BEND, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden visited Bend and La Pine Saturday, talking with officials and community leaders about wildfire and healthcare.
“I have long specialized in health care and I think these health care centers are dollar for dollar about as good a buy as you can get. And La Pine is doing great,” Wyden said after visiting the site of the Community Health Center’s 27,000 square foot, three-story expansion project, for which the Democrat helped secure $3.1 million in federal funds. “I happen to think dollar for dollar one of the best things that is done in health policy, is supporting these health centers,” he said, adding community health centers are important for preventative care.
The Senator also talked to wildfire managers from the Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management, and Warm Springs, along with State Representative Emerson Levy, Deschutes County Commissioners Phil Chang and Tony Debone, and Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler at the Deschutes National Forest office in Bend about the wildfire outlook.
They told him this year's fire season hasn’t been as bad because lightning hasn’t been a factor, but firefighter retention and recruitment is a major concern.
“The bump up that firefighters got expires here in a few weeks. And I just think this is a four-alarm fire about firefighters,” Wyden told KBND News addressing firefighter pay is a top priority when he returns to Washington next month, “It should involve bump up and pay retention bonuses and professionalizing the field, so it's available year-round.”