BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors approved additional funds, this week, for the Streets Division to purchase more chemical de-icer, after the department said the last two weeks of snow had exhausted its resources. Mayor Sally Russell says Council understands the unusual nature of this storm that not only hit late in the season, but dumped a season’s worth of snow in a short amount of time, which hampered removal efforts, "This was a huge storm. We didn’t get 3-5’ over 3-5 months. We got it all in a 48 hour, more or less, timeframe." Russell acknowledges these storms are expensive, but tells KBND News they have to budget for "normal," not the extreme, "Our community doesn’t experience that on a regular basis. At the end of the day, as burdensome as this storm was for all of us, I’m not sure our community wants to invest so much money for something that may happen in an isolated two or three years."
Councilors are also considering how to help a downtown drug and alcohol treatment center that moonlights as an overnight emergency warming shelter. Owner Sally Pfeifer told Council Pfeifer & Associates takes in people who can’t go to the two main homeless shelters, "These people are not allowed at Shepherds House or Bethlehem Inn because they’ve been 86’d or they’ve had bad problems in the past, or they’re just not capable of going in because they’re under the influence." She says the long winter has taken its toll and her operation is out of money, "We need more funds because last year we paid for 60 days and this year we’re already at about 75." And more sub-freezing overnight temperatures are in the forecast.
An emergency declaration by Bend’s City Manager allows businesses to open as emergency shelters during extreme weather, but Pfeifer & Associates is currently the only one using the provision in Bend. That declaration has been extended to March 31. Mayor Russell says the city needs to support the critical service the shelter provides, "Either you have people who don’t have a place and try hanging out in their cars or against a heating vent in front of a business. Or, we have a safe place for them to go." Council asked the City Manager to look at providing funding to Pfeifer & Associates to get through the season, not to exceed $10,000. "I think we’re also going to have partners with the county, too," says Russell, "To help fund, and just make sure that stays open."