BEND, OR -- As law enforcement responded to a reported armed robbery at Columbia State Bank in northeast Bend, fire units were dispatched to the Carl's Jr restaurant, just a block north on Third Street.
BEND, OR -- As law enforcement responded to a reported armed robbery at Columbia State Bank in northeast Bend, fire units were dispatched to the Carl's Jr restaurant, just a block north on Third Street.
BEND, OR -- An employee at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend is accused of stealing from the hospital’s pharmacy. St. Charles officials contacted police when they suspected 32-year-old Shane Welsh had been taking a synthetic opiate from the pharmacy since the beginning of the year. They estimate Welsh stole at least 200 vials of Remifentanyl, worth about $10,000.
BEND, OR -- A Bend transient was arrested Saturday after police discovered he had more than 15 pounds of marijuana. Not only is that amount substantially more than what is allowed by state law, it was also a violation of 27-year-old Austin Connell’s probation.
TUMALO, OR -- A failed air conditioning unit is blamed for a fire that caused $20,000 in damage to the Bend Research facility in Tumalo. Firefighters responded to a monitored fire alarm at 3:30 a.m., Saturday. Crews arrived to find smoke in the hallways and water coming from the sprinkler system.
Investigators believe the blaze started in a room containing internet servers, backup systems and the main fire alarm system. Bend Research employees arrived on-scene shortly after fire crews and began the cleanup and repair process.
The sprinkler system is credited with stopping the fire from spreading beyond the 100-square-foot room. In a release, Dan Derlacki with Bend Fire says a larger fire or more smoke could have caused millions of dollars in damage to the research facility.
CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- Oregon State Police and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office are searching for a 20-year-old man in connection with a double murder discovered Friday evening, inside a Crooked River Ranch home.
Police received a report of a shooting at the home on SW Sand Ridge
Road, just before 7 p.m. When officers responded, they found two adults deceased inside. A neighbor reported hearing the gunshots and witnessed pickup leave the area.
Investigators suspect Mitchell Julio Morris, of Crooked River Ranch, is involved in the case. He's 5'10", 150 pounds with black hair. He may be driving a red and black 1989 Chevrolet S-10 pickup with an extended cab, Oregon license 689EZV.
The identities of the victims are being withheld, pending family notification. More information will be released as it becomes available.
11:40 a.m. UPDATE: Morris was located and arrested at 11:20 a.m. Saturday, in Salem. The vehicle of interest was also located.
4:30 p.m. UPDATE: The victims have been identified as 18-year-old Bailee Ray Southwick and 21-year-old Mackenzie Lyman. Both lived at the house where they were shot, along with Morris. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and OSP are asking for the public's help in tracking Morris' whereabouts between the Friday night shooting and his Saturday arrest. Anyone with information is asked to call OSP at 503-375-3555.
SISTERS, OR -- Sisters City Manager Andrew Gorayeb was placed on paid administrative leave late Thursday, pending an investigation. Mayor Chris Frye tells KBND News the move stems from a number of complaints received from employees. "I had some employee complaints brought to my attention. Once I received those complaints, I contacted our city insurance company, CIS, our legal services; informed them of the complaint and followed their recommendation, which was to put the City Manager on paid administrative leave."
BEND, OR -- There’s an unusual bonus coming for the contractor of an upcoming Bend street project in Bend, if they finish the job early. The Southeast Sewer Interceptor project is being put out for bid right now. It will stretch along 27th Street from Reed Market, north to Medical Center Drive and will impact the heavily traveled Highway 20 intersection.
TIGARD, OR -- A Tigard businessman is seeking the Democratic nomination, hoping to run against Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) in the fall. Dan Boggs has never run for public office before, but the 36-year-old says it's time to take the plunge. "I never really saw myself as a politician, that kept me from running for office because I never thought of myself in that light. And that was one of the reasons actually that I decided to run. Perhaps we don't need more politicians; perhaps we need more people that have a little more understanding of what goes on in the United States for the average citizen."
Boggs works in I.T. and tells KBND News he was compelled to run for two main reasons. "Wealth and income inequality is huge, as well as getting 'big money' out of politics, those are I think my two highest issues. I think right now the country is controlled, in large part, by the money that is funneled into it."
So far, he says he's spent $50 of his own money on his campaign. "I'm not accepting any donations. I know my opponent has quite a large war chest, and will probably be running a lot of ads; and I'm not sure how I will do. But, I don't think that we should be beholden to special interest groups; I don't think that that is the way politics should be going in the future." Click HERE to visit Boggs' campaign Facebook page.
Members of the U.S. House are not required to live in the district they represent, although it is unusual. Walden has represented Oregon's Second Congressional District, which is comprised primarily of Central and Eastern Oregon, since 1999.
BEND, OR -- Despite a rising number of fatal crashes across the country, a large number of drivers admit to engaging in dangerous driving habits within the past month. Marie Dodds, with AAA Oregon says a new study by the AAA Foundation reveals a culture of indifference for too many drivers. "The sheer number is very disturbing because, if 87% of drivers admit doing these things, you know there are more but don’t admit it. And, these risky and unsafe behaviors include things like distracted driving, impaired driving, drowsy driving, speeding, running red lights or not wearing your seatbelt."
And, she tells KBND News, they know better. "There have been great education efforts and every driver knows they shouldn’t drive while impaired, should not run red lights. But, drivers still do these things. And, our study shows that many drivers have a ‘do as I say not as I do’ attitude." These are the same drivers, she says, that get upset when others doe the same thing. "It’s ok for them to do those risky behaviors, but they don’t want you to do it."
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) announced Thursday the Bureau of Land Management finally plans to implement his Crooked River Collaborative Water Security and Jobs Act. The law moves the boundary line for the Crooked River Wild and Scenic Area and was unanimously approved by Congress in 2014, following three years of efforts.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon's 100 most delinquent taxpayers will now find their names posted on a state website. Call it "encouraging" or "shaming," but the Department of Revenue hopes it will lead to these 50 individuals and 50 businesses to settle their debts.
Click HERE to access the list.
Joy Krawczyk, with the Department of Revenue, says they've exhausted all other options. "There are people that we’ve tried to work with and collect from in the past, and we haven’t had success in resolving that debt." She says the list represents millions of dollars in unpaid debt.
More than 30 states post names of past-due taxpayers, and have been successful in getting people to pay up.
MADRAS, OR -- The Madras DMV Field Office will be open Tuesdays through Thursdays, instead of five days a week, starting March first.
The office will be open Monday, Feb. 29, but closed Friday, March 4. It will be closed Mondays and Fridays from then on. Business hours will remain the same: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closing from 12:30-1:30 p.m. for lunch.
Officials say the change will help rebalance staff levels to better match customer volume at DMV’s Central Oregon locations, primarily Bend and Redmond. Oregon's DMV constantly monitors wait times and volumes across its 60 field offices and occasionally adjusts hours and staff assignments.
Several small offices with only one or two staff members are open fewer than five days a week, such as La Pine, which is open only on Thursdays.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- New estimates for the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge put costs over $3 million. Most expenses are related to around-the-clock law enforcement efforts during the standoff.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) tells KBND News he's already talking with federal officials about picking up some of the tab. "I have spoken with James Comey, Director of the FBI, about the issue of federal reimbursement for these huge costs incurred by local law enforcement. I feel very strongly about that." He adds, "I'll do everything I can to get federal support for local law enforcement. Because, when they go through something like this it can be just devastating for their law enforcement budget; not just for this year, but going into the future."
Oregon State Police, alone, spent $1.2 million during the occupation. Other expenses include nearly $800,000 in police help from outside Harney County, another $500,000 incurred by schools and the cities of Burns and Hines, and an estimated $400,000 for the more than 100 U.S. Bureau of Land Management employees who were unable to work during the standoff.
Governor Kate Brown was in Washington, D.C. this week for the National Governor's Conference. She took the opportunity to meet with federal officials and request reimbursement for the state and Harney County, as well. She says the community did everything right and should not have to shoulder the cost of the damage alone.
MADRAS, OR -- Hundreds of inmates at the Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Madras were on the move, earlier this week. Nearly 800 prisoners, along with their belongings, walked from the minimum-security facility, across the parking lot to the medium-security side. Betty Bernt, with Oregon’s Department of Corrections, admits it’s a little unusual. "It’s a unique step. I don’t believe it’s ever happened in the past, where we built a large facility then didn’t end up using part of it and then kind of repurposed both sides for different uses. It’s unique; we’re kind of doing it as we go along, but I believe it’s a great opportunity to utilize the space we do have there."
A recent state report shows there will be a need for more prison beds in the coming year. Deer Ridge’s medium facility can house up to 200 more inmates. Bernt tells KBND News, "In the minimum institution, there was no more capacity, so we were kind of full in the minimum facility. And, our population may be increasing, so we were preparing for that. So, we shifted into the medium facility just to get more capacity; just more room for more bodies, eventually."
She says the now vacant minimum side will still be utilized. "The plan is to use it for programming space – different classes that might need to take place. Then, Oregon Corrections Enterprises, it falls under the Department of Corrections, but they’re their own little entity. They do different business opportunities, like building furniture or laundry operations, things like that. I don’t know what their plan is for it yet, but they’ll probably utilize some of that space to do inmate work programs."
SALEM, OR -- The first of four affordable housing bills under consideration this short session, has passed the state House. Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) sponsored the bill, which prohibits rent increases within the first year of a month-to-month agreement, and requires 90-days notice after that.
Rep. Buehler said on the House floor, "This is a good bill. I think it will give some security to families who need it. But, I think we need to keep on chipping away at this issue, more correctly diagnosing what's causing the problem, then coming up with some innovative solutions in the future."
He says Oregon's affordable housing problem comes from 30 years of stagnant wages. And, he says, "We're driving up the cost of housing. The three main drivers of the cost increase are such things as complex regulations, land use planning difficulties and long time-frames, in terms of getting permit processing across the goal-line and actually getting a project started."
Other bills before lawmakers include expanding Urban Growth Boundaries specifically for affordable housing, and ending inclusionary zoning, which requires a portion of new housing developments be held at below-market rates.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors heard The message loud and clear at Wednesday evening’s Troy Field public hearing: keep the property as open green space. It's zoned commercial, but also has a Public Facilities designation. The Bend-La Pine School district is asking that tag be dropped so it can sell Troy Field to a Portland hotel developer.
BEND, OR -- A local couple is charged with stealing a car as it warmed up in a northeast Bend driveway, Tuesday morning. The crime was captured on video surveillance at the NE Providence Drive home.
REDMOND, OR -- An off-duty Redmond Police Sergeant says he was nearly run off the road by a drunk driver, Tuesday afternoon. After taking evasive action to avoid a crash, the Sergeant attempted to pull the van over on Highway 126, west of Redmond. Two county deputies were already in the area, responding to reports of a van driver that was seen driving recklessly. They, along with an OSP Fish and Wildlife trooper, joined the pursuit, just before 4:30 p.m.
After traveling at speeds no faster than 60 mph, the van eventually came to a stop at SW 27th and Highland, prior to hitting police spike strips. According to police, 64-year-old Scott Leachman, of Sisters, initially followed commands and exited the vehicle. But, they say he became non-compliant and verbally challenged officers. Police put him on the ground and he was taken into custody.
Because he was injured during the arrest and was described as "extremely intoxicated," Redmond medics responded to the scene and transported Leachman to the hospital.
Leachman was the only person in the van at the time. He was later deemed medically stable to be lodged at the jail. He's charged with DUII-Felony (alcohol), Driving While Suspended, Attempt to Elude, Reckless Driving, Interfering with a Peace Officer and Attempted Assault.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Redmond Police Sgt. Curtis Chambers says, "In this incident, choosing to continue the pursuit was deemed appropriate and justified due to speeds traveled and the amount of traffic on the road, in addition to the belief the driver may be impaired and was driving poorly prior to the start of the pursuit. Discontinuing this pursuit would have allowed a suspected impaired driver to continue driving and put everyone at risk."
BEND, OR -- A Bend man is accused of pulling a gun during an alleged road rage incident, Tuesday morning. Witnesses called police at about 7 a.m. to report 61-year-old Steven Benedict Peters pulled a gun from his waistband during a dispute with another man at a North Highway 97 gas station.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County has rented beds at the Jefferson County Jail for a number of years, but a citizen committee is discussing whether that should continue for the long term. Mike O’Herron co-chairs that committee. He tells KBND News the current Crook County Jail, in downtown Prineville, is over 50 years old. "It can only house adult males, there’s no space for females or juveniles. The county also contracts for 25 beds from Jefferson County, in addition to the 16 beds we have here. But, this facility is at the end of its life and something needs to be done – either rent more beds from Jefferson County, or construct our own facility here in Crook County."
Continuing the rental agreement appears unlikely. O’Heron says, under the current system, the county spends extra time and money on transportation. "You’ve got your inmates in one location and your law enforcement and court system in another location, so it’s a logistical problem for the County. Secondly, that money that we’re paying Jeff County could be used to operate and construct a jail here in Crook County, in conjunction with other facility needs like a Sheriff’s office or Police Department, or other functions related to law enforcement and Corrections."
He says a new facility could come from renovating an existing building, like the now-vacant Pioneer Memorial Hospital, or building on new property. But, the committee is still considering all options. "We’re looking at sites, costs, what functions would be housed at a facility, what the cost would be for taxpayers to rent more jail beds or to build; do you renovate something? We’re looking at all those alternatives."
The committee met again this week, and O’Herron is confident they will have reasonable recommendations to present to the city and county by the end of April.
BURNS, OR -- The FBI has finished collecting evidence at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, following the 41-day occupation. However, the U.S. Attorney's Office and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service still haven't determined when the refuge will reopen.
The FBI conducted a tactical clearing of the refuge, performing bomb sweeps and collecting evidence related to potential crimes committed at the facility. Forensic examiners also recovered and processed computers and other electronic devices, and agents helped identify any damage to the Burns Paiute Tribe's artifacts and sacred lands, caused by the occupation.
"We know the impacts from the armed occupation of the refuge will live on in this community for some time. Today, though, we are able to bring some sense of closure to this chapter of the story," said Greg Bretzing, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon, said in a statement issued Tuesday. "I have come to know the people of Harney County quite well over the past few months. I have experienced the love that you have for your home -- the people, the land and the way of life that makes Harney County special. On behalf of the men and women of the FBI, I want to thank you for sharing your community with us and your patience as we have done the work that we needed to do."
BEND, OR -- Bend Parks and Rec will have to wait a little longer to hear whether the Oregon Parks Commission will allow a bridge over the Upper Deschutes River. The Bend agency had asked the state to change rules that don't allow bridges over scenic waterways. The state commission was expected to release a decision at the end of February.
Chris Havel, with Oregon Parks and Recreation, says they're delaying a decision because more study is needed, especially because the community is divided. "I know that people like to see completely clear and final decisions, rather than more work or more study. But, we just ask for patience. These are complicated issues and we don't want to rush them; we want to do it right."
He says it's important that the Commission study the whole stretch of river in the south end of Bend. "It's going to take months. One of the things we'll do when we're looking at this is, we need to see the river through several different seasons to see how use has changed, and to see how the river interacts with the community along its boundary. And, it's not something you can just sort of show up on one day, look at it, and walk away with an impression of how the river works. So, it is going to take months; could take up to a year."
BEND, OR -- A group opposing a local gas tax ballot measure says if voters approve the 5-cent a gallon tax, there’s no guarantee that money will actually go toward fixing Bend’s roads. Jeff Eager, with the No Bend Gas Tax campaign, concedes the city has increased its streets budget, this year. "The problem is that it’s not actually finding its way into improving the streets; it’s going to administrative and personnel costs. And that’s a problem that needs to be fixed. Otherwise, what the voters in the city of Bend are looking at is a prospect of paying even more in the gas tax, on top of the .48 per gallon they already pay to the state and federal government that will go into a fund that is increasingly a fund to pay administrative costs." Eager points to money used in recent years to purchase new software and fund increasing facilities expenses.
He tells KBND News, "In the context of rapidly increasing general fund budgets, that budget is going up by 11% this budget cycle, or $9 million, there’s plenty of money to start improving our streets without levying a recessive tax, the higher gas tax in Oregon tied with the city of Eugene, on taxpayers in Bend."
Eager feels the City Council and a citizen committee failed to consider all viable options. "Councilor Victor Chudowski has come up with a plan that ties street funding to that growth in transient room tax. So, if the goal is to make sure tourists are paying their fair share of the streets – which is an admirable goal – that is a fund that is really paid only by tourists; unlike the gas tax, which is paid predominantly by those who live and work in Bend."
BEND, OR -- Supporters of the proposed five-cent per gallon gas tax gathered at Deschutes Brewery Monday, to present their side. New Bend resident Lou Capozzi tells KBND News, "I moved here from New York City in October, and I noticed right away that the streets weren't very good. So, I started asking around and met the people that were organizing this Yes for Bend Roads political action committee, and volunteered to help out."
He is encouraging others to vote yes on the March 8th ballot measure. "The truth is, an independent citizens committee of like 15 people - regular folks, like me - looked at this situation; they looked at all the sources of revenue, they looked at expenses and they came up $2.7 million short. So, to me, it's a pretty compelling argument that the gas tax is the best way to get the roads fixed."
Supporters say the gas tax will cost the average driver between $2.50 and $3.00 a month, and spreads the responsibility among tourists and residents, alike.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors will hear public testimony Wednesday, on whether Troy Field should be home to a new hotel, or remain a venue for public events. The Bend-La Pine School District owns the nearly one-acre property on Bond Street between Kansas and and Louisiana Avenues. They have an agreement to sell to a Portland developer of boutique hotels, for $1.9 million, with proceeds to fund district construction projects.
BEND, OR -- Bend firefighters surprised a special first grader at Tumalo School, Monday, picking him up in a fire engine and providing him VIP treatment at the South Fire Station. Firefighter Eddie Vahdat says it was all part of helping Tristan Carrion know what an inspiration he is for the team participating in an upcoming stair-climb competition. "Every year, we honor a local child and they accompany us up to Seattle to the competition. This just brightens the child’s day. This year, it’s Tristan; he’s six-years-old. He’s got Rhabdomyosarcoma; it’s his second diagnosis for him. He’s always traveling back and forth to Portland."
REDMOND, OR -- A Terrebonne man is accused of driving under the influence and causing a crash that tied up traffic on the north end of Redmond, Monday afternoon. Investigators say 64-year-old Stuart Smith was southbound on Highway 97 just after 2:30, when he failed to negotiate a sweeping curve near the North Canal exit.
JOHN DAY, OR -- The Sheriff of Grant County is under state investigation for his relationship with the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The department that certifies officers has received at least eight complaints about Sheriff Glenn Palmer.
He's accused of sharing government plans and tactics with the militia. Eric Gablics, with the Department of of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), says it could cost Palmer his law enforcement certification. "They appear to be very serious and require that we look into them. We’ve asked the Oregon Dept. of Justice to conduct the investigation on our behalf."
Sheriff Palmer isn't commenting on the investigation. It's unknown how long it'll take to complete.
REDMOND, OR -- Two men were arrested Sunday evening, after a neighborhood dispute escalated in southwest Redmond. Redmond Police, the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and State Police responded to a home near SW 27th and Pumice Avenue just after 6 p.m. Initial reports indicated a dispute started due to vehicles speeding down the street but turned physical and one person allegedly pointed a handgun at another before retreating into a nearby home.
Officers surrounded the home and detained six people, including 23-year-old Logan Jansen (left), of Klamath Falls. He was arrested for Unlawful Use of a Weapon and Menacing. During a search of the house, officers say they found the gun used by Jansen used during the altercation. They also say they found a short-barreled shotgun and a rifle.
After further investigation, officers arrested 23-year-old Mathew Morkert (right), of Redmond, at the Remington Arms Mobile Home Park on NW Fir Avenue. He's accused of violating probation, Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Unlawful Possession of a Short-barreled Firearm.
BEND, OR -- With about two weeks before Bend voters make the final decision on a local gas tax, rumors are swirling about the city budget, and why officials can’t come up with the funds needed to fix ailing roads.
City Manager Eric King says 75% of the city’s budget is restricted and can’t be diverted to pay for street repairs. "I can’t take the water/sewer bill that you’re paying and use that to fund streets or fund police officers. Where Council has the most discretion is our General Fund; that’s about 1/3 of the revenue the city receives. Most of that are property taxes. Voters restricted the growth in those property taxes in the late 90s, so there’s a restricted pot to work with." He adds, "We had a citizen committee look at the target of where the streets are and how to get them improved. We’re at a 68 on a scale of 0-100 and the goal is to get to 73; five PCI points in five years."
LA PINE, OR -- Icy roads are blamed for a rollover crash on State Rec Road, near La Pine. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says 18-year-old Jaden Filener hit a power pole, shearing it off at the base and leaving power lines leaning over the roadway.
BEND, OR -- An 18-year-old Bend man was arrested for driving under the influence, following a Saturday morning crash. A Deschutes County deputy saw two vehicles speeding on Neff Road, near Hamby, but was unable to catch up with the pair.
REDMOND, OR -- Roberts Field has secured air service from Redmond to Phoenix-Sky Harbor, beginning this summer – much earlier than initially anticipated. American Airlines will offer daily, nonstop flights beginning June second. The first tickets went on sale Sunday.
BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County Sheriff's Captain is accused of embezzlement; he's charged with stealing more than $200,000 in taxpayer funds. Sheriff Shane Nelson put 45-year-old Scott Beard on paid leave last fall, when the agency launched an investigation into missing funds. He was arrested and fired on Friday. Oregon's Department of Justice released the following statement, following Beard's arrest:
A federal grand jury sitting in Eugene, Oregon has indicted a captain employed by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. Scott Raymond Beard, 45, of Bend, Oregon, was charged with various offenses related to allegations that he used his position to embezzle and steal more than $200,000 in taxpayer funds. The indictment further alleges that Beard laundered some of the ill-gotten gains by conducting financial transactions to pay expenses on behalf of his co-defendant, Krista Jean Mudrick, 35, of Bend, Oregon. Mudrick is a former employee of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and is charged with making false statements to the FBI and IRS about Beard’s expenditures of the ill-gotten gains.
Beard was arrested by FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigations today in Bend and is scheduled to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin in Eugene on Monday, February 22, 2016. Additionally, Mudrick has been issued a summons requiring her presence at an arraignment on Monday, February 22 in Eugene at 1:30.
Beard is charged with two counts of theft of funds from a federally funded program, which if convicted, carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison; two counts of money laundering, which if convicted, carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison; and, one count of passport fraud, which if convicted, carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Mudrick is charged with one count of false statement to federal law enforcement agents, which if convicted, carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
“Most men and women in law enforcement dedicate their lives to public service and strive every day to always do the right thing as public servants,” said U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams. “When an investigation shows that a member of law enforcement is violating the public trust by stealing the people's money, we will vigorously prosecute and seek justice for such conduct. Public trust in law enforcement is earned, and must be protected through accountability.”
“The public rightly expects that their law enforcement officers live and work by a strong set of core values – honesty, integrity and respect,” said Greg Bretzing, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “The FBI will always aggressively pursue allegations of public corruption to ensure we maintain the public’s trust in law enforcement.”
The indictment claims Beard used the money to buy a motorcycle, vacations and cosmetic surgeries for Mudrick. Deschutes County Sheriff Nelson issued a statement, saying he doesn't tolerate misconduct amongst his ranks:
In September of 2015, as a result of a transition audit done upon my taking office, I became aware of discrepancies in confidential funds managed by Scott Beard. These accounts involved investigative funds, which were used by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team and Deschutes County Sheriff's Office detectives.
Beard was placed on administrative leave and the Federal Bureau of Investigation began a criminal investigation. Concurrently, the Sheriff's Office conducted an administrative investigation of Beard with the assistance of an outside investigator. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a thorough investigation and our commitment in maintaining the integrity of that investigation. This office and our employees have cooperated fully with both the criminal and administrative investigation.
During the past 5 months, I agreed with the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office to give the federal criminal investigation priority over taking employment action against Beard. That criminal investigation resulted in a federal criminal indictment dated February 17, 2016.
Scott Beard was arrested on those federal charges today [Friday] by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and he was fired from our office this afternoon.
After the audit uncovered this issue, the Sheriff's Office immediately increased oversight of our accounting practices. We have continued to review these practices and made further changes as a result of recommendations from the transition auditor and the outside investigator conducting the administrative investigation.
These improved accounting practices address the methods in which the Sheriff's Office handles money and also complies with legally required audits.
The gross misconduct by this one person is in no way representative of the over 220 men and women, whom I am proud to call co-workers. We will not tolerate misconduct amongst our ranks and dedicate ourselves to the ethical and professional standards of the law enforcement profession. This has damaged our citizens' trust and confidence in a time where law enforcement is under great scrutiny. We will rebuild this trust and continue to provide the best in public safety and service.
The administrative investigation will continue and release of additional details at this time could compromise the investigation.
Beard photo courtesy Lane Co. Jail
Mudrick photo courtesy Facebook
BEND, OR -- An affordable housing complex slated for northeast Bend appears to be moving forward. Bend City Councilors approved zoning changes for the land at 27th and Butler Market Road, then reaffirmed the decision to the state Land Use Board of Appeals. LUBA recently required the Council to justify the change, after an adjacent developer appealed the decision.
John Gilbert, with Pacific Crest Affordable Housing, says the plan is for 64 units for low-income residents. "There's eight buildings, with eight dwelling units in each building; and there's a combination of one, two and three-bedroom units for households earning 60% of area median income or less. We will target rents that will be affordable to households earning 50% of area median income."
Because the adjacent developer didn't attend this week's City Council meeting, the decision to approve the zoning change cannot be appealed again. Gilbert tells KBND News, "If the zoning process goes favorably, we will submit an application for funds, this summer. Then, we will find out this fall if we get the funds to do the project. If we do, we'll be breaking ground in the spring of 2017; with the project finalized in the winter of 2018."
BEND, OR -- Expanding Bend’s sewer system to account for growth has been a big undertaking, but officials had expected the project would be completed by now. Instead, City Councilors are forced to acknowledge it won’t be finished for another year.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors held the second and final reading of an amendment to the city code, Wednesday night, loosening restrictions on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as in-law suites. The motivation was to address affordable housing in Bend.
Councilors already agreed to limit the size of ADUs to 800-square feet. Tandem parking was okayed, and no longer would a conditional use permit be required to add the second dwelling to a city lot.
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Airport is moving ahead with plans to expand commercial flight offerings. Redmond Mayor George Endicott tells KBND News, "We got a big grant, a $500,000 grant from the feds, to try and attract an airline to fly into Sky Harbor at Phoenix." Previous flights from Redmond to Arizona offered by Allegiant Air, landed in Mesa.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Drug Enforcement officers took two Prineville men into custody early Wednesday morning, in connection with the trafficking of methamphetamine. They arrested 41-year-old Toby Horn (pictured) and 43-year-old Todd Poling after a traffic stop on Highway 20, west of Bend.
CODE Detectives say the two drove to Salem and purchased the meth, and were returning to the Prineville area to sell it. During the traffic stop, a police K9 found narcotics in the car, along with two-ounces of meth and other evidence of the sale and manufacturing of meth.
Horn and Poling were lodged at the Deschutes County Jail.
BEND, OR -- Bend businessman Sam Carpenter officially launched his campaign Wednesday, for the Republican nomination to unseat U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in the fall. The 67-year-old owner of Centratel, a telephone answering service, tells KBND News his business experience will help him take on an entrenched incumbent. "The entrenchment is the problem, isn’t it this year? - If you look at Trump and Bush - And there’s other problems happening in this state that need to be pointed out. I’m a turnaround specialist. That’s what I do. I turn around businesses and I’ve been doing it for a while. I turned my business around and I’ve been doing it with hundreds of other across the country. Up to a half a billion dollars in size." Carpenter ran for Senator Jeff Merkley's (D-OR) seat in 2013, but dropped out of that race a month into his campaign. He chose, instead, to endorse fellow Bend resident Jason Conger, who later lost in the primary to Dr. Monica Wehby.
BURNS, OR -- The FBI is revealing more about what investigators have found at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, following the 41-day occupation by militants.
Two large trenches were dug on cultural grounds that contain artifacts. One of those trenches was reportedly used as an outhouse. Teams also found guns and explosives. Concerns remain that vehicles and buildings on the property might be rigged with explosives.
The FBI's Art Crimes Team is helping agents process the refuge, to make sure artifacts from the Burns-Paiute Tribe are properly handles.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Central Oregon families receiving assistance through the state’s WIC program will get new debit-style cards, beginning this week. Emma Reynolds, Crook County's WIC supervisor, says the upgrade provides a safer, more streamlined experience. "In the past, if paper vouchers were lost or stolen, they could not be replaced because they were essentially a check. Now that we have the debit cards, they can be canceled and replaced
immediately, because once you terminate the card, there’s no more access to the benefits." The new eWIC cards will reload automatically each month, as long as the client remains eligible for benefits.
BEND, OR -- A 13-year-old Bend girl won nearly $1400 to help care for dogs belonging to the homeless. Alice McKnight is a seventh grader with a heart for helping others. She tells KBND News, “Whenever I see people who are homeless and they have dogs I always wonder how they feed their dogs. I wanted to find a way for homeless people to be able to take care of their dogs.”
SALEM, OR -- The owners of a Redmond-area mobile home park have been slapped with a big fine by Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality. The DEQ issued a nearly $17,000 penalty to Cheri Dawn Cooley-Hick for sewage treatment and disposal violations at the Cline Falls Mobile Home Park on Highway 126. Her husband, Ken Hick, was also fined for violations at an RV park on the Oregon coast.
BEND, OR -- While a proposal to increase Oregon’s minimum wage awaits a vote in the full House, a group of local small business owners aired their opposition to the bill, Tuesday night. The bill would create three wage tiers: $14.75 in the Portland area, $13.50 in semi-urban areas including Bend, and $12.50 for rural areas.
REDMOND, OR -- A 39-year-old Redmond woman is accused of having a sexual relationship with a high school student. Sally Mae Smith is charged with two counts of sexual abuse in the third degree, one count of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor, luring a minor, and online sexual corruption of a child.
REDMOND, OR -- Five people were arrested after Redmond police recovered a stolen pickup during a high-risk traffic stop. Prior to the theft, the owner had been living in the pickup and attached camper. He also reported a firearm was inside at the time the truck was taken.
BEND, OR -- An estimated 500,000 recreational drones were purchased over the holidays. The Federal Aviation Administration considers those who fly a recreational drone between a half-pound and 55 pounds, pilots.
PENDLETON, OR -- A social media campaign to get a Pendleton High School Spanish teacher onto the Ellen Degeneres Show appears to have paid off. A student-produced video went viral several weeks ago, bringing Kathryn Youngman to the attention of the show’s producers, as she undergoes chemo for her third bout with cancer. Supporters took to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter with #YoungmanOnEllen to rally for the teacher.
Click HERE to watch the viral video. Students included messages like, "Mrs. Youngman, we love you and we’re determined to get you on Ellen: #YoungmanOnEllen." And, "Hey, what’s up, Mrs. Youngman. It’s Roman and my boy Big Mike. Just want to let you know we’re not going to stop until we get you on Ellen. We’ve been Tweeting nonstop and we’re not going to stop. Keep strong."
BEND, OR -- The City of Bend will host a series of workshops Tuesday and Wednesday to kick off its effort to develop a downtown parking plan. Parking and Transportation Consultant Rick Williams will introduce strategies that have been used in other areas. He tells KBND News, "It’s just to learn about what are considered best practices in parking management, especially in cities like Bend that are vital and tourist destinations and have high volumes of parking activity; what the parking industry would say are the best ways to manage that parking." Williams calls his presentation "Parking 101."
SALEM, OR -- A bill to increase Oregon's minimum wage continues to advance in the State Legislature. The Senate altered Governor Kate Brown's original proposal, but she says she supports the changes. Her two-tier plan now has three tiers.
Gov. Brown says the benefits to Oregon's low-income families outweigh the impact this will have on small business. "I understand raising the minimum wage will have an impact on our small businesses. These costs are real. But, I think we need to weigh those against the long-term societal costs of a generation raised in poverty."
Republicans say it's going to put low-wage Oregonians out of work because small businesses will have to lay off workers to compensate for higher wages. But, Gov. Brown says this plan is better than other options. "It offers a balance between nothing, and two problematic ballot measures that expedite increases with absolutely no accommodation for regional economic differences."
During a hearing Monday night, supporters said making minimum wage means living in poverty. But, business owners testified it could force them to close. Although, they acknowledged low-wage earners' desire to make more money. One businesswoman told the committee, "I think it’s essential to remember that we as businesses have got to be profitable. And, we wan the same goals here."
The three-tier system would provide the largest increase in the Portland area, with the lowest rate in rural parts of the state. It would be phased in over six years, starting July first. A proposal to send the plan to voters was denied, and the bill was voted out of committee and on to the full House, Monday night.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond's community ice rink has closed for the season. Officials with the city and Redmond Area Park and Recreation were forced to shut down the rink early, due to continued mild weather.
It's difficult to maintain the ice during unseasonably warm temperatures. Usually the rink opens just before Thanksgiving, and closes in early March. In 2015, the rink closed February 13.
BEND, OR -- The Bend-La Pine School District currently manages nearly 14,000 iPads for all students, from third to 12th grade. Skip Offenhauser oversees the program, now in its third year. "I've been told it's the largest deployment [of iPads] in the northwest."
But, managing all those devices in the hands of children can be difficult. Offenhauser tells KBND News there are a couple teachers at each school trained to be able to take care of low-level problems. And tech support is available as needed. "Every school has a district employee assigned to them that is part of our I.T. department; those are our site techs. Site techs might be assigned to two to four schools, depending on the size of the schools. They are the people who go in and fix a lot of the issues, will go in and fix any breaks." Wear and tear of everyday use can take its toll, and the district was forced to hire four more of these techs this year, to keep up with demand.
Offenhauser says the iPads are expected to last about five years and the district's oldest units are now in their third year. "We're hoping, in all likelihood we will not be doing a very large purchase for next year. We'll probably still have to purchase some, just to account for growth because Bend-La Pine Schools is a growing district. But, if you look at the performance of the iPad 2s, these machines are doing pretty darn well."
BEND, OR -- As of March first, speed limits on many Central Oregon highways will increase. House Bill 3402 raised speed limits from 55 to 65-miles per hour on rural highways, including portions of highways 20, 97, 197 and 31.
BEND, OR -- A bill that would raise the state's minimum wage is moving through the state Legislature. It's a three tier plan that would raise the rate higher in more urban areas, with smaller increases in more rural parts of the state.
Deschutes Republicans will host a roundtable discussion on the controversial issue, Tuesday. Scott Ramsay, owner of Sun Mountain Fun Center in Bend, says the legislation would greatly impact businesses like his."These kinds of increases, especially on small business, are just impossible for the economy to absorb. And, what's going to happen is we're going to be forced to reduce hours, reduce staff, reduce services, which effects customers, the employees that rely on us to make a living."
Ramsay tells KBND News most of his employees earn above minimum wage already, but the wage hike would still cost him money. "Some of these employees have worked for four or five years to achieve levels. And, suddenly, the state is going to decide that the minimum wage is going to be greater than or equal to what they've spent five years trying to achieve. So, us as business-people understand they are going to expect the same kind of increases. It just ripples back into our expenses."
BEND, OR -- Oregon’s exclusion day is coming up on Wednesday. "What that means is, every parent who’s kids were not up to date on vaccines or their records were not up to date with the schools, would’ve received an exclusion letter from the county," says Deschutes County Public Health's Heather Kaisner. "Which means, if you got that letter, you need to make sure you get your kids updated with the needed vaccines and get the information to schools before February 17, or your children will be excluded from school."
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A vacant elementary school in Prineville could become an affordable housing complex. Housing Works has agreed to purchase Ochoco Elementary for $600,000 and renovate it into two-bedroom units.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond police are looking for a suspect who stole a car early Friday morning. Officers located the stolen Nissan Altima near SW 31st and Obsidian Avenue, within an hour of taking the initial report.
SALEM, OR -- Republicans in the Oregon Senate fought to stop a minimum wage bill, but failed because they were outnumbered by Democrats. Senator Fred Girod (R-Stayton) says it's another example of Portland Democrats cramming legislation down the rest of the state. "There’s going to be a price to pay and I think Harney County is the tip of the iceberg. People are really, really getting angry, and you need to be aware of that."
The bill passed the Senate on a party line vote, despite seven motions by Republicans to stop it. Senator Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg) says it will hurt small businesses and their employees. "Wouldn’t it be reasonable that we put some accommodation in the tax code so we wouldn’t see small businesses having to lay off employees because of the increased cost that this minimum wage is going to create."
Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) issued a statement following Thursday's vote, expressing his disappointment that an amendment was excluded that would have prevented Legislators from benefiting from the increase. "Senate Democrats voted to condemn countless small businesses across the state, raise daycare costs for all Oregon families, force employers to lay off workers, and increase costs for senior programs," Senator Knopp said. "At the same time, Senate Democrats voted to raise their own wage."
If approved, the bill would create three separate minimum wage regions in the state: The bottom tier for rural Oregon would be $12.50 an hour. The second tier would be $13.50, and the top tier, in the Portland area, would be $14.75. All regions would see rates increase over the next six years. The bill now moves to the House.
BEND, OR -- The Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) helped organize a number of rallies calling for the end of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Dan Morse with ONDA in Bend is happy to see it finally happen. "We're thankful that the takeover of the refuge has come to an end. We're certainly very grateful to law enforcement and elected officials who called for peace and justice, and a resolution of the situation."
PRINEVILLE, OR -- The two-year Crook County Strategic Plan has been released. Included in the report are the results of a detailed survey of residents revealing what people like, and don't like about living in Crook County.
BEND, OR -- The Bend Fire Department is finally ready to put six new fire trucks into service, months after the new rigs arrived in town. Deputy Chief of Operations Bob Madden says they’ve been training on the new engines for the past couple of months. "What we’re dealing with, primarily, is the newer technology in the fire truck. These have a computer screen, basically, that work all the systems; the lighting systems are all LED lights so their more efficient, so we don’t burn out alternators like we did on our old fire trucks; the cab is safer, it has airbags so it’s safer for the crews." They also feature a fancy new two-tone paint job.
He admits that training period lasted longer than originally expected. "Like any new program, we’ve had some issues and some things that had to be corrected by the manufacturer. That, and the ongoing training – ya know, it takes a while. We’re getting all of our people to drive them, to pass a driving test on them; and then to get oriented with how the pump works and all of the equipment on these fire trucks. It’s taken a while. You’ve seen them driving around town for the last month to month and a half, but now they’re physically going into service."
Madden tells KBND News they’ll gradually be rolled out to area fire stations over the next two to three weeks. "We’re finishing up our in-service training, so we’re training all of our crews in pump operation and driving. And, that’s ongoing. As we get enough depth of people trained on them, we’ll start putting the rigs into service. We’re hoping we can have our first one in service by the first of next week."
BURNS, OR -- FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing held a press conference Thursday afternoon, just a few hours after the final occupier at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. He issued the following statement:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) was the first lawmaker to react to the events leading up to the end of the refuge occupation. He released the following statement:
“Oregonians across our state are grateful to the Harney County Sheriff’s Department, federal law enforcement, and local and state officials for ending this standoff without additional loss of life. The steady resolve of the Burns community and Harney County leaders like County Judge Steve Grasty and Sheriff Dave Ward have kept this sad episode from sparking something much worse.
Now that the shadow of violence is lifting from Harney County, Oregonians can return to what we do best -- building common ground for real success on the challenges facing our state.”
Second District Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) also released a statement:
“We can all be grateful that today has ended peacefully, and that this situation is finally over. Now, life in Harney County can begin to return to normal and the community can begin the long process of healing. I will continue working to solve the underlying issues that have caused so much frustration in rural communities. We need meaningful changes to federal forest and land management policies, and we need to foster a more cooperative spirit between the federal agencies and the people who call areas like Harney County home.”
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley said in a statement, “I am relieved that this unlawful standoff has finally come to an end. This situation has put incredible emotional and financial strain on the Harney County community, and now we all must come together to support them as they heal. I thank the law enforcement officers who worked to ensure that the rest of the occupiers left peacefully, and I stand ready to partner with Senator Wyden, Governor Brown and others to provide whatever support we can to the Harney community as they recover and move forward.”
The FBI is scheduled to hold a press conference at 2 p.m., Thursday, in Harney County.
BURNS, OR -- The final holdout at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge surrendered to law enforcement just before 11 a.m., Thursday, the 41st day of the occupation. Following the arrest of David Fry, the FBI released the following statement:
At approximately 9:40 am on Thursday, February 11, 2016, the FBI brought three of the remaining Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers into custody without incident. At approximately 11:00 am, agents brought the fourth into custody without incident.
* Sean Larry Anderson, age 47, of Riggins, Idaho
* Sandra Lynn Anderson, age 48, of Riggins, Idaho
* Jeff Wayne Banta, age 46, of Yerington, Nevada
* David Lee Fry, age 27, of Blanchester, Ohio
No one was injured, and no shots were fired. Thursday marks day 41 of the occupation of the refuge.
Agents arrested the remaining four occupiers as they walked out of the refuge to the FBI checkpoint. Those arrested will face arraignment before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Portland on Friday, February 12, 2016.
At times, there were dozens of highly armed militants occupying, visiting and supplying the refuge. On Wednesday, February 3, 2016, a federal grand jury indicted 16 people:
* Dylan Wade Anderson, age 34, of Provo, Utah
* Sandra Lynn Anderson, age 48, of Riggins, Idaho
* Sean Larry Anderson, age 47, of Riggins, Idaho
* Jeff Wayne Banta, age 46, of Yerington, Nevada
* Ammon Edward Bundy, age 40, of Emmett, Idaho
* Ryan C. Bundy, age 43, of Bunkerville, Nevada
* Brian Cavalier, age 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada
* Shawna Cox, age 59, Kanab, Utah
* Duane Leo Ehmer, age 45, of Irrigon, Oregon
* David Lee Fry, age 27, of Blanchester, Ohio
* Kenneth Medenbach, age 62, of Crescent, Oregon
* Joseph Donald O'Shaughnessy, age 45, of Cottonwood, Arizona
* Jason S. Patrick, age 43, of Bonaire, Georgia
* Ryan Waylen Payne, age 32, of Anaconda, Montana
* Jon Eric Ritzheimer, age 32, Peoria, Arizona
* Peter Santilli, age 50, of Cincinnati, Ohio
Each subject faces one federal felony count of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 372.
All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
"The occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge has been a long and traumatic episode for the citizens of Harney County and the members of the Burns Paiute tribe. It is a time for healing, reconciliation amongst neighbors and friends, and allowing for life to get back to normal. I want to thank our neighbors in eastern Oregon for their patience, resolve, and their kind and welcoming spirit to the many members of federal, county, state, local, and tribal law enforcement who have worked tirelessly to bring this illegal occupation to a conclusion. The fine work of so many dedicated public servants in a difficult endeavor cannot be understated. I am very proud of them all," said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney, District of Oregon.
"Much work is left to assess the crime scene and damage to the refuge and tribal artifacts. We are committed to seeing the job done and to pursue justice for the crimes committed during the illegal occupation."
The FBI will release more information about the law enforcement work that still remains to be done at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge later in the day.
BEND, OR -- Over the past two years, the Bend Fire Department has improved response times with increased staffing, and has raised the rate of survivability for cardiac patients. But, a new smart phone app aims to incorporate the general public into the equation.
Paramedic Engineer Petar Hossick is excited about the new Pulse Point app. He tells KBND News, "We know that the most important thing is time, in cardiac arrest. And, having any of the public step in and do CPR as quick as possible, improves that person’s chance of survival. They are the ‘tip of the spear,’ we really need them out there helping us. If we want to raise our survival [rate] in our city more than where it’s at, we can’t do it without the public." Bend Fire's rate of cardiac survivability is now at about 50%, compared to a national average in the single digits.
Hossick adds, "We’re going to start pushing this in all CPR classes to people, and encourage them, if they’ve taken CPR, to download the app. Also, [we're] reaching out to all the medical providers at St. Charles and BMC and locally, to encourage them to download the app."
BURNS, OR -- It's tense at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Thursday morning. Wednesday, one of the occupiers rode an ATV outside of a barricade and that led the FBI to surround their camp. FBI negotiators talked with them over a loud speaker and occupiers yelled back. Much of the interaction was broadcast by the four holdouts over a live internet stream. They told the FBI, "We haven't threatened anybody; you guys are the ones that murdered." They also repeated threats that they wouldn't be taken alive if the FBI started firing first.
Sean and Sandy Anderson, David Fry and Jeff Banta remain at the refuge. They spoke with Nevada lawmaker Michelle Fiori and Rev. Franklin Graham by phone. The calls were also live streamed online. They told Fiori, “They want us dead, so that nobody else will ever stand up for their rights.”
Fiori and Rev. Graham are reportedly on their way to the refuge to help bring an end to the standoff. Occupiers say they'll walk out with Fiori and give up, but they still don't want to be charged. Fiori says she talked with the FBI and was assured they wouldn't take action until morning.
Cliven Bundy, father of occupation leader Ammon Bundy, was taken into FBI custody when he arrived at the Portland Airport, Wednesday night. The FBI says his charges will be released Thursday. Cliven was at the center of a Nevada ranching standoff in 2014, over use of public lands. He was reportedly headed to the refuge at the time of his arrest.
BEND, OR -- A new piece of equipment at St. Charles is designed to help transport the region's sickest babies to the Bend hospital for care. The St. Charles Foundation recently purchased the new neonatal isolette for the hospital.
Lisa Dobey, with the foundation, tells KBND News, "It's a baby bassinet that is basically on a stretcher, where it pops up and down. It's easy to move a baby and put it into the helicopter. It also has oxygen and it clicks in like a carseat would, so once it's in the helicopter it's safe; it doesn't move around."
She says it was important to replace an aging isolette. "We have one that is so old that the company no longer provides replacement parts for it. And, the Life Flight people have bought a new helicopter, and it won't even work in their new helicopter system." The old unit also could only carry one baby at a time.
The new isolette will be able to transport two babies at once, and cost about $150,000. But, Dobey says it was money well spent. "Our board took a look at this; they heard a presentation by Dr. Fister and knew that this was something the Health System desperately needed, that it helped our very sickest and our very youngest of patients, and it's something that everyone in the community would feel good about their charitable dollars supporting. "
BEND, OR -- A portion of the Pilot Butte Canal in northeast Bend is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The segment between Cooley Road and Yeoman Road recently received the designation from the National Park Service.
Residents in the nearby neighborhood hired attorneys to apply for the designation, in part, to make it more difficult for the local irrigation district to pipe the canal that runs through their properties.
Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger tells KBND News the announcement took him by surprise. "[I was] actually shocked. I thought that, when the Governor came out with the letter saying she did not support this action, and then the County Commission and the Historical Society basically requested that they look at the big picture review of the whole system before they made a decision, that they would've sort of honored those requests and gone down a different path," Unger says. "But, obviously, it's a win for the neighborhood."
He adds, "These are decisions being made at a federal level that effect us locally, that are sort of another indication of are we all on the same page? Are we all listening to each other? So, at sometime, I'm going to bring that up to our federal delegation and ask that question."
The canal was built in the early 1900s to irrigate area farms and helped spur rapid growth and development of Central Oregon.
BEND, OR -- Small, local non-profit organizations are invited to compete for a cash prize and help from non-profit experts. The Bend Chamber of Commerce’s “Leadership Bend” program will soon kick off its second annual Central Oregon Impact Summit.
Rachel Rees Vanden Burg of the Bend Chamber tells KBND News, “Small to medium sized non profits that don’t have the resources that the bigger non profits do maybe don’t have the strongest strategic business plan so our goal through the Impact Summit is to help educate and assist these non profits through a series of workshops.” Those workshops include business planning, board management, marketing, fundraising and coaching.
“After going through the workshops, we narrow it down,” says Rees Vanden Burg. “The selection of non-profits will take the stage for a community event and they get to pitch their strategic business plan that they’ve created, to the public.” Those five non-profits will compete for a $10,000 cash prize in May.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon's Court of Appeals has ruled Kip Kinkel's 112-year sentence will stand. Kinkel's attorney argued his sentence was cruel and unusual punishment.
In 1998, Kinkel shot and killed his parents before driving to Thurston High School and killing two others. He was 16 at the time of the shooting; Kinkel is now 33.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that juveniles can't receive mandatory life sentences. However, Kinkel's sentence wasn't a "mandatory life sentence." He was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the four murders, and 40 months for each of the 26 wounded.
The Appeals Court ruled the Supreme Court decision doesn't apply in this case.
Photo Left: Kip Kinkel in 1998; Right: 2016
Courtesy Oregon Dept. of Corrections
BEND, OR -- Two nearly-simultaneous death investigations have Bend Police resources stretched thin, and have raised questions as to why it took so long for the public to be notified.
Also last week, police pulled a body from the Deschutes River near downtown Bend. His identity has not been released, but Chief Porter says investigators believe he hadn't been seen since mid-December. "There are times when we will not know whether we’re dealing with a natural death, a suicide, an accidental death or a homicide, until maybe two to three weeks into the investigation, depending on the surrounding situation." He says state law requires an investigation into any death that occurs outside of the direct supervision of a medical professional. Police do not believe the man's death was a result of foul play.
Alongside those two local investigations, Chief Porter says about a dozen of his officers participated in the Harney County investigation into the officer-involved shooting that led to the death of Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, as part of the Deschutes County Major Incident Team.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond businesswoman Angela Boothroyd (left) was appointed to the City Council, Tuesday night. She replaces Heather Carlin who resigned her position for health reasons.
The appointment is effective immediately and ends when Carlin's term would have expired at the end of 2016. Carlin was appointed to her post in August 2015, replacing Ginny McPherson.
Boothroyd is a native Central Oregonian who has served on the Redmond Development Commission, the Board of the Redmond Chamber and was named Redmond Citizen of the Year in 2006.
BURNS, OR -- A third person has died from injuries sustained in last week's head-on collision on Highway 20 in Harney County. Oregon State Police were notified by family that 69-year-old Darlene McGown of Redmond passed away Friday. She was the passenger in a car driven by 71-year-old Milton Kowalski, also of Redmond.
BEND, OR -- Moda Health will continue to operate in the state. Oregon officials have accepted the health insurer's business plan to overcome financial troubles. Currently Moda serves 60,000 Oregonians through the individual market, and more than 130,000 in the large group market.
Local agent Don Klippenes, with Health Insurance Strategies, applauds the decision. "I think it's a smart move on the state's part," says Klippenes. "It doesn't really surprise me, because Moda has been a very significant player in state insurance in Oregon for the last numerous years. And, to take and change that, or to pull one of those carriers out, would not have been in the 60-some thousand people's best interest, in my opinion."
He's telling his clients to keep up with payments, so they don't get dropped. "The biggest thing that we're doing is making sure people pay their premium on time and that they watch their bank account for the automatic draft, those types of things. Then it's virtually business as usual. Everything should be good to go until the next open enrollment, which is the fall of 2016."
Klippenes tells KBND News those who are currently insured by Moda must remain with the company, for now. "Unless the state had shut down Moda, there's not a special election, and so the news that the state is not shutting down Moda, Moda is continuing to operate as business as usual with some very tight state oversight."
State officials say Moda's business plan should generate more than $170 million for the company, providing sufficient capital to continue operations. All aspects of Moda plans will continue as usual, from premiums to benefits. If Moda does not complete all requirements mapped out in the plan, the state retains the right to shut them down in the future.
BEND, OR -- The granddaughter of a 92-year-old Bend woman killed on New Year’s Eve was arraigned Monday for the elderly woman's murder. Angela Judd is also charged with theft and criminal mistreatment. The 45-year-old woman was arrested last Friday.
BEND, OR -- A segment of the Pilot Butte Canal in Bend is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The section between Cooley and Yeoman roads, was built in the early 1900s, and provided an economic boost to the region’s growing agriculture and timber industries.
LA PINE, OR -- Each year the La Pine Rural Fire Protection District offers a dozen full academic scholarships to students enrolled in Central Oregon Community College Fire Science and Emergency Medical Services programs.
BROTHERS, OR -- A Utah driver was killed in a single vehicle rollover on Highway 20, Monday morning. Anthony Vanoudheusen’s van veered off the highway about 55 miles east of Bend, just before 8 a.m.
The vehicle rolled and the 27-year-old Ogden man was ejected. He later died from his injuries. He was not wearing a seat belt and troopers report icy conditions at the time of the crash.
SALEM, OR -- Oregon Legislators are considering a ban on sky lanterns. They're similar to paper hot air balloons.
"I describe them quite simply as an untethered flying sterno can," says State Rep. David Gomberg (D-Central Coast). "These are pretty; there’s no argument at all that these are beautiful things. They are pretty. I would argue also that they can be pretty dangerous," he told fellow lawmakers, this week. "They take these flaming devices and they loft them into our trees, onto our shake roofs and into our forests."
Rep. Gomberg says sky lanterns can easily start fires, and they're already banned in Oregon state forests. The new bill would ban them statewide; the maximum fine would be $2,000. There are similar bans in 29 other states.
REDMOND, OR -- It’s the first year for Oregon high school seniors to participate in a new Community College tuition assistance program. Redmond Schools’ Director of Secondary Education David Burke tells KBND News students only have a few more weeks to get applications submitted for next fall. "The deadline to apply for the 'Oregon Promise' is March first. So the process really is for students who would earn a diploma in the spring of 2016, a GED or complete 12th grade in the spring of 2016, to go to their high schools, work with their counselors to fill out the FAFSA." The “FAFSA” is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
The “Oregon Promise” program was established by state lawmakers in 2015, and says many families aren’t aware of the process. "In Redmond, we just sent out a letter to all of our parents of seniors. But, we’d like to get more questions. We’d like to get kids, even if they’re not sure they qualify, we need them to step forward and begin to ask questions, and contact their counselors at the schools and sign up and apply. It’s always a good idea to fill out their FAFSA early anyway, so our goal is to get every senior to complete their FAFSA this spring so they know what their best options are moving forward."
(02/08/16) UPDATE: An autopsy has been completed on the body of a man found in the Deschutes River last week. Bend Police say there is no evidence of foul play and toxicology results are pending.
(02/05/16) UPDATE: Bend Police confirm the remains pulled from the river Thursday afternoon, is that of a white male adult. An autopsy is scheduled over the weekend at the State Medical Examiner's Office. No further information will be released until after that is complete.
(02/04/16) BEND, OR -- Bend Police responded to a report of human remains in the Deschutes River near the Newport Avenue bridge, Thursday afternoon. The report came in at about 3:30 p.m.
BEND, OR -- A Bend man has pleaded guilty to a number of domestic violence-related charges stemming from crimes committed between January and April of last year. Brett Vanscoy changed his plea two weeks into his trial.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are expected to decide in a couple of weeks whether to change the zoning of Troy Field. The Bend-La Pine School District wants to sell the downtown property to raise money for several school projects.
Some residents have been vocal about keeping one of the city's few downtown green spaces. But, School Board member Nori Juba says the district needs the $2 million that could come from the land sale. "We understand the community's desire. We understand the neighbors - they've had the green space for a long time and most of us like green space. I think one of the great things about Bend is that it does have quite a bit of green space. We have Drake Park and other parks that are in our neighborhoods. And so, I think we have to weigh our priorities, and as a school district, we have to think what's best for our students."
The property is left over from when Bend High was located downtown; Troy Field was an athletic field. Recently, a Hearings Officer ruled the City Council could legally change its zoning to allow a developer to build a hotel on Troy Field, but he recommended against it since it is one of downtown's few green spaces. "I think we've heard from a lot of people in the community and I know it's a controversial topic," Juba tells KBND News. "I think we've looked for every way that we can to come up with the money to finish these projects. We're going out and asking the City Council to approve this so we can do right by our kids."
SISTERS, OR -- A Prineville man was arrested early Saturday morning, accused of stealing a car as it was warming up in a Sisters driveway. The car’s owner reported it stolen just before 6 a.m. About 20 minutes later, a passerby happened upon a crash on Wilt Road, near Camp Polk Road involving the stolen vehicle.
UPDATE: Burns Police arrested Whitney Grosso, Sunday afternoon.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police are looking for two women in connection with an ongoing drug investigation.
Officers executed a search warrant at space #17 of the Aspen Court Mobile Home Park in Northwest Redmond, early on January 31. The manufactured home was empty at the time, and officers say they found methamphetamine and heroin, as well as scales and packaging equipment. They also recovered stolen property from recent burglaries and thefts from cars in Redmond and Bend.
BEND, OR -- A Bend woman was arrested Friday for the murder of a 92-year-old. Bend Police say 45-year-old Angela Judd killed Nada Bodholdt at about 9:30 p.m. on December 31, 2015.
Investigators says Judd and the victim were related to each other and have determined there is no further threat to the public. The investigation is ongoing and Lt. Clint Burleigh says no further information will be released at this time.
Police did not say whether this case is related to the remains pulled from the Deschutes River on Thursday, however the two incidents have different Bend PD case numbers. Lt. Burleigh told KBND News Friday the body had not been identified and an autopsy was scheduled at the State Medical Examiner's Office, this weekend.
BEND, OR -- Crews will spend the next couple of weeks working to reduce wildfire fuels on 37 acres of Shevlin Park. Click image (left) to enlarge work area.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors approved changes this week to regulations around Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), but not everyone is pleased with the easing of restrictions. Local real estate agent Fred Johnson says getting rid of the conditional use permitting process will anger neighbors, who now don’t have a say in whether an ADU is built next door. "This allows apartments in a single-family neighborhood, basically. And, it’s interesting, because it flies in the face of exactly what we were talking about with short-term vacation rentals and the main concerns were: they didn’t want rentals in residential neighborhoods, they didn’t want traffic and they didn’t want noise. And then, this comes along less than a year later and completely flies in the face of all of those main objections of the short-term rentals."
Johnson disagrees with the changes likely to be made to to the permitting process, ADU size allowances and parking. "There’s a requirement to have one off-street parking, then there’s a credit provision for an interesting thing called tandem parking – which is where you park end to end, in other words, you have a little longer driveway. The reality is, it sort of works for a vehicle that isn’t used frequently. The way that would work is, you go to your wife and say, ‘hey, honey, I want to go to the store, can you move your car?’ Well, that’s only going to go on for so long before somebody finally just parks the other car out in the street."
BURNS, OR -- The people of Harney County continue to deal with the strife caused by the ongoing occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Pastor Matthew Littau, of St. Andrew's Episcopal/Peace Lutheran church in Burns, tells KBND News the last month has been difficult. "Our lives have been disrupted with deliberate intimidation tactics against ordinary common citizens out there on the street." Littau is also pastor of the Living Waters Mission on the Burns-Paiute Reservation, "I know that a week ago Wednesday, the tribal offices on the Reservation were closed because there was a threat against the tribe. I don't know the exact nature of that threat or what it was, but it was enough that they closed their offices on Wednesday."
Pastor Littau says he's seen first-hand how relationships are suffering. "The dueling rally, I think, was a good example of what it's doing to our people here in our community; it's splitting them. One person takes that point of view, the other takes that point of view, and they get very passionate about it. Pretty soon, they're yelling and screaming at each other. And pretty soon, friendships that have been solid for a couple of decades are broken. It's weird."
Four people remain at the refuge, refusing to leave. Pastor Littau says the continuing standoff has many people scared to attend church. "We have several people, probably half a dozen, who aren't coming to church right now because they just don't feel safe. So, our attendance at our church in town is down, as a result. We've also had some personal animosity between some of the members and one visitor in particular, that has not exactly been pleasant. But, on the other side, the church on the Reservation - the Church of Living Waters - the Paiute church, during this last month, our attendance has actually increased."
BEND, OR -- Several firms are vying for the contract to design the new expanded campus for OSU-Cascades on Bend’s west side. Three firms presented their ideas for how the school should look and feel, during public presentations, Thursday.
PORTLAND, OR -- A federal Grand Jury handed down indictments against Ammon Bundy and 15 others (click photo for complete list) connected with the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Bundy's attorney, Mike Arnold, told the judge it was wrong that his client wasn't in court for a Wednesday hearing. "Mr. Bundy put on the record today, through me, that he expects and requests to be at every single federal court appearance."
The judge said it wasn't necessary, because the indictments suspend previous court actions. Arnold said, "We find it terribly ironic that a judge ruled that he was a risk, on pre-trial release, to not attend court appearances. Then, while in custody of the government, he was prevented from attending today’s court appearance."
Indictments were unsealed Thursday morning and reveal the 16 defendants each face one count of Conspiracy to Impede Officers of the United States. According to the document, the group "knowingly and willfully conspired and agreed together ... to prevent by force, intimidation and threats, officers and employees of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ... from discharging the duties of their office at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge."
The indictment outlines accusations that the conspiracy began "on or about October 5, 2015" when "two conspirators traveled to Harney County, Oregon to warn the Harney County Sheriff of 'extreme civil unrest' if certain demands were not met." It notes that defendants "recruited and encouraged other individuals ... through social media and other means of communication, to participate and assist" in the conspiracy, beginning in November.
A group of armed militants took over the refuge on January 2, 2016. The indictment says the defendants' actions prevented federal officials from performing their official duties at the refuge "by force, threats and intimidation." The four people who remain at the refuge are among the 16 defendants named in the indictment.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man was arrested Wednesday evening, following a slow-speed pursuit through a residential neighborhood.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors held a final public hearing on proposed code changes regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as "granny flats" or "in-law suites."
BEND, OR -- Two runaways from the J Bar J Youth Ranch are accused of breaking into a convenience store on the south end of Bend and stealing several items.
KLAMATH FALLS, OR -- A crash that closed Highway 97 north of Klamath Falls, Wednesday afternoon, may have been the result of a driver's medical emergency.
UPDATE: Oregon State Police released the names of the two people killed in a Highway 20 crash near Burns, earlier this week. Witnesses say 65-year-old Robert Heath of Christmas Valley attempted to pass a semi when he hit a car driven by 71-year-old Milton Kowalski of Redmond. Both men were killed.
According to OSP, Kowalski's passenger, 69-year-old Darlene McGown from Redmond, was airlifted to a Boise hospital with critical injuries.
BURNS, OR -- (02/02/16) Two people are dead following a head-on crash on Highway 20 near Burns, Monday.
Oregon State Police say a pickup truck was eastbound at about 12:30 p.m., when it attempted to pass a commercial truck. Investigators say that pickup then struck a Cadillac.
The driver of the Cadillac was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger was taken to a Boise hospital with critical injuries. The driver of the pickup later died at the hospital.
OSP has not released the identities of those involved, pending family notification. The highway was closed for two hours during the investigation.
BEND, OR -- The Family Kitchen in Bend has the mission of serving anyone who needs a nutritious meal in a safe and caring environment. They serve 60,000 meals a year, and they just received their largest donation ever.
BURNS, OR -- It will be at least another month before more information is released on the Harney County officer-involved shooting that left militant Robert "LaVoy" Finicum dead. The 54-year-old was killed January 26, when officers stopped him and other leaders of the refuge occupation on their way to John Day.
The FBI released aerial footage of the altercation; officials say Finicum was shot when he reached inside of his coat. The Deschutes County Major Incident Team is leading that investigation, and Sheriff Shane Nelson says he won't release further information until it's completed. He says that could be at least four to six weeks.
Ammon Bundy is again asking the four holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to give up. Although, his father, Cliven Bundy, says he's sent letters to the Harney County Sheriff (pictured), Governor Kate Brown and President Obama telling them the occupation will continue.
Through his attorney, Ammon said Tuesday, "Because of the restrictions of solitary confinement for 23 hours per day, I have not been able to speak to my father. I’m requesting that the four remaining protesters go home now, so their lives are not taken." He added, "This will allow the FBI and OSP to also go home and end their armed occupation of Burns and Harney County."
Bundy remains in the Multnomah County Jail in Portland while his attorney collects more evidence to use in a detention hearing. He hopes to be released on home confinement. The judge allowed Joe O'Shaughnessy, who was arrested in a separate event on January 26, to go free. However the judge ruled Pete Santilli must remain in jail, because he's considered a potential threat.
BURNS, OR -- The latest demands from the remaining militants occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge involve a conservative Christian preacher. During a phone call with the anti-government group "Oath Keepers," they said they've asked the FBI for a third-party negotiator, "A man named Franklin Graham. They tell us they're working on it."
Occupiers went on to say, "He's a Christian man; he's a spiritual leader. He's actually traveling around the country, right now. He's holding prayer meetings on the state capitol of every state so that we can get some good elections, ya know, get rid of some of this corruption."
The phone call occurred on Sunday, just before phone service was cut to the refuge. They are able to access one phone line, which is now controlled by law enforcement. The entire conversation was posted to YouTube.
BURNS, OR -- There are no local radio or TV stations in Burns, but one Harney County teen is filling that gap during the ongoing wildlife refuge occupation. Eighth grader Dustin Beers live streams nearly all of the occupation-related meetings and events on his DBTV YouTube channel.
His mom, Kelli Beers, tells KBND News he got the idea after watching other people’s coverage that he felt included too much commentary. "When he first started with the live feeds, it was because there was nobody here that would show the whole truth. There were other You-Tubers who would get on there and say their two-cents worth, but never just let people talk. So, he decided he was going to let people see the truth about the meetings that were happening."
Dustin says the community seems to appreciate his efforts. "They like to watch it when they can’t make it to whatever is going on. People have donated lots of money to help me get equipment. Me and my family have been overwhelmed with the support." His parents set up an online giving page to collect donations, after friends started asking how they could contribute to his efforts.
Kelli says those donations have already topped $1,200, "We had one big huge donor that donated to him, that wanted to remain anonymous. They interviewed him to see what his plans were with all of this." And, those plans don't include quitting. "After the standoff is over, I’m going to try film the football games and the sports games," Dustin says, "So the parents that can’t make it to their kids’ games can still watch it."
BEND, OR -- Commercial vacancy rates continue to fall in Bend. Pat Kesgard, with Compass Commercial, says office, retail and industrial markets tightened in the fourth quarter, following a year of recovery.
And, he tells KBND News he expects that trend to continue in 2016. "We’re going to see new buildings; we’re going to see redevelopment. We have some companies that have survived this downturn, that now are growing, and some of these companies are traded sector, where we ship their product outside of Central Oregon. And, they’re stepping up in the size of production or warehouse facilities. So, consequently we see this continuing at this point." He adds, "If you own a business and you want to look at buying, again, that’s starting to get very tight. On the other side, if you’re a landlord, your rates can be higher. If you’re a landlord and you want to sell, or you want to sell your business, now would be a very good time." That growth is resulting in less available space and higher lease rates, which he says is good for landlords not locked into recession-era rates.
According to the latest statistics gathered by Compass Commercial, Office vacancies fell from 7.4% in the Third Quarter to 6.8% in the Fourth; industrial vacancies fell from 6.3% to 5.9% in Q4 and Retail saw the biggest decline, from 6.4% to 5.2%.
Kesgard says things could change if the national economic climate changes, but he doesn't see that happening anytime soon. "But, if you look at long-term interest rates, if they tick up appreciably in any short period of time, that’ll put downward pressure on everything. But, at this point, we’re rather bullish on 2016. So, what that means is, if you’re a tenant and you need more space, you need to be talking to a commercial broker sooner rather than later."
To hear our full conversation with Pat Kesgard, visit our Podcast page.
SALEM, OR -- Lawmakers arrived in Salem Monday, for the first day of the Legislative session. Democratic leaders have an aggressive agenda for the 35-day session. House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) spoke about it on the House floor:
"It appears the majority party in this session wants to move significant policy changes to the state of Oregon, with notices going out as short as one hour before a hearing is posted." McLane referred to public hearings on several bills during the 2015 session when discussion was either cut short or little notice was given beforehand. In the case of a gun background check bill, Central and Eastern Oregonians arrived to testify in Salem, only to be turned away when hearings went too long.
McLane said, "And, I ask you Madam Speaker, if you do this, I hope you understand what that does to the people east of the mountains who won't have the opportunity to participate. I urge you, restrain yourself and give all Oregonians a chance to participate."
BURNS, OR -- A Burns businesswoman, who is benefiting from the influx of people there, has a message for the visitors: Go home.
It's an odd message from a motel operator with a constant full house. But, Vickie Allen, of America’s Best Value Motor Inn, is tired of the constant inundation of militia supporters. “It’s just building up again. It’s just gotten worse because we’ve got more people from out of state coming in. Enough’s enough. Go home and let us go back to our nice quiet little town.”
Allen tells KBND News she believes the majority of locals want the outsiders to leave, even those who might support the occupiers' original message of government overreach. It was a sentiment shared by many at a Monday rally at the Harney County Courthouse n Burns. One woman said, "I don’t think there’s a person here that’s in disagreement that the government has overreached. But, we have to make changes, and it needs to happen in a way different than the way the militia is wanting it to happen."
But, nearby, another demonstration called for the arrest of law enforcement responsible for the death of Robert "LaVoy" Finicum. Ron Wharton drove from Roseburg to participate "This is not going to stop unless we stop it. And, we don’t need the federal government killing our protesters. We have the right to free speech, to protest and to carry a firearm."
Both sides faced off for more than two hours. Despite a lot of shouting, there were not reports of violence between the groups.
LA PINE, OR -- A trucker from Boise was arrested Sunday evening, after Oregon State Police say he fled from the scene of a crash, south of La Pine. Two tow truck drivers were on scene of a wreck on Highway 97, near milepost 172 at around 7:45 p.m., when a semi-tractor/trailer struck and damaged one of the tow trucks. The tow truck driver suffered a leg injury.
According to OSP investigators, 40-year-old Stewart Maze fled the scene in his semi after the collision. He was located about eight miles away and arrested. Maze is charged with DUII, Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering, Criminal Mischief, Assault IV and Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver.
BEND, OR -- The state stepped in last week, in an effort to keep Moda Health from going under. The health insurer is in financial trouble and is not allowed to accept new policies, although current policies will be honored.
Jason Epple, with Century Insurance in Bend, has spent a lot of time lately on the phone with worried clients. "The sky is not falling, we don't need to panic. Moda is going to pay their claims, we're all going to have continuous coverage; it'll be ok. Yeah, realistically we're all going to have to move our health plan to somebody else, most likely. That's the way it's looking right now. But, we're going to have time to do that. We're going to have time to sort it all out, we don't need to knee-jerk it."
He tells KBND News, "At some point, the state may determine that the individual market - they may determine that all of the markets go away for Moda - or maybe just the sectors of individual, maybe Medicare, maybe small group. We don't know the answers yet. But, if they do indeed go away, there will be a timeframe."
Epple expects the state will announce its plans for Moda within the next week.
SALEM, OR -- The state's short Legislative session kicks off Monday in Salem. Lawmakers have 35 days to introduce and pass bills.
Democrats want to increase the minimum wage and affordable housing. House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) says Democrats are just trying to throw more money at the state's problems. "They're going to talk about how the most vulnerable amongst us, 'seniors who need assistance, the disabled and the like, will also be negatively impacted if you don't give them your money.' A 27% increase in state revenues is what they're demanding that Oregonians give them."
He thinks it's going to be a tough month. "It comes down to how they're positioning a 27% growth in state government, which of course, over the last 20 years, it had had record growth already. But, they're doing it by marketing that it's about the kids. They're going to say 'hey, if you don't give us your money, the kids are going to have a bad education system, etc.'"
Last Friday, Governor Kate Brown announced she has changed her proposal to increase the minimum wage. She's calling for a higher minimum of $9.75 an hour starting in July, six month earlier than originally slated. It would then rise to $13.25 by 2022. That proposal still must be approved by the Legislature.
BEND, OR -- Irrigation districts are carefully watching river flows in the Deschutes, as they schedule stock runs for ranchers to refill ponds. Kyle Gorman, Regional Manager of Oregon’s Water Resources Department, tells KBND News current flows are right were they should be, although the Deschutes is lower than it was a year ago. "The lingering drought conditions that we had, stream flows were low and it hasn’t picked up yet, because it hasn’t really received the moisture and recharge yet. And then, the outflow from Wickiup Reservoir is held to the minimum for this year, for the storage in Wickiup Reservoir to try and maximize storage before this irrigation season."
WARM SPRINGS, OR -- A Vancouver, Washington man was killed in a crash outside of Warm Springs, Friday night. Witnesses reported heavy snowfall at the time of the crash, on Highway 26.
REDMOND, OR -- A group of high school students from Redmond Proficiency Academy will spend their spring break in Mexico - but not on vacation. Spanish teacher Troy Longstroth and 14 of his students will spend five days building a house for a needy family. "We are working in conjunction with, basically, the social services department in Mexico. So, they’ve set us up with a family who needs a house, has applied and has gone through their process. We kind of have a Habitat For Humanity style program, where we have partnered with some locals in San Luis Del Rio Colorado, which is in northern Mexico, near Yuma, Arizona."
Longstroth tells KBND News, "When we arrive, the guys that we’re partnering with down
there will already have the concrete floor and the first-floor walls built out of bricks. So, we will install doors and windows on the first floor, and a staircase, and then add a whole second floor, we’ll frame that and put a roof on – a metal roof – and finish up the inside with electrical. So, we’ll have them a house built in five days."
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