BEND, OR -- Unemployment across the tri-county area held relatively steady in March. Deschutes County’s jobless rate bumped up a tenth of a point last month, to 4.7%. Jefferson County rose two-tenths of a point, landing at 6.2%; Crook County also ticked up two-tenths of a point, to 6.5%.
Regional Economist Damon Runberg calls the slight uptick “statistically insignificant" and says numbers are rebounding from last year's historic lows, "We reached historically low rates of unemployment, they kicked up ever so slightly, and they’ve sort of been stable there; so we are still at very low rates of unemployment." He tells KBND News, "The fact that we’ve sort of slowed down into this 3% realm, year over year, for our job growth, it sort of feels anticlimactic. It’s like, we’re so used to the craziness, that when it just sort of settles into a nice steady level of growth, we almost think of it as a negative thing." But, he says, this current rate of growth is much more sustainable over the long term.
Deschutes County’s added 260 jobs in March, and 2,440 jobs In the past year. Runberg says the largest gains were in the Accommodations and Food Services industry, at nearly 9%, "Most of that is still just the fact that we’re having these new hotels that have been built, staffing up. So, it’s sort of looking like the industry is growing like gang-busters. And, it is. But it’s not from existing firms; it’s from new firms." The second fastest growing industry in Deschutes County bucks a national trend, "Manufacturing has done really, really well over the last year; in Deschutes County it’s up over 6%. And that’s an uncommon trend, nationally, I’ll say that," says Runberg, "We’ve had a sustained run of our manufacturing sector, across Central Oregon. [It’s] just continuing to add job, and do well and lots of different types of manufacturing jobs have been added; not our traditional wood products."
BEND, OR -- A cougar has been spotted near homes in Southwest Bend. Michelle Dennehy, with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, says the big cat was seen twice this week but hasn't appeared aggressive, "It really doesn't rise to the level of an immediate human safety threat or a situation where we would pursue the cougar and kill it. But we are concerned, and we want to reduce the risk of any encounter," She tells KBND News, "So, we are advising people not to use this area, which is basically upstream of the Bill Healy bridge. We have trail cameras in the area, so we'll be monitoring it for more cougar activity, but hopefully this cougar just moves on."
Dennehy says this cougar is in the same general area of the Deschutes River Canyon where another was euthanized in February, because it was hunting in backyards and had became a public safety threat.
There are ways neighbors can protect themselves, "Keep your pets indoors at night and feed them inside," says Dennehy, "Be aware of any wildlife corridors or places where deer tend to concentrate, or elk tend to concentrate. And, if you do see a cougar, please call us, or you can also call the police, or if it's an emergency situation, call 911." For more, visit ODFW's "Living with cougars" webpage.
SALEM, OR -- Kaylee’s Law unanimously passed out of the State Senate, Tuesday. "Among other things, this bill would require campus security to take off their cars the red and blue lights that look like police cars," said State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) prior to the vote, "Remove specialized bumpers, and - perhaps most important - do away with internal plexiglass cages." Knopp is the bill's chief sponsor, and says it will improve safety on community college campuses.
The bill is named for Kaylee Sawyer, who was killed by a Central Oregon Community College campus security guard in 2016. In a rare rule-bending, her family was allowed on the floor during Tuesday's vote. They watched as Knopp gave an emotional speech on Sawyer's life and explained why the bill is necessary, "In the end, we are all powerless to turn back time. Instead, we must face the loss and resolve together: Never again." Knopp tells KBND News, "It was very emotional. They're obviously still hurting. And, even though it was a good day and we did some good things, we can't undo the past and we can't bring Kaylee back. It's hard to lose somebody, and it's hard to lose somebody in such a tragic and violent way."
COCC Board Chair Speaks Out About Safety Concerns (04/23/2019)
SB 576 creates rules for campus public safety agencies so security guards aren't confused with police. Investigators believe Sawyer trusted her killer and got into his patrol car because he looked and acted like a police officer. "I don't think anybody can know the intent of an individual, but clearly, the safeguards need to be put in place so we don't have this happen to any other student," says Knopp. Kaylee's Law is backed by Central Oregon law enforcement officials, and Knopp is pleased with the support shown Tuesday by his colleagues, "They believe that there was a problem with the way campus security has been handled on some of our college campuses, and they wanted to fix that problem, and send a very strong message that it's important that it gets fixed."
The bill now heads to the House and is scheduled for a first reading in that chamber on Wednesday. Knopp calls Tuesday's event "the halfway point."
Photo: Kaylee Sawyer's father Jamie Sawyer on the Senate floor as Sen. Tim Knopp talked about the importance of passing "Kaylee's Law."
MILLICAN, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a wanted man they say ran from deputies, near Millican, Tuesday. Deputies were responding to a civil disturbance on Fort Rock Road when they learned 52-year-old Stanley Heden, of Bend, had a felony warrant and was leaving the house.
They stopped just off Highway 20, around noon, to watch for the suspect. When Heden saw law enforcement, they say he sped from the area and led deputies on a chase down several forest service roads and an unmarked OHV trail. During the chase, metal debris from his truck fell into the road, hampering deputies' efforts to keep up with him.
His truck was found abandoned on the trail and searchers tracked his foot prints. Despite an extensive search involving an OSP plane and two K-9 units, Heden was not found. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office through non-emergency dispatch, at 541-693-6911.
SALEM, OR -- There are a variety of resources available, designed to help Oregon veterans facing foreclosure. But, not every vet knows how to access help. A bill working through Salem aims to change that.
District 53 State Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond) sponsored HB 2530 to provide important information to veterans, "If, for some reason, something happens and they are starting to get behind, then they get the notice of default. They [will] also get this piece of paper that says there are all these nonprofits that are willing to help, that there's help out there." Zika tells KBND News, "This is one of those that I think we'll accomplish something good with it and hopefully stop somebody that would otherwise become homeless."
Zika says there is one concern: making sure banks know whether a homeowner facing foreclosure is a veteran, especially if they didn't purchase the home with a VA loan. But he believes a secondary form could be made available to financial institutions, to make sure veterans are given that extra level of protection and assistance.
The bill would also create a task force to receive reports on veterans housing programs, from the Oregon Department of Veteran's Affairs and the Housing and Community Services Department. Zika says it will help with the "implementation of veterans and housing programs like Operation Welcome Home, training and coordination, and identifying veterans who may become homeless."
HB 2530 passed the House unanimously on Monday, and heads to the Senate.
BEND, OR -- The League of Women voters of Deschutes County will host a candidate forum on Monday, featuring those running for Bend-La Pine School Board on the May 21st ballot. Candidates will each give short speeches and take questions from the audience. The event starts at 5 p.m. at the Deschutes County Services Building (1300 NW Wall St., Bend), April 29. Click HERE for full details.
Vying for Zone One are speech and language therapist Caroline Skidmore, Chet Liew, with TDS Solutions, and owner of CMIT Solutions Mark Capell. Capell tells KBND News, "I think the biggest issue really is funding. And that's something we have to figure out because right now, there are too many students per teacher in each classroom." He says his depth of experience makes him the best choice, "I spent eight years on the [Bend] City Council working mostly on infrastructure and public safety; and the third thing the government is supposed to supply for all of us is education, and so I want to work on that. I want to see if I can help."
Zone Three incumbent and Thompson Pump and Irrigation owner Andy High is being challenged by Pastor for Justice and Mission Shimiko Montgomery.
Amy Tatom, a local family nurse practitioner, is running unopposed for Zone Five, and isn't scheduled to take part in Monday's forum.
Three candidates are running for Zone Six: Melissa Barnes Dholakia is the founder and Executive Director of MBD Partners, which supports charter schools; Richard Asadoorian is a former teacher, counselor, and principal; and Dr. Mike Way is a retired educator. Way says, "I taught for 33 years. I taught computer science, I ran the Computer science department at the college level. I think that I've got a pretty good feel for tech and how we need to start approaching it better." He would like to see robotics training expanded in schools, "Everybody should have a shot at that; and if everybody doesn't want to do it, we need to figure out why they don't want to, because that's the future."
KBND News requested interviews with each candidate, but did not receive responses from the others prior to deadline.
BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Community College Board Chair is going straight to the public to talk campus safety. The school’s most recent newsletter includes a personal message addressed to “COCC Friends and Neighbors,” from Laura Craska Cooper. She tells KBND News, "There have been statements that COCC has not been cooperative with law enforcement officials and that COCC has not made requested changes. That’s not accurate. There have been a number of ways that we’ve cooperated and made changes to reflect suggestions we’ve received from coordinating our partner law enforcement agencies." She adds, "But, I think that maybe that message has not always gotten out in maybe the last six months, in statements made to the Legislature and in statements made in public." She says those changes include redesigning campus patrol vehicles and prohibiting campus security from initiating arrests or traffic stops.
Craska Cooper says COCC also purchased new public safety uniforms in September 2017, with approval from Bend Police Chief Jim Porter, who serves on COCC's Campus Public Safety Working Group. Chief Porter tells KBND News he only approved a new color scheme, and he remains concerned about the style, which resembles uniforms worn by sworn police. Craska Cooper disagrees, "He did indicate that they were okay. He met with our lawyer and also former Senator Neil Bryant was in the room, and they both confirmed that he did approve them. I think there might have been some confusion over what he was approving. He may not have thought he was approving the whole uniforms; but that’s certainly what both of them believed." But, she says, talks are ongoing, "We are going to continue to look at uniforms and we will change the uniforms." For more on changes COCC says it's made in the past three years, click HERE.
Chief Porter and Craska Cooper are working on a joint resolution that would bring a Bend Police officer to the school, as a sort of liaison between campus public safety and Bend PD. Craska Cooper says, "What the police chief and I have talked about, with Dr. Metcalf, is the campus resource officer would be on our campus very much in the same way they as they are on K-12 campuses. And, they would work with our campus public safety, would be a full time officer who would be on campus on a daily basis when classes are in session, and would coordinate communication with the campus public safety." The board is expected to vote on that agreement, next month. We are all working collaboratively and we all have the same goal: We want a safe community on campus and off campus and we think that it’s in the best interest of the community if we’re all on the same page."
Oregon’s Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a bill named for a woman murdered by a COCC public safety officer in July 2016. Kaylee’s Law would create more specific guidelines for community college campus safety agencies. The bill is sponsored by Bend Senator Tim Knopp and supported by Bend’s Police Chief and Deschutes County’s District Attorney. Craska Cooper admits Community college campus safety departments fall into a gray area under current law, "There’s not as much of clarity in the statute, with respect to community colleges, as there is with respect to four-year institutions. And so, we at COCC, are very much in favor of anything that’s going to provide a little bit more clarity; and, of course, we will comply with the law." She adds, "The important thing to us is any clarity that can be provided, any guidance and anything that’ll make campuses safer, we are in favor of." While the bill is in direct response to the murder at COCC, school officials chose not to testify during committee hearings for the legislation.
Investigators believe Kaylee Sawyer trusted her killer because he looked like a police officer. He then trapped her in his COCC patrol car, which was outfitted with a partition called a “cage.” Those partitions are no longer used at COCC.
UPDATE (11:45 a.m.): The Oregon Senate unanimously passed Kaylee's Law; it now moves to the House.
Above: File Photo
Upper Right: Laura Craska Cooper's letter was emailed to the community April 19, 2019.
TERREBONNE, OR -- A 24-year-old rock climber was taken to the hospital after falling about 20 feet at Smith Rock State Park, Monday morning.
Redmond Fire and Deschutes County Search and Rescue personnel responded to the area, just after 9:30 a.m. They treated the patient at the bottom of the “Forever I May Roam” climbing route, near Asterisk Pass.
The rescue operation took about three hours and involved a rope lowering system, before the climber was taken by wheeled litter to a waiting ambulance.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man suspected of fleeing from a Monday traffic stop arrested - twice - after a wild chase. It started Just before 6 p.m., when a deputy tried to pull over a pickup on Highway 97 for expired tags, north of Bend. But, authorities say, the truck went off-road, turned around, got back on the highway and drove back toward town; eventually going east on Cooley.
A detective found the truck abandoned in a vacant lot near NE 18th, and a K-9 deputy was deployed to track the suspect. He was seen jumping into a canal, swimming to the other side and running near Scottsdale Road and Old Deschutes Road. Using a drone and other deputies, they eventually found 43-year-old Jason Walter hiding in a residential pond on Overtree Road. The Sheriff's Office says he had trouble getting out of the water because he was so cold. He was detained at about 7:15 p.m. and evaluated by medics, who took him to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
More than three hours later, wearing scrubs and handcuffed behind his back, Walter allegedly ran from the hospital parking lot and was tackled in the grass by the same deputy who arrested him the first time.
He's now at the Deschutes County Jail facing numerous charges, including violating probation, driving while revoked and escape.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon will be home to the California Tortoiseshell butterfly for the next four to six weeks. The distinctive yellow wings with the black borders have been spotted around the region in the past week, as they begin their migration from the deserts of California and Arizona.
Ralph Berry is a retired Professor Emeritus of Entomology for Oregon state University tells KBND News, "The numbers depend on the flowers in Arizona and California, to build up that population, that turn into adults that then, migrate northward. It's a good year for flowering plants in the desert area, and so that stimulates the production of a lot more adults." He adds, "It's been awhile since we've seen this number, we always have some. Primarily, keyed with the host plant. The adults need to feed on nectar, from the flowers from different plants, and then of course, they lay their eggs on snowbrush or buckbrush."
He says Central Oregon native plants play a crucial role in the species' life-cycle, "The adults will lay eggs on snowbrush, and then the caterpillars will feed on the leaves, and then they'll drop to the ground and they'll form a pupa stage, the adults will emerge, and they'll lay eggs back on the snowbrush."
Berry says the migration always starts in April, and it's common to see them flying together in a kaleidoscope.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's District Attorney wants to expand diversion programs, to help keep low-level criminals from re-offending. D.A. John Hummel and three of his staff took a fact-finding trip, last week, to Wisconsin. Hummel met with Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, known nationwide for his diversion programs. "They have a big volume in Milwaukee, as you might expect, in a city of that size," Hummel tells KBND News, "And, they want to focus their resources to the greatest extent possible on prosecuting the people who need to be prosecuted, while getting the people who would benefit from community services, out of the system early."
In 2017, Hummel launched the "Goldilocks" program, which gives eligible drug offenders the option to participate in a diversion program, in exchange for dropping criminal charges. In some cases, they receive addiction treatment at a local community health center. Based on what he observed in Milwaukee, Hummel believes Goldilocks could be expanded over the next year, beyond drug offenses, and would result in lowered recidivism rates for low-level offenders. "This isn't something that's going to change in a day, or week, or month," says Hummel, "But it is something that we need to look at. I'm proud of what we're doing in this office now, but I'm always looking for ways that we can improve. Over the next year, I'd like to think that we can expand our diversion offerings, and that's going to make for a safer community."
Hummel contends, "We're safe." But, he says, "I want us to continue to be safe, and I want us to be even safer. Why shouldn't we be the safest in the country? That's my goal. So, maybe we're in the 90th or 95th percentile on safeness, I want us to be in the 99th percentile." He says he plans to do more to communicate how he's working to improve safety, and make sure there's access to data that shows residents what's happening in their communities.
File Photo: D.A. John Hummel
BEND, OR -- Kor Community Land Trust broke ground Friday on its first affordable housing project in Central Oregon. Executive Director Amy Warren says they’re subdividing a half-acre lot into five parcels, near SE 27th and Reed Market. Each will have a two bedroom, two-bath sustainable cottage built to use as much energy as it produces, thanks to some special features, "Upgraded windows, upgraded insulation, different wall framing methods; and then, topped off with active solar."
The 1,100-square foot cottages will share a common area, to promote community, "That’s one of Kor’s values is that we are not creating stand-alone homes," Warren tells KBND News, "We’re creating communities." She says crews have quite a bit of work ahead, to prepare the site for construction. "It’ll take them, I believe, about 10-12 weeks to subdivide the single parcel in to five parcels, plus the common space. And then, we have a few more hoops to jump through with the city, inspecting all that and approving it. So, we anticipate breaking ground on the actual homes, building the homes, sometime in July." She expects they’ll be ready for residents in early 2020.
The project on Hurita Place is a partnership between the land trust and Housing Works. Warren says homes will be sold to qualified low-income families, determined by a lottery process; the trust maintains ownership of the land. Warren says that keeps the cost down for the resident and ensures the property remains deed restricted for low-income families even as the home is bought and sold. Because of the unique model, they require potential residents to attend a pre-application orientation, "It’s really important that folks understand that they’re only going to own their home and they’re going to have a long-term ground lease on the property it sits on. Some people might not be interested in that. So, before asking them to go through the whole application process for the lottery, we want to make sure they understand the program, first." The lottery will take place later this year.
REDMOND, OR -- A Driver from Damascus, OR was arrested late Saturday night on suspicion of DUII, after a crash just north of Redmond.
According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, 56-year-old Jeffrey Lenhardt was westbound on O’Neil Highway when he failed to negotiate a 90-degree curve at Northeast Fifth. Just before 11:30 p.m., his pickup went off the road, hit concrete barriers and flipped onto its side.
He and his passenger, 21-year-old Jake Lenhardt got out on their own, and were not hurt. The elder Lenhardt was booked into the Deschutes County Jail. NE Fifth was closed for over an hour while a tow truck removed the pickup from the scene.
REDMOND, OR -- Oregon State Police continue to investigate last month’s crash, just south of Redmond, that claimed the life of a 19-year-old Redmond woman. They're asking for more information from potential witnesses.
The collision occurred at about 6:45 a.m. Thursday, March 21. Investigators say Sara Edwards was southbound on Highway 97 when she tried to avoid a car entering the highway from the Desert Terrace Mobile Estates. She lost control and her car slid into the path of a northbound concrete pumping truck. Edwards was killed; the truck driver suffered minor injuries.
Anyone who saw the crash or has any information, is asked to call the OSP Dispatch Center at 800-442-0776, or dial *OSP on a cell phone. Refer to case #SP19-099917.
REDMOND, OR -- Ridgeview High School Principal Lee Loving is Oregon’s 2019 Principal of the Year. He was honored at a surprise school assembly Thursday by the Oregon Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA) and the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA).
Loving has served as Ridgeview’s Principal since the school opened in 2012. He was nominated for the award by Assistant Principals Jensine Peterson and Kelly Hicks, who say he has built partnerships that expand opportunities for students and believes student success comes from positive, supportive relationships. "Lee Loving is an amazing 'people person' and relationships matter," Superintendent Mike McIntosh said in a statement. "The Ridgeview High School community is the beneficiary of his enthusiasm and dedication in making Ridgeview an incredible place to learn. The school feels like a huge family that takes pride in both individual and schoolwide accomplishments."
Aside from McIntosh, Loving's family, staff and students, COSA Executive Director Craig Hawkins was also on hand to present the award, Thursday. Loving will also be honored in June at COSA's annual conference in Seaside, and in July at the National Association for Secondary School Principals Conference in Boston. And, in October, he will receive additional honors at the High School Principals Conference in Bend.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors must decide whether the city should chip in money to dredge Mirror Pond. They'll host a public listening session Monday to get feedback on what the community wants. City Manager Eric King says dealing with silt build-up is a controversial issue made more complicated by the city’s lack of control over the iconic downtown pond, "This is not city right of way, it’s not a road or anything the city has any jurisdiction over. There’s been a request to have the city contribute to a dredging project – financially contribute. So, Council has been pondering that. This listening session, I think, will help determine what direction the Council will go in."
King says the city would have to work with others, like Pacific-Corp, which owns the dam that forms the pond, and the Parks District. "It would be just more of a partnership to help provide a solution to Mirror Pond, that’s kind of how we see it. We don’t have a city department that does dredging or siltation removal or any kind of river restoration; that’s just not what we do." There is precedent for such a project, "In 1984, the pond was dredged and there was a partnership. Back then, there was a significant contribution from the federal government," King tells KBND News. "Part of that storage and release of water that creates erosion and then the siltation build-up is done by the Bureau of Reclamation; the federal government. They kicked in money and then the city, Parks District, property owners all came together to get it dredged."
Monday’s listening session will start with a Q & A session on topics like the history of the problem, long term plans for the Mirror Pond Dam and environmental impacts. A full agenda is available at the city's website, HERE. It begins at 5 p.m., at the County Services building (1300 NW Wall Street).
BEND, OR -- The results of a community survey evaluating Bend Police are in, and it shows the majority of residents believe the department is doing a good job. Although, Chief Jim Porter says there were concerns, "The downtown area is a concern, traffic is a concern, there's a perception out of there of an increase in violent crimes and in property crimes."
Porter isn't surprised to see traffic on the list. He recently expanded the traffic patrol to six members. "Now, we're going to start focusing them on areas that we believe are important - the reduction of crashes, the interdiction and arrest of drunk drivers." He says the traffic patrol will focus on the three 'E's of traffic: Enforcement, Education and Engineering. "Our struggle right now is that Bend's a growing city. Our piece is going to be conducting special enforcement details twice a month to bring people's perception of danger down, and their perception of the quality of service they're getting from the police department to reduce traffic issues, up."
Another major issue listed by survey respondents is homelessness. Chief Porter believes three new positions would have a major impact, "The first position we've asked for is a liaison with the homeless community, for homeless who are having issues, and to align them with needed services. This is a significant problem in the downtown area." Porter also wants additional resource officers for COCC and Bend La Pine Schools, who would patrol downtown during the summer.
Bend Police Asks Public to Weigh-In on Priorities (02/27/2019)
Porter tells KBND News statewide stats show Bend is the safest city over 60,000 people, and it's well below national crime averages. But, he acknowledges not every resident feels safe, "We're trying to align this perception that there's increasing crime with what we know to be documented data that says the opposite direction. So, that means we need to do a better job in the police department of actually advertising or getting out there and letting the public know what's going on." Survey results will be presented to city leaders during the budgeting process, to justify spending requests by the department. Click HERE to view the full report compiled by Portland State University researchers.
BEND, OR -- A Sisters man was arrested Thursday for allegedly seeking a sexual relationship with a Bend juvenile. Bend Police say investigators were provided information in the case this week and, using several techniques, identified 32-year-old Jon Beavert as the suspect.
During his arrest in Sisters, police gathered additional evidence they say substantiates the initial allegations, as well as other crimes. He’s charged with six counts each of Online Sexual Corruption of a Child and Luring a Minor, as well as one count of Child Sex Abuse.
LA PINE, OR -- A debris burn in La Pine got out of control, Thursday afternoon, scorching about half an acre before firefighters contained it. The blaze destroyed a pickup and a utility trailer, as well as grass and trees at the property on Contorta Place.
Investigators say the owner turned his back on the debris burn for just a few moments allowing it to escape. He did not have a permit, nor did he have water at the site. Fire officials say, despite our wet spring, just one day of sunny weather and a little wind dramatically increases the potential for fire.
REDMOND, OR -- Deschutes County must decide how to spend the money it’ll receive over the next three years through the 0.1% payroll tax created in the 2017 state transportation package. The money must be used on local transit projects.
Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky says $910,000 could be used to create a fixed-route transit system in Redmond. "Deschutes County has the opportunity to invest $7.6 million across the county for transit; it comes through a payroll tax and is administered through ODOT. And, we’ve had Councilor John Bullock and our Airport Manager Zach Bass on a county committee prioritizing transit." That committee is considering 35 projects. Witcosky hopes the two Redmond members of that committee will help the others understand why a fixed route system is important to address congestion in a city of 30,000 that’s growing by nearly a thousand people a year.
Cascades East Transit runs a "Community Connector" service in Redmond, with buses providing rides to other Central Oregon cities through the transit hub near Fred Meyer. The agency also offers Dial-A-Ride service. "If we get the funding that we’re asking for, this summer, then we will have two fixed-route systems," Witcosky tells KBND News, "We’ll have two buses on each one, and 30-minute headways." That means a bus-stop would see a bus every 30 minutes. "That’s critical because if you’re trying to have people move from an automobile to transit, there’s got to be reliability and certainty that if you stand on a corner at a bus stop, something’s going to come and it’s not going to take that long."
Witcosky acknowledges it’ll be tough to get Redmond residents to give up their cars, "It takes some early adopters, and a lot of times that’s word of mouth. So, if you’re taking transit all the time within Redmond, and you tell your friends how convenient it is and to start thinking about it, then they’ll start to do it and we’ll start to get more and more people. We don’t expect it to happen overnight, but it’s the right first step."
REDMOND, OR -- Only a handful of school districts in Oregon have an equity policy in place to promote belonging and inclusion of students and staff. Bend-La Pine Schools approved one last June. The High Desert Education Service District (ESD) Board unanimously approved its policy this week.
High Desert ESD Superintendent Paul Andrews says they’ve always followed anti-discrimination laws, "But when we did a look at our policies, that’s all we had. We didn’t speak to truly validating and celebrating differences between people. We didn’t look at, ‘are there gaps in the outcomes based on those?’ While we may not be actively discriminating against, or breaking the law in that sense, are we truly serving the needs of all kids?" He tells KBND News the district started creating the equity policy two years ago, "It solidifies that we do look at equity as something different than equality. Equality means we treat everyone exactly the same way, frankly, whether they need it or not. Equity is more about treating each student [and] each employee based on who they are and what they bring to the table as a whole person, and validating that and celebrating that." Click HERE to view the full policy.
The Education Service District works with all school districts in the region to provide special programs, in some cases, working with Central Oregon’s most vulnerable and fragile students.
Andrews says the goal is to make sure students have what they need to succeed, regardless of potential barriers like socioeconomic status, language, gender identity, disability, or race, "There is a great deal of research that says, for example - children of color are much more likely to succeed if they have a teacher who looks like them. How are we doing at making sure the children we serve will experience a teacher who looks like them, has experiences like them? We haven't actively asked those questions at a policy level, before." High Desert ESD is now looking at how to work the concepts identified in the policy in to hiring, training and advocacy efforts.
BEND, OR -- A popular Deschutes River access point has been refurbished to combat erosion and improve the riparian area. Bend Parks and Recreation District Natural Resources Manager Jeff Amaral says frequent use by paddle boarders and kayakers was undermining the shore material at Riverbend Park, "With such high use, there was some erosion along the river. Now, the more stable surface there will prevent sand and other fine material from entering the river during heavy times of use."
He tells KBND News, "Along the river, we placed 4" rock, and then capped that with 2". and then farther up, towards the park, we used a finer material, slightly larger than sand, almost like a pea gravel, to stabilize the river put-in. And, this larger material than the sand that used to be there, is going to be more effective at staying put on the beach during heavy use." And, he says, the rock will improve fish habitat. Amaral adds, "We evened the grade on the beach down to the river to prevent migration of material down to the river, so it's going to help stabilize that beach. It'll be a bit of a change from the sand that used to be there, so we encourage proper footwear when floating the river."
The project cost roughly $7,000. Bend Parks and Rec will continue to improve areas along the river to keep its banks healthy.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s City Council has agreed to hold off on a planned roundabout at South Canal Boulevard and Pumice Avenue, for about a year. That means the full length of Canal, from Veterans Way to Yew Avenue, will reopen Friday afternoon, following a year-long reconstruction project.
Council agreed the roundabout is needed to manage traffic increases anticipated with a 192-unit apartment complex planned for nearby. But, possible conflicts with utilities and phased development of that complex reduced the urgency for the roundabout.
City Engineer Mike Caccavano tells KBND News the delay also allows the city to competitively bid the project to ensure the best price, and develop a plan to minimize traffic impacts during the work.
BEND, OR -- A Redmond man was arrested Wednesday, following a chase east of Bend. In response to complaints from nearby residents, Deputies were watching for speeders near the roundabout at Powell Butte Highway and Neff. At about 3 p.m. they say they caught a car on radar going 76 in a 35 mile per hour zone.
According to the Sheriff's Office, the driver refused to pull over, leading deputies on a pursuit down Alfalfa Market Road. He eventually pulled on to a dirt road and ran from the car, but surrendered a short time later.
No one was injured during the pursuit and the agency says the maximum speed was 60 mph.
On top of Reckless Driving, 40-year-old William Swanson is accused of Driving Under the influence of Drugs and Meth Possession and Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance.
Based on the Sheriff's Office's initial contact with Swanson, he was taken to St. Charles Bend for examination.
UPDATE: (04/18/19 4 p.m.) A family friend called Bend Police at 1:20 p.m. to report they had located Michael Shameklis in Wilsonville. His family made contact with the man and confirmed he is in good condition. Shameklis told his family he was camping and unable to stay in contact.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are searching for a missing Lake Oswego man last seen in Bend a week ago. Lt. Brian Beekman says 43-year-old Michael Shameklis was house sitting for a friend in Bend, until April 11. "His friend, who he was house sitting for, came back into the area. Michael had left. But, his friends and family in Lake Oswego have told us he never returned home, up there."
Lt. Beekman says family and friends conducted their own search before calling police on Monday to report Shameklis missing. "He also has friends in Crescent City, California and so, at this point, we’re at a loss as to where Michael is at. But, certainly, his friends and family in those areas are very concerned about him." He tells KBND News, "We’ve spoken with friends and family in both of those areas; they have not seen him. So, somewhere between Bend and Crescent City and Lake Oswego, after April 11th, is kind of a question mark for us. We’re not sure what happened."
Shameklis is a 6' tall white male, about 200 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. He drives a black 2005 GMC Denali with Oregon plates 582-BZM.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Bend Police through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911.