BEND, OR -- Police warn smart phone users a group text making the rounds in Central Oregon is a scam. In the message, the sender claims to be a woman living in your neighborhood, looking for sex. It includes a link promising a photo of the woman. But, Lt. Juli McConkey says don't click on it, "People can get your cell phone information, who providers are, all sorts of things, to defraud the person who's clicking the link; [they] try to get all the personal information." She adds the sender can even, "Get your log in name, password, credit card info, things like that. It's really an attempt to defraud people."
She says scammers can even learn important information when the recipient replies. McConkey tells KBND News you should instead, "Block the number, don't click on the link, and then don't respond to the text at all. Just delete it entirely. If someone were to text back to say something to the effect of 'Leave me alone,' or 'I don't want anything to do with this,' that just confirms that the number is valid, and they might start getting more scammers trying to reach out."
Lt. McConkey says the majority of these kinds of "sexts" are sent from a computer. In this most recent rash of messages, the sender is using a Google Voice number, which she says makes it extremely difficult to track. And, it can take just one person falling for the message to make it worth the sender's time, "Sometimes, people are curious. People can get defrauded all sorts of ways. Unfortunately, where there's a will, there's a way," says McConkey, "All we can do is hope to educate."
Images: Two parts of the group "sext" message hitting smart phones in Central Oregon, in the past two weeks.
BEND, OR -- With warmer weather comes an increased danger for young children: open windows. More than 3,000 kids in the U.S. are seriously injured in falls from windows, annually, according to the National Safety Council. Eight die each year. "We’ve seen about 15 children in the last two years, here in Central Oregon, at St. Charles Medical Center, who have been injured in a window fall," St. Charles Trauma Surgeon Jennifer Watters tells KBND News. She says her Emergency Department treated a four year old and a child under the age of two, in May. "When we had our hot week, we saw a couple of kids. They both did alright." But, she acknowledges, not all are so lucky, "With window falls, the injuries can be highly variable. Probably the most common injuries with window falls are broken bones, especially arms, wrists, and head injuries such as concussions."
The risk is even higher in the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Watters says, because so many homes don't have air conditioning. Older homes built before building codes required safety measures, can be especially dangerous, "Current building code requires windows to have installed safety devices if they are greater than 72 inches from the ground," says Dr. Watters, and after-market window-stop guards are available, "Bottom line is that device needs to limit the window opening to four inches or less, and be removable or openable by an adult in case of emergency." She says re-arranging furniture so curious kids can’t climb up to a window, will also help, "Making sure that the bookcase doesn’t sit underneath of the window, or the toy box or dresser that a child might climb on, doesn’t sit directly under the window." And, Dr. Watters suggests parents check with friends and grandparents, to make sure homes kids might visit are safe.
LA PINE, OR -- The search continues for 29-year-old Michael Mead, who is presumed to have drowned last week at Wickiup Reservoir. Deschutes County dive teams continued through the weekend to look for the Bend man in a 17-acre area around where his canoe capsized. Sergeant William Bailey says Mead disappeared in difficult conditions, "It was dark – two in the morning. The surface temps and air temps may be warm; we’re up in the 80s and 90s during the day; surface temp on the lake is running around 60. But, down below the surface, down near the lake floor, it’s much cooler – in the 40s. So, a person can become very exhausted quickly, and succumb to those cold temps." A Klamath County Sheriff's Office team arrived Friday with special sonar equipment. "We did recover some gear from the canoe when it capsized," says Sgt. Bailey, "But visibility in the water is pretty low, with inches up to a foot or two at times."
The day after the Wickiup incident, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office says a man appears to have drowned in Lake Billy Chinook. He has not been identified and his body has also not been recovered.
Mead and 24-year-old Daniel Ganley were in the canoe with a dog, when the boat overturned at about 2 a.m. Thursday. Ganley and the dog made it back to shore; Mead did not. No one was wearing a life jacket, which Bailey says could have helped save Mead, "The old day and age of the bright orange, square foamed life jackets, you know, just aren’t the case anymore. There’s lots of options that are very comfortable. There’s auto-inflating life jackets that are very slim and low-profile that don’t encumber you when you’re out on the water recreating. They can save your life if you end up in the water unexpectedly." And, Bailey tells KBND News, alcohol appears to have been a factor, which can make it more difficult to survive cold water and frantic conditions. "Hopefully someone hearing this story thinks twice and wears a life jacket when they’re out on the water, thinks about use of alcohol when recreating and being out on the water," says Bailey, "And save a family from a tragic ending."
For now, Mead is considered a missing person. He's a white male, 5'6" tall and 170 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes and tattoos. He was last seen wearing black pants or shorts, with no shoes or shirt. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 541-693-6911.
CULVER, OR -- Jefferson County authorities searched through the weekend for a man presumed drowned at Lake Billy Chinook. It was the second apparent drowning in as many days in Central Oregon.
According to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, a man jumped from the top deck of a pontoon boat, at about 4:20 p.m. Friday. Witnesses say his head struck a railing on the way into the water and he sank out of sight.
His friends searched the area, along with Jefferson County deputies and a Search and Rescue team from Deschutes County, but his body has not been recovered.
His name has not been released, pending next of kin notification.
UPDATE: (12:00 p.m.) The Jefferson County Sheriff tells KBND News the victim has been identified as 52-year-old Patricio Pineda, from Oregon City. He went into the water in an area that's about 275' deep. JCSO marine patrols continue, and Sheriff Jim Adkins says he's requested help from outside agencies with specialized equipment.
REDMOND, OR -- For the third time in four days, Redmond Fire crews had to extricate a driver trapped in a vehicle, Friday morning (above). The crash occurred on Northwest Way, near NW Euston Lane, at about 7:15 a.m. Authorities say the vehicle rolled several times and hit a juniper tree. Firefighters stabilized the vehicle, removed the roof and freed the driver, who was the sole occupant. The victim was flown by Life Flight to St. Charles Bend.
Thursday afternoon, crews responded to Highway 126, a couple miles east of Redmond. In that case, they were also forced to remove the vehicle's roof to get the driver out (below). That person was taken by ground ambulance to St. Charles Redmond.
On Tuesday, a 75-year-old woman reportedly pulled out in front of an oncoming vehicle on Veterans Way, causing a T-bone crash. Both drivers suffered only minor injuries, but Redmond firefighters had to use a hydraulic rescue tool to get one driver out.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County will conduct a phone survey, over the next two weeks, to get more input on where local trash should go, once the Knott Landfill hits capacity. One proposal would truck the county’s garbage to a landfill in the Columbia River Gorge. Another option is to create a new landfill in an unincorporated part of Deschutes County.
Solid Waste Director Timm Schimke says County Commissioners learned a lot from recent listening sessions, but they want a statistically valid survey of residents to help guide their final decision. "The feedback we’ve gotten so far is from people who are interested, who are aware. There’s a whole lot of people in the community who don’t think about their trash at all; as long as it disappears out there, off the curb, that’s all they care to think about. So, we’re trying to reach out and get the opinion of some of those people." He adds, "When those results come back, then the board [of County Commissioners] will be ready to make a decision. I expect that decision to happen sometime in the month of July."
Schimke says, at the county’s current rate of growth, the Knott Landfill has about decade left. He tells KBND News, "2029 is kind of what we’re looking at. I mean, if we grow faster than anticipated, that’ll be a shorter timeframe." And he says, it's important to decide now how to proceed because it takes about 10 years to develop a new facility, if county leaders choose that option.
Regardless of whether they build a new landfill or decide to truck the county's trash to a facility in the Gorge, prices will go up, "Knott Landfill, being so close to the community, has been a real financial benefit to the community. So 180,000 tons go into the landfill a year; probably 75% of that kind of shows up at the gate. We don’t have to transport it. But, once that landfill is full, we’re picking up all 180,000 [tons] and taking it somewhere else - maybe 30 miles out, maybe 130 miles out."
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College honors the class of 2019, Saturday. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) will deliver the commencement address. COCC Director of Student Life Andrew Davis says Wyden is the first Democratic politician to speak at graduation, "Commencement is really, totally apolitical. It's about the graduates, and it's about what's next for them. And for us, we've had politicians speak at commencement before, it's just about somebody who's got a powerful message that they can deliver." Davis tells KBND Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) and former State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) have spoken at past graduations.
Senator Wyden says, "I was asked a number of months ago to be the commencement speaker at Central Oregon Community college, and I'm really looking forward to it." He adds, "The college does so many things well and, in that sense, mirrors the community. And, I'm going to make this a speech that really makes that case." About 700 students are in COCC's class of 2019, although Davis says only about 300 will take part in Saturday's ceremony. It starts at 10 a.m. at Mazama Field, and is open to the public.
Also Saturday, Wyden will hold his 29th town hall of 2019, in Prineville. "I think there are going to be a host of issues that come up," says Wyden. "I expect to talk a lot about recreation, we have our R&R bill - 'Recreation not Redtape.' I think we'll be talking about essential services, such as schools, and roads, and law enforcement. I also expect, in Central Oregon, there will be a lot of questions about holding down health care costs." He also wants to talk about the Secure Rural Schools program that's brought millions in funding to Central Oregon. It's expired, and he's working to replace it with the Forest Management for Rural Stability Plan, "I think it will provide stable increasing in reliable funds for county services in Central Oregon." The town hall takes place at Crook County Middle School and begins at 1:30 p.m., Saturday.
OSU Cascades will graduate 331 students on Sunday. It's the largest graduating class in the history of the Bend campus, and is distinguished by record diversity and first-generation grads.
BEND, OR -- Police agencies across the country continue to respond to hoax calls, known as “SWATting." That’s when a false report leads to a large law enforcement response. Bend Police is no exception. Investigations continue in to two recent "SWATting" incidents. The first involved a reported hostage situation at Sal’s Barber Shop on South Highway 97, June fourth. Deputy Police Chief Paul Kansky says the second occurred the following day at Bend High, "That call was of a bomb threat, which is – really, when Swatting or these hoaxings started, bomb threats were very common; that was one of the common themes. In that case, the people that were left at the school had to be evacuated, so it caused quite a disturbance, and again a lot of police resources that had to respond to that."
Those two recent incidents now make three in the past six months, "One from December, we never solved; that’s still an open case. Sometimes, without solving them, we don’t know if it’s truly just ‘a thrill’ thing or if there was some other motive, to damage a business or whatnot," says Kansky. "The current ones are very recent and still under investigation."
Kansky tells KBND News, determining the motive can help lead investigators to a suspect or suspects. There are typically two reasons why someone calls in a hoax, "One of them is to – just the thrill, I guess, of deceiving law enforcement. A little bit of that has been connected to trying to get that on video, whether it’s the news or some live stream. And then, we’ve also seen where it’s a personal vendetta or personal extortion, if you will, some sort of thing where they’re trying to get something from somebody." Suspects could face local and federal charges, if caught.
PORTLAND, OR -- Pacific Power plans to take aggressive steps, this summer, to prevent electrical lines from causing wildfires. Last year’s devastating fire in Paradise, California is blamed on PG&E transmission lines.
Pacific Power crews are expanding the amount of vegetation they cut around power equipment and inspecting lines for trees that could cause lines to come down. Senior Vice President Scott Bolton says they may have to do even more, "In high-risk fire areas of the state, even proactively de-energizing or shutting off power." But, he says, "It’s a measure of last resort when we see extreme conditions around high wind, high temperatures, very low humidity and potential for a fire to ignite."
Bolton says the utility is also looking at ways to strengthen their grid, "How do we improve the safety and resiliency of the grid today and what are the types of measures we can take in the future?" He says they plan to work with local governments and emergency service agencies to develop plans for when the power might be cut. They'll also launch a public awareness campaign later this month in areas where shut downs are most likely. He believes Southern Oregon is most at risk.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police officers and Fire inspectors will team up this summer, to crack down on illegal fireworks. The task force will patrol areas in the city with a history of a high number of illegal fireworks calls. They’ll also respond to fireworks calls, as they’re able. Targeted patrols are scheduled for June 27 and 28, and July third, fifth and sixth.
Fireworks enforcement was identified as a City Council priority, this year, as part of a comprehensive wildfire resilience plan. Last year’s Fourth of July fire on Pilot Butte is blamed on illegal fireworks.
In Oregon, fireworks that explode, fly more than 12 inches in to the air or move laterally more than six feet are illegal to possess and use. Click HERE for more information and safety tips. Last month, Bend Fire launched a series of public service announcements urging people to use only legal fireworks.
TERREBONNE, OR -- An injured hiker was rescued from Smith Rock State Park, during a three-hour operation, Thursday evening. Redmond Fire Medics responded the park at about 6:30 p.m. They hiked to the top of Misery Ridge and stabilized the victim until 10 Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteers arrived.
Deschutes County Sheriff's SAR personnel established a running belay system and brought the victim down the trail in a basket. The hiker was taken to St. Charles Redmond with undisclosed injuries.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man is presumed dead after his canoe overturned at Wickiup Reservoir, early Thursday morning. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, two men were disperse camping near the Davis arm of the reservoir. They were in the canoe with a dog, when it overturned at about 2 a.m.
A 24-year-old man and dog made it to shore; the 29-year-old did not. Because his cell phone and vehicle keys were in the canoe at the time it tipped, the survivor had no way to call or drive for help, according to DCSO, and he waited in camp. Just after 9 a.m., he discovered an out-of-service cell phone in his friend's camp items and called 911. A DCSO drone responded and a dive team located gear from the boat on the lake floor, in about 20 feet of water; but the victim was not found. The search for his body continues Friday; his identity has not been released.
Neither man was wearing a lifejacket and alcohol is believed to have contributed to the incident.
BEND, OR -- Local businesses are misspelling words on their signs, ain an effort to help the American Red Cross. Jennifer Shaw, with the Red Cross in Deschutes County, says the agency has a shortage of blood donations in types A, B and O, "We're partnering with a lot of different companies and businesses, asking them to take those letters out of their logo, as just a statement to raise awareness about the need for blood."
Shaw tells KBND News they need 500 pints a week, "We serve St. Charles in Bend, Prineville, Madras, and then we support John Day and Burns hospitals as well. So there is a great need out there, and especially, it tends to go up - we have more traumas in summer than we do in the wintertime because more people are out on the road and doing activities." But meeting that demand is difficult. Shaw says many have good intentions, but not enough people actually make it to a center or donation event, "Only three of every 100 people in the U.S. actually donate blood, so there just simply isn't enough people to help the patients that we serve."
Eligible donors are encouraged to make an appointment through the Red Cross website or mobile app, "We're open here in Bend four days a week, and we also go out to other communities in Central Oregon - Redmond, Prineville, Sisters, Madras - on a regular basis." A list of upcoming donation events around the region can also be found online.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Rural Fire Protection District Two will have a pair of new fire halls by fall. Executive Director Gary Marshall says construction is about 60% complete on a new Tumalo fire station (above). At about 8,500-square feet, it's more than twice the size of the current facility, right next door, "It’s a huge upgrade. The firefighter/paramedics just can’t wait to get out of that old station. It was built in 1975 and was built on a very low budget. They continue to have issues with that structure. It just doesn’t meet the needs of a modern day fire station." He tells KBND News, "It’ll have four dorm rooms, three baths, public restrooms, a fitness room, training area [and] kitchen."
The Tumalo station should open in early September, and the old building will then turn into storage. About a month later, Marshall says, a new inner-city fire station will open next to the Bend Police Department (right), "This station’s going to look a little bit different than the Tumalo station. It really resembles the old station that many of us started in, back in the day, over at 5 NW Minnesota Street, which is a restaurant now. We wanted to design an architectural rendering of a very old antique fire station." But, don't let the old-school facade fool you. Marshall says it will have all of the necessary modern amenities. "It’s 10,000-square feet; 1,500-square feet of that 10,000 will be used for a training facility for Bend Police Department," he says, "They’re going to lease that from us, most likely, for the next 10 years." The location at the base of Pilot Butte should also improve response times for fire crews within the core of Bend.
Marshall says he had planned for construction to begin on the Bend station first, but permits were delayed, and then last winter's weather pushed work back at both projects, as well. But, he says things are back on track and he doesn't foresee any other delays.
SACATON, AZ -- The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs took part in a discussion with members of the Trump Administration, this week, looking at public safety issues confronting Indian Country. Tribal officials from around the country met with representatives from the Interior Department to work on developing a comprehensive approach to address cold cases, violent crimes and missing and murdered native Americans.
The "Reclaiming our Native Communities" round table discussion took place Tuesday in Arizona, and included Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Chairman Raymond Tsumpti, as well as Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ). Sen. McSally says it's an important issue because, "Native American communities, particularly indigenous women, face much higher rates of violence versus the national average. Alarmingly, law enforcement officials in Indian Country often lack access to the data and resources necessary to prosecute and prevent these crimes. We must do more to ensure public safety in our Native communities."
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Police are investigating a stabbing that occurred in Prineville, Wednesday night. Authorities say officers responded to a reported stabbing on NE Allen Ave., just after 6:30 p.m. They immediately secured a perimeter and discovered the victim inside his home, with a wounded leg.
A Redmond Police K-9 assisted in the search for a suspect, but no one was found. The victim was taken to St. Charles Prineville with a non-life threatening injury.
Prineville Police don't believe there are any outstanding suspects, nor is there a threat to public safety. However, the investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call Prineville PD at 541-447-4168.
REDMOND, OR -- A little “Big Top” went up at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds, in Redmond (below), Tuesday afternoon. The Venardos Circus begins a ten-day run, Thursday night.
Ring Leader and Producer Kevin Venardos says the unique show features an international cast of performers, "We have comedy, we have acrobatics, aerial artists, we have daredevils and we have musical production numbers that ties this together."
What it doesn't have is animals. "Sometimes, people will jump on our feet and say ‘you abuse all your animals; the circus is horrible.’ And they don’t even know that we don’t even have any animals." He says he's not trying to make a political statement, but doesn't believe there is a future for animals in the circus. Instead, he prefers to focus on the diversity of his performers and the audience, "It’s an intimate venue; only about 300 seats in that tent. So every seat is quite close to what’s going on."
This is the first time Venardos Circus has come to Oregon. Learn more about the unique show Friday morning, in Heart of the Arts.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville’s Police Department is moving from the downtown building it’s occupied for several decades. "When I came to Prineville in 2015, the building was a mess; to say the least," Chief Dale Cummins tells KBND News, "We’re probably only using, maybe, half of the building, because there’s things like big iron boiler rooms that we can’t occupy, a big garage in the back we really can’t use." And, he says, the roof leaks, "At one point, the Report Writing room I had to actually close down, because the water was so bad and the mold count was so high, I couldn’t have my officers in it." He's also concerned the dispatch center housed in the 1956 building would be compromised in a major emergency, because it sits in a flood plain and would likely not survive a quake. Chief Cummins adds, "The building was actually in such disrepair that they brought it to the attention of voters and actually passed a levy to get a new jail, just to get the prisoners and the county deputies out of this building." That new Crook County Jail is set to open next week.
Cummins says several independent firms looked at the feasibility of renovating the facility, which was originally built in 1956. The city even secured a grant in 2017 to improve earthquake resiliency, but he says that $1.2 million quickly became a drop in the bucket, "So, all of a sudden, we’re talking about $4-$6 million just to try to repair the current building." He says an outside analyst even told him it would be cheaper to tear the building down and start again. Instead, he found a building about a half a mile away, on Northeast Elm, "That was basically a medical building. Two story. And, it fit our needs." He says it was renovated in 2004, is above the flood plain and is considered earthquake resilient.
He hopes to move in next year, "We’re just early in the process. I’m just going to have my first meeting with engineers next week, but we’re shooting for 12-18 months." They still need to firm up a design for the interior, which he hopes will provide a more efficient work-flow for officers and dispatchers. Cummins says the city purchased the building with a $4 million loan, acquired without additional taxes. Plans for the property on Third Street have not been finalized, but he speculates it could become a parking lot.
BEND, OR -- An 18-year-old Bend man faces multiple charges after allegedly shooting another teen in a car in which both were passengers. Bend Police were initially dispatched to Albertson's on the south end of town, at about 11 p.m. Monday, for a report of a man injured by gunfire.
Investigators determined Gabriel McGhehey was among five people riding in an SUV, traveling from Redmond to La Pine. McGhehey reportedly fired a 12-gauge shotgun out the car window several times, as the SUV drove south on Highway 97. At some point, 18-year-old Noah Small, of Keizer, told McGhehey to stop shooting, and tried to push the shotgun away from himself and the window. The gun fired, striking Small's left hand and partially amputating several fingers. He was then dropped off near Albertson's.
Tuesday afternoon, McGhehey was contacted during a traffic stop, after leaving a La Pine home. Investigators recovered the shotgun and other evidence and arrested the suspect. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office took a report of a stolen shotgun earlier that day, and authorities believe it's the same gun recovered from the SUV.
McGhehey is charged with Assault II, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Recklessly Endangering Another and Theft of a firearm.
SALEM, OR -- Recreators who float the Deschutes River in kayaks, canoes or any other non-motorized watercraft longer than 10' would face new fees under a bill advancing in the Legislature. A two-year permit would cost $30, one-year would be $17 and a weekly permit would cost $5.
State Representative Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay) says users of non-motorized watercraft also use services, but currently don't contribute like other boaters, "Launch ramps are used; restrooms are used." State Representative Ken Helm (D-Washington County) agrees, "They need to pay in a little bit." He adds, "It might be a little bit of an annoyance to get your permit. But, your permit provides funds for vitally needed services."
State Representative Cheri Helt (R-Bend) took to social media Monday to share her frustration with the proposal. During floor debates, she said it will affect many users of the Deschutes River, "Due to the nature of how many people float our river every day, during the summer, I think this would be a burdensome process." The bill was opposed by all of Central Oregon's Representatives. Rep. Christine Drazan (R-Canby) also voted against it, saying people who can't afford a sail or power boat often find kayaks, canoes or paddle boards are an inexpensive way to get on the water, "The best way to support underserved populations who have a non-motorized boat is to not charge them."
The bill has been approved by both chambers, but changes still need approval before going to the Governor.
BEND, OR -- Habitat for Humanity is building nine homes on Bend's west side, after nearly two years' worth of working with the city. Bend-Redmond Habitat for Humanity Director of Development Robin Cooper-Engle says this project will create cottage-style houses near NW College Way, "The homes are generally smaller than a typical single family home. The homes at the Northwest Cottage site will probably be 900 to 1,000 - a little over 1,000 sq ft." The new neighborhood will also have a community center, pet park and common space.
In the last few years, Habitat has had to do more land development before construction can begin, and Cooper-Engle says that doesn't always keep things affordable, "Land is such a challenge for us, and so, to be able to serve families, at this site, it's just going to be amazing. It's such a great location, people can walk to so many things, and have access to so much, we're not far from the community college and OSU, and so it's going to be great." The site will eventually feature 11 homes, but nine will be built with the help of future homeowners who earn 40-80% of the area median income. "They’re working in our community," Cooper-Engle tells KBND News, "Many of the families that we serve have children, but some don't. Some are older and single, some are younger and just married. so, it's just a variety of folks that will go in there."
Site prep is underway; a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony was held last week (pictured above). Cooper-Engle admits it's taken a while to get things off the ground, "We're getting close. It's pretty exciting." She adds, "We will probably officially see things going vertical closer to the fall, with families being able to move in next year."
Habitat also breaks ground this week on two more homesites in northeast Bend, on Indigo Lane.
CULVER, OR -- The Oregon Health Authority has issued a precautionary advisory for Lake Billy Chinook, near Culver, lasting through summer.
Cyanobacterial algae blooms routinely develop in the lake, and can be harmful when ingested, especially for pets. Since 2015, blooms have consistently produced toxins in the water, forcing the OHA to issue and lift advisories periodically throughout the summer. Officials say testing is costly, making it difficult for local water managers to regularly test the lake and determine when cyanotoxins are being produced. The agency says a seasonal alert for 2019 is more practical.
Last summer, local businesses grew frustrated with the warnings issued by the OHA.
Exposure to the toxins can lead to symptoms similar to food poisoning. The advisory remains in effect until November first.
REDMOND, OR -- A T-bone collision shutdown traffic near Lowe's in southwest Redmond, for a short time, Tuesday afternoon. Police say 75-year-old Esther Neal stopped at a stop sign, at Kalama and Veterans Way, but then pulled out in front of an oncoming vehicle. The crash occurred at about 2:20 p.m.
The impact caused one vehicle to flip, trapping the driver. Redmond firefighters used hydraulic rescue tools to get that driver out and transported to St. Charles Redmond. Both drivers received minor injuries.
Neal was cited for Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device.
EUGENE, OR -- Harold Blackwolf was sentenced Tuesday to nearly six years in federal prison for killing two pedestrians with his car. Prosecutors say the 35-year-old Warm Springs man was drunk when he sped away from a friend’s house with his headlights off, in September 2017. He then struck and killed two men.
The convicted felon was arrested in April 2018, and found with a revolver. Blackwolf pleaded guilty in February to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County voters will soon decide whether to combine fire and EMS services. Last year, county officials hired an outside firm to investigate the pros and cons of combining the agencies. Fire Chief Brian Huff says their newly released report shows it would make sense, logistically, and result in improved response times. "The company, Matrix Group out of Texas, came to the conclusion that it is best to merge, at a higher tax rate." He says higher taxes would be needed to pay for expanded coverage.
In Jefferson County, fire services have historically been run by the county, while medics and ambulances are managed by a not-for-profit company. Huff says combining them would mean big changes. Currently, most Jefferson County firefighters are volunteers and do not provide full-time coverage at a fire station. If fire and medics combine forces, Huff says firefighters would need to come on staff, "Not only would there be 24-hour fire apparatus staffing, but it also enhances the ability of the EMS district to respond with certified personnel." And, he tells KBND News, it would lead to less turnover, "You're getting an average of two to three years that you're getting a trained volunteer. So, they're looking at Warm Springs or all these other agencies that are growing; and we're stuck being stagnant."
The final decision is up to voters, likely next May, "So basically, the ballot measure would go before the voters a little less than a year from now," says Huff. That means the fire department and medical service must hammer out details immediately, "If we can make that happen, that'll be, I think, the best - To move forward, and to move forward quickly. But, I just don't want to move forward so quickly that we miss a step." He says the most important thing is to build a new, combined agency that will work best for residents.
Madras City Councilors will discuss the Matrix Group report at Tuesday night's Council meeting. It begins at 7 p.m.