BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown came to Bend yesterday to sign Kaylee's Law - legislation that creates strict rules for college security guards. Kaylee Sawyer was murdered in 2016 by a COCC security officer whose police-style vehicle made it impossible for her to escape him once she was in the back seat. Brown says following the law's clarity and transparency standards will keep a tragedy like this from recurring. "At its heart, its focus is about making our campuses safer for our students."
Senator Tim Knopp was instrumental in getting this legislation passed. He called yesterday's ceremony the culmination of a lot of hard work to create something good out of Kaylee's untimely death. "Although it's a sad day, in some respects, it's also a day that we can celebrate Kaylee Sawyer and what she's continuing to give to our community."
Kaylee's Law mandates changes to college security vehicles, uniforms, and equipment so they won't appear to be those of law enforcement, and requires nationwide background security check on all officers. Governor Brown says the law is necessary to keep those on college campuses safer. "Kaylee Sawyer's death was a tragedy, and we want to make sure that this never happens to a promising Oregonian again."
Jamie Sawyer said the passing of the law bearing Kaylee's name gives some meaning to her death, because it will help others. "If you're going to have something like this as a loss in your life, you want to have as much meaning to it as possible, because that life to lose is terrible, in itself, that if you can attach something tremendous to it, it makes it slightly more bearable." Sawyer has been working with members of the legislature to make the passing of Kaylee's Law a reality, and he thanked those assembled for all their work. "Being able to do something truly noble, righteous, and monumental in honor of Kaylee, to help others, has helped soften some of our pain and loss."
Oregon's Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum was also on-hand for the signing , and she says the passage of Kaylee's Law is healing for the Bend community, as it will protect those whose lives are touched by violent crime. "I am very involved in the whole issue of an advocacy for victims and survivors of crimes, and it takes a village to help to heal. So, even if nothing else came of it, and it will, that would be enough." For Rosenblum, being in Bend gives her mixed emotions, as she says one of her close friends was murdered near Camp Sherman more than 30 years ago. "I love this part of the state, but you know, when I come here, I've always thought of her, and now I will be thinking of Kaylee, as well. Everywhere we go, we know happy stories, we know sad stories. I will keep coming here, and I hope all the rest will be happy."
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says he thinks of Kaylee Sawyer every day, and is inspired by the Sawyer family's vision for this legislation. "Kaylee's death was not in vain. What her father did, and her family did to ensure that her death makes other students safer, is inspiring, and that's what we came together to celebrate."
Kaylee's Law was unanimously passed by the Oregon Legislature in May.
A fatal head-on crash on highway 97, a couple miles south of the junction with highway 58, closed the highway for 4 hours last night. State Police report a white Jeep was traveling southbound when it drifted onto the shoulder. The driver reportedly overcorrected and spun into the oncoming lane colliding with a California couple driving a pickup towing a travel trailer. The couple in the truck were transported to Bend and treated for non-life-threatening injuries. However, the driver of the Jeep, identified only as a Bend area resident, was pronounced dead at the scene. Distracted driving and speed are believed to be factors in the crash.
BEND, OR -- While many local drivers like to curse traffic on Highway 97, the Deschutes Historical Museum is celebrating the thoroughfare with a new exhibit. Executive Director Kelly Cannon Miller tells KBND News, "Travel and tourism and the highway, and where the highway goes, has always had a huge impact on our local economy. We’ve always wanted people to come here and do things and enjoy this area, so I wanted to kind of pull people back and say, ‘actually, this has always been a huge part of our economy'."
The 1940 “Travel Guide to Oregon” offered 10 tours to encourage visitors to explore the state, "What our exhibit does is follow ‘Tour Four’ through Deschutes County, starting up in Terrebonne and working its way through Redmond and in to Bend, and south through the Lava Butte area, and to La Pine; and, what is there to see and do? It’s really super heavy on the natural wonders." The Cruisin' 97 exhibit highlights roadside attractions popular in the 1940s, like the Museum of Wonders (right), which Cannon-Miller believes is now a cannabis shop. It also looks at how downtown Bend changed as the highway shifted over the years.
Cannon-Miller says long before the highway was built, it was a trading trail for Native Americans traveling between the Klamath Basin and the Columbia River Gorge, "You always have people migrating along this path. So, when we come out and stick it on maps, it’s already an existing route. It’s just always been this corridor of moving people and ideas and things. And so really, what the exhibit tries to do is look at it as a snapshot in the mid-20th century, and what it was moving then."
The Deschutes Historical Museum is located in downtown Bend on NW Idaho, between Wall and Bond - which, at one point, was Highway 97.
Fire crews were called out to 1131 NW Dogwood Avenue in Redmond last evening shortly before 7 after neighbors reported a house on fire. The owner/occupants were not home at the time. Firefighters arrived to find flames coming from the back and the second story of the home fully charged with smoke. Although no one was injured, damages are estimated to be at least $100,000. The cause appears to be a branch that fell on the electric line feeding into the house which caused arcing between the line and the house resulting in the fire.
TERREBONNE, OR -- Oregon's Department of Transportation is finalizing plans to address increased traffic volumes on Highway 97 in Terrebonne. Peter Murphy, with ODOT, tells KBND News, "So, you’ll have two lanes going southbound and two other lanes going northbound on 11th Street. And then, to make things work up at Lower Bridge Way, what we’ve done is come up with an idea for a roundabout. And, I know when I say ‘roundabout,’ there’s a lot of people who have a visceral reaction to that, but it is a good solution to move traffic through that intersection."Lower Bridge Way is the primary access to Crooked River Ranch, and its intersection with Highway 97 has long been identified as a trouble spot. Murphy says installing a roundabout west of 97, and creating over- and under-passes for cross traffic will significantly improve safety, "By doing this, we are addressing the highway problem. It’s gone through a review process with the folks up there and it’s the result of a lot of work together to try and come up with a solution that works for folks."
Despite some local opposition, Murphy says they’re moving forward on the proposal, and he believes they have a plan that benefits the most people, "We went through this planning process and considered a five-lane in the existing 97 corridor, and the dilemma with that is that you end up with much more conflict potential." He adds, "It’s important to understand that the context in which all this is taking place is the increase in traffic. If you try to make a left turn coming out of like Smith Rock State Park, and get on the highway to come to Bend, you’ve got some serious delays facing you."
Murphy says nothing is set in stone, yet. Most of the funding for the work was allocated by the 2017 Legislature, but the design still needs county approval., "We’re going to go to the Planning Commission at the end of this month. And then, coming up in August, we’re going to go to the Board of Commissioners. So, all these opportunities are there for folks to have their say." Murphy doesn't expect construction to begin for at least two years.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes National Forest has a new Forest Supervisor, and she's quite familiar with the area. Holly Jewkes takes over on August fifth, replacing John Allen who retired in June.
Jewkes is currently the Deputy Forest Supervisor on the Willamette National Forest. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Forest Services, tells KBND News, "She was the District Ranger at our Crescent Ranger District, which is the southern part of the [Deschutes National] Forest. The District Ranger is responsible for all the decisions made for that land base that they are responsible for, and then the Forest Supervisor oversees the District Rangers." Nelson Dean adds, "Holly obviously, worked on the leadership team of the Deschutes National Forest, before she left to take the Deputy Forest Supervisor position on the Willamette National Forest."
Nelson Dean doesn't expect big changes with the transition of leadership, "Holly will be bringing that same attitude that John Allen had, she does partnerships and those community relationships, so we expect it to be a very seamless transition." She adds, "Holly has a background in resource management, and fire, fire ecology." And, "She has a lot of knowledge about what's going on here on the Deschutes." Jewkes has been with the Forest Service, serving in the Pacific Northwest, for more than 14 years.
BEND, OR -- This summer’s unusually mild weather is causing problems for Deschutes County road crews trying to get chip sealing done before fall. "We need good weather – good summer weather – to chip seal," says County Roads Director Chris Doty, "And, it’s been fits and starts." He says even a few sprinkles can derail a day of work, "We’ve been in Sisters a little bit last week and a few days this week, and it’s been, as I said, ‘fits and starts.’ With our chip seal process, we need hot, dry weather and it’s been hard to get good stretches of that this summer." He adds, "So, we’ve been bouncing around, kind of chasing open patches of sky, to get the chip seal work done."
But, Doty tells KBND News, they're not giving up, "Right now, we’ll be pivoting into Deschutes River Woods, here, in the next few days and throughout the next week, to do quite a few road segments in that subdivision." The chip seal process is used to rejuvenate the top layer of roads with a fresh coat of asphalt, to prolong the life of a road through bad weather.
Doty says the timeframe to do the work is short; chip sealing season must end by the end of August to guarantee the asphalt has time to cure before cold weather returns. "We had a pretty aggressive schedule, this year – upwards of 100 miles of county roads to be chip sealed. We’re going to fall short of that. We’ve been pushed off from some areas and we’ve lost all of the float that we placed in our chip seal schedule, and so we’ll probably finish at least 10 miles short of our goal this year." But, he's confident the work will get done eventually, "In terms of road maintenance, it’s a marathon and not a sprint; so we will catch up next year, for sure."
SALEM, OR -- Three local affordable housing projects are among a dozen around the state to receive a big funding boost from Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS). The agency announced Tuesday Carnelian Place and Phoenix Crossing in Bend will receive a combined $4 million to build 71 units near NE 15th and Highway 20, and NE 27th and Conners. Housing works plans for a mix of studio and one-bedroom apartments for renters at or below 60% of the area median income.
Redmond’s Bridge Meadows receives $3 million dollars for 40 units off NW Hemlock. That project will be a mix of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments.
OHCS awarded More than $45 million will help build 636 homes in Oregon. "This is a big step toward meeting the ambitions goals of the Statewide Housing Plan,' OHCS Director Margaret Salazar said in a statement. "These developments bring us that much closer to closing the affordable rental housing gap and reducing housing cost burden for Oregonians." The funding comes from federal 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits, HOME, and the National Housing Trust Fund resources, which leverage local, state and private investments.
BEND, OR -- A 14-year-old girl was hurt when her bicycle was struck by a car in northeast Bend, Tuesday night. According to Bend Police, she tried to ride her bike across NE 27th near Highway 20, at about 8:15 p.m., but misjudged the traffic flow. She was not in the crosswalk and was hit by a 74-year-old driving a northbound vehicle trying to make a left turn.
The girl was taken to St. Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) says President’s Trump’s recent tweets about four Congresswomen of color do not reflect the value of Americans. Oregon’s only Republican in Congress says the remarks shouldn’t be made about any American citizens.
He also condemned comments that Border Patrol is running concentration camps or that people who support Israel are only doing it ‘for the Benjamins’ as disgusting and wrong. Walden says Congress needs to stop wasting time bickering over tweets and get back to tackling the nation’s real problems.
The full statement issued Tuesday morning by Greg Walden:
“America is a nation of immigrants and I do not, and will never, condone discrimination. The President’s recent tweets do not reflect the values that we hold dear in America and they are comments that should not be made about any American citizen regardless of who they are or where they work. Comments like these and others stating that CBP agents are ‘running concentration camps’ or that people who support Israel only do it for the ‘Benjamins’ are disgusting and wrong. They distract from the real issues our nation faces, like the humanitarian crisis at the border, the rising cost of health care, and providing for our veterans and active duty military. Just the same, taking time to vote on political resolutions condemning the President wastes precious time that should be spent debating and voting on legislation that directly improves the lives of Americans. Respectfully, Congress needs to stop wasting time bickering over mean tweets and get back to tackling the real problems facing our nation."
(Top) File Photo
BEND, OR -- The Boys and Girls Clubs of Bend plans to open a record-number of slots for after-school programs, this fall. Executive Director Juliana Williams says it’s in response to Bend-La Pine Schools shifting start times, which will send elementary kids home an hour earlier than last year and before older siblings who often serve as afternoon babysitters, "A lot of parents could work it out to pick up their kids at 3:30, but now at 2:30 they can’t get off work that early to pick up their children. So, we’re expecting more kids needing care in that after school time." She tells KBND News, "Given that we do serve from five to 18, we serve a lot of younger elementary students, and so we’re increasing our staffing to be able to take on more kids. We’re adding about an hour of programming to that group, and overall, just trying to ensure that we can be here to meet the need."
Registration must be done in-person and begins at the end of this month; Williams suggests families visit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bend website beforehand, to get familiar with the process. "We have families that have been relying on us for years, so we’re doing and early priority registration for our current club families on July 29. That is a limited number of spots that we will hold for that period; we’ll continue that on the 30th and 31st. And then, on August first, we will open up additional spots to the community at large, knowing there are new families that are going to be seeking after-school care at the Boys and Girls Club." She adds, "What we’re trying to do is offer as many families as possible who are already a part of the club to get that early registration. But, we wanted to make sure that we didn’t come to the community on August first and say, ‘hey; we’re already full'." She’s hesitant to put an exact number on openings but expects it will be the first time they'll have to cap enrollment in their after-school program.
In May, Bend Parks and Recreation opened registration for its Kids Inc. after-school program for the 2019-20 school year; most sites filled in the first 10 minutes of registration. Williams says Parks & Rec and the Boys & Girls Clubs have the same goal of making sure kids are cared for, "Since I took my role as Executive Director two months ago of the Boys and Girls Club, I’ve been meeting with other community leaders at Parks & Rec and some of the other after-school programs, reaching out and coordinating our efforts. I think as we all adapt to this change in our community, we’re going to be even more coordinated so that it’s simplified for parents as they seek after-school care."
BEND, OR -- The results are in on a Deschutes County trash survey, and most residents want their garbage to stay local.
Deschutes County Weighs Trash Options (01/28/2019)
County Commissioners must decide where garbage will go when the Knott Landfill reaches capacity in the next decade. They plan to use feedback from a recent phone survey during deliberations. Solid Waste Director Timm Schimke tells KBND News, "It came down to two main options that we're considering: either siting a new landfill in the county, or contracting for transportation and disposal of our waste at one of the large regional landfills up near the Columbia River." He says, "This survey showed that the vast majority of people, 93%, favor keeping the garbage here and dealing with it ourselves. So, siting a new landfill in the county was the overwhelming choice." He says residents want a local landfill to keep jobs here, but they're also interested in upgrading technology for recycling and sorting. But, he says, it's expensive, "We look at that new technology on a regular basis, every three to five years. We'll have technology in our system at some point, just not quite yet."
Schimke delivered survey results to County Commissioners on Monday. He says with such overwhelming support for a new local facility, it's very likely Commissioners will choose that option. "If the Board decides to adopt this and follow the community's preference, then we would start that process of identifying potential sites, ranking them and rating them and eventually coming up with a choice on which one to pursue. There'll be a lot of behind the scenes activity while we're looking at maps, and identifying potential sites, and then we'll start getting a lot of public input." He expects it would take about seven years to find and establish a new landfill site in unincorporated Deschutes County.
BEND, OR -- A three-vehicle crash on Deschutes Market Road was caused by one driver’s medical emergency, according to investigators.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to the Tumalo area on a report of a possible drunk driver, just after noon Monday. While searching for the SUV (pictured, right), they were dispatched to a crash near Chasing Cattle Lane involving the same vehicle. They determined 62-year-old Edward Colburn failed to slow for traffic and rammed into the back of one car, pushing it into another.
All three vehicles had to be towed from the scene and Colburn was taken to the hospital with medical complications not related to the crash. The Sheriff's Office says investigators don't believe alcohol, drugs or other distractions were factors, and no other injuries were reported.
MADRAS, OR -- Madras Police are releasing more details of a Sunday morning double shooting. Officers responded to Southeast 16th and C streets and discovered two people had been shot multiple times; those victims continue to receive treatment at St. Charles Bend.
Two Injured in Madras Shooting (07/15/2019)
Investigators recovered a rifle they believe was used in the assault, and identified the suspect as 36-year-old Juan Francisco Medina, of Madras. He was arrested Sunday on charges of Attempted Murder, first degree Assault, Unlawful Use of a Weapon and Menacing. According to jail records, he admitted to using Methamphetamine two days before his arrest.
Medina appeared in court Monday and is being held on $2 million bond.
BEND, OR -- Rural Deschutes County has many acres of land zoned for farming that the county's Planning Commission says doesn't meet the state's designations for farm and forest and isn't suitable for growing. The Commission recently voted 4-3 to create a new zone that would allow owners to get their land reclassified. County Planner Peter Gutowsky says it could create more options for affordable housing, "There's certainly an interest from the Board of County Commissioners to look at ways where additional housing can be provided. this is just one of many potential opportunities to do that."
He says the goal now is to establish eligibility criteria for property owners, "If they don't meet the state's definition for farm or forest land, they would have instructions in our plan that inform them how they would demonstrate compliance to rezone their own property." He tells KBND News, "We want to make sure that additional local criteria that are more restrictive than state law are contemplated - one being that these types of redesignations take place in a rural fire protection district."
But, Rory Isbell, a lawyer for Central Oregon Landwatch says reclassifying this land would do away with the state's long-standing system to accommodate growth and would create more expense, "By opening up a doorway for more residential use in the rural areas of Deschutes County, this current proposal subverts the orderly system of planned development that we have." He adds, "Housing in these rural areas will not be affordable. The housing that often gets built when agricultural land gets broken up is at the higher end." And, he says, it could be unfair, "It's allowing an agricultural landowner to try to have different treatment than all of the other agricultural landowners and farmers that exist out in the county."
County Commissioners will likely be asked to weigh in, this fall. Gutowsky says there's still much to consider, like which land could be eligible, and what uses would be allowed.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Jail is now using a body scanner to look for contraband before inmates are booked. "So, if somebody comes in to our facility and they are going to be housed in our facility, they will now go through the body scanner," says Corrections Deputy Lori Barin, "That provides us a picture, and that picture shows us whether or not there’s anything inside." Jail Commander Michael Shults tells KBND News, "We’re going to be looking for drugs, weapons, needles, anything that we can that’s not allowed in the jail that can make somebody unsafe – not only us, our staff, but the other inmates."
An inmate moves through the large machine on a conveyer belt (pictured: right) as the scanner sends an x-ray image (above) to a nearby computer. A Corrections Deputy can then see whether drugs or weapons are hidden inside their body or clothing. Dep. Barin says it's a much less invasive process than the previous search procedure, "We would take them in and do a pretty invasive visual dress-down, so that we could ensure that they didn’t have anything inside any body cavities."
A Deschutes County inmate died at the jail in 2014 of a meth overdose. Then-Sheriff Larry Blanton speculated at the time that Edwin Mays ingested a baggie of drugs in an attempt to conceal them from arresting officers. KBND News asked current Sheriff Shane Nelson whether that case prompted the purchase of the new body scanner, "This is not related to any one specific act or piece of history for our office. But, yes, some of the tragic circumstances that have occurred here definitely spur us to take a look at good pieces of equipment." He adds, "I can tell you, having a piece of equipment like this will hopefully prevent a future tragedy." Capt. Shults says while nothing is 100% effective, this new technology will help, "All the jails are trying to find ways to stop that. Now, it’ll never be stopped because inmates get good at it and the people that come through our system are vulnerable people and they’re already at risk to these type of things. But, the goal is really, so that people, when they come in, don’t have dangerous materials on them that can hurt them or us."
Sheriff Nelson calls the $125,000 body scanner a good investment, and says the Oregon Sheriffs’ Association helped negotiate a price break for 11 agencies to purchase scanners this year. "Our office is really excited to have this piece of equipment," says Nelson, "This is going to make our jail a lot safer, it’s going to protect inmates who try and bring this contraband into our facility and it’s going to protect inmates that might have access to this contraband in our facility." The scanner has been in place a few months and Nelson says it has already prevented a significant amount of contraband from entering the jail.
BEND, OR -- A 23-year-old Bend man survived being struck by a freight train, Sunday afternoon. Emergency crews were dispatched to the BNSF train depot near SE Third and Scott Street, at about 3:30 p.m. and determined Kyle Houser had been hit just east of the depot.
Bend Police say Houser was walking northwest on the tracks, listening to music with headphones over his ears. A train approached behind him, blowing its horn to warn the man who had his back to the train. Houser didn't hear the train and was struck on the shoulder, which threw him from the tracks. The train was eventually able to stop, and remained in place for several hours, blocking traffic on SE Wilson.
Houser was taken to the hospital by ambulance, with non-life threatening injuries.
MADRAS, OR -- Two people were shot during an altercation in Madras, Sunday morning. Officers responded to a location on Southeast 16th at about 9:30 a.m. and discovered the alleged shooter had left the scene.
Madras Police have not released many details but say they requested help from the Central Oregon Major Crime Team, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and State Police, and a suspect was taken into custody a short time later.
Both victims are being treated for their injuries.
TUMALO, OR -- A Redmond man wanted for a felony warrant was arrested Friday evening, after an hour-long manhunt in Tumalo. Deschutes County deputies assisting on a traffic stop learned 38-year-old Ryan Fischer-Salt was in a nearby bar, but he took off before they arrived. Fischer-Salt is accused of violating his parole and running from a Thursday traffic stop.
A K-9 deputy began tracking the man around southern Tumalo as citizens reported his movements to 911. A Cascades Academy summer camp was put in lock-down during the search. After about 45 minutes, Fischer-Salt was seen crossing Highway 20 near Old Bend-Redmond Highway. As Two K-9s and a drone converged on the area, he emerged from a hillside across the river, and surrendered to deputies.
He walked across the river and was arrested without further incident. Fischer-Salt is now being held without bail at the Deschutes County Jail. He was arrested in 2017 for multiple charges, including violating parole; in 2016, Fischer-Salt was arrested by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) team; and in 2013, he was accused of stealing from the Sheriff's Office shooting range.
BEND, OR -- The new President of Central Oregon Community College has been on the job just two weeks, but says she’s already getting a good understanding of the school and surrounding community. Dr. Laurie Chesley doesn’t plan any major changes, and says she’s looking forward, "Now, the task is really to take the college into the future, make sure it continues to be responsive to the community and to student needs, which is always changing; colleges are always in transition."
Dr. Chesley says she’s pleased COCC was quick to respond to the passage of Kaylee’s Law. "Our college has been following the development and progress of that law and we are now fully compliant with that law, and pleased to be so," she tells KBND News, "We look forward to more direction and standardization across the state for what community colleges need to do, because our number one goal is to keep students safe." The new law is named for Kaylee Sawyer, killed in 2016 by a former COCC campus safety officer now serving multiple life sentences. "We are happy for the passage of Kaylee’s Law. Obviously, there was a horrific incident that inspired it," says Dr. Chesley, "But, this law will allow us to have greater clarity on what we need to do to make sure our campus is as safe as possible for our students. That’s our goal."
Governor Kate Brown will be in Bend later this month for a ceremonial bill signing. The mandates took effect in May, following unanimous passage of the bill in the Legislature. The bill requires college public safety agencies to remove cages from patrol cars and take other steps the distinguish security guards from sworn police. Dr. Chesley calls a recent agreement with Bend Police to provide COCC with a full time college resource officer “a great compromise” that will solidify the school's relationship with Bend PD, while focusing on student and community safety.
REDMOND, OR -- Fair season kicks off in Central Oregon, later this month, and Deschutes County is celebrating a big milestone 100 years in the making. Fair Coordinator Ross Rogers says the Deschutes County Fair began humbly in 1919, three years after Deschutes broke off from Crook County. The original fairgrounds were where the Redmond Fred Meyer now sits.
Back in the beginning, the fair’s primary focus was agriculture, "There weren’t that many people then – little bit different, now; and they would come to meet for a week to show off their goods and socialize. It was a big social function, and they’d bring their goods." Rogers tells KBND News, "It started as the potatoes, because we were a huge potato capitol – the largest in the world, actually, for a while, and that’s why they called it the ‘potato show’ to begin with. There would [eventually] be a carnival, and then the rodeo joined forces, and then vendors showed up, and it just morphed into what it is today." And what it is today is one of the largest events in Oregon, "The State Fair, of course, in Salem is the largest fair. But, for county fairs – and there are 36 counties in Oregon – we are the largest, now, and have been for about six or seven years. And, we’re also the largest event held in the state, east of the Cascades."
A special centennial exhibit at this year's fair will feature artifacts from the last 100 years and a commemorative fair guide will be released later this month, "It’s slick stock. There will be thousands of copies at the gates when you come to fair. It’s 64 pages, this year, versus the 40 pages it’s been in the past. And, history from day one to today in that fair guide," says Rogers. The 100th Deschutes County Fair runs July 31 through August fourth.
The 88th Jefferson County Fair is July 24-27, and Crook County’s 115th fair is August seventh through the tenth.
File Photo: Deschutes County Fair, Redmond
BEND, OR -- The Alfalfa woman convicted of killing a local dentist in 2017 has filed an appeal. A judge found Shantel Witt guilty of first degree Manslaughter, in February. Prosecutors say Witt had several drugs in her system - including Xanax prescribed to her dog - when she drove her SUV into a group of bicyclists, east of Bend, in December 2017. Marika Stone was was pronounced dead at the scene. Witt was sentenced to 12 years in prison an ordered to pay $78,000 in restitution to Stone's family.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says Witt has nothing to lose by asking the Appeals Court to review her case, "I think the theory is, why not try; right? If all the Court of Appeals can do is say, 'We rule against you,' that's the worst case scenario. The best case scenario for a defendant is the Court of Appeals might say, 'We reverse your conviction.' So, there's really no downside, and there's a heck of a lot of upside."
Hummel says Witt didn't plead guilty to any major charges, which means she has more options, "She can appeal the finding of guilt, she can say there was an error made at trial and so the finding of guilt should be reversed; she can also say, 'the sentence I received was unlawful and you need to reduce the sentence.' So, she is legally able to raise both issues." Hummel believes the prosecution will stand up to scrutiny, "I'm confident in the integrity of this conviction. I'm not aware of any meritorious legal arguments her attorney will be able to present, so I'm confident that after the Court of Appeals reviews the case, they will uphold the conviction." He tells KBND News, "We didn't see any legal issues where we were like, 'this is a close call, here.' We thought everything was straightforward, by-the-book, and so we're confident that we'll prevail on appeal."
The State Attorney General's office represents the state on appeals, but Hummel says his office will consult and confer with them throughout the case.
EUGENE, OR -- Oregon State Police are searching for a psychiatric patient who walked away from the State Hospital Thursday afternoon. Troy Irick is not considered an imminent danger to himself or others, but is accused of "unauthorized departure" and authorities say he should "not be approached." Irick was found guilty but for insanity, in 2017, for unlawful use of a weapon and menacing in Coos County.
The 35-year-old was last seen in Eugene where he was attending a group activity. He asked to use the restroom and didn’t return. Irick is white, 5’7”, 156 pounds with short brown hair, a beard and blue eyes. When last seen at about 1:45 p.m., he was wearing grey sweat pants and a hooded sweatshirt.
Anyone with information should call 911 or OSP at 800-452-7888; reference case #SP19-246525.
11:45 a.m. UPDATE: Eugene Police took Troy Irick into custody Friday morning.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man has been ordered to serve 20 years in prison for his part in a 2017 fatal crash. According to Crook County District Attorney Wade Whiting, Justin Bittick was highly intoxicated when he drove off the road with four others in his car. They were headed home from a bar after 2 in the morning, October 21, 2017. The vehicle rolled several times after he failed to negotiate a curve. Investigators believe he was going 58 mph when he lost control. No one was wearing a seatbelt and all five were ejected.
Pronounced dead at the scene were 23-year-old Caleb Williams and 21-year-old Stephan Leader-Bowles; the other three were critically injured. Prosecutors say Bittick’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit, and he had meth in his system.
A jury found the 38-year-old guilty of 14 counts, in June. The D.A. says the jury found Bittick showed extreme indifference to the value of human life. During Thursday's sentence Bittick gave a brief statement apologizing to the families of the victims. He told them, "My remorse, apology and regret will never make up for the pain that has been experienced. I pray that God's mercy and grace will be with us all."
He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, without the possibility of early release. He'll then serve 36 months post-prison supervision.
REDMOND, OR -- Seven people were arrested during a drug bust at a southwest Redmond home, Wednesday afternoon. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Street Crimes Unit executed a search warrant at the house on SW 27th Street, near Pumice Ave., after receiving information that those who lived there were involved in illegal drug activity. During the search, investigators say they found and seized evidence of drug sales, user amounts of Methamphetamine and user amounts of Heroin.
All seven suspects are from Redmond and were taken to the Deschutes County Jail on various charges.
From left to right:
- 22-year-old Tanner Bauldree (Probation Violation, Frequenting a Place where Controlled Substances are Used),
- 33-year-old Mason Marcoulier (Meth Possession, Frequenting a Place where Controlled Substances are Used),
- 34-year-old Ethan Miller (Probation Violation, Frequenting a Place where Controlled Substances are Used),
- 47-year-old Edward Wines (Frequenting a Place where Controlled Substances are Used),
- 21-year-old Cyndie Lopez (Probation Violation),
- 50-year-old Tina Hinkle (Heroin Possession, Frequenting a Place where Controlled Substances are Used),
- and 45-year-old Nicole Kane (Meth Possession, Heroin Possession, Delivery of Meth within 1000' of a school, Delivery of Heroin within 1000' of a school, Possession of a Schedule III Controlled Substance).
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon's largest homeless shelter has transformed over the last two years, thanks to a $9 million capital campaign. Work to expand the Bethlehem Inn began in 2017, with a new family facility opening last summer. The singles building opened this spring, and the old motel that used to serve as the primary shelter was torn down in June (pictured above). Executive Director Gwenn Wysling says one project remains, "By the end of this month, we are going to have the parking lot that is much needed for all the residents that are now staying at this expanded community shelter, here in Central Oregon."
But, Wysling tells KBND News, the fundraising effort isn't quite over, "We still have just over $100,000 that we are looking to the community to, at any level, step forward and really help us in making it over the finish line before the end of summer." She adds, "This whole process has spanned so many years, since Bethlehem Inn started, to finding its permanent home, and we are so close at this point."
Wysling hopes the community will come check out the new facilities on North Highway 97, learn about the Bethlehem Inn's history and vision, and get involved, "The name of the campaign, 'Transforming Lives Together,' is really what we as a Central Oregon community are doing, together." The campaign funded the new building for 10 families - double the number of the previous facility - a building for singles, a commercial kitchen in between two dining rooms, and added security features.
The shelter will celebrate all its progress with a benefit concert featuring the local band Precious Byrd, August 18. Click HERE for more information and to purchase tickets.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond is again addressing safety concerns along Highway 126, also known as Highland Ave., on the western edge of the city. The area is known for serious crashes, as drivers transition from rural to urban conditions.
City Council this week approved a plan this week to install about 2,000-feet of sidewalks, "We worked with ODOT to take advantage of some funds they have for sidewalk improvements on state highways, to fill in sidewalks between 27th and 35th along Highway 126, along the south side," says City Engineer Mike Caccavano, "So, that’s along Highland Baptist Church and a couple of vacant properties." He adds, "Things like sidewalks and improvements along the frontage of highways often help make drivers realize they’re getting into an urban area, it’s time to slow down. We’re not putting anybody in an unsafe location, but this should help with making this a safer corridor." He expects construction on the $200,000 project to begin next spring. Caccavano says a digital "driver feedback" speed sign is already helping to slow traffic entering the city. There are plans to move the sign farther west, so the slowing occurs earlier.
Also this week, City Council approved moving into the design phase for improvements on Southwest Reservoir Drive (pictured), in the area where it turns into Wickiup Avenue, "It’s another one of those, like Canal Boulevard, that was just an old county road. From 39th over to Volcano and 43rd, we’re going to do full street improvements – so, the sidewalks, bike lanes, the whole works. The rest of it, from 43rd over to Helmholtz, there’s going to do future development in that area, so we’ll just do a street overlay in that section." He estimates the work will cost about $75,000. Caccavano says it should improve safety in a fast growing area. He expects the majority of that work to occur in summer, to avoid any conflicts with students trying to get to Ridgeview High School.
Pictured: SW Reservoir Drive, near Umatilla Ave.
BEND, OR -- It's been exactly two years since Central Oregon's last Pandora Moth outbreak, which means it's time for them to return in high numbers. Jim LaBonte, with Oregon's Department of Agriculture, says the High Desert has the perfect conditions for Pandora Moths, "They feed on pines, and there's a lot of pine needles out there to eat. The other thing is, when they're in the right sort of soil situation, which is loose, especially pumicey soil, those are ideal for them to develop into high numbers." And, he says, we're in the midst of a an outbreak that could last several more years, "In 2017, the moths that emerged then laid eggs, those eggs hatched. Caterpillars were feeding on the pine needles, until it got cold, and then they hibernate." They hibernate by burying themselves into the dirt over winter, now they are emerging as the next generation of adult moths. "These major outbreaks often tend to occur on sort of a cyclic basis, and so, they can come around every 20 to 30 years. But then, they can continue for somewhere in the neighborhood of six to eight years. We don't have a great idea of what causes the outbreaks."
LaBonte tells KBND News they're not dangerous, although they do cause some damage to pine trees, but he understands why they may make some people uncomfortable, "The thing that sets them apart the most is their ability to reach these incredible numbers, when you get these outbreaks. They're also very large."
Because of their incredible abundance at certain times, Pandora Moths have even been considered a food source, "Especially by the Native Americans. They don't eat the adults because, well, they're pretty fuzzy and covered with scales and hairs, but they have eaten the caterpillars and the pupae." LaBonte says the moths will be here through August, when their two-year life cycle will start all over again. Central Oregon won't see the next generation of adult Pandoras until July of 2021.
Photo: Pandora Moths swarm the CFN gas station in La Pine, July 10, 2019
BEND, OR -- A busy block of Northwest 12th, in Bend, was forced to close for several hours Wednesay, due to a gas leak.
Bend Fire says a construction crew working on a gas line replacement project struck a ½-inch plastic line, just after 10 a.m.
Firefighters blocked 12th, between Newport and Milwaukee, with charged hose lines, as a precaution.
Cascade Natural Gas crews shut down the line and made repairs before the street reopened.
BEND, OR -- One man went to the hospital after a crash several miles east of Bend, Wednesday evening. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, a pickup left Highway 20, near Ten Barr Ranch Road, and went airborne over a driveway, at about 6:10 p.m. It went airborne a second time, nearly jumping the canal.
Investigators believe the driver suffered a medical issue, which led to the crash. He was taken to St. Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries.
BEND, OR -- Texas billionaire and Presidential Candidate Ross Perot died Tuesday, at the age of 89, following a five month battle with Leukemia. Former State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) met Perot when he was studying in London, and was asked to work on his 1992 Presidential campaign, "Ross Perot was a man before his time," Buehler tells KBND News, "His 1992 run for the Presidency kind of foreshadowed our politics today. He ran against, really, the status quo."
Buehler says he was excited to be involved because Perot sparked the interest of a lot of people who'd never been political before, "As Mr. Perot used to say, 'Just mad as Hell, and they weren't going to take it anymore!' because they saw the quality of their life decreasing, and the cost of living increasing, and neither political party actually solving the real problems."
In 1992, he ran as an Independent against then-President George H. W. Bush and then-Governor Bill Clinton, and earned 19% of the national vote - 22% in Oregon. Dr. Buehler tells KBND News, "He really highlighted the problems with the federal deficit, of course, but he also highlighted the problems with NAFTA and a lot of our international trade agreements where he thought we were selling out the middle class. And then, he also called attention to the failures of both political parties, both Republicans and Democrats, not doing enough to help our middle class." Perot ran a second time in 1996.
Buehler describes Perot as an outspoken patriot and champion, "He started out his involvement in politics advocating for veterans and, specifically, POWs, and then he also felt strongly - despite his wealth and success - that he should serve, himself, and give back; so [he was] truly an American patriot in the best sense of those words."
REDMOND, OR -- The Federal Aviation Administration awarded $7.5 million to 13 Oregon airports, on Tuesday, with the largest grant going to Redmond’s Roberts Field. Airport Manager Zach Bass says the $2.7 million from the FAA will be used for a new storage facility for snow removal equipment. "We have a small operations building that’s about 7,000 square feet; it’s really undersized and we actually have to utilize like four or five different buildings spread across the airport, right now, to make sure that we’re housing our equipment. And, even some of our older equipment is outside in the elements." He tells KBND News, "Instead of a 7,000 sf building that we currently occupy, we’re going to be building a 42,000 sf building. A majority of that will just be places to actually park our large equipment; and, we’re expecting more, larger equipment in the next few years."
Construction of the new facility is expected to cost about $13 million. The rest of the funding is already secured by bonds. Bass says the FAA's contribution was expected, and closes the gap to allow construction to begin this fall, "This grant, the $2.7 million, is what we call entitlement money. Based on how large of an airport or how many commercial enplanements we have, we’re basically guaranteed that $2.6-2.7 million every year, to apply to FAA selected construction projects." He says the airport was go out to bid for the project Wednesday.
The FAA is also providing $360,000 for the Prineville Airport to repair taxiways, rebuild a runway and other projects. The Madras Airport receives $150,000 dollars to update its master plan study. A total of $477 million in federal grants was awarded nationwide, as part of the Airport Improvement Program.
File Photo: Redmond Airport, June 2019
BEND, OR -- Tuesday was busy for emergency crews, as crashes tied up traffic across Central Oregon.
Just before noon, Highway 97 was forced to close for a short time, between Bend and Redmond, after a flatbed tow truck carrying a car caught fire (right). Bend Fire investigators say the cause of the fire appears to have been a mechanical or electrical failure in the truck's engine compartment. The fire was accelerated by the ruptured fuel line on the car it was carrying.
At the same time, a two-vehicle crash on the Culver Highway (top, below) sent two people to the hospital.
In Bend, Police say a 35-year-old man went to the hospital after he ran a red light at 27th and Micks Drive and collided with another vehicle. He was not wearing his seatbelt and was thrown into the passenger seat of his car, during the crash. Grant Younce was issued a citation. The other driver, a 71-year-old Bend woman was not hurt.
And, Tuesday evening, a Terrebonne teen crashed through a fence off Northwest 19th. The Sheriff's office says she was driving under the influence of alcohol. That crash sent her and her 10-year-old passenger to the hospital.
TERREBONNE, OR -- A Terrebonne teen is accused of drunk driving, after a Tuesday evening crash that sent a 10-year-old boy to the hospital. Investigators say 18-year-old Rose Lara was southbound on NW 19th, in Terrebonne, when she failed to negotiate a curve, just after 6 p.m. The car clipped a power pole, drove through a fence twice and came to a rest in a yard.
Her young passenger was flown to St. Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries. Lara was taken to the Redmond hospital by ground ambulance. She's charged with DUII, Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering, Criminal Mischief, Assault 3 and Minor in Possession (by consumption).
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s Senior Center was nearly forced to close, 18 months ago, due to a lack of stable leadership and funding. Now, the nonprofit is working to solidify its programs.
Interim Director Ted Viramonte says an advisory committee, which he calls the "dream team," helped create a new strategic plan, with some big goals, "Bring in a permanent Executive Director that knows nonprofits, to help make sure that this is a viable senior center for years to come. We’re celebrating our 70th anniversary; we’d like to see it go on another 70 years." That advisory committee is comprised of some well-known names, including former Mayor and County Commissioner Alan Unger, current Mayor George Endicott, City Councilor Jon Bullock, Parks and Recreation Director Katie Hammer and former City Manager Jo Anne Sutherland. Viramonte says the group is committed to seeing the Redmond Senior Center thrive because they recognize its importance to the community.
He estimates they need $80,000 - $130,000 to achieve their goals. Redmond's City Council will consider a $13,428 Community Development Block Grant for the Senior Center at Tuesday's Council meeting. Viramonte says Mayor Endicott and Councilor Bullock did not join the advisory committee until after the grant application process began.
And, he's working on more funding opportunities. The Senior Center was turned down for an Oregon Community Foundation grant at the end of last year. But, Viramonte says that is again a possibility, "They came out and did a site visit, they listened to what our new strategies were, and they’ve re-invited to submit a grant by next week. And, we’re going to do that, and that will mitigate a lot of the gap funding that we have to have."
Viramonte doesn't want the permanent job. He tried to retire once, and says he'd like to hand things over to someone who can make a greater commitment. He hopes the new money and leadership will allow the nonprofit to develop additional public and private partnerships, and create new programs. But, he says, it's not about getting bigger. He tells KBND News, "We’re looking to solidify and to have professionals, rather than elderly board members, be the ones to ensure that happens, really [that] will put the Senior Center in a good position, we’re thinking."
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Health Services building was closed for extended periods last winter and spring because of air quality concerns and problems with the heating and cooling system. Facilities Director Lee Randall asked County Commissioners, Monday, to approve a new contract to replace the HVAC system. He tells KBND News, "The system had reached the end of its serviceable life, and the goal is to, instead of replacing with 'like for like' equipment, change to a hot water boiler based system." Currently, the building uses a combustion system.
Randall says last winter's problems came from exhaust fumes emitted by the HVAC units on the building's roof, "We will go into next winter's heating season with a new, better system, and we're ready to avoid any of the challenges we faced this last winter." The project could cost up to $650,000. Randall says that includes, "Replacement of 24 HVAC units that are roof-mounted, replacement of a small portion of the roof, and a conversion of the existing system to a hot-water boiler system." He adds, "We will be finalizing the final cost via a construction manager general contractor arrangement, by which the contractor, when the design's complete, will provide a guaranteed maximum price for the project."
Commissioners are expected vote on the SunWest Builders contract request at their Wednesday meeting. Randall hopes the project will begin in late August, be functional by October first, and entirely complete by the beginning of December.
SUNRIVER, OR -- Deschutes County deputies shot and killed a black bear near Sunriver, after authorities say it posed a risk to public safety. Over the weekend, the Sheriff’s Office received numerous calls from various people reporting the bear in a subdivision west of the Deschutes River. The sixth and final call came from a resident of Gina Lane, Sunday afternoon. The man said he tried to scare the bear away with loud yelling and banging, but the animal wouldn't leave.
Deputies responded and shot the young adult male bear with beanbag rounds; despite being struck three times, the animal did not run off. Instead, it climbed a tree, then came back down and began walking through the neighborhood. Deputies followed it, warning people to go inside, including small children in the animal's path.
Click HERE to watch a video of the effort to scare the bear off.
At one point, it was nearly struck by a car and exhibited signs of aggression. Deputies say they killed the 96-pound bear before it entered a more populated area. Sheriff Shane Nelson said in a statement, "This bear was a threat to public safety and I would not allow it to have an opportunity to injure or kill a person. This bear was seen too many times in this area and we were not going to take a risk with an encounter."
Oregon's Department of Fish and Wildlife is now inspecting the bear's body.
LONE PINE, OR -- O’Neil Highway is back open after a rock truck overturned, near Lone Pine. The crash occurred just after 11 a.m. Monday, about four miles east of Highway 97.
The semi damaged the guardrail, spilled its load and leaked diesel fuel, prompting a clean-up effort that shutdown Highway 370 for most of the day.
6:45 a.m. UPDATE: The Oregon Department of Transportation says O'Neil Highway will close again at 7:30 Tuesday morning, to allow recovery operations to continue. Officials expect the closure to remain for most of the day and say drivers should find another route.
LA PINE, OR -- The body of a Bend man was recovered nearly a month after he drowned in Wickiup Reservoir. Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol deputies were back out Monday, west of La Pine, searching for Michael Mead. They located his body on the surface of the water in the Davis Arm of the reservoir.
DCSO IDs Wickiup Drowning Victim Still Missing (06/17/2019)
Searchers had been looking for Mead since he disappeared June 13. He and a friend were out on the water at two in the morning, when their canoe capsized. Neither was wearing a life jacket and Mead didn’t make it back to shore.
BEND, OR -- The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is touring the state this summer, holding listening sessions with those involved in the wine and marijuana industries. Mark Pettinger, with the OLCC, says they kick off the series in Bend on Tuesday, with a marijuana session, "Several of our commissioners are newly appointed and are just getting acquainted with the issues related to their roles on the Commission. And, since the legislative session is over, this provides a good opportunity for them to learn firsthand from the individuals who we are regulating."
One newly appointed member is local; Hugh Palcic, General Manager of the Sunriver Owners Association, is one of three Commissioners expected to attend the Bend event. "We’ll provide a short overview of legislation that passed in the 2019 session that affects the industry, and what those implications are, and also give an update on where the marijuana program is; but that’s going to be very brief," Pettinger tells KBND News, "Really, the Commissioners are there to listen to those in the industry and other stakeholders, and to gain an understanding of what direction they would like to see the program head." He says they want to talk about big issues facing the cannabis industry, "The moratorium on producer licenses; and also, there was a key piece of legislation that was passed that would enable the Executive Branch, the Governor’s Office, to enter into an interstate compact with other states if and when the federal government makes it legal for interstate trade of cannabis to take place."
Tuesday's listening session is from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Riverhouse. Preregistration is encouraged but not required.
TERREBONNE, OR -- Deschutes County road crews begin work Monday on C Avenue, for a project designed to improve safety for school children. County Engineer Cody Smith says much of the $397,000 price tag will be covered by a Safe Routes to Schools infrastructure grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation, "To construct new pedestrian facilities, notably sidewalks, along the frontage to Terrebonne Community School, there. So, these sidewalks will tie into existing sidewalks that are located out on Highway 97, which will be improved in the not too distant future, with the Terrebonne Refinement plan project." They'll also work on storm sewers and create more on-street parking.
Smith tells KBND News, "C Avenue, in between US 97 and 6th street will be closed. The road will be open to local traffic, which would just be the residents and/or businesses that are right there within the project limits, but all other traffic will be diverted around the project, on B Avenue." He adds, "[The] Contractor's current schedule shows them being complete by August 13. So, currently, we anticipate the road will be opened back up on August 13."
MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County deputies are searching for the driver who fled the scene of a crash, Sunday afternoon. According to investigators, witnesses reported seeing the pickup speeding out of Madras on Glass Drive just before the driver lost control in a corner, near the train trestle, at about 12:50 p.m.
The vehicle came to rest in the middle of the road and another driver who came upon the scene saw someone running from the crash. A Deputy responded, but was forced to leave the scene to assist with a large fire at Tops Trailer Park.
Investigators say the pickup is registered to a Madras resident and no one else was involved.
REDMOND, OR -- Two people face multiple charges, following an overnight pursuit, northwest of Redmond. A Deschutes County Deputy says a Ford Explorer ran a stop sign at 35th and Oak, nearly colliding with a patrol car, at about 12:30 a.m., Monday. The driver sped away from an attempted traffic stop, leading deputies on a high-speed chase.
During the pursuit, which reached speeds of 90 mph, the suspect stopped the vehicle several times, only to drive off again as the Deputy exited her car. The driver eventually stopped at Northwest Way and Odem Ave, and Deputies detained 20-year-old Malachi Johnson (pictured) and three juveniles.
Investigators learned the Explorer was stolen, and Johnson was in possession of a stolen handgun. He's charged with three counts of Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, three counts of Aggravated Theft, Theft I, four counts of Reckless Endangerment, Criminal Mischief I, Felony Attempt to Elude and Reckless Driving. A 14-year-old boy faces three counts of Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, three counts of Aggravated Theft and Theft I. The other two kids were released to their parents.
The Explorer was returned to its owner at the scene, with minor damage.
MADRAS, OR -- A young child was killed at the Madras Speedway, over the weekend. According to unconfirmed reports, the child was struck while in the pits, Saturday evening.
The Jefferson County Sheriff is releasing very few details and says his office is investigating the incident. Sheriff Jim Adkins would only say the victim was rushed to St. Charles Madras, then flown to a Portland-area hospital where the child passed away.
UPDATE: According to a Go Fund Me page set up to help the family with funeral expenses, the child killed was four-month-old Dawsyn Rose.
MADRAS, OR -- Several pets perished in a fire that also destroyed two homes and four cars at Tops Trailer Park, in Madras, Sunday afternoon. Jefferson County Fire crews responded just after 1 p.m. and found the two single-wide mobile homes fully involved.
Two families were forced to evacuate their homes and one woman received minor injuries when she climbed over a fence to escape the flames. Two firefighters were evaluated after they stepped on a live electrical wire, but were unhurt.
Five fish, two parrots and a turtle were killed in the blaze. The fire's cause has not been determined.
REDMOND, OR -- Fire destroyed a semi-trailer full of trash at Redmond’s Negus Transfer Station, Friday. The blaze caused a large smoke column in the northeast section of the city.
Crews flooded the trailer with about 25,000 gallons of water to completely extinguish the flames, and make sure it didn’t spread to surrounding trailers or brush. Damage is estimated at about $80,000.
Fire officials remind residents to make sure trash dumped at transfer stations is free of burning material, like ashes, briquettes and fireworks.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners continue to look at increasing regulations for marijuana-related businesses in unincorporated areas. They voted last fall to impose stricter time, place and manner restrictions on marijuana operations, but an appeal forced them to reconsider. Commissioners decided they wouldn't reapply for approval of the text amendments until they gathered more public feedback.
During a several hours long public hearing Wednesday, Commissioners heard from several in the pot industry who are against the proposed amendments, and many asked the county to consider dropping existing regulations, altogether. One business owner told them, "I am here to say, because we’re addressing adding amendments to what you’re doing, I’m saying I’m good with how it is now. That’s my position and then we can tackle actually having no regulations on our industry, so we can actually make money." Same claim the regulations are discriminatory since Deschutes County doesn't impose the same restrictions on other crops. Bend-based OreGrown co-owner Hunter Neubauer (pictured) testified, "I’ve heard some interesting comments so far about the abundance of supply, the evil people that are part of the marijuana industry; I’m not one of those people, and a majority of the people in the regulated industry are not those people. I think you guys are in a tricky spot. You’ve put forth regulations that are very difficult to deal with. You are the most restrictive in the state."
But, many rural residents testified grow operations negatively impact their way of life. An Alfalfa woman joined several other residents in calling on Commissioners to impose the stricter rules and consider opting out of allowing pot businesses, completely, "I’d say maybe 55% of what has come in has been okay and gone by the rules. However, the rest of them have not. Our county is a tourist town: Skiing, hiking, horseback riding. Recreational marijuana does not have a place here, right now." Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson was unable to attend the public hearing, but Captain Deron McMaster spoke on his behalf, "His belief is that the state of Oregon does not know better than the commissioners here in Deschutes County. And that they should not be dictating to the county about livability issues and feels it’s the responsibility of the Commission to protect our livability and way of life." Sheriff Nelson has been an outspoken opponent of legalized recreational marijuana. He supports increasing regulations.
Commissioners will continue to accept written testimony on the proposed text amendments for several weeks. They plan to deliberate and decide on a path forward, August seventh.
TERREBONNE, OR -- A 77-year-old Crooked River Ranch man was seriously injured in a rollover crash, Thursday evening. According to the Sheriff's Office, Richard Millhouse was driving on NW 43rd Street, just after 6 p.m., when he lost control and struck a rock embankment. His car rolled and came to a rest on its top.
Redmond Fire officialsy say the driver was ejected and was initially pinned under the vehicle, but was pulled free by bystanders before crews arrived. He was flown by Life Flight to St. Charles Bend with serious, but non-life threatening injuries.
Investigators believe Millhouse was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, but say speed and alcohol were likely contributing factors.
NW 43rd was closed for two hours, to allow for the rescue operation; the investigation is ongoing.
REDMOND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College continues to grow and its Redmond campus is running out of space, "The Redmond campus serves more than 2,000 local residents every year. Some of those are in programs only offered in Redmond, such as veterinary technician and manufacturing. But others are taking writing, math and all the courses needed in order to be able to transfer to a four-year university," says COCC's Ron Paradis. He tells KBND News, the four buildings in Redmond are not enough, "We believe that with the growth in Redmond and in other areas to the north, in the future, we will need even more space to accommodate everybody and their educational needs."
The 2019 Legislature earmarked more than $8 million, as part of an overall Capital Construction Package, for a new general purpose classroom building at COCC-Redmond. "We're estimating the building will cost somewhere in excess of $20 million," says Paradis, "So now, our next job is to find out how we're going to raise that other money, and that will take place over the next few years." He says that could come through private donations and/or a bond, "This is not a building that we expect to be under construction in the near future." Governor Kate Brown has yet to sign the bill, but Paradis says she has always been supportive of COCC.
During the recession, Paradis says the college's enrollment doubled in just four years, and they're still working to accommodate that rapid growth, "We have not done the formal planning for the building, but we're looking at about a 30,000 sq ft building that would be academic in nature, meaning that it would include science labs and computer labs and other classrooms, so that we can offer even more courses there on the Redmond campus."
SISTERS, OR -- A Portland woman was hurt while hiking South Sister, Thursday, prompting a Deschutes County Search and Rescue operation. Brian Gray called 911, just after 1 p.m. to report his wife Jennifer was unable to continue, due to her injury.
Air Link flew two SAR volunteers to the hikers’ location, at about 8,100-feet. They loaded the 45-year-old woman on to the helicopter, which then took her to St. Charles Bend for treatment while other SAR members hiked with her group back to the Devil’s Lake trailhead.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon fire crews stayed busy over the last 24 hours. An Awbrey Butte home was destroyed by a blaze reported just before midnight. Bend firefighters remained on scene through the night and ask the public to stay away from Northwest Craftsman Drive, Friday, as they continue mop-up and investigate the cause. Callers reported the back of the house on fire; and when crews arrived, they found the garage fulling involved with flames spreading to the inside of the house. The blaze caused nearly a million dollars in damage, destroying the home, all its contents and a car.
UPDATE: Bend Fire says the cause of the fire on NW Craftsman was the improper disposal of legal fireworks. Officials say the used fireworks were put into a trash can in the garage without soaking in water. They urge everyone to soak fireworks for at least a day to prevent their accidental re-ignition.
A southeast Bend mobile home and carport were also destroyed by a fire (right). Investigators say legal fireworks were placed in a cardboard box in the carport on Southeast 27th; the blaze was discovered a few hours later. All five family members escaped without injury. Because Bend Fire units were still on-scene of the fire on NW Craftsman, Redmond and Alfalfa Fire crews assisted by sending additional crews and equipment to SE 27th.
And, Near Lake Billy Chinook, Jefferson County firefighters responded to a report of smoke in the Crooked River Campground, Thursday night. A Sheriff’s Deputy and Fire Lieutenant climbed down into the canyon and put out a small fire they believe was started by fireworks. The Fire chief says the Deputy used a bladder bag backpack pump issued to him by the fire district.
Jefferson County Fire was also called to a vehicle fire partially blocking Highway 26, north of Madras, just before midnight (below). There were no injuries in that incident, but the pickup was a total loss.
BEND, OR -- The Fourth of July, with all its blasts and booms, can be a traumatic time for pets. "Our pets may enjoy holidays and having you home, but they certainly do not like the bright lights, the sounds, all of those scary things that humans find really, really festive," says Lynne Ouchida, with the Humane Society of Central Oregon, "We know that we need to keep kennel space open because like clockwork, we expect to get scared dogs in. And, typically, it's the next day; so July fifth and sixth are typically our busiest days."
Aside from the noise, Ouchida says fireworks can be dangerous for pets, "Animals just truly don't understand what they are. And some really curious, playful animals might get hurt or injured with that curiosity."
She suggests keeping pets indoors, in a room where they already feel safe, with some 'white noise' and make sure your pet has up-to-date identification - either microchips or tags with a current phone number for you. Temporary tags and crates are available for rent at the Humane Society in Bend. Even if your pet hasn't shown signs of sound phobias in the past, Ouchida says you need to be prepared, "Don't assume that because they haven't had any bad reactions in the past that they're going to be fine and you can leave them outside."
If your pet does run away, call your local animal shelter; you can also check craigslist or Facebook to see if anyone's found them.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon wages are below the national average, according to the latest Occupational Employment and Wages Report released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. "With the release of these 2018 occupational wages, it shows that the average occupation in the Bend-Metro area was 7% below the U.S. average, so there's been a lot of attention on that," says Regional Employment Economist Damon Runberg, "But, that's always been the case; it's not really news." Although, he understands why people take notice, "If our wages are lower than the national average, and our cost of living is higher than the national average, than we're not getting paid enough. It's not that simple, but I could definitely see where someone would try to make that argument that that's what's going on here."
Runberg says the numbers are effected by high wages elsewhere in the country, "Really large metro areas with really high paying positions tend to skew some of these operational wages, so it is not surprising in the least that our average for all occupations is a bit below the national number." He tells KBND News making an across-the-board comparison is difficult, "Mostly because we have a higher concentration of workers in some of the lower paying industries. That's more the case than the fact that we have people making significantly less in some of these professional occupations out there. that's really driving down the total, all-occupation average."
Some industries in Central Oregon, like nursing and food prep & service are well above the average, and Runberg says, "The qualities of our economy and the industry specializations that we have all feed into the what the total average is, across the board." He believes the numbers are best used as a tool to learn more about the local area, not necessarily for making a straight comparison with other parts of the nation.
POWELL BUTTE, OR -- Congressman Greg Walden is in Central Oregon, this week. He met with a mostly friendly crowd Tuesday afternoon, at a Crook County town hall held at the Powell Butte Community Center. The Republican discussed robocalls, prescription drug prices, tariffs impacting farmers and ranchers, and forest management.
One man, who serves on the State of Jefferson Committee, asked Walden whether he would support the creation of a new state if it were to pass the Legislature and go to Congress. The Republican responded, "I’ll tell you, after what I saw happen in Salem, I think all of us in Eastern Oregon are for a new form of governance. I’m not an expert in that whole process you just outlined. But, clearly, people are hurt and don’t feel like we’re being heard on this side of the state. And, we’re not."
Priscilla, of Prineville, asked the final and most controversial question of the event. She’s concerned about what she called a humanitarian crisis at the Southern Border and asked, "How can we, as a country, help them stay where they want to be, which is home?" Walden replied, "That should be number one. And, we tried that through foreign aid and working with those governments." She interrupted, "Which is being cut. It’s my understanding the President’s cut that." Walden said, "I think the President is trying to send a message to some of these foreign leaders in these countries. They like the money, they don’t always follow through. Alright? There’s a level of corruption in some of these countries." The woman responded, "There is everywhere." To which Walden agreed. He also said he was the only Oregon member in the House or Senate to support spending more money on migrant care and processing.
Nancy asked how the Congressman chooses where to hold public meetings, given the current political climate. He acknowledged Tuesday's civil crowd and said it’s not always that way, "This district varies. If I’m in Ashland, it’s a little different tone and tenor than if I’m in Durkee; right? And Bend has changed and my own hometown has changed – it’s not the community I grew up in, but it is what it is. I just try to listen and take it in." He says this week’s town halls are intentionally scheduled in smaller communities. A Deschutes County town hall begins at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the fairgrounds in Redmond. Walden will be at the Culver Fire Station in Jefferson County, at 11 a.m.
MADRAS, OR -- A late-night fire at a Madras trailer park caused about $9,000 in damage, but luckily, no injuries. Jefferson County firefighters responded to the Green Spot Mobile Home Park, on South Highway 97, just after midnight Tuesday.
They found a 29-foot travel trailer nearly fully involved under trees and power lines. No one was home and they quickly extinguished the flames. The trailer was a complete loss, but crews kept the fire from spreading.
BEND, OR -- A local marijuana processor and retailer faces fines and suspension by the OLCC. The agency says Bend-based OreGrown failed to report a 2018 theft of seeds and clones by a co-owner who was being removed from the business, and did not appropriately update the Cannabis Tracking System.
Regulators also found problems with the company’s security cameras and marijuana items that were not properly tagged. The OLCC says the violations were especially egregious because some were intentional and others were repeated.
Justin Crawn reportedly took pot plants and seeds to his home, when he heard he was being removed from the business. He was required to return the stolen property and has surrendered his marijuana worker permit.
The company is ordered to either pay a $4,950 fine and serve a 98-day suspension or pay $15,510 with a 34-day suspension. For a look at the full report on OreGrown's violations and other companies facing penalties by the OLCC, click HERE.
SISTERS, OR -- A teen lost near Milican Crater, on the Pacific Crest Trail, was found Tuesday morning after a long night in the forest. According to Deschutes County Search and Rescue, the 16-year-old was reported missing Monday night by a Northwest Outward Bound School employee. He reportedly left camp with food, water and minimal clothing around noon that day. Outward bound staff searched for several hours and reported finding a note left by the boy at a trail junction. They followed what they thought were his footprints but lost them in the snow.
SAR volunteers and deputies from Deschutes and Lane counties converged on the PCT and searched through the night. At about 9:30 a.m., a State Police plane spotted the teen waving, about three miles from his campsite at Yapoah Lake. They directed a horse team to his location. He was tired and hungry but otherwise okay.
Photos courtesy Deschutes County Sheriff's Office
MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County's long-term goal of getting a health and wellness campus is about to become reality, thanks to last minute action by state lawmakers. "We've got ourselves a $4.1 million match from the state to help both Mosaic and Jefferson County Public Health go forward with putting together a really nice health campus at St. Charles Madras," says County Commissioner Kelly Simmelink.
According to Simmelink, the current facility is no longer workable, "We'd come up against some much needed repairs in our current state, and it was going to be very, very costly." The grant from the Oregon Lottery was included in a bill that passed Sunday, the final hours of the Legislative session. "This is a project that we're desperately in need of," Simmelink tells KBND News, "And, with some good partnerships, and with great help from legislative, it really came together, and it's fantastic."
Jefferson County and Mosaic Medical are each contributing $2.1 million, with St. Charles Health System providing the land, valued at $500,000. The new buildings will be 21,200 square feet total, shared by County Public Health and Mosaic Medical, "Basically, what it would be, is that you're a very, very short walk across a sidewalk from vital services, whether they're provided by Jefferson County Public Health, or by Mosaic Medical." He adds, "What it's going to ensure is that, if you need an appointment, based on what came out of Public Health, or came out of Mosaic, the hospital's right there, within 100 yards." Simmelink says the next order of business is to find a construction manager and architect to get the project underway.
BEND, OR -- The city of Bend’s ban on single-use plastic grocery bags is causing confusion for some grocery store employees and lots of shoppers, partly because of a state law that passed the Legislature this session. The local ordinance was supposed to take effect Monday. And, technically, it did. But Ben Hemson, with the city, tells KBND news, "The actual enforcement wasn’t going to begin until January 1, 2020, which is the same as this new state law, going forward. And, I think that’s where a lot of the confusion is coming from: ‘Okay, now there are two laws. Which one governs us?’ And, ‘Do we have to comply today?’ And, the answer is, ‘not really'."
The state and local bans vary slightly; under Bend's ordinance, shoppers who choose not to bring their own reusable bag would be charged 10-cents per single-use carry-out bag they use. But, the state law's per-bag fee is just five-cents; although, restaurant take-out bags are also included. Bend's City Council is expected to vote later this month to repeal the local ordinance. That would leave just one set of rules and put the cost and effort of enforcement on the state. Hemson says, "If you aren’t complying with the ban today, or in two weeks, or in two months, you’re not going to have someone knock on your door and write you a ticket. The goal, either way, is to be working toward that January first date for the phase-out of plastic bags. And, you’ll be charging a five-cent fee, per bag at that point, likely, based on the state law; rather than the 10-cent fee that’s in the local ordinance."
Hemson, who works as the city's Business Advocate, is now trying to help local retailers understand the process, "I’m getting a newsletter out to all of our 7,000 businesses in Bend explaining what’s going on, why there are two laws right now, what they should do to comply going forward; and then, big retailers are the ones I think have been prepping most for this new law. So, this week and next week – because we have quite a few of those – I’ll be swinging by as many of those businesses as I can get to, to really just try to talk with their management in person and explain what’s going on." He's urging stores to hold off on charging a bag fee until the city and state rules are finalized.
BEND, OR -- Summertime in Bend is filled with downtown events and city officials know there's never enough parking to meet demand. Scott Douglass, with the Downtown Bend Parking Advisory Committee (DPAC), says a new partnership with Deschutes County should help, "We really are over capacity for the number of parking spots that are available in downtown Bend. And, one of the options that we have is, just on the outskirts of downtown, the Deschutes County Administration building has 500 parking spots that they don't need after Friday at 5 p.m., when their employees go home." Those lots are typically "permit only." Douglass tells KBND News, "So, events like First Friday, for July Fourth, the pet parade, for all the fests that we have in our community on any given weekend, [people] would have the ability to have access to that parking lot. And, anyone interested in bringing their friends and family to downtown Bend don't have to be frustrated by doing eight laps around Bond and Wall, searching for that parking spot."
Douglass says the city knew parking was an issue, and needed to ask, "How do we utilize our public assets more, that doesn't cost the taxpayers to be able to come down and enjoy downtown Bend?" He adds, "Overall, it's a huge win because we are not having to spend $30 million on another parking garage."
Douglass says no one will patrol the parking lots at the County Administration Building looking for infractions, there's no time limit for parking there, and they're located only two blocks or so from where events are held in the downtown corridor. Those lots will be open Thursday - for all the Independence Day events - and every weekend between 6 p.m. Friday and Sunday night. Click HERE to read more from the Downtown Bend Business Association.
If you still don't want to hunt for parking, you can catch a ride, instead. DPAC has partnered with Ride Bend to provide a free shuttle (right) that launched Monday. It operates daily from noon to 8 p.m., from downtown, to the Box Factory and the Old Mill District, through Labor Day.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are investigating claims officers used excessive force during an altercation with a small group of people connected to a suspected drunk driver. Lt. Curtis Chambers says it started Saturday afternoon with a call near Northwest 12th and Sprucewood Court, "[A] DUII driver nearly struck a small child in the neighborhood." The driver was later identified as 39-year-old Brett Blake. "That person was confronted by the parent of the small child," says Lt. Chambers, "The DUII driver drove away and these friends and family members confronted the parent of the small child."
That confrontation with the child's parent, and concerns Blake was still behind the wheel and leaving the scene, prompted calls to police. "Officers responded to the area, found the suspect vehicle driving back to the location; attempted the traffic stop. The driver didn’t stop right away. [He] continued driving, nearly rear-ending another vehicle that had already yielded for the police officer because he had his lights on." Eventually, officers arrested Blake without further incident. He's charged with DUII-Alcohol, Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver Involved in an Accident, Reckless Driving and two counts of Recklessly Endangering Another.
After Blake was taken into custody, four others allegedly confronted officers. The altercation was captured on a video that's going viral on social media. In the video, which appears to be edited, officers are seen arrested two males as several people are heard cursing and yelling "police brutality." A woman filming appears to drop her phone as police take her into custody. Blake's wife, 40-year-old Marlana Blake, is charged with Interfering with a Peace Officer; three others, 19-year-old Lorence Ortega, 19-year-old Kameron Leisek and 18-year-old Cash Reese, are charged with Menacing, for the altercation with the parent, Interfering with a Peace Officer and Resisting Arrest. Lt. Chambers says the three teens share an address with the Blakes. He also notes two officers suffered minor injuries in the scuffle, including bumps and scratches.
Chambers tells KBND News Redmond PD takes all claims of excessive force seriously and the entire incident is now under review, including the cell phone footage. But, he says, that's not the only evidence, "Our police department does utilize body cameras. This incident was captured directly in front of a patrol car, which captured everything with its dash camera." Uses of force are rare in Redmond, "From 2014-2018, the Redmond Police Department arrested 16,446 people and of those, only 137 required a use of force," says Lt. Chambers. That's less than 1%. He adds, "All of those uses of force were deemed within policy and acceptable by state law." Chambers says once the internal investigation is complete, it will be forwarded to the Deschutes County District Attorney's Office.
BEND, OR -- A Bend teen is accused of stealing weapons from a local business, early Monday morning. Bend Police responded to Deschutes Arms and Munitions on SE Logsden, at about 3 a.m. Arriving officers found a broken window and two firearms inside. They set up a perimeter and say a suspect was seen running from the scene.
Officers took 19-year-old Brandon Petri into custody and say, during an interview, he admitted to breaking into the business and stealing 14 firearms. He then helped investigators recover the stolen property and the business is now conducting an inventory.
Petri is charged with Burglary II, 14 counts of Theft I, 14 counts of Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Possession of Burglary Tools, nine counts of Criminal Mischief and violating his probation.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A new affordable housing project in Prineville is being built by the Heart of Oregon Corps, which allows young people to earn their GED or diploma while learning construction trades. Executive Director Laura Handy says this is the first time her organization is both builder and owner, "We have been building homes with Sisters Habitat. We recently completed building six homes in Madras, with a partnership with Housing Works. In the past, we’ve built some homes in Redmond, through partnerships with First Story or Habitat and we really hadn’t really built much in Prineville." The Youth Build program has built nearly 30 homes in Central Oregon, and draws young people from across the tri-county area, but Handy says Crook County participants haven't had many chances to work in their own hometown, "We are very excited to be building in Prineville. Not only because there’s a huge need and demand for more housing of all kinds, and especially affordable housing of different levels, in Prineville. But, in addition to that, we try to build homes in the communities where our young people are from."
The program will celebrate their progress with a public “wall raising ceremony” on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., at the job site on Southeast Laurel Lane. "The foundation is completed and the stem walls, and so they have started framing exterior walls," Handy tells KBND News, "Typically, ‘wall raisings’ are when you first lift up the exterior walls of the house and secure them in the perimeter around the foundation." She says it's also a chance to recognize the teams of young people who are working on construction.
The three bedroom, two bath, energy efficient 1170-square foot house should be complete in February. It's appraised at $220,000, but Handy says it will be sold to a low-income family for $165,000. That homeowner will be selected by lottery, later this year. For more information on that process click HERE. Applications are also now being accepted for the next cohort of young builders.
REDMOND, OR -- A 27-year-old Redmond man is accused of stealing his grandmother’s credit card and using it at locations around the region.
Redmond Police say that investigation led them to his home on North Highway 97, Friday. When they arrived, investigators discovered a utility trailer that had been reported stolen the day before, from a small business in Terrebonne. Police arrested Troy Schaffner and secured a search warrant. They eventually recovered stolen property valued at more than $30,000, believed to be associated with other area thefts.
Schaffner is charged with Aggravated Theft, Theft, Forgery and two counts of Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card. Two others were also taken into custody at the property: 28-year-old Ashley Manahan was arrested for an outstanding warrant, and 35-year-old Barry Veltman is accused of violating probation.
Investigators says more arrests in this case are possible.
MADRAS, OR -- The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office seized nearly 60 dogs over the weekend, from a home five miles east of Madras. Deputies executed a search warrant on Northeast Loucks Road, Saturday morning, and took 57 dogs they say were living in unsatisfactory conditions.
They cited 49-year-old Cora Gooding for Animal Neglect and not meeting the standards of care for breeders.
A local vet examined the animals and all were taken to the Three Rivers Humane Society, where the Sheriff's Office says they'll stay pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.