BEND, OR -- An investigation is underway into the weekend death of a Deschutes County Jail inmate. 35-year old Eben Kaneshiro was discovered unresponsive in his cell, early Sunday morning. According to District Attorney John Hummel, an autopsy will be conducted later today, he suspects the man died of asphyxiation. Kaneshiro was found sitting in his cell just after 3 a.m. with a sheet tied around his neck. "I need to say that Corrections deputies and the crew from Bend Fire and EMS made heroic efforts to save Mr. Kaneshiro’s life," Hummel said at a press conference Monday morning. "I watched the video tape. I saw a rapid, focused response from the on-duty team, and I also saw a look on their faces that revealed the pain they were experiencing. This was difficult for them. [It's] not a good day when that happens."
Kaneshiro had been charged with multiple sexual offenses involving at least one Central Oregon child victim. According to jail staff, Kaneshiro left multiple letters behind, some discussing suicide and one revealing where investigators could find additional evidence relating to sex crimes committed in Portland. Those letters have been forwarded to the Portland Police Bureau. It is unclear how many alleged victims are in the Portland area.
Hummel says the Central Oregon Major Crime Team, lead by Sgt. Jesse Petersen of Redmond Police, will continue to investigate the death. "This morning, I spoke with Sgt. Petersen and I told him to continue with his investigation and to leave no stone unturned. I have full confidence in Sgt. Petersen and the team he is leading. When the investigation is complete, I will review their findings and make a final decision as to the cause of death." This is the second inmate death in Deschutes County in less than six months. In December, 31-year old Edwin Mays died of an apparent drug overdose. Oregon's Department of Justice is currently investigating the Mays death and the response by deputies.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A historical recreator of Teddy Roosevelt will be in Prineville Thursday evening, giving a live performance of "Teddy Roosevelt's Oregon Roadshow." Joe Wiegand will be at the Community Room of the Bowman Museum at 6:30 p.m., as part of a week-long tour of schools and museums.
This is Wiegand's fourth annual visit to Oregon. He'll also be stopping in Bend.
To see one of his past performances, click here.
NEPAL -- A Bend man, reportedly one of thousands missing in Nepal following Saturday's 7.8-magnitude earthquake, has now contacted family. The sister of 19-year-old Josh Edwards took to Twitter to contact the State Department, asking for help. Jennifer Edwards said Josh was last seen Monday, and could be near the Kagbeni village. Earlier this morning, his aunt tweeted he was safe and had contacted family.
According to his Facebook page, Josh Edwards attended Summit High School and works for Mount Bachelor.
MOUNT BACHELOR, OR -- A snow boarder was rescued after a nearly 6-hour search on Mount Bachelor. The 35-year old California man reportedly saw boundary signs yesterday afternoon, but chose to go around them in search of fresh powder.
About 20 Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers and several U.S. Forest Service workers responded to the area after Andrew Wong's friends reported he had separated from the group. Eventually, Wongrealized he was not where he thought he was and decided to board down the mountain. He was found in good condition near Lava Lake, just before 10 p.m.
BEND, OR -- Deputies at the Deschutes County Jail discovered a 35-year-old inmate dead Sunday morning. At approximately 3:08 a.m., deputies realized that Eben Eli Keiji Kaneshiro of Portland was unresponsive in his cell. Deputies began life-saving efforts, continuing until medics arrived. Kaneshiro was pronounced dead of an apparent suicide.
The Multi-Agency Major Crime Team investigating, with help from the Deschutes County Medical Examiner's Office. Kaneshiro had been held on charges of first-degree sex abuse, sodomy and coercion of a child under 12 years old.
The District Attorney's Office is expected to release more details later today.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Cable powerhouse Comcast withdrew its offer to merge with Time Warner Cable, after the companies failed to receive federal regulatory approval. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) had actively opposed the deal.
"For the second time this year, Oregonians and consumers across America stood up to Big Cable and won, refusing to make their monopoly any bigger," Wyden says. "The decision will lead to more choices, better services and lower prices, especially for consumers and small businesses."
Comcast has more than 600,000 subscribers in Oregon and Southwest Washington, primarily in the Willamette Valley. The Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice both planned to block the deal over monopoly concerns, given that the two companies share a third of cable customers nationwide.
SALEM, OR -- The Oregon House unanimously passed legislation on Thursday that would urge the U.S. Department of Energy to build a new geothermal research lab in Deschutes County. The DOE's Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy, known as "FORGE," is looking for a new location.
Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) was the key sponsor of the bill. "The purpose of FORGE is to do enhanced research on enhanced geothermal systems, to develop large-scale heat exchange systems," Whisnant says. "We're competing with several other states, and that's why we're doing the resolution."
Whisnant believes Oregon has an advantage over other states due to the proximity to the private Altarock Newberry Geothermal Project, which is already working with the DOE and Oregon State University.
He says the lab would provide an economic boost to the area."They estimate the DOE will fund the national lab at $30 million a year, in addition to 310 construction jobs for the lab," Whisnant says. "And they expect 100 permanent jobs in the operational phase."
BEND, OR -- Those trying to block the westside expansion of Oregon State University’s Bend campus will have to wait even longer for a decision from the Land Use Board of Appeals. The opposition group Truth in Site appealed to LUBA, saying the location is too congested and not the best fit for a four-year university.
Former Bend City Councilor Bruce Abernethy tells KBND that the city made the right call. "When I look at it, what are the eligible uses for that property?" Abernethy says. "There are a lot of uses that are way more impactful than OSU-Cascades."
And although Abernethy agrees there will be an impact in the surrounding area, he is less concerned about negative results. "When I was on the city council, people said ‘Oh, no, no, no, the sky is falling – the Bend parkway, the Bill Healy Bridge!’" But Abernethy says, "The city can make it work. There’s going to be change, no question about that. But I actually think OSU-Cascades is a good example of smart infill, smart growth, that takes advantage of the infrastructure that’s already in place. "
Originally, LUBA was expected to rule next week; however, attorneys for Truth in Site requested a delay, citing a family emergency. LUBA will now hear oral arguments, which are scheduled in Salem next Thursday. Testimony will be provided from the City of Bend -- as the city approved the school’s new westside campus –- and Truth in Site. The timeline for a ruling is now pushed back to early June. Depending on how LUBA rules, the case could go to the state courts.
To hear more from Abernethy, visit our Podcast
SALEM, OR -- The Oregon House Rules Committee passed the gun control bill this Thursday. The bill will expand background checks for private gun sales in the state. Thursday's vote was 5 to 4, along party lines.
Representative Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) voted against the bill. "I think when you say that the goal is to make Oregon safer for women and children, that is an oversimplified answer," McLane says. "Everyone here wants to make the state safer to women and children. But that begs the question, does this bill produce that result? I conclude it does not."
SB 941 has already passed the Senate and could come up for a vote in the full Oregon House next week.
LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine driver was seriously injured in a single-vehicle crash on Thursday morning. According to La Pine Fire, emergency crews responded to Highway 31 south of La Pine just before 9:00 a.m. Investigators say a pickup crossed the center line and left the road, crashing into a tree and pinning the man.
The driver was flown to St. Charles in Bend with serious injuries. Highway 31 was closed for about an hour during the rescue and investigation. The Deschutes County Sheriff's office is looking into why the man left the roadway.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office continues to wait for the results of a federal investigation into the death of an inmate, last year. Sheriff Larry Blanton tells KBND his agency is cooperating fully with the Department of Justice.
"We’ve delivered some documents after being asked to do so from DOJ, and have talked with an investigator about some of the issues there," Blanton says. "But as far as a timeline, I’m not really sure when we’ll receive a report from that -- hopefully soon."
Edwin Mays died of a methamphetamine overdose at the Deschutes County Jail in December. Sheriff Blanton says that while his death is tragic, it’s a symptom of a greater problem.
"Our corrections staff talked with inmates that we brought in and asked them things we ask everybody: ‘Is there something we need to know?' 'Have you ingested something, or is there something in your body we need to help you with?’" Blanton says. "In 2014 alone, we had 13 people say, ‘Yeah, I have ingested something,’ or ‘I need help with something.’ We transported those people to the hospital. All of those people received medical attention, up to and including surgery."
Blanton says when Mays was asked during booking, he denied taking any drugs. The sheriff says Mays likely utilized a practice commonly known as “packing” or “stuffing," when inmates hide drugs inside the body to try and retrieve later.
The Mays family has maintained that the 31-year-old did not receive timely medical care, contributing to his death. Jail surveillance footage from December 14, 2014, shows deputies watching a football game and mocking the inmate’s behavior prior to his death.
Sheriff Blanton says, while it’s not unusual for a TV to be on to provide “white noise” for inmates, deputies are not supposed to be distracted by it. "First of all, there’s no excuse for that, it’s unacceptable," Blanton says. "I’ve taken care of discipline issues relating to that. I accept full responsibility for that, that’s not acceptable. I have dealt with that issue. That will not happen again."
Blanton would not elaborate on what disciplinary actions were taken, citing the ongoing DOJ investigation. Blanton contends, however, that deputies made every effort to provide life-saving efforts to Mays.
BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet in Bend on Friday to discuss the possibility of removing gray wolves from the state’s endangered species list. Michelle Dennehy with ODFW tells KBND News the move likely won't impact Central Oregon, since most wolf activity in the state occurs in the Northeast corner.
"One thing to note, that west of Highways 395, 78 and 95 wolves remain listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act, so the federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is kind of in charge of management," Dennehy says. "We work collaboratively with them. Right now, if a delisting were to occur, it would frankly have little impact because our wolf plan has protections for wolves into the future."
She says that plan calls for initiating the removal of gray wolves from the state Endangered Species List, once there is confirmation of four breeding pairs in three consecutive years. That objective was met in February, with the addition of OR-7’s pups.
"At this point, our known wolf activity is in northeast Oregon, and we also have a known wolf pack – the Rogue wolf pack, which is OR-7’s pack – in the southwest Cascades," Dennehy says. "We’re also aware of another pair of wolves in the southwest Cascades. We don’t have any known wolf activity at this time in Central Oregon."
The wolf known as OR-7 rose to fame three years ago during his trek from the northeast corner of the state through Central Oregon, and eventually to the southwest Cascades, where he started his own pack.
Dennehy adds, "Wolves really are a success story for Oregon; they’ve done well, they’re increasing in Oregon, and they’re expanding their range. Regardless of what happens with the delisting, we have a wolf plan that protects wolves in place in Oregon."
The commission meets Friday at the Deschutes National Forest Office in Bend. The meeting begins at 8:00 a.m. The full agenda is available HERE
Photo credit: Wenaha pack pups, 2012
Courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon is trying to get the government to buy American. He introduced legislation Wednesdsay called the "Invest in American Jobs Act." It expands the potential to buy American provisions, so that all major projects overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation would strive to buy from the U.S.
"This supports the concept when we build things in America, we create more good-paying jobs and grow the middle class and improve the economy," Merkley says. "This is an important component on that."
The goal of the bill is to require federally funded transportation projects to use American steel, iron and other products whenever possible.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners are going to revisit the issue of whether the Central Oregon Irrigation District can pipe a canal in northeast Bend. Last month Commissioner Alan Unger was pressured to recuse himself from making the decision since he has served on some water boards in the past. That meant the two remaining commissioners split the vote, and the request was denied.
But the commissioners decided earlier this week to take another look at the issue. "We brought it up for discussion whether we left that issue in a good place, and in my opinion we didn't," Unger told KBND. "So I think we should make a decision and move on and we plan to bring it back up in May or June."
Unger added, "I think it's unfortunate the parties put commissioners in a place where we have to choose values between neighbors and districts, but that's what we need to do. The challenge is water planning, and water management is really important as I look at the big picture. I think we have some work to do."
Likely contributing to the commissioners' decision to reconsider, COID had planned to appeal the county's decision to the State Land Use Board of Appeals.
Local state lawmakers are optimistic about legislation to help fund the Mirror Pond project. The House Land Use Committee unanimously approved the bill this week, which would allow the state to raise $5 million through lottery bonds for the project.
The bill's sponsor, State Representative Knute Buehler, says now a local utility has expressed interest in buying the Newport dam. "We're very happy the Tumalo Irrigation District, a key component, is also considering removing one of its dams and taking over ownership of the Newport Dam," Buehler says. "That is quite a development that lends enormous momentum to the whole vision."
The irrigation district is looking at redesigning the dam and continuing to use it to generate electricity.
The public hearing in Salem brought out many public officials who are supporters of the legislation, including City Councilor Victor Chudowsky.
"The idea behind the project is to reconnect people to the river and create economic catalyst for downtown development," Chudowsky says. "It would create a pedestrian walkway to enjoy the river in a more natural state, and we're looking for some seed money and to help the public-private partnerships to have this move in the right direction for our city."
SALEM, OR -- State lawmakers held a marathon public hearing on a bill that would expand background checks for private gun sales in Oregon. The Senate passed SB 941, and the House is now considering it. The House Rules Committee held a seven-hour public hearing, which followed two hours of testimony, Wednesday.
Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) serves on the committee and was pleased the public had an opportunity to share. "I want to thank you for allowing the lengthy public hearing to allow people to testify," he said. "I know the Senate public hearing was only two hours, and a lot of people came to Salem and weren't able to testify -- some clear from Eastern Oregon. I don't know if they were able to make the trek [today] because it was only posted a couple days ago."
Rules Committee Chair Val Hoyle (D-Eugene) says she decided to hold the public hearing so everyone got a chance to testify -– unlike the Senate, which only held two hours of hearings before passing the bill.
"I want to say thank you to my Republican colleagues, Democratic colleagues, the committee staff and other people who have come here who have said ‘yes, we believe in the public process and we will stay until 10:00 at night because it is really, really important,’” she said.
David Terry of McMinnville spoke Wednesday afternoon, saying the state had no business passing the bill. "Our fundamental right to protect ourselves with a gun is absolutely inalienable," he argued. "And this body has absolutely no right, no constitutional right or moral right, to interfere."
Sam McCallister of Mapleton agreed, saying gun laws like this are unconstitutional. "This law will essentially cause the system to be overloaded with a bunch of legitimate purchasers, and it will not help the system," he said. "At the same time, those people that are illegitimate purchasers will still get their guns however they get their guns."
Currently, background checks are needed to buy guns from licensed dealers, but not for private, person-to-person transactions. SB 941, passed by the Senate last week, would change that.
BEND, OR -- A 36-year-old Eugene man was arrested early Wednesday morning after leading Bend Police on a high-speed chase. Just after midnight, a green Subaru Legacy was observed committing multiple traffic violations near NE 3rd St and NE Mt. Washington Dr. Officers say they observed increasingly erratic driving and suspected the driver might be under the influence of intoxicants.
As officers tried to stop the vehicle, they learned that it was listed as stolen out of Eugene. The driver took off down NE 3rd at speeds exceeding 90 miles per hour. Officers soon called off the pursuit out of concern for people in the vicinity.
Just before 2:30 a.m., a Bend Officer located the stolen vehicle near NW Newport Ave. As the vehicle continued on NE Olney Ave towards NE 3rd St. The driver fled for a second time on NE 3rd St. Officers set up spike strips on Highway 20 near the Sheriff's office. The driver continued towards Tumalo and eventually lost control, colliding with a guardrail near the Deschutes River. The driver continued in the vehicle back toward Bend, and an officer deployed spike strips a second time.
Eventually the Subaru spun out and came to rest near the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office. Osman ran from the vehicle through Cascades Village parking lot, and was taken into custody in front of Food 4 Less. Ervin Osman faces a long list of charges, including DUI and meth possession.
This incident is still under investigation and additional charges may be added. If anyone has additional information, they are encouraged to call the Bend Police Department at 541-693-6911. No injuries were reported during either pursuit.
BEND, OR -- A private developer is moving ahead with plans to harness the gas emitted at the Knott Landfill in Bend. Timm Schimke, Deschutes County’s solid waste director says, "Originally Waste To Energy Group came forth with an unsolicited proposal to install a landfill gas to energy project here at the landfill. They had a very unique approach, which seemed to fit well with our landfill being relatively small and very dry – which is usually not good for landfill gas production – but they proposed to enhance gas production. It was a very favorable contract for the county; there was no financial risk for us."
But Schimke says after the contract was signed last year, delays occured when the California-based company failed to secure necessary funding. "Just recently, within the last 60 days or so, I got word they were successful with funding," Schimke says. "So, they are starting the process to schedule the initial stages of work, which is some engineering work and scientific evaluations of the landfill. And we gave them information on what they would need to complete a site plan review needed for the Community Development Department. Once that’s done, they’ll go through a DEQ permitting process."
The idea is to inject steam into the piles of trash to maximize gas production; eventually Waste To Energy Group hopes to convert that methane gas into a liquid fuel. Schimke says the contract could eventually net the county at least a quarter of a million dollars a year. "If they’re more lucrative, we’ll earn more," Schimke says. "If they’re less lucrative, we’ll earn less, although not below that base dollar amount. This is a moneymaker for us." Although, he adds, "That’s not our primary driving motivation. Landfill gas is where you get your odor from the landfill, and we struggle with that. Obviously, we would rather not be putting landfill gas into the atmosphere."
Schimke estimates the initial engineering and permitting phase will be completed in the next six to nine months.
BEND, OR -- A Portland man’s Central Oregon vacation a year ago led to the creation of the Bend Marathon, premiering this weekend. Kerry Loehr tells KBND News he was shocked to learn there was no marathon in a region with such an active running community. "We happened to be shopping at Foot Zone, and my wife and I were talking, we couldn’t believe Bend didn’t have a marathon. And, my partner and I had just started race directing, so we started doing our due diligence to see what it would take to do so. Really the idea was born by visiting Foot Zone and realizing there was a gap in the market."
Loehr admits others have attempted the idea before, but says this time is different -– in part in how he and partner Blair Hook marketed the race over the past year. "We sold Bend as a destination race. When we designed the course, we wanted to highlight everything Bend has to offer. It starts downtown, runs along the Deschutes River, skirts the Old Mill District, runs through Farewell Bend Park –- actually the half and the full split at Farewell Bend. Then the half goes over to Riverbend Park, then back to the finish downtown."
Runners in the full marathon will continue down the Cascade Lakes Highway and turn around near the Seventh Mountain Resort. For more details on the race course, click HERE
. Loehr says the looped road course is another reason this effort will be more successful than past attempts which were "point-to-point" and not favored by most avid runners.
More than 1,200 runners are already registered for Sunday's events, with 70% coming from outside of Central Oregon. "Bend is a community of 80,000 people and that’s not a big enough community to sustain a nice-sized road marathon," Loehr says. "So, what we needed to do was to market it nationally, which we’ve done. We’re bringing in people from 31 states all over the country, including Canada."
Both the half and full marathon start in downtown Bend Sunday at 7:30 a.m. Loehr says he expects the half to take about three hours, and the full 26.3-mile marathon to take about twice that. Runners will finish at the Mirror Pond parking lot.
Drivers may experience some traffic delays along the race course, although Loehr says the start time and route were developed to try and avoid full road closures. The City of Bend issued a traffic notice on Tuesday, encouraging runners and spectators to park for free in the Centennial Parking Garage downtown.
BEND, OR -- Unemployment levels continued to drop in Central Oregon last month. All three counties saw significant drops in their unemployment rates in March.
Regional Economist Damon Runberg tells KBND warm weather is affecting numbers across the state. "Here in Deschutes County we saw a microcosm of that," Runberg says. "We saw continuation early in the winter of adding jobs and never saw the significant layoffs. When the first spring report came along, the numbers seemed lackluster, but really there was no hiring boom in the spring because there were no hiring layoffs to back into."
Deschutes County's unemployment rate in March was 6% -- it's lowest level since December 2007. Jefferson County's rate is 7.4% and Crook County's is 8.9%.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is seeing a concerning number of whooping cough cases -- a highly contagious respiratory disease. This year, Deschutes County has confirmed 20 cases, vusus the 60 cases in all of 2014.
Heather Kaisner with the Deschutes County Health Department tells KBND News, "It's just continuing on from last year. We saw 60 cases and that's the highest number we've seen in decades, and we thought it would subside, but the numbers continue to increase. The concern is the more prevalent it is, the more likely it can spread to an infant."
She says the best defense against whopping cough or pertussis is a well-immunized community. Vaccines against the diseaes are recommended for all ages, but infants must take a series of shots to be fully immunized, and it takes a couple of years for them to be protected.
SALEM, OR -- The State House will hold a public hearing on the gun control bill just passed by the Senate and now in front of the House. The public hearing on Senate Bill 941 will be held Wednesday from 3:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Republican Leader Mike McLane of Powell Butte was very critical of the two-hour public hearing recently held on the bill, in the Senate. Due to his concerns, he made sure the House would hold a much longer hearing occuring in the evening, in order to draw more people.
This bill being considered would require all private gun sales in Oregon to include a background check conducted by a gun dealer.
BEND, OR -- A new study by the Centers for Disease Control has found that e-cigarette use has tripled among middle and high school students. In 2013, 4 percent of teens admitted to using e-cigarettes. Now 13 percent of the students use them.
Penny Pritchard, the Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for Deschutes County, tells KBND News, "It's not surprising given what we're seeing. In 2011-2013, we've seen use in Oregon double, so it's not surprisng due to our lack of regulations across the state. With the current lack of regulation, places that sell them to kids are getting access to these."
Deschutes County Commissioners are looking at possibly banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, but they are trying to reach consensus with nearby cities before going forward.
SISTERS, OR -- Following unusually warm weather and only 10 days of skiing on the books, Hoodoo Ski Area has officially closed for the season. But with the bad comes the good: The Deschutes National Forest, through a partnership with Hoodoo, has already opened a number of campgrounds.
"This is a relatively early opening for several campgrounds. We do try to have several campgrounds open by May, but here by April with this incredibly warm weather, we’ve opened several campgrounds, working with our concessionaire, Hoodoo," Jean Nelson Dean with the Forest Service tells KBND News.
Ten Deschutes National Forest campgrounds opened over the weekend, including North Twin, Big River, Pringle Falls, South Twin and Crane Prairie. Nelson Dean says campers should check Hoodoo Recreation's website
to see what's open before making plans. "Visitors can actually expect some of the facilities in the locations that are actually fully open, restrooms will be available to them. There are still some campsites that don’t have facilities open yet." Hoodoo Recreation manages more than 150 campgrounds in both Oregon and Washington, many in conjunction with the Forest Service.
After two consecutive less-than-ideal ski seasons, the ski area announced yesterday it would offer refunds to season ticket holders or allow them to roll unused passes over into next season.
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine School District officials have named five finalists for principal at Sky View Middle School. They include three current assistant principals from within the district, the current principal at Madras High and a middle school principal in the Three Rivers School District in Southern Oregon.
Brian Uballez is currently the assistant principal at Sky View, a position he's held for eight years. Prior to that, he was the assistant principal at High Desert Middle School in Bend.
Brian Cook has been an assistant principal at Bend Senior High for seven years. He's also worked as a teacher in Bend, Redmond and Portland.
Scott Olszewski has served as an assistant principal at Mountain View High School for three years. He was also the dean of students at Pilot Butte Middle School in Bend for four years.
Damian Crowson has been principal of Lincoln Savage Middle School in Three Rivers School District in Grants Pass for four years. He is also the administrator for the district's alternative programs.
Sarah Braman-Smith is currently the principal of Madras High, where she has led the school for four years. Prior to that, she was assistant principal at MHS for five years. Most recently, Jefferson County 509J officials announced Braman-Smith would be transferred to the Warm Springs K-8 Academy when that school's principal retires this summer. However, that decision has led to a backlash by some MHS teachers, including protests at recent school board meetings.
The new Sky View principal will begin July 1, when current principal Scott Edmondson will become principal of RE Jewell Elementary.
Bend-La Pine School officials will host a "meet the principal candidates" forum tonight at Sky View Middle School, beginning at 5:00 p.m.
TUMALO, OR -- Bend Fire and Rescue responded to an agricultural burn north of Tumalo that escaped its containment line, Sunday afternoon. Fire investigators say the homeowner and a friend were working a controlled ditch-bank burn when the wind shifted, moving the blaze into trees, a vehicle and a five-acre field.
Officials want this fire to serve as a reminder of how important it is to have a burn permit on-hand. They want to make sure locals know weather conditions before starting an outdoor burn.
BEND, OR -- The City of Bend honored its heroes this weekend, at a ceremony celebrating its Purple Heart City designation. Dick Tobiason organized Saturday's event at the Bend Hero's Memorial and was the driving force behind the proclomation. "We're about the fifth city in Oregon to be declared a Purple Heart City, and about the 900th in the U.S.," Tobiason says. "It was something I did after seeing other cities do it."
City Councilor Casey Roats read the proclomation declaring the designation, and told KBND News he was honored to be involved. "When we were asked for a volunteer among [the council], I just raised my hand very quickly," Roats says. "I had members of my family growing up -- grandparents and my dad were in the service -- so it seemed like taking a little bit of time out of my day to honor those who have given so much for us was the very least we could do."
Tobiason says Saturday's ceremony meant a lot to more than just the 20 Purple Heart recipients in attendence. "There were people who came by afterwards and saw what we were doing. One couple came by and said, 'My dad was in Korea and won a Purple Heart, what's going on here?' And so we told him, and he said, 'Isn't it wonderful that our community respects our veterans and even our wounded and killed veterans?'"
The Purple Heart Monument at Brooks Park honors 450 Bend veterans eligible for the award, which is the nation's oldest military medal. ODOT will install 5 signs at Bend's city limits during the next couple of weeks. The project was sponsored by the Bend Heroes Foundation. Tobiason says no taxpayer dollars were used.
REDMOND, OR -- The internet and social media can be vehicles for negative behaviors, especially when it comes to children. Bend Broadband and The KIDS Center are again offering a forum called "Public & Permanent: preventing sexting, cyber bullying and beyond." The two-hour program aims to teach kids and parents how to stay safe online.
Robin Antonson with The KIDS Center tells KBND News it's a brave new world. "It's very serious. 88% of young teens report being bullied, or have witnessed people being harmed on the internet, smart phone and social networking sites. It's very serious."
This is the second year for the trainings, and Sonja Donahue with Bend Broadband says they hope this year will be more successful. "Last year's event, when we were a little bit surprised that we didn't get more of a turnout, we were commenting if the community heard that there were sexual offenders moving into the area, everyone would be in an uproar. This is really just as important, or a very similar analogy. These predators are in every single room of our house, wherever there's technology." She says those who have been bullied are more likely to inflict self-harm.
The first session will be at Redmond High School tonight from 6 - 8 p.m. The second event is Tuesday at Bend High from 6 - 8 p.m. The event is free for kids and $5 for adults. All proceeds benefit The KIDS Center. Click HERE
for more information.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Redmond man was arrested Saturday night, following a pursuit and brief stand-off. Oregon State Police tried to pull over a Dodge pickup on Highway 97 near Redmond, following complaints the driver wasn't staying in his lane. But the driver sped east on Highway 126, into Prineville.
Troopers finally got the truck stopped near the Highway 26 junction in Prineville. After a brief standoff, the driver exited the truck. OSP says he still refused to follow commands and was hit with a non-lethal beanbag round. Thirty-three-year-old Shane Shantie was arrested and faces a number of charges including DUII and reckless driving. He was treated for his injuries at the Prineville hospital, then was booked into the Crook County Jail.
MADRAS, OR -- Oregon State Police are investigating a weekend tanker truck crash on Highway 197, north of Madras. Investigators believe a 61-year old Washington man may have suffered a medical emergency, causing his milk tanker to roll onto its side, blocking the highway.
A Prineville haz-mat crew responded to help clean up the crash site and contain leaks. The driver, Brent Braun of Selah, WA, was transported to the hospital in Madras. The highway has reopened, but the investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.
BEND, OR -- The City of Bend is poised to sell the former site of the Bend Bulletin -- again. City councilors have approved an offer from Cascade Empire Lodging. The nearly $2.3 million deal is substantially less than the $4.8 million the city paid for the property back in 2005.
City Manager Eric King tells KBND the deal has not been finalized. "Well, they have about 60 days of due diligence, then another 60 days to close on the property, " King says. "So, I wouldn’t imagine any construction activity would begin for at least 6 months."
A year ago, councilors approved a $1.9 million sale to a different developer. King says that company couldn’t make the deal pencil, following the due diligence period.
"The intent is to have a mix of uses, hotel being primary," King says. "But also retail and a housing component and a community plaza as a centerpiece of that development."
The city bought the property eight years ago, with visions of converting it into a mixed-use city hall complex. Wednesday's approval of the deal includes a stipulation that allows councilors to review a conceptual design prior to development of the land.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes National Forest crews are expected to conduct a number of prescribed burns over the next several days. Beginning Friday, crews will spend several days burning nearly 430 acres near Highway 31, south of La Pine, in the vicinity of Hole in the Ground.
On Saturday, fuels specialists will begin burning two areas totaling about 260 acres near the intersection of Highway 97 and Highway 58, as well as another 380 acres 20 miles southeast of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, near Fox Butte.
No road closures are anticipated; however, smoke may be visible in these areas and could drift onto nearby roads.
SALEM, OR -- Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton) is fine-tuning a new bill designed to increase Oregon's school immunization rate. New legislation would require schools to publicize student vaccine exemption rates, twice a year.
Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) serves on the Education Committee considering the bill, and was troubled that a student who has gotten two-thirds of required shots would still not be considered in compliance.
Sen. Steiner Hayward agreed. "The new requirement calls for the notification to break it out by disease," Hayward says. "Parents are less concerned if students aren't vaccinated against Hepatitis A or B than if a child isn't immunized against measles or chicken pox, which are much more contagious. We thought it was important for parents to know what disease their children could be at risk of being exposed to at their child's school."
Earlier this session, Sen. Steiner Hayward tried to pass legislation that would do away with all non-medical exemptions. The bill failed to get the necessary support. This new bill tries to inform parents about exemption rates at schools, but would maintain current rules around obtaining a non-medical exemption.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County High School will undergo a facelift this summer, and school district officials are expected to name a contractor for the project by Tuesday.
Principal Michell Jonas tells KBND the main focus of the work is to improve security. "When after school has started, we’re redoing the entryway so all traffic flow will come through the high school," Jonas says. "There will be three different doors around the school that will have a key-fob type of an entryway."
Jonas says the changes should allow for increased safety and convenience during after-school activities. During school hours, all pedestrian traffic will be required to enter through a new set of entry doors.
Work is expected to begin toward the end of May, and should be completed by the time students return in the fall. The project is funded with part of the $33 million bond approved by voters in 2013.
"When they did the bond, they allocated different monies based on different needs at different buildings," Jonas says. "This summer they’ll finish the construction on the new Barnes Butte Elementary, then they’ll start the remodel of Cecil Sly – but that’ll last all year, as well – and they’re going to start the remodel at the middle school. Ours is the smallest project."
Additional work is designed to improve efficiencies with the high school's water and HVAC system, as well as upgrade wheelchair ramps attached to portable classroom buildings.
BEND, OR -- Bend firefighters responded to a house fire in Southeast Bend, early Friday morning. When crews arrived on Silver Sage Street at about 3:15 a.m., they discovered smoke coming from the rear deck, and found the fire had spread through the exterior wall and into the garage. Investigators say the fire was caused by the improper disposal of ash from a fire earlier last night.
The Red Cross is helping the six adults who live in the home.
POWELL BUTTE, OR -- Law enforcement has confirmed the body found in a Powell Butte Pasture Wednesday is that of a missing 27-year old woman. Shauna Fowler was reported missing three weeks ago, last seen the evening of March 26th. An autopsy confirmed her identity and determined her death was accidental, caused by hypothermia brought on by exposure to the elements.
Search and Rescue crews looked for Fowler by air and ground for two weeks. Her body was foun a mile and a half from where she was last seen, but just outside that designated search area.
April 16, 2015:
The Crook County Sheriff's office has tentatively identified a body found in Powell Butte as Shauna Fowler, reported missing almost three weeks ago. A Powell Butte rancher reported finding a deceased person in his field, Wednesday afternoon. Deputies, along with the Oregon State Police Crime lab are investigating, and say the state medical examiner's office has yet to make a positive ID.
Fowler was reported missing
in late March, spawning a region-wide search for the 27-year old woman. The Crook County Sheriff's office investigation is ongoing.
MT. HOOD, OR -- Oregon continues to experience an extremely low snowpack, and the latest measurements from a site on Mt. Hood aren't encouraging. Julie Koeberle, a hydrologist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, says the water content is at about a four-foot deficit.
"We measured a record low snowpack, and that's going into spring," Koeberle says. "Today it was 17 inches of water and a snow depth of 3 1/2 feet. Last year, we had 10 inches of snow."
According to Koeberle, typical snowpack would be 12 feet.
Three-quarters of the state's snow monitoring sites are at their lowest snowpack levels on record. It's expected a majority of Oregon's streams and rivers will have below normal flows this year.
REDMOND, OR -- It's been three months since a Subway restaurant in Redmond was robbed at knifepoint, and police have released a sketch of the suspect. Investigators believe the same man is responsible for the robbery on December 23rd and a second on January 12th at the restaurant on NW Fir Ave. Redmond Detectives have been working with a witness who saw the suspect and was able to describe him to a forensic artist from the Clackamas County Sheriff's office.
The suspect is described as an hispanic man in his late teens or early 20s, medium build, 5' 8" to 5'10", with short black hair and dark eyes. Anyone who recognizes the suspect is asked to call the Redmond Police Investigative Unit at 541-504-3420.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond couple has been arrested in connection with a Tuesday armed robbery. According to Redmond Police, the victim was reportedly robbed at knifepoint in his room at the Village Squire Motel, late Tuesday night. The victim and witnesses identified Kenyon Odoms and Jordan Breshears as suspects.
Officers contacted both 22-year-old Odoms and 23-year-old Breshears Wednesday afternoon in Southwest Redmond; they were taken into custody without incident. Investigators say a majority of the victim's stolen property was recovered at the time of the couple's arrest.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Mayor George Endicott delievered his annual "State of the City" addres Wednesday, and says Redmond is headed in the right direction. He said the city has recouped the $5 million reserve officials were forced to dip into during the recession, and property tax revenue is up 7% over last year. Endicott says his concern now is to keep spending in check. "Our economy has gotten healthy. The one thing we really need to watch is that we don't get too carried away. Redmond is very conservative, and I'd even use the word 'frugal,' in the way we spend money. So, we need to make sure we remember that we're taxpayers, too."
City Hall is expected to move into the former Evergreen Elementary building in a year and a half. Endicott says that process so far has been smooth. He noted the city is looking for an entertainment company to purchase the current city hall building.
Mayor Endicott also discussed recent business growth in the area, saying he wants to make sure it continues. "The city does not create jobs- You hear a lot of cities claim that. We create an environment to create jobs. Our job is to help all those people that want to have a business, want to serve people, that we make their life easier." He says he expects the development of businesses like Nosler and Medline will continue to bring more job opportunities in the next year.
Despite the good news, he says heroin use in the city is on the rise, while overall crime and other drug-related offenses are moving in a more positive direction. "We've had a steady decrease, it turns out, in crime in Redmond. We are above the national average, but we're gaining on it, and our [police] chief says his goal is to make us the safest city." Another of his of his main safety goals is to improve the South Highway 97 corridor, which has seen several serious traffic crashes in recent months.
Redmond now claims 17% of Deschutes County's total population, up from 12% in 2000.
BEND, OR -- A Bend woman was rescued from her vehicle following a single-vehicle carash, Wednesday afternoon. The 56-year old woman may have suffered a medical emergency, leading to the crash. According to Bend Police, officers and medics responded to the rollover crash at NE 3rd and Dekalb Ave just after 7 p.m., Wednesday. The Honda CRV sustained heavy damage, as did a power pole at the intersection.
Traffic was diverted in the area while Bend Fire medics, police officers and an off-duty doctory stabilized the woman and pulled her from the car. She was the lone occupant of the vehicle, and was transported to St. Charles Medical Center Bend for treatment. Neither alcohol nor speed are believed to have been factors in the crash.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's office has received several reports of people contacted by a man claiming to work for the Sheriff's Office, trying to bilk residents out of money. According to DCSO, the caller identifies himself using various names of Sheriff's Office employees. He then claims the person missed jury duty and has a warrant issued for their arrest. The caller then asks the potential victim to send him money to clear up the warrant, or they will be arrested.
The Sheriff's Office wants the public to know this is a scam, and people should never send money without verifying the information they are being provided. DCSO does not advise citizens they have a warrant over the phone; typically, people would be contacted in person by a deputy with proper credentials.
Anyone receiving calls like this are asked to contact the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office at 541-693-6911.
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Proficiency Academy is now one of only two schools in Oregon to offer the new AP Capstone Diploma. Beginning next fall, 25-30 students are expected to participate in a program seen as more comprehensive than the previous AP track. English teacher George Hegarty tells KBND News, "It’s an opportunity for us to develop in sophomores and juniors, young students, the ability to research and think critically about really diverse issues, to ignite academic passions. By the time they’re seniors they’ll have the opportunity to explore something they want to do with a faculty mentor, and use that as a springboard into post-high school education in making academic choices for universities and colleges."
AP Capstone is a two-year plan, culminating with an academic thesis paper. Hegarty says the nature of the program fits well with RPA’s proficiency model. "There’s an exam at the end of the year and that exam grants transferable college credit. So, for students looking to attend schools outside of the Oregon University System, those AP credits are much more transferable, nationally. What we talk to the students about is that preparatory is not only skills – our number one goal is that our students transition successfully to the college level – but then also, it does save a lot of money." He acknowledges the program isn't ideal for every school, "When students, if they’re in a normal schedule – a five-day a week, 7-period day - I think the time would be really cramped to do the level of work Capstone requires. Since we’re on a more college-type schedule, particularly for our upper-classmen, they have the time to immerse themselves in study."
RPA's approval to offer the curriculum followed a one-year application process with the College Board. Corbett High School, in the Columbia River Gorge, is the only other school in the state to offer the Capstone Diploma. This new program is in addition to the Advanced Diploma option already offered at RPA in conjunction with Central Oregon Community College.
SALEM, OR -- State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) has proposed a bill that would allow pharmacists to give women birth control without a prescription. House Bill 2028 will be considered for debate in front of the Healthcare Committee on Friday.
Rep. Buehler, who is also a doctor, says the legislation would give pharmacists the authority to treat patients, and is similar to a bill passed 12 years ago that allowed pharmacists to provide vaccines.
REDMOND, OR -- It was a very emotional afternoon at the Deschutes County Expo Center in Redmond, Wednesday, as families welcomed home nearly 200 soldiers from Afghanistan. The Oregon National Guard 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry left Central Oregon in June, to support Operation Enduring Freedom. KBND News spoke with Gary Combs as he awaited the return of his son, Philip. "It's been a long time. You can't help but worry the whole time, too; anything could happen. Technically, it's not a war zone anymore, I guess, but it's a dangerous place to be." Combs was one of over 600 who gathered to greet the returning soldiers.
Kathleen Riley spoke with KBND as she waited for her husband, Sgt. David Riley. "It's been a little bit surreal, kind of hard to believe the day's already here. I'm already so excited, it's hard to contain it!" She said she just wanted to tell him one thing, "That I love him, and I'm just glad he's going to be home." The squadron is based in Bend, with companies also located in Redmond, Klamath Falls and Lebanon. Soldiers will spend a month with families before the formal demobiliation ceremony scheduled to be held in their honor, May 16th at Vince Genna Stadium in Bend.
Staff Sgt. Alex Zang had to wait to see his family in Salem but wanted to send them a message: "I miss you guys, sorry you couldn't be here, but I'll see you really soon!" Zang says he's already making plans for the homefront. "I'm active duty Guard reserve, meaning I work full-time. So, I'll take the next month off and then go back to work full time at the Bend Armory." Gary Hunter with the Central Oregon Vet Center says his team is ready to help soldiers re-acclimate to the homefront. "Usually, when we have a group like this come home, the Vets Center starts getting busy anytime from six months to a year afterwards. There's usually a little bit of a honeymoon period for the families, then they start getting into the adjustment of things- particularly soldiers adjusting from a war zone to civilian life." Hunter says job placement and counseling are the main things vets ask for from the Vets Center.
For more pictures from Wednesday's Welcome Home Ceremony, visit our Facebook page.
UPDATE: Sheriff's deputies report the owner of the goat has been located.
SUNRIVER, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's office is asking for help tracking down the owner of a goat discovered near Sunriver. Deputies found the goat wandering near Spring River Road and transported it to a shelter, Monday afternoon.
Anyone with information on where the goat came from, is asked to contact Lt. Deron McMaster at 541-312-6408; after hours callers can ask to speak with a Sheriff's Office Watch Commander through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911. Deputies have not released a photo of the animal, in an effort to make sure it is reunited with its rightful owner.
LA PINE, OR -- The Oregon Department of Transportation broke ground on a new traffic signal at Highway 97 and 1st Street in La Pine, Tuesday. Officials say the light will address pedestrian and bicycle crossing safety issues at the intersection. Significant industrial and employment growth is planned for the east side of the city over the next 20 years, which is likely to increase traffic in the area.
The project is a collaboration between the City of La Pine, Deschutes County and ODOT. Commissiones Tony DeBone and Alan Unger were on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony, along with Mayor Ken Mulenex, City Council President Stu Martinez, City Manager Rick Allen, EDCO's Janet Burton and members of the Public Works Committee. Construction begins April 20 and is expected to be complete by August.
BEND, OR -- Two Bend elementary schools are setting an example for others in the district by spearheading sustainability efforts while educating students. District sustainability coordinator Jackie Wilson says Miller and Buckingham Elementaries are two of 10 schools in the district participating in the "We Reduce" program. "The teachers and the students that are involved are really paving way and hope to see it involved in high schools," Wilson says. "We want to start seeing ourselves be a district that recycles as much as possible and really just tries to do a whole lot less wasting."
Miller Elementary recently crated a Radical Recycling Award to encourage students to pick up junk. Buckingham has formed their own unique program. After students asked for more conscientious ways to track food waste, the school began weighing what went in the trash, and worked to decrease monthly waste. Wilson tells KBND News student committees have been a main driver behind the sustainability efforts. "In both [Buckingham and Miller] what they have is an active Green Team," Wilson says. "A group of students working to make some tangible actions. Through the Sustainability Committee we come up with some different ideas for the school, and then they just take charge."
One issue Wilson sees is a lack of student programs in most of the Bend-La Pine middle and high schools. While there is a Roots and Shoots sustainability group at Summit High, it's one of the few. But Wilson says as some younger students, who have sustainability classes and groups in elementary school, could initiate change as they move up to the next level of schooling. "They get into middle school, and start asking, "Wait, why are there not more recycling avenues?' And then they start challenging that."
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are expected to vote tonight on changes to vacation rental regulations. The move is an effort to restrict density of the rentals in neighborhoods, especially on Bend's west side. New regulations will only apply to future vacation rentals, not those already approved and established. Fred Johnson, a real estate agent with Duke Warner Realty, tells KBND he has many of the rentals in his own neighborhood. "There was an opportunity, and they're going to proceed with licensing and collecting a tax. The beauty of that is, it allows the program to be self sustaining."
Councilors are not expected to enforce the new regulations for existing rentals out of fear of being sued.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are looking for people who may have inadvertently purchased stolen items from a garage sale at a local storage facility. According to Lt. Clint Burleigh, a 29-year old Bend man is suspected of at least 32 car break-ins. Lt. Burleigh tells KBND the man kept the stolen property at Clark’s Storage on Southeast 9th in Bend, and sold items to unsuspected members of the public. "You have community members going out and just going garage sale-ing not knowing these items are stolen and they’ve purchased them. Our concern is, we want to make sure if the public did go to a garage sale at this location that they would give us a call, so we can add them to the investigation and try and recover the property for the victims."
He says the people who bought the items are also victims, "Because they spent money on an item and that item was stolen. The flip side is, nobody wants to be in possession of property that could be stolen. We want to educate the community, to make sure they know the stuff coming out of that storage facility most likely was stolen from someone else."
The suspect’s name is being withheld, and the investigation is ongoing. Anyone who may have purchased property from a garage sale in front of container #25 of Clark’s Storage, between January and early April, is asked to contact Bend Police at 541-693-6911 or 541-322-2960.
EUGENE, OR -- The University of Oregon has selected its next President. Senator Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) made the announcement on the Senate floor, Tuesday afternoon: "Mike Schill has been the Dean of the University of Chicago Lw School. He's in Eugene today. This ends an 8-month search and I want to congratulate him."
Schill replaces Michael Gottfredson, who was let go by the Board of Trustees last August after just 2 years on the job. UO has not seen stability in the President's office since Dave Frohnmayer retired 6 years ago. The University has also dealt with sexual assault allegations involving students and athletes. 56-year old Schill will take over in July.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday night to extend the Secure Rural Schools Program for another 2 years. Both Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff merkley praised the move. Senator Wyden authored the original S-R-S program in 2000, and said last night "this extension ends months of uncertainly for Oregon's rural communities who have grappled with on-again, off-again funding for roads, schools and first responders."
The extension was part of a larger package to extend the Children's health insurance program and to update the formula for paying doctors and other providers who treat medicare patients. Senator Merkley called the bipartisan vote "good news for Oregon." The bill is now headed for the President's desk.
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond School Board is discussing significant changes to how the district prepares younger students for the rigors of elementary school. Following a U.S. Department of Education study showing fewer than 25% of Oregon 4-year olds are enrolled in a state-certified preschool, Redmond is looking to create its own early learning center. "We have Terrebonne and Tumalo schools who are dabbling in this effort to create a preschool experience for kids as they come to Terrebonne and Tumalo as our satellite elementary schools, that they would be able to provide some limited access to pre-kindergarten age kids. We think there’s some great stuff going on," Redmond Schools Superintendent Mike McIntosh told KBND News.
He says the biggest shift, though, would be with kindergarten students, beginning in Fall 2016, with the creation of the region's first early learning campus. "What we believe is the Hugh Hartman campus should and will become an early learning center. What that means is that it won’t be a standard K-5, like we have in the rest of the district. We believe – at this point the planning stages are still young – but we believe that school will then house in 2016 all the kindergarten students that are in the Redmond school district, except those that are going to Terrebonne and Tumalo." The Hartman facility currently houses Redmond Proficiency Academy's middle school program, but RPA is moving to a new building after the 2015-16 school year. "What that allows us to do at the Hartman campus, is to provide opportunity for this preschool idea to take root. A pivotal part of this is the partnerships that we develop in our community, with daycares, preschools, with the county, with mental health services, clinics, ESDs, Healthy Beginning and Head Start – All those partnerships that become vital in providing access and services to a collection of families aged 5 and earlier," says McIntosh.
He says the effort is part of state push to better prepare young children for school, and is modeled after similar facilities in other parts of the state. To read about Crook County's efforts, click HERE
BEND, OR -- The recent shooting of a cougar that wandered onto Pilot Butte got mixed reactions in the community- Some supported the action, others didn't. A wildlife activist and filmmaker will show his documentary "Exposed: USDA's Secret War On Wildife" at the downtown Bend library tonight.
Brooks Fahy was invited to Bend by City Councilor Barb Campbell. Fahy feels like the recent case in Bend, too many of these wild cats are being killed out of fear, not for he public's safety. "In this situation nothing needed to be done. Just use calm reason. The animal didn't needed to be killed; it didn't even need to be tranquilized. In 2003 there was a similar incident on Pilot Butte, and they put up a sign and warned people and the cougar wandered off. It could have been handled the same way with no incident whatsoever," he told KBND News.
The documentary begins at 6 p.m. Following the screening, the filmmaker and Councilor Campbell will discuss how to handle cougars that wander into urban spaces.
BEND, OR -- Emergency crews responded to a reported fire at the JJ Court Apartments on Butler Market Rd yesterday afternoon. It was the second fire that day, blamed on an improperly discarded cigarette.
According to Bend Fire investigators, a cigarette tossed onto bark mulch ignited the blaze at about 4 p.m., which spread to the building's exterior walls and eventually into the attic. Crews were able to hold the fire, limiting damage to two units. The Red cross assisted the 10 residents impacted by the blaze.
Yesterday morning, crews extinguished a blaze at an apartment near NW 5th and Portland
. Investigators say a cigarette placed in a plastic container ignited other combustibles and spread to the deck and siding. No injuries were reported in either fire. On average, bend Fire responds to 40 cigarette-related fires each year.
BEND, OR -- Committees from both the State House and Senate held a joint meeting Monday night to consider a handfull of bills that aim to raise the minimum wage. Currently the state minimum wage is $9.25 an hour. Lawmakers are looking at several bills that could raise that rate to as high as $15 an hour by 2018.
House Speaker Tina Kotek was the first to share her thoughts, Monday night. "Because right now there are 150,000 workers who make minimum wage that is $18,925 a year. We all know that's not nearly enough to save for our retirement or for the future of our children." Kotek said statistics show that the average minimum wge worker is 35 years old and 4 out of 10 are the sole bread winners of their families.
The head of Economic Development for Central Oregon, Roger Lee, feels any jump in the minimum wage would hurt the state's economic growth. "The way to better economic prosperity is increasing the skill levels and quality of the type of workers and not just teling employers they have to pay a different wage." Lee believes that tourism and other service industries would be hard hit by the increased costs of raising the minimum wage.
He says in Deschutes County, 40% of the jobs pay less than $15 an hour and increasing the minimum wage would have a negative impact on many of the region's industries.
BEND, OR -- An improperly disposed of cigarette is blamed for a Bend apartment fire, Monday morning. According to Bend Fire investigators, a passerby used water and a fire extinguisher to slow the spread of the blaze at Northwest Fifth and Portland, just before 10 a.m.
Investigators say a cigarette placed in a plastic container ignited other combustibles spreading to the deck and siding on the building. Fire crews were able to quickly fully extinguish the fire at the four-plex, limiting damage to the outside of the building. On average, bend Fire responds to 40 cigarette-related fires each year.
EUGENE, OR -- A 52-year old Bend man died over the weekend after falling from a cliff in the Willamette National Forest, east of Eugene. Joel Martin reportedly was taking photos of Tamolitch Falls along the McKenzie River Trail on Sunday. He fell 45 feet into shallow water and hit his head.
Martin owned Joel J. Martin Construction in Central Oregon, and supervised the construction of multi-million dollar homes.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Less than a quarter of all Oregon 4-year olds are enrolled in a formal pre-school program, according to a new study released by the U.S. Department of Education. Principal Dave Robinson of Ochoco Elementary in Prineville has seen first hand the importance of a Pre-K education. "Definitely kids who have had some formal school opportunities before kindergarten are better prepared and will be set up for success in kindergarten better." Robinson tells KBND News there are key areas where early learning can set kids up for future success, "A couple things would be some simple math and reading skills, to be able to count to 10, to do some simple addition. And, probably the biggest thing we know from research, is the kids that don’t have a formal background in school before kindergarten have a much lower vocabulary than kids that do."
Robinson is hopeful a new program will help bridge the achievement gap for young students. "We do that with curriculum trainings, where we work hard with preschools to give them materials they need to offer quality programs. We communicate with families that already have kids in the elementary schools and we bring them into the special events we have here like reading nights and kindergarten round ups. During that time we have all our other community partners for our Pre-K services here available with presentations and booths, offering information." Those partnerships are made possible through the Crook County School District P-3 Initiative
, serving families from prenatal to third grade. "We do a number of things. We actually work with doctors in the region after deliveries, to talk to parents, just to let them know what services are available for health screenings as their baby gets older, and try to direct them into those services right away at the earliest possible age." They also partner kindergarten teachers with area pre-schools to offer curriculum and training.
The district just received a $75,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation
to continue the P-3 Initiative for a second year. The comprehensive effort also includes parenting classes and other activities.
SISTERS, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners finally gave approval for a Sisters-area farm to host weddings this summer. John Shepherd has been trying to get permits to conduct weddings on his property for years. This past week, the permit to designate a portion of his property as a private park was approved late last week. "It took us three and a half years, four applications and $20,000 in fees and fines. It was a huge battle and a lot of obstacles, but we persisted and finally prevailed," John Shepherd tells KBND News. "We'll finally be able to hold private weddings and special events."
Shepherd, who is also a minister, will be allowed to hold 18 wedding on his land, between May and October. There are stipulations: Weddings must take place on weekends and cannot violate any noise ordinances. "We will be opening up land use opportunity that wasn't there before, and that's why it's so important. It's setting a precedent, and that's why Central Oregon Landwatch fought it tooth and nail and used every trick to prevent us from getting this land use permission." He says the first wedding is scheduled for mid-June.
REDMOND, OR -- Three Central Oregon teens will soon head to Washington, D.C. as part of a national youth tour. The high school students each earned a spot on the tour as part of a Central Electric Cooperative competition. Courtney Linville, CECO's regional spokesperson, says the co-op expanded the local contest this year due to the entries.
"We have some great finalists," Linville says. "It was really tough. We had originally intended to just send two students, but the caliber of the applicants was just so impressive that the board decided to send three."
Erin Bush from Crook County High School, Alena Nore from Sisters High School and Lillie Spackman from Bend Senior High all won spots on the tour. They will head to the nation's capital in June, meeting up with other high school students from across the nation to tour utilities, cooperatives and national monuments.
Linville says the students will also be introduced to lawmakers.
"They'll have a chance to talk to our senators and representatives," Linville says. "It's really an intensive tour for one week."
This is the first rural Central Electric youth tour offered since 1992.
All photos from Central Electric Cooperative, LLC
REDMOND, OR -- a Sisters man was killed in a motorcycle crash outside of Redmond, Sunday evening. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's office, 29-year old Shemaiah Gillan was southbound on NW Helmholtz Way when he failed to negotiate a corner. Deputies say he lost control of the sport bike just after 6:30 p.m. near La Mesa Lane, left the roadway and struck a tree and a fence. Redmond medics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Investigators do no believe drugs or alcohol were involved, but It appears excessive speed was a factor in the crash.
BEND, OR -- Tax Day is right around the corner, and one local tax professional says it’s not too late to buy yourself a little time by filing an extension. However, Evan Dickens with Jones & Roth in Bend tells KBND, an extension does not necessarily put off your financial responsibility. "Here’s the problem – an extension is only an extension to file, not an extension to pay. If it’s possible you’re going to owe tax, you need to have paid it by April 15 or you’ll be subject to a couple of different sets of penalties. The most onerous penalty that the IRS can assess if you don’t extend and don’t file and you owe tax. That’s a Fail To File Penalty, and it’s huge."
Dickens says the new healthcare mandate is causing some confusion for taxpayers, this year, "If there was a three-month gap in your coverage, for example, you may have a little bit of a penalty due for those 3 months – It’s prorated, monthly. But, you need to be honest and clear if there was a portion of the year you did not have health insurance covering you, there’s a tax responsibility for that." Penalties for lack of health insurance will be higher in tax year 2015, then even higher for 2016. Some of his clients choose to pay the fine, because they say it's still less than paying a monthly premium. Dickens also points out that those who qualified for a subsidy but saw an increase in income in the past year, may have to repay some of that subsidy.
The Bend CPA notes that one of the biggest mistakes he sees is from clients who do not have the proper documentation for charitable donations. He says good record-keeping is key to making sure a donation is accepted – especially with non-cash donations to organizations like Goodwill. "If you don’t have a good record of what you donated and a value that you set on it, you could potentially have the entire deduction thrown out. I get handed a stack of Goodwill receipts with no amounts, no items, nothing on them, and it’s not my job to tell you how much you gave or what you gave. If you give more than $500 in non cash donations, you have to report detail of that, including who you gave to, what the dates were." He suggests taking a photo of what you’re donating prior to dropping off the items, as a way of documenting your contribution.
Overall, one of Dickens' biggest concerns for his clients is the risk of identity theft. He encourages eletronic filing, saying the method is much safer than trusting the Postal Service with important financial documents and personal information. And, after you’ve filed your taxes, Dickens says it’s important to keep supporting tax records for 7 years. He says actual tax returns should always be kept.
For more tax tips, listen to our full conversation with Evan Dickens at our Podcast Page
SISTERS, OR -- A U.S. Forest Service employee suffered non-life threatening injuries in an accident west of Sisters, Thursday morning. Deschutes National Forest officials say the man was doing reforestation work in the Sisters Ranger District when the accident occurred at about 10 a.m.
According to Deschutes County Dispatch, emergency crews were called to the Trout Creek Butte area on a report of a man injured by a fallen tree. He was transported by ambulance to St. Charles Redmond.
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Police department is thanking the public for its help in arresting a man who lead police on a chase following a March traffic stop. Tips helped identify the vehicle's owner, and evidence recovered from the car lead investigators to 19-year old Kylian Beitz of Prineville as a suspect.
On Monday, Beitz was stopped by police in the same vehicle. He gave the officer a false name, but his identity was confirmed and he was arrested. He was taken to the Deschutes County Jail on charges of attempting to elude a police officer, reckless driving and felon in possession of a firearm. His passenger, Chardae Baird, was arrested for a probaation violation.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon lawmakers are trying to come up with ethics bills to prevent scandals like the one that forced Governor John Kitzhaber to resign. Current Governor Kate Brown, Republicans and the Independent Party of Oregon have all offered bills. Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) told his fellow lawmakers on the Hosue floor Thursday, we have to do better. "Oregon's fourth estate did, the independent journalists and the media did their job exposing the problem and now we need to do ours and fix them. Governor Brown and the Independent party of Oregon all have billls, but the Governor's bill will not protect Oregonians from future scandals."
Rep. Buehler supports a House bill that would require public bodies to retain public records for a minimum of three years. He also plans to introduce a bill that will protect whistle blowers who expose criminal or unethical activity in state government.
BEND, OR -- The cost of college keeps going up at a time financial aid for students is facing cuts. The federal budget just approved by the Senate last week cuts federal Pell grants by $90 million.
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley was at OSU-Cascades Thursday talking with students and administrators about this trend. "And Pell grants are a foundation offered by the federal government to students of modest means to be able to pay for college. The budget takes a 31 percent cut out of Pell grants. It freezes them and they're not going up as inflation goes up."
Before the recession about a third of OSU Cascades students used Pell grants that don't have to be paid back, now half the students rely on these grants to be able to go to school.
SALEM, OR -- The State Senate has given the O.K. to continue the Central Oregon Health Council. The public/private government entity oversees those on the Oregon Health Plan and the coordinated care orgnaizations that manage them.
The legislation creating this council passed four years ago and the latest bill, sponsored by Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend), extends it until 2022. The bill was sponsored by Senator Tim Knopp. "This bill extended bill 204 passed in 2011 which adds four members to the Central Oregon Health Council and specifies that people will be reappointed and there is a single advisory council for all CCO's that are a part of it and it clarifies community health assessment and community health improvement."
The Central Oregon Health Council was created to connect patients with providers through coordinated care organizations and to ultimately improve health outcomes in the region. The bill now goes to the House.
BEND, OR -- Students across Central Oregon have started taking their new standardized tests this spring. Smarter Balance aims to be a rigorous testing method to better prepare our kids for the future. Cascade Middle School 8th Grade teacher Michelle Hanford has been teaching in the district for twenty years. She says the students have been handling the change in testing well. "In the end I had a lot of kdis say it was really tough, but I was able to express my ideas as opposed to multiple choice. And I thought that was really cool."
Some of the testing is essay form, so people not machines will be grading them, which will take longer. Smarter Balance efforts to test students critical thinking skills more than previous tests. About 20 states including Oregon are using the smarter balance tests that are closely aligned to the common core state standards.
SALEM, OR -- The full State Senate is expected to vote next week on the gun control bill that would expand background checks. Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) opposes the bill and believes it has been rushed through without adequate public input. "I've seen that happen when people have the opportunity to engage, but I diddn't feel like we had the opportunity on this bill. This bill is going to come up early next week and unfortunately it looks like it may have the votes to pass."
Senator Knopp says the bill that would require background checks on private gun sales in the state is scheduled to go before the Senate on Monday. He hopes that a couple Democrats can be convinced to vote against the measure.
SALEM, OR -- The State House has passed Representative Gene Whisnant's bill that aims to make a college degree more affordable. The legislation looks to create a fixed-cost baccalaureate degree in Oregon. Texas, Florida and Wisconsin offer $10,000 four-year degrees.
Rep. Whisnant (R-Sunriver) says one of his goals in the legislature was to make higher education more affordable. "Colleagues, my hope is one or more baccalaureate degrees will be offered beginning in the fall of 2017. I urge you to vote yes on this bill to create an affordable college degree."
The bill tasks the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to identify bachelors degrees or pathways to these degrees that are affordable at a fixed cost. The bill now goes to the Senate.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners are finalizing code for medical marijuana dispensaries in the rural parts of the county. Commissiones embraced the planning commission's suggestion to limit hours for the dispensaries and not allow them on exclusive farm use land.
Commissioner Tammy Baney and the other two commissioners unanimously agreed to their recommendations. "I like the idea of limited hours 10 to 7 and I like the idea not EFU, but I'm open to considering in the future on limiting EFU."
The commissioners are also looking to write into the code that these standards are only for medical marijuana and not recreational marijuana down the road. Tehy are expected to approve final wording on the code on April 22nd.
POWELL BUTTE, OR -- A Powell Butte man was arrested early Thursday morning on attempted murder charges, after he allegedly shot his estranged wife. According to the Crook County Sheriff's Office, 41-year old John Heere fought with the woman over the phone earlier in the evening. When she arrived at the SW Riggs Rd home, the couple argued again, and investigators say Heere fired his rifle toward her vehicle. The shot traveled through the windshield, striking her in the upper arm.
The victim was taken by private vehicle to St. Charles Prineville. Heere was taken into custody without incident at about 1:30 a.m. He faces charges of Attempted Murder, First Degree Domestic Assault, Pointing a Firearm at Another Person, Reckless Endangering, Unlawful Use of a Weapon and Menacing. Bail has been set at $120,000.
BEND, OR -- Seven years after suffering big financial losses during the depths of the recession, Central Oregon car sales continue to rebound. Robberson Ford President Jeff Robberson says he saw new car sales slashed in half in 2007 and 2008. He says new technology is now helping attract new customers. Robberson tells KBND News Internet sales now make up about 30% of total auto sales, but that a physical dealership will never be obsolete. "When Internet sales first came out, that was what everything was going to be. What we found was that most people at some point in the transaction either want to drive the car, or look at interior options; they don’t know if they want a Focus or a Fusion. Then they come in, they’ve dealt with the Internet person, they’ve been communicating with them [online], it’s like someone they know, it’s a very comfortable process. But, I don’t see it going totally to an Internet process."
Robberson also hopes a recently completed $5 million renovation will encourage even more growth. "We actually have just been in here and fully operational for about a month, and so far it’s up over last year. But, we’re looking forward to a 10-20% increase by having a new facility." He says the biggest sales jumps have been with smaller SUVs, as drivers look to balance fuel efficiency with the capability of a truck. Robberson’s renovation more than doubled the size of the new car dealership on NE 3rd in Bend.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon lawmakers are expected to consider raising the minimum wage in the state this session. Legislation introduced would raise the wage to $15 an hour by 2018.
A new study just released by the Oregon Center for Public Policy refutes the claim raising the minimum wage wold hurt small business. Chuck Sheketoff is the Executive Director of the center. "Higher minimum wage means better worker productivity and that means lower turnover and that's a huge cost for employers and that would mean more toward their bottom line. So productivity gains and reduced costs improve their bottom line."
Democratic State Senator Sara Gelser says it's time to think about people. "We've heard a lot about the business community concerns and during this phone call I'm more concerned about the worker. We're all valid. We all contribute to our economy. And the bottom line is a lot of these people working more than one job are not making enough to meet their basic needs."
Senator Gelser believes this study shows that raising the minimum wage can go hand in hand with strong job growth for small businesses. She says reserachers found higher wages yield higher worker productivity and lower turnover.