Local News Archives for 2015-05

New Pickleball Courts Open in Bend

BEND, OR--  Bend's new pickleball courts are now open for use. Bend Parks and Rec opened eight new courts Friday afternoon. 


Werner Zehnder is the Bend resident who donated a quarter of a million dollars to build the additional courts. "We have a large website and 400 pickleball club members," Zehnder says. "In the last six months, there have been lots of people who would see the courts also when they would go to the dog park. There would be 20 people waiting on the weekends to play and now that waiting is over."


Zehnder says he's already broken in the courts. "We already had one game and I lost.  That's OK, they're good guys.  I definitely plan to play tomorrow and Sunday, and on Monday we'll start our organized games through the Bend pickleball club."


Zehnder says with 16 courts, Bend now has the largest pickleball complex in the state.

Three Pacific Crest Hikers Found Safe

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers located three hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail Friday, who had called the PCT Association the day before to say they had lost the trail. Previous Attempts to contact them by phone were unsuccessful, largely due to poor reception in the area.


Two volunteers returned to the area on horse back and located the trio Friday morning about nine miles south of the Elk Lake Resort. The three women from Spokane, WA, were unaware their call had triggered a search effort, and all were found in good condition.
The sheriff's office reminds everyone that all calls for help are taken seriously. 






BEND, OR -- Search and Rescue volunteers are back out at the Pacific Crest Trail today, looking for three hikers reported lost on Thursday. The group left a voice mail message with the Pacific Crest Trail Association saying they had lost the trail near Lilly Lake, and needed a call back. Attempts to contact them by phone have been unsuccessful, possibly due to poor cell coverage in the area.

SAR teams from Deschutes and Lane County scouted the Lilly Lake area Thursday, and believe the hikers reacquired the trail and continued their trek to Elk Lake. Efforts to contact the group will continue today, until their location and status can be verified. 

Suspect Sought in Bend Armed Robbery

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are searching for the man responsible for an armed robbery at Mountain High Coin and Collectibles, Friday morning. Investigators say the man displayed a gun and demanded property at the store on SE 3rd St. Two employees and several customers witnessed the incident.


He's described as a white male, 5'8" to 5'10" tall, slender build with light colored hair, possibly shoulder length. At the time of the robbery, he was wearing dark pants, an Oregon State University sweatshirt and a ski mask.


Bend Police urge people not to approach anyone they believe match the suspect description, and call police at 541-693-6911 instead.

Local Health Officials Pleased with ECigs Bill

BEND, OR -- It is now illegal to sell electronic cigarettes to minors in Oregon. Governor Kate Brown signed the bill into law this week, creating a statewide policy instead of forcing cities to come up with individual ordinances to regulate these vapor cigarettes.


"We're very excited the state has taken that effort and that means communities across Deschutes County, like Bend, Sisters, La Pine and Terrebonne. We have a comprehensive policy that all cities have to follow. It makes our job easier than going to each city to adopt their own policy," says Penny Pritchard, Deschutes County's Tobacco Prevention Specialist. 


She tells KBND the new law is a two-pronged approach. "First, it will prohibit the sale to minors of these inhalant devices or any chemicals that can be sent through these delivery devices. It also prohibits vaping in public places where smoking is prohibited."


Oregon is now one of only five states that prohibit E-cigarettes as part of the Clean Indoor Air Act.

COCC Solar Array Moves Forward

REDMOND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College is moving forward on the creation of one of the state's largest solar arrays. Ron Paradis tells KBND this week's decision by the board takes the $2 million project into the next phase. "The Central Oregon Community College Board of Directors agreed to enter into a contract with Sunlight Solar. They will be our partner as move forward on the solar array project we've been working on for the past couple years, which will be arrayed on our Redmond campus.

Once completed, the system will generate around 504 kW per hour, and is expected to provide most - if not all - of the energy needed for the Redmond branch campus. Paradis says the goal is for at least 5% of the college's energy to eventually come from a renewable source. Construction should begin this summer. 

Homeless Advocates React to Latest Numbers

BEND, OR -- Local homeless advocacy groups are responding to the latest homeless count numbers released earlier this week. Julie Lyche is the Executive Director for the Family Access Network, which helps coordinate community services for students and families in need. She tells KBND the new statistics expose a hidden truth. "Homelessness isn’t just the man sitting on the street with a sign, many of our homeless people are children and you don’t see those children out on the street. They’re doubled up with other families or they’re living in their car in business parking lot."


The latest count revealed that 43% of Central Oregon’s homeless are under the age of 18. "When you’re worried about where you’re going to sleep that night, or if you’re going to eat, it’s hard for our kids to focus on a math test they may have or feel like they’re being successful in school," Lyche says. "Our job through FAN is to make sure these kids stay in the same school and have that stability during the school day, even if they don’t have stability in their housing situation." FAN has seen a jump in recent years in families seeking assistance. Lyche says many of those parents are working but Bend’s tight housing market makes it difficult for them to find a stable place to live. 
Lonnie Chapin, founder of Icon City, says the updated stats reflect what he sees on a daily basis, as he works with 12- to 18-year-old kids.  "They’ll get a job, then can’t afford housing. Shoot! I can barely afford housing, let along some kid who’s just trying to make ends meet. A lot of them have siblings that they’re adults all of a sudden, thrown into the working world because Mom is a crack addict and Dad’s in prison." Icon City began in Bend in 2009, as an effort to help meet the needs of homeless kids.
Chapin says he’s pleased the numbers are public, and hopes the new statistics will raise awareness of the thousands of Central Oregonians still struggling, despite the recovering economy. "A lot of times our great little city will try and sweep it under the rug because we don’t want people moving in here to see the dirty and the nasty. But, guess what: We have dirty and nasty. And, if we don’t help the situation, then we’re not going to help anybody and we’re still going to see these homeless counts still sitting at over 2,000 people, still sitting at over 900 kids in Central Oregon, alone." Chapin also acknowledges some teens are homeless by choice, leaving home because they don’t want to follow parents’ rules. 


Read more on the 2015 one-day homeless count. 

New Trailhead Built Near Eagle Crest

BEND, OR -- The Bureau of Land Management is working to create a new trail system in the Historic Tumalo Canal area, west of Eagle Crest. Lisa Clark with the Prineville BLM office tells KBND the new trailhead will include a two parking areas, with room for horse trailers, and road improvements. "We’ve been doing a lot of work in the Cline Buttes Recreational area in the past several years. A lot of people helped us construct our Maston Trailhead. We’re mostly done with that area and we’re now moving on into the Tumalo Canal area and hoping to provide a few more trail opportunities for people looking to recreate right between Bend and Redmond."


The BLM is asking for volunteers Friday and Saturday. "We’ve already started with new parking areas, a new restroom and we’re going to be looking to our volunteers to help us build some juniper rail fence, bring in some rock to help define the edge of that parking area, and install some signs," Clark says.

Volunteers are asked to bring gloves, water and their own lunch. work will be done between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., each day. The new trailhead is located just off Barr Road, about a mile and a half from Cline Falls Road.

Man Accused of Crashing Through School Fence Arrested

BEND, OR -- The man accused of driving through a fence at St. Francis school while running from police earlier this month was arrested Thursday morning. Bend Police had been searching for 28-year-old Travis Gee since May 11, when they say he assaulted a women and led police a wild police chase through northeast Bend.


Read more about the pursuit and search for Gee earlier this month.


The investigation led officers to a home on NE Larado Way in Bend where he was eventually found hiding. He faces a number of charges, including resisting arrest, drug possession, car theft, and assault.

Stefanie Lafountaine is charged with hindering prosecution, for allowing Gee to hide in her house.

Campfire Restrictions Take Effect Monday

BEND, OR -- Annual campfire restrictions go into effect Monday, June 1 on portions of the Deschutes, John Day and Crooked Rivers, as well as on BLM-administered lands along Lake Billy Chinook. The river fire closures prohibit building, igniting, maintaining, attending, using, tending, or being within 20 feet of a campfire, charcoal fire, or any other type of open flame. This closure bans the use of portable propane campfires and wood pellet burning devices.


The closure also restricts areas where visitors can smoke to non-public buildings, closed vehicles, in boats on the water or while standing in the water.

Campfire closure locations apply to BLM-administered lands in the following areas:
• Within ½ mile of the Crooked River’s edge from the Highway 97 bridge to Lake Billy Chinook;
• Within ½ mile of the Deschutes River’s edge from the Highway 20 bridge to Lake Billy Chinook;
• Within ½ mile of Lake Simtustus (located between Round Butte Dam and Pelton Dam);
• Within the Lower Deschutes National Wild and Scenic River corridor, which extends from Pelton Dam to the Columbia River;
• Within ½ mile of Lake Billy Chinook, including the BLM Beach dispersed recreation site located ½ mile east of the Three Rivers Recreation Area on the south shore of the Metolius Arm of the lake;
• Within ½ mile of the White River’s edge from its confluence with the Deschutes River upstream to the eastern boundary of the Mt. Hood National Forest.
• The Mainstem John Day River from Tumwater Falls upstream to Kimberly;
• The North Fork John Day River, from the confluence with the mainstem at Kimberly upstream to the Umatilla National Forest boundary; and,
• The South Fork John Day River from Smokey Creek upstream to the Malheur Forest.
Except in emergency conditions or with permission by an agency authorized officer, there are no exceptions to this closure. A violation of this closure is punishable to by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment of not more than 12 months, or both.                                                                                 
For more information about these closures, or other fire restrictions on BLM-administered lands in Central Oregon, please call the Prineville BLM District Office at (541) 416-6700. For current information on public use restrictions, fire closures or changes to the Industrial Fire Precaution Level on the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and the Prineville BLM, please call the information line at 1-800-523-4737.

Bethlehem Inn Agrees to House Ex Cons

BEND, OR -- A Bend homeless shelter has agreed to help newly released inmates transition back into society. The Bethlehem Inn has provided housing for ex cons in the past, but the shelter and Deschutes County's Community Justice Department have now entered into a formal agreement to provide five beds for this purpose. "We've worked with Parole and Probation for years and we have a great working relationship," Bethlehem Inn Executive Director Gwen Wysling tells KBND. "We're all about accountability and trying to work with our community to make sure we're providing a safe place for all."


The formal agreement begins in June. Wysling says it's a one-year partnership with an option to renew. "It provides funding for the shelter, as well as helping the county in terms of transitioning folks from their incarceration back into society. We feel because we provide a clean and sober environment and one that requires rules and accountability, that we're helping to set people up for success so that they can get themselves reestablished and back into society," she says.

Bend Postal Center to Remain Open

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Postmaster General has changed course, deciding to keep Bend's postal processing center open. The decision was in response to a letter sent last week by Oregon's Congressional delegation.


Senator Jeff Merkley praised the decision. "Actually, I was surprised," he tells KBND News. "So often when you advocate for something, people will pretend to be interested in your points and not really take them to heart. This is the second time that the Postmaster General's team has seemed to listen to and respond in a favorable way to our observations from the front line." 


Wednesday's decision is only a one-year delay, although Senator Merkley says he's committed to fighting to keep the center open permanently. "I think there's a reasonable chance they'll reconsider and keep it open. We'll have, in the following year, more data about the damage that's been done to the delivery system from closing three facilities in Oregon, and therefore we'll reinforce our case to show the additional damage that would be incurred if Bend and Springfield are closed."


Bend's mail processing center is now the last one east of the Cascades. Merkley says future consolidation would reroute all mail through Portland. "If every single letter from Bend that is going anywhere in Central or Eastern Oregon has to go across the mountains one way, and then back across the mountains to be delivered, you can be assured mail delivery is going to be abominable."


Madras Man Killed in Crash

MADRAS, OR -- A Madras man died in a single-vehicle rollover crash, on Highway 26, Wednesday evening. According to Oregon State Police, 37-year-old Donald Vineyard was westbound, when his Chevy Blazer drifted across the road, just before 6:30 p.m.


The car and rolled down the eastbound shoulder, just south of Madras. Vineyard was ejected and was later pronounced dead at the scene. 
OSP continues to investigate. 

Deschutes Co Unemployment at Pre-Recession Levels

BEND, OR -- Not only has Deschutes County recovered from recession-level unemployment, it's now in a period of expansion, according to Regional Economist Damon Runberg. Unemployment fell from 6% in March to 5.6% in April. "When we were previously at the same employment levels, a lot of jobs we added back then were construction jobs, due to the housing bubble. What we're seeing today is that we're seeing construction rebound. But, the growth isn't exclusively to construction," Runberg tells KBND. "We're seeing it across a variety of industries. In fact, no industry lost jobs over the last year in Deschutes County, so it really is widespread growth."


Jefferson County's April unemployment rate was also encouraging. With the addition of 170 jobs last month, the rate fell .6%. Runberg says, "If you put Jefferson County up against pretty much any rural community in Oregon, it's up there in the top for how the county is doing. The unemployment rate went down to 6.7%, that's a huge drop from last year when it was 9.6%. The county has added 310 jobs in the last year, which actually puts Jefferson County as the third fastest of Oregon's counties for job growth."


Runberg says one Central Oregon county did not show such positive job growth. "In fact, recovery in Crook County remains far, far away - Many years from now, if ever, based on those bubble years of employment they saw back with large, large construction employment that was lost." Crook County's rate fell from 8.9% in March to 8.3% in April. 


Walden Talks with Local Vets About Choice Pgm

BEND, OR -- Congress continues to work to reform the Veterans Administration, in an effort to improve medical care for vets. Oregon Congressman Greg Walden met with local vets Tuesday, for the second time in two months, to hear how it's going.


He told the group lawmakers are making progress, but there is more work to be done. "I think we resolved the issues of open communication and the 40-mile rule is now in legislation and not just directive, and now we have to march through and build the network," Walden said.


Last week, President Obama signed legislation clarifying the rule that allows vets to seek medical care at local facilities if they live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA hospital. "That, among other things, means 40 miles as you drive it, and it allows discretion throughout the agency when it comes to weather, travel hazards and medical conditions. That's important in Central Oregon, traveling over the Cascades in the winter," Walden said. 


He told vets it's a $10 billion rollout of a program that only started six months ago, which he said is fast government. Walden did say there are many kinks yet to be worked out. 

More Prescribed Burns Planned This Week

BLACK BUTTE RANCH, OR -- Deschutes National Forest crews plan to conduct a prescribed burn today adjacent to Black Butte Ranch, .25 miles south of Highway 20. The 90-acre burn is part of the Glaze Meadow Restoration Project. Due to the location, the public will likely see smoke and driers may experience impacts on Highway 20 through the Ranch and along Forest Road 300.


Another burn is planned for Thursday near Phil's Trailhead in Bend. The 70-acre burn is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. about one mile south of the Trailhead parking area off Skyliners Road. It should be completed by 4 p.m., however smoke could remain in the area after that. 


No road closures are anticipated for either burn. Signs will be posted on nearby roads. 

Bend Man Faces Charges Following Drug Arrest

BEND, OR -- A Bend man faces multiple charges, including Money Laundering and Possession and Distribution of Controlled Substances, following an investigation by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) Team. Detectives arrested 46-year-old Daniel Parkhurst last week as he left the Bend Postal Connections store.


Following his arrest, investigators searched his home on Princeton Loop and seized large amounts of controlled substances, including more than 2,800 Oxycodone pills, with a street value of $100,000. Additional anabolic steroids, human growth hormones and prescription drugs were also taken, valued at approximately $50,000.


Investigators say Parkhurst purchased large quantities of the drugs from overseas, then would sell them throughout the region, while maintaining some for personal use. This is an ongoing CODE investigation. 



Hydro Flask Expands Bend Headquarters

BEND, OR -- One of Bend’s most notable businesses is experiencing growing pains at its NorthWest Crossing headquarters. Hydro Flask CEO Scott Allan tells KBND the company doubled its workforce in the past year, and has outgrown its building just two years after moving in. "We moved into this space, it’s great, it was much bigger than we were looking for. What we didn’t anticipate was how fast we would continue to grow, and, how fast we would need to hire to keep up with that growth. It became obvious near year-end, as we were looking at the 2015-2016 projections, we have another three years on this lease, we needed more space."


But, Allan says the company isn’t moving too far away. "We’re breaking ground in August. It’s in Northwest Crossing, at the corner of York and Lolo across from SNAP Fitness, next door to where we are now. The team is really excited; it’s designed around our brand and our culture- Great roll-up doors, views of the Cascades. To us it’s important – we still are hiring, we’re still attracting people from other places, people move here from Portland, the Bay Area or Seattle, and they’re looking at where they work."
The new building is slated to be a modern, 12,000-square foot facility, incorporating a variety of unique features that Allan says reflects the company's brand. Allan hopes to include a hydration station, bike corral and showers for post-lunch exercise outings. Employees will also likely have access to beverage taps and specialty coffee equipment.
Hydro Flask was founded in Bend in 2009. Allan says the insulated water bottles are now sold nationwide, and the company is in the process of going global. To hear our full conversation with CEO Scott Allan, visit our Podcast page. 

Architectural rendering of the new Hydro Flask headquarters


State Labor Commissioner Tours Local High Schools

BEND, OR -- Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian was in Central Oregon Tuesday, touring a couple of high school vocational training classes. He got an up-close look at Bend Senior High's Career Technical Education Program, which is a 21st Century version of a shop class. "The students love these programs. It not only gives them things they love to do, but teaches them skills they can use when they get out of high school to get a job, or they can go on to an apprenticeship, they're ready for that too," Avakian tells KBND.


The BSH program earned a $268,000 state Vocational Education Revitalization Grant, which allowed it to get up and running. Avakian says, "It's important because Oregon has got to show we have the most trained, most ready workforce you can find anywhere. That's how we're going to grow our economy and add jobs.  But, more than that, It's so important for student to get a well rounded education while they're in school. We have about a 67% graduation rate in Oregon, but for a student that participates in one of these programs, 96% of their students graduate on time, in four years."


He congratulated the school for it's work in renewable energy and electrical vehicle technology. "This program that you've got in Bend is really leading the state in many ways, with the kind of technology they're using, the equipment they've got. It's a very highly advanced program in engineering and building things. We're seeing similar types of programs start up in the state, and not just in traditional things like metal shop and wood shop. Beaverton, for instance, is doing bio-medical engineering program, Silverton is doing sports medicine and pre-med."


During his Central Oregon visit, Commissioner Avakian toured Redmond High School's vocational programs, as well. 

Local Homeless Count Shows Little Progress

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s Homeless Leadership Coalition released the results Tuesday of this year’s one-day homeless count. The data shows there are 2,087 self-identified homeless in the tri-county area, down more than 300 from a year ago. Bob Moore with Deschutes County tells KBND that despite the overall drop, there was a rise in those considered unsheltered. "These are people that are either camped in cars or camped out in the woods in outbuildings not designed for human habitation, squatting. That population over the last three years has continued to increase and that’s a warning trend that those are folks really with the least amount of housing resources available to them, to the point they don’t have friends or family to crash with."


Moore had hoped improving statewide economic indicators would translate to a bigger decline in the numbers. "The two things the Homeless Leadership has theorized about that, there is a recovering economy, things are getting a little better and folks that are able to get back to work and get back on their feet are able to do that." However, Moore thinks the modest drop isn't because everyone is finding work in Central Oregon. "The other thing we’re hearing from a lot of folks is that there are people who have gotten to the end of their rope and staying in Central Oregon isn’t realistic anymore. They’re moving to Portland and the valley where jobs are being created."


The most common reason for homelessness, according to participants, was rent affordability and unavailable housing. Moore says the most troubling stats came out of Bend, where the number of homeless rose slightly. "Unfortunately, what we have seen over the past few years, when the housing rate is so tight – less than a 1% vacancy rental rate in Bend – it kind of clogs up the rest of the system. The places people can go to get that housing support and get back on their feet are kind of stuck with people that they’re trying to figure out what to do next, and it really just creates a lot of pressure on the system, overall."


Nearly 900 of those who participated in January's one-day count were under the age of 18, that's nearly 43% of the total and a 3% jump over last year. Moore says, "Generally speaking, what we see is a lot more families that are struggling, we’re seeing a lot more kids that are struggling, we’re looking at folks that are working and they’re physically not able to make ends meet with the rising housing cost."


Julie Lyche, Executive Director of the Family Access Network, tells KBND she's seeing the same trend in local schools. "Families might still have their job, but to get back into stable housing has been very difficult for our families. Especially these days when it’s so difficult, even if you do have the capability, to find an affordable rental for your family." She says often people don't realize that many homeless youth are under the age of 12. "You don’t see those younger children out on the streets, they’re very hidden from the average citizen. We’re always very concerned about those younger kids, because it’s harder for us to even get our eyes on them in the first place."

Contractor Accident Causes Gas Leak in Bend

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire Department and Bend Police are currently on the scene of an intermediate-sized gas leak near Colorado Bridge. Officials closed down Colorado in both directions to deal with the leak, which started around 8:00 a.m. and has not been shut off.


Andrea Fonkert with Cascade Natural Gas says it was caused by construction work in the area. "A 4-inch intermediate pressure line was struck by a contractor, and Cascade Natural Gas is working right now to shut it off," Fonkert says. 


A containment area has been set up, and the company expects to have the leak under control between 10:00-11:00 a.m., after which traffic should reopen. 


Fonkert says the smell in the area should remain pungent for several hours. CNG is still investigating the details of the incident, and does not know how much gas has been spilled.

Prineville Man Charged in Weekend Stabbing

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man was arrested Sunday, in connection with a weekend stabbing. Crook County Dispatch received a call from a citizen who said a stabbing victim was at the hospital with the suspect. That caller reported 55-year-old Charles Rost was outside the hospital, in an agitated state.


Prineville Police investigators believe Rost stabbed the man in the arm while in a vehicle near North Main and Third in Prineville. Rost is charged with First Degree Assault and Menacing.

Missing Bend Man Found Deceased

BEND, OR -- The body of a 46-year-old Bend man who was reported missing Wednesday was found Saturday night on the south side of Bend. Police began searching for Thomas "Tony" Starr after friends and family reported he hadn't been seen since May 9.


Starr's mother, Denese Snyder, told KBND News her son was a transient, although his disappearance was unusual. "He was living with some friends and he had gone to the grocery store to buy a bunch of stuff to make chicken enchiladas to cook for the family that night. He took that stuff home and put it in the refrigerator. He went back out and ended up at Shari's for a short period of time. He left Shari's and never went back. He hadn't taken any of his possessions. He didn't take his truck, a coat, money, anything that he owns with him."  She said he recently lost a job, and had struggled with drug problems in the past.  


Bend Police do not suspect foul play. 

Two Injured in Weekend Crash

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Two people were injured in a weekend crash near Juniper Canyon Road. A Crook County deputy discovered th Toyota Tacoma at about 8:30 Saturday morning, shortly after the accident occured.


Sgt. Dave Dethman tells KBND, "The vehicle struck the power pole. The male driver was bleeding from the face and the female was complaining of chest and side pain." Both 20-year-old Austin Siliang of Sandy and 18-year-old Mariah Jackson of Gresham were taken by ambulance to St. Charles Prineville.


Investigators are still looking into the cause of the crash. They were both wearing seatbelts at the time. 

Gov Brown Declares Drought in Deschutes County

SALEM, OR -- Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a drought emergency in Deschutes County, along with seven others, Friday. "The majority of our state is parched due to the warm winter and lack of snow," Governor Brown said. "As we move into summer, many areas of the state are going to dry out very quickly, likely leading to a difficult fire season as well as water shortages. We need our state, local and federal partners to be prepared as our communities grapple with hot and dry conditions." She expects water shortages for farmers and ranchers, as well as low river and stream levels. 


The new counties under drought declarations are Deschutes, Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Morrow, Umatilla and Wasco. They join Crook, Baker, Harney, Klamath, Lake, Malheur and Wheeler counties declared as drought emergency areas earlier this year. In all of 2014, a total of nine counties were under drought emergencies.


According to the Governor's office, the drought declaration allows increased flexibility in how water is managed in an effort to ensure limited supplies are used as efficiently as possible. While recreational areas around the state are open for business for Memorial Day weekend, the long-term forecast calls for temperatures well above normal. 



Flash Flooding in Bend and Redmond

REDMOND, OR -- Flooding caused problems in both Bend and Redmond Thursday afternoon. A car stalled in high water at the Yew Avenue underpass on Redmond's south side, at about 4 p.m. after a thunderstorm moved through the area. 


Redmond Police Sgt. Curtis Chambers tells KBND the area is prone to problems. "A large amount of rain in that area tends to fill it up with water. It's a low-lying area that was dug out when the intersection was created." A tow truck was called in to pull out the car. 


Police received a number of calls from residents reporting high water levels on many Bend and Redmond streets yesterday. Science and Operations Officer for the National Weather Service in Pendleton Stefen Veeda says, "We had rain gauges that reported an inch of precipitation had fallen in 30 minutes. We also heard reports of flooded roads in bend, like U.S. Highway 97 some of the lanes were flooding with water."


Central Oregon is no longer under a flood warning, however scattered showers are expected to continue through Friday afternoon. Saturday will bring a drying trend that will bring temperatures into the 70s through next week. 

Councilors Close to Agreement on Housing Stimulant

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors appear closer to reaching an agreement with the Parks & Recreation Board to allow affordable housing development to be exempt from some SDCs. City Manager Eric King says it's a tough discussion, given how important the System Development Charges are for funding things like roads, sewer and parks. "If we exempt those fees, it means we’re going to be able to not move as quickly to make some of those infrastructure improvements. So, what’s the right balance as an incentive to get the market going on affordable housing, but knowing there’s an impact to infrastructure."


Councilors have proposed creating several options for exemptions and creating a cap, so as not to jeopardize infrastructure projects. "That gives us some flexibility to how we award those exemptions out through a competitive process, so we can really focus the discount on where is the most need," King tells KBND. "And, we’ll come back to council in a few weeks to formalize that through some action. The hope is to move quickly to get the market going on getting more affordable housing in play." Bend currently has a near zero vacancy rate.
Any exemptions from parks SDCs must be approved by the Parks and Rec Board. King says, "Parks has sort of verbally agreed to the concept, in putting a cap in place – that’s how you mitigate for concerns around too much of a discount. If it’s a discount, then we’re stuck not being able to build some of the work that’s impacted by growth. I think they’re on board in concept, but I think there’s still some work to do to get it finalized." 

Tough Tick Season Predicted

BEND, OR -- As we approach the season of shorts, sandals and outdoor activities, Central Oregonians are urged to take precautions to prevent tick bites. Outdoor expert Gary Lewis says the tiny bugs could cause big problems, in the coming months. "This year, with a mild winter, the chances of encountering ticks out there are much higher. Not all ticks carry Lyme, but some of them do. I think a person should take precautions." 


Lewis tells KBND News protection begins with what you wear. "Wear white or light clothing so the bug will show up better, and pull up your socks around your pant-leg if you’re going in grass or brush – that’s the biggest entry point, right there. These are not very fast moving creatures, but they’re sticky."
Ticks are the most common transmitter of Lyme disease, although not all ticks are carriers. If left untreated, Lyme disease can result in serious and lasting health effects.

Bend Police Look for Missing Transient

BEND, OR -- Bend Police are looking for 46-year-old “Tony Starr” of Bend.  Friends and family say they haven’t heard from him since May 9. Starr is known to be a transient and has stayed in multiple locations around the city of Bend, but his family says this is a variation from his normal routine.


Thomas Anthony "Tony" Starr is described as a white male, 5' 10", 145 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. If you have seen him, please contact Bend Police at 541-693-6911; reference case 15-127817. 


The above photo is from 2012.

Detroit Lake Health Advisory Lifted

SALEM, OR -- State health officials have lifted an advisory at Detroit Lake, just in time for Memorial Day weekend visitors. New testing revealed the level of blue-green algae and associated toxins have fallen below dangerous levels for humans.


The Oregon Health Authority encourages visitors to continue to be cautious with pets, since toxins are still at levels that may not be safe for dogs.
Experts say people and pets should avoid contact with water that is foamy, scummy, thick like paint, pea-green, blue-green or brownish red in color, or if a thick mat of algae is visible in the water. 

Rep. Buehler Renews Fight Over Birth Control Access

SALEM, OR --  A bill allowing women to get birth control without a doctor’s prescription is moving forward in Salem. Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) originally proposed the measure and testified before the House Rules Committee, Wednesday. "Studies have shown that this method of essentially over the counter birth control can reduce unintended preganancies by up to 25%. Further, improving access to birth control will give women, simply, more options over their healthcare needs."


Rep. Buehler, a doctor in Bend, went on to say, "The medical community, and overwhelming scientific evidence, has shown that it's not only safe for women, but it would be one of the most significant improvements in women's health in living memory, simply by allowing them to have access to pharmaceuticals without a phycician's prescription."


A work session is scheduled for the bill, Thursday. If passed, Oregon would join California in allowing women to get birth control without a prescription.

Relative Newcomer Unseats Bend Native from COCC Board

BEND, OR -- After a tight race, a relative newcomer has unseated a Bend native from the Central Oregon Community College Board of Directors. Charley Miller, owner of Miller Lumber, served on the board for 8 years. But, after very little campaigning, he lost his re-election bid by a less than 5% margin, Tuesday.


John Mundy credits his victory to a grassroots effort. "I was able to connect with a lot of young people. On my Facebook page, a lot of young people, under 40, actually got their friends out to vote for me, so I was actually pleasantly surprised to see that."


Mundy moved to Bend from San Francisco five years ago. He tells KBND, now that the election is over, he's ready to get to work. "Since I moved here, I’ve been concerned about what’s happening with housing, particularly with low-income folks and also our local transportation issues. So, to the extent it’s possible, I would like to serve in an advocates role, promoting decent housing strategies for students. We can work with other agencies to tweak local transportation options; I would like to help with that, as well."


He says he’s excited about the school’s current direction, especially now that the search for a new college president is over. "I just think that we need to be effective in terms of how we do outreach for new staff, particularly at the senior level. It seems to me, COCC has done a pretty good job with that. From what I’ve heard, [Dr. Shirley] Metcalf is an effective administrator and I’m going to enjoy working with her."

Three Arrested for Redmond Shooting

REDMOND, OR -- Following a five-month investigation, Redmond Police have arrested three suspects in connection with a shooting incident near Umatilla Park. Investigators executed a number of search warrants, and say they seized large quantities of controlled substances, as well as firearms. Two of the recovered guns had been reported stolen.


On December 19, 2014, RPD received several reports of shots fired near Umatilla park, and a car speeding from the area of SW 29th and Umatilla Ave. A nearby resident reported finding a bullet in her house, following the incident.


Jesus Alexis Alvino and Jacob Banjamin Rubio face charges including Unauthorized Use of a Weapon, Menacing, Disorderly Conduct and Criminal Mishief. Both 19-year-old Alvino and 21-year-old Rubio are Redmond residents. Pedro Arellano, a 29-year-old Madras resident, faces similar charges, as well as one count of being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm.

Brady Fuller Ready for Bend Parks and Recreation Board

BEND, OR -- Brady Fuller is looking forward to taking his seat on the Bend Parks and Recreation Board, following Tusday’s election. With nearly half of all ballots cast for Fuller in the three-way race, he says he’s humbled by the results. Fuller tells KBND he thought it would be a closer vote, considering he was up against the current Board Chair. "Dan Fishkin has served the board well for couple of years, and I think my interest in running has really everything to do with my interest in the district and the type of projects that the district is doing and in my skills. It doesn’t offer a comment on Dan’s service. I think he’s served the district well and I admire him."


Fuller is a civil engineer and says he’s looking forward to offering his expertise to major projects, including Mirror Pond. "There’s a lot more that needs to be defined even relative to the current plan that’s been prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee. So, I think the district and the city are on the right path in taking that study to the next level of detail. I think a lot of the habitat restoration, water quality, and just the practical issues of the dam itself, and if Tumalo Irrigation District is able to take that over; those are the types of details that are really next. Of all the projects, I’ve got the background and experience that can help guide the board to make some wise decisions."
But, his first priority is to get to know staff and fellow board members. "I work well in teams and I really would like to understand better all the aspects of the district’s operations and the major projects underway, and how I can better support what’s already going on. I’m interested in looking under the hood in some of the district’s major projects." He has lived in Bend for eight years, and says recent bond projects caught his attention and pushed him to run. 

Local Electric Coop Testifies in Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The head of Redmond-based Central Electric Cooperative testified in front of a House Subcommittee Wednesday, calling for better access to federally managed lands. CEO Dave Markham spoke in support of House Resolution 2358. He testified on negative interactions he's had in the past with the U.S. Forest Service. "It's with a lot of reluctance that I say, as far as the BLM and the Forest Service, we continue to see a significant falling short of what I believe is acceptable for helping our cooperatives give safe, affordable and reliable electricity to our members."


Markham said the "Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act" would force agencies to provide electric co-ops with more timely access to power lines on public land and rights of way.


He testified that CEC has faced recent delays on one necessary project, due to federal roadblocks. "We've been waiting for nearly two years now, to replace a short 1.2-mile section of underground cable that's been in place for 45 years. It's in deteriorating condition. On top of that, we've been experiencing additional delays because we were recently informed that we'd have to have an archeological study done." Markham said that study could cost up to $87,000. 


Central Electric Cooperative serves an over 5,300 square mile territory in Central Oregon.

Amber Alert Canceled for Two Idaho Toddlers

Oregon State Police report the two toddlers allegedly abducted by their father were found just north of the Oregon border, thanks to an Amber Alert radio broadcast. A motorist on I-5 in Washington called 911 just before 2:30 p.m., Wednesday. She reported she had heard the alert on the radio and was driving behind the suspect's vehicle.


A Castle Rock police officer and Washington State Patrol sergeant located the van and conducted a traffic stop. Joshua Reavis and two children were in the vehicle and were taken into custody. Reavis was transported to the Cowlitz County Jail. 



Wednesday afternoon update: According to Oregon State Police, the children, suspect and vehicle were all located in Cowlitz County, Washington. 



Original Report:

May 20, 2015 -- Oregon State Police have issued an Amber Alert across the state to track down two abducted toddlers thought to have been taken by their father, Joshua Reavis. A two-year-old girl, Estaleyn-Ophelia Reavis, and a three-year-old boy, Slevin Reavis, have been missing for the past two days.


Reavis, a 31-year-old from Nampa, Idaho, was allegedly distraught after learning that his wife wanted a divorce. He suffered from unknown mental health problems and used prescription and recreational drugs. On May 18, his wife returned home to find the house trashed and her children's belongings missing, along with camping supplies. 


Currently efforts to contact Reavis have been unsuccessful. A warrant has been issued for parental kidnapping. Reavis is 6'4" and weighs about 190 pounds. Officials believe he is currently driving a Gold 2000 Honda Odyssey with Idaho license plate 2CLL484. If you see them, call 911.



31-year-old Joshua Reavis was arrested

in Washington, Wednesday afternoon.


Downtown Bend Leader Tapped for Redmond Position

REDMOND, OR -- The city of Redmond is bringing on a familiar name to lead downtown revitalization efforts. Chuck Arnold has been the Executive Director of the Downtown Bend Business Association for the past nine years. He’s now been named the Economic Development and Urban Renewal Project Program Coordinator for Redmond.


Mayor George Endicott tells KBND News, the job doesn’t start until September, but Arnold is already getting involved - even attending Tuesday's City Council meeting. "He attended the urban renewal part of the meeting, and very attentive. He seems pretty excited about some of the things we’re doing. He does have a background in urban planning from his old days, as well as his current job," Endicott says. "I think he’s a huge, great, positive addition to Redmond." Mayor Endicott says Redmond’s downtown is growing, and it’s time to take urban renewal efforts to the next level. 
Arnold issued a statement, saying, "The city of Redmond has done an incredible job as a community with their vision for urban renewal. I am honored to join the efforts." Arnold is expected to lead a number of projects in the coming years, including the expansion of Centennial Park and the revitalization of the Redmond Hotel. 

Oregon Legislators Fight Planned Closure of Bend's Mail Processing Plant

Bend, Ore. -- Several Oregon legislators with the Oregon Congressional Delegation are fighting to keep Bend's mail processing plant from closing -- right as the Postmaster General plans to close all centers on the east side of Oregon.


Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley wrote a letter to the Postmaster General on Tuesday, joined by Oregon Legislators Ron Wyden, Greg Walden and others. He says he doesn't think Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan recognizes the impact such a closure would have.


"We think that any honest review of the damage it would have done to the distribution system will leave Bend open as a key facility," Merkley told KBND. "[The Postmaster General] seemed very, very unfamiliar with the structure of the distribution systems. I made a map for her of Oregon and showed her which were the ones that would have been closed, and what you would lose when you lose Bend ... it's absolutely unacceptable."


Oregon has already lost mail processing plants in Salem, Klamath Falls and Pendleton. If the Bend location is consolidated, there will not be any locations left on the east side of the Cascades.


Congressman Peter DeFazio, who also signed the letter, says if funding is a concern, the solution should be in passing more effective legislation rather than in closing down more facilities.


"We can fix the post office," DeFazio says. "I have legislation that would make them totally self-supporting without closing more processing facilities, without closing more rural facilities."


Currently, Merkley has received a promise from the Postmaster General that she will take a second look at the decision and consider the impacts. 


"If that happens then we have a good chance of keeping Bend open," Merkley says. "But I must say I'm not confident about what's going to happen; whether they'll really honor that promise."


The plan to consolidate the plant has been in the works for several months. If no changes are made, the Bend center will close this year. The closure would reroute mail to Portland for processing, potentially delaying delivery by days.


Merkley says that if the consolidation goes forward, he hopes to support a postal bill mandating that the post office keep the Bend location.


"Sometimes you wage these battles and win," Merkley says. "I am very concerned here that across the country the post office is giving up on first class mail."


Bethlehem Inn Faces New Challenges

BEND, OR -- Bend’s only emergency homeless shelter is forced to take a hard look at the future, as its population ages. Chris Clouart with the Bethlehem Inn says economic conditions have forced many baby boomers out of their jobs and, in turn, their homes. "We’re actually thinking in terms of having to plan a new Bethlehem Inn in the future, architecturally. And, we’re starting to ask ourselves questions about whether we need a geriatric unit here," Clouart tells KBND. "What we’re seeing is an aging of the homeless population. An aging of the population in general, that are now becoming homeless because they no longer have any place in the economy. And, that scares us."


The Affordable Care Act has also had unintended consequences for the shelter. Clouart says many residents now have health insurance and are able to undergo necessary surgeries, like knee replacements. "Prior to this, people were just not dealing with these issues – they were working through them or they were just not able to work. Now, they’re suddenly able to get these things taken care of, which is all for the good because they will become a contributing member of society again. But, they often don’t have the resources to be able to support themselves during a period of convalescence."
He says insurance may cover the procedure, but often not follow-up recovery care. "Because of this wave of older people, who are having some pretty serious medical conditions that are being taken care of, we’re finding ourselves in a position of being the place of last resort. And, that’s surprisingly where we find ourselves in the Spring of 2015, is we have a lot of people here, who are just not what we would have seen five years ago."
Clouart says it’s becoming more common for the shelter to receive a call from the hospital, asking for a handicap accessible bed for a patient whose insurance has denied convalescent care. In the past, he says family was often able to step in and help, but many of those families are also struggling to make ends meet.  He says they try not to turn anyone away, but they don't have enough handicap accessible beds to accommodate everyone. 

In Wake of Kitzhaber Scandals, State Legislature Looks for Way to Impeach Future Governors

May 20, 2015-- In the wake of ethics allegations surrounding past Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and past First Lady Cylvia Hayes, the Oregon House just passed House Joint Resolution 31 on Tuesday -- to allow the impeachment of future governors.


The chief sponsor, State Representative Jodi Hack, R-Salem, said it was in response to the ethics scandals.


"I'd been contacted by several constituents asking during that time, 'Could Oregon impeach a governor?'" Hack told KBND. "And when that question was brought about, we found out that no, Oregon could not impeach a governor, and we were the only state that couldn't."


The Oregon House approved with a vote of 47-12. All party leaders signed onto it.


Although the resolution is mainly sponsored by Republicans, Hack said it has the approval of key Democrats, including Oregon Governor Kate Brown.


"I don't anticipate there to be a problem on that side," Hack said. I've met with the governor too, and she was supportive of the resolution."


The approval mirrors statements Brown made at her State of the State speech on April 17.


"Certainly, there is -- and will continue to be -- plenty of work to be done to resolve unanswered questions about the previous administration; work that will require the undivided attention of several members of my staff and, no doubt, the media, for months to come," Brown said in her speech. "In the meantime, I am taking action to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again."


State Representative Jodi Hack said if the option had existed toward the end of Kitzhaber's time as governor -- he might have faced the impeachment process.


"I don't know," Hack said. "It's really interesting because most Oregonians already thought we had an impeachment process in place. So it may or may not have."


The resolution now goes to the State Senate. If it receives a majority of the vote, it will go before voters in the 2016 ballot. The resolution would let the State House deliver an impeachment with over three-fifths of the vote. The State Senate could convict with over two-thirds of the vote.

Updated May Special Election Results

BEND, OR -- Below are the latest numbers on contested races as of 4:15 AM, May 20.


For more detailed information, visit the Deschutes County, Jefferson County, or Crook County websites. 


9-104: Black Butte Ranch Service District

Police 5-Year Levy -- Yes:  99%   No:  1%


Bend Metro Park & Rec Board, Pos. 1

(I) Dan Fishkin:  27%

Foster Fell:         24%

Brady Fuller:      48%


La Pine Park & Rec Board, Pos. 4

Gary Gordon:     52%

Pamela Poeske:  29%

Kyle Williams:    19%


La Pine Park & Rec Board, Pos. 5

Tobias Wilson:  70%

Robert Ray:     29%


COCC Board, Zone 5

(I) Charley Miller:  47%

John Mundy:         52%


Redmond School Board, Pos. 1

(I) Rhonda Etnire:  79%

Richard Castrow:   12%

Merle Hinshaw:       8%


Redmond School Board, Pos. 4

(I) Tim Carpenter:  53%

Jane Allen:             47%


Redmond School Board, Pos. 5

Johnny Corbin:   59%

John Land:         41%


Sisters School Board, Pos. 2

Greg Zadow:       64%

Lachlan Leaver:   36%


Sisters School Board, Pos. 4

Stephen King:     40%

Steve Mathews:  34%

Karen Swaner:    26%

Local Fundraiser to Benefit Nepal Quake Victims

BEND, OR -- A local mountain climber is hoping Central Oregonians will help support the millions of people impacted by two recent earthquakes in Nepal. More than 8,500 people were killed in the two quakes. John Beede of Bend was one of the last people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, two years ago. "My reaction, when I saw what was coming out of Nepal, was heartbroken. We have a lot of kindred spirits between Bendites and Nepalese people. They have high desserts, they have mountains, they have rivers and they’re incredibly friendly people and they are nothing but giving," He tells KBND. "I was just shocked for them. There are 3-million displaced people, I’m like, ‘we have to do something.’"


Beede says his first thought was to try and get to Nepal to help, but was told he would just be another mouth to feed. Instead, he's organizing a fundraising-climbing event, mimicking his climb up Mt. Everest. "We’re going to climb 605 individual climbs to the top. If you’re not a climber, you can still come and enjoy food, beverage,  and I’ll be giving a Mt. Everest presentation. It’s $10 for entry, so if you’re a parent and you want to bring your kids rock climbing, rentals are free. All benefits are going straight to Nepal to build earthquake resistant homes."


The Rise Up For Nepal fundraising climb takes place next Tuesday, May 26, at 6 p.m., at the Bend Rock Gym.  During the event, Beede plans to talk about his own experience climbing to the summit of the 29,035-foot peak.


Mt. Bachelor Expands Summer Biking Trails

BEND, OR -- In response to the increasing popularity of downhill mountain biking, Mt. Bachelor crews are creating five new biking trails.


Additionally, Drew Jackson says the Sunshine Accelerator lift will be pressed into service this summer, to take riders to what's being called the FTL - or, First Timer Line.


"When we launched the bike park two summers ago, we launched it with the idea that we were going to appeal toe the middle of the bell curve," Jackson tells KBND. "We realized last summer that we need more options for first timers and beginner riders, so that's where our special focus is going to be this summer."


The new beginner trails and an expanded skills park will be ready when the summer season begins, July 3. For the other end of the experience spectrum, crews are hand-building a new double-Black Diamond trail, with guidance from professional riders.


Jackson says it will drop nearly straight down the Pine Marten Lift line, over a variety of terrain.

Knopp Passes Bill Protecting Pets From Hot Cars

SALEM, OR -- A bill aimed at protecting pets from hot cars has passed the state legislature and is headed for the Governor's desk. Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) co-sponsored SB 614, which allows police officers to enter vehicles and impound animals when there is probable cause to believe the pet is in danger.


"This happens on a fairly regular basis," Knopp says. "It isn't intentional; people are driving around with their pet, they forget, they don't crack a window."

Senator Knopp says he wrote the bill on the request of a Central Oregon constituent. "There are too many deaths of these pets that could be saved," Knopp says.


Police already are allowed to enter a home if there is probable cause that an animal is being subjected to certain criminal offenses. Knopp says his bill simply extends that power to vehicles. 

Bend Event to Honor Injured and Killed Cyclists

BEND, OR -- Commute Options is inviting everyone to attend the 12th annual Ride of Silence, Wednesday evening in Bend.


Kim Curley with Commute Options says the global event is designed to honor cyclists who have been injured or killed on public roadways. Locally, the event has not gained much attention in the past. "Over 300 rides are taking place this year, worldwide," Curley says. "It's been growing quietly in Bend, but organizers are getting the word out this year."


The silent, slow-paced 5.6-mile ride through downtown Bend will start at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow.


Cyclists are encouraged to meet at Mirror Pond Plaza at 6:30 p.m. Bike helmets are required.

Deschutes County Finds Success with New Teen Mental Health Program

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is trying to combat a spike in teen suicide attempts with a new therapeutic technique. County Health Services recently provided training for 25 clinicians in Attachment-Based Family Therapy.


Kevin Shaw says the 16-week program is already seeing positive results. "It's so amazing to be in a session and to see a kiddo reconnect with their parent in such a meaningful way," Shaw tells KBND. "The success is immediate."


The program is offered by county health therapists in Bend, Redmond, Sisters and La Pine.


MaryAnne McDonnell with the Deschutes County Health Services says it has a special focus. "It's designed to repair what we call 'ruptures in attachment,' which are really breaks in the bond of trust between the adolescent and the parent," McDonnell says. "These breaks can be things that are very obvious to the child and the parent. Or, often times, it's a feeling that the adolescent has that the parent may not even be aware of.


Central Oregon currently has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, with a dramatic jump in teen suicides in recent years. 

New ZIP Coming to Bend

BEND, OR -- Bend will have a new ZIP Code, beginning July first. U.S. Postal Service officials say the change is necessary to provide efficient and cost-effective mail delivery.


The new 97703 ZIP Code impacts some addresses in the current 97701 area. All effected customers will be notified by mail in the next few days. The USPS suggests customers begin using their new zip code right away, although mail with the old zip will still be delivered for one year following the change.
Northern Boundary: All deliveries north of and including NW Skyliners Road.
Western Boundary: All deliveries west of US Highway 97.
Southern Boundary: East on NW Commerce Ave to NW Skyliner Summit Loop, then to NW Washington Drive, South of NW Lakemont Drive onto NW Skyliners Road to its end.
Eastern Boundary: From the furthest north point travelling south on US Highway 97, merging with US Highway 20, continuing south eventually merging with the Bend Parkway until it intersects with the 97702 ZIP boundary just South of NW Colorado Avenue.
Note: Only addresses on the boundary road “US Highway 97” listed above will retain their current 97701 ZIP Code – none of them will be assigned the new 97703 ZIP. 


City Council Considers Troy Field Purchase

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are considering getting back into the real estate business, just as the school district is getting out. The Bend-La Pine School District announced intentions to sell historic Troy Field in December.


City Councilor Barb Campbell tells KBND it's early in the process, but there is interest in maintaining the vacant lot at Louisiana and Bond. "We would like to preserve Troy Field as a public space. I, personally, would like to see cooperation between the city, the parks and the school district. It might be a purchase, it might be a transfer. And, with that space, the city and those other public entities can continue to explore, say for example, the idea of a Heritage Square."


The money to purchase the lot would likely come from the sale of the former site of the Bend Bulletin. "We have been in discussions about selling the old Bulletin lot," Campbell says. "I have a high level of confidence a sale will go through. Even though selling that lot would be a net loss from the purchase price, quite honestly, it would mean there was money in the budget this biennium -- approximately $800,000. So, part of that money, we thought we could use for Troy Field."
Cascade Empire Lodging made a $2.3-million offer on that property in April, but could still back out during the due diligence process.
Campbell is confident the Bulletin site will sell soon, whether to Cascade Empire or another developer.

Bend Man Found Dead in Washington County

BUXTON, OR -- Oregon State Police are investigating the death of a Bend man found inside his motor home Sunday night, west of Portland. Hugh Fechtler served as camp host at the Mountain Dale Cabin Village campground, inside LL Stub Stewart State Park.


According to investigators, family members became concerned when they couldn't reach Fechtler by cell phone, Sunday evening. They contacted a neighboring camper, who discovered the 63-year-old unresponsive inside his RV.
OSP troopers were dispatched to the area and began CPR; however, when medics arrived, Fechtler was pronounced dead. Investigators say there is no indication of foul play. The investigation is ongoing. 

Gov. Orders Flags at Half-Staff Today

SALEM, OR -- Governor Kate Brown ordered all flags at public institutions be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Monday, in honor of an Oregon soldier killed in the Korean War whose remains were recently identified.


The remains of Corporal Ben Lee Brown, killed in Korea in 1951, were laid to rest Friday at the Roseburg National Cemetery with full military honors. The 17-year-old Southern Oregon soldier was killed in action seven days after he was deployed, in one of the bloodiest battles of the Korean War. 


Cpl. Brown's remains were returned to the U.S. in 1993, along with hundreds of other soldiers' remains. Since that time, the governor's office says scientists have been working to match DNA to thousands of missing service members.

Honor Flight Returns to Heroes' Welcome

BEND, OR -- Nearly 50 World War II veterans from Central Oregon just returned from the trip of a lifetime. Organizer Dick Tobiason says this weekend's Honor Flight brought vets to Washington, D.C. to visit memorials for the Korean and Vietnam wars, among others.


"This is our 11th trip," Tobiason says. "We took 48 veterans on that trip, and that brings our total for the last five years to 454 veterans. We couldn't present the flags to the veterans at the World War II Memorial, but we have a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol on the 70th anniversary of V.E. Day, which was May 8. So they presented the flags to the veterans at the Capitol, in front of the memorial to General Eisenhower."


The group returned to the Portland Airport Sunday to a heroes' welcome. "For everyone on the trip, the veterans and the guardians, it's a life-changing event," Tobiason says. "A woman veteran we took said, 'I never had this kind of treat when I came back from the war!'"


Bend Senior High will host the "Honor Flight Movie" on Wednesday, May 20, which will also recap the latest trip to Washington. The event is a precursor to Memorial Day, May 25. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. The Notables swing band will play music from the WWII era from 5:00-6:00 p.m.
The movie begins at 6:00 p.m., with a live auction during intermission. Tickets are $10 and are available online or at Jake's Diner. WWII vets and their spouses are admitted free. All proceeds support future Central Oregon Honor Flight trips. 

Post Man Accused of Son's Murder

POST, OR -- The Crook County Sheriff's Office has arrested a man in connection with last week's shooting death in the rural community of Post. William George Brown, Sr. has been charged with Murder and Manslaughter, stemming from the death of his son. 51-year-old William Brown was found dead inside a home on Terrible Trail, a week ago. 


To read previous reports, click HERE.


According to the Sheriff's office, Brown was shot during a domestic dispute. The 72-year-old Brown will be arraigned in Crook County Circuit Court, Monday.

Redmond Man Arrested For Multiple Car Prowls

REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man faces multiple charges, following a string of car break-ins not far from his own neighborhood. According to police, multiple cars were broken into during the early morning hours of May 9 and 14.


The incidents were linked based on similar circumstances: the prowler entered unlocked cars to search for valuables, including portable electronics, bank documents and money. Jacob Austin Schunke was identified as a suspect through surveillance footage recovered from one of the homes.
While investigators executed a search warrant on his NE Third Street home, They discovered a stolen motorcycle and returned it to its owner. The 36-year-old man faces Multiple theft, trespassing and burglary charges, among others.
Redmond Police remind the community to always lock vehicles and not leave weapons, personal identity information, like bank records or Social Security cards, or other valuables in vehicles. 

Student Injured, 2 Others Arrested Following Stabbing

MAY 15, 2015 AFTERNOON UDPATE -- Two 14-year-old students have been arrested on multiple charges relating to Thursday's stabbing at Redmond Proficiency Academy. Further investigation revealed the suspect who allegedly stabbed a fellow 8th grader was provided by a third student. The suspect is charged with Assault II and Unlawful Use of a Weapon. The alleged accomplice is charged with Conspiracy to Commit Assault II and Unlawful Use of a Weapon.


Both students were lodged at the Deschutes County Juvenile Detention Facility under Safe Schools Alliance protocols. The investigation into the incident is ongoing, in cooperation with RPA and the Redmond School District.


REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond Proficiency Academy middle school student was taken to the hospital Thursday morning, after a fellow student allegedly stabbed him during an altercation. Lt. Mike Kidwell says because the call involved school violence, it elicited an immediate response from all available units to the campus on West Antler Avenue. "Our time of call was 7:44 and when I got there it was 7:57, and I was the last person there. It was a very quick response, with all the resources; so we could secure the scene, secure any suspects or witnesses, to make sure we restore safety to everybody in the school."


Medics transported the eighth grade victim with multiple stab wounds to his chest and arm, but Lt. Kidwell says his wounds were considered minor. He was treated and released from St. Charles Bend.  
Investigators believe the eighth grade suspect used a broken pocketknife in the fight that started in the cafeteria and was broken up in the gym, just before school started. "We’ve transported him to Deschutes County Juvenile where we’re following through with the Safe Schools protocol in conjunction with the Juvenile Department and the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office," Lt. Kidwell tells KBND News.
RPA issued a statement saying administrators were saddened by the events and thankful for the quick response by staff and emergency crews. 

1-82 Cavalry Demobilization Ceremony Scheduled

BEND, OR -- Nearly 200 soldiers with the 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment will take part in a demobilization ceremony in Bend, Saturday afternoon. The unit deployed last summer to provide security in Afghanistan.


Click HERE to read more about the company's return to Redmond in April.


More than 90% of the squadron earned combat badges - including 26 Bronze Star Medals and three Purple Hearts. The 1-82 Cavalry is headquartered in Bend, with companies in Redmond, Lebanon and Klamath Falls.
Saturday's Demobilization ceremony begins at 3 p.m. at Vince Genna Stadium.

Star Party in Prineville on Saturday

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Central Oregonians have a unique stargazing opportunity Saturday, at Prineville Reservoir State Park. Beginning at 1 p.m., Oregon State Parks and Recreation will host the 16th annual "Star Party."


Experts will provide solar telescopes and astronomy related talks and displays. Jupiter and Venus are expected to be visible. And, this year guests will have a unique opportunity to view Saturn at its brightest in eight years, due to its current tilt toward the Earth.

Click HERE for more details.

Racers Ready for Unique PPP

BEND, OR -- Organizers of Saturday's U.S. Bank Pole Pedal Paddle are trying to make the best of things, considering the uncooperative weather.


MBSEF Executive Director John Schiemer suspects the cancelation of the Nordic leg is a big reason registrations are down 20%. But, he says there are some who have signed up because of the trail run that will replace the cross-country ski stretch. "It’s going to be a little bit more challenging than the typical trail run. It’s not going to be like the trails in town. It’s uneven; in some places it’s rocky. We are using part of the Mt. Bachelor bike system for some of the trails, so those trails are in pretty good shape, but it did snow a little bit on Monday."  He tells KBND News, "You’ll want a different pair of shoes, for the mountain trail run versus the in-town trail run. But, the other challenge is that it’s at 6300 feet. So, the 2.3 miles is going to be a nice test."


Schiemer says in its first year, the PPP was forced to cut the first leg of the relay. There wasn't enough snow for the downhill ski portion, 39 years ago. He says getting rid of the second leg this year wasn't an option. Race organizers knew they had to replace it with something. "The biggest issue is that there are 5 and six, seven-person teams. So, if you take a leg out, someone doesn’t get to participate. We’ve had a lot of teams that have been doing this for years, everyone has done the same leg, so we wanted to preserve the legs as best we could."


There have been years when MBSEF needed to adjust for a lack of snow along the Nordic path, but Schiemer says, "Normally, we would’ve been able to do the Nordic leg on the Westside of the mountain. I kind of think that’s always a real possibility, to be able to move snow around. A lot of it depends on how the snow comes in, what time of the year it comes in, and so forth. This year, it just didn’t come in. The trail run, I think, is always going to be an option now. We’ll see how this weekend goes."
The PPP is MBSEF's largest fundraiser of the year. Sunday’s Mini PPP for kids has not been impacted by the weather.

Crook County Fires Stretch Resources

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Fire and rescue responded to two RV fires at nearly the same time, Thursday afternoon. The first call came in just after 4 p.m., with a fully engulfed trailer fire just south of Prineville. Despite difficult access to the blaze, crews were able to extinguish the flames in what was left of the trailer.


At about 4:30 p.m., they received a call of a motorhome fire just north of town. That one was also quickly extinguished, however left substantial damage.
Both fires are under investigation.

Bend Covered Bridge Reopens

BEND, OR -- The covered bridge at Bowery Lane, on the north side of Bend, has reopened, more than a month after suffering heavy damage. In early April, residents in the area discovered what appeared to be substantial damage caused by an oversize vehicle.


Initially it was unclear whether the bridge would be rebuilt. Much of the work over the past month was done by volunteers, and includes new "low clearance" bars on both sides of the span.
Substantial damage was discovered April 6, 2015

COCC Celebrates 50 Years at Bend Campus

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Community College is throwing a party, and everyone is invited! The school will celebrate the Bend campus’ 50th anniversary with a number of community activities, including a ceremony naming the Campus Center in honor or R.L. and Joyce Coats who donated much of the land where the campus now sits.

Their daughter, Roberta Coats Bowles, tells KBND her dad strongly believed in the importance of college, but also helped develop other parts of what was then a small lumber town. "My parents came here in 1947 and at that time there were a lot of men, they were that type of people where they did what they had to do. He was just one of many people who built Bend into a much bigger place than it was. He was fearless and unstoppable."
COCC opened in 1949, with four part-time faculty offering night classes to 109 students. Bowles says her dad had a strong belief that everone should have an opportunity for higher education. "Being 11, I don’t have any memory of them discussing [the land donation]. But, I do know, once I was in high school, I was aware COCC met at Bend High School at night. And, I knew that was part of the reason he felt like they needed a place, a home."
The school moved to 150 acres on Awbrey Butte in time for the 1964-65 school year, with five buildings and 700 students. Today, COCC is home to 17,000 students across campuses in Bend, Redmond, Madras and Prineville. Bowles says her dad would likely have been uncomfortable with all the fanfare given in his honor, today. "I think it’s probably one of the best things he did; I don’t think he would think of it that way, because he just lived each day. He was not someone who cared if he left a legacy, that’s why it’s taken 50 years for them to name a building after him."
Today's Golden Anniversary celebration begins at 4 p.m. The dedication of the Coats Campus Center takes place at 5:45 p.m.  For more on the history of the college, visit our Podcast page. 

End of Life Care Discussion Tonight

BEND, OR -- No one likes to talk about death, but it's a conversation that all of us should have with loved ones. Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Ellen Goodman will speak in Bend Thursday night, to help people get started with this difficult conversation.


Goodman started "The Conversation Project" several years ago. It's a downloadable "starter kit" to get the end of life conversation going. "We do say one of the most important reasons to have the conversation is so your wishes will be respected. So your children and different members of the family won't fight about what your care should be," Goodman tells KBND News.


She came up with the idea after she had to make a lot of health decisions for her mother at the end of her life. "My mother began a long, slow decline. My mother and I had talked about everything, except one thing: how she wanted to live at the end of her life. When she came to that time, I was faced with a cascading number of decisions for which I was wholly unprepared and, in fact, blindsided. She had dementia and she couldn't decide what she wanted to have for lunch, let alone what she wanted to have for healthcare."

Goodman's speech at the Tower Theatre is free, but you need a ticket. It begins at 7 p.m. and is sponsored by St. Charles Health System. 

Student Stabbed at Redmond Proficiency Academy

REDMOND, OR -- A student was taken to the hospital this morning, following an incident involving a knife at Redmond Proficiency Academy's West Campus. School officials report another student is now in police custody. 


A witness tells KBND News the injured eighth grade boy was stabbed in the chest, and was conscious when he was transported by medics just before school started. RPA officials say the student sustained minor injuries. 


The school is operating on a regular schedule and officials say all other students are safe.


This is a developing story and we'll bring you more information as it becomes available. 

Ashton Eaton Honored at MVHS

BEND, OR -- Mountain View alumnus and Gold Medal winner Ashton Eaton dedicated the new track, Wednesday afternoon. Eaton honed his skills at MVHS in Bend, and told the large, enthusiastic crowd he's honored to have the new track named after him. "I love this place. I receive this honor not as one person, but on behalf of everyone and everything that made me who I am. That means, I receive this on behalf of you, Central Oregon. I am a manifestation of the love and support that you have given me and that you continue to give this community. If I've done anything to deserve this recognition, it was simply giving my best for something I love."


Eaton told athletes taking part in this week's IMC Championship Meet, "When you experience doubt, I want you to believe. When you experience fear, I want you to face it. When you experience failure, I want you to try again. And, when you experience success, I want you to push harder. I want you to do these things because you will discover how to pursue whatever you put your mind to."


Mountain View High School's track will now be known as "Ashton Eaton Track & Field." Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Ron Wilkinson says the district wanted to name the track in Eaton's honor, to recognize one of the high school's greats. The remodel was paid for as part of a 2013 bond passed by voters, which also included the construction of two new schools.


His mother, Roz, also spoke, telling the crowd what the dedication means for students in the future. "Today, you are on 'Ashton Eaton Track.' And, I say there is a magic and a legacy; but it isn't from the accomplishments of Ashton Eaton. You see, today, you aren't following in Ashton's footsteps. You are forging your own path."

Eaton plans to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. 


Mountain View's new track features Ashton Eaton's signature.

Teen Crashes Into Redmond Canal

REDMOND, OR -- Two teens escaped through a sunroof, after a car crashed into a Redmond canal, Wednesday night. Emergency crews responded to the Central Oregon Irrigation District canal at NE King Way and N Canal Blvd. in Redmond at about 9 p.m.


According to Redmond Police, a witness to the crash was able to help the two girls out, and medics confirmed there were no injuries. COID also responded and put out booms to contain any potential oil and gas leaks.
The flow of the canal was reduced, allowing the car to be towed out. Investigators believe speed was a contributing factor and one girl was issued a ticket for careless driving.

Crook County Kids Explore the Great Outdoors

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Ochoco National Forest is introducing key conservation and nature concepts to over 650 Crook County area students at an event today. 


It's through a "Fin, Fire and Feather" annual event. Patrick Lair with the Ochoco National Forest says it is designed for younger elementary school students. "It's open to any first through third grader in Crook County," Lair says. "Even private school students or homeschoolers. They are all welcome to come out."


The event takes place at Ochoco Creek Park in Prineville, where experts from across the science disciplines will teach students about native plants, animals and fish. The Crooked River Watershed Council, Crook County Judge Mike McCabe and other local leaders will also participate.


Lair says their hope is to get students more excited about spending time outside, instead of spending the majority of their time on the internet. "There is an idea in the conservation education movement to get kids interested in being outdoors, unplugging from those devices, going outside and really enjoying the natural world around them," Lair says. "And they can get fit in the process."


The event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Sen. Knopp Testifies For Geothermal Lab

SALEM, OR -- State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) testified at the public hearing on locating a geothermal facility in Central Oregon. Legislation in front of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, this week, would urge the U.S. Energy Secretary and Congress to site their new geothermal project in Deschutes County.


In his testimony, Sen. Knopp admitted Oregon is competing with Utah, Idaho, California and Nevada for the project. "An advantage Oregon has, is being located near the Newberry research lab, which is identified as one of the best sites in the country." He added, "If this were based on merit alone, we would get the lab, hands down. But, you might have guessed, politics will play a part. So, I'd like to come from a position of strength related to that."


The bill passed the House, supported by Rep. Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver), and is poised to pass the full Senate. The Department of Energy estimates the lab will be funded at $30 million a year, as well as employ more than 300 during construction. An estimated 100 people are expected to work at the lab once it's open. 

Bend Works to Create Urban Cougar Plan

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are working on a formal plan for the next time a cougar is spotted in a populated area. In response to an incident in late March when a police officer shot and killed a cougar discovered at Pilot Butte State Park, councilors sent a letter to state wildlife officials asking for guidance.


Bend Police Chief Jim Porter tells KBND his department responds to a number of cougar calls, every year. "I know what city Council is trying to do, is to find some ground in the middle, so we can exist with them without having to take terminal action with every cougar we find. And, they’re reaching out to the state and to the federal wildlife service and see if they can provide us some support in this, and help us get a long-term vision of where we need to take this management of wildlife."
Chief Porter stands by his officer’s actions at Pilot Butte, saying that cougar had become a danger. "We respond to numerous cougar calls every year where we take no action, where the cougar is on the peripheral of Bend or he’s in an area where he’s not directly threatening people, or where there are not people who could be threatened. In this last case, we’re talking within a couple hundred yards of an elementary school, with children walking back and forth to school. This cougar had clearly lost his fear of humans. And so, the decision was made, and appropriately so, and the city council supported the decision, on making sure that cougar did not have the opportunity to prey on a child going to school."
He says a game plan is necessary, as cougar sightings become more prevalent. "Prior to 1994, they were able to hunt cougars with the aid of dogs. It’s very difficult to hunt a cougar without a dog. I’m not commenting on the law, I’m just saying that’s what happened, and so we’ve seen the cougar population explode. So, we will continue, even with the presence of assistance from the state, to look at every situation, weigh the totality – the threat to the public – and, the animal’s livability in that situation before we take action."
To hear our full conversation with Chief Jim Porter, visit our Podcast page. 

Tumalo Falls Vandalism Investigation Continues

BEND, OR -- National Forest investigators continue to look into vandalism at Tumalo Falls, highlighted by a Prineville man’s Facebook post. Brett Nelson’s photo and story of a California family seen carving their names into a railing has been shared 65,000 times. Jean Nelson-Dean with the Deschutes National Forest tells KBND she can’t comment on an ongoing investigation, but confirmed no arrests have been made.


She says the agency has received a number of calls from people shocked by the brazen nature of the crime. "I think that’s what caught, essentially, the nation’s attention. It was all over the east coast, and the Today Show; we got calls from everywhere. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was the vandalism; it was the arrogance, which I think people are a little tired of."
Nelson-Dean says Brett Nelson is cooperating with investigators and has received a number of tips through his personal Facebook page. While not everyone may feel comfortable confronting someone actively committing vandalism, Nelson-Dean says everyone can help. "You don’t want to put yourself in harms way. You can always call our office if you see things. If you take a photo and say when it happened, that’s extremely helpful and we can preserve it. We only have a few law enforcement officers, and they cover the Deschutes National Forest, the Ochoco National Forest and the Fremont-Winema National Forest."
Those who vandalize public property can face fines and jail time, if convicted.

Baker County Jail Death Mirrors Deschutes County Case

BAKER CITY, OR -- A Baker County Jail inmate has died in a manner eerily similar to a death at the Deschutes County Jail in December. Authorities say 28-year-old Joshua Pantle, of Baker City, died while in custody on May 9. According to Oregon State Police, Pantle was arrested and booked at the Baker County Jail Saturday afternoon. Within a couple of hours, he showed signs of medical distress, and staff called for an ambulance. He was taken to a local hospital, where he later died.


An autopsy revealed the remnants of a plastic-type baggy in his stomach. His death has been ruled a methamphetamine overdose. 


Pantle's death mirrors a December incident in Deschutes County, now under investigation by federal authorities. Edwin Mays died while in custody at the Deschutes County Jail, December 14. An autopsy revealed high levels of meth in Mays' system, and Sheriff Larry Blanton has speculated the 31-year-old Bend man may have ingested the drugs in an effort to conceal them from arresting officers. 

Post Homicide Victim Identified

POST, OR -- The Crook County Sheriff's Office has revealed the name of the man shot and killed at a home in the rural community of Post. Investigators say 51-year-old William Brown was shot by a relative during a domestic dispute. The identity of the suspect is not being released at this time.


The incident occurred Monday night at a home on SE Terrible Trail. When deputies responded to the reported shooting, they found Brown dead and another man suffering from a medical issue.


Once the ongoing investigation is complete, it will be submitted to the Crook County District Attorney's Office for review. 

Fire Destroys La Pine Home

LA PINE, OR -- Fire investigators are trying to determine the cause of a blaze that completely destroyed a La Pine home, Tuesday night.


Deschutes County Sheriff's Deputies and the La Pine Fire Department were dispatched to the house on Railroad Street just before 10:30 p.m. Crews found the structure fully involved, but were able to stop the fire from spreading. 


The house and its contents are a total loss. Investigators will be back at the scene this morning, to determine a cause of the blaze.

Bend Troopers Respond with SWAT to Enterprise

BEND, OR -- More than a dozen Oregon State Police vehicles, including an armored vehicle, were seen speeding out of Bend Monday evening, heading north out of Central Oregon. Lt. Bill Fugate says units were dispatched to an emergency call in Enterprise, just before 7 p.m.


A man had reportedly used a chainsaw to break into his girlfriend's home in the small town located east of La Grande. Local law enforcement reported he had a rifle and had fired multiple rounds. Lt. Fugate says, for many rural communities, OSP is the only option for a tactical response. However, during Monday's incident, all of the specialty troopers were in Bend for a training, more than six hours from Enterprise.


Lt. Fugate says about half of the team, including an armored vehicle, sped to the area with full lights and sirens, arriving in Enterprise within four or five hours. Local law enforcement was able to control the situation, and the OSP team was canceled just as they arrived. 

Central Oregon LandWatch Discusses UGB

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon LandWatch is raising concerns with Bend's Urban Growth Boundary expansion process. The UGB expansion is supposed to create more available land for housing and transit, as the city prepares for an estimated 40 percent growth in population over the next 15 years. 


Paul Dewey with Central Oregon LandWatch tells KBND the city needs to be careful where it expands. "I think the city has made progress with its current UGB process. The one nagging problem, though, for the city – and I've seen it for the past 20 years – is the failure to take into account existing residences. The focus seems to be more on accommodating new developments than it is on protecting existing neighborhoods." 


He adds, "One proposal the city has, which we do very much support, is called the Central Area Plan. Essentially, that area between 3rd Street and the railroad tracks, which is relatively undeveloped now and might see affordable housing being built."


Dewey is concerned about the cost to current citizens. Central Oregon LandWatch will host a UGB discussion Wednesday evening, including a presentation by expert Eban Fodor.


"He will explain the assumptions behind the idea that all growth is good,” Dewey says. “Because his research has shown that the cost of growth disproportionately falls on those with fixed incomes and taxpayers.”


City Manager Eric King says Bend officials are looking at all aspects of the expansion with multiple task forces and studies.

Wednesday's meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Bend's Old Stone Church

Local Man Included on Pot Rules Committee

BEND, OR -- The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has named who will serve on the advisory committee tasked with creating rules for the state's new recreational pot industry. Hunter Neubauer with OreGrown, here in Bend, is the lone local representative on the committee. He tells KBND, "I'm very happy the OLCC is being so motivated and open to work with industry professionals in an industry so new, and with so many things to work out."


Neubauer says the Rules Advisory Committee has yet to meet, but hopes to come together, but he expects that to change next month. "Our vision is that medical and rec will work together from a rules standpoint. We need to create efficiencies as well as have fair regulations and fair taxation. I'm 100% supportive of taxing and regulating and tracking. Our goals are to get rid of the black market and bring safe products to the marketplace."


The 15 members of the committee come from the marijuana industry, law enforcement, local governments and the public. "One of my goals is to make sure we work within the confines of regulation and taxation and make sure that regulations and taxation won't effect the implementation in a negative way," Neubauer says. Recreational marijuana use becomes legal July first, and applications for retail outlets will start to be accepted by the OLCC in January 2016.

Snow Pack Remains at Record Low

BEND, OR -- The latest snow pack reports continue to show dismal conditions. Snow pack is just 10% of normal, and most places, except at the highest elevations, have no snow, at all.


Hydrologist Julie Koeberle tells KBND News, "Throughout the whole state, we saw record low levels in our snow pack. We haven't seen a snow pack this low, the last time was 2005, but this one has trumped that year, actually." Across the state, levels range from zero snow in the Klamath Basin to 16% of normal in northeastern Oregon.


Koeberle says this week's rain is welcomed. "Anytime we get spring precipitation, even though we don't have much left, or anything left of snow pack, really, it helps. It'll delay irrigation while it's raining and so, from rainfall will delay irrigation and it will help."


Bend PD Searches for Wanted Man

BEND, OR -- Bend Police continue to look for the man they say lead them on a wild pursuit, Monday morning. According to investigators 28-year-old Travis Gee took off from NE Tucson and NE Wichita Way, following a reported domestic dispute, just after 9 a.m. 


While trying to flee from officers, they say Gee drove through a fence at St. Francis of Assissi, forcing that school into a lockout situation. He also allegedly damaged at least two other yards in the area.


Not long after officers found Gee's abandoned vehicle near Bradetich Loop, a nearby resident reported their car was stolen. Police believe Gee may still be driving that stolen red Jeep Wrangler, with Oregon license plat VNE 763. 


Anyone with information on Gee's whereabouts is asked to call police, and are instructed not to approach him. 

Crook County Continues Ban on Pot Shops

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County officials say they will continue to block medical marijuana dispensaries, indefinitely. The announcement comes despite a decision by the county’s only incorporated city to allow the businesses.


Jeff Wilson, Crook County Counsel says the moratorium applies to all areas outside of the Prineville city limits. "The city is its own jurisdiction, so the city can decide for itself whether it intends to continue with that moratorium or allow medical marijuana dispensaries. It’s my understanding that the city has enacted legislation to allow dispensaries in certain specified locations."


Commissioners are relying on the Circuit Court ruling for Cave Junction, which says a city can regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. Wilson says they’re interpreting that to include prohibition. "So, until the court of appeals rules otherwise, or unless the Legislature decides to weigh in, it’s Crook County’s position that SB 1531 – that’s the Senate Bill that created the moratorium – is not consider preemptive and doesn’t preclude the county from keeping the moratorium in effect," Wilson tells KBND News.
The moratorium applies only to the pharmaceutical outlets, and Wilson admits it could mean recreational pot stores would be allowed next year, while medical dispensaries are not. He says the county will cross that bridge when they come to it. 

Homicide Investigation Underway in Post

POST, OR --  The Crook County Sheriff's office is investigating a homicide in the small community of Post, 25 miles southeast of Prineville. Deputies were dispatched to SE Terrible Trail at about 10:30 Monday night to a reported shooting inside the residence. Sheriff Jim Hensley also responded.


One man was taken to the hospital, suffering from what investigators are calling "a medical issue." Another man was found dead in the home. 
The Sheriff's office does not believe there are any outstanding suspects and those involved are being interviewed by investigators.

Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony Today

BEND, OR -- Law enforcement from across Central Oregon will honor those killed in the line of duty, and those who continue to serve across the country, at a memorial Tuesday.


There haven't been any local casualties, but Bend Police Lt. Clint Burleigh hopes today's event will show how much law enforcement care about the public. "Our job as police is to represent our community, protect our community and go forward with our how our community wants to live," He tells KBND. "No one ever wants to see tension between the community members and law enforcement. We're here to help people."


He also says local agencies want today's event to reflect that force is not the first line of action. "Being a police officer, there's definitely a microscope, whether it's in Bend, Oregon or Central California, Washington, New York City, wherever. I believe there's always people looking at police officers, and we should be the people setting the example, doing the right thing. 


Today's ceremony begins at 11 a.m. at the Bend Heroes Memorial in Brooks Park. It is open to the public. 

Local Goodwill Employee to Receive National Honor

REDMOND, OR -- Darlene Hallam has had a tough life at times, but she doesn't feel sorry for herself. The Bend woman was recently promoted to Assistant Manager at Redmond's Goodwill store, and is receiving national recognition for her work.


As a child, Hallam was abused by her father. He hit her so hard, repeatedly, that she is deaf in one ear and relies on lip reading. She says receiving the Edgar J. Helms Award is a huge honor. "To me, it's like getting an award for being me. Reverend Helms believed if you teach someone, it's better than just giving it," she tells KBND News. "There's nothing wrong with giving something, don't get me wrong, but if I teach you how to do it yourself, you're going to to much further." The award is named for the organization's founder.


Dale Emanuel with Goodwill Industries tells KBND the award is much deserved. "Goodwill is a place that helps people with disadvantages. 72% of the persons in our 50 stores in Oregon and Southwest Washington have a disadvantaged condition. But, Darlene stands out among them because she leads by example."


Before being promoted to Assistant Manager in Redmond, Hallam worked for many years at the Bend location. She will travel to San Diego the weekend of June 21 to accept her award at the annual Goodwill delegate assembly. 

April Jail Death Ruled Suicide

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County District Attorney has completed his investigation into last month's death of an inmate found in his cell. D.A. John Hummel praised investigators who spent more than a hundred hours interviewing dozens of people in connection with the death of Eben Kaneshiro.


Based on the evidence, Hummel determined the cause of death to be suicide by hanging. Kaneshiro was discovered unresponsive  at the Deschutes County jail early in the morning, April 26. At a press conference shortly after the incident, Hummel said the death was difficult for deputies. "Corrections deputies and the crew from Bend Fire and EMS made heroic efforts to save Mr. Kaneshiro’s life. I watched the video tape. I saw a rapid, focused response from the on-duty team, and I also saw a look on their faces that revealed the pain they were experiencing."
Kaneshiro was facing a number of charges relating to child sex abuse. This was the second death of a Deschutes County Jail inmate in less than six months. 

Prineville Man Crashes After Health Emergency

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man's medical emergency caused a crash on Juniper Canyon Road on Sunday afternoon.


Crook County Sheriff's deputies responded just before 2:00 p.m., near Milepost 1. Investigators say 54-year-old Myrel Henning Jr. was the only occupant of the minivan when he lost control of his 2001 Chrysler Minivan and rolled down into a ditch.


He was taken by ambulance to St. Charles Prineville by ambulance. He was then flown to Bend by AirLink for further medical treatment. 


The cause of Henning's medical conditions, and his current condition, is unknown.

New Firefighting Tools Coming To Prineville

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The city of Prineville is trying to take a proactive approach to the upcoming wildfire season. State wildfire experts are predicting an active summer, given the region’s warm and dry winter and spring. Governor Kate Brown has already declared a drought emergency in Crook County.


Kelly Coffelt, Prineville Airport Manager, is working with the Department of Forestry to house two new Single Engine Air Tankers – also known as “SEATs” - in Prineville. "They look a lot like an agricultural aircraft. They can dump up to 800 gallons of retardant on a drop, so they’ll be able to go in and attack the smaller fires and get them put out."
Coffelt said in the City of Prineville Podcast they should help prevent those smaller fires from becoming major events. "I look at it as a huge asset for the community to have those type of resources close and be able to support the community."

Group Concerned About Sex Ed to Speak in Redmond

REDMOND, OR -- The leaders of "Parents' Rights in Education" will speak at Monday night's Redmond Patriots meeting. The group formed in 2011 after state-mandated comprehensive sex education in schools. Supporters want to make sure parents' rights are not being violated.


Lori Porter co-founded the organization, which helped put a stop to the Seaside sex conference, after some disturbing features were exposed. She tells KBND News, "We're going to talk about moving forward, and the fact that this conference is really just the tip of the iceberg of what's being promoted in school districts across the state. There's policy, curriculum, there are also school-based health centers we're finding are infringing on the rights of parents and guardians to even know what's going on with their children."


Porter is proud of what the group has accomplished so far, and hopes tonight's event will help their work continue. "We're going to encourage people to be eyes and ears. One of the things about the conference that really worked; we sent people in to take pictures and to record. That's what got the attention of the state. So, we want to encourage people around the state to be eyes and ears. If they feel something is intruding on their rights as a parent, then let us know or do a little more digging."


The "Public School Sex Education Run Wild" talk will be held at Redmond's Highland Baptist Church, beginning at 6:30 p.m. tonight. 


Virus Outbreak Causes Cancelation of Large Equestrian Event

REDMOND, OR -- An event that would have brought more than 1,000 people to Redmond has been canceled due to the outbreak of an infectious virus in Oregon. For the first time, the Oregon High School Equestrian Team will not hold the state championship event this week. 


After an EHV-1 outbreak was seen in the Willamette Valley during a horse meet, event organizers hoped to keep the outbreak from spreading to the rest of the state. However, recent reports confirm the the virus is no longer isolated.


"We feel it's necessary to keep the horses home until the initial incubation time has passed," says State Chair Candi Bothum.


Bothum says canceling the event now will have a negative impact on the group. The event was scheduled for Thursday at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds.


"This is huge," Bothum tells KBND News. "We're talking about 500 athletes and 600 horses. Canceling it is not only enormously expensive, it's also very, very difficult."


The largest concern now is the unintentional spread of the virus. EHV-1 is a respiratory illness effecting horses. It can be passed by infected horses not yet showing symptoms.


"Oftentimes there's a second wave that comes through," Bothum says. "You have that 21 days where it takes the horses time to hit the neurological symptoms."


The event will likely be rescheduled for June or July. 

Room Tax Contributes More Than Expected

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are facing the unusual situation of having more money to work with than expected. Due to a robust first quarter for tourism, the city has collected more Transient Room Taxes than projected.


City Councilor Sally Russell said at this week’s meeting that the extra revenue is already allocated. "When the room tax comes in, we have a contract with Visit Bend, by law, that money that we bring in, a certain portion of it has to go to promotion for tourism outside of this community," Russell says. "So that money has to then go to Visit Bend."


Mayor Jim Clinton said they didn’t expect to write a check so soon. "It’s basically a budget adjustment for this unusual situation when the money is coming quicker than the budget anticipated." 


The Transient Room Tax is collected when someone stays in a Bend hotel, motel or vacation rental property that is on pace to exceed expectations by about 24 percent this year. That excess will likely total more than $391,000 dollars. 

Bend Considers Expanding Exclusion Zone

BEND, OR -- The City of Bend is trying to crack down on some of the negative behaviors downtown by expanding the Downtown Exclusion Zone. Bend already has an Exclusion Zone for public parks and downtown parking lots, but officials are considering expanding it to include the downtown core. 


Kelli Brooks with the Downtown Bend Business Association admits something needs to be done. "There's a lot of negative behavior that you don't see unless you're down there and you're approached by somebody," Brooks says. "I'm not saying that it drives tourists away, or the locals, necessarily, but there's a lot of negative feedback and we don't need to allow it. I don't believe we have to push everyone out; people need a place to go."


Anyone cited or arrested in these areas is not allowed to return for 90 days. Bend Police Chief Jim Porter told city councilors this week that he'd like to see the effective program expanded.


"We've taken it as far south as the south side of the library, but not to the Family Kitchen, because that's a service center for a lot of folks who come in and out of there," Porter says. "We've discussed this with the Family Kitchen and gotten their feedback; they're very much in support of this. The library is extremely in support of this. The library is a place we have children in and out of there all summer, yet we have conduct that's not acceptable. We have a lot of violent felonies in the evening. We're hoping by using the exclusion tool and using it sparingly, we'll be able to set a new feeling downtown for livability."


Since the Exclusion Zone was established in 2012, police have employed it more than 150 times. 

Safe Families for Children Launches in Central Oregon

BEND, OR -- A new partnership between Bend’s faith community and J Bar J Youth Services is working to keep local kids out of foster care. Safe Families for Children’s Central Oregon chapter launched earlier this year, and is now working to get more people involved.


Chris Earwicker is one of three women who helped bring the national program to Bend. "If you look at it like a river, the families who end up with their children taken from them into foster care are those that go over a waterfall and just shatter on the rocks," Earwicker says. "Safe Families is the faith community throwing a net across the river just above the falls, and hopefully catching some families before they get to that point."


Families are referred to the program through DHS or other agencies, and are often struggling with stressful circumstances. "Once DHS is involved, Safe Families can’t function in that particular situation," Earwicker says. "So if there’s abuse, neglect or threat of harm then DHS does come in. But there are many cases that are reported every year to DHS; DHS investigates and there’s not enough cause to take the kids. Those are the families we’re really targeting."
Safe Families is hosting an informational session Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m., followed by an afternoon training at New Hope Church in Bend. Lunch is provided. For more information, or to sign up for the event, call 541-788-3151.
To hear our full conversation with Chris Earwicker, visit our podcast page

Four Teens Rescued from Paulina Hot Springs

LA PINE, OR -- Four Bend teens were rescued late Wednesday near Paulina Lake, outside of La Pine. The two 18-year-olds and two 19-year-olds called 911 at about 7:00 p.m., reporting the weather had turned and they couldn't see the trail from the hot springs due to high winds and blowing snow. Joshua Klatt says the two couples did not have any food, their clothes were wet, and they only had towels.


Deputies responded with a patrol boat and located the foursome with the help of a fire Klatt was able to build. The sheriff's office says they were not dressed for the frigid weather and were found shivering, despite the fire. They were transported back to Little Lava Campground and their vehicle. 

Deputy Involved in Sisters Crash

SISTERS, OR -- A Deschutes County Sheriff's deputy was involved in a crash in Sisters, Thursday morning. The Sheriff's office says the deputy was on patrol in downtown Sisters when he rear-ended another car at Highway 20 and Locust Street. 


There was minor damage to the rear bumper of the other car, and a passenger complained of minor head pain, although the person refused medical treatment. There was no damage to the patrol car. 
Oregon State Police is investigating the low-speed collision. 
Photo: Courtesy Google Earth

Three Candidates for Bend Parks and Rec Position Hold Debate

BEND OR -- The Bend Chamber hosted a debate of the three candidates competing for a spot on the Bend Parks and Rec Board Wednesday night.


Incumbent Dan Fishkin is being challenged by engineer Brady Fuller and activist Foster Fell.


Some of the debate questions centered on the Parks and Rec Board's reluctance to reduce system development charges, known as SDC's, in order to help make affordable housing more affordable to build.


The board is still examining the issue. Current board chair Dan Fishkin objects to what he sees as people making this a one-issue election. "This election is not a referendum on affordable housing," Fishkin says. "It's about electing a board member to conduct oversight and supervision of five-year, $75-million capital improvement projects. Clearly affordable housing is an emotional subject and something everyone takes seriously, including Bend Parks and Rec."


Brady Fuller believes he brings unique skills. "I bring significant experience with respect with Mirror Pond and I'm concerned the board's current policies are contributing to the problem of affordable housing," Fuller says. "I think the board is a part of this community and should be a part of solving the challenges in our community."


Foster Fell is a respiratory therapist by profession and is Bend City Councilor Barb Campbell's partner. He didn't mince words during last night's debate.


"I want to say I think the park district has lost its way," Fell says. "I think the board is disdainful of the taxpaying public and its desires. The park district is still resisting suspending SDCs, and I think it's obvious we have a housing crisis."


The election for the Bend Parks and Rec Board is May 19.

Tumalo Teen Approached by Suspicious Man

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office continues to search for a suspicious man seen near Tumalo Road and 97th Street. A 14-year-old girl told deputies she was approached by a stranger yesterday afternoon, after getting off the school bus. He asked her if she wanted a ride and became angry after she repeatedly told him "no." He quickly left the area. 


He's described as a white male around 60 years old, with a full white beard, wearing a blue hooded shirt. He was driving a teal four-door passenger car.


Deputies responded to the area, but were unable to locate the man or the car. Anyone who may have seen him or who has any information on the case is asked to call the sheriff's office at 541-693-6911. 

More Changes For the Pole Pedal Paddle

BEND, OR -- Pole Pedal Paddle organizers are making more changes to this year's course, thanks to Mother Nature. Monday, the Mount Bachelor Sports Education Foundation (MBSEF) announced it would not hold the Nordic portion of the relay due to a lack of snow, instead adding a one-mile run around the Mt. Bachelor parking lot.


Wednesday, race organizer MBSEF says the run will be longer. "We heard it wasn't enough time to get from the Alpine to the bike transition in time," Molly Cogswell-Kelley tells KBND. "Hopefully this is the last change we have to make on this race."


Cogswell-Kelly says there are still details to work out, to decide exactly which trails to use. "We turned the Nordic section into a two and a half mile go around the parking lot of Mt. Bachelor," Cogswell-Kelly says. "We will utilize the upper Nordic track system and end up where the bike transition is."  


MBSEF has decided not to charge a late fee for this year's relay. PPP registration is due by midnight on May 11, for the May 16 race. 


Dan Simoneau is the Nordic Director for MBSEF. He says much of the feedback he's received on the changes has been positive. "The feedback I'm hearing is the race has favored Nordic skiers, so Nordic skiers are frustrated," Simoneau says. "But I've also heard from a couple tri-athletes who have said, 'Cool!'"


Simoneau's main concern is that this won't be the last year of changes. "You know, this is the worst. It's all our great fear that this is the new normal. I was in Truckee [California] at some of the races and this is their third year of mild winters. When you get there it's like 'Whoa!' You wonder if this is the new normal."

Two People Injured in Highway 97 Crash

REDMOND, OR -- A serious two-car crash on Highway 97 south of Redmond caused huge backups during rush hour Wednesday afternoon. The high-speed rear end collision happened just before 4:00 p.m. near the highway's intersection with 61st and Gift Road.


Oregon State Police continues to investigate. Preliminary information shows Keneth Kayija of Bend lost control of his Isuzu Rodeo as he drove southbound during a hailstorm. He spun around, crashing into a northbound Ford Explorer driven by a Redmond man. Kayija and a passenger in the Explorer were both taken to the hospital with potentially serious injuries. 


Highway 97 was closed for more than an hour while emergency crews were on scene. 

Self Serve Gas Could Become Legal in Rural Oregon

SALEM, OR -- Driving in rural parts of Oregon can be a test, especially if you’re low on gas. A bill now in the Senate would allow gas stations in counties with fewer than 40,000 residents to offer self-pay and self-pump facilities when no employees are around. The law could impact Central Oregon drivers, as Jefferson and Crook Counties both have fewer than 25,000 people. 


Representative Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) says the bill just makes sense. "The idea here is that we would have fuel pumps that could be operated with a credit card when no one is around," Bentz says. "This would allow folks to get away from their job and leave fuel for those who might happen by these remote areas."  
Oregon is one of two states that doesn't allow people to pump their own gas. HB 3011 passed unanimously in the House and is now in the Senate.

Health Insurance Rate Hikes Requested

SALEM, OR -- Central Oregonians could be in for steep rate hikes if health insurance companies get their way.


Jesse O’Brien, OSPIRG’s Healthcare advocate, says the requests by insurance providers still need to be approved by state regulators. "These are some of the largest rate increase proposals we’ve seen in years," O'Brien says. "Many Central Oregonians get their coverage through Pacific Source, which is requesting an especially large rate increase. This is going to be a period of real concern for Central Oregonians who are going to have to potentially be on the hook for a more than 40 percent rate increase."


Other companies have requested increases for individual plans, ranging from 5 percent with Trillium Community Health, to 38 percent with LifeWise. O’Brien says it’s difficult to determine exactly how much premiums will go up next year. "One thing that complicates this is it will vary depending on the person’s plan, their age and a number of other factors. But for many people, it could be as much as $100 extra dollars a month, or more in some cases. In some cases probably significantly more."
Oregon’s Insurance Division will accept public input on the requests prior to making a final decision July 1. O’Brien says OSPIRG will continue to research the proposals and plans to submit its input to regulators.
The state can accept or deny a rate hike request, or could approve a smaller increase. Learn more about the rate changes health insurance companies are requesting for 2016, and submit public input HERE

Redmond Looks to Revitalize MidTown

REDMOND, OR -- City officials are looking to revitalize Redmond's mid-town area, and they're hoping for more public input on the idea. The mid-town area runs from NW 4th Street to NW 7th Street and from NW Kingwood Avenue to W Antler Avenue.


Community Development Director Heather Richards tells KBND that a meeting tomorrow will build on a previous public workshop. "It's not a corridor," Richards says. "It's a whole area, and what can we do for that area as a whole? There's been a lot of dialog about housing. We're also looking for a site for a community recreation center. This area has been identified as a great place for that, so we'll be investigating that further."


Richards says most of the funding for the revitalization project will come from grants. "The beauty of this is there is funding because it's in our Urban Renewal District, so we have money set aside."


Thursday's public meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at Redmond's City Hall. 


Local Man Arrested For Weekend Shooting Incident

SALEM, OR -- A man that police say was involved in a dispute in Redmond -- where shots were allegedly fired last Saturday -- has be arrested near Salem. The incident occured near SW 11th Street and SW Indian Avenue at around 9:30 p.m. Saturday night. Investigators believe shots were fired, but there were no injuries.


The suspect was identified as 36-year-old David Alan Mills. Marion County Sheriff deputies arrested Mills Monday on drug charges that allegedly occured in the Salem area. He's expected to also face charges in connection with Saturday's incident in Deschutes County. 


PPP Cancels Nordic Leg

BEND, OR -- The Nordic leg of the upcoming Pole Pedal Paddle will be replaced by a one-mile trail run. Race organizers announced Tuesday evening that unseasonably warm temperatures made the Nordic ski portion unsafe for athletes. The alpine leg will remain unchanged, along the Leeway run.


The relay race will be held May 16. It begins with the alpine, or downhill skiing leg at the top of the Red Chair at Mt. Bachelor. Then the one-mile trail run will take place around the Mt. Bachelor parking lot. The 22-mile bike ride will still take off from the West Village parking lot. The five-mile run, .8-kilometer canoe/kayak leg and .5-mile sprint will also all remain the same. 


Mt. Bachelor Resort announced earlier this week that it will close for the season following its BrewSki festival on Sunday, May 10. This is the first time since the relay began in 1977 that it won't include a Nordic leg. 

Tumalo Falls Vandalism Could Lead to Jail Time

BEND, OR -- A local man’s attempt to shame vandals near Tumalo Falls has gone viral, and could soon result in criminal charges for those responsible. Brett Nelson posted a photo to Facebook over the weekend of a man and his teenage children, describing how they carved their names into a handrail. Nelson said the man continued to allow his children to deface the railing even after a verbal confrontation. The man, reportedly from California, also let Nelson take their picture. 


Kassidy Kern with the Deschutes National Forest tells KBND this incident highlights a bigger problem. "There’s a lot of vandalism that happens in the National Forest, and the Deschutes National Forest is not exempt from this. From our perspective, we also see it as a broader issue, and this particular issue kind of drills down to Brett’s story. We’re very glad that he shared it, and we’re happy he’s able to work with our law enforcement officers to see if we can get a good resolution."
While vandalism is common, Kern says they don't often get to take advantage of worldwide exposure. "The power of social media is at work here. Individuals have shared this more than 50,000 times now, and there are some leads on some potential individuals. Brett is working with our law enforcement officers and giving them information so they can contact whomever they need to contact. "
According to Kern, the damage will cost several hundred dollars to repair. If identified, the vandals could be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor, and could face up to a $5,000 fine and six months in jail. 

Bend 2030 Focuses Attention on Transportation

BEND, OR -- Bend 2030 is hoping for more community ideas on how the city can expand transit options. The group is moving into the next phase of talks on how to further develop transportation as the city grows.


Erin Foote Marlowe tells KBND that the group collected input from nearly 200 people during last month's forum. "What they told us is that they want more and safer bike routes, they want a more complete sidewalk grid, and they want a more robust transit system," Marlowe says. "They're willing to pay for it."


Marlowe says the city needs to plan ahead for an anticipated population boom. "By 2030, we're going to have about 35,000 more people here. That's a 40 percent increase in our population. But we don't have hardly any new roads planned. That means congestion, which we already feel, will be much worse."
She adds, "This transportation issue is actually an economic development issue. We can't have people stuck in traffic or trying to get around our community. Transportation is a really key element of getting people to work on time, to move things across the city, to get jobs done."
Bend 2030 will soon distribute a survey to residents to get feedback on several ideas. Foote-Marlowe recognizes some of the potential solutions are controversial, but she says they're necessary. One option would be to implement a tourist tax or fee to expand local public transit.
If the majority of survey respondents indicate they would be willing to pay for transportation development, Bend 2030 plans to support a local gas tax ballot measure in November. Another option would create a "tourist tax" to raise money for community development. 

Prescribed Burns Scheduled For Sunriver

SUNRIVER, OR -- More prescribed burns are scheduled for the Sunriver area this Tuesday. Fuels specialists expect to burn a 61-acre section along County Road 40, and another 40 acres near Sugar Pine Butte.


Crews will also attempt to burn an additional 12 acres southeast of the High Desert Museum. No road closures are expected, and they should conclude by the end of the day. 

Two Arrested After Theft, Pursuit

BEND, OR -- Police arrested two men after a shoplifting incident at Walmart and a car chase in southeast Bend, Monday morning. Officers responded to Walmart following the report of a theft. Police say 29-year-old Casey Finnell and 31-year-old Nicholas Butler led officers on a pursuit that, at times, varied between 40 and 70 miles per hour near American Lane and Reed Market Road.


Finnell and Butler were arrested following that chase and face a list of charges including DUII, theft and attempting to elude police. 

Mt. Bachelor to Close Sunday

BEND, OR -- Mt. Bachelor officials say below-average snowfall and a diminishing snowpack will force them to close for the season this weekend. The resort had planned to remain open through May 24, but now says it will shut down this Sunday, following its annual BrewSki Beer Festival. 


The start of Bend's iconic Pole Pedal Paddle relay is slated for Mt. Bachelor on May 16. Race organizers say that will still happen; however, the Nordic portion of the race is at risk. An announcement on the fate of the skiing legs of this year's PPP is expected late Tuesday.
Photo: Mt. Bachelor Pine Marten Lift 05/05/2015

Bend Commercial Vacancy Rates Drop in Q1

BEND, OR -- As Bend struggles through a housing crisis with residential rental vacancy rates hovering barely above zero percent, commercial rates are not far behind.


Erich Schultz with Compass Commercial Real Estate says the drop in vacancies over the past year is directly tied to the city’s inability to expand the UGB. "The problem is, we don’t have a lot of land to develop any of these product types, whether it’s apartments, industrial, office, retail. It’s just not there." Schultz tells KBND. "We’re supposed to have a 20-year supply within the Urban Growth Boundary and we’re well below that. Just finding land to build any of these things is challenging. Then when you find it, finding something that’s affordable, makes it even more challenging."


Schultz says retail vacancies fell in the first quarter to 6.1 percent, industrial rates dropped to 6.6 percent, and office vacancies fell to 8.9 percent, compared to the 20 percent range Bend saw during the depths of the recession.
However, he's concerned business growth could soon stall, given that affordable housing availability remains barely above zero. "It means that some of the companies are going to expand elsewhere. The ones that have been looking at Bend, may look outside of the area. So we’re losing opportunities as a result of not having enough housing. It’s a matter of affordability. We may have some housing, but the jobs may not support that housing. So, they may look to Redmond, they may look to Prineville or La Pine, and some may choose not to move here because of that commute."


However, Schultz says it isn't all bad news for the economy. "Rental rates are up and the cost of buying new buildings is up – so what’s good about that? Well, what’s good about that is that businesses are making money again, and landlords are part of the business world, and now it’s their turn."
To hear more of our conversation with Schultz, visit our Podcast page. 

Gun Violence Victim Reacts to Passage of SB 941

SUNRIVER, OR -- A victim of gun violence who lives in Sunriver was happy to hear that the State House approved Senate Bill 941, expanding gun background checks in Oregon. Saundra Hopkins, her husband and her young daughter were shot at while teaching in a village in Indonesia in 2002. Two other Americans were killed in the attack. She tells KBND News, "I understand the differences between our situation and what's going on in Oregon, but the point was it was a third world country, and that kind of thing should not be happening here. ... We deserved to have laws to protect us from people who are not great. This won't stop all of them, but this is a deterrent and I think that's great."


Similar background check measures failed to pass in the State Senate in past years, but passed this year with an increased Democratic majority in both chambers. Hopkins applauds lawmakers for finally closing this loophole. "We got exactly what the voters wanted: Background checks in the state of Oregon," she says. "It made no sense for the voters to say they want then, and for us to have a law with huge gaping holes in it."  


She adds, "We were the only state of the three west coast states that didn't have a pretty strong background law covering all those areas -- we already had gun shows, and now we have online sales and private sales taken care of. Those criminals might be thinking about going to Idaho, Nevada and wherever else, and I say 'Great. Enjoy your time there.'"


During yesterday's vote, House Minority Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) gave an impassioned 30-minute plea for lawmakers to vote against the measure. "The right to bear arms is as fundamental to people as the right to vote," he says. "What's being erected here is a barrier. If, colleagues, it were a barrier to voting -- say the cost of postage was too great compared to the $15 transfer fee -- does the agenda change your answer?"


All Republicans voted against SB 941, as did three Democrats. With the 32 to 28 vote, the bill now heads to Governor Kate Brown, who is expected to sign it.

Cougar Spotted in Redmond Yard

REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond woman got quite a surprise when she spotted a cougar in her front yard, on Saturday afternoon. Deschutes County Sheriff's Office deputies were dispatched to NE Yucca Avenue, near Northeast 17th, at about 2:30 p.m.


But by the time they arrived, the big cat had moved into nearby trees and bushes nad deputies were unable to locate it.


The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was notified. The Sheriff's office is urging neighbors to be careful, and remember to remain calm if a cougar is spotted.

PPP Nordic Portion At Risk Of Cancellation

BEND, OR -- Pole Pedal Paddle has experienced a more than 20% drop in registrations for this year's event, due to the possibility there won't be any "poles" in the iconic relay. The event typically draws over 3,000 participants.  Molly Cogswell-Kelly tells KBND, "We've had a few challenges with Mother Nature. We were really on track with registration early on; and then when we made the announcement that we weren't really sure if we'd have enough snow to do the nordic portion, registration slowed down quite a bit."


Pole Pedal Paddle is set for May 16th, and Cogswell-Kelly says Mt. Bachelor still hasn't decided if there will be enough snow for the downhill and cross-country skiing portions. But, she's hopeful the resort's efforts to create snow will be enough. "Mt. Bachelor is an amazing partner with us. They know how important this event is to the community and to our nonproft. All of our MBSEF programs are run at Mt. Bachelor. They have an amazing team that I think can work a little bit of magic."


Race organizers are evaluating the situation and are expected to announce tomorrow whether the nordic events will take place. 

Bend Woman Rescued From Misery Ridge

REDMOND, OR -- A group of Deschutes County Search and Rescue members training at Smith Rock State Park were deployed to help an injured hiker at Misery Ridge, Sunday. The 71-year old Bend woman reportedly slipped on loose rock above Monkey Face, just before 10:30 a.m., and wasn't able to continue down the trail. 


Six Search and rescue team members joined the 7 already at the park for training, and located the woman. They packaged her onto a wheeled litter and brought her down the rugged trail to awaiting medics. She was taken to St. Charles Redmond with minor injuries. 

Peterson Creek Reservoir Drained

CROOK COUNTY, OR -- A Crook County landowner is offering a reward for the arrest and conviction of those responsible for damage done to Peterson Creek Reservoir. According to the Crook County Sheriff's office, someone trespassed on private property east of Big Summit Prairie, and manipulated a valve. The damage resulted in the reservoir draining nearly 75% of its water before it was discovered. 


Governor Kate Brown has declared a drought emergency in Crook county, and water will be a valuable commodity this summer. The private landowner is offering a $5,000 reward. Anyone with information is asked to call Sgt. James C. Savage at the Crook County Sheriff's office: 541-447-6398. 

New Principal for Sky View Middle School Announced

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Ron Wilkinson announced that Scott Olszewski has been selected to become the next principal at Sky View Middle School. Olszewski is currently a vice principal at Mountain View High School, a position he has served in for three years.
“I just love the middle school environment. I love the energy of middle school students and this stage of development, where they are in between being kids and being young adults,” said Olszewski.
Prior to working at Mountain View, Olszewski served as the dean of students at Pilot Butte Middle School for four years. He also has six years of classroom teaching experience at the middle school level. Olszewski said he is also looking forward to working with Sky View staff. “They have a passion and energy for young people that just shines through.” 
Olszewski will begin his position July 1. Current Sky View principal Scott Edmondson is becoming the principal at R.E. Jewell Elementary School in Bend.
Several other administrative changes will take place July 1:
• Erich Brocker, the current student services coordinator at Highland Elementary School, will become the new vice principal at William E. Miller Elementary School.
• Frank Hanson, the student services coordinator at Marshall High School, will become the vice principal at Elk Meadow Elementary School.
• David Robinson, the current principal at Ochoco Elementary School in Crook County School District, will become the vice principal at Bear Creek Elementary School.
• Vanessa Tobolski, the current student services coordinator at Buckingham Elementary School, will become the school's vice principal.

Local Health Officials Pleased With Vaccine Stats

BEND, OR -- Fewer Oregon parents sought non-medical exceptions to required kindergarten immunizations, this year. A report by the Oregon Health Authority shows 5.8% of all kindergartens claimed a non-medical exemption, compared to 7% in 2014. Stacy de Assis Matthews with the Oregon Immunization Program tells KBND News the statewide trend is reflected in local numbers, as well. "Deschutes County last year at kindergarten was at 10.1%. This year, Deschutes County is at 8.3%." She adds, "Up until this year, we saw a slow and steady increase every year for over a decade, and this is the first time we've seen a drop in the rate in Deschutes County and in nearly every county in Oregon."


Heather Kaisner with Deschutes County Public Health says, while she's pleased with the progress, there's still more work to be done. "These percentages are still too high when it comes to something like, if we had a Measles case in a school, you need a very high coverage - higher than 95% - to be protected." Crook and Jefferson county rates were nearly cut in half, as well.


De Assis Matthews believes the decline is due to new rules that went into effect this past year. "The new process required parents to get a little bit of education about the benefits and risks of immunizations prior to claiming an exemption. They could get that education by one of two sources: by watching an online module on the Oregon Health Authority website, or by talking to a healthcare practitioner."


An Oregon State Senate bill that would provide parents with more specific information as to the number of students vaccinated against certain diseases at each school is still working its way through the legislature. Supporters say it could increase awareness and help more parents get their kids immunized. Overall exemption rates by individual school will be available in early June. 

State Rep. Buehler's UGB Bill Passes House

SALEM, OR -- The Oregon House approved a bill Thursday designed to streamline the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) approval process for local cities. The legislation was introduced by State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend).


"State land use plicy has not kept pace with the rapid growth of Bend and other Oregon cities. As a result, we have an extreme shortage of housing options and available industrial land which affects our livability," Rep. Buehler said in a statement, Thursday. "Bend is a special place to live with a unique quality of life. HB 3282 will help Bend grow responsibly through streamlining the process and smarter planning."


According to Buehler, the Land Conservation and Development Commission improved methods of approving UGB expansion applications in 2013. One of the methods, called periodic review, reportedly allows cities to receive incremental approval of an application. Buehler's bill aims to ensure that cities that have been directed to amend portions of applications can still take advantage of that periodic review. Bend is currently amending its application and periodic review could potentially streamline that approval process. Representative Buehler says his bill "will allow for timelier and less expensive approvals, and will create more housing options. An improved UGB process is a change Bend and other growing cities desperately need now."


The bill is expected to have its first reading in the Senate on Monday. 

Forestry Officials Brace For Tough Fire Season

BEND, OR -- A mild winter has resulted in low snowpack across Oregon, and officials are worried about the upcoming wildfire season. Carol Connolly with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center tells KBND they are bracing for a tough summer. "It could prove to be a challenging year for Central Oregon and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Several counties have already declared drought emergencies by the Governor and there are other drought conditions out there."


Despite the current data, Connolly admits it's difficult to know what's ahead. "There's no way to predict how big the fire year will be, no way to predict the largest fires in Central Oregon," she says. "But, indications from the past look at trends and it looks like it will be a similar fire season as last year." She says in 2014, "We had 19 fire management teams and 1.3 million acres burned. We had 12,000 firefighters in Oregon and California. One of the things that can happen- we may be in competition for these resources ina big fire year."


Connolly says Oregon's wildfire season typically gets underway in June. Right now, the southeast portion of the state is consideredthe driest. 


Photo: Two Bulls Fire, Bend 2014


Oregon's Department of Forestry will take part in National Fire Community Preparedness Day, in advance of the coming wildfire season. Jenna Nelson says 65 projects will take place across the state, Saturday. "There are two main things we're focusing on: creating defensible space around the home and making access and availability for firefighters to come in and help protect your home if a wildfire were to come through." She says homeowners should focus on removing brush under trees.
To learn more about the FireWise program and local projects happening this weekend, click HERE

Central Oregon Schools Respond To PERS Ruling

BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Supreme Court struck down some of the cuts made to the Public Employees Retirement System Thursday, creating holes in the budgets of every public agency in the state. The reforms were approved as part of the 2013 “Grand Bargain” when lawmakers tried to funnel more money to school budgets during the recession.


Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Ron Wilkinson tells KBND News he was anxiously awaiting the court's decision, but hoped it would go the other way. "We’re disappointed with their decision, but we’ve always known there was a possibility they would rule to reject part of the reform. We knew we couldn’t anticipate what that would mean, so we’ve been progressing with our budget formulation using the rates given to us by PERS, realizing that there’s a time in the future we’ll have to make some adjustments to deal with that."
Wilkinson says it’s too early to tell just how much – and when – it will impact the district’s budget. "The actual rates we pay for PERS are set by the PERS board, and they’ve already set the rates for the 2015-17 biennium," he says. "Unless they chose to come back together and change those rates, we expect those rates to remain the same for this biennium and the adjustments would be made at the beginning of the 2017-19 biennium." Although, Wilkinson says there is precedent to change the contribution rate mid-biennium.
With the budget turmoil, Wilkinson isn't blaming public employees. "I get upset when I hear people blaming the PERS employees, as somehow they’re responsible for this mess. They’re not the ones who set the system up. They came to work; they were told ‘here’s the system you’re part of.’ And they’ve done their part and they’ve performed well over the years. So I work hard to make sure it isn’t pitting one against the other, in that regard." Wilkinson adds, "The bottom line is that we have a system that’s out of balance and the real effort of the legislature is to bring it back in balance so it, by itself, doesn’t become the cost-breaking that makes it so that class sizes have to go up and we’re not able to do the same job in educating kids as we’d like to do." On Friday, the state Legislative Fical Office released an estimation of the impact on public schools. Its report shows the ruling could cost K-12 schools as much as $358 million in the 2017-19 biennium. 
In Redmond, Superintendent Mike McIntosh issued the following statement: 
"The Redmond School District is disappointed that the Supreme Court did not uphold the constitutionality of the 2013 legislature’s reforms to PERS. This decision will have no impact on the proposed 2015-16 budget that we presented to our Budget Committee last evening, April 29, 2015. The employer rates have been set for the 2015-2017 biennium and, as we understand, are not subject to change until July 1, 2017.  At this point in time, we do not know what the impact of the Court’s decision will be on future rates. What we do know is that those future rates will be higher than they otherwise would have been if all, and not just some, of the reforms were upheld. The District’s proposed 2015-16 budget includes a $1.4 million reserve for PERS increases which we intend to maintain for the next two fiscal years. When we understand more clearly the future PERS rate increases, we will propose how to utilize that reserve to mitigate any negative impact rate increases may have on our educational staffing and programming."

OSU President Delivers State of The University Address in Bend

BEND, OR -- The President of Oregon State University delivered his State of the University Address Thursday evening in Bend. More than 350 attended the presentation at Bend's Riverhouse Convention Center. President Ed Ray says Bend is on the brink of having a four-year university, but it's not a done deal. He toured the 10-acre parcel on Bend's west side where they hope to locate the new campus. The state Land Use Board of Appeals will decide within the next month whether that project goes forward. "I got to see the 10 and a half acre site going through the state approval process to begin construction on," Ray told KBND News. "It's really is a beautiful piece of land. I can see how we could put an academic building, dining hall, a couple residence halls - I can see how that can be built out to meet our needs for the next four, five, six years."


President Ray says the former pumice mine land under consideration needs to be repurposed. "That place is now a perpetual monument to our total disregard and degradation of the environment. Is that really the best use we could make of that land? Maybe more of it could be used for a university campus than the 10.5 acres we have. We haven't secured anything. We haven't made any such decision. But I would hope to God we could com to the agreement that all of that has to be transformed into something that can be a point of pride for Bend, not a point of embarrassment."


LUBA is expected to release its decision in early June on an appeal by neighbors who oppose the site. Opponents of the expansion believe it will make traffic too congested and the parcel lacks adequate room for future growth. Ray believes the opposition is a vocal minority. "There are always 'NIMBY' people - Not In My Back Yard - I get it. I talked with a couple today who live in the area adjacent to the site, who are very positive. We want to engage people in the near-campus area, hear their complaints and concerns, and hopefully come up with a better plan than we would otherwise."

Bend Skier Killed At Mt Bachelor

BEND, OR -- A Bend man was killed at Mt Bachelor, Thursday afternoon. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff's office, 29-year old Peter Sky was skiing with a friend on the Leeway Run when he lost control and hit a tree, at about 1 p.m.


Mt Bachelor Ski Patrol and private citizens began life-saving efforts. He was taken down the mountain to Bend Fire medics, but further attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.  


Investigators say Sky was an avid and accomplished skier and was wearing appropriate protective gear, including a helmet. He is survived by his wife and daughter.


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