Local News

As small businesses struggle to recover from this past year’s Covid hit, a tech solutions firm in Bend is offering a free webinar this week to help local companies re-group.  Nine Peaks Solutions says going paperless is the first step, and Managing Partner Eric Skidmore says the roadmap from there is what their webinar will help companies with – using actual case studies.  The Nine Peaks Solutions webinar is coming up this Wednesday, June 16th, from 12 pm to 1 pm – it’s free, but pre-registration is required.  You can go to their website to sign up at www.ninepeakssolutions.com.

Some good news for Deschutes County fair lovers who look forward to the animal exhibits there every year.  As it turns out, they’re not totally out of the picture this summer – just partially.  The fair won’t be holding their traditional Open Class ADULT Livestock competitions – but they WILL have YOUTH Competitions along with the 4-H and F-F-A animals at the fair which showcase all the fan favorites including cattle, hogs, goats, sheep, chickens, and rabbits.  Fair officials say they eliminated only the ADULT Open Class Competitions this year to provide a bit more space for fairgoers in the barns in light of Covid safety measures involving social distancing.

Crook County High School is mourning the death of a student’s 19 year old brother and praying their student recovers from injuries suffered in a roll over crash Wednesday night.  Investigators say Clayton Gray from the town of Halfway in Baker County died at the scene.  He was driving.  His brother - who attends the high school - suffered serious injuries and had to be airlifted to St. Charles Bend.  Investigators say the accident happened just after 8 pm on Highway 27, south of Prineville, forcing the closure of the highway for several hours.  Investigators say the car the boys were in crossed into the lane of oncoming traffic, drove off the highway, and turned over.  No cause yet.

Six school sites in Central Oregon will be offering up thousands of free meals to students this summer.  The “Grab N’ Go” brown bag breakfast and lunch meals will be offered from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm Monday thru Friday from June 21st through August 20th, with the exception of July 5th during the holiday weekend.  Any student 18 or younger can get the meals and parents can pick them up.  The schools taking part are Bend Senior High, Elk Meadow Elementary, Mountain View High, Silver Rail Elementary, Westside Village, and La Pine High.  Additionally, school meals will be free throughout the coming school year for students at all Bend-La Pine Schools with no applications or income requirements.


With many Oregonians planning to camp this summer with the family dog, the Central Oregon Humane Society is encouraging campers to follow some key safety precautions.  Don’t let your dog ride in an open cab on a metal surface that could get too hot in the sun, don’t leave them in a closed car, make sure they’re well hydrated for the trip and test their comfort level in the car by going on short rides first.  The society’s Lynne Ouchida says you should also check with your vet to make sure they have the proper meds or vaccinations to ward off any unexpected health problems your dog may be exposed to in the area you’re traveling to – especially if your pet’s never been there before.

For the second year in a row, Governor Brown has declared a drought emergency for all three counties in Central Oregon.  The orders direct the state Department of Agriculture to help to secure federal monies and resources to assist in agricultural recovery in Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook counties through the rest of the year.  Drought declarations have also just been declared in four other Oregon counties.  These seven add to the eight counties in the state where the Governor has previously issued drought declarations.


The Crook County Sheriff’s Office now says they believe alcohol may have been a factor in causing a semi hauling a 53 foot trailer full of auto parts to slide into a ditch on Millican Road on Monday morning.  The 43 year old driver from Georgia was able to get himself out of the rig after he lost control – the semi slid several hundred feet down an embankment and onto its side after slamming into a rock embankment.  The driver had originally told investigators he lost control of the rig because his brakes locked.


The city of Madras is asking for the public’s input on two projects intended to help guide the future of the city.  One is tied to a transportation grant from the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the state Department of Transportation to address future downtown parking needs. 

The other is a Housing Action plan dealing with code updates to the permitting process, regulations, and home construction costs. City officials are holding an open house to discuss the projects on Thursday, June 24th from 6 to 8 pm at Madras City Hall.


Cascades East Transit has chosen a new contractor to provide transit services in Bend.  MTM Transit will be operating transit services in the city after completing a formal RFP.  MTM takes over for Paratransit Services out of Bremerton, Washington and will begin providing services to Bendites on September first following a transition period. 

Jefferson County has a new Sheriff – but he’s not a new face. County Commissioners have unanimously given their endorsement to Undersheriff Marc Heckathorn who will fill the remainder of the term for retiring Sheriff Jim Adkins. Heckathorn has been the Undersheriff in the county since 2016 after rising up through the ranks. He will run to retain the office on May 17th of 2022.

St. Charles Health is stepping up its efforts to fill more than 600 open positions by publicizing the positions through direct mail. The health system has sent out 30 thousand postcards to registered nurses with information about the job openings – a third of the slots they need to fill are for RNs. St. Charles is also allowing some of the open positions to be performed remotely, and is now accepting applications from 16 and 17 year olds - lifting the previous requirement that applicants be at least 18. St. Charles says despite having the greatest number of open positions than ever before, patient care hasn’t been affected - they’ve been able to bring in traveling health care workers to fill the needs temporarily.


A Water Conservation Order has been issued by the Branch of Public Utilities Department for all Warm Springs Reservation Water Distribution Systems. This is due to extreme temperatures, lowering reservoir levels, drought conditions and increasing fire danger. The hot temperatures have increased water demands – which has drawn down water.

Bend has been ranked among the most PAW-friendly cities in America according to the National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association.  The annual list cited Bend as offering endless amenities for man's best friend, including some of the local brew pubs that allow dogs to join you while you sip your favorite brew.  The survey says more than 63 million households in the country currently have at least one dog, and 44 percent of those dog owners said they'd rather cuddle up with their pet than their life partner.

We can expect an earlier than normal fire season this year - and because of the extremely dry conditions, Jean Nelson-Dean with the Deschutes National Forest says it'll start this month (June) instead of next and will be more intense sooner than August or September.  She says lightening could spark wildfires even more easily than last year in the dry brush.  Some safety tips she's passing on - douse your campfire three or four times with water to be sure it's completely out, don't park on dried out grass to prevent the heat in your undercarriage from igniting dry brush, and make sure your trailer chains aren't dragging on the roadway to prevent sparks.

The cause of a high speed crash just after 9:00 Saturday night that sent a Ford F150 into the Little Deschutes River is under investigation.  An off-duty Deputy with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says he witnessed the truck speeding on Bridge Drive and after hearing a crash found the truck on its side in the river.  He says the truck caught fire and he was unable to get the driver out before he died in the burning car.  The victim has been identified as 58 year old Toye Jeffers of La Pine. The cause of a high speed crash just after 9:00 Saturday night that sent a Ford F150 into the Little Deschutes River is under investigation.  An off-duty Deputy with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says he witnessed the truck speeding on Bridge Drive and after hearing a crash found the truck on its side in the river.  He says the truck caught fire and he was unable to get the driver out before he died in the burning car.  The victim has been identified as 58 year old Toye Jeffers of La Pine. 

St. Charles Health in Bend is hitting its breaking point with COVID-19 patients. Hospital officials have reported more than 40 admitted patients, which is actually more than a larger facility like OHSU Hospital in Portland. According to Deschutes County health officials, 98-percent of the infected patients showing up at the hospital have not been vaccinated.

A 63 year old mountain climber is dead after falling 500 feet while descending Mt. Hood. The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office says the man was climbing with his adult son when he fell Sunday morning. Rescuers say he was dead by the time they got to him.

The cause of a car accident early this morning in Bend that seriously injured three teens is under investigation.  The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says it happened just after one in the morning near a bridge on Skyliners Road and involved a 1997 Honda CRV that rolled over onto it’s top.  Investigators say all three of the 16 year old males were taken to St. Charles Bend with serious injuries.  One of them had to be cut out of the car.  Investigators say they think alcohol may have been a factor.

The Deschutes County Fair & Expo is returning this year.  This year marks the 101st edition of Central Oregon’s largest event, after the pandemic forced cancellation of the event last year.  The theme for the 2021 Fair & Rodeo is “Back in the Saddle”.  It will run from July 28th to August 1st.

A guy who has regularly posed as a handyman in Deschutes and Crook counties is now facing theft charges tied to deception by fraud. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office started getting complaints from residents claiming they’d been defrauded in March.  Investigators say 29 year old Jacob Quesada of Lodi, California solicited customers and downpayments on Facebook.  Residents say they either never heard from him after paying the downpayment, had work started and then abandoned, or had substandard work performed – Quesada is not a licensed contractor.  Crook County issued a theft warrant for Quesada and he was arrested during a traffic stop in Bend.

Free drive-thru Covid testing events are being held in Redmond next month. Deschutes County Health Services is partnering with Central Oregon Community College to offer the events on alternating Tuesdays. The testing will be conducted at the COCC Redmond Campus parking lot on College Loop from 2 to 6 pm. It’s open to anyone, and you don’t need to bring a photo ID or have any Covid symptoms to be tested. Just wear a mask and – if possible – sign up in advance online. Otherwise they’ll help you register there. The first event for the month is being held on Tuesday, June first, and – again – on every other Tuesday after that for the rest of the month.

The Redmond City Council has approved an almost three and a half million dollar Covid relief grant from the Federal Aviation Administration that will go to the Redmond Airport.  The federal funds are intended to help airports severely impacted by low passenger levels, sanitizing, and other pandemic-related expenses.  Typically the funds go toward airport upgrades and expansions, but this time around the money will go toward recovery and survival.  Redmond Airport has already received more than nine million dollars in federal Covid relief funding.


The latest jobs report from the state shows only slight changes in Central Oregon's unemployment rate last month.  Unemployment in Deschutes County dropped to 6.3 percent in April from 6.4 percent in March.  In Jefferson County unemployment dipped slightly as well, to 7.0 percent in April from 7.2 percent in March.  Crook County saw a slight increase in unemployment to 7.6 percent in April from 7.4 percent in March.

Redmond Schools are adjusting their Covid safety protocols as the state announces guideline changes.  Redmond Schools Superintendent Dr. Charan Cline says anyone attending an after school activity can go without a mask if they show proof of full vaccination status.  The Covid situation has flip-flopped for some high schoolers in the Bend-La Pine School District.  Almost half of the students and staff at La Pine High School who were attending in-person classes after being online are back to online learning until June 4th because of a Covid outbreak among 15 people associated with the school – the day of their graduation ceremony – but school administrators say the graduation won’t be impacted.

The Tumalo Irrigation District is now offering an increased reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever was responsible for vandalizing an irrigation pipeline near Pinehurst Road in January.  The district is now offering a $5,000 reward leading to the arrest, and a $25,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.  Inspectors say several holes they found in the pipeline during inspection had been drilled intentionally.


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