BEND, OR -- Newly revised numbers from the Oregon Employment Department reveal big changes in the High Desert. "The most notable ones, I think, were Deschutes County – by far – where the pace of growth dropped significantly," says Regional Economist Damon Runberg. The other is Crook County, which showed a much more positive shift.
In Deschutes County, Runberg says, "We’re now expanding, year-over-year, at about 2.6%. We were closer to 4%, before these revisions." He tells KBND News, "We haven’t seen a rate of growth this low, since 2012. Most economies growing at 2.6%, that’s good for them. But, for us, like I said, we haven’t done that in over six years." Runberg isn't surprised by the shift and points out the county is still growing, just at a slower rate, "We knew for over a year now, that 2019 was going to be a slower growth year. We knew that a lot of the energy that was behind the expansion was sort of running out, the labor supply was still tight, but the demand for labor, as far as help wanted ads, was starting to decrease from those historic peaks that we saw a few years back.
On the other end of the spectrum, Crook County job growth in the first quarter was much higher than previously estimated. At 3.5%, it’s the third fastest growing county in the state. "A lot of it has to do with sort of the ripple effect from the data centers (pictured)," says Runberg, "We saw a big uptick in Construction, as well as Professional & Business Services. Professional & Business Services out there, most of the growth we’ve seen are sort of support businesses for these data centers." But, Runberg says Construction-sector jobs are likely not reflective of reality because many data center construction jobs are filled by subcontractors based out of the area. Because employment and growth stats are calculated based on payroll data, those jobs are counted in the counties where the companies are based. "Even with this growth that we’ve seen and these revisions upward in Crook County’s employment numbers, we’re still undercounting the total employment impact, out there, in Crook County, right now."
Deschutes County added 970 jobs in April; 50 shy of seasonal expectations. Unemployment held steady at 4.4%; essentially unchanged from the 4.5% rate in March. Crook County added 110 jobs, which was stronger than expected. April unemployment was 6%, compared with 6.1% in March. And, in Jefferson County, the jobless rate was unchanged at 5.8%. The county added 120 jobs in April, which is a slightly slower pace than expected.
BEND, OR -- Ariel Mendez is the newest member of the Bend Parks and Recreation District board. He beat Travis Davis, 72% to 28%. As a first-time candidate, Mendez says the process was challenging; but he's ready to serve. "Now, the real work begins. I'm looking forward to actually doing the work that I set out to do. And I think that there's a real opportunity here for the parks district to help people in their daily lives in Bend, and I want to make sure the parks district is serving our community's needs in the best way that it can."
Mendez is the Board President of Bend Bikes, and has worked as a safe streets advocate. For the last three 3 years, he's been on the city's budget and transportation advisory committees. His focus will be on improving urban trail connectivity, "The District has not looked at its urban trail network as a way of getting around. They've focused on it as a means of recreation, and I think that's a big missed opportunity." He also wants to expand kids programs and affordable recreation classes.
BEND, OR -- Local school boards are in for a few changes, after Tuesday night's election.
Female candidates swept races for Bend-La Pine Schools. Board Chair Andy High lost his Zone Three seat to Shimiko Montgomery. The Justice and Equality pastor edged out High, 53% to his 47%. With just over 55% of the vote, Caroline Skidmore beat former City Councilor Mark Capell and Chet Liew, for Zone One. For Zone Six, Melissa Barnes Dhalokia earned 70% of the vote against Michael Way and Richard Asadoorian, and Amy Tatom ran for Zone Five unopposed.
In Redmond, political newcomer Liz Goodrich handily defeated incumbent school board member Johnny Corbin, 71% to 28%. Tim Carpenter maintains his Redmond School Board seat; he ran unopposed.
Sisters School Board member Jeff Smith holds on to his Position Three seat, beating two challengers. And, Don Hedrick returns to the board, beating Mandee Seeley for Position Four.
REDMOND, OR -- The Cascade Swim Center will have to last a few years more. Voters defeated a construction bond and operating levy, Tuesday night. Measure 9-126, a $40 million bond to fund construction of a new activity and aquatic center and updated the 40-year-old Cascade Swim Center (pictured), failed by 16% margin; Measure 9-127, the five-year levy to run that new facility, failed by 12%.
RAPRD board member Matthew Gilman believes low voter turnout contributed to the loss, "There's a lot of noise in society today, and being able to stick out amongst all of the other causes that there are out there is proving to be difficult." He tells KBND News, "We're a small group of people that were trying to get something passed for the community that we know is good for the community, so when we can't get the voters out to support it, then it's a sad day." Deschutes County turnout for the special election was just over 22%. Gilman also thinks residents didn't want to part with more money, "People are still struggling to make a living for themselves and paying more taxes to get a fitness center isn't necessarily their top priority."
There are no immediate plans to try again. Gilman says other districts, including fire and schools, are expected to take other bonds and levies to voters in the next few years, so Parks and Rec will wait. "We just know there's a lot of 'no' voters out there that are going to continue to be out there, so until we get the 'yes' campaign to want to participate and to want to really care about something like this, than I think we'll continue to wait. We're not giving up the fight for now. I mean, for now we are, but for the long run, we still have a vision." He hopes those who want to update facilities will work with RAPRD to increase community support for the project.
MADRAS, OR -- The Jefferson County Sheriff is relieved voters approved a three-year operating levy for the jail in the special election, especially after voting down a similar measure, last fall. "I've been going out, knocking on doors, going to committees, going to different events, just to tell people," says Sheriff Jim Adkins.
He talked with KBND News shortly after ballots were counted, Tuesday, saying he appreciates the community support, "We'll be able to continue on with the jail operations as we are currently doing today. We'll be able to maintain the current staffing without having to lay anybody off, so I'm very relieved." He adds, "We run 12-hour shifts, and each shift has a minimum of three deputies on, so we'll be able to maintain that; and we'll be able to still house the same number of inmates, and I have a whole bunch of relieved employees."
In November, voters defeated a larger five-year levy. This three-year levy for $1.39 per $1,000 of assessed property value is 15-cents more than the current rate that expires next month. Adkins has about two years before he has to start campaigning for the next levy. But, he says, he'd like to come up with a more stable funding source, "You know, everybody's getting tired of taxes. How much more of this can we take? So we're going to have to figure out, hopefully we can come up with a plan that's sustainable and good for everybody."
SUNRIVER, OR -- Another cougar was spotted in a populated area of Central Oregon, Tuesday morning. Sunriver Police received a call at about 8:30 a.m. from someone who reported seeing the animal cross the road near South Century Drive and Abbot Drive.
Sunriver PD, Deschutes County deputies and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel all responded but did not find the big cat. SPD says authorities determined there is no safety risk to the public at this time.
If you encounter a cougar, the Sheriff's office says don't run. Move slowly, keeping the animal in view as you get away from the area. If you live in an area where a cougar has been spotted, don't walk your dog at night, and supervise pets and kids while outside. If you see a cougar, you are encouraged to report it to local law enforcement, State Police or ODFW. Click HERE for more information.
UPDATE (4 p.m.) Authorities believe a cougar seen last week near the Bend Fred Meyer has moved on. ODFW has called off the effort to trap that animal because it hasn't returned to the area. Signs will remain, warning people that a cougar has been in the area. Anyone who sees a cougar during the day should call 911.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes Historical Museum is going high-tech. Executive Director Kelly Cannon-Miller tells KBND the nonprofit recently launched a new app, "It’s called Historic Deschutes, and what we can do is build tours within the app. So, right now, we have our first tour loaded up, called ‘Cruisin’ 97,’ which is an exhibit we’re working on that explores travel and tourism down Highway 97 between 1930 and 1960." She adds, "The cool thing about the app is that it’s as big or as little as we want to make it. The 'Cruisin’ 97 Tour' is our first tour; we’ve just gotten it loaded, we’ve just gone live on both Apple and Android products. But, we intend to keep going and build in tours of downtown Redmond, downtown Bend, downtown Sisters."
Cannon-Miller says the app is a high-tech, but less expensive approach to the audio tours offered in the past, "Museums used to have to buy in to those very expensive systems where you check something out to a visitor and they’re packing it around and listening, or it keys into different signs. This is totally something that you can download to the phone or tablet that you have on your person, and you can do it at your own pace and wherever you want to explore throughout the county."
Historic Deschutes is available for free in the Apple app store and Google Play store for Android devices. It costs the museum about $3,000 a year, paid for by grants. The "Cruisin' 97" exhibit opens at the Deschutes Historical Museum in June.
CULVER, OR -- After about a dozen years of planning, the Opal Springs Diversion Dam upgrade is nearly complete. The dam is located on the Crooked River, in Jefferson County, just south of Lake Billy Chinook. Crooked River Watershed Council Director Chris Gannon says the project is designed to help native fish pass safely through to uptream habitat, "One way to do that, of course, is to put in a fish ladder, to mitigate its impact to fish. The other is to raise the dam so that the company gets some of the revenue back that it’s invested." He says raising the dam level by nearly two feet allows more water to be released into the fish ladder, to encourage fish to use it.
The $11-million project will also provide a more efficient source of renewable energy for the Deschutes Valley Water District, which provides drinking water to Jefferson County and the Earth20 bottled water company, "They sort of offset some of their pumping costs," Gannon tells KBND News, "Because they’re in a very deep canyon, they’ve got a pretty big electric bill, really, when they pump domestic water up out of that canyon to serve their service area for potable water. The hydro power- they sell the electricity on the open market at a higher rate than they actually have to buy it back to use to pump; so there’s actually a little bit of a profit margin between those two price points." He says that revenue allows the water district to keep prices down for its service area.
Gannon says the district and watershed council worked together on the project, "This is sort of the Central Oregon approach to conservation challenges in Oregon. So, we’re very collaborative. This particular project is highly representative of how we approach these kinds of challenges – very expensive project, very sort of technical."
Visitors to the area will notice a difference, "There are going to be thousands and thousands of yards of new concrete, for example, to represent the ladder and the extra dam height," says Gannon, "So, there’s clearly more gray infrastructure, you might say, there, even though it’s a renewable project; it’s sort of been beefed up. It’s built to last a really long time. Now, with this ladder in place, or going to be in place shortly, it really provides the environmental sustainability." Click HERE to learn more.
Deschutes Valley Water District signed an agreement with fish agencies to design the new dam, in 2011. Construction began last year. The work is ahead of schedule and should wrap up in August.
BEND, OR -- In an effort to incentivize the creation of more affordable housing in Bend, City Councilors will consider an increase to Transportation Systems Development charges. Bend Growth Management Director Nick Arnis says those fees help pay for necessary infrastructure like intersection improvements and road development. But, he tells KBND News, they were intentionally kept low for years, "Back in the recession, we went through an update, and we didn't increase them. They haven't really been increased except for inflation, for many, many years. We're just at a place now where housing is so critical that we need to make some changes here and the Council really felt like they needed to do something here." The proposal is based on goals established by the Council for the next budget cycle, "Their two goals are housing and transportation," says Arnis.
Transportation SDCs are paid by developers based on the anticipated impact of a project on the city's transportation infrastructure, "The current rate is about $6,800 per vehicle trip, and we would make two steps," Arnis tells KBND News, "The first one, we'd raise it to $7,400 on July first, 2019; and from there, we'd go up to $8,000 a trip, on January first, 2020." That increased revenue would pay for transportation-related work, "We have a number of projects to improve congestion, or lessen congestion, and then they will allow for more housing in different areas of the city, also."
Councilors plan to discuss the proposed fee increase at a public hearing, during the June 19th Council meeting.
BEND, OR -- A local transient was arrested early Tuesday morning for allegedly firing a gun at a Bend bar. Police responded to Mountain's Edge Bar just after 2 a.m., after a report that a man fired a gun while exiting the establishment. He was last seen walking westbound towards Goodwill, with the firearm still in his hand.
No one was hurt, but Mountain's Edge employees locked the doors and secured everyone else inside while providing officers with a description of the suspect. Within minutes of the call, police located a man matching the suspect description near the entrance to Walmart on South Highway 97. Using a "high risk approach," they detained 52-year-old John Lloyd Smith without incident.
Authorities say Smith had a .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun on him at the time of his arrest. Officers located a spent casing in the Mountain's Edge parking lot and matched the caliber to Smith's weapon. Bar patrons also identified Smith as the man who fired the shot.
A motive for his actions is not yet known, although investigators believe drugs and alcohol were contributing factors.
BEND, OR -- A home on the east side of Bend was nearly destroyed by fire, Monday afternoon. Firefighters responded to Northeast Hope Drive, near 27th and Wells Acres, just after 3:30 p.m. They found smoke and flames coming from the back of the house.
Crews contained the blaze before it spread to the garage, but the home’s interior suffered extensive damage, totaling $375,000. Smoke alarms alerted the family and they safely evacuated. They have renters insurance and are receiving help from neighbors and the Red Cross.
BEND, OR -- Two California women and a Bend man were arrested at a local hotel over the weekend, as part of a prostitution investigation. According to Bend Police, a report came in to the county dispatch center Saturday night, regarding suspected prostitution at the Days Inn Hotel on NE Third Street.
Responding officers contacted 28-year-old Menione Moore and 33-year-old Tanisha Hopkins, both of Stockton, CA. They told police they were staying at the hotel. Inside their room, they found 53-year-old Andrew Fecteau (pictured) with one of the women.
Officers collected evidence and say the investigation is ongoing.
SISTERS, OR -- Every 11 seconds, an older American is treated in an Emergency Room for injuries suffered in a fall; one in four people over the age of 65 falls each year, nationwide. On Friday, the Sisters-Camp Sherman Rural Fire Protection District hosted its second annual Fall Prevention Symposium, in an effort to reduce that rate.
Dr. Elizabeth Eckstrom, Professor and Chief of Geriatrics at Oregon Health and Science University, was the keynote speaker. She believes it's important to keep seniors safe and healthy, "Falls are the biggest reason for injury deaths in older adults, as well as the biggest reason that people get placed into long-term care facilities like nursing homes. So, they can be a big loss of independence for older adults."
Friday's second annual Sisters symposium was for care providers, first responders, and therapists. "They're going out and doing home visits and really looking into some of the reasons that an older adult falls," Dr. Eckstrom tells KBND News, "And they're lucky to be in the home, because they can see some of the trip hazards and poorly lit areas." She believes a lot of people think falls are inevitable, and that's why getting training and education as a caregiver is important, "Many falls can be mitigated. I've been working in fall prevention for almost 20 years, and in all of that time, I've found that if we really help older adults understand what some of their risk factors are, we can markedly reduce falls." One solution she's researched extensively is Tai Chi, "It reduces your risk of falls in half. It's better than any other intervention for reducing fall risk."
Eckstrom says the whole community can be part of creating a safety for seniors, "Restaurants and banks and grocery stores and everything." She says everyone can help reduce the fall risk, "So that we can make sure that all of our older adults can be very, very safe and able to get out in the community and do the things that they want to do."
BEND, OR -- The U.S. Postal Service is paying tribute to some of America’s most beautiful waterways, with a new series of postage stamps. They’ll be dedicated Tuesday in Central Oregon. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, tells KBND News, "The post office has decided to do their first release of the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic River Act stamps – beautiful stamps – they’re going to do it here, in Tumalo State Park."
The Wild and Scenic Rivers system was approved by Congress in 1968. As of last year, it protects more than 13,000 miles of 226 rivers in 41 states and Puerto Rico. But only 12 rivers are featured in the stamp series, including the Deschutes. "The post office is making Bend special," says Nelson Dean, "We were picked out of all the places in the nation."
Tuesday's dedication ceremony involves local representatives from a number of agencies, "The Forest Service, the BLM, the Fish and Wildlife service, the Parks Service and State Parks, actually; people who manage Wild and Scenic Rivers." The ceremony starts at 11 a.m. and is open to the public, "Anybody who comes to the event will get that very first release stamp, which is a big deal, and get to learn about Wild and Scenic Rivers. There will be events and stamp events."
The series of 12 stamps features famously scenic waterways like the Missouri River, Flathead, Snake and Deschutes.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County’s new $17 million jail is nearly ready for inmates. While the project is under budget, Sheriff John Gautney says the move-in date has been pushed out a few weeks. "Our biggest issue that we’ve got right now is, being held up by a lack of enough electricians to get all of the low-voltage equipment working in the building. It’s coming along; they’re working some overtime hours to get it done. But, it has been slowed down a little bit, because of that." The project is funded by a bond approved by voters in 2016.
Construction began last year. Gautney expects it’ll be finished by June 14, just a week ahead of the public dedication planned for June 22. "I don't expect we'll have inmates in there now, before mid-July or even the end of July," Sheriff Gautney tells KBND News, "And, the reason for that is, once they turn the building over to us, then we have about a month and a half-worth of training that we have to do with the staff. The vendors who put in the electronics and everything have to be here to train the staff on how to use it and also to do, basically, a shake-down on the building, to make sure everything’s working the way it’s supposed to before we put inmates in there."
The new jail is being build behind Crook County's much smaller current jail (pictured, right). The new facility will have 76 beds, compared to the current 16. Gautney says the biggest change for his staff will be a larger inmate population, "We won’t be sending inmates to Jefferson County, so we’ll be having more inmates here to work with. I think that’ll be a bit of a change for our deputies. That’s why we’re doing the training. The academy will be here doing some training; we have other counties who are coming over to help do training." Until the new jail is ready, Gautney says he'll continue to rent space for 25 inmates at the Jefferson County Jail. "Our current contract, as it is, does expire on June 30. But, the county has been talking with Jefferson County and my understanding, from what I’ve been told by our legal, we enter a month-to-month after that. Because, obviously, we can’t move all the inmates on one day."
Once it is ready, Gautney expects to move in the 16 inmates from the current Crook County Jail, first, followed by those housed in Madras. Then, he says, the agency will catch up on a waiting list of people who haven’t been able to serve their sentence due to overcrowding. "We have a waiting list of about 50-something people, so it’ll give us a chance to work that list down."
On June 22, the Sheriff will host a grand opening ceremony and dedication, immediately followed by public tours, 4-7 p.m. The new jail is located at 308 NE 2nd Street, in Prineville.
BEND, OR -- Voter turnout tends to be lower during off-year and special elections. Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship expects turnout in Tuesday's election to come in around 25%. As of Friday, it was just over 16.5%.
Central Oregon voters will decide positions on local school, fire and library boards, as well as bonds and levies for Redmond Area Parks & Rec and the Jefferson County Jail. Blankenship says the positions up for election are important and should be taken seriously, "I don't know if it's voter apathy? What it is, but you know, my position is, we get to participate in a process that's really important. Regardless of what's on the ballot, it's all about participation." She tells KBND News, "I'm just surprised that people don't realize the impact that's going to have on them. One way or the other, those are important races to really contemplate and make a good decision on."
Blankenship reminds voters it's too late to put ballots in the mail. "Voters have until 8 p.m. on Election Night to get their ballots to the drop site." She beleives most non-voters don't take into account that if money measures pass, it could cost them, and they'll have had no say in the matter. "For voter education just know that this election will cost over $100,000, so get your money's worth, participate, educate yourself on the races that are before you, and get your ballot in by 8 p.m."
A list of official ballot drop sites can be found in your Voters' Guide, or at your county Elections Office website:
CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- A Crooked River Ranch home was heavily damaged, over the weekend, by a fire that appears to have started in the chimney.
A Jefferson County Deputy was first on-scene, on Dove Road, just after 6 p.m. Saturday. He found flames from the chimney extending to the attic, and confirmed everyone was out of the house. The homeowners safely evacuated with their pets.
With no nearby hydrants, it took about an hour for fire crews to bring the blaze under control. Authorities did not release a damage estimate but said the residents made arrangements to stay with friends.
Photo courtesy of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Deputy Silence.
BEND, OR -- Public health officials are encouraging families to make sure students are up-to-date on their immunizations, after three cases of whooping cough were recently confirmed in local high schools. Morgan Feld is the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for Deschutes County Public Health. She acknowledges getting the vaccine may not provide 100% protection, but it's the best option, "The Pertussis vaccine is about 80 to 90% effective, and the vaccine actually wanes over time, and that's why we do things like booster shots." Feld tells KBND News, "For people who have been vaccinated for Pertussis and still contract the disease, it is generally less severe, so they have a less severe and significantly reduced illness duration. So, the vaccine is the best way to protect our community and reduce harm."
Deschutes County has four confirmed cases so far in 2019. The three most recent were found in Summit and Bend Senior High schools. "We especially worry about schools because kids are in close proximity, and a lot of kids have either contact in their family that are younger, or are in contact with pregnant women," says Feld, "And we really worry about the infants and young babies in our community." On average, half of all infants who contract Pertussis have to be hospitalized. But Feld says Whooping Cough doesn't seem dangerous at the beginning, in older kids, so many parents may still send their child to school, contagious. "If you have cold symptoms, especially runny nose, sneezing, and most of all, the severe cough, you do want to be seen by a doctor. If a doctor diagnoses Pertussis and prescribes antibiotics, you still actually need to wait another five days after starting the antibiotics to go back to school."
According to Feld, about 95% of Deschutes County students are up to date on the most common vaccinations.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond hasn’t had youth club soccer in nearly a decade. Currently, Redmond kids too old for Parks and Recreation, but not yet in high school, either participate in out of town leagues or don’t play at all. But, Ridgeview High School head soccer coach Jimmy Kim wants to change that. He believes not having a high-level middle school soccer program in town puts Redmond’s high school teams at a competitive disadvantage. He acknowledges "It is a bit self-serving," because he wants student athletes better prepared before they get to ninth grade. But, he tells KBND News, "I’d like to compete for state titles, you know. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s giving these kids something, but at the same time, preparing them for high school, so we can have a higher level of high school teams."
Kim is working to launch a soccer club for fourth through eighth grade boys and girls, this summer. "Most of those kids haven’t played in middle school because middle school soccer isn’t available unless you’re playing club. And, that’s part of what I’m trying to do is just bridge that gap, so the kids in our community have an opportunity to continue to play and play at a higher level." He says the only club options for Central Oregon kids are in Bend or Eugene. And, he says high fees and extra travel time puts those teams out of reach for many families. His Redmond club, he says, will be more cost effective, "It’s going to be a low-cost, affordable club. We’re not doing this as a business. We’re trying to fill a need. We want to provide this for the community because the community needs it."
Club soccer has been tried in Redmond, before. RYSA - the Redmond Youth Soccer Association - lasted just a couple of years but folded nearly 10 years ago. Kim believes this time will be different, "We’re going to try to start out and do it the right way, to begin with." He tells KBND News, "We’re going to get a board in place; we’re going to become a corporation, be a nonprofit and then we’re going to be a OYSA [Oregon Youth Soccer Association] sanctioned club, so that we have all the possibilities, as far as the different types of leagues we can enter." He also wants to attract players from Prineville, Culver, Madras and Sisters, as well as from across the Redmond area.
Families interested in the yet-to-be named Redmond soccer club are invited to an informational meeting Saturday at 3 p.m., at the Ridgeview High soccer field. Kim says the response to his idea, so far, has been "fantastic." But, the meeting will help him better measure community interest and get people excited. He hopes to hold try-outs on June first.
BEND, OR -- Bend’s City Council appears ready to make a financial contribution to restoring Mirror Pond. They’re working on a resolution that would designate funding, "To put some community dollars aside from the general fund, towards work and to put together a joint resolution with Bend Parks and Rec," says Mayor Sally Russell. Parks and Recreation is being asked to lead the project. Russell says the city will contribute $300,000 a year for ten years, to total no more than $3 million.
"Care of the pond and the area around it is a priority that has been expressed by many people. A lot of people are concerned how it’s going to get done – asking a lot of environmentally directed questions," Russell tells KBND News, "And then, the question of whether or not we can actually put some fish passage on that dam, even though no steelhead or salmon actually come to the upper part of the Deschutes."
She would like to see the project include more than dredging, "We wrote the resolution in a way to look at opening the opportunity to explore fish passage, once more. Silt removal is one element of what we’re looking at on Mirror Pond." The resolution also specifies the city would have no ongoing or future commitment to operating or maintaining the iconic pond.
Also at this week's meeting, the City Council approved a letter to be sent by the Mayor to the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council asking the agency to address neighbor complaints regarding Hawthorne Station. "We just needed to make them aware of the issues and the concerns that some of the neighbors have around the transit area." Mayor Russell says she and the Council recognize there are things the city can do to help with things like traffic congestion and loitering. But, she says her letter asks for COIC to take an active role. "We’re trying to do our side, but we need you to partner with us more completely in addressing the issues that have been brought up by the neighbors."
Russell’s letter suggests adding signs to show where people can park while waiting to pick up or drop off transit users, creating strategies to reduce congestion, and working with the police department to crack down on substance abuse, trespassing and other crimes in the neighborhood.
BEND, OR -- A Bend Police officer was allegedly assaulted by a theft suspect, Thursday night. Authorities say police responded to a report of a naked, intoxicated man who had fallen in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven at 8th and Greenwood, just after 10:30 p.m. Officers detained 35-year-old Tony Williams in handcuffs after a brief theft investigation.
They discovered a 10-inch kitchen knife in his waistband and, they say, at that point, he became uncooperative and kicked an officer in her head. Others worked to control the suspect who they say actively resisted arrest by flailing around and trying to pull away. He was eventually restrained with the "WRAP" system and transported to jail.
The WRAP restraint device is designed to immobilize a person safely, in police custody.
Williams is accused of third degree Theft, Resisting Arrest, Assaulting an Officer, Interfering with Police, Harassment and Attempted Unlawful Use of a Weapon.
SISTERS, OR -- A Sisters-area yurt was destroyed in a Wednesday afternoon fire. Firefighters from the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District were initially dispatched to a brush fire that quickly escalated to a structure fire. The first units arrived at the home on Black Crater Avenue in time to witness an explosion and fireball that extended 10-15' in the air.
They discovered the main fire burning in debris on the ground, which turned out to be the remnants of a 16' diameter canvas yurt. Investigators believe the explosion was caused by an oil-filled heater that over-pressurized, due to contact with a flame. The initial cause of the fire is under investigation. It also destroyed a trampoline and part of a nearby fence.
The manufactured home and detached garage on the property were not damaged. The family reports the yurt was primarily used for homeschooling their six children. The owner was outside, discovered the fire and called 911 at about 3 p.m. Wednesday.
BEND, OR -- Toxin-producing bacteria are a concern every summer in Central Oregon lakes and reservoirs, and the Oregon health Authority is working to educate the public on signs the water may be dangerous. OHA Natural Resource Specialist Rebecca Hillwig says Cyanobacteria is naturally occurring and beneficial, except under certain conditions. When weather, sunlight, water temperature, nutrients, and water chemistry are ideal, the bacteria blooms. "It's really when they get what they need that they start multiplying into a colony that we call a bloom, when it becomes a problem. And, they can start producing toxins that are at a level that could, potentially, be harmful." She tells KBND News, "They don't always produce toxins, and not all genera cyanobacteria can produce toxins. But when they do, they can produce at a high enough level to be harmful."
Only a handful of bodies of water around Oregon are officially monitored, so Hillwig says it's important recreators pay attention to conditions. Visitors should avoid water that appears discolored, foamy, thick or scummy. She says the danger comes when that water is ingested, "Swimming, and things like water skiing, wakeboarding - where you could fall in and gulp water - and whatnot, are the activities that we're the most worried about. Also children and dogs are the most susceptible because of their size and level of activity." Dogs double their exposure by licking rocks, their own fur after a swim, and drinking the water.
REDMOND, OR -- Industrial space remains hard to come by in Central Oregon, especially in Redmond. The latest survey found the city’s industrial vacancy rate dropped another half percent in the first quarter. And, Redmond Mayor George Endicott says the market will only get tighter without more land. "If you go back, in 2013, coming out of the recession, we had a 21% vacancy rate. Today, we have 1.4%. Now, the good news is, there’s 400,000 square-feet of rooftop either just finishing or under construction, as we speak. That will help a lot." But, he says, "A lot of that is already spoken for."
Endicott believes some easing will occur when nearly 950 acres comes on line just south of the city limits, near Juniper Golf Course. "We have over 2,500 acres of industrial land available, once we get that other 900. Our big job is to urbanize and make sure that we have land ‘shovel ready,’ if you will, available for development."
He tells KBND News the state Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) approved expanding the UGB for the first 160 of those 950 acres, just this week. "The Urban Growth Boundary has been approved, so now we can go forward and annex it and bring it in. Of the 160, 140 goes to the county for potential future extension of the fairgrounds, and the other 20 is going to the Oregon Military Department for what I call ‘armory,’ they call training center." He expects another 790 acres to eventually be brought in to the city, as well, for large-lot industrial development.
BEND, OR -- In a recent sweep of Central Oregon construction sites, the Construction Contractors Board (CCB) found 38 builders working without the proper credentials. The five-day operation spanned 151 work sites. "This latest sweep covered a good share of Central Oregon: Black Butte, Sunriver, Redmond, Sisters, Madras, and of course, Bend," says CCB Enforcement Manager Stan Jessup. They determined several builders were working without licenses, but others had licenses that weren't up-to-date, or they failed to provide workers' comp insurance for employees. "We do these concentrated sweeps just about every month, or every other month. We find a variety of different violations. What they're primarily looking for are contractors that don't have a license; and this is all part of making people understand that you need to hire licensed contractors because that's what gives you the protections."
Improper licensing can lead to misdemeanor criminal charges and violators are fined between $1,000 and $5,000. Jessup says if a homeowner gets taken by an unlicensed contractor, there's really no recourse, "We can certainly cite the contractor that's unlicensed, but there's no mechanism for recovery. Of course, they could go to court, they could sue the contractor if they had damages or improper work, but trying to recover that is nearly impossible."
Contractors are required to provide their license numbers on all advertising, signage, and contracts. Visit the CCB's website to to look up a number and access up to 10 years' worth of history. "If people have any questions about a license, they can always call us," Jessup tells KBND News, "And we'll go through the license history for them."
2019-05-16 05:46:00 by Heather Roberts, Danise Lee
BEND, OR -- Robert Maxwell is being remembered in a very public way, near one of his favorite places. The Medal of Honor recipient passed away Saturday in Bend, at the age of 98. A billboard honoring Maxwell and his service is now up near Jake’s Diner, where he often met with the Bend Band of Brothers. It sits along Highway 20, which is designated as Oregon’s Medal of Honor Highway.
A memorial service is planned for May 31 at noon, at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds, followed by interment with full military honors at Terrebonne Cemetery. The day before, May 30, a vigil time for viewing and paying respects will be held at the Niswonger-Reynolds Chapel (105 NW Irving Ave., Bend), between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Maxwell was a pillar of the community. Central Oregon Community college Extended Learning Dean Jerry Schulz pursued a "Medal of Honor College" designation for COCC, in Maxwell's honor, last year (Maxwell pictured right, with a COCC automotive student in 2018). Schulz told KBND News then, "He was instrumental in helping launch the automotive program for Central Oregon Community College, way back in the late 50s or early 60s. And, he taught for our school for many years."
On Pearl Harbor Day last year, Maxwell told KBND News his story: On September 7, 1944, he was serving as a wireman, maintaining telephone wires near a battle's front line, when their command post was attacked by Germans. "A grenade came over the wall that we were behind, and fell in my vicinity, and the only alternative I had was to try to smother the grenade's explosion in order to keep from getting my comrades killed." Maxwell kicked the grenade and it exploded against the wall. He was injured, but his battalion was able to defend their position. "I'm very proud to have at least done a small part to help in the war effort, and above all, to have been privileged to join in the liberation of France." He added, "I'm very proud to have served my company, and the medal is just something I'd have never dreamed of ever having, and I don't know if I deserve it or not." Click HERE to listen to our full 2018 conversation with Robert Maxwell.
On Monday, Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno and Oregon Congressman Greg Walden were among those who expressed their regrets at Maxwell's passing. "His bravery, his heroism, were only matched by his kindness, his warmth, and his sense of humor," said Walden, "He was inspirational to all who met him, and he was an incredible human being." The Congressman also spoke about Maxwell to the full U.S. House, Thursday:
BEND, OR -- Deschutes River Canyon residents are again being warned of a cougar in the area. Oregon Fish and Wildlife says a big cat was seen near the canal behind Fred Meyer on May sixth, and then a deer was found dead in a subdivision on the east rim of the Deschutes River canyon. ODFW confirmed Wednesday the animal was killed by a cougar.
Because of the cougar’s continued presence in a populated area, ODFW and Bend Police believe it is a public safety threat. Officials are now taking steps to hunt and kill the cougar.
If you encounter a cougar, the Sheriff's office says don't run. Move slowly, keeping the animal in view as you get away from the area. If you live in an area where a cougar has been spotted, don't walk your dog at night, and supervise pets and kids while outside. Click HERE for more information.
SISTERS, OR -- A 73-year-old Sisters man faces dozens of charges relating to child pornography. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office received a tip from the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) that George Staab possibly possessed and was distributing child porn.
On Tuesday, detectives served a search warrant at his home on Cayuse Drive, and say they located a large amount of child pornography. Based on that evidence and statements Staab made during an interview, he was arrested on 30 counts of first degree Encouraging Child Sex Abuse and 20 counts of second degree Encouraging Child Sex Abuse. The investigation is ongoing and officials say more charges could follow.
ICAC is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 4,500 federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies.
LA PINE, OR -- A local financial institution is taking a high-tech approach to helping teens understand how to manage their money. Mid Oregon Credit Union hosts a Financial Reality Fair at La Pine High School on Friday.
"Through our partnership with Bend-La Pine Schools, we were able to put our Financial Reality app on the student’s iPads," says Mid Oregon Credit Union CFO Kevin Cole, "They’ll be able to go and are randomly selected with a job that gives them a certain amount of pay. They have to make choices about how they choose to spend that money." He tells KBND News, "They choose a particular type of housing and they choose what type of transportation to use, and whether they want to have a pet, what their eating preferences are; and the app will sort of give them a quick rundown of what their finances are going to look like if they make those choices." Scenarios are made to be as realistic as possible, "The job is also tied to the amount of student loan debt that they’ll come out with."
Many districts have dropped “personal finance” from class offerings and Cole says “Financial Reality” helps fill that gap through a school’s business curriculum, while keeping kids interested and engaged, "It combines gamification theory with the education component, and makes it a little bit more fun for the kids. And it’s very relatable; it’s choices that – short of the avocado toast – it’s very similar to the life choices that the young people will actually make today. So, I think it’s very relatable and we’ve had really good success with it."
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire has new tools for firefighters to better respond to serious construction accidents and car crashes. A 12-person crew trained Tuesday with a hand-held metal band-saw and other tools purchased with money from a nonprofit foundation. "This is our Rescue Team; these are our specialized trained folks in rescue, extrication, confined space, swift water, all those things. These guys do it all," says Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe.
In one scenario, they worked to free a mannequin from a piece of rebar at a construction site. They also tried to save a dummy trapped in a car, impaled by debris. "These kinds of scenarios are not that common, but they’re really significant and they’re really hard to deal with unless you have the right tools. So, these are entrapments in cars that might not be resolved with the Jaws of Life." He says if someone becomes impaled by debris during a car crash, "The Jaws of Life aren’t going to do anything. We need to be able to keep that piece in the person when we go to the hospital so it can be removed surgically. But, we’ve got to be able to get them out of the car with that intact."
The tools are so new, firefighters were taking them out of their packaging to use at Tuesday's training. Howe says the Rescue Team will now take the newly-gained knowledge back to their individual fire stations, "So, when we show up, it doesn’t matter if they’re here or if somebody else is on duty, they’re going to be able to handle it."
BEND, OR -- Oregon Governor Kate Brown introduced a "Roadmap to the Outdoors" initiative in Bend on Tuesday, along with First Gentleman Dan Little. As a child, Brown says, she spent a lot of time outdoors, "I had access because my parents were avid outdoor enthusiasts and skiers. I had access because my dad was a doctor and we had resources, frankly, to be out there skiing. And, I had access because of my white privilege." Speaking at the Outdoor Recreation Summit in Bend, Brown told the crowd, "It's so important to me and to Dan that we make sure that everyone, everyone, has access to the beauty of outdoor Oregon."
Little is leading the "roadmap" initiative, "The overall goal is to make sure that everybody feels comfortable if they want to go out hiking, there's good transportation, they're able to have access to gear, funding, all those different pieces." He tells KBND News, "My goal is to get as many people out, and part of that is the whole health aspects of the outdoors, so the mental, physical, and spiritual parts." Little believes there's a connection between childhood obesity and a lack of spending time outdoors, "Because they're spending so much time looking at computer screens and video games and so, all that's leading to people being inactive, and especially kids, so just focusing it on those youth." He adds, "I've always tried to be a healthy person, but every time I go outdoors, it always makes me feel so much better."
Brown created the Office of Outdoor Recreation in 2017 to help coordinate all aspects of Oregon's outdoor recreation sector. Tuesday's summit brought together representatives from the industry in an effort to inspire action to advance equality in outdoor access. Outdoor recreation provides 172,000 direct jobs across the state.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Public Health confirms a case of Pertussis - or "Whooping Cough" - was recently discovered at Summit High School, prompting warnings to parents.
Public Health Nurse Jill Johnson says Pertussis is spread by respiratory droplets, and it takes a while for symptoms to develop, "The incubation period is about 21 days. And then, once a person is treated with antibiotics for five days, then they're no longer infectious." She tells KBND News most people don't know they have Pertussis because it starts out like the common cold, followed by an increasingly persistent cough. "The cough gets worse, and it usually starts to occur in strong fits. For young kids, especially, a high-pitched 'whoop' sound can follow the cough." She adds, "It's sometimes called the 100-day cough because the cough is just really persistent and hangs on for awhile." In Deschutes County, on average, 80% of Pertussis patients are under 20 years old. And, it hits infants the hardest, "Pertussis is especially difficult on babies. about half of them need to be hospitalized if they contract it."
Johnson says the best defense is up-to-date T-Dap immunizations. While it's not 100% effective, it does seem to lessen symptoms. She also suggest staying home if you're sick, and washing hands often.
There have been four confirmed cases of Pertussis in Deschutes County so far in 2019, "Pertussis kind of ebbs and flows," says Johnson, "So some years we have more cases than other years. We average about 14 cases a year."
Hill told investigators Stewart was upset over a blanket blocking the entrance to the cabin they shared in Juniper Acres. She picked up a rifle in anticipation of an assault and the gun accidentally went off. Stewart's body was discovered by deputies several days later. He was found face down, clutching a six-inch knife.
D.A. Whiting says Stewart was arrested five times between November 2016 and August 2017 for having continued contact with Hill, in violation of a restraining order. But, he says Hill also has a history of crimes against Stewart. According to previous KBND News reports, Hill was arrested for attempted murder in June 2016 for allegedly shooting at her boyfriend. Court and medical records indicate Hill struggled with mental health and addiction issues prior to the shooting. She entered an Alford Plea Monday, for second degree Manslaughter and is not eligible for early release.
Howe tells KBND News, "A few years ago, we had the Two Bulls Fire in early June, and everybody was surprised it was so early. Now, we’re a month earlier than that and we’re getting, maybe not the big fires, like that, but we’re definitely getting the fires that have the capability of escaping control." He says conditions are ripe for a tough fire season, "We had a lot of rain in April, and it was great to have it. But, it does grow a lot of fuel. And, what I think people need to understand is that ‘fuel’ is anything that can burn. And that includes trees, brush, grass, houses. And, I think a lot of people don’t realize that, to a fire, their house is just fuel." He adds, "As we get closer to summer and as the weather changes, then more things like that can actually ignite a fire."
Despite rain in the forecast for this week, Howe says those fine fuels will dry out again, as soon as the sun and wind return.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond's Consolidated Plan is due for its annual update, and the public is invited to provide feedback on housing and community development needs.
Each year, city leaders ask for input, which is a requirement of the federal funding tied to the Consolidated Plan. But, Deputy City Manager John Roberts says it also helps them prioritize projects and the funding, "Feedback from citizens is important to us as it will help us fine tune our plan to address the most pressing needs in Redmond." He tells KBND News, "There's a diversity and range of housing issues affecting the community, and money like this is used for land acquisition, social service spending, housing and rehabilitation, and homebuyer assistance."
Roberts says an open house, Tuesday afternoon, is a good chance to learn about the general Plan, but not specific projects, "The plan will be discussed, as well as the federal funding. So, the Open House will serve as a forum for gathering more public input on housing and community development needs." He adds, "The goal is to get more public input to add to the data analysis that we can have a well-rounded and effective plan." Tuesday's event starts at 4:30 p.m. in the Civic Room at Redmond's City Hall.
MADRAS, OR -- With one week before the Special Election, Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins is trying to convey what he says is a serious budget situation, before voters decide on his Jail Levy. "I’ve had those people who say I am ‘just bluffing’ and I am not. So, the reality is that money will run out and I will be forced to actually make cuts."
Adkins says the current five-year operating levy expires June 30, about the same time a new jail opens in Prineville. Crook County rents around 30 beds at Jefferson County’s Jail. But, Adkins tells KBND News, "They’re leaving us, probably the first of July. So, that means a deficit – a loss of about $700,000- $800,000." He says his jail's budget has been supplemented for years by Crook County taxpayers, "We house between 25 and 32 of their inmates, and have since about 2003. The moneys we got from Crook County during that contract actually saved Jefferson County taxpayers money. It kept our taxes lower by renting these beds out to another county."
The three-year request for $1.39 per $1,000 of assessed property value is 15 cents more than the expiring levy. A more expensive five-year levy request was defeated last November. Adkins says if this one fails, he’ll be forced to lay-off 40 to 50% of his jail staff, "With my current staffing - the way it is now – [and] the way the jail is built, I can house about 110 inmates. If I’m forced to reduce my staff by 50%, let’s say, I’m going to house only 24 inmates." He says he's able to have three people on duty at a time, right now, "If I have to cut my staff, I will have one deputy on that watches over the whole entire jail." He adds, "This does not pay for anything else in the Sheriff’s Office, like Patrol Division. This runs the jail, takes care of the inmates and pays the electricity."
Ballots are due by 8 p.m. May 21. Tuesday, May 14 is the last day to mail them. After the 14th, you should take them to an official ballot drop site. In Jefferson County, drop-boxes are located in Crooked River Ranch, near the tennis courts, the Warm Springs fire station, Culver City Hall, Metolius City Hall and the Jefferson County Annex building in Madras. Click HERE for a list of Deschutes County drop sites.
BEND, OR -- After two weeks closed, the Deschutes County Health Services main building on NE Courtney reopens Monday. County Administrator Tom Anderson says they've been conducting extensive air quality testing to find the source of inconsistent Carbon Monoxide readings. He believes the problem came from exhaust fumes from the HVAC units on the building's roof, "Particularly in cold weather, because the HVAC units are close together, exhaust from one system could make its way into the air intake in a close-by system."
Anderson tells KBND News, "It's not like there's massive fumes entering this building. It's very, very low levels; but you want it perfect. You want those levels to be virtually nonexistent to ensure the safety of staff and clients." Thus, the extended closure, " The safety of our staff and clients is of paramount importance. So, we don't want to reopen the building until the staff and clients are coming back into a very safe and clean building."
While the building isn't particularly old, he says the rooftop heating system is unique, which will be corrected later this year, "We have moved up the capital replacement system. We fully intend to get that done this summer, during the warm months, so that when winter rolls around, we have a brand new and modern, effective heating system."
The building was first closed for several days in early March after employees reported a strong odor of natural gas. Anderson believes it was the same problem that led to this month's closure, but record snowfall blocking vents may have caused a stronger smell.
BEND, OR -- The Forest Service will require permits for visitors to some of the most popular trailheads in the Deschutes and Willamette National Forest, beginning in the summer of 2020. Friday's decision is part of the Central Cascade Wilderness Strategy Project, a process which began in January 2017.
Day use permits will be required for seven trailheads in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness, two trailheads in the Mount Washington Wilderness and 10 in the Three Sisters Wilderness. Overnight permits will be required at all 79 trailheads in the three wilderness areas. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes national Forest, says this isn't a new idea, "There are lots of places that have permit systems. I would say we got a lot of support for doing this because people were starting to see that resource damage in the wilderness areas." She says the plan is to limit the number of people accessing an area at once to preserve the forest, and treat all users equally, "What we've tried to do with this decision is balance people's access to wilderness, with also maintaining those areas for future generations, maintaining the wilderness character in those areas." Nelson Dean tells KBND News, "The vast majority of wilderness access will not change under this decision."
Some permits will be available to reserve in advance, while others will only be issued on a same-day or next-day basis, in order to balance the needs of visitors planning trips and the spontaneous. Over the next year, the Forest Service will work to educate the public on how the new system works. Officials is also seeking authorization to charge a stewardship fee for permits.
BEND, OR -- It’s early in the season, but local firefighters are already responding to incidents typically seen in the summer.
Illegal fireworks are blamed for a small brush fire along the railroad tracks in southeast Bend. The Friday afternoon blaze near Brookhollow and Honeysuckle scorched about half an acre.
That evening, Jefferson County crews responded to a fire at a Metolius-area home, caused by a barbecue placed to close to a house on SW Eureka Lane. They say grease ignited and spread to the building. The owner knocked down the flames before firefighters arrived, but not before it damaged the siding.
2019-05-10 09:55:00 by Danise Lee, Brad Ford
SALEM, OR -- The Oregon Senate doesn't usually meet Fridays until the end of the session when the work load stacks up. But, that's happening now, because Republican members refused to show up Thursday, for a third day. The GOP is protesting a tax on large businesses to raise money for schools.
Senate President Peter Courtney told lawmakers Thursday, I’d hoped to delay Friday sessions for as long as I could, so individuals could return to their districts to meet with constituencies, town hall meetings and things. But, we’re starting to fall really behind in our workload." He went on to say, "Even though we’re moving in to that wonderful Mothers Day weekend, I’m going to have to ask you, ‘would you please come here to be here'."
Republicans don't have a majority and can't stop Democrats from passing a bill that would create a gross receipts tax on the state's largest businesses to generate money for public schools. But they can keep Senators from accomplishing anything, by denying them a quorum. "The Republicans in the Legislature felt like the majority was moving these bills too quickly," Bend State Senator Tim Knopp tells KBND News, "And not giving enough time to have input on what we think are significant bills, and also input in terms of policy." He adds, "We have the opportunity to slow down this process and get it right and we are doing that to make sure we have the best product that we can that supports our school students, our families, small businesses, and taxpayers."
Knopp believes the funding bill would impose a sales tax on businesses and doesn't address PERS reform, "Although it says that this money can't be used to pay PERS costs, the money that used to go to educational resources will just be siphoned off to go to PERS debt payments, and it's going to be the same outcome." Knopp says, "It's going to be paid by consumers, and that tax is not particularly equitable. If a business is making no money, it still gets taxed."
The Bend Republican says he's committed to staying at the Capitol and is willing to entertain any possible solutions put forth that could result in meaningful PERS reform and ensure education funding, "I'm going to need to have face-to-face meetings with the people that are most important in this process, and they are here, not somewhere else, at this time." He says the problems will not be solved until everyone is heard, "The Republican caucus has been united in our efforts, and we have been working together to make sure that voices of our communities are being heard, and that these bills, they will either be more bipartisan, or some of them would not advance at all that would affect the Constitutional rights of our constituents."
He doesn't know how long the impasse will last, "Details matter, and we want good policy, not just good politics."
SALEM, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Agriculture has made permanent rules to severely restrict the use of an herbicide believed to be responsible for killing trees near Sisters. The ODA concluded that applications of aminocyclopyrachlor (ACP) from 2013 to 2015 left more than 2,000 ponderosa and lodgepole pines dead or dying along Highway 20. ACP is sold under the name "Perspective," made by Bayer. The company asked for a delay in permanent restrictions, after temporary rules were imposed in September.
The ODA’s now-permanent rule bans the chemical’s use on rights of ways, natural areas, ditches and canals, and a host of other locations, and prohibits trees affected by Perspective to be used for compost or mulch. It also can't be applied by air.
BEND, OR -- A Bend Police officer was hurt when a suspect crashed into his patrol car, Thursday afternoon. Oregon State Police are investigating the incident that started with a report of a suicidal man from Lake Oswego driving through the area.
A Deschutes County deputy spotted Zenler Clairmont’s car, but the 19-year-old sped away from the attempted traffic stop. Bend PD, the Sheriff’s office and OSP chased Clairmont onto Second Street, off Butler Market, an area with no outlet. The man then drove through a fence, colliding with the K-9 officer’s patrol car.
Clairmont was arrested, and is accused of Driving Under the Influence, Assault II, Criminal Mischief, Reckless Endangering and Reckless Driving. The investigation is ongoing and more charges could follow. The officer was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
UPDATE (12 p.m.): Bend Police identified the officer involved in Thursday's crash. Robert Pennock is a 12-year veteran of the department who has been with his K-9 partner "Ladybug" since March. Bend PD says Pennock was assisting with setting a perimeter and was not actively involved in the pursuit with Clairmont.
Pennock is recovering from his injuries. Ladybug sustained a broken tail vertebrae and is recovering at home, which could take six to eight weeks.
The pair has been deployed on 59 incidents involving Bend Police and other agencies, and have assisted in 34 arrests, seized nearly a pound and a half of meth, an ounce of heroin, numerous controlled pills and tablets, five guns and money.
LA PINE, OR -- Investigators believe the first local wildfire of the season was caused by a backyard debris burn that got out of control. Jae Bevel and his family lived down the street from where the blaze started, but it was their home that was destroyed by the 12-acre Bridge Drive Fire. "I was at work, heard some sirens and then a co-worker had to go online to see what all the fuss was about. He’s like, ‘Hey. Don’t you live in Lazy River South?’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He was like, ‘Well, there’s a fire on Loop Drive.’ I was like, 'Well, I live on Loop Drive'," He quickly told his co-worker, "I gotta go."
Bevel says because it was early release, both of his sons – ages six and 13 – were home at the time. In a panic, he connected with deputies managing the evacuation in his neighborhood, "I tried to locate my son; it took forever to get him located. One of them [a deputy] drove me out to the house and, still I didn’t know where my son was or our little dog. I was pretty irate, and I saw the house and it was gone. There’s nothing there." When he was finally reunited with his boys, he realized how lucky they were to be unharmed, "It went from like 1/3 acre to Stage Three evacuation in like 30 minutes. It was moving pretty fast. Junior said when he got home, there was a lot of smoke; it was really dark, so they went inside. It was about an hour or so later when they got a knock on the door." That knock came from officials checking to make sure everyone had evacuated. Bevel says the boys didn't know what was going on, but saw flames moving in to the backyard, and they got out fast, "The kids said that when they ran out of the house, they didn’t even bother with the door because, I guess, the flames were engulfing the backyard. It was just so much fire. I couldn’t imagine their state of mind at the time." Unfortunately, in their panic, they weren't able to grab their puppy, Lucy. Bevel believes she died in the blaze.
He tells KBND News he went back to the house Wednesday night, once evacuation orders were lifted, "They were still mopping up little spot fires here and there and there’s nothing. Our boat’s gone. We had a Ford Explorer, that’s gone; all the bikes." Bevel says he's now trying to assess their situation, "I went to Dollar General and got four toothbrushes, a tube of toothpaste and a few packs of socks. Ya know? It’s like, those were my first go-to’s. I don’t even know where to start. I’ve never lost everything I’ve ever owned."
Bevel and his family had just moved in to the home last fall and did not have renters’ insurance. They’re now staying with family in Crescent. A Go Fund Me account has been set up to help get them back on their feet.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes Historical Society will rededicate Brandis Square, Friday, in downtown Bend. Deschutes Historical Museum Executive Director Kelly Cannon-Miller says the small space at Newport and Wall now has a new plaque honoring Richard Brandis, Bend’s Mayor from 1953 to 1954. The square was first dedicated by Mayor John Stenkamp in 1976, shortly after Brandis died. In 2017, Stenkamp’s daughter Jennifer was walking near Newport and Wall, with Brandis’ daughter. "And they went to the square to see the plaque and it wasn’t there. And," says Cannon-Miller, "That put Jennifer on a quest of ‘where has the plaque gone?’"
She tells KBND News the plaque seems to have disappeared more than a decade before, but no one noticed, "Best we can figure, the plaque went missing in 2006, when they were doing bridge work on Newport and then some street and corner curb repair at that same intersection. At some point it was taken down and went missing, and was never replaced." Cannon-Miller and Stenkamp worked with the city to try and find the old plaque, "We’re talking to the current City Recorder Robyn Christie, who really deserves a lot of thanks for this, because it was Robyn who one day just said ‘rather than trying to find what happened to the old one, let’s remake it.’ Because, while I didn’t have the real plaque, I have a photograph of it."
Brandis was an important figure in Bend, according to Cannon-Miller. He owned the Thriftway Drug near what is now Brandis Square, with a second floor toy store, popular in the 1940s and 50s, "His drug store, that toy shop was the only game in town for a really long time. And so, all the kids who grew up during that time period, they all remember getting to go and play in the toy store upstairs." Aside from a short term as Mayor, she says, Brandis played an important role in Bend's history, especially after the mills left, "Everybody knew him; he was a major player in keeping the city moving and growing, but in a quiet way. So, he passed away at only age 62 after a series of strokes and I think that his death really shocked the community."
Brandis died in 1975. Brandis Square was created the following year, with a large blue spruce and landscaping, "The creation of this public space really was a memorial to a person who had meant a lot to the community and the people who lived here." In 1985, a water fountain was installed. Now, Cannon-Miller says it’s a popular location for protests. "It’s not recognizable by his name anymore and that’s really what we would like to see change, is that this very vibrant space that actually is used quite a lot and is highly visible to everyone, kind of reclaims its name."
Friday's rededication ceremony takes place at noon at Brandis Square. Cannon-Miller says members of Brandis' family will be on hand to celebrate the replacement of the memorial plaque. The event is part of Historic Preservation Month. Click HERE for a full schedule of local events honoring local history and heritage sites.
BEND, OR -- St. Charles Bend’s new Critical Care patient tower, with larger rooms and up-to-date technology, opened for public tours Wednesday evening. The $66 million project expands the hospital's Intensive Care Unit capacity to 24 beds, with 28 more in a Progressive Care Unit upstairs.
Many of the features in the new building were designed by the caregivers who will work there. Sarah is a Registered Nurse. During the tour she demonstrated how cabinets for each room can be stocked from the hallway, without disturbing patients and their families, "There's a company in Redmond that actually designed them for us. There's no other place in the country that has them." She explained, "These [shelves] actually pull out, so we'll have two trays in here; nobody has to go in the room."
There's a new area for Dialysis, which will allow patients to get care without having to move to another floor, and exercise spaces where patients can receive strength training. Danny was impressed with that continuous care; patients keep their same rooms and staff. He believes the new amenities will make their stays more comfortable, "Everything looks well-planned, thought out, the technology looks good." He told KBND News, "The status screen for the patients, that's really cool. It's right there, really easy to read and make out. It looks good."
Sisters Carol and Priscilla took the tour, as well. They told KBND News, "If I had to come to an ICU, I would love to come here. But, hopefully, I won't have to. It's just state of the art It's just amazing." They liked the fact that the larger, brighter rooms are more convenient for families of patients, "There's so many windows and glass doors, that it just opens it up and there's so much more visibility for the staff to take care of the patients, and the couch, for the guest, and then it actually turns into a bed, I mean, I think that's wonderful."
The Critical Care patient tower opens for patients May 19.
Photos: (Top) New ICU rooms feature more space and natural light than the current facility.
(Upper right) Caregivers enter patient updates in alcoves that feature windows into rooms, for continual observation.
2019-05-09 07:32:00 by Heather Roberts, Brad Ford
SALEM, OR -- Republicans in the Oregon Senate again stopped a vote on a bill to tax large businesses to raise a billion dollars a year for schools. State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) was the only Republican to attend Wednesday's floor session. He released a statement saying he stands in solidarity with his fellow republicans and ask that their voices and actions be recognized.
Democrats have the super majority to pass the bill, but they can't put it up for a vote without at least two Republicans in the chamber, to establish a quorum. Senate President Peter Courtney was forced to adjourn the session early, for a second day, Secretary of the Senate has informed me we were unable to locate another state Senator so we are – we simply don’t have a quorum."
Republicans oppose the bill because they say it'll hurt businesses. The gross receipts tax would apply to businesses that make over a million dollars a year. It's expected to raise a billion dollars a year for schools.
"I respect and support my caucus members decision to deny quorum in the Senate and call for meaningful PERS reform to ensure education funding makes it to students and is not eaten up by our broken public pension system," Knopp said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon, "HB 3427 has technical issues that must be fixed and needs input and vetting from all parties involved. It would be an important gesture to get a commitment to send HB 3427 to committee to hear testimony and make technical fixes." Knopp added, "As one of the most bi-partisan members of my caucus, I have felt that it is important for me to remain in the building to continue work on multiple issues that will help resolve this stalemate and bring the session to a close. I have made commitments on several pieces of legislation that are still moving through the process and I intend to keep my commitments by seeing them through to the end."
BEND, OR -- Local teachers took to the streets Wednesday afternoon, wearing red and marching through Bend to demand full state funding for schools. Unlike several Portland-area districts, Redmond and Bend La-Pine schools were open for the day. But, after classes were out, teachers, administrators and supporters rallied as part of a statewide "Day of Action."
In downtown Bend, they gathered at Troy Field, wearing red shirts and chanting "red for ed." Educators at the event said without funding, class sizes are too large, there aren't enough counselors, and teachers have to buy their own supplies and clean their own classrooms. Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Michaelson told the crowd it's time to invest in public education, "For decades, Oregon has been underfunding our schools and right now, we have the best opportunity in memory to make a transformational investment in our students, our schools, and the future prosperity of Oregonians." Bend Education Association President Janelle Rebick told the crowd, "We need everyone's voice to be heard. I'm asking you, contact your legislators, make phone calls, write letters, tell them now is the time to make public education a priority in this state. If we don't stand up for our school kids, who will?" Bend-La Pine School Board member Peggy Kinkade added, "The future of our community and our state hinges on whether today's young people have the resources to thrive. It's past time to invest."
School Board member Julie Craig tells KBND News when class sizes get too big, kids don't get the attention they deserve, "We've done a really good job throughout the recession, and what not, with budget cuts to keep art and P.E. and all of these STEM classes, STEAM classes. But that doesn't mean that we don't need more. Kids that are interested in that need to have the ability to have a connection with their teacher."
Andy High, Bend-La Pine School Board Chair, says the district has always very supportive of schools, even though only 30% of residents have students in the classroom. He tells KBND News he believes Wednesday's event was proof of that continued support, "I think this is to show that we want to get our class sizes down, we want to focus on getting rid of distracted learners in classrooms, and getting counselors into the schools, and finding everything we can do to make the education experience better in Oregon."
In Bend, demonstrators also marched through downtown to raise awareness. A rally was held at La Pine Elementary, as well. In Redmond, teachers and supporters dressed in red also took part in the Day of Action, after school. Some marched through the city while others gathered on prominent street corners (right), waving signs.
LA PINE, OR -- A wildfire the broke out near La Pine Wednesday, forced evacuations in the area. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office issued a Level Three (Go Now) order for Loop Drive, Walker Road, Forest Road, Faun Court and Prairie View Drive in the Lazy River Subdivision, north of Burgess Road. Officials say there is immediate and imminent danger and residents should leave as quickly as possible. Deputies are assisting people and drivers should watch for emergency crews in the area.
The incident started as a brush fire on Bridge Drive, around 3 p.m. There are reports at least one home has been destroyed on Loop Drive, although that has not been confirmed, with others threatened.
The Red Cross is establishing an emergency shelter at the La Pine Community Center, for those impacted by the fire.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is released.
UPDATE (4:30 p.m.): According to the Oregon Department of Forestry, the incident is now called the Bridge Drive Fire and is estimated at about 8 acres in size. Numerous resources are on scene, including a tanker from the Redmond base.
UPDATE (5:15 p.m.): DCSO says preliminary information indicates one residence has been destroyed with other still threatened. Crews have stopped the fire's forward progress but evacuation orders remain in place. The fire is now estimated at 10 acres.
UPDATE (05/09/2019 5 a.m.): The evacuation level was reduced from Three to One - or "be ready" - at 7:30 p.m., and residents were allowed to return home. As of Wednesday night, the Bridge Drive Fire was mapped at just under 12 acres. A Department of Forestry Engine and water tender remained on scene overnight.
Officials say crews were dispatched to the Lazy River Subdivision at about 2:30 p.m., Wednsday, and found the fire burning in small timber, brush and grass. Local, state and federal wildfire resources responded from all over the region; they stopped its forward progress around 5 p.m. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
UPDATE (05/09/2019 11:35 a.m.): The Oregon Department of Forestry says Wednesday's fire that destroyed a home near La Pine started with a debris burn in a neighbor's backyard. Crews remain on scene Thursday, mopping up the 12-acre fire.
BEND, OR -- A Salem man was killed in a late night crash, Tuesday, east of Bend. Oregon State Police responded to the scene at about 10:15 p.m., near Hampton on Highway 20. Preliminary investigation indicates 66-year-old John Ottlinger was westbound when his minivan left the highway for an unknown reason.
The van went into a ditch and OSP says Ottlinger overcorrected, crossed into the oncoming lane and entered the opposite ditch, where the van rolled several times. Investigators say Ottlinger was not wearing his seatbelt and he was ejected. He suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene.
Highway 20 was closed for about 45 minutes during the investigation.
REDMOND, OR -- The city of Redmond has a new, easy way to repair your bike if it breaks down while on a ride. A bike fix-it station was installed this week American Legion Park.
Parks Division Manager Annie McVay tells KBND News, "It's a station that has some of the most common tools that you would need to fix your bike; and also has a pump, so if you get a flat tire, or if you mess up your chain or something, you can fix your bike, on the go." It's Redmond's first such station. But, it won't be the last. "We have three more that are going to go in this summer. We're going to be putting one in at the Homestead Pump Track, which is the new bike park that went in last year. We also just finished paving the Homestead Canal Trail, so we're going to put one along that trail near the transit hub. And then, one at the expansion of Centennial Park."
The first station was funded by Travel Oregon, and McVay says local groups provided donations for the other three. "People are really excited. We've felt a need from the community for awhile. People have been asking for it, so I think it's just exciting that people can get out and enjoy some of our new trails and our new bike park and also fix their bike, if they need to."
BEND, OR -- Summer is coming, and with it, even more tourists. According to the Central Oregon Visitors Association (COVA), 4.9 million people visited the High Desert in 2018, and the year over year numbers are even healthier so far, in 2019.
COVA President and CEO Julia Theisen says February's weather doesn't seem to have slowed things, "Overall, we actually had a really strong winter. From all the numbers, it looks like the snowstorm didn't really affect tourism in any negative way. There might've been some delays or some other change of plans, but the numbers are really strong."
Theisen says Central Oregon is its own draw for tourists. They don't need a big event, like the eclipse, in order to want to visit, "The summer remains strong. I think it's just a collaborative effect of a lot of great events and a lot of great activities here." She tells KBND News, "One measure of success is our TRT revenue. And in Deschutes County, which is the unincorporated part, excluding the city of Bend, we're year-to-date up 7.5%; and within the City of Bend, year-to-date they're up 9.5%." TRT is the transient room tax collected by hotels and resorts.
She acknowledges all those visitors come at a price. Most tourists come to visit the outdoors, and Theisen says that can take a toll on natural landscapes. But, she adds, local agencies are working to mitigate the negative aspects of high usage and there are benefits. Thousands of them, in fact, "Tourism, ultimately, is a great thing for our region. In terms of job creation, it's over 9,000 jobs annually created out of tourism; and great economic impacts. So, I think it's just balancing some of the positives and some of the challenges we have with tourism, and keeping it positive." According to Theisen, visitors spent $1.28 billion in Central Oregon in 2018.
BEND, OR -- St. Charles will allow the public to walk through the new patient tower at the Bend hospital, Wednesday evening, 10 days before it opens. The health system began planning the $66 million project several years ago; it was primarily funded by bonds. Construction of the building began last spring.
Lisa Goodman, with St. Charles, says the new 24-bed Intensive Care Unit and 28-bed Progressive Care Unit, just upstairs, were designed by patients and caregivers, "Because they’re really the experts at what they do. So, we really look to our front-line caregivers to explain to us, what do they need to make their work environment/environment of care flow better, be more efficient, be safer? And so, we took all that input and it’s reflected in the design of this building." She tells KBND News, "The rooms are larger, the equipment is positioned differently to allow them more space to do their job; it also gives our patients and their families more room to maneuver." Features include digital patient name-plates and cabinets – made in Redmond – that allow supplies for a room to be stocked from the hall, without disrupting the patient. Goodman says there's also more natural light, in response to patient and staff feedback.
Wednesday's sneak peek celebration starts at 4 p.m.; tours begin at 4:30. "We’re so pleased to be able to let the community come in and see what they helped design, what they helped fund and what’s going to serve them and their family and their neighbors for many years to come," says Goodman, "It really is bridging St. Charles Health System and our community to the next several decades of care. We’ve been struggling with capacity issues at the Bend hospital for a number of years now. So, this is really going to give us the ability to serve the community and not have to send patients out for care, to Portland."
SISTERS, OR -- Prescribed burns continue Wednesday, if conditions remain favorable.
Ignitions are planned for 9 a.m. near the Cascade Lakes Welcome Station, about a mile west of Bend. Crews will work a 231-acre unit, forcing the closure of portions of Ticket to Ride, COD and Westside Paved Path trails. Officials expect the trails to remain closed to the public for several days to allow firefighters to safely cool hot spots. Forest service crews will be assisted by Bend Fire, the nature conservancy and Interagency hot shots.
Northwest of Sisters, firefighters also plan to burn 138 acres adjacent to the Cold Springs Cutoff. While smoke will be visible, no closures are expected.
Local fire managers are getting extra help on prescribed burns, this month, through the Central Oregon Training Exchange Program. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, says the prescribed burn season may come to an end sooner than initially planned, so the increase in manpower is appreciated. "It’s definitely going to be a much shorter timeframe. And, I guess, in a way, we’re fortunate that having these folks here and the weather window is at the same time, so we are being pretty aggressive. I think people are probably aware of that as they see more prescribed burning." She says nearly 40 firefighters from across the country are in Central Oregon as part of the exchange program. They learn about prescribed burning and how it’s used to prevent future wildfires.
They say air quality testing continues. Initial tests showed what they call “very low carbon monoxide levels in limited areas of the building.” Over the next several days, they’ll monitor additional measures taken to stabilize air quality and finalize plans for permanent replacement of the building’s heating system.
Appointments at the main county health building continue to be rescheduled or relocated. The closure only affects the NE Courtney Drive location. The same building was closed a month ago after employees reported strong natural gas odors.
LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine man was arrested at his home, Tuesday, after allegedly threatening a group of motorcyclists. Neighbors called 911 just before 5 p.m. to report a man with a knife standing in Old Mill Road, following a road rage incident. Deputies say 76-year-old Carlo Lucia was upset about the bikers’ speed and dust on the dirt road.
Investigators say Lucia followed the group in his van and confronted them several times before getting out with a weapon and making specific threats. He later went home, where he was contacted by deputies and arrested. They discovered his knife was actually a homemade weapon fashioned from a wrench.
Lucia is charged with two counts of Menacing, two counts Unlawful Use of a Weapon, two counts of Recklessly Endangering and Reckless Driving.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Like much of Central Oregon, Crook County faces a housing crisis. But Prineville Planning Director Joshua Smith says his city’s challenge comes with a unique twist: A shortage of RV parks. "A lot of this has to do with the workers on the hill. We have a tremendous amount of construction workers on those data centers," Smith tells KBND News, "And that was the catalyst, I think, at least in our area. We actually created a temporary RV park code." That new code was first passed in 2016, but Smith says no one stepped up until it was revised last fall.
One new RV park is nearly ready to open, with more on the way, to serve those transient data center workers, "They’re coming in here to do a job and then they go. But the jobs just keep rolling. The buildings just keep coming. So, they may not be the same workers, but they are the same number of people." And, many of those workers bring their own housing, which has Crook County RV parks filled to the brim. That supply and demand is pushing rates up to $400 or $500 a month. Smith hopes monthly rates will decrease as the city stimulates development of more parks.
Smith says the city also needs to balance that need for parking and hook-ups now, with avoiding another bubble to burst once work at the data centers is done. "The way we wrote it, we wanted to target specific areas, specific sized properties that has the ability to develop into something else, because we’re not going to leave RV parks in industrial zones. And so, the idea was to transition but earn some money in the meantime, and fill a need at the same time." He says creating more permanent housing could leave a glut on the market later, "The beauty of the RV Park – it’s not like you’re building an apartment complex and it’s empty, or something, and it’s a huge burden. An RV park, you can pretty much transition it into something else fairly easily. Like the temporary RV park [being built] on Main Street, a lot of the infrastructure he’s building will remain for a future development."
And, he hopes a new apartment complex will ease pressure on the other end of the spectrum, too. "Now, it’s not low-income, it’s not subsidized housing," he says, "It’s market rate. We have a lot of low-income housing, in terms of small single-family homes that are older, that you might be able rent for $600 or $700. But, because of the demand, those are renting for $900, $1,200, whatever." Smith believes Prineville needs more high-end rental options, like what's in development, "The idea is that these people will move out of the lower income stock, move into the nicer, newer apartment complex, freeing up that lower income housing." In theory, he says, that will bring rental rates back down where they should be.
BEND, OR -- First responders took advantage of an empty building at St. Charles Bend, Monday morning, to practice how to respond to a major hospital emergency, "The scenario was a fire in one of the patient’s rooms that broke out, with smoke," says Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe, "Then they had to evacuate patients."
Howe says the newly constructed - but not yet open - patient tower provided fire crews with a rare chance at a large-scale drill, "We use this opportunity - in a new building, with all the hospital people, and the police department and a bunch of our guys here – to test the system; to see how well we would respond to a fire in the hospital." He says they tried to make it as realistic as possible, "We have actual patient-like dummies that are posing as patients, so we’re able to get them out; have our guys with all their equipment on, and the police department making sure that the traffic and the people are corralled correctly." Deschutes County dispatchers also took part, navigating radio traffic through a special training channel.
Hospitals are required to run regular exercises, but they aren't typically as large as Monday's event. But Howe says it's not something the fire department deals with often, "We don’t have that many fires in hospitals. Hospitals are pretty fire protected. They know, when they build them and design them, that they have to really be careful with fire. So, one of our main issues with the hospital is actually just evacuating people; getting people out of the way, so we can do the work we need to do."
REDMOND, OR -- Both people running for Position Five on the Redmond School Board are former educators. But, incumbent Johnny Corbin and challenger Liz Goodrich differ on how they approach the job. The two will face off at a candidate forum Wednesday, hosted by the League of Women Voters.
Goodrich says she's running because the community's voice isn't being heard by every board member. She calls herself curious and a good listener, "I don't particularly think that the way I think things should be done is the way things should be done. I want to hear what our community has to say. The school board has an obligation to engage in conversation with the constituents to find out what it is that they want." She tells KBND News, "I'd like to see some bigger and bolder improvements across the board. The graduation rate at Redmond High School is not great, below the state average, and I'd really like to see that change." Goodrich works at the library, but is a former English teacher. While she's new to elected office, she says she's served the community through her appointment to Redmond's Urban Renewal Advisory Committee, "I think I have a unique set of skills that can be a benefit to the board and by extension, to the community of Redmond."
Corbin says Goodrich is content with the status quo, "My opponent has a very liberal education that, in my opinion, is a little whacked out. A lot of people have talked about how our education system has been broken. And in my opinion, the same people that broke it are trying to fix it; and in a lot of cases, they don't have a clue." He says he wants to continue being the conservative voice on the board. Corbin, a retired highs school automotive-tech teacher, was elected to the board in May 2015, with 59% of the vote. "I originally got on the school board, I campaigned on three different issues that I wanted to expand," Corbin tells KBND News, "And only one of them has somewhat come across." He says he's made some progress with improving the competitive athletics system, but still wants to expand the SMART Program, and get seniors and veterans more involved. "If I can get reelected by a sizable margin, that should tell - particularly the Superintendent - something: That I'm not just a flash in the pan and the community is supporting what I'm having to say."
Wednesday's League of Women Voters candidate forum starts at 5:15 p.m. at the Redmond library.
BEND, OR -- Representatives from the Oregon Department of Transportation met with Deschutes County Commissioners Monday, to discuss possible solutions for three well-known trouble spots.
Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone says there are serious safety concerns over Highway 20 at Ward and Hamby roads; it's been the site of several fatal crashes. He tells KBND News, "ODOT is committing to putting $3.9 million into the programming of the next statewide Transportation Improvement Plan - STIF - which starts in '21. And, Deschutes County will be able to add $500,000, to that project; Deschutes County's dollars will come from our capital improvements funds for roads." He says the money would get ODOT started on the design, so they're able to build once state funds are allocated.
For Highway 20 in Tumalo, DeBone says there's disagreement over whether to build a roundabout for $13.2 million, or an over/under pass for $28.8 million. But, ODOT appears to be leaning toward a roundabout to address traffic flow and speed problems, "It's probably the right thing to do in the downtown Tumalo area on Highway 20. See, see you really have to slow way down to get through a roundabout, even if there's nobody around, and that naturally slows down the traffic. So, it would a lot higher speed if it was an over/under pass."
DeBone says the third area has seen its share of contention. Highway 97 in Terrebonne is in for some changes. DeBone says ODOT shared their plans on Monday, "It's a double underpass with a simple roundabout for being able to have crossing maneuvers at Lower Bridge. And the couplet is still in there." That couplet would take northbound highway traffic down 11th Street, while southbound remains on the existing highway. DeBone calls the solution an interesting hybrid of all the ideas put forth by the community and different agencies.
REDMOND, OR -- The investigation into a stolen van led to a pursuit northeast of Redmond, and eventually the arrest of three suspects, Monday afternoon. Deschutes County deputies were looking into a suspicious van reported near NE Upas and NE Negus Way, and discovered it was reported stolen from Hertz Car Sales in Bend. While on scene, they say a speeding car nearly hit two patrol cars, prompting the chase, which topped speeds of 70 MPH. The car failed to negotiate a curve on Negus and crashed into a ditch; three people ran from the scene.
Two deputies apprehended the male passenger, later identified as 27-year-old Christopher McCrea (pictured), and another deputy ran after two women. They arrested the alleged driver, 28-year-old Jana Siler (pictured) and 30-year-old Alexandra Vanalstine. Siler is charged with Attempting to Elude, Meth Possession, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Reckless Driving and six counts of Recklessly Endangering Another Person. Investigators also believed she's connected to the stolen van. McCrea was arrested on an outstanding Parole Violation warrant and Vanalstine is accused of violating her probation and Meth Possession.
BEND, OR -- Oregon State University President Ed Ray delivers his annual State of the University address Monday evening, in Bend. Ray says he'll focus on the great things happening at OSU Cascades, "The growth in enrollment, the philanthropy that we've seen there, I'll say something about the dedication of the plaza and invite people to be there; I'll talk a little bit about work we're doing, hopefully through the Legislature, to get funding for the student success center in Bend. I think [there are] a lot of exciting things, going forward." Ray says OSU's future is bright and he believes the Bend campus is a big part of what brings the university its vitality. He also expects to discuss future projects as the campus continues to grow and impact Central Oregon.
In his annual address, though, he says he'll also talk about the many students who struggle, especially with mental health concerns, "Particularly with respect to young people. It's really skyrocketed in recent year. And so I'll say a bit about what the realities are that we're dealing with, and a little bit about how we're trying to deal with them. It's really a national problem that's ratcheted up dramatically over the last number of years, and really is a call for everybody to pay attention and start taking action."
And, he tells KBND News, "I'll talk about the role that philanthropy is playing through the OSU foundation in helping us to help students who are struggling to deal with their student debt so that they can graduate from college with a degree."
Monday evening's State of the University begins at 6 p.m. at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes.
SUNRIVER, OR -- Dozens of firefighters from across the High Desert took part in a special training near Sunriver, on Friday. "It’s called the Central Oregon Wildfire School – known as 'COWS' – and it’s an opportunity for our local fire agencies to participate in training with live fire in our forests," says Jim Bennett, with Sunriver Fire & Rescue.
COWS was discontinued several years ago due to staffing and funding shortages, but was revived last week, thanks to a partnership between the US Forest Service and the Central Oregon Fire Instructors Association. It was paid for by a grant from the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. A total of 40 firefighters from 10 local agencies took part, "Each fire engine – so, from different organizations throughout the tri-counties – have an opportunity to be the initial attack unit. So, that means they will be the first ones on scene dealing with a relatively small far – quarter acre; no more than a half-acre. And, they’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate, obviously great tactics, but also resource management. So that they get that experience of being a fire manager."
Bennett tells KBND News it's an important training, "We’ve seen so many disastrous fires, especially last year, in California. We’ve certainly had our fair share in Oregon, as well. And, to have this level of training and experience is absolutely incredibly valuable to every firefighter participating." He says it's especially important for crews who normally respond to fires in buildings to be prepared for anything, "The firefighters participating are from structural agencies. So, while they have to have experience and capabilities for fighting wildland fires, interface fires – that’s where the fire is coming in to the residential, the community, the population – they also have their core responsibilities of fighting structural fires, providing medical and rescue services."
REDMOND, OR -- State Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond) held his first town hall over the weekend. At Redmond City Hall on Saturday, the freshman lawmaker talked about affordable housing, "My proudest moment so far is Housing Bill 2336, and that is the Affordable Housing bill." HB 2336 was signed by Governor Brown in April. It allows Redmond to join Bend in a state pilot program designed to increase affordable housing inventory by fast-tracking parts of the land-use process.
"Too many Central Oregon families are desperate to find housing they can afford, and the legislature's number one priority should be addressing the crisis of unaffordability," Zika said at Saturday's town hall. He's concerned future generations won't be able to afford to live here, "They're going to go to school, they're going to come back, and they're going to one, not be able to find a good paying job; or two, afford a house to live here. So, that was very troubling to me, so that was my number-one mission."
At the event, Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky talked about Skyline Village, made possible by HB 2336. It's a 485-unit subdivision planned for the eastern edge of the city, "[It's] A mix of quality development, mixed income, mixed use. So, this will be the goal: it's to create a new standard on the east side of town."
Zika also talked about his bill designed to help veterans stay in their homes. HB 2530 requires banks to inform vets of nonprofit assistance if they get behind in their mortgage. "We wanted to try to target, how do we find people before they become homeless?" That bill passed the House and is now with the Senate.
Redmond Mayor George Endicott and County Commissioner Tony DeBone also spoke Saturday, taking questions on housing, transportation and infrastructure.
TERREBONNE, OR -- Deschutes County deputies were forced to retreat after shots were fired from inside a Terrebonne home, Friday night. The Sheriff’s Office says they were dispatched to a home on NW 27th and Lower Bridge Way, at about 6:15 p.m., to investigate a possible drunk driver parked at a home.
When deputies arrived, they heard gunfire. They did not return fire, and waited for backup a short distance away. Officials say 31-year-old Jacob Gregan then came outside, verbally challenged deputies and attempted to walk to another house with a gun tucked into his waistband. Law enforcement used physical force to stop Gregan and take him into custody.
He was later taken to the Redmond hospital for non-life threatening injuries. No one else was hurt.
BEND, OR -- The Bethlehem Inn begins the process of moving 80 residents in to a new facility for single adults on Monday. Kim Fishbach, with the Bend homeless shelter, says the increase in space can't come fast enough, "We’ve been making due by putting some additional bed space in the men’s and women’s lounges in the old building over the last few weeks. So, we expect that demand will continue and carry us into the new building, with even greater demand." She tells KBND News, "We’re seeing an even greater demand than we’ve ever seen before. We’re not quite sure what the dynamic is that’s causing that. But, I can tell you, that the new facility is going to provide shelter for 112 adults and we will probably be at that point, come Thursday, very easily." Typically warmer weather eases some of the pressure on local homeless shelters. But Fishbach says that hasn't been the case for several years.
Currently, single adults are housed in a motel built in 1966, which has only 80 beds. Fishbach says it's slated for demolition next month.
In July, the Inn opened a family services hub (pictured) with a commercial kitchen and space to house 10 families. While construction is nearly complete at the campus on North Highway 97, Fishbach says fundraising to pay for the work is not, "We are still in need of $200,000, so we’re asking for the community’s help in helping us reach that final goal. And, we’re hoping to fulfill that funding need by the end of this summer."
Bethlehem Inn asks that members of the community wanting to donate items to the shelter wait until next week, after the move is complete, to ensure the safety of everyone. Cash donations can always be made online.
SISTERS, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a suspect in a theft investigation. A witness reported someone taking gas from a commercial fuel tank at the Cloverdale Fire station. The thief was seen loading large barrels on to the bed of a pickup, early Sunday morning.
A deputy responded and pursued the vehicle, at times going as fast as 90 miles an hour on Highway 20. The chase was called off once they reached Sisters, over safety concerns.
The pickup was later reported as stolen from northeast Redmond. It was recovered Sunday night, in Terrebonne. The suspect remains outstanding and the investigation continues. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office through Non-emergency Dispatch, at 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- A 20-year-old Bend was stabbed early Saturday morning, allegedly by his roommate. Lt. Jason Maniscalco says Peter Ruch suffered non-life threatening injuries. "He and his roommate were walking along College Way. They got in an argument; it escalated and he was stabbed in the hand." But, Lt. Maniscalco says Ruch didn't initially call for help, "So, they continue to walk together along College Way toward Newport, where they live. They were continuing to argue. When they get back to their residence, it escalated again and he was stabbed again. And then, we received a 911 call."
Bend Police responded to the home at about 3:15 a.m., "So, when they got there, they found the victim. He had been stabbed multiple times." Ruch was taken to the hospital while investigators worked to determine what happened. Officers arrested 18-year-old Andrew Rosston, Saturday afternoon.
BEND, OR -- Law enforcement are searching for a convicted sex offender who allegedly cut off his GPS tracking bracelet Thursday night. According to Deschutes County Parole and Probation, 37-year-old David Dale Cook removed the bracelet at about 8 p.m. near the River Woods Country Store. He was released from jail earlier that same day.
Cook was sentenced to 100 months in prison for two counts of Rape 1 and one count of Sodomy. He was released in August 2017 on post-prison supervision. He was back in jail for violating terms of his parole but released again Thursday.
The Sheriff's Office believes he left the area in a vehicle, heading north. Deputies spent the overnight hours actively trying to find Cook and are now asking for the public's help. Anyone with information on Cook's whereabouts is asked to call 911.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A local veteran has finally received his Purple Heart, nearly 70 years after he was injured in action while fighting in Korea. Don Van Cleve, of Bend, was in Washington D.C. with Honor Flight of Central Oregon on Thursday. They were visiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial when Congressman Greg Walden surprised the group by reading the telegram sent to Van Cleve’s parents in 1951. "‘We regret to inform you that your son, Pvt. First Class Donald Lewis Van Cleve, Jr., United States Marine Corps, has been wounded in action, 24 September 1951 in the Korean area in the performance of his duty and service of his country'." But, Walden said, that was only part of the story, "His parents would later learn that Mr. Van Cleve was in a foxhole with other Marines when an incoming grenade exploded near his helmet. He lost his hearing in one ear and he still has shrapnel in his back, today."
Walden’s office learned the Bend man earned his Purple Heart but never received the actual medal. He explained to the group, "He went a whole bunch of years and never got this medal. And it is my great honor and privilege to present Don Van Cleve with his Purple Heart." Walden says he was honored to present Van Cleve with the medal in front of the memorial honoring the conflict in which he fought.
During the ceremony, Walden also presented each veteran in the group with an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol, in honor of their service.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Homeless Leadership Coalition conducted its annual point-in-time homeless count, in January. The numbers were released Friday and show an increase in the homeless population, across Central Oregon. Coalition board member Vicky Ryan tells KBND News, "We are seeing an increase, kind of across the board, in all three counties." She says, "Our homelessness is up overall, counting all adults and all children, up 12% from last year."
Each year, the Coalition asks the homeless where they slept on one night. This year, that night was January 23. The data is then sent to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Ryan says three years ago the Coalition started taking an extra step. HUD wants to know who's homeless, but the local Coalition also now looks at those couch surfing or living in a motel, as well. Those numbers have not yet been added to the totals, "Our numbers came in this year at 880, and there again, remember this does not count those individuals who are living with other people, who don't have someplace to call their own home. This is just those that are out living sheltered and unsheltered." She adds, "Our unsheltered numbers at 614, which is 70% of the total count, are not even in shelters that night, leaving 266 people, or 30% who were actually sheltered in a variety of different overnight shelters, warming shelters, [and] transitional housing."
The number of homeless veterans also went up 3%, with 62 counted, and, "Children, up to the age of 18, is up 19% from the year before, at 147," says Ryan. She says getting an accurate count is important for future funding to help bring people out of homelessness.
The Homeless Leadership Coalition hosts a meeting Friday morning at the Crook County library when they're presenting the latest numbers and discussing efforts to combat the growing issue across Central Oregon.
BEND, OR -- Nearly two weeks after hosting a listening session to get input from residents, Bend City Councilors appear ready to contribute to a future dredging project at Mirror Pond. City Manager Eric King says two councilors are drafting a resolution that would eventually be considered for adoption by the full Council. He tells KBND News, "Basically it was some financial contribution; upwards of – the number that was talked about was $1.6 to $1.9 million – but, there is still some discussion to be had around the amount. But, the message was the city did not want to lead in doing that project. We would contribute, but wanted to see Parks and Rec take the lead in managing the project."
That money would not come out of one budget cycle, "The intent has always been, it would be over a period of time. It would not be upfront cash; it might be over a period of 10 years, for example," says King. "And that would be funds from the city’s general fund. This is a project that is – if it’s a community priority, that’s the discretion Council has as to how to dedicate those general fund dollars."
He says they would also like to see the project expand beyond just dredging, "There’s also some other concerns around, is there an opportunity for a net environmental benefit for the project? Meaning: yes, there’s a dredge but, could there be other aspects of it that would improve the health of the river, that could be explored? So, kind of directing Parks to move in that route, or maybe there’s a third party that could help us."
A draft resolution would be considered at a future work session prior to a full Council vote.
BEND, OR -- Neighbors who live and work near Bend's Hawthorne Station say the transit center is deteriorating and they're calling on City Councilors to help address concerns with transients, traffic congestion and the resulting health and safety issues.
Chris Edmonds is involved with Hawthorne Avenue Neighbors, a group that spoke to the Council at this week's meeting. He says they've tried to work with the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC), which manages Hawthorne Station. And, while he believes most city leaders are sympathetic, there needs to be a greater effort. "In the past year, we've seen little in the way of meaningful progress in our efforts to resolve this issue working directly with COIC," he told Councilors. Bill Moore told the Council, "Name another city in the Pacific Northwest that has such a poor example of a transit Center. Even Redmond is better than this. That's embarrassing." Erin Foote Morgan told them attempts to work with COIC have come to no avail, and asked the Councilors to create a forum to discuss the transit issues, "Please press to ensure that a vision for a future station that is adequate to serve growing transit in our region is created."
COIC Executive Director Tammy Baney tells KBND News she's heard the complaints and appreciates the community involvement, "We share their concerns. As you know, the community is growing very quickly and that part of the community is seeing a lot of activity." She says that growth puts transit in flux and there are a lot of planning discussions currently underway, "We want people to take transit as a choice, so getting ahead of this discussion sooner rather than later is really important." She adds, "I don't see it as a COIC discussion in isolation. It's a discussion alongside the City Council, alongside the community, and figuring out how we serve the needs of the community while addressing those impacts."
Bend City Manager Eric King tells KBND News Council is already looking at ways to improve transportation, and Hawthorne Station is part of that conversation - including talk of possibly moving the transit hub to a more appropriate location.
CAMP SHERMAN, OR — Fire destroyed a resort cabin, overnight, in Camp Sherman. According to the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District, the blaze was reported just after 11 p.m. by a concerned citizen who saw flames in the distance, near the House on Metolius resort. Arriving crews discovered a quarter-acre brush fire with two- to four-foot high flames, climbing into trees and threatening a nearby building.
They discovered the most active section was actually the remnants of a structure that had burned to the ground. They were able to stop the fire’s forward progress, but the Gorge Cabin - estimated at about $160,000 - was a total loss.
The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause. SCSRFD officials say help from Black Butte Ranch and Cloverdale fire departments prevented the incident from being much worse.
Photo: interior of Gorge Cabin, from House on Metolius website.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Health Services is asking for an additional employee to address the growing number of young people using marijuana. County Prevention Supervisor Jessica Jacks says legalizing recreational pot for Oregonians over the age of 21, with passage of Measure 91 in 2014, reversed what had been a positive trend for adolescents, "For the most part, our use rates were decreasing until that point in time. Given research and the trends we’re seeing in all our data, we anticipate seeing adolescent use increase in 2020." She told County Commissioners on Wednesday, "In the prevention world it’s really important for us to focus on adolescence, because we know that if people start using a substance when they’re young, they’re four to five times more likely to have an issue in adulthood. We know that it’s likely in large part because of the changes that are occurring in the developing brain."
Her agency is asking the county to fund an additional prevention specialist to work in La Pine and Sisters, in its next budget, "Currently, our marijuana prevention work is focused in Bend, due to the scope of our funding. When it comes to adolescent marijuana prevention, we are not doing as much as we should. As a county, there is more we could be doing." She says the nonprofit Clear Alliance is based in Redmond and addresses many of the needs in that city. Jacks believes another full-time employee could advance the prevention mission, "This means that we would ensure that what we’re currently providing, is reaching every community in Deschutes County; that every school is provided assistance when they request help with vaping and other issues; that students, teachers, parents and community members are provided education and skill-based training for preventing adolescent marijuana use."
Commissioners appeared sympathetic to the information. Commissioner Patti Adair drew correlations between low high school graduation rates and growing rates of marijuana use among students.
BEND, OR -- Pacific Power crews are starting to replace more than 76,000 meters on Central Oregon homes and businesses with more efficient and effective smart meters. Regional Business Manager Matt Chancellor says the technology isn't new; but it's an improvement over current meters, which are based on 100-year-old technology, "One of the benefits of smart meters is our customers can now set alerts for their usage, and that will help them manage their budget, and they can get messages when they hit certain usage levels, and that will allow them to conserve their energy and turn something on or off."
Chancellor says Pacific Power is installing the meters as part of a regional commitment to cleaner energy, "Our customers are going to be empowered to make better decisions on energy usage, and that's fully aligned with the City of Bend's resolution on carbon reduction. So it's really important that we have smart meters here in Central Oregon." The utility installed a smart meter on Bend's City Hall on Wednesday. City Manager Eric King told KBND News it fits well with the city's goal to use infrastructure in a smart way, "The city has an energy efficiency plan. We've got a Council resolution that was passed a few years ago that really forces us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and so energy efficiency is a part of that; Smart meters are a part of that."
Chancellor says Central Oregon meters should all be switched out by fall. He says the impact on customers should be minimal, "We will knock on the door when we arrive and it will be less than five minutes of an outage to replace it. And then we will leave a door hangar, letting our customers know that it's completed." The project is part of a statewide rollout of 590,000 smart meters that began in January 2018.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Health Services main building remains closed for air quality testing. Facilities Director Lee Randall says he was installing a new fire alarm system with a carbon monoxide detector, and it seemed not to be working properly, "We got inconsistent results that caused us to want to just dig a little bit deeper, see what the source of those inconsistent readings might be." He says if it's not actually carbon monoxide, it could be a wiring problem or, perhaps, a faulty sensor, "Those are the kinds of things we're trying to narrow down and chase down, and those could be explanations, potentially."
The building closed Sunday, and the county called in an air quality testing company to take samples. Initially, Randall says, officials thought it would reopen Thursday, but decided more work was needed, "Testing, so far this week, is going very well. The few extra days give us the opportunity to have a completely separate stand-alone system that can read and sample air samples over time, and that gives us a much better data set to be able to analyze and provide comparison." He tells KBND News, "Really, we're just erring on the side of caution so that we could have a better understanding of what the system may or may not be reading. We want to make sure that the building is safe for staff and for the public."
He expects testing will be finished Friday, at which time decisions will be made about possible repairs and reopening the clinic. The closure only affects the NE Courtney Drive location. Clients with appointments at that facility are being contacted and rescheduled. The same building was closed a month ago after employees reported strong natural gas odors.
BEND, OR -- The man suspected of running from Deschutes County deputies, last week, after a reported disturbance near Millican, was arrested Thursday. The Sheriff’s Office received information that 52-year-old Stanley Heden may be connected to a home near 12th and Newport. While watching the location, detectives saw Heden driving the same pickup involved in the April 23rd pursuit.
MADRAS, OR -- The Mayor of Madras was hospitalized in serious condition, Wednesday. According to the Jefferson County Sheriff, Mayor Richard Ladeby collapsed just before noon at the Madras Golf Course. Another golfer started CPR while medics and Life Flight were dispatched.
Ladeby was flown to St. Charles Bend and, as of Wednesday night, was in ICU, according to Sheriff Jim Adkins' social media post. An updated condition was not available, Thursday. This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is released.
UPDATE (9:00 a.m.) The city of Madras issued the following statement on Facebook, Thursday morning: "Our Mayor, Richard Ladeby, suffered a medical emergency on May 1, 2019. While he is recuperating, Council President Bartt Brick will serve as Interim Mayor until Mayor Ladeby can return to his position on Council. We appreciate the community's outpouring of support and prayers for Mayor Ladeby and his family during this time."
UPDATE (05/03/19) The city of Madras issued the following statement Friday morning, updating the public on Mayor Ladeby's condition:
Mayor Richard Ladeby made great strides in his recovery last night. “I spoke with the Mayor this morning and he was in good spirits. He and his wife appreciate everyone’s support while he continues his recovery,” stated Police Chief Tanner Stanfill. It is anticipated that he will remain under medical care for some time. Therefore, Council Chair, Bartt Brick, will continue as Interim Mayor until Mayor Ladeby returns to his seat.
Many things can be attributed to Mayor Ladeby’s successful recovery including quick and capable response of emergency medical staff and law enforcement, the transport and care given by air medical, but also hands-only CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) provided by a willing bystander which greatly increased his chance of survival. Mayor Ladeby benefitted from all of these interventions and we, along with his family and friends, are extremely grateful.
Hands-only CPR is something everyone can do and we encourage our community to become trained in this vital, life-saving technique. You never know when, where, or who you might be able to help. It was definitely a link in the chain of survival for our Mayor. The American Heart Association has some great videos available on their website to help you learn. This is one of our favorites: Video
If you would like to send a note of encouragement to Mayor Ladeby, please mail or drop them off at City Hall, 125 SW “E” Street, Madras 97741 and we’ll make sure he receives them.
BEND, OR -- A 20-year-old Bend man is accused of crashing into a patrol car while trying to flee a traffic stop, Wednesday night. Bend Police say Jerrod Floyd was seen driving a stolen car near 15th and Tempest Drive, at about 6:45 p.m. When the officer attempted to pull the car over, it crashed into the officer's patrol car. The driver then fled south.
It was later found abandoned near SE 15th and Tekampe. Despite sightings from neighbors and a multi-agency search, Floyd was not immediately located by law enforcement.
At about 9:25 p.m., officers found him hiding in a backyard on Sweet Pea, near Knott Road, where he was arrested. Floyd is charged with Hit and Run, Felony Elude and Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle.
BEND, OR -- City officials hope to get more people involved in developing Bend’s Core Area Project, to come up with a plan for improving areas included in the 2016 Urban Growth Boundary expansion plan, but that are isolated by various barriers. Senior Planner Allison Platt says it’s an effort to create a common vision, "It is identifying infrastructure improvements that are needed and potentially identifying a new funding source. So, part of this project is looking at creating an Urban Renewal District for this area." Platt tells KBND News, "Our study area consists of four of the city’s identified ‘opportunity areas’ – kind of areas of where the city would grow up – that were more appropriate for in-fill, redevelopment or development for the first time."
In some cases, barriers isolating an area are physical – like the parkway. But for others, Platt says, isolation is caused by zoning restrictions, "The Bend Central District was rezoned; back in 2016, we created a special plan district, which allows mixed-use development. But, it’s pretty constricting in what it allows. It essentially requires retail on the bottom floor and housing is allowed on the top. But, what we’re finding is, in some parts of that district, in tucked away areas that don’t have a lot of visibility on the street, mixed use is never going to work there. So, maybe there are some interim building types that we can explore."
To try and get more people involved in the process, the city is hosting educational pop-up events, starting Saturday. Platt says they’re intentionally scheduled at various times, days of the week and locations, "I think a lot of times people feel disenfranchised or they don’t feel like they can get involved in a city process, otherwise they have to go into a boring meeting room. So, this is really our attempt to go out into the community and meet them where they already are."
The pop-up events will help provide a general understanding of the work, prior to a larger workshop scheduled for June 15. "And, if they can’t come on that date," says Platt, "We will also have an online version of the workshop that people can participate with."
MADRAS, OR -- A bipartisan effort is underway to help counties hit especially hard by February's snow storm. Oregon's Congressional delegation sent a letter to the White House, Tuesday, asking the Trump Administration to declare an emergency in five counties.
U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden signed on with Representatives Greg Walden, Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader, citing especially devastating damage in Coos, Curry, Douglas, Lane and Jefferson counties. Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins tells KBND News a hay shed collapsed during the late winter storm that brought record snowfall to the area. They're asking for a federal disaster declaration and more than $30 million dollars in public assistance.
The letter was a response to Governor Kate Brown's request for a disaster declaration and eligibility for the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
BEND, OR -- The road up Pilot Butte opens for the season, Thursday. Oregon Parks and Recreation will open the gate for vehicle traffic at 10 a.m. It closes each day at 8 p.m., but that’s subject to change as the days get longer.
Parks Manager Joe Wanamaker urges drivers to be cautious, "There is heavy pedestrian traffic along the summit road," he said Tuesday in a statement. "We remind drivers to obey the posted 20 mph speed limit, and use caution as they drive around the blind curves. Pedestrians should use either the walking path on the outer edge of the road or the nature trail."
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Area Parks and Recreation District (RAPRD) is asking voters to approve a bond and levy that would add 74-cents per thousand dollars of assessed value to property tax bills. RAPRD Executive Director Katie Hammer says Measure 9-126 is a 20-year bond request, imposing $0.55 per $1,000 of assessed property value, "The bond is for construction only, and it can only be used for capital improvements – so, building a building and purchasing items, like furnishings to be in the building, and purchasing land. But, once that building is built, there will be some need for operating dollars." That’s where Measure 9-127 comes in. It’s a five-year operating levy, adding another $0.19 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Hammer says the bond would raise more than $40 million to expand the Cascade Swim Center, near Redmond High. "It’s a 40-year-old facility. It was built for the times, in the early 80s, and it doesn’t have the modern amenities that people like in facilities, today. It doesn’t have water slides, it doesn’t have spray features. It’s a competitive lap pool and should continue to be used for that purpose." She tells KBND News, "But then it would also have a gymnasium that would have two basketball courts; it could be used for pickleball, volleyball, [and] other court sports. And then, it would have group fitness rooms, it will have some weight equipment and workout space, classrooms so we can run before and after school programs; things like that." RAPRD board member Matt Gilman adds, "Let’s not forget about the elevated track that will go above the gymnasium." He tells KBND News, "We’re really looking for a solution for moving Redmond’s recreation to be prepared for the future."
Plans for the bond and levy have been in the works for a while. Hammer says the design is based on what the public has said it wants. And, she says the district needs a consolidated aquatic and activity center because the existing activity center, located at SW Canal Blvd. and Odem Medo, will eventually need to be vacated to allow for more development in southwest Redmond. She says they lease the building and the city plans to push a road through the property.
Ballots go out Wednesday for the May 21 election. If both the 20-year bond and five-year operating levy pass, it would cost more than $12 a month for the owner of a property assessed at $200,000. There is no organized opposition to the measures.
BEND, OR -- The latest Honor Flight of Central Oregon takes off Wednesday morning, with more than two dozen veterans from our tri-county area. Deanna Lynn Neilsen says the trip takes veterans on an all-expenses paid trip to visit war memorials in the National Mall. She told KBND News Tuesday, "We're just getting ready to head out of Portland for a four-day trip to Washington, DC with 25 veterans; 22 of them are Korean War veterans, and three were also in World War II." She adds, "It's only for World War II and Korean War veterans at this point, and it's on a first-come-first-served basis." It’s only the second time local Korean Conflict vets have been included in an Honor Flight
The vets will see all major memorials, Arlington National Cemetery and the Capitol, and get special attention from Representative Greg Walden, "He'll be presenting each of the veterans with a flag that's been flown over the capitol, and present them with certificates thanking them for their service, and there will also be another big surprise while they're back there that I can't say anything about." But, the trip isn't the end of their recognition. Neilsen says, "Once we return from DC, we'll have a gathering there behind JC Penney [in Bend] on Saturday afternoon at about 4 to 4:30, where anyone from the public is welcome to come greet the veterans."
The annual trip costs approximately $60,000 and Neilsen says it's entirely paid for through donations. "We support three counties in Central Oregon: Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson, so all the veterans have to be from one of those counties in order to be part of our hub." To be considered for the next flight, fill out an online application on Honor Flight of Central Oregon's website.
Photo courtesy of the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, who provided a send-off for vets, Tuesday afternoon.
BEND, OR -- Several local neighborhoods plan events this weekend, to help residents prepare for wildfire season and take advantage of free yard debris disposal opportunities. Jodie Barram, with Project Wildfire, expects this year’s Deschutes County Fire Free collection events to be more popular than in the past. "In Jefferson County, last weekend, just on the first day of their Fire Free yard debris/recycling, they saw a 30% increase in the quantity, from last year." She thinks the Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise last fall, is a big reason, "Even though we’ve had a lot of fire on our landscape, I think the loss of homes and devastation that occurred in the California fires has really struck a chord with residents here, in Central Oregon."
There are about 30 Deschutes County neighborhoods designated as FireWise sites and many will host preparedness days, to coincide with Fire Free, which begins Saturday at the Knott Landfill. Barram says the preparedness events are a great way for neighbors to help each other create defensible space, "We really want folks to have what we call a ‘hardened area’ within the first five feet from their structure. And then from five feet to 30’ from their structure, just making sure that we have those fuels broken up – that we don’t have tall bushes underneath low-hanging branches where, if fire got in there, it would travel up and, what we call, be a ‘ladder fuel’ to go up into that tree."
One FireWise neighborhood is even getting teens involved in the clean-up effort, "REALMS High School has been doing some curriculum around wildfire and fuels reduction," Barram tells KBND News, "So, we have some students from REALMS High School going out to Tillicum Village to do some volunteer work as an application of their curriculum, and working with the residents, side by side, to prepare for the Fire Free days." Barram says that, aside from helping each other out, the volunteer hours help FireWise communities maintain their standing with the national FireWise USA organization.
Yard debris can be dropped off for free at the Knott Landfill, May 4-12, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Also in Bend, Fire Free has a new Westside collection site west of Miller Elementary, at Skyliners Road and Crossing Drive. That site is available May 4-5 and May 11-12, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. And, the Sunriver Compost Site is open Friday and Saturday (May 3-4), from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit the Fire Free website for a schedule of events in Redmond and Sisters, later this month.