REDMOND, OR -- Ride-sharing companies could be picking up travelers at the Redmond Airport as soon as April first. Redmond City Councilors this week approved ordinance revisions that bring rules for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft in line with taxis.
Airport Director Zach Bass says cabbies at Roberts Field will operate similar to how they do now. "They actually will pull up where they currently are. Uber, Lyft and any other TNCs that sign an operating agreement with the airport will actually have a separate place to pick up. They will not be able to ‘hail,’ so you’re not going to walk out and see an Uber driver sitting there like you would a taxi. But, once you get on your app and you make that connection, then there is a place that will be designated for them to pick up at the airport."
He tells KBND News, "The only thing that’s changed is we’ve implemented a gate access fee. So, when anybody picks up at the airport for profit, then it’ll be a dollar per gate access there at the airport. That’s the only thing that’s really changed with [taxis] is just more the fee structure." He says cabs and town cars used to pay an annual fee to access customers at the airport. "When we started taking a look at these TNCs that are one company but a massive amount of drivers, potentially, we kind of had to change how we implemented the fee structure. So, that’s what’s come from that is the gate access, or the $1 per pick-up."
For-hire vehicles must also be clearly marked and drivers must undergo annual background checks. Similar changes take effect in Bend May first. Bass says the ordinance is in-line with those imposed at other airports.
SISTERS, OR -- Construction is underway on Sisters’ first roundabout. Plans to upgrade the intersection of Highway 20, Barclay Drive and McKinney Butte Road have been in the works for several years. The area has seen a number of serious crashes.
Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, says a roundabout is the safest way to handle increasing traffic volumes on the west end of Sisters. "We don’t like the fact that people have to come to a complete stop when there’s a light," he tells KBND News. "We like to have people moving all the time, because what that does is it slows folks down so that the speeds are not – well, the momentum is less. The energy that’s created in a crash is significantly less when you have a roundabout and people keep moving, as opposed to coming to a complete stop and then rear-ending, or whatever it might be."
Crews broke ground on the $3.2-million project last week. "It’ll be done by Memorial Day," says Murphy. "That’s the promise we’ve made to the city. They get real busy – you know, the tourist season comes on." East and westbound traffic on Highway 20 is expected to stay open during construction; although, McKinney Butte and Barclay will be closed for several weeks, while each side of the roundabout is built. Beginning Saturday (Feb. 25), Barclay Drive will close for four to five weeks while Knife River crews perform excavation and install curbs and sidewalks. The majority of work will occur Monday through Saturday. Detours will be in place
For more information on the project, click HERE.
WASHINGTON, DC -- Oregon's days as a state with legalized recreational marijuana may be numbered. White House Spokesman Sean Spicer says drug use that violates federal law should not be allowed. "When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states across the country, the last thing that we should be is encouraging people. There is still a federal law that we should abide by."
However, he says President Trump doesn't feel the same about medical marijuana. "The President understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing, especially, terminal diseases; and, the comfort that some of these drugs, like medical marijuana, can bring to them."
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) says he'll work with the newly formed Cannabis Caucus to fight the President if he decides to take action. And, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) says the federal government needs to respect the decision of Oregon voters who approved recreational marijuana in the state. Wyden says it would be a waste of tax dollars for law enforcement to go after recreational marijuana users.
State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) issued a statement Friday, in response to the administrations comments: "I hope the new President and Attorney General keep their hands off Oregon's marijuana law. They should respect the will of the voters and honor state's rights. Federal intervention will only make a legal market a black market once again."
SISTERS, OR -- Oregon counties that depend on funding from the Secure Rural Schools Act are wondering whether they'll get support from the Trump Administration. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) joined more than 80 members of Congress to urge the Office of Management and Budget to include the program in the President’s 2018 budget.
The Secure Rural Schools Act expired in 2015; eligible counties and schools
received their last authorized payment, last year. Following a Sisters town hall, this week, Wyden told KBND News rural counties need to be able to make money from timber on their land. "We also have got to get the harvest up in a sustainable fashion."
He says he's talked with President Trump's nominee for Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, and feels he has an understanding of the issue. Zinke is a Montana Congressman who graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor's Degree in geology.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are looking for a man they say broke into the eastside McDonald’s on Highway 20.
Officers found an open door at the restaurant at about 2:30 Thursday morning. They say the alarm was sounding and several items appeared out of place.
Surveillance footage shows a man with a dark complexion, black hair and a goatee tampering with items, including the cash register and alarm speaker panel. Investigators believe he may have been intoxicated at the time.
Anyone with information on case is asked to call Officer Russ Skelton at Bend PD, at 541-322-2960.
SALEM, OR -- At the start of the 2017 legislative session, the Governor and a number of lawmakers identified comprehensive transportation funding as a top priority. They failed to agree on a package, in the 2016 session.
Three weeks in, lawmakers have yet to take any notable steps in the process, and State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) says it’s possible it could be delayed. "I’m even hearing that there’s potential that that flops over into either a special session or a short session in ’18, because it will take that long. Some of us are wondering what it is that’s really going to take that long. But, part of the issue is going to be what’s happening at the federal level." He tells KBND News federal decisions will impact the direction of state and local funding.
"Ultimately, you need strong infrastructure that’s there and available, if you want economic expansion and growth. Those two go hand in hand, but the transportation necessities need to lead in that regard," says Knopp. "To the degree that we can come up with a package that people can support, if that takes all session then so be it. But, I’m hopeful that it doesn’t continue on for another year or more." He says there is work being done in various transportation subcommittees and work groups. Knopp is hopeful state lawmakers can come up with something that will get bipartisan support before the end of this session.
Knopp says PERS reform and affordable housing are other top priorities. To address the latter, he wants to start with looking at the imbalance in land and housing supply, and demand. "We really need to focus on that issue and work toward allowing local governments the ability to expand as it relates to affordable housing. So, we have several bills that relate to land use specific things that would bring some relief. It’s not going to solve the problem entirely, but it would bring some relief to the issue. So, we’re going to be working on those probably all session long. I don’t think a lot of that stuff is going to come up early in the process."
To hear our full conversation with State Senator Tim Knopp, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man faces a number of charges, following a brief foot chase near the Meadow Lakes Golf Course. Police responded to reported drug activity in the area Wednesday evening. When officers arrived, the suspect ran from a car and hid in a nearby trailer park.
They eventually located and arrested 29-year-old John Geremy Lee Elvrum. During the investigation, police found a gun, ammo and suspected drugs.
Elvrum is accused of drug possession, an outstanding warrant and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
MADRAS, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden wrapped up a series of Central Oregon town hall meetings with a stop in Madras, Wednesday morning. Adults and students filled the Madras Performing Arts Center with questions on a number of topics.
Dan Carlson, disabled veteran from Culver, brought up the issue of illegal immigration. He tells KBND News, "We are a country of immigrants, but there's a difference between immigrant and undocumented alien, or illegal alien. And, we need to shore up our borders like the Senator confirmed he was going to help do, because without borders we have no country."
Some Warm Springs students took issue with Carlson's comments. Malia Collins is a Senior at Madras High School, "It, honestly, made me feel a little uncomfortable thinking that there are some people out there that do not want immigrants in this country and have those beliefs. But, I know that that's what America is, is to have your own rights and your own beliefs; and, belief systems are very strong in some people. If you do research you know this country is built on immigrants. Being native American, it's really kind of ironic when people talk about immigration, considering that native Americans are the only non-immigrants in this country." Savannah Holliday agrees, "I was kind of uncomfortable, like Malia, and I was kind of offended because we're a nation built on immigrants and I believe that we all have a right to be here."
Despite the disagreements, Senator Wyden tells KBND News he's pleased everyone remained civil. "What was different about this meeting is you almost had a little bit of an exchange between the younger people and the older people. You had issues with respect to immigration, for example, healthcare concerns. And, in many respects, this was kind of vintage Jefferson County because you really got a chance to see a cross-section of views." Wyden says he plans to take the feedback he's gotten from this week's meetings in Sisters, Prineville and Madras back to Washington, DC to try and find common ground on these controversial issues.
BEND, OR -- While many Central Oregon’s grow tired of this year’s immense amount of snow, Mt. Bachelor is reveling in the powder. It's a welcome shift after two years of meager snowfall in the region.
According to Mt. Bachelor's Stirling Cobb, the resort received 123" of snow in December, 108" in January, and 96" this month, as of February 22. Cobb tells KBND News, "Through most of that, temps have remained cold, so the snow quality has been some of the best we’ve seen here at Mt. Bachelor in probably a few years. It just keeps smiling faces having fun out there."
Since the start of the season on October first, the mountain has seen 405" of snow; nearly double what they received through the entire 2014-15 season. Two years ago, Bachelor recorded only 213", which led to the cancelation of several big events planned on the mountain
, that winter. During the 2015-16 season, they saw 411". At just halfway through this season, Cobb says, "We’re going to probably pass last season’s total – maybe this week, if the snowfall continues. And then, we always look forward to March where we’ve been known to get a decent snowfall, as well."
Cobb says there are more visitors on the mountain compared to recent years, but lines remain short, thanks to the addition of the Cloudchaser lift
. "Overall, right now, we have a strong base and that always helps set up a great spring. And, with quality snowfall, we usually get into that good corn cycle and the fun goes straight through the end of May." He expects the ski season to continue through Memorial Day.
CRATER LAKE, OR -- The National Park Service is investigating the theft of ammunition from Crater Lake National Park, earlier this month. Rifle and pistol caliber ammo was stolen from a locked building in the park headquarters. It was used by federal law enforcement for training and other operations. The theft is a felony.
Investigators released a grainy black and white video of a pickup (pictured right) entering the Annie Creek entrance station at about 2:30 a.m., February sixth – the day the theft was discovered. View the full video
. They say the people in that vehicle may have witnesses something related to the theft.
The Park Service is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. For more information, click HERE
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond resident was not hurt when a bullet reportedly “bounced” off their head while watching TV, Monday night. Police responded to the Wickiup Court home to investigate the unusual circumstances just before 10 p.m. They found the bullet on the floor and confirmed it traveled through a fence, the exterior wall of the home and a picture frame before hitting the resident in the head.
They discovered another hole in a neighboring home, where they recovered a 9mm gun and a spent casing in the bedroom. The neighbor, 24-year-old Ryan Pine, was arrested on a number of charges, including reckless endangering, child neglect and an outstanding warrant.
It's unclear why he may have fired the gun, although police don't believe he was trying to hurt anyone. Drugs and alcohol may have been contributing factors in the incident.
BEND, OR -- A request for Troy Field to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places recently cleared a big hurdle, but the fight to preserve the downtown Bend greenspace isn’t over. Bend-La Pine Schools owns the vacant lot and tried to sell it to a Portland hotel developer last year, in an effort to raise money for district projects. After a public outcry, City Councilors failed to approve a zoning change and the sale fell through. It’s now off the market.
Kelly Cannon-Miller, with the Deschutes Historical Museum, says the field has been a community gathering space since 1904. She tells KBND News says the dust up over a potential sale has happened before. "In the late 70s, the whole area: Reid School, the Amateur Athletic Club building that’s now Boys and Girls, the entire high school and all of the property in front if it, and Troy Field, all was listed for sale as one gigantic chunk. And the community responded much the same way then." The original Bend High - which now houses Bend-La Pine Schools admin offices - and other buildings in the parcel eventually received Historic designation. But Troy Field was left off because it didn’t share quite the same history.
Now, says Cannon-Miller, "Friends of Troy Field is a group that is working actively, although quietly, but actively to try and find a resolution for the fate and future of Troy Field. And, it’s out of that group that the National Register nomination was written and forwarded to the state. It cleared the state Historic Preservation Office and has been forwarded to the national office for review." That review could take several months, and she says it's a difficult proces.
If the National Park Service grants the designation, she says it would not prevent future sale or development of the site. "It forces the process to go through a review that includes its heritage – its historic use. How has this piece been used over time and do we need to think about it a little bit harder before we just sell it and build, you know, ‘X, Y or Z.’" That process is reviewed by the state's Historic Landmarks Commission.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors will spend Wednesday creating goals for the next two years. Councilor Sally Russell tells KBND News, "Every two years we start fresh as our Council turns over; and, it’s a recalibration. The issues that we’re looking at today are different than the issues that we looked at two years [ago], partly because we may have created policies and invested in community needs two years ago and those are now sort of on their way, and so we can turn our focus and look at other corners of the community."
Russell is the longest-serving member of the current Council. She says, "As you hear us talking about goal-setting – we talk about livability; we talk about our unbelievably huge infrastructure needs at this point in time for our region and for our city; we talk about our challenges and really providing housing people in our community can really afford. So, certainly, those are going to be issues that come up again and again and again." Affordable Housing is Russell's top priority. "And, I want to be really clear that, to me, ‘affordable housing’ is a place where people can live that their job allows them to afford. So, if you’re a secretary, if you work for a high tech company, if you’re making beds, the owner of a grocery store, whatever. I think it’s really important that we have the housing infrastructure, the streets infrastructure, the community that you can live and thrive in." She says it may mean going beyond traditional “affordable housing” and could include working with the building community to construct more efficient homes that cost less to maintain.
Wednesday's special meeting will also focus on street maintenance, the newly expanded Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), OSU-Cascades, homelessness and public safety. "The decisions that we’re making today really have to stand the test of time and move us into the future still holding on to this wonderful, incredible sense of place that brings people to our community," says Russell.
BEND, OR -- A Prineville man is accused of having a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old at a Bend hotel on Valentine's Day. Bend police say 42-year-old Christopher Michael Stout found the teen on the social media site “Tumblr” before the two arranged to meet at the Double Tree Hotel on February 14. After the encounter, he allegedly made several other attempts to contact the victim.
On Tuesday, Police arrested Stout at his home on SW Second Street in Prineville, and seized numerous pieces of evidence during the execution of a search warrant. He's charged with a total of 74 counts: 46 counts of Luring, 20 counts of Encouraging Child Sex Abuse in the Second Degree, four counts of Using a Child in the Display of Sexually Explicit Conduct, and two counts each of Sex Abuse in the Third Degree and Sodomy in the Third Degree.
SALEM, OR -- State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) is sponsoring a bill to help parents pay for childcare. "Working parents in Oregon deserve to have affordable and quality childcare," Knopp said at a hearing, this week. "They were spending 30% or more of their gross income on childcare." And, he says the state's increase in the minimum wage will push those costs higher.
Knopp's bill would increase the amount of Oregon's child care tax credit. Kate Newhall, with Family Forward Oregon, says it's not enough. "Tax credits don’t serve as economic drivers, whereas subsidy programs like ERDC, do." However, the Employment Related Day Care program (ERDC) is in danger of having some funding cut while the state tries to cover a budget gap of nearly $2 billion.
Knopp needs bipartisan support to get his bill passed and offer parents more help with childcare costs.
SISTERS, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) began a three-county sweep through Central Oregon with a town hall meeting in Sisters, Monday evening. It was his first public meeting in the area since the election of President Trump. Wyden's theme throughout the evening was what he called the Oregon Way. "We’re respectful and we’re inclusive; and I’ll tell you, I don’t think Mark Hatfield, a legendary Republican, would have ever accepted a religious test in government and neither will I."
More than 700 people crowded into the Sisters High auditorium. At the start of the meeting, Wyden asked for a show of hands from those who had never attended a town hall with him before; more than half raised their hands, including James Dougherty. He tells KBND News, "We have to continue the momentum that has resulted from the Trump election." His wife Elizabeth says, "I think my greatest fear is that we’ll lose that momentum, so it’s really important to show up and to – sounds kind of cliché – but, to make our voices heard we have to support our two Senators. Our Representative will not meet with us in a town hall, so the pressure’s on for that, as well."
Due to the large crowd, a couple dozen people were forced to sit in an overflow area just outside the auditorium, including Patrick Hartman of Sisters. He brought his wife and their 16-year-old daughter and says, "The issues are becoming magnified and I think it’s important that everybody start getting involved in expressing their interests and their concerns. I’m pleased with his willingness to stand up for issues that I’m concerned about."
Senator Wyden took questions through a lottery-style drawing and mainly focused on familiar topics, including protecting public lands, the future of the Affordable Care Act, the administration’s alleged ties to Russia, and immigration. Amidst the overwhelmingly "friendly" crowd, there were a few Trump supporters in the audience. One was selected to speak and asked, "Do you accept Donald Trump’s results of his Presidency as valid and legal?" Wyden answered, "Yes, I believe he won the election." The man responded, "Fantastic. And then from that, what are you doing to heal and move forward so we can get things done?" Wyden said, "First of all, I want to tell you I very much appreciate you coming and speaking out. Because, it does take courage and guts to be willing to speak out when, obviously, there are others who may not share your view. Frankly, I think being willing to do that is part of what I call the Oregon way." Wyden went on to say that things like the President's travel ban are detracting from policy that he believes could get bipartisan support. "I think it’s particularly unfortunate that going with an idea like this has really diverted attention from
another idea that Democrats and Republicans ought to be working together on, that will leave you and everybody in this room safer and is consistent with protecting liberty; and that is, revising the visa waiver program." He also praised Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham for their willingness to stand up to the President and others in their party.
This was Wyden’s 795th town hall meeting since taking office, and his 22nd in Deschutes County. He will host a Prineville town hall Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., at Crook County High School; and then at the Madras Performing Arts Center at 10 a.m., Wednesday.
BEND, OR -- The Bend City Council is considering whether to revisit rules surrounding short-term rentals. The code was recently rewritten, but Dave Felton is asking the city to take another look.
He and his roommate want to rent a room out of their home on the west side of Bend. Current code stipulates the owner must reside in the home. Felton and his roommate rent, and his permit request was denied. He told Councilors, last week, "I believe that it is time that this code is changed, so that renters in Bend - with the appropriate permission of their property owner, obviously - may be able to do the same thing that hundreds of Air-BnBers do in cities across America. Again, I'm asking that the Bend development code be changed to allow these types of short-term rentals to be considered for both owner-occupied and operator-occupied dwellings." Felton says his landlord is on board with the idea of renting out a room.
"This small change could mean an increase in tax revenue and even tourism revenue for the city, as well," says Felton, "since this would open up running more short-term rentals to other responsible renters like Mikhalia and I, who love showing off our city."
Councilor Barb Campbell says she's interested in taking a look at possible changes to the code.
BEND, OR -- After an incredible amount of snow fell, this winter, local street crews were forced to use a massive amount of gravel and cinders to keep cars from slipping on the ice. Most of that snow is now gone, but the rocks remain.
David Abbas, Bend’s Director of Streets and Operations, says it’s now time to clean up the mess. "As we’ve been thawing out, with the weather we’ve been getting these last couple weeks, we have had our sweepers out on corridors that snow’s gone and we can get to. Depending on the time of day, some of that is still frozen to the ground, if it’s early in the morning. But, we’re getting a jump on it as best we can to get that gravel cleaned up." He tells KBND News, crews are preparing for spring while continuing winter operations, "Obviously, right now, on most of the roads we’re still dealing with areas for safety or problematic areas. But, here’s where we get an opportunity to try and get out there and get a jump on cleaning that up. Mother Nature - two or three weeks from now, it could snow again."
As sweepers clean up the mess, Abbas says they try to recycle as much rock as possible. "A number of years back, we went from using red cinders to more of a basalt crushed rock. It’s more of a grayish, whitish color so we field calls sometimes, ‘I’m not seeing the sanding rock out there.’ It kind of blends in. But, at this time, when we can sweep that up and get that back to our yard and do some screening with it, there is a re-use possibility." He says basalt doesn't break down as easily as red cinders, which turns into a fine dust after a number of cars drive over it. Red cinders were used on some streets, this year, as crews got to the bottom of rock piles. Crews laid down about 9,000 yards of rock, this year. In an average winter, Abbas says they would use about 1800 yards.
To hear our full conversation with David Abbas, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
REDMOND, OR -- Crews are putting the final touches on Redmond’s new City Hall in preparation for its public debut, Tuesday. Mayor George Endicott conducted a walk-through at the former Evergreen School, last week. He tells KBND News, "They’d just finished, the day before, putting up the letters ‘Redmond City Hall’ which is just beautiful – it’s going to be backlit. So, I was going through the building; it’s just beautiful: new floors and the paint job. We’re going to capture a lot of the historic nature of the building, so it’s going to be a lot of fun." Officials will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Tuesday morning. Click HERE to view a sneak-peek video produced by the city.
He says now that the building's transition from historic school to City Hall is complete, Council priorities have evolved, this year. "We’ve added ‘study and figure out what to do with the old gymnasium,’ and ‘work on completing Centennial Plaza.’ That will be, in this case, a multi-year project."
Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting begins at 10 a.m. on Ninth street, between Evergreen and Deschutes Avenue. Representatives from Redmond’s Historic Landmark Commission will lead public tours of the nearly 100-year-old building, starting at 10:30.
Above Photo: Evergreen Elementary prior to its conversion to Redmond's City Hall.
BEND, OR -- A Friday night hit and run left a pedestrian injured and Bend police continue to search for a suspect. Investigators say a woman was crossing the road in a marked crosswalk at Franklin and Bond when she was struck by a pickup, just after 9 p.m., Friday. She was taken to St. Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries.
The suspect vehicle is described as a gray or black Dodge Ram 2500 or similar-type vehicle, lifted with oversized tires. Anyone with information is asked to call Bend Police at 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- A Bend woman is accused of stealing patients’ personal information while she worked in the billing department of a local medical clinic. As KBND News first reported last week, a Desert Orthopedics employee was fired after her employer learned she was accused of identity theft.
Bend Police now say the investigation into 36-year-old Karleigh Joy Kelly began in January, when a Redmond resident reported more than a thousand dollars in unauthorized credit card purchases. A similar case was investigated by the Sheriff’s office. In both cases, online orders were shipped to a home on Northeast Comet Lane, in Bend, where Kelly lived.
Officers later recovered some of those fraudulently purchased items, including shoes and cosmetics. On January 29, police arrested Kelly on four counts of ID Theft, four counts of Computer Crime, one count of Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card and one count of Theft I.
Bend Police say Desert Orthopedics was cooperative and helped officers complete the investigation and "have notified other potential victims to minimize any further loss." Since Kelly's arrest, other alleged victims have come forward.
BEND, OR -- Local schools saw a record number of snow days, this winter. Bend City Councilor Barb Campbell announced, this week, she has an idea for kids to stay busy on these unexpected days off. She notes colleges often look for community service on admissions applications and she thinks partnering with schools to get kids to volunteer is a win/win proposal.
"This is what I'm thinking," she told her fellow Councilors at Wednesday's meeting. "The school district is going to say to the kids, 'One way you could get community service hours is by shoveling snow during snow days.' We are involved, because we are the ones who get the phone calls when people are unable to shovel their own." Campbell explained, "We are going to be the ones who answer the phones and say, 'OK, we need somebody this address, this parking lot, we're trying to clear the corners in downtown Bend.' You know, that's why the city would be involved."
Campbell wants to talk to Bend-La Pine Schools to see if they can work together to develop a community service program.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors paved the way, this week, for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft to come to town, just in time for the summer tourist season. Councilors unanimously approved a number of ordinance changes, Wednesday, including requiring taxis and TNC vehicles to be clearly identified as such, and mandating drivers undergo annual background checks.
Ben Nichols, co-owner of Bend Cab Company
, welcomes the competition. He tells KBND News, "I’ve kind of always expected Uber to possibly come here. And, I have no issue with them coming here as long as the playing field is even – as long as the same requirement for their drivers and our drivers and vehicles are the same." He notes the new ordinance includes guidelines his company already follows. "I’ve always thought competition is good; that’s what America’s all about. But, as far as Uber/Lyft, I don’t think we really have the population here for it. We already have – gosh – seven, eight, nine different cab companies and I guess Friday, Saturday nights on Wall and Bond is going to be pretty packed, if that’s the case."
Uber's John Isaacs thanked Bend City Councilors, for their work, saying Wednesday, "We support the changes that were made to the code – or to the ordinance. We feel they were responsive to the issues that you raised. Many of which we thought were worthy of consideration and we think it’s an improved ordinance from the one that came before you two weeks ago." The ordinance must pass one final vote, which is expected in the next couple weeks. It would take effect May first.
Nichols believes TNCs are setting their sights on Redmond. He says access to the airport is likely key to Uber's Central Oregon business plan. "They’ve put in a new gate for taxi and TNC providers so the airport can get paid for the entrance to the airport in order to pick up. Both cab companies and Uber/Lyft will also have to do the same. And, I know the city has been working with is and figuring out how they’re going to do it and I think we’re about there." Redmond City Councilors are scheduled to take up the issue Tuesday. They’re expected to make similar ordinance changes to align with Bend’s rules. Redmond city officials say it would also take effect about the same time as in Bend.
BEND, OR -- Students from MIT are in Bend, this weekend, to try and develop ways to combat human trafficking. They were invited to take part in a "hackathon" hosted by Guardian Group, a Bend-based nonprofit working to end sex trafficking in the U.S.
Jeff Tiegs, with Guardian Group, says these young tech experts could be the key to unraveling the online world that allows human trafficking to thrive. "We work closely with MIT, with Harvard, with Wharton and with Stanford; so, those are some heavy hitters. There’s a lot of young talent out there that we’re trying to help them understand this problem and find new, innovative solutions."
He tells KBND News fighting these unique crimes require a new approach, "Unlike most crimes, it’s advertised all over social media. If you look at some of these traffickers social media accounts – from their Facebook to their Twitter, to their Instagram, to their SnapChat, to their multiple different dating websites, they are very open and public about who they are and what they’re doing. Those are public sites where people go and there’s an exchange of information and there’s an exchange of data." But, law enforcement often can't track that data in the real world without real names. "If an escort’s name is ‘Candy’ and her pimp’s name is ‘Daddy Mac,’ we don’t know who that is; law enforcement can’t do anything with that information. That’s how they’re known all over the internet. But, once you’re able to get some true identities and anchor this in the real world, now law enforcement can begin investigations and unraveling what this network looks like and what this crime – where it geographically sits."
The weekend-long event begins Friday. Guardian Group and the MIT students will also host several public events. Public presentations take place Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 p.m. at OSU-Cascades. Then, Sunday evening, they'll host a strategy session at the Deschutes Brewery Tap Room with other local businesses and organizations, like OSU and COCC, 6-8 p.m.
Guardian Group has been invited to Harvard and the Wharton School of Business at the Univ. of Pennsylvania to present their work at two conferences, later this year.
BEND, OR -- A 19-year-old Bend man was arrested this week, after a short-term investigation by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team. Christopher Deck was taken into custody near the southeast Bend Jimmy John's restaurant, Wednesday evening.
According to Detectives, Deck got a handgun from someone who legally purchased it from a local dealer. The weapon was illegally transferred to Deck, since he’s not 21 – the legal age to purchase a handgun. Investigators also recovered over 700 Xanax tablets, a prescription anxiety medication and a schedule IV controlled substance.
Following his arrest, detectives searched a southeast Bend home and found digital scales, packaging material and cash.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Mayor George Endicott is closely watching activity in Salem, hoping state lawmakers will restore recreational immunity. He tells KBND News, "The law is very specific that the landowner is free of liability. What happened was a woman who was sight impaired in Portland stepped in a hole. She couldn’t sue the city because they’re the owner; she sued the maintenance worker. Well, all our employees are indemnified if they’re doing their official duty, so the city still ends up paying." Endicott wants lawmakers to revise current law so that employees are also immune from lawsuits in specific cases.
The League of Oregon Cities also supports clarifying the law, which could prohibit people from suing cities if that person is hurt while participating in a free recreational opportunity. "Actually, one of the poster children that the League is using, and certainly our delegation is well aware of, is that great climbing facility that we built under the bridge," says Mayor Endicott. The Maple Bridge climbing wall in Redmond’s Dry Canyon was heralded by rock climbing enthusiasts before it closed last fall, due to liability concerns. "Right now, we pay $5,000 a year for our liability insurance, with a $50,000 deductible. Had we continued that bridge, it was going to $157,000 a year with a $100,000 deductible. That’s general fund money; I mean, we can’t do it."
Mayor Endicott spoke with lawmakers last week, and says they appear ready to make the necessary changes. "I heard nothing but positive feedback, so we think something will happen. They realize it’s an oversight. It wasn’t meant the way it’s written but the courts took a very strict interpretation."
Mayor Endicott says other top priorities for the legislative session include PERS and property tax reform and transportation.
Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Mayor Endicott, or visit our Podcast Page.
SISTERS, OR -- As excitement grows for this summer’s total solar eclipse, lodging opportunities within the path of totality are dwindling. Most hotels and motels within the "path of totality" are already booked for the August 21 eclipse, and State Parks campgrounds sold out within an hour, when the reservation window opened last November.
But, there are still campsites available from the U.S. Forest Service. Those facilities are managed by Hoodoo Recreation, which only accepts reservations six months in advance. But, Jennifer Draper, with Hoodoo Recreation, suggests not waiting until February 21 to make your reservation. "It’s a moving booking window, where you can book up to six months in advance to the first date of your stay. So that means, on Tuesday the 21st, that day might already be reserved if campers wanted to begin their stays earlier in the week. So, if anybody wanted to try and get a really good chance at grabbing those reservations, they may want to plan their stay beginning before the eclipse."
If you miss out on a reservation, Draper says you still have a chance, if you're willing to wait until August and take a risk with a site or campground that doesn't accept reservations. "So, often those sites are not listed on the reservation website, which is Recreation.gov. But, if you wanted a full overview of both the reservable and the first come first served only sites, you can check out our website at HoodooRecreation.com."
Regardless of how you attempt to grab a campsite, the USFS sites are likely to be all full by the time the eclipse actually happens, "We have been getting quite a few phone calls with interest about our facilities," Draper tells KBND News. "Given that we do leave some that are non-reservable, we expect there to be some possibilities for campers. But we are expecting those reservable sites to get snatched up relatively quickly.
The path of totality stretches from Maupin to Redmond with the best local viewing expected to be in Madras. Learn more about the event at NationalEclipse.com or visit NASA's eclipse website.
BEND, OR -- The Bend-La Pine School Board saw a tremendous response to its recent opening. Wednesday night, they attempted to whittle down the list of more than two-dozen applicants. Initially, the board received 26 applications but one candidate dropped out prior to Wednesday's interview sessions, when candidates were divided into two groups.
Board Chair Peggy Kinkade likened the process to "speed dating." She told KBND News, "We're just taking 3.5 minutes; they knew in advance what the questions were going to be and we just cut to right the chase when they come and sit down at our table." Those questions included why they want to serve on the board and what are the district's strengths and weaknesses? During the process, Kinkade said, "It's going quickly, and I would love to be able to talk with everybody a little bit longer, but I do think I'm getting good information from the 3.5-minute conversation that we're having."
She was pleased with the pool of applicants. "It's a really outstanding crop of people. People are really passionate about public education, want to serve our community, seem to have really great interests in mind and no real particular personal agendas. I think it's going to be a difficult choice - a really quality group of applicants." Kinkade adds, "We plan to discuss this as part of our board meeting [Thursday], try and narrow the list of what's now 25 candidates down to five or fewer finalists. We would then be bringing that group back probably on February 27, which is a Monday - a week and a half from now - and do some in-depth interviews with those folks."
Kinkade is hopeful the board will make a final decision in time for the new member to attend the February 28 meeting, which is expected to be outgoing board member Nori Juba's last.
LA PINE, OR -- A California man was arrested this week, after a traffic stop near La Pine that allegedly turned up drugs and a handgun.
According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy pulled over 31-year-old Juan Macias on Highway 97, for traffic violations, Tuesday afternoon. A drug-detection dog alerted to the odor of narcotics in the vehicle and deputies later found just under two pounds of meth, along with the gun.
Macias faces several charges, including being a felon in possession of a firearm.
TERREBONNE, OR -- A chimney fire caused about $5,000 to a Terrebonne home, Wednesday. Residents first reported seeing flames coming from the chimney near the ceiling, just after 12 p.m.
Crooked River Ranch firefighters were first on scene and quickly extinguished the blaze. Redmond Fire also responded and worked to complete the overhaul. There were no injuries reported.
BEND, OR -- Law enforcement officers from across the country are coming to Central Oregon, this spring, to take part in a unique three-day conference offered by the Bend Police Department. Lt. Clint Burleigh tells KBND News the training focuses on stress management, mindfulness and mental health. "This is such a stressful career regarding what we see, what we respond to, what we hear, and just trying to make sure we make time for ourselves to get ourselves back. Because, the more we are aware of ourselves, the better we are going to be on the street for the community."
The Resilience Immersion Training was first held a year ago after Bend Police Sgt. Brian Beekman met an officer from Hillsboro. "They both went to a class at UCLA, where they talk about mindfulness in law enforcement. From there, he brought it back and said ‘hey, we want to bring this three-day immersion training here in Bend,’ and it’s blown up. As you have people coming from across the nation, and they go back and say ‘this has been so helpful for me,’ word spreads in law enforcement communities. And when it starts hitting, it’s like wildfire."
Sgt. Beekman says it fills a hole that’s existed up to this point in law enforcement training. "A little known, but very scary fact of law enforcement, law enforcement suicides are thought to be on a national level double what line of duty deaths are. So, that gives you a feel for a scope for the problem. You know, how many officers are exposed to violence, traumatized, physically injured and deal with a lot of pain and suffering, and that accumulates over the course of their careers."
The spring session will be the third held in Bend. A November session sold out, drawing officers from South Carolina, Canada, California and several points in between. Beekman says those agencies are attracted to the uniqueness of the training, "We have the benefit here of having a department that’s looking for new ways to keep officers healthy in the profession and go out of the box a little bit. And, because of that, they’ve allowed us to host some training that’s different. Along that vein, we’ve kind of become a hub for this type of training." The training is led by Mindful Badge.
BEND, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) plans to hold town hall meetings, next week, in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson County. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) has been criticized by some in Bend for not holding a public meeting in the area for several months.
Wyden says he's continuing the conversation that began with meetings held elsewhere in the state, earlier this year, which drew record crowds. More than 1500 turned out for a Town Hall with the Democrat on February fourth in Linn county.
Monday, February 20, the Senator will be at Sisters High school, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 21, he'll host a town hall at Crook County High School at 12:30 p.m. And, Wednesday, February 22, Wyden will be at the Madras Performing Arts Center, at 10 a.m.
SUNRIVER, OR -- Sunriver Police released more details of the investigation into the man found dead Sunday near a bike path. Investigators with the Deschutes County Major Incident Team say 41-year-old Mark Allen Arterbury was found near Woodland lane with a severe laceration to the neck; several people reported seeing him bleeding and walking alone.
Police located several knives nearby and say Arterbury had no defensive wounds, which indicate he hadn’t fought with anyone. They say he suffered from mental health issues in the past and believe his fatal injuries were self-inflicted.
BEND, OR -- A local nonprofit is forced to substantially scale back its Energy Assistance Program, this week, due to a lack of resources. NeighborImpact announced Monday it would reduce appointments and services for those in the tri-county area.
Lynne McConnell, with NeighborImpact, says several factors led to the decision, "On of them is that it’s been a crazy winter. There’s more need this year than there have been in past years. In addition to that, because it’s been so cold, people’s power bills have been going up compared to last year. So, we’re seeing higher power bills, which means that we’re getting the money out the door more quickly." And, she tells KBND News, "There’s a lot of uncertainty on both the federal and state level of what budgets are going to look like. Normally we would be getting additional money from the federal government sometime around this time of year. We have no idea, under continuing resolution, if that’s going to come through. And, if so, when it will." Funds provided through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, have been exhausted. In the past, the nonprofit has received an additional 10% allocation to help local clients.
Between October 1 and February 8, NeighborImpact helped 5,226 people pay electric bills, totaling over $1.3-million. McConnell says they don’t usually see those numbers until March or April. And, winter isn't over: "Power bills for this month are just now hitting mailboxes, this week." McConnell says there may be other help available for low income families, "There are some wonderful nonprofits in churches, in the faith community, that can sometimes provide assistance. But, when we’re talking about numbers in the thousands, I think it’s impossible to think that folks are going to be able to meet the need. We are encouraging people to talk to their power companies about work-out options, whatever those might be. That’s absolutely the first place people should go."
NeighborImpact is still able to help Pacific Power customers with a final shut-off notice or who have been disconnected, but that’s on a first-come first-served basis, by calling 541-504-2155 to schedule an appointment. For more information, click HERE or contact Lynne McConnell at 541-323-6569.
BEND, OR -- A group plans to march outside of Congressman Greg Walden's downtown Bend office at noon, Tuesday. Some voters are upset the Republican has not held a local town hall in Central Oregon where they could voice their concerns over the new Administration's policies, face-to-face. Last week, Walden's Deputy Chief of Staff responded to criticism over four town hall meetings in rural parts of the district and the little advance notice provided to the public.
Organizer Bonnie Walker tells KBND News, "There's a lot going on in the federal government, right now; a lot of legislation that's being proposed that we feel we need to talk to our representative about. And, we deserve the chance to talk to him in person to know his views on these things, what he's planning to take for action and also to let him know our point of view." She adds, "I'm very concerned about the legislation to terminate the EPA. Also, he is spearheading the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, and he seems to be waffling as to whether he's gong to repeal it, replace it, repair it. We hear a lot of different terms, but so far there's not really any clear indication of what is going to happen."
Walker says she and others have complained to Walden's staff and held past protests. But, they haven't heard from his office about when the Congressman will hold a town hall in the Bend area. "It does feel like he has been trying to avoid us. It's time that he really just sit down and talk with us in person, in Bend. I think it's actually making it worse to avoid us; we're actually really nice people."
Photo: Protesters march outside Rep. Greg Walden's Bend office on Feb. 7, 2017
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County’s newest Commissioner was sworn in Monday. County Judge Seth Crawford says Brian Barney was selected as the best candidate out of the 10 who applied for the vacancy.
"He has just extensive background in business, in ranching, in development, he was a Sheriff’s Deputy, he’s been the chair of the Prineville Memorial Board for 15 years; just kind of a smorgasbord of experiences in his life," Judge Crawford tells KBND News. That skill set is exactly what he and Commissioner Jerry Brummer were looking for, "Right now, what we need to fill is the areas of health and human services and law enforcement. That’s kind of the liaison person that we need."
Barney joins Commissioner Jerry Brummer, who was elected in November. Crawford says it’s a benefit to have two-thirds of the court comprised of new Commissioners. "We’ve been really working hard to set up policy and procedures that haven’t been set up there. And, I think sometimes bringing a fresh eye on their organizations and ideas just gives you such an advantage to look at it a little differently, and I think everything’s been running really smoothly."
Judge Crawford says now the court is ready to get to work on the county’s priorities. "Jobs, of course are on the top, natural resources, and long-term budget planning and professionalizing the county. I’ve already worked with Jerry [Brummer] and we’ve hired Andy Parks, the guy that does long-term budget planning for the city and has worked them into a position where they’re getting award winning budgets. So, we’re working with him to start implementing steps to get us there."
Commissioner Barney takes over the seat vacated by Crawford's election to Judge in November. He's expected to take part in his first regular meeting on Wednesday. To hear our full conversation with Seth Crawford, visit our Podcast Page
or click HERE
BEND, OR -- A local medical facility is warning patients to watch for potential bank account problems after an employee was arrested for multiple counts of identity theft. According to the letter issued to patients by Desert Orthopedics last week, an employee is accused of stealing credit card and personal information from at least two Desert Orthopedics patients. She allegedly used that information to shop online.
The employee worked for the company from July 1, 2016 until January 31, 2017 when they learned of the breach. In the letter, the Desert Orthopedics says they "have taken immediate steps to reinforce and enhance all financial fraud protocols to ensure that all patient information is secure going forward. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."
Those who suspect they may be a victim in the case are urged to call Bend Police at 541-693-6911.
REDMOND, OR -- One man was severely injured in a crash that briefly shut down Highway 97 in Redmond during Monday's evening commute. According to first responders, a Ford Ranger pickup collided with a semi-truck hauling hogs near Odem Medo Road, just before 6 p.m.
Fire crews used hydraulic tools to free the pickup driver trapped in his vehicle. He was transported to St. Charles Bend. There were no injuries in the semi.
SALEM, OR -- The Oregon Legislature faces difficult budget decisions, this year, and they're getting input from residents over the next three weeks.
Lawmakers face a budget gap of $1.8 billion. They're holding hearings throughout the state to find a solution, beginning with meetings in Salem and Portland over the weekend. At one, an attendee told the crowd, "We need to save higher education." That's one priority. Others include K-12 education, veterans affairs and human services.
There is one theme, so far: Where to get the money. One man said, "Those who do business in our state need to pay their fair share and deliver on the promise of a better Oregon for all citizens." Retired state worker Katherine Stern insisted, "It is insane to reward corporations for tax breaks for coming to our state without accountability for what, if anything, they provide in turn." Oregon's corporate tax structure is seen by most as the solution to the shortfall. Measure 97, which would have increased corporate taxes, was defeated by voters in November. A similar plan is expected to be discussed during the 2017 session.
Budget hearings are scheduled for five other cities in the coming weeks, including Saturday, February 18 in Madras:
Friday, February 17
5 to 7 p.m.
Hermiston High School
600 S 1st St, Hermiston
Saturday, February 18
1 to 3 p.m.
Performing Arts Center
Madras High School
390 SE 10th St, Madras
Friday, February 24
5 to 7 p.m.
Rogue River Room
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland
Saturday, February 25
1 to 3 p.m.
Rooms 308-309 Building 17 (The Forum)
Lane Community College
4000 E 30th Ave, Eugene
Friday, March 3
6 to 8 p.m.
Port of Tillamook Bay
6825 Officers Row, Tillamook
BEND, OR -- The Bend-La Pine School Board received what could be a record number of applications for Nori Juba’s seat; The long-time board member will step down at the end of the month. Board Chair Peggy Kinkade says they’re getting creative with the interview process with a speed-dating-style session scheduled for Wednesday. "We’re kind of scrambling to find a way to give audience to all 26 of these people who have expressed an interest and a desire to serve on the board. It’s difficult to really distinguish between them when you’re just looking at a resume and cover letter. For them to be able to have a little bit of face-to-face time, I think - I hope, will allow us to reduce the pool significantly so we can really zero on some finalists."
The board plans to conduct long-form interviews with three-to-five finalists on February 27. Kinkade hopes they can then appoint Juba’s replacement in time for the new member to participate in the February 28 board meeting. She tells KBND News that in the past they’ve interviewed each applicant, but typically there are only five or six. "In this case, it’s impractical to call in 26 people and have in-depth interviews and make an appointment this calendar year, you know? So, we’ve got to find a way that we can hear from them and get to know them very briefly and then try and make an informed decision in narrowing the pool. We’re quite, quite surprised by the size of this pool."
She and the board can only speculate why there is so much interest, this time around. "We’re living in a climate, right now, where people are very interested in finding ways to participate in the community; to help make decisions and kind of help make the world a better place, with the recent Presidential election that’s lit a fire under people for one reason or another. That, I think, might be driving a lot of the interest in this position." She adds, "You know, it’s a great problem to have. It’s wonderful that that many people are interested enough to apply and willing to participate in that way in our community. That’s exciting; that’s a really good development in our community. It creates a lot of work for us, but that’s great work to do."
SUNRIVER, OR -- Sunriver Police and the Deschutes County Major Incident Team are investigating the death of a man in his 30s, found near a bike path, Sunday.
According to police, an anonymous caller first reported a man bleeding from the neck, walking near the roundabout at South Century and Abbot Drive, at about 10:30 a.m. Police responded to the area but were unable to locate the victim until a second report came in, just before noon, of someone bleeding on the path near Woodland Lane. Officers located the unresponsive man and medics determined he was deceased.
Due to the suspicious nature of the death, police requested assistance from the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, District Attorney's Office, Medical Examiner's Office, Oregon State Police and the state crime lab; all agencies are part of the Major IncidentTeam.
His identity has not been released, pending family notification.
BEND, OR -- Oregon Congressman Greg Walden held five town hall meetings in the central and northern parts of his district, this week, drawing criticism from residents in other areas who say he’s avoiding their questions. Walden stopped in Mitchell, Mt. Vernon, Weston, Boardman and Arlington on Thursday and Friday.
A number of Bend, Prineville, Medford and Hood River residents questioned him on social media about the lack of notice for those meetings, and when he’ll be in the bigger cities of his district. Protesters demonstrated outside Walden's Bend office on Tuesday, calling for him to host a public meeting in Central Oregon to discuss the Affordable Care Act and the President's immigration policies.
Congressman Walden’s office says he tries to strike a balance between town halls and special meeting requests and sends notification of those meetings to local media in those areas. Walden recently met with veterans in Bend and city officials in Prineville. Deputy Chief of staff Andrew Malcolm told KBND News Friday, “Greg holds a town hall meeting in all 20 counties in our district at least once a year. He held 27 in the district last year, and 134 in the past five years. We also had a telephone town hall earlier this week (4,000 participated and 250 people left voicemails, which we’re responding to) and plan to have more soon. Many have told us that is easier for them than an in-person town hall, especially in rural areas.” He went on to say, “It’s a big district, as you know, and Greg works his way around it. The trip this week is 607 miles in seven counties.” He also notes the Congressman has more days in session, than typical, this month.
Walden's Town Hall Schedule, week of Feb. 6:
Thur., Feb 9; 1 p.m. : Mitchell School
Thur., Feb 9; 4 p.m.: Weston Memorial Hall
Fri., Feb 10; 2:15 p.m.: Port of Morrow, Boardman
Fri., Feb 10; 4 p.m.: North Gilliam Co. Fire Hall, Arlington
Photo: Grant County town hall, February 9, 2017. Courtesy Greg Walden on Facebook.
BEND, OR -- A criminal harassment charge against a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputy was dismissed this week, after he completed a diversion program. In a written statement, District Attorney John Hummel said, "Mr. Wright was offered the option to enter into the early disposition program just like any defendant would have been. Police officers should not be treated better than other defendants, nor should they be treated worse."
Hummel says Wright entered the program at his first court appearance and quickly completed the required community service.
Sheriff Shane Nelson says Deputy Wright has not yet returned to work. "We understand that the criminal process is completed. However, we still have an internal investigation to complete. And, the deputy will remain on paid administrative leave until we complete that investigation." Nelson tells KBND News, "The internal investigation is designed to take a look at alleged policy violations of our office."
Updated Feb. 13 to include information on paid administrative leave.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville woman was injured in a crash, Thursday night, on Juniper Canyon Road, near Morningside Drive. According to the Crook County Sheriff's Office, 55-year-old Kimberly Wasson drove in the shoulder for about 300-feet, overcorrected after re-entering her lane, at about 8 p.m. Her vehicle then slid through a ditch and struck a tree before her car came to a rest on its top. Wasson was taken to the hospital with what were described as moderate injuries.
The investigation is ongoing, and they believe alcohol or another substance may have been a contributing factor in the crash.
REDMOND, OR -- Oregon’s Government Ethics Commission launched a formal investigation, this month, into allegations a Redmond City Councilor tried to influence the approval of building projects. A local builder claims Anne Graham used her position to negatively influence permits for homes he was building in her neighborhood. According to the preliminary review, obtained by KBND News through a public records request, investigators found "Further investigation is needed to determine the extent of Ms. Graham's influence, if any, in these matters."
Oregon Government Ethics Commission Executive Director Ron Bersin tells KBND News a nine-person panel determined that enough information came out during the review
to conduct a formal inquiry. "They voted actually to move the case into investigation, so that’s where it currently sits. The investigation can last up to 180 days. At the end of that investigation, the commission will again meet, review that report, listen to the public official in this case; they’ll be able to address the commission."
Local homebuilder Kevin Fitzpatrick claims Graham worked directly with Community Development staff after she grew concerned his projects would lower the value of her home. Click HERE to read more about Fitzpatrick's allegations. According to the Ethics Commission, ORS 244.040 states in part, "A public official may not use or attempt to use official position or office to obtain financial gain or avoidance of financial detriment for the public official ... if the financial gain or avoidance of financial detriment would not otherwise be available but for the public official's holding of the official position or office."
During the preliminary review conducted by the Ethics Commission, Graham submitted a written statement to investigators:
"I do not recall receiving any written or oral instructions from the City Manager (or anyone) upon my election to City Councilor that I was required to proceed through the City Manager with respect to any communication with City employees. Neither does such guidance exist in the manual given me as I became a Councilor."
However, in a copy of that 322-page handbook obtained by KBND News, one section appears to address such issues:
"The Council shall work through the City Manager on City staffing issues. Individual Council Members shall not independently direct the work assignments of City staff."
If the Commission finds Graham violated ethics rules, Bersin says she could face thousands of dollars in fines. "The Commission uses an administrative rule penalty matrix to try and have some consistency in the sanctions they give out. So, it’s really up to the nine members where that sanction lies." Bersin adds, "If they do find a violation, then of course, the public official has appeal rights to that. That can take you through an administrative hearings officer, through the appellate court, it can go clear up to the Supreme Court; I mean, it rarely ever happens. Anytime during this process, the public official can negotiate a settlement - in other words, admit to what we are alleging - and then we have a negotiated settlement with them." Although, he acknowledges talk of financial penalties is premature, "The commission has not found any violations; they’ve just simply voted to move this into a full investigation."
BEND, OR -- Commercial property vacancy rates fell again in Bend, in the fourth quarter of 2016, landing at record setting lows in nearly all sectors."It’s hard to imagine them continuing to go much lower, but they have," says Jay Lyons, with Compass Commercial Real Estate. "And, I think it speaks to the amount of demand we’re seeing in Central Oregon and the limited supply that we currently have."
Lyons says the tight market is driving up lease rates, and he doesn’t see that easing until construction picks up. "Land values are still at a premium, so if you were to buy land today, it would be difficult to make a new project pencil. The projects you are seeing built today are with developers that bought land four or five years ago when land prices were much more reasonable."
In Bend, office vacancies fell half a point to 4.6%, in Q4 2016; retail rates dropped .6% to 3.9%; and the industrial vacancy rate slid .8% to 4.7%. In Redmond, industrial vacancies fell nearly a full percentage point to 3.7%.
According to Lyons, only some of the narrowing of the market is due to new businesses moving to the area. He tells KBND News, "I think, to a larger extent, there are already existing companies here that are expanding their business. For instance, Bend Research just increased the size of their facility, HydroFlask is growing, St. Charles is continuing to occupy space and move administrative uses out of the hospital so they have more medical space at the campus. It’s just, I think, overall growth as the economy continues to improve."
To hear our full conversation with Jay Lyons, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors will formally prioritize budget goals in a couple of weeks. New Councilor Bill Moseley made clear at a recent budget workshop that he favors significantly increasing streets funding.
"From a businessperson's perspective, I'm walking back this plan. I'm saying, 'what's the number one thing we need to do? We need to build confidence. And what's the quickest way to do that? Pour money into the roads system so we can actually have a system that serves our community well,'" Moseley tells KBND News. "And, it's not just the potholes and maintenance. I would also put money towards construction to relieve congestion in key areas; Reed Market Road would be one of those." He adds, "For the long run, that's really my end game: I want residents to feel like their city government works for them, that they can trust them with the money they give to them and it's going to be spent wisely. [In] the very near-term, like what's going to happen in this next year on the budget, I'm thinking, 'what's the greatest way we can build confidence in our city government?' And, we can do that by fixing the roads."
City officials anticipate an additional half million dollars in revenue from the local sales tax on marijuana. Most of the Council wants to split that money evenly between police services and road maintenance. Moseley would like to put nearly the full amount toward streets. "I hear the public safety issues; I'm empathetic. I don't have any problem with either the functioning of our police department, and I think we need to be safe in our community. But, the reality is that there's only so many resources to go around, so we're going to have to make hard choices. And, leaders make hard choices; they don't split the difference."
BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown and state lawmakers agree one of the Legislature's top priorities this session is passage of a transportation package. A Deschutes County Commissioner is taking a lead role in development of that funding package.
County Commissioner Tammy Baney chairs the state Transportation Commission, which oversees ODOT and provides guidance on transportation-related policy. It’s also helping lawmakers determine what should be in a funding package. Baney says lawmakers have a difficult job ahead, this session. "It’s around $474 million additional dollars on an annual basis in order for us to get ahead of where we are. Unfortunately, in the state of Oregon, we do not have an index gas tax; we have not increased the gas tax. That is how our road infrastructure, in particular, is cared for. So, maintenance and preservation is a number one priority."
She admits the gas tax is an outdated funding model. "We are looking at new ways to raise revenue that are not gas tax related, but usage fees," Baney tells KBND News. "So, there will be a broad scope of ideas that the Legislature can choose from. Maybe it is an increase in the gas tax, of which – an increase in the gas tax on the state level: 50% goes to the state, 30% goes to the counties and 20% goes to the cities." She says that small amount for cities and counties means local municipalities still need to address their own funding shortfalls. "Taking Bend as an example, they will probably need to do something locally, as well. Unfortunately, the maintenance and preservation of road infrastructure, you have to pay for it. You either pay for it now or you pay for it in the future. I think it’s the responsible thing to do to take care of the investment that’s already there."
Listen to our full conversation with Commissioner Baney at our Podcast Page or click HERE. Central Oregon cities and counties recently each signed a resolution supporting the Legislature’s work on a transportation funding package, which lawmakers failed to pass last session.
REDMOND, OR -- Around 150 Ridgeview High students, in Redmond, spent part of their Wednesday morning peacefully protesting the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Education Secretary. RVHS senior Delos Erickson organized the walk-out. he tells KBND News, "My main criticism of her would be the privatization of public schools and schools itself that are private. And, really what I'm afraid of is public schools not getting the attention that they really need to succeed."
Despite efforts by Democrats to stall the Senate vote, DeVos was confirmed as Education Secretary and sworn in by Vice President Pence on Tuesday.
Erickson says he initially wanted to organize a protest against her nomination but wasn't able to coordinate an event before her confirmation. "What really inspired us was the way we saw staff or family members react to this because it's kind of scary for some people," says Erickson. "The day she was confirmed, we were sitting in our Government class. To see, honestly, everyone's reaction in the class was in support of not having her as the Secretary. So, that day, I went to administration, I set up Facebook events, group chats, all that kind of stuff to get the word out that it's happening." He adds, "So, what we did was we gathered info, we gathered as much people and we organized a time, which was third period. And, what we all would do is we'd walk out, walk around the school and just peacefully march around."
Local school districts respond to DeVos' nomination as Education Secretary
BEND, OR --Bend-La Pine Schools officials revised this year’s school calendar for a second time, due to lost instructional time. The district first added four days to the calendar, last month, after losing five snow days in December and January. Almost immediately after that announcement, they lost several more days due to extreme snow accumulations that caused the gym roof to collapse at Highland Magnet School and forced inspections of every facility.
Students will attend full days on several Wednesdays previously scheduled for early release, and two conference days in April are now school days. The last day of school remains June 22. Click HERE for the full revised district calendar.
BEND, OR -- As the Bend Chamber discussed the impact of national immigration policy on the local economy, dozens of protesters gathered just down the street to speak out against the Trump Administration's recent executive order temporarily banning some immigrants and refugees from entering the U.S.
The demonstration was held outside of Congressman Greg Walden's Bend office. Ross Centers, of Redmond, says he joined in to have his voice heard. "This is really important to me. I think that the President has gone too far; I think he's issuing illegal orders. And, furthermore, I think that him attacking the judiciary on the subject is a troubling sign for our republic and needs to be stopped." He adds, "I'm here to show solidarity with the rest of my Democrats and stand up against the unconstitutional order of our President. We are fed up with the immigration system being politicized and used to attack disadvantaged people."
People also carried signs expressing concern about plans to build a southern border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and about the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Bend City Councilor Barb Campbell was also at the protest. She says, "People are very upset; they're very worried. They're worried about losing their healthcare; they're worried spending all of our money on a wall when cross-border immigration is at a 40-year low. We don't have the money for that."
The group called on Congressman Walden (R-OR) to hold a town hall meeting in Central Oregon where he could talk directly with constituents about key issues. Thousands registered to take part in a recent "telephone town hall." Councilor Campbell was one of only a handful who were allowed to ask questions. The Second District Congressman hasn't held a local town hall since May.
BEND, OR -- This month's "What's Brewing," hosted by the Bend Chamber of Commerce drew a packed crowd at Deschutes Brewery, Tuesday evening. The panel discussed how changes to national immigration policy could impact Central Oregon's economy.
Immigration attorney Dan Larsson participated in the panel, along with the CEO of Bend-based Five Talent Software Preston Callicott. Larsson told the crowd, "I think Central Oregon will be impacted directly, perhaps, but also indirectly as you have people who want to come and visit the United States and want to come, for example, to Mt. Bachelor and ski, they're going to think twice. And, those are big issues we're going to have to deal with."
Also on the panel was Executive Director of the Latino Community Association, Brad Porterfield. He introduced Gustavo Velez, who came to Oregon from Mexico 20 years ago when he was six. He spoke about when he found out the true nature of his status, "I was a senior in high school and I was offered to get a scholarship to Gonzaga. Then, I was told 'You cannot apply for it; you don't have a legal status.' It was hard." Velez adds, "Right now, with the whole travel ban and all that - my grandma, she's really ill right now. She's the one who raised me when my parents came to this country. I'd like to see her. If I get granted that permit, I don't know if I should take the chance and go see her because I don't know if I'll be able to come back."
BEND, OR -- This week's winter weather has renewed the debate over road salt. After receiving criticism for slick conditions in Portland, that city’s transportation bureau applied salt for just the second time, last week, during freezing rain.
In Central Oregon, sodium chloride is still not used. "There are some spots where the use of salt is the kind of thing we might look at," says Peter Murphy with the local Oregon Department of Transportation office. "We haven’t made a final decision about moving ahead with salt anywhere. What we’d like to do is consider salt to be another tool in out tool chest." He tells KBND News it's a tool with a number of consequences that must be considered. "It’s corrosive, it effects the environment, it effects cars, so there’s a lot of different user groups – and animals are included in that – of who might be effected by the use of salt."
Despite the Portland Bureau of Transportation's recent use of salt, Murphy says ODOT is not ready to take the step. "We just need to be sure of all the claims that all the different individuals are making. That’s the important part, is that we don’t just listen to the hue and cry, and begin the massive use of salt; that’s just not the way to proceed with it. We do understand there are consequences to the use of salt and so we need to make sure we understand those the best we can, and then apply it as a tool." If ODOT were to use salt on local highways, Murphy says it wouldn't replace other options currently in use, like magnesium chloride and plows, even clearing trees away from shady areas, "So that the sun can reach the highway sooner and that way melt out whatever ice might be there. So, we’re using a lot of different tools to control what’s happening on the highway. And, in a worst-case scenario would the use of salt be appropriate? We’re taking a good close look at that, and we want to make sure our partners are on board with us." Murphy says ODOT does not have a local facility to store road salt, nor trucks to spread it.
In Bend, officials say the only chemical used on city streets is liquid magnesium chloride with a rust inhibitor. Deschutes County crews don’t use regular salt, either. County Road Dept. Director Chris Doty says in extreme and specific cases, they use a special mixture that includes complex chlorides, which "softens" the snow and ice in preparation for removal by a grader.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Court is moving forward in the process of filling a vacant Commissioner seat.
County Judge Seth Crawford tells KBND News the application period closed Monday, "We received nine applications. And, the plan is Wednesday, to nominate all those applicants and then give them seven questions. On Friday the tenth, we’ll go through and interview each of those nominees and hopefully, by the end of the day, we’ll have a decision."
Of the seven men and two women who applied, Crawford says they'd like to select someone willing and able to take on issues he and Commissioner Jerry Brummer aren’t able to tackle. "Personally, I’m working on the economy, long term budget planning and HR. Jerry Brummer, the Commissioner, he’s really into public works and infrastructure. So, the missing piece, right now, is Health and Human Services and law enforcement."
He's hopeful he and Commissioner Brummer will quickly agree on the best applicant and then move quickly. "The plan is Monday to do the oath, then they would be ready to be at the meeting Wednesday, the 15th." Crawford adds. "One of the things I really appreciate in Crook County, everybody really works together. You see all the strife out there, across the nation. And, it’s just so nice to live in a place where people see the bigger picture and want to move forward and make Crook County a better place."
The vacancy was created when Crawford was elected Judge halfway through his Commissioner term. Friday’s meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. and is open to the public.
BEND, OR -- The Groundhog may have predicted six more weeks of winter, but issues associated with this year’s extreme weather will last much longer. Jay Lyons, with Compass Commercial Real Estate in Bend, says roof collapses and massive snow removal efforts are just the beginning. "When things are frozen, you might not see some water damage or leaks in the roof. And then, when it starts to thaw is when ceiling tiles in the building start to show water damage or water intrusion starts to become apparent. It’s definitely not over, it’s just kind of working through the issues as they present themselves."
Lyons says costs associated with the season range from lost productivity to actual structural damage. "We had a few properties that had to be evacuated because there were some concerns. And, then obviously there were some properties that we’re associated with – Ray’s, for instance – where the roof did collapse. It was a very difficult time for our property management department."
And, property owners are also experiencing "sticker shock" over mounting bills from clearing parking lots during some of the biggest storms. "We had fairly mild winters leading up to this winter. For instance, we had one property that budgeted a few thousand dollars for snow removal," Lyons tells KBND News, "And, in the last month alone, their snow removal bill was $35,000. With most lease structures in Bend, they’re triple net leases. I guess the easiest way to describe that is the operating cost of the property gets passed back through to the tenants." He says good property managers and building owners will warn tenants of the financial fallout. Some will include the additional cost in a revised monthly lease; others will bill the tenant at the end of the year.
To hear our full confersation with Jay Lyons, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) is helping shape the Republican party's replacement for Obamacare. During a telephone town hall, Monday, he addressed questions with the overhaul and other controversial decisions by the Trump Administration.
Rep. Walden admits there are some good parts of the Affordable Care Act. In Monday's call, he said the new plan should allow Oregonians to maintain insurance for existing conditions. "Anybody with a pre-existing healthcare condition can take certainty that they will continue to have access to health insurance, and hopefully more affordable health insurance." Walden insists there are ways to develop a better health care program.
He was also asked about his support for a stronger border with Mexico, "There are places where the wall makes sense, there are places it doesn’t. There is technology we can use in those in-between places."
And, on the President's executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven countries, Walden said, "I do think on the refugee program, it’s important that we make sure that when someone comes in through that, that they are properly vetted." He admits the administration could have done a better job of rolling out the order.
BEND, OR -- Fire destroyed a shop on a property between Bend and Redmond, Monday afternoon. The blaze put up a black column of smoke that was visible for miles. The property on 73rd Street is on the boundary line between the two fire districts, so crews from both Bend and Redmond responded just before 4 p.m.
Officials say the occupant was working on a car inside the shop, spilled a small amount of gas and the vapors ignited by the heater. The blaze left $70,000 in damage; the vehicle was also a total loss, and a nearby travel trailer sustained damage to one side.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Fire crews were on standby overnight, as a propane tank burned off its fuel at Eagle Crest. The manager at the resort’s restaurant noticed a smell of gas while closing up, Monday night. Northern Energy Propane responded and discovered snow and ice had damaged the gauge on a buried 800-gallon tank.
They determined the safest way to initiate repairs would be to burn off the propane by a process known as flaring. The tank was nearly full and fire crews supervised the operation.
Roads closed around the "Niblick and Greens" restaurant and flames reached an estimated 20-feet high.
11 a.m. UPDATE: Redmond Fire reports the process has been slowed by the weather and instead of an 8-hour burn, the flaring is expected to take another 24-48 hours.
BEND, OR -- A local advocacy group for victims of domestic violence will launch a special group, this month, to raise awareness among teens. Erin Rook, with Bend-based Saving Grace, says high school students will lead the new Youth Anti-Violence Council and develop ways to help their friends. "As adults, we don’t really talk about issues of domestic and sexual violence on a regular basis; I think that’s true of young people, as well. Certainly, they talk about relationships a lot, because relationships are such a primary part of being a young person. If we can incorporate some of that language around healthy relationships and what to look for, that’ll give them a little more information and knowledge and skills."
Rook says the YAVC is already gaining traction at Summit High, in Bend. "Since February is Teen Dating violence Awareness month, it seems like a good time to kind of get the word out about that. We’re hoping within the next month or so, to identify students who are interested and get together an initial meeting to kind of get everyone on the same page, see what kind of ideas and interest the students have and what kind of support they can use from us to make that happen." The goal is to eventually have Council representatives at all high schools in the region. "Our Youth Violence Prevention Specialist does presentations in local high schools already, so we have some good established relationships there," Rook tells KBND News. "She’s going to be helping us spread the word, as well as posters, flyers and other kinds of contact we have."
Saving Grace will hold a training session February 15 for adults who want to support the new group. According to the nonprofit, nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in an intimate relationship continue to date their abuser.
Students, parents, and educators interested in learning more about the YAVC should contact email@example.com for more details.
SUNRIVER, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney has filed charges against a 21-year-old California man, relating to his alleged involvement in a shooting in Sunriver, early on New Year’s Day. Makhail Pitsul faces five counts of recklessly endangering and one count of pointing a firearm at another.
Investigators say Pitsul was at a Sunriver rental with friends and family when he interjected himself into a verbal argument between two others. A struggle ensued and his handgun discharged, striking two people, at around 2 a.m., January first.
D.A. John Hummel says those involved were intoxicated, and should not have had a gun at the party. Pitsul is due in court February 22.
BEND, OR -- New orange banners are popping up around Bend, featuring positive messages of encouragement. They're part of the Bend Joy Project launched last month by The Old Mill District.
Noelle Fredland, Marketing Director at The Old Hill told Bend City Councilors, last week, residents need a little lift. "We started it because we felt like we need a little more joy. And, that we have a pretty amazing culture, here in Bend, and we have an amazing, very 'on purpose' community. I think we could all do with a little reminding that a little gratitude goes a long way."
Councilor Nathan Boddie asked Fredland, "What was the impetus, was there a catalyst that led to this? Was somebody really mean?" She explained, "The catalyst really was, we really wanted to do some positive messaging on property; we feel like people are really tired of being sold to. And, as we went through the summer season sitting on this idea, we noticed there was a fair amount of anti-tourist sentiment and growth sentiment, and people were grumpy. And we think, 'Why are we so grumpy? This is an amazing place with amazing people.'"
According to Fredland, more than 150 businesses are involved in the Bend Joy Project, and they've received a lot of positive feedback. The campaign involves the orange signs on light posts, cards, a website and social media, where people can share stories of kindness.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A number of businesses are rumored to be looking to relocate in Prineville. Mayor Betty Roppe was told by Economic Development for Central Oregon that the 10 prospects could bring up to 500 new jobs. "One of the things we believe strongly is that our community needs living wage jobs. And, we don’t want to make them all in one area, we want to have a diversity of jobs," Roppe tells KBND News. "In the past, we mainly had timber products and tire products. That’s fine, but if something goes wrong and you have all of your eggs in one basket then you lose them all. And, that’s what happened with the timber industry."
The types of businesses looking at Prineville are a closely guarded secret. "I even said to my city manager, ‘Steve [Forrester], do we have any idea what kind of jobs these are?’ and he said, ‘No, I just know that there’s about 10 different companies that are looking at our place right now.’ So, we have no clue. We just keep dealing with them and eventually get closer to them saying ‘yes, we want to purchase some land,’ or ‘yes, we want to come.’"
Mayor Roppe says she’s working to get answers to questions these mystery businesses may ask during negotiations, including how much electricity is available. Facebook and Apple data centers already pull a lot of power, but she’s hopeful those concerns won’t be a barrier. "We need to know what we have available and we need to have that answer in our pocket. It was interesting to me that when we met in 2012, Bonneville Power said at that time we had approximately 400 megawatts. And, I assumed that was there waiting for us. And, when we checked with them about 6 months ago, we didn’t have that much. And they said, ‘no, it fluctuates all the time.’": She says she’s working with Bonneville Power, P-G-E, Central Electric Co-Op and others to secure a steady stream of electricity.
BEND, OR -- A burglary suspect was stabbed inside a southwest Bend home he thought was empty, Friday night. Police say 31-year-old Blaise Butcher entered the Doanna Way house looking to take property; but instead, encountered two people. At some point during the confrontation, Butcher was stabbed with a knife.
He was treated at the hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Investigators say Butcher did not know the man and woman who confronted him; but he does know the homeowner, who was not there at the time.
Officers executed a search warrant at the home, Saturday morning. The investigation is ongoing.
TERREBONNE, OR -- A Terrebonne home was damaged by fire, Sunday evening. Redmond firefighters responded to the house on Northwest 31st at about 8:20 and found flames extending 10-12' high above the roof of the garage, fueled by high winds.
Crews were able to knock down the fire before it extended into the house, although not before it caused about $10,000 in damage. The fire appears to have started in garbage cans near the side of the house, although the exact cause is under investigation.
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire is asking property owners to make sure natural gas meters and pipes are safe from falling snow and ice, especially during roof clean-up operations. Battalion Chief Dave Howe says his agency has seen numerous problems caused by snow falling from roofs onto meters, and the "lateral sheer force" of snow piling up around meters and appliances. Plows can also push snow into meters, breaking lines and causing leaks.
Howe suggests you know where your gas meter is located and protect it with a sheet of plywood set at an angle (pictured). He also says it's important to keep meters and exposed lines clear, so accumulating snow doesn't put stress on equipment, and remove snow with a broom not a shovel.
If you notice a strong smell of gas or see gas blowing from a pipe or appliance, call 911 and leave the area without using electrical switches or creating any sparks. If you smell a light gas odor, Howe says you should call your local gas company and don't hesitate to call 911 if your level of concern rises.
BEND, OR -- Following months of work on potential changes to the city’s charter, Bend 2030’s findings were received less-than-enthusiastically by City Councilors, this week. Erin Foote Morgan, with Bend 2030, says Councilors were receptive to the report, which shows a majority of citizens want to elect the mayor and have four Councilors elected based on where they live, with two others “at large.”
But, she says Council doesn’t yet appear ready to tackle the details. "There are so many pressing issues in our city around housing and transportation and, do they have time to put in – as they say – ‘large marble’ into their jar of what they can accomplish. Charter review is not a small thing; it’s also not huge. Once you open the charter, there’s a lot more you can look at – little housekeeping bits. So, if they do decide to go forward it would have to be a major priority for them."
The discussion over the charter stems from Bend 2030's Livability initiative, in 2016. Council could choose to not take on the project, but Foote-Morgan feels the debate over city leadership will likely continue without them. "What came out of this process, that I was a little surprised to see, is a real emphasis on frustration on the east side of Bend on not being represented at the city level. These forums have put a finger on that issue and I think that neighborhood associations on the east side and a lot of these residents are kind of waking up to the idea that they’re not being fully represented at the city level. So, if the Council chooses not to invest their time in Charter Review, this is not an issue that I see going away."
A change to the city’s charter requires voter approval. Foote-Morgan tells KBND News, "There’s a couple ways that can go to the ballot: one is a referendum from City Council and the other is a petition, a citizen petition of about six or 7,000 signatures. Citizen groups could put it on the ballot themselves, if they felt it was important and if the Council did not have the time to really work on this issue."
To hear more of our conversation with Bend 2030's Erin Foote-Morgan, visit our Podcast Page
or click HERE
BEND, OR -- Ride-sharing companies, like Uber and Lyft, will not be allowed to operate in Bend, just yet. City Councilors were poised, this week, to approve code changes that would have cleared the way for the taxi-alternative, but they stopped short.
"I'm very sensitive to an issue that [Councilor Sally Russell] raised, from the perspective of the customer, knowing if they're just getting into a stranger's car or if they're actually getting into a car they hired. I think there should be similar labeling requirements for taxis and TNCs." A TNC is a Transportation Network Company; that's an agency like Uber or Lyft that connects passengers with drivers.
There are also questions about how codes would impact operators of other transit methods like horse-drawn carriages and pedi-cabs. City Manager Eric King says there are a few other areas to address before changes can be approved. "So just to make sure that we're all square: Background checks; making it more clear on the different modes with the theme of kind of reducing those regulations; and toning down the data for the management being a little more focused there." Council plans to revisit the issue next month.
SISTERS, OR -- Cascades East Transit will launch a new bus service between Bend and Sisters, next week. Judy Watts, with CET, says they worked for about a year to find ways to improve services, including conversations with the Sisters City Council. "We worked with them to identify how we can make that possible, identifying bus stops. And, there was enough of a contribution from the city of Sisters to be able to implement that new community connector route directly to Bend. It’s very exciting for CET and for the system." Beginning Monday, Route 29 will provide three round-trips a day between Bend’s Hawthorne Station and downtown Sisters, with stops at the Sisters library, West Main and Oak, and Ray’s Food Place.
"Sisters is this unique community; it’s very small but they have a lot of really interesting and cool festivals. They do have a lot more people visiting during certain times of the year. Anyone who’s ever driven through Sisters after five, can see the congestion in this small community," Watts tells KBND News. But, she says it will also benefit Bend tourists and those who live in one community and work in another, "This just provides another opportunity to get somewhere else from Sisters; it’s a direct route to Bend. I have heard from some of the other people we work with at Cascades East Transit that, particularly visitors in the summer, really need a connection into Sisters to do some hiking." Route 29 will be free, Monday through Friday next week, to celebrate the launch.
Click HERE for more information on CET's Community Connector routes. CET is also adding more bus stops in Metolius, Culver, Madras and Warm Springs, starting next week.
REDMOND, OR -- A state ethics complaint against a Redmond City Councilor is moving forward. Oregon’s Government Ethics Commission completed a preliminary investigation into Anne Graham and voted last week to conduct a formal investigation into possible ethics violations.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, with Alder Creek Homes, filed the complaint in December
, alleging Graham had a conflict of interest with the Community Development Department, and used her position for financial gain. Graham has called the allegations “without merit.”
BEND, OR -- Exclusion Day for Oregon kids is February 15, when students are turned away from school, daycare or preschool if records show they’re missing required immunizations. Heather Kaisner says Deschutes County Public Health sent out about 1400 letters to families, but not all need shots. "What we do find sometimes is that their kids are actually up to date; they just maybe forgot to get that information to the school. So, sometimes it’s just a matter of looking at that record and making sure your school has that record."
Kaisner tells KBND News mandatory vaccines protect the community against dangerous preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough. "Washington state is experiencing a lot of mumps cases. Oregon, we have quite a few mumps cases; luckily, none in Deschutes County yet," says Kaisner. "But, again, that’s another one that we thought we wouldn’t see anymore and it’s having a bit of a resurgence."
School-based health centers and county clinics are open with extended hours to accommodate families. "Because vaccines are so important to the health of children, and really to the health of our community to keeping a lot of these really serious diseases away, we have the Vaccines for Children Program, which is a federally funded program. And, what it does is, it pretty much allows that any child in the U.S. can get vaccines regardless of ability to pay, regardless of insurance."
To hear our full conversation with Heather Kaisner, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.
BEND, OR -- President Donald Trump’s pick for Education Secretary cleared a Senate committee, this week. As the full Senate prepares to vote, the debate over “school choice” continues. Betsy DeVos (pictured), of Michigan, is a strong supporter of charter schools and voucher programs for private schools. Democrats opposing her appointment worry she wants to divert funds from public schools.
Bend-La Pine Schools Deputy Superintendent Jay Mathisen says the conversation has caused confusion locally. “A lot of that buzz - that conversation nationally, comes out of large, urban, metropolitan areas, oftentimes in the Midwest or on the east coast where the public school system was really broken to some extent. That really hasn’t ever been the case in Redmond, Sisters, Bend, La Pine," Mathisen tells KBND News. "Here, I think there’s always been a pretty wide range of opportunities for parents and students in our local systems.”
Mathisen says the district enjoys a good relationship with area private schools, and sometimes work together for the sake of the kids. “That’s what we have in common, whether it’s a private school in the area or a public school. We serve those private schools and their students with numbers of our support systems; we have good lines of communication with numbers of them. As a community, we’re better for having all."
Bend-La Pine Assistant Superintendent Lora Nordquist says options abound among local public schools, as well: “Strong CTE programs at one high school, middle years program in the International Baccalaureate program in one of our middle schools, STEM school at Buckingham, a neighborhood school. We also have magnets, we currently have one charter school – Bend International School, and we’re opening a second charter in the fall of 2017, Desert Sky Montessori, which will start as a K-3 program.”
Nordquist says some involved in the broader “school choice” conversation don’t realize charter schools are public schools, although they operate under different guidelines. “We know that families and students are uniquely positioned to figure out what’s best for them. We’ve always supported inter-district transfers, even before that became a law; we support, actively, area change requests, so students who live in one neighborhood can go to school in another neighborhood if it fits them.” Oregon’s open enrollment law took effect in 2012, making it easier for students to transfer to a school outside their neighborhood or district.
In-district transfer requests are due March first and applications for charter and magnet schools are must be in by March 24. Click HERE for more information on Bend-La Pine Schools transfer requests.
BEND, OR -- Oregon’s 2017 Legislative session gets underway in Salem Wednesday and Bend City Councilors are hopeful lawmakers will immediately get to work on transportation funding. Councilors are expected to sign a resolution at Wednesday's meeting, in support of passage of a state transportation-funding package.
Bend, City Manager Eric King says officials want to provide the appropriate level of service but funding is a big issue. "There’s always talk at the federal or state level that there’s going to be more investment in transportation and we keep trying. But, that’s the challenge, I think, that we face as local government. If we can’t always depend on outside funding for our infrastructure needs, we’ve got to look internally. And, those are hard decisions to make. Whether it’s a transportation bond or a fee that gets added on to a utility bill, there are options we continue to explore, and transportation is a big issue for folks." Lawmakers failed to approve a package in the 2016 session.
King tells KBND News, "Transit is another issue that we’re trying to advance. We’re working with the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council that operates Cascades East Transit to provide some enabling legislation that allows for local communities to decide how to go out for an ask from voters for sustainable funding. We want more flexibility with the use of transient room tax, that’s the tax that visitors pay. We would like to dedicate some of that for infrastructure needs." He adds, Housing and Land Use issues round out the Council’s “top five” legislative wish-list. Governor Kate Brown also considers transportation funding and affordable housing among her top priorities for the session.
BEND, OR -- Four people face a number of drug related charges, following a several-month-long investigation by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team.
Police executed two search warrants over the past week, one at a home near downtown Bend, the other in Deschutes River Woods. CODE detectives found evidence of drug manufacturing and sales.
Investigators believe 22-year-old Shane Dibavand purchased fentanyl and other synthetic controlled substances from China. He and 33-year-old Michael Bandurian allegedly mixed different combinations of drugs before repackaging them for sale. Police also arrested 33-year-old Jeremy Haller and 44-year-old Lisa Marie Hall on various drug possession charges and frequenting a place were drugs are used.
Jeremy Haller Lisa Marie Hall
BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Recreation is working on long-range planning to create a roadmap for the district over the next ten years. Julie Brown says the first comprehensive plan was developed in 1980 and was last reviewed in 2012. "It is something that we use to prioritize the projects and facilities that serve this community, and has resulted in some great amenities that we all enjoy everyday: the Deschutes River Trail, some of the other parks that we have along the Deschutes River, as well as Pine Nursery Park, are just a few of the examples of things that exist today because of this planning effort."
An online interactive map and survey launched this week. Brown tells KBND News, "You have this tool that you can drag and drop pins around town on this map and tell us about how you’re currently using parks and trails and facility services and other activities that people are using with their free time. That really helps us to be able to get a sense for where are we meeting needs around the community, and where are some opportunities, moving forward, that we should look at." She adds, "The great thing about the mapping tool is I think it gives people an opportunity to provide us with input that maybe would be a little bit different than attending one of our community workshops or a public meeting. That is still going to be part of our process, but I think this mapping tool is something that doesn’t take very much time, and it’s something that people can do either from a computer or from their phone."
The online map will be available for the next month. Brown says workshops and public meetings are scheduled over the next 18 months; the first will be held at the district office, March first. Click HERE for more information.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Members of the Oregon School Boards Association are in Washington D.C. to discuss educational priorities with lawmakers. Cheri Helt, with the Bend-La Pine School Board, is looking forward to meeting with Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) Tuesday morning, and Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Tuesday afternoon. Helt says, "One of my personal top priorities is the Secure Rural Schools Act, which is very important to the state of Oregon since we have so much federal forestland, and that helps us fund schools. Currently, this year, it hasn’t been put into a bill so we won’t be getting funds. But, in the past, it’s been up to $500 million for the nation." Dr. Doug Nelson, with High Desert ESD, is also at the Capitol.
The conference is part of an annual trip organized by the National School Boards Association. "We will be the first people to talk to the new administration and the new Congress about education, so that’s an exciting thing, and to remind them that kids matter and we need to have kids at the top of mind when they’re making legislation," Helt tells KBND News. She says she’s pleased to have received clarity and assurances from Trump Administration officials regarding the Every School Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind. "It does look like the new administration will go forward in implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act; that’s what we’ve been hearing from legislators. So, we’re very hopeful to get some flexibility from the federal government around assessments and what is required of states as far as reporting. That’s really excited news, for us to be able to lay our vision forward for our local districts."