BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners have said "no" right now to allowing the Central Oregon Irrigation District to pipe the Pilot Butte canal in northeast Bend, without public input. But neighbors are prepared to continue the fight, if needed.
Homeowner Tom Hignell has lived along the canal for 20 years. He tells KBND News that they've been fighting COID for years as the company has tried to pipe the canal to help raise more revenue through thehydroelectric plant downstream.
"COID built Juniper Ridge hydroelectric plant," Hignell says. "They used $27 million of taxpayer money. And their GM Criag Horrell has said they're already profitable. And only their customers benefit. How much money until they're satisified? Where's the greater good for the community here?"
Hignell does approve of the commissioners decision not to approve the COID piping without a lengthy public process. But he says he's not letting his guard down.
"I think we do feel confident at this point." Hignell says. "The momentum seems to be going along with the public and neighbors. We're pleased with the results, but we're ready whatever is necessary to protect our property and homes and the canal."
COID is still planning its next course of action. One of the future goals will be piping more of the leaky canals in order to conserve water.
BEND, OR -- People had an opportunity to offer input on proposed new rules for vacation rentals in Bend Monday. Committees have been working on coming up with the new rules for the last several months and the city council heard from them.
City Councilor Victor Chudowsky thinks the city can strike a balance. "The key is to stop the concentration in certain parts of town, while still honoring people's property rights. For instance, if you have a permit now for a vacation rental you can keep it, but not to have any more located in such a small area of town."
"It's going to be very difficult. We can't make everyone happy. People are concerned about neighborhoods being pulled out from under them and I'm sympathetic to that. I have vacation rentals in my own neighborhood and I know people are not happy about it."
The city council will vote on the rules at their council meeting, Wednesday night.
BEND, OR -- Freshmen state lawmaker Knute Buehler held his first town hall since taking office last weekend. Rep. Buehler (R-Bend) talked and answered questions from constituents in packed conference room at St. Charles Hospital on Saturday.
He says his introduction to Salem started unusually with the inauguration of two governors in four weeks. But as the excitement has died down and he is transitioning into his role, Buehler hopes to work on bill focusing on his priorities.
"One is to improve the economy," Buehler says. "Two, improve and support education -- these two things are key in improving the economy. And third, make sure government is effective, smart and something people can trust."
Buehler wants to see the education system improve. "The numbers speak for themselves," he says. "We have one of the worst graduation rates in the country. We have a truancy problem. We have a short school year. And it's not just that we need more funding, but we need more than funding. We need to think about out of the box ideas."
He also discussed affordable housing -- not only in Bend, but statewide. "One of the biggest sources of poverty is single parent families with two or three kids. We're trying to revamp the childcare tax credit, and get those tax credits to families raising kids."
Buehler says the Central Oregon lack of affordable housing is due to several factors -- a broken urban growth boundary system and high development fees for building -- among other things. He is introducing some bills that he says would target those areas, and increase affordable options.
BEND, OR -- Ten state lawmakers from both Republican and Democrat parties have been meeting since last month, trying to come up with a transportation package that lawmakers can pass. Republicans threatened to not participate in transportation funding discussions after Democrats pushed through the Low Carbon Fuels Standard Bill.
KBND News spoke with Governor Kate Brown when she was in Bend on Friday. She says she's optimistic that a concensus can be reached.
"Let's say my door is open to conversation," Brown says. "I'm optimistic we can work together to agree on something to support Oregon businesses. This is not a Republican or a Democrat issue. I think we will come together and put something on the table."
She says she's encouraged by the progress made by both sides so far. "I think there will be more important bills coming my way," Brown says. "For the most part, I think lawmakers are working together for Oregon to do what's right on revenue measures, transportation and having adequate resources for sage grouse. So I'm pleased the work the legislature is doing."
Gov. Brown also believes lawmakers could come up with future legislation concerning vaccinations and possible gun control.
BEND, OR -- The Downtown Bend Business Association finds itself with a unique problem, and it may be the result of an improving economy. Executive Director Chuck Arnold tells KBND News that the city’s hanging flower baskets are without a caretaker.
"We have these baskets, 100 of them, we’ve had a contractor for five years who’s done it, but he moved out of state," Arnoled says. "An so we are actually stuck without a contractor and these baskets are set to go up in about 60 days. We need someone to basically water and care for them during the six-month period."
Arnold said he initially wasn’t worried about finding a replacement, "We’ve usually – I’ve put out the request for proposals and I usually get about a dozen landscape contractors that apply. But, it’s been very difficult to find somebody this time around."
This year, they’ve received only one application. Arnold says most of the companies they’ve reached out to are just too busy to take on the extra work. The baskets have been hung over Memorial Day weekend, since 2006.
Learn more about the opening, HERE
. To hear our full conversation with Chuck Arnold, visit our Podcast Page
BEND, OR -- "Our veterans aren't getting access to care in the timely manner that Congress wants them to get access to care."
Over a year after allegations of long wait times, falsified records and distant care options at VA centers across the country flooded the news, Congressman Greg Walden spoke to KBND news about moving forward, and the problems with change.
Walden met with Central Oregon veterans in his Bend office just as recent problems with the implementation of Oregon's own VA programs, aimed at reducing wait times and getting local service, have been causing local concern. Right at a time when several state legislators have been calling for more accountability, Walden and a slew of concerned veterans continued the discussion.
Last year, scandal swept the nation when it was found that the Phoenix, Arizona, Veterans Affairs Health Care System had falsely the listed wait times veterans were experiencing to get care, making care look far more adequate than it was. The lack of medical response was found to have caused the deaths of 35 veterans, and inconvenienced thousands. In subsequent investigations nationwide, similar problems surfaced across the country -- long wait times and the lack of nearby health care.
What started as an investigation ended with a U.S. House of Representatives vote in 2014 to implement H.R. 3230, a law implementing veterans programs. For Oregon, one, the Patient-Centered Community Care Program, is aimed at finding community-based health professionals to service veterans. The Choice Program, meanwhile, since November 2014 has given veterans who have waited over 30 days or live more than 40 miles from a VA clinic the option to seek treatment from non-VA providers.
But since that rollout, Central Oregon has been facing its own problems with implementation of the three-year temporary programs. According to local VA advocate Dick Tobiason, so far, it's been far from smooth.
Tobiason spoke with KBND about his concerns, the chief of which is the lack of accountability statewide. Through the Oregon VA program, those enrolled in the Choice Program are issued cards and are then eligible to negotiate their health care to within a 40-mile distance "as the crow flies" -- not within driving distance. But Tobiason says success can't be measured, as the system has not been making information public.
"Get the VA to tell us -- what's going on with performance?" Tobiason asks. "What are the performance indicators, how much money is being spent ... what's the reduction with wait times?"
Reimbursements have also been difficult for some veterans. The Portland VA reports that for refunding under the Choice Program, veterans must be enrolled in an active VA participant, have medical documentation of an emergency and have received health care within the past 24 months.
Since the two programs were implemented, Tobiason says he hoped to see disabled veterans avoid the inconvenience of traveling to the Portland VA, and get their care locally. At first that outcome looked promising. Back in November of 2014, Central Oregon's St. Charles Medical Center announced the hire of Wendy Rudy, a veteran, as a service liaison. And at the time, Tobiason hoped to see the local effect of the $10 billion dollars being used nationwide to pioneer the programs.
But currently, he says he's seeing more of the money being spent on new medical centers rather than on local care. "We don't need to build more Denver Medical Centers with five times overpriced costs," Tobiason says. "We don't need to build facilities; we need to take care of veterans and use the money for doing that instead of building these empires."
It's a concern shared by Sunriver Representative Gene Whisnant, Bend State Representative Knute Buehler and Bend State Senator Tim Knopp. The three Central Oregon legislators recently sponsored House Joint Memorial 14, which would petition Congress and other government agencies to make the Oregon VA release information on program success, and ramp up efforts to make care local.
The measure prompted testimony at the Oregon House Veterans Services and Emergency Preparedness Committee on Thursday, March 26. It goes in-depth into concerns voiced by Oregon veterans, including concerns that "rural veterans often have to drive several hours, sometimes in hazardous road conditions, to receive medically necessary treatment or procedures."
Tobiason was one of the advocates to testify for the program. But according to him, his concerns reach beyond what the measure would address. Tobiason says part of the problem he's been seeing is the two programs are working separately, instead of being merged into one. But one of his biggest concerns: they are only test programs, and so far they've been expensive.
"Why are they temporary?" Tobiason asks. "If we can make them work, why can't they become permanent? What happens at the end -- would you discontinue them? Crazy."
Walden disagrees with Tobiason on that note. According to the Congressman, the transition period is important, and he expects the pilot programs to be extended. "You have to test it before you roll it out," he says.
The concerns piling up didn't surprise Walden at Monday's meeting. "That's why I pulled together this meeting, because I've been hearing this for months now," he says.
So far there are several major miscommunications within the VA he's picked up. Veterans should have been eligible for the Choice Program if they couldn't get help within 30 days, but some VA workers have gone with 30 business days, dragging out the process. And with the law being interpreted as 40 miles "as the crow flies," driving distance has been less factored into the picture.
Refunding has also been a problem, as some veterans have had to pay unnecessary costs after the services they received were miscategorized. James Tuchschmidt, the Washington D.C. Acting Principal Deputy under the Secretary for Health, was at the Bend meeting and says that is a mistake.
"We don't want veterans paying collections because it's something we should have done and haven't paid," Tuchschmidt says.
But when it comes to progress, Walden's views end on a positive note. The representative is expecting to deal with legislation continuing the programs in the House Veterans Committee, after which he hopes to modify less successful parts of current legislation. It hasn't been perfect, he says, but it has been a lot of work.
"You're talking millions of veterans and a short time to roll it out," Walden says. "And the VA has worked on it, but clearly they've missed the mark in some areas, and the statute has missed the mark in some areas."
Photos by Junnelle Hogen
POWELL BUTTE, OR -- The Crook County Sheriffs Office is hoping the public can help find a woman missing since late last week. 27-year-old Shauna Fowler from the Powell Butte area was last seen at about 10:00 p.m. on Thursday. Fowler reportedly left her personal belongings behind.
Crook County deputies urge anyone with information on her whereabouts to contact the sheriffs office.
BEND, OR -- An empty chair on Mt. Bachelor's Sunrise Express lift detached from its cable and fell to the snow, Sunday afternoon. According to resort officials, the chair was traveling downhill after exiting the upper terminal without any passengers, when it fell. Officials say there were no guest or employee injuries resulting from the incident, and the lift was immediately shut down at about 1:15 p.m.
The resort's investigation revealed a component failure which caused the grip to malfunction. All chair grips were inspected and no other abnormalities were found. Resort peronnel also inspected the Sunrise Lift's terminal components and say they are reviewing operating procedures with lift operations and maintenance staff.
The lift reopened at 9 a.m., Monday.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police say officers were forced to kill a cougar found near the top of Pilot Butte, Saturday evening. A concerned citizen called police after spotting the animal off a popular walking trail, at about 6:45 p.m.
Lt. Nick Parker tells KBND when officers responded to the area, there were more than 40 people in the area, and the big cat was found "just off the paved road above the tower area. So, we began evacuations and unfortunately had to make a safety decision by shooting it, killing the cougar."
He says Fish and Wildlife Personnel weren't able to respond to relocate the animal, and the only other option was a tranquilizer dart used by animal control officers on dogs. "The training is not necessarily for a cougar or similar type of animal, but we did consider that. The problem is, that would take upwards of 15 minutes to take effect." And, he says they weren't sure how the cougar would react. Officers are still puzzled as to how the big cat got all the way into the center of town, relatively undetected.
KLAMATH FALLS, OR -- The body of a missing Bend woman was located in the Klamath River, in the area of Lake Ewauna on Thursday. The Klamath Falls Police Department received a 911 call stating a body had been located in the river. Search and Rescue members responded to the area and found a deceased female floating in the water. That body was later identified as Alicia Scott.
Scott was reported missing to police in Klamath Falls on February 10th. At this time, the circumstances of Ms. Scott's death are unknown and the matter is under investigation.
BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell signed landmark agreements that will allow landowners in eight Oregon counties to conserve habitat for the sage grouse. The signing took place at the Deschutes National Forest Service Office Friday afternoon.
The bird is being considered for endangered species status, but a diverse group of interested parties, conservationalists, landowners, ranchers and others came together to sign agreements that will help them preserve the bird's habitat in an attempt to increase their numbers.
Governor Brown says it's about much more than a bird. "The Oregon way is how Oregonians roll up their sleeves and work together to get things done. We engage stakeholders to shared vision and empower them to bring it to life. Oregon is not only ensuring the future for a small bird that makes its home in the high desert of central Oregon, but also the people and communities who share that home."
Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell echoed the Governor's remarks. She believes Oregon is paving the way for other states to follow suit. "The sage grouse may be an umbrella species - The canary in the coal mine. But we all know its not about the canary, its about the quality of the air in the coal mine and about the habitat eco-system that makes up this part of the country."
These agreements also protect ranchers and other landowners from facing future regulation should the sage grouse be listed as endangered. The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to make a decision on that listing at the end of September.
BEND, OR -- A fatal two-vehicle accident occurred on Highway 97, 12 miles south of Bend, just after midnight, Thursday.
A Ford truck traveling southbound hit another car directly in front of it. Both vehicles lost control and rolled onto the shoulder of the road. The driver of the truck was pronounced dead at the scene. Their name has not been released. People in the other vehicle suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Speed is being investigated as a contributing factor in the crash.
BEND, OR -- The Oregon Department of Justice is looking into whether the Deschutes County Sheriff's Department did anything wrong when an inmate died in its custody last December.
31-year old Edwin Mays died of a methamphetamine overdose. But release of the jail video of that night raises questions whether deputies did all they could to prevent his death. Sheriff Larry Blanton says this is a difficult time for the department. "First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the Mays family. Not a good time for the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office. I can think of a lot of time personally and professionally I wish I could have a do over a mulligan, coulda woulda, shoulda."
"You know we're not perfect. We'll learn from this experience and move on. We deal with difficult situations. We have a difficult job. We're analyzing and assessing in split seconds what we do for a living," Blanton told KBND News.
Mays died in Deschutes County custody December 14th after being arrested for heroin possession.
Ridgeview's High School band performed at Carnegie Hall Tuesday night.
The band was invited to paly at the festival in New York City because of its reputation.
Band Director Dave Sime says the 50 members of the band shared an experience, they'll never forget.
"It was a phenomenal performance. The kids had a wonderful performance and the whole evening was truly magical. Earlier in the day we had an opportunity to do a sound check .. and we did a tuning note and held it . . and the kids eyes got big and they said Whoa!"
The band performed three songs -- Ave Maria, Havendance and Arabian Dances.
"And when we got done on stage, we went to our assigned room and some of the students just started crying with joy .. . and to have a standing ovation. These are memories that will stay with them forever."
Students also got a chance to sightsee in the Big Apple. They went to the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center and the 9-11 Memorial.
Deschutes County Commissioners have failed to give the green light to allow the Pilot Butte canal to be piped.
The Central Oreogn Irrigation District was asking the county to change code to make it easier for them to pipe this canal in an effort to conserve water.
Deschutes County Commissioners were split on how to proceed. Commissioner Tony DeBone wanted to allow COID to pipe the canal, Commissioner Tammy Baney did not.
Commissioenr Alan Unger didn't participate in the vote when homeowners along the canal and Commissioner Tammy Baney felt there was a perception of bias -- since he has served on several water boards.
"The big picture is perception as we move forward. We all have to work together -- property owners, water users and just citizens. We need to find some common solutions and we're going to have to find a lot of it. We need to manage water flow for these endangered species.
The Director of the Central Oregon Irriagtion District, Craig Horrell is frustrated.
"Well, everybody who cares about the region and the Deschutes River lost today. It sets us back. It wasn't a total no. We'll continue to look at our options."
Commissioner Unger says COID has to try to come up with some different options that neighbors might be on board with. For now -- the issue is in a holding pattern.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel is seeking an independent review of a recent inmate's death.
Hummel has requested that the Oregon Department of Justice investigate the death of 31 year old Edwin Mays.
He died while in custody last December 14th.
The State Medical Examiner has concluded that Mr. Mays died from a methamphetamine overdose.
Hummel feels its best for all involved -- the Mays family, the public and involved law enforcement that an outside agency conduct a comprehensive review of the incident.
The State Senate Ways and Means Subcommitttee on Education has passed the education budget.
It calls for 7 billion to fund the state's public schools.
Senator Tim Knopp of Bend thinks that amount should be increased to 8 billion.
He read to fellow lawmakers this week a letter he received from Ron Wilkinson, Bend LaPine's Superintendent of Schools.
"Oregon's K-12 results on a number of state indicators are poor; however its worth noting that Oregon has one of the shortest school years in the nation. Collectively from K-12, Oregon students go to school less than other schools in the nation. And funding has been in decline since the 2003-05 biennium."
Superintendent Wilkinson says the state needs to fund a minimum of 7.5 billion to get the necessary results and supports Senator Knopp's call for 8 billion.
GOP leadeers were able to secure a two year extension for timber payments in rural counties in Oregon.
U.S. Congressman Greg Walden says they are poised to approve a two year extension of the Secure Rural Schools program this week.
These timber funds help pay for local schools, roads and law enforcement in these areas.
"Today we are making good on a commitment to funding schools, counties, roads and to fund basic services they have to have in rural Oregon."
The timber payments are in a must-pass bill to prevent deep cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors.
This legislation is expected to pass the House this week and also in the Senate.
The U.S. Senate is debating its budget and the U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is voicing his priorities.
Wyden took to the Senate floor Tuesday to say he supports investing more in the middle class and not repealing the Affordable Care Act.
"If you repeal the Affordable Care Act, America goes back to the days when healthcare was for the healthy and wealthy. There will be pre existing conditions again and that's fine if you're healthy or wealhty, but that's not most Americans. There are many ways to improve the Affordable Care Act, but that's not what the other side does."
Wyden says a budget that slashes Medicaid, increases middle class taxes and makes college less accessible -- is on the wrong path.
Both the Bend Parks and Rec Board and the Bend City Council seem to be agreement about moving toward a more natural flowing river downtown.
The two groups agreed to Mirror Pond "concepts" but still need to work out details how the pond would look -- and how we'd pay for its maintenance.
Bend City Councilor Victor Chudowsky voted for the plan. He knows three councilors voted against it and one is involved with Foster Fell, who is circulating a petition to bring the issue to voters.
"Because he tried this last year and it didn't go anywhere and this one won't go anywhere either. And even if it did go to the ballot, I don't think it would pass. It's not something that worries me whatsoever."
Foster Fell says he didn't get enough signatures last November, but he's still at it.
"Years ago I got one thosuand signatures. I need four thousand more. I see the interest and support picking up every time I set up a table at the library, there's a line of people to sign the petition. I think it will pick up quite a bit."
Fell wants to prohibit the city and Parks and Rec District from suing Mirror Pond funds unless their plan has fish passage that would allow fish to pass in and out of the pond. It would also prevent periodic dredging.
A Bend family has been reunited with its missing cat -- seven years after it disappeared.
The Reinecke family got a call from the humame society last Friday that a good samaritan had found their now ten year old cat "Brave."
A microchip in "Brave" allowed the reunion. The famly had kept the same cell phone number, despite having moved twice during that time.
The cat was in poor health and the humane society's vet had found a cancerous tumor in his abdomen.
But Lynn Ouchida with the humane society says the Reinecke family rushed to the shelter to collect their long lost pet.
"We're just really delighted by the end of the story. The family is taken aback that they have the ability to spend the remaining days with this cat. It really has come full circle. And they are doing the ideal thing, providing comfort, veterinary care. And his last days are not being spent in the shelter."
Brave is fitting in just fine ... getting to know the two year old fmaily dog Beaux.
The Oregon legislature has approved a bill that would give data centers tax certainty, so they won't move out of the state.
The senate bill passed the House on Friday. It aims to retain and attract communication companies and their family-wage jobs.
House Minority Leader Mike McLane of Powell Butte helped write the bill and feels it will help retain an important sector in the Oregon economy.
"One of the things that came up is the status quo is not acceptable," McLane says. "Data centers like Prineville's Facebook or Google in the Dalles or Amazon were going to leave, so we had to do something."
The legislation provides some tax certainty for communications companies by placing a 130 percent cap on their taxable intangible assets.
It also lays the groundwork for Google fiber to consider moving to Portland.
We know the increase of vacation rentals in certain Bend neighborhoods like River West and Old Bend need to be better regulated.
The Bend City Council will hold a public hearing on the issue on March 30th.
Bend City Councilor Doug Knight has already signaled to the council at their meeting last week that some of the new proposed rules aren't strong enough.
"So far as policy issues, the second on the list is compatability, and you are mainly doing it through programmatics," Knight says. "I don't think it goes far enough, and I know there are other councilors who agree."
Knight feels there has to be a way to make sure if a neighbor has a problem, the owner of the vacation rental is available to address those concerns.
The city council will be voting on these proposed rules at their next meeting, April 1st.
The Oregon Health Authority is urging parents of University of Oregon students to get their kids vaccinated against meningococcal disease.
A sixth case at the Eugene campus has been confirmed and one student has died.
Heather Kaisner with the Deschutes County Health Deaprtment says its in students best interest to get vaccinated.
"So the Oregon Health Authority has put out an alert to get all U of O students to get the meningococcal B vaccine. This has been going on the last few weeks and there have been lots of clinics in Eugene offering this vaccine."
Kaisner says students can get the vaccine at most Safeway and Walgreens pharmacies.
So far, nine thousand U of O students have been vaccinated, but their goal is to get all 22-thousand undergraduate students vaccinated.
Sisters, Ore. -- The Oregon Transportation Commission has awarded the remaining $6.5 million in Connect Oregon funds, and Sisters Eagle Airport is one of the recipients. The airport received over $733 thousand for capital improvement as one of six projects to share the remaining funds.
Tom Fuller with the Oregon Department of Transportation says the idea is to benefit projects that have more reach when it comes to transportation.
"Connect Oregon is designed to be other than highway projects," Fuller says. "So that's where the multimodal comes into play. A mode of transportation is like riding on a truck, going on a train, getting on a bike or walking. So multimodal projects try to tie more than one means of transportation together."
Since Connect Oregon was first approved by the legislature in 2005, it has funded more than 130 projects. That includes bicycle and pedestrian projects. The other five projects to receive funds include areas like Eugene, Columbia County and Salem, and fund everything from bike sharing to mass transit.
Redmond, Ore. -- Starting today, Redmond will have a partial road closure in town to help with railroad work. The eastbound lane of Oregon 126 will be closed through Friday as crews repair a railroad crossing just east of US 97.
Sally Ridenour with the Oregon Department of Transportation says they have three signed detours for traffic.
"Traffic shouldn't be impacted too much, but there may be some small delays if people missed the detour and are trying to figure out which way to go," Ridenour says. "There will be plenty of signage, and we will have some crews out in the area that can help direct people.
Southbound traffic will be directed to Veterans Way, while eastbound will detour through Antler Avenue and northbound will also use Veterans Way. Full maps of the detours are available at the ODOT Region 4 website.
Bend Ore. -- A widespread power outage today is leaving thousands in the south Bend area without power. After 3:00 p.m., when there was a possible transformer explosion at a substation, power got cut.
Pacific Power estimates 8,614 customers have been affected. Crews are out trying to restore power, and the website estimates that will happen by 6:30 p.m.
The stretch from Powers to Highway 20, Greenwood Avenue was affected.
Oregon's Victim Information and Notification Everyday System experienced a widespread glitch last night that resulted in many erroneous notifications to victims. Friday evening, Oregon Department of Corrects found that their normal system maintenance led to the notifications.
The department is currently notifying the public about the errors. Victims who may have received the false notifications can check on the status of inmates in custody by using the Oregon Offender Search.
The contractor the department works with, Appriss, is fixing the repair, and falsely notified victims should have been made aware of the error last night.
The VINE system is a program monitoring offenders held across Oregon.
BEND, OR -- A Bend motorcyclist was seriously injured in a crash Thursday afternoon. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's office, an SUV, driven by Colleen Maguire (55), was stopped at a stop sign at NW Crosby Drive and Skyliners Road, when the she made a left turn and pulled in front of the motorcycle. The rider, 28-year old Duncan Brewer, was unable to avoid the collision, despite attempts to swerve into oncoming traffic.
He was taken to St. Charles with non-life threatening injuries. Investigators say speed and alcohol were not factors in the crash.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond home was destroyed by fire, Thursday. Firefighters responded to multiple 911 calls of a fully-engulfed single-wide mobile home off of Northwest Sixth Street, just before noon. Smoke could be seen across the north end of Redmond.
The homeowner reported two snakes and a cat were inside, but no people were harmed. Crews were able to protect neighboring mobile homes. The Red Cross is helping the two adult residents with food, clothing and lodging.
The fire's cause is under investigation.
BEND, OR -- After nearly three hours of of public testimony and discussion, the Bend City Council voted Wednesday night to approve a resolution to move forward with the alternative vision for Mirror Pond. Nearly 2-dozen residents and business owners spoke to the council, many strongly opposing the concept which would remove the current dam and encourage more river-front development in downtown Bend. Just before the vote was taken, Councilor Barb Campbell voiced her frustration, specifically with the idea of a new parking garage, directing remarks to fellow councilors Casey Roats and Sally Russell. "The only way we’re going to get enough from the economic development is by going up three or four stories where the old Mirror Pond parking lots were. The public has indicated they want no part of that – the public, including Sally who has said ‘oh my gosh no, I don’t support this picture, but I want to support the vision.’ And, I just don’t see the difference between the picture and the vision."
Roats responded to Campbell and fellow Councilor Nathan Boddie, "In terms of this economic development, you guys ran on a platform – you guys beat the hell out of me for thinking that we should expand the Urban Growth Boundary. The political camp you guys came out of, made it sound like I was going to pave the Badlands, next. So, when you guys get up here and rail on about how you’re not gonna let that kind of change come to the part of town that means so much to you, from here on out, you’re not going to have it both ways."
The vote was 4 - 3 in favor of continuing to study the concept already approved by the Bend Parks and Rec board
. Boddie, Campbell and Mayor Jim Clinton voted "no." City Manager Eric King tells KBND News the vote is not an endorsement of the plan; rather, it gives the city direction to continue to study the ideas included in the proposal.
To hear more on the vote and the concept, listen to our full interview with Bend City Manager Eric King at our Podcast page
BEND, OR -- Several Oregon counties are leading the way to restore the sage grouse, in an effort to keep the bird off the endangered species list. Fish and Wildlife Services is looking at possibly listing the bird because of reduced numbers in 11 western states. Five more agreements involving Oregon counties were just signed Wednesday. They are pledging to implement strategies to help boost sage grouse numbers.
Brian Jennings is the Oregon coordinator for Back Country Hunters and Anglers. He tells KBND News, "The state of Oregon, the past 2-and a half to three years has held numerous meetings around the sage grouse with the group 'Sage-Con," which is a group of diverse stakeholders. Groups like the Nature Conservancy, the Oregon Natural Desert Association adn Back Country Hunters and Anglers are all coming together to prevent the sage grouse from being listed as threatened or endangered."
He says wildfire and invasive weeds are some of the biggest threats to the birds, along with juniper trees. "Junipers have spread like weeds in this country. They come down from the hillside and crowd out the sage and they suck up the water like crazy. And, they offer perching points for birds of prey to attach the sage grouse. So, there are many efforts going on in Oregon to reduce the juniper out on the sage steppe." The new agreements with Oregon counties includes continuing those efforts to protect sage grouse habitat.
Fish and Wildlife Services is expected to decide whether to list the bird, at the end of September.
EUGENE, OR -- An injured snow tuber is suing Hoodoo Ski Area for $2.7-million, according to a suit filed in Eugene this week. 47-year old Michael Dearth of Antioch, California, claims he suffered spinal fractures when his inner tube hit a bump and struck a metal storage container.
In the suit, the plaintiff says the ski area failed to properly groom the tubing hill and that caused unsafe conditions.
BEND, OR -– Fuels Specialists with the Deschutes National Forest will ignite a five-acre prescribed burn Thursday, three miles south of Bend. The small plot will be used to help students in a multi-agency fire investigation class.
The five-day, multi-agency course will begin on Monday, March 23. 2015 and is designed to train forest service and municipal firefighters and law enforcement officers in wildfire investigation techniques. Students will participate in classroom and field sessions where they will be taught to identify points of origin by detecting burn patterns and protect evidence that could be used in criminal cases for human caused fires.
The prescribed fire area is on the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District three miles south of Bend, south of Woodside Ranch. If weather conditions remain favorable, ignitions will begin at 10:00 a.m. and are expected to take less than an hour.
Due to the location of these units, the public could see smoke although it is unlikely that roads will be impacted by smoke. If smoke does drift onto roads, drivers are encouraged to turn on headlights and slow down. For all prescribed fires, signs will be posted on significant nearby Forest roads and state highways that could be impacted. No road closures are anticipated with this project.
Fuels specialists will follow policies outlined in the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan, which governs prescribed fires, and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health. For more information, visit the Ochoco/Deschutes website at www.fs.usda.gov/deschutes.
BEND, OR -- The Bend City Council will vote Wednesday night on whether to move forward on plans to remove the Mirror Pond Dam and allow the river to flow more naturally. The Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee has come up with this vision after many public meetings getting feedback. Foster Fell, the partner of Bend City Councilor Barb Campbell has been an opponent of the latest plan and wil be addressing the council at the meeting. "I'm opposed to Mirror Pond as conceived by the Ad Hoc Committee. I think it will lead to further environmental consequences and degradation to the pond and it would impose a budgeting burden on the citizens of Bend."
Fells says most of the previous City Council votes have been unanimous, but he expects that at least a couple councilors will vote against the current plan. "So far, the vote from the city council has been unanimous in support of removing the dam and preserving Mirror Pond. But that will be a thing of the past at their meeting Wednesday. One, two, maybe three city councilors are going to vote against this Mirror Pond vision. I think its a sign there's a crack in the coalition wanting to push the pond and new dam."
Fell says going forward with the new plan would still require the pond to be dredged and it would continue to be expensive to maintain.
SALEM, OR -- The Oregon House approved a bill that would outlaw conversion therapy, a therapy used to try to change the sexual orientation of gay young people. The final vote was 51 to 18. Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) supports ending a practice of psychotherapy, that he says should have been outlawed long ago. "Oregon should ban this fraudulent practice. Conversion Therapy is based on the deeply flawed premise that because of your sexual orientation, you must have mental disorder and be in need of professional help. Of course, we know that idea is not only ridiculous, but incredible offensive."
House Minority Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) had concerns about how this bill would protect religious exemptions or free speech rights, but eventually decided to support it. "One of my concerns has been assurance that it protects the religious liberty of all Oregonians. And based on the answers I got I believe the legislation will not prevent any counselors from citiing a text that is inherent to their personal relationship, like a Christian counslor citing a bible."
New Jersey, California and Washington D.C. have already banned conversion therapy and a couple dozen more states are considering it.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Republican Congressional leaders unveiled their proposed budget and it cuts $5-trillion from the federal budget over ten years. It privatizes parts of Medicare and turns Medicaid into block grants for states.
Democratic U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oreogn anticipated these changes. "It's worth scrutinizing whether the budget strengthens Social Security or weakens it. Some of the things that would weaken it include vouchering Medicare or privatizing Social Security and raising the retirement ages as it applies to the Medicare program."
Their budget would elminate the Affordable Care Act in its entirety and balances the budget in a decade.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon's current statewide unemployment rate is at a level not seen since May of 2008. The February numbers show our rate at 5.8%. State Economist Nick Beleiciks says almost all industries saw job growth. "In February, leisure and hospitality which is mainly restaurants had a lot of job growth. And healthcare and social assistance also did a lot of hiring, firms providing services to the elderly."
Nationally consumer spending at restaurants rose sharply in the last year, perhaps partially due to people having more money to spend since gas prices have plunged.
A couple schools in Central Oregon were selected to participate in the Nike School Innovation Fund College and Career Readiness program. Students will receive grants, training and other materials to help promote college and career readiness among Oregon students.
The schools chosen include Crook County High School in Prineville, LaPine High School and Madras High School. Many schools applied for the grants, but only fifty high schools and thirty middle schools were selected to partipcate.
Since 2007, Nike has provided nine million to support early learning and school leadership development.
BEND, OR -- A local family is searching for a special stroller stolen from their car while it was parked outside their Deschutes River Woods home, Sunday night. Alex Wilson tells KBND News it was the primary source of mobility for her four-year old terminally-ill daughter. "We just really want to get the word out that, hopefully that thief realizes they didn’t just steal a stroller, they stole someone’s livelihood. It’s not just money, it’s property, there’s sentimental attachment and that’s the way that Anabelle gets around." Anabelle suffers from Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD), a rare degenerative disease with a life expectancy of between five and ten years. She has been the beneficiary of several local fundraisers, including Anabelle's Angel Glow 5K, and her mom hopes the community will rally around Anabelle, once again.
Wilson describes the stroller was an orange and black “Baby Jogger Summit X-3," worth about $500. "It’s not really anything unique necessarily; it’s just a jogging stroller. But, she can’t walk, so it’s her mobility device. It’s the way she gets around. It’s basically her wheelchair," she says. "The thing that we loved about it, it has an extended foot piece. Her knees don’t bend very well so her feet can kind of whack on stuff. Also, it has a really steep recline, so she can go back really far. It’s hard for her to sit up because she can’t hold her head up very well. So, that was also one of the reasons we really liked it."
The family filed a police report and is hopeful the public can pressure the thief to return the stroller. A Go Fund Me account
was set up late yesterday, to help the family cover the cost of replacing the stolen stroller. Donations exceeded the amount needed within two hours. The remaining money will be given to the Sparrow Clubs, of which Anabelle is a participant.
March 19, 2015 UPDATE: After an outpouring of community support, The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office told the Wilson family they are ordering a replacement stroller for Anabelle. The Go-Fund-me account set up to help the family pay for a new one has received more than $2,000 in donations in just 2 days, and Anabelle's mom says that money will now be distributed among Central Oregon charities that help children with special needs.
BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Transportation is trying to garner support for its new Road Usage Charge, scheduled to roll out on a limited basis in July. One of the program’s managers says Oregon is the first state in the country to create an alternative to the gas tax, which has declined in recent years due to more fuel-efficient vehicles.
She tells KBND the charge is in response to declining maintenance funds due to the popularity of more fuel-efficient vehicles. "Every state is dealing with a declining fuels tax and Oregon is the first to actually do something about it and to create an alternative system that might, in the long term, help us make up the gap in funding," ODOT's Michelle Godfrey told KBND. "In the very short term, we’re going to be short of funds to maintain our roads to the degree they need to be."
She says the Charge is designed to replace an outdated funding model. "Up until the early-1990s it was fair for everyone, because every vehicle pretty much got the same gas mileage. Now you have some vehicles that are getting 55 MPG, while others are averaging 15-20, so they’re paying a much different amount in gas tax to fund the roads than would be assessed under a Road Usage Charge, which would be equal for everyone based on how much they drive." She adds, "The Road Usage Charge was determined to be the most fair and most viable option for Oregon. Basically, you pay a charge per mile that you drive. So it’s an actual pay per use system. Whereas the gas tax is becoming more and more unfair because you have some very high fuel-efficient vehicles that aren’t using any gas, and some that are using a lot more gas, so there’s a big disparity now in who’s paying for the roads."
Godfrey was in Bend Tuesday to answer questions from local ODOT employees, many of whom are already getting calls from concerned drivers confused about how the program will work. She says many don't understand how the new charge will work with the current gas tax. "People would never pay both. You would pay either the Road Usage Charge or the gas tax. If you participate in the program then you’ll get a credit for all the fuels tax you paid. Now, if your vehicle uses more gas, and you end up paying more gas tax than you pay in Road Charge, you’d actually get a refund." However, Godfrey admits, those with more fuel-efficient cars could pay more on the new fee structure.
ODOT is asking for 5,000 Oregon drivers to sign up for the first phase of the program
. Participants would be charged 1.5-cents per mile driven on Oregon roads. Whether the usage fee becomes mandatory statewide is dependent on the state Legislature.
To listen to our full conversation with ODOT's Michelle Godfrey, visit our Podcast page
TERREBONNE, OR -- Morning commuters in the Terrebonne area experienced delays this morning, after a barn caught fire near Lower Bridge Way. Fire crews diverted traffic around the fire activity at about 6:30 a.m.
When crews responded, they found the 30x35-foot barn fully engulfed with a power line downed nearby, and propane tanks venting inside. Response teams were able to save a nearby RV and tractor, but the barn was a total loss.
Estimated losses were around $50,000. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) joined the chorus criticizing a letter written by 47 Republican Senators and sent to Iranian leaders, regarding White House nuclear weapons negotiations. Republicans did not like the way these negotiations were going and sent a letter to the Ayatollah warning any agreement can be undone.
Merkley is among those saying the congressional intrusion into negotiations is unprecedented. "This letter was extremely inappropriate. Now only was in appropriate in how it was done, but to address a foreign government and essentially bypass the president is unprecedented. How this was done has implications for the president and how he gets to negotiate and then congress gets to address the issue further down the road."
Secretary of State Kerry also called the letter absolutely calculated, unprecedented and un-thought-out.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commisioners took another step toward allowing a Sisters farm to hold weddings. They heard recommended changes to the property's submitted wildlife plan, to address concerns that wildlife would be harmed if weddings were held there. Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger and the other commissioners approved the proposed changes. "Well, I'm comfortable with the approach the staff proposed. I think it's great to get rid of the juniper trees and put grass in. We all know there are more conditions to be met on this property in the future."
John Shepherd of Sisters has been trying for several years to win approval to hold farm weddings on his property. He is applying to the county as a "private park" to hold these weddings. He would allow wedding guests to participate in several different activities on his property following the cermeony, like dancing listening to music or badmitten.
SALEM, OR -- Governor Kate Brown signed her own motor voter bill into law. The bill removes barriers to voter registration. It uses DMV records to register voters. "I think you all know in my role as Secretary of State I pushed for the new motor voter bill. It was my top priority and I'm absolutely thrilled to be signing this into law."
Governor Brown believes the legislation will allow Oregon to become a true leader in voter access. Oregon is the first state to have automatic voter registration. She says this voter registration is more cost effective, more secure and more convenient for Oregonians.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond-based Advantage Dental has notified more than 151,000 patients that personal information may be at risk following a recent data breach. In a statement released by the company, Advantage Dental officials said a computer infected by malware allowed someone to gain access to customers' names, birthdates, phone numbers, addresses and social security numbers. However, treatment and financial information was not compromised.
The breach occurred between February 23rd and 26th, and the company is working with law enforcement to determine the scope of the incident.
BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Community College Board of Directors will vote tonight whether to formally appoint interim President Dr. Shirley Metcalf to the permanent position. COCC officials have been in contract negotiations with Dr. Metcalf since announcing the decision just over a week ago. She tells KBND News she’s honored to be the school’s first female president. "Community college students tend to- the majority of them are women. So, I feel that this is really great for our college and our community that I can serve as a roll model for our students."
Dr. Metcalf has been with COCC for four years, and says she originally had no plans to take the permanent Presidential job. "I think we can now have more stability. For the last six months, I’ve been the interim, and prior to that, we knew Dr. Middleton would be retiring. So, I think that we can now set some of our goals and make sure that we set benchmarks and that we work to reach them."
Director of College Relations Ron Paradis says the Board of Directors is ready to move forward, following more than a year of searching and two failed attempts to hire a President. "The board took a look and said, ‘OK, so how’s it been going with Dr. Metcalf as the interim?’ and called in the different employee groups and got a unanimous vote of confidence for her work. As they said, it was like having a six-month site visit with her as the president. The employee groups were very supportive and said ‘this is what we need to do, we’re ready to move forward and Dr. Metcalf is the right person to lead us for the next several years.’"
For our full conversation with Dr. Shirley Metcalf and Ron Paradis, listen to our Your Town Podcast
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A marijuana summit in Prineville today, will focus on what communities can expect with Oregon legalizes recreational marijuana on July first. Representatives from various Central Oregon counties and cities are expeted to attend the Measure 91 discussion. Prineville Planning Direct Phil Stenbeck organized the event. "Of course, I'm going to bring a list of concerns from other planners around the state," Stenbeck told KBND. "For example, if you approve a facility, what are the concerns for the people next door? So, if you approve a facility, how to develop regulations that keep harmony in your community."
Tuesday's summit is 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the Prineville City Hall. Stenbeck hopes the different communities will be able to share information and ideas about Measure 91 before recreational pot becomes legal this summer.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Sheriff's deputies are searching for a man suspected in a Monday night stabbing, southeast of Prineville. According to investigators Roy VanHeck was at his Juniper Canyon Road home when he got into a fight with Cody Ipock. VanHeck was stabbed in the neck and shoulder, and was treated and released from an area hospital.
The Sheriff's office says the victim and suspect know each other and this was an isolated incident. Ipock took off before deputies arrived and they say he should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call local law enforcement.
SALEM, OR -- A bill that would make it easier for officers to rescue dogs in overheated cars during the summer, just passed the state senate. Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) sponsored the legislation that allows peace officers to enter cars and impound animals if they're in distress. "Under current Oregon law, a peace officer probably wouldn't enter the car. But Senate bill 614 clarifies the law and protects peace officers to enter the vehicle and rescue the dog in the vehicle."
The bill specifially deals with animals in motor vehicles. It allows officers to enter the car and provide the animals with food, water and emergency medical treatment. They may also impound the animal.
MT. HOOD, OR -- Snowpack levels around the state continue to show record low amounts. These are some of the lowest levels hydrologists have seen in 25 years. Julie Koeberle with the USDA Natural Rescoures Conservation Services say the problem is not with precipitation, but warm temperatures. "The interesting thing is we've been receiving normal precipitation. But it's been falling in the form of rain. If it'd been cold enough it would have been snow and we would have near normal snow pack right now."
Rain helps fil the reservoirs for irrigation, but snowpack helps sustain stream flows in the summer. Most of the sites around the state continue to show record lows for snowpack, except at the highest elevations.
A new study by the Leauge of Women Voters wants to ensure that Oregon's at risk students are ready for school.
They just conducted a two year study called "Children at Risk --- Early Learning, Early Intervention."
Rebecca Gladstone with the League says they followed kids who are poor, may live in inadequate housing or have inadequate nutrition or have a parent with mental illness.
"We look at these kids and started looking how the state is providing services for them. And the state just recenlty started to try to break down frustrating barriers to getting services. And a number of organizations are working together now."
Organizations like the Oregon Early Learning Division within the Department of Education, the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Human Services are trying to work together.
The state has 16 hubs throughout the state that plan to better coordinate services for Oregon's most at risk children.
BEND, OR -- Mountain snow pack may be at record lows; however, winter tourism does not appear to be suffering. Mt. Bachelor officials report about half the base they had this time last year, but lift ticket sales are holding steady.
Executive Director of the Central Oregon Visitors Association Alana Hughson tells KBND News lodging reservations are pacing ahead for the season. "Perhaps folks who were planning a fairly intense powder experience are still hitting the mountain, but then they're engaging in other activities," Hughson said. "The good news for Central Oregon's economy is that the visitors have continued to come through the winter."
Julie Koeberle, a hydrologist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, took a trip to a test site a few miles south of Mt. Hood late last week. According to her, the Cascades are seeing a new record-low snow pack. "Normally we have six feet of snow, but [right now] we have no snow," Koeberle says. "This is the first time since we've started recording here since 1981 that there's been no snow."
For Hughson, that means tourists this spring break will likely spend time in different parts of Central Oregon. Already, Smith Rock is reporting record numbers, as tourists visit sites typically reserved for later in the spring. Overall, COVA is seeing visitor numbers up from this time last year.
Mt. Bachelor reports good ski conditions and positive ticket sales. Hughson says that is likely due to poor conditions elsewhere in the region. With 41 inches of snow at the base and 85 inches mid-mountain, the Central Oregon ski resort is one of the few in the west to actually have snow. Mt. Bachelor expects to be in operation until May 24, if conditions remain sustainable.
SISTERS, OR -- A Sisters couple lost nearly everything in an apartment fire, Sunday afternoon. That blaze broke out just after 1:30 p.m. at the corner of Black Crater and Ash Street. Both adults had evacuated by the time emergency crews arrived.
The Red Cross is helping the couple with lodging, food and clothing; and community members have started a Go Fund Me account
to help them get back on their feet.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's office is asking for the public's help in tracking down a Bend man wanted on two outstanding warrants. Deputies responded to Deschutes River Woods at 5 p.m., Sunday, to a report of a civil dispute. During the investigation, they discovered Christopher Lee Edlefsen had been involved, but fled prior to their arrival.
Deputies searched the area but were unable to find him. 27-year old Edlefsen is described as 5'8", 150 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call the Sheriff's office.
2013 mug shot of Christopher Lee Edlefsen
SALEM, OR -- A state Senate bill that would have only allowed parents to opt out of vaccinations for their children for medical reasons is dead. The bill's main sponsor, Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Portland/Beaverton), made the decision earlier this week to drop the bill.
State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) supported the legislation. He tells KBND News he's disappointed.
"I don't think Senator Steiner Hayward dropped it due to the strong opposition," Buehler said. "She did it because she lost key support from the Democratic caucus and she didn't have the votes to proceed to win a floor vote."
Oregon has some of the nation's highest childhood vaccination exemption rates in the country, and the number of families opting out of required shots has grown in recent years.
"This is a problem that needs to be solved," Buehler says. "Obviously, too many people didn't like the proposed solutions. I've been trying to get Senator Steiner Hayward to add amendments to make it more acceptable."
Buehler hopes a new bill will be introduced this session. He says although the bill is dead, the concept isn't.
"I think Senator Steiner Hayward is working on ways to retool it to make it more agreeable, but also to make a dent in solving this problem," Buehler says.
Rep. Buehler says a new bill would likely include more allowable exemptions to appease the opposition.
BEND, OR -- Special Olympics Oregon has canceled its annual Winter Games Snow Sports event, scheduled for this weekend at Mt Bachelor. "Our senior vice president of sports was monitoring the weather closely to make sure everything was going to be safe and a good experience for the athletes on the mountain," David Warner tells KBND News. "He was in contact with several different weather services and Mt. Bachelor, and just came to the hard decision and realization that, with the weather calling for rain and wind on Saturday and even worse on Sunday, that it was best for everybody to cancel the event for Saturday and Sunday." Warner says the non-profit has held the state winter games have been held in Bend for about 25 years and this is the first time the organization has been forced to call them off. "Last year we had to cancel the Sunday competition because of very similar weather. We were able to get the competition in on Saturday of last year, but had to cancel Sunday for very much the same conditions- rain and wind up on the mountain."
Special Olympics pays travel and lodging expenses for the more than 200 athletes and coaches who take part in the games. Warner says they hoped to get word out with enough time for families and spectators to cancel hotel reservations. "It’s a hard decision to make with so many people involved; it was just the best decision for the safest and highest quality of event on the mountain. I would just hate to have anything happen in traveling or just to be miserable on the mountain in the rain and wind. It just wasn’t the best idea for us, so we had to call it."
He says the games will not be rescheduled, "That’s the heartbreaking part of this. These athletes and coaches put in a lot of long hard hours to get ready for this competition. They unfortunately won’t be able to compete, but had the great experience of training and forming those friendships with their fellow athletes and coaches." Warner says they hope for more favorable conditions, next year.
SISTERS, OR -- After losing its original Redmond location, Heart of Oregon’s Youth Build Program is settling into its new partnership with the Sisters School District. Program Director Kara Johnson says students helped remodel the vacant Cloverdale Preschool last fall, where they now hold classes and construction training. She says the program, which began in Redmond in 2009, is designed to help get at-risk students back on track and ready for life after high school. "What we’re doing on the construction site too, and in the classroom environment, is teaching the soft skills for employment. Work ethic, they’re creating a resume, they’re doing mock interviews with volunteers in the program. We have mentors, whether it be in the classroom or on the construction site. But, no, they don’t have to be involved in construction. We have a lot of young people who finish the program and go into post-secondary education at COCC or they go into other types of employment."
Right now, there are 22 students in the program, ranging in age from 16 to 24. Katrina is one of those students, commuting everday from Prineville. She tells KBND she joined the yearlong Youth Build program in January, after nearly dropping out of high school. "It’s more personal, and they do try to say “hey, here are your goals, here’s how you get to your goals, let us assist you. And they are really interested in what you want to do with the rest of your life." Johnson says Katrina's story isn't inique. "Young people who’ve been in the program in the past, they’ll tell me, 'last year, I attended school maybe half time.' They come to Youth Build and their attendance increases to about 80-90%. What’s also awesome about our program is that we pay our young people a living stipend. They’re earning about $100 per week and if they have 100% attendance, we give them a $20 bonus per week."
BEND, OR -- OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson was selected as the first ever Bend Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year, at a ceremony Wednesday evening at the Tower Theatre. Johnson was honored for her work to bring a four-year university program to Central Oregon. "Becky's arrival in Central Oregon was one of the best things to happen to this community in a long time. She has built OSU-Cascades into what will be a major educational institution and accelerated the economic and cultural growth of all of Central Oregon," said Mike and Sue Hollern.
Also at the event, Kristina Guerrero was awarded Young Woman of the Year. She is a decorated US Air Force veteran and founder of TurboPup, an energy bar for dogs. Guerrero appeared on the TV show "Shark Tank," and secured a $100,000 investment from Daymond John. She's also an occupational therapist and volunteer for Deschutes County Search and Rescue.
Betsy Warriner was honored with the Community Hero Award. Warriner founded Volunteer Insights, a service learning organization for students. She's also the Executive Director of Volunteer Connect, expanding the organization into Central Oregon's first region-wide volunteer center.
Bella Wiener was given the Young Hero Award at Wednesday's event. In June, the high school student plans to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro as part of a fundraising effort for Sustainable Health Enterprises. When she was just a fourth grader, she and her mom traveled to Kenya to serve in a small medical clinic. She's also an elite swimmer, local community service advocate and tutor for children with special needs. Wiener is also Vice President of Bend High's Gay/Straight Alliance.
(L-R) Johnson, Guerrero, Wiener, Warriner
The Bend Chamber received 47 nominees in total for the four awards categories. “The caliber of nominees was extraordinary and the recipients were truly deserving of this recognition,” organizer Robin Rogers said. “However, to me, they are all winners because they are all amazing women who have demonstrated their commitment to the betterment of our region.” The awards were intended to spotlight women who have excelled in their careers and have made outstanding contributions to the community. “This is the first of many Women of the Year Awards to come,” Rogers said. “We look forward to honoring more women next year.”
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police arrested a Richland, Washington man for possessing, delivering and manufacturing methamphetamines. The 24-year old man was stopped for a traffic violation when the drugs were discovered Wednesday morning.
One pound of meth, with a street value of approximatley $45,000, was seized during the stop.
REDMOND, OR -- There will be no parade before the Deschutes County Fair this year, but officials are considering other options for future years. Dan Despotopulos with the fair says they've been discussing this for the last three to five years. "The attendance at the fair parade has been declining and so has the participation entrees. A lot of 4-H and FFA particpants are busy getting ready for the fair and they can't really particpate because it doesn't allow them time to get downtown."
One of the ideas being considered is holding the parade on the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in 2016, instead of in downtown Redmond.
BEND, OR -- Shay Mikalson is looking forward to becoming Bend-La Pine's new Superintendent of Schools. The school board made the announcement Tuesday night. Mikalson has worked in administration at Bend LaPine for the last couple years, but before that he was the Superintendent for the Redmond School District. He tells KBND News he's humbled to follow current Superintendent Ron Wilkinson. "I said at the school baord meeting that not only do I have big shoes to fill, but I have a big heart to fill. Ron is a leader who leads from his heart and that's what inspires me to work for him and I want to build on the success in our district and re-imagining our priorities forward."
School Board Chair Nori Juba says Mikalson singled himself out by demonstrating a clear vision for educational outcomes. He also challenged the board, and they liked that. "And one of the things he challenged as a board is we need to measure outcomes for what we're teaching. And we need to get off teacher's plates things that aren't working. So he has great vision adn ideas. I know one of the first things he'll do is look closely at all the things we're doing today and see what's not making a whole lot of sense."
The school board plans to start contract negotiations with Mikalson in the coming days. He'll take over on July first.
REDMOND, OR -- U.S. Congressman Greg Walden will be in Redmond Friday for a townhall. He will be speaking at the Deschutes Fair and Expo Center in the North Sister Room beginnning at 1 P.M.
He plasn to discuss bipartisan bills passed by the house to reduce burdens on Americanworkers and small businesses. He will also disucss legislation to increase access to home health care services for Oregonians.
Walden will also be a speaker at the Freedom Rally going on in Portland this Saturday.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s office has determined that a shooting Monday afternoon at a home east of Bend, was not a home invasion after all. Detective Sgt. Deke Demars says the investigation revealed the man’s injuries were self-inflicted. "There was no intruder, no suspect at all, nobody made entrance – forced entrance or otherwise – into the reported house on Wickiup Road. Ultimately, that being said, we’re able to absolutely confirm that there’s nobody outstanding, there’s no outstanding suspect or other dangers to the community regarding this incident."
On Monday, 40-year old Todd Dickerson reportedly called 911 saying he had interrupted a burglar when he returned home for lunch. He claimed a man in a ski mask shot him in the shoulder and ran off
. Three law-enforcement agencies sent officers to the area east of Bend to search for a suspect. Sgt. Demars says the case will now be forwarded to the Deschutes County DA for review of possible criminal charges against Dickerson. "At this point in time, everything that we have will be completed and sent to the Deschutes County’s District Attorney’s office for further review. We’re looking at the totality of everything and ultimately will make a determination later on and that’s why we’re going to refer it to the DA’s office for review."
Dickerson works for the Tower Theatre Foundation. The Board released the following statement, Wednesday afternoon: “The Tower staff and board are deeply saddened by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office report released today. Todd Dickerson has been an important part of the Tower Theatre Foundation staff as Development Director for the past two years. At this difficult time, our hearts go out to Todd and his family. .”
SALEM, OR -- Oregon lawmakers will continue to hear testimony today on how much of the state budget should be applied to public education. A steady stream of superintendents, teachers and parents testified before the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education Tuesday in Salem, all advocating for more than the proposed $7 billion in school funding.
Fifth grader Alfonso Bernal started school in Umatilla just as major budget cuts took hold. He testified that his learning experience has been much different than his sisters' who have now graduated. "When my sisters were in elementary school, they got to go to music class. I’ve never even had a music teacher. When my sister Priscilla was a fifth grader, she had 24 students in her class, and I have 33 in mine – and we’re not the largest classroom. When my sisters were in elementary school, they had art supplies and paper and pencils. Now, we have to hope that Walmart donates the unsold school supplies to our school because many of our families can’t afford to buy them for us and our school doesn’t have them."
Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) also testified, reading a handful of emails from Central Oregon educators. "’Please stop the madness of underfunding schools in our state. We sucked it up in 2008 when the economy tanked. We fell on our sword to try and maintain the system for those awful years.’ Another one, ‘I’m writing to urge support for state school fund of $7.25 billion or more. If that budget falls before that number, my district - which is Redmond – will be forced to cut days and staff members, as well as increase class sizes.’ Here’s another one: ‘In Oregon, we need to keep up with the rest of the country. We can’t continue to short-change our children.’" Sen. Knopp argued that an $8 billion education budget would get closer to the level of state spending when he was House Majority Leader, 12 years ago. "I think the highest we ever got was 44.9% of general fund and lottery, which was over $8 billion, if you apply the same percentage to today’s budget. I can just say, when I was majority leader, the Democratic minority said that was not enough. And, so, I’m saying it would be enough, so let’s try and get there." He also drew a correlation between stronger education funding and job growth.
Testimony is expected to continue through Thursday.
BEND, OR -- Job growth continues to show impressive results in Central Oregon. 2015 started with unemployment rates dropping in all three Central Oregon counties. Regional Economist Damon Runberg tells KBND News that Deschutes County is again leading the state in growth. "The January unemployment rate of 7.1% in Deschutes County is really low. We haven't seen it like that since 2008. The job growth is really the highlight. It's really fast across Central Oregon." Runberg says, "In fact, we've added 4600 jobs in Deschutes County in the last year. It's an exceptional amount of jobs. It's pushing us to where we were before the recession started. We're only 420 jobs shy of that on a seasonaly adjusted bases."
Jefferson County dropped from 9.2% in December to 8.7% in January. Despite big layoffs in November at Woodgrain Millwork in Prineville, Crook County's rate declined from 10.5% in December to 10.1% in January.
BEND, OR -- A new K-8 charter school in Bend has received approval to open in the fall. The Bend-La Pine School Board voted Tuesday night to approve the charter for the Bend International School. BIS director Meera Rupp told KBND News she is excited to bring international studies to Central Oregon. "We have a fairly low population of diversity here - about 15% - and we want our kids to be able to compete across the world, to work with people from all different cultures. So, we're all about promoting diversity and respect and appreciation of other cultures." Rupp says classes will be a mix of English and Spanish. "What we're doing, is we're teaching the core academics in English. Then, in the afternoon, we're teaching our specials - including the lunch period, music, electives, project based learning - those are all being taught in Spanish."
Open enrollment will begin March 16th and will close April 10th. BIS will host a community informational meeting March 18th when families can learn more about the program. Middle School orientation will also take place for 6-8th grade students. That meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at 2150 NE Studio Rd in Bend.
SISTERS, OR -- Sisters must now start looking for a new superintendent of schools. Jim Golden has just accepted the superintendent's job with the Albany School district. He will start with the new district on July first. Sisters School Board Chair Don Hedrick tells KBND News he's sorry to see Golden go. "Jim was good fit for Sisters and it's going to be difficult to find someone who was as good as Jim has been for the district."
Golden has been Sisters' Superintendent for five years. The school board plans to meet on Friday to come up with plans on how to move forward with the search for a new leader. "We have to explore several options; we could do the search ourselves, or we could hire a firm to do it or approve an interim Superintendent. There are several options we need to talk about." They hope to have someone in place by this summer.
BEND, OR -- The Bend-La Pine School board named Shay Mikalson as the top candidate for Superintendent, at Tuesday night's meeting. Mikalson is currently the Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Programs, and has been with the district since 2012. He has nine years of administrative experience, including two years as the superintendent of the Redmond School district.
According to Bend-La Pine district officials, the board will begin the background check process and initiate contract negotiations in the next few days. Ron Wilkinson announced last year that he will retire at the end of June, after seven years as superintendent.
BEND, OR -- Bend's new elementary school finally has a name. The Bend-La Pine school board chose "Silver Rail Elementary" at Tuesday's meeting. Silver Rail is still under construction in Southeast Bend and is slated to open in the fall.
"Silver Rail" beat out three other naming options, including "Horse Ridge" and "Homestead." Another option, "Amelia Earhart Elementary," caused a bit of controversy with the Des Chutes Historical Museum after rumors surfaced that Earhart had ties to Bend.
Also last night, the school board named Shay Mikalson as their top choice for Superintendent.
Mikalson is currently an assistant superintendent for the district and would take over when Ron Wilkinson retires, July first.
SALEM, OR -- A bill being considered in the state senate hopes to make hospital costs more transparent. Senate Bill 900 would require the Oregon Health Authority to create a website with healthcare prices for different inpatient and outpatient services.
Phillip Schmidt is with the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. "Hospitals hear loud and clear from patients , they want to understand what a certain procedure will cost them before treatment. It's a complicated world, so this is an attempt to make the information easily available and relevant." The website would give a typical cost of certain procedures, but wouldn't show what a particular person's insurance would cover.
The bill would also have the Oreogn Health Leadership Council work with patients with insurance to understand what their out of pocket expenses will be. State Senator Tim Knopp of Bend is a co-sponsor of this bill.
BEND, OR -- The city of Bend is considering relaxing its development fees to spur more affordable housing and so is the Bend Parks and Recreation Board. The issue came up at a recent meeting, but the Parks and Rec Baord had some concerns about giving up $6,000 worth of fees per newly constructed house.
Parks and Rec Board Chair Dan Fishkin told KBND News, "It's not that the board is by any means not in favor of affordable housing. But we need to do what we can do legally and what can be accomplished. We're looking at some options we are exploring and researching." It's believed the high development fees for homes, that go toward paying for roads, water and sewer for these developments, make it too expensive for developers to build low-income housing.
The Bend Parks and Rec Board will vote on these fees at their next meeting March 17th. The Bend City Council will take up the issue on March 18th.
EUGENE, OR -- Former Oregon Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer passed away Monday night after a near 6-year battle with prostate cancer. Frohnmayer served as Attorney General from 1981 until 1991. He ran for governor in 1990, losing to Barbara Roberts. He later became Dean of the University of Oregon law School, and was president of the university from 1994 until his retirement in 2009.
A family spokesperson says Frohnmayer passed away in his sleep Monday; he was 74.
Governor Kate Brown released the following statement on Frohnmayer's passing: "I am heartbroken at the loss of my wonderful and brilliant friend Dave Frohnmayer," said Governor Kate Brown. "His deep love of Oregon is reflected in a lifetime of leadership and public service. My thoughts and prayers go out to Lynn and the Frohnmayer family at this difficult time." Governor Brown has ordered all state flags to half-staff on the day of Mr. Frohnmayer's memorial service, the date of which has yet to be announced.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley: “I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of Dave Frohnmayer’s passing today. His contributions throughout the state and especially in the Eugene community will forever be remembered. As a state legislator, Oregon’s Attorney General and longtime President at the University of Oregon he has impacted countless Oregonians and helped shape our state’s success. My heart goes out to the Fronhmayer family, and Mary and I will be holding them in our thoughts and prayers.”
Oregon House Republican Leader Mike Mclane: “It is with deep sadness that we learned today of the passing of Dave Frohnmayer. Dave’s vast contributions to the state of Oregon – as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives, as a former state Attorney General and as a former president of the University of Oregon – cement his legacy as a faithful public servant and advocate for the state and its people. On behalf of the House Republican Caucus, I extend our deepest sympathies to the Frohnmayer family.”
Oregon Congressman Greg Walden: “Dave Frohnmayer dedicated his life to improving the lives of others through his work in higher education, health research and public office. He was bright, independent, caring and unstoppable. I have fond memories of our many times together, from when I was a sophomore at the U of O and he was teaching law and serving in the Legislature, to hosting him at our home when he was running for governor on what turned out to be the day our son was born. My prayers go out to Lynn and his family as we all celebrate his wonderful life and mourn his passing.”
KLAMATH FALLS, OR -- A woman mising from Klamath Falls since January 22nd has family in the Bend area. The Klamath Falls Police Department is asking for the public's help in finding 35-year old Alicia Christine Scott. She's also known as Alicia Jensen and Alicia Maris. She's described as 5'03", 140 pounds, wtih medium length blonde hair.
Scott has family in the Bend area, but has not contacted them since January 22, 2015. She has few ties to Klamath Falls, although she is believed to have been in the area for a few weeks prior to going missing. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call Det. Brandon Dougherty at the Klamath Falls Police Dept.: 541-883-5336. Anonymous information can be left at the KFPD tip line: 541-883-5334.
POST, OR -- Fire managers will take advantage of today's nice weather to continue prescribed burns in the Mawry Mountains southeast of Prineville. The West Mawry Jackpot Burning project will cover about 500 acres 12 miles southeast of Post, within the Ochoco National Forest. Crews already burned about 170 of those acres in February, before snow halted the project.
Plans also call for jackpot burning on the Crooked River National Grassland this spring. The Grassland Jackpot Burning project will cover about 500 acres on units between 5 and 15 miles southwest and southeast of Madras. The goals for both projects include improvement of wildlife habitat and range conditions, and the reduction of hazardous fuels.
Light smoke will be visible in the area during the burn, but should not impact traffic.
BEND, OR -- A Bend-based angel investors group received a big boos from the Oregon Growth Board to support innovative, and tech-savvy business ideas. Cascade Angels announced Monday they will receive up to $100,000 to distribute to local start-up businesses. Julie Harrelson with Cascade Angels says local companies are already applying for funds. "One of the most amazing things to me about doing this work is the intelligence, drive and creativity of the companies that we see coming through. And, certainly, in Central Oregon, there's just a huge focus on this. We see this across a lot of sectors - tech, consumer products, outdoor and apparel."
Cascade Angels has 20 applications for 2015 funds. Harrelson says half of those are from Central Oregon. Last year, the fund contributed to local companies Amplion and Poached Jobs through the Bend Venture Conference.
BEND, OR -- The Bend-La Pine School district is hosting forums, for the community to meet finalists for two elementary principal positions. Julianne Repman with the district says La Pine elementary hosted a forum Monday night, William E. Miller Elementary will hold a meet and greet Wednesday evening. "Community forums are the last step of a day-long process where we are introducing candidates for the principal positions at La Pine Elementary School and William E. Miller Elementary School. We're asking the community if they coudl provide input."
Each school has three finalists vying for the job. Repman tells KBND the district offers the chance for everyone to get involved in the process. "These forums are generally attended by staff of the buildings, parents and community members. So, it really is an opportunity to get out there, meet the finalists, find out a little bit more about their style and what they see the future of their elementary schools looking like - what they can bring."
Wednesday's meeting at Miller begins at 5 p.m. in the school library. Click HERE to read about each of the candidates.
BEND, OR -- Investigators continue to look for a man they say broke into a home east of Bend Monday and shot the resident. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's office, 40-year old Todd Dickerson returned home for lunch and was confronted by a man in a ski mask. Dickerson called 911 just after noon to report he'd been shot in the shoulder by the intruder. He was taken to St. Charles Medical Center with non life threatening wounds.
Despite an extensive area search by three law enforcement agencies and K-9 units, a suspect has not been identified and was only described as a 6-foot tall male in a black ski mask. Neighbors near the Wickiup Road home received robo-calls, urging them to be on the lookout for suspicious activity. Investigators ask anyone with information on the case to call the Sheriff's office at 541-693-6911.
REDMOND, OR -- As Redmond Proficiency Academy nears the end of its annual open enrollment period, administrators face a new concern - making sure class sizes are even. Executive Director Jon Bullock tells KBND, "Because of the growth we've had over the past six years, we have some grade level bubbles. Like, for example, we have a large group of seniors who are leaving us - probably around 140, or so - and that's our largest class right now. Ideally we would like our classes to be more aligned in size."
Bullock adds, "Sixth grade is a big need for us, because we don't have a feeder program bringing in students transitioning from fifth to sixth grade. And, as a charter school, we have to put ourselves out there as a choice for families because families typically go wherever their nearest school is."
RPA will close open enrollment for the 2015/16 school year at 5 p.m. on Sunday. They expect to have around 300 openings for new students, out of the school's maximum of 800 students in grades 6-12.
BEND, OR -- Crews reopened a stretch of 3rd Street in Bend, early Tuesday morning, after a sinkhole appeared on Saturday. The Oregon Department of Transportation shut down the right lane of northbound 3rd St Saturday evening, between Quimby and Revere.
ODOT's Peter Murphy tells KBND News the the sinkhole caught the department by surprise. "These things do happen. Suddenly you're faced with a situation where the highway has gone away, and that's what happened. We got in there to fix it, took care of it and are doing the best we can to make it work."
The problem was likely the result of a long process. "Part of the highway underneath the surface gave way," Murphy says. "It looks like over time either rain water or snow melt has gotten into the area." The water created a running channel, which caused the sinkhole. When crews responded this weekend the hole was dry. It took four yards of material to fill the gap.
Road crews cleared the site at about 4:30 Tuesday morning.
PORTLAND, OR -- Wait Times in the Portland VA Healthcare System are getting better. Last year we had one of the nation's worst wait times for veterans, but the Portland VA has added doctors and reduced those times.
Kelly Roesch with the Portland VA told KBND News, "Currently our average new patient wait time is 28 days previously it was 60 days. We've done a lot of work to get a numer to a manageable level so they can see their providers."
The Portland VA had 40 providers openings last year, but they have since filled 25 of those positions. More doctors mean shorter wait times, though they still are in need of more primary care physicians and certain specialities.
BEND, OR -- District officials are considering another name for Bend's newest elementary school. The new elementary school, located south of Reed Market Road and west of American Lane in Bend, has been the center of ongoing naming discussions. Already three names are being considered: Amelia Earhart, Silver Rail and Homestead.
The new name, Horse Ridge Elementary, will be presented to the School Board at a meeting on Tuesday. The public is invited to give input on all of the name choices during the 6:15 p.m. public hearing.
The "finalist names" come out of a pool of 300 survey submissions, four meetings for an elementary school naming committee and hours of research. School officials are hoping the final name will reflect outstanding community members or historical and geopolitical landmarks in the community.
The school is slated to open in the fall.
SALEM, OR -- A bill under discussion in Salem would ban vaccine exemptions, except for medical reasons. Oregon has a high number of parents opting not to vaccinate their children on religious or philsophical grounds. However, this bill aims to change that.
Opponents will rally in Salem Monday. Bob Snee, Committee Director of "Oregonians for Medical Freedom," says his group has over 2,000 supporters. He told KBND News the bill strips parents of their fundamental rights to medical freedom and informed consent when making medical decisions for their children. "We oppose it because it infringes on the doctor/patient relationship, between parents and doctors, and we view it as a violation of our civil rights."
Senator and doctor Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward (D-Beaverton) introduced the legislation. State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend), also a doctor, testified in support of the bill recently. It is still being discussed in committee.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College's Board of Directors voted Friday to begin negotiations to appoint Dr. Shirley Metcalf as the school's fifth president. Dr. Metcalf has served as interim president since Dr. James Middleton retired in September 2014.
KBND News spoke with Dr. Metcalf shortly after the announcement. "We’ve been coming to Bend for 32 years. My husband and I are originally from Hawaii, and lived in Washington for a time, but we would always come to Bend to ski. So, it’s a dream come true that I’m now able to lead my college and work with my colleagues and continuing to move our college forward."
Dr. Metcalf has been with COCC for four years. She says she didn’t apply for the job and initially was only interested in the interim post. But she says the job is now a dream come true.
"I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the faculty and staff and students as we move forward," Metcalf says. "It’s a good time for us to have a leader who will be able to understand what the college is already doing, so I’m very excited about this opportunity."
She adds, "I feel that it’s a vote of confidence from both the board and the college. They interviewed many of the faculty and staff on campus and asked what if we went this route. I’ve heard I have a lot of support from both the faculty and staff."
Earlier this week, the board's top choice for the position withdrew from consideration after his father-in-law suddenly passed away. Dr. Tony Miksa and his wife chose to stay close to her mother in Illinois. Nearly a year ago, COCC was forced to withdraw an offer to Dr. Patrick Lanning after the Board of Directors discovered he had been accused of assaulting a coworker.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon's next Secretary of State has worked for elected officials and nonprofits, although has never been elected to office. Governor Kate Brown named Jeanne Atkins to the post, saying she "will serve Oregon with integrity, transparency and good sense."
Atkins recently retired from the staff of U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), where she served as state director. Prior to Senator Merkley's office, she worked for the Oregon Speaker of the House and the Department of Human Services. Atkins also worked in public affairs and policy analysis for several nonprofit organizations, including United Way of the Columbia/Willamette, Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette, and the Women's Equity League in Washington, D.C.
Atkins is scheduled to be sworn in on Wednesday, March 11th.
Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after Friday's announcement:
"Governor Brown couldn't have picked a more dedicated and experienced public servant to become our next Secretary of State. Jeanne Atkins is a true Oregon gem and supremely qualified. I've personally witnessed her strong leadership in her roles as my Chief of Staff, when I served as Speaker of the Oregon House, and as Oregon State Director of my Senate team. I know she will do a wonderful job as Oregon's Secretary of State."
SANDY, OR -- Oregon State Police released the name of the man killed in a Friday morning crash near Sandy. According to OSP, 22-year old Michael E. Eberitzsch was eastbound on Highway 26 when his car veered into oncoming traffic for an unknown reason. His 2014 Hyundai struck a Kenworth log truck head-on. The impact sent a wheel from the log truck into another semi, causing another accident. Eberitzsch was pronounced dead at the scene. Neither semi driver was injured.
OSP Lt. Josh Brooks tells KBND News speed and alcohol are potential factors in the crash. Police are still unsure if exhaustion also contributed. "It's early to tell, and the investigation will vet some of that out," Brooks says. "Troopers out there on the scene this morning were focusing on the data they could recover from reconstruction."
The accidents caused severe delays for commuter traffic. Lt. Brooks says both directions of Hwy 26 were closed from 3:30 - 8:45 a.m. The investigation is ongoing.
SALEM, OR -- Central Oregon lawmakers have proposed changing how the state disperses affordable housing funds. Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend), and Representatives Knute Buehler (R-Bend) and Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) want changes to the program that collects deed recording fees and distributes them to counties to help fund affordable housing.
Bend’s Affordable Housing Manager Jim Long testified before the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee Thursday, to explain why more of those funds should come back to Central Oregon. "I realize that Bend’s not rural – we’re the 7th largest city in Oregon. But, in another sense we are rural – you can’t find anywhere in the US that’s over 50,000 that’s over a 120 miles from an interstate other than Bend, and we’re at 80,000 population. You can’t get out of Bend without going over a mountain pass; in effect we’re an island. But, we’re also the fastest growing city in Oregon, and one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and that’s put tremendous pressure on our housing market."
Long pointed out that Bend’s growth has helped fund a large portion of the program, since it collects fees from real estate transactions. Yet, Deschutes County has received a relatively small amount of that money back. "When people are coming into town, looking for a place to rent, there are about 5 places to choose from – and that’s everything from a mansion on Awbrey Butte, to a studio if you can find it. We also have one of the top ten cities in housing price increase. Portland’s own website says that they have one of the tightest housing markets in the country, with a 3.4% vacancy rate. I’d be thrilled to have that in Bend, we’re a long way from getting there."
Senator Knopp testified that Deschutes County has contributed about $4-million to the fund, which is about 40% of the total money awarded by the fund, statewide. "The struggle for Central Oregon, specifically Bend, is that Bend has been a significant donor to this fund, but hasn’t seen a significant return. I know that those of you who know the Central Oregon real estate market know that there is virtually no vacancy whatsoever, I think .25% is the vacancy rate in the rental market. That means if you don’t know somebody who’s moving out of a home, you’re pretty much out of luck."
Deschutes County has received less than $1-million back from the fund, since its inception. The mayors of both Bend and Redmond submitted letters supporting SB-516, questioning why a county representing only 4% of the state’s population is contributing such a large amount to a fund and seeing very little in return.
OREGON -- This year's dry and warm winter could mean a challenging spring and summer battling insect pests and plant disease. Typically, Oregon has a cool/wet winter and early spring, and that normally works to keep the pest population in check. Rose Kachadoorian of the Oregon Department of Agrigculture's Pesticide Program says, not this year. "So, what could possibly happen in a drought year is you end up with more pest problems because you have these pests rapidly developing and could have a plant that is stressed."
Kachadoorian says one way to deal with potential problems is to buy more plants. "Take a look at some that are more drought tolerant. If you we know we are going into a year that might be hot and dry, just buy plants that aren't going to have pest problems, that aren't going to be so stressed under hot and dry temperatures, so they don't get the pest problems in teh first place.
Likely, this year will be filled with aphids, whiteflies, mites and fleas. Although, dry conditions mean one not expected to be a problem: Slugs.
BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown is poised to sign off on the extension of the low carbon fuels standard, but the Bend Chamber of Commerce has concerns the measure will negatively impact Central Oregon workers. SB-324 creates a carbon credits program for transportation fuel to be regulated by the DEQ, in an effort to address pollution. Local business owner Jeff Robberson chairs the Bend Chamber’s Legislative Committee. He tells KBND News the bill sounds good on the surface by trying to protect the environment, but will have unintended consequences. "It’s been estimated that the price of the fuel, of the tax will be 19-35 cents, and they’re kind of settling on the 19-cents. And, what really concerns me in Central Oregon where we have such an affordable housing issue, a lot of our lower paid employees live in La Pine, Redmond and Madras. So, you add 20-cents a gallon, it’s costing them a couple hundred dollars extra, just to commute."
Robberson says Central Oregon’s lack of mass transit also means workers are more dependent on their vehicles. Supporters of the bill say they can’t control fluctuating gas prices, but SB-324 is a move in the right direction to address climate change. The DEQ would manage the program, and could shut it down if prices increase too much.
BEND, OR -- It's taken a while to get here, but there appears to finally be some consensus on the future of Mirror Pond. The Bend Parks and Recreation Board appears ready to endorse a plan to replace the dam and redevelop riverfront property. Chairman of the Parks Board Dan Fishkin tells KBND News they've done a lot of work with the public to get to this point. "There is a middle ground that does more than just preserves Mirror Pond, but it also provides for improving water flow and creating fish passage and redeveloping property and replacing the dam with a more natural flow that will reduce the need for dredging."
Fishkin says the vision was developed through a lot of public input. "Through the entire public process, there appeared to be some middle ground that we could satisfy people in either camp." He adds, "This shared vision includes the Bend Parks and Rec District, the city of Bend, Pacific Corps and a private developer." The board will vote on the plan at its March 17th meeting. Bend City Councilors are expected to vote at their meeting the following day.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Proficiency Academy will host its first ever Community Resource Fair, Thursday evening, and the event was created by a pair of high school students. RPA senior Emma Price tells KBND News the event started as a school project. "We were in our leadership class and we were interested in doing some community outreach and doing more projects in the community. We approached our leadership teacher about the idea, and she helped facilitate our thoughts into a plan."
Sophomore Miah Andersen says she and Price wanted to provide needed services for local families. "Altogether, we’re just trying to connect families with the different resources in the community because a lot of families don’t know about them or are unable to reach them. We have Mosaic Medical
, some dental screenings, eye exams. We also have housing programs, that type of thing, as well as job connections." Non-profit agencies like J Bar J Youth Services
, Saving Grace
and the Deschutes Public Library
will also be on hand.
All services at tonight’s Community Resource Fair are free and provided by volunteers. The event begins at 5 p.m. at the RPA West campus
on Antler Avenue in Redmond.
BEND, OR -- The top candidate for Central Oregon Community College's presidential opening has pulled out. Dr. Tony Miksa withdrew his name from consideration due to a death in the family. His father-in-law passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, and his wife wants to remain close to her mother in Illinois. The COCC board will meet on Friday to discuss next steps in the search.
This is the second time in a year COCC has had to re-start presidential search efforts. The school withdrew an offer to the board's top choice last spring, when they discovered allegations he had assaulted a coworker at a conference.
SALEM, OR -- The State House passed the clean fuels bill by just two votes and the measure now goes to Governor Kate Brown's desk. State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) voted with the minority and argued on the House floor that this bill is bad policy. "Global climate change surely is real in American and certainly in Oregon. We need smart policies to fight it. But this is neither smart nor effective and raises fuel costs by 4 cents to one dollar a gallon in a hidden tax every tie Oregonians fill up at the pump."
Fellow Republican Gene Whisnant of Sunriver urged his colleagues to vote no. "Local small businesses and working families will be disproportionally effected by this bill. It will also effect Central Oregon because we depend in large part on tourism. This means Californians, Oregonians and Washingtonians will be less likely to recreate and travel and it will hurt areas that rely on tourism."
House Minority Leader Mike Mclane (R-Powell Butte) tried to postpone the vote until after investigations into Governor Kitzhaber and Cylvia Hayes have concluded, but that motion was denied. SB-324 would extend Oregon's low carbon fuel standard. Gov. Brown has said she supports the bill, however a staffer says she will review it.
BEND, OR -- The Supreme Court will rule on another case involving the Affordable Care Act -- and this one has to do with subsidies offered on the federal health exchange. The health care act is being challenged that the language in the law only applies to state and not the federal exchange.
OSU Cascades political science professor Jim Foster tells KBND News the case could have catastrophic ramifications for the healthcare law. "This is a very significant case since it can if not fatally, significantly damage the Affordable Care Act. The House of Representatives has voted what 56 times to repeal Obamacare. And I bet more people don't even know about this case, but this is the real poison pill."
Steve Buckstein with the Cascade Policy Institute says the high court's decision deals with more than just the subsidies. "But it's about more than that. If the justices agree that only people on the state based exchanges are eligible for the subsidies, then people who bought through the federal website, including Oregonians, will not be eligible for the individual mandate and our employers won't be fored to supply insurance or pay a penalty." Buckstein says if subsidies are denied on the federal exchange, 157,000 individuals in Oregon likely will be freed from the law's individual mandate, as well as 5500 Oregon companies with over 50 employees.
The high court's decision is expected to be released in late June.
SALEM, OR -- State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) is supporting a House bill that would help get rid of Common Core standards in the state. State Representative Carl Wilson (R-Grants Pass) is sponsoring the legislation and approached Senator Knopp for his support. "He brought me this bill on Common Core which will essentially make it a local decision whether school districts participate or not. I believe in local control in education, where they can set curriculum and standards. Because I think parents, school board members and teachers do a better job than the federal government."
The newly introduced bill will prevent the Oregon Department of Education from penalizing school districts that decide not to teach to Common Core state standards. The bill has not yet been scheduled for discussion on the House floor.
REDMOND, OR -- Bend has experienced a doughnut boom, over the past several years, with more than half a dozen donut shops now open. However, its neighbor to the north has remained without any. Luv’s Donuts wants to change all that, with its first Redmond location scheduled to open in the next couple of weeks.
Owner Travis Wren tells KBND News he hoped to expand to Redmond when he first opened the Bend store, 2 years ago. "I’m not sure why other people haven’t done it in the past, I just think it was a really good opportunity and good timing to open another store. I deliver to Redmond anyway, in the morning. We deliver to Terrebonne every single morning; we have a location there. And then, we deliver all over Redmond and we deliver all over Bend."
Wren says central operations will remain in Bend, "We still make the doughnuts in Bend, but we’ll bring them here fresh every morning. Instead of having two locations that are this close together, there’s no need to set up a whole bunch more equipment and make them here. So, we’ll bring them here every morning and we’ll have some other items as well that we’ll be doing out of here." He's not sure exactly what day he’ll be ready for customers at the South Highway 97 location, but expects to be open by mid-March.
BEND, OR -- Nearly a month after closing the road into Tumalo Falls, Deschutes National Forest officials are struggling to keep visitors out of the area. Crews are working on replacing a city waterline near the falls. Jean Nelson-Dean with the Forest Service tells KBND News some visitors are either missing detour and “no parking” signs, or ignoring them altogether. "It is a full closure in the Tumalo Falls area, and that’s to allow for construction. Basically, they’re trenching in the middle of the road to put the water line in there, so it’s a full closure to anybody." She says, "It’s just like any other construction zone, you don’t want to go in there for your own safety."
Nelson-Dean says there are places open to visitors, "We do have detours up there, and they’re signed, so people can enjoy recreational activities up there and kind of go around the closure area. In addition, we have closures along the road, which is really the part people seem to be struggling with. So, when people see the ‘no parking’ signs up there, we’re just asking that they understand there’s no parking for a good stretch."
There is no clear date for when the area will reopen. "Both the city and the Forest Service recognize it’s a place people love to recreate, it’s a beautiful place. I think, both the city and the Forest Service hope to remove that closure and be done with construction as soon as possible," she says.
SAN DIEGO, CA -- The founder of Bend-Based Operation Elf Box is on a cross-country bike trek to raise money for his non-profit. Josh Hart started in San Diego, California on February 28th. He spoke with KBND News from the side of the road, on Day 3 of his trip: "My hope is to share the mission and vision of Operation Elf Box. Over the last five years, we've been opening up these toy stores in Bend and the Willamette Valley, and we've seen over 8,000 children who have been shopped for. It's my hope we can open these all over the country."
Operation Elf Box "toy stores" invite parents to shop for Christmas gifts for their children for free. "The last five years, we've gathered 50,000 toys from individuals and companies who put toys in our bins - Companies like Cuppa Yo. And then, parents schedule appointments to shop," Hart says. "We've scheduled 2800 appointments, mostly with moms just trying to put Christmas together Christmas for their kids."
Hart expects his cross-country biking to take a couple of months, "I'm headed to St. Augustine, Florida and it says it's 3100 miles as long as I don't get lost and I don't take any detours. I imagine it's going to take 65-80 days, but I threw out the schedule before I made one." He says his first couple of days were tough on him and his companion, his dog "Shoeless Jo," as much of the route was uphill. He ended his Tuesday travel outside of Brawley, California, near the Mexican border.
To support Hart and follow his journey, click HERE.
BEND, OR -- The State Medical Examiner's office released toxicology results Monday of a man who died during booking at the Deschutes County Jail. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's office, Edwin Mays III died at the jail on December 14th, due to a Methamphetamine overdose. Typically, meth levels are measured on a chart ranging from zero to 5; Mays' level registered at greater than 5. Investigators say he ingested the drug prior to being booked.
Mays was arrested in December on multiple charges including interfering with a police officer and heroin possession. During booking, deputies reported Mays appeared to show signs of medical distress and medics were called. Life-saving measures were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead a short time later.
SISTERS, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners are getting closer to giving final approval to a Sisters man who has tried for years to be allowed to hold weddings on his farm. Deschutes County's Community Development Department has recommended granting John Shepherd's request to have his property designated as a private park, with conditions. Shepherd would be required to get necessary permits, have an addquate septic system and appropriate parking, among other things.
Shepherd tells KBND News Paul Dewey with Central Oregon LandWatch is challenging the recommendation. "They approved the private park for the purpose of holding special events, but knowing that Central Oregon LandWatch wants to challenge it, they agreed to hold a speedy hearing," Shepherd said. I testified and the Development Department testified about why they approved it, and Paul Dewey was allowed to explain his objections and concerns." However, Shepherd says Commissioners didn't hear anything new at Monday's meeting. "[Paul Dewey] thinks weddings are mainly ceremonial and he doesn't appreciate that following the 15-minute ceremony, they have a 6- to 8-hour reception. But that's recreation and we're saying that's why we're well suited for a private park."
Commissioners will continue to accept written testimony on the issue for another week, then Shepherd will have a chance to respond. "We're still very confident we're going to get approved. The Community Development Departmetn reviewed this extensively and looked at the laws. But Commissioners need to go through the legal process before this is all wrapped up," says Shepherd. A final decision regarding his private park application is expected from Commissioners in early April.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- An Oregon veterinarian, who had been stuck in the small Southeast Asian country of East Timor since September, is now heading home. Dr. Stacey Addison was travelling alone when she says she unwittingly shared a taxi with a stranger carrying methamphetamine, and was detained by police. She was released in December, but couldn’t leave the country because her passport was confiscated during the drug investigation.
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) praised the diplomatic efforts to return her passport and bring her home. "This is terrific news for Stacey, for her family and for all the Oregonians who have followed Stacey’s story and supported her from afar." Senator Merkley added, "A huge thanks to Karen Stanton, our US ambassador to East Timor, who has worked tirelessly to secure Stacey’s release from prison. A huge thanks as well to East Timor’s Ambassador to the United States, Domingos Sarmento Alves, and to other officials in East Timor who facilitated this wonderful outcome. Stacey, welcome home!"
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) echoed Merkley's thanks, "I’m thrilled and relieved to know Stacey is finally coming home from Timor-Leste to her loved ones in Oregon. Huge thanks are in order for Ambassador Stanton and everybody at the State Department who worked long, long hours to bring this situation to a successful conclusion for Stacey."
Congressman Greg Waldon (R-Hood River) spoke with President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry over the past couple of months, regarding Dr. Addison's situation. He said Tuesday morning, “I am very pleased and relieved that Stacey Addison has been allowed to leave East Timor and is on her way back home to Oregon. This is excellent news for all of us who worked to help Stacey win her freedom, especially her mother Bernadette Kero of Klamath Falls, and her large circle of family, friends, and supporters.” Dr. Addison boarded a plane on the first leg of her journey home, late Monday.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police arrested two suspects in connection with an armed carjacking in northeast Bend, early Monday morning. Investigators say a Toyota Camry was taken at knifepoint from a couple at about 3 a.m. in the area of Boston Place. Officers located the stolen vehicle near SE 15th and Reed Market Road and arrested 35-year old Jason Blaylock of La Pine. Investigators say Blaylock knew the female victim and this was not a random theft.
Blaylock faces a number of charges, ranging from car theft to drug possession to a probation violation. A second suspect, Robert Kuper, also of La Pine, was also arrested Monday.
BEND, OR -- The head of the U.S. Forest Service is on board with changing the way the federal government funds wildfire suppression. Currently, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have to dip into fire prevention budgets to pay for firefighting efforts on large wildfires. U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell says it's only a small percentage of wildfires that throw the budget out of whack. He spoke to the Senate Energey and Natural Resources Committee last week about the need to change the funding framework. "Just last year, the top ten fires cost $329 million to fight, and that's out of 52,000 fires on naitonal forest land. We're going to continue to suppress 98% of these fires with our budget - it's just 1% that are considered a natural disaster."
Senator Ron Wyden serves on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He got assurances from Tidwell to work toward making these changes to better fund wildfire suppression and prevention in the future.
REDMOND, OR -- A Crook County man suspected in an armed carjacking over a week ago was arrested in Redmond on Sunday. Redmond Police contacted Michael Shrauger in downtown Redmond, after he was found near a car that had been reported stolen. He was arrested on a number of charges including drug possession, however additional charges were added once officers realized that he had given a false name to police.
Police had already been searching for 25-year-old Shrauger. They believe he was involved in the carjacking outside of Prineville
, late last month. Dominic Isherwood was arrested in Redmond the day after the theft.
BEND, OR -- A Redmond woman is under arrest for allegedly stabbing a man at Bend Motel early Monday morning. Bend Police responded to a reported domestic dispute at the Chalet Motel, just before 3:00 a.m. Investigators say 44-year-old Brenda Carroll was staying at the motel with the victim when the two got into an argument.
Sixty-eight-year-old Lonny Reed, also described as a Redmond transient, was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Carroll was taken to jail on assault and weapons charges.