BEND, OR -- The weather is turning colder and leaves are falling … and falling. Cindy Jeffers, with LandSystems Nursery in Bend, says it’s important to rake all those leaves off your lawn while the skies are clear, to keep the grass healthy. "If we get a lot of snow or a lot of rain, it just mats down. And, it’s a great place for little critters to crawl, which we had a lot of last year." But, she tells KBND News, there are other areas where the leaves are helpful, "As far as in the beds or the garden, you can leave them on; it does help insulate plants." And, she says you should feed your lawn before it goes dormant for the season: "Use a winterizing fertilizer; don’t use something that’s real high in nitrogen or fast-release nitrogen. Use something that’s a slow-release so it’ll last all winter and it’ll help keep your lawn green, and it’ll help protect it from the real cold, too."
Jefferson says it’s also a good time to add evergreen trees and shrubs to your yard, "You can plant, as long as the ground is not frozen – which it’s definitely not frozen at this point, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be for a little while. So, do plant; but remember to water those plants throughout the winter." That winter watering needs to be done by hand, though. Jeffers says irrigation systems should be blown out soon. She suggests hiring a professional to make sure all of the moisture is removed from the lines.
For more tips and to hear our full conversation with Cindy Jeffers, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is moving forward with plans to sell the former demolition landfill to OSU-Cascades for expansion of its existing Bend campus. County Commissioners agreed to a sale and purchase agreement Monday.
County property management specialist James Lewis explained the deal to Commissioners: "The sale price of the property would be $1. And, the $1 sale price is based on the fact that the estimated remediation cost is substantially more than the appraised value; to the tune of approximately $13 million." He said, after a letter of intent was signed by the county and university in August 2015, experts began researching how much it would cost to clean up the property. "They came up with a cost for remediation, an estimated cost of $43.3 million. During that same period, there were two appraisals that were done for the property – one by Oregon State University and one by the county. The higher of the two appraisals was $30 million. So, there was a $13.3 million gap between the estimated cost for remediation and the appraised value." The 72-acre site was used for the disposal of construction material and Commissioners said keeping it would soon create a liability for the county.
Commissioner Phil Henderson opposed the sale agreement, citing concerns about the property's future if Oregon State University doesn’t receive needed funding from the Legislature to expand the Bend campus. Commissioner Tammy Baney voted for the deal, saying it supports the region's only four-year university, "This is an opportunity for us to also partner with businesses to be able to have a skilled workforce, to make sure that intellectual capital stays in our community." Commissioner Tony DeBone said this was the best possible outcome for an otherwise unusable parcel, "I know at one point we were looking for, ‘let’s find examples of repurposing a landfill in the west or in Oregon,’ and they’re just not out there. So, we’re doing the best we can with the information we have."
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s economy continues to grow, but there are signs things are slowing. Experts will discuss what to expect in 2018 at Wednesday morning’s Economic Forecast Breakfast, hosted by the Bend Chamber.
The panel includes Damon Runberg, state economist for the Oregon Employment Department. He tells KBND News, "We have seen just a rapid expansion for the last 2.5 years; employment levels today in Deschutes County are 14% higher than they were back before the recession. We are in this real hot economy mode. You know that’s not going to stay forever, and that’s not to say we’re going to have a recession coming on, but we’re no longer going to see the levels of growth that we’ve seen in the last three, four, five years." He tells KBND News, "One of the things I’m going to focus on is trying to encourage business owners to think about where we are today, in kind of a different light."
Runberg says forecasts can be tricky so he doesn’t want to sound too optimistic; however, he believes the region won't experience a serious downturn anytime soon, "Although, it can happen at any time, I suppose. You know, no one ever saw the Great Recession coming; or only a handful of people really projected that one. But, there are no signs locally that we’re going to see that happen."
Local unemployment rates are slowly climbing after a year of steady declines and some have blamed last winter’s extreme weather and the summer’s wildfire smoke and haze. But Runberg doesn’t expect those to cause long-term impacts. "I think, in general, some of these weather events can often be over-stated – their impact on the employment outcomes, as well as the impact you have on production, like Gross Domestic Product." He says the Professional sector is driving the region’s continued expansion, not Leisure and Hospitality, which saw the deepest impacts from this year’s weather. "We normally see a drop in our Leisure sector of about 6% in September; we saw a drop of about 8.5%. But, ultimately those jobs were seasonal and a lot of them were parttime and were going to be lost anyway, whether we moved into later September and October."
The Economic Forecast Breakfast at the Riverhouse Convention Center will also look at business lending trends and how Bend’s planning decisions influence the economy. It begins at 7 a.m., Wednesday. Click HERE
for ticket information.
Photo: 2016 Economic Forecast Breakfast, Courtesy Bend Chamber of Commerce
BEND, OR -- A downtown Bend cafe is set to reopen Tuesday, after a grease fire forced the evacuation and closure of the restaurant on Monday.
The blaze broke out at about 10 a.m. at Mother’s Downtown Kitchen, next to the Oxford Hotel. Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe tells KBND News an employee was heating up a large pot of cooking oil when a small amount of water caused a big problem. "When you heat cooking oil, it gets way, way hotter than water – you know, it’s 400 to 500-degrees. And, any foreign material or any water that happens to fly in there and hit will make a certain amount of the oil vaporize. The flame underneath the pot ignites that and the whole thing ignites. A ball of fire came roaring out from underneath the hood."
He estimates it caused about $30,000 in damage, but he says it could've been much worse, "The sprinkler system went off and put off a lot of water. The water’s been sitting in that system for years, so it’s basically probably contaminated all the food that was out, so there’s lost revenue." He adds, "It was starting to burn some of the papers that were taped to the hood. Without the sprinkler system, the fire would’ve basically gone unchecked until we got there."
For Howe, it's the perfect example of how sprinkler systems are supposed to work. "They put water on the fire in 1/10th of the time it takes the fire department to put it on there and really busy everybody in the building time to escape or do something; and buys us time to get there and actually make a difference." The sprinkler head in the kitchen put water on the blaze, while the range hood extinguishing system activated and took care of the oil still burning in the pot. Howe says 911 was notified of the blaze by the fire alarm system, as well as a couple of customers.
Employees tell KBND News Mother's Downtown Kitchen will reopen for regular business hours, Wednesday.
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools and other Central Oregon districts are expanding internship opportunities for high school students.
Joi Leahy is the School to Career Coordinator at Mt. View High School. She tells KBND News, "The Bend Chamber of Commerce just hired an Internship Coordinator; as did all the other communities. He is going to sign businesses up to be part of this. The schools are then going to get students to sign up." A new computer program, called Launch Path, helps pair student interns with businesses. "It’s an algorithm program where businesses put in what they’re looking for, students fill out a profile: kind of, what skills they have, maybe a reference letter on work they’ve done; Businesses can go in and interview these students for these internship opportunities." Launch Path has been used in Portland and San Diego, as well.
Leahy says, "Part of that came from the fact that businesses were approaching us constantly looking for workers. They were finding they couldn’t find skilled workers. So, it became pretty clear that the best solution would be to partner with community members, get students in businesses, get them trained; and then, basically, we’re training their new workforce."
For many of the student interns, it’s their first hands-on work experience, "Many of them have been involved in our CTE programs – Career and Technical Program," says Leahy. "So, they already have a little glimpse of what that work could look like. But, that’s just training; they’re not actually getting the hands-on in the business – work I think is essential for kind of knowing the direction you want to go." She says so far, kids in the program like the opportunity work outside of the classroom, and they're learning important soft skills like how to write a resume and take part in a job interview.
To hear the full interview with Joi Leahy, click HERE
or visit our Podcast Page
SISTERS, OR -- A Gresham motorcyclist was hurt in a Saturday evening crash on Highway 20, southeast of Sisters. Deschutes County deputies say an SUV was stopped on the highway, near Gist Road, to allow another vehicle to turn left into a driveway. The 65-year-old motorcycle rider was unable to stop; Duncan Howatt put his bike down and hit the rear of the SUV, sparking a fire.
The rider was taken to St. Charles Bend with non-life threatening injuries and the motorcycle fire was extinguished by firefighters. No one in the SUV was hurt; the crash remains under investigation.
BEND, OR -- Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Experts say it’s partly due to the combination of increased pedestrian traffic, impaired driving and less daylight. Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says those aren’t the only factors that lead to serious crashes in the fall; "And there’s deer migration time, so you’re going to have animals in the roadway too, to add to the mix. The one thing I can say about driving is, if you slow down and take extra time you can’t go wrong with that." Wildlife-vehicle collisions peak this time of year. According to ODOT, Central Oregon has one of the highest animal-related crash rates in the state.
In Oregon, there were 10 fatal crashes on Halloween night, between 2006 and 2015; 70% involved impaired drivers. Last Halloween, there were none. Sheriff Nelson says aside from the fact there are just more people on the roads, shorter days are also a big factor. "There’s not a lot of ambient lighting out there in some of these situations. So, for drivers, you want to slow down; for parents who are going to take their kids trick or treating, have reflective materials on those costumes and provide them with flashlights, and LED lights and blinking lights, and have everything lit up." He tells KBND News, "Of course, it’s going to be a very dark night, you’ve got a lot of excited kids running around, maybe they don’t reflective material on their costumes; [it’s] very difficult to see until the last minute."
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville’s new men’s shelter celebrates its Grand Opening, Monday. Regeneration House will host a ribbon cutting at 5:30 at its new location at 970 Northwest Madras Highway.
Monday's grand opening celebration includes tours and a raffle, as well as appetizers and S'mores by the fire; festivities begin at 4 p.m.
REDMOND, OR -- Speed and alcohol may have contributed to a weekend crash on the western edge of Redmond. Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a single-vehicle crash at Helmholtz and Antler, early Saturday morning.
Investigators say 29-year-old Petera Michelle Schile crashed into a large tree on the side of the road, just after midnight. Two people were able to get out of the car on their own, but the third had to be extricated by Redmond Fire personnel. Medics took all three to St. Charles Redmond with non-life threatening injuries.
Schile was cited for DUII and additional charges are under consideration.
BEND, OR -- Changes in health insurance, and a shortened sign-up window, are making things difficult for many.
Jamie Christman, Executive VP of Community Affairs for the Bend Chamber of Commerce, says a health insurance roundtable event taking place on Monday is designed to help small business owners learn their options. "There's a lot of uncertainty around health insurance, especially for small businesses. And along with the State and the City of Bend, the Business Advocate, the Chamber, we are all hosting a roundtable that businesses can come in and get their questions answered."
Health insurance and other experts will be available for Q and A.
The event will take place Monday between 4 and 6 pm at the Deschutes Library Brooks Room downtown.
Michael Morter, Agent and Small Business Liaison for Oregon's Health Insurance Exchange, will be one of the experts on hand at the event to give advice. "When we took over from Cover Oregon, it was really important that the agency force that's out there, state-wide, really had some assurance that they were connecting with people that could really help them make a difference."
Morter says, because there are so many ongoing questions for people, it makes sense to have a personal agent to help. "I don't want someone really navigating on their own. It's confusing and if you make a mistake, it can be huge, and every community has licensed agents that are working and so the whole point is 'buy local'."
He says the current confusion regarding health insurance options is really what prompted the creation of this event. "It's a really good opportunity for people to just get some information and be able to run with it in short order. If it's group insurance, if it's larger, if it's small group, individual, really it's just to let people know 'where do I belong and what are my options in my category'?"
This Health Insurance Roundtable event is free, but space is limited, so go to bendchamber.org to pre-register.
BEND, OR -- In-N-Out Burger's second Oregon location is celebrating their Grand Opening today in Grants Pass.
The popular burger chain's Vice President of Operations, Denny Warnick, says Oregon growth will be slow and steady. "We don't have any specific sites yet in Oregon, beyond Grants Pass, but we are actually going to be looking around, our real estate team is always looking around for opportunities."
Warnick says Oregon has been a great place to expand. "Everyone in Oregon has been very welcoming. We're enthusiastic about more opportunities in Oregon. None of them will be really soon, but we would like more restaurants in Oregon."
Warnick says, even though they're not too far from each other, having stores in both Grants Pass and Medford is a great opportunity, and the company is looking forward to continuing to expand North up I-5. "It's a great thing to have two restaurants up there, and we'll be able to serve more customers in the end, rather than just with the one, and I think that, certainly, both stores, there are enough In-n-Out fans up there to support both."
In-n-Out burger was started in 1948 by Harry and Esther Snyder in Baldwin Park, California, and now boasts 326 locations across the Pacific Northwest and greater Southwest and Warnick says adding Oregon to the states the restaurant chain serves has been an excellent move for the company, but he stops short of saying Bend is next. "Growth in Oregon will probably continue to be somewhat slow and measured, and we do hear from our customers, they wish we'd hurry up a little bit, and we're definitely working on it. We love being in Oregon."
In-n-Out opened their first Oregon location in Medford just over two years ago. The new Grants Pass location can be found right off Interstate 5, the Redwood Highway exit, on Morgan Lane.
ASHWOOD, OR -- Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife troopers were notified this week of two buck deer found dead in Jefferson County, with only their heads and small amount of meat taken. The mule deer were found on Cold Camp Road on October 23.
Investigators believe the deer were shot and killed by a high-powered rifle during the weekend of October 20-22. OSP urges anyone with information to call OSP Sgt. Andrew Vanderwerf or Sr. Trooper Craig Gunderson through the Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 800-452-7888 or 541-296-2161.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A one-million dollar donation will help Crook County high school students pursue a career in healthcare. The Pioneer Memorial Hospital Residual Board and Prineville Hospital Foundation (PHF) are working to create a scholarship with some of the money earned from the sale of the old hospital facility. The scholarship will be available to Crook County High School graduates and GED recipients, as well as adults interested in pursuing a career in a healthcare-related field.
In addition to the scholarship, the Foundation voted to donate their remaining funds – totaling $3.5 million – to the expansion of the St. Charles Family Care clinic in Prineville. In a statement, PHF President Bobbi Brooks said, "Prineville Hospital Foundation is proud to have been the steward of this community's donations since the founding of Prineville's hospital. Delivery of these funds now for expansion of our current hospital is the culmination of many months of deliberation and debate amongst the PHF board members over best ouse of the gifts entrusted to us." He also thanked local medical providers, St. Charles Health System and the Pioneer Memorial Hospital Residual Board for its partnership.
Another half a million dollars will be used to recruit and retain medical providers at the Prineville clinic.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police say they have finally tracked down a man they believe stole an ATV, this summer. Earlier this month, a person came forward saying 25-year-old Tyler Shinkle, of Prineville, was responsible for the August 24 theft.
Shinkle was already at the Jefferson County jail for an unrelated case and now faces additional charges. Redmond Police say the ATV (below) has not been recovered and they hope the public will again help by providing leads. Anyone with information on its whereabout is asked to call Redmond PD or Crime Stoppers.
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond shop suffered about $5,000 in damage, after the resident put gas in a wood stove, causing a small explosion that sent burning debris throughout the 30x25-foot building, and igniting other material.
Firefighters responded to the home on Northeast 33rd at about 10:40, Thursday night. They were able to quickly contain the blaze, but remind others that gasoline should only be used for its intended purpose.
BEND, OR -- A Burns woman wanted for questioning in connection with a suspicious death is now in the Deschutes County Jail. The Harney County Major Crimes Team is investigating the death of 59-year-old Albert Deiter, who was found October 17. They say 53-year-old Shelly Hubeek is a person of interest in the case; she was booked into the jail in Bend this week, for one count of theft.
Investigators are looking for information on her activities between October 13 and her arrest on Sunday, October 22. Anyone with information on her whereabouts during that time, or the death of Albert Deiter is asked to call Harney County Dispatch at 541-573-6028.
BEND, OR -- The Central Oregon Health Council is gathering community feedback in an effort to help local agencies determine how to improve the health of those throughout the tri-county area. Heather Kaisner, with Deschutes County Public Health, says a regional survey is designed to get information on what makes it easy to be healthy in the High Desert, "And then barriers and difficulty that they face in Central Oregon around being healthy. We have our ideas and we have statistics that we use, but we also think that we really need to reach out to the community to help guide the work we do." While transportation, recreational opportunities and socio-economic factors can all contribute to a community’s overall health, Kaisner says it’s important to hear directly from the public.
Click HERE to take the survey.
It’s the first time the Council has tried to engage the community through an online survey. "This is kind of our first step in gathering information," Kaisner tells KBND News. "And, part of why we’re doing this is to see what our reach is. How many people do take it is a good way of getting information back to us, so that’s part of why we’re doing this and it’s something we’ll continue if it works."
The survey is open through Tuesday, October 31, then the Council will provide each county with the data. Kaisner says, "We have our different regional health planning work groups on different health issues, so by getting a better understanding of how people perceive barriers in our community around health, will help really guide our future work."
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County was inundated with snow last winter, and the City of Bend is preparing for another difficult winter.
David Abbas, Director of the City's Streets and Operations Department, says the City has updated their equipment, but they're also bringing on more staff so they can extend shifts or split the crew to cover more ground. He says one major change is the City is reevaluating her priorities to creating a map so residents can see where the plows have been working. "'Priority Ones' are mainly the major arterial roadways in town with the most traffic, and the most people, and allow emergency services to get across town, so we look at good north-south connectivity, as well as east-west."
Abbas says it's not reasonable to budget for the 1-in-25 year storm, but the Utilities Department is always looking for ways to improve their service, and they learn a lot when big storms hit and he says, in addition to equipment upgrades, increased staff, and new snowplow mapping, one big change is a new emphasis on working with the community.
New Snow Emergency Zones will be identified this winter, and no parking will be allowed in those zones for twelve hours to facilitate plowing. "So, we've selected a handful of roads that have been traditionally trouble spots when it snows, and they end up being kind of a one-lane road and if folks come back within that twelve hours and the road has been completely plowed, curb to curb, they're welcome to park."
Abbas says some things residents can do to help the plow teams include not parking on the street, and not leaving garbage cans out.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County property tax statements are now arriving in mailboxes and County Assessor Scot Langton says new line items can be confusing to the average homeowner. "We put an insert into each one of the property tax bills and it explains these changes, because taxes will vary depending on the wishes of the voters. So, if you’re in the Bend-La Pine school district, we just voted in a new $268 million bond; this is the first year that’s going to be on. So, the typical property, even though their assessed value went up about 3%, their taxes are going to go up about 5%." He notes that those in Redmond and Sisters will see taxes increase only about 1-percent, due to the expiration of the fairgrounds bond.
Langton calls the state’s tax system bizarre and complex, which he says leads to questions from residents. He tells KBND News there are, "A lot of misunderstandings about how it works. The one thing with value, when people look at their statement, that represents our opinion of market value as of January 1, 2017; so that was 10 months ago. Any of the market changes since then – and we’ve seen quite a bit of appreciation – won’t be reflected until next year." However, major damage caused by last winter’s weather is taken into consideration. "There’s a section in the law that allows for active of God adjustments. The ones that we’re aware of that had a significant amount of damage, we’ve adjusted."
Deschutes County property owners can bring their questions to Assessor’s Office staff at a series of town hall meetings, beginning next week:
November 1 at 5 p.m. Deschutes County Services Building (1300 NW Wall St., Bend)
November 2 at 5 p.m. Sisters City Hall (520 E. Cascade)
November 6 at 5 p.m. Redmond Fire Hall (341 NW Dogwood Ave)
November 7 at 5 p.m. La Pine City Hall (51340 Hwy 97)
To hear our full conversation with Assessor Scot Langton click HERE
or visit our Podcast Page
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes Public Library is collecting community input on what services will be needed in the next 10 to 20 years. Library Director Todd Dunkelberg is hopeful an online survey will help.
The survey asks about what cultural options are needed in Deschutes County, and how people are currently using the library. "[We're] Really trying to come in and find out what people’s interest and aspirations are for their community, going forward. And then, the next piece for us will be to look at ‘how does the library fit into that'?" Dunkelberg tells KBND News, "One trend that we’re definitely seeing nationwide – a direction libraries are going – they’re being more than what you traditionally think of a library, where you come in, check out a book and leave. But, really being that cultural center for the community; a place to gather, a place to come to story time, a place to come to programs, a place to meet your neighbors or hold a meeting with your club. So, we’re really looking at how would that fit in based on how much our county is growing?"
But, he says he doesn't have a preconceived idea of how people will respond, "We didn’t want to come in and say, ‘here’s what has to happen and here’s how people have to use the library.’ This really is all about listening to our community. We don’t want to make any assumptions about where we should be. We want to know what people are thinking and how we fit into it."
Click HERE to take the survey.
Responses are accepted through Monday, October 30. Then, the data will be compiled and presented to the Library Board in December.
BEND, OR -- Another Bend resident has announced plans to run for Governor. Businessman Sam Carpenter will challenge Bend State Representative Knute Buehler for the Republican nomination in 2018. "I'm not a politician; I'm a businessman and a long-term resident of Oregon who passionately loves this state, just as you do. But, it's the political dysfunction that distresses me, and I find myself uniquely qualified to do something about it."
His campaign motto, “Make Oregon Great Again,” mirrors that of President Trump, and he bills himself as more conservative than Dr. Buehler. He explained his platform in a video released Wednesday on his new website
. "I share President Trump's vision of creating vibrant economic opportunity with less government interference in our lives; of course, custom fit in our unique Oregon way. To be a bit more specific, I'm pro-life, rely on God's wisdom, revere our military and first responders and want a limited government based on our U.S. Constitution."
Carpenter ran for Senator Jeff Merkley’s seat four years ago, and for Senator Ron Wyden’s seat in 2016
. "In my bid for U.S. Senate in 2016, I was the single Oregon candidate who publicly endorsed Donald Trump
prior to the Oregon primaries. As your Governor, I'll fight for less government and putting the power back in your hands, where it belongs. Today, I'm not seeing this commitment or direction from either side of the political establishment."
The 67-year-old owns Bend-based Centratel, a telephone answering service.
BEND, OR -- Bend Fire responded to the report of a gas leak, just after 10:30 a.m., Wednesday. Initial reports indicated someone had struck the line near Wall Street, just south of downtown Bend, between Florida and Delaware Avenues.
Crews evacuated the block bordered by Wall, Broadway, Delaware and Florida, and shut down access to Florida and Delaware Avenues between Bond and Broadway. Wall Street was closed south of Georgia Ave., near Florida Ave.
The public is asked to avoid the area. Power is expected to be shut off, potentially impacting up to 1,000 Pacific Power customers. City officials estimate it could take a couple hours to isolate the leak and resolve the problem.
12:15 p.m. UPDATE: The leak has been resolved and streets are reopening. According to Bend Fire, "The construction project is a replacement of all the underground gas lines in the downtwon core area, and Cascade Natural Gas has contracted with Northwest Metal Fabrication (NWMF) to perform the work. The leak was caused by a 'like strike' during construction by a NWMF crew.
Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe tells KBND News, "They usually drill underground and that’s when they run the line behind the drill. But, they hit a line; and it does happen now and then. It’s a big job so they’ve hit a couple of different lines." He adds, "When we got here, we found a 2” gas line – it’s a high-pressure line – it was just broken and just roaring away. I mean, it was really hissing and screaming and it’s unpleasant to be around because it smells bad and everything." Among those evacuated were 12 homes and a preschool.
SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters / Camp Sherman Fire District has made upgrades to its Locust Street Training Site to allow firefighters a safer place to train.
Julie Spor with the Fire District says where they used to train is now more developed and has more traffic, so improving the Locust Street property gives them a lot of flexibility. In addition to site cleanup, they've outfitted the site to mimic real-world training opportunities. "We have added some training props out there, designed to simulate a building's roof and floor system that allows the firefighter to practice cutting holes in the roof from floors, and then we also have planned to add a small structure to conduct live fire training exercises and a hydrant to the property."
She says it's all about safety, not just for the firefighters, but for the residents of the area. "We need a safe place to train and it's close to our response area and we used to train in some of the outlying areas of the city, but those have become improved now. There's increased development and traffic in those areas, so this gives us a safer place and a closer place to be able to fulfill both of those requirements that we need."
The training site will also be used for driver training and automobile extraction exercises.
BEND, OR -- Unemployment rates rose in each of Central Oregon's three counties in September.
Larger than expected declines in leisure jobs appears to be the main reason, but the wildfire smoke was also a significant factor, impacting hotels, restaurants, and recreation businesses.
In Crook County, the jobless rate rose 2/10ths of a point, to 6.3%, although it continues to post healthy job growth, especially in the private sector.
In Deschutes County, the rate went up slightly from 4.2 to 4.3% in September. The job growth rate is starting to slow, but new jobs are still available in construction, business services, healthcare, and manufacturing.
And, although Jefferson County saw 140 more jobs compared to a year ago … the county’s unemployment rate still increased from 5.4% in August to 5.6% in September.
BEND, OR -- A Portland-based mentoring program for at-risk kids is expanding to Central Oregon. Duncan Campbell created Friends of the Children 25 years ago and says his model is unique because mentors – or “Friends” – are paid. "We love all mentors and other volunteers but these children’s needs are so great, that’s why we hire fulltime people. And, you need to make a long-term commitment. When we hire the friends, for example, we say ‘if you can’t stay three to five years, don’t join us, even if you’re gifted, because you’ll just be another adult that breaks this child’s heart'."
Campbell tells KBND News kids start in the program during the second half of their kindergarten year, "Our commitment to these children is unconditional. We stay for the 12.5 years; most of them come from a welfare family, almost none of them read at grade level, they have challenging behaviors in the classroom. And, we stay with them, nurture them and get them to read to level, teach them social and emotional skills, help them with homework and, basically, they become a healthy, productive citizen in our community."
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) says the program gives children guidance needed to stay on track, "To make sure that you have a way, with mentors and others, to allow kids to be with families, to be at home, to have a plan for getting ahead." Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) says, "The ripple effect here is profound, especially when government can't get its act together on mental health and primary health, and counseling."
Kim Hatfield has been selected as the local Executive Director and Campbell expects the local chapter will have three "friends" hired and ready to start working with the first group of 24 kids by January, "When I started it 25 years ago in Portland, Oregon, I went out in my old neighborhood and we found three friends and picked 24 children, not only from the grade school I went to, but two others in the area. And, we’re doing the same thing in Central Oregon."
Donations from private citizens, corporations and grants provided the $2.4 million dollars needed to bring the program to Bend, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) says, "Having these various locations is essential to providing really important basic services to our kids." He adds, "It's that long-term commitment to a child's life that really proves the results out, that makes it such an important program."
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond School district is formulating plans for a bond measure in 2018, although the total amount of the request and timing of the vote haven’t been decided. Superintendent Mike McIntosh says a number of facilities need expensive upgrades, and last winter’s extreme weather didn’t help. "Last winter taught us a lot of things about our buildings; there were some deficiencies in them with respect to snow loads and other kinds of things. So, obviously that will be a part of that. Seismic is an important component this round – how do we make our older buildings more stable if the ground begins to shake?" And, he says a recent facilities survey showed security upgrades and other maintenance are needed at some schools. "Obviously, there are some more urgent than others; some you can postpone another five to seven years when the next bond might be more likely. Others we can’t postpone any longer; we have roofs that are well past their usable life. We have basically a 20-year window on a roof and we’re well into 25 to 30, for some of them."
The total amount of the maintenance bond hasn’t been decided, but McIntosh hopes for between $70 and $90 million dollars. He met with Terrebonne residents at the first in a series of listening forums this week, and says early feedback was mostly positive, although he acknowledges the campaign could be tough. "People don’t like to see their taxes go up, obviously, so there’s always that balance of what people will accept as a reasonable increase. So, that, coupled with a long-range plan – we believe that if we get our tax rate up a few cents, $.40 but not more than 50-cents per thousand, and get the money necessary to make these improvements – that then the next time we ask voters to approve a bond, there would not be an increase, we hope." The next community forum takes place Monday evening at Lynch Elementary. Click HERE for a complete schedule.
BEND, OR -- Rimrock Trailhead, which has been closed since October 4th for the construction of an under-crossing, was scheduled to reopen this Saturday, but due to delays in construction materials deliveries, the tunnel construction is not yet complete.
The new tunnel will connect Entrada Lodge to the Cascade Lakes Welcome Station, and stretch under the Cascades Lakes Highway.
The undercrossing is a joint project between the Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Rimrock Trailhead will reopen a week later than originally scheduled on Saturday, October 28th.
BEND, OR -- The Ward Road to Gosney section of the Central Oregon Irrigation Canal's nomination to be listed in the National Registry of Historic places has been put on hold.
The Oregon State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation heard from both sides of the issue, but decided 5/2 to table the nomination for further perusal, stating that late information came in and not all the committee members had time to become fully apprised of the issues.
Deschutes County Commissioner, Tony DeBone, says that he and the other Commissioners wrote a letter recommending the site not be granted the designation because it lacked historical significance, but he says they're not opposed to parts of the 100-year-old waterway's being included in the registry. "We're not looking to designate more sections, other than a subset of properties maybe the historical landmarks commission comes up with that should be looked at. if something is designated 'historic,' then when there's major changes or maintenance that goes on, it is required to go through the Historic Landmarks Commission for review."
DeBone says the decision has been put on hold until next February and it's not surprising a decision wasn't reached. "This is an interesting issue. Yeah, this is water, and folks are passionate."
DeBone says he and the other Commissioners sent a letter to the committee, recommending against the historic designation, because they didn't think the Ward to Gosney Road section in question was historically significant, so the amount of maintenance required to maintain the site as historic wasn't warranted. "If there's a breach, water, once it gets flowing through a small hole, it can blow the whole side of something out, so maintenance is a very serious issue in that section."
There are other sections of the Central Oregon Irrigation District canal that are already listed in the National Registry as historic sites.
BEND, OR -- Pitch, the baby otter given to the High Desert Museum last May, has made his public debut in the museum's Autzen Otter Exhibit. A hiker found the pup along the Metolius River and took him to a local wildlife rehabilitator, and then the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife decided the perfect home for him would be in the museum's otter exhibit, alongside the current residents, Brook and Rogue.
Pitch spent 15 weeks being babied by the Museum's wildlife staff getting fatter, healthier, and learning to swim. He's now 26-weeks-old. His naming rights were auctioned off during the High Desert Rendezvous in August.
The High Desert Museum wants to make sure that while Pitch may have been abandoned, that doesn't mean that any animal young found in the wild is also alone. If you find baby wildlife, you should contact the ODFW or a local wildlife rehabilitator.
The Autzen Otter Exhibit was designed to house three otters, and has been recently upgraded with new pumps and filters, more glass viewing areas, interior exhibits, a mural, and an otter slide.
BEND, OR -- Organizers of the 4 Peaks Music Festival are asking Deschutes County to allow up to 3,000 people at its 2018 event. After nearly a decade in Tumalo, the event moved to Stevenson Ranch off Knott Road in Bend, this past summer. An estimated 2,600 people attended the event in June 2017.
During Monday's public hearing, several neighbors complained about what they said was a lack of security. Chuck Fisher, who’s property borders Stevenson Ranch, told County Commissioners, "The first day of this event, I trespassed through my neighbor’s property, climbed over the fence with a bright yellow banana jacket on – I’m 6’7”, 270 pounds; I’m hard to miss. I walked around that whole place for 30 minutes. It wasn’t quite full yet, I was quite visible. I could see clear to the bottom and back up to the top. I looked in people’s campers, I opened tents and looked in, I wandered through the whole area; I never had anybody ask me what I was doing." Bill, another neighbor, testified, like Bill – testified at yesterday’s (Mon) public hearing about what they called a lack of security at the June event. "My main concern is the safety. We had young children – 10, 12, 13-year olds, something like that – playing on piles of rocks on the border of our property, which is also barbed wire fence, very rusty barbed wire fence."
Others complained about traffic, dust, marijuana use and noise; although event organizers and county staff said there were no code violations at the 2017 event. Jeff Hinkel is site manager for the festival. He told Commissioners they’re trying to be good neighbors. "We have designated quieter camp locations in the northeast portion of the camp area that’s closest to the nearest neighbors. Our silent disco helps to reduce late-night activities in the general camping areas, by keeping the more energetic festival-goers quietly dancing with headphones in the main tent."
After more than an hour of testimony, County Commissioners agreed to keep the record open and hold off on a final decision. They'll accept written testimony through Wednesday; they're expected to vote on the Mass Gathering permit application next week.
BEND, OR -- Winter may still be two months away, but Central Oregonians are already preparing for winter driving. Adam Lugan is the manager at Discount Tire on the north end of Bend where business is nearly double what they typically see in late October. "I think a lot of it has to do with how bad our winter was last year. People are just trying to be a lot more prepared and ahead of the game on it." He tells KBND News, "A lot of the new residents coming in to Bend, as well. Last year, that threw a lot of those new residents off guard; and they came rushing in. Now, a lot of them are more aware and they want to be safe when they travel. They’re coming in and trying to get it handled before it gets into November because, despite how busy we are now, when it snows, it’s a completely different busy."
That’s exactly why Travis Dickey, of Tumalo, got his studless tires put on, recently. "It’s a mad-house in here, first off. And, I’m sure most shops in town are like that. The second reason is with what happened last year, to not get caught before the storm actually comes." Bend resident Sarah Douglas got her winter tires put on last Friday because she doesn’t want to worry about heading over mountain passes, "Last weekend, I drove to Portland and I didn’t have my tires on. On Friday, going over Mt. Hood in the afternoon, it was icy and slick and there was snow on the road and I thought, ‘oh, dang! Wish I had my winter tires on'."
Adam Lugan says he's used to the early winter rush, but this year is different, "[At] 8 a.m., I have usually about 40 cars checked in within the first hour of the day. Last year, I’d see maybe 20." And, he says, all those customers are coming for one thing, "It’s winter tires; strictly winter tires: Studless, snow tires, winter tire change-overs and all season tires, for that matter, too. We see it all." Lugan admits some people are getting studs put on early, even though they’re not legal in Oregon until November first. Travis Dickey says studs are too noisy, "I travel a lot with my kids for baseball and sports and riding; I don’t want to listen to the studs. And, the studs tear up the roads, too."
As busy as things are now, Lugan expects business to double once studs are allowed and the risk of snow increases, in November.
BEND, OR -- On the sidewalk in front of the Courthouse, directly across Greenwood Avenue from Representative Greg Walden's Bend office, Central Oregon Strong Voice rallied against healthcare cuts, immigration regulation, and the Trump agenda and for the reinstatement of DACA and Obamacare.
Walden's lack of support for Planned Parenthood and efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare were addressed by guest speakers and the text and graphics of much of the handmade signage.
Connie Peterson, a local resident, said she joined today's protest because she sees America changing in a negative way and wants to do her part. "Because this current administration affronts every value that I hold dear. Everything I believe in is under affront right now. I can't stay home and be silent anymore."
Nancy Alvarez, one of the two dozen, said she raised her voice in solidarity because she had strong opinions she couldn't keep to herself any longer. "I think Trump's a racist. He's the worst President in my lifetime and he's ignorant. It's his opinion is what counts, whether it's based on fact or not, and usually, it isn't. I'm really upset about what is happening, what he's doing to this country."
Local man Wonono Rubio said he's always been a Democtat, and that's why he joined the protest ... to express his opposition to current policiies and politicians. "I oppose the Republican agenda almost completely. I definitely think Trump needs to be impeached. And I just think we're involved in endless war, our taxes are going to the rich, pipeline of school to prison, all those reasons our country is totally on the wrong track, and we just need some radical change."
Rubio says he believes protests like Fridays may be the only way for progressives to get their message out in the current climate.
Guest speakers included Bend City Councilor Nathan Boddie, and representatives from the AFLCIO, Planned Parenthood, and the Democratic Party.
BEND, OR -- Oregon House Bill 2100, designating US Highway 20 as the Oregon Medal of Honor Highway, was signed by Oregon Governor Kate Brown at a ceremony in Downtown Bend Friday.
Governor Brown joined Deschutes County Commissioners, area dignitaries, and bill sponsors to unveil a new highway sign, dedicating all 451 miles of US 20 to Oregon's 26 Medal of Honor recipients who served over the last 108 years. "Today we're honoring a WWII veteran, and I think what's so important is that our WWII vets are aging rapidly and we're losing a lot of them, and so to me, it's a really incredible opportunity to honor this veteran and his service, and all of our WWII veterans."
Mr. Robert D. "Bob" Maxwell is the nation's oldest living Medal of Honor winner, and the only recipient living in Oregon. Mr. Maxwell, only a few days away from his 97th birthday, was an honored guest at the ceremony.
Governor Brown said, "What I feel so strong about is that Oregonians strongly supported additional funding for our Department of Veterans Affairs to make sure that every single veteran in Oregon is getting the services that they need."
She wants the highway to be a reminder that veterans need our support. "We now have 1,500 vets across the state that are homeless, I want to make sure that over the next two years, we find a home for every single vet."
BEND, OR -- Oregon Governor Kate Brown ceremonially signed HB 3350 Friday, creating the Office of Outdoor Recreation. As part of Oregon Parks and Rec, the new Office will be responsible for coordinating outdoor recreation policy across agencies with retailers, companies, tour operators, and other organizations.
Governor Brown spoke to the community leaders and business owners gathered at Entre-Prises, a Bend-based fabricator of indoor climbing walls, thanking them for their part in creating the Outdoor Office bill. "I'm very excited about melding our love for the outdoors with growing really interesting Oregon businesses."
She says Oregon's outdoor recreation and retail industry supports over 20,000 jobs, and contributes $3 billion to working families, so the new Office has a vested interest in seeing Oregon's outdoor recreational retailers and venues reach their full potential. "Oregonians share a special connection to the outdoors. It's at the core of who we are. That's why Oregon is home to several outdoor retail and recreational companies whose products are on the cutting edge of innovation."
Governor Brown says that outdoor recreation is an activity that helps her 'find her center.'
DENVER, CO -- A national hotel chain could soon be looking for a buyer for its Bend property. According to the Denver Business Journal, Red Lion Hotels Corp wants to concentrate on hotel franchising, not ownership. It's expected to put 11 hotels up for sale in deals that could total $165 to $175 million.
The company released a statement Monday saying, "Franchising business requires less capital to grow, provides higher profit margins and allows it to better leverage the excellent infrastructure and highly skilled employees over a larger franchise base."
The 11 hotels reportedly being put up for sale are in Bend, Salt Lake City, UT, Spokane, Olympia, Pasco, Richland and Port Angeles, WA, Redding, CA and Boise and Post Falls, ID.
Red Lion Hotels Corp sold its entertainment subsidiary, TicketsWest.com, earlier this month, for $6 million.
TERREBONNE, OR -- A Terrebonne home was nearly destroyed by a Saturday morning fire. When Redmond Fire & Rescue crews arrived on “F” Avenue at about 4:30 a.m., the found flames coming from the double-wide manufactured home. No one was home at the time; nearby neighbors called 911 after discovering the blaze. Officials estimate about 75% of the home was destroyed.
The fire was fueled by high winds; its cause remains under investigation. The Red Cross is assisting the two renters impacted by the fire.
BEND, OR -- Oregon State University made its planned expansion in Bend official Friday. The Board of Trustees voted to authorize the purchase of a 72-acre former landfill from Deschutes County.
OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson says remediated landfill soil will be used to help fill the pumice mine site. In a statement issued Friday, Johnson said, "This will benefit Central Oregon, the community, the economy and students thanks to the collaboration of Deschutes County commissioners and staff."
to read the full statement from the university.
LA PINE, OR -- Two people were hurt in a crash near La Pine, early Saturday morning. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, a Redmond couple was northbound on Highway 97 when the pickup and horse trailer lost control on snowy roads and slid on to a guardrail.
While outside assessing the damage, 59-year-old Mary Hockett was struck by another car that was unable to stop in the slick conditions; a third vehicle then rear-ended the car. She was trapped between the car and guardrail. An off-duty Redmond medic stopped to provide critical aid to the woman; she and was later taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Medics also transported 69-year-old Terry Hockett to St. Charles Bend; he suffered non-life threatening injuries.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Members of the Central Oregon Major Crimes Team are investigating a fatal weekend shooting. Just before 4 p.m. Sunday, Prineville Police, Crook County deputies and medics, and State Police Troopers responded to the report of a man shot in the 900 block of NW Second, which is near Meadow Lakes Drive. The victim died at the scene.
Investigators are questioning a person in connection with the incident. They say that subject and the victim knew each other and there is no danger to the public, although they refused to release further details.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Prineville Police Detective Noland at 541-447-4168.
MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Prineville Police are releasing more details of a fatal weekend shooting. According to investigators, 56-year-old Kenneth McBeth was shot and killed outside a home on NW Second Street. They say McBeth knew the man who lived in the house and the two got into an altercation Sunday afternoon. The man who allegedly fired the shot has been questioned and was released pending the outcome of the investigation. Multiple search warrants are being served and the State Police Crime Lab is assisting with evidence collection.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Two people were killed in a weekend crash about 20 miles southwest of Prineville. Crook County deputies and State Police responded to Reservoir Road just before 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
Investigators say the driver failed to negotiate a curve and the car rolled several times, throwing all five people from the vehicle. No one appears to have been wearing a seatbelt.
Three people were taken to St. Charles Bend with serious injuries. Law enforcement then found two other males deceased at the scene. The investigation is ongoing; alcohol and speed are believed to factors in the crash.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Board of Commissioners has weighed in on whether or not the Ward Road to Gosney Road segment of the Central Oregon Canal should be listed as an Historic District.
Commissioners Tammy Baney, Tony DeBone, and Phil Richardson all recommended against listing the canal section as an historic district in a letter written to the Oregon State Historic Preservation office yesterday.
The reasons they listed against recommendation included their belief that the segment in question lacked historic significance, that the segment had not been nominated previously by COID, and that naming too many stretches of the canal as historic portions would degrade the District's ability to maintain water flow in the event of a break or leak.
The Deschutes County Historic Landmarks Society also recommended against the National Register Listing.
The Oregon State Advisory Committee On Historic Preservation will have a meeting Friday during which they will hear the matter and render a decision.
REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Airport is looking ahead at expansion, knowing that Central Oregon is continuing to grow.
Zach Bass, Redmond Airport's Director, says they started with information gathering. "First off we had to find out, are we going to grow? You have to run all those kind of analyses on what the industry is doing, what our traffic looks like, what's Central Oregon doing with growth? And it would give us some numbers to work with. So, we did see that we're going to double our commercial traffic in twenty years, is what the forecast is."
Bass says, once they knew the current airport wouldn't meet their future customers' needs, the process of expansion planning began, and they invited people to come voice their opinions about what the future Redmond Airport should look like. He says it's going to be a long process. "We look forward to the growth, but it might be a little painful occasionally, as we do so."
Once the Master Plan is complete, it will still need final approval. "Eventually, the Master Plan has to be approved through the City Council, and then, of course, it will have to go to the Federal Aviation Administration for final approval because most of the capital project money is going to come from the FAA, so they need to be really involved in this whole plan."
As far as the Master Plan goes, Bass says the public input, so far, has been invaluable, and that it's an excellent first step toward final approval for expansion, and giving customers what they're looking for in the RDM airport. He says improvements include runway and terminal expansions, off-site parking with a dedicated shuttle, and eventually, interior boarding ramps.
SILVERTON, OR -- Oregon's Transportation Commission met Thursday to get input on whether to move forward on the failed Wickiup Junction overcrossing on Highway 97 in La Pine. Bob Bryant, Region 4 Manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation, admitted to Commissioners mistakes were made. "We didn't analyze the static loads, we should have. we didn't do it on this project. It's standard procedure. We should've done that, we didn't. We missed it."
The project was halted in the spring
, after ODOT engineers became concerned about the amount of settling that was taking place. Bryant says testing eventually revealed something fairly common to the area, yet unprecedented in its condition. "The presence of that deep layer of saturated, unconsolidated, diatomaceous material that made up as much as 50 to 80% of the lacustrine deposit, we had no experience with materials such as this. If the area had performed within the range of normal soil mechanics, we likely wouldn't be here today." Those problems have resulted in millions of dollars wasted on a project that will never be completed. "We had $17 million appropriated to the project by the Commission, for project development and construction. Construction was, I think, $13 million total. And, we had spent, to-date, just over $10 million- 10 and a half." Bryant says ODOT needs about half of the remaining budget to decommission the site, since the existing conditions precludes further work, "It would be very difficult for us to figure out a way - to design a way to use the existing mechanically stabilized earth walls and abutments to build a similar bridge in this location, with high enough level of certainty that we would bring that recommendation to you as a Commission."
After hearing all the testimony, the Commission voted to decommission the site, although they decided to wait until a later time to reallocate the remaining funds.
Photo: Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney chairs Oregon Transportation Commission, Oct. 19, 2017
REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond-based kit-plane maker is looking for a buyer. Previous reports that Evolution Aircraft had closed were incorrect, according to CFO Randy Akacich. Evolution Aircraft was created when LancAir restructured its assets in 2016.
According to reports by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
(AOPA), a skeletal staff is assembling kits already on the line, but the future of the company is unknown. Aviation experts told AOPA the company's trouble traced back to a fatal crash in Arizona in July. AOPA reports the company couldn't acquire liability insurance to continue operations, and owners had received letters warning of an impending closure; although, no letter was produced. In the last 22 months, there were at least five accidents involving Evolution Aircraft.
However, CFO Akacich spoke with KBND News Friday afternoon and said the company is actively looking for a buyer. Evolution Aircraft's main office on SE Timber Ave. in Redmond is open and staff were at work. In a written statement, Akacich says, "Evolution Aircraft has right-sized its staffing to meet its current customer commitments and is actively pursuing new investment." He provided no timeline for a potential sale.
Just two weeks ago, Evolution Aircraft was featured on the "Made In Redmond" Tour
, hosted by Redmond Economic Development, Inc. At that time, REDI's Jon Stark told KBND News, "We heard from the composites and the aviation industry that they wanted to expose the community to the skill sets and the industry here in Central Oregon," in an effort to grow the local sector.
SISTERS, OR -- The City of Sisters will publicly thank wildland firefighters, this weekend, for their work over the summer. The community is invited to a dessert picnic, Sunday afternoon at 1:30, at Village Green Park. Attendees are asked to bring a dessert to share, and a drawing or message that will be sent to agencies that helped defend the Sisters area from devastating wildfires. Details below.
Above Photo: Milli Fire Aug. 27, 2017
BEND, OR -- Two University of Oregon journalism instructors have traveled the country, this year, to try and determine why people have a general distrust in the news media. A recent poll revealed less than a third of Americans have some level of trust in the industry.
Lisa Heyamoto and Todd Milbourn shared their findings at Thursday's City Club of Central Oregon meeting. Heyamoto told the crowd, “This notion of trust is very opaque. It’s kind of ‘you know it when you see it.’ But, as we’re in this crisis of trust in our country right now, we really need to explore ‘what does trust mean?’ How do we communicate it? How do we show it? How do we measure it, even?”
She says there are three overall themes that surface in every conversation with news consumers: Diversity, Transparency and Consistency. “Consistency was incredibly important for people in deciding who to trust. They wanted to know what to expect. They wanted reliability." However, she says the most important of those qualities is diversity, "Every single person, every single community we talked to said that they did not feel represented in the news media. And again, ‘news media’ is an incredibly broad category. One woman said something which was really interesting: she distrusted news anchors because they were very attractive. And she felt like their experience was different than hers because they sort of looked and talked a certain way." She says most people want a deeper relationship with the journalists they watch, read and listen to, and they want honest and open reporting.
The Bend event attracted local journalists and public officials, as well as the fiancé of former Governor John Kitzhaber. Cylvia Hayes questioned whether distrust in the media has been driven by a lack of industry oversight. "I’ve learned the hard way that the defamation laws are written so it’s virtually impossible for a public figure, which is loosely defined, to have recourse against misinformation." Kitzhaber resigned in early 2015, amid controversy involving Hayes and her work in and outside the Governor’s office.
BEND, OR -- Bend’s Charter Review Committee meets next week to work on finalizing a proposal to change how City Councilors are elected. City Manager Eric King says there are still a lot of options to consider before a resolution goes to voters. "We’re still contemplating should they be elected from the ward but having the whole city vote on them; we’re talking about issues of a ‘super ward,’ meaning you have four quadrants that are represented by a Councilor then two quadrants layered on top of that, that are represented by other Councilors; or, maybe a mix system, maybe having some Councilors elected at large and then some by ward." King admits it’s a complicated issue and says Councilors will be charged with deciding which version to send to voters.
The committee recently released a series of maps showing options for dividing the city into wards. King expects those options will be narrowed down over the next month. "Whatever would come out of this committee, it has to go to the voters for approval. So, our Charter is like our Constitution – it cannot be changed by elected officials or staff or anything, it has to go to the voters. So, the idea is: communicate it clearly and what problem are we trying to solve? How would this new proposed system address those problems? And, then voters would vote on it as early as May of 2018."
King tells KBND News, "We’ll have a work session with Council at the first meeting in December; I think it’s the sixth of December. And then, if all goes well, there would be a resolution putting it on the ballot the second meeting in December. That gives a good four or five months, and then it becomes a campaign of sorts. Then, a community dialog of – I’m sure there will be folks that will be for that or those that don’t want to see it."
BEND, OR -- A motorcyclist was hurt in a Wednesday night crash on the Bend Parkway, and he'll likely face criminal charges for his alleged actions prior to the wreck. According to Bend Police, 31-year-old Joseph Pandolfi, Jr. crashed into the back of an SUV on the Empire Ave. offramp, just after 8 p.m. Officers provided initial medical care until medics arrived and took him to the hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.
Investigators learned an Oregon State Trooper had seen Pandolfi speeding north on Highway 97 just before the crash. The Trooper tried to pull him over but the bike sped off. OSP was searching for the motorcycle when the crash occurred.
Bend Police are still investigating the incident. Pandolfi is expected to be charged with Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering, Elude, Driving While Suspended and Driving Uninsured.
BEND, OR -- The opioid epidemic in Central Oregon has expanded to include drugs purchased on the Dark Web, but unlike pharmaceutical grade drugs, these may not be exactly what the buyer thinks they are.
Lieutenant Nick Parker, with Central Oregon Drug Enforcement, says most of the drugs come from China or other parts of Asia and there's no way to know, for sure, what you're getting. "Over the last couple years, we worked an investigation with CODE where counterfeit heroin pills were obtained. They were planned to be sent to Bend, we intercepted them before they got here. They were stamped with the markings for Oxycodone, and they turned out to be heroin."
Parker says he thinks the pills are intentionally mismarked, as these particular buyers were looking for Oxy, so he believes that the Dark Web dealers simply send whatever they have readily available, which can result in someone's becoming more addicted to a stronger drug than whatever they believed they were taking. Still the Dark Web is becoming increasingly popular with recreational buyers. "For the most part, when they're using the Dark Web to get opioid type medications, or prescription pills, they're using it for abuse."
Parker says in addition to the inability to track Dark Web transactions, one huge problem is that buyers don't always get what they ordered, which is dangerous. "I do worry about the availability of this stuff, and not knowing what they're getting, definitely a huge concern. And it's growing daily. We're seeing it more and more."
Parker says his department, CODE, has been working with the FBI and the DEA for several years to intercept shipments coming from China before they reach Central Oregon, and they've met with several successes, but for those that do get through, there's no consumer recourse for a mismarked pill. "It's unfortunate with these cases because it's pretty difficult. We work, obviously, closely with the DEA and FBI and they help in the different regions, but they can only enforce and help us with so much, especially in China and Asia."
Parker says one of the worst parts about the impostor opioids is that the unsuspecting user may be taking a drug that is stronger than the one they were expecting, like heroin instead of oxycodone, and that can lead to overdoses and even death.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s City Council remains short one member, more than two months after the resignation of Anne Graham. Mayor George Endicott admits he’d initially hoped to have a new Councilor appointed by now. "The way the process technically has to work is that we must first accept the resignation by the former Councilor. So, she resigned but we had to accept it, which didn’t happen until earlier in September; so it got delayed a few weeks just because of timing."
Now, the process is moving forward, "I chose to open it up for two weeks to let people apply," Mayor Endicott tells KBND News, "We had nine applicants. And now, we’re going to do the interviews next week and my goal now is to have one in place the first meeting of November." He's pleased with the pool of applicants. "I’ve always said that anybody that wants to run should run for the right reasons. I want to make sure we get someone that really cares about the community overall and all the issues involved. And, don’t forget, Anne’s term would’ve been over the end of next year, so this is really going to be about a 15-month appointment."
Graham resigned in mid-August. At the time, she told KBND News
it was due to her deteriorating relationship with the Mayor.
To hear more of our conversation with Mayor George Endicott, click HERE
or visit our Podcast Page
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors support waiving some System Development charges associated with new affordable housing projects. SDCs pay for city infrastructure like roads and sewers that are necessary with new construction.
During Wednesday night’s public hearing, Councilors asked how many projects could be exempt from paying the fees under the ordinance. Jim Long, Bend’s Affordable Housing Manager, says at most, the city sees 100 new units in a year. "We had a couple years that we were right about in there; this year we’ll probably be around 70. That’s probably more a typical year. That doesn’t mean that’s not how many affordable units – because there’s also acquisition, you know. And, there are no SDCs involved in acquisition projects. And, we also fund rehab projects to keep units in the system."
Councilor Justin Livingston proposed a five-year sunset for the exemption, "Just a double-check, to make sure it’s doing what it’s intended to do and it’s not having too much of an impact in the SDC funds, I think another Council should also take a look and make sure it still fits in line with what’s going on at that time." Councilor Bill Moseley supported the exemption, with a five-year limit. "You’re necessarily shifting those costs off on to other users. And the costs are being shifted from people that are slightly below a certain threshold of income, to people that are generally slightly above that threshold of income; so I would normally be quite opposed to that redistribution. But, at the same time, we also get a number of federal dollars to support those programs and a number of state dollars to bring it in. It’s a difficult thing and I’m closely divided, but the amendment will allow me to support it for the temporary period." The amendment passed 5-1, with Nathan Boddie the only one in opposition.
The first reading of the ordinance passed unanimously, Wednesday. Councilors will consider final approval in November. City Manager Eric King says discussions with the Parks Board will take place soon
, in an effort to find more ways to provide financial incentives for affordable housing developers.
MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County voters are again faced with an operating levy for the Madras Aquatic Center (MAC). Executive Director Joe McHaney says approval of the November ballot measure would maintain the status quo. "This is a renewal levy; we’re not asking for any more funds. It’s 40-cents per every $1,000 of assessed for property values. What we’re really trying to do is just build upon what we’ve done over the last five years and just really kind of keep things going and also slowly expand as we can."
The original levy was narrowly approved in 2013
and is set to expire next year. McHaney acknowledges that renewing it won’t be easy. "First off, it was highly, highly contested in building an aquatic center in our community, to begin with. Folks are hesitant to pay for these types of services; obviously it’s not free servicing. So, there are those who just do not want to see taxes increase; and, of course, we’re not increasing here. We’re just renewing. And, there are some folks that just feel an aquatic center is too expensive for our community."
McHaney tells KBND News the MAC is growing all programs, and provides important community opportunities. "Certainly, the foundation of our organization is the Madras Aquatic Center. It’s one of the nicest facilities in Jefferson County, as many folks know; we have a lot of visitors from Deschutes County. But, not everybody is a pool user. And, the idea is to continue to grow into a full-blown Parks and Rec Division, down the road. We’re a ways off from that. But, with that said, what we’ve found is that the out-of-water recreation programs have increased significantly." He says in the past four years, annual participation grew from 350 to about 1600. If the levy is allowed to expire, McHaney says the MAC would have to drastically cut back on out-of-water programs, which now include youth and adult soccer and basketball, and potentially pool staffing.
"One of the main things that we’re trying to do is really, really embed ourselves into the communities: Madras, Warm Springs, Metolius and Culver, as well, to where we really are bringing the communities together," says McHaney. "What we’re finding is through our programming, families are coming down, grandparents are coming down. Whether it’s from a participation level or a spectator level, people are coming together and they’re getting to know their neighbor and building a tighter community."
Ballots start arriving in mailboxes this week; they're due back November seventh.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes National Forest fuels specialists expect to begin pile burning this week, and continue the work through the next few months. All operations are weather dependent. Piles may smolder, burn and produce smoke for several days after ignition; units are monitored by firefighters until declared out.
Forestry officials say piles are conentrations of leftover materials associated with previous vegetation management activies, which are designed to reduce hazardous fuels that can burn during summer wildfires.
BEND, OR -- Fires continue to rage throughout California, although the weather is helping. More than a dozen strike teams from Oregon are helping in the effort. Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe says local crews are in Santa Rosa working on fire prevention. "They're actually protecting structures. They'll go out and they'll remove any fuel that is laying around a house, they will limb up some trees to make sure there's not any ladder fuels, they will clear away as much of the stuff that can burn away from a house, basically prepare the house to be defended if it needs to be. Just making sure that nothing around the house can burn."
According to Howe, Oregon firefighters were more than willing to help. "The initial request was for 50 engines. So, Oregon Fire Marshal's Office put together 10 strike teams of different kinds of engines, and each strike team had five engines. And then, this last Saturday, they sent five additional strike teams and they went to Southern California. Our guys are in the Santa Rosa area. They're basically pulling from every county that they can, because our fire season is essentially over."
He expects Deschutes County crews will stay in California until the last week of October, "They probably won't be right on the fire line. These fires are so big and so imposing that you have to basically fight them indirectly, clearing the fuel away and making it as hard for the fire to progress as possible." Oregon's State Fire Marshal's Office says two strike teams are headed home to Marion, Jackson, and Josephine Counties Wednesday because conditions are improving.
Cal-Fire states that over a million acres have burned in California so far this year, the result of nearly 8,000 fires.
CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- Ballots go out today in Jefferson County, and one measure proposes to raise taxes $.95 per $1,000 of assessed property value in order to get more coverage from the Sheriff's Department in Crooked River Ranch.
Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins says some of the residents of Crooked River Ranch came up with the 'Enhanced Service' idea for the ballot, but not everyone's on board. "I'm kinda taking the middle of the road on this, because part of the residents want more deputies out there, the other part say, 'Hey, we like you, but we generally don't want to see you,' so, I will continue to provide service like I do now, and a lot of residents out there think that that is adequate."
The funding would allow Crooked River Ranch to have two full-time deputies on patrol, rather than it being part of a circuit of the county, like it is now. "Our calls for service are not as many out there as we have in the northern part of the County. Some want 'enhanced,' so they came up with the idea of what would it cost to get a couple deputies out there. I had the City Manager run the numbers and we came up with about $.95 per $1,000 to get two deputies."
Deschutes County residents of Crooked River Ranch already pay a higher tax rate, due to various 'stable funding' initiatives. Jefferson County residents in CRR have until November 7 to cast their vote.
LA PINE, OR -- The Oregon Department of Transportation continues to face criticism for problems at the Wickiup Junction overcrossing project. Work was halted in May after engineers discovered the land under the ramps leading to the new bridge was settling at an alarming rate. Specialists later determined the structure was being built on top of an ancient lake. The state has so far spent $13 million on the project, which was supposed to take Highway 97 over the railroad tracks near La Pine. Click HERE to visit ODOT's project website.
ODOT’s Peter Murphy says engineers could not have known the site would be so unpredictable. "The protocols that we operate by – nowhere in the state does it suggest you drill to 250 feet. If you take a look at a football field, that’s how far down you’d go. So, it wasn’t on our radar to go that far down. Our general operating principal said ‘drill to here.’ OK; we did." Murphy tells KBND News the skeletons of microscopic organisms were found in the soil, causing the ground to shift unpredictably. "A lot of people have heard of Diatomaceous Earth; it’s not uncommon. But, the difference between that product and what we found was that the skeletons were still whole; they weren’t collapsed. So, you start adding pressure – weight – on to those products – the skeletons – and that’s the collapse-factor."
Murphy says ODOT is now looking at all its options, "It’s been interesting because a lot of people do call me, for instance, and say, ‘this is what you ought to do.’ And, that’s actually helpful, because then you have more brains on it and we’re all trying to figure out what the next step forward should be." Oregon’s Transportation Commission
meets Thursday to discuss the project's future, "We’ll have to wait and see what some people have to say. You know, there’s a whole range of opportunities that may exist out there." According to Murphy, they could vote to decommission the site or find a way to re-engineer the design so it can move forward. "We may not have an answer this Thursday to that question. So, here we sit with a very visible, big product that didn’t work the way we planned it to. Okay; so, what’s the next best thing? Alright, let’s figure out what the ‘next best thing’ is."
for our full conversation with ODOT's Peter Murphy, or visit our Podcast Page
BEND, OR -- St. Charles continues to take steps to close a massive budget hole expected in 2018. "The most difficult is having a layoff of up to 30 people," says St. Charles Health System President/CEO Joe Sluka, "We’ve also reduced wages for certain positions: our executives are taking a 10% decrease and then our exempt caregivers will be taking a 5% decrease." He tells KBND News those getting pink slips will be notified this week. "Their last day may not be the end of the week; it’ll be determined by position. There will be a couple of severance options that they can choose from. I’m trying to figure out what is best for them. Also, we will be providing out-placement services, for those folks that have been displaced; and also looking at open positions within the system that they can apply for."
Sluka is also negotiating voluntary buy-outs for dozens of other employees, "These were people that had an interest in leaving the organization for a variety of reasons, and we offered them that opportunity. We were able to accept 72 of those buy-outs." The terms of those agreements will be finalized before the end of November.
The company has been working for months to close a $25-$35 million gap in its 2018 budget
. Sluka says layoffs, buy-outs and pay cuts are just one of several necessary measures. Merit-based pay raises will be suspended and many caregivers who remain with St. Charles will pay more for their health insurance, next year. Sluka says they're "Shifting some of the benefit premium dollars from the health system to our caregivers; it’s about a 5% shift in those premium dollars." Changes to pay raises and benefit costs do not affect Oregon Nursing Association (ONA) members.
Impacts of the cutbacks will be felt across all St. Charles properties and Sluka hopes those 100 jobs will be the only ones lost. But, he says, "We can’t make any promises at this point, because of the uncertainty that’s out there right now. We’re really at, to some extent, the mercy of what happens both federally and from a statewide perspective; and, 75% of our current reimbursement is government pay."
BEND, OR -- Mountain View, Summit and Bend High will all become part of the Salem-based Greater Valley Conference, following approval by the Oregon Schools Activities Association (OSAA) Executive Board.
Josh Cordell is the boys tennis coach for Summit High. He tells KBND News, "It's going to change the travel, and have an affect on people's schedules. It's also really going to raise the level of opponents that we face, especially at the state level. So, it'll have quite an impact." Cordell says his teams are excited for the chance to play against more competative schools. "It'll be interesting to see, really, what it leads to, but it'll definitely have an impact."
While the recent OSAA decision changes a lot for Bend's schools, Cordell says other teams in the region will benefit the most. "In an ideal world, we'd have a Central Oregon League, and the schools would all be fairly close to the same size. But, that's just not where we're at with everything. So, they end up with a really good situation, I think it's going to be a good thing for them, for sure. They're smaller; they'll get to play in a league that's mainly Central Oregon, and then at the state level, I think they'll see a lot of success."
This school year will be the last for Bend schools at the 5A level. The three high schools switch to 6A starting in the fall of 2018.
BEND, OR -- A local non-profit dedicated to helping people affected by sexual and domestic violence, hopes a recent social media campaign will lead to solutions.
Following revelations involving movie producer Harvey Weinstein, actress Alyssa Milano started the #MeToo campaign for men and women to speak out against sexual harassment everywhere - not just in Hollywood. According to Erin Rook, with Saving Grace
, "'#MeToo' emerged as part of an effort for, primarily women, but also people of other genders, to share their experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault and highlight that this is something that happens to all kinds of people."
Rook says Oregon statistics show oppression is common. "Most women, and many other folks, have also experienced sexual harassment or assault in their lifetimes. In terms of sexual assault, specifically, we know that over half of Oregon women and girls experience that at some point in their lifetime. So, it's a problem. And clearly, the fact that so many people are being drawn to the hashtag just shows how common and pervasive of a problem it is."
The "me too" hashtag isn't the only one raising awareness of sexual harassment, "An emerging 'I Have' hashtag that's coming up, primarily posted by men, is a way to kind of own up or be transparent about the ways in which they may have perpetuated these things." Rook tells KBND News, "I think it's really encouraging to see the ways in which, not only the ways people who've experienced this kind of harassment or violence are speaking up, but the ways that, particularly men, are speaking up to say 'hey, I have contributed to this and I'm going to do better'." Saving Grace has a Men Against Violence group that meets once a month at Bluebird Cafe in Downtown Bend.
Rook believes being honest about treating people with respect is a good way to combat harassment and abuse and that social media is an excellent place to communicate. For those needing more, Saving Grace has a 24-hour helpline (541-389-7021 or 866-504-8992) and several programs designed to help.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors will vote Wednesday on a special contracting process that could advance plans for a new roundabout at Empire and Purcell. Sinclair Burr, the city’s project manager, tells KBND News, "With ‘Progressive Design-Build,’ we get to a certain point in a design where we feel comfortable asking our design builder – who’s a contractor and consultant together – to just begin construction. And then, design and construction work in parallel at that point, so we save months of time."
City Engineer George Franklet says, "There are, additionally, a number of projects that are related to that, as well. And, part of the procurement that we’re going to Council with on Wednesday, is to essentially prioritize those other projects and put them together in a way that would make sense to proceed with improvements beyond the roundabout." Project Manager Burr says construction of the roundabout could begin as soon as next fall, "We’re not exactly sure where that roundabout is going to be located along that alignment; we’re trying to figure that out right now. The other interrelated projects, being the extension of Empire, the modernization of Empire and Purcell (pictured) and the roundabout at 27th, Butler [Market] and the future Empire, all those will start in probably 2019." That "modernization" could include more sidewalks and bike lanes, as well as extending Empire to 27th Street.
The proposal does not include changes to Empire to accommodate more traffic that's expected once a large apartment complex opens, west of NE 18th
. Burr says, "We understand that that section of Empire, between 18th and Boyd Acres, is also probably going to be a deficiency. But, it’s just not as high on the priority list." He tells KBND News improving the Empire corridor east of NE 18th has been in the works for a long time. "We’ve identified the need to have a better connection from east to west that is a different alternative to Butler Market. The original project started in 2006; due to the recession, it was canceled back then."
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s DMV office is moving again. The Department of Motor Vehicles will close the Redmond office for three days, next week, to move into its new permanent location on the south end of town.
It moved temporarily to a building on Northwest Fifth in July. That location will close at 5 p.m. October 24. The new office will open at 8 a.m. the following Monday (October 30) at Franks Landing on Southwest 21st Place. Those needing DMV services during the closure can use the Bend office. Check wait times at OregonDMV.com
BEND, OR -- Scammers are again targeting Central Oregonians. At least a dozen local Pacific Power customers have reported receiving calls from someone claiming to be from the utility, threatening to shut off their service if they don't make an immediate payment to clear up a past-due bill.
Tom Gaunt, with Pacific Power, says there are a few key details that can signal a scam, "They often say they’re from the ‘Disconnection Department.’ We don’t have anything that’s called that. We don’t ask for your credit card number. Yes; there are circumstances in which you could pay a current bill or a past due bill with a credit card. But, if that’s the case, the person who says they’re from Pacific Power would not be handling your credit card info." He tells KBND News, "Also, if someone just says, ‘we’re going to turn it off in half an hour if you don’t pay up.’ That’s not how it happens. There’s a whole series of notices. And so, if something’s late, we don’t call up and threaten customers; we try to work out a schedule to make some payments and get people back on track."
And, if you think something about the call is suspicious, Gaunt says don't be afraid to question it. He suggests asking the caller to state your account number and compare it with what's listed on your bill. "If you’re on a call with anyone that just says, ‘This doesn’t sound right.’ A real agent won’t be offended if you say, ‘You know what? This doesn’t sound right. I’m going to hang up and call the number I know is correct,’ which is 888-221-7070." If you receive a suspicious call, Gaunt asks that you note the phone number it's coming from and any other information that might be helpful in tracking the scammers, then call Pacific Power.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Hunting and fishing license fees will go up January first. Michelle Dennehy, with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, says the increases were already approved by the State Legislature. "Typically, we raise our fees probably once every six years, just to keep in line as the cost of doing business goes up." She tells KBND News, "Instead of raising fees all at once, we’re taking a staggered approach with more modest increases every two years."
When the Fish and Wildlife Commission met in Prineville on Friday, they voted to formally approve increases for recreational and other licenses, "The cost of an annual hunting license would increase by $1.50 to $33.50. And the cost of an annual fishing license for residence would go up by $3 to $41." However, Dennehy says the agency is trying to hold down costs for families. Kids’ fees aren’t changing, "Including a combination license – it’s a fishing, hunting and shellfish license. It’s just $10; that cost isn’t going up. The cost of our juvenile sports pack, which lets them hunt and fish for just about everything in Oregon for an entire year; it’s still going to be $55."
for more details on current fees.
BEND, OR -- State Energy Tax Credits are ending at the end of this year, and local heating and cooling companies are extremely busy as homeowners scramble to get work done before the deadline.
Oregonians who want to take advantage of current programs need to purchase systems and fill out the paperwork before December 31, and the system must be installed by April 1, 2018. Randall Marchington, an HVAC Mechanical Estimator for Bend Heating and Sheet Metal, says homeowners shouldn't let this opportunity pass. "These are not necessarily small incentives. So, on ductless heat pumps, they're $1,200 or $1,300. And then, when you start combining that with the utility cash rebates, It can be over $2,000 total."
The tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar trade against any Oregon State Income Tax Liability, and the homeowner has five years to use it how they see fit. Marchington says his schedule is filling up, "We've been noticeably busier than the last, past years. No doubt about it. This is the busiest we've ever seen it, in what's called residential retrofits, which is existing home upgrades."
He tells KBND News the sun-setting tax credits affect both traditional and ductless heat pumps and some gas furnaces. "Once this sunsets, that's a lot of money that could have been put towards what we call 'return on investment' in the system. Because any time you put an energy efficient system into a home that's more energy efficient than what was there, it's going to lower the utility bill. So, the opportunity to get that return on investment is helped by the tax credit, and if you don't get the tax credit, it's going to take longer to get that return on investment."
Marchington says some of the tax rebates have been in place for nearly 40 years.
CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- A Crooked River Ranch mobile home was destroyed in an early morning fire, Sunday. Fire crews responded to Southwest Crater Loop Road just before 2 a.m. and found fire pouring from the building.
No one was home at the time. Investigators are not yet sure on the exact cause, however they say there are indicators that point to a possible electrical problem. The fire caused around $47,000 in damage.
BEND, OR -- A new initiative encourages tourists to promise to be good. Visit Bend CEO Kevney Dugan says the idea behind the “Bend Pledge” came from Iceland, "It’s in similar vein, about just being creative about what the community values of Iceland are; and their own creative way of sharing that with potential visitors."
It includes vows to be respectful of Bend’s indoor and outdoor spaces, and to make memories not new trails. "Our intent is to try to remind people that, when the Forest Service or anybody else creates a trail through the woods, it’s been done because it’s taken into account ecological factors, wildlife, recreation values, etc. And that, by just going off trail and creating your own trail, you’re potentially having a bigger impact than you think you do." Dugan says it’s part of an overall effort to get people to leave the community better than they found it, "As we continue to grow and as visitors continue to experience this place, does an organization like Visit Bend have a role in also protecting said place? We want to make sure that 20 years down the road, my kids/people who visit here are still awarded this really fun, beautiful, pristine experience."
Dugan tells KBND News the local initiative, which launched last week, fits well with the ongoing "Visit Like A Local" campaign, "What the ‘Visit Like A Local’ campaign didn’t allow for was an enter-to-win-type of program. Now, when you go to the Visit Bend website, you can click on this link
, read these 10 bullet points and get an understanding of some of these things that we, as a community, value and then enter to win a vacation to Bend." Each year, Visit Bend will randomly select two people from among those who take the pledge on its website, to win a three-night vacation, including lodging, food and activities.
The Bend Pledge:
I vow to be a respectful guest in Bend's indoor and outdoor spaces.
I'll make my own memories, but not my own trails.
I will be responsible with fire during dry summer months and with ice on slick winter roads.
I won't risk life or limb (human or sapling) for more likes.
I'll be friendly and courteous, because that's the Bend Way.
If I can't find a parking spot, I will not invent my own.
When playing outside I'll prepare for shifts in weather and random episodes of magic.
I'll pack in reusable containers and pack out all my trash.
I will use my turn signal often and my car horn seldom.
I promise to leave Bend better than I found it.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Senior Deputy District Attorney for Jefferson County has been tapped to become the next Crook County D.A. Wade Whiting will fill the position vacated by the departure of Daina Vitolins, who was appointed to the Circuit Court bench in June by Governor Kate Brown.
Whiting's background includes workg as a Jefferson County Prosecutor, and for Glenn, Reeder, Gassner & Whiting, a Madras law firm that specialized in family litigation and defending the indigent. He has also served as President of the Jefferson-Crook County Bar Association.
Governor Brown says she chose Whiting to replace Vitolins because he had practiced on both sides of the criminal justice system, and his compassion and humanity are necessary values in a District Attorney. Whiting's appointment is effective immediately.
REDMOND, OR -- A Terrebonne man was seriously injured in a Saturday afternoon crash that backed up traffic on the western edge of Redmond. According to investigators, 77-year-old Albert Farrow was northbound on Helmholtz when he stopped at Highway 126, just before 2:30 p.m. When he tried to cross the highway, deputies say he drove into the path of a westbound car, driven by a Redmond woman.
Both drivers were taken to the hospital; Farrow remains in serious condition.
He was cited for Failing To Obey A Traffic Control Device. The Sheriff’s Office believes alcohol may have been a contributing factor.
REDMOND, OR -- A 58-year-old Bend man died following a single-vehicle crash on the north end of Redmond, Friday evening. According to State Police, Kim Houston was southbound just before 5:30 p.m., when his pickup drifted out of his lane and hit a guard-rail at Canal Boulevard.
Investigators say it appears Houston wasn't wearing his seatbelt and was thrown from the truck; first responders found him critically injured on the overpass above the crash scene. He was later pronounced dead by emergency crews. His dog was also killed.
Impaired driving is being investigated as a contributing factor in the cause of the crash.
SUNRIVER, OR -- A La Pine man crashed into a waterfall in the center of a Sunriver roundabout, Friday morning. Sunriver Police and Deschutes County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to the traffic circle at South Century Drive and Abbot Road just after 7 a.m.
Medics treated the driver, 42-year-old John Teters, and transported him to St. Charles with non-life threatening injuries sustained in the crash. Teters was cited for Driving Under the Influence and Reckless Driving.
Witnesses to the crash are asked to contact Sunriver PD at 541-593-1014.
LA PINE, OR -- A group of historic cabins in south county is getting a face-lift. The four cabins were built on the south shore of Paulina Lake by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in the early 1900s; made primarily of native lava rock and pine.
The Deschutes National Forest's Scott McBride tells KBND News, "They are a unique example of depression-era folk architecture, in part. They're on the National Register of Historic Places. And, really [they're] an example of a time when the Forest Service was formally encouraging recreation; even in the early 1900s on National Forest systems lands, which is how these came to pass."
McBride says the cabins have sat empty for years and fell into disrepair. However, he believes they deserve to be saved. "We're looking to tell the story of these unique structures with a goal to provide a community benefit as recreation rentals in the future. There needs to be quite a bit of financial investment and labor investment to get to that point, but what we've got going on this fall is the start of that process. And, it's exciting to see the beginnings of that after all this time of these cabins sitting vacant."
The Forest Service has partnered with HistoriCorps
, an organization that helps coordinate volunteers for preservation projects. Crews are doing things like brickwork, foundation stabilization and roof repairs. Work is expected to take a few weeks. Click HERE
to learn more about the project and to sign up to volunteer.
SALEM, OR -- President Donald Trump's new Executive Order will allow health insurance companies to offer new plans across state lines. But, it doesn't have anything to do with individuals who buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
The order paves the way for similar businesses or associations to get group plans. "What this is doing is allowing more associations to have access to those plans across state lines," says Jack Sunderland, with the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. He says it doesn't mean individuals will have more opportunities to buy health insurance, "This does not effect individuals who buy insurance, at all." Sunderland adds, "People who buy their health insurance on their own, should still go to Healthcare.gov starting November first." This year's open enrollment period for individuals is shorter than in the past; it ends December 15.
Sunderland says the order eases rules for associations or businesses in similar industries to get coverage for their employees; it does not mean individuals can go across state lines to find health insurance plans.
Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
BEND, OR -- President Trump signed an Executive Order, Thursday, he says starts the process of dismantling the Affordable Care Act. On the campaign trail, candidate Donald Trump promised to repeal and replace Obamacare; however, Congress has failed to pass healthcare legislation. Trump says the Executive Order will increase healthcare competition and choice, while improving quality of care and lowering prices. The White House also announced plans Thursday to end subsidy payments to insurance companies, which help low-income Americans pay for coverage.
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter is concerned about how changes to Obamacare could impact the local fight against opioid addiction. "The discussions are going on right now in Washington, DC about rolling back the Affordable Care Act – this provides funding to get people into rehabilitation; to get them back to being a functional member of our society and moving them away from this. Now, the mixed messages we’re getting out of Washington, DC is, ‘we’re going to rollback the Affordable Care Act.’ It’s a seesaw back and forth, [and] every week they’re changing directions."
He participated in an opioid roundtable discussion with Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) in Bend this week,
and urged the lawmaker to support continued funding for treatment centers through the Affordable Care Act. "It’d be impossible for our local service providers, who provide rehabilitation and treatment for these drugs, to plan. How do they plan out if they don’t know what revenue stream is going to be coming in? Yet, they have to deal with it." Chief Porter tells KBND News healthcare has become a political football, which is hurting local treatment providers, "We cannot be going back and forth, herky jerking around; it does not serve anybody. But, we need some stability on this if we’re actually going to deal with that affect; and it is affecting Bend. And so, we need some stability there for our service and treatment providers. It’s much cheaper to put somebody into rehabilitation and treatment than it is for my officers to chase them, handcuff them, take them to jail, [and] have them go through the court system. We need to get ahead of this." Porter says Congressman Walden committed to looking into his concerns.
to listen to our full conversation with Bend Police Chief Jim Porter, or visit our Podcast Page
BEND, OR -- Three Portland-area teens were arrested Thursday in northeast Bend. Police say they were driving a stolen car when they left the scene of a crash and led officers on a brief foot chase.
The hit and run was reported at about 11:40 a.m., at the Chevron on N. Highway 97. About 15 minutes later, officers spotted the suspect vehicle in a parking lot at Third and Greenwood. As police tried to stop the car near Fourth and Irving, all three teens ran from the vehicle, which continued forward and hit a parked trailer on Irving. The suspects split up and a chase ensued. Marshall High School was placed in a brief "lockout" while officers searched for the suspects, as a precaution.
A 13- and 14-year-old boy from Portland were eventually apprehended, along with 18-year-old Tajai Malik Carter, from Happy Valley (pictured). The youngest suspect was charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Attempting to Elude and Possession of Marijuana. The other minor was arrested for a Probation Violation Warrant, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Attempt to Elude, Hit and Run and Criminal Mischief. Carter faces similar charges, as well as Reckless Endangering and an outstanding Theft II Warrant.
Inside the stolen SUV, investigators found a large amount of property allegedly taken from several stores around the north end of Bend and a laptop tied to a Wednesday night theft in Sherwood. Police say other items tie the three to a Thursday morning car prowl in the parking lot of the Bend JC Penney. Anyone who had their vehicle entered during the early hours of October 12 is asked to call 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police shut down access to the area around SE Second and Scott Street, Thursday, after reports that an armed subject had barricaded himself inside a business. Lt. Clint Burleigh says the initial call came in at about 9:45 a.m. He would not release many details due to the ongoing nature of the situation, but tells KBND News, "We don't believe anybody else is inside the business so we're trying to work for a peaceful resolution, right now."
Employees at a nearby business tell KBND News they are in lockdown; they believe the subject is inside Bend Oil. Lt. Burleigh says, "These kinds of calls, we want to make sure that the neighborhoods are safe, make sure our officers are safe, make sure that the person that we're dealing with is safe; I mean, that's the ultimate goal that everyone stays safe."
A command center is set up at Vince Genna Stadium about a half mile away. KBND News will continue to follow this developing situation and will release more information as it becomes available.
THURSDAY P.M. UPDATE: Lt. Burleigh says the man was later found deceased inside the business at 33 SE Scott Street. When the first call came in to 911, the reporting person said the subject was known to the business and had walked in with a firearm, intoxicated.
His death was not considered suspicious and Lt. Burleigh declined to release further details of the incident.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Bend teen is accused of damaging property at Crook County High School. According to Prineville Police, a school employee discovered the estimated $24,000 in damage, including to stage curtains in the auditorium. The incident reportedly occurred during an "after-school function" on September 2.
Following an investigation, authorities identified a 16-year-old suspect; they took him into custody this week, and turned him over to the Crook County Juvenile Department. He's charged with Criminal Mischief and Trespassing.
Anyone with information in the case is asked to call Prineville Police at 541-447-4168.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- It’s taken over a year, but the city of Prineville has completed the purchase of a large parcel of land near Barnes Butte, from Brooks Resources.
City Engineer Eric Klann says the development firm owed the city over a million dollars after putting in sewer lines and other infrastructure adjacent to its Iron Horse subdivision. They approached city officials in late 2016 with the proposed deal. Klann tells KBND News, "We essentially let them off the hook for the $1.2 million in return for the 460 acres and the 305 acres of water rights." Those water rights are important for the city's growth, "That’s enough water to allow us to serve 4,000 homes in the future. So, from our point of view, the value of those water right was worth $1.2 million and so the land was just the icing on the cake." And, he tells KBND News, "Purchasing that land will also allow us to extend a couple of main arterial roads in the future, which will be very helpful as Prineville continues to grow."
Klann says the parcel has a lot of potential. It's situated near Barnes Butte Elementary, and he says the school district could utilize trails for things like cross country meets or nature field trips. "The beautiful thing about this site is, with our 460 acres, there’s also 160 acres of BLM [land], right at the top of Barnes Butte. So now our public has access to 620 acres of open space." A public celebration planned for Friday is the first in a series of events aimed at engaging the community in the planning process. Klann hopes it will help citizens start thinking about how they’d like the land to be developed. "We could do everything from a sports park to, potentially, just a nature reserve." He adds, "For the city, what a fantastic opportunity. This could be and will be the ‘Pilot Butte of Prineville’ as we move forward."
Friday's event begins at 10 a.m. at the new parking lot and trailhead at the base of Barnes Butte, at 872 NE Combs Flat Rd. It features guided walks, wagon rides and remarks from Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe.
MADRAS, OR -- The man accused of robbing a Madras U.S. Bank, just after the August 21 solar eclipse has also been indicted on federal drug charges, along with his father. Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputies arrested 28-year-old Tyler Fuller August 24 after he was identified as a suspect in the robbery.
Fuller's father, 48-year-old Ronald Thrasher, was arrested in May on a number of drug charges, following a two-month investigation by the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) team. He was on parole at the time, for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm. Details of the bust were released just a few days before the bank robbery.
Thrasher and Fuller, along with Thrasher's girlfriend and another man, are suspected of being involved in a broader drug operation. According to court documents, investigators found 17 pounds of meth during the May search of a home Thrasher rented in Madras. He and Fuller are charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute 50 grams of meth. Both men remain in federal custody.
Fuller is due in federal court in Eugene October 23 for the bank robbery case. Thrasher faces a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence and a $4 million fine on the drug charges, if convicted.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville City Councilors continue to search for a replacement for Jack Seley who stepped down more than a month ago, after 10 years on Council. Mayor Betty Roppe had hoped to have a new Councilor seated by now.
But, Prineville City Manager Steve Forrester says initially, they only received two applications and one pulled out for health reasons just before the original deadline, prompting a deadline extension. "The one individual who declined at the last minute was fairly well known in the community," he tells KBND News. "And, I think a lot of people that were aware of that elected not to put their name in the hat because, ‘oh, this person’s in there and he’s good; he’ll do a great job.’ The Council made a decision to say, ‘hey look, with this particular person out some other people might want to step up and put their name in the hat.’ And that, in fact, has happened."
With that candidate's application withdrawn, Forrester says they now have three qualified people for consideration, "I’m happy to report, I think three very solid, qualified candidates – actually, we’ve had more than three. But, a couple of them were in the UGB so they weren’t inside the city limits, so they weren’t actually eligible."
Forrester expects to see a few more applicants before the new deadline of October 19. "And then the Council will bring – at their discretion – but, I expect the Council will be bringing those applicants in for an interview. And, we’ve formed a committee for the application process that will bring back, after the interviews have been completed, a recommendation to Council." He hopes the new Councilor will be sworn in by early November.
BEND, OR -- The East Cascades Audubon Society has launched a voluntary project to help songbirds and pollinating insects migrate more safely. The High Desert Museum and Deschutes Public Library are among the local organizations participating in "Lights Out Bend," which encourages everyone to shut off unnecessary lighting from dusk until dawn.
The Audubon Society's Mary Ann Kruse tells KBND News, "Light pollution is very easy to correct. It is the simplest of pollutions that we can turn around, and the way to do that is simply to turn off all unnecessary lighting from dusk to dawn and be aware that unnecessary lighting does affect wildlife and humans alike." She adds, "A lot of songbirds migrate at night, especially during spring and fall migrations, and they are attracted to light and come into our cities, that are very well-lit, they get trapped by being drawn to those lights, and frequently, they collide with windows trying to get to the interior lights. We lose 1 billion birds a year, nationwide."
The Lights Out Bend campaign
is designed to educate people about the negative impacts of light pollution and how birds benefit from a little extra darkness. "Turn off unnecessary lighting, ideally in spring and fall migrations," says Kruse, "And hopefully, year round, we can mitigate the number of bird and wildlife deaths, and perhaps, improve our own human health."
BEND, OR -- The Bend Chamber looked into how the city will evolve and grow over the next 30 years, Tuesday night, at an event called "Bend Rising: Should I Stay or Should I Go?" A panel discussed where the area's emerging workforce sees opportunity in urban living, with a packed crowd at the Tower Theatre.
John Savo of NBBJ
, an architecture and design firm dedicated to creating natural spaces in urban settings, spoke about what millennials are looking for in cities where they live and work. He says the best way to get the city you want is to communicate with your fellow city dwellers. "Creating some sort of an urban design framework to talk about the kind of things you want to see happening in your community, and you go out to all the different community groups that you can, reach as many people as you can, build a consensus around what your vision is, let other people add to it, and then you'll feel ownership for it. It won't be driven by city fathers."
Members of the Young Professionals Network also took part in the panel discussion, answering questions about the city's future, including on issues like affordable housing and emerging tech. Maggie Kirby of Craft 3 answered questions about affordable housing, saying those who work in Bend need to be able to live in the city, "We have to create financial incentives to reduce the costs associating with the development of housing within the city."
's Bud Torcom discussed jobs in the upcoming robot age. "We're in the middle of an automation revolution right now. The jobs of millennials now will not be replaced, but we can educate on how to create the new jobs, making us more efficient, making us more creative."
BEND, OR -- Deschutes National Forest fuels specialists plan to ignite slash piles along Cascade Lakes Highway near Wanoga, Mt Bachelor and Elk Lake, this week.
Ignitions are scheduled to begin Wednesday and continue for the next several days. Smoke from the operations might be visible in Bend and could last into next week. Authorities ask that residents do not call 911 to report smoke from slash piles; they say fuels specialists monitor piles until they are declared out.
For more information, visit the Deschutes National Forest website or follow @CentralORFire on Twitter.
CULVER, OR -- The Oregon State Marine Board is considering a request to establish a "no wake zone" in a portion of Lake Billy Chinook.
The petition references the Fly Creek Inlet and would also prohibit unauthorized anchoring, mooring or beaching a boat in the Fly Creek Subdivision on Lake Billy Chinook, unless granted permission by private property owners. The request sites a need for the rule based on safety concerns, "Due to the proximity and quantity of permitted floating structures and underwater obstructions in the Fly Creek Inlet," according to the Board.
Written comments are allowed via email or by U.S. mail to: June LeTarte, Administrative Rules Coordinator, 435 Commercial Street NE, Suite 400, Salem, OR 97301. Following the close of the public comment period, the Board will meet on December 5 via teleconference from the Marine Board office in Salem to discuss the petition.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Jail has been understaffed for months, compounded by recent investigations. Sgt. Paul Navarro was put on leave in early May, as part of an internal investigation; he was fired last week. Jail Commander Captain Deron McMaster says another Corrections Sergeant is now on paid administrative leave, also for an investigation into possible policy violations, although he would not elaborate. "With Sgt. Navarro, he has another step in due process that is still forthcoming," Capt. McMaster tells KBND News, "And then, the other one is still under investigation."
McMaster admits staffing has been a struggle. "Obviously, those are key positions and we’d like to have all those positions filled. We’ve promoted a Sergeant and we’ve also promoted a couple of Lieutenants. So, we’re filling those key positions, not to mention there’s always a cascading effect when you lose a person; especially anyone who’s a Sergeant or Lieutenant, which creates an opening for a Deputy Sheriff." But, he says disciplinary action is necessary, "We, as a command staff and obviously the Sheriff is the leader of our command staff, we’re holding people accountable. When we learn of policy violations, we want to deal with them; we don’t want to just ignore problems. Part of this is because we’ve really tried to improve things over in the Corrections Division, and as an organization as a whole, we want to be a good, healthy, productive organization."
The division has also seen high turnover in the past year, from a combination of retirements, promotions and deputies seeking opportunities elsewhere. However, after struggling with 20 openings earlier this year, Capt. McMaster says things are improving. He's hired 10 new deputies in the last six months, and extended offers to four more this week. McMaster admits, that's a lot of rookies at once. "We actually have a few of them who are laterals from either police jobs or from other correctional facilities, so that helps out. But, you know what? It’s really exciting to hire brand new people into the field of law enforcement. What I think I can stress the most is, we’re looking for good people more than we are anything else." He says character is more important than experience.
Despite the hiring push, six vacancies remain, which Capt. McMaster acknowledges places a strain on those in those in the Corrections Division as the agency works to ensure the jail is appropriately staffed on a daily basis. "We’ve asked our supervisors to step in and fill some roles, as well. We have Patrol Deputies that have stepped up and come in and fill shifts; we have Corrections Deputies that are taking overtime shifts and coming in and working."
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon firefighters are on their way to Northern California to help battle devastating wildfires that have led to the deaths of at least 17 people. Deschutes and Klamath counties are sending a strike team of Type 3 heavy brush engines, including units from Sisters-Camp Sherman, Bend and Sunriver. Four Oregon Department of Forestry crews from Grants Pass, Klamath Falls and Medford arrived in California yesterday, as well.
California’s Governor has declared a state of emergency in three counties, due to the more than a dozen wind-driven fires, which have destroyed over 2,000 buildings.
Bend Batallion Chief Dave Howe released the following statement, Wednesday morning:
The Bend Fire Department has joined several other Central Oregon fire departments in sending crews to help in the battle against the disastrous California wildland fires. Crews from Bend, Sisters, Sunriver and Klamath Falls have been assigned as a Strike Team to work in Santa Rosa, CA, for at least a week, although the duration is dependent upon fire conditions and funding.
Although California has a very strong statewide emergency mobilization plan, which has always worked well, the fire situation is so dire that they are asking for help from Oregon and Arizona. CalFire has requested that the Oregon State Fire Marshal send up to 50 engines to California. Oregon is responding to this request with 10 Strike Teams, each team made up of a specific engine type and a leader. California is paying for this mobilization at the rate specified in the Oregon Mobilization Plan.
Bend is supplying one Type 3 Engine and a Leader, with a total of 6 people. This is the first time that Bend Fire has been mobilized to work on fires in California.
The National Weather Service reports wind patterns will continue to send smoke into Central Oregon from the Napa Valley fires, through Wednesday evening. According to the Forest Service, the haze that blanketed our area yesterday is from California and not from any local fires or burning operations. Bend Fire asks that people not call 911 regarding the smoke unless you see a specific smoke column or flames.
Photos: (top) Cal Fire shows the dozens of fires burning across the state.
(right) Weather patterns will continue to send smoke into Oregon.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Oregon's Fish and Wildlife Commission meets Friday in Crook County to discuss the state's cougar population and management plan. ODFW's Michelle Dennehy tells KBND News, "The last time the plan was updated was 2006. And the plan doesn't really have any major management changes for cougars, but it does have more Oregon-specific research including a genetics and habitat analysis."
"We really manage cougars for coexistence," says Dennehy. "If people have an issue with a cougar, we're really trying to stress preventative measures to take; things like, 'keep your pets indoors at night.'" She says there has never been a documented fatal attack on a human by a cougar in Oregon, "But, numerous fatal and non-fatal attacks have occurred in western U.S. states since the early 1990s."
The cougar population remains fairly stable, with only slight increases in the number of animals seen in northeastern Oregon, "We have a very healthy cougar population here in Oregon and we estimate it at 6,400 animals." Dennehy says, "I think something for people to keep in mind is, if you do see a cougar in the wild, you should chalk that up as an amazing experience and nothing to be alarmed about."
Friday's cougar meeting begins at 8 a.m. at the Crook County Fairgrounds in Prineville. Click HERE for more information. On Thursday, the Commission will tour the Bowman Dam, Opal Springs and other local waterways to discuss fish passage.
BEND, OR -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) was in Central Oregon Tuesday to talk about the widespread opioid crisis. "We lose more Oregonians to drug addiction overdose than we do in car accidents. And it's part opioids, part heroin, part all of that," he told KBND News after a roundtable meeting with local healthcare and law enforcement officials.
Walden says a lot of work is being done to help addicted Central Oregonians, but recovery efforts aren't always successful, and they take tremendous resources. "It's expensive, it's debilitating, and it's deadly." He says he's impressed by how the community is dealing with the issue. "This is a disease and an addiction, and to get them treatment and housing and to get them back into productive lives is really hard work, but essential work."
Walden says that things like National Take-Back Day help in the effort, but he's also looking at a permanent prescription return center, where people could return unused opioids safely. "Why is it we don't have a very simple and often used system to get rid of, safely, our surplus medicines? We should. If we can do it for pop cans and beer bottles and ink cartridges and cardboard, we should be able to find a recycling systems that works conveniently and easily to get rid of our surplus medicines."
National Take-Back Day is October 28, where people can return unused opioid prescriptions and other medications at designated locations.
BEND, OR -- Bend Police are stepping up patrols around Mountain View High School, Tuesday morning, following a rumored threat made on social media.
According to a letter sent to parents from Principal Katie Legace (below), several students came forward to report they had either seen first-hand or had heard of a statement made online about a rumored shooting planned to take place Tuesday. Police officials confirm they are investigating the rumor.
Mountain View High School families,
Several responsible students came to us, family members and law enforcement tonight to report that they had either seen first-hand, or heard of, a statement made on social media about a rumored shooting planned to take place tomorrow at our school. School staff, district officials and Bend Police Department officers and detectives were notified immediately and have been working into the night to find the source of the rumor. At this time, law enforcement is investigating the alleged threat.
We are reaching out to our school community with this email tonight because we want to find the student or students responsible and hold them accountable for disrupting our educational community in this way. Be assured that we are also taking steps to ensure the safety of our students and staff, which will include a temporary increase in police presence on campus. I also want to add that we absolutely will not tolerate copy cats of this situation. Anyone found making any type of a threat to any of our schools will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Please encourage your students to contact the non-emergency line at 541.693.6911 or our text-to-tip phone/text number at 541.600.4267 at any time tonight to share information they may have about the alleged threat or persons who may be responsible.
We believe that by working together with our staff, students and parents, we can expedite the investigation and help control rumors about the situation.
A safe community for students, parents and staff is important to us!
Thank you for your support, Cougar community.
Principal, Mountain View High School
UPDATE: Bend Police Chief Jim Porter talked with KBND News about the incident, Tuesday morning. He says the district and the school immediately notified law enforcement, after receiving reports of the rumor from students. "We worked with them in a partnership to try to resolve the rumor; try to find the end of the rumor. We immediately assigned our Detectives Division, along with some of our Special Operations people and School Resource Officers, to chasing down the rumor. And, we’ve been working on this since yesterday mid-afternoon, through the night and early this morning."
He was unable to release many details, as the investigation continues, "How hard is it to run down these rumors? It’s very, very difficult; and today, in the age of social media where everybody has half a dozen apps that they communicate with on their cell phones, it’s very challenging. And, it takes time and it’s resource-intensive."
Chief Porter stresses this is only a rumor, at this point, "There’s not what we call probable cause, or reason to believe there is an action plan in place. That does not mean we’re slowing down our investigation; it does not mean that we’re pulling our resources back. We’re not only deploying our resources to Mountain View school, we’re also deploying resources – and when I say resources (I mean) officers – to the other high schools." He adds, "We’re also leveraging other law enforcement agencies inside the area to be prepared and, when I say that, that sends shockwaves through people. But, I think they’d rather I over prepare than under prepare and that’s what we’re doing." Classes are in session, although one parent tells KBND News, the homecoming assembly scheduled for Tuesday morning was canceled and attendance appears to be down.
Porter says it's important that students and parents cooperate with the investigation, "We can resolve the issues of any crimes broken, later. Up front, we need to resolve issues if there’s an immediate threat because, God knows, we have seen enough school shootings in this country to know that these are not hollow threats."
To hear our full conversation with Bend Police Chief Jim Porter, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Nearly eight months after a fiery deadly crash in Crook County, authorities say they have finally identified the victim. The accident occurred the morning of February 27 on George Millican Road, 20 miles south of Prineville.
When State Troopers arrived, they found a 1995 Cadillac fully engulfed in flames, with fire spreading to nearby brush. After the fire was extinguished, emergency crews discovered a person deceased inside the car.
Through hair samples and other evidence, the State Police Forensic Lab used DNA to identify 55-year-old Mark Tsatsa of Bend. Speed is believed to be a contributing factor in the crash.
REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s Airport is in the process of developing its next Master Plan, and Airport Director Zach Bass invites the public to offer input. "Every 10 years or so, we’re required to look at a 20-year plan for the future of the airport." That Master Plan is mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Bass tells KBND News, "We look at what’s happening in the airline industry, how many passengers is Redmond going to have in the future – what that’s estimated to be. Then based on what we call all those ‘forecasts,’ we decide on if we need to grow or if we need to shrink. And, if we do need to grow, which is the case, then how do we do so?"
Airport staff and planning consultants will discuss proposed improvements and forecasted needs at an open house next week. While Roberts Field is owned and managed by the city of Redmond, Bass says it’s a regional airport and he hopes people from across the region will help determine its future. "As we grow in enplanements, which are passengers getting on a plane here, how long does our runway need to be? Do we need to add space to the terminal? What is our general aviation forecasted to look like and how do we grow to make sure we’re meeting the needs of all of our customers?"
The open house takes place Wednesday, October 18 at Redmond's City Hall (411 SW 9th St.), 4:30-6:30 p.m. Click HERE
for more information.
BEND, OR -- A robot named 'Relay' is making its debut in Central Oregon Monday, at an event hosted by OSU Cascades.
Todd Montgomery of OSU Cascades is leading the hospitality technology showcase where Relay will be guest of honor. He says Relay is supposed to not just be totally interactive, but also to make people happy. "There's a lot of thought that engineers in this company and in other companies have put into this interaction with humans. From my understanding, they went through multiple iterations and a lot of that was making an appealing design that wouldn't scare children, would be simple, I think the color, the lighting, it's really meant to be a pleasing presence in its delivery of its service."
Montgomery says service industries have gotten away from face-to-face interaction, and he believes that robots will allow human staff to get away from their screens and focus on the guests.
According to Montgomery, robot technology is essential to taking the hospitality industry to the next level. "This is commercially viable. And, this solves some of the challenges that we're facing. So, the labor shortage ... it's real! It's really hard to find staffing right now. You've probably heard and read many stories about how robots are taking jobs and what that's going to be like, and I don't think anybody knows the outcome of that, and we are just at the cusp of what's more to come. So, really, really some exciting things ahead."
Over 100 hospitality executives are expected at Relay's debut tonight, which will take place from 5:15 to 7 pm in the dining building on the OSU Cascades campus.
BEND, OR -- With the high number of visitors in Central Oregon during last month's eclipse, the Forest Service was concerned about an increased danger of wildfire.
The Forest Service's Jean Nelson Dean says the with no clear frame of reference for Central Oregon's hosting that many extra people during fire season, the concerns were legitimate. "Nobody knew what to expect, we hadn't seen something like that before, so we all planned around a lot of, you know, 'what ifs'."
Nelson Dean says, thankfully, no major fires started during that intense week, and she believes it's because the Forest Rangers and other officials were vigilant about making sure visitors were aware of the danger and informed of the restrictions.
The region was already battling an intense fire season, but Nelson Dean says, to her surprise, while major fires were started before and after the eclipse week, there were none during, and she believes that's due to interagency cooperation in helping visitors avoid fire risk behaviors. "In some ways we were, at least in Central Oregon, we were already working together when we started seeing the Milli Fire and the Belknap fire over in the Ochocos, and so that was really helpful."
Nelson Dean says the Forest Service made sure visitors understood the fire risk, and will take the observations from having that many extra people in the area and apply it to planning future major events.
SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters School District needed to remove some trees on school property, to create clear lines of sight and to improve forest health.
The School District provided a Forestry Management Plan to the City of Sisters' Urban Forestry Board, but the Board declared their plan too aggressive, asking the District to only cut down half the number of trees they were proposing.
The City of Bend issued a 'stop work' order once the District had begun work because it was decided that too many trees were being removed.
Today, the Sisters School District will be meeting with the City of Sisters to determine how to go forward to finish the project.
Patrick Davenport at the City believes a compromise can be found, because he thinks both sides are committed to maintaining a positive relationship.
SISTERS, OR -- Work on Highway 242 is progressing, following this summer's Milli Fire that burned more than 24,000 acres west of Sisters. However, officials say there is little chance the scenic highway will reopen to vehicles before spring.
Peter Murphy, with the Oregon Department of Transportation says the Forest Service removed hazardous trees that were in danger of falling onto the road, but now comes the hard work of assessing the actual roadway. "We've gotten to the point where we kind of have a handle on what's going on with Highway 242 - the Old McKenzie Pass Highway - after the Milli fire up there. It's not a pretty sight, I can tell you that right now. The fire was really hot, it burned right alongside the road for a dozen miles or so, and it's pretty evident that the fire that ripped through there charred the landscape. It's going to be awhile before it returns to the natural beauty it had before." He adds, "What we're looking at is a burned landscape, where the vegetation is gone from the side of the road. So we're concerned a little bit that runoff is going to bring the hillside down onto the highway itself, bringing dirt and stuff down onto the highway surface. So we've got to get up there now before the weather changes, and do what we can to stabilize the road itself."
Murphy says they're racing the clock to get work done before winter. "We have workers up on top and they'll be working their way down, because when it gets cold, that's what gets hit first. And, we're just going to make the progress that we can, making sure that the road is in the best shape it can be as winter sets in; and then come back in the spring and take a better look at it."
Highway 242 typically closes in late fall because ODOT does not maintain the narrow roadway through the winter. Murphy hopes the area will be open to winter sports enthusiasts, so ODOT is working to make sure it will be safe for them, whether the road is opened to vehicles before winter hits or not.
Photo: The Milli Fire burns near the Dee Wright Observatory on Old McKenzie Pass, August 22, 2017.
REDMOND, OR -- Oregon schools are required to offer standardized tests each year, but state law allows parents to opt their students out. According to a new report, only 7% of the juniors at Redmond Proficiency Academy took part in Smarter Balanced testing, this year; 405 sat out. The charter school has the highest opt-out rate in the state.
RPA Executive Director Dr. Jon Bullock isn't surprised. He tells KBND News, "Redmond Proficiency Academy is a public charter school. It's a school of choice. We know that we will have a large number of parents opting them out, so we have adopted a comprehensive program to address the essential skills for all of our students in grades 6-12. We track student progress in English, math, reading, and science throughout Middle School and High School using the ACT Aspire suite of assessments." He adds, "Because the assessments are linked to college and career preparedness, we're using an assessment that applies to our students' lives beyond just the test moment."
Dr. Bullock says it's important for students to take assessments, for both the school and student to adjust instruction to make sure they stay on a path to graduation. "By using the ACT Suite of Assessments, we can analyze individual student results and personalize academic experiences for students. So, when a student exceeds those state and national expectations, we use that data to encourage students to pursue advanced courses of study. And so, we have an emerging cohort of students at RPA that have been involved in this assessment program, that have created a whole new group of students that consider themselves university-bound students who might not, otherwise, be that way."
Bend High ranked third in the state for juniors opting out of the Smarter Balanced test, with 19% participating; Mountain View High in Bend ranked fourth, with a quarter of its juniors taking the test. Statewide, 94% of students took the Smarter Balanced test, this year.
SISTERS, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in identifying suspects in several Sisters break-ins.
Investigators are looking into a number of car prowls that occurred last week on South Oak Street, South Pine Meadow and on North Songbird Street. They’re also investigating a burglary at Richard’s Produce on West Cascade Avenue, Saturday night.
The Sheriff's Office reminds Central Oregonians to lock vehicles and remove valuables from inside to prevent becoming a victim of theft.
Anyone with information on these cases is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 541-693-6911.
BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Management is working with the state to identify potential economic losses resulting from late summer wildfires. The Governor can request assistance from the Small Business Administration in the form of an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), if made aware of the loss.
Lack of Summer Visitors Impacts Sisters Economy
Small businesses and nonprofits that lost money due to the smoke, between August 17 and early September, can apply for assistance by emailing contact information and the name of the company to EmergencyMgt@deschutes.org
. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Friday.
Photo: Sisters area smoke, August 30, 2017.
REDMOND, OR -- A naked man was arrested near Redmond, Friday afternoon, after he allegedly attacked a woman at Cline Butte Rock Products. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office says Adam Hebda, of Tennessee, was a contractor working on a nearby cell phone tower when, for an unknown reason, he got into a car in the rock pit's parking lot.
When a 64-year-old female employee confronted him, he got out, grabbed her and allegedly dragged her about 30 feet back into the vehicle. She was able to fight off the 28-year-old and get away. She did not report suffering any injuries.
Hebda then rifled through a porta-potty, soiling his clothing. He disrobed and walked down a gravel road. Deputies found him about a half mile away and took him to the hospital for an evaluation. Hebda was cited for Coercion, Harassment, Attempted Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle and Unlawful Entry Into a Motor Vehicle. Additional charges could be considered.
MADRAS, OR -- A Madras couple faces kidnapping and other charges, stemming from an alleged assault that occurred last week at Tops Trailer Park. According to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to the initial report Thursday. They talked with a woman at the Madras hospital, who said she was assaulted, drugged, handcuffed and held without her consent.
Friday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant at the home on Depot Lane, assisted by the Central Oregon Emergency Response team. The CERT team was activated based on the belief weapons were inside the home. They arrested 29-year-old Dale Graybeal on charges of Kidnapping II, Coercion, Conspiracy, Assault III and Harassment; 27-year-old Kayla Graybeal was arrested on charges of Kidnapping II, Coercion and Conspiracy. Three children were taken into protective custody.
Investigators say they found evidence connecting the Graybeals to the kidnapping, along with drugs.
BEND, OR -- A new 36-acre park, is open in northeast Bend across from Lava Ridge Elementary and Skyview Middle Schools. Rockridge Park boasts a nature play area, a skatepark, nine-hole disc golf course, beginner and intermediate bike skills course, and both paved and unpaved paths.
Jill Bellows, who recently moved to the area, loves the chance to walk to Rockridge. "It's a half mile walk at the most, so it's really the only one I've found that we can walk to." She tells KBND News her kids especially love the nature play section of the park, "We found a couple that have natural play areas as well, but this one seems to be a little bit on a larger scale. They love it."
For Joy the Skater-Girl, the main draw is the lunar-scape skate park. A Skateboarder for over twenty years, Joy the Skater girl says the new course has some excellent features. "It's fantastic. All the rollers and the rolling in and rolling out. I mean, it's friendly for when there's not very many people here, and when there's more people, it's a little hectic, but they did a wonderful job."
Blake Bauer, who skateboards all summer and snowboards in the winter, says the skatepark is helping him keep up his skills. "It kinda just goes hand-in-hand with, you know, like hand and eye coordination, but also your foot placement, and kinda your balance, too, so it helps me out a lot, so you know, I mean, I love it, so yeah."
A grand opening celebration on Saturday, October 14, from 1 to 3 p.m.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- In direct opposition to the current plan in place to conserve the sage grouse's habitat across ten western states, new policies will now be adopted.
Dan Morse of the Oregon Natural Desert Association says two months ago, Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, announced plans to review the conservation policies already in place, and yesterday, his intentions to revamp those policies became official.
Morse thinks Secretary Zinke's plan will undermine all the work done in recent years to save the sage grouse. "On behalf of Oregon Natural Desert Association, I was the one who was mostly deeply involved in putting those plans together, so from the standpoint of our organization, I'm extremely disappointed they've chosen to go down this path - I think it's hugely counterproductive, and I think what the Trump Administration and Secretary Zinke have put in motion is very likely to put the sage grouse at further risk."
According to Morse, despite all the policies that have been working over the last several years to save the sage grouse habitats across ten western states, Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, has revamped the conservation plan, which Morse says, is a great blow to the sage grouse, and conservation plans in general. "The intent of this redo effort will be to roll back some of the most important conservation elements of these sage grouse plans and it can't be read any other way than an attempt to pare back strong conservation."
Morse says that conserving the sage grouse in Eastern Oregon preserves the area's ecology, and secretary Zinke's new plan will allow greater encroachment on sage grouse habitat, which leads to their being further threatened. "What sage grouse require are large areas of intact sage brush habitat, and any activity, whether it's mining or recreation, or otherwise has the potential to disturb sage grouse in their habitat and impact their populations. And you can certainly mitigate that, but it will never be zero. Anything more than about 3% disturbance across a large area of their habitat, and the science shows their numbers beginning to dwindle."
The sage grouse is not considered endangered, but Morse says conserving their territory is vital to maintaining their population.
REDMOND, OR -- About 60 local elected officials, school administrators and other community leaders will tour four Redmond manufacturing companies, Friday, as part of a national effort to recognize the industry. "National Manufacturing Day celebrates the industry of manufacturing nationwide. And, our target was to do the same here in Redmond, by celebrating manufacturing as an industry and what it does to help grow our economy – from a jobs and investment perspective," says Jon Stark, with Redmond Economic Development, Inc (REDI).
Stark says the city has become a regional hub for the sector, which is benefiting local businesses. "Now that the economy is humming along again, they’re hitting on all cylinders. Manufacturing in Redmond has seen 50% growth since 2011, to 2016; and total wages collected in manufacturing has grown by 63%." He believes the city’s policies and infrastructure provide an atmosphere that allows the industry to thrive.
This is the fifth time REDI has organized the “Made in Redmond Tour
.” This year's event includes stops at Medline Renewal, Treasure Valley Coffee, Composite Approach and Evolution Aircraft (formerly LancAir). "We heard from the composites and the aviation industry that they wanted to expose the community to the skillsets and the industry here in Central Oregon," says Stark, "Importantly, because they’re looking for growth in employees. They want people to know there’s a career opportunity in that industry." He says the idea is for attendees to later help educate others about what local companies are doing and what skills the manufacturing sector is looking for in a workforce.
BEND, OR -- A new law took effect in Oregon, Thursday, allowing law enforcement agencies that use red-light camera systems to also catch speeders. State law used to dictate the technology could only be used to issue tickets to drivers for running a light.
Despite the expansion, Lt. Clint Burleigh says the Bend Police Department has no intention of installing red light cameras or photo radar because officers would lose a valuable opportunity to educate drivers. "The individual contact we have with somebody who does get stopped for violating the red light law or violating a speeding law, where we feel it’s positive is that one-on-one contact," he tells KBND News. "There’s no situation that’s exactly the same. And, being able to handle that on the level of the discretion of the officer, face to face, is a pretty big deal." Lt. Burleigh says, "Red lights I think we all know they can be a problem in Bend. Some of our major intersections, I know we get a lot of complaints of people violating that law. If you have somebody that’s been driving for 30 years, they have no history of any kind of issues on their driving record, sometimes it’s just needing to be discussing that and saying, ‘This is why I stopped you; this is why it’s important to the community for this enforcement'."
Although, he doesn’t completely rule out the use of red light cameras in the future. "I think we as a department are always open to new ideas on what would make our community safer. But, not violating what we believe is our culture in having that relationship with our community." He says using the cameras would also require additional money and manpower.
The Oregon Department of Transportation confirms it does not use red light cameras to enforce traffic laws in Bend, either. ODOT officials tell KBND News cameras located at traffic signals in Bend are for "detection" only.
Beaverton has four red light cameras capable of capturing speeds and is expected to be the first city to take advantage of the new law. It allows the city to send tickets to people who drive those intersections at speeds faster than 10 miles over the posted limit. Portland, Sherwood and Medford are expected to come online in the next year.
REDMOND, OR -- One person was hurt in a Thursday night fire. Redmond firefighters responded to a motorhome fire on Southwest Canal, just before 9:45 p.m., and found the vehicle fully engulfed. They extinguished the flames and one person was taken to the hospital.
According to Redmond fire, two people were living in the RV; the fire started when one tried to light the propane furnace. Both people got out of the motorhome prior to the arrival of fire crews.
SISTERS, OR -- Several more planned prescribed burns could send smoke into Central Oregon, this weekend.
Weather permitting, fuels specialists will light A burn south of Crescent, Friday, about one mile west of the Highway 97- Highway 58 junction.
Two more are scheduled for the Sisters Ranger District on Saturday, near the Indian Ford Campground; those two operations total just over 120 acres.
Forestry officials say drivers could see smoke but no road closure are anticipated.
EUGENE, OR -- A 34-year-old psychiatric patient was reported missing Thursday from the Oregon State Hospital in Junction City. Officials do not consider Peace Dawn Wickham a danger to himself or others. Wickham was admitted to the state hospital almost a year ago from Lane County, after he was found guilty except for insanity on charges including assault and unlawful possession of a weapon.
He was last seen at the Laurel Hill Center in Eugene. Staff lost sight of Wickham when he ran from a treatment group just before 2 p.m., Thursday.
Wickham is African-American, 6'1" and 215 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. When last seen, he was wearing a blue sweatshirt, blue jeans and gray sneakers. Wickham also has tattoos on both forearms and a large afro.
UPDATE: Peace Dawn Wickham was found unharmed by the Eugene Police Department at approximately 9:00 am today and was taken to the Lane County Jail to await transport back to the Junction City hospital campus.
BEND, OR -- The Youth Career Connect Initiative is a system designed to help area high schoolers and college students find internships that will prepare them for their post-education careers.
Katie Condit, of Bend's Better Together, says this new internship system coordinates area agencies to create meaningful internships between students and employers, complete with mentorship opportunities. "Our local Chambers of Commerce become that centralized coordination place for employers and educators to be connecting. It ensures that the experiences that employers create are as meaningful as they can be for youth because they have that coach, and support, and expertise in the Chamber, and that educators don't have to phone dozens of employers to place one student, but that they have a central place to go, also."
Condit says that, unlike several years ago, only 20% of school students are working, as opposed to a previous 60%, leaving the vast majority ill prepared for their careers once they do leave school. "If you ask a classroom, 'How many of you have had a meaningful work experience?' It's 20 to 30% who will raise their hands, which is very different from 60+% of even 15 years ago. And what we're hearing from employers is even students graduating from college who are coming to them underprepared with some of those soft skills that you get in some of those first work experiences.
Other partners in the Youth Connect Initiative include local school Districts, COCC and OSU Cascades ... as well as the East Cascades Workforce Investment Board and area non-profits.
The new Youth Career Connect Initiative is designed to help area high school and college students find internships because employers expect some level of inexperience with a first-time employee. Condit says local employers report even college graduates lack necessary skills and she hopes Career Connect can change that. "I think the most important and critical piece of this work is that we're not building another program. We have tons of programs in Central Oregon. This is building, really, a region-wide system to help those programs and employers connect in a more streamlined way, and so it's value-add for economic development, and value-added for youth development, and we see it! We see it as a really sustainable system."
To learn more, visit youthcareerconnect.org.
MADRAS, OR -- U.S. Cellular customers are unable to contact 911 in Jefferson County and a number of other jurisdictions, according to Oregon's Office of Emergency Management. The outage impacts people in Jefferson, Grant, Morrow, Union, Umatilla, Baker, Wallowa, Gilliam, Sherman and Wheeler counties, as well as in John Day.
The OEM recommends U.S. Cellular customers to use alternate contacts like local police or fire agencies until the outage is resolved.
Frontier Regional 911, which provides dispatch services in Jefferson, Gilliam, Sherman and Wheeler counties, says if you are unable to call 911 on your cell phone, use a landline.
UPDATE: 911 service has been restored for U.S. Cellular customers, as of 3 p.m. Thursday. The cell carrier issued the following statement in response to the outage: "We can confirm that a network issue with a third party caused 911 calls to not go through in parts of Eastern Oregon. The issue has been resolved to ensure all 911 calls are routed accurately and effectively."
REDMOND, OR -- A group of philanthropic ladies is set to make a sizable contribution Thursday afternoon to Beulah’s Place in Redmond, which provides temporary shelter and other services to at-risk homeless teens.
Lisa Connors, co-founder of the Central Oregon Chapter of 100+ Women Who Care
, says the group’s members chose Beulah’s Place as the recipient of their quarterly donation. "The model that this is based on is 100 People Who Care
; there are chapters all over the world – mainly in North America, but we are one of the largest chapters in existence – and, in theory, when you get 100 people together, at $100 per quarter, that becomes a $10,000 donation." But, she tells KBND News, "Our chapter has always been much larger, from the day we started. So, our donations
have ranged between $19,000 - $28,000 roughly, per quarter."
And, this fall's donation could be even more, Connors says, because the group's most recent meeting was larger than normal. "It seemed to be better attended just because it was a big monumental meeting, because it was not only our third anniversary but it marked our group giving over $300,000 in less than three years’ time to local nonprofits, so a lot of our members came out to celebrate." The final amount won't be revealed until the check presentation.
Thursday's event begins at 2:30 p.m. at the Becky Johnson Center in downtown Redmond. "In particular, this check presentation is exciting for us because we have never done a check presentation outside of Bend," says Connors. There is talk of expanding 100+ Women Who Care Central Oregon, to create a Redmond chapter.
UPDATE: Thursday's donation to Beulah's Place totaled $26,500.
BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors have approved additional money to finish the design for Galveston Corridor improvements. Wednesday night’s 5-1 vote sends nearly $496,000 more to a project that’s been in the works for more than four years. Councilor Bill Moseley was the lone "no" vote; Councilor Sally Russell recused herself due to a potential conflict of interest because she owns property on NW Galveston Ave.
Project Engineer Garrett Sabourin, with the city, admits the additional money means about 17% of the project’s budget will be spent on design.
"This is a very complex project, for a transportation project. There are a lot of different infrastructure components; there’s a heavily traveled corridor. There’s – I’ll leave it at, it’s very complex. Our typical process for going through design and our industry standard that we’d like to see with this complexity is more in the 12%-16% range, for design dollars spent." He told Councilors, "Part of that is credited, in my professional opinion, to this start and stop effort that we’ve been doing on this project. Every time we delay things and that we don’t have a continuous project, we lose efficiency. There’s team members who change, there’s ramping up and ramping down; it’s not a continuous effort."
Work on NW Galveston Ave., between Federal St. and Harmon Blvd., is supposed to address pedestrian and bicycle safety and manage storm water with the addition of medians, sidewalks and other improvements. For more on the project, visit the city of Bend's website. It's expected to cost around $3.9 million, although actual construction funds have not yet been allocated.
BEND, OR -- Yet another Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office employee has been fired following an internal investigation. Sheriff Shane Nelson says Corrections Sergeant Paul Navarro was placed on paid administrative leave in early May. His employment was terminated Wednesday based on an investigation that concluded Navarro’s conduct violated Sheriff’s Office policies.
Sheriff Nelson says more information will be released at a later date, once the "separation process" is complete.
BEND, OR -- According to a report released today by the Oregon Center for Public Policy, the income gap separating Oregon's very rich from ordinary Oregonians has never before been so wide.
Juan Carlos Ordonez of the OCPP says public policy needs to change in order to solve this issue. "It's definitely one of the biggest, if not the biggest, challenge that we face in Oregon and it's really high time the Oregon legislature stepped up to the plate and started confronting it. There's a lot that we can do here in Oregon to reduce and minimize the impact of income inequality and the vast majority of Oregonians would be better off."
But Ordonez has a solution ... a way, he believes, to invest in the policies that will lead to wage equality. "All of these investments need to be paid for, and the way to do that is we need to have progressive and adequate taxes. We need to look to high income Oregonians and corporations and raise revenue from them."
The OCPP says the best ways to erase income inequality and create opportunity lie in investing in education, affordable housing, and universal health care. "Everyone pretty much recognizes that education is the key to creating opportunity for people, but we here in Oregon have been disinvesting in our education system for a long time, so we need to invest in our people, create a top-notch educational system from pre-school all the way through college. We also need to make sure that everyone has health care, and we need to make housing affordable."
Ordonez explains where the OCPP got the numbers they used to gain these data points. "We took the most recent data provided by the Oregon Department of Revenue, and so we're looking at Oregon Tax data, and so what we're looking at is income inequality, the divide between the haves and have-nots, and what we're seeing here is that Oregon's wealthiest, the top one-tenth of one percent, they're income is at a record high, and meanwhile, the middle income Oregonian has basically made no progress over the past forty years."
The OCPP is calling on the Oregon legislature to create policy that will equalize opportunity for all Oregonians.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregon is finally at the end of a tough wildfire season. A handful of large wildfires scorched tens of thousands of acres of High Desert forestland, this summer. And, as the weather cools, fire managers plan to burn even more. "People want to talk about fire season, but the most important work we do is between fire seasons, and dealing with those hazardous fuels. That’s what we can control," Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, tells KBND News. "We can’t always control whether it’s a lightning start or a human caused fire. But, we can control getting those fuels treated."
She says prescribed burns can lower the risk of catastrophic wildfires, but they are tightly are regulated by state smoke mitigation rules, which are much stricter than federal regulations. "In the last several years, we’ve had 15 ‘smoke intrusions’ based on the Oregon Smoke Management rules. If we just followed the EPA rules, we would have only had two smoke intrusions." Smoke intrusions mean air quality is considered negatively impacted by burning operations. Some local lawmakers support loosening those restrictions to allow more prescribed burns in the spring and fall. Nelson Dean says, "Trying to burn under better conditions makes it less likely that we have the kind of smoke that we had this summer." Click HERE
to listen to our complete conversation with Jean Nelson Dean, or visit our Podcast Page
The Deschutes National Forest conducted its first prescribed burn of the season Tuesday, near Lake Billy Chinook. Three more are slated for Wednesday and Thursday north of La Pine: The first is a 173-acre unit just west of Wake Butte. A 75-acre unit and another 51 acres are scheduled for ignition Thursday near South Century Drive, west of Fall River Estates.
BEND, OR -- Multiple vehicles were involved in a wreck that tied up Highway 97, just north of Bend, for several hours during Tuesday's morning commute. The crash occurred at about 8:15 and involved two pickups and a semi.
According to Oregon State Police, the driver of a southbound semi truck failed to stop for traffic that had backed up due to congestion, near Cooley Road, causing a chain-reaction. The big rig hit a box truck, which then hit a Ford pickup; the Ford then hit a Toyota Tundra. The driver of the semi had to be cut out of the cab; he was taken to the hospital. No other injuries were reported.
The highway was completely closed for just over an hour. All lanes finally reopened just before 11 a.m.
REDMOND, OR -- In the past week, Redmond Police have been involved in several pursuits with vehicles allegedly trespassing on Central Oregon Irrigation District (COID) land on the eastern edge of the city.
Just before 1 a.m. Friday, an officer attempted to stop a car for trespassing on COID property, chasing it down a dirt road. After finding the vehicle abandoned and conducting a brief foot search, police arrested a 29-year-old transient. Chelsea Flettre faces Elude, Criminal Trespass and Probation Violation charges.
Less than 24 hours later, an officer discovered a stolen car dumped near NE 11th and Antler. While investigating that vehicle, an officer saw a pickup drive from COID property to BLM land. The officer tried to stop the truck for trespassing but it continued through BLM and county-owned land. Police set up a perimeter and about 20 minutes later a Subaru entered the search area, prompting another pursuit. The driver of the Subaru, later identified as 29-year-old Brian Duran, was found by Oregon State Police when he tried to exit the perimeter near Highway 126. Duran was arrested for Elude and Criminal Trespass, along with a Felony Warrant.
BEND, OR -- With so many people projected to move to Bend in the coming years, organizations, like Bend's 20/30, are helping to plan how to accommodate a steadily growing population.
Erin Foote Morgan, with the Move Bend Coalition, says there are standards in place for housing, but when it comes to infrastructure, she believes the public should be involved in the planning. "So, we have a moment, right now, in the future of Bend, to really shape our transportation systems in a way that we may not ever have again, and the reason for that is that every agency that works on transportation is updating a major plan and the goal of Move Bend is to engage as many different sectors of the Bend community as possible in all of these major planning processes."
Every transportation agency in Bend will be updating their plans in the next eighteen months and the Move Bend Coalition thinks area residents should have a say in how those plans are changing. Foote Morgan says, "We know from the UGB process how we're going to deal with housing for all of those new people, but now we need a transportation system that can support the plans we just made. And so, the Move Bend Coalition wants to make sure that all get to weigh in from their kind of viewpoint what's needed."
Foote Morgan recommends that everyone goes to MoveBend.org to learn more about upcoming public meetings where transportation agencies will be taking input on topics like sidewalks, bike transit, pedestrian crossings, highway projects, and new roads.
Foote Morgan says there are hundreds of millions of dollars in road and bike transit funds now available and she hopes the public will weigh in with their ideas. "We're inviting the public to join us for listening sessions which will begin in late October and run through December and the goal is for every sector of the community to have the chance to get on the table their values and priorities. That's the value of this project."
BEND, OR -- The death toll from Sunday night's shooting in Las Vegas is now at 59 ... but the full impacts are not yet known.
Bend-La Pine School Board Member, Andy High, was attending a show inside the Mandalay Bay at the time of the shooting. "I saw some people running in the hallways, and at the time, they shut the doors and I got back to my seat, and said 'something's going on,' and about 20 seconds later, they shut down the show and said 'we have an emergency and we need to shut down for the time being, so please wait,' and at the time, you don't really know, but when you have a thousand people, everyone pulls out their phones and you quickly figure out what's going on."
But, he says there was no way to know for sure what was happening right outside the doors. "I'm one of the fortunate ones, but there's 58 [sic] don't get to go home and they were coming to enjoy an event and one crazy guy decides to ruin it for everybody."
For High, it was a long nine hours, sitting in that auditorium ... but he was impressed with the eight police officers who handled the crowd and ensured they all made it through the ordeal safely. When the show was interrupted for what was described as only "an emergency," those police officers kept everyone in the auditorium calm. "You could tell when we were in full lock-down and it was intense that those eight guys were willing to do anything and everything to protect the thousand of us in the auditorium."
He says cell phones provided some information of what was going on, but when they were allowed to evacuate, High says he was unprepared for what was outside. "We walked down the street and you can't quite explain it, when you walk out and see the hotel right above you and you can see the blown out windows from the shooter and you can only be thankful and you can only feel sorrow for those phone calls that others have to make."
High says he can't begin to express his gratefulness to the first responders, and says his heart goes out to the loved ones of those who were killed.
PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Commissioner Brian Barney has launched his first election campaign; he announced last week he’s running to keep his seat in November 2018. "I’ve never really considered myself as a politician, so this is new territory for me. I’m hoping that it is a nice campaign and doesn’t get some ugliness that campaigns can generate. I’m not going to participate in that."
He was appointed to the position in February
, filling the seat vacated when Seth Crawford was elected County Judge. Barney is completing Crawford's term, which ends in December 2018. "I’m a native of Prineville; I’ve lived here my whole life. And, I enjoy the work; I enjoy people and I want to try and do well and help the county." He tells KBND News, "I’ve been in business for 35 years, doing what I do. I’ve served on a lot of organizations
and done quite a few things. I think I have a lot of business experience and I think that’s been useful."
Barney believes housing and employment are the biggest issues facing Crook County.
BEND, OR -- A 43-year-old Bend man was arrested early Tuesday morning for allegedly breaking into a church. Bend Police responded to Westside Church on NW Shevlin Park, just after 4 a.m. While enroute, they were notified that the alarm was "tripped" multiple times.
Investigators say Yajnesa Dharmarajah was found standing next to the church, wearing a ski mask and gloves, with a crowbar in his hand. He was arrested without incident. They also found Dharmarajah's Toyota Prius parked with the running, nearby.
After checking the church, police found several areas with damage consistent with someone trying to get into the building.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County officials are considering whether to support the nomination of the Central Oregon Canal for the National Register of Historic Places. The 3.5-mile stretch of canal between Ward and Gosney roads in southeast Bend is said to be significant due to its influence on the development of the region, more than a hundred years ago.
The County Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) discussed the nomination Monday night. The HLC did not make a recommendation on the nomination, deciding instead to spend more time reviewing the application and consider testimony. They're expected to submit comments to the State Historic Preservation Office by October 9. Martin says it’s all part of a process. "We also have a work session scheduled before the Board of County Commissioners (Wednesday) to brief them on the nomination and provide them with an update on the Landmarks Commission. But, also, as the elected officials, they are afforded similar opportunity to provide comments."
He says that input is important in the final stages. "What I’ve heard from the State Preservation office is they value public input and in particular local public input; because they have the local knowledge and understanding of the conditions, the history, etc. So, they really rely on, in part, the local entities to provide that local context." Martin tells KBND News, "The State Advisory Committee On Historic Preservation will review the nomination on October 20. Following that meeting, if they make a recommendation, there is a 90-day comment period held by the State Historic Preservation Office. Following that time period, the state’s recommendation is then forwarded to the National Parks Service. They will review it and ultimately provide a final decision within 45 calendar days." He says a final decision from the Parks Service could come in six months, or so.
BEND, OR -- St. Charles Bend will close parking lot “H,” starting Thursday, to allow for the next stage of construction on its new three-story patient tower. It means all north hospital entrances will be closed for the duration of construction, which is expected to be complete in the spring of 2019.
Designated MRI and rehab patient parking is now in lot “F.” Patients and visitors are asked to enter the Bend hospital through the main entrance. For a map of the closure, click HERE.
BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools enrollment rose by 341, this year, to a total of 18,375 students. In the past five years, the district’s enrollment has increased dramatically - up 1,775 students since 2012. It’s the fifth largest district in the state.
Superintendent Shay Mikalson says the growth brings opportunities and logistical challenges. "Thanks to the support of local voters, who overwhelmingly approved the construction bond last spring, we are in the planning stages to build a new elementary and new large high school in Bend to accommodate the influx of students," he said in a statement.
Experts at Portland State University's Center for Population Research estimate Bend-La Pine’s student population will reach 19,600 by the year 2021.
REDMOND, OR -- A southwest Redmond home was damaged by fire, Monday evening. A passerby notified residents their house was on fire at about 8:30 p.m.; they called 911 and tried put it out with a garden hose.
Firefighters arrived to find smoke and flames coming from the attic of the two-story house on Southwest 41st. Crews knocked down the fire after attacking it from both outside and inside the home. It caused about $50,000 in damage.
Redmond Fire believes it started when an ember from the chimney landed on the shake roof.
SISTERS, OR -- A prescribed burn is planned for Tuesday on the Sisters Ranger District, two miles west of Lake Billy Chinook. The 155-acre burn is expected to be completed in a day.
The goal is to help create a greater combination of grasses and shrubs under large trees, to improve deer winter range. Madras and Redmond areas may see smoke, but fire managers say impacts should be minimal.
BEND, OR -- Dr. Knute Buehler, who is running for Oregon Governor against incumbent Kate Brown, says Brown's tenure has been a series of missed opportunities, deference to special interests, and lack of transparency.
Buehler says this most recent session was a stark example of Brown's lack of leadership. "The last legislative session, I would really sum up as missed opportunities and misplaced priorities. People didn't want to make the hard decisions. So, it was disappointing to me that we didn't see the leadership from the Governor ... she wasn't around, she wasn't engaged ... and I think, just not acceptable. The people of Oregon deserve better than that."
According to Buehler, Oregon has record high revenue, and the funds could've been used to solve problems for residents who are living paycheck-to-paycheck, so he shared his goals for the office with KBND, emphasizing his desire to see Oregonians prosper. "My purpose is helping the people of Oregon. There's too many people who have fallen behind and have been left out, and I think it's important for our leaders to keep that in mind. That's who we really should be working for, those people who are struggling on a daily basis."
Buehler believes, with him in the Governor's office, an atmosphere can be created where people get back to achieving based on their own merits. "We used to have a much prouder history. I grew up here. Even a blue collar kid, if you worked hard and played by the rules, you would really show no limitation on what you can achieve, and we need to get back to those days in Oregon."
Dr. Knute Buehler calls Governor Kate Brown's leadership 'political theatre,' and says his run is a referendum on her performance. Provided they each earn their party's nomination, Buehler and Brown will face off on November 6, 2018.
According to Buehler, Governor Brown's time in office has been all 'chaos, corruption, and incompetence' as she shows a lack of leadership in fundamental areas like improving the budget, education reform, and solving problems with Portland's air quality and lead-tainted water.
Buehler says that what Oregon lacks is independent leadership and he says there's only one way the disenfranchised can make a difference in their situations. "It's our time to be the change we want in Oregon. I encourage them to join the Buehler team and try to put the State back on a better course, a course that we can all be proud of, and we can take care of those people who are feeling left out and left behind."
Buehler says Oregon is facing big problems and Governor Brown has shown no interest in making tough decisions. Buehler won his election to represent District 54 in the Oregon House in 2014.
BEND, OR -- Central Oregonians are asked to start reducing the amount of water used on lawns and other plants. "You know, the fact of the matter is that our landscapes just don’t need nearly the amount of water this time of year that they needed back in July or August," says Mike Buettner. He's Bend's Water Conservation Program Manager.
"We’ve come down from the smoky August that we had, we warmed up a little bit in early September, and now we’re on this cool down and we’ve actually been lucky enough to get a little bit of precipitation," says Buettner. However, he admits the rain we've gotten hasn't been enough to saturate roots. "Unless that precipitation is 1/8-1/4” at a time, it really doesn’t impact the landscape water requirements a whole lot." Buettner recommends property owners re-program irrigation timers, "If you were running a schedule for, say, 15 minutes in the middle of the summer, you should be running at least half that or less, this time of year because those nighttime temperatures just drop out. And, when that happens, boy, the plant-water requirements really, really start to decrease this time of year."
He also asks that property owners check sprinkler heads in advance of freezing weather, to make sure they aren't spraying onto walkways and roads. "It’s a big issue for pedestrians and cyclists, as we see more and more people taking alternative forms of transportation. That little bit of water that gets on the over spray, over the curb, on to the road, it matters that much more this time of year."
If plants and soil are healthy, Buettner says it's not too early to shut down irrigation systems, all together, and blow out sprinklers for the season.
REDMOND, OR -- More than a dozen kids from Elton Gregory Middle School in Redmond spent their Saturday painting murals on three electrical boxes along North Highway 97. The students designed transportation-themed murals under the guidance of Artist-In-Residence David Kinker, "To feel like a real part of the city." He tells KBND News, "They get to look back through this for years and years and see their own work in town; and that's very thrilling, as an artist myself and having lots of public works out."
Sixth Grader Cooper Garland agrees. "It just is going to put smiles on my face, other people's faces. And, I just like that it's going to be - for everybody to be able to see it." Ruby Caudell is also a sixth grader who took part in one of the three teams. For her, it's good practice. "I want to be an artist when I grow up so, I do as much art as possible and it's really fun." She says, "It's for the people, too, that live here and get to see what art's in the mind of sixth graders and other middle schoolers."
"A lot of these kids are really talented drawers," says Kinker, "But they might little things and they haven't learned to compose those in an environment. And then, taking that environment to a mural where people are going to see it, not from the distance of an artist, but the distance of a few car lengths, and going 60 mph is a whole different thing." He says the students also learn to take pride in their work and their community, "Great personal attachment to the city for the kids and beautifying the place and making it less sterile. So, this is a great way to add to our community and for the kids' experience, as well."
Caudell was pleased to be involved in improving the large grey boxes, "Seems like it was just left behind. It wasn't looked at very good, and with our art makes it so much better and alive; that's what I think."
Redmond's Committee for Art in Public Places partnered with Elton Gregory Middle School for the "Out Of The Box" art project. They hope to beautify more electrical boxes in the future.
Photos: Top - Artist David Kinker oversees the start of the mural at the corner of N. Hwy 97 and Maple Ave. in Redmond.
Upper Right - Finished electrical box mural at N. Hwy 97 and Oak Tree Lane.
BEND, OR -- Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says he will seek a second term. He was elected in 2014, handily beating incumbent Patrick Flaherty.
Hummel says crime dropped 8% under his tenure, even as the county’s population has grown.
The DA held his first campaign event Sunday, telling the audience he pledged to focus on programs to promote mental health and prevent drug abuse, while holding offenders accountable.
PAULINA, OR -- Southeast Paulina Highway was closed for several hours Friday night, after a pickup and trailer rolled, blocking most of the road.
The Crook County Sheriff’s Office believes fatigue caused the Troutdale man to hit a guardrail and fishtail, which led to the truck and trailer overturning while still attached. The family of six suffered only minor cuts and bruises.
After learning appropriate tow equipment wasn't available for the remote scene, local rancher Phil Hartzell used a piece of heavy equipment to right the truck and trailer and clear the highway.
LA PINE, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is searching for suspects in an unusual theft case.
Deputies responded to an alarm at the Washington Federal Bank branch in La Pine, early Sunday morning. They discovered the drive-through ATM had been heavily damaged, just before 1 a.m.; a forklift was found parked, with the engine still running, in a nearby alley. Investigators believe the forklift was stolen from Ace Hardware and used to dislodge the ATM. However, It remained intact and no money was taken.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 541-693-6911.