BEND, OR -- Bend Police say a Corvallis man failed to stop at a stop sign, leading to a crash that tied up traffic on Neff Road during much of Friday's morning commute.
Emergency crews responded to Neff Road, near Pilot Butte Middle School just after 7 a.m. They found two cars heavily damaged and 59-year-old Kerry Schoning hurt. Investigators believe Schoning was southbound on Shepard Road, when he he turned onto Neff without stopping. He collided with an SUV driven by a 35-year old Bend man.
Schoning was taking to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Neither alcohol nor speed are believed to be factors in the crash.
SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters City Council is undergoing some changes, with three Councilors stepping down within the last four months. Amy Burgstahler was selected to replace Bill Hall, who resigned after just one month on the council due to the hostile political climate.
Burgstahler tells KBND she's looking forward to the new challenge, despite the recent upheaval. "I'd like to be a part of helping Sisters remain competitive and rich in opportunity, but also maintain that balance with exceptional levels of safety and overall livability. We do have a great level of that in Sisters."
A former reporter for the Sacramento Bee, Burgstahler moved to Sisters about a year ago. She says she's not intimidated by the controversy. "I'm not really that concerned. I'm just going to do the best job I can do. We've got a lot of really fine people serving, and a good team. I'm just excited about moving forward and helping to keep the community positive. There are a few people who tend to want to be negative, but overall, the community is just tremendous and there's a lot of positivity."
Second term Sisters Councilor Wendy Holzman resigned last week, citing the need to care for her daughter who was in a serious bicycle accident; but she also admitted the climate on the council can be challenging. Her replacement has not yet been selected.
REDMOND, OR -- The head of Oregon's Department of Veterans Affairs will visit with local vets Friday in Redmond, to hear about issues they face.
Redmond VFW Commander Judith Burger expects Director Cameron Smith will hear a lot about healthcare. "I think we're going to be talking about the Veterans Care Initiative, the card that has come out that's supposed to allow us get medical care outside of the VA under certain conditions, and how that's working or not working."
Burger also told KBND she'd like to discuss the recent appointment of an LGBT coordinator for the VA. She doesn't think the position is necessary. "I should be able to walk into any Veterans Service office and know that my unique needs are going to be represented by whoever it is that helps me. I shouldn't have to go to 'this person does women veterans only.' Every veteran of every generation has unique needs."
Before he was appointed to the post by Governor John Kitzhaber in 2013, Smith served as a Marine in three tours of duty in Iraq.
Friday's meeting in Redmond is from 10 a.m. until noon, at the VFW on Veterans Way.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police arrested a 47-year-old Bend transient in connection with Thursday's early morning fire that caused $265,000 in damage to an office building on Shevlin Hixon Drive. Investigators say Eric Noell broke into the building and started the fire from the inside.
Battalion Chief Dave Howe tells KBND this has been a week. "It is pretty unusual to have this many fires. Basically it was four fires in a little over three days. In a hot summer, we may have that many brush fires, but structure fires are a different story. But, we have a history of having long times in between structure fires, and therefore, the probability of having multiple ones – even if they’re unrelated, and these four have been completely unrelated – the probability is there."
Battalion Chief Howe says the high number of fires can be tough on firefighters. "It can be pretty taxing, but these guys are in pretty good shape. They work 48 hours in a row, they do get to sleep unless they get woken up by a call, and then they’re off for four days. The last two days, they’ve had three fires and that was one shift. So, those guys, they deserve to go home and get some rest."
All four of this week's structure fires were preventable, and Howe says, "People need to just not be complacent when it comes to fire and understand that, when it’s hot and dry outside, it also means that the flammable and combustible materials that we live in – in other words, houses – are also a source of fuel and they are, perhaps a little more susceptible to burning, because of the hot and dry conditions."
ROSEBURG, OR -- Wildfire crews are battling two large fires in Douglas County. The Stouts Creek Fire, located 11 miles east of Canyonville, was reported yesterday afternoon, and grew from several hundred acres to about 6-thousand acres in a matter of hours. A Red Cross shelter has been established for residents of several neighborhoods that have been evacuated near the blaze.
Governor Kate Brown invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act Thursday night, in response to the Stouts Fire, saying the fire threatens about 50 homes and another 300 are at risk. In a statement released Friday morning, the Governor said, "As temperatures rise across Oregon this week, the Stouts Creek Fire has explosively grown amid record setting fuel conditions and extreme drought. This declaration allows us to quickly dedicate more resources to the fire in the effort to save lives and property." The declaration authorizes the State Fire Marshal to mobilize structural firefighters and equipment to assist local resources battling the fire.
Not far from the Stouts Creek Fire, the Cable Crossing Fire continues to burn northeast of Roseburg. It was spotted Tuesday afternoon and Officials say it is now 15% contained at about 830 acres.
REDMOND, OR -- City officials revealed plans for the historic building that will become Redmond’s next City Hall, Wednesday night. Neighbors got their first glimpse at an open house, and had a chance to ask questions and provide feedback to the city and architects.
Troy Ainsworth, with FFA Architecture, says working with the former Evergreen Elementary building has been an adventure. "For the original 1922 building, we didn’t have any drawings for the building, so we needed to carefully measure the building. But, we also really needed to look at things. We were looking under floors and taking down ceilings; it was a voyage of discovery. The first thing is, ‘what are we actually working with.’"
The renderings reveal a building exterior that won’t look too different, although the site will include nearly 70 new parking spaces. The current City Hall has about 30. For the interior, Ainsworth says he wants to restore it to its previous grandeur. "Fortunately, with this building, most of the original pieces were in place still; most everything was there, it had just been messed up or covered up. So, some of this is just uncovering, and some of it is putting back what was there in the first place." The second story will also feature a large space available for public use, and potential commercial lease space. Council Chambers will be on the first floor, with direct access to the new parking lot.
Some neighbors were concerned with the impact construction and future traffic will have on the area. But, overall, most were pleased with plans to maintain the historic feel of the building while updating infrastructure. "People seemed, either through their lack of questions or the good things they said, people seem pleased with the design of the building – the things we’ve chosen to save, the look and feel of the interior, the values that are coming through. It seems as though there are concerns with the site, particularly the site edges – how does the site respond to the neighbors, the bigger plans the city has for creating throughways and bike lanes, that sort of thing," Ainsworth tells KBND. He says the feedback will be used to make adjustments before the design is finalized in the next couple of months.
Ainsworth expects construction to begin in October, and will take about a year.
BEND, OR -- The American Red Cross hopes to capitalize on recent nationwide attention given to the risk of a large-scale earthquake in Oregon, with a special campout event, offering Oregonians a chance to test their own personal emergency readiness.
Lisa Stroup, Executive Director of our local Red Cross, tells KBND she hears two main excuses why Central Oregonians don’t come up with a disaster plan. "One, I’ll hear complacency – ‘I live in beautiful Central Oregon, this isn’t gonna happen, I don’t have to worry about it.’ Or, I hear ‘by golly, I know how to hunt, how to fish, I’ve got an RV, I’m prepared.’ And so, we’re just saying, that’s great! Let’s try it out. Put yourself to the test and let’s see if you actually are prepared."
The Red Cross urges everyone to participate in the second annual “Camp! Prepare!” tomorrow, by practicing what your family would do in a disaster – even camping out in the backyard, if you can. Stroup says trying to mimic disaster conditions is a great way to test your readiness. "Everybody knows the obvious: water, food, clothes. What they forget is the unobvious items. So, you get out there and you had a great stock of canned food, but you didn’t have a can opener. Do some ‘what ifs’ while you’re out there. We’re going to be stressed when using this kit – not during Camp Prepare!, but if we actually have to use it we’re going to be stressed. What are some things that we should’ve had in here. Think about your kids and your pets." Stroup adds, "Obviously water, a gallon per person per day. I know it’s the obvious one, but it’s the thing that will trip you up, and you’re going to be cooking and cleaning and taking care of family and probably some visitors. Some unobvious things: tools, gloves, a mask, a bucket, a whistle, hygiene items."
If you aren’t able to camp out tomorrow, she suggests picking a different day this summer to put your family to the test. For more details, visit the Red Cross Camp Prepare webpage
. Central Oregonians are not required to register; however, the local chapter will conduct contests for participants on its Facebook Page
LA PINE, OR -- A Tigard man is in the Deschutes County Jail for allegedly eluding several state troopers multiple times throughout the state, Wednesday. According to Oregon State Police, the first trooper attempted to stop 27-year-old Tyler Harp on Highway 31 in Lake County, but he and a passenger took off on his motorcycle, speeding at 120 then 149 miles per hour.
Two other officers tried to stop Harp, but were unsuccessful. Harp was finally stopped along Highway 97 near La Pine. He initially pulled off to the shoulder but then accelerated back onto the highway and hit an SUV.
Harp and his passenger received non-life threatening injuries in the crash. He faces a number of charges in Deschutes County; additional charges are pending in Lake and Klamath counties as well.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s only wildlife rescue facility is bursting at the seams, this summer. Dr. Jeff Cooney, full-time volunteer veterinarian and President of High Desert Wildlife Rescue tells KBND they're taking in five to 10 new animals each day, right now. "With all the nesting birds and all the mammals are having their litters. It’s a beautiful time of year, people are outdoors and we see a lot of people encountering wildlife. Many times there are babies out there that need to be rescued, but there are other times those babies are better off with their parents." Dr. Cooney says it's better to contact them before touching an animal if you're not sure whether it actually needs rescuing.
Dr. Cooney says, despite the rise in patients, they try not to turn any away. "If there’s a way for us to make space, we do. Sometimes, the kitchen floor where we do food prep might have an osprey in a playpen, then a great blue heron in another one, and a porcupine in a third one. It looks a little crazy in there sometimes, but that’s actually a good way to keep an animal safe and quiet and protected while it’s healing."
The non-profit opened its facility east of Bend two years ago, and saw about 200 animals that first year. "Last year we saw 900. This year, we’re not even through the year, and we’re already at 900. We’re probably going to get up to 1,500 animals this year, maybe 2,000. We really can’t predict. I think the more people know about us, the more people call, the more animals we get and the more help we need," Says Dr. Cooney.
He and his volunteers respond to wildlife calls 24/7, and work with local law enforcement, Fish and Wildlife and Oregon State Police, along with the general public. Animals are treated for injuries or illness and returned to the wild, when possible.
"Iggy" is a flying squirrel who lost his paws in a wildfire and wasn't able to be returned to his natural habitat.
He has become the mascot for High Desert Wildlife Rescue.
TERREBONNE, OR -- Redmond firefighters say oil-soaked rags are likely to blame for a Terrebonne vehicle fire, and they say the result could’ve been much worse. A work van filled with wood stains and tools was parked next to the owner’s Fifth Street home.
Investigators say the oily rags spontaneously ignited inside the van just before midnight, Wednesday night, while the owner slept. Crews stopped the fire before it spread to the house.
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire officials continue to investigate the cause of an early morning fire that severely damaged an office building in southwest Bend.
Firefighters responded to SW Shevlin Hixon Dr. near Colorado, just before 1 a.m. and found flames coming from under the first floor balcony. The blaze quickly spread to the second floor.
Within 15 minutes, They were able to stop it from progressing, but not before the fire cause significant damage to the front of the building.
UPDATE: Bend Police questioned and eventually arrested a 47-year-old transient, found nearby. They believe Eric Noell broke into the building and started the fire from inside. He was transported to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
REDMOND, OR -- With a year and a half left in her term, Ginny McPherson has resigned from the Redmond City Council. McPherson has served on the Council since 2013, and recently accepted a temporary position with Redmond’s Community Development Department.
In a written statement, McPherson said, "What I have enjoyed most about serving on City Council is the involvement I have had in shaping Redmond. My new position affords me the opportunity to increase that involvement in a very hands-on manner."
According to the city’s charter, the Mayor may appoint a replacement, with the majority vote of the rest of the council. Mayor George Endicott said in a statement, "With all the projects underway in Redmond, such as Sam Johnson Park and the Evergreen Revitalization Project, we need someone who can hit the ground running. It's important that candidates for appointment understand the role of city government; demonstrate the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively; and have a desire to assume the responsibilities and accountability inherent in the work of a councilmemeber."
Over the next few weeks, Mayor Endicott will consider a process to fill the remainder of McPherson's term, expiring at the end of 2016.
REDMOND, OR -- When the Deschutes County Fair opens Wednesday morning, only a handful of Redmond businesses are likely to benefit from the increase in traffic. Straw Hat Pizza, located just off Highway 97 on the way to the fairgrounds, expects it'll be the busiest week of the year.
However, those in the downtown core tell a different story. Nick Dacus, owner of Soup 2 Nuts
, tells KBND he was surprised last year’s sales were so low. "It was just dead, I mean, at least half as much if not worse than what we normally do. And we do everything from scratch where we’re at, so it really affects us because we end up throwing away a lot of food. We’re thinking, if it’s slow again this year, we’re just going to take a vacation next year!"
Mona Sorensen, owner of Green Plow Coffee Roasters
, is trying to come up with ways to keep her regulars coming in this week. "There was just a slight decrease in sales [last year]; more so because everyone’s going out to the fair, which is exciting, and we push that. It’s normally our regulars that conduct business at Green Plow, so right now outside we have buy one get one half off on drinks. I just want to keep it steady for our staff."
The Deschutes County Fair
is open Wednesday and Thursday, from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. until 11 p.m.; and 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., Sunday.
BEND, OR -- 12:30 p.m.: The Bend Fire Department is on scene of a house fire in southeast Bend.
The blaze was originally reported as a garage fire just before 12:30 p.m. on Grand Targhee Drive, near Wasatch Mountain Lane. The fire quickly extended into the attic and nearby brush and trees.
The U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry are assisting with the fire.
Fire officials ask people not to come into the area, as it is an active and ongoing operation.
UPDATE: Bend firefighters managed to keep the fire confined to the garage and attic. The fire broke out just after noon, near the Bend Golf and Country Club. Crews stopped the blaze before it spread to the living quarters, but it destroyed the roof.
Investigators believe the fire started with lithium batteries plugged in to charge in the garage. Damage is estimated at $200,000.
BEND, OR -- The Murphy Road project on the south end of Bend is about halfway done. The $27 million project is designed to make travel from the west side of Bend to the east side easier, and improve access to Third Street.
Two bridges over South Third Street are finished. The next phase has Brookswood blocked to through traffic as crews construct a new roundabout. Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, tells KBND, “Our game plan is to have it finished before Labor Day, or before the day after Labor Day when kids go back to school. In fact I think we’re a little bit ahead of that schedule. So we’re doing what we can to get into the roundabout, get it done and get out. And after that we’ll start finishing up the actual Murphy Road connection back to the bridge.”
And, there is good news for those struggling with area detours. “It looks like we’re a little ahead of schedule right now in terms of just the roundabout at Brookswood. We’re encouraging the contractor to do what he can. We’re doing what we can because we want to make sure it gets open, certainly before school starts. I mean, that’s almost a hard and fast deadline,” Murphy says.
When the entire Murphy Road project is finished in October, there will be a new look to the east-west connection to third street in Bend.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Officials confirm the Crook and Jefferson County Sheriffs Offices received suspicious letters sent to Sheriffs Departments across Oregon. Oregon State Police and Hazardous Material teams began responding to reports of suspicious packages, Monday. In one case, the Grant County Sheriff was reportedly rushed to the hospital with a rash.
The FBI confirms field testing showed no toxic substances on any of the more than 20 letters or envelopes, nor was there evidence of any powder found. OSP, FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service continue to investigate the letters' origin.
OSP warns those who receive suspicious mail to be cautious, especially if it contains excessive postage or tape, no return address, or anything else unusual.
Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says his office has not received anything suspicious, yet.
Photo Courtesy, Tillamook County Pioneer
BEND, OR -- The owner of Deschutes Brewery participated in a video conference Monday, with U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). The two have co-sponsored legislation that could provide tax relief for craft brewers, cider makers, vintners and distillers.
Gary Fish, founder of Bend-based Deschutes Brewery, says excise taxes are an added burden to the industry. "We get to pay excise taxes simply based on our production. One of the features of this legislation is that it relieves a percentage of that tax burden, freeing up capital for these small entrepreneurial businesses to continue to grow."
Fish added, "Craft beer is healthy across the country and in Oregon. That's something we're very proud of. This isn't a reward for that health, this is an incentive to continue to drive this industry to greater heights; to get these businesses to invest more money back into their businesses. Really, this is something that the cost is nominal, the benefit is substantial."
Senators Wyden and Baldwin took to Google and YouTube for a “Happy Hour Hangout” to discuss the economic benefits of their “Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.” Senator Wyden said, "In Oregon alone, craft beverage makers contribute $6 billion and 40,000 jobs to Oregon's economy. That is not exactly small potatoes." And, Fish says, the industry is growing. "Oregon has the honor of leading the nation in terms of craft beer production. I think a total of 20% of the beer consumed in Oregon is now produced by Oregon craft breweries."
To watch the full discussion, click HERE
LA PINE, OR -- It's still unclear whether a majority of south county residents support moving forward with the formation of a sewer district. The Deschutes County Planning Commission held a meeting to gauge public opinion, last week. But, Planning Manager Peter Gutowsky tells KBND public opinion remains split. "There's been a long history of Deschutes County and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality addressing groundwater quality in the La Pine sub-basin. I think the real challenge comes to this isn't an imminent public health hazard, it's a slow moving situation."
Supporters say a sewer district would help reduce the risk of groundwater contamination from septic systems used in the area. Gutowsky says, "I think Deschutes County, the DEQ and Land Conservation and Development are trying to provide flexibility so that if the vulnerability persists, property owners have the ability to rely on different wastewater treatments than just septic systems."
The Planing Commission will meet again August 13 to discuss whether to ask for an exception from the state, which would allow for the creation of a sewer district. The commission ultimately will offer a recommendation to the full Deschutes County Board of Commissioners.
Many in La Pine remain concerned about the potential cost of the project.
BEND, OR -- The Oregon Department of Transportation reports a dramatic jump in traffic fatalities this year, compared to 2014. According to statistics obtained by KBND, the state has seen a 44% increase in fatal crashes, so far this year.
ODOT’s Peter Murphy tells KBND he’s most concerned by the 15% rise in motorcycle fatalities. "It may be due to, just overall volume of motorcycles is up. We’re enjoying this great weather so people are getting outside and getting into it. But, we haven’t been able to pin down exactly why it is. What we’re trying to do is say ‘hey, anybody on, near or by a motorcycle, just use a little extra caution.’"
There have been nine motorcycle fatalities so far this month, alone, compared to five during the same timeframe last year. Murphy says it's unclear why this month has spiked. "We don’t know why you left the road, we just know you did. There’s some physics involved, and speed is one of the elements of the physics. So, let’s try to keep our heads on and take it easier as we try to get around. It’s a beautiful place to go out – Highway 206, Highway 31 - There are so many places to go on a bike around here. Let’s just ratchet it down a little bit, be a little bit more careful heading into those turns and let’s see what we can do." He adds, "And, it’s so easy. It seems like you’re out there all alone on the road, and you are in many of our places, and you just hit that turn a little bit too hard, too fast and there’s no margin at that point. You don’t have two more wheels to bring it back onto the pavement."
ODOT reports a total of 237 traffic-related deaths since the beginning of the year.
BEND, OR -- Consumer groups are warning used car shoppers to be aware of scam artists trying to unload cars damaged in floods that ravaged the south earlier this summer. Sophie Dichter, with the Oregon Better Business Bureau, tells KBND it’s not unusual for criminals to take advantage of natural disasters in another part of the country. "Usually when you hear about flooding in Texas, you don’t think it’s going to effect us here in the Northwest, even in Bend. But, that’s exactly what scammers do. They take damaged cars and do 'Title Washing.' They re-title it from different states, like from Texas to Oregon, and it makes the car appear clean."
She suggests checking a car’s interior. "Look at the carpet, and you might be thinking, ‘of course I’ll look at the carpet. If it looks stained or wet or smells, I’ll know it’s flood damaged.’ But, actually, we tell people if the carpet looks new but the car is used, it’s a red flag because it could be a sign the scammers reupholstered the car to cover up the damage from the flooding. If you find new carpet in a used car, it could be a sign it’s been reupholstered to cover damage." Also, check wires under the dashboard. Dichter says they’re often missed by someone trying to clean up rust.
And, she recommends having a mechanic check over the vehicle before you buy. "This is very common, actually. Every time there’s a natural disaster, we hear these nightmare stories of a car that appeared fine, it looked beautiful, the title appeared clean. But, eventually, when a car has been in a flood, it’s just a sponge for rust and corrosion. It’s just a slow process where your car is just kind of breaking apart."
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire crews responded to two destructive structure fires, Monday morning. The first was spotted by a passerby just before 5:30 a.m. at a commercial building near Ninth and Wilson. Investigators say the blaze started when an extension cord was pinched by equipment inside the Eagle Mountain Fellowship church.
The second occurred just after 10 a.m. northeast of Bend. Battalion Chief Dave Howe says when firefighters arrived on Pioneer Loop, it was too late to save the shed. "So, their biggest concern was the wildland component around the shed – there’s trees, brush, grass and it was on fire. So, they immediately called for some help from the Oregon Department of Forestry and Deschutes National Forest. Those guys showed up with two brush crews and contained the fire to 2/10 of an acre; which is pretty darn good, considering the weather and fuel condition."
Howe tells KBND this is a busy time of year for the department. "In a city our size, it’s not unusual to have more than one working fire in a day – maybe we have three or four in the summertime, because of the fuel conditions."
The Eagle Mountain Fellowship fire caused about $150,000 in damage. The Pioneer Loop shed was a total loss, estimated at $40,000; that fire started when combustibles caught fire due to heat from a nearby woodstove.
BEND, OR -- Despite Public Use Restrictions, Forest Service officials report a troubling increase in the number of human-caused fires in Central Oregon.
Kassidy Kern, with the Deschutes National Forest, tells KBND they take the extreme fire conditions very seriously. "We were at 10% of our normal snow pack heading into the fire season, then we had a very dry spring – with the exception of a few thunderstorms that came through in May. So, our brush is about one to two months ahead of their normal moisture levels, and our sagebrush in particular is currently at its lowest moisture level in 7 years. So, we look at those fuel moisture contents and we realize those forest fuels are really receptive to fire right now."
Due to the rise in human-caused fires, they’re increasing law enforcement patrols in the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and Crooked River National Grasslands. "Just the Deschutes National Forest alone is 1.6 million acres, but obviously we’re not as concerned in areas were people don’t tend to camp. We have seen a lot of abandoned or escaped campfires, that’s one of the major fire responses we’ve been having recently. So, we’re going to where we know people are going to be."
Of the 208 wildfires reported in Central Oregon so far this year, Kern says more than half were human-caused. "When we have those escaped campfires, or abandoned campfires, unfortunately, if they’re in an area where that brush can catch, it will. And, that puts a lot of unneeded pressure on our firefighters to go out and take care of these human-caused starts, when we really do want them patrolling, but also looking for, in some cases, holdovers from lightning." While most of the human-caused fires appear accidental, she says several are being investigated as suspicious.
BEND, OR -- Job growth remains strong in Deschutes County, especially in the tourism industry. Regional Economist Damon Runberg says it's one of the region's dominant fields. He tells KBND the three fastest growing sectors were Leisure/Hospitality, Accommodations/Food Services and Retail Trade. "We are at all time records of employment in Deschutes County for those kind of tourism jobs. Pretty much every summer over the last three, we've broken the record for summer employment in those tourism-related industries. It continues to be really strong."
But, Runberg says, "I think we're starting to see this plateau a bit, or approaching a plateau, because the growth over the last year is a little bit slower than it has been in years prior. So, I think we're starting to see a point where we're starting to hit capacity with some of those in tourism jobs, perhaps."
In June, the three primary tourism-related sectors accounted for more than 31,000 jobs in Deschutes County.
BEND, OR -- Three local artists were selected by Bend's Arts and Beautification Commission to adorn four storm drains with messages addressing the connection with the Deschutes River.
Artist and river guide David Kinker began work Friday on two storm drains next to Harmon Park. “The river is what we’re really talking about and what we put into it. And keep an awareness that you can’t just throw your oil out in the street or anything like that and expect to have a river full of fish. Because it’s a metaphor for life.”
Kinker has 25-years experience as a river guide and artist. “Really what I want to convey is something very happy and we want to keep it that way. SO I’m going to use a lot of festival signage techniques using highlights and reflective lights, bright colors and lots of sloping shapes. I’m trying use symbols and dragonflies and butterflies and things of the river and fish.”
He tells KBND he wants to remind everyone to be aware that what we dump in the street will eventually make it’s way to the river.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man is accused of driving under the influence, in connection with an early Saturday morning hit and run near Southwest 15th and Galveston.
According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, 33-year-old Stan Glover hit a power pole. While dragging the power pole with his car, he continued for three blocks where he collided with a car, which then hit another vehicle.
When deputies arrived, they say he Glover was walking away from the scene. He was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He faces a number of charges.
BEND, OR -- A Canadian bicyclist had to be rescued after crashing in the Phil's Trailhead area west of Bend. Another bicyclist in the area called 9-1-1 to report that Catherine Laurendeau was injured near Kents Trail.
A Deschutes County Sheriff's deputy and Forest Service officer were nearby and hiked in about 1.5 miles and confirmed Laurendau was not able to walk out under her own power.
Two Search and Rescue volunteers and one SAR deputy responded with ATVs and assisted Bend Fire in transporting her to the trailhead, where she was loaded into an ambulance and taken to St. Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Washington couple suffered serious injuries when their motorcycle struck a deer in Crook County, Saturday night. According to the Sheriff's Office, 66-year-old Michael Freeman was driving westbound on the Ochoco Highway when a deer ran into the side of the bike, causing them to crash.
Freeman's wife, 65-year-old Patricia was a passenger, and the pair was pulling a trailer at the time of the crash. Michael Freeman was transported to St. Charles Bend by LifeFlight, his wife was taken to St. Charles Prineville by ground ambulance.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man was arrested early Saturday morning after his landlord was found dead. Bend Police responded to the duplex on NE Nova Loop, near 18th and Empire, just after midnight. Officers discovered 30-year-old Andrew Cordes deceased by gunshot wounds inside the home of Daniel Norquist.
Investigators say the two were neighbors, and the 34-year-old Norquist rented the neighboring unit from Cordes. Cordes was reportedly in the duplex with Norquist for over two hours prior to the shooting.
Norquist was detained at the scene and subsequently arrested for murder. One neighbor tells KBND News the two may have been arguing because the victim was trying to evict the suspect.
The investigation is ongoing.
SISTERS, OR -- A Lane County man was killed in a rollover crash outside of Sisters, early Friday morning. According to Oregon State Police, 35-year-old Troy Crabb was eastbound on Highway 20 when his 1996 Honda left the road and struck a tree just west of Sisters.
Emergency crews responded at about 6 a.m. and discovered the Blue River man deceased at the scene.
OSP troopers believe fatigue may have been a contributing factor, although the investigation is ongoing.
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools hope to renew funding to continue two popular lunch programs. Terry Cashman, Director of Child Nutrition for the district says a grant is set to expire this year, which pays for the two-year-old programs. One, he calls Pork to Fork: "We had the kids from Mt. View who were actually raising pigs for the program. Then, once the pigs were ready to be – I guess you would call it ‘harvested’ – we’d have the kids at both Bend High culinary and Mt. View culinary butcher them for us; then we would utilize the products in our program."
Another new program. called Boat to School, provides Oregon seafood for Bend-La Pine student lunches. "We actually had sushi grade tuna we’re providing the kids through this grant, it’s just a phenomenal product and a really tasty treat, once you get to try these things. If you think about where we are in Bend, we have a pretty amazing food culture. So, kids are exposed to a wide variety of foods that they may not be in some other areas."
Both are off-shoots of the district’s successful “Farm to School” program, which has provided local fruits and vegetables for lunches for 12 years. "You want to expose kids to as many different choices so, as their pallet develops, then they’re going to be more accepting of different foods. We found that the kids, obviously at first, aren’t super excited about some of these items. But, when they sample them out and they try them, you can convert several of them. And the adults obviously love these kinds of choices," Cashman tells KBND. To hear our full conversation with Terry Cashman, visit our Podcast Page
The district is also looking for lunchroom workers for new schools slated to open in the fall.
REDMOND, OR -- A quarter of a million people are expected to attend the 95-year-old Deschutes County Fair, next week. That's about 8,000 cars filling parking lots. But, there is a way to avoid fighting traffic.
For the past 10 years the Deschutes County Fair has offered free transportation from Bend to the fair. Fair Director Dan Despotopulos tells KBND, “We do have traffic and parking issues because we have so many people coming on a single lane road. It’s very difficult to get everybody flowing as fast as we would like to. We’ve worked on it for years now. So by offering the free bus rides, that eliminates some of the traffic.”
Despotopulos says this year, the fair is adding shuttles from Sisters and Redmond, as well. “We would hope that people would be able to take the bus because they don’t have to spend money and it drops them off right at the front gate. They don’t have to worry about parking.”
The fair begins Wednesday. Click HERE
for a downloadable fair guide. Shuttles will pick up in Bend at Mt. View High School, Sisters Elementary and Redmond High School. Click HERE
for the Fair Bus schedule.
For those who have been caught in post concert traffic from the Expo Center, letting someone else do the driving might just be the ticket.
BEND, OR -- Police body cameras have been in the spotlight, lately, whether it’s catching officers behaving badly elsewhere in the country, or local agencies dropping camera programs in light of a new state law. But, Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says it’s technology his department won’t be using anytime soon. "We had looked into body cameras because you always want to be aware of the options that are out there. But, the body cam issue in the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office came down to: we try to be as transparent as we can be and we have an excellent working relationship with the citizens we serve. We do hold ourselves accountable and we very much know the citizens who pay their tax dollars hold us accountable. I felt that sometimes body cameras don’t necessarily tell the whole story."
Sheriff Nelson tells KBND it also came down to the cost. "I think there’s a little more research that can be done as far as fiscal responsibility. In looking at deploying body cameras, there’s a cost associated with that. The new law wants certain people’s faces blurred out, wants certain things redacted. If we’re mandated we will; however, I don’t believe we need them right now. And, that’s because of the relationship we have with the people we serve."
As head of Central Oregon's largest law enforcement agency, he says he could change his mind. But for now, "It wasn’t a mandate. We didn’t feel it was a benefit for the cost right now. Now, being in the public eye, you will always get complaints that come into the office. However, right now we have a process in place for vetting those complaints out. We take a look at every single complaint we get. We’ve never run into an issue trying to resolve a complaint we get."
BEND, OR -- In the past couple of days, the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) Team has arrested more than half a dozen people suspected of selling drugs in the region. Wednesday afternoon, officers arrested a Bend man in the Deschutes County Health Services parking lot on NE Courtney. He's accused of illegally selling prescription drugs.
The arrest of 41-year-old Scot Kreidenweis (right) follows a long investigation by CODE detectives. They later searched his home and found additional evidence of possession and distribution of controlled substances.
Also Wednesday, CODE detectives arrested three people suspected of trafficking narcotics. Corey Wellman of Bend, Michelle Winter and Andrea Brown of Redmond were all taken into custody during a traffic stop on Northeast Purcell in Bend. Police are looking for 35-year-old Richard Enquist of La Pine, who took off during that stop.
Then on Thursday afternoon, three more people were arrested on multiple drug-related charges, following an investigation into suspicious activity at a Bend parking lot. 47-year-old Ryan Crossley of Redmond, and 23-year-old Christian Killelea of Bend were taken into custody after detectives observed what they believed to be a drug transaction between the two.
Investigators believe Crossley purchased meth from 34-year-old Erminio Pena of Redmond, intending to sell it to Killelea. Pena was later arrested, as well. In 2011, Crossley was arrested by CODE detectives for suspicion of trafficking heroin in the area.
Corey Wellman Michelle Winter Andrea Brown
Ryan Crossley Christian Killelea Erminio Pena
BEND, OR -- Oregon's Fish Passage Task Force meets in Bend today. The group gathers together quarterly to advise on fish passage policies and issues, to help fish better connect with habitats where they can thrive.
Greg Apke, with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, tells KBND they'll also examine local dams. "The sites we're going to be visiting near Bend include the North Unit Dam, Mirror Pond Dam and the Colorado Street Fish Passage Project. And, on Saturday, we'll be visiting Opal Springs Dam as well as the Pelton Round Butte Dam facility." He says obstructions can sometimes prohibit fish from getting to important waterways. "For example, the Oregon Department of Transportation who owns thousands of culverts that are impeding fish passage. The cost associated with fixing a magnitude that large is millions, if not billions of dollars."
They'll also get a progress report. "As an overview, I think we're doing great. We've got a long way to go. We have made marked improvements throughout the state in addressing fish passage barriers, but one of our primary limitations is funding, as is always the case. While we've done great things to date, we have a lot of things yet to do," Apke says.
The public is welcome to attend the meeting at the Holiday Inn Express from 8-2 p.m. Friday. A question and answer session will begin at 1 p.m.
LA PINE, OR -- A La Pine woman was seriously injured in a crash Thursday night in Northern Klamath County. The head-on crash occurred after Oregon State police received a report of a pickup driving erratically in the southbound shoulder.
Troopers were trying to catch up to the vehicle speeding at close to 100 mph when it crashed into a northbound car, just before 10 p.m. The driver of the pick-up, a 72-year-old Florida man, was pronounced dead at the scene.
OSP says 30-year-old Chamreun Newton was driving the northbound car. She was flown to St. Charles Bend where she was listed in critical condition, as of Friday morning.
Highway 97 was closed in both directions for more than five hours during the investigation.
BEND, OR -- When a truck slammed into a power pole in northeast Bend early Monday morning, many Bend Broadband customers questioned why the impact was so widespread.
Cindy Tomlinson, with Bend Broadband’s parent company TDS Telecom, says size of the outage was due to where the crash occurred. "We have some primary fiber lines that are adjacent to our central operations that were cut. Where that cut occurred was at a critical point. Because of the close proximity to our main office, it caused the outage to be widespread."
More than 20,000 customers lost phone service for much of the day, 17,000 of them also lost cable and Internet service, which led to headaches for businesses and individuals across Central Oregon.
Tomlinson says the company is investigating how to better protect the pole at Empire and Nels Anderson, and the fiber line. "We just can’t prepare for what might happen, but we can and are continuing to look at what we can do to add more protections around where that pole is located. Our teams will continue to assess the situation and to identify how we might add greater protections to that area."
BEND, OR -- Continued hot and dry conditions mean the region remains under extreme fire danger. That means if people are careless, fires can start very easily.
Deputy Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki tells KBND everyone needs to know what is and isn't allowed during these conditions. "Burning, especially debris burning is closed throughout Central Oregon and also in Bend. That includes burn barrels, trash, yard debris or burning of grass. It's not allowed this time of year due to the serious nature of how dry it is and how quickly that fire can get out of control."
Derlacki recommends spark-generating work be done by mid-morning to reduce the threat of fire. "We actually had two lawn mowers, people mowing grass fields and the blades hit rocks and it started grass on fire. And, a contractor was working on doing some demolition and using a saw to cut through metal. Those sparks landed on combustibles and caused a fire there."
And, he hopes parents will use this time to talk to kids about how dangerous fire is. "We had several kids on the north end of town misusing fire and caught multiple bits of brush on fire and it spread. They ended up with citations for reckless burning."
Regulations vary between jurisdictions. Derlacki says if you aren't sure what is allowed in your area, you can call your local, state or federal fire agency with questions.
REDMOND, OR -- The state Housing Council has approved funds for 13 affordable housing projects around the state. In Central Oregon, Housing Works will use those funds to oversee two new developments for seniors in the Redmond area.
Tom Kemper, Housing Works Executive Director, tells KBND there is a big need. "It's creating 48 new homes and 8 newly rehabbed homes for residents here in Redmond, which is a big deal. Some of them are probably in single-family homes that they've been in forever. Presumably, that will create an opportunity for young families to buy into a house or rent a house."
The bigger project will be a four-story building adjacent to the Lowe's parking lot off of Veteran's Way. The rehabbed property is about a block away, and is an eight-unit development built in 1977.
Kemper says now that the funding is available, it's full steam ahead. "Hopefully we'll start construction by the end of the year or the beginning of 2016, with the idea that we can have the property built by the end of the year, 2016." He adds, "It's going to be a very nice property. Our rents will vary between $428 to $557; they will be very attractive from a renter's standpoint." To be eligible, applicants must earn less than $30,000 a year.
BEND, OR -- Nurses at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend have been working with an expired union contract since the end of June. Now both sides have agreed to bring in a federal mediator to help find common ground.
Staffing for adequate patient care is the main issue for the 720 nurses represented by the Oregon Nurses Association. John Nangle is an RN and the ONA Bend Facility Bargaining Unit Chair. “We have proposed several solutions to these problems to St. Charles and they’ve largely been rejected. The better the nurse staffing, the safer the patients and the better the outcome,” he tells KBND. “Nurse staffing in many units is inadequate. The nurses are routinely working short-handed. Nurses are routinely not being provided meal and rest breaks because there’s not a nurse to give them the breaks.” Nangle says the union also wants written into a new contract that nurses should be able to speak up about inadequate staffing without fear of retaliation.
St. Charles officials declined to be interviewed on the topic, but issued a statement saying in part, “St. Charles remains focused on reaching an agreement on a contract that is competitive across the industry and provides a work environment that is consistent with our vision, mission and values.”
A mediator has not yet been appointed. The existing labor agreement will be in effect throughout the negotiations. The contract issue addresses only nurses at the Bend hospital.
BEND, OR -- In the past month, the Bend Fire Department has responded to eight gas leaks, seven of those just in the past week. While it may seem like a sudden spike, Mark Hanson with Cascade Natural Gas tells KBND the total number of accidents is similar to this time last year. "The number of line hits is kind of in the same neighborhood, but there have been a lot more line locates this year, so it’s definitely a busier construction time, or people doing activities that require line locates. There were about 160 more line locates from April to June this year, than last year, and that resulted in one additional line strike than we had last year."
Hanson says it’s not uncommon to have more incidents during the summer construction season, but most contractors follow the law. "To call 8-1-1, the 'Call Before You Dig' line, to have all underground utilities located prior to digging, so you know where to and where not to dig. And, that’s the biggest way to have lines protected." He adds, "Anytime you’re digging around those types of buried lines, you should take every precaution and take it very seriously for safety. It’s for the safety of the person digging and everyone around. A line strike can result in, not only damage and an outage, where you can knock out the natural gas service or electrical to your neighbor or an entire neighborhood, but striking those lines, you can also be injured or, in some cases, it can lead to a fatality."
He says the overall number of construction-related gas leaks has trended downward in recent years, due to increased usage of the hotline; however, more than a third of the gas leaks in Bend in the past four months involved someone failing to call. And there are consequences aside from the danger. "If we have a repeat offender and they don’t call in for locates, they are billed for the damage.
Bend Fire officials say crews respond to every reported gas leak to help locate the source, evacuate the area if needed, and protect utility workers until the gas can be shut off. Battalion Chief Dave Howe says if you suspect a leak, you should get outside and call 9-1-1 immediately.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are investigating a late night crash that critically injured a Colorado man. Emergency crews responded to SE 3rd Street and Cleveland at about 10:40 p.m. Wednesday, where 22-year-old John Weiss was struck by a car.
Investigators say Weiss was crossing SE 3rd where there was no crosswalk and was hit by a car driven by 53-year-old Russ Pennavaria of Bend. Weiss was taken to St. Charles with life threatening injuries.
Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to call Bend Police through non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911
BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County Sheriff’s deputy has been honored with a prestigious award from the state police academy. Sheriff Shane Nelson says Shadoe Majetich is not the first in his family to receive this award. "He won the Victor G. Atiyeh award. It’s a tremendous award for the most outstanding student at the academy. I went over, along with Captain Utter, to watch the graduation. It was a wonderful surprise to hear his name read when he won that award. Ironically, his father won the very same award when he went through the academy."
The award is named for former Governor Vic Atiyeh. "The faculty, as well as his co-students at the academy, decide who wins that award based on attitude, leadership, survival skills, academics and physical fitness. It’s a tremendous award. The Victor G. Atiyeh award went to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and we’re very proud of that," Sheriff Nelson tells KBND.
Deputy Majetich Majetich was the only Deschutes County deputy in his class of more than 30 students. He continues his training, out on patrol.
Photo courtesy of Deschutes County Sheriff's Office
r-l: Sheriff Nelson, Dep. Majetich, Capt. Utter
MAUPIN, OR -- A Clackamas County man was killed in a motorcycle crash west of Maupin, Tuesday night. According to Oregon State Police, 48-year-old Guy Medgin was westbound on Highway 216 when he failed to negotiate a curve.
A witness told investigators Medgin was traveling at a high rate of speed prior to the 8 p.m. crash. The Mulino man was ejected from his motorcycle and was pronounced dead by emergency crews at the scene.
The investigation continues, with the assistance of the Wasco County District Attorney's Office and the Wasco County Sheriff's Department.
BEND, OR -- Several surveys have already been conducted on the new Westside location for OSU-Cascades. And now, the opposition group is conducting its own study. Truth in Site is asking nine questions, soliciting public input on the location.
Previous community surveys have shown a majority support the site off Chandler Ave. and Mt. Washington Drive. But, Marie Matthews with Truth in Site doesn't believe those surveys are an accurate reflection of public opinion. "There are an awful lot of people in Bend who are concerned about the site. There are at least three other viable locations that are located closer to Highway 97, that offer more land- economically buildable land. Since there are alternative sites, we wanted to give Central Oregonians an opportunity to weigh-in on what they would like to see for a brand new university campus," Matthews tells KBND.
She says they're asking, "If they feel the campus is in a good location for Central Oregon, or would it be more accessible if it was located closer to Highway 97? Were they were given adequate opportunity to participate in the site selection process for this new university campus? Then, we're asking them if they would like for OSU Cascades to actually cease development of the 10-acre proposed campus and work with the community to select a campus location that would be optimal for Central Oregonians and the university?"
Truth in Site will offer the survey on its website until August 7, after which time they plan to release the results to the public.
METOLIUS, OR -- A Jefferson County rancher suffered thousands of dollars in losses when water was shut off to his cattle, last week. According to Jefferson County deputies, someone turned off the water that feeds a number of cattle troughs near Alma Lane and Elbe Drive, west of Metolius.
The vandalism wasn't discovered by Bar CK Cattle Company for three days, and during that time, one cow died of dehydration and several others lost unborn calves.
The Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident as trespassing and criminal mischief, although there are no leads.
McMINNVILLE, OR -- Howard Hughes’ famous H-4 Hercules flying boat - most commonly known as the "Spruce Goose" - has called McMinnville’s Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum home since 1993.
The museum’s Melissa Grace announced Tuesday, an agreement with the Aero Club of Southern California to keep the giant wooden plane in Oregon. She says the museum will take title of the historic plane in a matter of weeks. "The museum actually bought the aircraft in 1992 under a long-term payment. The Aero Club uses the payments to fund a scholarship program, and it's annual presentation of the Howard Hughes Memorial Award to outstanding aviation and aerospace pioneers."
Grace said terms of the agreement aren’t being disclosed. There was a dispute over the aero club receiving a percentage of revenue generated by the plane.
The plane was completed in 1947 and only flew once. It’s actually made of laminated birch, not spruce. It's 79-feet high, 218-feet long and has a wingspan of 320-feet.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A new state law requiring certain mandates for law enforcement agencies that use body cams could bring one such local program to an end.
Prineville police have been using body cams for several years, and Interim chief Les Stiles is a big fan. But the new law requires the blurring of faces on video released to the public, and Chief stiles tells KBND the requirement could place a big financial burden on the department. “Everything that I’ve been able to find out so far is that for every hour of video we’re going to release it could take three to potentially four hours to blur out any faces for privacy concern. That’s the problem. Because if it comes down to having a cop on the street or a technician that’s being paid almost compatible wages I’m going to go for the cop every day in Prineville.”
Stiles says more data storage will be required under the new law, as well. Stiles says his force already complies with 95% of the new law, which took effect last month.
MADRAS, OR -- A project to provide Madras with more affordable housing gets underway Tuesday, by Housing Works and NeighborImpact. The plan is to construct six new homes for agricultural workers.
Kelly Fisher with Housing Works tells KBND, "Some of the studies we looked at by the American Community Survey show that 42% of households in the city of Madras are rent burdened, which means they're paying more than 30% of their income on their housing. So, we think this will be a really great opportunity to get a family in; and, while they are leasing a home, they're actually getting equity in the property before they even buy it."
Those who get the new houses will pay $650 a month in rent for 10 years. After that, they can buy the house for around $125,000.
Heart of Oregon Corp's Youth Build Program will supply the labor. Youth Build participants are 16-24 year old high school dropouts who earn a high school diploma and gain construction experience in the program. Fisher says, "It's unique partnerships like this with different organizations, public and private, coming together to create affordable home ownership opportunities. We're really excited that our partners are all working together to make this happen and we look forward to doing more."
Partner groups, government officials and local youth will come together to raise the walls on a new affordable home Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at Third and H Streets in Madras.
BEND, OR -- The Boys and Girls Clubs of Bend has doubled in size, this summer. The nonprofit is able to accommodate the increase in kids by renting more space from St. Francis on NE 27th Street.
In the past, the Bend club could only handle about 250 kids during the summer, with a long wait list. Derek Beauvais, Executive Director of the Bend club, tells KBND, "Between the two clubs, we've been able to service everyone, so we don't have a wait list right now. We have over 580 kids registered for the summer program. We're averaging over 200 at the downtown facility; and 170-200 at the St. Francis site, each day." They have doubled staffing to accommodate the growth.
Beauvais says they couldn't do it without the help of St. Francis. "Our facility use is a large ask from any organization. We needed 10 to 11 weeks of programming, 55 hours a week for up to 250 kids. There aren't a lot of facilities that have that capacity in Bend. So it did take us a full year to find a space that was a good home."
Between the two sites, he says the Boys and Girls Club of Bend is on track to serve more than a thousand children, this year.
BEND, OR -- When a semi hit a power pole in northeast Bend yesterday morning (Mon), it knocked out TV, phone and internet service to thousands of Bend Broadband customers in Redmond, Terrebonne, Sisters, Black Butte and Prineville.
A number of telephone customers in Bend and Sunriver were also impacted, including at Sun Country tours. Owner Dennis Oliphant tells KBND News, "There’s not much we can do. Our hope was that we could get calls forwarded – we have 25 cell phones – we wanted to get it forwarded on, but that didn’t happen. Sometimes stuff happens."
Oliphant says, "Mondays are, by far, our busiest day of the week, call volume wise: 40-50 calls an hour. But the phones aren’t ringing today. We’ve had folks check in and say ‘we were lost and tried to call you, and your phones aren’t working!’ Yeah, I have five full-time reservationist who are doing a lot of cleaning around the office and organizing, waiting for the phone service to go back on."
DMV offices across Central Oregon shut down at noon due to the outage. Service was restored by early afternoon, more than eight hours after the crash.
Bend Broadband officials tell KBND they are investigating how one broken power pole could impact 6 communities.
BEND, OR -- Bend-based Saving Grace is praising the state Legislature’s passage of a bill last month designed to protect the privacy of sex abuse victims. The so-called “Advocate Privilege Bill” provides confidentiality protections to domestic violence and assault victim programs.
Lauren DuBose says Saving Grace
already has strict confidentiality policies, but they weren’t protected by law, until now. "So if we did have an advocate called to testify, or someone is really prying for information, they can refer to this House Bill. So, it just really cements the fact that confidentiality is in place, and they can be sure of that."
DuBose says the law extends confidentiality similar to what is available for doctors, lawyers and clergy. Thanks to HB 3476, domestic violence, sexual abuse and stalking victim service groups cannot be compelled to disclose information without the approval of the person seeking help. She says without that privacy guarantee, some victims are not willing to come forward and seek help.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond will soon increase its affordable housing options by two. Deschutes County Commissioners approved the projects Monday, donating two foreclosed upon properties to Housing Works and Redmond Habitat for Humanity.
James Lewis, with the Deschutes County Property and Facilities Department, told Commissioners one home needs to be renovated, while the other is an open lot. "This is a vacant property located in an existing neighborhood. It would need a new house built on it. Working with Housing Works, addressing the ownership issue, they retain ownership of the property but they're able to sell the home. The homeowner would gain equity in the home but would not be able to sell the property in its entirety. It would be retained by Housing Works so it can remain in the affordable housing stock."
The foreclosed house is located on SW Black Butte Avenue; the vacant lot is on SW Valleyview Drive. County Commissioner Tammy Baney says it's a great outcome from a bad situation. "Obviously, someone was in dire straits when those properties came back to the county. And, to be able to take those two opportunities and build those back to the county and to our residents as a way to get them back into the community, I think is the right path to take."
Housing Works and Redmond Habitat for Humanity hope to have a family in the existing house within the next couple of months. To qualify, potential homeowners must earn between $15,000 and $30,000 a year.
BEND, OR -- Last week saw the dedication of Bend’s newest park, Discovery Park, in NorthWest Crossing. And the Bend Park and Recreation District is working on a handful of other new parks, slated to open soon.
Work will soon begin on Rockridge Park in northeast Bend, adjacent to Sky View Middle School and Lava Ridge Elementary School. Pat Erwert is the Bend Park and Recreation District’s director of park services. “It’s a unique site with a lot of topography with a little picnic shelter and playground and some green space and then we’re projecting lots of trails for biking and the addition of a skate park up there as well to kind of mirror what we put in down at Ponderosa Park.” Rockridge Park has a price tag of $1.3 million.
Canal Row Park is also planned for northeast Bend. Erwert tells KBND it'll be situated on the corner of Butler Market Road and Brinson Avenue, “It’s going to be a nice little neighborhood park with neighborhood park features. It sits right on the North Unit Irrigation canal." He adds, "And then, a renovation of an existing park that’s in need of upgrade. It’s called Hillside Park on the side of Awbrey Butte.”
All three park projects should be completed by Fall 2016.
KLAMATH COUNTY, OR -- A cement truck driver was injured in a rollover crash near the Lake and Klamath County lines, Monday morning. La Pine Fire responded to Highway 31, along with the Outback Fire District of Klamath County and a Sunriver Fire ambulance, at about 5:15 a.m.
La Pine Fire helped extricate the driver, who was injured and trapped in the Redi-Mix truck. He was flown by Air Link to St. Charles Bend.
Highway 31 was closed for about an hour and a half while emergency crews responded. Oregon State Police continue to investigate.
BEND, OR -- A semi crash led to widespread phone and internet outages, Monday morning. At about 6 a.m. a semi truck hit a power pole at Empire Avenue and Nels Anderson. The accident tangled power, phone and fiber lines.
Cindy Tomlinson with Bend Broadband tells KBND phone, TV and internet service has been cut to Redmond, Terrebonne, Sisters, Black Butte Ranch and Prineville. Some phone customers in Bend and Sunriver are also impacted.
Repair crews are on scene, but Tomlinson says there is no estimated time for service to be restored.
KBND will continue to update this information as it becomes available.
1:00 p.m. UPDATE:
Bend Broadband says fiber lines are being spliced, but there is still no ETA for completed repairs. Some customers in Sisters and Redmond report restored service.
The outage has forced the closure of DMV offices in Bend, Madras, Prineville and Redmond. According to ODOT, the DMV is not able to service customers without power or computer connections. Officials are hopeful they will reopen on Tuesday.
BEND, OR -- The Bend City Council plans to meet with other stakeholders in the coming weeks to discuss a transportation package that could include a local gas tax. Councilors must decide by early August whether to put the issue on the November ballot.
Bend 2030 recommends building a more comprehensive transportation package with public support before moving forward. But, Bend resident Bob Brell says the time to move forward is now "I don't see this as a political issue, I'm baffled. If we want tourists to come into this community and get bounced around, they're going to think twice before coming back. And, tourists are what are funding our businesses."
Brell tells KBND, "I'm a proponent of moving forward and moving forward aggressively. I've recommended to the council in writing that we go with a 10 cent a gallon fuel charge. The financial impact is absolutely minimal on an individual and our businesses who are benefiting from good roads in our community."
The Council is considering a five cents per gallon gas tax to help fund $80 million in deferred street maintenance. Groups like the Deschutes Republicans have already come out against the idea, saying additional funds could be found through cost savings and increased revenue.
SILVERTON, OR -- The second in command of the U.S. Department of Agriculture was in Oregon last week to talk to female farmers and ranchers. USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden has traveled the country to learn about the opportunities and challenges women face in agriculture.
In Oregon, she heard mostly of successes. "You are so lucky that you have the richness and tradition in this state that it's almost taken for granted. I think it's so rewarding."
"It's about valuing their contributions and the role that they have played - whether it's bookkeeping or marketing or buying insurance or doing the leasing or driving the combine or planting or buying the seed. Whatever it might be, it's a vital part of that operation," Harden said.
The tour has also been an opportunity for the women to network with each other and encourage the next generation to get involved in farming. "It's about having a venue, an opportunity for women to just spend some time together, talking about issues they care about. Sometimes they are life balance issues. It's about how to encourage their daughters and nieces and granddaughters to get involved in agriculture." Harden was impressed to learn that one out of five principal farm operators in Oregon are women compared to one in fifty in her home state of Georgia.
Last week's panel discussion was moderated by Katy Coba, the Oregon Department of Agriculture's first female director.
REDMOND, OR -- A motorcyclist was severely injured in a crash near the Jefferson and Crook County Line, over the weekend. A Crook County Sheriff's Sergeant found the 23-year-old Lincoln City man's bike 75 yards from the road, through a barb wire fence, just after 2:30 Saturday morning.
Based on witness accounts, investigators believe Tyler Funk was traveling at 95 to 100 miles per hour on Lone Pine Road when he failed to negotiate a curve.
He was taken to St. Charles Redmond for treatment and is cooperating in the ongoing investigation.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man died after he tried to flee from police early Saturday morning during a traffic stop.
Prineville Police attempted to stop 23-year-old Chaz Evans at 2:30 a.m. Saturday. Evans failed to stop at a stop sign and collided with another car. He lost control of his vehicle and hit several parked vehicles before being ejected from his pickup.
He was taken to St Charles in Bend and died while being treated for his injuries.
The driver of the other vehicle sustained non life threatening injuries and was treated at St Charles Hospital in Prineville.
This is an ongoing investigation.
BEND, OR -- Local firefighting officials say dry conditions are a couple months ahead of what's normal for this time of year -- and that concerns them.
John Allen with the Deschutes National Forest told Senator Wyden during their briefing this weekend, they're prepared for a challenging season. "Because of the low snow pack in the Cascades, obviously its a tough situation. But because off the low snow pack and the fuels drying out faster, what we will see is a longer fire season especially at the higher elevations. The season it'll go into October." Allen says usually the wildfire season is over by mid September, but he expects area agencies will be fighting wildfires into October.
So far this summer, firefighters in the region have battled more than 200 wildfires, more than half of them were human caused. Luckily 93% have been kept to less than 10 acres.
BEND, OR -- Senator Ron Wyden was briefed by local forestry officials over the weekend on how the fight against wildfires is going in the region.
Representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, the Deschutes National Forest and the Oregon Department of Forestry told the Senator the area has seen more than two hundred wildfires destroying more than 44-thousand acres. Luckily, most were kept to under ten acres.
Senator Wyden is nervous. "Oregon is less than a month into the summer and already we're looking at a terrible trifecta -- drought, high temperatures and fuel build up on the forest floor."
Senator Wyden says his legislation that would put more funds into prevention and help avoid these large infernos is gaining traction in congress -- as lawmakers realize our firefighting system is broken.
DAYVILLE, OR -- Firefighters plan to conduct burn out operations along the southern boundary of the Corner Creek Fire, which continues to burn 11 miles south of Dayville. Controlled burns will range between 400 and 600 acres in the Black Canyon Wilderness, just east of Mud Springs Campground.
Rain fell in the area over the past week, providing crews with much needed relief and moderating fire behavior. The fire remains 90% contained at 29,407 acres.
The fire was first spotted June 29, 2015 and is believed to have been started by lightning.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon's population is expected to increase by 76% in the next 30 years. Dr. Arthur Nelson talked about the expected housing needs for the area with the Bend City Council and City Club of Central Oregon, this week.
The Professor of Planning and Real Estate Development at the University of Arizona told the groups, "A lot of people sense that Bend is a magnet for elderly retirees, and it is, certainly. But, what surprises me is the share of the population over the age of 65 is less than the national average, and slightly less than Oregon. Yes, you'll be adding more seniors moving in, but they're going to be a smaller share of the population change than the national average and the state as a whole."
"About a third of the household growth will be in the peak demand housing group - those who need homes. But that's half of what it's been in the last 20 years, so your demographic composition is changing," he told the audience. "They're favoring something less than the larger single-family detached homes. Maybe something more like smaller homes, smaller lots, apartments, condos and townhouses."
Dr. Nelson adds, "But if you're looking ahead from a planning perspective between now and 2020 to 2030, I would recommend you, at least for now, assume that maybe 45% of the net change in demand for housing would be single-family detached homes - many of them renters; ten percent attached - town houses, basically; and 45% multi-family attached - apartments and condos and so forth." He says demand for single-family homes will continue, but many will seek smaller homes on smaller lots, due to younger people moving to the area and older Central Oregonians looking to downsize.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- We’re used to seeing the big fire retardant air tankers in local skies during fire season, but nimble new Single Engine Air Tankers (also called "SEATS") are designed to keep forest fire outbreaks small until reinforcements show up.
Kristin Dodd, Protection Unit Forester for the Oregon Department of Forestry in Prineville, tells KBND News, “They’re able to drop this retardant product, over 700-gallons. You work them in tandem, that’s 1500 gallons. To be able to get aviation support to back up our crews on the ground allows us to box a fire in to keep it at the smallest acreage possible.”
These planes have a crew of one - just the pilot. They can be in the air 15 minutes after a fire is called in and can reload new non-toxic fire retardant in just five minutes. The day they arrived at the Prinevill airport they went out on a fire south of Dufur.
The Single Engine Air Tankers will respond to fires on BLM, Forest Service or State Forestry land; wherever they are needed.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- An Eastern Oregon man was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash east of Prineville.
Crook County deputies and medics responded to Highway 26 near the Ochoco Reservoir just before 6 p.m. Thursday, and found the 59-year-old Enterprise man lying on the ground a few feet from his bike.
He was transported by helicopter to St. Charles Bend. Deputies say Owen Holum was westbound when he drifted off the side of the highway for unknown reasons and was thrown from the motorcycle.
The investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.
BEND, OR -- A gas leak just south of Drake Park led to evacuations in the area, Thursday afternoon. KBND News spoke with Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe while he was at the scene on standby, as a precaution.
Howe said a company was drilling a new gas line under Riverfront Street using a technique that doesn’t require digging a trench. "They were drilling along and they hit a 2” gas line under pressure under these streets. In order to actually locate the leak, it took some time to dig around in the general area that they know it was and finally home in on it. At the same time, make sure the gas isn’t migrating into people’s basements, and also making sure people are actually evacuated out of the area."
29 homes were evacuated for about an hour while Cascade Natural Gas responded to shut down the line. "This is a potentially a very dangerous substance, and we want to take all the precautions that, not only that we need to take, but that we’re supposed to take to keep people safe. That’s our job," Howe said.
Riverfront Street was closed between Hixon and McCann all afternoon while crews repaired the break.
REDMOND, OR -- Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne is a well-known rock-climbing Mecca, but climbing faces are mostly vertical. Ian Caldwell, sometimes called the "Mayor of Smith Rock," is an elite climber working to bring a horizontal climbing opportunity to Central Oregon.
Caldwell is developing a climbing wall on the underside of Redmond's Maple Avenue Bridge. "We are working on putting up the first routes. We have eight potential arches we want to put routes up, and right now we’re working on the first arch. It’s about 130’ long of rock climbing and about 70’ tall."
He says the 8-year-old span is ideal because it crosses a public park, not a river or railroad track like other bridges. "What’s unique is that it’s steep and overhung. Most of the climbing at Smith Rock is on vertical faces. We have some of the most difficult routes in America at Smith Rock, but nothing that’s really steep. These walls start at 45-degree overhung and they continue to be completely horizontal climbing," Caldwell says.
"In 2013, I took a trip to a place called Maple Canyon
in Utah. It has really steep overhanging walls, similar to this angle. When I came back I came and looked at these arches and I thought, ‘wow, that’s just like Maple Canyon.’ It was kind of ironic it was on the Maple Bridge. It got me thinking we don’t have any steep climbing at Smith Rock and we need some of it for training."
The project is funded by donations and recently received the full approval of Redmond City Councilors. The first routes could be done by this full.
SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters area rental market is very tight, just like Bend. Hayden Homes is looking to build a housing development that could be a mix of single- and multi-family housing.
City planners are hosting a public workshop to get community input on the Village At Cold Springs development. Sisters Community Development Director Patrick Davenport tells KBND the builder is looking to change its original plan. "We don't have all the details of the proposed revisions, but the eastern half of the subdivision they have entitlements for 273 dwelling units, which are in 109 attached single-family homes, or townhomes, and 164 apartments."
However, Hayden Homes is proposing changes that could involve fewer multi-family units. "There's a definite need for workforce housing and affordable housing. Units like townhouses and apartments and other multi-plexes, there's certainly a need for that in the region and in Sisters. Our housing types are mostly single-family and single-family detached. We don't have too many apartments in town," Davenport says.
The public workshop on the Village At Cold Springs begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, at Sisters City Hall.
BEND, OR -- Bend 2030 is wading into the local gas tax debate. City Councilors are considering putting the issue to voters in November, but a recent survey by Bend 2030 found that many think there could be a better way to pay for much-needed road maintenance.
Erin Foote Marlow, Executive Director of Bend 2030, tells KBND the city should not move too quickly like she feels they did with water system changes, instead following the pattern set by sewer system improvements. "Let's try for that same outcome. Let's not slap dash something on the ballot. Let's actually reach out to stake holders in the community and see if we can together a package of funding options that feels more equitable and comprehensive in the community, where people really have a say. We'll get a better outcome and one which is much more supported."
The group presented the findings of the survey at Wednesday night's City Council meeting. "The big take-aways are that people have an expectation there will be more funding for street maintenance and repair and also more funding for safety projects like pedestrian crossings, sidewalks and safer, better bike lanes around Bend."
The survey of 1600 respondents found a majority favored a studded tire fee to fund street improvements, followed by a gas tax or a tourism tax on food and beverage purchases. City Manager Eric King tells KBND Councilors will make a final decision within three weeks on whether to put a gas tax before voters in November.
BEND, OR -- A maintenance worker was allegedly threatened with a knife by a resident at a northeast Bend apartment complex, Wednesday morning.
Bend Police responded to the apartment on Full Moon Drive, and evacuated neighboring units while they attempted to contact the suspect. Investigators say 41-year-old Michael Fuller threatened the worker who was trying to perform maintenance on a fire extinguisher on Fuller's front porch.
Fuller was eventually taken into custody without incident and taken to St. Charles for evaluation.
BEND, OR -- Work will get underway this week on expanding the parking lot at Phil's Trailhead. Kassidy Kern with the Deschutes National Forest tells KBND there are only 20 parking spots right now. "Currently, we have a lack of parking which creates some safety issues and traffic flow problems, and potentially some resource damage. Because there isn't enough parking, people parking off the road."
The facelift will increase parking capacity to 76. "It will still be open to the public during construction, which we anticipate will last through the fall. It's going to include a couple of phases."
Work will also include installation of a new double-vault toilet and a large kiosk.
BEND, OR -- A Redmond man was killed in a Bend crash, overnight Wednesday. According to Oregon State Police, 83-year-old Albert Haslebacher was westbound on Cooley Road at about 11 p.m. when he failed to stop at a red light at Highway 20. His Subaru was struck by a Dodge pickup and a Toyota Prius.
Haslebacher was pronounced dead at the scene. Two people in the Prius were taken to St. Charles Bend with serious injuries, and the five people in the pickup were treated at the scene.
BEND, OR -- A number of homeowners who suffered extensive damage when a water pipe burst along 8th Street last month, told City Councilors last night they're disappointed the city hasn't taken more financial responsibility.
Shortly after the June 10 flood, the city announced its insurance provider, CIS, will only pay for limited things, like water removal and drying of homes. Homeowners like Scott Jennrich aren't happy. "That was a city-owned line on city property. The city claims no negligence, but 8th Street has been under constant work due to an old sewer line in the area. That sewer line was supposed to be replaced years ago but wasn't because the city ran out of funds. Response time to the break was not adequate, the water ran until 5:45 a.m. I personally watched Public Works employees frantically try to find the shut-off, to no avail." Jennrich also says not one person from the city offered them a word of condolence for the incident.
Todd Robles' home was the hardest hit. "That pipe doesn’t even service our house. They told us we would be out of water probably all day. We had water all day - we didn’t have hot water because our hot water was in our basement that sustained nearly 50,000 gallons of water that we had to have pumped out, that the city is balking to pay for. That water wasn't even water to service my house, yet you guys voted not to cover us. I don’t understand that, it doesn’t seem fair."
Robles says he may need to pursue more drastic action. "The house that had the damage, that the pipe broke in front of, their driveway was fixed and grated and new rock put in from the 3-foot creek bed that was dug out - done by the city. Why did the city do that but they’re not going to do it at our house? And, they're not going to fix our house. Something is really messed up there, and something needs to be done. We don’t want to have to litigate, but that’s the direction we’re being pushed."
Florian Bell says he was disappointed with the city's lack of response throughout the entire process. "The disaster repair company told me the city of Bend trucks had been told to knock off for the day and go home and the water was still being pumped out of our houses. We had to call the city and ask them to kindly send their trucks back and continue pumping out the water out of the storm sewer so the disaster companies could continue to do their work. This is absurd."
City councilors agreed to do more research into what CIS will cover, and said they would discuss the matter further.
BEND, OR -- The City of Bend is now accepting license applications for short term rentals. The process is part of the city's new vacation rental rules and regulations.
Lorelei Williams, Short Term Rentals Program Manager, tells KBND applications starting coming in earlier this month. "People are understanding about the program. They get that it's like a license for driving or getting married. One of the misconceptions is that the City Council did this to benefit short term rental owners. When, they really did this to benefit the neighborhoods where short term rentals were growing at a rapid rate." In order to qualify for a license, applicants must already have a land use permit.
Williams says current rental operators will get a notice if they don't submit their application by September first. "If it gets to be October second and you haven't made the application, then the land use permit will become void. And that means applicants will have to reapply and will be subject to new rules and regulations; that includes the 250-feet density rules. If there's a short term rental within 250 feet of their property, they won't be able to obtain a permit."
There is an initial $275 application fee, with a $200 annual renewal. For more details on the process and rules, visit the City of Bend's website.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Sheriff’s Office now has more available jail space, thanks to increased funding for the fiscal year that began July first. Sheriff Jim Hensley says the county is now renting 25 beds at the Jefferson County Jail, taking Crook County’s total inmate capacity to 41. "The District Attorney’s office said they were quite amazed to have people to arraign on a Monday after the weekend’s arrests. Typically, in the past, we haven’t had beds to hold them and they just get released, and [the DA] might only have one arraignment. For the last couple weeks, they’ve had up to five people to arraign, and then they appear before the judge, like the system is supposed to work, and then they get released or held at the judge’s discretion."
However, Sheriff Hensley tells KBND he doesn't think the ability to hold everyone will last. "I believe this is short lived because we’re building back up to the numbers already. We only have 2 beds available now, and we still have a backlog of over 130 people waiting to serve jail time."
The number of beds rented from Jefferson County can fluctuate based on available funding, and has remained at 16 for the past eight years. During that time Hensley says they released an average of nine to 12 inmates per week. "We use the matrix system. It scores people on the seriousness of the charge, their criminal history, the types of things they’ve been convicted of in the past. And then, they’re scored amongst all of them. Then, those with the lower threat to the community, those are the ones that are released."
Sheriff Hensley says the money for nine more beds this year came from a county land sale, and may not be renewed next year.
SALEM, OR -- Unemployment ticked up slightly in Oregon last month, moving from 5.3% in May to 5.5% in June. State Economist Nick Beleiciks says he's pleased with the outlook. "Despite a slight increase in unemployment, it is still really low and is indicative of a strong job market. It's also significantly lower than last year's rate of 7% at this time."
Beleiciks says the bump isn't unexpected. "Unemployment rose more, but not because people lost their jobs. There are more people looking for work. Every summer people move to Oregon, recent graduates and students are looking for work, and they are considered unemployed until they find a job."
The state added 2300 jobs in June, mostly in the retail industry and government sector.
REDMOND, OR -- An assault investigation shut down Highway 97 in Redmond Monday, just before the morning commute. Initial reports were of a man lying in the road with serious injuries and may have been hit by a car, at about 4:20 a.m. However, as the investigation continued, Redmond police determined the 39-year-old transient had been assaulted.
The victim was able to provide details to police at the hospital. Jonathan Bailey of Redmond was arrested yesterday afternoon, in connection with the assault. A second suspect, Jason Nelson, has been contacted through his attorney.
Investigators say the suspects and the victim were acquaintances and the assault may have been been related to an earlier trespassing incident.
UPDATE: Redmond Police say Jason Nelson has been charged with Third Degree Assault. He was booked then released from the Deschutes County Jail, Tuesday. The investigation is ongoing, as is the underlying alleged trespassing potentially connected with the assault.
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond School District will launch a new initiative this fall, issuing electronic devices to every high school student. Jeremy MacDonald, head of Technology and Innovation for the district, tells KBND they tested the idea on a handful of incoming freshman, last year. "About 120 students last year had an iPad to use for academics in all their classrooms. This year, we’ve decided to expand that to all high school students. We’re moving away from a tablet device and going to a different device this year. But, now every student in grade 9-12 will have a device to use at school and at home for academics." Superintendent Mike McIntosh says instead of iPads, students will get a new model of Chrome-book, and training is already underway for teachers and staff.
McIntosh acknowledges Redmond is two years behind Bend-La Pine Schools in making the digital conversion with students, but he says they’re still ahead of most districts. "We’re in that awkward stage of, there’s technology that’s available, but a year from now it’s already going to be antiquated. I don’t regret for a minute waiting longer than, say Bend, because what we would’ve chosen a year ago is not what we would’ve chosen right now for the device. The curriculum is changing daily. I think we’re doing it very systematically on one hand, but very appropriately, timing-wise, on the other hand."
For parents with security concerns, McIntosh says students are ready. "We have a culture of responsibility. There’s no way to build a fence high enough or a firewall thick enough or a filter that will catch everything. We’re going to lean on some parents and kids to use them responsibility. Because we can’t, and then at the same time expect them to have access that’s wide enough to do the things we expect them to do with these devices." He tells KBND the district will work with families to make sure students have access to wi-fi both in and out of school.
Students participating in the district’s Camp 9
summer school program will be the first to receive their devices next month. The "One to One" initiative rolls out to all high school students in September.
BEND, OR -- "Go Set A Watchman," the sequel to the Pulitzer Prize winning "To Kill A Mockingbird," goes on sale Tuesday. Barns and Noble and other bookstores will open early so anxious readers can get their hands on the widely anticipated book, sooner. Harper Lee wrote "Go Set A Watchman" before "Mockingbird," but it was just released by the publisher.
Anita Bond, Assistant Manager at the Bend Barnes and Noble, tells KBND this is a literary event. "It's like Star Wars! Something that was old, it came out so many years ago, and yet here comes this new book. It's like introducing all these younger people to this great author and this great book, hopefully."
She adds, "Just the whole allure of it. The fact that this woman has only published one book - and it was such an iconic book - and that it was made into a great movie - and it was just a great iconic movie, as well. I just think that, in and of itself, is making this book highly anticipated."
"Go Set A Watchman" centers around the character "Scout" in the 1950s, 20 years after "To Kill A Mockingbird," as she travels from New York to visit her aging father Atticus Finch in Alabama. Some critics have expressed displeasure that Atticus Finch shows more racist tendencies in the new book.
BEND, OR -- Bend's Knute Buehler is considering a run for Oregon. The first-term State Representative is coming off his first legislative session, where he sponsored several successful bills, including on that will increase access to birth control.
Deschutes Republican Chair Reagan Knopp tells KBND he's glad Buehler is considering higher office. "We're always encouraged to see Republicans run for statewide office. It's going to be the next big election in 2016. Deschutes County Republicans would support him, whatever position he chooses to run for."
Rep. Buehler (R-Bend) said in an email to supporters that Oregon deserves a strong independent leader, and he believes the stat is not getting that with Kate Brown. He ran against Brown for Secretary of State in 2012, but lost with 43% of the vote. Knopp says, "I think the dynamics will be a lot different. The biggest thing for Republicans running for Governor is we saw a leadership vacuum with the Democratic agenda. They only focused on their agenda and didn't let anything else fly." Buehler believes Brown is vulnerable as Governor.
He plans to make a decision on whether to run for Governor, or for re-election as State Representative, by the end of September.
BEND, OR -- The popularity of Bend’s newest park has prompted Bend Parks and Recreation to issue warnings to swimmers. Discovery Park and its irrigation lake opened during one of the hottest Junes on record, and visitors flocked to the oasis in search of relief. "There’s a little beach on the south end, so it was quite tempting when the park first opened- because it was so warm, for people to start swimming in there. We’re not restricting swimming, but people need to be aware it was not designed for swimming," Park Services Director Pat Erwert tells KBND News.
Erwert says the lake is intended as an irrigation pond and a holding tank for storm water runoff. "It was not designed for swimming; that would be an incredibly expensive project to try and do something like that. You’d have to line it and chlorinate the water and treat it basically like an outdoor swimming pool. We can’t be chlorinating the water when we’re putting it on our vegetation and the lawns around the park site." Because it’s not chlorinated, Erwert is concerned about the water quality.
Given the popularity of the lake, Parks and Rec will test the water on a weekly basis for E. Coli and coliform, but Erwert says that’s not a complete picture of its safety.
Officials are also concerned about the many visitors choosing to jump and dive into the shallow pond. "There’s a dock on the lake that was intended to be a fishing dock, but due to the high number of people just in the water, we’re not stocking it for fishing at this time. But, the water is very shallow; it could be 12” right next to that. When there’s a lot of activity, it gets a little murky and people can’t see how deep it is. There’s also a concrete block retaining wall and people are jumping in there, also into very shallow water."
Crews will install signs this week alerting visitors of the hazards and warning that swimmers do so at their own risk. Bend Parks and Rec is hosting a grand opening celebration for Discovery park in NorthWest Crossing on Thursday.
REDMOND, OR -- A 100-year-old barn went up in flames Monday morning in Redmond. When firefighters arrived at the Wickiup Avenue property at around 11 a.m., the barn was fully engulfed.
The barn was filled with hay and cardboard and was a total loss. No one was hurt in the blaze. The loss is estimated at $75,000 and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. House has passed legislation that would speed up the development and approval of drugs to treat some of our most deadly diseases. The 21st Century Cures Act is a bipartisan bill supported by Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR). "All of us have known someone afflicted by a deadly disease. Most of us have seen people in our own families; my mother passed away from Ovarian Cancer; my sister-in-law had brain cancer. I lost a son to a congenital heart defect. My mother-in-law had Rheumatoid Arthritis from a very early age; my step-mother died of a stroke. We're all affected."
Rep. Walden adds, "This legislation would modernize the nation's biomedical innovation infrastructure and streamline the process for how drugs and medical devices are approved, in order to get new treatments to patients faster." It typically takes upwards of 15 years to bring a new drug to market.
The 21st Century Cures Act would boost medical research funding and streamline approval for new treatments. It now heads to the Senate, where critics feel a rush to approve drugs could sacrifice safeguards currently in place.
MADRAS, OR -- For the next month, expectant mothers in Jefferson County who go into active labor are asked to go directly to St. Charles Redmond, instead of the Madras hospital. St. Charles Madras CEO Jeanie Gentry says this is the first time her hospital has had to close to certain patients for such a long period of time. "This is something that all hospitals have to divert patients of different types, from one time or another. But, when it comes to OB, when we never know when a baby is going to arrive, it’s a little more difficult."
She says a couple of experienced OB nurses moved to other facilities, leaving Madras without enough labor and delivery nurses for every shift. Gentry says the hospital lost a couple of veteran Obstetrics nurses, and several new hires, including three from Jamaica, aren’t ready yet. "Those nurses and a couple of others are almost done with their training, but they’re not quite done. Part of that is that we don’t deliver babies every day here in Madras. So, this break in diverting patients to Bend and Redmond is going to allow them to go to Bend and Redmond and complete their training in a higher volume place."
Emergency Obstetrics patients will still be treated in Madras during the diversion period, as needed. Gentry tells KBND News, "We’ll still have one O.B. nurse on each shift. The same doctors that take care of our O.B. patients also take care of our in-patients, here in Madras. It’s our family practice docs that do O.B., so those physicians will still be on-call. If a person can be safely transported to Redmond or Bend, we’ll help make that happen. But, if that’s not safe, we’ll definitely take care of the mom and baby here." When it's safe to do so, Jefferson County medics will take women in labor directly to Redmond. She expects the O.B. closure to last approximately 30 days.
MADRAS, OR -- Farmers in the Madras area are being careful about how much water they use this summer. Because of dry conditions, many started irrigating earlier than usual; but, with only a set amount of water available, once it's gone, it's gone.
Mike Britton, General Manager of the North Unit Irrigation District, says farmers are being pro-active. "They'll have to look at their crops and determine how far they can stretch the water they're allotted. They can go out and search for water within the district - maybe a neighbor is fallowing some ground and has some water he can transfer or provide to his neighbor. That's typically how folks get by."
Britton says the district has helped conserve water by lining some irrigation canals and farmers have been aggressive about conserving water for their crops. "The farmers themselves have done a tremendous amount of work on farm efficiencies. A lot of them use sprinklers, pivots and drip tape on some of their crops, which puts water right on the ground at the base of the plant so you don't lose much."
The district serves about 850 farmers across 59,000 acres of farmland in the Madras and Culver area.
CULVER, OR -- A Culver man was killed during a police pursuit
, Friday night. According to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, a deputy attempted to pull over vehicle for erratic driving. But, it sped out of Culver, reaching speeds of over 100 miles per hour.
Eventually, the driver lost control and crashed into a tree, near Southwest Imo Lane.
Deputies say the driver, 33-year-old Derek Mach was not wearing his seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene. He had an outstanding warrant, and investigators believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.
His passenger, 20-year-old Emilio Lucero of Bend was taken by Life Flight to St. Charles Bend with serious injuries. He has since been released from the hospital.
Derek Kyle Mach
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is searching for the owner of three calves found Saturday evening near Highway 20 and Gosney Road. A homeowner contacted deputies when she discovered the trio on her property.
Because the calves were dangerously close to the highway, and their owner could not be identified, they were taken to the Sheriff's Livestock Rescue Ranch.
The three calves are 300-400 pounds each and appear to be in good health. Anyone with any information on the calves' owner is asked to contact the Sheriff's Office at 541-693-6911.
MADRAS, OR -- Cooler temperatures over the weekend helped firefighters gain ground on wildfires burning across Central Oregon.
The Geneva 15 fire was reported south of Lake Billy Chinook at 4 p.m. Friday, near the Three Rivers Subdivision. Officials say it was started by lightning and, at 875 acres, it's now 90% contained.
The Corner Creek Fire, 11 miles south of Dayville, is now more than 29,000 acres and 75% contained.
And, the Ten Mile Canyon fire north of Madras is nearly fully contained at 6,700 acres.
MADRAS, OR -- A new wildfire reported Friday afternoon south of Lake Billy Chinook is burning near the Three Rivers subdivision. Firefighters continued burnout operations into the night on what is now called the Geneva 15 Fire, which has grown to 880 acres and is 20% contained. The blaze was reported at about 4 p.m., Friday, and the cause is under investigation. The Three Rivers subdivision has not been evacuated; however, Jordan Road is closed to the public.
Crews responded to 16 other confirmed fires in Central Oregon Friday, all started by lightning and held to under 1/10 of an acre.
The Ten Mile Canyon Fire burning north of Madras, near the junction of Highways 97 and 197, is now 90% contained. It continues to burn within established containment lines and is holding at 6,707 acres.
The Corner Creek Fire 11 miles south of Dayville continues to grow within containment lines and is now more than 29,000 acres. Little precipitation fell over the area on Friday, but cloud cover and cooler temperatures helped crews continue mop up efforts near fire lines. Corner Creek i now 60% contained.
CULVER, OR -- Oregon State Police are investigating a fatal crash in Culver that occurred during a police pursuit, Friday night. At about 9:20 p.m., investigators say a Jefferson County Sheriff's deputy attempted to stop a vehicle when it took off. The driver went several miles when the car crashed into a tree near SW Feather Drive and SW Imo Lane in Culver.
The driver was pronounced dead at the scene; the passenger was taken to St. Charles Bend with serious injuries. No other details have been released at this time.
WHEELER COUNTY, OR -- A Bend man was killed in a motorcycle crash in Wheeler County, Thursday night. Oregon State Police received a report that Michael Denmark was traveling from Bend to Baker City, but had not arrived at his destination as expected.
Law enforcement checked Highway 26, but attempts to find the 64-year-old man were unsuccessful. At around 9 a.m. Friday morning, an OSP trooper discovered the wreckage of a crash near milepost 93 of Highway 26, in Wheeler County.
According to the preliminary investigation by OSP, Denmark was eastbound on the highway when for unknown reasons, his 2007 Yamaha motorcycle left the road, traveled a short distance on the gravel shoulder and dropped off a steep embankment. Denmark's body was found at the scene. Because evidence of the crash was minimal, the location of the wreckage was not easily seen by passing motorists.
The investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.
BEND, OR -- Two Bend residents, along with police, helped save a woman who fell into an irrigation canal in northeast Bend, Thursday night.
According to Bend Police, 57-year-old Michelle Howard fell into the canal with her electric scooter, at around 9:30 p.m. She was swept downstream about 200 yards before she was able to grab vegetation on the side of the canal.
Melissa Thompson and Al Steiner heard Howard calling for help and called 911. Steiner found her and held on to her until officers arrived and helped pull her out of the canal. She was taken to St. Charles Bend for overnight observation.
SISTERS, OR -- Sisters merchants are bracing for big sales during this weekend’s 40th annual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. Retailers already report increased sales this week, as early-bird quilters blanket the town.
Judy Trego, Executive Director of the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce, tells KBND News, "Attendee estimates vary from 12,000 to 30,000 people. All of our lodging properties are full and our vacation rentals as well. In fact we have a 75-person waiting list at Best Western Ponderosa Lodge.” She says big attendance translates to big business. "Our latest economic analysis showed a direct economic impact of $1.7-million, and a total economic significance of $2.4-million."
The Sisters Rodeo, the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show and the Sisters Folk Festival are expected to bring in around 100,000 visitors from just those three events, this summer. Retailers point to an improved economy as the reason for the increased attendance and sales.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon businesses reported more than 53,000 job vacancies in the spring - that’s the largest number ever reported by the state’s Job Vacancy Survey.
Senior Economic Analyst Gail Krumenauer says 6,300 of those vacancies were in Central Oregon. "For the spring of 2015, we saw a big bump in the number of vacancies in Central Oregon. The numbers in Central Oregon were boosted by vacancies for wildland firefighters and also for leisure and hospitality."
Krumenauer says the newly released state report reflects a record-setting number of openings. "53,300 job vacancies in the spring of 2015, that’s the most that we’ve ever found in the history of the Oregon job vacancy survey. That’s more than we found even in the spring of 2008." The spring statistic is 6,400 more vacancies than a year ago.
Many employers reported having a more difficult time finding the workers they need. Krumenauer says Central Oregon reported the highest share of difficult-to-fill job openings in the state, at 71%. Businesses most commonly reported a lack of applicants or a lack of qualified candidates as the primary reason for having difficulty filling vacancies.
The ratio of unemployed Oregonians to vacancies is now two to one.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. House passed legislation to deal with the continuing wildfire funding problem in the west. The bill, called "The Resilient Federal Forests Act," includes several parts that would help pay for prevention and allow for quicker reforestation.
Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) says this will modernize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Act, along with other past efforts. "The long and the short of it is, our communities are suffering. We have high poverty, our mills can't stay open, we have to fix this. We can't continue to search for obscure funding for Secure Rural Schools. We need sustainable forests to produce a sustainable resilient economy."
The bill could help solve the "fire borrowing" problem by allowing the Forest Service to request FEMA disaster funds during big wildfires, without dipping into prevention funds. "We see these catastrophic fires devouring our budgets, devouring our community and damaging our air quality. We're always going to have them, but if we can get our forests in decent shape, these wildfires won't be as destructive," Rep. Walden tells KBND.
He says it doesn't include everything he wanted, "This is different than what we did two years ago. It's not as expansive. We took half of the O&C Lands and put them in a trust. None of that is in there. It's not as far as I'd like, but it's what we think we can certainly pass and get through the Senate." The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate.
MADRAS, OR -- Central Oregon saw more than 150 lightning strikes yesterday, resulting in at least four small fires. Crews held most to under a quarter acre. The largest fire of Thursday afternoon was north of Tumalo Reservoir at .55 acres. Its cause is under investigation.
The wildfire north of Madras, near the junction of Highways 97 and 197, has been named the Ten Mile Canyon Fire. It’s now nearly 6,707 acres and 25% contained. That fire was first reported Wednesday and investigators say it was human caused.
The Corner Creek Fire near Dayville remains the state’s largest wildfire right now.
It’s 50-percent contained at just under 29,000 acres.
BEND, OR -- Investigators are looking into the cause of a brush fire near Tumalo Reservoir. Bend Firefighters responded to a vacant farmhouse on Sisemore Road just before 4, yesterday afternoon.
With the help of the Deschutes National Forest, Oregon Department of Forestry and Cloverdale Fire, crews held the blaze at a little more than a half an acre. It burned within 10 feet of an abandoned building, but did not cause any damage to structures.
BEND, OR -- Construction has started on the new OSU Cascades Campus on Bend's west side. The group opposing the site filed an appeal with the Oregon Court of Appeals, but the university is moving ahead with the project after being victorious in three previous appeals. OSU officials want to have the facility ready for students by next year.
"Now For Bend," a new group formed supporting the westside location, is pleased to see work finally underway. Co-coordinator Janie Teater says "Truth in Site" brought up legitimate concerns, but insists OSU will address them. "I think they've been cognizant of things - issues and concerns like traffic and housing. They've done extensive outreach to mitigate these problems and response in that area," she tells KBND.
More than 60 businesses have joined "Now For Bend" in supporting the campus off Chandler Avenue. Teater says, "It's time to get on board. It's time to go forward on a 30-year process. We've spent a lot of money on legal fees and delay costs. That's a lot of money that could have gone to professorships and scholarships."
Fellow co-coordinator Amy Tykeson reminds people this will be a branch campus, and will look different from larger universities. "As you know, education is really changing and OSU is in the top five nationally for online courses. This will expand opportunities for students here to take courses they need but potentially might not be available in Central Oregon."
The goals is to have the westside campus ready for 1,850 students by fall of 2016.
BEND, OR -- A steering committee has approved three options to expand Bend's Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). These plans map the area where the city will be allowed to grow, with a 20-year supply of land for housing, employment and other urban uses.
Brian Rankin, Bend's UGB Project Manager, tells KBND News, "We're going to take these three different scenarios, as well as the supplemental analysis area, and we're going to do more rigorous modeling - sewer modeling, transportation modeling and water modeling. And, we'll also do an additional analysis on these areas, as well, to learn more and see if there are advantages and disadvantages to one area versus another."
The state struck down the city's UGB expansion plan in 2010, saying it was too big of a land request. These new scenarios lower the request from 8,000 to 2,000 acres. Rankin says there's still much to be done before a plan can be sent back to the state. "This runs through our advisory committee first, then they report to a UGB steering committee made up of the full City Council, County Commissioners, as well as two planning commissioners. They will say which looks like the final scenario and we'll roll with that. But, ultimately it's the City Council and Board of County Commissioners that will end up needing to approve this."
Rankin hopes local approval of the final option will come by April. The plan would then be sent to the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development for ultimate approval. That could come by the end of 2016.
DAYVILLE, OR -- Several new wildfires dotted the Central Oregon landscape Wednesday afternoon; one shut down a portion of Highway 97 north of Madras for about two hours last night, and has grown to about 3,000 acres.
Five other smaller incidents are being monitored in the Deschutes National Forest and Oregon Badlands. Nearly all were caused by recent lightning.
The Corner Creek Fire has grown to more than 28,000 acres, is 50% contained and is currently Oregon's largest wildfire. More than 1,100 fire personnel are working the blaze, 11 miles south of Dayville.
SISTERS, OR -- The largest outdoor quilt show in the world takes place this weekend in Sisters. But the entire region is seeing economic benefits.
Thousands will descend on Sisters, coming from around the globe to immerse themselves in all things quilting related. Vicki Jensen operates BJ's Quilt Basket in Bend. She tells KBND News, "In the industry of quilting, people will seek out every quilt shop in the area; that's what we do. We know that every quilt shop is going to have a different genre of fabric, and we want to see what that quilt shop has. So, luckily in this industry, they'll seek us out."
"Yesterday, we had a bus come in from the United Kingdom; 24 ladies from the UK. They're coming in to shop. That was a good business day for me," Jensen says. "We all benefit from this. I am nearly 7,000 square-feet here, and I would certainly not be this big without the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. It's what feeds us for the rest of the year." She believes interest in this 40th anniversary quilt show is greater than in years past, which means cash registers are ringing throughout the region.
The Oregon Department of Transportation has issued a congestion alert for Highway 20 through Sisters on Saturday, the main day of the festival. ODOT officials advise motorists to anticipate heavy traffic volumes through the area once the detour is in place on Cascade Avenue Saturday, from 6 a.m. through 5 p.m.
BEND, OR -- Investigators blame improperly disposed of cigarettes for a fire on Northeast Rachel Court, in Bend, Wednesday. Residents of a four-plex reported smoke on the back deck, just after 6 p.m.
The blaze spread from the exterior of the building into the attic and to nearby brush and juniper. Bend Fire crews were able to quickly put out the fire before it spread up a hillside, while Forest Service firefighters made sure it didn’t spread to nearby homes and apartments.
Firefighters also responded to three separate illegal open burns, and plan to issue citations in each of those cases. Bend Fire reminds residents that burning restrictions are in place.
THE DALLES, OR -- State biologists have determined that a number of dead and distressed sockeye salmon found this past weekend in the Deschutes River, appear to have died from a bacterial infection.
Early test results suggest the fish were from the Columbia River bound for upriver locations, and likely swam into the Deschutes in search of cooler water. However, the infection blamed for the deaths - Columnaris - is typically associated with warm water and/or low levels of dissolved oxygen.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife found about 45 dead and sick fish in a four-mile stretch of the lower Deschutes between the Colorado Rapids and the mouth of the river. ODFW officials are concerned there will be additional fish die-offs this year, if drought conditions continue.
Biologists are expected to continue to monitor water conditions on the lower Deschutes to watch for any effects on native fish. ODFW could consider some fishing restrictions if conditions warrant.
POWELL BUTTE, OR -- Oregon lawmakers concluded the Legislative session earlier this week. House Minority Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) tells KBND it wasn't a terribly fruitful couple of months. "I think the session was sadly very partisan. I understand the majority party number lends itself to a partisan agenda; but previously, we really worked to build consensus about bills. And, Speaker Tina Kotek really did a disservice to Oregon for that."
The two parties were unable to reach a compromise on transportation funding. Rep. McLane says, "I think that's really up to the left wing of the Democrat party that runs the state, with the Governor, House and Senate. There's really a division. A fight is going on between the moderate and left wing of the Democratic party and, unless they're willing to compromise, I don't think there will be a special session this fall."
He says Democrats' refusal to compromise on the clean fuels bill passed early in the session set the pace. "Until the left wingers really want to see an investment in roads rather than the 'do nothing program,' nothing is going to get done. I'm always willing; the Governor is willing; but, we'll see what the other Democrats do."
POST, OR -- A Crook County man got lost after going for a walk near his new home, leading to a search effort by the Sheriff’s Office.
Crook County Deputies were dispatched to the property in Post at about 7:30, Tuesday evening, after receiving a call from 32-year-old Jason Athanasopulos. He told 911 dispatchers he just moved to the area and got turned around. He'd reportedly walked for several hours before calling for help.
He was found just before dusk, prior to search and rescue arriving on-scene. Athanasopulos was a little dehydrated, but otherwise in good condition. He was given a ride home by deputies.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man has been charged with nearly 50 counts of theft and forgery, accused of embezzling money from his employer.
According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, 41-year-old William John Walton III forged checks from Jack Robinson and Son’s Construction over a period of time. He allegedly deposited in excess of $50,000 into his personal bank account.
The investigation into additional transactions continues.
BEND, OR -- Due to continued hot and dry conditions, officials are increasing restrictions on federally managed lands in Central Oregon, beginning this weekend. Jean Nelson-Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, says public-use restrictions typically don’t begin until early August. "We're really trying to get the message across that this is such a different year. Certainly, we’ve had dry years in the past, but this is extremely dry and we have all the conditions for natural starts. We're really working on making sure folks understand that a tiny spark this year can set off a pretty big wildfire."
Effective Friday, nearly everything else that causes a spark is prohibited within the Prineville BLM
and Ochoco National Forests and the Crooked River National Grassland
. "I can’t recall when we’ve had these same restrictions in wilderness, because usually the higher elevation we have moisture. But, the moisture is out of even our higher elevations," Nelson-Dean tells KBND. She adds, "Usually only during extreme fire seasons do we have public use restrictions and usually they don’t come in play until early August, so we’re a full month ahead on doing this. So, no campfires except in some designated campgrounds, no woodstoves, no warming fires, no cooking fires, no charcoal fires, no portable propane campfires, no wood burning stoves, wood pellet grills or smokers."
Those same areas will also move to an Industrial Fire Precaution Level III on Friday. For an explanation of those restrictions, click HERE
Campfires are allowed in certain campgrounds within established fire rings:
Crescent Ranger District: Contorta Flat, Contorta Point, Crescent Lake, Princess Creek, Simax Group, Spring, Sunset Cove, Trapper Creek, Whitefish Horse Camp, Windy Group Site, Industrial Mushroom Camp (Little Odell Butte)
Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District: Crane Prairie, Cultus Lake, Elk Lake, Fall River, Fall River Guard Station, Gull Point, Lava Lake, Little Cultus Lake, Little Fawn, Little Fawn Group, Little Lava Lake, Mallard Marsh, North Twin, Point, Quinn Meadow Horse Camp, Quinn River, Rock Creek, Sheep Bridge, South, South Twin, West South, Big River Group, Bull Bend, Wyeth, Cinder Hill, East Lake, Little Crater, Newberry, Ogden Group, Paulina Lake, Prairie
Sisters Ranger District: Allen Springs, Allingham, Blue Bay, Camp Sherman, Candle Creek, Cold Spring, Driftwood, Gorge, Graham Corral, Indian Ford, Jack Creek, Link Creek, Lower Bridge, Lower Canyon Creek, Perry South, Pine Rest, Pioneer Ford, Riverside, Scout Lake, Sheep Spring, Smiling River, South Shore, Suttle Lake, Three Creeks Lake, Three Creeks Meadow, Three Creeks Horse Camp, Whispering Pine
Paulina Ranger District: Sugar Creek, Wolf Creek
Lookout Mtn. Ranger District: Antelope Flat Reservoir, Deep Creek, Ochoco Divide, Ochoco Forest, Walton Lake and Wildcat
Crooked River National Grassland: Skull Hollow and Haystack Reservoir
Prineville BLM: Big Bend, Castle Rock, Still Water, Lone Pine, Palisades, Chimney Rock, Cobble Rock, Post Pile, and Poison Butte
For more on what is and isn't allowed with current public use restrictions, click HERE
DAYVILLE, OR -- Fire officials released the following update Tuesday afternoon: The Corner Creek Fire grew slightly to 27,166 acres on Monday due to fire line relocation and burnout operations along the fire’s western flank. Despite some gusty winds to 30 mph late Monday afternoon, the Corner Creek Fire stayed within containment lines.
The fire is 15% contained and 1,100 people are assigned to the suppression effort. The majority of the work today is focused on securing the fire’s perimeter and mopping up hot spots inside the fire line.
The fire is burning on public lands managed by the Ochoco National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management – Prineville District, with some private lands within or near to the burned area. The fire started June 29 from a lightning strike in the Black Canyon Wilderness.
The Corner Creek Fire remains at about 26,000 acres, 11 miles south of Dayville. It’s now 15% contained.
Monday's much-needed rain also brought more than 20 lightning strikes to parts of Central Oregon. Firefighters responded to two smoke reports, although officials say the rain should help keep new fires small.
Hazardous fire conditions remain. Central Oregon is under a Red Flag Warning through 9 p.m., Tuesday, due to continued risk of lightning.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon lawmakers finished up the session Monday night.
They approved spending more than one billion dollars on different infrastructure projects and earthquake upgrades for schools.
A Senate bill passed adds 118 million to the state school fund increasing the two year K-12 budget to 7.3 billion, which is 12 percent higher than the 2013 budget.
Lawmakers also approved 40 million on building affordable housing in the state.
Republican leaders called the session the most partisan in recent memory, while democratic leaders said it was the year we put opportunity for working families first.
SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters City Council has lost its second President in recent months.
Back in April, McKibben Womack resigned from the post because of the tough political climate in town.
Bill Hall was appointed to replace him and he has just resigned less than one month on the job -- for the same reasons.
Long Time Sisters City Councilor David Asson says its difficult to find those to serve in public service there. "I think in Sisters we have a lot of independents -- people who think differently. And that can be irritating. And the more vocal people are, it preys on people's nerves. I've been accused of that. It's a tough business for no money and a lot of work."
Asson says he doesn't care for the confrontations either, but it doesn't bother him that much.
The city is currently accepting applications for the council opening.
SALEM, OR -- Legislation to allow Oregonians to try experimental drugs and treatments for terminally ill patients is on its way to Governor Kate Brown's desk.
Steve Buckstein with the Cascade Policy Institute supports the bill, but just wishes it included children.
"The way the bill passes in both chambers is its only available for adults 18 and older and doctors have to sign off that these patients are only expected to live 6 months or less. No other state is that restrictive. Twenty one other states have approved similar legislation and often children are the biggest beneficiaries of experimental drugs."
Buckstein hopes the state can expand this legislation in the future to cover children who are terminally ill.
BEND, OR -- Summer is road trip season, but traveling in the heat poses some risks. Even if you're driving with the air conditioner blasting, experts suggest drivers drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
The Oregon Department of Transportation warns your car is essentially an oven, so make sure all passengers and pets are out of the car when you park. A child's body temperature can rise up to five-times faster than an adult.
For those heading over the mountain: Jered Castle with ODOT says, "every year, we see folks who are going over the mountain passes with older vehicles that have not been regularly serviced; and, of course, they've got their air conditioning turned up all the way, which leads to the vehicle - the engine specifically - overheating."
If you break down: "Give yourself plenty of distance from traffic itself. Get your passengers out of the vehicle and into a shady area if possible. Certainly, you want to make sure you're carrying in your vehicle supplies such as an emergency kit and water. You don't know how long it will take for someone to be able to get to your vehicle to help," Castle tells KBND.
Another option for beating the heat, drive at night when it's cooler.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Low water levels at the Prineville Reservoir are creating headaches for boaters.
Crook County Sheriff's Marine Deputy Rick Stoltenberg tells KBND News, "We're experiencing extremely low water levels; we normally don't see this low of water until mid- to late-September. People are showing up at the ramps expecting to launch, and right now, the only serviceable ramp is the one in the state park. The ramp at Powder House Cove and Jasper Point are so low that we're actually advising people not to launch because it's easy to damage your boat."
He recommends boaters use that state park launch instead of Jasper Point or Powder House, "The smaller boats are making it OK, but they're still running a risk. If they can't see the bottom or if they're not paying close attention and maybe lower their engine too early, they're going to end up losing a prop, which has happened to a couple of boaters already."
Levels are at the lowest Dep. Stoltenberg has seen at the reservoir in eight years.
REDMOND, OR -- A house fire northwest of Redmond caused more than $70,000 in damage, Monday evening. Redmond firefighters originally responded to a report of smoke near Tetherow Bridge. They eventually discovered the fire at a two-story home on Northwest Zamia Avenue.
Crews found fire coming from an exterior wall and an attic crawl space. No one was home at the time, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
SALEM, OR -- Preliminary results are in for new state testing, and they're better than expected. State education officials had predicted that about a third of Oregon students would pass the new Smarter Balance test. But, with about 95% of the tests scored, that passing rate is closer to half.
The new tests have higher standards and require students to think more analytically than in the past. Crystal Greene, with the Oregon Department of Education tells KBND, "We were very pleased with the preliminary results. We do emphasize that we expect a slight drop when the final five-percent come in, which include partial tests. Regardless, these results are much higher than expected, and for college and career preparation, that's really good news for our state."
Those early numbers show 45% of students passed in math and 55% passed in reading and writing. "Right now, English is coming in significantly higher than math, but that's not surprising given the shift. The approach in math, explaining their work, is a bigger change than in English," Greene says.
The final results are expected to be released by mid-September. When compared with neighboring states, Oregon's results fall in the middle. Washington was the highest, Idaho was the lowest.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office participated in a statewide effort to increase patrols during the 4th of July weekend and decrease the number of intoxicated drivers. According to federal data, between 2009 and 2013, 750 people lost their lives in crashes involving drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08 or more during the Independence Day holiday. Those fatalities account for 39% of all motor vehicle fatalities, nationwide.
According to the safety campaign, Deschutes County deputies issued four speeding tickets, three citations for no insurance, three for Driving While Suspended, two DUII arrests. One driver was cited for not having a license, and another for Reckless Driving.
DAYVILLE, OR -- A minor weather change made a significant difference for firefighters battling the Corner Creek Fire, 11 miles south of Dayville, now at 26,000 acres. Slightly cooler, moister air Sunday allowed crews to spend more time on creating fire lines. It’s now 10% contained.
Mop up continues on the Sugarloaf Fire, north of Dayville, which is now 95% contained. It has scorched just under 5,000 acres. Many of the crews who had been working on the Sugarloaf Fire are transitioning efforts to Corner Creek.
MADRAS, OR -- A falling tree killed a 14-year-old Madras boy, Saturday morning, while he was cutting firewood with his family. According to Crook County investigators, the family was on Forest Road 27, about 20 miles northeast of Prineville when another family member fell a tree, and it hit the teen.
He was taken into Jefferson County by private vehicle where emergency crews responded. Despite lifesaving measures, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
BEND, OR -- Three dogs reportedly killed a pair of Alpacas and injured several others, early Thursday morning. Deschtues County deputies arrived at the ranch on Arnold Market Road and found the dogs still in the pasture, although they ran off when deputies entered the area.
Two Suri Alpacas were initially killed during the attack, two others had to be euthanized due to their injuries, and a fifth is being monitored. The Siberian Huskies were tracked to a residencea bout two miles away and were taken into custody, pending the results of a Dog Control Board of Supervisors hearing.
On July 4, the dogs' owner, Norman Jensen, was cited for three counts each of Animal Nuisance, Unlicensed Dog and Dog vs. Livestock.
MADRAS, OR -- A California family was northbound on Highway 97 north of Madras, Thursday afternoon, when OSP investigators say the driver crossed the center line and collided with a semi truck.
According to Oregon State Police, 38-year-old Eduardo Martinez-Pureco, of California, was taken by air ambulance to St. Charles Bend with serious injuries. His four passengers, all relatives, were taken by ground ambulance to St. Charles madras with various injuries.
Investigators say the driver of the semi swerved to try and avoid the collision, but the SUV struck the rear wheels of the tractor. The tractor trailer combination left the highway and rolled on its side. The semi truck driver, also of California, was unhurt.
Martinez-Pureco was later cited for careless driving.
BEND, OR -- A Bend transient faces a number of charges, following a car and foot pursuit. According to Bend Police, 39-year-old Ronald Juarez-Wallace drove away from officers during a traffic stop, Thursday morning. Police pursued the man down Country Club Road, through Murphy Road and into neighborhoods near SE Aberdeen and SE Silver Sage.
Wallace crashed the Ford Ranger into an electrical transformer, causing it to explode. He then ran from the scene of the crash, climbing over a residential fence.
When a K-9 search was unsuccessful, officers broke down the perimeter. However, detectives continued to drive the area and eventually located Wallace walking down the road. He was taken into custody without incident.
Wallace is charged with attempting to elude, reckless driving, criminal mischief and hit and run. Bend Police say numerous community members helped officers narrow down the search area and were proactive in giving information to detectives.
YAPOAH LAKE, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue teams responded to Yapoah Lake, near North Sister, to rescue an injured hiker, Thursday afternoon.
Deschutes County dispatchers received a call from International Emergency Response Center asking for assistance for one of their clients. Daniel Ravencraft sent a text message that she had fallen while hiking with her service dog. She indicated she was injured and non-ambulatory.
SAR responded with a horse team and reached the 43-year-old Eugene woman at about 1 p.m. Medics evaluated her and prepared for extraction by a Black Hawk Helicopter from the Oregon National Guard.
BEND, OR -- It will be pushing 100-degrees when thousands of pets march with their people through downtown Bend for the 4th of July Pet Parade. If you plan to take Fido to the parade, you’re going to want to take some sensible precautions.
Lynne Ouchida, with the Humane Society of Central Oregon, tells KBND News the parade isn't right for everyone. “If you are a person who has a senior, obese, short-muzzled dog, or northern breed dog, and you have thoughts of going down to the 4th of July Pet Parade, we strongly discourage you from doing that. Those types of animals, particularly dogs, are going to be susceptible to the extreme heat that is expected on the 4th of July.”
With highs expected in the upper 90s, asphalt temperatures could be around 140-degrees. Ouchida says dogs cannot cool off like we can. “Dogs have very poor cooling systems and so they cool off by panting. But when they’re that close to the asphalt and it’s 140-degrees, say, they are breathing in 140-degree temperatures and they’re not able to cool themselves down efficiently. Dogs only sweat through their paws, and they’re sweating on to that high temperature asphalt as well”. She suggests using winter snow booties to protect their pads.
Excessive panting, drooling, and agitation can indicate heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Dogs cool off through the mouth, so make sure you have ice-cold water on hand. If your pet shows signs of heat exhaustion, step out of the parade. A veterinarian and water will be on hand at the parade staging area. Staging begins at 9 a.m., Saturday's parade begins at 10 a.m.
LA PINE, OR -- Deschutes County Sheriff's investigators say four people are responsible for a fire that damaged La Pine Middle School. Fire crews responded to the school just after 5 a.m. Wednesday, after a school district employee spotted smoke and flames coming from the roof.
The fire was quickly extinguished but damaged the roof, with limited damage inside the gym.
Investigators say the fire was intentionally set, and identified two 16-year-old boys, a 17-year-old, and 18-year-old Joshua Frontel as suspects. The Sheriff's office says the four are cooperating and believe this was an isolated incident.
TERREBONNE, OR -- Talking up the state’s recreation economy, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) sat down with a group of local outdoor recreation professionals in Terrebonne, Wednesday afternoon.
In the shadow of one of Oregon’s Seven wonders, Smith Rock State Park, Wyden addressed an invited group of travel and outdoor recreation professionals. “I hope to get ideas and suggestions like streamlining some of the hassles people have with permitting. I’ve been told on several occasions there are water issues. A Lot of interest in public-private partnerships, land and water conservation I think is sure to come up. So I think the idea is just to listen and get ideas,” Sen. Wyden tells KBND. Another listening session was scheduled for the Painted Hills Unit Area, Thursday morning.
Sen. Wyden also discussed his feelings on Oregon's new legalization of recreational marijuana. He says the federal government needs to catch up with the times when it comes to Oregon’s new relaxed marijuana law.
Legal retail pot businesses in Oregon cannot currently use our banking system. The Oregon Democrat says that is wrong, and so is declining other perks for the legal businesses. "When you’re engaged again in lawful conduct, which has been deemed lawful by the voters of Oregon, if you run a business in central Oregon now, in the past you’ve been able to get a tax break for hiring a veteran. It seems to be that one of these businesses became lawful today also ought to be able to get a tax break and I’ve introduced legislation to do that.”
BEND, OR -- It is not an argument against solar power; rather, where a proposed solar farm plants its roots. Both sides of a proposed solar farm in east Bend laid out concerns before a Deschutes County Hearings officer last night in Bend.
Cypress Creek Renewables wants to create two solar farms on the east edge of Bend, adjacent to Big Sky Park and several residences. The land is zoned Exclusive Farm Use, but state law allows solar farms with a conditional use permit. Jason Carr, with Cypress Creek Renewables, tells KBND, “A hearings officer might approve the applications with conditions; because neighbors don’t think it’s the right location there may be additional conditions requiring the company to further buffer and screen the project from the sight of nearby neighbors."
Cypress Creek presented plans to screen the solar farm with vegetation. But for Cathy Jensen, who lives next to the 118-acre parcel, that’s not enough. “Almost everyone in there agreed that solar is a good thing - well placed. We feel like their plan for screening the fence with trees is inadequate. There’s no water and the trees were schedule to be placed ten feet apart and for an upright Juniper that doesn’t cover the fence in any way.” She tells KBND, “I would prefer it is not there but I can tolerate it if it is set away from all the property lines. And I think that would be a minimum, a minimum setback of a 100-feet from their fence."
A decision is expected by the end of the month. If the solar farms are approved by the hearings officer, opponents say they plan to appeal to County Commissioners.
MADRAS, OR -- The Madras Army Airfield north hangar is now among the state's latest entries in the National Register of Historic Places. The hangar was built to boost the nation's efforts during WWII.
In 1943, the U.S. Army transformed the area into a fully functioning air field to train B-17 bombardment squadrons. The location met the army's requirements for a secure site with your-round clear weather to train crews.
This surviving hangar is one of the few remaining base buildings. Read more about the city's request for a historic designation, HERE.
DAYVILLE, OR -- A temporary closure is now in place in portions of the Ochoco National Forest, due to the Corner Creek Fire. Mud Springs Campground and South Prong Trailhead Recreational Sites are included in the closure. The Corner Creek Fire now covers about 6,000 acres 11 miles south of Dayville.
Crews continue to dig in containment lines in the Sugarloaf Fire, eight miles north of Dayville. It's at about 5,000 acres and is now 40% contained.
BEND, OR -- A lot of development is expected in the coming years on Bend's west side, and city officials are asking for public feedback on how it proceeds. They have created a website to solicit comment on some of the projects.
Senior Planner Karen Swirsky tells KBND the survey takes only about 10 minutes to complete. "Because there is so much going on over there, obviously the OSU campus is part of it, but it was also identified as an opportunity area in the Urban Growth Boundary work. And Park and Rec obviously has two great big new facilities going in in the area. There's the possibility of the Deschutes County Landfill being partly redeveloped; it seemed like it was a good time to take a look at the area."
Click HERE to access the survey.
The online tool allows participants to identify priorities, provide feedback and develop transportation needs. Swirsky says, "We've used information that OSU has for the ten-acre parcel and also for the other 47-acre parcel, and built into the model are how many units of residency, how many jobs, how many square foot of buildings go into the Envision Tomorrow model." Data will be collected through August 7.
SALEM, OR -- Health insurance rates will go up for many Oregonians next year. The Oregon Insurance Division just approved new rates for 2016. Most Oregonianas are covered by employers, Medicare or Medicaid, but those buying insurance on the individual or small group marketplace will see increases from seven to 37%.
Oregon Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali told a House Health Committee, the prcocess is not an exact science. "Our primary responsibility is making sure the rates aren't too high to gouge customers, or not too low so they won't cover costs."
Records show Oregon insurers paid out $830 million on individual plans, while premiums covered $703 million. Reserves were tapped to pay the difference. The companies say the rate hikes are necessary to cover those losses.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County released the following statement after Shane Nelson was sworn in as the county's ninth Sheriff, Wednesday morning:
Sheriff Nelson took the oath of office from Judge Michael Sullivan. Sheriff Nelson replaces retiring Sheriff Larry Blanton who served as Sheriff since 2007.
Sheriff Nelson will serve the remaining term of office for retiring Sheriff Larry Blanton, whose term expires January 2017. The four-year term of Deschutes County Sheriff opens for re-election in 2016.
Sheriff Nelson has been in law enforcement in Oregon for more than 20 years. Most recently, he served as the Corrections Division Commander. He was born and raised in Bend and graduated from Mountain View High School in 1988. After graduating from Oregon State University in 1993 he moved back to Bend.
“I am proud to serve the citizens of our great county alongside the admirable women and men of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. Your Sheriff’s Office has proudly served our community for nearly 100 years. We will continue to provide the quality public safety and service our citizens expect and deserve,” said Sheriff Nelson.
JEFFERSON COUNTY, OR -- The Oregon Health Authority has lifted a health advisory for Lake Billy Chinook, issued June 25. Water monitoring a the popular Jefferson County reservoir confirm the level of blue-green algae toxins are now well below dangerous levels for humans. However, the OHA recommends people continue to be cautious with pets, since levels are still above the very low exposure levels established for dogs. Jonathan Modie with the Oregon Public Health Division tells KBND, "Dogs have a particularly low threshold for getting sick. In other words, dogs are particularly vulnerable to getting sick or even dying if they have contact with the water. One reason is dogs, when they go in the water, they’re very active, they have a tendency to ingest the water, to drink it. Their bodies are less tolerant to the toxins."
Modie says our drought conditions could bring more warnings to Central Oregon. "[Blue-green algae] can be fed by just the sun, warm conditions, warm conditions of the water. So, I would say this summer, we are expecting to see a lot of algae blooms and thus, a lot of advisories. That said every year is a bad algae bloom year, and every year we see a number of these advisories being issued and encourage people to avoid contact with the water in those areas." He adds, "As water levels drop, water temperature can increase. When the temperature is warmer, algae blooms have a tendency to kind of stick around longer until conditions are such that the bloom may break up. That could be overnight, very sudden cold temperatures; if there’s rain, sometimes that can drop the temperatures enough to cause the algae bloom to die."
Officials advise visitors be alert to signs of algae blooms on bodies of water in Oregon, because only a fraction of the state's many lakes are monitored for blue-green algae. The OHA says humans and pets should avoid contact with water that is foamy, scummy, thick like paint, pea-green, blue-green or brownish-red, or if a thick mat of blue-green algae is visible.
For health information, to report human or pet illnesses due to blooms, or to ask questions, contact the Oregon Health Authority at 971-673-0400. Information also can be found at the OHA website.
REDMOND, OR -- Continued hot temperatures expected through the weekend have led one organization to pull out of Redmond’s annual Fourth of July Parade. Troy Meeder, co-founder and CEO of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, tells KBND its not the first time, but it wasn’t an easy decision. "We’ve got a lot of young kids and mature adults; the horses are ok – it’s tough on them, but the heat is just tough on those kids. Sometimes they can be out there waiting on that float for two or three hours in the sun, and then they’ve also decorated. We just felt like this year, much to our chagrin, that for the health of the kids and some of our older kids who want to be on the floats and the horses, we just felt like we should probably just step aside."
He adds, "We made the mistake a couple of times – at least I think so – of going ahead and doing it, and then having some kids really struggle through the heat and we went ahead and did it anyway. And, we just look back and thought, it’s just tough on them. Again, we could do it, but we were just trying to be wise for everyone involved."
Meeder says they have every intention of returning to the parade next year, and parents have been very supportive of the decision. "Without exception, everyone was just ‘oh my gosh, I totally understand, we’ll see you guys next year.’ So, our parents were thrilled. I’m sure some of the kids were disappointed because they love to be in the parade, love to be on the horses." Crystal Peaks pairs rescued horses with disadvantaged and special needs kids for riding and ranch experience.
Karen Sande with the Redmond Chamber of Commerce says adjustments are being made to the order of parade entries, so that young children and animals are earlier in the parade. She says one other group has pulled out. An antique car club will not be participating due to the heat, since their cars do not have air conditioning, and most participants are senior citizens.
The downtown Redmond Fourth of July Parade
begins at 10 a.m., Saturday. Check-in begins at 8:30, judging is at 9:00. Saturday's highs are predicted to be in the upper 90s.
BEND, OR -- Oregon’s average price for a gallon of unleaded gas continues to climb, albeit slightly, this week. Marie Dodds with AAA-Oregon tells KBND the national average dropped 2-cents to $2.77, while the statewide average rose a half a penny to $3.15. "These prices sound high compared to where gas prices were a few months ago. But, if you compare them to last year’s prices, they look pretty good. And in Bend, a year ago, we were paying $4.03 a gallon, compared to $3.18, now."
Dodds says it's possible Central Oregon prices could go up even more as we head toward the weekend. "Often times, when we combine a holiday weekend with a popular area, we see gas prices go up in that area; certainly we see that in Central Oregon, we see that in some communities along the Oregon Coast. And, our advice is always Shop Around!" AAA reports this year's Fourth of July holiday will still see the lowest prices since 2010.
Dodds says this weekend is the busiest travel holiday of the summer, with a 1% increase in travel in Oregon and, "Nationwide, AAA is projecting that 42-million Americans, or 13% of the population will travel 50 miles or more from home. Our numbers in this part of the country are very similar to the national numbers. We are also looking at an increase of about 1%, with about 6.5 million of us going somewhere for the holiday. The Fourth of July is the busiest travel holiday of the summer. Expect lots of company."
LA PINE, OR -- La Pine Fire officials say an alert school district employee first spotted flames on the roof of La Pine Middle School at 5:10 Wednesday morning. The worker called 911, triggering an immediate response from two engine companies, ten firefighters and deputies with the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office.
The flames were knocked down within 15 minutes, while deputies secured the scene and closed the access road to the school. The building was unoccupied and there were no injuries. Significant damage was discovered on the roof of the gymnasium, however there was only limited damage to the interior.
Preliminary investigation determined the fire originated on the roof, and officials are calling it a malicious arson event. Fire investigators, along with the Sheriff's Office, are working the case and school district officials are evaluating the scene.
BURNS, OR -- Oregon State Police arrested a Harney County burglary suspect, Tuesday afternoon, following brief chase. An OSP trooper located the suspect vehicle traveling north on Highway 395, just south of John Day, shortly after 4 p.m.
The trooper stopped the vehicle, but while he approached the minivan, the driver sped off. After a short pursuit, the driver suddenly stopped the vehicle and took off on foot. With the help of John Day Police and the Grant County Sheriff's Office, the suspect was located and arrested without incident.
Charles Platt, age 25 and of Burns, has been charged with Attempt to Elude, Reckless Driving and DUII.
BEND, OR -- The Bend Parks and Recreation Board of Directors has voted to not cut some Systsem Development Charges (SDCs) to help encourage more affordable housing development in the area. The city of Bend already decided to cut some SDCs for some devlopers and had asked the parks district to follow suit.
The board's vote was 3-2; Nathan Hovekamp voted with the majority. "We just felt the constituency that we're responsible to, the people who use the parks and trails did not send us a message they have interest in lowering the level of service in order to subsidize the development of that housing," he tells KBND.
This was the last Parks and Rec board meeting for Chairman Dan Fishkin who lost his reelection bid, partly on his stance against lowering SDCs. Brady Fuller won Fishkin's seat, and was very vocal about supporting a decrease to help encourage more affordable housing development in Bend. Fuller tells KBND he's disappointed in the vote and hopes to revisit the issue once he takes his seat on the board, after July seventh.
CENTRAL OREGON -- Firefighters continue to battle the Sugarloaf fire, burning near Dayville.
At over 5,000 acres, it's Central Oregon's largest wildfire, right now, and is still 20% contained. A small blaze near the Sugarloaf Fire, one mile south of Dayville, grew to 65 acres on Tuesday.
The Corner Creek Fire, near the Black Canyon Wilderness, 11 miles south of Dayville is now estimated at 2,500 acres with no containment. Several tankers and helicopters are working to protect cabins and outbuildings along Wind Creek.
Crews were able to quickly extinguish another lightning start Tuesday morning on the east end of the Maury Mountains, east of Prineville. It was held at only a quarter of an acre and officials believe it was a holdover from storms that tracked through the region earlier this week.
Fire officials say holdover fires can ignite up to two weeks after initial lightning strikes.
SALEM, OR -- Recreational marijuana is now legal in Oregon. But, before you light up, Tom Towslee of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission says you should educate yourself. "Know what the law is, know what's permissible and not permissible."
Using the slogan “Educate Before You Recreate,” Towslee says the OLCC's new website is part of a larger campaign that launched two weeks ago, and includes a social media campaign; radio, newspaper and digital ads.
Towslee acknowledges the legalization of recreational pot comes as the OLCC and the legislature continue to develop rules regarding the new law. He says the rulemaking process is moving along. "I think on the scale of 1-10, we're about a three on getting the rules ready; but they'll be done in the early fall and the Commission will get a chance to see them by then."
Recreational marijuana is only legal in Oregon for adults 21 and over. Measure 91 was approved by Oregon voters in November. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) says all eyes are on Oregon, today. "Our state has long been on the forefront of efforts to modernize and reform, starting with being the first state to decriminalize marijuana, one of the first with medical marijuana, and we think passing the best initiative of anywhere in the country."
On the federal level, Blumenauer says, "we've seen over a dozen pieces of bipartisan legislation to further modernize marijuana laws." U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is expected to discuss his efforts on the federal level, as well, during a stop in Central Oregon, Tuesday afternoon.