Local News Archives for 2017-12

RPD Arrest Wanted Domestic Violence Suspect

REDMOND, OR -- (12/29/17) Redmond Police are asking for the public's help in tracking down a domestic assault suspect. Officers responded to the Sleep Inn on NW 6th Street, Tuesday, for a reported domestic violence incident involving a knife. Ivan Blu Harmon walked away from the hotel with a knife wound to his neck prior to police arrival.


Investigators say Harmon attacked a woman, strangling her "severely" and pulling out large clumps of her hair. She pulled a pocket knife out of Harmon's pocket and used it to stop the attack. After he was cut, witnesses say he attempted to prevent the woman from leaving the hotel room. Police say the victim was found suffering from other injuries caused by Harmon over the past several months. 


Harmon has multiple outstanding warrants, as well as probable cause to arrest him for Tuesday's attack. Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Redmond PD at 541-504-3400, non emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911 or 911. 


UPDATE: (12/30/17) Redmond Police arrested Ivan Blu Harmon just before 10 p.m. Friday. Investigators say his capture was the result of citizen tips. RPD's Street Crimes Unit, Central Oregon CERT Team members and a K9 unit contacted and arrested Harmon near the Crook/Deschutes County line in the area of NE O'Neil Highway. They say the investigation is ongoing and no further information will be released. 



Top- Harmon from Facebook

Above- Previous mug shot (July 2017)

Left- Most recent booking photo (Dec. 30, 2017)






League of Women Voters Explains Measure 101

BEND, OR -- The League of Women Voters of Deschutes County is holding a forum on Thursday, January 4th, to help voters understand Measure 101.


Measure 101 concerns health care for low-income individuals and families and would place limits on health insurance premiums rate increases.
The forum is free to the public and will take place from 1 to 3pm at the Downtown Bend Library on the 4th.
There will be speakers available for both sides of the position and time for questions and answers from the audience.
Doors open at 1230pm.

Staying Safe During New Year's

BEND, OR -- This New Year's Eve, the Deschutes County Sheriff's office wants people to have fun celebrating, but not at the expense of personal safety.


Captain Paul Garrison says making smart choices is the best way to stay protected. "If you're going to celebrate the New Year, the ringing in of it, we'd obviously ask that you be responsible in the consumption of the alcohol. Have a plan, an alternative method to get home, and along the lines of drinking, when you're in groups, and you're drinking, obviously, you keep tabs on your drink, where it is."
Garrison says alcohol can be a big part of celebrating, but making good choices when it comes to consumption, can make your evening much more enjoyable. "Probably a good idea not to attend parties solely by yourself, have maybe a buddy system that you're with. Don't go off in strange areas with people you're not familiar with, be familiar with your surroundings as best you can in the event that you become uncomfortable."
Garrison also suggests calling 911 or the Deschutes County non-emergency number if you see someone driving erratically or behaving in an unsafe fashion.


Smith Rock Neighbors Continue B&B Opposition

TERREBONNE, OR -- The fight over a proposed Bed and Breakfast and campground near Smith Rock State Park continues. The Mazamas Foundation wants to develop a nearly two-acre rural property for up to 28 guests. The group is expected to give rebuttal at next week’s Deschutes County Commissioner meeting, after a number of neighbors testified against the proposal, two weeks ago.


Luis Elenes, with the Terrebonne Neighborhood Alliance, says there is broad opposition in the area because of the size of the proposed development on such a small lot. "The concern there is setting precedent for how the code is interpreted to allow waiving those setback requirements; because, if that happens, more development – more commercial development, more campground development – will come to this area. There are other issues and there are other concerns. But, it’s not just that this is potentially what some people perceive as a benign project on a small lot. It really is about precedence and how it can affect MUA-10 [Multi-Use Agricultural] rural land." He tells KBND News, "If you begin to waive those setback requirements, in this example, from 300’ to 40’, then you open the door to other people wanting to do the same thing on a much larger scale."


The Foundation has argued it has a long history of education and preservation efforts for climbers and hikers. Elenes, a climber himself, says there’s a much bigger picture to consider. "They may come with good intentions and they may be good stewards of the environment – that is to be debated separately. But, the biggest point is, when large changes occur in rural lands or in development, it doesn’t happen because a large giant corporation comes in and wants to build a 10-story hotel. It at first happens in what seems to be a very benign, reasonable manner; it does open the door for future development, assuming the same waivers can be granted." He believes the Mazamas are underestimating the long-term impact hopes County Commissioners will focus on the future, "We’ve seen what the long-term implications, for example, for the park have been and the park service underestimating usage. Now, I’m not talking about the park, I’m talking about MUA-10 lands and how those lands are affected."
Neighbors filed an appeal after the proposal received preliminary approval; click HERE to learn more about their effort. Deschutes County Commissioners are expected to continue discussing the proposal and the appeal at Wednesday's meeting, January third. Written public comment  will be accepted until that meeting. 

New App Connects Students With Critical Help

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools is taking a high-tech approach to helping students dealing with stressful situations or suicidal thoughts. Julianne Repman says the district pushed out “First Step” to all iPads issued to students in grades six through 12, just before winter break. "It’s about 11,000 students that received it, and it lives on their iPad. So, it was just a great opportunity for us to go where students are instead of asking students to come to us."


Repman tells KBND News the district has been working on the “First Step” app for months with a number of local agencies, "We have a great community partner in Bend Police Department, who saw the opportunity to take all these tools that were already available to students but put them in a package that’s really more palatable for youth. They can just click a button and literally they can be on the phone with someone talking about a break-up or a test or something that’s giving them great anxiety, or just reporting something that’s a concern to them." She says it's in response to needs in the community, "To have conversations about social-emotional well-being, specifically how to help prevent suicide and suicide ideation; helping to insure that people understand that it’s ok to have these conversations. In fact, we really want to open the door, and if someone has questions about suicide, we want to let them know they’re cared for and that they’ve been heard, and help them find assistance through a trusted adult or through one of the resources you’ll find here on this app."
Bend-La Pine Schools planned to roll the program out in January, but Repman says the timeline was accelerated after a Summit High student and another from Redmond committed suicide December 14. "We have partners in the community who were letting us know that with the holidays upon us and other issues taking place that they were seeing some spikes in folks that were looking for resources and some social-emotional support. So, we thought the timing was right to go ahead and do this now."
Students without a school-issued iPad, as well as the general public, can access First Step from any computer or mobile device through the website FirstStepOregon.org. To read more about the program, including an explination from the Superintendent, click HERE

Kidnapping Suspect Arrested After Area Search

BEND, OR -- A Bend-area woman is recovering from minor injuries after a Monday-night abduction. According to The Sheriff’s Office, 47-year-old Gregory Miller waited for the victim in her barn off Bull Springs Road, knowing she would check on her animals. When she came in at about 11 p.m., he allegedly tried to bind her hands and used a deadly weapon to hold her against her will.


She eventually escaped and the Deschutes County SWAT team descended on the large property. During the extensive search for Miller, deputies found his vehicle destroyed by fire and still smoldering. Members of the SWAT team, Deschutes County Deputies and K9 resources tracked Miller through the night, searching over nearly a mile of what's described as "difficult" terrain. 
He was later found near the home and taken to the hospital with a self-inflicted, non-life threatening injury. Investigators believe this was not a random act and say the suspect and victim knew each other. 
Miller faces a long list of charges and is being held on $375,000 bail. 

Two C.O. Cities Team Up for Affordable Housing

BEND and REDMOND, OR -- The City of Bend and the City of Redmond have jointly launched a survey to determine fair housing needs in each community.


Lynne McConnell, Affordable Housing Coordinator for the City of Bend, says this is the very beginning of the process to help these two cities learn how best to provide housing that's truly affordable. "A requirement of receiving some of our Federal funding is to put together a plan as to how we will spend that money over the next five years. This survey is the first step in that process, and we are looking to see what experiences folks in our region are having with finding housing and this will help us decide how to allocate funding going forward."
McConnell says when it comes to affordable housing, demand far outweighs supply. "Unfortunately, by the most recent data that the City of Bend has, we need approximately 16,000 additional units, just to meet the current demand, so we're a little bit behind. But, one of the questions we have is, is the type of housing that's being built meeting the needs?"
According to McConnell, the survey is the first step of a many-step process to determine how best to allocate Federal funds. "The next step in this process is, we will write individually, the City of Redmond and the City of Bend, a[n] assessment of fair housing and that will be presented to the public. Folks will have the opportunity to comment on it and let us know how they feel about the work that we've done and whether it really captured what they need and what they're looking for, and that we expect to have happen this summer, and then we'll go into a bigger dive on kind of next funding priorities, as well."
The online survey will be available until February 28th, at www.fairhousingsurvey2018.com.


Snowpack Percentage Down For This Time of Year

BEND, OR -- It's been a mild winter so far, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service says we're not getting enough snowpack to meet our water needs later in the year.


Snow Survey Supervisor for Oregon, Scott Oviatt, says we need the winter snow so we have adequate water in the spring and summer. "Statewide, we are at 55% of normal, as of today. And for the Upper Deschutes and Crooked basins, we are at 56% of normal, as of today."
Oviatt says the mountains got good storm activity early in the season, but that it's really slowed down. "The fact that we haven't been receiving the snowfall that we normally get, that's why our averages and normal values have gone down, and percentages."
Oviatt says it's still early enough in the year that no one should worry...there's plenty of winter left. "Right now, we are still early enough that we have adequate time in January, February, March that we could see some significant storm impacts and we may rebound and be in good shape for the upcoming water year. It's still too early to tell. Obviously, we'd like to be near that 100% value, or above, to ensure that we have adequate water supply in the summer, but we're still in the wait-and-see mode, at this point."
He says a healthy snowpack is important to ensuring there's enough water for irrigators and to maintain healthy streamflows in the spring and summer. "Snowpack, especially on the east side of the Cascades, is one of the driving forces for building up and sustaining our spring and summer streamflow volumes of water. And, those in turn, are used for municipal water supplies, irrigation for agriculture, and in-stream water rights for a multitude of uses."
Oviatt says it's early enough in the year yet that a rebound is possible, but area residents should be aware their water may be in shorter supply this summer.


Three Arrested After Prineville Police Chase

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 28-year-old man faces a list of charges, following a Wednesday night police chase through Prineville. Michael Shrauger is accused of Reckless Driving, Attempt to Elude, Felon in Possession of a Restricted Weapon and a Parole Violation, among others.


Police say officers tried to pull Shrauger over on Main Street, at about 10:30 p.m., when they discovered his license plates didn’t match the vehicle. He was driving a 2000 Saturn, but the displayed plates belonged to a 1993 Mercury Topaz.


Shrauger allegedly failed to stop and led police on a chase through the Northridge neighborhood, then south towards Prineville. He ran over police spike strips near Peters Road and Main, deflating both driver side tires. The suspect continued through town to Lynn Blvd, then to Combs Flat and on to Lincoln Road. He eventually drove through a fence and was arrested when he allegedly tried to leave the Lincoln Road crash scene.


Two others in his car were also taken into custody (below). Police arrested 21-year-old Benhamin Ehmer for a Parole Violation and 64-year-old Gloria Peters for meth possession. 


Goodwill Sees Record Donation Levels

BEND, OR -- Goodwill donation centers across the region are busy, this week; the Bend store alone expects to take in nearly 179,000 pounds of donations from around 3,000 people during the last two weeks of 2017. "Our donors this year, again, are breaking the worldwide record of what we believe will be 250 million pounds just for our area," says Dale Emanuel, with Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette. She says the Bend and Redmond donation sites have seen about a 5% increase in donations, this year. 


While the tax reform bill means this could be the last year many take advantage of the charitable giving tax deduction, Emanuel doesn’t believe it will have an impact on next year’s numbers. She says the top reason donors give items to Goodwill is convenience, "Our number one donor is a woman; she’s very busy and doing a lot of things at once. The second reason that we’re told donations happen in this part of the country – to us, specifically – is because we love to recycle. And the third reason is that something good will happen with the something we give." She tells KBND News the tax benefit is lower on the priority list for most Goodwill donors. "It’s only the last two months of the year that we see about seven out of 10 people ask for the tax receipt. But, the rest of the year – that’s a good 10 months – it’s only three out of 10."
If you do plan to itemize your deductions, Emanuel suggests taking photos of donated items before you drop them off, and visit the store to determine their "real market" value. "That might help you, as you go to your accountant and you itemize those things to give. This truly might be the last year that a lot of folks itemize and a lot of folks ask for that tax receipt."


And, for those wanting to give large items, she suggests calling the donation site ahead of time, "Call and say, ‘do you have room for XYZ?’ If you have a truckload of furniture, we don’t want to say no to you; so, sometimes we have to tell you ‘wait'." They can’t accept mattresses, infant supplies like high chairs and cribs, or large appliances. Click HERE for a full list of prohibited items.

Slower Job Growth Could Continue Into 2018

BEND, OR -- Following several years of record expansion, job growth in Deschutes County has finally slowed in the last few months. And Regional Economist Damon Runberg expects the slow-down to continue into 2018, "Our year-over-year job growth is sitting at like 2.8%, which, for a normal economy, sounds like really fast job growth. But, we’re not a normal economy and we’re used to this six or 7%, so it sounds really slow to us. But, to put that into context, it’s been over five years since we’ve seen a rate of growth this slow in our job base in Deschutes County. So, it’s quite a bit slower than we’re used to, but I think this might be a level that’s kind of sustainable going forward." But, he says it more closely matches what's happening at the state and national level.


Runberg says the positive prediction is backed up by a recent survey of online employment ads, which he calls a good indicator of what's to come, "These help wanted ads are showing a continued decline in demand for labor, going forward. That almost always translates for us into fewer jobs. We’re at 2.8% growth right now; I think we’ll drop down to two or 1.5% going forward, for 2018. And, that’s not a bad thing. Really, what’s happening is it’s kind of matching our growth in our labor supply." He adds, "So as people move here and our labor force grows, we’re getting employment numbers that sort of expand at the same rate as our labor supply, so that labor kind of – we’re at this equilibrium there and that might kind of elude to a full employment analogy." In November, Deschutes County saw a jobless rate of just 4.1-percent


To hear our full conversation with Regional Economist Damon Runberg, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE

Desch. Co. DA Takes Over Sunriver PD Investigation

SUNRIVER, OR -- Deschutes County's District Attorney says the investigation into Sunriver Police Chief Marc Mills is now with his office. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s investigators have forwarded their work to D.A. John Hummel and he says he expects to complete his review of their findings and make a decision on possible criminal charges, next week.


Mills was placed on paid leave in early December; however officials have not released details as to the nature of the allegations against him. He was hired as Chief in 2012, following several decades with the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office. 


Bend Police Capt. Cory Darling is currently serving as interim Police Chief for Sunriver. 

Body Found Near Bend Car Crash Identified

BEND, OR -- Police investigating a Bend car crash Wednesday evening discovered a body in a natural depression near the crash site. The two cases appear unrelated. 


Emergency crews first responded to the Parkway near Hawthorne at about 6:15 p.m., after a driver suffering from a medical issue crashed into the railroad tracks. There were no injuries reported in that incident, although northbound traffic on the parkway was impacted. 
While on-scene, officers found a deceased man just south of the crash site, between the Parkway and the railroad. They've identified him as 24-year-old Robert McKinney, who des not have a permanent address in Bend. Police say McKinney’s death does not appear to be the result of a crime and the investigation is ongoing.  
Bend Police asks that anyone with information on McKinney's whereabouts since December ninth call non-emergency dispatch at 541-693-6911, and ask to speak with Officer Eric Russell. 

Awbrey Butte Home Destroyed In Fire

BEND, OR -- Bend crews spent several hours on-scene of a devastating house fire on Awbrey Butte, Wednesday morning. Firefighters were dispatched to NW Bungalow Drive just before 4 a.m. When they arrived, crews found the home fully involved, with flames spreading to nearby trees and a neighboring home. 


Officials are providing very preliminary information, saying the family of four and three house guests were woken by smoke alarms and safely evacuated as the fire spread quickly. The house appears to be a total loss and two dogs were lost in the fire. No other injuries reported.
A nearby accessory dwelling unit - or granny flat - and a neighboring home suffered minor damage. Bend Police expect a "long term closure" of NW Bungalow Dr. Constellation was closed for a time, but reopened at about 6:45 a.m.
UPDATE: Bend Fire investigators say the damage to an Awbrey Butte home was so extensive, they could not determine the specific cause of the blaze. The family of four and three house guests were alerted by smoke detectors at about 3:45 a.m. They all got out safely, but two dogs were killed. The 3,000 square foot house on Bungalow Drive is a total loss; A nearby ADU and neighboring home also suffered minor damage. Fire officials say the fire started outside and extended to the interior. Improper disposal of smoking materials and extension cord failure could not be ruled out as possible causes.

Local Jobless Rates Hold Relatively Steady

BEND, OR -- All three Central Oregon counties saw job losses in November, but because they were fewer than typical for this time of year, unemployment rates held relatively steady. 


In Crook County, The unemployment rate dropped from 6.5 to 6.3%, last month. Private sector growth was much stronger due to gains in professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality.
Jefferson county lost 50 leisure and hospitality jobs in November but added 40 in manufacturing; its jobless rate fell from 5.6 to 5.4%.
And, In Deschutes County, the unemployment rate has stayed relatively steady for the last five months at 4.1%.

Christmas Crash Claims Life of Driver, Daughter

GOVERNMENT CAMP, OR -- A Lake Oswego woman and her daughter were killed in a crash that shut down Highway 26 over Mt. Hood for several hours Christmas day. According to State Police, 48-year-old Deirdre Mackey was eastbound near the Highway 35 junction when her car lost traction, just before 3:30 Monday afternoon. Her car was struck by a westbound vehicle driven by a Portland man. He and his passenger were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Mackey and her 12-year-old daughter were pronounced dead at the scene. 


Driving too fast for the conditions is thought to have been a factor in the crash. Highway 26 was closed or limited to one lane for just over 10 hours, to accommodate the crash investigation. 

CET Route Changes May Affect Students

BEND, OR -- Students who live outside their school's boundaries can catch CET busses to school, but now Cascades East Transit is changing its routes.


Michelle Rhoads, Transportation Manager with Cascades East Transit, says schools and students shouldn't worry, though, as there will be a seamless transition of services.
Rhoads tells KBND News that CET worked with riders ahead of time to make sure the proposed changes would work for all involved. "Goals of the changes were to create route efficiencies, including improving on-time performance, eliminating redundancies, improving customer service, and providing better predictability and dependability for the riders throughout the system."
Rhoads says CET is planning a Master Plan Update this Spring and she is hoping for public input so they can continue making the transport system as easy and convenient to use as possible and that these new routes come at the culmination of a months'-long campaign. "Any and all of the changes have been made in cooperation and in consultation with the major groups of people we can actually reach, and we did an extensive outreach program in November, with riders and stakeholder groups, we sent information out via English and Spanish, and posted information on busses to help articulate what the proposed changes were."
Changes will begin January second, and can be found on the CET website.


The Oregon Legislature's Changing Face

BEND, OR -- Several seats have been vacated this year in the Oregon legislature, with new Senators and Representatives appointed to fill them, all who will eventually face election by vote.

District 54 Representative Knute Buehler says there's been more turnover than usual. "It's going to be an interesting transition in the short legislative session, where we have people who've moved out of the legislature, either to take other jobs, or moved, for example from the House to the Senate with Senator Ferrioli's position open, we expect that Representative Cliff Bentz will fill that role. So a lot of switching of chairs."
Buehler says it's a good practice to have turnover in the legislature, as it leads to new, and better, ideas.
These newly minted lawmakers are finishing out terms, and then they must be elected in order to keep their positions and Buehler says there's real benefit to legislative turnover. "In one way, it's good. It's good to refresh the legislature, get new members with new ideas, and I have to admit that the people I've met, the ones who are filling these positions, are very impressive people, so we're doing a good job in terms of getting high quality people to come into the legislature. And people who are motivated are going to work hard on a lot of important issues facing Oregon."
Buehler is vacating his District 54 seat at the end of his term because he is running for Governor against incumbent, Kate Brown.


Man Suspected of Breaking Into Parents' Home

BEND, OR -- Theodore James Giannioses is suspected of breaking a window in his parents' home and entering without permission.


During the call to 911 dispatch, the resident was forced to retreat to a room inside the home because he believed the suspect was carrying a firearm, which later turned out to be inaccurate.
Giannioses' vehicle was located, and based on the severity of the crime, officers initiated a high risk stop.
Giannioses resisted arrest and injured a Bend Police Sergeant, but was subdued and taken into custody.
He was transported to St. Charles Medical Center for treatment for non-life threatening injuries he sustained during the alleged burglary.
Giannioses will be housed at the Deschutes Adult Jail, held on a misdemeanor Probation Violation Arrest Warrant, Burglary I, four counts of Criminal Mischief II, Assault on a Public Safety Officer, DUIi, and Driving While Suspended.

School Bus Hit in Redmond, Injures One

REDMOND, OR -- A motor vehicle accident involving a school bus occurred yesterday, sending one child to the hospital for minor injuries.


63-year-old Clarence Rosebrook of Bend struck the right rear corner of the bus at the intersection of SW Canal Blvd. and NW McVey Ave. in Redmond.
Evidence at the scene indicated Rosebrook attempted to avoid a collision with the bus, but his vehicle sustained heavy front end damage, leaving him pinned inside for 15 minutes.
There were two adults and three students on the bus at the time of the collision, and one of the students was transported by ground ambulance to St. Charles Medical Center.
Neither intoxication nor distracted driving is believed to have contributed to the accident.
Rosebrook was cited for following too closely. 

Heroin Arrest Made At Retirement Home

BEND, OR -- 30-year-old Patricia Trapman was arrested for selling heroin out of the apartment she shared with her mother-in-law at the Pilot Butte Retirement Center.


Working on a tip, Detectives with the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Street Crimes Unit began their investigation, eventually identifying Trapman and obtaining a search warrant for her rooms.
Evidence at the scene included syringes, digital scales, and a small amount of heroin, and Trapman was taken into custody.
She is housed at the Deschutes County Adult Jail and has been charged with Delivery of a Controlled Substance, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and a Parole Violation Warrant. 

Noyes Tapped to Finish Out Seeley's Term

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Dean Noyes, who served two terms on the Prineville City Council starting in 2006, has been called out of his return to the private sector to finish Jack Seeley's term which ends in 2018.


Noyes believes that Prineville is a strong city, and his job on the City Council is to help improve the economy. "I'm strongly passionate about the financial condition of the city of Prineville and I'm very proud of the accomplishments the Council has made over the past, well specifically, the decade, strengthening its overall position. So, my goal, my focus, is going to be really addressing the continuation of that program with city management, and also career development within the city."
Noyes says bringing in the data centers made the biggest difference to Prineville's economy, but that there are several larger businesses in the area that contribute immensely to the job market and overall fiscal stability. 
He says the city's economy is his main focus, and he wants to let the people of Prineville know they're fiscally stable. "We're all consciously looking at a way to communicate the position of the city in terms of our total asset base compared to our per capita debt, and that's a real good indication as to how strong the city is, and it's something that the citizens of Prineville will be able to see and have tangible awareness of how well the city is being managed and what a great contribution all of our businesses in town have been and I think it's with a lot of pride that we can address some of those issues and communicate it to our constiuents."
Noyes wants to focus on career development within the city, continued investment in public works, and keeping the city's infrastructure as whole as possible. 


New Driver Class Aims To Save Bicyclists' Lives

BEND, OR -- Commute Options hopes to address the high number of preventable traffic crashes involving bicycles, with a one-year pilot program. "New in 2018, we have a partnership in ODOT – you know, they fund most of our safety programs. And, we’re going to be offering a ‘Friendly Driver’ education program to fleet drivers," says Kim Curley, with Commute Options. "So, say the beer delivery trucks or even the produce truck. Preventing fatalities and serious injury crashes is one of our main concerns."


According to Oregon Department of Transportation statistics, a third of Bend’s fatal crashes involve a person biking or walking across a busy street. The primary mistake drivers make is inattention, then turning directly into the path of a bike; while some bicyclists put themselves in danger by riding at night without proper lighting, and going against traffic. Curley tells KBND News, "This new grant is going to help us out with reaching drivers about being a friendly driver to those other modes – those other users. This is not to point the finger at anybody, but ODOT did do some data collection and Deschutes County does have a rather high number of these incidents." She adds, "About half the time, the crashes are the fault or to blame [of] the driver; and the other half the time, the bike. So, getting everybody up to speed and looking for each other is our goal."


Bend Bicyclist Killed In Collision With Delivery Truck

The $30,000 ODOT grant will pay for one year of the “Friendly Driver” program, although Curley hopes will result in lives saved. Scheduling for the class will begin in January. 

City Manager Outlines Bend Charter Decision

BEND, OR -- Changes to Bend’s charter could appear on the May ballot, but exactly how those measures will look is still up in the air. One revision we know go to voters: creating a partial ward system where four of six City Councilors would be elected based on where they live. City Manager Eric King says the Council failed to agree, this week, on how that would work. "I think ultimately there were very different views about wards. I think, general openness to exploring the issue. But, in terms of ‘do we have elections city-wide?’ So, somebody lives in the ward but everybody gets to vote? Or, is it just those in that ward that gets to vote for the Council. I think that seemed to divide Council. And so, because there just wasn’t agreement, those things just canceled each other out. And, ultimately it was a 7-0 vote not to proceed with the ward system."


King says staff are now working on ballot measure options for a directly elected Mayor and removing the mention of Council and Mayoral pay from the charter. He tells KBND News, "What needs to be really clear is that Council cannot vote in their own pay raise. So, if it does come out of the charter and voters do say yes to that, and Council then enacts an ordinance that sets that pay that’s from a recommendation from this independent citizen group, the adjustment wouldn’t take effect until the next election cycle." He adds, "We’ll be putting a resolution in front of them on January 17th; we’ll see where it goes there. February is about the deadline to get something on the ballot for May. So, more to come over the next couple of months, but we’re narrowing in on what the ask will be of the voters in May."


Also to appear on the May ballot for Bend residents and those inside the rural fire protection district, an extension of the current operating levy for Bend Fire. "The city of Bend provides all the fire and EMS services. It’s really a unique relationship that we have with this rural district so that the vote would take place both inside the city, as well as in the district; it’s that same rate," says King. The rural district's board had previously approved sending the property tax levy to its voters. If passed, the current rate of 20-cents per $1,000 of assessed property value would continue another five years.


To hear our full conversation with City Manager Eric King, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE

The Train Man is Back at the Library for His 18th Run

BEND, OR -- The 'Train Man' is back at the Deschutes County Library in Downtown Bend, bringing with him 15 engines, 100 freight cars, 30 passenger cars, and 5 tracks...


Former Kindergarten teacher Michael Lavrich says it all started when Bend's Old Stone Depot got moved down into the Old Mill District. He says paperwork was found in the Depot's cornerstone so he took trains from the same era to match the paperwork for a display, which eventually, ended up as an event at the library. "The first year or two, I think we just scooted a couple tables together, and just had a day or two we ran, maybe a couple hours in the afternoon, but the idea caught on and its slowly expanded ever since."
His layout is 16 x 30 feet, with a huge outer curve. "These trains, actually, in the course of this show, will run an equivalent distance of here to Redmond and back, because of the number of hours they're running and in the end, they end up running 30 or 40 miles before this is over."
For Lavrich, this Library event is a chance to share his love of trains with a new generation. "I grew up around trains, and when I was a kid, every store window around Christmas had a big train display. And it's just part of the magic of Christmas. I had this collection of trains and when my kids were young, they used to dance around them when I was running them at home during Christmas. My own kids are grown up now, and so it's just great to share this with other kids."
For the last few years, over 2,000 people have gone to the Library at Christmas time to see Lavrich's train layout.
All the toy trains on display are from Lavrich's personal collection, and some are over 100 years old.
A lifelong train enthusiast, Lavrich says trains and kids are an excellent combination. "I actually was a kindergarten teacher for many years and so I do very much enjoy children, and at this point, it's more about the kids than it is about the trains for me. I just really enjoy them coming out and their eyes lighting up from watching the trains go round."
To find out when the trains are running between now and December 28th, check the Library website.


Sisters Parks and Rec Considering Tax Levy

SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters Parks and Recreation District is hoping to submit for a .15 raise on next May's ballot.


When the Sisters District was founded 20 years ago, funding came from a .22/$,1000 of assessed value tax rate, but that's no longer paying the bills.   
Liam Hughes, District Director, says they're just at the very beginning stages of the proposed tax levy process. "There will be a lot more information coming, but the Board is looking at going out on the May ballot, for a local option, a 5-year local option levy, of about .15/$1,000 of assessed value."
Hughes says an independent company was hired to learn from area residents what they'd hope to see funded, if a tax levy were to pass. "The community really felt strongly about supporting our after school program, also providing additional programming in the summer and when kids are out of school, and then programming for Senior citizens and adults, and then also maintaining the assets we currently have here."
The proposed tax levy would be put before voters in May of 2018 and would last for 5 years before it would need to be renewed.


Reward Increases In Swan Shooting Case

SUNRIVER, OR -- The Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory is increasing the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for last month's illegal shooting of a well-known trumpeter swan. The reward is now at $2,500. "Chuck" was killed November 23, 2017


The Trumpeter Swan Society has offered an additional $500 for the reward. The Minnesota-based organization works to assure the vitality and welfare of wild trumpeter swans. And, the Oregon Hunters Association's Bend Chapter has also added $500. The group's mission is to protect the state's wildlife, habitat and hunting heritage.


Anyone with information in the case is urged to call Sunriver Police at 541-593-1014. 

Local Nonprofit Worries About Tax Bill Impacts

BEND, OR -- President Donald Trump is praising passage of the Republican tax reform bill, while charities worry how it will impact their bottom lines. The National Council of Nonprofits estimates private giving could decrease up to 5% because the bill doubles the standard deduction and takes away the need to itemize returns. 


Janet Huerta is the Executive Director of Bend-based Saving Grace, which helps victims of domestic abuse and assault. She's concerned it could effect both private and corporate donations. "The problem, of course, is that the tax break for giving just isn’t there. A lot of times, business giving – there’s a philanthropic motive, but there’s also a business motive because you know you’re going to get a break on the taxes. And so, if you take that tax break away, part of the motivation for giving goes away."


Huerta tells KBND News the tax savings for top earners are not likely to benefit her local organization. "Lots of studies have shown that the people who are actually most charitable are the people who are lower income folks; in terms of a real percentage of income, they actually give more. The ultra-ultra rich give very little, in proportion. Will businesses increase giving? I don’t know; that’s hard to say. That would be a good thing if that were to happen." She says she’s worked for years to diversify how Saving Grace brings in funds, however federal grants have decreased in the past 12 months, further eroding revenue sources and increasing reliance on foundations and other local donors.  
About a third of Saving Grace’s $1.8 million annual budget is private donations. Huerta is taking a wait and see approach as she develops her 2018 budget. "Normally, I try to increase the amount I have budgeted for individual gifts, year over year; just a little bit, you know. But, [I’m] not doing that next year, not really counting on that and just sort of seeing how that goes."
Some financial experts suggest making a donation before January first, to insure the tax deduction. 

One Arrested, One Hurt In Sisters DUI Crash

SISTERS, OR -- A newspaper delivery-woman was injured in a head-on collision early Wednesday morning in Sisters. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, 25-year-old Breanna McClung was stopped in the shoulder of S. Locust dispensing papers, just after 5 a.m. Investigators say a California man was speeding southbound on Locust when he plowed into McClung's SUV with enough force to push it backwards more than 30-feet on the snow-covered road.


McClung was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Deputies arrested 55-year-old Timothy Yett for Driving Under the Influence, Reckless Driving and Assault. 

Icy Crash Shuts Down Hwy 97 Near La Pine

LA PINE, OR -- Three people were hurt in a crash that shut down Highway 97 for about an hour, near La Pine, just before noon Wednesday.


Authorities say a Ford Ranger pickup and a Toyota SUV slid off the  highway north of State Rec Road; the pickup rolled down an embankment, pinning one person. Firefighters pulled out and stabilized the patient before they were flown to St. Charles Bend. A second person was taken by ambulance, and a third suffered minor injuries.


It was one of several accidents in South County, where several inches of snow blanketed roadways.

Bend Councilors Advance Parts Of Charter Reform

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors rejected a proposal to change to a partial ward system for electing Councilors, but two other recommendations from the Charter Review Committee could soon go to voters. More than a dozen citizens testified at Wednesday's meeting, most opposed to choosing Councilors based on where they live.


The Council did agree to continue talking about a directly elected Mayor and removing Councilor and Mayor pay from the charter. They’ll discuss those issues again January 17.


At the same meeting, Council approved a request by Bend Fire to refer a resolution to the May ballot, to renew a five-year operating levy. The Measure, if approved, would continue the current tax rate of  20-cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

BitCoin: The Currency of the Future?

BEND, OR -- BitCoin became available in 2009, but only recently has the average person been able to use it to buy anything. 


Amazon and Overstock have BitCoin payment capabilities as of last week, and consumers can use their BitCoin at brick and mortar stores like Home Depot, CVS, K-mart, and Sears.
A local IT Consultant says that most people don't know what BitCoin is, nor how it works. "BitCoin is a digital, non-centralized currency. It is a classification of cryptocurrency which is digitally created, traded, and verified through the Internet."
He says BitCoin is money, designed for the Internet age...it exists, in digital form, and is actually, fairly user friendly. "BitCoin can be acquired a number of ways, however, the most common method is via an exchange service. In the US, one of the most popular services is via CoinBase.com."
CoinBase likens BitCoin to Email...Email made communication fast and inexpensive, and BitCoin is an improvement on how people use money to pay for things, and he says it's attractive because while bank accounts can be hacked and credit card numbers stolen, BitCoin is secure, in part, because it's digital, instead of digitized, and works essentially the same way as most other forms of payment. "BitCoin futures are just like other future financial products, an agreement is reached to buy or sell BitCoin at a specific date and price. These markets have just become publicly available."
He adds, unlike most money, there's not an endless supply of it. "BitCoin has value because there are a finite number of BitCoins currently available and that will be released in the future. Unlike fiat currencies, they can't simply be created arbitrarily."
According to him, it's safe and reliable ... perhaps even more so than paper money. "Most people couldn't articulate how the Fed's monetary policy affects nearly every decision we make. By contrast, BitCoin's origin in 2009 was, and remains, open-source. Anyone can look at the integrity of the system's code to review it, should they be willing to invest the time to do so. This ensures there's no malicious intent in the code's operation. Can you say the same of the Fed?"
Top financial institutions in the BitCoin market are lending the digital currency its growing mainstream acceptance, but government officials and some economists are warning people against investing in it before it's 'proved.'


Local Firefighters Headed Home From So Cal

SALEM, OR -- Members of the state's strike teams that have been helping battle the California wildfires will be home in time for Christmas, including local crews. "All 15 state Fire Marshal strike teams that have been assisting with the fires in California have begun the demobilization process," says Rich Hoover, with the Fire Marshal's Office. They were deployed earlier this month, "75 apparatuses that we have down there, with about approximately 300 people."


They've assisted on several fires. But, in the last week, they helped get 50% containment on the massive Thomas Fire. Hoover says, "There’s been a number of other states that have supplied firefighter resources in addition to Oregon, so we’re in a pretty confident position that they no longer need our services."


Most of the Oregon firefighters should be home Wednesday. 

Wind Storm Downs Trees, Power Lines

BEND, OR -- Bend Fire responded to 17 calls in just over two hours, Tuesday, during a wind storm that blew through the area from late morning through early afternoon. Officials say there were at least eight calls for down power lines, many of them in the same area. A large stretch along Northeast Third Street lost power until lines could be repaired.


A wind-driven field fire swept across eight acres; it was spread by embers from a previous debris burn and didn't cause any damage. Several cars were destroyed when trees came down. No major injuries were reported. 


Bend Fire reminds drivers to avoid areas where power lines are down. It can be hazardous and distract workers trying to make repairs. If you see barricades blocking a street, they ask you to find another route. 



Photos: (top) near Parrell Road and Reed Lane

(above) NE 4th Street and Norton

Walden Praises GOP Passage Of Tax Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Oregon Congressman Greg Walden says the tax cut bill will help Oregonians making under $50,000 a year save $1,300 in taxes, and that'll continue for eight years. "It adds up to about $10,400 in real federal tax breaks over the next eight years for that family in eastern Oregon," he told reporters in a Tuesday call. Democrats have been critical of the bill because, while the personal income tax cuts expire after eight years, cuts for corporations are permanent. 


Walden also says the bill will make it easier for Americans to file their taxes. "By nearly doubling the standard deduction, even fewer Oregonians will have to hire an accountant to search the 73,954 pages of the tax codes to scour around to see if they qualify for any of the loopholes and deductions." He says he was able to include a provision that allows you to deduct up to $10,000 in property and state income taxes. However, that means many Oregonians will not be allowed to deduct all of their state income taxes like they've done in the past. 

The bill must be voted on a second time by the House, because three aspects violated Senate rules. That vote is expected Wednesday. 

Bend Councilors Ask For More Charter Feedback

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are asking for more public feedback and suggestions on proposed changes to the city’s Charter, before they decide what send to voters in May. Councilor Bruce Abernethy was involved with the Charter Review Committee and supports recommendations to change how Councilors and the Mayor are elected. "The committee did a fabulous job of doing research and learning what other cities have done. But, this is really an opportunity to sort of do a reality check of, 'what do the citizens of Bend think?' I’m even hoping for some ideas of, even beyond the ward system or beyond a directly elected mayor, there may be some ideas we can implement that don’t necessarily have a cost - of increasing diversity, improving representation and helping people feel more engaged and more represented."


The public feedback session begins at 5 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall. "Now, it’s time for people who have actually been in the position, actually gone through, campaigned," says Abernethy, "And then also hearing from the citizens – what do they want? Because, this is sort of a test run, as it were, if it were put on the ballot in May, what the voters would say."
He tells KBND News he's hopeful Councilors will decide at the meeting whether to send the revisions to voters in May, "I think it’s likely that a decision will be made. It also may be fairly obvious what the decision is." He'd like to see a clear consensus. "I’m supportive of it, but this is something that’s put before the voters. It’s up to the voters to decide whether they think this, in fact, is an improvement over the system we have right now."
They’re up against the clock, to get it on the May ballot. "There is a timeline, as far as the number of weeks before the actual ballot gets named; it needs to go through a number of processes. So, this is not something that can be dragged out very much longer. And, quite frankly, I think the charter review committee has done its job, they have given the Council a recommendation, and I think we do have to make a decision yay or nay."


AAA Predicts Record Number of Holiday Travelers

BEND, OR -- 1.3 million Oregonians are projected to travel this holiday ... 91% of them by car.


Marie Dodds of AAA says this much of a spike in the travel numbers was unexpected. "We were a bit blown away by these numbers, they just came out, our study is 'hot off the presses,' as it were, and we are really surprised to see such a high travel volume."
Dodds says with so many people on the roads, it could be slow going. "Pack your patience, expect lots of company, and give yourself extra time to get to your destination safely."
According to Dodds, the AAA holiday travel study shows that the busiest traffic times will be from tomorrow between 3 and 6 pm and Thursday between 3 and 7 pm.
Everybody and their dog is going to be on the move this Christmas, and AAA's Marie Dodds says, if you're planning to be on the road this season, be prepared to have plenty of company. "Holiday travel is going to be the busiest we've ever, ever seen. We're looking at a record volume. Get this, 107 million Americans, more than 1.3 million Oregonians, so roughly 1/3 of the population will be traveling somewhere for Christmas and/or New Year's."
Dodds says the main reason more people are traveling this year, even with the higher gas prices, is due to an increased confidence in the growing economy. She also says, if you're one of the 1.3 million Oregonians planning a drive in the next few days, be prepared for delays. "And, especially for folks that are driving those afternoon hours between about 3 and 6 on Wednesday and 3 and 7 on Thursday, those are going to be the extra busy times on highways and freeways."
Top Destinations for Triple a Oregon ... Anaheim, Vegas, and Honolulu.


Christmas Shoppers Spending More Money This Year

BEND, OR -- People are doing more shopping this Christmas, and it's making the season a promising one for local retailers.


Matt Perry of Savory Spice Shop, says this has been a good season for him so far, one of the best in the seven years he's been in business. "So far it's been good, we've had great weather so far this year, compared to last year, which is very helpful, and so it's been a strong year, definitely compared to years past."
Perry says the shop's online sales have risen this year, as well, but he's calling this a productive year because his brick and mortar store in the Old Mill District has been busy from open to close. "We're having fun and pushing through the last and exciting weeks, so it's been a Merry Christmas so far."
The Wall Street Journal says retail sales are up for both online and brick and mortar markets as people's confidence in the improving economy continues to grow.
November retail sales are up .8%, according to a Wall Street Journal article, and only expected to keep climbing as people experience income gains, confidence in the economic outlook, and positive financial markets.
Perry believes this could be one of his most lucrative seasons. "A lot of schools start their vacations this weekend, for the whole Northwest, so probably a lot of tourists will be coming to town, so I have a good sense that this will continue. Our Black Friday was one of our better ones and so, I'm just going to hope that that continues into Super Saturday, as they call it, the Saturday before Christmas."
Perry says this is one of the first years he has seen both online and in-store sales numbers rising and he's hopeful that means the economic improvements will continue.


Highway 22 Could Reopen This Week

IDANHA, OR -- Highway 22 through the Cascades will be closed much of this week because of Friday night's deadly fuel tanker crash and explosion. The truck was carrying 11,600 gallons of gasoline when it slid on the icy highway east of Detroit and rolled. The crash caused a massive fire and killed the driver, 58-year-old Ron Scurlock of Bend. 


Lou Torres, with Oregon's Department of Transportation says, "Not only did the intense fire but the spilling of the fuel really damaged a lot of the asphalt – about a 300’ section of the roadway." He says there's a lot of work to do before traffic can return, "So, we really have to go in there and do some excavation, and then we're going to have to rebuild part of the road, for sure, and then repave it." He says ODOT hired a contractor that began work Sunday, "Our goal is to try and get the road open hopefully sometime this week."


Fuel also spilled into the North Santiam River. Early testing of drinking water intakes downstream did not show the presence of gasoline; more details analysis is expected Tuesday. 






Smith Rock B & B Proposal Faces Opposition

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners took public testimony Monday on a proposed bed & breakfast and campground near Smith Rock State Park. The Mazama Foundation wants to develop the site for up to 28 guests in 10 tent sites and three guest rooms. Neighbors worry it would bring more noise and traffic to an already crowded and popular landmark. 


Lee Davis, Executive Director of The Mazamas, testified about his group's long history of education and preservation of Oregon’s outdoor beauty, "We operate the largest organized climbing and hiking programs in all of Oregon, including two annual climbing classes and stewardship events at Smith Rock State Park and the surrounding area. We donate resources annually to Smith Rock State Park and help maintain and improve the trails. We also provide trained volunteers each year to help with park maintenance and stewardship."


Deschutes County Senior Planner Anthony Raguine said approving this type of use in a neighborhood would set a precedent. "They are allowing campers to use the B & B facilities for showers and dining facilities to, again, mitigate some of the noise impacts you might expect from campgrounds. From the neighbors, there was some concern that this use by the campers really exceeds what a B & B is."
Commissioners will vote on the application at a future meeting. 

Library Looks To Grow, Expand Services

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes Public Library is working to make sure it remains relevant for its users into the future, as the library system and the community grow.


Director Todd Dunkelberg says the library board was recently presented with the findings of a public survey that found that Deschutes County residents would consider supporting an expansion of services to include event or meeting space. "There definitely was an interest in that piece and it kind of fits in with really that ‘library as that third place.’ You’ve got your work, you’ve got home, but there aren’t a lot of places in the community – especially free places – to go meet people or just have quite reflection. So that definitely came up in the survey that there was a lot of interest in having space like that." He tells KBND News, "The next step is for us to go in and do a building needs assessment, where we actually are looking at all of our buildings, how are they going to meet the needs of the future – especially with a lot of our buildings aging. Our ‘brand new’ downtown library is actually going to be 20-years-old next year. So, looking at how those buildings can be set to meet their future needs and then seeing if we need to go beyond that and expand our services in some way."


Click HERE to read more about the community survey.


No matter which direction the library system goes in the future, Dunkelberg says it can’t sacrifice the primary mission. "First and foremost, everything we do is about developing a love of reading.  All of this is geared around our traditional services. And, a big piece that we’ll need as we grow is space to house all the books. So, that’ll be a challenge for us into the future." 


Denial Likely For Redmond-Area Pot Facility

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners appear poised to deny the application for a marijuana processing facility proposed for just west of Redmond. Recreational pot businesses are prohibited inside Redmond's Urban Growth Boundary.


During yesterday’s lengthy deliberations, Commissioners Tammy Baney and Phil Henderson expressed concern with the Highway 126 location. Baney said, "We have the entire City Council saying ‘this is in the proximity of where we intend to grow. This is not an area that we want to have commercial/industrial-type activities.’ Within an area that is really surrounded, actually, by 'multiple-use agricultural 10' lands, which would all require a conditional use permit; so this is kind of that last outlier property." She added, "This is a large commercial activity that is happening in an area that is directly adjacent to a community and directly adjacent to uses that are not similar. And, I’m not opposed to the production. It is: this needs to be very tight, in terms of an application and I feel that there are deficiencies in it."
Commissioner Henderson took issue with proposed odor and noise mitigation systems, as well as the amount of traffic the operation could bring to the area. County staff say it could bring as many as 96 trips per day, which Commissioners point out is significantly higher than the current single-family residential use of the property.  
Commissioner Tony DeBone supports the application but said he would only approve it with additional conditions. There was no formal vote; however, if they do deny the proposal, the applicant can appeal. 


Former Eastern OR Fire Chief Charged With Theft

BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County Grand Jury has charged former Baker Rural Fire Protection District Chief Dan Weitz with the crimes of theft by deception and official misconduct in the first degree.


Weitz allegedly represented to the Bend Fire Department that he was purchasing an item from them for Baker Rural Fire's use, when instead, he wanted to purchase it personally.
The item purchased was a self-contained breathing apparatus compressor that was discounted to Weitz by $4,000, due to Bend Fire's understanding that it was going to another fire department instead of an individual.
Weitz's first court hearing is scheduled for January 11 at 9am.

Sisters Doctor Vies For State Senate Appointment

SISTERS, OR -- Deschutes and Jefferson County Commissioners will again help choose a replacement for a resigning Legislator. Dr. Eric Wattenburg, of Sisters, is one of three candidates nominated by Oregon’s Republican Party to replace Senator Ted Ferrioli, who stepped down last month to take a seat on a state Council. "Senate District 30 is a very large district. It’s the poster-child for gerrymandering. It is a very convoluted district; very difficult to represent, as you can imagine," Dr. Wattenburg tells KBND News.


State GOP leaders nominated Baker County Republican Party Chair Suzan Ellis Jones, Current Ontario State Rep. Cliff Bentz and Dr. Wattenburg, who believes he is the best person for the job. "I am located more centrally in the district, it’s a short trip for me to Salem, I can adequately and accurately represent all of the district because we are rural. I’m a rancher, I’m also a physician and I don’t have to travel eight hours just to get to Salem." He says there are a number of top priorities for the region. "Minimal government, no more taxes, try to avoid the heavy-handedness of the urban areas – the Portland and the ‘valley crew,’ the transportation bill, land use issues and land rights are also very important and healthcare; that obviously is going to be my strong suit."
District 30 is Oregon’s largest Senate District, comprised of at least parts of 11 counties. Those County Commissioners will meet in John Day the first week of January to vote on who will serve through the end of the year. "They will get weight proportionate to their population within the district. The senate districts in Oregon are generally about 125,000. And, in this district, it’s about equally weighted between three areas: the Deschutes Drainage, the central part of the district and then the eastern half," says Wattenburg. Ferrioli announced his resignation in November, effective December 31. The appointee would take part in the February session and then run in November to maintain their seat.  

Redmond-Area Stop Nets Drugs, Arrest

REDMOND, OR -- A Boise man was arrested during a traffic stop near Redmond, Saturday night. He faces numerous drug-related charges.


According to Oregon State Police, 51-year-old Jeffery Scott Heiner bought a white 2008 Ford Crown Victoria in La Pine, Saturday, and drove north on Highway 97. He was stopped by a Trooper near Redmond for several traffic infractions and police determined he was impaired.


A Redmond Police K9 unit alerted to the scent of drugs and a subsequent search revealed 40 pounds of marijuana and marijuana extracts, as well as Xanax and a concealed handgun. Heiner was taken to the Deschutes County Jail on multiple charges, including Possession of a Schedule IV Controlled Substance, Delivery and Possession in Excess of 8 lbs of Marijuana and Reckless Driving. 

Reduced Speeds For Several Bend Streets

BEND, OR -- Speed limits are being reduced for several Bend streets. The city's Streets and Operations Director David Abbas says the process started with requests from neighbors and drivers. "It’s a culmination of effort between hearing what the concerns are of citizens, and then doing some groundwork seeing what the conditions are like out there. And then there’s a whole process that has to go through ODOT, actually. The Department of Transportation handles the speed zone studies, identifying the recommended speed changes, if any."


Powers Road, between Parrell and Brookswood will go from 35 to 30 miles per hour, SE 15th, from Ferguson to Knott is going from 50 to 45, and SE 15th from 40 to 35, between Lostine Circle and Ferguson. And, Country Club Drive will go from 40 to 35, between Knott and Murphy Road. Abbas tells KBND News the change is justified by Bend's continued growth. "More people, more traffic. For example, Country Club Drive: that’s a major collector [with] a number of driveways directly entering that road. And so, as Bend has grown and traffic has increased, there’s more traffic being seen on some of our arterial and collector roads."
New signs will go up throughout the month, with orange flags to alert drivers of the traffic revision. Abbas reminds drivers those are limits and there are times when going even slower is necessary. "Always drive a safe speed for the road and for the conditions that are present. So, as we enter winter we ask folks to drive careful."

Electronic Logging Devices Now Mandatory

BEND, OR -- Commercial drivers need an electronic logging device in their vehicles over 20,000 pounds, and the deadline to install them is today.


David House of the Motor Carrier Office and DMV, says many commercial drivers have been required to keep written logs, charting their number of hours driven and mileage, for years, and this new device will do it for them. More importantly, House says, the ELD will save lives. "You gotta remember the reason for this is, it's a safety measure, the hours you drive, cause fatigue, and being fatigued increases the danger of crash, and that's the whole point of the hours of service laws, is to prevent crashes."
As drivers use weigh stations, a transponder will read the ELD, sending information to the network to ensure compliance with the hours of service regulations, making the system both more convenient, and more accurate, House says. "So, motor carriers and commercial drivers are governed by Federal safety laws, and one of those is 'Hours of Service.' Most interstate truck drivers are required to keep a log book and this records their hours driving versus their hours on duty. Now, the log books have just been handwritten. And, of course, as you can guess, that could be prone to manipulation."
The technology was made available in 2016, and trucking companies have had almost a year to comply. Now that the official installation deadline has been reached, House says companies have 90 days before they may start incurring fines for non-compliance.
House says, in addition to convenience and accuracy, the ELD also keeps the driver honest, as the digital version isn't prone to manipulation. "So, several years ago, the Federal government decided, why don't we make it electronic? Just put a device in there, hook it up to the engine, and it's just automatic. The driver doesn't have to go to the trouble of keeping a log book, it's just automated."
ODOT is in the process of updating their website with details on which vehicles need to upgrades to the digital Electronic Logging Device system.


Highway 22 Closed Indefinitely Following Fatal Crash

IDANHA, OR -- Highway 22 remains closed following a fatal crash near Idanha, Friday night. According to State Police, Ron Scurlock of Bend was driving a fuel tanker when he lost traction on the icy road and rolled the truck, at about 11 p.m. The fuel tank ruptured and caught fire, spreading to nearby brush; the 58-year-old was killed. 


A responding fire truck also lost control and rolled; other collisions were reported in the area but there were no other injuries. 
Scurlock's tanker was loaded with over 11,000 gallons of fuel; it’s unclear how much burned and how much spilled into the North Santiam River. Salem is using backup drinking water supplies until testing shows the river is safe. The DEQ is working to remove contaminated soil along the riverbank and ODOT is assessing damage to the roadway. The Department of Transportation tweeted Monday morning, "We have a contractor working on repairs to the road. About 300 feet of roadway was impacted by the crash."


OSP Asks For Public Help Tracking Poachers

BEND, OR -- State Police Fish and Wildlife troopers are asking for the public’s help in tracking down the poachers responsible for taking two Central Oregon trophy mule deer. 


One buck was left to waste on BLM land in Kotzman Basin, in Deschutes County, with only the head and back straps taken. 
It was found earlier this month, but is believed to have been killed in late October. The second was found in the yard of a Three Rivers home, near Lake Billy Chinook in Jefferson County. Investigators believe it was shot elsewhere and don’t think the cases are connected. 
Anyone with information is asked to call OSP or the Turn in Poachers hotline at 800-452-7888. The TIP program is offering up to a $500 reward. 

Bend Broadband Weighs In On Net Neutrality

BEND, OR -- With the rolling back of the Net Neutrality regulations by the FCC, Bend Broadband is returning to the level of oversight that was the norm 18 months ago.


Drew Petersen, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs for TDS Telecom, which is Bend Broadband's parent company, says fewer regulations means there's more opportunity to invest in the local community, because better infrastructure makes for better service. "Our goal, as an Internet service provider, is to be the fastest, most unfettered Internet service provider we can, and we strongly believe in a free and open Internet, and market dynamics and competition for service is always going to prevail, and we can't, frankly, afford to stifle a customer their ability to visit any Internet site that's lawful, and nor would we want to."
Petersen says returning to pre-Net Neutrality levels of regulation in no way means there aren't standards that must be met, and Bend Broadband, as a cable company, must comply with those standards at every level. "We think that 'Lighter Touch' regulation is excellent, and I would dispel the notion that we're not going to be regulated, the Federal trade Commission is going to continue to regulate us and has for years and will continue to have that 'Top Cop' responsibility, and we're also regulated at the state and local levels, so make no mistake: there's no shortage of regulation in the communications business."
According to Petersen, Net Neutrality level regulation didn't actually make the Internet faster or more easily accessed than it already was. "We're going back to a regulatory climate that was only 18 months ago changed, and nothing slowed the progress and the innovation from the Internet ecosystem prior to that, and I don't have any expectation that it will once we go back to these regulations that governed us, really from the inception of the Internet in1998."
Petersen says individual companies investing in local infrastructure makes the Internet more accessible and user-friendly, and having fewer regulations helps make that possible.


DCSO Seeks SAR Volunteers

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Search and Rescue is accepting applications for its next class of recruits. Sgt. William Bailey says the Sheriff’s Office volunteer unit is a highly skilled and diverse group. "Because of how busy we are – we are one of the busiest Search and Rescue units in the state –we need a good pool of volunteers to pull from, so that we have volunteers that have different areas of expertise. Whether it’s a swift water rescue or a mountain search or searching for evidence over a large area, we can pull from a large number of resources to help us accomplish our mission." Last year, Deschutes County’s SAR completed over 400 missions and trainings. 


Applicants must be at least 21, should have a flexible schedule, be able to fit in with current volunteers, have a good attitude and the ability to function as a team player, and able to take part in evening and weekend trainings. "Once we finish with the applications, which closes January 19, we expect to select about 25 people to go through the Search and Rescue academy. And that runs from April second through May second. It’s 11 evening classes, five weekend classes and one overnight stay in the backcountry."
Applications are accepted through Deschutes County's website

Klondike Kate To Be Honored By Rock Sculpture

BEND, OR -- One of Central Oregon’s most famous homesteaders will soon be commemorated in a sculpture at the Deschutes Historical Museum.


Executive Director Kelly Cannon-Miller says Kate Rockwell, better known as “Klondike Kate,” will be honored in the piece, which will also recognize the contributions made by other early women settlers. "A tremendous amount of single women utilized the Homestead Act. And, they weren’t necessarily young women, either; you had women who were in that second phase of life, like Kate. Or, you had a huge number of widows, post-civil war, who that provided them with an opportunity. So, it’ll really give us a chance to talk about a lot of different things through this one piece of art." She says Rockwell was was a polarizing character of her time, who contributed to the pioneering spirit of early Bend. "The other person that this memorial is recognizing is Charlene Blahnik," says Cannon-Miller. "She is from the Rastovich family, who is another pioneer family. In fact, Rastovich Farms, in 2019, they’ll be eligible to be the first ‘century farm’ in Deschutes County, as a farm that’s been continuously run by one family for a hundred years. And, Charlene had a career as a very modern, contemporary artist."

Kate Rockwell was also well-known for her rock collection, which she cleared from her original homestead and used in several community sculptures, including at Bend's original hospital (right). Some of her rocks were salvaged from her home on Franklin Avenue after it was torn down (above), and will be used in the new sculpture commissioned by the museum. Cannon-Miller tells KBND News, "We have always wanted to kind of merge the idea of art and history, and where can we take that? So, we put out a call to artists seeking proposals for how to do a memorial sculpture incorporating – it doesn’t have to be entirely from the rock collection – but, incorporating the rock collection into the piece of work." She says 22 artists answered the call; seven will present their ideas to a panel, which will whittle the list down to three to create models for the public to vote on in February or March. The winning model will then be turned in to a full-size sculpture to be included in the museum's permanent collection. 
To hear more about "Klondike Kate" and the museum's planned artwork, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE

Oregon Teacher Of The Year Nominations


BEND, OR -- Nominations are now open statewide for the 2019 Regional Teacher of the Year award. Oregon’s Teacher of the Year receives a cash prize of $500 and is celebrated across the state as an outstanding K-12 educator. 


The 2018 winner is from Mt. Tabor Middle School in Portland. Juniper Elementary fourth grade teacher Heather Anderson won the award in 2016.
Nominations are open to everyone and will be accepted online through January 31. 

Redmond Encourages Fire, Safety Upgrades

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s Urban Renewal Agency is investing in a new program aimed at improving safety and accessibility for businesses and multi-family properties. The property assistance program will provide matching grants up to $7500 to building owners. 


Redmond Fire Chief Tim Moor says the money can be used for a number of upgrades that will benefit both citizens and firefighters, "Whether it’s sprinkler systems or alarm systems, buildings that don’t have key boxes on the outside so firefighters can access those buildings. It’s a great partnership that will allow business owners and the Urban Renewal District to utilize Urban Renewal District dollars to make those improvements to their facilities." The money can even be used to make sidewalk and other accessibility improvements. 
Chief Moor says, "Anytime buildings don’t have safety systems, we worry about all of those buildings. But, the historical area downtown is a concern of ours and I think this is a great way to help mitigate any future problems and provide safety for both the citizens of Redmond and firefighter safety, should there ever be a fire in those buildings." Moor says it’s a voluntary process where building owners contribute money to the work; none of the funding comes from the fire district. He tells KBND News, "I think it’s a model that can be used across the state of Oregon where cities and fire districts can get together and utilize Urban Renewal Districts to benefit both the citizens and the safety of firefighters."
Click HERE for more information and to apply for the program. 

National Organization Recognizes Sunriver FD

SUNRIVER, OR -- Sunriver firefighter Jeff 'JJ' Johnston's act of compassion caught on camera last week, has made him an Internet sensation and is earning him honors from an animal rights group.


Using a sled, Johnston gently nudged a deer toward shore, after it became marooned on an icy pond.
Amber Canavan, with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, says the organization will give the Sunriver station the 'Compassionate Fire Department Award.' "PETA is honoring the Sunriver Fire and Rescue for their bravery and determination in rescuing a deer who was trapped on a frozen pond. These rescue workers have set a tremendous example that we must always come to the aid of anyone who needs help, and local residents are lucky to have such kind and skilled emergency providers."
Canavan applauds Johnston's efforts, calling him an example of compassion. "We have sent them a Compassionate Fire Department award, and that's going to come with a framed certificate, a box of delicious vegan cookies, and a letter of congratulations, as well as a copy of the 'Engine 2 Diet,' which chronicles a Texas firefighter's 28-day plan for staying in prime, firefighting shape by eating vegan meals."
Canavan says it's important to call an emergency services provider any time you see an animal in need.


OSP Asks For Public's Help In Crash Investigation

SUNRIVER, OR -- Oregon State Police are asking for the public’s help with the investigation into a fatal crash that occurred a week ago on Highway 97 near Sunriver. Investigators believe Shannon Rogers was driving recklessly prior to the 10:15 a.m. crash on Wednesday, December sixth.


Bend Man Killed In Sunriver Crash


Anyone who saw the silver Nissan Quest minivan driving in an unsafe manner is asked to call OSP Senior Trooper Toni Raugust at 503-375-3555. Rogers was reportedly headed from California to Washington at the time of the crash. The minivan struck a pickup driven by 56-year-old Brian Harris, causing him to veer off the road and hit a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Rogers remains in the hospital. 

Bend Man Dies In Highway 20 Crash


BEND, OR -- A Bend man died in a crash on Highway 20 just east of Bend, Wednesday morning. According to The preliminary investigation, 48-year-old Mark Price attempted to turn left onto Hamby Road at about 9:30 a.m. But, State Police say he turned his van directly into the path of a GMC truck. The two vehicles collided and Price was killed.


The other driver, 59-year-old Michael Deleone of Redmond, was not hurt. Police say he is not suspected of any wrongdoing and he is cooperating with investigators.
Travel on Highway 20 was impacted for four hours to allow for the investigation. 

Redmond Museum Seeks New Home

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond’s History Museum is packing up its collection and moving out of its current home. But, where the nonprofit is moving to is still up in the air. The museum's collection is currently housed in the basement of a building near 7th and Evergreen, behind what used to be City Hall.


Judy Fessler, President of the Greater Redmond Historical Society, says they don’t pay rent, thanks to an agreement with the city. "With the moving out of that particular whole block, the city would like to redevelop the entire block; they own about ¾ of the block. So, we are kind of the last one in the whole block that’s still there, as far as presence. We’re packing up."
She'd like the city to allow them to move around the corner, into the former site of City Hall, "We’ve made a proposal to the Council – not formally, but in some emails – that, ‘why not?’ Why can’t we move into that building? It would still give ¾ of the block available to the city of Redmond to redevelop. And, at this point, there is not really any solid planning or implementing of the planning in place to redevelop that; they’re working on it." However, Redmond Urban Renewal Manager Chuck Arnold says it would be too expensive for the city to maintain water and heat in a building without any paying tenants. He says he's working with the museum board to create a business plan that shows how it can be sustainable and justify the use of public money to help the nonprofit. Arnold tells KBND News the city owns much of the museum’s collection and there is interest in preserving and eventually displaying the artifacts, possibly at several different sites.
Fessler says it's up to the city to decide where they go next. She hopes the community will help find a way to keep the museum going. "Is this something that the greater Redmond community would like to have? Do they want to have a history museum? Because, right now, we’re making plans to move the most sensitive items to a secure climate-controlled location, within the next few weeks. We’re boxing those up and getting those out of the facility that we’re in now." Those sensitive items include photos and keepsakes that Fessler says are irreplaceable. 

Prineville Theft Suspect Arrested After Search

PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Prineville man is suspected of stealing thousands of dollars of items from a local auto parts store. Prineville Police and Crook County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant at a home rented by 36-year-old Ryan Ames, Wednesday. 


Sgt. Jimmy O'Daniel, with Pineville PD, says they recovered property suspected of being taken from the Baxter Auto Parts in Prineville over the last six weeks. "We found 80+ items of stolen property that we were looking for. We physically found, I believe, 40 and the others had been on his truck or used. I have a pretty good understanding that we have everything accounted for." Police also seized Ames' 2004 F250 pickup because of the items believed to have been installed on the vehicle. Sgt. O'Daniel tells KBND News, "The loss to our local business, Baxter Auto, here in Prineville, has been over $5,000. And about 22 transactions where he was fraudulently obtaining property over time, and eventually, it came out on somebody's account that he was using, that he wasn't authorized."


Ames faces a number of felony charges of theft, forgery and identity theft. He's scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.
This is the latest in a string of Crook County arrests, following a rise in recent thefts and burglaries

2018 LRS Music Festival Canceled

PAULINA, OR -- The LRS music festival, which was set for July of 2018, has been canceled, and event producers say it's the government's fault.


Tammy Van Vleet is the producer of the Lazy Rockin' Stirrups Music Festival, which is also the name of the ranch in Crook County where the LRS Fest is held.
Van Vleet says last year was the first year for the festival, and they were excited to do it again. "We had submitted for the mass gathering permit in July for Crook County, and when we met with them in September, we were told that our permit at that time was not being considered because they were rewriting their Mass Gathering Permit guidelines, and that process has continued to stall and stall and we've just lost our marketing and our talent booking window to continue for this year. Very disappointing."
Van Vleet is hoping that the LRS Fest can be held at the ranch in Paulina next year, provided Crook County's new guidelines make that possible. "It's just sad to see that things, bureaucratically, can stop small business from moving forward. We were looking forward to really great momentum, we had so many people excited to come, and we were really hopeful that we would springboard from the success we had last year right into a great second year, and this has really stopped it in its tracks."
Van Vleet says they are already looking ahead to next year's LRS Fest, and hopeful that it will be even bigger and better than last year's.


Milken Educator Award Winner Named

BEND, OR -- Bend High School Calculus and International Baccalaureate program teacher, Andria Lindsay, received the Milken Educator Award in a surprise ceremony yesterday.


Acting Deputy Superintendent Colt Gill and Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley presented the Award to Lindsay at a special assembly in front of state and local dignitaries, previous winners, and the student body.  
Bend High's Principal, Chris Reece, who had to keep the secret for over a month, believes Milken made the right choice in Andria Lindsay. "It is just amazing, absolutely amazing, words cannot describe knowing that this was coming to Bend High School, pretty phenomenal. You want to talk about relationships, building trust with students and building community? That's Ms. Lindsay, and well deserved."
During the presentation, Dr. Foley said the Milken Educator Award is considered the 'Oscars of Teaching' and explained to the assembled dignitaries and students, that teachers can't be nominated for it, they are sought out by the Milken Foundation for their excellent work. 
Deputy Superintendent Colt Gill congratulated Ms. Lindsay during the morning's assembly. "I just wanted to say, on behalf of our State Board of Education and Oregon Department of Education, thank you so much for representing teachers across the State of Oregon, and clearly the students here at Bend High School know what a fabulous teacher you are, so thank you for everything you do for our students in Oregon."
Lindsay, who has been teaching at Bend High for the majority of her 17-year career, said she's grateful for her profession. "Wow. I don't really know what to say, this is a complete surprise to me. I never imagined myself as a teacher when I was in high school, but as time went on, I realized what a gift my teachers gave me, so I always think this is the best place I could ever be, with students, and you all know how much I love you, and how passionate I am about your futures. You never imagine this happening in your career!"
In addition to the national recognition, Lindsay also received $25,000.
The Milken Family Foundation has been surprising excellent teachers since 1987.


Bend Driver Dies After Medical Emergency

BEND, OR -- A Bend man died Tuesday evening, after suffering a medical emergency while driving east of Bend. State Troopers responded to Highway 20 after receiving a report that an SUV was eastbound when the 70-year-old driver crossed into the oncoming lane and stopped. A passenger was able to put the car in "park" and, with the help of a passerby, get Larry Wayne Hopkins out and begin CPR. Another passenger called 911. 


Arriving officers continued CPR until medics arrived. Despite life-saving measures, Hopkins was pronounced dead shortly after an air ambulance landed at the scene. Highway 20 was closed for nearly an hour during the emergency response. 


A family member reports Hopkins had a history of heart problems for which he was taking medications. 

Facebook Expands Prineville Presence

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville is preparing for major growth of Facebook’s data center. The social media giant plans to nearly double its footprint, with construction of two more data halls. Mayor Betty Roppe says she’s known for several months but waited to talk publicly until Facebook made its announcement, Tuesday morning.


The new facilities will take the total building count to five, in Prineville. Roppe says crews are already preparing for construction, including getting water, sewer, electricity and other necessary infrastructure to the massive site. "We make sure that we have adequate water, we make sure that we have adequate space for any infrastructure that we need, and we also are always meeting continuously with our electricity companies. We wouldn’t make a commitment that we couldn’t fulfill and still have ample ability to serve our customers – our citizens." Crook County recently sold 240 acres to Facebook, adjacent to its current campus, for $5.4 million. 


Mayor Roppe tells KBND News, "They’re making a tremendous commitment to our community. We have construction workers going to be working on construction for the next four years; we also will have permanent long-term jobs available for people in our community." She isn’t sure exactly how many permanent jobs are coming, but she’s optimistic of the impact, "One of the things we always have is a minimum number of jobs something will create. They’ve always surpassed those minimums."

Facebook's first Prineville data center went up eight years ago, with a 15-year tax deferment, thanks to the enterprise zone designation; the second was built five years ago and the third was completed last year. Roppe says these two new buildings now in the works, will eventually add to city and county coffers, as well. "Once they start paying taxes on their first building, every two years, approximately, that will increase because the next building will come online as paying taxes on it. They pay taxes currently on the land, but it’s the improvements on the land that they have the benefit of having deferred taxes." And, she says the company has continued to serve the community in other ways, "Every year they grant community action grants for tax-free entities; it’s usually around $100,000 every year. And, since 2011, they’ve donated over a million dollars – $1.265 million – to Crook County Schools and qualified nonprofits in the community. They are definitely good partners and we value them a lot."
Crews should break ground on the first new building later this month. Facebook says it should begin serving users in 2020. Construction on the second will get underway next year, with plans for it to go online in 2022. 
Submitted Renderings

Partnership Aims To Reopen New Redmond Hotel

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond officials are moving forward with a partnership they say will eventually lead to the reopening of the historic New Redmond Hotel. The city is working with hotel developer Alpha Wave Investors, LLC,  including a $749,000 loan from Redmond's Urban Renewal Agency, to renovate the downtown building.


Renovations Planned For New Redmond Hotel


Mayor George Endicott says reopening the hotel has been a top priority since it ceased operating in 2005. He believes the project could add $ 2.8 million in economic activity in the first year of operations, through job creation, room revenue, guest spending and other factors. 

Sunriver Considers Independent PD Investigation

SUNRIVER, OR -- The Sunriver Service District is expected to officially appoint Bend Police Captain Cory Darling as Sunriver’s interim police chief at its board meeting Thursday afternoon. Fellow Bend PD Captain Paul Kansky says it’s not unusual for regional agencies to help each other cover important leadership positions. "Larger agencies, they may have something internal like that, and someone internal just has to step up. Central Oregon, we don’t have the luxury of having departments with 200, 300, 400. But, we’re a tight-knit law enforcement community when it comes to support of each other."


The Service District placed Chief Marc Mills on Administrative Leave earlier this month, for yet to be released allegations. Capt. Kansky tells KBND News, "They need the help in a time like this, and Bend PD, we have the resource to do that. It doesn’t come without impact to us. Captain Darling, he’s got a lot of things on his plate and the rest of us will have to step in and try to divvy those up and carry that torch. But, it’s the right thing to do." He expects Darling to remain in Sunriver for a while, "At this point, we’re looking at 30 days, then we’ll re-evaluate. Captain Darling, he’s got nearly 28 years with us and other years prior to that, so he’s well experienced, well-rounded and I’m sure he’ll do a great job over there."


Also at Thursday's meeting, the service district intends to vote to hire an independent firm to conduct the administrative investigation into the police department and Chief Mills. Board Chair Jim Fister says the Sunriver Service District has no jurisdiction over criminal investigations, but that doesn't mean they should do nothing. "What the service district can do is an administrative investigation. Obviously, something has gone on and we need to understand it fully, and so essentially, we will do an administrative investigation in order to understand what actions we may or may not have to take out of this." He adds, "The goal of the Board of the Sunriver Services District is to insure the police and fire safety and security of Sunriver. we remain fully confident in our police department and our fire department to do it and I am very proud of the organization for continuing to focus on that."


Fister had no comment on the specific nature of the allegations against Mills, nor the Attorney General's investigation. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says once the AG's investigation is complete, he will decide whether to initiate criminal charges.  


Commissioner DeBone To Seek Third Term

LA PINE, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone announced Tuesday he will run for a third term. The south county Republican was first elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2010, and says he’s focused on three areas he calls “of critical importance” in Deschutes County: Family wage jobs and the economy, creating an affordable community and less smoke in the summer. 


DeBone said in a statement, “As one of your Deschutes County Commissioners I have been successful in keeping the county on a sustainable financial course. We have met challenges in a thoughtful, common sense, deliberate manner while keeping the public informed and involved. Deschutes County is respected around the state for providing appropriate services in a cost effective manner. My life experience is a benefit in this leadership position.”

Sheriff's Office Welcomes Newest Officer

BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office's newest Patrol K9, a female Czech-Shepard originally from Slovakia, successfully completed her training and has been paired with her handler, Deputy Ben Bartness.


Deputy Bartness says the police dog, 'Masa' is eighteen months old and eager to work. "She is trained in area searches. She is also trained to track a specific track, apprehension work, so she can chase after a suspect and take him down if she needs to...she can do it all. She's an all-around good dog."
The Sheriff's office has four K9 teams assigned to the Patrol Division, and in addition to tracking and apprehension, they cover narcotics detection, as well.
Bartness says he's thrilled with the dog's performance so far. "A majority of police patrol dogs tend to be males, but the guys that would do trips over to Europe and hand select dogs to bring them back and to sell to local agencies, would mainly bring back boy dogs, but they're actually shipping us over some female dogs and these female dogs, they're really great. They're good dogs."
Bartness says Masa loves her patrol work, but she's also going to be doing some community outreach ... visiting schools to help teach kids about the police department, and Bartness says, it's important that the public doesn't view her as just a dog. "She is identified by her collar and her harness, she does have a uniform because she's a police dog. So, if kids, or any citizen in the community does see her and me working, just know that these dogs are working dogs. They're not family pets to pet and love on, these dogs are business. They work, they love to work, and that's what they're very eager to do. Their job."
K9 officers undergo rigorous and continual training, and they are on-call 24 hours a day.


Transportation Coalition Launches Website

BEND, OR -- A number of agencies are considering major  local transportation infrastructure proposals, including the city of Bend Oregon Department of Transportation and Bend Parks and Recreation District. Bend 2030 launched a new “Move Bend” website, Tuesday, designed to help people understand the issues and how they're impacted by growth.


Local real estate agent Sally Jacobson says, "Fifteen years ago, we wouldn’t have given a second thought to someone living 20 miles out and working on the west side of Bend." But, that's no longer the case. Jacobson has been involved in the Move Bend effort for over a year and says current transportation struggles don't stop people from moving to the area, but the newcomers do compound the issue. "They’ll overcome everything. But, I am on the front lines; I talk to people about this every day because I’m so passionate about it. We have a chance right now to find out what the community wants, as we go forward." She tells KBND News the area will see "35,000 [new] people in the next 13 years, bringing 25,000 cars, 10,000 more homes – So, what do we do right now, with the hundreds of millions of dollars on the table, to  make it all work? This is it. We have to find out what people want. What does the community want? What do they think?"


Jacobson says the new MoveBend.org informational site is the first phase of a long-range effort to get people engaged and eventually spur public discussion. "We’re involved with city, state; that’ll take a while. Listening sessions at somebody’s business and at the library, they’ll give us immediate feedback. We’re going to take all that together and then present that to the city and all the other agencies that need it." While the coalition is looking at all aspects of transit, Jacobson says they aren’t trying to get people out of their cars. "We’re not advocating anything. This group, this coalition of diverse stakeholders that have gotten together and have met for over a year, we are educating and then we’re going to listen."
Move Bend is a part of Bend 2030, which plans to host community listening sessions and a four-part lecture series on possible transportation solutions next year. That feedback will then be presented to local and state agencies working on transit projects.  

Renovations Complete At St. Charles Madras

MADRAS, OR -- St. Charles Health System has completed the third and final phase of construction at the Madras hospital. The renovation project included expanding the lab, enhancing entrance and parking areas and connecting a new central registration and waiting area with the older part of the facility.


Remodeling of the Emergency Department and construction of a new surgical suite and imaging department were completed last summer. The $16 million project added 26,000 square feet to the hospital. Work began in 2014, a year after St. Charles acquired the facility. The original 25-bed critical access hospital was built in 1967. 


A community celebration and ribbon cutting is planned for next month. That event will be held January 12 at 8 a.m., in the new central registration and waiting area of the Madras hospital. 

Burglary Suspect Arrested On Skyline View Dr

BEND, OR -- Bend Police arrested a man suspected of breaking into homes on Skyline View Drive, Monday afternoon. A resident called 911 just before 3 p.m. after seeing someone in the garage of a neighboring property. The witness also suspected the man had been on their property. 


Officers discovered 29-year-old Bradley Marshall inside a vehicle parked in a shed; they say he also had stolen property on him at the time of his arrest. Marshall appeared to be under the influence of controlled substances and was taken to the hospital. He's expected to be booked at the Deschutes County Jail on numerous theft and trespassing charges as soon as he's cleared by St. Charles Bend. 

Madras Theft Investigation Leads To Drug Lab

MADRAS, OR -- An investigation into property crimes led to the discovery of a clandestine drug lab at a home north of Madras, Monday.


State Police obtained a search warrant to seize evidence at the Northwest Columbia Drive home. During the search, they found the lab and other drug related evidence. OSP’s Drug Enforcement Section responded to process the scene and ensure hazardous materials were properly collected.


Police arrested 28-year-old Joshua Joseph on a number of charges, including possession of a stolen vehicle, theft by deception and forgery.  Drug related charges are pending. 

Bend Man Arrested After Erratic Pursuit

BEND, OR -- A Bend man, who told people at the Old Mill he was stabbed yesterday morning, ended up in jail by the afternoon. The first reports of a man "running around" the area of the Old Mill District reporting he was stabbed came in just before 8 a.m. Bend Police caught up with 30-year-old Christopher Van Wambeke Ward at the roundabout at Reed Market and Bond, where they discovered he had a self-inflicted leg wound; he was taken to the hospital for evaluation. 


Ward ran out of St. Charles and allegedly stole a work van, drove through a construction fence and damaged several other vehicles. Police say he also damaged a church on SE 27th Street, nearly hit a police officer with the van and tried to steal a second car on American Loop. He was eventually arrested inside a third vehicle near 6th and Reed Market, at about 12:45 p.m.
Ward was transported back to St. Charles for evaluation and then taken to jail at 4:30 p.m., where he faces a list of charges, including Attempted Assault on a Public Safety Officer, Reckless Driving, Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle and Attempt to Elude. 
Silver Rail Elementary was placed in a brief Lockout during the police activity. 

Phone Scammer Seeks to Frighten Redmond Area

REDMOND, OR -- Redmond area residents have been receiving phone calls from a man who identifies himself as 'Sergeant Cook' from either the Redmond Police Department or the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office.


The imposter advises whoever answered the phone they have an existing warrant and will suggest payment in lieu of arrest.


Redmond Police and the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office want to assure the public they don't make phone calls to individuals, nor do they request money over the phone.


If you receive a call like this, it is a scam.


Don't provide any personal information to the caller and hang up.

Local Emergency Mgrs Honored For Eclipse Work

BEND, OR -- Central Oregon's three Emergency Services Managers were honored at the Oregon State Sheriff's Associations Annual Conference held last week in Bend.


Sgt. Nathan Garibay, of Deschutes County, Crook County's Michael Ryan, and Mark Carman, of Jefferson County were each presented with the Distinguished Service Award. Garibay says it's to recognize their work before and during the August Eclipse. "It's representative of our Central Oregon community and the agencies and the organizations that we get to work with that we could make that happen. So, really, the three of us received the award, however, really we received it on behalf of the many, many people and organizations that made it happen and made it work."
Garibay, Ryan, and Carman were responsible for running the Tri-County Multi-Agency Coordination Center for Incident Response during last August's Eclipse, and Garibay says the event went well because they planned ahead and worked well across all the agencies involved. "It was really, truly an honor to be part of that tremendous learning opportunity, and the support that we receive from our partner organizations and our own agencies really is what makes our Emergency Management programs in all three counties successful. I'm honored to work with Mike and Mark and they are phenomenal peers as well as examples for me, and it was great to be recognized."
Garibay says he couldn't have managed the massive event alone. "At the end of the day, we do this because it's what we love to do, and it's what our community expects of us to do. And, I think that our community's support that we receive on a daily basis is what makes us successful."
Garibay, Ryan, and Carman were also tasked with the Level One evacuation procedures during the Eclipse that resulted due to the Millie Fire's threatening Sisters and those attending the Symbiosis event. 
Photo: (L-R)  Crook Co. Sheriff John Gautney, Crook Co. Emergency Mgr. Michael Ryan, Jefferson Co. Sheriff Jim Adkins, Jefferson Co. Emergency Mgr. Mark Carman, Deschutes Co. Emergency Mgr. Nathan Garibay, Deschutes Co. Sheriff Shane Nelson


Oregon Housing Prices Take A Small Hit

BEND, OR -- According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Central Oregon lost some real estate value last quarter, but Fred Johnson of Duke Warner Realty says those results are only a small part of the big picture. "The market continues to be fairly strong. Throughout the country, property prices are going up and the West is really far outpacing the rest of the country."


Johnson says Oregon is still in the top ten states with the greatest home price appreciation in the nation. "In the Bend market, for the median price point, it rose between the third quarter of 2015 to 2016, it rose almost $40,000. Between 2016 and 2017, it rose $30,000."
The FHFA report says the Bend-Redmond Metro area, which ranked number 9 in the second quarter on the list of Top 20 Home Price Climbers, dropped to a number 52 ranking in the third quarter. 
Johnson says, "The one thing that everybody would like to see when they're purchasing magazines and newspapers is they'd like to see some good news, and the hint there is that maybe things aren't moving as briskly in Bend and Redmond as they have, but the reality is we look forward. Housing prices probably aren't going down any time in the near future, and for that, there are a number of different reasons."
He also says seeing a report with a statistic like that can be confusing, and it actually helps to view the real estate market as a whole. "I got the most recent Beacon Report and tried to isolate the third quarter sales information in both the Bend and Redmond market[s], and the appreciation has continued to move, the number of sales has continued to move, and there's not really a huge differential, year over year, from the previous year."
Johnson says that while materials pricing and labor costs can affect home price appreciation, in Bend and Redmond, some of that fluctuation is offset by the area's high land value.


Tobacco 21 Enforcement Begins January First

BEND, OR -- State and local health officials are working to make tobacco retailers aware of Oregon’s new “Tobacco 21” law and a January first compliance deadline.


Deschutes County Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Penny Pritchard says stores should have already stopped selling tobacco products to customers under 21. "The law actually really did go into effect August ninth; that’s when Governor Brown signed the law into effect and there was an emergency clause that put that into place. January first is really the enforcement, so that’s when the Oregon Health Authority is going to be going out and actually citing retailers if they’re not complying with the law." She says that enforcement effort is prompting local officials to get the word out now, "To really help educate retailers and the public, especially those who are 18, 19 or 20." She tells KBND News, "The Oregon Health Authority has also sent out letters to retailers and other entities that serve young adults, such as the colleges, to make sure that people are aware of the new law and when enforcement is going to be taking place."


Aside from the new age restrictions, stores must also move tobacco products and inhalant delivery systems to a location where customers can’t access them without employee assistance, and post new signs. Pritchard says, "We’re really just trying to prepare retailers, to make sure they’ve got all the information they need. They need to post a sign that says they will not sell to minors under 21. And so that sign needs to be posted because that could also be a violation of the law." Pritchard says after January first, violators face fines of up to a thousand dollars. 

Click HERE for more information on state law. 

Sisters-Area Homes Damaged By Weekend Fires

SISTERS, OR -- Two weekend fires damaged Sisters-area homes. Crews responded to a duplex on Cedar Street, Saturday afternoon, and found a smoldering fire in an exterior wall. They used a chainsaw to get to the blaze and put it out before it could spread. Officials say a fire wall stopped the blaze, and bystanders alerted residents so they could evacuate prior to the arrival of firefighters. Investigators determined improperly stored ashes on a wood deck were to blame for the fire, which caused about $2500 in damage.


Early Sunday morning, a renter in the Tollgate area smelled smoke and noticed the roof was glowing inside the home. The residents evacuated and called 911. Responding units discovered a chimney fire at the Lariat home (pictured), which had spread to the roof surrounding the chimney. Crews quickly knocked down the blaze and stayed on-scene to extinguish the fire smoldering in the rafters. The cause of that fire is under investigation, but it likely related to the woodstove. According to Capt. Ast, "The renters had only been living in the house for a couple months, but their landlord advised the chimney had just been cleaned prior to moving in." That fire resulted in about $26,000 in damage. 


Comm. Henderson Evaluates First Year

BEND, OR -- Nearly a year after taking office, Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Henderson says he's making progress on his campaign promises. Although, admits transitioning from the private to public sector has been a challenge, "The level of contacts with people in the community, with other organizations we’re involved with, with the county, and the variety of issues is quite a bit."


Henderson campaigned on three key issues: affordable housing, reducing the budget, and rolling back marijuana regulations. "We were successful in the budget," Henderson tells KBND News. "When we set the budget it actually lowered the rate $.03 per $1,000. Unfortunately, people didn’t really see it on their bills because other new bonds went in. But, if you look at your county rate, it’s less. It almost countered the automatic 3% increase."
But, he says his quest for more affordable housing in the region has not been as successful. "I’m frustrated with the amount of control at the state level – the Department of Land Conservation & Development. Our whole structure in Oregon is 44 years old, now. There’s problems throughout the state, really, with housing because of our restriction of growth.
Henderson spent much of his campaign focused on recreation marijuana regulations and, in the past year, has frequently opposed new pot facilities; However, he’s often outvoted. "Although I voted against several applications, many applications go through without appeal. The ones that have come to us, we really apply the county regulations that were put in place. And, I’ve been pretty clear that there are certain regulations that I think there’s a certain standard, particularly with regard to proof of what they’re going to do with odor control, noise control and then, we’re starting to ask more questions about the water. So, what I’ve actually voted down is the applicants’ proof of whether it met the requirements of the regulations." He’s heard from citizens on both sides of the pot issue,  "A lot of people are still concerned about the illegality on the federal level. And it effects things like property values; I mean, there are definite cases of that." He says he will continue to evaluate how the county can best serve neighbors and the industry.
To hear our full conversation with Commissioner Henderson, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.


Police Continue Search For Swan Shooter

SUNRIVER, OR -- The search continues for those responsible for the death of a famous local swan. Members of the Sunriver Citizen Patrol Hasty Response Team and two Sunriver officers spent about four hours looking for evidence of the shooting that killed “Chuck” the trumpeter swan on Thanksgiving. 


The Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory is offering a reward for information that leads to an arrest of the person or persons responsible for the swan's death. The East Cascades Audubon Society has donated an additional $500, taking the total reward to $1,500. 

Swans are protected in Oregon because they're not considered game birds, and killing one intentionally can lead to both a fine and jail time. Anyone with information is asked to call Sunriver PD or the Oregon State Police Fish and game Tipline.

Three Face Charges After Recovery Of Stolen Pickup

REDMOND, OR -- A Redmond man is accused of driving a pickup stolen from Gresham, then trying to hide from law enforcement. A Deschutes County deputy tried to stop 46-year-old Dean Morkert (left) for a traffic violation, Sunday afternoon. Morkert avoided the stop and allegedly tried to hide the vehicle in an alley near 4th and Birch in Redmond. He ran when spotted by the deputy. 


His passenger, 48-year-old Amber Higbee, was cited at the scene. Morkert was later seen near Higbee's home on North Canal Blvd. After numerous attempts to get him to come out, a K9 unit barked to announce his presence, and deputies threatened to send the dog in to search the house.
Garrett Leeper (right) - wanted for a probation violation for car theft - exited the home first; Morkert followed.  Both were arrested without incident. 

New Charges Filed Against Former RPA Director

REDMOND, OR -- Former Redmond Proficiency Academy Director Michael Bremont faces new sex abuse charges, following a five-month investigation by Redmond Police. Bremont was first arrested in 2012 for engaging in a sexual relationship with a student at the charter school. He was fired and later convicted of sexual abuse in the second degree. Investigators suspected there were more victims, but did not have probable cause for additional charges at the time.


In July, another victim came forward to report she’d had a sexual relationship with Bremont while he was RPA director. She was under 18 and a student at the school when the alleged relationship began, and says it continued after she turned 18. 
He was re-arrested Friday when he checked in with his probation officer. He faces 10 counts of second degree sexual abuse. Bremont is due in court Monday afternoon. 

Local Kids Plan Senior Center Caroling Day

BEND, OR -- Christmas is in a few short weeks, and a local congregation is teaching their kids' classes that giving is better than receiving this holiday season.


Chris Santaguida, who is on the pastoral staff of Eastmont Church in Bend, says some elderly people are especially lonely this time of year, and the chance to go sing and celebrate with them is a special experience for all involved. He says giving is what the season should be all about. "Christmas, it is a time to give and receive, and I think it's great for the children to give love and attention to people who maybe don't receive a lot of it at this time of year, and they can maybe be forgotten, and of course the kids receive the blessing of realizing they've been used by Jesus to spread and share some joy."
Santaguida says the chance for the kids to go visit the elderly during this time of year and share Christmas with them makes everybody happy. "It's really a blessing to be present when the kids come in and they start singing, you can literally see the spirits of the people who are present, you can see their sprits being lifted, and the smiles come across their faces, because they're so overjoyed and the joy of the kids is pretty contagious."
Eastmont's kids, their parents, and the pastoral staff will make the rounds to several elder care facilities this Saturday, singing carols, sharing the Nativity story, and celebrating the joy of the season.


Candlelight Vigil on Sunday to Honor Survivors

BEND, OR -- December 10th marks 5 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary and Clackamas Town Center tragedies, and the Oregon Chapter of 'Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America' will be holding a candlelight vigil to honor those impacted by gun violence.


The vigil will take place this Sunday from 5:30 to 6:30 PM at the Crow's Feet Commons on Brooks Street in Downtown Bend.
Interfaith spiritual leaders, gun violence survivors, and gun sense advocates will be on hand and free gun locks will be available to participants,  provided to secure any guns at their homes.

Dozens Protest to Renew Internet Regulations

BEND, OR -- Protesters gathered along North Hwy 97 in Bend yesterday to rally in favor of Internet regulations commonly referred to as 'Net Neutrality.'


Kathy Roche of Bend says the issue is really about free speech and fairness. "'Net Neutrality' is guaranteeing that everybody who is on the Internet has approximately the same speed and that people who have paid content don't get a faster speed, and that small businesses don't suffer because they're not supported by 'Big Bucks'."
Roche says they demonstrated between the Verizon Wireless and US Cellular stores on purpose, because they believe communications companies donate to the campaigns of lawmakers opposed to the regulations so they, in turn, can charge customers more for faster speeds. "Greg Walden is in the Top 10 for getting funds from these types of communications companies. They would like to be able to get more money out of the Internet, they would like to be able to charge you extra and/or control what traffic is on there so they can put the traffic on there, on the Internet, that would pay them the most dollars."
'Net Neutrality' was penned during the Obama administration and was recently repealed by the FCC, and Roche says the regulations create equality in Internet usage and access and should be reinstated. 


Two Arrested In Prineville Burglary Investigation

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville Police continue to investigate a number of recent thefts and burglaries, taking two more suspects into custody, this week. Officers seized suspected stolen property during the execution of a search warrant at a home on Lynn Blvd on Thursday.


Following the search, they arrested 28-year-old Ashley Luna (left) and 36-year-old Sheila Morrissette. Luna faces several drug-related charges; she's also accused of Theft by Receiving. Morrissette is charged with frequenting a place where controlled substances are used. 


On November 30, police arrested 21-year-old Alysa Bennight and 27-year-old Dustin Chapman during a traffic stop. Bennight is suspected in at least 10 burglaries; Chapman has several outstanding warrants. A search of Bennight’s property uncovered both reported and unreported stolen goods and investigators are working to connect victims with their items.


Bend Council Hesitates On Charter Changes

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors failed to agree this week on what changes to the city’s charter should go to voters, although they acknowledged the timeline to get something on the May ballot is tight. 


Some Councilors worry a proposed ward system would mean future Councilors could be elected by a small group of voters. Charter Review Committee co-chair Brent Landels says nearly all of Oregon’s largest cities use some version of wards and a lot of time was spent developing the proposed map. He agrees it’s not perfect nor was the committee unanimous; but he feels it’s the best option. "The Oregon Secretary of State has, for years, has had in place rules for establishing wards or voting districts, or that type of thing." He tells KBND News, "You have to use existing political boundaries. So, in the city, you’re typically going to end up with the voter districts – which is what we used – and then each of the wards has to be +/- 5% for population. So, we couldn’t just do a straight north/south line and a straight east/west line." While most of the sitting Council lives in what would become Ward Two or Ward Four, based on the proposed map, Landers says the Committee didn't discuss their residency. "One of the rules is we absolutely cannot look at how it would impact anybody who is currently an active politician, an active City Councilor or Mayor, or how it would impact anybody who has announced they would be running." The committee proposes a mixed system where four Councilors are elected from a "ward" or region of the city, while the other two are elected at large, as they are now. 


The committee presented recommendations to Council this week, including the removal from the charter of any reference to how much elected officials are paid. Although, Landels says they did not discuss the actual amount of pay, "An independent advisory committee would then recommend to City Council what they should do what the Councilors are being paid and what the Mayor would be being paid. One of the interesting things about the ethics laws of Oregon: anybody who is currently on the Council cannot vote themselves a raise. So, anything that they did decide to do upon advice from the advisory committee would not impact that particular Councilor that was voting on it."
Councilors did agree the city needs a directly elected Mayor, but failed to reach a consensus on when that first election should occur or for how long that Mayor would serve. Landels would like to see the transition begin as soon as possible, "If everything passes, the November election would have the Mayor and two at-large Councilors, so they would be elected exactly the same way they are today. The 2020 election, the four Councilor positions that would be open at that time, those four would be geographically – or more geographically – assigned." Current Mayor Casey Roats suggested the committee’s recommendations could be phased in over several election cycles, if approved by voters.


Councilors plan to start their next meeting - December 20 - earlier than normal, to allow public feedback on the committee's recommendations before deciding what to put on the May ballot. 

Second Candidate Announces HD 53 Run

BEND, OR -- A second Republican says he will run for Oregon House District 53, following State Representative Gene Whisnant’s announcement he plans to retire at the end of this term. Ben Schimmoller describes himself as a “lifelong conservative political activist” and says he was compelled to run after seeing Central Oregon values pushed aside by Portland and Salem politicians. 


Redmond Realtor Launches Dist. 53 Campaign


Schimmoller says he's already secured the endorsement of well-known local Republicans, including Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Henderson and former Deschutes Republicans Chair Bob Perry

Buehler Renews Call For OHA Investigation

BEND, OR -- Bend State Representative and Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler continues to call on Governor Kate Brown to launch an independent investigation into overpayments made to Coordinated Care Organizations.


Leaders of the Oregon Health Authority have admitted the agency incorrectly paid out health benefits totaling tens of millions of dollars over the last several years. Buehler blames Brown for not catching the mistake sooner, "She has been responsible for this, I would say, more than any other single Salem politician because she was Secretary of State who had that audit authority," he told KBND host Lars Larson, this week, "And now it took Secretary of State Richardson getting into office to actually use it; and that’s a problem."


Buehler Asks Brown To Investigate OHA


OHA officials recently admitted the agency incorrectly paid Medicaid benefits for over 47,000 people. "OK, $74 million to $100 million was overpaid," said Buehler. "Some of it was already given back to the federal government; who made that decision and why wasn’t the rest of it paid back to the federal government? So, there are a lot of open questions here. But the bottom line is, there’s been negligence in overpaying and clearly concealing, from the Brown Administration, the fact that the overpayments occurred." He added, "Who made the call? Who covered it up, if there was a cover up? And where was the wrongdoing? And, when you get through that, if there is money that rightfully was overpaid, it needs to come back to the taxpayer of Oregon and be used for other causes."

Sunriver Police Chief Under Investigation

SUNRIVER, OR -- The Sunriver Service District placed its police chief on paid administrative leave this week, although authorities have not released details as to why. KBND News confirms Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum's office is investigating allegations against Chief Marc Mills.


Bend Police Captain Cory Darling has been appointed interim Chief during the Investigation, with approval from Bend PD Chief Jim Porter.
Mills became Sunriver's chief in 2012 after nearly four decades with the Deschutes county Sheriff's Office where he worked his way up to the rank of Captain.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel issued the following statement, Thursday: “Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is heading the fact gathering phase of the investigation into the allegation against Sunriver Police Chief Marc Mills. Once she completes her work she will provide me with the facts as determined by her investigation and I will decide whether to initiate criminal charges. I will comment further when the Attorney General completes her investigation.” 


Multiple Vehicles Involved In Powell Butte Pile Up

POWELL BUTTE, OR -- Icy conditions and low visibility likely contributed to a multi-vehicle pile-up in Powell Butte during Thursday's morning commute, which closed Highway 126 for about eight hours.


The first crash was reported just before 7 a.m. According to the Crook County Sheriff’s Office, several other collisions occurred as vehicles slowed for the back-up and emergency vehicles. A van transporting liquid oxygen was heavily damaged, initiating a hazmat response.

Bend-La Pine CTE Programs Receive Funds

BEND, OR -- More than 200 Oregon middle and high schools will split $10 million from the state to create programs that will prepare students for college and careers. Bend-La Pine Schools received more than $660,000 for Career and Technical Education (CTE).


La Pine High School plans to develop a new manufacturing and construction technology program. And Bend Senior High will use the money to modernize the school’s 1970s-era kitchen and create courses including Restaurant Business Management. Click HERE to read more about the district's plans for the grant money.
Last year, Bend-La Pine Schools offered 148 CTE classes designed to introduce students to skills and experience they need in the workplace. 

Bend Council Hears Charter Rvw Recommendations

BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors heard final recommendations from the Charter Review Committee, Wednesday. Committee Co-Chair Brent Landels says after several months of research, interviews and negotiations, the committee suggests three major changes to city government. 


Two of the revisions involve how Councilors and the Mayor are elected, "To go to a directly elected mayor in a four-year term; also adoption of a ward system. So, it’s actually a mixed version: four Councilors would be elected from essentially a geographic ward – northeast, southeast, southwest and northwest – everybody would still represent the entire city, but they would also concurrently represent their district. And then two of the remaining councilors would be elected at large, the same way they are today." Landels says they studied Oregon's other major cities and found, "Of all of the 10 largest cities, city of Gresham is the only other city that has not gone to wards. Everybody else votes either directly by wards or a mixed system, which is what we’re proposing to go to. So, it’s kind of as cities grow up, they move into a ward system." Bend is also the largest city in the state without a directly elected Mayor.


The third recommendation would remove from the charter any reference to how much Councilors and the Mayor are paid. Landels tells KBND News, "The charter is essentially the constitution for the city of Bend, and it just isn’t a place where you typically would ever see somebody’s payroll. It’d be like having the President of the United States’ actual dollar amount that he’s being paid in the Constitution of the country; it’s just not where it belongs."


Bend 2030 Pushes Charter Review


Councilors did not make any decisions on Wednesday, but they discussed hosting a public listening session on the options at their next Council meeting. They will then decide whether to send any or all issues to the ballot and what those measures would look like. Landels wants to see them appear as separate issues in May, "Our recommendation is to do it as three different things, so folks can decide if they want an elected mayor independently of if they want to have four geographic wards and independently, if they want to have pay stay in the charter, so that the citizens have the ability to really pick and choose what form of government they want."

DEQ Grants To Benefit Local Agencies

BEND, OR -- Several local agencies will share a portion of grants issued by the Department of Environmental Quality. The DEQ says the money will promote the prevention, recovery or reuse of solid waste. 


In Bend, The Environmental Center is getting $37,253 for its “Food Too Good To Waste” project, which aims to reduce household food waste. Another $50,000 is going to NeighborImpact's “Edible Food Recovery” program; it diverts 50,000 tons of food from landfills and feeds thousands of people each month. And, the Sisters Habitat ReStore will receive nearly $42,871 to purchase a new box truck and equipment to increase donations and keep hundreds of thousands of pounds of materials out of landfills.

Bend Man Killed In Sunriver Crash

SUNRIVER, OR -- A Bend man was killed in a crash that occurred near Sunriver, at about 10:15 Wednesday morning. According to State Police, 55-year-old Shannon Ray Rogers of Goldendale Washington was northbound on Highway 97 and struck the back of a pickup. That driver – 56-year-old Brian Harris, of Bend – veered off the road and hit a tree.  Harris was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Rogers also ran off the road and struck a tree, and was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The highway was shut down for about 30 minutes until one alternating lane was opened. 
Alcohol and speed are being investigated as possible contributing factors. 


Bend, Redmond Send Crews To Ventura Wildfire

BEND, OR -- Local fire agencies are sending help to southern California, to help with the massive wildfire burning in Ventura County. Bend Battalion Chief Dave Howe says Cal-Fire requested additional help from the Oregon Fire Marshal’s office. "They requested 10 task forces from Oregon last night and those were filled by departments in the Valley. Early this morning [Wednesday] they had another request from California so they found that Deschutes County had some availability. Bend is sending a Task Force for a Type-Three engine, which is like a four-wheel-drive brush rig." Howe says five Bend firefighters left Wednesday, including one driving a Sisters engine; Redmond is also sending a unit.


High winds have pushed the blaze to over 65,000 acres, as of Wednesday morning. Howe tells KBND News, "We know that the Santa Ana winds are going to be kicking up again, and I’ve heard reports of gusting to 70 mph. They’re going to be in some extreme, extreme weather conditions." Rich Hoover, in the Oregon Fire Marshal's Office, says 15 Oregon crews are on the way to help and they're prepared to work as wildland or structural firefighters. "They’re going to stage in Chino, California and from there they’ll be split up and divided to the areas that they need to go to," says Hoover. This is the first time Oregon crews have helped California twice in one year.


According to Howe, local crews could be gone through Christmas, "We do know they could be there 14-21 days, which is a tremendously long period of time around Christmas." He adds, "We have plenty of people who are willing to step up, at least if not going to California, then covering these guys when they’re gone. We really do rely on their support and we really rely on the support of the community."



Photo: Courtesy Bend Fire. Crews prepare to leave Bend for southern California. 

Kokanee Limits Imposed At Wickiup Reservoir

BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is changing fishing regulation at Wickiup Reservoir in 2018. The “bonus” bag limit for Kokanee will change from 25 to five. "It has to do with the Spotted Frog and the water levels that they’re going to have to hold there different times of the year, so they’re expecting to have less habitat for Kokanee," says KBND outdoor expert Gary Lewis. "So, that means Kokanee numbers will probably drop."


Lewis says, "Wickiup is a huge destination for Kokanee anglers and they go there because of the productivity and the size of the fish. So, this will be a concern for some people but there’s other places to catch Kokanee so it’ll probably move the anglers around a little bit." He adds, "This decision was made this year, in 2017, then they rescinded it and now they’re going to this for 2018."
ODFW hosts a public meeting to discuss the change, Wednesday at 6 p.m. at COCC's Health Career Center Building in Bend.

Bend Secures Grant For Energy Plan

BEND, OR -- Bend city officials announced Tuesday they have secured the matching funds needed to move forward with its Climate Action Plan, in conjunction with the Environmental Center. The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) has awarded a $50,000 grant to support the city’s effort to increase energy efficiency and reduce fossil fuel consumption. 


In 2016, Bend City Councilors approved a resolution to reduce community-wide fossil fuel use by 40% by 2030 and by 70% by 2050. The next step in the plan is for the city to hire a Sustainability Coordinator to manage a volunteer advisory committee. The goal is a community-endorsed energy action plan by fall 2019.
Bend Senior Policy Analyst Gillian Ockner said in a statement, "We are so grateful to the OCF donor families who have matched the Partners for Places grant award we received this fall. It is further indication of the shared value in Oregon of protecting our environment while supporting our communities. We are excited to begin the process of identifying the appropriate course of action for Bend to meet its fossil fuel reduction goals while providing economic, social and environmental benefits to the Bend community." 

New Bend Apartment Projects Proposed

BEND, OR -- As Bend continues to struggle with a lack of affordable housing and historically low retail vacancy rates, a couple of projects now in development could bring some relief to both markets.


Russell Huntamer, with Compass Commercial Real Estate, says one is in the works at the former site of Ray’s Food Place on Century Drive. After sitting vacant for several years and a major roof collapse in January, the grocery store was torn down in March. Huntamer tells KBND News, "The most likely plan, right now, that’s being considered is about 25,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor, with up to 180 apartments above that – four to five stories. And then the same thing goes for the five acres east of the Box Factory." The Box Factory is on NW Arizona Ave. Huntamer adds, "Where Atlas Cider, Immersion Brewing and Strictly Organic with the drive-through, that location there – five acres to the east of there, about 25,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor, and about 180 apartments above it, as well." 
He says both projects are in the early planning stages and won’t be ready for tenants for more than a year. "Probably not until 2019; it takes that long for approvals and construction. And, the demand that we have in the meantime, it’s going to be very difficult to meet; at least from a retail perspective."
Photo: Five acres east of The Box Factory on NW Arizona Ave. could soon feature a large retail and multi-family housing development. 


Southwest Bend Home Damaged By Fire

BEND, OR -- The second early morning fire in Bend in as many days left about $40,000 in damage to a southwest Bend house. The first firefighters on scene discovered flames and smoke coming from attic of the Deer Valley Drive home at about 2 a.m. Wednesday. Residents safely evacuated prior to the arrival of fire crews and no injuries were reported.


The blaze was held to the attic and roof and officials say much of the home was saved. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The Red Cross is helping the four adults their pets affected. 

Redmond Realtor Launches Dist. 53 Campaign

REDMOND, OR -- A day after State Representative Gene Whisnant announced he would retire at the end of this term, a Redmond realtor says he’s running for the District 53 seat. Jack Zika is seeking the Republican nomination in May, saying education, affordable housing and the need for fiscal responsibility are his top priorities. 


Zika is a 40-year-old Redmond resident currently serving on the city’s Planning Commission and Neighborhood Revitalization Committee. He’s also on the Oregon Association of Realtors Government Affairs Committee. In a statement, Zika said Tuesday, "Central Oregon is a great place to put down roots and raise a family. However, I've grown increasingly frustrated with a state government that seems oblivious to our needs in Central Oregon." He adds, "I'm running for state representative to be an advocate for fully funding our schools, reining in runaway government spending and finally restoring some common sense to our state's land use laws."

Multiple Injuries In Hwy 97 Crash


MADRAS, OR -- Multiple people were taken to the hospital after a crash north of Madras that shut down Highway 97 for several hours, last night. Few details have been released, but witnesses say the crash occurred just after 4:30 p.m. near Cora Drive, and involved a minivan and truck. Two air ambulances transported injured patients to the hospital. 

Madras Working To Attract Brewery

MADRAS, OR -- Madras officials hope the city will be the next big beer destination in Oregon. Community Development Director Nick Snead says a new incentive package and marketing materials are now being used to attract a brewery or brew pub to downtown Madras. "It’s one of the last communities in Oregon to not have a brewery; we have a lot of farm to table or farm to tap opportunities here that are unique to Madras, even in Central Oregon. And, the Madras Redevelopment Commission (MRC) would like to provide some assistance to whoever is selected to open the brewery or brewpub in Madras." He says providing an incentive to prospective businesses is fairly unique, "In fact, one of our consultants told me he’s not aware of any city in the United States that’s recruited a brewery like this." Snead says the actual dollar amount of the incentive package hasn't been determined, since it isn't yet known whether an existing facility will be used, or new construction is needed. 


The MRC is working this week to solidify a strategy for the selection process. Snead tells KBND News they are "Making sure that we select a really good brewery or brewpub that has the ability to pull off a project and operate that brewery or brewpub sustainably, that’s going to open up a business in our downtown that’ll be family-friendly, welcoming, serve great food and beer and really create a memorable experience."
Snead says consultants are working with the city to market the region to prospective businesses, including creation of the new Brew It Madras website, which promotes things like the area’s good drinking water. "What Earth2O bottles and sells in stores and supermarkets across the state and region and otherwise comes out of our tap here. It’s already used in the distilling industry with great success." He believes it's time Madras made a name for itself in the industry, "Quite honestly, Bend and Redmond are getting a lot of interest from the brewing industry. If not there, then it tends to be in the Portland-metro [area] or along I-5 and I-84." He hopes to have a brewery chosen and working with the city by July.

Jail Food Svc Worker Faces Criminal Charges

BEND, OR -- A contract employee who worked at the Deschutes County Jail is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on two counts of custodial sexual misconduct and supplying contraband charges. 


Prosecutors allege 44-year-old April Hoisington-Kite had sex with an inmate at least twice in October, and snuck tobacco into the jail. She was employed by Aramark, which provides food service to the jail; Hoisington-Kite reportedly worked in the jail’s kitchen. 

Equine Outreach Saved From Closure

BEND, OR -- A Bend-based horse rescue nonprofit has been saved from closure. Equine Outreach Board President Bill Inman says a group of other organizations offered to help after word got out last month that an investigation by the Department of Justice had left coffers depleted. "Thankfully, someone stepped forward and said, ‘I’ve got lots of property and you can use a nice big chunk of it – about 30 acres. But, you’ll need to be responsible for setting it up.’ And, these other nonprofits said, ‘We’ll help you get it set up.’ So that’s what we’ve been doing."


Following a lengthy investigation into the co-founders of Equine Outreach and their management of the nonprofit's funds, the DOJ required all ties be severed with Joan Steelhammer and Gary Everett, which included moving dozens of rescued horses off property owned by the couple. Inman says Steelhammer and Everett are now refusing to allow Equine Outreach access to anything other than the horses. "Things that were either purchased by Equine Outreach using donor funds or that were donated as in-kind donations that belong to the nonprofit and because of the challenges with the landlord they’re tied up in a lien. The horses cannot be liened, so technically the horses we can take, but we can’t take the stuff." He tells KBND News, "We have about 50 tons of hay that have been donated since cuttings this summer from the local community that we need to get through winter feeding. So, if we’re unable to take the hay that’s been donated then we need to replace it." He's hopeful more donations will come in to help get the animals through winter at the new location.  


Inman says many of the rescued horses have found new homes, but about 35 remain. He hopes to start moving them to the new property just outside Bend, this weekend. "It will be a big logistical challenge to get all the horses moved, and then obviously all of the infrastructure set up."


New Bend Elementary Principal Selected

BEND, OR -- Bend’s newest elementary school may not have a building yet – or even a name – but, it now has a principal. Kevin Gehrig (pictured) is currently in his 12th year as principal of Pine Ridge Elementary in Bend. At the end of this school year, he will assume leadership of the new 600-seat school scheduled to open in the fall of 2019 near O.B. Riley and Cooley roads.


The appointment sets in motion a shuffle of administrators, with the principal of Rosland Elementary, Rochelle Williams, moving to Pine Ridge; Julie Linhares, principal of Marshall High move will take over at Rosland; and Bend-La Pine Schools Director of Secondary Programs Sal Cassaro will become principal of Marshall. 
In other Bend-La Pine Schools principal news, Superintendent Shay Mikalson also announced Monday that Mike Franklin, vice principal at Mountain View High School, has been selected to lead the new small high school that will open next fall on the north end of Bend. 

Rep. Gene Whisnant To Retire After 2018

SUNRIVER, OR -- State Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) says he will not run for re-election. "It’s time," Whisnant tells KBND News. "I’m sure that there’s other people in the House District 53 area that can come in and replace me. I always liked the story that all of us are replaceable, just put your arm in a bucket of water and you’ll see."  Whisnant says he will complete his current term, but after more than 14 years in Salem, he's ready to retire and travel with his wife.


He’s the latest in a string of Republicans to announce plans to leave Salem, including fellow Central Oregonians Rep. John Huffman (R-The Dalles), who recently vacated his District 59 seat for a job with the USDA, and Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day), who is vying for a spot on a prestigious state council. Whisnant says, "I’m not leaving for more money – and we do make minimum wage, presently – I’m not leaving for a position with Trump or for a state job where I can get more PERS. It’s just time to go. I enjoy it; I really do still love it. I feel that I’m very effective and I still have a year to go. I’m going to pass the bills that I’ve written about that I’ve introduced for 2018." While he says he's not seeking another government position, he expects to remain involved in politics, "I want to stay active and keep the brain working, be active in the community and address issues that are important to Central Oregon and to the state of Oregon. I’m not sure how I’ll do that yet."


Whisnant says he’s working with the House Caucus to find potential candidates to run for his District 53 seat in 2018. "We try to have a farm team available and they’re talking to people and they have asked me to talk and explain the job to some of the people and I’ve done that. I think there will be plenty of people to step forward." But, he doesn't expect to select an heir apparent, "I never endorsed anyone unless incumbents in the primaries. You know, I had to win elections, unlike what’s happening now as far as the appointment process."

He was appointed in 2003 to serve District 53, which includes much of Deschutes County outside Bend. He says he initially thought he would only serve a couple of terms; Whisnant is currently in his eighth term in office. 

Early Morning Fire Damages Bend Home


BEND, OR -- A northeast Bend home was heavily damaged by an early morning fire. Crews responded to Liberty Lane at 2:30 Tuesday morning and found a double-car garage fully involved and fire spreading into the home.


Bend Fire officials say no one was home at the time. The garage was a total loss and the interior of the house sustained heavy smoke and heat damage. The blaze is under investigation and caused over $100,000 in damage. 

Redmond Boy Killed In Sunday Crash

GOVERNMENT CAMP, OR -- State Police have released more information on Sunday’s fatal crash near Government Camp. Based on the preliminary investigation, OSP says 53-year-old Kenneth Schmidt, of Crooked River Ranch, lost control of his Ford Excursion on snow-covered Highway 26 just before 4 p.m.


The SUV crossed into oncoming traffic and hit a Subaru driven by 48-year-old Debbie Hahn, of Redmond. Her 9-year-old son was killed in the crash. A second passenger, 68-year-old Linda Todd was flown to a Portland hospital with critical injuries. The three people in the SUV were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

OSP continues to look for witnesses to the crash as part of the ongoing investigation.


The family is collecting donations through a GoFundMe page, to help the boy's parents deal with the loss of their son. 

Grant Helps Pet Evacuation Team Expand

REDMOND, OR -- The Pet Evacuation Team (PET) has received a $750 donation from the Deschutes County Commissioner's Discretionary Grant Program to purchase a secondary trailer. PET's Regional Coordinator Jamie Kanski says the new unit will help get assistance to emergency incidents more quickly, "Deschutes County Assisted us  with a grant to buy our big equipment trailer that is housed in Redmond, but it's not always conducive when we have something happening all the way down in La Pine. It takes a little while to bring the equipment down there. We thought it would make more sense if we got a small cargo trailer and outfit it with the necessary setup supplies and keep that down there."


The organization also received $250 from the La Pine chapter of the Band of Brothers to help purchase the trailer. But, Kanski tells KBND News more help is needed before the unit can be put into service, "We would appreciate some additional donations, financially if possible. to help us go ahead and get the logo, and of course, we're going to need to buy a few supplies to outfit that trailer. Or, if people have the large crates, those are fantastic for us to have during wildfires because we take care of people's animals until they can return home."


PET boasts 124 volunteers across Central Oregon.

Crook County Woman Charged With Murder

PRINEVILLE, OR -- The Crook County Sheriff’s Office arrested a woman Saturday, in connection with a homicide. Investigators say 53-year-old Tina Marie Hill was in a relationship with 51-year-old Dennis Stewart, who was found dead on Thanksgiving in the rural Juniper Acres Subdivision.


According to the Sheriff's Office, the two lived together in a small cabin on Myrtlewood Lane at the time of the altercation that led to Stewart’s death. Hill faces several charges, including Murder in the First Degree, Manslaughter and Felon in Possession of a Firearm.

In June 2016, Hill was arrested for Attempted Murder and Animal Abuse after an argument with Stewart. In that domestic dispute, Hill was accused of firing a handgun several times. One round struck a dog.

Two Killed Sunday On Central OR Highways

GOVERNMENT CAMP, OR -- Sunday was a deadly day on Central Oregon highways. A Bend man was killed in a head-on crash near Chemult, just before 2 a.m. (pictured). State Police say 64-year-old Roy Smith was southbound on Highway 97 when he lost control on the icy road and hit a northbound semi. Smith was pronounced dead following life-saving efforts at the scene. The Washington truck driver and her passenger sustained non-life threatening injuries.  

Sunday evening, Highway 26 was closed for several hours, following a fatal crash, east of Government Camp. State Police believe the driver of a westbound Ford Excursion lost control on the snow-covered highway and hit an eastbound Subaru. The passenger in the Subaru died at the scene. That investigation is ongoing.

Three Teens Accused of Park Assault

REDMOND, OR -- Two teens were assaulted at Hope Playground in southwest Redmond, Saturday night. According to Police, two men wearing bandanas on their faces attacked the 15- and 16-year old boys with brass knuckles and a box cutter at about 7:25 p.m.

The victims ran to a nearby McDonalds and called for help and one was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening stab wounds. Police conducted an extensive search of the area and reviewed video surveillance of the park. They say information gathered during that investigation led them to Redmond 18-year-olds Isiah Laack (Pictured, right) and Noah Huber (left), as well as a 15-year-old boy from Bend.


All three suspects were found and questioned at a Redmond home prior to their arrest. Laack is accused of using the brass knuckles and charged with Assault, Unlawful Use of a Weapon and a Parole/Probation Violation, among others. Huber is believed to have had the box cutter; he also faces a list of charges, including Assault, Tampering with Evidence, Disorderly Conduct and a Parole/Probation Violation. The younger suspect was arrested for Assault III, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon and Disorderly Conduct.


Investigators say the suspects did not know the victims and believe it was an unprovoked attack.

Cougar Believed Responsible For Deer Death

SUNRIVER, OR -- Sunriver Police are warning of a cougar in the area, that may be responsible for the death of a deer near the north golf course. Officers were called to the area at about 11:15 a.m., Friday. Despite a search of the area behind Cedar Lane, the cat has not been found.


Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife advise that people avoid direct contact with the cougar, including attempts to chase it off. If you see the animal, walk away slowly and call police.

Students Find Their Voices in Photography

BEND, OR -- 20 students at OSU Cascades are taking part in a photo gallery project designed to show what they imagine the sustainable natural spaces will look like in the new college expansion.


Ryan Reece, an assistant professor at OSU Cascades, led the project as part of PhotoVoice, a community based initiative, which is designed to give those who don't have a voice, an opportunity to express their feelings on events in their communities through photographs.
Reece says the overwhelming feeling of the finished gallery of photos is one of 'Strength' and 'Positive Empowerment.' "This project really aimed to capture the student perspective as it relates to our University's current natural landscapes and how those might be integrated into the campus expansion moving forward. So, the purpose was then to create a student vision for how different natural spaces at Cascades Campus might continue to be sustained and integrated in the coming years during the campus expansion."
Reece led the project as part of PhotoVoice and says the students produced 31 photographs that expressed how they imagine the natural spaces of the new campus expansion will look. "The overall feeling was really positive. It was empowering. Multiple students were like, 'You know, I didn't really know what this project was, and this ended up being a really cool experience because I got to know the space where the campus is going to be and I felt like I was able to have a voice,' and to me, that was a real, strong positive."
The gallery is open for public viewing from 9am to 8pm in the Dining and Academic Building's second floor main hallway until December 8th.

CODE Officers Make Major Arrest

MADRAS, OR -- Omar Benitez, 37 and Ruby Pacheco, 25 were arrested in Madras Wednesday by the US Marshals Service and the Oregon State Police.


Benitez has four outstanding warrants and is a convicted felon.


The Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team, in a subsequent search of the motorhome and garage where Benitez was found, uncovered commercial quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine, along with 14 firearms.


Pacheco was arrested because she was aware that Benitez was wanted and hindered his apprehension.


Both were held at the Jefferson County Jail.

Goose Causes Power Outage for Thousands

REDMOND, OR -- 5,355 Central Electric Cooperative members lost power yesterday when a goose flew into an overhead power line that crosses the Deschutes River near Eagle Crest. 


CEC says the line the goose hit fed off Bonneville Power Administrations' major substation in Redmond, which in turn, cut power to four substations. 
The areas affected were around Redmond, south to the north side of Bend, the Tumalo area, and west toward Sisters.
Once the source of the outage was ascertained, crews were able to restore power in just over an hour. 

Downtown Bend Kicks Off Christmas Season

BEND, OR -- Downtown Bend officially kicks off the Christmas season Friday night, with the lighting of the community tree at the Mirror Pond South parking lot, near Drake Park. "Santa’s going to be coming down from the North Pole at exactly 6:55. The event starts at 6:30; we’ll have some caroling, the Bend High School Dynamics will be there and another choral group, we’ll have hot cocoa," says Rod Porsche, with the Downtown Bend Business Association, "So, it’s a great, fun event."


Porsche tells KBND News, "[Santa] helps lead the countdown to light the community tree. And then afterwards, he leads the parade of kiddos to what we’re calling ‘Santa’s Village,’ which is right next door to Starbucks, there on Wall. And he’ll greet every kiddo for free, take as many pictures as you want, that evening and the next day after the parade." The Bend Christmas Parade starts at noon on Saturday, "A great, great way to create another memorable moment for Bendites and Central Oregonians with their families. If you haven’t been down to a Christmas parade, it’s just a quintessential way to ring the holiday season. It starts promptly at noon and it’s just a lot of fun." The parade route begins at Newport and Harmon and winds over the Newport Avenue Bridge, down Wall and around Drake Park on Riverside to Tumalo Avenue.


Santa will also be available for free photos every Saturday until Christmas at Santa’s Village on Wall Street. 


CET Unveils Low-Floor Busses In Bend

BEND, OR -- Cascades East Transit unveiled their new fleet of low-floor buses, at Hawthorne Station, Thursday. For rider Jordan Ohlde, it means the bus driver doesn’t have to help him and his wheelchair board, speeding up the process for all passengers. "It just takes a lot of time just for a wheelchair to get on and off because they have to deploy the lift and then they have to tie down the wheelchair, which takes about two to three minutes by itself because they have to put all the straps on." He rides the bus everyday to work and says it slows everyone down when drivers have to load a wheelchair on to the lift, "They had to actually get out of their seat and put me on the bus. Now, I can get on by myself and all they have to do is just tie the wheelchair down. It’ll take about two minutes, and you’re done."

The new buses also feature a front and back door, which CET Executive Director Karen Friend says will keep passengers moving and buses running on time, "They will provide better dignity for those with mobility limitations: The bus will come to the curb, kneel, deploy a ramp and people with mobility limitations will be able to just wheel right on or walk right on." She adds, "And it will allow for alleviation of congestion in that we won’t be tying up traffic as we try to load. So, it’s a really exciting evolution for the system. It makes us look like many other transit systems across the nation, now." At $400,000 each, she tells KBND News the agency couldn’t afford them until now. "These were the first grant opportunities where we actually felt like we could start to evolve."
CET put three low-floor buses into service Thursday on routes Seven, 10 and 11; a fourth is on the way for routes One and Four. 


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