Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger fears that cuts this session could hurt local courts. The short session gets underway in Salem Wednesday. Alan Unger says it’s going to be a big challenge dealing with a tight state budget. “When you look at the cuts they are going to make its going to be painful; and what I'm most worried about are the cuts they are going to make in the courts system, because if you don't support your judges then they can't hold court and if they can't hold court, an arm of the state government won't be able to function the way it should and what should function the most? I think it’s our courts." For example, Commissioner Unger says the planned cuts he saw for the courts show they may have to reduce the trial schedule by a full day each week. He says that could mean some civil suits won't get tried because the system would only have enough resources to focus on criminal cases.
Another Deschutes County Commissioner is against allowing the Leadman event organizers to dictate a "blackout" period surrounding the September race. The issue surfaced recently after Ironman organizers said they were looking at Central Oregon for their event on the same weekend. Commissioner Tony DeBone voiced his concerns about a "blackout". Alan Unger told 1110 KBND News he doesn't like the idea either: "Yeah, that shouldn't be a deal killer that's just groups to me trying to play politics with us to better themselves and hurt their neighbor.” Unger says the Leadman draws about 250 athletes and the Ironman, about 10 times that number at 2500.
It’s been a couple months since we've heard about the Occupy Bend movement, but those involved continue to meet weekly. Member Barbara Fontaine talked with our news partner, News Channel 21. She says high unemployment and foreclosures caused people to act. “I think it's a response, what's going on and people are becoming aware.” The local “Occupy” movement in Bend was not large; like in Oakland or Washington, D.C. But Fontaine claims the State of Oregon has more small town “Occupy” movements than any other state.
The Sunriver Nature Center is reporting a great response to a local fundraising drive to build new facilities for two very large and rare telescopes they just received. Nature Center Manager Rob Bingham says one scope is 20 inches and the other is 30 inches, a very rare asset for their observatory. "The great thing about having these two scopes at our facility is that it really makes us one of the premier institutions, not just in the Pacific Northwest, but in the country as a whole. We are becoming one of the best observatories for public viewing in the country, and we're really proud of that. We really encourage everyone to come out and see us and the two scopes that were donated. We're building buildings for them, and we've already had about $25,000 donated to our cause.” The still need about $10,000 to $15,000 more to finance the telescope building project, and they hope to have it finished by this summer. They also have special telescopes for people wanting to view the dramatic solar flares taking place this year. Currently, several telescopes are housed in one building and the roof slides off, with the new buildings the big telescopes will have a permanent home and the buildings will roll off of a platform.
Crook County Health officials say there is another confirmed case of meningococcal disease there. This is the County’s sixth such case in the last 11 months. Public Health Director Muriel Delavergne-Brown says the victim this time is a local teenager. An article in the Bulletin says he, and the infant stricken a few days earlier, are both listed in fair condition. Prior to this year, the County had reported just two cases of the disease in the last 10 years. Officials have not yet determined whether this pattern of cases constitutes an outbreak. They do say that vaccination can prevent the disease.
Sheriff’s Officers and Search and Rescue teams rescue two Bend residents who got stranded on a snowy forest service road. Deschutes County Sheriff's Deputy Rhett Hemphill said Jeremiah Budish, 35, and Nancy Walker, 47 were driving toward Sunriver when they got stuck Monday morning. After trying unsuccessfully to free the vehicle, Budish started walking to get help. After several hours, Walker became worried and called 911. A snowmobile team found the two with their vehicle Monday evening. Hemphill says Budish estimated he walked more than three miles, got very cold and walked back to the vehicle. He says the man was wearing tennis shoes, jeans and a t-shirt.
Tuesday is the next big contest in the Republican Primary. All eyes will be on Florida tomorrow when voters cast their ballots. Members of the Tea Party support Newt Gingrich, while the traditional Republican establishment supports Mitt Romney. John Carrig with the local Tea party explains why many don't like Romney: “We feel Tomney is a continuation of the “Old Guard” Republican like John McCain in 2008 or even Bob Dole in the 1990's. It's my time Republican and Romney fits that mold. Romney, he's got some problems like “Romneycare” in Massachusetts.” Following Florida, the next primary is February 4th in Nevada.
A member of the Redmond School Board says she doesn’t think it’s necessary to change hiring policy to prevent anyone with an arrest record from working for the school district. Board Vice-Chair Cathy Miller made the comment in response to a question about former Redmond High Principal Brian Lemos. The question, from Dennis Dorgan, asked the Board what they were doing to prevent a recurrence of the Lemos situation. An article in the Bulletin says Lemos was fired for what the District described only as "misconduct and performance issues." Miller says she reached that conclusion after consulting with three of the school district’s attorneys.
Warm Springs is seeing several exciting developments in the next week. The new Indian Head Casino will open next Saturday, and tomorrow the Warm Springs Reservation will have a ribbon cutting for its new telecommunications company. Warm Springs Economic Director Jeff Anspach says these new additions will have a huge economic impact on the community. “It's an exciting time. It’s the first time in a long while we'll have two groundbreakings and two ribbon cuttings in the last 12 months. So we want to keep it going.” The telecommunications company was made possible through federal stimulus funds. It will greatly improve the Tribe's phone and Internet usage. Currently only 60% have phone service and about a third have access to the Internet.
It’s your chance to get a preview of the upcoming Legislation Session; today State Representative Jason Conger and Representative Gene Whisnant will hold or a Town Hall at 4 p.m. The event will take place at Awbrey Glen. Conger has two bills he'll introduce at session. One is the School Savings Act, which deals which with PERs and would save money for schools across the state. “A very significant savings. And of course we’re in a time of very limited resources. And a real strain in the K-12 schools and so the need for that money is very great.” The second bill deals with small contractors who have no employees and are still being forced to pay for Workers Compensation Insurance. The Legislative Session starts next week.
A fourth scenic bikeway comes to Central Oregon. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission voted 7-0 Wednesday to give the designation to the Twin Bridges Scenic Bikeway. That path runs some 36 miles between Bend and Tumalo. The designation means the state will install signs marking the route. It joins the McKenzie Pass, Metolius Loops and Sisters-Smith Rock routes as scenic bikeways.
Recent big snow storms did wonders for the region's snowpack numbers. It was only about two weeks ago when we told you that the Deschutes basin was sitting at 36 percent of average. Jon Lea measures the snowpack in Oregon and says the percentage has changed, dramatically; it’s now at 69 percent of average.
Mid Oregon Credit Union is announcing that they've again hit the $100 million mark in loans. And this is in the context of tough economic times. CEO and President Bill Anderson says with 22,000 members in Central Oregon, the credit union seems to mirror the local economy: “The economy in Central Oregon had slowed down. People are stressed; things are starting to improve a little bit, and we had also made some adjustments to our products to respond to what people need and we had seen a slight decrease in lending. But we've seen in the past few month's that that has turned around.” He says they are seeing a high demand for a short term "mortgage accelerator" loan that is for homeowners who often owe less than $100,000 on their home. The accelerator loan has lower fees and is designed to help homeowners pay off their mortgage faster.
Talk of closing the Government Camp rest stop is over. The Oregon Department of Transportation has decided to fund the rest stop permanently, after considering last fall to close it. It costs ODOT $7500 a month to maintain it, and ODOT's Peter Murphy says the state is looking for ways to cut. “We found the money in the budget to replace the $7500 it costs to clean and maintain that rest stop. Now where that money will come from and what that means is another pat of the budget will suffer, it just hasn't been identified. That's the trade we made.” There was concern over closing the only public rest stop between Sandy and Madras.
Dog lovers all over Central Oregon will be rooting for an Irish Wolfhound named "Paddy" from Prineville, who is invited to the most prestigious dog show in the world: The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Paddy's owner and handler, Nancy Laney says she and her husband Dean will travel to New York in a few days and meet up with a select few other Irish Wolfhounds. "There’s only five of every breed invited. And after that, they open it up for just so many. And they're doing some renovation at Westminster at Madison Square Garden and so they've limited the amount of dogs this year to 2000." And that includes hundreds of breeds of dogs involved. Laney says Paddy is the number five dog in the U.S. and is an imposing dog, standing about 36 inches at the shoulder and when he stands on his hind legs, he's well over six feet. But he's one of the gentlest dogs she's known. You will be able to see Paddy competing at the Westminster Kennel Club's 136th Annual Dog Show on February 13th and 14th.
Organizers of the Leadman Triathlon say they need to know soon if local governments will stand behind a commitment to host their event for the next three years. The Leadman officials were in Bend to sign contracts for hotel rooms and other services, but put their plans on hold. They say they’re dismayed that some officials appear ready to throw their support to an Ironman Triathlon, possibly on the same weekend. According to an article in the Bulletin, some Deschutes County officials say they don't have a completed application from the Leadman Triathlon, and therefore don't have all the necessary information to make the requested commitment.
A new study shows 60% of kids spend less than a hour a day outside. There's a new movement to change that. The National Park Foundation found that 59% of parents admit their schedule makes it a challenge to spend time outdoors. Neil Mulholland is the President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “These findings show a concerning trend; families spend more time inside and miss out on the physical and emotional benefits of being outdoors. National Parks are an accessible resources to remedy this issue and winter is a great time to visit one of the nearly 400 national parks.” Currently one in three adults and one in six kids are obese in the U.S.
U.S. Representative Greg Walden will be holding a Telephone Town Hall with interested constituents this morning. Thousands of people will be able to join the conversation on job creation, schools or whatever they want to talk about. Here’s his audio Internet greeting: “Hi, I'm Representative Greg Walden. I want to invite you to join me January 23rd at 9 a.m. for a Telephone Town Hall. Call 1-800-533-3303. Again that number is 1-800-533-3303. You just have to leave your name and phone number and you will be added to the list.” The Telephone Town Hall will go from 9 to 10 a.m. this morning. Walden says this is a way to reach thousands of constituents in one teleconference.
The big winter storm that blew throughout the northwest can serve as a wake up call. Local emergency preparedness leaders are urging you to make sure you are prepared for power outages and winter related emergencies. Emergency Manager for Deschutes County, Don Webber, says you should always have a 72 hour kit in your home and car. He says its also a good idea to get to know your neighbors: “Be sure that if there's somebody elderly, go out and check on them. Get to know your neighbor, but make sure those elderly folks are taken care of." And if your power goes out, don't be tempted to use a barbecue or other camping equipment inside your home- he says the results can be deadly.
Scientists are getting very excited about the solar activity that is predicted for 2012 and 2013 as the sun moves into the peak of an 11 year cycle. Bob Grossfeld, Observatory Manager at the Sunriver Observatory says Central Oregon is well poised to see some spectacular sights. "We’re going into a period where the sun is becoming more active and so solar flares will be more common. So it's not unusual for us to see solar flares causing auroras down in Central Oregon." Grossfeld says the aurora that appeared over the weekend wasn't visible to most resident because of cloud cover, but there will be plenty of chances to see other auroras and solar flares over the next two years. In fact, the Sunriver Observatory is planning to bring some solar telescopes to Bend later this year and set them up in public places, so more people can view the solar flares.
Crews at Mount Bachelor are dealing with 6 feet of wet heavy new snow. They are open again today, but running on generators and have limited parking. Mount Bachelor spokesman Drew Jackson says they are trying to keep up with the record amount of snow. The avalanche danger is also affecting those who like to recreate in the backcountry. KBND: “And were also hearing from the Sheriff's Office; dangers in the back country can you address that?” Jackson: “Yes, it came in upside down". Yesterday, Bachelor was shutdown for only the second time in 20 years due to all the snow, a power outage and 100 mph winds.
The sun has thrown off a huge solar flare in the direction of the earth and that could mean weather permitting, we could see a very bright aurora borealis over the weekend. NASA report states that some flares can cause communication blackouts, but this one is not predicted to cause any problems, just a beautiful sight. The Sunriver Nature Center's Rob Bingham says they are very excited to see that more of these flares are predicted over the next few years because they have solar observatory telescopes. But, Bingham says, our weather forecast isn't too promising for a clear Saturday night to be able to observe the nighttime colors. For more info: www.SpaceWeather.com.
Hundreds of Oregonians have been forced out of their homes by flooding up and down the Willamette Valley, and that has prompted the Governor to declare a State of Emergency. Cameron Smith, the Governor's Senior Advisor, says it's too early to tell if the state will qualify for federal aid. “You always heed a state declaration before you’re eligible for any federal aid on the back end; but there are typically stricter requirements at the county level and at the state level before we can tap into federal resources.” The State can ask the Army Corps of Engineers for technical assistance.
Representatives with Facebook are pitching their case to state leaders in Salem. Thursday, they spoke at a special "Joint Committee Meeting" of the Legislature. The debate centers around how data centers should be classified and taxed. Facebook spokesman Lee Weinstein says as they continue to grow they need more certainty in how they will be taxed in Oregon. “They had a very favorable reaction from the Legislators at that hearing. This is ultimately a Legislative issue. We've had a couple of different departments with different opinions on it, and Facebook point of view is that they need certainty as they move into the world market and that they will address that in February." Local Representative Mike McLane of Powell Butte plans to introduce a bill that will clarify tax issues surrounding enterprise zones and data centers.
A follow up to a breaking news story we first brought you this morning. A Bend man is recovering in the hospital today after being struck by a county snowplow this morning. Bend Police Sgt. Greg Owens says the pedestrian, Scott Burch, 18, of Bend was walking westbound on Reed Market Road shortly before 7 a.m.
Heavy snowfall over the Santiam Pass causes a landslide near Hogg Rock, a place that typically sees some problems in a storm. Highway 20, 20 miles west of Sisters is mostly closed right now while ODOT crews work on the landslide. Peter Murphy with ODOT described what's happening right now. "Well, it looks like the snow came off Hogg Rock, which is kind of typical. It's a very steep rock face and there was a lot of snow built up there. And we had two slides. I’m not sure how big they are right now. But at this time, it looks like we've been able to get one lane open. That doesn't mean any kind of free-flow of traffic, but it does at least suggest that there is some kind of clearing going on right now. There does seem to be one tanker truck that's still stuck up in the snow." Murphy says he does not know how long Highway 20 will be impacted.
Just after 11 a.m. this morning, residents in southwest Bend got a rude awakening when the power goes out. Tom Gaunt with Pacific Power says crews are already on the job." There is a tree that is through a line. It’s in that area close to the 97 there. It is affecting about 290 customers at this time. We have crews on site making the repairs." Gaunt could not pinpoint a time the power will be restored, but he says customers should be back online within a couple of hours.
The snow has been coming down for the last day, and we're going to see several more inches before it’s over. Most of the state is under a winter storm warning. Central Oregon is slated to see between 9 to 18 inches, depending on your elevation. Meteorologist Mark Thibodeau with the Weather Channel, says get ready, winter is making a return. “This one for us really is going to be a snow maker. Probably a lot of areas will see ten inches of snow. The higher elevation like Mt. Bachelor will see one to two feet. We’re going to really get socked this time around.” We are under a winter weather warning until noon on Wednesday. Thibodeau says another system will be moving in Wednesday into Thursday, but that will be mostly rain.
Despite our nasty weather, members of the Portland timbers are traveling the passes for some youth soccer clinics in Bend today. It's part of the club's four stop community tour called "Dribble Oregon." They've been in Klamath Falls, Eugene and Salem. Bend is their last stop. Chris Metz is the spokesman for the Portland Timbers. “The youth clinic is at Indoor Sports. It's been very popular in the first three stops. Kids being able to play with Goalkeeper Troy Perkins and Steve Purdy. The connections they can make with professional players in their own backyard. Its’ been great.” This afternoon clinic's are free, but players had to sign up for them. The professional soccer players will hold a meet and greet at Sidelines Sports Bar and Grill from 7 to 9 tonight.
The Oregon Department of Transportation has a three prong approach to making roads safer during big winter storm. They use deicer, cinder on the roads, and snow plows. Still, ODOT's Peter Murphy says there are always some "trouble spots" on the roads: “And we try to get out there bright and early, but we don't cinder every thing, we don't plow everything. So as you get up on the hill towards Klamath Falls, you'll find places where there is no cinder there is no deicer, so you just need to do the right thing with your car at the time." He says you need allow for extra time on your trip; driver slower, and be on the lookout for stubborn patches of ice or snow. Murphy says one consistent trouble spot is on the Santiam Pass near Lost Lake.
Materials placed around the flue of a wood stove is thought to be the cause of a fire in southeast Bend last night. Bend fire reports they received a call of a fire just before 11 p-m in a home on Billadeau Road. The resident, Isaac Shepherd had used a fire extinguisher and garden hose to put out the fire. Damage was limited to the area around the wood stove with most of the damage to ceiling and the flue. The damage is estimated to be around $1100.
Facebook is asking Oregon’s Legislature to correct its tax status. Representatives of the social network tell the "Statesman Journal" the state could force a huge tax bill on its new data center in Prineville by classifying the company as a utility. The Governor's Office says it's working on an administrative fix and advises the company to wait until next year before going to the Legislature with a complex issue.
Two 13-year-old boys are arrested for the recent series of arsons in Romaine Village. Bend Police Department’s Lt. Brian Kindel tells how the case was solved: "Bend PD responded to the report of an object burning on the front porch of a residence in Romaine Village on Friday night / Saturday morning. The object that was burning was a bag of human feces." The victim told police he suspected the two boys because of an earlier dispute. Investigators were able to find the boys and make the arrest. One of the boys was cited and released. The other was booked into the Juvenile Center.
A Mountain View High School Junior was won a gold medal at the first ever “Winter Youth Olympics” going on now at Innsbruck, Austria. Ben Ferguson, 16, took the gold in half-pipe snowboarding with a “double crippler” during his run. Ferguson said, “When I found out I won the gold medal, it was awesome.”
Hundreds of volunteers in Central Oregon are honoring Dr. King today by giving back to their local communities. Tia Sherry, with "Volunteer Connect" says last year about 350 people in Central Oregon came out to do service projects. It’s a national movement that is also popular in Central Oregon. There are 28 volunteer projects planned for this morning. KBND: “How about some examples of local projects you'll be working on?” Tia: “We have right now, 28 projects and we're really excited, because they are spread out over seven communities: from Sunriver, to Culver, Prineville, Redmond, Bend, La Pine and Sisters.” In Bend they are working on a Habitat for Humanity home. In Culver, Girl Scouts are making placemats and cards for seniors. And in La Pine, volunteers are painting the Community Kitchen.
The head of Oregon’s "Americans for Prosperity" will offer her ideas for facing our economic challenges during a talk Tuesday night in Redmond. Karla Kay Edwards says the U.S. has fallen from 3rd to 10th place in the world in economic freedom. “Economic freedom is the capacity to conduct business and earn a living and keep what your efforts produced.” Karla Kay Edwards will be speaking at Highland Baptist Church Tuesday night beginning at 7 p.m. She is a strong advocate for private enterprise and government restraint. Admission is free.
Bend fire was called out to another fire in Romaine Village Friday evening. This is the second time in a week that a fire call came from the same address on Granite Drive. The fire report says that the fire was confined to debris on the deck and the residents were able to put it out before it spread to the home. It's unknown if the fires are related, but both were human caused. An investigation continues.
Hundreds of people in Central Oregon won't take the day off on Monday; they'll honor the MLK Holiday with service back to the local community. Organizer for the local "Day of Service," Tia Sherry says they'll be tackling service projects in Bend, Culver, Sunriver, La Pine, Prineville, Redmond and Sisters, so far quite a few people have already committed to the volunteer work. Sherry: "And we currently have almost 300 volunteers sign up to give part of their day on Monday the 16th.” KBND: “Does that exceed what you did last year?” Sherry: “We had 350 and as we speak right now, we have almost 300, and we are getting on the phone talking on street corners, urging people to come out. And we believe we will exceed what we did last year." Local volunteers will be working on 28 service projects. The Day of Service is a national event that usually brings out hundred's of thousands of Americans who give back to their local communities and also reflect on Dr. King's life.
At this hour, Summit High students are learning that they have a new head football coach: Joe Padilla. Padilla is a familiar face on the football field, as he has been an assistant coach for several years. Padilla says he already has a plan of attack: "First order of business is just getting the kids together. We’re going to have our first player meeting next week and from there, we'll move on to the parents and on down to the youth parents. So, trying to get everyone on the same page in terms of what we want to do here in Summit in the future. And also looking at what we want to do with our facility here and fundraising, kinda everything at once. Just trying to get the program rolling and work off what Coach Hackenbrook started." Padilla says he's enjoyed working under former Coach Jerry Hackenbruck and he knows the strengths and weaknesses of the team. Padilla is an Oregon native, raised in McMinnville and is also a former Assistant Coach at Mountain View High, and Pilot Butte Middle School. He's also a science teacher at Summit High.
A former Bend real estate agent has filed a tort claim against the City of Bend, the Bend Police Department, and a police officer. Former agent Tami Sawyer is facing a trial in April on federal charges that include money laundering and bank fraud. According to an article in the Bulletin, the claim for damages dated January 5th, stems from what Sawyer calls an unwarranted arrest and other “adverse” consequences in relation to the arrest. A person must file a tort claim notice before suing a government agency.
The City of Bend will hold two public meetings to discuss street improvements related to a General Obligation Bond Program. The voter-approved projects will repair and improve a variety of streets and intersections and will cost a total of $30 million. They are currently in the planning stages with work slated to start in the summer. The meetings are January 24 at 11:30 am and at 5:30 pm in the City Council chambers.
The La Pine City Council may be making a final decision on a new City Manager tonight. Current City Manager Rick Allen says there seems to be general consensus among the Councilors on the top candidate. If the results of a preliminary background check come back before tonight's City Council meeting, discussion on offering the job to this candidate will be added to the agenda. This would be a tentative offer, with the caveat, the candidate would still need to pass a more extensive background check.
Local wine lovers will be very excited to learn that one of Central Oregon wineries, Maragas Winery, has planted 18 acres of new vines for the future. Owner Doug Maragas says that 2012 will be a great year; first because Central Oregon has been declared an official "wine region" in Oregon, and second, they have pressed their first Pinot Noir grapes, a wine that Oregon has become famous for. "We crushed Pinot Noir for the first time this fall. And we've had very good luck so far with several different vintages that we have of zinfandel, merlot and cab and chardonnay. So we'll have seven of the 10 wines that we make available. And that's more than we've every has as far as variety." Maragas says he feels that the winery has really gotten "into the groove" of where they need to be and they are developing a sparking wine with last years' harvest. Maragas Winery is located in Terrebonne and is open Tuesday through Sunday.
Deschutes County Commissioners have asked District Attorney Patrick Flaherty for a meeting to discuss the D.A. rehiring Sharon Sweet who was laid off last fall. Commissioner Alan Unger says Sweet's evaluations were glowing and the reasons for her position being eliminated were weak. "What the County Commissioners basically told the D.A. was that according to State labor law the reasons he gave for dismissing her and with her record, didn't sync up that they weren't good enough. That he had to continue her employment in his office. The reasons were inadequate." Unger says Flaherty indicated that he would like a meeting with the Commissioners, but at this time no date has been set for a meeting.
Bend City Councilors will revisit the issue of whether to elect the City's Mayor. Last summer in a close vote, the Council decided not to bring the issue to the voters. But City Councilor Jodie Barram said at the time, she wanted to bring the issue up again in the new year; and it's on the agenda for their next Council meeting, January 18th. “We are not advocating changing the form of government. It will still be Council Manager. There is power and authority perceived in being Mayor especially when traveling to other areas. The Mayor does speak on behalf of the citizens. We do want the people to decide whether they want to elect the highest post.” Barram, Jim Clinton and Jeff Eager support letting the voters decide. Mark Cappell was against it because they believed the election would cost the City money. But if it's put on the May ballot, it wouldn't cost the City anything.
The Oregon Education Investment Board will be in Bend later this month to hear from local teachers, educators and citizens. It's part of a seven meeting tour across the state. Governor's Office spokesperson Sarah Carlin Ames they want to let people know about different laws and reforms affecting education in Oregon, and get feedback from the public. "You hear different things in different communities about what the needs are and what the strengths are and that's why we want to go out and hear from local teachers and community members because you hear different things when you go to different parts of the state." The meeting in Bend is set for Monday, January 23rd at Central Oregon Community College. It runs form 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The controversial Measure 67 is one topic set for tonight's Redmond Patriots meeting. Organizer Robert Perry says several local lawmakers will outline their bills for next month's short session. One lawmaker, John Huffman, wants to sunset Measure 67 at the end of this year. "We think they've driven jobs away from the state of Oregon. So we're really pleased that Rep. Huffman wants to sunset Measure 67.” Other local lawmakers that will join Huffman at tonight's meeting are State Senator Chris Telfer and Representative Gene Whisnant. Tonight's meeting is free and starts at 6:30 at the Highland Baptist Church in Redmond.
Studies have found that more than a third of returning veterans are struggling with mental health issues. The Veterans Administration tries to keep up with the tremendous need, but it's difficult, and we all know the recent stories of unstable veterans who have shot and killed people when they returned home. Gary Hunter with the Veterans Center in Bend says it's important to get these veterans help. “So if anyone out there, families, have vets in crisis, call the “Vets Line,” get them to the nearest facility. We can make sure they're in a safe place.
Updating you on a story we brought you previously...former State Representative Judy Stiegler says she is no longer in contention to fill retired Judge Stephen Tiktin's seat. Stiegler says she's disappointed but accepts the Governor's decision: "You know, it is what it is, and it's not that I haven't dealt with disappointments in my lifetime. I have and this is a disappointment because the bench is something that I; I think would make a good judge. You never know what the Governor and the Governor's people are looking for at any point in time and that's their prerogative. So I take it, I accept it and I’ll go on to the next chapter, whatever that might be." Stiegler says she's still planning to continue working in the legal profession in some fashion. Another contender, Attorney Beth Bagley says she's also received notice that she is not still being considered for the judgeship.
A La Pine man admits to texting while driving and subsequently killing a Bend teen last summer. Erik Conn, 29, will serve 28 months in prison under the terms of a recently reached plea deal. Conn Thursday pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. He originally faced charges of second degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, reckless driving, and reckless endangerment in the July death of Forrest Cepeda, 16.
The City of Bend will ask for more time to build a new water treatment facility required by the Environmental Protection Agency. The City Council voted Wednesday to send a letter to the Oregon Health Authority formally requesting a delay. They say the extra time will allow them to knock $29 million off the current price tag of $68.2 million. The current proposal has been heavily criticized for its cost as well as potential environmental implications. The EPA requires the updates in order to treat the water for cryptosporidium.
An investigation shows that a City of Bend employee sought permission for an all expenses paid hunting trip taken in 2006. Chris Brelje was accused of taking the trip, and then funneling work to Consolidated Supply Co., the company that paid for it. The investigation says Brelje asked for permission to go; and never received a response of any kind from his supervisor. The City hired the law firm of Harrang, Long, Rudnick, Gary, P.C. to investigate the complaint. The independent investigation did not find any evidence of favoritism in the case.
Central Oregon Community College officials say a tuition increase is likely for next school year. The COCC Board of Directors must approve any increase and will likely vote on the proposal sometime in the coming spring. An article in the Bulletin says, if approved, this would be the school's fourth straight year with a tuition hike. The proposed change would raise tuition between $6 and $8 per credit hour; an increase of about 10%. An in-district student at COCC currently pays $76 per credit hour.
A County-appointed committee says Deschutes County should privatize more roadwork as one way to help cut a budget shortfall. The County currently faces a three million dollar annual deficit in the roads budget. Other recommendations include consolidation of remaining roadwork with other local governments, a new gasoline tax and an increase in the hotel room tax. An article in the Bulletin says the committee tried to find more efficient ways to do things before asking residents for more money. County Commissioners will now examine the recommendations.
There’s a new kid in town, and she's ready to get to work. Robyn Christie has assumed the position of Bend City Recorder after Patty Stells' retirement. Christie comes to Bend with 12 years of experience serving as City recorder for Lake Oswego. Patty Stell retired last November after 30 years serving the City of Bend.
As 2011 ended, more businesses were expressing an interest to either relocate to the Central Oregon area or to expand in our area. Roger Lee with Economic Development for Central Oregon says 2012 looks to have a very bright beginning. "If we look at our portfolio of projects where companies are looking to decisions in the short term, it's as full as it ever has been. I think we are currently working with 91, 92 companies. And roughly a third of those are new companieslooking to move in but two dozen are local companies looking to expand this year." Lee says people are really feeling more confident with the economy, and incentives to move here are looking better and better. He says many of in interested companies are technology in data center businesses, some looking at Prineville or La Pine. Lee says the bottom line is: there will be many more jobs in our future.
"The Biggest Little Show in the World" is honored as the 2011 Columbia River Circuit Rodeo of the Year. This is the second time the Sisters Rodeo has received this honor. In the news release, Circuit Board Member Michael Reger says "The Sisters Rodeo does so much for the circuit, plus the do a great rodeo with an ever increasing pot." The Rodeo was also complemented for its fast-paced action and non-stop entertainment during its performances. The Circuit Association includes PRCA rodeos in Oregon, California, Washington, and Idaho. A second award was given to the Sisters Rodeo by the Woman's Professional Rodeo Association as the “Most Improved Rodeo.”
Bend Broadband will soon offer faster Internet speeds, more video services and higher bandwidth limits, but it comes at a cost. The cable company says rates will go up as of February 1st. Among the changes, "TV everywhere,” allowing customers to watch HBO and/or Turner Broadcasting Services shows on their Smartphones and other mobile devices. The company will also raise the bandwidth limit on most Internet packages to 125 gigabytes a month. The amount of the increase depends on the services used. For example, the Essentials package and most high speed Internet services will go up by $1.50 per service. Additional and premium services will see larger increases.
Mitt Romney narrowly won Tuesday's Iowa Caucuses. Now it's on to New Hampshire for the nation's first primary election. So, what does this early vote mean? OSU Cascades Political Science Professor Jim Foster says it does eliminate some candidates. “It winnows out some people who limp to New Hampshire and South Carolina. It does indicate that the party is a captive o the most radical activists, which makes it difficult in the general election. I'm sure you're heard pundits say, if Obama wins re-election, he will not win re-election as much as not lose to the inevitable Republican loser.” The New Hampshire Primary is next Tuesday.
The Bend Park and Recreation Board chooses a site for a new pedestrian bridge over the Deschutes River. The Board voted last night to build a 160-foot long bridge near the First Street rapids. The bridge will connect First Street Rapids Park with Davis Park and offer an extension to the Deschutes River Trail system. Construction will cost between $650,000 and $850,000. The district already has half-a-million set aside for the project. Residents in the area have complained that a bridge would be unsightly and could complicate recreation along the river.
Ducks fans are stocking up on Rose Bowl Championship gear. Judith Hinamon tells Portland’s KPTV-TV she checked with the Fred Meyer Store in Beaverton three times before she found what she was looking for. Other fans have been ordering memorabilia from the Oregon Athletics website at: www.goducks.com. And there is, of course, the Duck Store in the Old Mill District.
Mother Nature did not cooperate this holiday season to bring in lots of tourists. Alana Hughson with the Central Oregon Visitors Association say the final numbers are in and business was down about 10% from last Christmas. “It was certainly a mixed bag. Over Christmas to no one's surprise due to the shortage of snow and the unseasonably warm temperatures, those who came to Central Oregon for the supreme ski experience were disappointed and it played havoc with our early booking. We did manage to salvage the final weekend. A storm moved in, sunny skies and so it was a strong new years weekend.” Hughson says they are gearing up for a strong spring break, where they hope to recoup some of their losses.
There are now just three possible sites for a new DMV office in Bend. An article in the Bulletin says a state bidding process has narrowed the list from the original five sites. The State has been looking for a place for the DMV since public protest killed a move to the Brookswood Meadow Plaza shopping center. The three are the former DMV site on Emkay Drive, a location on Britta Street just west of the Highway 20/97 Junction, and a site in the 700 block on NE Third St. Department of Transportation officials say they want to announce a final selection by the end of the month.
Bend’s 10 Barrel Brewing Company is growing beyond the boundaries of the state. The company announced Monday that they have hired an experienced brewmaster from Baker City and will open a location in Boise, Idaho. The Boise brewpub should open later this summer. Newly hired brewmaster Shawn Kelso will develop new projects in conjunction with current 10 Barrel brewmasters Jimmy Seifrit and Tonya Cornett.
Unemployment is one of the biggest challenges facing returning vets. Gary Hunter, the Director of the Bend Vets Center says a lot of his time is helping these men and women find work in Central Oregon. “These are young men and women who felt good doing what they did overseas and come home and no job and no sense or purpose no direction. So I think jobs are number one. I read over the weekend in the New York Times that the unemployment rate for veterans coming home is 30%.” Hunter says many of the veterans have luck finding work as mechanics or truck drivers.
Mt. Bachelor has always been a big draw for tourists, and recently, cycling events have become quite popular.. And now we can add another feather in our cap. Central Oregon will be officially declared a "wine region" by the Oregon Wine Board this year. Alana Hughson with the Central Oregon Visitors Association says the rapid development of new microbreweries and now having the wine region means a wider variety of tourists will look to Central Oregon to visit. "Eating and drinking is one of the top activities that people participate in when they travel. And the fact that we can offer not only great food, but great beer and great wine, all managed grown, produced locally, it's really exciting. And it's a very new innovative new piece in the tourism tool kit. And we will definitely be promoting it heavily in our messaging as we move into 2012 and beyond." Hughson says we are quickly becoming kind of like a French region where tourists will want to take bike tours and visit all the wineries, breweries and restaurants.
17 miles of the Cascade Lakes Highways will undergo major renovation work this summer. The $10 million project is being paid for by federal funds. The project's manager, Jay Davenport says not only will it repair a stretch of roadway, but it will bring a lot of jobs. “The other benefit for the project is there are no other major road projects scheduled for the upcoming summer. It's going to be favorable toward the local contracting community to have this very large construction project come into the local community.” work will get underway in June and should wrap up in October.
Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton is working on his budget for 2012 and predicts it’s going to be a tight year. Just like businesses and households, he says he is trying to stretch the dollar the best way possible: “We have a $36 million budget at the Sheriff's Office. Something that we do not take lightly. We spend about $3 million a month to provide safety to the citizens of Deschutes County. We'll tighten our belt a little bit for 2012; working on the budget right now." Sheriff Blanton describes 2011 as a busy year with some challenging investigations surrounding identity theft, murder investigations, and some significant highway crashes.
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