Local News

Local Snowpack Off To Strong Start

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s snowpack is off to a strong start, thanks to early season snowstorms. Snowpack in the Upper Deschutes and Crooked River basin are 144% of normal for this time of year, as of Thursday.

NRCS Hydrologist Matt Warbritton says an early November storm was followed by two weeks of dry weather, which was a little concerning, "Towards the end of November, we started to get significant storms again that again dropped pretty substantial snowpack for this early in the season, across most parts of the state. Even where it’s been a little dryer, like southern Oregon and much of Central Oregon, those areas also received pretty significant snowpack."

However, he says those November storms weren't all positive, "A lot of the early season storms, instead of precipitation as rain, that precipitation fell as snow at higher elevations. So, we didn’t quite get the amount of rain early in the season that we usually get, and that’s why some of the basins show below normal precipitation." He tells KBND News, "We would like to start to see more near-normal precip levels for more sites. Especially in Central Oregon, where they’re still the highest levels of drought in the state." According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of Crook County remains in “exceptional drought” - which is the highest level. 

Warbritton says it's a good start to replenishing reservoirs that have dried out from several years of drought, but the trend needs to continue. "Those above normal conditions are needed because next summer they’re going to be drawing directly from the water supply they get from this season’s snowmelt and they can’t really rely on any sort of carry-over." 

The takeaway is, he says, this snowy trend needs to continue; we still need more moisture before next spring to recover from previous precipitation shortfalls.

 


Tips For Averting Utility Bill Sticker Shock This Winter

BEND, OR -- With temperatures dipping into the teens and twenties, Pacific Power says there are a few things you can do to keep your electric bill from heating up. Tom Gauntt suggests caulking around doors and windows to seal off any leaks. For larger drafts, "You know where the cold wind comes from and you say, ‘Gee, I’ve got a door that faces that cold wind.’ You can go to the store, and they have these nice little things for the bottoms of doors, or makeshift towels or an old rug or something to kind of keep that cold air from coming in."

Try not to heat rooms you aren’t using. "Sometimes it can be simply, ‘You know what? We don’t really use that spare room anymore.’ And you can turn down the heat vent that’s in there," He tells KBND News not to turn heat off where pipes might freeze, "You don’t want to be foolish about it, if there’s some water pipes in the room or something, don’t cause a new problem."

Clean or replace furnace filters and make sure registers and intake vents are clear of furniture, so air can move freely. And, avoid the temptation to turn up the thermostat when it gets colder. Gauntt says it won’t heat your house any faster, "Try to set the thermostat at about 68. That might seem kind of cool to people but, if you can keep it there consistently and you have these other factors taken care of, it should keep you comfortable."

And, avoid relying too heavily on space heaters, "If you have a 1500 watt portable heater running eight hours a day every day, you’re looking at about $30 a month on the bill, right there, Those appliances have their place and we operate them safely and sparingly, it’s fine. But just to say, ‘I’m going to heat the garage all winter using that,’ it’s going to be costly."

Energy Trust of Oregon offers energy efficiency consultations if you need help finding other ways to save on your power bill.


Redmond Library Preps New Building Construction

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s library will soon be on the move, in preparation for a major reconstruction project. Deschutes Public Library Director Todd Dunkelberg says they’ll shift some books to the former Redmond Design Center on South Highway 97 in mid-January. It's about a quarter of the size of the current facility, “It’s definitely a temporary location. We’ll have some popular materials there to checkout, and people can place holds and we’ll have that service going. And then we’ll be doing a lot of work out in the community," Dunkelberg tells KBND News, "So, a lot of the programs that you normally would’ve gone to the library, we’ll be holding at different venues around Redmond."

The current 20,000 square foot library will be torn down and a 40,000 square foot facility built in its place, slated to open in August of 2024. “We’ll have a meeting room that can hold about 240 people, tutor space; one-on-one meeting space where people can meet to tutor people, you could have a Zoom meeting. We’ll have a co-working area, some really neat creative and do-it-yourself areas," says Dunkelberg, "It’ll have a drive-up window in Redmond, so on those cold days where you don’t feel like getting out of your car you can pull up, we’ll hand the books to you."

Redmond's Jessie Hill School was built in 1919 and has housed the library since 1996. Dunkelberg says it's just too small for the community now. "We needed a building of about 40,000 square feet to serve Redmond and how much it’s grown. We started off looking at how could we remodel that building and make it work? And it just didn’t work for us." He says he recognizes it's a loss for Redmond, "It was a really tough decision but we really wanted to be right in the heart of the city of Redmond. And talking with the city of Redmond, they were very interested in keeping us in the same location, as well."

Nearly every branch in the Deschutes Public Library system will be renovated in 2023, as part of the $195 million bond passed by voters in 2020. Dunkelberg says, "Really, the biggest piece of all this is the Children’s Discovery Spaces, that we’re doing in all of our libraries. But that was the number one thing that people said they wanted to see in their libraries, when we went out and talked to almost 7,000 people across the county.”

Click HERE to learn more about the Redmond Library project, and get details on a Thursday open house. 

 


La Pine Garage Damaged By Fire

LA PINE, OR -- Firefighters responded to a report of a blaze in the Ponderosa Pines Neighborhood of La Pine, early Wednesday morning. Arriving crews found fire coming from the back of a two-car detached garage and extending to the attic, just after 3 a.m.

Amid temperatures in the mid-teens and snowy conditions, they knocked down the flames and extinguished the fire, preventing it from spreading to the nearby home and vehicles. 

Everyone inside got out safely, after seeing the glow of the fire. Investigators believe it started outside the garage and involved a pile of firewood, although the exact cause remains under investigation.  

 


OSU-Cascades Gifted $60k For Sustainable Tourism Lab

BEND, OR -- OSU-Cascades has received a $60,000 gift from Visit McMinnville, the tourism board for that Willamette Valley city. Todd Montgomery is the Founder and Director of OSU’s Sustainable Tourism Lab, and says the money will further his team’s work, "It first started with Visit Bend in January. They gave us a gift to essentially allow us to launch the Sustainable Tourism Lab. And then, McMinnville has graciously joined us. What both of these groups show is that they’re really at the tip of the spear as it relates to sustainable tourism."

Montgomery defines "sustainable" as balancing the benefits of tourism with the costs, "There’s environmental costs, there’s society costs and, of course, there’s economic. By knowing what the community wants and what has worked in other communities, we can find out what those benefits are and we kind find out a way to really address those costs in the most equitable way possible."

He tells KBND News it’s important for communities to have reliable data, "There is this perception that it is negative. But honestly, and this is across the board, it’s rarely ever quantified. And the surveys that do try to quantify it, 80% of those had a significant amount of bias, in one way or the other. I think where we sit is a chance to really be a uniter on this and be an objective source of information."

Montgomery says this latest gift will benefit communities across the country as research expands. It'll help pay for continuing a five-year study on tourism impacts, student researchers and studying other places. 

 


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