Local News

May Election Positions Filed, Some Remain Open

BEND, OR -- A few Deschutes County Fire and Sanitary district positions remain open for May’s Election. Last Thursday was the filing deadline.

Many board candidates including positions with Redmond Schools, and COCC will run unopposed. County Clerk Steve Dennison says this can happen in off-year elections, “We do typically have a handful. I think last time around we had probably somewhere around 5 in 2021, and 2019, I think we had as many as 10 seats with no candidate filed,’’ adding some candidates waited to file, “We did have a lot of filers on Wednesday and Thursday. Some of these seats are tougher to fill, too. These smaller water and sanitary districts tend to have less interest.”

Ballots for the May special election will be mailed next month.

Today, the Clerk’s Office conducted another ballot count from last week’s election to establish Terrebonne’s Sanitary District. Unofficial results show the measure passing 24 to 16. Terrebonne Sanitary District Director has Tim Brown and Guy Vernon both receiving 23 votes.


Redmond Airport Welcomes New Therapy Dog

REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Airport's newest therapy dog joined the program this week. "Jasper" and handler Beth are among more than a dozen teams regularly volunteering for a few hours a week in the terminal. 

Erinn Shaw helped bring therapy dogs to Roberts Field almost a year ago; she now oversees the program. "Traveling can be stressful for passengers, and sometimes certain circumstances create a little more anxiety than others," Shaw tells KBND News, "And sometimes people leave their dogs at home and they’re upset that they’re going to be missing their dogs. [We] just wanted to provide a sort of comfort and stress relief for our passengers and our staff here at the airport." Shaw says, "Our teams generally try to approach passengers and just ask them if they’d like to pet the dog. And it’s nice because they sit and spend a little time chatting about their journey, where they’re headed or where they’re coming from."

Jasper will, no doubt, become as popular with travelers as Gunner, Tilly and the others. "Passengers love them, kids love them, our staff loves them. They’re a really welcome addition to the airport. Our TSA looks forward to the dogs coming." Shaw says they've become local celebrities, "All of the staff, and even a lot of passengers follow the dogs on Facebook and our social media. Most people even know the dogs by name now." She adds, "You know, there’s a handler that’s a part of the team. Most of the time, people talk to the dogs, they know the dog’s name and they kind of forget about the handler."

Redmond's program is modeled after therapy dog programs at around 100 other airports in the U.S. Locally, dogs are certified through Compassionate Canines of Central Oregon. In addition to the airport, many also volunteer at local schools, libraries, assisted living facilities and hospitals. Training takes six to eight months, and Shaw says the Redmond Airport prefers at least one-year of therapy dog experience after certification.


Bend Opens E-Bike Rebate Application Process

BEND, OR -- Low-income Bend residents can now apply for a rebate to purchase an electric bicycle. There are a total of 75 $2,000 rebates available. Cassie Lacey, with the city, says the amount is designed to make e-bikes affordable for everyone. "When we talked with e-bike retailers, they were suggesting that the average cost of a base model e-bike is around $2,500, so the estimated out of pocket expense for an e-bike would be about $500. That said, there are some that are even more affordable than that."

She tells KBND News the City Council believes it could help ease traffic congestion, "It supports our transportation goals by supporting alternative transportation. It also supports equity goals the city has around supporting vulnerable populations meet some of their basic needs like transportation."

The goal is to build on the popularity of Bend’s e-bike-share program, launched last year, "Compared to other cities of similar size, our usage for those bikes is very, very high, so we know that we have a population that is using those to a great degree." Lacey says researchers looked at the routes taken regularly by users, "And they were able to track how many people appeared to be using the bikes for commuting. We, again, had a very high number."

Funding comes from a $150,000 state Clean Mobility Grant, managed by Pacific Power. "It’s not coming from the City of Bend’s discretionary funds," says Lacey, "So, these are not funds that the city would be able to use on other projects. These are coming from the state, basically, that can only be used for these types of projects."

Applicants must make 80% of the area median income or less, live inside the Bend City limits and be a Pacific Power customer. Rebates will be awarded in three lotteries: April 17th, May first and May 15th. After being selected, recipients then must purchase an e-bike from a local retailer. Click HERE for more information, including the application. 


Interior Secretary Announces Oregon Tourism Projects

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler met with recreation enthusiasts, local business representatives, and outdoors-related organizations at Bend’s OSU-Cascades campus Friday to discuss Oregon’s outdoor recreation economy.

Secretary Haaland said it was helpful to hear ideas to increase access to public space, “The horsemen that actually need some parking. They do a lot of backcountry work on the trails and so forth back there, so that’s an issue. We recognize that this outdoor economy just like the mayor said is an important one here in Bend and across Oregon. We got some suggestions. We’ll follow up.”

She noted it was good to hear a local perspective, “I feel that it’s my responsibility when I’m in places like this that I want to listen more than I talk. We got some great ideas about how we can move forward.”

Secretary Haaland said the intergovernmental multi-agency group, FICOR is dedicated to getting more Americans outdoors, “We all agree we need to make opportunities for children to be outdoors so that they can feel that connection at an early age.”

The Secretary’s trip to Oregon also included a meeting with state Indigenous leaders to discuss clean water projects. She also announced federal funding for maintenance projects and wildfire mitigation. 

The Great American Outdoors Act will enable $130-million in deferred maintenance on State public lands. A $45-million project will rehabilitate East Rim Drive at Crater Lake National Park. Nearly $50-million in new allocations from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support wildland fire management in 2023.


Spring, Summer Paving Projects Planned For Bend

BEND, OR -- Drivers can expect even more road work next month. Bend City Council has approved $3.2 million in contracts for street preservation efforts through the summer. "Some roads, we need to grind out the asphalt and put in a new layer of asphalt. Other roads that are maybe less traveled on, some of the residential roads, we can put on a ‘slurry seal,’ so think like a coat of paint to keep them from getting worse," Bend City Manager Eric King tells KBND News, "About 37 lane mines of the city’s about 800 or so lane miles will be touched; meaning they’ll either get the slurry seal or the grinded inlay, all over town, all corners of the city." 

Asphalt grinding will happen over about 18 lane miles of arterials and collector roads, "There will be projects ranging from 15th Street, in southeast, to Pinebrook, Butler Market, OB Riley, 27th - those are some of the busier streets that will get that kind of overlay treatment. They’ll get the grind of the old asphalt and a new layer of asphalt put on top." Another 19 lane miles of mostly residential roads will get a slurry seal.

Click HERE for a map of planned projects. King says, "Typically, those paving projects aren’t that disruptive. A lot of that work can happen without major closures."


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