opposition from Helt’s own party. Salem State Rep. Denyc Boles voted against the committee’s passage, saying she stands for individual medical freedoms and upholding religious liberty. In a statement issued Thursday, Boles said, "This legislation sets a dangerous precedent. One where parents are coerced into medical procedures or risk losing the right for their child to receive an eduction. By passing this policy, government is choosing to follow fear over freedom and it is an alarming precedent to set."
If HB 3063 is approved by Joint Ways and Means, it would head to the House floor for a full vote.
BEND, OR -- Three people were arrested late Thursday night, following a southeast Bend traffic stop and a brief stand-off. Bend Police stopped a car near SE Centennial and Strafford Ct., just after 10 p.m., but a man and woman bailed and ran into a nearby home, which investigators say the pair was familiar with. The third suspect was detained in the vehicle.
Officers surrounded the house and, using a loud speaker, ordered them out. Police say 24-year-old Sierra Campbell (left) and 48-year-old Kelly Joe Meyer (no photo available) eventually complied and were arrested for outstanding warrants; 38-year-old Jacob Raines (right), who stayed in the car, was also taken into custody. All three suspects are Bend residents.
Investigators say a search of the vehicle turned up user amounts of Meth, Heroin and Xanax. A car reported stolen from Keizer was also discovered nearby and is believed to have been in Meyer's possession prior to the traffic stop. He's charged with Attempt to Elude, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle and Interfering with a Police Officer, in addition to the outstanding warrant for violating parole. Campbell had four outstanding warrants for Burglary, Theft an drug possession; she's now charged with Interfering with Police. And, Raines is accused of violating parole on top of several drug possession charges.
REDMOND, OR -- Two people from Madras, wanted on multiple out-of-area warrants were arrested Wednesday night in Redmond, after a short pursuit and foot chase.
Redmond Police, the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team and Emergency Response team found 40-year-old Jose Rodriguez-Sanchez and 27-year-old Sadie Renee Johnson at the Buggy Stop Market on NW Sixth Street, at about 10:20 p.m. As officers approached their vehicle, Rodriguez-Sanchez drove around the back of the store and both ran from the car.
He was caught after being bit by a police K-9 unit, while climbing a fence; she was captured without incident. Investigators found meth, marijuana, drug paraphernalia in the car and on the suspects.
Rodriguez-Sanchez was arrested on four outstanding warrants, from Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties, as well as new drug possession charges. Johnson was arrested on two warrants, from Clackamas County and the US Marshal's Office, as well as meth possession. Additional charges are expected.
BEND, OR -- The Humane Society of Central Oregon is filled with unclaimed dogs. Executive Director Lynne Ouchida says they weren't able to take in animals affected by the Alabama tornados, like other shelters in Oregon could, and they're needing to get creative about housing the pets who've been dropped off.
Ouchida says the situation is a result of several factors, "Unfortunately, it's partly the community. They are not coming in and reclaiming their dogs like they normally do. We normally have one of the highest rates of return to owners in the nation - we usually are around 85% of our dogs get returned to their owners. In February, it dropped down to 69%." She tells KBND News, "We have to add the snowstorm. We were closed for three days. And so, those people who were wanting to turn in an animal waited; and so then, when we opened up our doors, [there was] kind of a backlog of animals that all came in at once. So that also added to our dog kennels being full."
To help the southeast Bend shelter, Ouchida asks pet owners to help make sure animals can be quickly returned, "First and foremost, some of the basics - I.D. your pets, keep your pet safely on your property." And, she asks that you take steps to insure your pet doesn't escape, to begin with, "Clear the snow away from the edge of your fence line. Otherwise, you've created that step over the fence, for your dogs." If you've lost your pet, Ouchida suggests you call the shelter, even if you can't come right away to pick him up. Staff can make arrangements with you. And, if you are no longer able to care for your pet, releasing them to the shelter helps them more quickly find another loving home.
BEND, OR -- Dozens of local offices are up for grabs in the May election, but - as of this week - more than half of the positions on Deschutes County's ballot remain without a candidate. County Clerk Nancy Blankenship is optimistic more candidates will step up before next week's filing deadline, "Your college, your library, your schools, your fire departments and some water and sewer districts. And these are great opportunities. If you feel like you want to give back to the community, like a lot of us do, and serve, these are some great places to serve." She tells KBND News, "Unlike the Governor or the Presidential [race], these are people you touch and know and talk to every day. They have a big influence on your life, on your tax dollars and your quality of life. And so, if you want to serve and be part of that, it’s a great opportunity. But, it’s also important to participate on the voting side because these people affect your life every day."
Those interested in running in the May 21st election only have another week to get their paperwork in, "March 21st is the deadline to file as a candidate. Then, the next big deadline, if you want to put a candidate statement in, March 25th; that’s the deadline for the voters’ pamphlet. Not all counties in Oregon provide voters’ pamphlets. We’re – there’s only nine or 10 counties that do." Click HERE for a list of other important dates related to the upcoming election. You'll find a list of open Deschutes County positions HERE.
BEND, OR -- St. Charles Bend’s emergency room and in-patient services are operating at capacity. Michelle Brenholdt, Director of Emergency Services for the Bend and Redmond hospitals, says it’s due to a combination of factors, "We’re seeing a second spike in flu. We kind of peaked a couple of weeks ago, it started to drop off and now we’re peaking again. So, if you take a hospital who’s already at capacity, almost on a daily basis, and then you take a whole bunch of flu patients who are sicker than they normally are and they stay an extra day or two, then that really puts extra demand on our in-patient beds." And, she tells KBND News, "We have still had people falling from roofs, which has been a problem. Ice and ladders and roofs are kind of a bad combination; especially for our elderly population." Although, as the weather improves, the number of ice and snow-related injuries is declining. She says local skilled nursing facilities where some patients can recieve transitional care are also full.
In some cases, patients are being transferred, when appropriate, "We still have capacity at Redmond, Madras and Prineville, so we are utilizing our whole system to place patients." To help, Nurse Brenholdt asks that you not come to the Emergency Department unless you're seriously ill or hurt, "If you’re having chest pains, severe abdominal pains, trouble breathing, certainly, the Emergency Department is the place to come and we want to make sure we have the capacity to see the patients who truly need emergency care. And, we can still take care of our community and that’s important to note. But, we’re encouraging people who are not acutely ill to seek care at the urgent cares and doctors offices."
A new patient tower at St. Charles Medical Center Bend is slated to open May 19. Brenholdt says that will address some of the ongoing capacity issues faced by the hospital.
SALEM, OR -- A bill named for a woman killed in 2016 by a Central Oregon Community College campus security guard got its first public hearing Wednesday, in Salem. Members of Kaylee Sawyer’s family testified in favor of SB-576, as well as Bend’s Police Chief and Deschutes County's District Attorney. The bill regulates what campus security guards can do, wear and drive. It's co-sponsored by Bend State Senator Tim Knopp, who says it would require national background checks and enable law enforcement to share information about job applicants, "And, we need to make sure that the vehicles that are chosen by campus security include GPS or cameras and we certainly need to prohibit cages and things like that, that ultimately led to Kaylee’s demise." He says the law needs to create a "bright line" of distinction between campus security guards and sworn law enforcement.
COCC Responds to Kaylee's Law Proposal (12/14/2018)
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum also supports Kaylee’s Law, and told the Senate Judiciary Committee she hears concerns from campus public safety officers, "The contention is that our students will not respond to campus safety officers, if they are distinguishable from law enforcement; they will be taken less seriously and that this, in turn, will make our campuses less safe. But please allow me to turn this question around: If your authority rests on the mistaken assumption that you are a law enforcement officer when you are not, is increased safety truly the result?"
Eric Wood is a public safety officer for Corbin University. He asked lawmakers to consider how passing the bill could hamper the work he and his colleagues do, "These concerns have made many students who have read this bill feel unsafe." His partner, Isaac Helend asked that amendments be made to ensure campus officers have the proper resources. However, the heads of Western Oregon (WOU) and Oregon State University (OSU) public safety support Kaylee's law. WOU's Rebecca Chiles says her office already follows many of the policies outlined in the bill, "I will always be in favor of new or updated policies, processes, laws, etc. that make our campuses safer; who wouldn’t? We owe it to my children, to yours and especially to Kaylee and the entire Sawyer family."
Central Oregon Community College student Oz Smith told the committee, "Not all officers will abuse their power. But, students deserve more than luck to rely on during interactions with public safety officers. Our students’ lives should not be dependent on how an individual officer, with little accountability and resources equivalent to that of sworn police officers, chooses to conduct themself."
Deschutes County D.A. John Hummel and BPD Chief Jim Porter testified that despite multiple meetings, Central Oregon Community College has failed to address concerns about campus security guards conducting traffic stops and investigations, and generally acting like police. The say COCC officials have told them the law does not require the school change its policies.
Image: Bend Police Chief Jim Porter presented the Senate Judiciary Committee with photos showing the similarities between campus security patrol cars and uniforms and those used by sworn police officers. The lower-left "officer" is Edwin Lara, convicted of killing Kaylee Sawyer in 2016; the vehicle he used to commit the murder is shown in the image to his left.
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire says last week’s house fire on Cooley Road highlights a problem firefighters face on a regular basis: smoke detectors that don’t work properly. Initially, the agency reported the manufactured home did not have smoke alarms. However, they have since learned alarms were installed, but were more than 10 years old. Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe says that's one of several reasons why a smoke detector might not alert, "Either they’re outdated, they may not have a battery or they may have not received enough smoke to be activated; they might be in a place in the house where there wasn’t any smoke." He says that’s why placement is important. State law requires a smoke detector be mounted in each sleeping area and on each level of a home.
State law also requires smoke detectors be replaced every decade. Howe admits the fire department doesn't actively enforce the law; but, he says, it is important. "The radioactive material that is necessary to detect the smoke, it decays over time. And they have figured that after 10 years, it is not as efficient as it should be; the performance starts to degrade." Howe says technology also evolves and improves, "The ones they make in 2029 are probably going to be better than the ones they make now. They’re probably going to be more technologically advanced." And, he adds, "They’re also making them now with 10-year batteries, batteries that are good for the entire life of the unit." To see how old your smoke detectors are, look for the date stamp on the back of each unit.
Friday's fire started before 5 a.m. Howe says the family escaped unharmed only because the father smelled smoke and went to investigate, "And they got out; we’re very happy about that. Not only that, but this experience has brought it to light. It’s a lesson for the whole community."
Photos: (top) A home near Cooley and O.B. Riley Road was damaged by fire, March 8, 2019. Courtesy Bend Fire.
(upper right) Smoke detectors said to have been installed in the home did not go off. Submitted by resident Mystea Hobson.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s South Canal Boulevard is expected to reopen on time, despite last month’s snowfall. But, City Engineer Mike Caccavano says one part of the reconstruction project is changing, "While we’ve been working on the project, there’s also been a development proposal for a big chunk of property in between Obsidian and Pumice, right along S. Canal; 192 units of apartments." He says traffic studies required during the development planning process show the Obsidian Heights complex would bring too many vehicles to the area around Safeway, and the intersection of S. Canal and Pumice Avenue would fail.
He's proposing a mini-roundabout at Canal and Pumice, "We already congestion at Pumice and the new development would just compound that. So, we can solve an existing problem and a future problem at the same time." The roundabout would only have three legs until the fourth leg is needed for the apartment complex. Caccavano admits the additional work will stretch out the S. Canal Reconstruction Project, "The plan is to finish up the rest of S. Canal. We left out curbs and sidewalks at this intersection, knowing this was coming. We’d open up the rest of the road in April, as planned, yet we would keep that one intersection closed to allow for reconstruction."
Caccavano presented his idea to City Council Tuesday night, with a preliminary design. He tells KBND News it needs to not only handle the potential increase in residential traffic in the area, but also anticipated increases when work eventually begins on South Highway 97, which parallels S. Canal Boulevard. "We only have one roundabout in town and we had seen mini roundabouts used in a number of locations and thought it would be a good solution here. But, [we] wanted to make sure because, at the same time we’re planning for S. Highway 97, and we know there’s going to be a lot of connections and trucks are going to using Canal Boulevard to get access to businesses on 97."
City Council approved the idea, but asked that roundabout construction happen as efficiently as possible to minimize impacts on drivers and neighbors. They also want to make sure access to Safeway remains open. Caccavano says the specific cost and timeline will be worked out with contractor Knife River in the next few weeks. Preliminary estimates put the expansion at about half a million dollars. He says they're considering extended workdays, night work, building half at a time and other ideas, to move things quickly.
BEND, OR -- Bend's Police Chief is in Salem Wednesday, testifying in support of Kaylee's Law. The proposed bill is named for Kaylee Sawyer who was killed in 2016 by a Central Oregon Community College security guard. It outlines regulations for college campus security forces. Sawyer's family implored lawmakers in December to take up the bill this session. To read the full bill, click HERE.
Chief Jim Porter says COCC campus security act too much like official law enforcement, wearing uniforms that look like police and driving cars that look like patrol vehicles. He tells KBND News, "This group of public safety professionals, and there are professionals among them, have not been regulated; they have not been given any professional guidelines. But yet, they've been expanding on their own their police power, police presence, and the way they dress, and the manner in which they carry out their duties." Porter says that could lead to violations of the rights of on-campus crime victims, "If they take a report from a person at the college, and because of the way they're dressed, and the manner in which they operate, and the vehicles they drive, those people presume that they're being treated like a victim and be assured victim's rights, but they never are, because that never gets to myself or never gets to the District Attorney. So, they don't get their constitutional rights."
While state universities can have accredited police departments, community colleges cannot. Porter says Kaylee's Law would outline what campus security guards can and can't do while performing their duties, "It's to give every community public safety officer working on a campus a set of guidelines and state mandates to help them be better; not just COCC, everybody." The bill would require criminal background checks on all security officers, uniforms and cars could not look like those used by police, and any reports taken regarding on-campus crimes would be forwarded to official law enforcement.
Bend State Senator Tim Knopp is a chief sponsor of SB 576. It's also supported by Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel and the Bend City Council. It's opposed by COCC and the Oregon College and University Public Safety Administrators Association, who say campus security offers a vital service at colleges around the state and Kaylee's Law would negatively impact safety.
BEND, OR -- Crews will start reconstruction of Bend’s South Mirror Pond Parking Lot, later this month, taking away one downtown parking option for several months. City officials say the project is part of an overall effort to increase downtown safety.
The plan involves new curbs and asphalt, aimed at improving the lot's condition. Changes to trash enclosures, the center landscape strip and western boundary should increase safety within the lot. Crews will also improve functionality by accommodating internal circulation and adjusting parking stall dimensions to meet current standards.
Officials say the south Mirror Pond lot was identified as a "high demand" lot in a 2017 Downtown Strategic Management Parking Plan, and it was noted as a trouble spot in the 2016 Problem Oriented Policing project conducted in downtown Bend.
Safety Improvements Approved for Downtown Bend (08/18/2017)
They expect minimal traffic disruptions and night work should only take place one night. However, drivers will not be allowed to park in the lot during construction. Click HERE for information on downtown parking options. The project should be complete by early June.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College has named its next President. The COCC board voted unanimously, Tuesday night, to approve hiring Dr. Laurie Chesley to replace the retiring Dr. Shirley Metcalf July first.
Dr. Chesley comes from Grand Rapids Community College, where she is Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. She's spent most of her career in Michigan. "It is exciting for me to be moving to an area that is so beautiful, so welcoming and, most importantly, so supportive of its community college," she said in a written statement, "I approach this challenge with humility, knowing the great work that has already been done by Dr. Metcalf, the board of directors, and the faculty and staff, both past and present." Dr. Chesley added, "COCC has a great history and I look forward to being part of its future."
The board's decision follows on-campus interviews with three finalists, and a visit to Dr. Chesley's current school. "Everything we heard on our visit confirmed that Dr. Chesley is the right person to be the next president of COCC," says board member Joe Krenowicz, "Faculty, staff, students, her current president and board chair all shared their tremendous respect for the work she has done there and were unanimous in their support of her move into presidency."
BEND, OR -- Unemployment rates rose in January, for all three Central Oregon counties. Deschutes County's jobless rate went up .3% from December, to 4.7%; it was 4.2% this time last year. Jefferson County rose from 5.5% in December to 5.9%; a year ago, it was 5.7%. And, in Crook County, the rate rose to 6.3% from 5.9% the prior month. It was 6.4% in January 2018.
Regional Economist Damon Runberg tells KBND News, "With this month, we're releasing January, but also, all the revised changes we made for 2018 using really good tax record data." He adds, "We actually do make sure that the numbers are as accurate as possible, and we release more accurate, better data." But, the revisions reveal growth is slowing, "We saw the rate of employment growth slow quite notably from what we had initially estimated, from somewhere around 4, 4.5%, down to about 3%, year over year." He adds, "As of January, employment is only up about 3%, from this time last year; and that still sounds like a lot, and it is a lot, compared to the statewide or the national figures. But, for [Deschutes County], 3% growth, year over year, is quite slow, from what we've seen in the past five years." Deschutes County also added 90 fewer jobs than predicted. And, Runberg says, Jefferson County's growth rate came in at 3.4%, instead of the estimated 5%. "The one really bright spot that came out of these revisions was Crook County, where originally, we had estimated that employment was down in 2018. But, these revisions actually show they added over 2% to their job base."
Runberg says the numbers are mostly impacted by people taking longer to find jobs, not from any mass layoff events.
PORTLAND, OR -- February's unseasonably cool temperatures eliminated Oregon's snowpack deficit, at least for most of the state. Last month's temperatures averaged 20-degrees below normal, "It was unusual to have cold temperatures sustained that long, and then we had a lot of low-elevation snow," says Julie Koeberle, with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). She adds, most of the state is over 100% of normal for this time of year, except for some areas around Mt. Hood, "Overall, it’s measuring 90% of normal, which is still pretty good considering it was 50% just the start of February." The Upper Deschutes and Crooked River Basin is now 112% of normal.
Koeberle says last month's massive snowfall helped ease drought concerns, but it didn't end the problem, "There's still part of the state that has a severe to moderate drought category." She says, "Soils, before the snowpack [was] established, were really dry. So, when it’s time for snowmelt runoff to come, those soils will satisfy that deficit before contributing to runoff." That means the moisture will soak into the ground before contributing to rivers and reservoirs.
Snowpack is important for adequate river levels for fish and irrigation for farmers, later in the year.
SISTERS, OR -- Two Central Oregon communities plan to ask for state grants, this week, to spruce up aging parks. Sisters City Council and Jefferson County Commissioners are expected to support applications to Oregon Parks and Recreation for the projects at Wednesday meetings.
Sisters Community Development Director Patrick Davenport says Village Green Park is the most popular in Sisters. The grant would pay for an all-abilities play structure, similar to Redmond’s Hope Playground, "We’ll have an approach from our ADA parking spaces leading to the structure and then have firm surfaces where folks that are physically handicapped can get around very easily. We have a bit of a climbing focus (below), but it’ll be low enough where folks that are, perhaps, in a wheelchair could also reach up and climb a little bit on them, of course, with some help." The existing structure (pictured above) would be moved to another, lesser-used park. Davenport says the final design for the new playground would be up to the public, "If we get the grant, we’ll go back to the community and ask them some particular elements on the new play structure." He says the Sisters request is for about 38%, or around $73,000, of the $190,000 project, which would fall into the "small grant" category of the Local Government Grant Program; the city would provide the other 62%.
Jefferson County Administrator Jeff Rasmussen says the grant could help pay for much needed upgrades at Panorama Park in Crooked River Ranch, "A place for a dog park and, more important, the community has indicated they would like some shade. So, in the grant, you’ll see a playground structure that has an umbrella, for lack of a better term, over it and a couple of picnic shelters." The park was built in the early 2000s with a play structure and bathrooms, but has never been updated. His county's application is for 80%, or about $155,000, of the estimated $194,000 project, putting it in the "large grant" category. Rasmussen says, if the grant is approved, the other 20% of the funding would come from local sources, "And we’ve had some initial conversations, trying to figure out what the scope would be and if the county would be requesting the [CRR] homeowners association to contribute."
Because Sisters is applying under the small grant category and Jefferson County is vying for a large grant, the two are not competing for the same money. Davenport tells KBND News, "I hope we both get it; I hope we get it and Jefferson County does, too." Oregon Parks and Rec announces grant winners in late summer. If the local applications are approved, work could begin as early as next spring.
BEND, OR -- Two men were arrested Monday by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) Team, on multiple drug and weapons charges. Detectives believe 23-year-old John Shivers (pictured, left), of Sacramento, transported narcotics and stolen guns to the Bend area. And, they suspect he pistol whipped an unnamed victim, Sunday night.
Shivers and 30-year-old Russell Hendrickson (right), of Bend, were in the back seat of a car pulled over by CODE, near NE 8th and Greenwood, Monday afternoon. Detectives say they found two handguns, one confirmed stolen and the other with an obliterated serial number, along with commercial quantities of heroin and user amounts of meth. The driver and front passenger were not charged and were released at the scene.
During booking at the jail, deputies found additional meth hidden on Hendrickson. He and Shivers face drug possession, manufacture and distribution charges, as well as being felons in possession of a firearm. Shivers is also charged with assault.
BEND, OR -- Local leaders have been working to improve how the area deals with smoke from prescribed burns and wildfires. Deschutes County Commissioners support an updated Statewide Smoke Management plan, which County Forester Ed Keith says allows for greater flexibility and more prescribed burns near populated areas prone to wildfire.
Keith tells KBND News the High Desert is key to making the policy work, because of the number of residents and controlled burns, "In Central Oregon, we don't really have a 'no fire' option. Fire's just part of the reality of living in Central Oregon. We have the chance to be proactive in the spring and in the fall trying to identify areas that can act as a buffer to wildfire." But, he says creating those "buffers" around populated through prescribed burns was tough under old state rules, "The previous version of the Smoke Management Plan basically had a zero tolerance policy for smoke, and that was really challenging to pull off some of these prescribed fires that were right next to town. But now there's a small amount of tolerance for limited exposure to smoke." The new guidelines specify particulate levels considered unhealthy for especially vulnerable populations, like kids, the elderly and those with chronic conditions.
Proposed Smoke Rule Could Impact Deschutes Co. (08/16/2018)
The revisions also call on communities to develop response plans to protect those sensitive population groups. Keith says Deschutes County is working on a plan to communicate with residents about the dangers of smoke and what to expect during prescribed burn season, "The Central Oregon Fire website is the place to go, both for information on upcoming burns, but also it explains why we do burn. There's also a page on prescribed fire and your health in relation to smoke." He meets with County Commissioners Wednesday to discuss the State Smoke Management Plan and Deschutes County's role in making it successful.
WARM SPRINGS, OR -- Dozens of wild mustang horses are stranded and starving on the Warm Springs Reservation, trapped by deep snow and fallen trees. OregonLive reports at least four of the horses have died, and many more are suffering.
Redmond-based Mustang MEND and Central Oregon Equine Rescue are working to get hay to the horses, where possible, and are asking for cash and feed donations. They plan to buy 25 to 30 tons of alfalfa to help keep the horses fed until the snow melts, at a cost of roughly $7,500.
Contact Mustang MEND to make a donation, or click HERE to donate via PayPal.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Schools will add a day and a half to its calendar in June, to make up snow days missed in February. The district notified families Monday evening, saying Friday, June 14 is now the last day of school for grades K-11. June 13 and 14 are now full school days. Originally, the year ended on the 13th, with a half day.
Redmond Proficiency Academy has also extended its year. RPA middle and high school were scheduled to end June 12, but will now also stretch through the 14th.
Last week, Bend-La Pine Schools announced its school year would also extend to June 14, adding one day. Central Oregon school districts lost four days during the last week of February, when several feet of snow piled up across the region.
Graduation ceremonies are not impacted.
Photo: Redmond's John Tuck Elementary, February 26, 2019 (courtesy Redmond Schools)
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools invites the community to meet the four finalists for Principal of the new southeast Bend high school, which is slated to open in 2021.
Katie Legace, the district’s Executive Director of High School Programs, says the new principal will literally help build the school from the ground up, "We’re looking, of course, for a very student-focused leader – that’s paramount. Someone who’s really thinking from the framework of, ‘what are students going to want to see in a school and how can we best provide enriching opportunities for every single student that walks through the door?’ Initially, this person is going to have the opportunity to actually be with us from the point where we start construction on the project, which is pretty exciting." She says they'll not only oversee construction of the building at 15th and Knott Road, but also naming the school and development of its programs, "We have strong high schools in our district, so that person is going to need to be thinking about, ‘how can I continue that tradition of excellence that we have with our high schools?’ with so many different opportunities for students academically, as well as socially, behaviorally, and all the activities that we have to offer them."
Design Close to Final for New High School in Bend (01/28/2019)
Legace says the best candidate will display a unique set of skills, "A dynamic leader who can set vision and who can set future thinking about what do want our future high school to look like? We’re also looking for somebody who can handle the operational side of running a school. So, the construction piece of that – obviously, you don’t have to be an expert in construction but has a sense of, ‘what do we want the school community to feel like from a physical perspective?’" The four finalists are:
- Chris Boyd, Principal of Bend's Pacific Crest Middle School
- Jay Etnier, Assistant Principal at Bend's Summit High
- Andrew Croley, Principal of McCluer North High School, in Missouri
- Lonnie Robertson, Assistant Principal at Billings Senior High, in Montana
Visit the district's website for more information on each candidate. They’ll take part in a public forum Monday afternoon at the Bend-La Pine Schools Education Center (520 NW Wall St.) at 4 p.m.
Redmond High is also on the hunt for a new leader. Four finalists for that position will meet with families at RHS Tuesday at 4:15 p.m.
MADRAS, OR -- Central Oregon fire crews have responded to a number of gas leaks, in the past week, related to snow and ice that continues to plague the area.
North of Madras, Jefferson County crews were forced to shut down a portion of Mill Street, Thursday morning, after falling ice struck a gas meter at a commercial building. On Friday afternoon, the intersection of Southwest 2nd and K Street was also closed when ice fell off a residential roof onto a gas meter valve. Fire officials say Cascade Natural Gas was quick to respond and make repairs.
As temperatures warm, the agency says thawing is causing damage to outside fixtures, HVAC units and gas meters.
REDMOND, OR -- A southwest Redmond house was damaged by a Sunday night fire that started when no one was home. The residents returned home to find smoke coming from the garage. They tried to put the fire out on their own, but were unsuccessful and called 911 just after 5:30 p.m.
When fire crews arrived on Southwest 30th Court, smoke and flames were rolling from the open garage door. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and kept it from spreading.
No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
BEND, OR -- Cascades East Transit's 2013 Mast Plan needs updating. The agency is now working on a transit plan to take it through 2040. There was a first round of open house events in January, but CET Senior Planner Andrea Breault says six more are scheduled for this month, "The first set, in January, was to get some general feedback on what the public thought in terms of expansion of services. The second round is bringing project ideas, and narrowing the scope." She adds, "An expansion could be expanded service hours of the day, or expanded service meaning we've never provided service to a particular area, or it can mean weekend service, or it could also mean increased frequency."
Breault tells KBND News hearing from people who actually use the service, managed by the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, is invaluable, "What I'm really eager to hear back is details to help me understand how the service will be most used." The first of the next round of open house meetings is Tuesday in Sisters. Breault says events will also take place across the region because every county could be impacted by state transportation improvement dollars that are up for grabs, "All three counties, as well as the Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs, will be applying; and we'll be helping those counties apply for those funds and ask for specific expansion of services." Click HERE for a complete schedule of CET open houses.
The data will be compiled and Breault expects a final draft of the Master Plan will be complete and available later this spring.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- No injuries were reported in an icy crash outside Powell Butte, Friday morning. According to the Crook County Sheriff's Office, 46-year-old Candy Randall was driving towards Prineville on Highway 126, just before 4 a.m., when her car left the road and drove through a fence, colliding with a utility pole.
Investigators don't know why the Paulina woman left the road. She was not hurt and no citations were issued, but her car had to be towed from the scene.
BEND, OR -- A northeast Bend manufactured home was damaged by fire, early Friday morning. Firefighters say everyone evacuated safely, despite not having any smoke alarms. Bend Fire responded to the house on Cooley, near O.B. Riley Road, just before 5 a.m. The father smelled smoke and went to investigate, discovering the blaze in a back bedroom.
Crews quickly knocked down the fire, but not before it heavily damaged the bedroom and its contents. Damages total an estimated $20,000. Investigators believe the fire started at the home's main electrical panel.
Bend Fire urges everyone to have working smoke detectors. The agency offers free home smoke alarm checks, as well as installation and other resource help; call 541-322-6300 to set up an appointment. The Red Cross also provides free smoke alarms throughout Central Oregon.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors approved additional funds, this week, for the Streets Division to purchase more chemical de-icer, after the department said the last two weeks of snow had exhausted its resources. Mayor Sally Russell says Council understands the unusual nature of this storm that not only hit late in the season, but dumped a season’s worth of snow in a short amount of time, which hampered removal efforts, "This was a huge storm. We didn’t get 3-5’ over 3-5 months. We got it all in a 48 hour, more or less, timeframe." Russell acknowledges these storms are expensive, but tells KBND News they have to budget for "normal," not the extreme, "Our community doesn’t experience that on a regular basis. At the end of the day, as burdensome as this storm was for all of us, I’m not sure our community wants to invest so much money for something that may happen in an isolated two or three years."
Councilors are also considering how to help a downtown drug and alcohol treatment center that moonlights as an overnight emergency warming shelter. Owner Sally Pfeifer told Council Pfeifer & Associates takes in people who can’t go to the two main homeless shelters, "These people are not allowed at Shepherds House or Bethlehem Inn because they’ve been 86’d or they’ve had bad problems in the past, or they’re just not capable of going in because they’re under the influence." She says the long winter has taken its toll and her operation is out of money, "We need more funds because last year we paid for 60 days and this year we’re already at about 75." And more sub-freezing overnight temperatures are in the forecast.
An emergency declaration by Bend’s City Manager allows businesses to open as emergency shelters during extreme weather, but Pfeifer & Associates is currently the only one using the provision in Bend. That declaration has been extended to March 31. Mayor Russell says the city needs to support the critical service the shelter provides, "Either you have people who don’t have a place and try hanging out in their cars or against a heating vent in front of a business. Or, we have a safe place for them to go." Council asked the City Manager to look at providing funding to Pfeifer & Associates to get through the season, not to exceed $10,000. "I think we’re also going to have partners with the county, too," says Russell, "To help fund, and just make sure that stays open."
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools officials have decided to extend the school year, to make up for days lost by the late winter storm. Students across Central Oregon were out of school for four days at the end of February when massive snowfall blanketed the area, making some roads impassable.
Thursday afternoon, Bend-La Pine Schools released a revised calendar for the 2018-2019 school year, including changes to parent-teacher conferences previously scheduled as half days. Those will now be full school days. The last day of school for grades K-11 also changes; it's now Friday, June 14. Graduation ceremonies don't change.
Click HERE for the revised calendar. Other local districts are considering similar changes.
Photo: Miller Elementary custodian Mr. Glen created a playground maze with a snow blower; March 4, 2019.
BEND, OR -- Mt. Bachelor was forced to close Thursday after a broken water main shut off water to the resort's facilities. The ski hill's Drew Jackson tells KBND News, "We don't know what the cause was unfortunately, but we got a local contractor crew to come on up, and they were able to do a relatively quick fix." He says, "We discovered the location was about 3' underground where our main waterline pipe is, underneath the West Village parking lot, pretty close to our administration building. We did have to dig down through the asphalt, down to where that pipe was, 3' into the ground."
Jackson says things are mostly back to normal in time for Friday, with one big exception, "Guests who come up here during the day, though, will probably notice some boil water notice signs. As part of the standard procedure whenever there's any outage of water, we go through the normal testing process, which can take up to 24 hours. So, everything will be safe and good to go, but we will ask people to not drink the water at the mountain until those test results come back."
Mt. Bachelor officials are still watching the situation closely, and Jackson says they're working with impacted customers, "People who were affected by the closure, we're asking them to give our Central Reservations a call at 541-382-1709, and we're discussing options with them, and in many cases, offering refunds."
UPDATE: Resort officials said at 10 a.m. Friday they received the "all clear" from the water sample test and the water is safe to drink.
Photo: West Village area as seen from the Mt. Bachelor webcam, March 8, 2019.
SALEM, OR -- Former State Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) is among a short list of nominees being considered for Oregon Secretary of State. Following the death of Dennis Richardson, Governor Brown asked the Republican Party to submit a list of possible replacements, with the stipulation that the interim Secretary of State agree not to run for the office in 2020.
Whisnant served eight terms as Oregon’s District 53 State Representative. He retired when Jack Zika was sworn in, in January. Whisnant would not comment on the nomination, saying it's too soon after Richardson's passing.
Also being considered to fulfill the remainder of Richardson's term: Former lawmakers Katie Eyre, Bill Kennemer and Lynn Snodgrass, as well as Chief of Staff for Secretary Richardson, Debra Royal. The Oregon Republican Executive Committee says they're confident any of the five would fulfill Richardson's promise of ensuring fair elections and holding state government financially and managerially accountable. Click HERE to read more about the committee's decision.
BEND, OR -- Two cross-country skiers were rescued from near Tumalo Falls, after two days in the back-country. Deschutes County 911 received a call just before 5:30 p.m. Wednesday from a man who said he was skiing on the Metolius Windigo Trail, after beginning on Mt. Bachelor. The call was dropped after he said something about "broken equipment." Because the phone did not have cellular service, it was able call 911 but couldn't receive calls or texts. Coordinates for the call narrowed the phone's location to the Happy Valley area, northwest of Tumalo Falls, with about 400 feet accuracy.
Sheriff's Deputies and Search and Rescue volunteers mobilized; six snowmobiles deployed from Dutchman Snow Park. They arrived at the Happy Hut warming shelter, at 9:30 p.m., about 300 yards north of the cell phone coordinates, but did not find any fresh tracks in the immediate area. Four of the volunteers then deployed on skis to check cross country trails in both directions. They soon found fresh tracks and, at about 10:15 p.m., they found the two Nordic skiers.
When they contacted the pair, 69-year-old Ted Gifford, of Green Bay, WI, was suffering a life threatening condition due to the cold. The team immediately began to try to warm him. Because Gifford could not move on his own, additional SAR volunteers responded to help transport him by rescue sled to the closest snowmobile trail. He was taken about 300 yards through what was described as arduous conditions, to an enclosed and headed ambu-sled. Gifford was then taken to the Mt. Bachelor parking lot, arriving at about 2:30 a.m. His companion, 73-year-old Robert Skille, from Silverton, was in much better shape but still cold; he was able to hike to the snowmobile trail and rode to the parking lot, where Bend Fire medics transported both men to St. Charles for further treatment.
SAR learned Gifford and Skille planned a multi-day back-country Nordic ski trip with overnight stops at the various Three Sisters Backcountry warming shelters. They began Tuesday, but were never able to find their Tuesday night shelter and they took cover in a tree well for the night. They lost one cell phone and the other had only questionable service.
The Sheriff's Office expressed gratitude to the Sisters Sno-Gopher Snowmobile Club, who had a trail groomer in the area, which worked the trails between Dutchman Flat and the Happy Hut Shelter, facilitating a quicker and safer response by rescuers.
UPDATE (03/11/19): One of the Nordic skiers rescued last week after two days in the back-country, has died. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, 69-year-old Ted Gifford, of Wisconsin, passed away at St. Charles Bend the day after his rescue.
(Top) File Photo: Happy Valley Warming Shelter
(Lower) One of the nordic skiers during the rescue operation, March 7; courtesy DCSO SAR
TERREBONNE, OR -- A group of Terrebonne business owners and residents are asking the Oregon Department of Transportation to take a second look at their proposal for Highway 97. ODOT says funding is available through the 2017 state transportation package to address congestion in the area by either widening 97 to five lanes or turning 11th street into northbound 97, with the existing highway converting to southbound only.
Land Use Attorney Phil Grillo, with the Save Terrebonne Coalition, says those options don't address the more immediate access problem for Crooked River Ranch, at Lower Bridge Way. His group hired an engineer who created six other options Grillo says ODOT should consider. All six designs are slight variations on the same concept [Option Two pictured above], "Our concept would provide on and offramps in both directions, north and south, on 97. And, it would also provide direct connection between Lower Bridge Way and 11th Street; and, of course, would maintain 11th Street as a two-way local street rather than as a highway couplet." Grillo says the "couplet" idea shouldn't even be on the table, "Today, approximately one out of every three vehicles that use Highway 97 is a truck – a big truck. And, that character of traffic going through basically 60’ of right-of-way through Terrebonne would really, I think, ruin Terrebonne’s character."
He agrees 97 should eventually become five lanes, but he believes it can't happen until the highway to the north and south of Terrebonne is also widened. He tells KBND News, "There are about 1.7 miles north and 1.7 miles south that are still [a] two-lane; because otherwise, you create a kind of passing lane situation. We don’t want people to speed up and go faster through Terrebonne, especially if there are constraints on either end."
Terrebonne Businesses Ask County to Help with 97 (02/21/2019)
The Save Terrebonne Coalition plans to host a community workshop with residents and officials from both the county and state, later this month, to discuss their proposal.
BEND, OR -- Bend Garbage Company is in contract negotiations to sell to Arizona-based Republic Services, one of the largest waste management companies in the country. Bend Garbage President Brad Bailey says the transition should be complete by the end of March, "A lot of effort and work has gone into this to make it a seamless process for the community. It was super important to us that we didn't disrupt service to our customers."
The Bailey family bought the company in 1985. It's since grown from 12 employees to 112 at its three subsidiaries: Bend Garbage & Recycling, High Country Disposal and Deschutes Recycling. Bailey says it's now time to retire, but changes coming to Deschutes County's landfill also contributed to his decision. Deschutes Recycling is located at the Knott Landfill, which is said to have an estimated 10 years of space left for trash. Bailey tells KBND News, "I've sat on the Solid Waste Advisory Committee as they've discussed options, and I think the county's done a really good job looking at all the different scenarios. If they could develop another site similar to Knott somewhere in the county and keep it in close to the communities that would need to use it, that would be their best option."
Bailey says his family sought out Republic Services partly because the companies share similar philosophies, "For our employees, it was top of concern for us that we pass them on to a company that shares our values on how they take care of our employees." He adds, "Republic is asking for everybody to come over to their company because they really need everybody to continue to do what we do well. So we're super pleased about that; it stays intact, and that was important for us."
Republic Services is a publicly traded company (NYSE: RSG) with 340 collection operations, 201 transfer stations, 195 active landfills, 90 recycling centers, seven treatment, recovery and disposal facilities, 12 saltwater disposal wells and 68 landfill gas and renewable energy projects across 40 states and Puerto Rico, according to its website. They currently serve several Oregon communities.
Bend Garbage & Recycling and High Country Disposal provide waste management, recycling, and hauling services in Bend, Redmond and Sisters. Deschutes Recycling is a recycling depot and compost facility located at Knott Landfill in Bend.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney says he needs to hire 12 new employees to keep up with the current caseload. "I can no longer guarantee to the public that me and my team can well represent them. We’re understaffed and overworked," John Hummel said during a Wednesday press conference, "The guilty are being set free, the innocent are not being quickly exonerated and victims of crime are not being made whole." He says being short-staffed has led to low morale and high turnover at his office, "Victims are not receiving restitution as often as they should – victims, that too often are not notified of important court hearings, attorneys too often are unprepared for trial and as a result sometimes a guilty person is acquitted."
D.A. Hummel wants county officials to approve an additional $1.1 million to hire four new prosecutors and eight other support staff. "I’ve asked the budget committee to add employees to the District Attorney’s office so we can continue to offer full prosecution services to our community. Another option for the budget committee is to keep the staffing level the same as it is. If that’s the case, I’ll unfortunately have to reduce the services that my office provides to the community." Those services he proposes cutting include prosecuting low-level offenders, like shoplifters. Instead, his office would focus on major crimes like rape and murder.
He says the staffing problem has grown over time and is the result of a combination of factors. Hummel believes more residents, more tourists and more law enforcement officers on the street have contributed to a higher number of arrests, "We have 11 pending homicides, which is the most pending in Deschutes County’s history. We have 350 cases that are sitting in our office that are not assigned to review because of the backlog." He also says chronic underfunding has contributed to a long-standing trend. Hummel says he's asked for additional money each budget year since taking office, but those were never fully funded. "Deschutes County government has sufficient resources to approve this request," he says, "There is sufficient resources to adequately fund the District Attorney’s office." He believes the money could be re-allocated from the general fund, "I've pointed the budget committee to three sources of revenue they could consider." Hummel says the county gets $300,000 each year from the marijuana sales tax, as well as close to $7 million annually from the Transient Room Tax. He says both of those sources can legally be tapped for the D.A.'s office. There's also a reserve fund he says is projected at $11.6 million.
Budget hearings aren't until May, but Hummel says he wants the community to have time to get involved in the conversation, "The public deserves to weigh in on important issues that impact their safety. It would be completely inappropriate for me to go to the budget hearings, ask for 12 new positions, and if the budget committee said 'no,' then make the cuts."
Photos: D.A. John Hummel announces plans to request additional funding, surrounded by lead prosecutors and managers.
BEND, OR -- Organizers of Bend’s 8th annual St. Patty’s Day Dash have canceled the March 17th event. Lay it Out Events and Mt Bachelor Rotary say, with record snowfall in the last two weeks and the decreasing chance for much melting, they could not ensure the course will be safe and accessibly by race day.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Mt. Bachelor Rotary Club President Zak Boone said, "The safety of all runners, vendors, and volunteers is our number one concern, and we simply couldn't push the decision out any longer with the uncertainties in the weather." The club started the St. Patty's Day Dash in 2012.
The annual event is a fundraiser for the Family Access Network (FAN). Registrations will be transferred to the Salmon Run, with proceeds still benefiting FAN. Or, participants can request a refund.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's Board of Commissioners have chosen which bills they will focus on this Legislative session. what legislation they want to focus on this session. Board Chair Phil Henderson says each bill is rated by priority, "There's a lot on our list and we can't really do that many. We label them ones, twos, threes, fours; fours are basically just monitoring. , and then we say whether we support them or oppose them, so we just kind of track each one. ; some will be just monitored, while Commissioners plan to be actively engaged with others.
Commissioner Henderson says, because so much marijuana is produced here, they're prioritizing Senate Bill 365 and an additional amendment that could change how the county regulates grows. "We charge systems development charges (SDCs) in Deschutes County for grows in rural areas, and there's a bill trying to remove our ability to do that. So, we've opposed that bill. There's also an amendment being offered to do away with our ability to regulate marijuana grows, which was one of the reasons Commissioners, three years ago, opted in to allowing marijuana, was because we had some ability to do some regulation."
Commissioners are also interested in Bend State Representative Cheri Helt's bill that would remove all but medical exemptions for childhood vaccinations. In addition, they're watching several bills that would impact affordable housing, and one that would fund an additional Circuit Court Judge. Henderson tells KBND News, "We haven't had an additional judge for almost, I think it's 15 years, and our population has gone up about 30%. Along with that, though, is trying to get funding for expansion of the courthouse."
BEND, OR -- The Downtown Bend Business Association (DBBA) is vying for a $25,000 prize from a contest recognizing America’s Main Streets, created by a national small business movement. If Bend wins the “Independent We Stand” competition, the DBBA plans to put the money toward developing downtown into a holiday destination.
The first round of the contest involves online public voting, which is now underway. Click HERE to vote for downtown Bend. Independent We Stand expects to announce the winner in early June.
BEND, OR -- The Sunriver man who survived in his car stuck in the snow, for five days, on just packets of taco sauce he found in his car continues to capture national headlines. Jeremy Taylor and his dog were rescued Friday from a forest service road in southern Deschutes County. Kassidy Kern, with the Forest Service, says Taylor is lucky and his story should serve as a lesson to others. "It’s a good reminder for all of us that, when we go into the forest, when we go onto state land, we need to be prepared for all kinds of conditions and perhaps being there overnight. The most critical thing that we need to do is tell people where we’re going; so that if we’re not back, they know where to start looking. That’s going to help our Search and Rescue." She tells KBND News, "This individual was able to survive on taco sauce, which was great for him. But, somebody else may not fare so well. And, that’s that piece where, if you had told somebody, ‘I’m supposed to be back by five,’ they’re going to start looking for you probably around six or seven; as opposed to the next morning."
She says it’s also important that any trip the back-country include a “plan B” because plowing ahead, both figuratively and literally, can be dangerous, especially when forest service roads are blocked by snow. "That’s how we close roads at the Forest Service; we’re not gating a bunch of things. So, that would be the place to stop your vehicle, to not try to go farther and then get stuck and block that road, which does then create resource damage. Just stop where that is, even as it starts to melt out." As temperatures warm in the next week, we’ll see melting in town. But Kern says higher elevations – where some areas have nine-feet of snow or more – will take a while to thaw out.
According to the Associated Press, Taylor isn’t granting interviews and his family says he’s sorry for the trouble he caused over his rescue. Taco bell issued a statement saying Taylor will receive a one-year supply of food from Taco Bell and all the sauce packets that come with it.
BEND, OR -- The city of Bend and surrounding communities are back under a winter weather advisory, Wednesday, with more snow and ice expected. All the while, Bend officials work to tally up the total cost of the last storm.
Last year's lack of snow allowed the city to push budget savings to this year, to supplement the $1.7 million winter budget. But, Bend Streets and Operations Director David Abbas says the snow removal line item may be short. "Within that $1.7 million, I have a line item in my budget that's about $500,000 for sanding rock, mag-chloride, [and] calling out the contractors, if we need to." He tells KBND News, "The contractor call-out, we ran them last week for essentially four days - early Monday morning through late Thursday evening - and I'll bet we are in the $300,000-$350,000 range." And, that's not counting Bend's 32 plow drivers who worked around the clock during the same time to put down chemical de-icer before the snows fell, and then clear streets once the storm began.
Abbas says it'll still be a few weeks before he can calculate the total cost of this winter's operations, "It's going to be close and we're not done with winter yet; it's snowing as we speak. So, [we're] looking at those numbers we got from the contractors, and seeing where that's at budget-wise, and whether we need to dip into some reserves and contingencies, or not." Wednesday, Abbas plans to ask the City Council to approve an additional $200,000 for the emergency purchase of more chemical de-icer.
Photo: NW Bend, February 25, 2019
BEND, OR -- A Bend woman suffered a potentially life-threatening medical emergency while cross-country skiing, Tuesday, prompting a Search and Rescue operation at Virginia Meissner Sno-Park. Stewart Allen called 911 just before 2 p.m. to report he and his wife Susie were about a mile and a half from the parking lot, but could not continue because of her condition.
A Deschutes County SAR team responded on snowmobiles, contacting the 57-year-old woman at the Meissner Shelter where they provided initial care. She was taken to to the parking lot via snow ambulance and then transported by ground ambulance to St. Charles Bend for treatment. An air ambulance was initially dispatched but was unable to respond due to poor weather conditions.
File Photo: Virginia Meissner Sno-Park
BEND, OR -- It may not look like it yet, but Spring is right around the corner, which means all this late-season this snow and ice is bound to thaw eventually. But the melting can bring new hazards, especially overhead. Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe wants everyone to be cautious, "Icicles that all of a sudden, because it's getting warmer, will just let go and fall. So you can just go out, thinking you're just going to head for your car, and if you get hit by an icicle, that'll cause serious damage." Those icicles aren't just trouble on your home, "There may be icicles on power lines, that may actually add enough weight to bring it down. So, that's another issue."
Howe says he's concerned about the several feet of snow sitting on some rooftops, as well. He tells KBND News, "As it gets warmer outside, the snow can completely, unexpectedly, 'flump' down and fall off the roof. And, if you're under it, that's going to be a rude shock, At least. It's kind of like an avalanche." And, as the snow melts, the water it leaves behind will have to go somewhere. Howe asks neighbors to be proactive about preventing flooding on their streets, "The storm drains are blocked with ice, so then it's going to make a pond on the street, and it's probably going to end up freezing at night. If we can get people to go out and dig out their storm drains, it's really going to be helpful."
And, he asks drivers to clear snow that's piled up on top of vehicles, so it doesn't slide off into the traffic behind, "We're a collection of cars and people and we're a moving community. And, as such, we need to take care of each other, and not create a hazard or situation where somebody in that community is going to get hurt."
Photo: courtesy Tori Maurer of Redmond
REDMOND, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Transportation is working to clear urban highways narrowed by last week’s storm, just in time for another system expected Tuesday night. ODOT's Peter Murphy says crews worked Saturday and Sunday night to clear both lanes of Highway 20 through Bend, which includes Greenwood Avenue and part of Third Street, "After finishing up the snow removal in the Bend area, it’s time to get up on Highway 126, which is Glacier and Highland in Redmond, and do the same up there as we have down here. Obviously, we can’t put all our resources into both streets at the same time. We have to establish priorities."
Tuesday morning, Redmond city crews shut down SW Sixth Street, between Black Butte Blvd. and Forest Ave., from 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. to remove snow that piled up along the downtown street, shoulder and parking spaces.
Murphy says much of the ODOT work is being done by state contractors. "We’ve added some resources to getting this snow off the highway system so we can open up both lanes of travel. That way, we’re keeping the highway as clear as we can, keeping our maintenance people doing the primary job of just simply keeping the highway open." Concentrated snow removal efforts take place between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and Murphy expects the Redmond project will take two nights. He urges drivers not to park on Highland or Glacier during that time, so plows can make a clean pass.
All that snow from Highway 20 in Bend and Highway 126 in Redmond has to go somewhere. Murphy says they're applying lessons learned during the massive snowfall Central Oregon saw two years ago, "For instance, the snow we are moving is going into a deposit area at the junction of Highway 97 and Highway 20, where there’s a big open space. So, we’re building a little bit of a mountain out there, where we had discovered that it was an opportunity for us to deposit snow for the winter of ’17. We’re now doing the same thing for the winter of ’19."
Photo: Snow berms block bike lanes along Highland Ave., near Highway 97 in Redmond, as seen Tuesday morning on ODOT's traffic camera at the Highway 97/126 junction.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Health Services building on NE Courtney Drive in Bend is closed for a third day. County Facilities Director Lee Randall says the office was evacuated several times last week, due to a natural gas odor. Wednesday and Thursday, leaks were located and fixed. But, by Thursday afternoon, it was evacuated again and the source couldn't be found, "We are individually inspecting each of the HVAC units, looking for possible problems, while we had air-testing equipment in place. And then with the monitors that we've had in place since, we've not been able to replicate the source, or the same conditions, that were reported on Thursday afternoon."
Randall tells KBND News they will keep working to figure out what's wrong, "Our goal is to investigate the problem thoroughly, find the source and fix it. And, until we have complete assurance, we made the decision to have the building remain closed." He adds, "We're diligently looking to find the source of the problem and fix it, and we want to make sure that the building is safe for employees and the public, prior to reopening." Until then, patients with appointments at the main Health Services office are being rescheduled and all other county health buildings are open, "The information is available on the county website as well as on Facebook for the public to seek services that are usually offered at this facility," says Randall.
WEDNESDAY UPDATE: County officials say the main Health Services building will remain closed Wednesday, March 6th.
THURSDAY UPDATE: The building is expected to re-open Friday. Randall says, "The Bend Fire Marshal has let us know the building is safe and ready to re-occupy." Based on evaluations completed by experts, modifications have been made to the building's heating and cooling system, and crews removed snow from the roof. Replacement of the building's HVAC system was scheduled for next year, but that timeline has now been accelerated.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond garage was destroyed by a Monday evening fire. The blaze was spotted in the detached garage by Oregon State Police on Northwest 12th, near Quince Avenue, just before 4:30 p.m.
Firefighters attacked the smoke and flames with hand lines, and stopped the fire from spreading. They salvaged property in the apartment area.
Damages are estimated at around $10,000. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.
NW 12th was blocked for nearly two hours as crews worked. Redmond Police were on scene to control traffic.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man was arrested Monday afternoon, after an alleged road-rage incident with a Head-Start school bus.
The bus driver called 911 to report a man had intentionally blocked his bus with a vehicle near Northwest 27th and Elm in Redmond. He said the suspect knocked on the door of the bus, which had several five-year-old kids aboard. When he couldn’t get in, he walked away making a motion with his hand as if he was shooting the bus driver. No one was hurt.
Redmond Police caught up with the suspect, identified as 32-year-old William Gass Jr., nearby on NW Antler Loop. He was arrested for Disorderly Conduct and Menacing.
Investigators believe the incident started as a traffic-related dispute, likely due to the poor road conditions.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley ended more than a year of speculation, Tuesday morning. "Today, I’m announcing I am not running for President," he announced in a video posted to his website and social media accounts.
"We are way off track and the future of America hangs in the balance. Every American who grows up outside the circle of privilege and power, every underdog deserves a full opportunity to thrive," he said int he video, "We are in a battle for the soul of this nation." He believes the country faces crises over Democracy, the climate and American opportunity. "Over the last year, I’ve weighed whether I can contribute more to the battle by running for President or by running for re-election for the Senate. I’ve had amazing encounters with Americans in every corner of the country. And those conversations reinforce the urgency for bold action now. But, to win these battles, we need both strong leadership in the Oval Office and strong leadership in the Senate." He went on to say, "I believe that there are Democrats now in the Presidential race who are speaking to the importance of tackling the big challenges we face. But, what I’m also sure of is that right now the Senate is not prepared to be a full partner in this fight. My best contribution is to run for re-election and do all I can to help the Senate be a full partner in addressing the challenges before us."
Merkley’s current term is up in 2020 and Oregon law prohibits him from running for two offices at once, so he had to choose between seeking re-election or running for President.
REDMOND, OR -- The city of Redmond will close SW Sixth Street, from Black Butte Boulevard to Forest Avenue on Tuesday, from 4 a.m. to 11 a.m., to allow heavy equipment to remove snow that’s piled up on the street and in parking areas.
Officials ask drivers to not park in the closure area, so plows can reach the edge of the street. Sidewalks will be open and market detour routes will be in place.
The city's operation overlaps the Oregon Department of Transportation's work on Highland and Glacier, which are the east/west couplet for Highway 126 through Redmond. Contract crews will work Tuesday and Wednesday nights, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., to clear both lanes of each road after last week's immense snowfall. They also ask drivers not to park on Highway 126, overnight so plows can make a clean pass.
Photo courtesy of City of Redmond
SISTERS, OR -- A Eugene man was arrested Sunday in Sisters, after getting stuck in a Dutch Bros drive-thru. At about 9:20 p.m., an employee reported the pickup was stuck in the snow and ice, and said the driver appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and had been driving recklessly around the parking lot prior to getting stuck.
The driver, later identified as 31-year-old Richard Perry Alexander, also allegedly damaged part of the coffee stand while trying to free his vehicle. No one was hurt.
Deputies arrived, along with State Police troopers and Black Butte Ranch police, and arrested Alexander on charges of DUII, Recklessly Endangering Another and Criminal Mischief.
Sisters Dutch Bros File Photo
REDMOND, OR -- Some Central Oregon school districts are revising calendars, after kids lost four days during last week’s big snow storm. Redmond Superintendent Mike McIntosh says it's not an easy discussion, "Kids deserve the best we can give them and trying to consider how to not extend the school year into July; right? So, if we’re going to extend this year, we’ll try to be done by the current week. One of the ideas on the table is to extend the student year by one day." That would end the year for Kindergarten through eleventh grade on June 14 instead of 13. Because seniors will also be short, McIntosh says he's also looking at making up days before June, "We’re talking about trading out some conference days, like we did two years ago, where we have kids come to school on conference days as regular school days and teachers conference with families after hours."
McIntosh says his original calendar included more than enough instructional hours but that pad was swallowed by the snow storm. Kindergarten, for example, had 909 hours when the state requires 900, "So, I only had a nine hour leeway, if you will. So, by losing four days, that’s 21 hours I would’ve lost. I need to make up at least three kindergarten days." The rest of the grades now have similar shortages.
He tells KBND News, whatever changes are made won’t change graduation ceremonies for Redmond and Ridgeview High schools, "We don’t want to mess up graduations that are already scheduled and trips and plane tickets. Two years ago, it was January and we felt like we had time to make some adjustments. Some of those times for adjustments have been lost in the last two months, so we’re scrambling to get it all done in the next, basically, three months." He expects to have a revised calendar out early this week.
Crook County Schools' Superintendent hopes to make a decision by Friday. Other school districts are also expected to announce plans this week.
Photo: courtesy Heather Leach, in Redmond
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Airport suddenly finds itself with an overflowing of rental cars. Acting Airport Director Fred Lelacheur blames last week's massive snow storm that knocked out a critical piece of equipment, closing the airport for two days, "People couldn’t fly so, to get home, they rented a car and brought them here to Redmond. And so, we had an over-abundance of rental cars here, for a while." He tells KBND News that led to a unique parking problem at Roberts Field even when no flights were arriving or departing, "It was a little bit of an ‘oh my gosh, we have an overabundance of cars.’ We had some spots we could put them; our vendor parking lot- we had that cleared so we put a bunch in those. We actually had some parked along Airport Way, as you come in; that was just a very short period of time and we got those out of there. Our Operations staff went and plowed out a remote lot for them."
Lelacheur says plans are in the works for a "Quick Turnaround" facility for rental companies, that would also provide overflow parking for rental cars, "It’s going to be off-site, down the road, not too far from the airport. The rental cars will be able to go in and do what they call a ‘turnaround’ – they bring the car that just came back from a rental, they’ll drive it over there. There will be a fuel station over there, they can fuel it up, they’ll be able to wash it, detail it and get it all prepped for the next rental." He adds, "Say we had another snow event like this and we had that facility available, they would be able to store cars there."
SISTERS, OR -- A Portland man was arrested early Saturday, after a snow removal crew interrupted an alleged theft in progress. Employees of Robinson & Owen Heavy Construction returned to their yard in Sisters just before 6 a.m. and say they found Robert Hornby attempting to drive off with the company's flatbed car-hauler. They blocked his exit with a construction grader, detaining him until deputies arrived.
The Sheriff's Office says the truck Hornby was driving was reported stolen from a Vancouver roofing company. Two stolen vehicles, believed to be related to this investigation, remain outstanding: A blue 2016 Ford F350 was taken from Robinson & Owen. It has a brushed aluminum rack and Oregon plates (306-JLC); as well as a 2002 Chevy Blazer with Oregon plates (200-GPY) stolen that night from the 400 block of Washington Avenue in Sisters. DCSO asks that you call 911 if you see those vehicles and do not contact anyone inside the vehicles.
A rifle stolen from the outstanding pickup was found in Hornby's possession. Investigators also found a collection of "automotive jiggler" or "try-out" keys, which they say are often used by professional locksmiths to get into locked vehicles.
Hornby was taken into custody on charges of Theft, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Possession of Burglary Tools, Unlawful Possession of a Schedule II Drug and Unlawful Possession of Heroin.
BEND, OR -- An Oregon City man was killed at Mt. Bachelor, Friday afternoon, when he fell into a tree well while skiing. Friends of 53-year-old Kenneth Brundidge notified Ski Patrol that he’d become separated from the group, prompting a search effort.
He was an experienced skier and was found at about 3 p.m., just west of the Sparks Lake Run, which is an experts-only area off the Northwest chairlift. Brundidge was unresponsive when he was found in the tree well by another skier who flagged down Ski Patrol. The Sheriff's Office says Ski Patrol immediately performed CPR but resuscitation efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.
A "tree well" is a void or area of loose snow around the trunk of a tree, which can be hidden from view by low-hanging branches. Visit DeepSnowSafety.com for more information. "All of us at Mt. Bachelor are heartbroken by the loss felt at the mountain today," Mt. Bachelor President John McLeod said in a statement, "Our deepest condolences go out to the affected families and friends.
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office encourages skiers and snowboarders to use extreme caution in deep snow and ungroomed terrain, and to maintain sight of companions at all times.
SUNRIVER, OR -- A Sunriver man’s story of survival went viral over the weekend. The 36-year-old told rescuers he ate taco sauce packets found in his car to get through five-day ordeal.
Jeremy Taylor was reported missing last week; he was last seen filling up his SUV at a Sunriver gas station on Sunday, February 24. Deschutes County Sheriff Sergeant William Bailey says Taylor was found Friday afternoon, "A snowmobiler in the area of Century Drive and Forest Road 40 found Jeremy and his dog Allie. Both were in good condition but reported to be hungry."
Taylor told rescuers his SUV got stuck in the snow Sunday afternoon, just as last week’s storm began. By Monday morning he was unable to dig the car out; he attempted to walk out with his dog, but the deep snow made it very difficult and they returned to the vehicle. He stayed warm over the next four days by periodically starting his car, ate taco sauce and waited for rescue.
Sgt. Bailey tells KBND News, "Thankfully he was found and we were able to get him back out and reunite him with his family." Taylor's story made headlines across the country over the weekend, prompting some to speculate whether a fast food endorsement deal may be in his future.
TUMALO, OR -- Three men were rescued Saturday night, after they got lost while snow biking, near Bridge Creek Trail. Joe Treinen, of Bend, called 911 at 4:30 p.m. to report they were lost somewhere below Trail 8, and provided a photo of a map, saying they would try to ride out.
After an hour, he called back to report they'd gone less than 300 yards in the difficult terrain and deep snow, and their phone batteries were getting low. After another hour of trying to get out, it was determined they would stay in place and await rescue. Treinen, Brian Leahy, also of Bend, and Brandon Steele, of Redmond, made a snow cave (pictured) to get out of the elements, but did not have any way to start a fire.
Nearly a dozen Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers snowmobiled into the area, arriving to the trio at about 1 a.m. They were provided snowshoes and walked with SAR back to the trail where they were given a ride back to the sno park, reuniting with friends and family at about 4 a.m.
REDMOND, OR -- After 19 years as head of the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, Director Dan Despotopulos steps down this spring. He's worked in entertainment for many years, and says he's proud to have spent so much time in Central Oregon, "We've had almost 400 events a year - a whole variety of different events. So, it's just been fun. And the fair, of course, is the biggest event we put on and it's just been fun growing that event to the biggest county fair in the state of Oregon." He tells KBND News, "It's been fun, with all the support and community, all the different kinds of events we've been able to bring here. I think it's been good for the community, certainly the economic impact the facility has on the region from all these different events coming in."
But, he says, it's time to retire, "I've been in the fair business here since October of 2000. But, prior to that, for 30 years, I was in the ice skating industry all the way back to 1971. I worked for the IceCapades for many, many years; I worked with Dorothy Hamill for a few years. I've got a long history in the nature of this type of business, so it's just time."
Deschutes County Commissioners are actively searching for Despotopulos' replacement. "My last day of work now is going to be May 31st. So, basically, three more months. Or, it could be sooner if they find their suitable replacement that they're looking at through their recruitment process." Some of the events Despotopulos will oversee before he retires include this weekend's Central Oregon Sportsmen's Show, the national FFA convention, state middle school basketball championship and monster trucks.
Photo: In January, Despotopulos was presented with the Redmond Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award, by Chamber Executive Director Eric Sande.
BEND, OR -- Oregon lawmakers are considering a "cap and trade" bill similar to what's already passed in California, but it's become a polarizing piece of legislation in Salem. The Oregon Farm Bureau says House Bill 2020 would have a dramatic, negative impact on farmers statewide. OFB’s Jenny Dresler says family farmers will pay between one and five-thousand dollars more for fuel per year, “And that’s significant, because it takes energy to produce food; it takes energy to produce fiber. In terms of electricity consumption and natural gas consumption, when you’re looking at primary processing and then fuel use, agriculture is going to bear a disproportionate burden under a cap and trade program.”
The bill is supposed to curb Oregon’s reliance on carbon by fining polluters and using the revenue to pay for the renewable energy industry. But, opponents worry it will cause prices for fuel, electricity and natural gas to skyrocket. Dresler says they’ve tried to find middle ground with supporters, but ideas have fallen on deaf ears, “And frankly [there are] some things that farmers might want participate in, because there would be a benefit. And at this point, looking at the requirements in the bill, I just don’t see a lot of opportunities for participation in an offset or incentive program.” She’s worried the bill includes few exemptions for farmers.
Central Oregonians are encouraged to take part in an HB 2020 listening session with members of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction on Saturday, March 2, at COCC's Cascade Hall (2600 NW College Way, Bend), from 9 a.m. to noon. That meeting will be held in room 246-248.
CULVER, OR -- Much of Jefferson County was without power for several hours Thursday morning, amid sub-freezing temperatures. County Commissioner Kelly Simmelink owns a screen printing and embroidering business near the Madras Airport. He says after three days of snow-related closures, the outage added insult to injury, "We’ve been shut down here at our offices. Tried to get up here and get things fired up and get back to production and, basically, power was out so employees were sent home. Strike four, if you want to call it something."
Many other Madras-area businesses were also forced to close due to lack of heat, "You know, it’s one-degree – one, two three degrees. It’s sunny; it’s beautiful, so we had all the south facing window shades open so we could get a little bit of heat in here. But, it’s been miserable." But, Simmelink tells KBND News, this week has also proven how Jefferson County residents help each other in times of need. Simmelink used his extra time at home to help neighbors dig out. When he returned to his office, Thursday, Simmelink found someone else helping him, "I came up here and one of the guys in my building, up here, had been out plowing our driveways and stuff like that, so customers could get in, should they show up."
Pacific Power says around 10,000 customers were initially impacted by Thursday's outage, which began just before 8 a.m. They believe it was caused by a transmission problem from an energy supplier that feeds the Culver substation. Most had power restored by noon. Although some in the Culver area didn't see their lights and heat return until around 3 p.m.
Photo: Pacific Power crews work in Culver late into Thursday night. assessing lines. Photo by Culver resident Jessica Locke.
BEND, OR -- Bend still has around 30" of snow on the ground, and it's not done with us yet. National Weather Service Meteorologist John Peck says more heads toward Central Oregon next week, "The next system arrives Tuesday afternoon, and through early Thursday, we're looking at another five to maybe seven inches." But, this time it should accumulate much more slowly, compared to the last front, "It'll be kind of a slow and steady snow; not the inch per hour for 20 hours that we had with the last event when basically it snowed really hard the first day and that was an inch an hour, plus."
Peck says the 12.5" received in 24 hours starting February 24 is the fifth most recorded in a single day by the city of Bend. The most snow fall was in 1973, when Bend saw over 24" in a single day. And, Peck points out, it's good for the region. "Prior to this storm, we were about 21" below normal for this time of year, and we're obviously not behind anymore. So, that's caught up; but the big story is what's going on in the mountains. Previously, the Cascades were sitting at about 75 or 80% of normal [snow pack] for this time of year, now they've come up to right around normal."
After next week's snow event, Peck says the warm-up should be gradual, which will allow all the snow to melt slowly enough it can refill area reservoirs. "Between 25" and 30" on the ground, the water equivalent is 2.5 to 3", so obviously you don't want all of that to melt at one time. With relatively warm daytime highs in the 40s, and overnight lows near freezing, will help to promote that orderly melt-off."
Photo: courtesy Kati Magana of Bend
BEND, OR -- The Great Thaw began in Central Oregon Thursday, making most streets passable and sending Central Oregon students back to school Friday after four days of closures. Sisters Schools opened two hours late, Friday, and Culver school buses are running on snow routes. Trash pick-up in Deschutes County is expected to return to normal Monday. Unfortunately, the snow isn't quite done with us yet, with another system expected next week.
The city of Bend called off contract plows working in neighborhoods, Thursday night, in response to complaints they were creating ice berms across driveways. Redmond Public Works asks residents to shovel snow and ice away from storm drains to prevent localized flooding, and to clear hydrants for firefighters. Visit the Public Works website for the latest on Redmond's snow clearing efforts, and to view a map of storm drain and hydrant locations. Cascades East Transit offers free rides on Bend Fixed Route and Community Connector buses Friday to celebrate the end of the massive storm. Buses will operate on snow routes. Click HERE for details.
Governor Kate Brown has declared a State of Emergency in Deschutes. Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Linn and Marion counties, due to near-record snowfall. It allows state resources, like police the National Guard and ODOT to help the counties recover from the storm. State Senator Tim Knoop (R-Bend) issued a statement expressing appreciation for the declaration and improved coordination, saying, "It's about safety. Given the record-breaking amount of snow fall, we need to ensure that our community is equipped to handl the conditions." The Oregon Office of Emergency Management will coordinate the response.
Photo: courtesy Katie Reece of Redmond
BEND, OR -- The roof of a southeast Bend industrial building collapsed Thursday, likely under the weight of heavy snow. Bend Fire responded to the Bimbo Bakery distribution center on American Loop at about 11 a.m. and found most of the roof had fallen into the building, which was built in 1992. Everyone had safely evacuated prior to the collapse and fire crews secured utilities to prevent water or gas leaks.
The building is considered a total loss, leaving about $850,000 in damage, and Bend Fire says it serves as a reminder of the dangers of overloaded roofs from snow. Officials suggest removing excessive loads of snow from roofs safely with a roof rake or while tethered on the roof with a shovel. Watch for gas lines, roof vents and skylights and don't block exits or gas meters with snow falling from the roof. The city of Bend offers more suggestions on its website.